High on hedonism

Funds for a cause

By A mix of melody and hard-hitting rock is helping this Calcutta band win audiences countrywide, says Subhajit Banerjee
  • Published 4.02.06

On the chilly night of January 22, the last day of Springfest 2006, the gathering of a few hundred-odd college students at IIT Kharagpur?s Tagore Open Air Theatre was witness to something special.

It was the finals of Wildfire, the western band contest, and one band seemed to stand out from the rest ? right from the first note of their original Kurukshetra to the final riff of the classic rocker Highway Star.

The Hobos went on to win Wildfire that night. A few weeks earlier, they had emerged champs at IIM Calcutta?s Armageddon and Benaras Hindu University?s Crosswindz. In fact, there?s hardly an inter-college rock competition that the quintet of Souvik, Arko, Subhojit, Suman and Abhrodeep have not yet conquered.

But Hobos would prefer not to be restricted to the college circuit. Formed two years ago, this Salt Lake-based band is waiting for the right label to release an album?s worth of original compositions. The group was runners up at MTV?s Rock Idol and featured as the only Calcutta act at Chennai?s Live101.

?We try to do as much original music as possible,? says Souvik, the vocalist and founder of the band, also its oldest member at 26. It was Souvik who gave the band its name, based on a Jack Kerouac character. ?But it?s also an acronym ? Hedonism Obsessed Bunch of Shamans,? the singer confesses.

The band?s sound is hard-hitting and heavy, but never loses track of the melody ? something that shines through in their own tunes like On the Road and Kurukshetra. ?Some people say we play metal, but we don?t. We like to call our music progressive experimental rock with a blend of Indian elements like the raagas.?

Despite none of the Hobos, aged between 21 and 26, having formal training in music, they?re determined to make a career of it. ?Salt Lake?s CD Block park brought us together, where we used to hang around and had our first acoustic performance two years ago,? recalls Souvik. ?And we?ve made up our minds to carry on as a professional band,? he offers.

A music company from down south had approached the Hobos to release its debut album, but the band refused. ?We want to do it with a label that will market our crucial first album just right, preferably a big name,? adds Souvik.

For now, the search for the right company continues for the Hobos, as does the tours of college fests around the country.

Cambridge comes Calcutta calling

Students of The Cambridge School perform at the third annual winter fest at Gyan Manch on January 28. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

The Bridge International School laid down its perspective on international education this week with a talk to prospective parents. The open house was held at the Bengal Rowing Club on January 30 with Mark Bartholomew, regional South Asian manager for the University of Cambridge International Examination Board, speaking on education in India.

Bartholomew stressed that international education must be truly international, saying: ?I don?t like schools that just plonk a piece of Europe in India. Indian and foreign students that attend an international school must learn about the country in which they are living? We want to consider carefully what we adopt from western education, and synthesise that with Indian education.?

He also emphasised ?holistic learning?, adding: ?Simply copying down notes does nothing except encourage pupils to memorise facts well. Actual learning suffers.? The regional manager explained that the Cambridge Board ?does not want to produce exam factories, pumping out the best results. We want well-balanced children.?

Bridge International School subscribes to the Cambridge Board?s ethos, with a large IT department playing a central role in the education process. There are many language courses available, Korean being the latest addition. The pupil to teacher ratio is 15:1. The school will soon be moving to new premises on Hazra Road.

The 150-year-old Cambridge University International Examinations Board operates in 161 countries, and is responsible for over two crore examinations each year. Much of the curriculum is devised by the university?s professors. Affiliated schools in South Asia are present in Chennai, Mumbai, Bangladesh and Nepal, with Bhutan next on the agenda.

Bartholomew is the ?first permanent member of the Board to be posted overseas?. Based in Delhi since October 2004, he travels to Calcutta on a monthly basis. ?We have grown substantially, and there are no plans of slowing down. In the past 18 months, the number of Cambridge Board-affiliated schools has gone up to 50 from five in Mumbai. In Bengal, there are now 12. In the past three months, we have been in talks with St Jude?s and Dishari in Calcutta. The Pailan school will also be converting and in Darjeeling, North Point and St Paul?s will follow soon,? he told Young Metro.

India is a focus of operations, ?because it is familiar territory, so we don?t have to explain what we?re about?. The Board will soon make the international teacher training diploma available to educators here. Besides, the facilities at The Cambridge School, now affiliated to the Board, are also being augmented, including new software that will connect students, teachers, parents and administrators. A changed system will also reduce the exam fees for students at the Manoharpukur Road school.

Chit Chat

Misaal was a joint project of Macrocosm club of MB Girls school and the Science and Nature Club and Savio Club of Don Bosco Park Circus. It give the underprivileged students of DBPC night school (above) the chance to play a ?proper? cricket match for the first time in their lives on January 29. The kids also got to take home edible goodies, their match outfits as well as the trophies and shields.

Funds for a cause

To recognise the contribution of young ambassadors for the SOS cause, SOS Children?s Villages of India, Calcutta, organised a special free screening of The Chronicles of Narnia on January 26 at Priya cinema. It was an attempt to bring smiles to the faces of children of several schools who collect funds or do other voluntary work with the NGO.

Schools like Apeejay School, Don Bosco, La Martiniere, The Heritage School and Frank Anthony selected students to be young ambassadors, who did fundraising work. SOS distributed free tickets to the principals of these schools.

Aveek Chakraborty, a Class XII student of Apeejay School and a young ambassador for SOS, said: ? We are grateful to SOS for arranging this goodwill gesture. We are in the school?s social service club. As a representative, I have come to watch the film.?

Rahul Roy, a student of Frank Anthony, echoed: ?I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to SOS Children?s Villages of India, Calcutta, for organising this. SOS is committed to helping underprivileged children in need and ensuring them a family, home and a strong foundation for future.?

• Tata Crucible ? The Campus Quiz will be held on Sunday, February 5, at Taj Bengal. Registration for the second edition of the event for B-schools and engineering colleges will begin at 12.30 pm.

• A special screening of Hanuman at INOX (Forum) on Sunday for around 200 physically-challenged and underprivileged children, as well as youngsters suffering from HIV/AIDS, by the group Envision.