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t’s that time of the year again. That time when your mind simultaneously blooms with the trees around you. Evidently, the month of May is the month of the fourth dimension – time. Somewhere in the middle of a game of sun and shade, it allows the emergence of newer beginnings and gives sustenance to older forgotten thought processes. Although sometimes things do get awkward with so much immense free time, varying temperatures and shortage of sweet mangoes, what brings this issue together is the spirit of the month – the spirit of arousal. The vast sea of news and stories available to us today, lacks the one thing that drives us all humans – the recognition of initiatives taken and ideas shared. From the strife of young Zanskari children taking the long, difficult and frozen road to a school in Leh to two young men travelling to every part of India to plant trees and making people conscious of their environment, this issue of the magazine foregrounds these change-makers who want to not only make a difference but also contribute to newer ideas. They are ordinary people like you and me, raising the bar higher at a time where one has to search for stories that move you. The beauty of people, their initiatives and nature is what the month of May is all about. These are the kind of stories that we believe in. Where women who are wronged still hope to live a better life, where lost cultures are waiting to be found and where the youth is ready to be accountable for their actions. We hope to reach you, urge you and somewhere inspire you to take advantage of this magnificent time and create something new. Let the dearth of good stories be a time best forgotten.

Samata Joshi Curator-in-chief Campus Diaries samata@campusdiaries.com


PEOPLE 10 Longest Road To Change 66 Halwai Ki Kahani 48 What We Live For 42 Enlightening Lives

OPINION 16 Sexy College Girl Smoking Cigarette 28 Beyond Books

OBSERVATIONS 21 Puncture-D

SOCIETY

18 Allah Will Keep Them Safe 25 Coconut 29 Homo-cide

FICTION 77 As Told By The Other Alice


CAMPUS 37 Paper Planes 55 Memories of Bath

PROJECT 56 Project 35 Trees

POETRY 76 Death of a Poem

ART 60 Shipra Kala : Bhairavgarh Block Printing

FOOD 72 Eatopia

MUSIC 68 Bringing the Beat Back

SCREENPLAY 78 Maria Maria! Hasta Pronto!

LETTERS 84 To The Medical Students of India


Samata Joshi wilson college Mumbai

Semanti RAy Fergusson CollegE Pune

Trying to catch up with time, money, cupcakes, books and the internet in general, Samata also likes coffee. And book shelves. And colours. And freshly cut vegetables. She hopes to begin something new, something other than the ordinary, everyday.

Semanti is technically a student of English Literature and Language, but she really studies people. She swings alarmingly between '21st century rebel' and '18th century prude' and would appreciate it if someone paid her to travel, write, and eat ice cream for the rest of her life.

Sharanya Gopinathan Mount Carmel College Bangalore

A self-proclaimed food critic and aspiring journalist-activist, Sharanya divides her time between philosophising on the bigger questions of the universe and raging at the more prosaic injustices of life as a liberal woman in India.

Debanti Roy Iijnm Bangalore Meghali Gupta University of Calcutta Kolkata

Meghali is a student of English Literature and a passionate mountaineer, singer and writer of poetry and travelogues. Interested in mountain photography, she wants to travel the world and climb Mt. Everest one day.

She detested reading and writing since childhood. But the irony of her life is — today she is a print journalist and an English Lit. grad. A food lover, a traveller and a painter — Debanti Roy is currently a post graduate student at Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media.

Pradyumna A.K. christ university Bangalore

A journalism student, he calls himself 'The Happy Realist'. His ever growing collection of friends, books and movies are his life.

TANUL MISHRA Mumbai University

Shipra Bhansali and Tanul Mishra are two women who love to eat, love to travel and love to talk about the things they love, with professional backgrounds in sales and marketing, but with serious backgrounds in eating, discovering, cooking and sharing

Anubhav V christ university bangalore Aditi Raman cardiff university u.k.

Aditi was nicknamed Iron Girl by her schoolmates for winning all fist fights. No, she does not have claws, but can twist Shipra Bhansali an arm when required! Indian School Business, A journalist, traveller, hyderabad food-lover, dreamer, and someone mesmerised by literature from the age of 10, she possesses an enviable sense of imagination. Charmed by nature, music and meeting people, she hopes to contribute to making the planet green and people, happy.

Anubhav Vanamamalai, 20, is an avid traveller and photography buff. In order to pursue a career in the field of wildlife and nature conservation, he took up a B.Sc in Zoology and Botany and hopes to utilise his skills as a photographer to assist his research work. In his spare time the author enjoys cycling, trekking and drumming along to his favorite metal tracks.


Priyam ShuklA Ashutosh College Kolkata

Priyam is a student of Sociology and loves reading in her free time. She is passionate about music and is an animal-lover too. Inspired and edged on by her twin brother, she decided to write her first story ever.

Currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of MultiDr. Md. Uzair Belgami media and Animation Bangalore Medical from the prestigious St College, Bangalore Xavier’s College, CalDr. Md Uzair Belgami cutta, Rohit is keenly lives in Bangalore. He interested in docuattended classes at Banmentary photography galore Medical College, and has been making and reads novels, philoso- images for the last two phy and poetry under the years. Boxing Diaries is desk. He studied medihis first personal work cine before he decided to produced over a period study Life instead. of six months.

Meghana Bhogle MET institute of Mgmt Mumbai

A recent MBA graduate semi-ready to become a suit, Meghana is a budding musician, trained dancer and a moody blogger. She loves reptiles and the music and poetry of Jim Morrison. She believes there's no shame in being insane in the membrane.

Hari Chakyar Wilson College Mumbai

Rohit Saha St. xavier's College kolkata Saraswathi Menon Srishti school of art design & technology Bangalore

Born in Chennai Studies Art and Design in Bangalore. An artic monkey Finding and losing Herself In words and images In stories, new and old; That are yet to be told

Nikhil Chandrashekhar atria institute of technology bangalore

tanya kotnala nift shillong Nehal Tiwari ORIGIN BEANSTALK Creative consultancy Mumbai

She realised late in life that she finds comfort in expressing things non-verbally. En route to catch herself, she has met with a copy writer, an illustrator, a poet, an actor and a basketball player. She has collected key chains from 20 different countries sitting at home and that, she thinks, is her most awesome achievement till date.

Tanya is a fashion design student but her happiness sets out afar just garments and showcases, with her foremost devotion remaining for illustrations and arts. She finds it amazing when “usual” things combine to become something unusual.

Hari Chakyar is a freelance writer who plants trees when he is not writing and vice versa. Is this bio 25 words long yet?

Nikhil Amarnath National Public School Koramangala bangalore

A multitalented footballer, debater, sprinter, and writer, Nikhil clearly isn’t humble. Having recently won the Best Speaker prize at a recent national debate doesn’t help. Nikhil loves writing whenever he can avoid studying. He also acknowledges that it’s really hard to boast about himself in third person.

Nikhil is a hardcore Bangalorean, with a massive sweet tooth and a weakness for chaat. Appreciates good fantasy fiction and swears by the A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels. Loves listening to Classic Rock and the Blues. He enjoys playing the guitar when he isn’t doodling or daydreaming.


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3. 1. The Zanskar Valley in Ladakh is one of the coldest places in the world and home to some ancient races of Ladakhis. In winters its communication is cut off by snow and the only way to reach the nearest road is to walk down a frozen river, The Chadar. 2. The Chadar is a symbol of an ancient world culture since it formed a part of the old Silk Route in winter, mobilising trade in the Himalayas. 3. The nearest school is 100kms away. Mid-February witnesses the children embarking on a formidable six day trek on the Chadar to reach their school. 4. The trek commences in the capital village of Padum and children brave it through sub-zero temperatures falling to -25o C at night.

4.

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5. 5. Term starts in March. Dorjey and Eton have survived the most dangerous walk to school with the help of their father. 6. The beautiful town of Leh is covered with a blanket of snow in winters. The children will spend the next eight months here for their education. 7. Journey ends for the children here. The light of knowledge and change awaits them inside.


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7.

campusdiaries.com/picture-stories/longest-road-change

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Opinion


T

his is not a discussion on the pros and cons of Female smokers are rarely surprised to see cars being smoking in itself, nor is it an opinion on any driven slowly in circles around them, their drivers practical aspect of the laws and policies regarding grinning and tooting their horns, even lowering their smoking cigarettes in public. This is merely an windows to make lewd advances. The only way to chase expression of the frustrations many women face every them off, I’ve found, is to whip out a cell phone and day, solely because they are Indian women ‘brazen’ pretend to make a call. Hooting at a college girl is one enough to smoke where people can see them. This thing; no one wants to deal with her buff boyfriend, bothers me specifically because the highlight of the though. Female smokers also learn, out of necessity, to be problem is not the smoking of the cigarette — men do ever-vigilant, always on the lookout for the omnipresent that with impunity in the exact same places and no one idiot with a camera phone, eager to video tape the whole seems to mind. The focus is always women — people sordid, scandalous scene. They’re everywhere, you know, don’t really have a problem with smoking; they have lurking in dark corners with a phone held deceptively at a problem with women smoking. When Indians see eye-level. You can find the products of their hard work women smoke, ugly things start to happen. on YouTube; just search for ‘sexy college girl smoking What are these ugly things I speak of? I won’t dwell cigarette’. upon the stares and glowers at that female smoker’s Worse, women who smoke do not have the luxury face constantly, because there will always be people of relying on the protection of the police, or anyone, quick to inform me that there’s nothing wrong with really, when harassed. Any woman who makes such a looking; that people only stare because they aren’t used complaint would simply be laughed out of the station. to seeing it, and anyway, don’t be so sensitive. So, in the It’s the usual idea: if you’re a female smoker, you interest of not-being-so-sensitive, I’ll gracefully bow deserve every bit of harassment you get, and more. Hell, my head and move on, as befits a good Indian woman; policemen routinely stop, harass and bully women who ignoring, of course, the fact that smoke on the streets, ignoring there’s a difference between a look the numerous men doing the and a stare, and that while judging same in the vicinity (because a woman for smoking may not be The sight of a woman smoking, petrified, cowed college girls illegal, it certainly is unsavoury and as I’ve said, has a strange and are much easier targets). symptomatic of a deeply rooted profound effect on the average An astonishing number of patriarchal bias. Indian man. A cigarette seems people, both male and female, Cigarette-wallahs often point- to take on numerous additional also seem to have no qualms blank refuse to sell cigarettes to layers of meaning when seen in a in marching up to women women, while continuing to serve woman’s hand to treat them to an edifying the hordes of men milling around lecture that makes references them. It’s no secret. They tell you in equal number to the duties quite honestly that they won’t and responsibilities women sell cigarettes to ladies. Shopkeepers permit men to have, the defining characteristics of prostitutes, and the smoke outside their establishments, while women are terrible effects such evil habits can have on their wombs. immediately shooed away — loudly, never politely. Again, I am making no judgments on smoking in itself. Women seen smoking are harangued, cursed, vilified, I just wonder how many men have found themselves muttered and spat at (no, literally) by the general public. listening to an old, strange senior citizen enlighten The sight of a woman smoking has a strange and them about the toll smoking can take on their fertility? profound effect on the average Indian man. A cigarette Listen, it is not your birthright to lecture, videotape, seems to take on numerous additional layers of meaning threaten, harass and bully those who do not subscribe when seen in a woman’s hand. It is always immensely to your moral standards. Female smokers are not the problematic when a single object becomes a symbol of reflection of everything that’s wrong with this society; it something other than its primary or original purpose. is the people who harass them who are. They are doing This is particularly true when dealing with cigarettes. you no more harm than the men you seem to be able to When a woman smokes, the cigarette suddenly becomes ignore. So in essence, I’m not asking for much, just what a sign of her availability, sexual promiscuity, bad most women always seem to be pleading for anyway: upbringing and absolute, woeful moral decay. Because, please, just leave us the hell alone. of course, only such women smoke. You know, the type of woman you fuck, but never marry.

*** campusdiaries.com/stories/sexy-college-girl-smoking-cigarette CampusDiaries magazine May

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F

aiza has been living somewhere with her sister, somewhere far from her home for the last three months — somewhere where her uncle cannot find her. Her mother prays to Allah for the safety of her daughters. It all started 20 years ago, before Faiza was born. When her mother got married at an early age of 13 to Saiyad Munnir, an autorickshaw driver. “My husband was a drunken lout who used to come home and beat me up for petty reasons,” says Ishra Bano. Ishra never complained of what she was going through. She bore him seven kids and Faiza, 16, is the second of the seven. Ten years back Faiza used to stay with her family. Those were the days when they went through grievous torture and also had to witness her mother’s helplessness in making ends meet. Salman was a good cricketer, Ishra recalls. “I remember him always talking about the Indian cricket team and his dream to become a part of it. Until that one day when my husband shattered the dreams of my son and he couldn’t ever walk properly,” she says. When Salman came back home from school and told his father that he had not scored well in his final exams, Saiyad took an iron rod and started beating him. “I tried to stop him but he wouldn’t listen. I kept begging and crying,” says Ishra. After a few days she noticed that Salman could not walk properly and took him to hospital. That day, Salman had to get one of his legs amputated. A month after this tragic incident, Salman left home, never to return. This incident led to quarrels and fights every day, leaving bruises all over Ishra’s body. “I wanted to revolt against my husband’s cruel deeds but I was defenseless,” says Ishra. Once, she even started to pack her bags to leave, but Saiyad threatened to kill them all. The fights worsened and one day, he poured petrol over his wife and all his children. She cried out for help. Listening to her cries, a few neighbours came to their rescue. “He would have killed me and my kids ten years back,” she says. The neighbours filed a complaint at the police station, which prompted Saiyad to flee. “He left home but I was happy, I knew I was capable enough to feed my kids and keep them safe,” says Ishra. She then started working at a tailor’s shop and was able to send her children to school. But, little did they know their joy was about to be entangled in a turbulent storm. A month later, Ishra’s sister and her husband came to visit her and asked her to come and stay in a house nearby. “I thought it would be safer to stay near my family, so we all shifted to our new house,” says Ishra. Ishra’s sister was nice to Faiza, her daughter, too. She purchased new clothes for her and even gave her food to eat. Finally, one day, she asked her whether Faiza would like to stay with her. Faiza couldn’t say no to her aunt and found her affection genuine. So, she started living with her uncle and aunt. Slowly, they started provoking Faiza against her own mother saying that Ishra wanted to have an illicit

relationship with her sister’s husband . “Faiza believed them and couldn’t help hating me for this,” says Ishra. Faiza started staying with her uncle and had no idea about what was going on in her family in her absence and, most importantly, with her mother. Her uncle stopped sending her sisters to school and forcefully got Sabiha, 13, married. “She gave birth to a baby girl a year back and since her pregnancy, she has been suffering from health complications. She was too young to get married,” says Ishra. Faiza came to know about all of this a year later and by then it was too late to do anything. The guilt was choking her from within. She could neither stay with her uncle nor return to her mother. So, she left her uncle’s house and went to the railway station. Once she reached the station she realised that she had nowhere to go and nothing to do. A man approached her and enquired if she was alone. He had a gleam of slyness in his eyes and the shadow of his soul cast across his face. On learning that Faiza was alone, he assured her that he would provide her a house to stay and also get her a job — all she had to do was to listen to him. The man told Faiza that if the police inquired who he was, then she was to say that he was her

One day, when Salman came back home and told his father that he had not scored well in his final exams, Saiyad took an iron rod and started beating him mama (uncle). Faiza was scared and knew that something wrong was going to happen. After some time, a woman constable approached them because she was suspicious about the man. She asked Faiza whether she knew the man and got no for an answer. And thus began another journey in Faiza’s life — the journey to a juvenile home. Every day the police asked her where her house was, who her family members were and what her name was — questions for which she had no answer. She didn’t want to go back home. The government juvenile home was no better than her uncle’s house, Faiza told her mother later. She was made to clean toilets and sweep floors. There was a group of women guards who used to beat the girls up if the job was not done properly. During the month of Ramzan, when Faiza had to observe a fast for a month, the juvenile home authority sent her to the government home for women. She caught herself pondering over different methods of torture that might be inflicted upon her during her stay. There, they made Faiza work and promised her a monthly salary of R 1,000. Rekha Begum was incharge of the home and she used to take R 900 off of Faiza’s salary.

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“For many days, at the government home, my daughter lived without any food,” says Ishra. Nine months passed at the home and she made friends, who, unlike her, wanted to go back to their mothers. One day, a relative of Ishra happened to visit the home and saw Faiza. Faiza knew her mother would be coming anytime to take her back. “I stood far away from my

He removed his clothes and told her that he had every right on her izzat (virginity). Faiza remembers the night when her body burned in the pits of hell. Ishra kept crying outside, pleading with her sister to save her child. But she refused to help and said, “My husband provided food and everything necessary to you and your useless daughters, so my husband has every right over your daughters.”

He removed his clothes and told her that he had every right on her izzat (virginity). Faiza remembers the night when her body burned in the pits of hell

There was silence.

child and we gazed forlornly at each other,” Ishra recalls. As they came close, Ishra hugged her daughter tightly and said, “All these nine months I prayed to Allah to keep you safe wherever you were.” Faiza understood her mother’s happiness, but she knew she was returning back to the miseries to which there was no solution. But this time it was something more than just agony waiting for her. On seeing her, her uncle dragged her to his room.

After that horrifying day in Faiza’s life, she had no other option but to run away and take her younger sister Aisha along with her. Her mind was muted under the spell of its own silence. Faiza handled the matter then and there, assuming the burden of responsibility, as she knew 10-year-old Aisha would be the next victim. She knew her mother was helpless and perhaps this was the only way she could help her sister. “I don’t want my husband to ever show up in my life. He never cared about me but at least he could have cared about our children,” says Ishra. She now stays in a small shanty with her four kids and hopes for the return of her two daughters.

*** campusdiaries.com/stories/allah-will-keep-them-safe

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CampusDiaries magazine May


observations

Puncture-D Nikhil Chandrashekhar | ATRIA Institute of Technology | Bangalore An ex-grammar Nazi’s quest for the elusive ‘puncture shop’ on the streets of Bangalore before the Android invasion, when life was simpler with just a scrapbook and a 2 megapixel camera.

#language

punctured


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Finally, a “puncture� shop! My journey of a year long spot-runclick madness with a 2MP Nokia phone camera... Ah, spelling heaven! campusdiaries.com/picture-stories/puncture-d


Nikhil Amarnath National Public School Koramangala Bangalore

Ponderings over the conflicts between cultures in a globalised world and the apparent loss of older traditions from a different perspective. #traditions


Society

A

In our school as well, we have been asked to promote ll of us are proud to be Indian. To be general, Indian culture by performing only Indian arts on stage patriotism is inherent in all of us to some extent. (which temporarily extended to music as well). It was a We do berate our country for its faults at times, move made with an intent to be enthusiastic. And though but we appreciate what it has to offer too. And to it should be respected, in essence, it doesn’t translate berate us, we have generations above us. Why? For well to the society. I’ve learnt Western classical music for not being true to our roots. nearly ten years now, but is that really a move towards I may be considered a disgrace to my roots as a mallu, “Westernisation”? Popular culture doesn’t embrace being unable to speak, read or write the local language and Western classical music. Why is it, then, that preserving being unaware of half the traditions it employs. Well, in Indian cultures takes a priority? Why is our generation my defense, I do understand the language but I dare to not being forced, out of a misplaced sense of patriotism, to speak it because I find it hard to distinguish between the indulge in what we are not interested in? There are so Dravidian languages. For instance, it’s quite embarrassing many people I know who learnt Indian music, and know to be talking to your relatives and suddenly realise that it well. Thus, the traditions have been preserved already the broken language you’re using isn’t Malayalam at all and aren’t lost as such. You can’t expect it to make a but, in fact, a terrible version of Tamil! To me, the script resounding comeback and become popular all over again. honestly looks like popcorn ­— round kernels with curly Even “Western” culture evolves and has lost a lot over fluffs. What’s more disheartening for me is that although time. There are Western “preservationalists” as well who I appreciate languages, yet cannot converse in my own wish to revive culture of bygone days but instead they’re mother tongue. called hippies who want to keep smoking pot. I dare not But, really, there are some who deliberately extend the draw the parallel, but I hope my definition of “westernisation” to point is made. Many fear the death include all our social evils. It’s of the Indian culture, but this is far true that our culture has been “westernised” at some level but The notion that our generation from its death. This is merely the it’s an overall transformation. It wants to copy the West is quite a result of India integrating with the is neither good nor evil. Reading bitter idea, for me at least. I seek world, which results in a give-andup on the internet, I found a to emulate nobody. I wish to try take situation. We lose some of our practices, and in turn, the world few orthodox Indians ranting in what appeals to me receives some of ours. Yoga and broken English and mourning Ayurveda are famously becoming their lost culture — the “Golden commonplace across the world and Age Syndrome”. are the most commonly cited examples of the growth of The notion that our generation wants to copy the West Indian culture. But is the advent of global culture really is quite a bitter idea, for me at least. I seek to emulate harmful? nobody. I wish to try what appeals to me. I don’t watch The orthodox ranting Indians I mentioned earlier, I Indian cinema because I’m not much of a fan, and not quote them now: “Drugs and alcohols were introduced by because I want to be a Westerner. There are so many it (Westernisation). Culture is forgotten by it. No patriotic positive aspects of globalisation and the one thing we feeling. Especially young generation face a big problem. must not do is mark it as “westernisation”. Our problem They already got what is the incoming problem. Dress has today is that we wish to follow traditions because we been getting less then than previous and girls are facing think that they are tried and tested through time and lots of problem. Western culture has robbed our beautiful somewhere they seem to work. There lies the problem. Indian culture... it has robbed the manners of Indian youths... Time does not correct evil — an error the entire world it is more bad then having one or two good effects.” 1 makes as a whole. It is controversial to discuss this, not Really? Wow! only because it applies to every existing religion and Frankly, I’ve met lots of orthodox Indians who are severely tradition but also because time itself has made tradition rude and uncultured. There is no way to compare two unquestionable, rigid and static. Our society changes with traditions against each other. It is saddening that we expect time in natural progression but there are those who want the so-called “westerners” to tolerate our slandering of to preserve tradition, unchanged. We cannot consider all their cultures while we take offence to even the slightest of Indian tradition as one single, unified practice, and it’s comment levelled at ours. important to remember that. There are good practices My aunt’s friend once called me a coconut — brown on and the not-so-wholesome practices. Some should be the outside and white on the inside. As humorous as that abhorred, like the caste system. Observe how long it took was, I’m not advocating Western culture in this article. I for the caste system to be recognised as an evil. Simply believe every culture has its positives and negatives and because it was so steeped in tradition that it took a I’m proud to be an Indian, where I am exposed to so many revolution for it to be abolished, yet it is still practiced. 1 - A wiki answer to the question ‘Impact of westernisation on India soceity?’ (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Impact_of_westernisation_on_India_soceity) 2- An excerpt from a blog (http://creative.sulekha.com/impact-of-westernization-on-indian-culture_27724_blog)


Every time we were invaded in history, our country was different cultures. However, I do advocate forced into a transition of cultures, and only thus has tolerance for all of these cultures, because our culture developed. We resisted the British, but we that is terribly deficient in our society. have imbibed a lot from their culture as well. But now, in “It is very unfortunate that today’s generation has very little this modern era, we have a free choice. Nothing is being knowledge about their culture, traditions and their roots. forced upon us, yet we are intolerant. The very culture This is not their mistake but the mistake of their parents we wish to preserve is in itself a who does do not enlighten conglomeration of ancient foreign their children about their traditions. Where are the indigenous roots, about their rich cultural Did Westerners give us alcohol? No. It people of India? The tribal still heritage.” 2 Comments like these really already existed in the Indian society. live in the forests, unexposed. I sting, don’t they? I read up Did they give us drugs? No. Marijuana encourage you to preserve their on many cultures and I don’t was pretty common as well. And, culture. Sadly, campaigners for ask my parents to educate hold on. What is Indian culture? Is it their cause face opposition from the very same Indians who believe me when I want to learn not foreign in itself? that the tribal community need to be something new. This so“modernised” or they won’t be able called Western culture is, to survive. The same Indians say that according to traditionalists, they are disconnected from society. Contradiction much? the stereotypic epitome of what is wrong with the So, I may eat with a spoon and not with my hands as a world. Did Westerners give us alcohol? No. It already matter of choice, I may listen to music I like and I may learn existed in the Indian society. Did they give us drugs? No. what I desire, but that doesn’t make me less Indian. Marijuana was pretty common as well. And, hold on. What is Indian culture? Is it not foreign in itself?

*** campusdiaries.com/stories/coconut

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opinion

BEYOND BOOKS #change

Anubhav Razdan | AIESEC India

W

hile being a fascination to the world, India childhood — we had just crossed an international today faces a number of evident and not so border, with nothing more than a few policeman evident “challenges” in its path to become a casually peeking in to the bus and waving us goodbye nation where every individual can expect to within 5 minutes! live his or her life in the most holistic manner possible. It made me think — why can’t India have such an Although the government is usually blamed on multiple arrangement with its neighbours? If we just consider fronts for its failure to play the role it is elected to play, the economics, how much of an impact would it make what are we young people doing? Rather, what are we on mutual trade if we could allow for free passage of supposed to do? Indian, Nepalese, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Bhutanese “Considering I studied Biology in high school, I can and Sri Lankan nationals? What sort of confidence only be a doctor, right?” “Am I supposed to complete an building measures would this require? MBA and take up a cushy investment banking/consulting I had only read about foreign policy, import-export job? Or am I supposed to start an NGO that works to policies in my International Business class. Here I was, provide a more sustainable livelihood to the B-O-P living what I had read just now! women in our villages?” I think the confusion or the lack Sharing what the Father of the Nation once said of perceived options that clouds the mind of a young — “It is perfectly true that whatever person today is because of service I have been able to render… one single reason — lack of to India, comes from South Africa.” exposure to the world that Do you even remember what This illustrates the power in lies beyond the boundaries you studied in your first year of experiential learning, which comes of their classroom. engineering by the time you finish from international opportunities. How good is an education the fourth year with a distinction? Indeed, sometimes one needs to go that only enables you to be global, in order to serve one’s own fantastic at repeating like We just don’t put ourselves in nation. There is patriotism in being parrots what you study in situations where we may learn a global leader. books? How many of us from practical experiences India as a country needs young can apply that knowledge people who don’t just talk, but take of Indian history or the the initiative and bring about change. working of a semi-conductor This continuous stream of passionate or Maslow’s Individual Needs Hierarchy in real life? Do young Indians must go out and get things done — in you even remember what you studied in your first year of politics, in social causes, in the corporate world, in engineering by the time you finish the fourth year with education, in research, in medicine, everywhere! a distinction? We just don’t put ourselves in situations We, as the youth of the nation, need to strive for and where we may learn from practical experiences. live transformative experiences. AIESEC is one unique For the sake of providing an example, let me recount organisation, which endeavours to provide India with from experience. Last year, I had the opportunity to this breed of young Indians who have spent their take part in a conference hosted in Portugal, through formative years in an extremely dynamic and challenging my organisation — AIESEC India. While I was travelling organisation. It gives you the platform to take up global from Spain by bus, I did not even realise when we experiences and explore new opportunities which entered Portugal. This came as a complete shock to me, progress the individual and hence the society forward. having only heard of border disputes since Visit www.aiesec.in and come see for yourself!

***

campusdiaries.com/stories/beyond-books


rjun picked it up, perhaps, for the last time — a small black bottle with an almost torn off label on it. The tablets tumbled around inside, nonreactant to the turmoil of his heart — exactly the device which they were supposed to stop. He studied them with the curiosity of a child, waiting to shoot the trigger on himself, unknown to the harsh pains of death, lost in the myths of ‘dying in peace’. The trance suddenly broke off, caused by a loud tap on the door. “Arjun! Coming?” He didn’t answer. He didn’t have to. They would find out eventually. The fading footsteps and the hustle of a voice terminated the urgency with which it had asked the question. In our culture, they say you must walk alone if others don’t always follow.

They were speeding down the highway. The wind in their hair, the hand around his waist — everything was a scene from the prefect dream he dreamt every night. Vihaan and Arjun, were racing down the highway, like they didn’t give a damn to the world around. Arjun would hold Vihaan by his waist and make his grip tighter as they got faster. A slow repetitive movement, that took them to the farthest corners of the ever-expanding universe and bought them closer till the molecules could fuse together to become one... Suddenly Vihaan, his best friend from sixth standard, pulled over to the side of the road. “What’s up with you?” “Don’t touch me ever again that way. Get out of my life.” “You abnormal fag!” In our culture, they say people in love can never be friends.

***

***

“This lipstick is… ?” “It’s a girl’s. Manvi’s. She put it in my bag yesterday.” “Manvi isn’t in town, Arjun.” “Then it must be somebody else’s.” “Tell me the truth?” “It’s mine, mumma.” Somewhere a door shut, a glass shattered to pieces, a woman burst into tears. “I’m sorry, ma.” In our culture, they say glass shattering is a sign of good luck.

He gulped down all the tablets at once. He hoped it would be over quickly — that every second of shame, disrespect and abnormality would suddenly turn into nothing. Every spoken word laced with deceit and mockery would become nothing but a dead memory — the kind you couldn’t bring to revive. So, he decided to wait for the reaper. In our culture, they say abnormality is the punishment of the sins of your past. In our culture, they say marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s between love and love, they don’t say.

“The world is so hateful that some would rather die than be who they are.” ~ Macklemore

*** campusdiaries.com/stories/homo-cide

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Time : 5 am

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8.

The coach speaks, the day ends


Boxing Diaries

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paper planes


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elcome to India’s premier design school. The faculty here felt that the students needed to have grass root level knowledge if they hoped to be pioneers in the field of design. This was because they knew that it was extremely easy to be swept away by the nightlife of Bangalore, the dramatic elements of one’s social life, and the other charms of the concrete jungle. The faculty wished to push the students out of their secure space so that they could actually see and feel the larger picture of life. One group of students chose to look at the world through a socio-political lens, so the college assigned them the task of investigating the issues of that nature in a place called B.R. Hills or Biligiriranga Hills. After spending some quality time with Google, the students found out that the B.R.T sanctuary in B.R. Hills is about to become a tiger reserve, which meant that the Soligas, a tribal group distinctive to the area, would be displaced. They learnt that the Soligas settled in the interiors of the forest and have been practicing shifting cultivation for years. The students understood that the ‘forest’ was not the focus of their research, but rather it was the Soligas and their displacement issues. As a group of excited and socio-culturally sensitive

Enchanted by the beauty of the forest, the paper planes went to another podu to try their luck again with the Soligas. As they walked through the narrow lanes, a few of them froze when they heard a very familiar tune — it was Justin Beiber’s Baby design students, they were all looking forward to having memorable and engaging conversations with the Soligas. During their time spent researching, they saw a lot of documentaries on different tribal groups around the world and the issues they faced. They were clueless as to what they could do for the Soligas, or what kind of questions they could ask them, or, most importantly, how to befriend them. So, they all sat in a circle and discussed creative modes of interaction. Akshay said that he could bring his guitar and play some regional songs. Shobha said that she could teach the children how to dance. Rae said that she could make or teach origami products. After two weeks of intense research on ‘ethical research’, tribal groups, social mapping, region specific social conduct, etc. the group of colourful naïve paper planes, armed with their guitars, sitars and ghungroos, were ready to fly and put all their classroom research into practice and return as a triumphant group of changemakers.

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It was one of those mornings where the sunlight was direct, harsh and one would have to squint in the blinding light to look at something. The students had unusually pleasant smiles pasted on their faces, chocolates in their bags, all under the pretense of being the most charming bunch of urban strangers that had come to visit the Soligas. The Soligas lived in settlements known as ‘podus’. They split up and began to explore the podu. One cluster approached a house that had women strewn around the patio, conversing as they combed their hair. The students tried to talk to the women but they didn’t pay them any attention, turned in the opposite direction and resumed braiding hair. The students were perturbed. “This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. What happened to those picture perfect National Geographic moments?” sighed Gavati. “If you come to think of it, how would you feel if a bunch of creepy teenagers invited themselves over to your house and started to question you about your life, family and culture for their so-called ‘research’?” reflected Nishanth. “I’d probably tell them to mind their own business and not waste my time,” said Akshay. “Exactly,” replied Rae, “So it shouldn’t be a surprise that they are acting this way. Should it? Why is that we are made to think that they are any different from us? They too don’t like people invading their privacy.” The students were confused and felt that everything in the universe was just mocking them. After temporarily giving up on people, the paper planes decided to explore the forest, the Soligas’ home. Even as technology and urban design advanced, there were certain things about the forest that just could not be duplicated. It was as if a poem was whispered into their ears: Quiet Listen to the silence Of the light seeping Through the forest As the mist embraces The fields of dawn It asks ‘What took you so long?’ Enchanted by the beauty of the forest, the paper planes went to another podu to try their luck again with the Soligas. As they walked through the narrow lanes, a few of them froze when they heard a very familiar tune — it was Justin Beiber’s Baby. Three of them sprinted towards the house from which the song seemed to originate. Shobha, panting, called out and asked if anyone was in the house. Nagraj, a dusky man in his young thirties came out and smiled at the trio.


The paper planes were so relieved; it was the first Rae managed to entertain the children of the podu smile they had received in two days. Akshay introduced by distributing pink origami lilies. Trusha played himself to Nagraj and asked how he knew about Justin hopscotch with some restless boys. As they rode back to Beiber. Nagraj laughed and said that his nephew, who their lodge, the sun-kissed wind swept over their faces, was a college student in a town nearby, was playing which now adorned smiles of contentment. Instead of Beiber on his phone. going to a new podu and bothering The students were thoroughly more people, they decided to build amused by the thought of They also had a special dance on the new friendships that they Justin Beiber in the middle of and song form called ‘Gorukana’ had forged with the few people a dense forest. It turned out they had met. So, they returned which meant the ‘web of life’. to the podu and began speaking they were more similar to the Soligas than they thought and The ‘web of life’ symbolised their to their new friends and collected they were also susceptible inter-dependence between the very useful and diverse information to the invasion of American forest and other living beings about their lifestyle, social system, pop culture. The paper planes economic problems, culture, etc. began talking to Nagraj and his Apparently, they primarily cultivated friend Satish, and explained that they had not come as coffee and collected Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) tourists but as their future friends. They managed to such as gooseberries and honey. find out a lot of information from Nagraj and Satish. They also had a special dance and song form called Satish spoke to Akshay about how he also faced peer ‘Gorukana’ which meant the ‘web of life’. The ‘web of life’ pressure as his friends urge him to smoke and drink. symbolised their inter-dependence between the forest Akshay felt this unreal sense of connection towards and other living beings. Satish and was happy that they could relate to each “This is amazing. It’s like the chaos theory! Isn’t everything in other. this world interconnected?” inferred Akshay.

Into the distance They flew All those innocent paper planes Colourful, bright, new Away from comfort Of what they knew Into the distance They flew


As they looked at their research they realised that none It was really cold and the stars spilt over the darkness of the of the organisations were separate entities. All the night as the moon was its bindi. There was a huge bonfire lit problems and solutions were invariably interconnected and then out of nowhere there was the sound of drumbeats and interdependent. They were also extremely proud of and music and a group of boys began dancing around the the fact that they were invited bonfire. into some of the houses and They wore orange lungis and had painted were served a special jaggery In a while, the sound of laughter their faces with patterns of white paint and flavoured tea along with echoed in almost every lane of adorned their waists and heads with strings jackfruit. Obtaining information the podu as the paper plane of leaves. They were jumping, dancing and was one thing, but actually being brigade pierced through the air. singing around the bonfire. In a while, they invited into one of the houses It was such a beautiful image invited the students to join in. was a huge accomplishment for The paper planes joined and danced that all of them clicked it with with all the enthusiasm in the world. all of them. They made all the children their eyes and pasted it on the They couldn’t believe that they were different coloured paper planes. walls of their heart dancing with their newfound friends. It In a while, the sound of laughter was an exhilarating experience for them echoed in almost every lane of as the pulsating drumbeats vibrated in each the podu as the paper plane brigade pierced through the of their hearts and the bonfire warmed their souls. They had air. It was such a beautiful image that all of them clicked finally begun their journey. They had finished their research it with their eyes and pasted it on the walls of their heart. for the time being but they knew that this wasn’t the end but On their last day in B.R.Hills, the Soligas invited them only a beginning. to attend one of their cultural programmes. All the paper Who says that if you’re lost in translation, you can’t have a planes arrived devoid of any expectations and then they conversation? That’s when you use things that aren’t words realized that this was the podu they were rejected from. to connect with them.

***

campusdiaries.com/stories/paper-planes

Movement That unites That celebrates That breaks All the barriers Language creates


people

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Studying under the aegis of Anita’s ‘Anurag Singh t t is 3 PM on a warm April afternoon and Anita Singh Charitable Trust’, the kids have a lot to rejoice about. (50), fondly called ‘Madam/Guru’ by her students, These are children of rickshaw pullers, carpenters, is chalking out the lesson plan on the blackboard. domestic help, miners and the like, who couldn’t get the Dressed in a sober coloured salwar kameez, she is opportunity to complete even one full day at their former quietly preparing assignments for the day. Suddenly, a government schools. Earning for the family came before streak of excitement brightens up her face, as 20-odd attending school in their priority list. It was Anita who children from the nearby slums come dashing into coaxed the parents to let their children study. She gave her modest classroom to learn. With backpacks and a them financial assistance and got them admitted into the handful of curios for their favourite teacher in town, best city schools for quality education. they stumble to grab the front And now, she also provides tuitions row seats. They are Anita’s family now. A resident of Doranda, These are children of rickshaw after school hours to help them with their homework — and all this at no Ranchi, Anita has converted the pullers, carpenters, domestic cost. outhouse in her premise into a Having spent weeks walking into classroom for imparting tuitions help, miners and the like, who couldn’t get the opportunity the interiors of slums and outskirts to underprivileged kids. Just when Anita is about to to complete even one full day of Ranchi, Anita identified children begin the lessons, Arti Kumari, at their former government from a varied background and adopted them. Some are drop outs, some blind a sprightly 13-year-old promptly schools. and some are merely starting school. steps up and offers Anita the In less than a year of its establishment, chocolate she had been saving all the Trust has roped in a whopping day from the ogling eyes of her 40 children under their programme. While 26 of them classmates. “This is for you Madam. The heat has melted study in JMJ Girls School, Doranda, the rest study in St. it, but it will be tastier now,” she says smilingly. Another Michael’s School, St. Xavier’s School, Shanti Ranchi High girl, Alka Sushmita Lakra, 13, has made her teacher’s School, Namkum, a Blind school and a school for the portrait. hearing and speech imapired children. “What is the celebration?” asks an amused Anita. Founded on April 27, 2011 in the memory of Anurag “You make us so happy,” they scream. Singh, Anita’s 22-year-old son who lost his life in a motor With Arti standing first in her class, Sanjit Mahato, accident in Manipal, Karnataka, and the Trust has indeed completing his Masters in Geography, or Shankar Kumar, transformed many lives by providing academic and 11, a hearing and speech impaired lad from Darbhanga, financial assistance to underprivileged children, under its Bihar who is gradually showing improvement in his flagship program, ‘Nurturing Hope Scholarship’. It aims academics, these kids are winning accolades at school to empower slum children with education, vocational and being exposed to things they have never experienced training, thereby equipping them with employment skills. before. CampusDiaries magazine May

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Although facing severe crunch of funds and manpower, Economics from Nirmala College in Ranchi in 1983, Anita, the sole proprietor-teacher-fund generator of after which she joined Loreto Convent as a teacher. A the Trust, vouches to never charge a penny from her woman of many interests, a young and free-spirited pupils. But she admits that a foreign funding and school teacher, an ardent music lover, a connoisseur volunteering at the Trust would help her and the of art and a hard core cricket fan, it was “unusual” to programme immensely. find Anita sitting idle, her parents “I just want these children to claim. Endowed with an athletic have happy and successful lives. build and a wonderful sense of My son Anurag loved helping the “He (Anurag) would read out stories humour, Anita was, without a poor. He would regularly visit the to them, distribute toffees and spend doubt, a “people’s person”. cancer hospital in Manipal while time with them. Helping the needy A district level basket ball player he was studying electronics and was the purpose of his life, and and avid debater, Anita was also communication in the university through this Trust, I wish to translate nicknamed ‘Indira Gandhi’ at her there. college by her friends for being Anurag’s vision into reality” He was such a favourite of the a martinet for sports. “Once, kids at the cancer hospital, that she had gotten the lunch break they would post him messages cancelled because her classmates over the vacations, asking about his arrival. He would showed reluctance to do the march-past. She finally read out stories to them, distribute toffees and spend made them do it,” recounts her mother Sheila Singh. time with them. Helping the needy was the purpose But, Anita is different person now. of his life, and through this Trust, I wish to translate Flipping through the old photographs of her son and Anurag’s vision into reality,” says Anita. gently touching his precious trophies and his favourite Born and brought up in Ranchi, Anita completed her Liverpool football stars’ posters pasted on his bedroom schooling from Loreto Convent, and graduated in wall, she wears a sad expression today.


Anita has also inculcated all the hobbies that her son had — from football to hosting quiz shows in school. Materialising her son’s wishes remains the goal of her life now. However, the project has not been so easy. Anita adds that even though the road to making this world a better place to live, has its own challenges, which at times appear insurmountable, the biggest one is to convince and motivate parents and children to study. “For these children, education still remains the lowest priority mainly due to lack of financial resources which results in high percentage of dropouts,” she says Hence, to overcome these challenges, the Trust reaches out to people by organising contact programs and motivational sessions in the slum areas.

Anita envisions that in the next five years, the Trust ropes in at least 500 children and also reaches out to neighbouring states too

Having lost her husband barely two years after marriage and her son at the age of 22 to a motor accident, life is not the same for her anymore. “After my husband, my life was centered on my son. Now, he is not here. He left so many questions unanswered. I didn’t even get to say goodbye,” says Anita with a heavy sigh.

Although the paucity of funds has made expansion difficult, Anita envisions that in the next five years, the Trust ropes in at least 500 children and also reaches out to neighbouring states too. As a mother who lives to keep the memory of her son alive, Anita says that the energy she would have put into her loving son today, has now diverted to working for those in need in the hope that maximum children get educated and live selfsufficient lives. And it is the smiles of those slum-dwellers which makes all her struggles worth it. Summing up all her strength, she smiles and says, “I can’t bring him back, but we can accomplish his dreams.”

*** campusdiaries.com/stories/enlightening-lives-memory-her-son

“For these children, education still remains the lowest priority mainly due to lack of financial resources which results in high percentage of dropouts” Anita slowly pulled herself back into the present. Today, she has taken over the business of her father and funds her Trust through that. Besides financial and academic assistance, the Trust is also about to start vocational courses for those who have passed class ten. Stitching, carpentry, cooking are the first few courses on the pipeline. To preserve the memory of her son, Anita keeps in touch with all his friends from school and college and occasionally collects incidents and memories that they fondly remember. CampusDiaries magazine May

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Programs under the Trust Nurturing Hope • • • •

Financial assistance to the children from underprivileged sections of the society, who do not have parents or have a single parent (mother only). Continued assistance for education beyond the school and college to help transition into desired /suitable vocation/profession Effort to bring school drop-outs to mainstream education. Supporting 44 children in different schools starting from KG to post graduation (incl. three school drop outs, one in post graduation, one deaf and mute). Plan to induct more children • Free tuitions to children (sponsored and others) to help children keep up with their school cur riculum.

Tender Touch • •

Medical camps at Blind School for medical assistance (medicines) and plan to get four children operated for bulging eye tumor (Enucleation); each operation to cost Rs. 8000/- (cost of medi cines only). Material support to orphanage.

Instant Google • Conducting Inter School Quiz competitions to spread importance of all-round knowledge. • Plan to reach out and encourage children to participate in extra-curricular activities like debates, elocutions, painting etc. to make them realize their talent.

Challenges

- With the ever-increasing number of children, arranging finances is the biggest challenge. So far it is being done from personal resources. - Volunteers needed to support the cause in its true spirit

How to Reach anuragscharitabletrust@yahoo.com +91 651 2482951 +91 8987507198


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people

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WHAT WE LIVE FOR Anubhav A | Christ University Bangalore

Street Performers. Although not a very common sight in India, street performance is an art form taken quite seriously in many countries. In this collection,you will find some interesting ones from Switzerland and Berlin. #street


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1. The Violinist Most performers are students, using free time to practice in front of audiences. Geneva, Switzerland 2. Return of the Nazi Shot in the Pariser Platz in Berlin, live models dress up in Soviet and Nazi clothing to give a little taste of the past

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3. 3. Welcome to the carnival 4. Three fingers 5. A Swedish marching band in Berlin


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People

6. “Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best.” Nyon, Switzerland. 7. Because sometimes, size does matter. How the Swiss put the vuvuzela to shame...the Alphorn. 8. “Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die.” — Paul Simon

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What will you do this summer?

Or you could get off your a$$ and take the 1st step now

CrackVerbal Launches GRE classes Attend a free Verbal Workshop

&

Take a scholarship test to win free classes To register give a missed call to 08030088552 Or visit us at www.crackverbal.com/gre.htm The Verbal Experts


campus

MEMORIES OF BATH Gowri Kishore

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s a student ambassador of the University of Bath, my alma mater, I used to take prospective students and sometimes their parents around the campus and answer their questions. At the end of a longish tour of the beautiful campus, the classes, and the halls, I would be met with the inevitable question from concerned Asian parents, “But how are the job prospects? Do students find jobs as soon as they graduate?” I went to Bath — a small ‘spa town’ established by Romans in AD 60s in Somerset County, about 160 kms from London — right after I graduated from VIT with the same questions teeming in my head. But now, two years later, I can say with conviction that an international education gives you much more than a degree or a job. It completely changes your outlook on life and widens your perspective. I landed in Heathrow on a cold fall morning in 2011 with bags full of MTR packets that my mom had packed and an ‘international’ Vodafone connection that simply refused to work. I knew no one in the country. The locale, the currency, the accent — everything was alien. I was scared and completely overwhelmed but I somehow managed to find my way to Bath. I chose to stay in university accommodation, where I gravitated gratefully towards fellow Indians. But six months later, when I realised that I had not made even a single British friend, I moved out and became a paying guest with the feisty 70-year-old Mrs. Kemp. It was at her house that I was introduced to delicious pies and tarts, saw my first unforgettable snowfall, went Trickor-Treating in ridiculous Halloween costumes, went shopping for a real Christmas tree of the right shape (and later decorated it with ornaments that Mrs. Kemp had saved from her childhood days) and learned the tradition of wearing something glittery on New Year’s.

I landed in Heathrow on a cold fall morning in 2011 with bags full of MTR packets that my mom had packed and an ‘international’ Vodafone connection that simply refused to work. It rained incessantly in Bath, and I got used to carrying an umbrella wherever I went, and to celebrate gleefully whenever the sun came out. What struck me most about life there was how everyone was so non-judgmental — about what you do, how you dress or how much money you make. On sunny days, street artists and musicians play by the roadside to make some extra cash. I myself worked in six part-time jobs, one of which was cleaning toilets, and nobody there thought it was demeaning — but I had a hard time telling this to my parents back in India! The minimum wage in the UK is £6/hour, which is not bad, considering you spend about £25 on food every week. The social security and government support there is so good that one has to work really hard to be poor! The British are also painfully polite — the joke runs that if an Englishman were drowning, he would shout “Will someone please rescue me?” rather than “Help!” — and I did not come across any incidents of racism that I had heard much about before leaving India. My visa permitted me to stay on for six months after my course ended — but impulsively, I decided to come back home, a hasty decision I regret now. Looking back, I realise that I have grown tremendously as a person — my outlook has changed; I have become self-dependent, tolerant and broadminded. In fact, if someone were to ask me now what I got from living abroad, I would answer, “A new me.”

***

campusdiaries.com/stories/memories-bath

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Project


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his part of the story is called me bragging. It’s only been three months since we got back from it but the Project 35 Trees India Tour feels like a dream. Every now and then, I catch myself smiling at a memory that more often than not feels like something that did not happen. What I am romanticising here is a four-month, completely crowd-funded, successful tree-plantation drive in all the thirty-five states and union territories of India. Do I sound smug enough? Hell, you would be proud too, if you could see your dream project being completed in front of your eyes. This part of the story is called the story. So two of us namely Anthony Karbhari and Hari Chakyar left Mumbai on 10th of October 2012 with clothes (enough to last us two weeks), a tiny production kit, a laptop, a projector and a pickaxe. The plan was to visit schools and colleges, screen documentary films on poaching, environmental degradation and use of unconventional sources of energy and to plant trees with the students. We travelled upwards from Mumbai to the northwest, then the north, the north east, the centre, the east, the south and up again to the west. This is what our travel route really looked like — we went to Daman first. Then to Silvassa, Baroda, Indore, Jaipur, Delhi, Gurgaon,

What I am romanticising here is a four-month, completely crowd-funded, successful tree-plantation drive in all the thirty-five states and union territories of India. Do I sound smug enough? Hell, you would be proud too, if you could see your dream project being completed in front of your eyes Amritsar, Jammu, Chandigarh, Manali, Dehradun, Agra, Patna, Gangtok, Guwahati, Shillong, Kohima, Imphal, Aizawl, Tripura, Kolkata, Diglipur (North Andaman), Jamshedpur, Bhilai, Puri, Hyderabad, Vinobajipuram (near Madurai, Tamil Nadu), Cherpulassery in Palakkad, Kochi, Bangalore, Goa and back in that very order. We lived with friends, families of friends, relatives of friends and even complete strangers. This helps if you are on a stringent budget, which we were. The only place we had to spend on hotels was in a few places in the North East. In Chandigarh, we lived in a Gurudwara.

So did we actually manage to go to all the states and union territories? Sadly, no. We couldn’t go to Arunachal Pradesh and Lakshadweep. Arunachal Pradesh had bandhs thanks to their impending Student Union Elections and Lakshadweep was plain unwelcoming and cold. Someone from the island has to invite you over for you to go without the tag of a tourist. Even to go as a tourist, the next ship was two months later. We could’ve flown there but then, did we really want to blow up precious crowd-funded R 18,000 one way, per head to go to a place that did not want us there in the first place? This part of the story is called ‘But where will so much money come from?’ If you have a dream, don’t let anything come in your way. We knew the cost of our trip would run in to lakhs. I was a poor copywriter. Anthony is a filmmaker. We had just enough to scrape through after cutting a lot of costs in our projected budget. But, what if there was an emergency? What if we got stuck in some godforsaken place? Will that mean the project will be stalled? There are a lot of these questions. This is when we thought of crowd-funding. Instead of getting one rich party to part with a chunk of their moolah, what if we could get small contributions from many people? Sounded like a good plan. So we set out with a tin box to collect contributions. There is a website called Wishberry that also helped us create an online page that people could use to contribute via online banking, credit cards and debit cards. In a period of three months, we managed to generate a decent amount. It wasn’t as much as we thought we needed but it was way more than we expected. The entire cost of the project so far has been two lakh fifty nine thousand Indian rupees. A four-month India tour for two in that much money… that’s a case study in itself.

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Sometimes, we asked them to write down three This part of the story is called what we actually did. environment related issues around their houses and Project 35 Trees is not just about planting trees. then asked them to think of solutions for each of While we wanted to give students across the country them. The best technique to a chance to plant a tree explain issues; we found out (knowing completely later, was role-playing. Here’s well that environmental education is equally In Bhilai, four students formed a what we did: textbookish as other perfect ecosystem. One played green In Bhilai, four students formed subjects), we also wanted foliage. Another played a herbivore. A a perfect ecosystem. One them to understand third was a carnivore. Yet another one played green foliage. Another environmental issues became a flying scavenger. I, with my played a herbivore. A third was around us and not just the Verrappanesque facial hair, became the a carnivore. Yet another one became a flying scavenger. I, ones that have become popular buzz words. poacher who creates an imbalance in the with my Verrappanesque facial hair, became the poacher who Everyone knows the three system creates an imbalance in the R’s– Reduce Reuse Recycle system. but how do you put that — If the poacher cuts too many trees, the herbivores into practice? Everybody knows about climate change suffer first and then the carnivores. If the poacher takes and global warming but what can we do about it? We down all the herbivores, the carnivores venture out into deployed simple methods to talk about these things. the villages and attack domestic animals and children. We screened films. We used Rajasthani Raja Rani cloth puppets for students of younger age-groups. We did a session of shadow-theatre in Bangalore.

3.


Meanwhile, I have been trying to piece together a sort of a book that at the least compiles everything we saw, felt, ate, smelt in the last four months because I would like my grandkids to read it sometime — If the poacher hunts down all the carnivores, the number of herbivores explodes and that affect the availability of food for all of them. This, I found to be the simplest way to depict terms such as adverse effects of deforestation, poaching, mananimal conflict and extinction. We planted around 200 saplings of various species in various climatic conditions, particularly ensuring that they were indigenous and not any foreign type. A friend who is going to Arunachal Pradesh this week is planting a few saplings for us there. Another friend is speaking to people at his resort in Lakshadweep, asking if they could do the honours. This part of the story is called ‘The trip is over. Now what do we do?’ We got back home after 102 days on January 19, 2013. Anthony is working on a film that captures the best moments of the four months. He has about 1TB of footage to sift through. Meanwhile, I have been trying to piece together a sort of a book that at the least compiles everything we saw, felt, ate, smelt in the last four months because I would like my grandkids to read it sometime. Meanwhile, it turned out that I didn’t enjoy my job as much as I did earlier. I did not last twenty days after I joined. I felt advertising and marketing wasn’t doing any good to anyone. It wasn’t making anyone’s life easier or better. I wanted to put my life and skills to better use. I have since been writing freelance content from the confines of my home, devoting all the remnants of my time to the first draft of my so-called book. You will also agree that it is getting unpleasantly hot.

As much as I want it to rain to do my little jig in it, I also plan to plant a lot of trees in and around the city. If you would like to too, do write in. I would also love to hear what you think of our trip and what we are doing. Hoping to hear from you here: http://www.facebook. com/35trees

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campusdiaries.com/stories/project-35-trees

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art

Block printing dates back to the 7th Century and ever since, the art has been an integral part of the culture and economy in Bhairavgarh. National award winner, Sir Raheem Gutti has been working on saving this art cluster (also batik) for more than 50 years.

Block making is the first step (wood used is sandal)

Then a motif is drawn on it, giving it a little depth CampusDiaries magazine May

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Using very basic tools, the motif is carved on the block. In ancient times each community had a motif of their own and mixing motifs was not allowed. Each motif represented a community.


Pigment is added to the binder (pidilite) to make the colour. Use of natural dyes such as (alizarheen) is now extinct.

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The block is dipped in the colour and then pressured upon the surface. It might seem easy but requires great skill (symmetry and pressure)


The finished product – ready to be sold in the markets of Delhi, Mumbai, Indore and also internationally

Also, the blocks lasts forever! These ones are more than 150 years old, owned by a Muslim family residing in Bhairavgarh

campusdiaries.com/picture-stories/bhairavgarh-block-printing

Sir Gutti found something to dedicate his life to his NGO. I hope to find something to dedicate my life to too someday. CampusDiaries magazine May

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people

HALWAI kiKAHANI


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You have an advertising professional, a school lad, he stage has a charm of its own they say. The first an entrepreneur, a couple of professional musicians, a time I got up on stage as a part of the band, I felt metal mad-man and an MBA grad all squeezed into one every single bit of that charm — the nerves and band. I can’t even begin to describe the energy levels on the excitement had made way for the adrenaline stage and off it. Jam sessions that move from creating a rush and in the midst of a roaring applause, the thought out set list to scrapping it a good 12 hours before band was finally unveiled. The first performance of an the actual gig to make way for an even more interesting ensemble, unique in every sense of the term. Being a set is now mundane activity. The uncertainty of what part of Voctronica happens to be my story, my journey. will finally happen on stage makes it all the more Looking back at how it started, I can only think for it to thrilling! be a surreal dream. A Voctronica gig will take you through a crescendo What do you expect to find when you put together of beats, bass, vocals and harmonies coming together to eight people in a room equipped with nothing but create a unique sound. And of course, it’s a visual treat eight microphones? These are people who come from as well, to see a band perform different parts of the country, with no instruments on stage have different sensibilities but their mouths! The bass line and tastes in music and have You have an advertising professional, comes in, moving into some never met each other before — the only thing they have in a school lad, an entrepreneur, a fantastic beats that head straight common is musical affluence. couple of professional musicians, a into vocals and a few thought out That seemed to be enough metal mad-man and an MBA grad all percussion sounds adding to the to put together a band that squeezed into one band. I can’t even magic. If you’ve seen Vishwesh makes, for the lack of a better begin to describe the energy levels on stage, you know there’s going to be humour and interaction. word, funky music. And on stage and off it The set could easily go from darlings, I kid you not! hardcore dubstep to Tamil pop The advantage to putting eight to alternative and you’d wonder crazy minds to work is that you how you’ve never heard this song get a taste of everything from arranged like that. I remember vividly one particular Bollywood to electronic to 80s pop. Not to forget hipincident post our performance at Blue Frog when Vishal hop — the band’s favourite. We even managed to turn an Bhardwaj came to talk to us. He grabbed our 16-year-old obnoxious song like ‘Kolaveri’ into a dubstep mix that had beatboxing star Raj’s arm and asked him, “Bhai yeh itni the audience at Bonobo, Mumbai grooving right till the saari awaazein tum mooh se nikaalte kaise ho?” Priceless! end. Oh and have I mentioned that all of this music is The British Council conceived this brainchild. And created without any instruments? No? Shoot. along with them, the people who were instrumental in The band consists of five beatboxers: Avinash Tewari, the process of creating Voctronica were the good folks Raj Verma, Vineeth Vincent, Alan D’souza, Vishwesh at Sony Music Independent and the two reputed British Krishnamoorthy (of Scribecore fame) and three singers — artists that the Council brought down to India, Andy Megha Manvi, Sushma Joseph and yours truly. These guys Brooks aka Testament and Shlomo — world renowned are not only the most supremely talented people I’ve met beatboxer and Guinness World Record holder. but also are the most creatively driven musicians devoted to creating music that is interesting and different. CampusDiaries magazine May

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When you have godfathers of such calibre, you know You can still see his eyes light up every time Vishwesh that you’re definitely walking the good road. I speak enters the room, his brain buzzing with all the crazy out of personal experience when I say that the level things we could possible do. It still takes me bottles of of dedication international artists bring to the table is Gatorade to match Vishwesh’s abnormally high energy completely unmatchable. From punctuality to working levels whether it’s day or night. through sickness and sleep deprivation, these guys have Eight people in a band, one wonders. A few bottlenecks tremendous level of commitment. I was dumbfounded. I to being a tight eight-piece band is the fact that there am fairly new to the music scene, as a professional, but I are eight pieces to work with. With schedules, jobs and believe a sense of discipline in any field of work is a sign geography it does become quite a task to get everyone in of a passionate individual. And to have worked under both a room together. It hasn’t stopped us from performing these UK artists, is an experience though. We still continue to put I will never forget. For an up a show with around five or six artist of that stature to come If you’ve seen Vishwesh on stage, people up on stage. The magic down, mentor us and create an still stays the same and the atmosphere of pure joy was very you know there’s going to be humour continuity remains unhindered. humbling. Not to mention the and interaction. The set could easily Needless to say, each member laughs we shared when Andy go from hardcore dubstep to Tamil brings forth a unique quality and tried to successfully break down pop to alternative and you’d wonder skill to the band, as a whole, and the arrangement of songs like how you’ve never heard this song is indispensable. ‘Kangna’ and ‘Kolaveri-di’ to us. For someone who doesn’t arranged like that Vineeth Vincent — our fellow pursue music full time, the band member from Bangalore opportunity to get together with says, “For once, I was doing the talented international artists listening while someone else was doing the teaching. Being like Shlomo and to work with a bunch of mad-skilled around so many like-minded musicians just blew open the musicians across the country was more than I could ask possibilities of being a performing artist. Having someone for. I even try my hand (read: mouth) at beat-boxing like Testament to give us tips and help us develop our skills once in a while. I stumbled onto this initiative, thinking was one of the biggest plus points.” it would be a refreshing change from burying my head A special mention for another bandmate who is known in management books to pursue a corporate career. But, for belting his lungs out on stage for his metal fans — I managed to stay and try my hand at making a semiVishwesh K. Apart from being a moving encyclopaedia career out of something that I so genuinely love. of music through decades, he also has the quickest wit The times that I grew up in weren’t the ones where among all of us. For Avinash, it was a dream come true people wrote ‘I’ll grow up to be a musician’. But, those to finally work with the Scribe frontman whose gigs he’s times have changed. frequented for years.


Independent musicians are gaining popularity and The entire Sony team has worked towards establishing a people are becoming more and more aware of the talent relationship with us that goes beyond that of an artist and that this country has to offer. So much so that even his label. With the ideas they’ve got planned for us in the international artists are coming down to collaborate with coming year, there is no doubt that this vocal orchestra Indian musicians. will take its distinct sound across the country. Bands don’t need big labels to make a mark of their own. A year into our existence, I can say we’ve managed to So the chances of doing what you like and being accepted create great music and entertain the audience of diverse and appreciated is not a distant dream anymore. Not to musical influences. We’ve managed to perform at places forget the important aspect of money! People are now like Blue Frog and Live from the Console among others. open to shelling out good money to see their favourite Although, the path to finding that one unique sound musicians perform. Live music is no longer a thing to be that defines Voctronica, as a band, hasn’t found its peak explored on international land. yet, there are a lot of bridges to And it’s great to be part of the cross, experimenting to do ideas community that’s changing the Bands don’t need big labels to to explore and a lot more cities to face of independent music in the make a mark of their own. So the conquer! country. My life has changed over the past chances of doing what you like and From just singing at college year, as a professional musician. I’m being accepted and appreciated festivals to performing live on moving back and forth between stage with a band, it has been is not a distant dream anymore B-school lectures and rehearsals. quite a joyride so far. And with Travelling cities for gigs, meeting Sony Music Independent helping musicians across the city and us get there, what else could a taking in their two cents — it’s 23-year-old happy singer ask for?! Working with them been quite a fulfilling journey so far. My life took an through this whole process has been such a pleasure. interesting turn in early 2012 and here I am! One crazy Our band manager, Abhishek Nagendra, takes care of band, a few good friends and a whole lot of melodies to all our whims, fancies and tantrums with a smile on his remember. face. That’s a lot of chaos for one person to handle, quite frankly.

*** campusdiaries.com/stories/bringing-beat-back

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B

our shared passion for all things food and aims to, oth of us (Tanul Mishra and Shipra Bhansali) in a small way, change the way you discover new and started working at a telecom company in 2006 interesting food. We believe great food is as much about but weren’t to meet until three years later at the the stories behind it as the combination of ingredients and next company we both worked at. In 2009, over spices. From the origin of the dabeli, a delightful Mumbai many a lunch break while working on two very different snack, to luscious slices of carrot cake at Elma’s in Hauz teams at a start up, it was easy to see the love we shared Khas, Eatopia is a cozy little corner for celebrating good for quizzing and food. Talking through numerous food and warm stories. lunches and breaks about food and planning elaborate One of Eatopia’s most-liked articles is the story of an office snacks, we were constantly sharing links about 80-year-old woman, who owned and managed a vineyard restaurants we wanted to try out, places we wanted to with her husband in the south of France and she shares her travel to and food we wanted to eat there. traditional recipe for Sauce Royale, Working together on various her signature sauce. Another popular projects, we discovered we made a good team, with the The food and the stories range article is one on vada pav, a street food that is indigenous to Mumbai. The strong aesthetic sense on from the homes of our neighbours, contrast in the two exemplifies how one side (Shipra’s) and the from a tiny cafe in the back streets most people like to experience food in ability to monetize and sell of Mumbai and even from the its varied and eclectic forms. Eatopia just about anything on the provides just such an experience, not other (Tanul’s). We started kitchens of chefs. bound by traditional definitions of Eatopia (www.eatopia.in) as “haute cuisine”, as much about the a celebration of wonderful stories and people, as about the food food and warm stories about they cook. cooking, flavours and experiences. The food and the We’re constantly inspired by the people we meet, stories range from the homes of our neighbours, to a whether on our travels or people from all over the country tiny cafe in the back streets of Mumbai and even from right here at home. We’ve both married into cultures the kitchens of chefs. At Eatopia, we write about food unfamiliar to us and lived in places where we’ve been that we enjoy recipes from real kitchens from all over exposed to an incredible variety of food. The curiosity India and sometimes around the world. and love of variety engendered through our childhood We’re two women who love to eat, love to travel and has endured and grown. Over the next few weeks we’re love to talk about the things we love, with professional covering food from Rajasthan, Assam, Kerala, Gujarat and backgrounds in sales and marketing, but mainly with even Greece and Indonesia. serious backgrounds in eating, discovering, cooking and sharing. Eatopia is an online magazine that celebrates


Here are a few food stories from Eatopia:

A Bihari Lady in Bombay She recreated this dish for him often, calling it fowl Vijaya Mishra, born in Bombay, is a Bombay girl curry with samosa. Since that is simple enough to through and through. Except those parts of her that are recreate with any samosa and chicken curry, she Bihari through and through. She’s a feisty, confident, shared a recipe for a very typical Bihari dish using metropolitan lady that can travel the world on her own pointed gourd or parval in Hindi or potol in Bihari. but there is a part of her deeply tied to her Bihari roots. www.eatopia.in/a-bihari-lady-in-bombay/ Whether it comes through in the festivals and colorful rituals of her people or in the food that she and her Hot Chocolate family enjoy, especially around Holi, or in the lovely lyrical language you can hear when she’s speaking to her In order to make hostel food more Sometimes, especially when the skies are like lead and the sisters. You can take the girl out of exciting, he would take left over rain just won’t let up, or times Bihar, but you can’t take Bihar out of chicken curry, break a samosa when it feels like winter inside the girl. Vijaya’s father, a handsome, smooth into small bits and spoon the you, a shot of dark, delicious, hot chocolate sets the world talking charmer, moved to Bombay curry over it. in order. As the warmth pools when he was 17. He and his child in your stomach and begins bride, married at the age of five and to slowly radiate through to four respectively, moved from Gaya your fingertips, on its way warming your heart and unto Bombay and established themselves in the city in furrowing that brow, this is love and warmth and a hug the early ’50s. And Vijaya, the spirited city girl growing in a mug. up in the ’60s and ’70s, always dressed in the height of And it tastes darned good too. Good enough that you fashion, with bell bottoms and large hoop earrings. She really shouldn’t save it for a rainy day. Hot chocolate only learned to wear saris and to cook in the rigorous needs to be shared — on cozy evenings in, days spent training ground that was her mother-in-law’s house. planning a project, sharing nervous revelations, While she enjoys eating every cuisine possible and exhilarating secrets, tentative self-discovery, a reward cooks Bihari food particularly well, one of her signature at the end of a really hard piece of thinking, or a quiet dishes is her version of a dish created by her husband moment to kickstart your mind. Really, when is NOT while at a hostel at Darbhanga Medical College. In order the right moment for a cup of hot chocolate! to make hostel food more exciting, he would take left over chicken curry, break a samosa into small bits and spoon the curry over it.


The chocolate is then melted. In a microwave. Which isn’t romantic but it’s easy and quick. So choose what you’re feeling and go with stove-top or microwave accordingly. No one needs to know

While there is no one perfect way to make a good cup of hot chocolate, you’ve got to start with good things. Good chocolate, real milk and not water… really! And just a little care. One easy method we’ve tried with great success is to fill a mug with about 20g of good chocolate, 2-3 pieces. We like our cocoa dark so we use dark, semi sweet chocolate but we’ve also had versions that had some peanut chocolate or mint chocolate and even chili infused chocolate. The chocolate is then melted. In a microwave. Which isn’t romantic but it’s easy and quick. So choose what you’re feeling and go with stove-top or microwave accordingly. No one needs to know. Now this next bit is the key. Add a pinch of salt and whisk it into the chocolate. The whisking will give your cup of hot chocolate a comforting frothy top and the salt will add depth to the flavor. Pour some warm milk over the molten chocolate and then whisk a little more. The cup will lose some of its heat but another 30 seconds in the microwave will warm it up perfectly.

Top it off with a dash of cream if the mood demands it but even without, this cup is good to go. Frothy, deep cocoa flavour — lovely and satisfying. All our previous hot cocoa attempts were either too wimpy or far too rich to be anything but sinful. This cup is almost wholesome! It’s for that time of the year when even in Bombay, wintry feelings start to envelope you and ideas of roaring fireplaces and cozy razais start floating around in your head. So, with images of winter and holiday planning everywhere, a few cups of hot chocolate are definitely called for. Trivia: The Mayans and the Aztecs were the first to discover the wonders of chocolate. They drank their chocolate cold, unsweetened which was a coarse mix of water, cocoa beans, chili peppers, corn flour. They would pass the mix from cup to cup or vessel to vessel to get the frothy mix. It was the Europeans that added the heat, milk and sugar. www.eatopia.in/hot-chocolate/ Connect with us on www.facebook.com/eatopian and www.twitter.com/eatopian

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campusdiaries.com/stories/eatopia CampusDiaries magazine May

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Poetry

DEATH OF A POEM Pradyumna A.K. | Christ University | Bangalore

#murder To kill a poem is not easy, poems are made of sterner stuff. Be diligent and never be lazy, Intellectual murder is only for the tough Firstly, know thy victim, your understanding must be deep beat it, gag it, then tie it to a pole. Scrutinise it, don’t let it speak or weep A full body scan, don’t even miss a mole! Then, study its background, dig up its past now part by part we rip it apart! Slowly, gently… not so fast Now that it’s sliced, the killing can start! Peel its skin, its rhythm and rhyme what we want is deep inside Don’t worry, analysis is not a crime, This is a murder you can commit with pride. Next, Yank all its organs out. Symbols, motifs, figures of speech, and its skeleton strong and stout the message the poem is trying to teach It’s still alive; the job still not done Its heart continues to beat only when it stops, we would have won Then it’s a remarkable feat The heart is a tough little thing The poem’s aesthetic beauty Ignore it and it’ll seize to sing this is a killer’s duty Finally, it’s done! The poem is no more. Toss it away; it does not matter, kill more poems and increase your score. It, simply, does not matter! *** campusdiaries.com/stories/death-poem


his place is odd. The sky here is blue and the It is also apparently alright when a book or a random grass green. Animals don’t seem to be able to group of people tell you how to live your life. Then talk here. Or maybe they just don’t want to. why didn’t they listen to me when I suggested that the Not that I blame them — the people here are white roses in the garden would look nicer if they were rather strange. Tea is drunk only painted red? It was hardly a lifeat 4 o’clock in the afternoon altering decision. It’s not like and the soup never has enough I tried telling them who they pepper in it. They make a great I think the fundamental problem should marry or where they can hoo-ha over beheading people here is that people never listen. go and where they can’t. I think but see nothing wrong with They just make assumptions the fundamental problem here killing thousands in a war over instead is that people never listen. They beliefs — or this thing they call just make assumptions instead. ‘religion’. And then they say Going exploring down that I’m delusional. By their logic, rabbit-hole clearly wasn’t the I should be up in arms against them for laughing at brightest idea. me when I mentioned the Jabberwocky. Crying over a They’ve locked me up in this padded room with bars on game where eleven men run around with sticks and a the windows and given me an odd white shirt to wear. It ball is acceptable but playing croquet with a flamingo is distinctly uncomfortable. and hedgehog is funny — although it is obvious which They say that we’re all mad here. one’s more amusing. They’re the ones to talk.

*** campusdiaries.com/stories/told-other-alice

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Part Two INT. AN ACTOR’S STUDIO - DAY Toyesh and Sangeeta are looking pensive and staring at the floor. The lady in pink looks on in the background and is gossiping with a girl sitting next to her. The heat is getting unbearable and Toyesh finally moves to speak. TOYESH I need to know where she is, Sangeeta Ma’am. Or else, it’ll be too late. Please believe me. SANGEETA Now that I think of it, it’s all slowly coming back to me. I am worried. And a little surprised. You lied to me. TOYESH (hesitates) Well, I sort of had to... you know.It’s hard to look for a teeange girl on the run without lying about my relationship with her. Sangeeta takes out a letter Laxmi had written to her and sighs deeply. She hands out the letter to Toyesh. SANGEETA The last I know, she was in Raipur. This letter came to me three weeks ago. If she’s really Maria and has done what she has done, why would she write to me after leaving? We were friends, me and Laxmi. I mean Maria... TOYESH She wrote to you because she cares. Thanks Sangeeta. Their eyes lock for a few seconds in understanding. Toyesh gives Sangeeta his number and details. ... Call me, if anything. (DISSOLVE TO)


2.

EXT. CHAI SHOP NEAR MAYO COLLEGE, AJMER, INDIA - DAY

Maria is sitting on the edge of her seat, listening intently to the man sitting across her and sipping on her chai. It’s a hot summer’s day. Deoraj Singh was enlightening Maria about the history of Ajmer, the Rajputanas and his meeting with Hrithik Roshan. A professor of history at Mayo, Deaoraj is the descendent of one of the royal families in Ajmer. Maria is living in one of the many rooms of his mansion. DEORAJ Hrithik’s quite a delight actually. MARIA (excitedly) Oh yes. How I would’ve liked to meet him! DEORAJ Haha. Why did you want to stop here? So many people, we could’ve had tea in the house. MARIA The royalty doesn’t drink tea at stalls? (chuckles) DEORAJ The royalty is called royalty for a reason, Antara. INT. INSIDE DEORAJ SINGH’S MANSION Deoraj is shifting through some important papers. He puts it all down and looks at Maria reading a book, sitting across him with her legs folded. DEORAJ I want to know more about you. I cannot not know. MARIA (quietly) I made it very clear to you when your offered me shelter Mr. Singh. Ask no questions, hear no lies. DEORAJ That is unfair. It isn’t fair. Who... are you? (he whispers) He approaches her slowly and Maria looks on, no expression in her eyes. He runs his fingers through her hair and holds her close to him. DEORAJ Tell me. MARIA There’s nothing so interesting about my past Deoraj. I am only a wanderer and you found me. Maria frees herself from his arms delicately and smiles at him intently.

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3. DEORAJ Where were you all this while... my gypsy woman? I am going to give you everything you want. MARIA Oh, I don’t want much. (laughs) I’ve been meaning to ask you since a long time... what do you do with all this money? DEORAJ(playfully whispers in her ear) Spend it on women like you. (DISSOLVE TO) EXT. OUTSIDE A SMALL HOUSE, SOMEWHERE IN RAIPUR Toyesh holds his bag tightly to his chest and waits until the lady finishes drawing up water from the well, before approaching her. Remanika Bansal, a homemaker and pickle-maker, gets startled with Toyesh’s presence and hides her familiarity with him immediately. REMANIKA Who are you? And who is where? TOYESH Where is she? You know who I am and who I am asking about. Let’s not pretend. He’s looking for her and I need to find her before he does. REMANIKA He’s what? Dammit. I told her to be careful. But will she ever listen? This entire little red riding hood business isn’t going to get her anywhere. TOYESH You’re her sister. Why did you not stop her? REMANIKA I tried to. She didn’t listen. Why didn’t you? TOYESH She never told me, Remanika. She just left. I’ve been searching for her for the last six months. I found you after so long. REMANIKA I didn’t know... I am sorry I guess. But I am through with her. I don’t want to get into this mess. He’s a powerful, dangerous and currently, an extremely angry man. TOYESH He’s just a professor with a lot of money. And you should honestly be ashamed of yourself. REMANIKA(in anger) Oh, don’t be such a lover boy. I have a family to look after. And she disowned me years ago. Why should I even bother?


I told her to stop sending Rahul things. I told her to stay away. I told her don’t come back. She’s stupid to have gone to Shim...

4.

TOYESH Please you don’t even — Wait what? Shim? Shimla? REMANIKA (exasperated) Don’t come barging in my house and ask me questions like that. Your twisted socialist mind is not welcome here. TOYESH Hope to never see you again. Toyesh storms out of Remanika’s verandah, only one thing running in his mind — Shimla. DiSSOLVE TO INT. A BAKERY SHOP IN SHIMLA - DAY Maria’s buying scones at the bakery when Toyesh spots her from far away. He runs toward her like a lost child. Hoping to not alarm her, he starts walking the last few steps. MARIA ... I want some with a vanilla filling and do you have raspber... TOYESH I thought you liked the lemon filling. He did exactly what he intended not to do. He scared her. Once she grasped what was going on, she did something he had never expected her to do, an apparent emotion in his eyes. She hugged him tight. MARIA And I thought I’d never see you again. TOYESH Like I would ever give up my thesis. MARIA (smiles) How much trouble am I in? Is he looking for me? TOYESH Very much so. But he doesn’t know about Laxmi or Sarita. All he knows of is Antara. Who doesn’t really exist now, does she? MARIA I don’t care even if he finds me. A little money stolen from his wealth doesn’t affect him. He’s looking for me because I betrayed him. Or so he thinks I did.

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5. TOYESH He wont find you. We’ll make sure of that. By the way, Sangeeta sends her love! (chuckles) MARIA Haha! Of course she does. I miss her. She was the only one to have given me shelter when I was on the run. TOYESH (after a brief silence) You really did this for what you believe in? Is it that important than your own being? MARIA How do I define my being without my beliefs or principles? How is that me? Why can’t I use my knowledge and somebody’s useless money on someone who actually deserves it? And I don’t regret it. I will do it all over again if I had to... But, I am sorry I kept you out of it. I had to. TOYESH I know. Happy to have finally found her, Toyesh and Maria walk back to Kaka’s chai shop. He looks at her, time to time when she laughs, her animated face filled with apparent fear sometimes. KAKA You’re back! Good. I need to learn how to add this texture to the letter. I’ve been stuck since two hours. All these new computers! Oh, and the printers called, I have to go to Delhi for a week. My boys here will take care of the business until I am back. Also, you need to tell me how to add - Who’s this boy? MARIA He’s Toyesh. My classmate from Delhi. (breaks away suddenly) Did you decide the name of your company? KAKA Why yes. I am going to name it ’Maria, Hasta Pronto! Designs’ Maria looks at him apprehensively. MARIA Maria? KAKA Yes, it was my mother’s name. She loved Spanish. Her mother would always shout from the house calling her home from the little adventures she would take outside the house. Kaka mutters something about noisy children and goes out the shop to shoo them away. Maria takes a look at Toyesh and laughs like a child.

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Letters


The country you live in is one in which even the silent genocide of millions every year due to neglect and poverty does not touch the conscience of the rulers, or even of the public at large, or most pitiably that of most medical practitioners and students. Nobody is deemed punishable or accountable for these deaths due to disease as they happen without a single shot being fired or the use of violence. To put it crudely – these deaths, perhaps, aren’t ‘interesting’ enough. Amidst this deluge of misery and injustice, the question now lies heavily on your shoulders: why are YOU studying medicine? The question was posed to some of my classmates at the Bangalore Medical College, and their answers (I am sure they would be similar among any other students in any college, across India) ranged from: “Well, because it was the most prestigious career choice, there’s lots of money involved and we’re also helping people” to “My father is a doctor, so I too became one” and “I want to study medicine here, then go to the United States. Doctors earn so much money there bro!” to “I don’t know, I guess I kinda like wearing white coats...” From the entire situation I have described above, this, for me is the most frustrating and depressing issue! Medical students in India, who are most apt to arm themselves with the knowledge and know-how to make a meaningful contribution to the health sector in this country, are some of the most apathetic and insensitive to it.

For some reason, doctors are regarded as ‘demi-gods’ in our country. Hence, us medical students, whose voice would be respected and listened to keenly (if only we chose to lend our voices to those that need them), instead, are too busy studying for PGCET, AIPGCET, USMLE’s and the like, to even read or care about anything else! The knowledge of ‘medicine’ which could be used to generate a great change in this horrendous environment that we are living in, is instead treated as just another career and livelihood by doctors and medicos. Two-thirds of the health system is concentrated on providing healthcare to 1/3rd of the population. Our system of medical education is such that it creates people who gain a lot of knowledge on medicine, but somehow lose their conscience along the way. We are lost in the rat race for ‘survival’, forgetting those who truly are struggling for survival and for whom we can do so much. The matter of health by no means concerns only doctors – but it is doctors who can truly make a difference. Dr. Franz Fanon, the Algerian psychiatrist; Dr. Binayak Sen, the doctor-activist from Chhattisgarh; Che Guevera – all doctors themselves, felt that sitting in rooms and prescribing tablets everyday was an insult to the potential and passion they possessed and had the courage to not cower before social norms. Apart from few of these names above, there are many others whose example can be cited. Yet, the majority of us Indian medical students, learn about the human body, and in the process forget about what it means to be human. So my heartfelt advice to all medical students is this: widen your horizons, do not be another sheep in the herd. Start reading whatever you can find — in books, in websites, in magazines, even on Facebook — about the repulsive health conditions in the country we live in.

CampusDiaries magazine May

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I strongly believe that these are as essential to us as the enormous medicine books we engulf. I promise you, the more you read and learn the more shocked and appalled you will be. Go on a trip with your friends to Chhattisgarh, to Bihar, even to the nearby village just outside your city, or at the least, the slum which I am sure you will find not more than five kilometres from your house. Pull your head out of the ground that you have unconsciously stuck your head into, like an ostrich. Explore Indian society in its comprehensiveness and reality, and not just the upper five-ten- per cent of society that we comfortably live and dream in. Do this and I assure you that you will not be the same. Do this and you will not look at ‘medicine’ in the same selfish, apathetic and oblivious manner. Do this and I sincerely believe and hope that you will be inspired and extolled by your conscience onto a jo-

urney towards a serious contribution to health and humanity. I truly believe it will be as personally satisfying and worthy as getting a PG seat – it might even be more motivation to study for one! How exactly will you set about on this revolutionary path? How can you and I change this depressing state of affairs? Perhaps your reading this, will inspire you to think about the large majority who are isolated and ignored, and not just the upper fortunate few, among whom we so proudly serve, with the prestige and status of the ‘white coat’. Perhaps reading this may be the beginning of something bright, good and beautiful for the future. Perhaps you may begin to hear the silent voices of the millions, who need our help, whose future we can change. Perhaps, this may inspire you to a new beginning.

With Love, Yours, Dr. Md. Uzair Belgami

*** campusdiaries.com/stories/medical-students-india

1. Dr. Binayak Sen’s speech at Gwangju, 2011 2. articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-07-13/nagpur/32663299_1_famine-bmi-cent 3. The Editorial —‘Health & Society/Sehat aur Samaj’ journal, Issue 1, Satya Sivaram


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