April, 2008

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In the Inter-House Social Science quiz for classes 6-8, the Green House team came first.

Social Science essay writing competitions were held.
The following are the winners:
Class 6 : Aashna Malik
Class 7 : Shreya Bahl and Vasudha Dixit
Class 8 : Gauri Khanna and Ankita Gupta.

Poetry Writing Competitions were held for classes 6 & 7 and 8 & 9. Ananya Jain won in the first category and Mallika Pal in the other.

In the English Recitation Competitions held in Junior School, Riya Kothari won first prize in class 4 and Saieesha Sethi in class 5.

Yellow House won the Inter House Computer Science Quiz held for classes 3-5.

In the Science Spelling Bee held for classes 4 and 5, Nainika Mukherjee won in class 5 and Sarina Mittal in class 4.

Rang Barse Bheege Chunar Wali Rang Barse!

The Exchange Programme

They were shy when we first met them. In a matter of hours, that changed-when we got to know them.
There were many things we did with our students; we took them to the monuments, shopping in Dilli Haat, got mehendi applied, etc. While traveling, many of the students wouldn’t talk to us, but would rather look out of the window, because what they saw was so different from New York. They would go to a broken monument and would stare at it for hours, noticing only the carvings and structures…They would stop at temples and ask us questions that we often didn’t have an answer to, or go to a mehendi wallah and ask him to teach them how to make those designs. It was amazing, how they found the smallest things so beautiful, and treated things that we thought were ordinary with such wonder.

The welcoming party thrown for the exchange students was probably the highlight of the short trip here. There must be a special mention for Mr. Schneider and Mr. Davison who mastered the bhangra so well in the meager amount of time they spent here. Another enjoyable activity was the cultural class act; performed especially for them. The last day’s farewell dinner thrown by Mr. Kapur was the perfect way to say au revoir to one of the best weeks of our lives.

It was 9:00 am when we all gathered to see them off. Everyone was there-the teachers, our parents, the students, and their teachers. It was probably when they were on the bus that it actually hit us. Stop for a minute and imagine. These children whom we stayed with and who stayed with us for so long, who we’d exchanged lives with and whom we’d practically lived with, were leaving, forever.
Tejasvita Singh and Suvira Chadha

"Good Times With Grace Church"

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Diabolic Competition

I’d like to begin my article by discussing a very simple word- competitive. The word competitive has developed a positive connotation. And this is to such an extent that those who lack that element of competitiveness are even being perceived as individuals having a lesser capability, in harsher terms- losers. While I do agree that the presence of competitiveness is essential to move ahead and herald development especially when the stakes are so high today, but the essence of the word seems to be getting misunderstood by us as it is being entwined in the lives of children at a horrific rate. Yes, young ones, far from the brink of adolescence.
It takes a strong voice and marvellous confidence to sing in front of an audience comprising the entire country. I am talking of the new trend of music programmes that have really beckoned the average child to put forward not only a voice but also their self-respect. Truly, the selection procedures themselves are demotivating enough for some, and those who chance to make it through are swept away by an invisible tide of competition, fierce and gruelling. Is it fair to be selected amongst a hooting flurry of revelling audience and be called a prodigy first and then some two months later being thrown away from the show under the garb of elimination?
Well, according to me television programmes are unknowingly instilling in the young ones diabolic competition that too in some of the most irking ways ever! I agree that children want to see themselves on national television, but do they also want to see their families stricken with pestilence and their peers heaving with grief once they are eliminated?
Childhood is being lost in the murky reaches of competition. Since when did being a child involve literally begging votes from the nation and being idolized as a national sensation? It is not wrong to expose yourselves at a young age, but if the exposure is holistically yielding and safe, then not only is it less traumatic, it also sustains the essence of talent.
Moreover, children are being made to behave like ‘crafted adults’ and this appearance is rather incongruous. I remember seeing a little boy on television one day and was rather awed by his spirit. He spoke flawlessly on issues pertaining to love and told us his own love story (which I personally don’t think is true) and backed it up by pecking the host and showering flying kisses at the audience! The entire sequence was followed by a riveting song that urged a ravishing trot of hip shaking and made the audience whistle! Is this what parents really want the apples of their eyes to do? Do they want their children to be mollycoddled by the entire nation so that one day when their little one loses, the trauma shall shun the talent inside him/ her?
So, who is responsible? Well, according to me, a very large motivator of this diabolic competition is the media. Families have inculcated this halfway and the media that is airing such programs on television meets the other half. So, competitiveness no longer remains personal, it is being transmogrified into a social issue that demands sensitivity and care.
Really, this arena of competitiveness is rather intimidating. I remember when a while ago on one of the popular music shows; the brother of a seven year old spoke “We depend entirely on my little brother. With the money he makes on winning this competition, we’ll get our sister married and buy another house for ourselves!” Is this what the sole duty of a little boy or girl has become? Should he not enjoy the joys of childhood? I fail to understand how people can even think of treating children like sources for money. What difference does that leave between childhood and adulthood?
Nikhil Pandhi, 10

1st prize, Poetry Writing Competition
Class 8 and 9

Echoes, shards of glass strewn across the dead end floor,
Words, blank faces searching desperately for hope,
Silence, a symphony of terror swivelling through emptiness,
Voices, questions waiting to be unanswered.
Music, every note dancing in my mind,
Sound, an angel lying in a bed of roses,
Light, pink champagne sparkling in animosity,
Glow, as we swim helplessly through trembling waters.
Grace, truths waiting to be unravelled,
Patience, spiralling through a parallel universe,
Divine, like the hand of God outstretched from the clouds,
Swift, enter the sweet forest.
An echo, a single sound,
Swirling around me in ecstasy,
And for a moment, just a moment
I saw my life flash in front of me.
~ Mallika Pal, 9

Face It
Sukhmani is my name,
From Punjab my ancestors came.
I am not at all fat,
I have a long plait.
My eyes are brown,
I always narrow them when I frown.
I have a cleft on my chin,
And my arms are very thin.
I have very pretty feet,
But, I can’t say that about my teeth.
My cheeks are not chubby,
I am not very grubby.
My legs are slim and long,
I am hairy like King Kong,
And here I end my sing song.
Sukhmani Singh, 5
Face It
I am tall
And I’m never sad
My lips are red
Like my granddad
My skin is sensitive
Like my mother
My hair is short
Like my brother
My soul is a thing
That belongs to me
And nobody else
On my family tree
Vishrut Nanda, 5



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Mendacity - Do These People Rule Us?
“Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion”
- Article 25, Constitution of India
(Freedom of Religion)

Love is said to be a beautiful feeling; a feeling capable of crossing the boundaries of war, hostility, and even death. It is a human emotion defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a very strong feeling of affection, i.e.: of fondness or liking.
The above stated act may seem to have absolutely nothing to do with human emotion, but a certain faction of fundamentalist politicians seems to have found a link that has till date evaded the rest of the world - Religion.
They feel that celebrating emotion is a crime, anti-national in nature. They say “it is against Indian ethos”, quoting activists. They seem to believe that the freedom that is the very base of the unity of our nation shall destroy it. And what faith does Indian ethos come from anyway?
On the thirteenth of February, Shiv Sena activists staged a protest at the Jantar Mantar against Valentine’s Day celebrations. Activists later said that they viewed the celebrations as “proof of the growing influence of Western Culture”. There are two bases on which this argument is baseless. Firstly, it is not factually or politically correct to say that western influence is bad. After all, it is foreign investment that has made our economy the goldmine that it is. Secondly, if viewed in terms of religion, this matter should not even be considered, seeing as India is a nation where (as the above quoted article illustrates) all individuals have the freedom to profess, practise and propagate any religion of their choice, or none at all.
The fourteenth of February had activists in Delhi storming stores with Valentine’s Day specials (for example, Ferns ‘n’ Petals in Aurobindo Market), and a young unmarried couple on a date in a park forced to signed marriage papers. Shocking, especially as there was no police interference.
The Shiv Sena has displayed anti-foreign beliefs, with Bal Thackeray saying that Valentine’s Day is just a ploy for Multinational Companies to capture the Indian market. However, rose farmers who are supporters of the party are doing booming business exporting their produce in the foreign market. Also, the party was instrumental in bringing foreign pop icon Micheal Jackson to Mumbai. The party’s chief, Bal Thackeray, attended the event as well.
The hypocrisy of it all is alarming to most of us, though we may not understand the true benevolent motives of those who aspire to rule our country. But does this ideology of Hindutva recognize anything other than those who quietly listen and blindly follow?
Kunal Datta


Those who cast the votes decide nothing.
Those who count the votes decide everything.”
- Joseph Stalin

Acapella and 'All that Jazz'

On the 12th of March, Vasant Valley School saw musical talent in a whole new mind-blowing form: Acapella, as performed by an all-girl group from Yale University called Proof in the Pudding.
Proof really showed the audience something they’d never seen before, by performing mostly jazz and swing songs, such as ‘This Will Be’, ‘In the Mood’ and ‘A Sunday Kind of Love’. Their adaptation of ‘Cruella deVil’ was also a crowd pleaser. Proof delighted us not only with the amazing harmony of the singers, but with the amusing interactional style of their performance - they swayed along with the music, and even crooned to Jahan Nargolwala! They finished off with a brilliant acapella version of ‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram.’.
We caught up with Proof after their performance, and asked them a few questions:
NL : How often do you practice?
PP : We practice as a group around twice a week, for three hours each session. The sopranos and other divisions practice separately as well.
NL : At what age did you start singing and training for Acapella?
PP : Most of us have been singing since we were kids, and joined choirs when we were younger. A few of us are classically trained as well. We got into Acapella when we joined University.
NL : Where have you performed? Any memorable performances?
PP : We mostly perform in the United States, in places like New York and Los Angeles. We have also performed in France. We’ve sung for the director of Monsoon Wedding and Brian Williams from NBC.
NL : What are your warm up techniques?
PP : We begin with warming down, especially when it’s early in the morning. We hum songs like ‘the Star Spangled Banner’ gently (which made our bus driver laugh!), and then move on to a higher range. But we mostly do what’s comfortable for each of us.
All in all, Proof in the Pudding performed beautifully, and displayed a form of music which is not very well known: they have certainly inspired us all with their lovely melody.


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STEREOTYPING-The Biggest Trend

The most common social stigma faced world wide is stereotypes. Every school, every class is always divided into the pretty and popular girls, the athletes, the nerds, the wannabes, the Goths and the musicians. It has become some sort of school law for everyone to find their place in one of these categories. It is like a social pyramid of cliques, with the jocks and the popular girls on top. They’re good looking and athletic. The musicians are below them, famous for living and breathing music, but sometimes accused of being “druggies”. Then there are the nerds who are classified as nerds because they’re smart, supposedly unattractive and clad in thick rimmed glasses accompanied with a fine set of silver braces. Followed closely are the Goths- they like heavy metal music, wear lots of black eye make-up, nail paint- and are “always” found sporting black clothes. Finally, right at the bottom of this pyramid are the ‘wannabes’ who are a part of the student body that want to be popular but just aren’t ‘cool’ enough. Stereotypes are over rated. Pretty girls aren’t always popular and stupid. Indeed, they can be very smart. And ‘nerds’ can be smart, and pretty, and popular. Jocks, despite the fact that they are in more than one sports team- can be smart too. What would people who love heavy metal music but don’t like the colour black be called? Yes it’s true that the only two things that musicians know are music and breathing, but does there have to be a third - do they have to be drug addicts? Athletes or smart students can just as well be drug addicts, and ‘wannabes’ may just have some friends who are popular and they like spending time with them. This doesn’t mean that they want to BE them.
However, teenagers in schools aren’t the only ones guilty of stereotyping. We see instances everywhere around us; even movies like Mean Girls, American Pie and many other T.V serials like Ugly Betty, One Tree Hill and The O.C, mock these cliques.
Stereotypes have gone out of hand. They are putting so much pressure on students that they feel that if they aren’t in one of these cliques, they won’t fit in, and this makes them lose their real personality. People are changing themselves just so they can be on top of this social pyramid, just so they can be cool. But what really is cool? Is it being good looking and athletic? Why can’t it be smart or musical or just friendly? Who made these rules on what is cool and what isn’t? And why have they been embedded in everyone’s heads? If people got to know who these batch mates really are then maybe they wouldn’t have to change. Stereotyping is just proof of how society today has degraded individual characters and how nobody is themselves anymore. Instead they’re fake, artificial people whose real personalities are hidden behind these masks that they perceive to reflect beauty and apparent “coolness”. They all lack self confidence and they are easily hurt by someone calling them a ‘loser’ or they just get big headed when someone calls them ‘popular’. Stereotyping is making people loose their individuality and it is a lazy method made by people to feel secure.
Teesta Bhandare, 10



Across The Universe
All You Need Is Love

Cast: Evan Rachel Wood,
Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson
Director: Julie Taymor
Rating: 4.5/5

The opening scene: A serene beach with driftwood all around. A lone Liverpudlian lad, amidst the white sand, singing the Beatles classic “Girl”, making a Beatles fan realise that Julie Taymor has brought the Godsend to the Silver Screen. Across The Universe can be most appropriately described as a musical dealing with a turbulent era in contemporary history, the 1960s, where the Vietnam War started a generational movement that can never be forgotten. And what better way to unfurl such an evocative theme, than with the 21st century renditions of the tunes of the Fab Four - The Beatles.
Being a massive Beatles fan myself, I feel that the movie brings across a message through the best possible medium, i.e. the lyrics of arguably the greatest band in history. Plotwise, Across the Universe combines issues prevalent in that era, with anecdotes and instances of the lives of the Beatles, all wrapped up in a not altogether original plot, but very much so an original film. Jude, a ship builder from Liverpool goes across to America to find his father, Wes, a former sailor who was at Princeton University. There he meets Max, a spoiled rich brat, whose aim in life is to have maximum fun, with minimum work. He proceeds to meet Max’s family, and in particular develops an interest in his sister Lucy, who lost a boyfriend to the war. Max decides to drop out of college and moves with Jude to New York City, into a bohemian apartment with Sadie, an earthmother-esque rockstar. Max works as a cab driver while Jude becomes a freelance artist. They are joined by Prudence, a cheerleader who hitchhiked to NYC; JoJo, a guitarist from Detroit; and finally Lucy, who by this time falls in love with Jude. By the time Max gets enlisted into the army and is deployed into Vietnam, Lucy joins a radical Anti-War Movement while Jude gets deported back to Liverpool.
I have given only a glimpse of the plot, as the movie can only be appreciated when viewed with the Beatles’ lyrics echoing at pivotal moments in the film. The turmoil that is felt by Jude as he tacks the strawberries to the canvas while singing “Strawberry Fields Forever” was for me the hard hitting moment of the movie.
Viewers must watch out for “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, “With A Little Help from My Friends”, “Helter Skelter” and practically all 35 Beatles numbers that were included, with special mention to Bono’s version of “I Am The Walrus”.
Across The Universe provides a visual feast loaded with the drug culture, antiwar movements, racial marginalisation that defined the era of the 60s. The very fact that the film is criticized for being too liberal with its overtones as well as undertones makes it fill the criteria as a film that defines the 60s. Beatles fans or not, this movie is a must watch for all, not just for the brilliant cinematography and soundtrack, but for the message that it sends across the universe – All You Need Is Love.
Soumya Dasgupta

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1. The Appeal – John Grisham
This latest John Grisham thriller tells of a terrifyingly realistic plot to rig elections. Another conspiracy-theory book, Grisham is bang in the middle of his element. It is scarily easy to believe the manipulations he portrays in our world, one so full of loopholes, corruptions and technology to do practically anything. Number two on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestseller list, a must read for anyone in search of a good, spine-chilling political thriller.
2. Duma Key – Stephen King
If you delight in graphic, gruesome blood-and-limbs-all-over kinds of books, this one is DEFINITELY for you. The newest horror published by the author who mixes pop fiction with literary horror, this novel is about a construction boss who loses his right arm in an accident. Taking up painting to recuperate, he realizes his paintings predict the future. But what are those noises coming out of the foundations of his new house…? Well, you’ll just have to read it to find out. WARNING: As in any good Stephen King book, expect hordes of the living dead.
3. An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
Critically as well as popularly acclaimed author, Vikram Seth’s book surpasses all expectations. Set in England for the most, with splashes of Venice and Vienna thrown in, this book is a romance. It’s about the lost, found and lost love between a Violinist and his sweetheart pianist, its about the bond akin to love between the same violinist and his violin and it’s about the platonic yet no less intense love between the four members of a quartet. Exquisitely expressed, this book should be read twice – once for sheer reading pleasure and the story, and the second time for the beauty of the words, the symphony that you can almost hear through the pages and the pain, love, loss, exuberance, acceptance and frustration that seep through the mere paper to make this book an equal book, a perfect book, an equal music.
Ayesha Malik

If I Had A Magic Wand

If I had a magic wand I would change my brother completely. He thinks he’s the boss and that everyone has to listen to him. I would put magic powder in his eyes so that he would only see the good part of me. He would never bully me and he would let me play with his phone. He would let me listen to all his secrets and conversations with his friends. He would always give me the television remote whenever I asked and he would be nice to me every second of my life. But this would only happen if I had a magic wand!

Shiv Seth, 5C

Interview With Howard Black

This year’s English play was performed on Friday, the 28th of March. A sensational adaptation of Eric Felter’s ‘Relative Returns’, the actors had the audience in splits with their accents, quirky behavior and, of course, Pranav and Nadia’s dance! We caught up with Pranav Sarin (who played Howard Black) right after the play and asked him a few questions:

NL: ‘Relative Returns’ reflects that the level of Dramatics of our school has improved massively. Why would you say this is?
PS: I find that students have become more vigilant and have a lot more authority in the play than before. The direction of this play can be attributed to the students, for example. We’ve also been given the freedom to use and interpret the play the way we want. This time responsibilities were delegated to other students, so the actors didn’t have to worry about props, music or lights. As you can see, the props came out much better when we didn’t work on them ourselves.

NL: Were there time constraints on the preparation of this play?
PS: Well, we actually had more than enough time to begin with… but Vasant Valley students seem to have a bad habit of procrastinating! It all came together by the end of it.

NL: What kind of problems did you face during the making of this play?
PS: We had major problems in the cast of the play. The auditions were difficult to hold, and we even had dropouts from the cast. Being a large cast, it was tough to make rehearsal timings. We were also screamed at repeatedly by our teachers because we missed their classes… but they were secretly supportive (laughs).

NL: What do you think future casts should imbibe from your experience?
PS: I think they should learn to take more into their hands and take responsibility for their play. They should also take directing as seriously as they do acting.
(as told to Diva Gujral)

"Will it take you to Hawaii, sweetie?"

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Why is Science Day celebrated?
A simple question- or is it?
A couple of us went around and asked this question to random students we passed, and here are the random, hilarious, and (not to mention) ridiculous answers we got from some of the people we talked to:
‘It was the day Science was born’- Varun Datta
Never thought of that one…hmm…
‘To torture us’- Veer Gupta
I’m sure most Science teachers won’t take kindly to that…
‘Because some guy invented the Raman theory’- Zara Adil
So near, yet so far?
‘It’s the one day we get to blow up the school, legally…’- Vir
Destructive one, aren’t we?
‘Alaap was born that day...’- Rhiday Bhandari
Of course, seeing as how Alaap Gandhi is God’s gift to Science…
‘Because an apple fell on Mr. Science and he decided it was time for celebration.’- Sidhanth Rao
Well, at least he’s creative!
‘How would I not know?’- Tarunima Prabhakar
Notice, dear readers, how the editor of the Science magazine so cleverly avoided the question… note to self: must learn this technique to improve social skills.
And now for the real answer : Science day marks the day when the Raman Effect was invented by Professor C.V.Raman at Indian Institute of Science (IISC), Bengaluru. Somewhat boring, you might think, but hey! At least our fellow students’ interpretations are more, ahem, interesting…
Stay tuned for more crazy Vasant Valley I.Q!

Gurbani Duggal : What am I, some kind of clown from the zoo?
Perhaps, if you keep this up...
Alaap Gandhi : I’m going out for dinner with my mom, dad and parents.
Is that biologically possible? Biotechnology students, we’ve found you a nice little case study.
Priyanka Aggarwal : Shubh, you’re so pretty I could fall in love
Shubh Mehra : You’re so handsome I could fall off a cliff!!
It would have been a brilliant comeback, if you weren’t busted!
Soumya Dasgupta : I have an obsessive compulsive tooth!
Well done, Head Boy!
Diva Gujral : On the first day of the second of April...
We questioned the choice of editor.
Alaap Gandhi : When in Rome, do what the Rome do.
And when in Vasant Valley, do what Alaap do!

Relative Returns
“Plays are like blank cheques. It is the actors and directors that put the signatures on them.”

This year's English play was undoubtedly a success. From the witty lines to the hilariously different characters and the typical beginning to the surprise ending, the play had all the members of the audience on tenterhooks as they eagerly drank in every scene.
The play was an adaptation of the play “Relative Returns” by Erik Felter. While the plot was loosely based on Felters creation, the very last twist of the play was the brainchild of the drama geniuses of Vasant Valley. It was the added characters (like Howard Black and Grandpa Earl) and funny anecdotes like the “Bollywood dance classes” that had the audience rolling on the floor, laughing fit to burst.
The play opened to show the life of a typical housewife Wendy White (played by Tejasvita Singh) who receives a letter informing her of the death of her least favorite uncle, Max. Her house is subsequently invaded by her relatives (who she can't tolerate) for the will-reading and we watch her deal with the comical circumstances that follow.
The final twist in the plot comes about when Wendy is talking about her uncle ending by saying that if theres one thing she could thank her uncle for, it was for rarely coming to her house. It is at this point that Max makes his reappearance, showing people he isn’t actually dead. He also wills away all his money to his brother Earl, who only seems to remember the good old days in Vietnam. However, tragedy overcomes this happy scene, when moments later, Earl dies, due to a heart attack. The greed of the Thurstons and the Swindells becomes very obvious when they chase after the attorney who states that the will of Earl Johansson lies in her office.
The roles and characters were brought to life by the actors that played them. Some, like Grandpa Earl (played by Karan Sangwan) may have had mostly insignificant lines, but the way they were said made Earl an integral character. Others, like Wendy White were the main characters, and still managed to live up to the expectations placed upon them. The various props and sound effects only served to enhance the final impact and I think it can be safely said that this play is definitely one that will be remembered for years to come.
Vani Shriya

Editorial Board:

Mallika Pal, Ramya Ahuja, Suvira Chadha, Tejasvita Singh, Vani Shriya, Vedika Berry,
Ayesha Malik, Devika Agrawal, Nikhil Pandhi, Sanjana Malhotra, Tara Sen, Akbar Iqbal, Avanti Gupta, Jahan Adil Nargolwala, Mahi Titus, Soumya Dasgupta,
Tarunima Prabhakar
Editor: Diva Gujral