Friday, 1 April 2011

News Piece - Wikileaks

Since the launch of Wikileaks, there has been an explosion of classified information being opened up to the public for scrutiny and critique. Much to the dismay of governments of various countries, Wikileaks was launched on 4th October, 2006 claiming that its database had a collection of top secret articles which were not accessible for the general public. With Julian Assange as the director, Wikileaks based in Sweden, claimed to have been founded by ‘founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.’

Calling it ‘Scientific Journalism,’ Assange points out that the Wikileaks initiates an era when journalism will not necessarily need a to depend on journalists’ interpretation of news by publishing documents directly on the internet allowing them to come to their own conclusions. In April 2010, Wikileaks published footage from the 2007 Baghdad airstrike and then releasing in the same year Afghan War Diary, consisting of thousands of documents about the war. With the release of U.S. diplomacy cables in November, Wikileaks fell into great criticism and legal battle.

Wikileaks received a number of awards applauding its regeneration of the ‘freedom of speech’ of the individual as opposed to the power of a government. However, it also faced a large amount of flak, initially from the U.S. government and now from others such as India, for exposing documents which may apparently lead to a misbalance of ‘international diplomacy.’ Closer to home, the exposure of documents and videos concerning the Indian government and the prevalent corruption and ineffectiveness, has also led to the censure of the website by the Government, especially from the Congress.

Despite the presence of laws with press protections clauses, Julian Assange has been accused by the U.S. under the Espionage Act of stealing documents from the government and is also facing a criminal probe. Assange continues to fight the legal battle and at the same time, managed to raise funds for the website, with great support from the general public.

-Subhalakshmi Gooptu

Review of Susanna's Seven Husbands

(first published in Helter Skelter)

Susanna’s Seven Husbands
‘I watched in fascination as a gigantic Black Widow spider, her body streaked with green and yellow, crept down the veranda wall in the direction of her sleeping husband.’
Susanna’s beauty and wealth mean that she has no problems finding a husband, but somehow they don’t last very long. A motherless child, brought up by her reclusive father (and the Freudian warning bells immediately go off) she becomes the sole heir to his estate and rumored ‘treasure.’ She is of Dutch and East Indian descent; everything about her exudes mystery and she holds a destructive fascination for the locals and the men who fall for her.
A select few are let into her estate, and no one besides her staff and her (current) husband is allowed entry into the house itself.   Even within the house, there are sections that are barred for her trusted staff and her beloved husbands, a fact the latter don’t appreciate. Her staff consists of an eccentric bunch, a jockey referred to as just ‘Goonga’ because he is deaf and mute, her personal help Maggi who was middle aged, grumpy but ‘very efficient’ and Shah Rukh the gardener who will show the narrator, Arun, around the estate.
Arun is ten years younger than Susanna, and her neighbor throughout the story. He admits to himself that the difference in age is a pivotal reason he wasn’t one of the seven, however their relationship will continue to be fraught by jealousy, from both sides.
The novella fails to create the atmosphere that the genre (mystery/murder/horror) demands. The mystery is dispelled early on in each section of the story; there in no big reveal, just details remain to be unveiled. However, the end is unexpected. Characteristic of Bond’s work, the language is simple, the plot understandable and the psychological narration sparse. Susanna is intriguing in her complex generosity and cruelty, in the beguiling nature of her intelligence, her reverence of her father and her search for a man who will replace him.
Penguin has brought out an edition that included the original short story, the novella that it was expanded into and the screenplay of Saat Khoon Maaf that was based on the novella. Out of the three, the screenplay is undoubtedly the worst. The characters speak in hyperbole, the objectiveness of the narrator Arun is reduced to heroine worship, stories unseen in the novella emerge and overwhelm the plot in places and it’s hard to understand how the same Vishal Bharadwaj of the Kaminey vision could have compiled this script.
The short story is perhaps the most charming of the three, and is closer to Ruskin Bond’s customary style than the novella. It has the lingering flavor of a traditional ghost story to it, the mystery remains intact and the suspense is held captive under a gravestone. Or seven. The novella, short story and screenplay all have different endings and I thought the end to the short story was the least dramatic. I would recommend reading the short story to Ruskin Bond fans.

[Penguin; ISBN 978 0 143 41611 1]
-Urvashi Bahuguna

Chand Nagar

Cartoon by Pant.

Because by 2050, we'll need the extra space.


Photo courtesy : Sohini Basak
He couldn’t sleep again that night. He’d taken his last sleeping pill yesterday and made a mental note to remember to stop by at the chemist’s the next day. “Insomnia’s the pits”, he thought to himself. He was dead tired and had a killer headache but couldn’t sleep. He put on the TV and flicked through channels but it only made his head hurt even more. He sighed, then picked up the guitar next to his bed and strummed a few chords before laying it aside. He stepped out into his balcony and stood there for some time, drinking in the cold night air. He looked up at the constellations, spotting them easily. They were old friends; astronomy was a wonderful hobby for someone who had trouble sleeping. It was pitch black outside, a new moon night.

He made a quick mental decision and turned back into the room. He switched off the light and picking up his shoes, walked out of the room. He slipped out of the back door and closed it behind him softly so his parents wouldn’t hear it and come to investigate. He was going for a walk.

He walked down the empty road of his colony, thankful that he’d had the sense to pull on a sweatshirt before leaving; Delhi winter nights were chilly. He turned into the park at the corner and walked around it on the joggers’ path a couple of times. He left the path and walked through to grass lawns to the monument. He couldn’t remember whose tomb it was, little monuments like these were scattered throughout Delhi but no one seemed to make a big deal out of them. He felt vaguely ashamed about that for a minute, and then his thoughts came to an abrupt halt at seeing someone in the doorway of the building. And it wasn’t just some homeless or drunk guy, it was a girl. A young girl, at that. A young, well-dressed girl, wearing a white dress and looking very much in command of herself. He gaped at her, until she asked in a faintly amused voice, “Something wrong?”
“Uh, no. No, of course not. I just didn’t expect to see anyone else here at this time of night.”
“I don’t get much sleep at night”, she said, still sounding amused.
“Oh, are you an insomniac too?” he asked.
“Something like that.”
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Selene” she said.
“Oh. That’s an um...nice name” he said, striving to sound normal but feeling all the ridiculousness of making small talk in the middle of the night, in a park, to a strange girl. “My name’s Aadit. Are you sure you’re okay? Do you need me to walk you home or something? Won’t your parents worry?”
“No, my parents won’t worry” she said. He still got the feeling she was laughing at him, so slightly nettled, he said, “I won’t bother you anymore then. I was just leaving anyway.”
She said, “I’ll come with you. It’s time I was going too.”
They walked together though the park. He looked sideways at Selene. She seemed to almost glow as she walked with a faint, shimmering kind of glow.
He shook his said bemusedly and said, “This is surreal.”
She smiled and said, “New moon nights are my favourite nights. Everything’s so peaceful, quiet and undemanding.”
“And dark!” he said, laughing. Then curiously, “Do you come here a lot?”
“Every new moon.”
She shook her head and said nothing.
They had reached the exit of the park. He walked through it, then looked back at her. “Aren’t you coming?”
“I changed my mind. I’ll stay here for a little longer.” There was a sort of sad longing in her voice that he found hard to understand.
“Okay. I’ll see you sometime then. Bye.” he said, feeling rather awkward.
“Bye.” she said then turned and walked away, still casting that strange glow on the grass.
He watched her walk away, his brow furrowed in confusion, then shrugged and walked back to his house. “Surreal was the right word” he thought.
Once he was back up in his room, he switched on his laptop and entered ‘Selene’ into his search engine.
He opened up the first link and read, ‘In ancient Greek mythology, Selene was an archaic lunar deity.’
“The Goddess of the Moon”, he said to himself. It was stupid, but when you thought about it, she had had that strange glow around her. And she only visited the park on new moon nights, when the moon couldn’t be seen.
He laughed out loud suddenly, at the absurdity of it all. A goddess, eho had come down to earth, visiting a park. A park! And in Delhi, of all places!
He really needed sleep.
Well, he clearly wasn’t getting any of that tonight, at any rate. He turned off his laptop and sank down on his bed.
He picked up the guitar again.         
-Sanjana Thomas

The Moon Across Cultures

Photo Courtesy : Sohini Basak
The moon – a hole in the sky, made of cheese, a marble palace. Stories of the moon have been circulating for a long time and every culture has one.

Indian mythology states that Chandra, the moon God married the 27 daughters of Daksha. He neglected all his wives except for the beautiful Rohini. Daksha, in his anger, cursed Chandra with a degenerative disease that caused him to wane. Later, the curse was made temporary so that Chandra wanes when he approaches Rohini and waxes as he moves away from her.
 The aborigines in Australia believe that the moon is the reflection of the campfire of the hunter Japara who is on an eternal hunt for souls of his wife and child.
China believes in the woman on the moon. Chang’e and her husband were immortal beings who were sent to earth as a punishment for their misdeeds. Chang’e tired of earth quickly and her husband decided to find a way to make them immortal again. He received a pill and was instructed not to eat more than half. Chang’e in her greed ate the entire pill and floated up to the moon where she resides even now.
Africans have linked up death to the moon. The story goes that the moon sent an insect to the earth with the message of eternal life. The insect was waylaid by a hare who offered to take the message to earth because he was faster than the insect.  The insect agreed and the hare ran off. In his hurry he confused the message and gave the earth news of death instead of eternal life. A follow up to this story is that the moon was so angry with the hare that she hit him on his nose. From that day on, hares have had split noses.
Greek mythology speaks of twin gods- the sun and the moon, Apollo and Artemis/Diana. Apollo drives his flaming chariot in the day and in the night, his sister Artemis rides her flaming chariot and shoots moonbeams at the earth.
In America, the belief is that chickens hatch more eggs when there is a full moon. If a woman bakes a cake on a full moon night, she should be careful of who she invites to eat it. The first unmarried man to eat the cake will become her husband.
There are certain mythological creatures associated with the moon- the werewolf for example, the half man half wolf is said to come out on full moon nights and witches are also supposed to find the time of a full moon best for brewing potions.
My personal favorite is the idea of the moon being made of cheese!
-Kavita Joseph

Two poems.

Moon Between

Photo Courtesy : Sohini Basak
Far away from you
it feels good
to know
that tonight
we face
the same side of the moon.

Far from me
you say that
cannot see
this moon
I see
you lie.

Too many cities divide us.
Too many missed calls,
red skies, traffic signals
and solitary windows
lie in between.
That’s why you cannot see
the moon.

You say you cannot
see it because its
too close.
Like words on
a page held
too close
to your face.

-Sohini Basak

She with the Jalebi lights

Photo Courtesy : Sohini Basak
And the evening sky,
It's indigo blue,
With a fading pearl white
And its gentle girdle of light
Reminds me of you
And I think of calling
To tell you to take a picture...

A night so simple... knows
We will come to ache for it
In the years to come.

-Urvashi Bahuguna

About Us

The idea behind this magazine was to have a periodical for readers between the ages of 15 and 18. We plan on publishing once a month. We’re a mainly literary magazine but we also hope to be able to add to every month’s publication, an easily understandable explanation of some important item of news. Each edition of the magazine is themed and this month’s theme is “The Moon”. We hope you enjoy it and follow us!