Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Response to Train to Pakistan

First impressions are very important, they “set the tone for all the relationships that follow” (First Impression). Which is why when Khushwant Singh introduces one of the main characters Iqbal, as a manipulative, foreign, city-dweller. Needless to say, my first impression of him was not a good one. “He could be Muslim, Iqbal Mohammad, He could be Hindu, Iqbal Chand, or a Sikh, Iqbal Singh… In a Sikh village, and Iqbal Singh would no doubt get a better deal...He himself had few religious feelings” (pg. 35) Although this is not our initial introduction to the character of Iqbal, it is quite an important passage as this is when his most dominant characteristic is shown, manipulation. He uses the flexibility of his first name ‘Iqbal’ to convince the townspeople of Mano Majra, that he is indeed part of the majority religion Sikhism. This can be considered manipulation because he knows very well that if he is indeed Sikh he would receive much better treatment in a town like this. I may not have had such a problem with Iqbal's treatment of the people of Mano Majra, but they are nothing but welcoming towards Iqbal, which is why he need not have lied about his last name and religion, to begin with. “When Iqbal finished eating Meet Singh got p and brought him a tumbler of water from his pitcher” (pg.36) This is a small but impactful example as to how the people of Mano Majra take care of Iqbal and genuinely look out for him. Soon after Meet Singh offered Iqbal water, Iqbal slyly put a chlorine tablet inside the cup (pg.36) since Iqbal is from the city it makes sense that he is cautious of what he drinks and from where the water comes from. Yet, when Meet Singh asked him what Iqbal put into the cup Iqbal replied with a lie. The fact that Meet Singh asked Iqbal directly “Are you ill?” (pg.36) after meeting Iqbal shortly before goes to show how gracious and concerned Meet Singh is with this new strangers health.
I may not have held a grudge towards Iqbal if his behavior throughout the novel changed and he became less self-righteous and more down to earth. Unfortunately, Iqbal continued to announce to anyone who would listen that he was an educated man that should not be held accountable for any one's actions, including himself. Although Iqbal states he is a social worker, his actions towards those who live in Mano Majra show otherwise. He is the opposite of what a good social worker would be, which shows that Khushwant Singh intended to make Iqbal an unlikeable character with no redeeming qualities. Which is why even after finished the novel ‘Train to Pakistan’ and further discussing the book during class. I still dislike Iqbal as a character.

"Making a Great First Impression: Getting off to a Good Start." From MindTools.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2017
Singh, Khushwant. Train to Pakistan. New Delhi: Ravi Dayal, 2012. Print.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Not a Fan of John Green

     Over break, we were asked to read two books, select one from the suggested list and a ‘free’ book. Although I have never been a big fan of John Green nor have I ever understood the phenomena with his books catered to teenage girls. My sister insisted that I read one of her favorites; ‘Paper Towns’ by John Green. In 2015 Paper Towns was adapted to the big screen, in July like every other girl under the age of 21, I too went to watch this highly anticipated movie. After watching the movie I was sorely disappointed, after reading the book I felt the same disappointment, mixed with annoyance due to the fact that I spent my whole weekend in my room reading. Not only was Paper Towns a let down from Green’s previous books such as ‘The Fault in our Stars’ but this novel was entirely unrealistic, and not in a positive way. After reading many of Green’s books in hopes of joining the bandwagon I realized he tends to repeat characters. Just switching the names and background stories per novel, but every main character he has is a teenager, whom is wise beyond their years and has weird quirks or habits. Whether that be a boy who only dates girls named Katherine, or a girl who is bored of her life in suburbia and runs away constantly. As a reader the quirks per character I don’t mind as much since it tends to give them more dimension. My main issue with Green’s lack of creativity when it comes to characters is the fact that he makes the adolescent teenagers think like eighty-year-olds. I am a teenager myself, I live and go to school with 100’s of other teenagers, so trust me when I say no teenager says things like “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” (The Fault in our Stars. pg. 311) or “Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.” (Paper Towns. pg. 8) Don’t get me wrong John Green does have a knack for writing and if I’m looking for something easy to breeze through I might attempt some of his other books. Yet, at the end of the day, Green belongs at his desk, filming videos for his Crash Course channel on youtube and helping students all around the world cram for their tests.

Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. USA: Dutton, 2014. Print.
Green, John. Paper Towns. New York: Penguin , an Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2015. Print.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

That Brutal Day

In this free verse poem, I reflect on my memories from 10th Grade Activity week, In which my group and I were assigned to conquer the incredible ‘Rupin-Supin’ trek. With a sacrificial goat, a general and his many lieutenant's, Zack Mcloed and Will.I.Am in tow. We somehow managed to make it back to Mussoorie in one piece.

The first day was spent on our hands and knees
Practically crawling up the side of the mountain
Dirt resettled in between our nails and our clothes
Our breaths became short and shallow
The harsh sun rays made the heat alone almost unbearable to keep on walking whilst
The trees around us were a luscious green giving us protection from the blistering sun
The lack of water was problematic and the chlorine tablets tasted bitter in our severely dehydrated mouths
Once we reached the apex of the mountain
The smiles of my fellow group members could be described as beatific

I remember it like it was yesterday
The drowning sense of relief we all felt once we reached our base camp
The chai and the little yet delicious biscuits the Bhaiya’s gave us
The long talks about everything yet nothing at all
The magnificent view of snow-capped mountains glistened underneath the heat of the sun
As the sun began to hide beneath these glorious mountains
The night swept in like a vast sheet of twinkling stars
We all huddled together for the warmth of one another
With the flames of the fire dancing in the darkness
The light it provided highlighted the tiredness underneath everyone's eyes
The sunburn and dark tans that have transferred onto all our faces
Was illuminated in the ever growing darkness

As we bid our farewells and slogged back to our tents
The thin sheet of plastic that made up our shelter rustled endlessly in the middle of the night
Against the wind that made our bones freeze and our teeth chatter

As we drifted off to sleep later that night
I dreamt of the endless amount of waiwai I planned would consume once back at dorms
The hour long shower I planned on taking
Regardless of who was waiting
I even calculated how many more episodes of Sherlock I have before I finished season two
That hopeful blissful night
I went to sleep with the anticipation of waking up in my own bed very soon

Monday, 7 November 2016

Orwell Intended To Scare Us

The way Orwell described Oceania throughout the novel was, displeasing, to say the least. When Winston Smith the protagonist of the story looked around London, this is what he saw; “And the bombed sites where the plaster dust swirled in the air and the willow herb straggled over the heaps of rubble; and the places where the bombs had cleared a larger patch and there had sprung up sordid colonies of wooden dwellings like chicken houses?” (Orwell, 3) Who would voluntarily want to live someplace like this? No one. That is what Orwell wanted us to think. Before Orwell published 1984 he wrote a letter; to a Mr. Noel Willmett explaining exactly why Orwell felt the need to write such a novel which embodied totalitarianism regimes. “Everywhere the world movement seems to be in the direction of centralised economies which can be made to ‘work’ in an economic sense but which are not democratically organised and which tend to establish a caste system” (Letter) Orwell wanted to warn the human population as a whole, on what precisely might happen if we continue down the road we are currently on. As Mr.Willmett wrote to Orwell asking “whether totalitarianism, leader-worship etc. are really on the up-grade and instance the fact that they are not apparently growing in this country and the USA.” (Letter) Orwell responded with; “As to the comparative immunity of Britain and the USA. Whatever the pacifists etc. may say, we have not gone totalitarian yet and this is a very hopeful symptom” (Letter) Orwell did have faith in the UK and US, but not complete faith that totalitarianism soon wouldn’t take over these global superpowers. “ they haven’t known defeat or severe suffering,” (Letter) The fact that these two countries have always been prosperous may be their downfall. Now think back to where 1984 takes place, in London! Coincidence I think not. “This, he thought with a sort of vague distaste—this was London, chief city of Airstrip One, itself the third most populous of the provinces of Oceania” (Orwell, 2) Orwell purposely set the book in the UK as it is a reminder to everyone around the world that has ever read 1984. That the best and most thriving countries always have a chance of falling. We must be ready. No one wants to live their life fearing their children or never having any privacy even if your head. “Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed—no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.” (Orwell, 18) This quote embodies the sole purpose of Geroge Orwell writing his now-iconic novel; he wanted to scare us straight. During the time Orwell was writing his book the world was in complete disarray. World War two was entering its third year, Hitler was still on the rise, the shadow of Stalin was slowly descending on Russia. The world needed to respond, pronto.
Luckily we did just that; it’s 2016 now and although it looks like the end of the world (especially for Americans) we did not succumb to what Orwell predicted our current year would be. Orwell warned us, and we- the human race responded.

Dean, Mike, and George Orwell. 1984. N.p.: Amazing Reads, 2014. Print.

Orwell, George. "George Orwell’s Letter on Why He Wrote ‘1984’." The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 21 Aug. 13. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Grading Scale

It was exam time of last year when the rumors around school started spreading about the new grading system. Although the dean of academics was my advisor, he provided a little insight on what was happening in the administration during that time. Disbelief, anxiety, and uncertainty were just some of the emotions circulating among the students. Of course, the seniors were ecstatic that they left just in time before this new found rule was implemented, the rest of us weren’t that lucky. The class of ‘018 has been regarded as smart, hardworking and unmatchable on countless occasions, would we ever win the GPA award again? Or was our title of intelligence ripped away by something that was supposed to benefit us in the long run? Would colleges acknowledge the fact that Woodstock decided to change the grading scale in our most crucial year of high school? It was agreed that this trimester would be of the utmost importance in deciding what would happen in our future.
    Just last week we held a protest in the quad in response to this ludicrous change to our academics. It just so happened that there was a board meeting happening at the same time, this was a fortunate coincidence that helped us access a different and more authoritative audience. Ten minutes after the protest started, Mr.Kaplan and Mr.V came into the center of the ever growing circle to answer our questions and listen to our concerns. We asked questions, and they managed to respond to every issue we had posed in the same way, this went on for about an hour. Overall it was a rather polite and professional conversation between the few speakers who represented the students and Mr.V and Mr.Kaplan who were representing the teachers as a whole and representing the board members to a certain extent.
    When the students dispersed and began walking down to dorms, people started debating whether or not this was considered successful or a waste of time for both teachers and students alike. Rethinking what the teachers said and what the students said now makes me realize that both groups had reasonable arguments. Despite the fact that Mr.Kaplan and Mr.V seemed to reiterate the same answer to each question we asked them. I would say the fact that they took the time to talk to us showed that they want to address our worries, and they don’t want us to fail miserably as we had originally thought.
    Personally, I felt that the students were less persuasive than intended due to that fact that there was no organization in the questions or the method of asking them. It was more about bombarding the teachers with personal complaints which any good debater knows is not how you approach a person of authority. With that being said, at the end of the day, it was incredibly hard to decide which side was more successful. I doubt the administration will go back to the old grading scale, but I do think they should find a way to make the transition better for the sake of our transcripts.
    There is no way to tell how this will affect our future or if this will even benefit us remotely, all we can do is try our hardest and continue to be the best class we can be.

Sunday, 18 September 2016


    Atonement is the action of making amends for a wrong or injury. This is the title of the novel we were assigned to read; this is what Briony, the protagonist of the novel by the same name,  wished to accomplish. But did she want to atone for her mistake or was she just wallowing in self-pity? This is the question we went back and forth about for fifteen minutes in our open space groups. Needless to say, we could not decide.

The majority stated that yes, Briony did reach her ultimate goal and proved to Cee and Robbie that she was truly sorry.The fact that she accused Robbie of raping Lola when she was only thirteen and did not understand what she witnessed  shows how immature and naive she was, absolving her of responsibility. Later in life, instead of attending Cambridge like the rest of her family, she decided to become a nurse. Some may say this was an attempt to become closer to Cecilia because Cee was a nurse as well. Another contributing factor may have been that, throughout her life, the guilt over her accusation consumed her and led her not just to a career in service and helping others, but to her decision to write the book in the first place. These are all plausible explanations, but I don’t agree with them. I think Briony was doing what she did for selfish reasons and she never truly tried her hardest to atone for what she did. There as so many things she could have done and yet she chose to do the things that would make people pity her. Being a nurse during a major war is never an easy task. She feels too guilty to further her education as the rest of her family she felt like punishing herself by becoming a nurse. I see this a selfish because the only one affected by this is Briony herself. Whereas if she attended Cambridge, she could've made something of herself and helped many more people.  In my view, Briony could've been more persistent on expressing to Cee how sorry she was, rather than letting Cee isolate herself and hate Briony more because of what she's done. At the end of the day, Briony was the reason Robbie and Cecilia couldn't spend enough time together; she singlehandedly ruined Robbie’s life, and for what? Robbie and Cee both died apart from each other never being able to live their lives together; that’s all because of Briony. The fact that Cee and Robbie live happily together in Briony’s book doesn't mean that everything is alright. By the time Briony realized what she had done and the impact it had on the people around her, it was too late to alter the court statement. So yes, in my eyes Briony performed some atonement and made an effort to atone for what she did. But the gravity of the accusation she made and the effect it had on everyone around her was so drastic and lasting that there’s no way for her to atone properly, no matter the efforts she's made. That is why Robbie and Cee never forgive her, because what she did was unforgivable.

McEwan, Ian. Atonement: A Novel. New York: Anchor, 2001. Print.
( looked up the definition of atonement)

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Hamilton and Burr Duel

    On July 11th in 1804, there was an epic duel between Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr. Hamilton was the first secretary of treasury ("Alexander Hamilton." Wikipedia 4), so yes, you could say he played a very influential role in America's economic system. The duel between these two frenemies commenced in Weehawken, New Jersey because "everything is legal in New Jersey."(The Official Page For The Music of Hamilton 7) Little did Burr know, near this spot a mere 3 years ago Philip Hamilton, Alexander’s eldest and dearest son had died. Not only did Philip's death happen in this Weehawken itself, but Philip also died defending his father's honor. Burr wondered if this was why, Hamilton "examined his gun with such rigor...I watched as he methodically fiddled with the trigger" (The Official Page For The Music of Hamilton 7) Even though both men served under George Washington in numerous battles their skills regarding weaponry were vastly different. Apparently Hamilton was an amazing shot and had great aim, "This is a soldier with a marksman's ability." (The Official Page For The Music of Hamilton) Whereas Burr, was known by his soldiers as a terrible shot. So before the duel even began, Burr was nervous about Hamilton making an orphan out of his precious daughter, Theodosia. Attempt to imagine Burr's anxiety when Hamilton appears wearing his glasses. "Hamilton was wearing his glasses. Why? If not to take deadly aim? It's him or me, the world will never be the same." (The Official Page For The Music of Hamilton 7) Hamilton's desire to kill Burr, may not have been the case. Many historians believe now that because "Philip's death devastated the Hamilton's, ... many historians believe is led to Hamilton's own reluctance to fire directly at Aaron Burr during their legendary duel just three years later." (History.com Staff. 3)

Nevertheless, Burr did indeed fatally shoot Hamilton which may or may not have lead to drastic changes throughout America. Although Burr was the one that lived through this historic duel, "When Alexander aimed at the sky he may have been the first one to die. But I'm the one who paid for it. I survived but I paid for it." (The Official Page For The Music of Hamilton 7) This shows us that after the duel Burr faced discrimination. He was charged for murder in both New York and New Jersey, but was dismissed in both cases. He soon fled to Georgia, but had to return to Washington D.C in order to complete his term as vice president . On March 2nd 1805, Burr leaves the senate and therefore left D.C. Post vice presidency, Burr was accused of trying to make a new "independent empire" (Burr-Hamilton Duel 5) his fellow colleagues betrayed him and told President Jefferson about his supposed plans. Although Burr wasn't charged for treason, his already poor reputation took yet another fatal blow. Leading to Burr fleeing out of the states and into Europe. Spending "the remainder of his life in relative obscurity". (Burr-Hamilton Duel 5)  So I guess the question is how would America's economy be different today, if Burr died in 1804 and Hamilton got to live.

"Aaron Burr." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2016  (1)
"Aaron Burr vs. Alexander Hamilton: The Terrible Consequences of an Ugly Insult ." The Bowery Boys: New York City History. N.p., 11 July 2014. Web. 21 Aug. 2016. (2)
"Alexander Hamilton." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 21 Aug. 2016History.com Staff.  (3)
"Alexander Hamilton." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2016 (4)
"Burr-Hamilton Duel." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2016. (5)
"Burr Slays Hamilton in Duel." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2016. (6)

"The Official Page For The Music of Hamilton: The Musical." The Official Page For The Music of Hamilton: The Musical. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Aug. 2016. (7)