3rd October 2007

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Stars in her eyes
Staring into Space with Sunita Williams - Take Two

When I learned that Sunita Williams was to be visiting our school on the 3rd of October, 2007, I was more than excited. For this time, the event wasn’t to be like every other event ever held in our school-with someone talking about their experiences somewhere, everyone else doodling or using the time to catch up on their sleep, someone else wondering why on earth they were here and not on the field. It was to be different. It was to be fulfilling. It was to be enriching, and not just for us-but for her as well.
And I was not disappointed. When Ms Williams walked in, I know I wasn’t the only one holding my breath, waiting to get a chance to talk to the one woman who’s been outside the earth’s atmosphere longer than any other.
Ms Williams started the round of causing mouths to fall open and eyebrows to shoot up by showing us a film collaborating her space sojourn, and I’m probably not the only one who’ll say that that day, nearly every Vasant Valley student went home saying, “I want to be an astronaut!”
She then went on to answer questions that plague the minds of many, and then some of us, members of the Newsletter Editorial Board, (how lucky are we?!) had the chance to talk to her about her stay in space, samosas, sleeping and the like.
NL: What do you think prompted NASA to choose you as an astronaut?
SW: Well, it’s rigorous training, but apart from that, probably my physical fitness. You have to be very physically fit, and take your body seriously.
NL: Did you recognize the song that some of our children sang? It was the song that your father used to sing to you as a little girl. We know your father did!
SW: Oh, how nice! (Looks at Dad and smiles)
NL: Were you ever scared of the prospect of being out in the unknown?
SW: (Looks at Megha) No, I wasn’t scared! There was nothing scary about it.
NL: How difficult was it to sleep in space?
SW: Oh, I’ve been wanting to answer that! Sleeping was very difficult, it wasn’t like you’d imagine it to be. We were floating all the time, and I had to keep reaching out for my pillow, and after that, I just couldn’t fall off to sleep. I wanted my bed back!
NL: What do other planets look like from space?
SW: Other planets don’t really look any closer, but they’re very clear. They look like bright, shining stars.
NL: What was the entire effect of being out in the Universe like?
SW: It was really great. The earth is very beautiful. Floating for me was really fun, because it’s like swimming, but even otherwise, I could see the earth, and it looked really beautiful. I’d love to share my experience with everybody.
NL: What would happen to a bird in space? Would it try to fly, or would it just float about unnaturally?
SW: Well, Russian astronauts did try to hatch eggs in space, and what happened was, the birds kept flying in circles, but it was useless, because it must’ve felt like a person just flapping their arms about. Initially, I felt like a bird, too, but afterward, it was more like a fish—I had to continuously float about and catch stuff—like food, for instance, with my mouth, the way fish do!


NL: Do you STILL like samosas (considering that everywhere you go, you’re now offered samosas)?!SW: Of course I do! (grins)

NL: If there was one thing you’d want to say to children to inspire them to be astronauts, what would it be?
SW: Well, why not? (smiles)

All in all, the act of talking to Ms Williams, listening to enchanted tales about how she had to fish about (literally) for simple things like food, and the idea that sometimes, just sometimes, dreams do come true, were truly spellbinding. She left an impact on all of us; she showed all of us that to reach for the stars is far from impossible. I know that I, amongst others, who sincerely want to be an Astrophysicist, learned an inordinate amount from her visit, and I know that this was one event I will truly remember forever.
Akanksha Chawla
and the Editorial Team

Space, and More

School Watch

Saturday, 22nd September 2007 - The 'Sanskrit Academy', Delhi Government, awarded the following students for securing 95% or more in Sanskrit in their CBSE 2007: Ansh Karha, Tarunima Prabhakar, Disha Brara, Aneesha Dass, Vishal Jeet, Pritika Rai Advani, Avanti Gupta, Mitaali Shukla, Devanshi Dalmia, Siddhartha Banerjee and Sonal Narang

Thursday, 27th September 2007 - The Under 9 team comprising of Asith Khosla, Gaurang Raizada, Rushil Vohra, Tarun Malhotra and Arman Puri played their first Chess Tournament and won the third position at Amity International School. Congratulations!

Friday, 28th September 2007 - A lecture-demonstration by Gandhi Haindustani Sahitya Sabha, founded by Kaka Saheb Kalkar, to the students on how to use the charkha.

Wednesday, 3rd October 2007 – Sunita Williams visits Vasant Valley. Vasant Valley Hockey School Team went for their first tournament.

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Views on Sunita William’s visit to our School:

“It’s an honour to meet her” - Amanat Singh
“It’s cool that she is an Indian and she went to space” - Mrudang Mathur
“She followed her dream till she succeeded” -Aavantika Wassan
“It was a great experience and very inspirational” - Aarushi Kessar
“It was a great honour for us that she came to see our robots. She shared her excitement with us. Even though she has achieved so much she was so humble”
- Gautam Nagpal and Amar Dhingra
“She has eliminated all misconceptions concerning the status of women in society and has given us a platform to express our political, social and cultural views.”
– Rhea Sadh
“I missed the interaction with Ms. Williams. She should have been here for a longer period of time.”
- Madhavan Somanathan
“Enriching, exciting and inspiring.” – Ritika Chaudhary
“She was tall in all respects.” - Soumya Dasgupta.
“I thought the entire event was rather overhyped. She seemed down to earth and practical as a person… very open and warm.”
- Raghuvir Dass
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! I loved the movie she showed us.”
- Shiv Nath Katariya

Ms. Roy and Ms. Williams : in space gear!

sharing ideas about robots !

Pakistan vs. I ndia

He’s off the mark with a fantabulous six,
And Pakistan find themselves in a
terrible fix.
What a ball! Is that out?
Yusuf walks back - his face in a pout.

No ball after no ball, what’s Gul thinking?
Because of him, Pakistan are sinking!
India’s playing some wonderful cricket,
But oh, is that a wicket?

Howzatt! I’m sure he’s definitely gone,
As Bhajji angrily kicks the lawn.
Some late pyrotechnics by Rudra Pratap,
Yet another ball sent over the top!

Pakistan have their work cut out,
‘Cos India are looking for a rout.
The innings has been well begun,
But well begun is just half done!

What a blazer of a shot!
Someone has to stem the rot.
India are in dire straits -
You gotta do or die, mates.

Required from the last over is a run a ball,
That’s all Pakistan need to win it all.
Risky shot…
And it’s caught!!
What a hair-raising match!Yes.
The icing on the cake was that amazing catch.
World cup victory! Ring any bell?
All’s well that ends well!
Ojasvi Goel, 5B

Talking about the Space Odyssey


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Gandhi - sublime memories of a Father
“I have held my flesh as a dutiful human, but the world as a Father”
-Mahatma Gandhi

Perhaps the most intriguing persona of the era of India’s much awaited independence was Mohandas, the one-man army, the one- cloud sky and the one - line story. He is long gone, perhaps years before you and I could even have heard of him or known him or seen him. His dainty yet forthright figure that had delved deeply into the bloody river of India’s freedom can no longer be seen swimming again, nor can his charisma or his charm conjure the resurrection of the Indian soil and fortify the nation for forthcoming generations.
We celebrated with much zest as India touched her sixtieth year of Independence- Something, in which Mohandas played the key protagonist. And what to say of his power, he adorned the cape of the Nation’s father with such responsiveness that he died wearing it. (And even on his deathbed, his cotton cape was spotless; inspite of the fact that it had witnessed lurid viciousness and had even fought dearly for freedom). Free India, kissed the sixtieth cloud in her sky on the 15th of august and just a few days down the line Mohandas has received the sixty medals of his sacrifice - one that was only his and contained the contribution of no one else - on October the 2nd.
Bapu, as he was dearly christened by the nation was a man of few words. His actions said more than words and words said what even the actions of the nation couldn’t. To you, our parents, our grandparents and me he was no more than the father of our nation, but to his own flesh he was something too- A father who was never theirs. A father who had to be shared with the billion Indians that took shelter under his wing and respected him equally. Thus not much is known about Mohandas’ family life. Perhaps it was so fragmented that it could never really be pieced together.
Kasturba and Mohandas were both 13 when their marriage was arranged, mere children who deserved much more than what they got. Then Gandhi was young and he taught his child- wife the alphabet as a child- teacher. “Little did I know I had enrolled myself into a bond of child marriage” reminiscences Gandhi much later.
The Gandhi blood - line began with their first son Harilal in 1888. Perhaps he is the key that differentiates between Bapu’s personal and public life (one he himself never claimed to have). Harilal’s indignance towards Mohandas’ being Bapu for the whole country, and his feeling victimised after Bapu refuses his bail, totally shatters him. This causes me to think, did Bapu, who fathered the whole Nation fail as a father to his own blood? Or was the cost of our Nations independence the fragmentation of one relationship- one family?
Nikhil Pandhi, 9

Monkeys in leopard skin bikinis

Once in a while, parents come up with some crazed myth they expect us to believe. It all starts, when at a very young age, we are expected to believe the story of Santa Claus and his little men in green tights. This “white” lie gets me a free gift every year, so it’s perfectly fine with me. Then we grow a little bit older, and start making stupid faces and sticking trying constantly to lick our noses. At this point, our parents come up with a brilliant story about how an evil witch will see us and our faces will be stuck like that forever. I would like to note, that the tale might be different in each case, but our parents find a way to leave us scared, frightened, and make us imagine a world where our finger will always be up our backside, basically accomplishing their task. As life our goes on, we are further fed with lies to keep us potty trained and avoid us asking them where babies come from. After all that, when we overcome all our years as young children and blossom into “young adults” we begin using what has now become an essential part of the world today. So the adults of this world, to stop us from over-socializing come forth out of the darkness and speaketh the ever-powerful lie once again. They tell us, and expect us to believe, that “Mobile Phones cause radiation”
We are told, quite officially, that “The infra-red rays from the mobile heat up our brain and cause cancer”. This, my dear readers is an absolute lie. Mobiles do not release radiation, only electromagnetic energy. They’re two completely different things. Even then, if you were to call it radiation, the energy released by mobiles is categorized as non-ionizing radiation and is generally thought to be harmless; therefore it in no way can cause cancer. They are vastly different from the iodizing rays from x-rays and nuclear energy that have been proven to cause cancer. The articles which comment on this particular issue, don’t ever say that they do cause cancer. The actual tests have only shown that when the pure form of energy from mobiles, is directed on human cells for an extended period of time (A week), the cells note an increase in temperature of 0.5 degrees Celsius. When you put a mobile to your ear, the impure energy firstly, is a lot less harmful. Secondly, it is highly unlikely that your brain will “explode” because it is protected by the ear, the skin, and about three inches of impenetrable skull. In no way, is that similar, to the 0.1 mm distance between pure energy and unprotected, weak cells. Even if, the average teenage individual talked on the phone 24 hours a day, their ear will become .25 degrees warmer after ten years.
So as you can see, this reality is vastly different from the irrelevant nightmare that we are made to bare.
So, the next time you are told by your parents, to put down the mobile or get cancer, show them this article, and the many others on the internet. Unless of course, they’re putting a landline in your room. In that case, pretend you believe them anyway.
Bhavik Singh, 10

The Book Trolley

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusac
The Book Thief is about the life of a young German girl during World War Two and her trials and tribulations. Though written from Death’s point of view, it is anything but morbid. A heart-wrenching insight into the lives of German civilians during the Second World War, it has many-a light moment as well. The style of writing is unique and original, and just makes you fall in love with the book. You cry when you read about the tears, you laugh with joy when you see the happy events unfolding before you, for you truly can see everything happen. A brilliant book.
The book trolley continues next issue...
by Ayesha Malik and Mahi Titus

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The Hindi Fall

Each year, the Hindi Saptah begins an array of activities, for each class of the school. It is only this year that it made me realise a terrible truth about myself.

Contrary to popular belief, I can speak Hindi. My written Hindi is, I would say, decent. And my spoken Hindi, until recently, was one that most could understand.

On Tuesday, the 11th of September, a Hindi Debate was held in Class 10. When I stood up to interject Kshitij Sharan’s argument, I had a very clear question in mind. My mistake was that I had phrased it in English, and my attempts to make the Hindi version of it understandable, let alone sound as clever as the English one did, were quite pathetic. Anyway, Kshitij’s answer did not make sense, and I could only blame myself. I sat back down, defeated.

Did I give much thought to this little incident? I did not – not until the long bus journey back home. I thought so much, and for so long, that I came to the conclusion that a time would come when the only words I would be able to utter in Hindi would be “ Didi, nimbu paani banado.”, or else, if I was lucky, “Didi, kripya nimbu paani banado.”
(Of course, this would mean that I wouldn’t ever die of thirst in an only-Hindi speaking society. )

Jokes apart, I would like to take this opportunity to vow that I will never again cause discomfit to the teachers who have taught me Hindi since Junior School – Mrs. Tomar, Mrs. Sahay,,Ms. Prabha, Mr. Pandey, Mrs. Kamra and, for a short while, Mrs. Rai. Not once, since I have dropped Hindi to take French, did I seriously consider the fact that I might forget how to speak Hindi.

Hindi Saptah, for some, is a chance to add to their collection of prizes in poetry recitation, debates, reading and writing, to explore their knowledge of the language. For others, it is a time to watch and listen to those who are more accomplished in the language than they; to emulate, and to learn. For me, it has, so far, been a bit of both.

This year, however, for me, Hindi Saptah was a week of realisation and of regret. It has also been the most fruitful, not because I won prizes - I didn’t - but because I have made a promise to myself, that I publish here, so that it is more difficult for me to break.
Between this Hindi Saptah and the next, I promise to work on my Hindi. This means that not only will Kshitij have to watch out for my interjection in the next debate his participates in, but also that at this time, next year, I will write an article on Hindi Saptah in the September issue of the School Newsletter, in Hindi. J
Sara Chatterjee (X)

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On to the horizon,
Desolate, Bleak,
Cold, Ice melting, slowly,
Blank sky, Is this my end?
Sailors shouting,
Asking for orders.
Around, clueless, afraid,
So far away,
Seem the calls. Help.
But I stand Alone,
Mind blank, Fingers
Numb. Salute.
Ship rocking,
Losing Control.
Is this my, End?Yes.
I know, it’s Over.
The surface, cracking,
Water, Seeping in, already
Drowning. Nearly,
Gone. Balance lost.
No Control.
Falling, Closer,
Closer, I said a prayer.
I said a prayer for us all.
Silence. Blind.
Blank. Alone.
This is my End.
Malika Pal, 8

My Teacher Ms. Shrivastav!

Algebra, Algebra – its putting me in a daze,
Numbers and variables combined in strange ways,
My footing is lost, I feel stuck in glue, Please help me Ms. Shrivastav,
I’m counting on you!
She starts with a most severe stare,
“Don’t you know how to do it, give it care!”
But when she realizes it really befuddles,
It’s clear she wants to give cuddles!
Soon the explanation in repeated, she really does care
That shows right through her matter-of-fact glare.
Yet I sit there and wonder, “Why do this to me?
I’m clueless, I’m fried, I’m ready to flee!”
But on go the lessons – I’m going to scream,
Then she comes along and changes nightmares to dreams.
The math she clarifies and she helps us to see,
How good we’ve become and how good we can be!
By: Divya Shastri, 6


A Precious Smile

My special brother Noel hit the ball
A very uppish forehand onto the wall
But sadly the ball flew way beyond the wall
Oh! No!  Shouted he
Rushing to the other side
His ball was nowhere to be seen
My brother looked all around
And spotted his ball
But the gate was closed
And nobody was to be seen
A yawning old guard was spotted
Seated far away
Noel ran to him
But there was no key!

The sleepy guard‘s face lit up with kindness
And he really wanted to give Noel happiness
So he swung into action
To end his tension
Climbing over that giant gate
The ball was then retrieved
Then nobody could stop Noel
From hugging the old guard who said,
"A smile that sweet made it worth it all"
I think and wonder even today
Why is it that some people’s smile
Can be so precious –
That you want to run a mile for them
Ahvana Paul, 5A

Spinning our way to Freedom

The patriotic songs playing softly in the background set the perfect mood for the lecture/ demonstration by the Gandhi Hindustani Sahitya Sabha; which was founded by Kaka Saheb Kalkar, a disciple of Gandhiji, on how to use the “Charkha”. This activity was organized in our School on the 28th of September 2007, in celebration of the birth week of the “Father of our Nation”, Gandhiji..
Several khadi clad children sat intently spinning their charkhas in the Senior School quadrangle. A man sat amongst them, reminiscing about the freedom struggle: when foreign goods were shunned, and the “Made in India” tag was the most coveted.
The charkha, a small spinning wheel used to spin cotton, was publicized by Gandhiji as a tool and symbol of India’s independence. In fact, it was even included on earlier versions of the Indian Flag.
Puja, one of the many children who had come to demonstrate the working of the charkha, said that she had been spinning the charkha for the past three years. She went to the Gandhi Smriti everyday after school where she spun the charkha, and even got help with her studies.
The working of the charkha wasn’t as easy as it appeared; it took all of us quite a while to understand its working. All the demonstrators were spinning the thread single handedly; but this task was way too advanced for us beginners, so we just had to do it in pairs: One of us rotated the wheel, whilst the other spun the cotton thread off the spindle. ‘Easy!’ I hear you say? Not really…
Although the charkha has been overtaken by rapid advancements in technology today, it still has a significant meaning for us all - The symbol of our self-reliance and Independence, both economic as well as political.
Sanjana Malhotra, IX

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Author: Rick Riordan

Though not as popular as Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is also a must read for all those fantasy fans out there. The books combine ancient Greek mythology with the modern world, in a bizarre series that feature the demi god (half god and half human) Percy Jackson.
The series opens with Percy’s discovering his complete identity as well as the existence of others who are just like him. Also, he learns of a prophecy which states that at the age of sixteen, a certain demi-god (obviously him) will have the power to save or destroy the gods. Helping him out on his adventures are Annabeth, daughter of Athena (goddess of wisdom and truth) and Grover, his satyr guardian. Apart from them, the books feature a large number of gods, demi-gods, and monsters that are taken directly out of Greek lore.
Not only are the books widely educational on Greek Mythology, but the way in which Rick Riordan portrays each character and chapter (which have really weird titles) is a skill to be envied.
With ‘Lightening Thief’, ‘Sea of Monsters’ and ‘The Titans Curse’ already in the markets, Riordan promises that at least two more books shall be published. This series not only promises a slightly disturbing interest in Greek mythology, but also a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.
Mahi Titus and Jahan Nargolwala, 11

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Remember the days when Puneet used to break his own high jump record, when Guneet and Sukhad used to practice all year just to beat each other on sports day, when Aditya Sheshmani led the team to great heights and when Sonal Marwah represented Delhi in the nationals? Now, we’ve all heard a lot about the ideal balance between sports and studies, and it’s safe to say that perfection was achieved back then. Their achievements show a passion for sports which is lacking, not only in our school, but in schools all around Delhi.
What is the present situation like? Where has all that passion gone? Is it the school? Is it the parents? What has brought about this change? Frankly, we feel it is wrong to blame the school; our school is one that has always supported a strong combination and balance between academics and sports. Therefore, we’ve concluded that the source of the problem is the apparent lack of passion within the children themselves. This change has been widely noticed all around Delhi, in the general mindset that today’s system imposes on us. Now, only a tiny fraction of importance is given to sports or, for that matter, almost all extracurricular activities. The rest is single mindedly focused on academics. This is somewhat unavoidable of course, due to the intense nature of competition in the current system, where academic excellence is at the peak of the hierarchy in judging students.
But, as can be seen from many of our alumni, a balance between sports and studies can very realistically be achieved. It is unquestionably essential to maintain this balance. The only question is changing our own mindsets, walking that extra mile, to spark and nurture a real passion and interest in sports, which is now seemingly fading away. After all, sports don’t only build character… they reveal it.
By Arjun Bajaj & Dhritiman Murti, 12


Megha Rawla: ‘It’s an underwater fish! Can’t you see its wings?’
Ahh yes. After all it’s so obvious...

Chetna Sawhney: ‘She knows abuses in every Hindi language.’
After all, there’s a multitude of them aren’t there?

Karanvir Singh: ‘I need to get more than a hundred percent in these tests’
And we’re sure you can get it.

Tushar Nath: I died tomorrow!
The fact that you know you died is impressive enough. Please don’t go on.

Ashim Beri: Abhinav’s hair is bald!
A brilliant observation, that can only rival the genius of Tushar Nath.

Abhinav Rai: You’re soo loser!
We would try thinking up a comment, but we’re too busy laughing right now.

Alaap Gandhi: Where had you done?
Oh duh uh duh uh duh…

Editorial Board:

Ayesha Malik, Devika Agrawal, Nikhil Pandhi, Sanjana Malhotra, Sara Chatterjee, Rhea Sadh, Kunal Datta , Vanshika Wadhwa, Bhavik Singh, Jahan Nargolwala, Soumya Dasgupta, Diva Gujral, Tarunima Prabhakar, Avanti Gupta, Amba Kak, Arjun Bajaj, Dhritiman Murti, Praavita Kashyap, Ujwalla Bhandari, Shaman Marya, Ria Sen
Editor: Akanksha Chawla