REFLECTIONS

Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

April 2011

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April 2011

Acknowledgement
We would like to thank you for picking this book up and giving it your time. We acknowledge every person who intended to write, but could not make his/her article to this issue of the magazine. We are grateful to every contributor to this magazine for the effort he or she has taken to voice his or her reflection. We are thankful to Athul Krishnan for designing the cover page. We express our gratitude to the Cultural Affairs Secretary Ravi Teja Kanneganti and the SAC speaker Nikhil Jogimahanty, for their help with regard to Announcement and the facilities provisions. The Dean of Students‘ Office has helped us enormously in the printing and the publication of this issue. We heartily thank Prof. Devdas Menon for his constant guidance and support.

The Reflections Team

Editorial Team: Harshavardhan Ravichandran, Prakruti Ramesh, Sarthak Pathak, Smruthi Bala Kannan.

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Contents
Acknowledgement Editorial Mush The Ten-Year-Old Trusting Gravity Return Widespread lack of ‗enthu‘ among research scholars at IITM Refuse The Mole Catherine Wheel Just a tale The Devil on the Park Bench Me, Part 2 My Grandma's Babu Fine Things Monday Morning 0 3 5 6 9 11 12 15 16 19 20 21 23 24 25 28

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Mon Cherie Just a few metres away Devotee 24x7 Faith In God The Child An Impact Remorsified Existence of a Higher consciousness Serve Your Parents A Child‘s Excitement The Sea and the Wind If this is love… Star "My Freedom" Europe and India – A Reciprocal Way? Reflection Lucy in the sky with diamonds

30 31 33 34 35 36 38 40 41 42 44 45 46 48 49 53 54

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Editorial
An editorial speaks for the magazine. It is like the collective voice of an identity. It opines. What do you seek of an editorial? - An opinion that can be opined about further, to sculpt how the magazine is read. This identity is inherited by the future editorials of the magazine. It is a feedback mechanism. You work by a feedback mechanism too. As Jean Paul Sartre would point out, we make ourselves only in the way that we wish to be seen. Constantly changing to be or un-be the image of you in others‘ minds. Interestingly this is dynamic and never till after your death will this ever solidify. You shall never see your statue. This is dominantly accepted of extroverts and self-conscious introverts. The challenge is posed by people like you who say, 'I don't care what the others think'. But notably the Idon't-care expressed in words or in action says something too. It says that you do not want to be seen as conscious of being seen. Some words, actions and reactions may ‗sting‘. You brush them into darkness and act like you know only light – the bright and self-effacing light. A part of you is a cockroach. It runs hither and thither in the self-effacing ease of this light. While another fragment of you is a swan. It supposedly licks only the 'good' in – that which you deem is good. We live in a market society. Goods sell. The swan is beautiful. While you are your everywhere, where can the cockroach go? Isn't it the cockroach in you that determines the swan? There is something intriguing about darkness. No; Not the lack of light, but darkness. A certain exoticism of how it never had an identity without being light-bound and never within.

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Just as intriguing are the negative pole of judgments; and the delicious pain that exudes sweetness to joy. When you stand in front of the mirror, switch the lights off and stare into your eye, How cockroach are you and how swan? What are you beyond the swan and the cockroach?

Smruthi Bala Kannan

‘Make not your thoughts your prisons’ -Octavius Caesar (Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare) .

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Mush Nikhil Punnoose
I am childish in my deviance; chaotic, but obvious. I am all buttons and knobs, exposed, to any passing stranger‘s whims. I cannot let you in or you will play around and change these precise adjustments these delicate proportions of love and greed, lust and anger, joy and fear, that function; that, if nothing else, survive. Cupid waits for me at the bottom of the garden. He is less willful now. The years have tamed him. He asks for consent. I shake my head, and choose Identity instead.

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The Ten-Year-Old Girish Ananth
―What if the world was made for me And you don‘t really exist?‖ The ten-year-old asks, and I can see How intrigued he is.

―What if the birds sing for me As they fly across my sky? Are the animals just for me to see, To cheer me when I cry?‖

He looks at me with pleading eyes To answer this question out of the blue— If what he‘s learnt were all lies And if his feeling is true...

―The clouds that hang above us now And the rain that they bring-Are they to bathe me from above And to cleanse all my things?

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―The trees that sway in the breeze, The flowers that bloom and grow, What if they‘re here just to please Me— why can‘t it be so?‖

The idea has gripped his fantasy His face is all flushed with delight Lost in a million possibilities His eyes are shining bright!

―What if the sun shines for me, What if the moon is mine? Is it for me that tiny stars be— To enjoy when I recline?‖

He suddenly realizes that I am silent, He stops his tirade, and breathes, ―What if fire and ice were sent For me, and only me?‖

I cast about in my mind for some clue To prove that he is wrong— How best to let him know the truth That he is just a line in a song?

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That the universe was, is, and will always be, But he will not remain... He is but a child! He‘s too young to see... How can I say it plain?

I chance upon something to say A way out of his doubt; His own medicine, in a way, Something to think about.

I lean forward and draw him close And whisper into his ear; His chubby face clearly shows A mixture of delight and fear.

He‘ll never have that doubt again... See, I asked him this— ―What if the world was made for me And you don‘t really exist?‖

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Trusting Gravity Dr. Swarnalatha Rangarajan
Living together was getting scary. Like walking on the balcony ledge of the fifteenth floor of the high-rise where we live. We agreed that it would hurt if either of us let go from that height. So we decided to gently hit ground and then allow the other to walk away, trusting gravity. Rudra was always the one for bright ideas. He threw the plan at me saying, ―Let us celebrate the end in a virgin forest and for God‘s sake please don‘t bring along your Virginia Woolf and Mozart!‖ ―And you leave your foul cigarettes and Bacardi rum bottles behind. Then it‘s a deal!‖ Rudra smiles and it breaks like lightning over his face. We hit the road with virtually no baggage. ―No clothes!‖ said Rudra wagging his finger, ―The jeans you are wearing will do. Remember the Thekkadi trek we did back in college? We lived in the same clothes for almost a week!‖ I laugh absurdly happy for a moment that he had recovered that little nugget of memory from the fog of ten years. The new highway rolls out like a silk route. Whizzing ahead at hundred kilometers, Rudra seems happy. The wind plays with his hair, winnowing and spiking it. With his Pinocchio nose, green-flecked eyes and large stick-out ears, Rudra looks like a goblin. I succumb to a childhood habit of tweaking his ears. Looking very surprised he bursts out, ―Behave yourself Maya! The last time you did that to me, you got a huge whack! Do you remember?‖ The ‗last time‘ was fifteen years ago but why had the goblin gone into hiding? I could somehow never figure that out! -

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She is so damn fragile! Everything about her is glass; radiant, translucent glass which can shatter and break any moment. Sometimes I can‘t even pick up the pieces because it cuts real deep. I was nervous about this trip but it isn‘t so bad. The smile in her eyes illuminates the dark spaces between us for a moment. I swerve to avoid a truck which hurtles past, ramming into a stray dog. There is an instant collage of blood and spilling guts. The light leaves her face. I reach out for a bottle of water and make her drink. She curls up like a kitten and asks for music. We listen to old Beatles numbers and soon we are in the heart of the Wynad forests. ―It‘s beautiful but so chaotic Rudra! Where does a tree begin and a bush end?‖ ―Don‘t worry about that now. You have gotten used to all those manicured parks in the city. Sit down and listen to the birds!‖ ―The silence here is so awful. I can hear my heart beating!‖ ―You can also hear a leaf falling if you make the effort! Let us move ahead Maya! Somewhere I hear a stream.‖ ―Yuck! Rudra, look at this! This decaying mush, what is it?‖ ―Dead trees! But look at the fairy ring close by. Mushrooms feeding on dead matter. But see how pretty they look! Can you imagine dancing elves? The birds had gone silent. I was rearing to go ahead and locate the stream. Maya seemed rooted to the fairy ring. The light of the forest shines in her eyes as she turns toward me and asks, ―Why can‘t this happen to us, Rudra?‖ I look again at the emerald-lusciousness of the death-feeders. Not quite knowing what to say I pat her head. ―Let‘s go‖ I say and she completes my thought, ―looking for the stream!‖

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Return R C Sudheesh
You will come back abba To take me on your shoulders again to walk down the bazaars of Baghdad then calm and silent Again I shall cling on to your little finger and strut along for Friday prayers abba Again And I won't even ask you to buy me those red attar bottles At night, after Eshaa and the round of Alf Layla we shall fall to splits on jokes that ommy would not know not even little Shahina Again On Ramadan nights seeing me hungry you'll get me dates hidden in your pockets Again Come back abba

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Widespread lack of ‘enthu’ among research scholars at IITM – A Clear and Present Danger Najeeb Shariff
This article is based on short interviews conducted on randomly selected scholars from various branches at IIT Madras. Although the sample is limited, there is an overwhelming consistency in the views expressed. The widespread lack of enthusiasm among IITM research scholars is clearly in evidence. What can we do to turn things around? Very often, we hear that the research community holds promise for the real strength of this nation. There is a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the researchers as they are required to do some path-breaking research and make India a ‗Super power‘, if not a developed nation. This is the simple expectation of our countrymen. On interviewing some of the research scholars at IIT Madras, it is revealed that at least 75% of the scholars are dissatisfied about their research. About 30% of them are depressed at some point during their stay here. In fact, nobody seems to retain anything close to the level of enthusiasm and hope that they had at the time of their admission. More than 50% of the scholars blame the guide or the lab staff or the facilities for this state of affairs. Some go a step further and even blame their hostel wing mates for all their frustration and their inability to meet with success in their results. At the same time, their mood can noticeably turn around when the guide has a friendly chat or offers a pat on the back, but such joys are transient in nature and the lack of enthusiasm proves to be a default state. It‘s a common trend among the research scholars to feel lonely, frustrated, thwarted and foiled. This is probably because it is for the first time in their lives that they are actually

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required to fend for themselves, and challenged to come up with solutions to vaguelydefined problems, and for which there are no standard textbook guidelines. Their work no longer conforms to the likes of a class event or a team activity, in which they can work with a bunch of comrades. Many feel that they do not have real friends and live in isolation. The ―connect‖ is lost. These people need real help! None of the doctoral scholars likes the way the comprehensive examination is conducted. They suggest that such tests be scrapped or that they be conducted at the time of admission itself. One of the most serious fears/concerns that every research scholar has is about their ‗timeline‘ and when exactly they will be able to submit their thesis. After a point, everybody wants to get out of this place as soon as possible. The uncertainty with regard to this issue haunts them day in and day out. Many of the scholars do not get involved in extra-curricular activities. They seem to have taken sanyas, or perhaps they are wary of the ‗Little molecules‘ (B.Tech. junta), who treat these activities as their own domain. The reality is that the scholars fear that engaging in activities other than active research can only make things worse by extending their period of stay here. They do not realize that such a view could seriously hamper their overall development. We have spoken to a few faculty members about this and find that the situation is not very different on their side. They blame the poor quality of the students or their lack of commitment. Very few teachers are able to really empathize with the state of mind of their scholars and feel the need to reach out and do something different for the students‘ welfare. They do not even realize that maybe they too need to change their methods, for sometimes the very tone/language that they use, and the habitual tendency to show the student in poor light, is responsible to a large extent for leaving the student in an agitated or frustrated frame of mind. Some students seem to dread the very prospect of a meeting with the guide.

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Comparison is also a root cause for depression. Each one compares their own progress with that made by others and gets dejected when others seem to get good results or when their papers are accepted for publication. There are umpteen such issues that research scholars face, issues that may initially appear minor, but can snowball into major ones, dissipating energies that can otherwise be used creatively. The pervasive lack of enthusiasm in our research students is a harsh reality that we all need to acknowledge and accept gracefully. Perhaps, this lack of enthu is not just confined to research scholars, and is reflective of a more widespread disease? It is clearly not due to a lack of potential to do excellent, creative work; it reflects an inability to tap into our real potential owing to various human-related issues that seem to entrap us and catch us unawares. Enthusiasm is said to be infectious, and we need to have a critical mass of inspired and enthusiastic faculty and students in order to be able to turn the tide. How do we do this, and thereby fulfill the expectations of our countrymen, rightfully serving as role models to other institutions? It is for each one of us (students, faculty and administrators) to introspect and make the inner change in our own individual lives. This is a real challenge – a genuine research problem, if you like – one that calls for authentic inner transformation, not just an academic exercise for the sake of getting a degree or publishing a paper.

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Refuse Trinath
With one hand I sip tea; my other hand waves. Sees eye to eye a muse drenched in poetry. Leaning towards each other we then talk. In the rainy chatter that ensues there is a mention of sadness. A drifting cloud, with disheveled hair passes by my verse as gloom. Sorrows form a smudge, dark and distressing while snaky alphabet go about guarding the hidden routes to happiness. I strike through all this, This regular depression talk. There is no point in recounting the darker side in darkness. There is light in the eyes, I explain Light of yesterday casting its reflection on today. There is happiness in motes that I offer like the burning stars in an endless dark. All this yapping to the wary muse and my advice, like always, it does refuse.

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The Mole Rihan Najib

In a short span of eight years, the little mole on the right side of my cheek had begun to speak German with a flawless accent. Three years back it had begun to sprout dense hair around it, sing Frank Sinatra songs to delighted family gatherings at Christmas and expound in great detail the pitfalls of communism. But I thought it was surely pushing it a bit when it fell in love with my earlobe. When it called my grandmother an octogenarian camel, I held my tongue and suffered the gaze of her watery eyes brimming with hurt. When it demanded to convert to Buddhism, I patiently waited for the phase to pass. When it fell in love with my earlobe, I zipped my conscience up in an airtight plastic bag and picked up the flame thrower. Well, I can’t remember for sure, doctor, but I think it started with a little bit of flesh that made one half of my face look like Marlon Brando. There was a chap who once took me out to a Chinese restaurant. He was a student of film studies and he liked to talk only to the Brando side of my face. The restaurant was dimly lit with red lanterns and shadows loomed large. The waiter placed two bowls of fried noodles at our table. My date was a moustached refrigerator of a man who would talk of Bergman and the damnable Russian methodists as he sucked in noodles with echoing slurps. Then, from the corner of my right eye, I noticed the noodle strand hanging from his lips moving of its own accord. My frigid film student was gazing at the painting on the wall of a fat cigarette in a kimono, the noodle hanging down from the corner of his mouth slowly undulating like a long blade of grass in the breeze. The noodle raised its free end to look at me and then gave the room a cursory once-over, peeking around at the cheap décor and the tired underpaid Asians. What happened next was the most defining few minutes of my life. The noodle strand raised itself to be on eyeball level with my date’s contact lens clad eye, and glared long enough

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into it for the chopsticks to fall with a clatter from his fingers. “It’s an octopus!” he screamed. The noodle strand fell onto the table from his gaping horrified mouth, and it slithered away swiftly through the condiment shakers and the napkin holder into a Chinese immigrant darkness, leaving me to grapple with my Bergman-loving film student who believed he had just swallowed a mild sea monster. At that moment, when he raised his hand to choke himself, my Brando cheek contorted itself to pull a half smile and let out a malicious yowl. The restaurant froze, their chopsticks in mid air, all those noodles hanging loose, dancing without music. My cheek began to screech sinisterly, in the tones of burning flesh and dying children. And all the good people of the restaurant felt their noodles looking back at them from their chopsticks, wriggling slowly but surely towards a greater idiom of freedom and liberty. I don’t remember when the fire started, or who started it. But all the incriminating noodles got away, and by then, my cheek had congealed into a hard mass of whinnying flesh that would croak and giggle to add variety to the noises it produced. My film student was charred bones after the fire. And in that pandemonium, I felt gravity tug at my cheek, and I said one very important word to what was growing on a patch of my face like a malignant mushroom. I said, “Hello”.

Then for the rest of the years after the noodle eyeballed a Bergman student, I carried the voice of a facial fungus in my head like a chorus in a Greek tragedy. I nurtured my exceptional mole like a cherished wayward sibling and lived with it the way most people live with dandruff. And suddenly it was clear why I was never smart in life. Three years into its growth, my mole could conjugate French verbs and even knew the subtle nuances of string theory. My mother said I spoke my first word at the age of four. It seems I said “bo”, looking at a bus. I corrected my mother saying “bo” wasn’t a word. She replied, “Well, honey, you were always so stupid, you see. So papa and I went ahead and agreed that might as well be a word.” We were friends for a long time. My friends were mostly

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the friends of my mole. I received invitations to cocktail parties after my mole was invited. And then one summer, the summer when the tongues hanging down from the jaws of panting dogs roasted under the sun and the trees caught fire and people had no tears left in their eyes to cry; in that fetid month of May, my mole developed a fondness for earrings. It wanted me to wear chandelier earrings at seven in the morning and big chunky stones in the night. “Look better.” It said. “You’re such a homely cow.” Then it began to compare me with everything and everyone; even the fire hydrant. Soon, a bit of mutant flesh dictated terms to the rest of me. True, I was loved for the mole, but that was no reason to let it fester on me. So when it said it had a thing for my earlobe, I calmly reached for the flame thrower. I begged for a better life, doctor. I put up with everything! I thought it could provide the blueprints for a better life! The other doctor, the one who operated on me, yes, well, he said something that made me think that living with half a face might not be such a bad thing after all. He couldn’t look at me after the surgery because I was so hideous. But he said in this weary voice, “That was just a mole, wasn’t it? On your cheek, outside you? And now it’s gone, hasn’t it? Darling…..for most of us, these moles are inside the head. Now where do we go with those?” I think I’ll have my pills now, doctor.

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Catherine Wheel Amrita V Nair
I woke up this morning because I wanted to write. And I wanted to describe something overwhelming perfectly - like the feeling of wishing your years away when you blow out the candles on your birthday cake or that smell of the earth before the rain or that tiny caught-up feeling in your heart that you get when you watch someone you love walk away from you - even though they aren't really going too far and you know you'll see them again someday. But how? After all, I can't even find the right words to say that when I see fireworks, I think that there is nothing I could love more in the world even though that is silly, of course. There must be other things in the world more lovable than stardust efflorescing on an inky blue sky. But how can you write about these things if you know that they can only be described in fewer words than one?

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Just a tale Smruthi Bala Kannan

Her strangeness is specific. Whenever she has a crush, her dreams begin to stray in. She does not dream of running around trees, blushing or holding hands. She dreams of a life after her man is dead. She dreams of widowhood. "Never let anyone look at you awkwardly", rang her grandma. She always wore a duppatta fastened with safety pins. They came in handy when she dreamt; to pop off those immoral bubbles. This time she likes a guy from the neighboring class. They exchange glances. Her dream bubbles begin. She could ... pop! She could marry him. She could ... pop! She could have children. Probably she wouldn't. Her man is mortal. She could then wear crisp cotton sarees. She could walk upright. She could sink into a world of comics. She could write of anything. She could spend hours by her bookshelves. She could have her own kitchen, probably with her parents sharing it. She could live with her parents. She could sing offpitch and dance out of beat; no one to please. There shall be none to convince of her worth. She could let her children grow up with no moral heave. They could ... pop! She could not have had children. Single mothers may adopt. She could adopt a child. A girl-child, who would know no blood-lines and family-histories of morality, who would drag no safety pins along.

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The Devil on the Park Bench KVS Dileep
With a bruised past, and a pathetic present I slumped tired into the park bench. In a world without friends and filled with foes I had only this park bench to share my woes.

My soliloquy of sadness was suddenly interrupted When a ragged person occupied my bench, With grunts and murmurs and angry whispers, I knew I had a complaining companion. He was looking around in suspicion Like he was expecting someone... His expression and dress, I must say, Were like a scarecrow that shooed everyone away. Looking at him gave me a sense of unpleasant comfort: For a person in bad shape, there is always someone worse. The way he moved about trying to hide his face Something sinister surely lurked on the other side of my bench. Fear gripped my inners and terror sent tremors in my soul What if he was that irrational fundamentalist Or that misguided soldier of holiness,

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Who wished to turn the park to a death hole? Part of me wished to run and another part prodded me to stay: Consciousness and Conscience competed within to show me the way. As the dilemma/drama was reaching its climax, A little girl came running towards the man in rags. I clenched my fist ready to attack; A new energy surged through. I had lived a loser all my life; To die a hero could be my ticket to heaven. I braced myself for the final moment and grew ready to pounce, The little girl was really close, the interval of error was becoming thin. The girl reached the burly man and gave a cute smile, O! The irony of it, The devil ready to devour an angel, She gave a pen and paper to the man, and asked... "Autograph please, Al Pacino. I‘m a big fan". Shock turned into surprise and soon gave way to admiration, The mask of the devil peeled away, revealing the angelic actor instead. I got up in embarrassment at my stupidity, thanking my own momentary cowardice... I realised that an angel could spot an angel but a devil searched for the devil only. Judging the good and evil of our neighbours comes so easily to us... We forget the fact that the devil on the parkbench is none other than us.

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Me, Part 2 Murali Jagannathan
Am I now wounded enough? Or is it only an insinuation? Getting back what I gave, Alone I stand, blamed knave Every stone hurled at me Had a semblance of my touch Using on others I forgot, that This day it would boomerang I shall run away today, clueless, Before pain turns painless, Any reason never reasonable, Mistakes are mine, as they were, grave Proceedings as in the preceding. Ship shall sink, so shall her flotsam For a life anew in solitude, Without love, ships or feud!

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My Grandma's Babu Sohini Sarkar
When my mother was expecting my brother, my father bought me a life-sized doll which looked exactly like a baby. Since I had no clue about my mother‘s condition (I was just six years old!), I was more than happy to have found an artificial little brother. Soon my own brother was born and my grandparents came to visit us. My grandmother, a strong-willed woman, fell for the doll as soon as she saw it. In spite of the fact that it was a mere lifeless toy, she would carry it in her arms all day as if it were a living human baby. She would feed it, bathe it and sleep with it. She even named it ‗Babu‘. By this time, the doll no longer charmed me (since I suddenly had a real brother!), so I didn‘t mind. When the time came for my grandparents to leave, my grandma expressed a desire to take the doll with her. But suddenly, out of nowhere, my love for that star toy filled my heart and I refused to give it up. I feel certain, years later, that what I felt for the doll wasn‘t love. It was the selfishness and arrogance of a six year old girl. My father tried to persuade me, promising to buy a new one-- but in vain. Somewhere perhaps, at the bottom of my heart, even then, I knew I didn‘t really want it, but my refusal to give it up boosted my ego, and this was intoxicating. It clouded my conscience, which would otherwise have said, ‗The best gift you can give someone is the thing that you love most.‘ My grandma‘s face fell but she still gave in to her little granddaughter‘s demand. I remember my grandma turning back many times to look at her ‗Babu‘ hanging in my arms. After she left, the doll was thrown in the store room and no one ever bothered about it. A few years later, my grandma died of a heart attack. The doll is still there with one of its legs broken. Whenever I look at it, I am reminded of my grandma, her fondness for her ‗Babu‘ and my insensitivity to her feelings. Guilt and remorse fill my eyes, sting my heart and have made me realize that the joy of giving is often more pleasurable than the joy of receiving. When pride and selfishness give way to selflessness and humility, life becomes a blessing.

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Fine Things Poorna Narayanan
Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap character; sow a character and you reap destiny. Perhaps I shouldn‘t have taken the above lines to my heart. I can see you are thinking I‘m either eccentric or just raving mad to be pondering over lines of wisdom suddenly. But it happens! It really does, and I‘m sure each one of you has experienced these bizarre maelstroms of thought which can blank out an absolutely interesting conversation, causing the person you are conversing with to suffer from lack-attention-from-psycho-friend‘s syndrome. For those of you who have been unable to keep track of these unruly musings, I‘ll just say, ―Read on, you can relate to this too‖. This afternoon after a day‘s hard work at college, I came trudging along bearing my (at-least) 35 kg back pack and after a woefully long wait at the bus stop, where I chanced to miss three bloated over-flowing buses, got on to a crowded bus. There wasn‘t any question of getting a seat soon. It was then that a woman with a weeping baby got on to the bus. Feeling quite complacently helpful, I helped the lady hold on to the bars and buy tickets and offered her a seat which had cleared next to me. I was sure that I heard applause somewhere. Buddha got enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, but I got it in a crowded bus! Or so I thought... Pleased, I envisioned myself as the director of a spastic society in the near future; I could even see a ring over my head and wings sprouting from under my arms. While I was lost in my own world, a girl banged into me as a result of the fantastic roads of

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Madras; what a ‗kebab mein haddi‘ she was! I realized then that the seat next to the ladywith-the-weeping-baby had become vacant and was longing for someone to do the honors. Just as I was about to squeeze in, the woman placed her baby on the next seat blocking me out and to top it all she glared at me and asked me to keep my water bottle properly because it was touching her. I was annoyed! I thought she would be filled with gratitude, and would willingly offer me a place and a smile. Sob! I could almost see myself being convicted for having murdered all my dreams of the spastic society and self-actualization. You may think this is an exaggerated expression of a lone incident. But often we find that our nice deeds go unacknowledged. And Cheerfulness, gratitude, contentment, sharing smiles, helping others, spreading warmth.. A lot of people have forgotten about these ideals... And little do they realize what they are missing. Said Sir Winston Churchill—―All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope.‖ Yes, little do they realize what they are missing. And the tiny spark of joy you experience is something different which just cannot be well explained. And believe me it is bliss even if you are trampled upon by the person whose life you‘ve tried to touch! :) Fine things… Such a wonderment it is. Such small things like tears fall, for joy and sorrow for pride and hurt. A tiny smile at once turns this callous world sunny, charming and sweet.

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A single word leaves a little innocent face watching the door waiting for the expected One to come home. waiting still full of hope. For trust was given and so was joy and hope, freedom and love, gratitude and compassion, and to lend a helpful hand. They sure are hard-edged gifts So this small face watches. and waits. Waits for these to lighten up the lives of millions.

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April 2011

Monday Morning Raviteja
After enjoying a hearty two day weekend, playing, watching movies, ‗gen gossiping‘, going to Ascendas, to the food courts, shopping, and of course snoring for a good amount of time, you get up on the Monday morning with the thought ‗I wish all weekdays are weekends, what a wretched Monday‘. Your first thought is to deceive yourself by complaining of the illnesses and misalignments which barricade you from attending classes for that day, while the conscious part of you which recognizes that you are already at the edge of winning a ‗W‘ grade (lost almost 15% classes) warns you to attend the class, for it knows that you are not going to get a medical certificate for your make-believe illness. Sleeping till 7:45 A.M., and most probably after brushing, you drag yourself to the class and if your luck turns out bad, you might have a very dry and boring class at that time. There begin all the travails. While the ‗muggu‘ part of you urges you to listen and concentrate on the lecture, your heart contradicts the muggu part and you end up doing things that come under this big list: First of all you‘ll become ‗prof-deaf‘ that is you‘ll not be able to hear anything that the professor utters no matter where you sit, while perfectly attuned to those other sounds ranging from a pin drop to a plane going somewhere. Your gaze will focus exactly on the board but you won‘t see anything, while the professor seeing you thinks you are following his class. Few minutes pass, you start fretting in your place, and then wait to see who is more sluggish than you, who will walk in after you; then you feel like counting the heads that attended the lecture while simultaneously segregating them as ‗muggus‘ and ‗nonmuggus‘, then you cannot resist the impulse to check the time for you feel like a great deal of it has elapsed. You notice, however, that the crucial hand of the clock has only bided 5

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minutes since you last saw it: unbelievable. In order to confirm, you check your neighbor‘s watch but it betrays you similarly. You most probably repeat this action once every two minutes thereafter. You might check your cell to see if the lovely-person-you‘re-in-love-with has wished you ‗good morning‘: this, provided you are not sitting in the first bench. When you get bored of these, you might start comparing the ‗S‘s in your name with those in your professor‘s, or trying to connect his accent to that of someone you know. Oh, but suddenly you see a friend with whom you planned something that weekend, but he/she didn‘t turn up; you feel like going across the class to him/her and saying ―Dude, where the hell were you, your phone was dead.‖ But you can‘t do it owing to your classroom manners. Meanwhile your brain projects an HD 1080P video of a movie or a match you saw that weekend, maybe with small modifications (sometimes you might take the place of a character in the film or match) on to the blackboard. You might then take some interest in the electrical lines in the class and think of moving to a seat beneath the nearest fan. You wonder how others are able to copy that crap into their notes loyally. You don‘t understand why the professor wants to make the blackboard white with his scribblings. Suddenly you see ‗her‘ (your crush) adjusting the strands of curly hair that fall between her eyes while she takes down the notes, and wonder why she never takes note of you. Here, Monday morning is just an empirical term, say you had that Monday a holiday due to some reason; the Tuesday will take up the place of ‗Monday Morning‘. More generally any weekday might be called a ‗Monday Morning‘. By the time the lecture ends the ‗muggu‘ part of you decides: ‗I will definitely follow this class from tomorrow,‘ but in most cases it happens that the lag continues and you‘ll never get a chance to work on it in the midst of your busy schedule until the day before your exams when you rue the fact that you never took care of your academics. Worse still if it is followed by a ―bad exam‖ day - you‗ll feel the remorse till you sleep again. You wake up the next day and, bewilderingly, the routine continues - ‗The Monday Morning Routine‘.

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April 2011

Mon Cherie Mrudula N S
My love, that day draws nigh when I Shall have to bid thee goodbye. But let not so much as a tiny sigh Ever escape thine tender rosy lips. Were I let to carry memories thy Through death's veil and beyond life Would I not hold to my bosom dear The dark curls of your silken hair, The lovely hue of your soft cheek, Your pretty frame, so frail and meek, Your laughter that rings like steeple chimes, Your arms 'round me all the time, The regular rhythm of your chest And the way I hold you pressed While you feed at my breast? My love, the day hath come, for I Here stand bidding thee goodbye. But let not so much as a tiny sigh Ever escape thine tender rosy lips. With memories of infancy hardly or none (For now you're still far too young) Blessed be you my little one.

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April 2011

Just a few metres away S.Ravishankar
Story writing has been my passion since childhood. I've always been fascinated by fantasies, mysteries, space, science and many other genres, and I have written many stories about them. But this time I felt like writing something different, such as a biography of a poor person which would touch the hearts of many people. The search for that wasn't long, as I found an exemplar just a few meters away from my apartment. There lived a poor family at the rear of my apartment amidst the other newborn apartments, in a shack-like house surrounded by unwanted shrubs that grew near the unclean waters of a river. One had to take a detour from the main roads to get to that congested place. I had observed this family for a long time and sometimes I would sit at my fourth-floor window-sill and watch them. Whenever I could spare time I would continue to write their story. Their love for each other was very serene and tranquil. They seemed to get along very well and I‘d never heard of or seen any wordy fights. They seemed to put up a lot of effort for their daily bread. Ramesh was a postman who traversed the city for the whole day just to earn a few hundred rupees per week. They had a small child named Arun who was 4 years old and who seemed just the right age to attend school. I wondered why they did not taking any initiative to educate the child until I saw the horrifying news in the local newspaper that ‗Arun has a hole in his heart which is likely to take his life in a year or two if left untreated'. They had no idea how to obtain the required five lakh rupees which could cure their son. I had often heard the child crying in pain. Sometimes he would collapse, leaving his parents in great distress. They seemed to be perpetually dejected, perpetually in helpless mourning. They didn‘t know whether to live for the present or to worry about the future, since ‗present‘ and ‗future‘ were inseparable.

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But after a while, to my astonishment, their situation seemed to get better. There weren't any crying sounds thereafter. As time flew by, I couldn't believe my eyes when I noticed the bulging stomach of Ramesh‘s wife, Latha. She was pregnant. I really could not understand why they were doing that in their seemingly stringent condition. Sometimes, I would see well-dressed educated-looking men come to their house to discuss things with them. For the first time, I could see a smile on their faces. Then I realized that somebody had donated money to them to cure their child's heart. I was very happy that fortune had finally veered in their favor. I believed that their life would get better thereafter, and so I thought of putting a happy end to their short biography. Nearly a year later, I happened to see a large crowd in mourning outside their house. I thought something had happened to the child and my heart started pounding. I rushed to the place through the intricate paths on the other side of my apartment, and found that Latha‘s dead body had been placed on a stretcher. I was shocked and could not understand what had happened. Then I came to know about the truth from the neighbors and it filled my eyes with tears….. Next day, the newspaper said 'Latha, a resident of Nehru Nagar, risked her life a year ago by being a surrogate mother since it was the only way to cure their child's heart. After she had delivered the child to her benefactor, Latha breathed last. But her breath still lives with each beat of her child ―Arun‘s Heart‖‘.

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April 2011

Devotee 24x7 Gopika Sankar U
In the vicinity of the temple, people began to notice a lean, old, bald, man. They found him rather odd, for he would emerge, all on a sudden. Never had they seen him before. He looked weak and shabby and walked with a slow pace; with hands folded behind his back. What struck them the most - in fact puzzled them - was that he would appear every half an hour suddenly from nowhere, stand in front of the temple for some time and then disappear. Never did he step inside the temple to pray, but come he would; bow his head as if paying obeisance to the deity and then take leave. Lakshmi who lived right opposite to the temple came across the man every now and then and gave her verdict: ―Good Lord, what a pious man! He can hardly walk. Still he manages to come here often to express his devotion. I live in front of the temple and cannot make it to visit there even once a day!‖ It so happened one day when Lakshmi was chatting with Latha, her neighbor, that the old man walked past them quite a few times. She couldn‘t contain her curiosity and asked Latha: ―Hey, who‘s this? Hadn‘t seen him before, but these days, I find him coming to the temple every now and then to pray. He is so pious. But I sort of have the feeling that he is senile.‖ Latha was like a human social-networking site; she knew almost everyone in their locality and loved to chat and gossip. Lakshmi was sure to get the right information from her and she certainly did. On hearing Lakshmi‘s query, Latha couldn‘t help laughing. She exclaimed, ―O no, this man belongs to the family near the grocer‘s. But he‘s been away for God knows how long. Was with his cousins, I think, who tried hard to get him employed somewhere. But lazy as he is, he could never stick anywhere and depended on them as long as he could. Now he is here, as always doing nothing. What were you talking about, his coming to pray, or something to that effect? What nonsense! To tell you the truth his regular visits have nothing to do with prayer or worship. Right from the morning, till it gets dark, he roams street after street, picks up all the cigarette stubs he comes across, lights them, takes a puff and moves on!‖ Before Latha finished her sentence, Lakshmi could see then and there, the old ―devotee‖ stooping to spot cigarette stubs!

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April 2011

Faith In God Ajinkya Devshette
No matter how much you debate over the existence of God and no matter how much you deny His existence; your own existence is not complete without him even if you are a great person, even if you have powers to achieve what you want… I know I am weak. I am weak to solve every problem I face. I have asked God questions to which I had no answers, but I have hardly got answers. I have asked and asked. At some point, I began to get tired of asking, and finally stopped. I stopped believing in God. I lost all the faith I could have in Him. At the start I felt better. I felt better to think that there was nobody sitting in heaven and playing with my life as if I was his toy boat. ―Wow!‖ I thought. Now I have all the controls of my life in my hands. But soon this feeling was overtaken by a feeling of unexplained weakness. As days passed, I started feeling weaker and lonelier. I lost my interest in cricket, music, games -some of the things that I couldn‘t previously have lived without. I started spending days in unproductive activities. My life became a mess. I became unhappy, became frustrated. I started hating myself … A few days later, I was taking a bath (even the number of times I had a bath per week had, by then, decreased) and thinking about myself. I never imagined that facing my own life would be so troublesome without having faith in Him. I thought of visiting a psychiatrist. Then I started remembering all the old good days - the days when nearly everything felt better. I remembered the time last summer when I visited the Mahakaleshwar Mandir of Lord Shiva at Ujjain. I remembered the peace of mind I had experienced in the company of the faithful people who believed, without doubt, that God was the reason behind every happening. And the next moment I realized that as soon as I lost belief in Him, I had lost belief in myself also. Well, what does it signify? Yes, He IS there; He not only exists but He resides within us… in a place deep inside that we cannot easily reach. Losing faith in Him amounts to losing faith in yourself. And I think a man without self-confidence is leading his life towards hell. A life without faith is like a frail lonely boat in the ocean facing the storms helplessly and on its way to getting shattered. We need a good captain to steer our boat, to take our boat to the shore safely. Faith in Lord, and a consequent faith in Self, is really the captain we need.

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April 2011

The Child Ardra Manasi
(Inspired by a ‗woman‘ with wide, brimming eyes) You spoke to me with your sutured tongue You accused me of selling dreams to you Education for me was a means to write Education for you was a means to smile The frills of your faded, blue frock The jasmine flowers on your well-oiled, double plaited hair Your face tinged with the glow of an audacious laughter Wasn't it yesterday dear? Sindoor in the parting of your hair Induced coyness in the way you smile Your timid eyes erupting into a spate of silence You are fifteen! The cursed daughter of a poor family, You lament about your right to smile The right to dream the 'big dream' You are a married girl today! Perhaps the mother of three tomorrow But you are still the child of yesterday The 'relic' of my unfinished dream!

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April 2011

An Impact Rajesh Chaunsali
At present, we are facing a number of social issues such as corruption, bigotry and terrorism. These issues need our consideration. If we are not able to contribute globally in addressing them, at an individual level, we can at least strive to develop a positive ‗aura‘ for ourselves. This is one of the most effective ways by which our positive energies will add up and help to make a firm foundation of desirable traits in society. In the process of developing this positive environment, if one is keen enough to observe one‘s society, he comes across a number of motivating incidents in his life which help him develop a positive outlook towards society, to the extent that the paradigm Ram-Rajya seems very practical to him. Let me be very specific here. I would like to give an example of an incident that has had a significant impact on my mind. What is that way by which we can be assured of conveying profound ideas to the society? Trying to contemplate one such effective way, I found that movies suit it well. Yes! ―Movies‖..... A great source of entertainment! Or if I articulate it in a philosophical sense, I would rather say - a play, whenever a person watches it, he tries to relate it with himself. These emotional threads can be a few or they can span all his mental dimensions. I experienced a certain anxiety when I watched a recently released Hindi movie. Let me share my state of mind at that point of time: ―With an anxiety, the mind tries to explain; Digging deeper and deeper, but not yet to claim; Applauding the attempt, no fear of attempting myself; An edifice on mental surface, touching sky, itself.‖ Sharing my opinions on this movie I will try to do justice to the core idea it seems to convey and eventually, I hope, my mind‘s restlessness will dissipate.

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Movies can convey many social issues effectively. A great deal of creativity and social responsibility are needed to direct such movies. I feel that the purpose of any movie is to create a healthy kind of entertainment for the audience. Does this seem ironic? We still see a number of movies getting released projecting images of worthless ideas. But, there are also few movies which are akin to rays of hope and which are capable of a direct and positive impact on our minds. Take an example of the movie ‗My name is Khan‘. How forceful its core idea is! How easily it has done a job which can only otherwise have taken several years to become actualized in human action. ‗My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist!‘ How well this line is framed! Amazing! These lines give us a glimpse of a present world which demands a certain definite change. There is a need to initiate this ―Change‖ and that will happen only if society is keen enough to alter itself. I feel that a movie is likely to have a great impact on any person who immerses himself in it. ―My Name is Khan‖ makes an attempt to highlight a brighter side of life which is full of love, humanity, humility, hard work, faith and most importantly, passion. I refer to the passion to make life more beautiful, more sensible and a better learning platform. Besides its core idea, I notice that this movie‘s incredible soundtrack also plays a crucial role in the generation of its message. In it, many non-Muslims utter the word- ―KHUDA‖. As they do this, they unconsciously cultivate the word‘s elemental meaning in their hearts as well, which is ‗love‘. We listen to a lot of famous songs such as ―Hazi Ali‖, ―Khwaza mere khwaza‖, ―Allah ke bande‖, ―Bulla ki jaana‖ and many more. It is very difficult to predict what people think about this, but I, for one, always appreciate the effort towards ‗meaning‘ in movies, whether the effort itself is conscious or unconscious. To conclude, there are some movies which influence an individual by conveying its core meaning to his Self. When the responses of those individuals amalgamate, one can hope to witness an alleviating current in the society - one which can diminish the gap between people from different sects. Hence, it sets an everlasting foundation for social values to cultivate and finally leads us to an auspicious future.

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April 2011

Remorsified Avishek Ranjan
There I was, enjoying my favourite flavoured milk and snacks in my favourite cafe when I heard the cars screech to a halt. A beggar, apparently blind, who was crossing the busy Velachery main road had just got another chance to live. "It must have been his 'n'th chance", I gibed. I was busy devouring, till I noticed him entering the cafe, as if he had heard me. Tattered, filthy clothes, cloth bag around his shoulder, his eyes blinking, he stood still. "Maybe he is hungry, and is going to ask for something to eat", I thought. I was wrong. He gauged the location of the cash counter using his 'sixth sense' and went towards it. "So he wants money; all beggars are the same.", my mind was gushing thoughts. He went to the cash counter, not far from me and said something in Tamil. He then, took out a packet of incense sticks (agarbatti) and showed it to the counter in-charge. He actually pointed it towards the coffee machine, which seemed to me to prove that he was actually blind. Out of what he said, I could make out the words "Nalla (good) quality batti, Sir", which he repeated many times, eyes still flickering. He had proved me wrong - on three counts. He was not a beggar and he hadn‘t asked for food or money. I watched him, ashamed, puff still in my mouth, as if it was waiting for direction to be gulped. I thought that the shopkeeper might shoo him away saying 'this is not a departmental store'. But he was more compassionate than I thought. He took a packet of 'batti', and gave him a 20 rupee note. The blind salesman took it graciously, and kept it in his cloth bag. He said "Nandri (thankyou) Sir", and walked his way out. There was no way he could check whether he was paid the right amount, but I was sure he was. I was amazed to see his dedication to earn his living, to the extent, almost, of jeopardizing his life. He could come under the wheels of a vehicle anytime. The option to beg was always open for him. Or he could go to some temple and live on free food. But here he was, earning his

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bread. I couldn't judge if the amount he earned by selling 'battis' was enough to feed him for the day, let alone his dependents, if any. I really regretted what I'd previously thought of him. "I need to buy some incense sticks, too", I mumbled. I finished, paid, and left. I looked for him on the road outside the cafe. He wasn't visible anywhere. Perhaps he had gone into another shop. I frantically peeped inside all shops nearby, to which he might have gone tottering, in such a short time. He was nowhere. The remorse was to linger and melt me from within. While you read this, he wanders on the roadside, in the cafes, eyes flickering as if trying in vain to see the world outside. If I see him again, I'll plead with him to stop blinking. Is it worth working so hard to see such a crooked world?

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April 2011

Existence of a Higher consciousness Dushyant
Not for a moment do we get out of this mind throughout our life. Not for a moment do we see/feel anything outside our body. Not for a moment do we even sense anything outside this body; the mind tells us that we are sensing something outside. How do we know it is real? Life is just a continuously flowing stream of mental modifications giving rise to a notion of time and every modification gives a sense of space. We cannot tell it to be otherwise. We cannot prove it to be otherwise by, say, some experiment. One cannot tell if these senses are real or sense impressions are real. Is Space-Time real? One cannot stay within this mind and know it to be real one has to stand apart from both the senses and the mind, from sense-objects and their sense-impressions. If there is something real it can only be known by a higher consciousness beyond the mind. It is for sure beyond mind and senses. This indicates the existence of a higher consciousness where an Absolute Reality of sorts can be experienced.

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April 2011

Serve Your Parents Surya Sudheer Meduri
They fought some thousands of battles Crossed through millions of hurdles Went through infinite pains and struggles; Sleepless nights they spent waiting for you, Restless days they spent working for you Just to make sure you were never in tears. Their sorrow and hunger became trivial When they saw you jump in gain. They prayed to every god to give you a boon And never dreamt that you would leave them a bane For all those endless sacrifices they made, For all those priceless dreams they had they were left to live with nothing in hand. Oh! You heartless business freak How could you make their heart break Serving is no business to earn a living It is a gratitude to be paid by serving.

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April 2011

A Child’s Excitement Najeeb Shariff
When I was 9 years old, we got transferred to Cuttack, Orissa. Emotionally it was a big challenge, as that was my dad‘s first transfer. A transfer meant that we had to shift, leaving behind our relatives and friends in Vizag. My mother was not too happy about leaving our native place, as both my maternal and paternal families were in Vizag. She had also vaguely heard about the communal disharmony associated with Cuttack, our new home-city. I was too young to be singularly happy or singularly sad. I was happy as I was moving to a new place and sad because I was to be separated from the cousins with whom I had (thus far) grown up. Soon after my final exams, we shifted! The new place was jarringly new, but we were quick to catch up. It was not long before I had my first winter break, and a chance to go back to Vizag. Some two weeks before the trip, my mother had packed the luggage and there was a sense of joy. The atmosphere in the house was all pepped up. I could hardly sleep in the train during travel. I was full of excitement and fervor. I would look out of the window whenever the train stopped to check which station it was and would wake my mother up to enquire how much more time we would take to reach Vizag. Finally, when we reached our native place, there was a grand reception and lots of festivities. I had great fun with my relatives and cousins and it was all very nice. When we had to return to Cuttack, a feeling of disappointment engulfed me. Now, after 14 years, I got to relive the child‘s excitement which I once had experienced on going to my hometown. Things have changed now, after I joined IIT. My parents shifted to Madurai and my visits to Vizag have grown rare since. As all the relatives and friends of my early childhood live at Vizag, I thought it would be nice to visit them. So this Ugadi, as I had an extended weekend, I planned a trip to Vizag. My first pleasant surprise was when I bumped into a bunch of guys at the Chennai railway station who happened to be my engineering friends. I was very happy to have met so many of my friends together. As I walked on the platform to reach my compartment, I met more friends from my engineering college, intermediate college and from IIT. It was the first time in 14 years that I felt so good about going back to my place. I slept very late after chatting with all my friends. I woke up to a pleasant morning. It was mildly

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foggy, a very rare sight in April. Nevertheless, it was warm and good. I switched on my music player and was enjoying some old songs, whose ‗oldness‘ was just perfect, I felt, for the occasion. I reached home at 10:30 a.m. As I had expected, my entire family was there to welcome me. My uncle hosted a regal lunch in my honour, as it were. Soon I remembered that it was the day of the World Cup finals, and tuned into the channel which was broadcasting the match. India was fielding. I dared to go and meet my relatives before the second innings starts. Just when India was about to bat, I received umpteen calls from my friends to join them at the ‗Big Screen‘ to watch the finals. The crowd was raucous and possessed a kind of electricity. They were cheering for Dhoni. Close to 6000 hands were swinging in excitement; there was wild cheering at every run. I was sure that the entire nation was going bonkers. And when we won the World Cup, people were on Cloud Nine! My friends and I thronged the beach road, where delirious fans celebrated the victory. The day was perfect; I think I‘ll remember it for the rest of my life! The next day I met most of my teachers and friends at the school I had attended when I lived in Vizag. Meeting school friends is always special. I was already feeling nostalgic about the place. Nostalgia for the streets we had roamed, for a friend‘s room in which we had (even in those early days!) extended study hours (of course less of study and lots of claptrap). A lot has changed now, with new buildings coming up, but my wonderful memories of the place are likely to stay with me. I had my return train the next day. It was afternoon, and I could see the lush green fields, the beautiful hills, the shepherds grazing their goats, the cows, and of course the crows; they all looked so good. This time around, I did not have the same sense of disappointment I had when I was child; instead, I was filled with a curious sense of satisfaction. The trip was wonderful. I felt more inspired and energized than I had in a long time. My advice to you: The next time you happen to visit your native place, take some time off to meet your old friends and teachers, visit all the places which have a special place in your heart. You will feel inspired, enthusiastic, invigorated and you will be granted an unknown freshness. Feel the difference!

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April 2011

The Sea and the Wind Rama Kumar Pasumarthi
As I look out to the mighty sea, aspirations and dreams unbounded, I see I see a child laughing, dancing clapping her hands in joy and glee I remember the good old days when that used to be me I dash towards the clear blue sea, smilingly as it beckons me the cool water caresses my feet as the waves at the shore gently beat The wind meets the water and together their laughter rings on for eternity. It reminds me of my poetry's reason and the mirth in her laughter; her smile is a joy in every season, her presence I long for, forever and after.

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April 2011

If this is love… Vijayakumar G
―…It was really a big day for me; a very meaningful day indeed. Though the day reminded me of some of my very special and most cherished memories, I was really nervous. The very thought of my wife made me tense. I really could not tell how she would respond when I told her what I needed to tell her. I felt that I should have informed her earlier. After all, she too knew what love was. But still I was sure that she would not be happy to know that I went to meet her in spite of her telling me not to go. As I walked back home I thought of what I would say. I gently closed the door behind me as I entered the living room. She was her usual self, watching television soaps. She did not ask me anything. She knew that I would have definitely gone to see her. After all she had noticed my happiness the previous day when I was talking to her on the phone. Some five minutes of silence passed as a lot of thoughts were running in my mind. I do not understand how some of my friends are able to talk in a very straight forward way to their wives. I was not able to do that even after so many years of marriage. Maybe I did not want to hurt her or maybe I respect her feelings or maybe I love her that much. I just could not resist the lull and I declared ‗I met her today‘. She did not respond. She acted as if she did not listen. But I feel like I was able to figure out what was going through her mind. Her mind was anxious, she was not. Her thoughts were restless, she was not. I knew it would be difficult for her to say something, but I just waited. A few drops of tears preceded her words. She finally asked me ‗How‘s she?‘ And that was the moment I was waiting for. I called your mom to come inside the house. When your grandma knew that her only daughter had come to see her after four years how could she control herself? The moment she knew that her daughter was waiting outside she rushed to the puja room and came back with the aarathi plate to welcome her beloved daughter home. She knew that she had waited enough and there was no point in being angry with her daughter anymore. That was the day your father first came to this house. Also only a week earlier you were born. And in one way you are also responsible for your grandmother‘s happiness in her last few years. And that‘s why I love you very much‖, said my grandpa as he kissed me on my cheek. I see him, daily, cleaning my grandma‘s photo that is hanging on the wall; changing flowers for it. He regularly goes through her notebooks where she had practiced her kolams. He never watched TV serials. But now he has even started watching the same TV soaps which she used to watch. And above all, he always keeps telling stories about her to me. I wonder if this is love then whether I would be able to love someone like he does.

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April 2011

Star Siva Chaitanya Chaduvula
I remember how I was on my first day Looking back on the last day, hey This feeling takes my breath away And left me with nothing but memories!

I wish to become a star And bring everyone beneath me But like the stars faded by moonlight My life was shaded by ‗lite‘(macha).

Every year started with a high inspiration But there was always a sweet distraction Named ―Saarang‖ defining laws of attraction its as real as fiction...me getting into action.

Life seemed very clear. When the end-sems were near; A one-night fight and fate Decided the gradients of grade

Where to begin, I was lost Placements‘ season came too fast

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April 2011

Beaten to the bone by puzzles Showed how tough can be life

Entering is pain, Leaving is pain again Looks like 5 years went in vain Maybe it‘s full of intangible gains Which brought the stars beneath me!

The days we spent on parapets ‗Farting‘ about everything under the sun Realizing not coming by again Makes me feel hard for breath May be its true.0oo0oo.. 5 years have just gone by May be its true..0oo0oo.. Time has again just flown away

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April 2011

"My Freedom" Abul Kalam Azad
In the nearly four years of my history lessons on the "Indian Freedom Movement" I never seemed to be able to consider what ―Freedom‖ may mean to people who ‗do not have it‘. But recently one afternoon, in the midst of a boring class, I started to think about what ‗being free‘ means to me. After a few minutes of reflection, I said to myself, ―Freedom to me is the ability to speak my heart out (freedom of speech), the ability to think of what I want (mental freedom), the ability to choose whom I interact with (social freedom)...and many more things. "Freedom" is indeed a Big term!! After this continuous flow of "Free" thoughts, I began to "wonder" how much of a role I play and how much of a role our society plays in ensuring my freedom. To be frank, I do not know the answer to this question (at least for now). As far as I am concerned "Mental Freedom" is the most important. I "wonder" how many of us "really" have it… Not many I guess. So, wishing the entire world (especially our IITM people) a joyous ride in their quest for "Mental Freedom".

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April 2011

Europe and India – A Reciprocal Way? Siddharth Sareen
I remember walking out of my first encounter with a visa officer at the German Consulate in Chennai, shaken and close to tears. Having waited a fortnight for the appointment and acted entirely within the guidelines stated on both the German and Royal Danish Embassy websites, I am not prepared for this. For the rude visa officer who doesn‘t so much as look at me before sliding my carefully arranged application papers back through the polished glass window that separates our worlds, with a dismissive ―you can submit these but I‘m warning you we will reject them.‖ Nor for the auto-rickshaw driver outside, who tries to take me for a figurative ride, when all I need is the transparent anonymity of a bus that will not fleece me but simply let me be. It seems the cruellest of ironies that transportation has anything to do with my feelings at that point, stuck in the chaotic traffic of Chennai, where I have spent years understanding and admiring the transportation system in Copenhagen, a city that now feels almost beyond grasp. This hardly turns out to be the end of my travails, however. I learn from ‗Travels with Herodotus‘, the final book of Ryszard Kapuściński, that famous Polish journalist loved equally by his adoptive Italy, that ‗travel‘ is derived from the same root as ‗travail‘, due to the hardship associated with it in the old days. Clearly I have not broken through to the post-modern era with regard to visas. I contact the Royal Danish Embassy in New Delhi, asking them why the German Consulate would refuse me when they claim to process Schengen visa applications for Denmark, and they are equally flummoxed. I get a polite, apologetic reply, and they request me to bring my papers to the Royal Danish Consulate in Chennai the next day. I sit across the table from a man with a knowing air about him who doesn‘t seem to give an inch, but at times fails to hide a smile that plays naturally on his lips. He grills me about why I want a short-term visa, how I know my girlfriend, even whether her apartment in Copenhagen is large enough for both of us! Then he takes my papers, waving me out with the advice to be patient.

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You see, as a young Indian male student, without a hefty salary or a rich employer to back me up, I am suspect. The Danes have had too many Indian men dupe their immigration authorities with talk of girlfriends, only to seek permanent residence in the welfare state. Hence India figures on the Asylum country list of the Danish Immigration Service, and the good folks there want to put me through the scanner before they can be bothered to allow me six weeks with my girlfriend this summer in her city. In fact, they take two months before deciding I am not undesirable after all, and I finally arrive in Copenhagen on ‗Sankt Hans Eve‘ – that is to say, midsummer. Sitting by the dock, holding her hand and sipping wine, with friends around us singing traditional songs while the annual witch-burning ritual symbolizes the Danish past, even as the bonfire crackles and a jazz band plays on, I am happy but at the same time struck by the contrast of our worlds. Copenhagen seems like a toy city to me – and I mean that in the best possible manner – but its lovely old houses, cycle lanes and city squares are at utter odds with the Indian cities I know, with their bustling throngs, honking cars and intense street life. A year has passed since, and the European Union now requires its member states to process visa applications much quicker, without allowing immigration services the luxury of asking for bank guarantees. Thanks to a resolution brought into force by the European Parliament on 1st January 2011, I get a call from the VFS Global office (that now processes Schengen visas for Denmark in Chennai) on April Fools‘ Day. I almost cannot believe it – within a week of having applied! My girlfriend refuses to treat it as anything but a joke until I show her the shiny visa stamped into my passport. Come summer, we will be together in ‗Wonderful Copenhagen‘. Except that, unlike last year‘s trip to Gothenburg in Sweden to present a paper at the World Congress of Sociology, this time we are going to her summer house in the French Pyrenees. I muse to myself that any mountain range that doesn‘t reach 3,500 metres will be hard-put to match the breathtaking Himalayas, where even an amateur trekker like me ascended 5,000 metres at age 18, before entering university. Then I see photos of the quaint town called Ax-les-Thermes where we intend to stay, with its hot springs and gorgeous surroundings, and decide it might be an even contest after all!

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Eric Weiner, in ‗The Geography of Bliss‘, posits in a chapter on India that ‗happiness is a contradiction‘. Having described the contradictions of my first brush with Europe, it is fitting to come to the antithetical crux of the matter at hand – a reciprocal way? My answer, without hesitation but with qualification, is resoundingly affirmative. Europe and India represent such incredible, mutually enriching contexts, that their engagement, be it cultural, economic or political, is highly positive. Moreover, with the global significance of each, it is inevitable. My university‘s strong ties with Germany are a classic example, and one I have been benefitted by enormously, personally and professionally. Interactions with exchange students as peers and visiting faculty from all over Germany, as well as Switzerland, France and Spain, opened up new windows and redefined horizons for me on commencing university. Some of these have developed into strong friendships over the years, and brought alive the diverse flavors of Europe, making its historically-grounded, multiple cultures real to me much before I first visited. Why, then, do I add a qualification? It is because despite our commonness in values such as diversity, secularism, open-minded acceptance of differences within commonalities, innovation within tradition, and excellence combined with cooperation, Europe and India have not quite found the reciprocal way yet. As a student it is only fair to speak on the basis of my own, direct experience, rather than in a second-hand manner. What I see is great scope for growth and learning, for self-critical insight through the eyes of the other. Something in the tradition Euripides hints at in ‗Medea‘, saying – ―You have navigated with raging soul far from the paternal home, passing beyond the sea‘s double rocks, and you now inhabit a foreign land.‖ Yet the transition of the observer to the observed is not complete when it comes to Europe and India, and my argument here is that this is so because the conditions at present do not allow for it. Take the instance of exchange students mentioned above. Their influx at my university is over a dozen times greater than the outflow to Europe. Which is to say, for Indian students the opportunity of experiencing the European context is incomparably harder than vice

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versa. As my experience with even a short-term tourist visa illustrates, a middle-class student in India is hard-put to immerse oneself in a European context simply due to historical and economic differences that remain anything but reciprocal. A European student, on the other hand, can work a summer job and fund half a year‘s stay in India with relative ease, if not access one of an abundance of scholarships for a semester abroad. The hundreds of German students I have shared enjoyable, meaningful times with during their visits to India are testimony to the rich possibilities a reciprocal way would enable. The fact that during the same period, my department only managed to offer the same opportunity to six Indian students is a signifier of the struggle ahead, if we indeed wish to create a platform for truly horizontal involvement bridging our uneven cultures and circumstances. T.S. Eliot writes memorably in ‗Little Gidding‘, the last of ‗The Four Quartets‘, that ―We shall not cease from exploration /
And the end of all our exploring
/ Will be to arrive where we started
/ And know the place for the first time.‖ Thanks to deep and lasting friendships with Europeans, not least my girlfriend and my best friend among them, I have no doubt that one can find oneself as much at home in Europe as in India, and that through such exploration one is privy to a rarefied sense of introspection and self-discovery to boot. What I sincerely hope, in today‘s globalized world, is that we can bridge more than just the gaps of longitudes and latitudes between Europe and India. I trust that both these entities will play definitive roles in realizing a more equitable, just world – a vision both aspire to – with and through each other, and that they will jointly create the conditions that enable such a reciprocal way.

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Reflection Umesh Neettiyath
I looked: The mirror showed a ghost; I pleaded, "Don‘t!" She said "I can't help, it's you" Fought for gold and throne, And your face is gilded with blood. Wandered the nights like a vampire, Look, you are pale and weak. "I can't, but watch And then show it back to you." Break the mirror, if you dare Turn back and say "Fake!" "Good Bye", And I walked away. Think I left a drop of tear, For I knew it was me.

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Lucy in the sky with diamonds Karthik Purushothaman
―I saw you.‖ ―I… it‘s not like I was avoiding you anyway.‖ ―Why would you avoid me?‖ I am told I have a throaty voice, but then I heard Bugs Bunny and he talks (he doesn‘t talk of course, he was voiced by a man called Mel Blanc until he died in 1989) a mix of ‗Brooklyn‘ and ‗the Bronx‘ which are dialects that people speak in New York. Then I decided to call my voice ‗Brooklyn and the Bronx without the accent‘ though I know that is incorrect, because I know that people are allowed to do incorrect things sometimes, like lying or cheating or leaving other people. But it‘s only as long as it‘s once in a while. ―So…‖, she scratched her nose and shifted on her seat. ―I see you have changed.‖ ―Yes‖, I said. ―I took to wearing shirts and I go without a belt because I get rashes around my hips. But then my pants slide down and the elastic on my underwear shows and I let my shirt out because I don‘t like my underwear being seen.‖ She laughed. I like how she looks when she laughs; her eyes reduce to creases but her pupils show, magnified by drops of tears. But I don‘t like her laughing because I don‘t like people laughing, because laughter to me is always one sided. And then she took a cigarette, clicked her lighter two times because it failed to light up at the first and she lit her cigarette with it. She took a puff on it and turned away to blow the smoke out. And then she looked at me. ―Heck‖, she said. ―I almost forgot…‖ and she made to throw the cigarette away. ―It‘s alright, I don‘t mind.‖

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And that was a white lie because I do mind smoking in real, but I didn‘t mind other people doing it because I know it is part of their system and that my revulsion would only be the same as that of a vegetarian towards someone like me who eats meat and feels good about it because it tastes good. She looked at me for a half a minute, cigarette still in her hand – the longest she did in the twelve I‘ve been with her. And then she smiled, and I smiled too and it didn‘t bother me much. I like smiles. ―Did you know that it takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds for light from the sun to reach the earth?‖ ―Jo‖, she said, her smile subsiding. ―Do you still think I care about those things?‖ ―I know you don‘t‖, I said. ―You‘ve told me that twice – three times if you count this one too.‖ ―Do you want me to leave?‖ I looked up at the sky because I didn‘t want to look at her face because she looked angry. And I know that skies are more interesting to look at because there are things happening as you see them, like stars dying out or new stars being created, only that you can‘t see those. And I didn‘t answer her question. ―Scientists say that the Sun will die in 15 Billion years‖, I said. ―And that before it dies it will swell and engulf the earth or boil its water away. And that means the earth will die before the Sun and that the world will go a lot before it. And that means there is no forever.‖ She leaned forward and rocked on her seat repetitively and then she placed her face on her fist and looked (what people call) ‗distant‘. And then she spread her fingers out to cover her face and she shook for a while, like when someone laughs or shivers in the cold. And then she stopped shaking and looked up at me and her face was wet with tears and dirty

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with marks from her eyeliner. And then she looked away and looked down and asked me if she could leave. And I told her I had to go too. ―Oh…‖ she said pointedly, past a sniffle and a check on her handbag. ―Who is it this time? Andromeda?‖ she threw her bag over her shoulder. ―Or Bellatrix?‖ ―No‖, I said. ―It‘s Lucy.‖

‘No one is a cynic. To be discouraged in the absence of discouragement is the diversion of saints. Only up to a certain point, however, for these chaste and generous creatures stigmatize their lechery and denounce their avarice. If they discover their real gangrene--saintliness--they look for justification, like all guilty creatures.’ -Jean Paul Sartre (In ‘Puritans of Rialo’)

Your mind is like this water my friend, when it gets agitated it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle the answer becomes clear. - Master Oogway Source: Kung fu Panda