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Kids doodle their way into Google top 12

Gulafsha Bano, 12, is stiff with nervousness when we reach her school in Garden Reach, unaccustomed that she is to the attention showered on her ever since her name was announced among the 12 national finalists in the Doodle4Google contest.

A Class VI student at St. Anthony’s Day School and a first-generation learner, Gulafsha is one of two children from the city to make it to the Doodle4Google final. While Gulafsha was selected in Group 2, which includes students of classes IV to VI, Md Aftab Alam, a Class VIII student at Albany Hall Public School, was picked from Group 3, meant for students of classes VII to X.

“It was my art teacher (Chintan Chaudhury) who inspired me to participate. Since the theme was Unity in Diversity, I decided to draw clasping hands for the “G” of Google,” explained Gulafsha, who loves to sing and dance besides painting. “To add to the festive mood, I represented the other letters with motifs such as a bangle, tilak, garland and dance mudra.”

One of eight siblings — five sisters and three brothers — in a large conservative family, what Gulafsha is most excited about is flying to Delhi, where the finalists will be felicitated on Monday. “Please vote for me. I am really looking forward to going to Delhi, to the entire experience,” said Gulafsha, who dreams of becoming a teacher.

Gulafsha’s friends and teachers are as excited. It’s not often that the school started by Dorothy Chaudhury in her own home in 2003 has reason to cheer. Yet to get board affiliation, St. Anthony’s can only offer education up to Class VIII to its 500-plus students, most of them from underprivileged families.

When Aftab, the other finalist from the city, first heard the good news, he thought someone was pulling a fast one on him. The boy who claims he can hardly draw got it right at the second stroke. “My first idea was a doodle on famous personalities. But that did not work out. So I tried again and decided to use yoga, which is very popular all over India. I too sometimes practise yoga with my mother,” he said.

The boy who dreams of being a techie shares with Gulafsha the excitement about his maiden flying experience. “I have been to Delhi but this time I am hoping to visit the Lotus Temple,” he said, the enthusiasm evident his voice.

Nikhil Rungta, the country marketing manager of Google India, is happy the contest launched in 2009, has seen increased participation over the years. The other finalists were selected by judges Boman Irani and Ajit Ninan from over two lakh entries.

The winning doodle, selected by the jury along with Google doodler Dennis Hwang, will be displayed on the Google India homepage on November 14, Children’s Day. But before that voting for the winning doodle is open till November 10 at http://www.google.co.in/doodle4google/.