|Beyond barriers: The Calcutta contingent in Germany with a new friend. (Above) A view of Munich during Oktoberfest (AFP)
It was 21 days of fun for the 12 of us who set off for Germany as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange programme. From September 26 to October 17, the group, selected through interviews from across the city, gathered some unforgettable memories.
We were all students from schools and colleges in Calcutta, including La Martiniere, Modern High and Jadavpur University. We were to be hosted by 12 different families, whose children are to come here in December. This was the perfect opportunity for an exchange of views and to get to know a people and its culture.
After our arrival, on September 27, the Rotarians of Germany organised a welcome programme at a school where the 12 host kids study. On September 29, we visited the biggest festival organised in the country, the popular Oktoberfest, where we had a blast on the awesome roller-coaster rides. On September 30, we went to Zugspitze, the highest mountain peak in Germany, which is also the border point between Germany and Austria. The snow was beautiful and the best part about it was that we got to throw around snowballs! On October 6, we visited the Audi car museum, which took us down the ages through the evolution of the vehicle.
The very next day (October 7), we visited the biggest BMW factory in the world. From the creation of the smallest parts to the finishing touches, we got a glimpse behind the scenes of the making of this amazing vehicle. On October 9, we got a chance to tour the beautiful city of Salzburg in neighbouring Austria (remember The Sound of Music'). After that, we spent a full day at a German school, sitting through some of the classes our hosts take. The last week of the trip included visits to some historic castles and museums. The most beautiful point was undoubtedly the castle of Nymphenburg. On the very same day we watched an ice-hockey game at the Olympic Sports Area in Munich, which was great fun.
Weekdays were spent touring, while weekends were family days, spent exclusively with our hosts. When it was our chance to do something to entertain our hosts, we put up a cultural show and cooked Indian food, which everyone thought was very delicious.
There were some really surprising facts about Germany — beer is cheaper than water, people prefer to drink soda instead of water and every citizen follows traffic rules without anyone forcing them to! And though most of the students knew enough English to communicate with us, many of the elders knew none at all.
We are now waiting for the 12 guests from Germany to visit our city from December 20 to January 7.
Trips to Puri, Raichak, Nicco Park, Swabhumi… whatever we eventually pack in, it is sure to be straight from the heart.
| Tintin: All-time favourite
Did you know a series of six books by Swiss author Rudolf Toppfer published in 1827 were the first comics that the world saw' Or that the Tintin stories written by Hergé before the World War I later came out in new versions after editing the politically risqué parts'
Such interesting trivia came to light at an interface with French publisher Jacques Binsztock organised by Alliance Francaise de Calcutta at Oxford Bookstore on Saturday. Binsztock is in charge of Seuil Images, which specialises in children’s literature.
It was childhood revisited for the audience as Binsztock traced children’s literature from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales to more recent names like Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. “All of them were written for adult readers but later became popular with children,” he pointed out. The publisher went on to show how the moral divides of society were reflected in children’s literature down the ages. “The first heroes came to being with the birth of magazines in early 20th Century. There was the Les Pieds Nickeles series on three reckless youngsters who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. At the same time, there came to being Becassine, a conservative heroine who went to church and was very naïve.” There is a moralist section among publishers of children’s literature even today, he said. “This is especially true in the US where they censor pictures in children’s books,” he added, much to the amusement of the listeners.
“Earlier, people in the trade thought children’s books beyond 200 pages won’t sell, as kids have small brains infested with TV. Then came Harry Potter,” he laughed, pointing to the 700-page J.K. Rowling tome placed on the bookstore’s racks.
France now brings out more than 6,000 titles for children every year and is a focal point of international trade in the area. But unfortunately Indian tales do not figure on the list. Seuil Images brought out a Feluda thriller, but that did not do well. “Satyajit Ray is known more as a filmmaker in our country,” he explained.
But Binsztock is shopping for more titles on his trip to India. The publisher has already bought a book of folk tales from Chennai, entitled A Very Angry Lion, which will find its way to the French market in a translated version. “I am looking for more books,” he said.
November 1 saw students from 13 schools have a blast at Amigo 2003, the annual fest organised by the Interact Club of Don Bosco Park Circus.
A grand inauguration started it all, with first lady, Anjanaben Shah, principal secretary, higher education, J. Sircar and director, WBREDA, S.P. Gonchoudhari, in attendance. MTV VJ Ramona, the anchor, took the stage to thunderous applause. The show kicked off with Ami-Cine where each school was given a movie and the choice of a scene to enact. Then Ami-Knockout, a medley of events, took place, taking turns with rounds including quiz, antakshari, and dumb charades. The DJ contest was a crowd puller, in which Kushal Bengani of the home school emerged winner, followed by a pro, DJ Tanveer, showing the way with a bunch of remixes.
Amigo saw a full house for Nrityanaatak, a mixture of dance and drama. Each school performed wonderfully, with La Martinere for Boys deserving special mention. While the round was on, the Interact Club donated a TV to the NGO it has adopted, Siddharth United. Trendz, the fashion show, was theme-based, with schools having to work in concepts like ‘states of India’, sportswear and movies. Later, Neeraj Kalra gave a presentation on the activities of the Interact Club of the school.
The guest performer was the home-grown Yash Himani of Don Bosco, who has performed in over 200 shows across India with Usha Uthup and Sunidhi Chauhan. He got the crowd on its feet with his magic on the synthesiser, followed by a performance by Rahul Pandey from St Xavier’s.
Finally, Don Bosco Liluah came in first, followed by Queen of the Mission and Ashok Hall.
— Siddhartha Saraogi,
Don Bosco Park Circus
| VJ Ramona chills out with the participants at DBPC. Picture by Aranya Sen
So long, farewell
For all the people associated with St Thomas’ Girls School, October 31 was an emotional day. For it was principal U. Andrews’ last day in office, ending six years of dedicated service.
The ceremony, held on the school premises was attended by the members of the school board of governors as well as chairman Neil O’Brien, Reverend Yardy from St Paul’s Cathedral, the principal and vice-principal of St Thomas’ Boys School, and staff, students and boarders from St Thomas’ Girls School.
An Odissi flower dance by two students was followed by an opening speech by school captain Christine Massey. Several school and board functionaries spoke of their experiences working alongside Mrs Andrews. The senior girls performed a Gujarati dance while Maressa Anthony spoke on behalf of the boarders.
Under the able leadership of Ms Andrews, St. Thomas’ Girls School has taken great leaps forward. Her guiding spirit will remain with the school. On Monday, S. Bhattacharya, formerly with Pratt Memorial, joined as our new principal.
There was more action on campus, with the Interact Club of the school holding its installation ceremony on October 29 at the school auditorium. Last year’s activities — including 135 different programmes, big and small — were summed up. Christine Massey, also the school captain, took over the reigns as the club president.
— Madhumita Das,
Class XII, St Thomas’ Girls School
Time to call
Calling all call centre aspirants is STG, with its new training programme Call Smart. Designed for graduate and post-graduate students, the “soft-skills development” scheme concentrates on enhancing communication skills and “overall personality development” to ensure candidates are equipped to deal with international callers. STG has links with the likes of Wipro Spectramind, Daksh and Convergys for placements.