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Since 1st March, 1999
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Back to books on broomstick

They could have been excited about the prospect of digging into a sinful deep-fried chocolate bar. These two brothers take a playful moment off during a ‘cooking class’ conducted by Chef Shaun Kenworthy at Oxford Bookstore on Sunday. The Park hotel chef taught kids to cook easy snacks like chips, chowmein, chicken burgers and deep-fried chocolate bars. Picture by Amit Datta

Are you a Potter-head in love with everything Pottery' Or are you sick and tired of hearing about that nerdy bespectacled freak' Whatever it is, one reaction the boy wizard will never get is ‘Harry who'’. In Time to Talk this month our readers are taking a call on the question “Is Harry a hero or is Pottermania all hype'”. Stay tuned…

Harry is a dream hero for kids but as far as adults are concerned, Pottermania is hype and nothing else. We too have passed through the hero-worship phase, and the next generation is also doing the same thing. What more could we ask for when Harry Potter has almost single-handedly brought kids back to books, dragging them away from the idiot box'

Nafisa Zaman

In my opinion, any icon who encourages the habit of reading is a huge hero. Yes, the Potter series has definitely been over hyped. But so what' No one can deny that with advent of Harry Potter, children who’d have never lifted a book before have now become Potter fanatics. The series has boosted the popularity of that genre of children’s literature that had been overshadowed in recent years by more realistic books. The books, with their charming details encourage imaginative thinking in children and, in the process, revive the nearly lost habit of reading. What is remarkable about Harry is that his miserable life with his aunt and uncle, his initiation into the world of magic at Hogwarts, and his plunge into a series of life-and-death adventures with his buddies, appeal to readers of all ages. Indeed, there must be something heroic and magical about Harry Potter because no one can resist him.

Priyanka Aich,
IIIrd year, St Xavier’s College

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” said Albus Dumbledore.

Today Pottermania rules the mind of every child. Kids dream of being like him, saving others from evil with determination and courage. He is emerging as the new hero of this generation. More than the story, I believe publicity and advertising have made the wizard boy such a huge success. The hype created all over is a product of the magic of marketing. Before hailing J.K. Rowling as the modern-day Enid Blyton, I would think twice. Whether Harry and Hogwarts are worthy of that league can only be ascertained with time!

Shradha Dalmia,
IIIrd year, Bhawanipur Education Society

The Harry Potter fad has, with the last two instalments, spread to India too. Children can identify with Harry. But have most of them read it'

Even those who haven’t are reluctant to admit it as it is a matter of shame nowadays not to have read the series. The craze has overpowered other children’s books written by Indians.

Sharmistha Dan,
Class XII, Shri Shikshayatan

The world at large needs something to be excited and enthused about. Harry is fresh and exotic and it is no surprise that he has cast a spell on one and all. But how much does he actually have in common with people around us' As soon as the public has something more exciting to talk about, Harry will ultimately fade out like any other novelty.

Pravati Maulik Gupta,
IIIrd year, Shri Shikshayatan


New guard

Interactor Swati Dalmia’s District Interact Council board was formally installed on Sunday. Swati, the district Interact representative for the year 2003-2004, is a student of Class XII, G.D. Birla Centre for Education.

The ceremony, held on July 27 at Rotary Sadan, drew Interactors from 23 city schools. The event commenced with last year’s district rep Iqbal Singh Saini handing over the reins to Swati, who then announced her 18-member council, which included secretary Udhav Modi and treasurer Sharad Nahata, both from Don Bosco Park Circus; joint secretary Debonita Chowdhury from G.D. Birla and public relations officer Neha Patodia from Mahadevi Birla.

Senior Rotarians were also present to usher in the new guard, which has already set the social service ball rolling, with a blood donation camp and a free-bird project.

The District Interact Council also sealed its partnership with The Telegraph in Schools, which will feature an ‘Interact Page’ and a council Notice Board. Ten per cent of all TTIS subscription money will also go to Interact.

“Having seen Swati function as last year’s public relations officer, city Interactors have full faith that she will prove to be one of the most successful district reps,” says Madhumita Das, a former council member.

— Sangeet Shirodkar,
Apeejay School


War of words

Disha, the youth wing of Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad, held a heated debate on July 26. The motion of the house was whether ‘corporate leaders will make better politicians’, with speakers from a number of institutions —schools like Lakshmipat Singhania Academy, St Xavier’s and Birla High School from Classes IX to XII, colleges such as Bhawanipur Education Society and J.D. Birla College, and even management schools.

Issues such as the credibility of corporate leaders, corrupt politicians and the sense of a good government filled the air. After the hard-fought prelims and thought-provoking finals Shekhar Ruparalia of Bhawanipur was adjudged best speaker against the motion while Garima Ancharia of J.D. Birla College was the best speaker for the motion. St Xavier’s Collegiate School bagged the award for the best team.

— Nihar Jain,
Class IX, Lakshmipat Singhania Academy


Duo against drugs

High fives are in order for two students of Vivekananda Mission School. Class XII students of the Joka school, Saurav Banerjee and Najnin Islam, will travel to the Maldives for the Second Asian Youth Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention from August 5 to 8. The damage caused by drug abuse, prevention programmes and positive alternatives will be under discussion at the meet that aims to draw suggestions from students, create links between students and NGOs and generate awareness about new drugs.


They could have been excited about the prospect of digging into a sinful deep-fried chocolate bar. These two brothers take a playful moment off during a ‘cooking class’ conducted by Chef Shaun Kenworthy at Oxford Bookstore on Sunday. The Park hotel chef taught kids to cook easy snacks like chips, chowmein, chicken burgers and deep-fried chocolate bars. Picture by Amit Datta

Small B, up close

An orphan without the opportunity to become a success. That’s the role Abhishek Bachchan is enacting in Mani Ratnam’s film that was shot in Calcutta recently. It’s no surprise then that the Bollywood star took an evening off to spend some time with kids from Siddharth United Social Welfare Mission, an organisation dedicated to providing orphans an education.

On Sunday, five children from the orphanage met Abhishek at Taj Bengal, through the efforts of the Interact Club of Don Bosco, Park Circus. The kids live in a small home at Chinar Park, off the EM Bypass, run by a Buddhist monk, where they receive vocational training and computer education and are taught language skills.

Dumbstruck is the only way to describe the kids’ initial reaction, gazing at the star with adoring eyes. But soon, they were chattering away with him. By the time Abhishek posed for a group photograph with the boys, they had mustered up enough courage to ask him an earful of questions.

“You act so well, you dance so well, and you look so handsome… How can you do so much'” gushed one of the boys. “Probably because of my father,” Amitabh Bachchan’s son smiled, “it’s all in the genes.”

Young Sanjoy was next: “Apni kemon achhen'” to which Abhishek replied in Bengali: “Ami bhalo achhi.” Little Pradeep asked him about the role he plays in the Ratnam film, to which Abhishek smiled and spoke of his orphaned character.

Abhishek also told his young fans that the injured Vivek Oberoi was recovering fast and hoped to be back in September to complete the shooting schedule which had to be cut short following the on-set accident. He also pledged his support for the activities of the Interact Club of Don Bosco Park Circus.

— Siddharth Jain,
Secretary, Interact Club, Don Bosco Park Circus.


Captain on air

Come Wednesday and the airwaves will send the clipped utterances of the Indian cricket captain ringing across Bengal and parts of the Northeast. Sourav Ganguly, in town gearing up for another busy season kicking off with the New Zealand tie in September, dropped in at Akashvani Bhavan last week for an interview. In a 35-minute interface with former cricketer Raju Mukherjee, he recounted his childhood days of listening to cricket and football commentary on the radio, sharing anecdotes and ambitions about Team India. The interview will be broadcast at 8 pm on the primary channel and FM Rainbow on AIR Calcutta.

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