Modernity - A Myth?
Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes.” They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.” ~Clare Boothe Luce
This summer, I watched the news. I could end the article here if I wanted to.J
However, I’ll continue, because a story caught my attention. And it struck me as being the kind one ought to say something about.
In April this year, the marriage of a young couple, originally from Morocco, was annulled in Lille, France. Under the question of annulments, the French Civil Code states: “Where there was a mistake as to the identity of the person, or the essential capacities of the person, the other spouse may apply for the annulment of the marriage within a time-span of five years.” The doctrine was famously applied in cases where the spouse had served jail time or had lied about his nationality.
In this case, the reason the husband sought the annulment was that he discovered that his wife had not been a virgin at the time of their marriage.
Feminists and activists paraded the streets day after day for almost the rest of my vacation, questioning the very idea that the virginity of a woman could be considered an “essential capacity”.
But in treating the case as a breach of contract, the ruling was decried by critics who said it undermined decades of progress in women’s rights. Marriage, they said, was reduced to the status of a commercial transaction in which women could be discarded by husbands claiming to have discovered hidden defects in them.
It is difficult, of course, to define an essential capacity. One should perhaps look at qualities objectively, in the sense they should appear essential to the general public. In the France of 2008, virginity cannot be considered an essential quality.
One must, of course, consider the fact that if the groom wanted a divorce or the medieval display of a blood-soaked sheet, he was entitled to have his views. However, to annul the marriage places the state in the uncomfortable position of enforcing such traditions. It raises some interesting questions of the use of the state to enforce religious beliefs and customs.
This incident occurred, one must not forget, in the same country that banned turbans, headscarves and ostentatiously religious signs from classrooms in 2004, and therefore one wonders whether France’s much-cherished secular values are losing ground.
An appeal has been filed by the state prosecutors against the ruling. It appears that the couple is unhappy with this decision, in particular the woman, who wishes it to “be over quickly” and is distressed by the dragging out of her case as well as the attention it is receiving from the media. However, it is in her hands to seek justice for herself and for all the other women who merit it, and to take two steps forward for the step back that women were made to take by this incident.
Over the summer holidays, I visited Malaysia with my family. Though I enjoyed the amusement parks at Genting and the Malls of Kuala Lumpur, the highlight of my trip was the trip to Mulu in the rain forests of Borneo.
Like the town of Mulu, the airport is tiny and only small Fokker airplanes can land there. As you come in to land, all you can see are dense forests with some muddy streams and rivers.
One of the interesting attractions is the Canopy Skywalk- a 1 km long rope bridge that has been created along the top of the tree line. Once you get on, you can only get off at the end of the dizzy walk, high above the ground on narrow planks with just a couple of ropes for support.
But the most amazing places out of all, were the famous Mulu caves. The first one was full of stakactities and stalagmites which grow just 1 cm every twenty years!
Even better was the Deer cave-so named because of the deer that used to come in them to enjoy the salty droppings of the bats.But the cave was huge, we couldn’t see anything and weren’t too shocked when we were told it was big enough to accommodate St.Pauls Cathedral! After exploring the cave we went outside to see the incredible flight of bats. Every day, just before twilight, thousands of bats fly out of the cave in snake like formations to gather food from the forests. Watching wave after wave of bats emerging from the mouth of the cave was awesome and made this place that everyone has to, or at least should visit.
THINK ABOUT IT
If you run, you might lose. If you don't
run or you're guarunteed to lose.
- Jesse Jackson
Ligue des Tragédiens
Our sincerest laughter with some pain is fraught; our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought- in these puissant lines, resonant from Shelley’s ‘Skylark’, one can reckon his exhaustive attempts at generalising sorrow and concealing the burden of tragedy in the dominance of words. What he doesn’t know is that his words themselves have become lugubrious!
The 4th century B.C. was the ‘époque littéraire’, stemming from Aristotle’s epic The Poetics, which is rendered as one of the oldest literary gospels. It has through its various interpretations and applications from the Renaissance onward had a profound impact on Western aesthetic philosophy and artistic production. One of the most intrinsic concepts highlighted in The Poetics is that of ‘Catharsis’, which shall forever remain a historical footnote to Aristotelian conception. It refers to the sensation, or literary effect, that would ideally overcome an audience upon watching or reading a tragedy (a release of pent-up emotion or energy), auguring restoration, renewal and revitalisation in their minds.
The contemporary Ligue Des Tragédiens Méconnus (league of the unsung tragedians), known for their inconspicuous and elusive cathartic ways comprise Kafka, Borges, Murakami and Masud. This quartet, claim literary critiques, is bound together by a thin strand of ‘pathos’. Moreover, their work echoes ambushed sorrow and plain catharsis, suggesting that they have all brought forward the Aristotelian legacy.
Franz Kafka was one of the major German writers of the 20th century. Although Kafka wrote short stories all his life, most of them were incomplete with the exception of The Metamorphosis and The Dream. Kafka and Catharsis have long shared a tumultuous relationship that sceptics claim were influenced by the last years of his life. “Two men were standing behind the grave and were holding a tombstone between them in the air; scarcely had K. arrived when they thrust the stone into the earth and it stood as if cemented there”. He leaves the readers overwhelmed in the climax of The Dream that tells the tale of a man who is arrested by death on charges never disclosed.
Closely compared to Kafka is Naiyer Masud, known for his spare and seductive prose and most of all his eloquent Sufi- like style. Masud is little known outside Pakistan and sceptics claim that he began writing stories in early boyhood. His highly controversial Essence of Camphor and Snake- Catcher tell us volumes about his style, capable of pulling the reader into the centre of an inescapable vortex, echoing surreal lines- Attempting to smell it one feels a vacant forlornness, but the next time around, breathing deeply, one detects something in this forlornness….
In close proximity to Kafka and Masud was Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges, an Argentine writer. Borges is known most for his cathartic stories The Garden of Forking Paths and The Circular Ruins, a tale of a magicians conquests to conjure the perfect individual . “It seemed incredible that this day, a day without warnings or omens, might be that of my implacable death”, blurts the magician when he is dabbling with failure. Borges was thus an artful stoic whose tales reeked copious amounts of catharsis. Catharsis has also found its contemporary in Haruki Murakami, a Kyoto born writer, prolific and profound. His fantastical plots containing modernist rationale and conspicuous rhetoric are clearly visible through The Wind- Up Bird Chronicle, the tale of Okada Toru, who’s cat disappears and the sequence of events that follow and Sputnik Sweetheart the tantalising story of upcoming lesbianism in Japan.
This eclectic quartet comprising contributions both posthomous and contemporary can be called the undercurrent of modernist tragedy and catharsis that one can discover and rather magnanimously accept only after reading them- the Ligue des Tragédiens.
Although man is a social animal, he loves putting up walls before himself. Each and every one of us has our own distinctive “wall” that we use to preserve our levels of sanity and maintain our serenity: a sweet escape from this harrowing humanity. The world has become more of a rat race rather than an unhurried existence. Our existence is interrupted many a times by emotions, feelings and passions that often initiate us into deep thought and consume vast volumes of our time. At any given point of the day there are hundreds of thoughts that scurry through our minds, diminishing our power to concentrate and eating away into our precious reserves of energy. It would be a shame to silence these creations of our mind and to push them aside in a corner and to end the interminable conversations that we perform with ourselves.
Although these true emotions are meant to be expressed with an unrestrained effusiveness, speech masks our every sentiment. Yes, you read that right. In my opinion speech indeed masks our thoughts rather than faithfully convey them. Having believed all along that speech is a tool to express our thoughts and sentiments accurately we don’t realize how incalculably we manipulate our thoughts prior to communicating them. Each of us is too immune, too blind to notice the ‘adjustments’ that speech makes in order to adulterate our thoughts and present them in a socially acceptable manner. Who’d dream of snitching on their friend even if they thought what they did was an outrageously incorrect thing to do? We’d probably just prefer to be ‘chilled’ with and say something like, "You got away with that?!?” While the thought process is an uninterrupted one; the ‘talk process’ is an entirely regulated one. Speech is subjected to innumerable editing, immeasurable restriction and untold constraints. And this is no arbitrary estimate: who, having caught themselves feeling a particular (socially unacceptable way), hasn’t ended up saying something implying quite the opposite? We know for ourselves that we all do it. The most common “wall” in this world is speech which tirelessly assists us in our unending attempts to fit in with the crowd and to say the “right” thing.
My head and heart know exactly how I feel or think about something or someone; nonetheless, the slightest threat towards the acceptability of my thoughts, feelings or emotions in society or the sense of awkwardness and discomfort that expressing myself frankly would cause and speech will come to the rescue. God only knows what it can cook up. And the next thing I know it’ll have you believing that you know exactly how I honestly feel. This equivocalness of speech and its incongruity with ‘genuine thought’ prevails. Speech is not used to express thought but to conceal it.
Every Rose Has its Thorns
Life is like one of those slushy roads - you think it’s a piece of cake only once you’re out of it.
The spider makes many a web. Nature brings many a storm ; Luck brings a lot of insects into the web-
Every time the web breaks - the spider tirelessly builds it up again - so don’t be like a strand of silk woven by the spider- often broken, or even like the web - often swayed. Always be like the spider that builds its nest once again.
Every night the sun is diminished by the moon,
Slowly fading into an eternal opulent glow,
But rises the very next day...
It rains, it hails, it storms and snows but the sun shines one again- through the glow as a rainbow...
A lotus grows in slush,
It is treaded on numerously,
By man and by beats,
But still shines brightly in our everlasting memory...
So choose to be what you want
Don’t be lured by temptation,
Spurned by desire,
But be the picturesque bloom of a rose- but remember –
EVERY ROSE HAS ITS THORNS.
Tenzin Varma, 8C
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When The Sun Sets
When the sun sets
And dark does creep
Like a snail
Across the earth
Then the witching hour comes.
When the world is more awake
Than it has been before
And magic roams free and wild
Then we sleep
And all the wonders pass us by.
And the shadows mask
All traces of the unknown magic
That surrounds us
Fairies, witches, feys but not men
Roam across the earth.
When the sun rises
All traces of them vanish
And humans live unknowing
Of those who would be friends.
When the sun sets…
Fair these beings are
Those we cannot see
But they wish not to see us
In our past fleeting glory.
When we too had magic
We danced almost out of this world
So our magic left
With it all the wonders of the world
Once we were great
But time passed us by
And what once was Is no more.
And time passes us
When the sun sets
For a fleeting moment
The veil between worlds is cast open.
But we chose not to pass
Fearing the unknown
And so the sun sets
And wonders pass us by…
-Sana Kaur Dhingra 7-A
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It’s summer time in the midst of May,
And everyone is off on their holiday.
The weather is sticky, humid and hot
So each one has thought of a cool spot.
Lick your ice cream, which melts in no time
Sipping through a straw, your cold fresh lime
Now peaches and mangoes and melons and plums
Are all getting consumed in gigantic sums.
Water is being filled in every pool
Swimming everyday is somewhat of a rule.
Everyone is looking forward to their splendid vacation
It at least gets them out of this barbequed nation.
Getting Candid with Phi(re)
You may ask, who is THAT? Or even, what? Well, I didn’t know either, until a few days ago.
Phi(re) is a rebel Vasant Valley band. Comprising of Kunal Datta, Sumer Dhir, Sidharth Seshan and Kartikeya Srivastava. I had the ‘privelege’ to interview them.
Q. How did you come up with that name? Why not sticking wth the conventional name?
K. Well, we were sittng in my room one day. Trying to come up with a unique name. And we had only five minutes to make one. So, after much brooding, Sumer suddenly said, “ How about Fire?”. We liked it, but it was lacking. So we decided to make it a bit different. And voila! Phi(re)
Q.Who inspires your songs?
K. Well, Yani.
S. And Elvis, definitely Elvis.
Q. Any particular genres?
K. No, we like to experiment a lot, so we have no exact genre
Q. Do you admire anyone in particular?
K. I love Hannah Montana. Oh, and the Jonas Brothers!
S. Umm. Powerpuff Girls.
Q. Favourite artists?
S. Metallica, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Iron maiden.
Q. Do you want to say anything to your fans?
K. Do check out our page on Facebook
(As told to Vedika Berry)
O great king of the hard clay!
I fall spellbound when you play.
There you go winning every match,
With you there is no catch.
While your forehand goes and dazzles,
Your backhand conquers and bamboozles.
O great Nadal, the future of tennis
A match of yours, I would never miss.
Ojasvi Goel (6)
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“I think we may class the lawyer in the natural history of monsters.”
- John Keats
However, after reading this article, you will discover that it isn’t the lawyers that are monsters, but some laws which are plain evil.
1. Nude bathing, for example, is illegal in India. (Forget those plans of basking on Goa’s shores on holiday.)
2. In Thailand, it is illegal to leave your house if you are not wearing underwear. (Well, either they are super-hygienic or they are trying to prevent women from throwing their gear at rock stars. In any case, we wonder how their cops identify defaulters.)
3. Switzerland seems to have some queer laws when it comes to relieving oneself – in the loo. It is illegal in that country to flush the toilet after 10 p.m. A man is also not allowed to stand up and pee after 10 p.m. This is because it’s supposed to be lights out at this time (don’t wake up the neighbours! Luckily, when I was there, we had a pediatrician’s clinic below us that closed at 5 pm sharp every evening…..Chika Chika Yeaaah)
4. In South Korea, traffic police are supposed to report all bribes that they receive from motorists. (I wonder if they get to keep it as a reward.)
5. In Italy, men are not allowed to wear skirts. (They are free to visit Scotland though, and wear whatever length of skirt they please.)
6. In Canada, comic books that depict any kind of illegal activities are banned. (Wanna see a magic trick…?)
7. In China, if you want to go to college you must be intelligent. (YeEeEs)
8. In Wisconsin, whenever two trains meet at an intersection of tracks, neither shall proceed until the other has. (So who makes the first move? provided they haven’t crashed into each other already).
9. In the Philippines, cars whose license plates end with a 1 or 2 are not allowed on the roads on Monday, 3 or 4 on Tuesday, 5 or 6 on Wednesday, 7 or 8 on Thursday, and 9 or 0 on Friday, after 7 a.m. (The cops there must have 6/6 eyesight!).
10. In Flint, Michigan, the police chief has ordered his officers to start “cracking down” (the newspaper’s words, not mine) on people who wear baggy pants.
11. In, Illinois, it is illegal for anyone to give cats, dogs, or other domesticated animals a lit cigar (but there’s nothing said against cigarettes)
12. In Baltimore, Maryland, it is illegal to take a lion to the movies (They might even object to “Singh Is Kinng”.)
13. In New York City, citizens may not greet each other by “putting one’s thumb to the nose and wiggling the fingers” (Some prefer to put their foot into their mouth and wiggle their toes)
14. In Oxford, Ohio, it is unlawful for a woman to appear in public while unshaven. This includes legs and face. (Vanity Insanity, anyone?)
Some things Just aren't right
August 28th 1963, at the top of the Lincoln memorial steps, one man had a dream. He dreamt of a world where people of African American ethnicity would not be judged based on the color of their skin, not be stereotyped based on their race and not be discriminated against by those of a “higher” social status. As you read this article, and wonder what random social cause I'm going on about this time, I assure you that Martin Luther King Jr. did not dream of a world where the very African American people he supported would run around with gold teeth and pants below their knees. For years, the American Rights movement fought against injustice, trying to throw light upon the kind of hate crimes that were being committed every day against people of “black” origin. The epitome of this hate is the word “nigger” which, by the way is now illegal in the United States. The history of the word “nigger” is often traced back to the Latin word niger, meaning quite literally, black. Still this is almost irrelevant, no matter what its origins, by the early 1800s it was firmly established as a degenerative nickname. As we can see, “The word, nigger, carries with it much of the hatred and disgust directed toward Black Africans and African Americans. Historically, nigger defined, limited, made fun of, and ridiculed all Blacks. It was a term of exclusion, a verbal reason for discrimination. Whether used as a noun, verb, or adjective, it strengthened the stereotype of the lazy, stupid, dirty, worthless nobody." This is further augmented by a number of politically incorrect terms contemporary terms that accompany it. :
Niggerlover : Derogatory term aimed at whites lacking in the necessary loathing of blacks.
Nigger luck : Exceptionally, but undeserved good luck.
Nigger rich : Deeply in debt but flamboyant.
Nigger shooter : A slingshot.
Nigger tip: Leaving a small tip or no tip in a restaurant.
Nigger work : Demeaning, menial tasks.
This not only is obviously incorrect and extremely wrong,but its common usage in different ways leads to a larger psychologocial effect that makes the victim himself think he is lower, or not worth any other name. So then this one word, can affect so much, while being so superfluous and meaning so little.
Now lets look at something I think is very interesting.
The following lyrics are by 50 Cent, from his song Realest Niggers
“We the realest nigga
50 Cent and B.I.G. my nigga
Don’t try to act like you don’t feel a nigga
Biggie yo nigga, 50 yo nigga
Squeeze the trigga’ leave a nigga fa’ sho!”
The usage of the word nigger, in almost half the songs by rapper artists the world over, and more than 20 times in this very song alone, more times than 50 Cent himself can count, not only undervalues the ethics so many in the world have fought for, but completely bashes all moral values. The fact that it causes so much pain for people the world over, and yet the very people they idolize use it consistently without understanding its real meaning is completely blasphemous. Combine that with the fact that 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, that cool boy from D12, all roam around shirtless with gold teeth and “bling” the size of my fist, the world has a new stereotype that has completely degenerated the values of black culture. Gone are the days when being dark skinned meant reggae, and rum by the sea. When it meant swinging to the hip hop tunes that rap was meant to be. When being black meant knowing how to improvise on your saxophone while listening to Aretha Franklin .Now, the stereotype that has emerged from celebrity rap stars is more like “pimpin' with my home boyz from da hood with a Johnny and my hummy or caddy."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just not right.
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Capital of Estonia
3. Capital of the country of Football wizards
The rise of Nazism, the breaking of a wall; doesn’t that pretty much say it all…
8. Capital of the largest Communist state, earlier known as the Soviet Union
10. Capital of the land of Flamingo dance
12. Capital of the land of the rising sun
13. The capital of the land of the Chernobyl disaster
2. Capital of the country where Osama was born and loads of oil is found
4. The capital of a South American country which shares its name with a famous Victoria’s Secret model
5. Carly Smithson (American Idol’s 7 finalists) comes from this capital city
7.Capital of the most favored destination for an African Safari
9. Capital of Taiwan
11. This capital is also a part of the name of a famous album by the British band, Muse.
14. Capital of an Asian monarchy state that held its first democratic election recently.
Who Am I?
Nobody can live without me,
Neither can anybody see.
I am seven colors,
We’re the spectrum brothers.
I go through windows,
But not through wooden doors.
Isn’t it a wonderful sight!
Let’s see if you can get this riddle right.
ANSWER : White Light
Pranoy Kaul: The early worm always catches the early bird.
And the second cheese gets the mouse.
Rishabh Mukherji: My handwriting’s so bad; I can’t even copy my own signature.
On the bright side, nobody wants your autograph.
Megha Rawla: I’m prank calling Zoheb’s mom to tell her that he’s in jail ‘cause he killed me.
The Queen of Busted is back!
Subahlakshmi Chandra: I said the wrong thing! It was a slip of the mind.
We knew exactly what to say to that, but at the last moment, it slipped our tongues.
Aayushmaan Wassan: I feel like slapping your voice.
We feel like shutting your face.
Q: What is the nuclear deal about?
The Nuclear Deal has been a cause of controversy in Indian Politics for the better half of the year. Let’s see how much the students of Vasant Valley know about it:
“Oh, I don’t know, I haven’t studied it yet.” -Carolyn Augustine
“The what deal?” - Karshan Sharma
“I’ll tell you. See many years many years ago, in about 2003, when the Indo - Pak war took place, see…” - Nirbhay Bakshi
“It’s about the nucleus in cells, no, wait, I don’t know.” -Tanya Najhawan
“My dad goes there, everyday, that’s why I would know” -Aishwarya Ghai Dev
“Oh! I heard that it was this breakthrough new invention that someone from Kazakhstan invented. Yeah… that’s what it is.”-Raghav Mehta
Mallika Pal, Ramya Ahuja, Suvira Chadha,
Tejasvita Singh, Vani Shriya, Vedika Berry,
Ayesha Malik, Devika Agrawal, Nikhil Pandhi,
Sanjana Malhotra, Arushi Kumar, Bhavik Singh,
Kunal Datta, Meghna Mann, Rhea Sadh,
Sara Chatterjee, Vanshika Wadhwa,
Akbar Iqbal, Avanti Gupta,
Jahan Nargolwala, Mahi Titus,
Soumya Dasgupta, Tarunima Prabhakar
Editor: Diva Gujral