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Marie Skłodowska Curie: The woman that defied ‘normal’

By: Johann

Cancer awareness day is recognised every year on November 7 in honor of Marie Curie, who was born on the day. Her story will long be remembered, not only because of the countless breakthroughs on the scientific front but also for the role she played in breaking the stereotype of what a woman can do. Her contribution goes much further than what can be put in words, but in an attempt to pay my tributes, I will try my hardest.

To start her story, we must travel to Warsaw Poland, a time where the nation was in the throes of nationalism and affectation. It was a time of radical change and transitions. Poland was not an independent country and was partitioned by Austria, Russia, and Prussia. To a young Marie Curie, whose family came from the poorest sections of society, the nation seemed to be a prisoner in chains. As she grew, so did the nationalist movement. Like her parents, she was a patriot and held the same pro-polish sentiments, which were in part, responsible for the family’s financial woes.  At 24, she left for Paris, as the University of Warsaw did not accept women. Since women and academic work were frowned upon in Poland, she fell behind, due to which she went out in search of actual laboratory experience. As fate would have it, she met Pierre Curie. Together, they opened up the world of science and changed its face. In 1911, she received the Nobel prize in chemistry, becoming the first person to do so.

On the occasion of Cancer awareness day, her scientific work takes on an even greater significance. As knowledge on radioactivity grew, radiotherapy was introduced as a possible means to cure cancer and is used in nearly 40% of all successful cancer treatments today. In World war I, she famously donated her Nobel prizes to raise funds to diagnose soldiers. However, being unaware of the harmful effects of radiation on herself, often kept Radium in her pockets or in a desk drawer. In line with her life, even her death has standardised several safety procedures that continue to save lives. The next time you hear of a person being treated for cancer, your mind will return to the amazing woman who made it all possible.

In the societal sphere, she broke down barriers, both in Poland and around the world. Peers were forced to stand up and take notice of her work. The Polish government was made to rue the fact that none of her scientific accomplishments could be affiliated with them. Without being the torchbearer, Curie was like the smoke that rises before the fire. Without her contribution, it could well have set back women’s movements a couple of decades.

Perhaps what makes her so appealing and intriguing to the young scientist is the simple romanticism that surrounded her like a halo. Her work was often conducted in wooden sheds, under skylight roofs, with her soulmate. It is the very fabric of what an aspiring scientist’s dreams are made of. It is this level of Utopian fanaticism that carves a niche in the mind of everyone that knows her story. Even the fact that she named Polonium in honor of her homeland and her work with radioactive elements caused her lifelong health issues can’t help but stick in your mind. People can see themselves in the person that was bundled up in the freezing attic in Paris, skipping sleep and meals to study. There are real movie protagonist vibes that one cannot help but feel empowered by.

In her story, there is renowned hope and belief that the grind eventually does cut it. And long after she has parted ways with her mortal self, her legacy continues to live on and inspire. Marie Curie is everything a student who is starting out dreams to be. And for all her contributions to Physics and Chemistry, while she was alive, there is a sense of irony that she cannot witness how her grit and dedication are saving lives all around the world. Finally, and perhaps most importantly (if there wasn’t enough already), there will never be a number for the number of lives of women she has changed just by being that hard worker who never gave up.

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books change childhood chilling History language Movies

SHER LOCKED

by:Akhil

A man, widely known for his extraordinary prowess in the field of forensic science and logical reasoning, and also known to be quite arrogant and selfless, is none other than one of the greatest detectives in the world. Mr. Sherlock Holmes. It breaks my heart to inform you that he is a fictional character. But as I delved into the world of the detective, I found that he was not actually a character from a book, but present to us in the form of the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who created Mr. Holmes. It is with great ingenuity that this man invented such a masterpiece, and the world will always be grateful to him for this creation.

Mr. Holmes made his first appearance in the novel, A Study in Scarlet, in 1887. He became particularly popular when a series of short stories, including A Scandal in Bohemia, was released in The Strand Magazine in 1891. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle went on to write an entirety of four novels and 56 short stories on Sherlock and his adventures.

Although Sherlock is a man of great mind and skill, his efforts in solving cases would have been shortcoming without the help and support of his close companion, Dr.John H.Watson. Dr.Watson was an assistant surgeon in the British army before he was sent back to England, where he met Sherlock. They had agreed to share lodgings with each other due to financial issues. His intrigue towards the cases that Holmes worked on lead him to many adventures with Holmes and formed a close bond between the two.

It’s not known to many, but Sherlock Holmes was formerly killed off in a battle against his archnemesis, Professor James Moriarty, in “The Final Problem” in 1893. After much protest and pressure from the public, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was forced to resurrect his famous protagonist in another story in 1903. Sherlock Holmes went on to dominate the scene of literature until 1927. From then on, there have been various adaptations of the detective in theatre, television, cinema, books, and even games. The most famous of these was the television series, Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch playing the lead as the detective, and the movie series, Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr. starring as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson.

Sherlock Holmes has continued to captivate readers generation after generation, and I believe that he will not stop doing so. I sign off by quoting Dr.John H.Watson, “My god Holmes!! You never do cease to amaze me!”. If you haven’t read any books on Sherlock, I suggest that you take a crack at one and I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

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A Tale Of Two Nights

by:Tharun

14th August 1947

Loud noises of the Gypsy Jeeps were echoing in every alleyway. Alleyways stuffed with people as far as the eye could see. While most of them were rushing to listen to The Man in White speak, a few seemed to be making their way out of the crowd, almost as if they were looking for something precious that they had just lost. Pandemonium. This was the only possible way to describe the night, right in the middle of which was a young girl. Orphaned at birth, she had never known a life of certainty. While many had tried to foster her through the years, none of them ended well. Yet again, she was back on the streets. Although this wasn’t unusual for her, she could sense something very different this time.

She looked weary of her journey. She lost count of the days for which she had been on the road in search of a home. At one point when she thought that she’d found one, she was told that they could only take her brother in. A brother whose existence she didn’t even know about till that moment, but the loss of whom felt as if she had lost a part of herself. Many miles and several horrifying visuals later, she had finally reached where she was now. She didn’t really know if she could call this place home, but she was too tired to go any further. 

The people here looked no different from what she’d seen. What was different about them was that they seemed to have a strange sense of hope. The kind which could be easily mistaken for unrest. She heard someone yell that all their troubles had come to an end. She scoffed at them. Although still a child, she knew not to fall for this illusion; she could see with her own eyes that nothing had changed. Buildings were being swallowed by flames and people were being slaughtered for fictitious reasons. What was funny was that everyone knew this, yet their desperation for hope superseded their ability to sense the horrors of reality.

Suddenly, everything went silent. People stopped right where they were and the Jeeps turned their engines off. The only thing that the girl could hear was the faint voice echoing from the loudspeakers. Someone said that The Man in White had started speaking. Everyone was listening to him as though he were instructing a new way of life. Though she had never believed in hope, the fact that everyone else did, comforted her in a way. Reassured by this, she shut her eyes with a feeling that things would change for her this time, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. 

14th August 2021 

It’s dinner time and everyone is glued to the television. With a plate in their hand, they’re listening to the interview of The Man in Blue, Olympian Neeraj Chopra talking about his historic win. As the interview finishes, everyone is forced to get off their seats by a lady, who just seventy-four years ago was a scared little girl. 

The same girl who once feared for her life now runs a proud household. She has children, friends and family whom she can confidently call her own. Truth be told, not much has changed for her. It’s just that the years have given her the strength to keep a straight face while dealing with troubles. One of her sons succumbed to Covid while gasping for breath. She listens to her friends talk about the way they are subjected to mental and physical trauma at their homes. A few years after that night of 1947, someone once told her that the brother whom she was separated from was actually two people… or something like that, she can’t recollect exactly. Every day she helplessly witnesses her children quarrel with each other for the same reasons that she had seen seventy-four years back. The only difference is that now they pin it on her honour rather than the other person’s cowardice. 

She feels the hope which people once shared is now transformed into something different. It has now changed into arrogance. The arrogance that breaks off a friendship. The arrogance that threatens others to prove its supremacy over them. What hurts her the most is when one of her own children is labeled an outsider. As someone who toiled for years to build this family from the ground up, she feels she let down that little girl who for once came close to believing in the concept of hope. 

Everyone in the household is excited for tomorrow. It’s one of the only days where all of her kids spend time at home together. She personally has mixed feelings about the day. On one hand, it reminds her of the story of a little girl who grew into a beautiful person against all odds. On the other, it reminds her of hope. The same hope which is now synonymous with unrest. She fears for the lives of her own. She wonders if the Man In White lied to the people that night. 

There is one thing that she is certain about. People are not evil, they are simply misguided and afraid. In 1947, her house didn’t have a head. Now, there are far too many, with all of them tugging about the roof in a separate direction. She knows the cost at which her freedom came. The tears, the bloodshed, the unbridled sacrifice that she had to witness to even think of a probable future, let alone a prosperous one. She only hopes that people realise the struggles of those who gave her and many others the chance to have a place to call home, rather than glorifying them mindlessly. But then again, she never fully believed in hope.

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change conspiracy culture death Efforts Family feelings Government History India Justice Lessons life News social society

Crack of Dawn

by:Siddaarth

National Anti-Terrorism Day is remembered on the 21st of May and gives us all a chance to stand together as one united front against the evil force of terrorism and tells us to salute every single life. It is also a day where we remember all those soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the protection of the Nation. 

The message of humanity and harmony must be spread widely and the Indian Government took this initiative to spread these messages across the people to emphasize the importance of combating terrorist activities. The objective of the  National Anti-Terrorism Day is to help spread the feeling of harmony, peace and unity amongst the people.

The National Anti-Terrorism Day is remembered on the 21st of May to commemorate the assassination of India’s former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi that occurred on the 21st of May 1991 at an election rally in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu. During the campaign, a lady who was a suicide bomber and was a part of the terrorist organization Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE), had approached him. The lady had explosives under her clothes and approached Rajiv Gandhi with a garland and then touched his feet. She denoted the bomb as soon as she approached him and touched his feet. Around 25 people were killed along with the youngest Prime Minister in Indian history was assassinated on this day. Ever since then, the National Anti-Terrorism Day is commemorated every year to ensure that no innocent soul would be killed from any sort of terrorist activities. 

Even after the tragic assassination of Mr Rajiv Gandhi, many terrorists have tried to attack India, its various sights and its people. But we as Indians have always shown a sense of pride, belonging and a feeling of bouncing back from any sort of difficult situation. After the 1991 assassination, India faced many such acts of terrorism on its soil like the 1993 blasts in Bombay in which 13 locations across Bombay were bombed and around 260 people were killed. The terrorist groups known as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked the Indian Parliament building on the 13th of November 2001 in which many police officers and parliament workers were killed. Three other terrorist attacks have occurred after these, namely the blasts on the Mumbai suburban railways, the 26/11 attacks and the Pulwama attack. 

Even after this, India has truly bounced back from these heavy scars on our nation. Though India follows the policy of forgiving but not forgetting, though in the case of terrorism India would never forgive the perpetrators and would never forget about the wounds. To conclude, I would want to quote the Indian Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi who stated the following: 

So many nations have suffered due to terrorism. Terrorism is not a challenge to a nation, it’s a challenge to humanity.

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change Day ethnic Family feelings festival Friends Happiness History life Love Music World

The Microtonal Beauty of Jazz.

by:Viraaj

First celebrated on April 30th, 2011, International Jazz Day, a day that highlights Jazz and its role in uniting people all across the globe. But what really is jazz? What makes it different from other forms of music?

By definition, Jazz is a genre that has its origins in the African-American communities of Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America. It has its roots in 19th and 20th century Blues and Ragtime. It is characterized by blues notes, swing, complex chords, poly-rhythms, microtones and above all Improvisation.

But, to me, jazz is a form of music that gives the player freedom to play whatever, freedom to interpret the music in their own way, meaning that no two performances, even by the same musician are never the same. Each performance changes with the performer’s mood, their interactions with their bandmates and their experience, this means that melodies, harmonies, solos and even the time signatures change with each performance. Jazz truly represents the diversity of the individual, and as a result of this freedom, we have multiple sub-genres or forms, each varying slightly from the other. This is in stark contrast to Classical Music, staying true to the source is important. Any and all deviation from what is written on the sheets of music in front of you is not perceived well.

Jazz bands usually have a soloist that is supported by a rhythm section that have instruments such as a piano or guitar, or both, a double bass and drums.  The rhythm section supports the soloist, giving them a solid base to build off of and often responding to the changes that the soloist makes, ensuring that the soloist is able to stand out to the crowd. In comparison to this, forms of jazz such as Free Jazz and Avant-Garde reduce this separation between the soloist and the rhythm sections, giving the other instruments a license to move away from the source based on their mood.

In Jazz, there is this requirement for the players to abandon classical notions of sticking to a scale or a time signature and explore the possibilities of what can and will sound good. As someone who had just completed what seemed like the basics of music theory, Jazz seemed like this over-the-top, complicated genre that only experienced players attempted. The complicated chords and the quick scale changes, were all too difficult to comprehend. And while I still find these techniques complicated, it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the songs.

Jazz takes you away from the 4 chord monotony that is present in a lot of modern songs (take for example Dusk Till Dawn by Zayn)  and stretches the limits of what is perceived as possible. Compared to other genres such as Pop, Rock and Punk, the variety in Jazz is what I find appealing, though Linkin Park is and always will be my favourite band. And this, at least in my opinion, separates the average album pop or rock song from songs like ‘Boy’ and ‘L.A. Girls’ by Charlie Puth and Bruno Mars’ ‘Leave the Door Open’, all of which are amazing songs. If you’re into anime like I am, then background scores produced by Studio Ghibli have some amazing songs that while not necessarily Jazz, do have a lot of influence from Jazz music. And if you like to waste time on YouTube or Instagram or even on Reddit, go look up Charles Cornell, Adam Neely and their likes.

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change culture Day ethnic Government History India Lessons social society

International Day for Multilateralism and Peace

by:Janani

“It is not enough to proclaim the virtues of multilateralism and diplomacy; we must continue to show its added value. International cooperation must adapt to changing times.

Let us strive as one to realize the founders’ vision of a healthy, equitable, peaceful and more sustainable future for all.”- Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Throughout history, mankind has always been broiled in conflict. Numerous cultures and societies, constantly battling for a plethora of reasons. From the Romans to the Mongols, the Mughals, and the British Empire- has there ever been a moment of peace? Empires rise and fall, cities are sacked, societies are burned, people are enslaved, and there is bloodshed.

Reflecting on our history matters, because when we look into the past, we can see just how far we’ve come, and how much more we need to progress.

The times we are living in right now are globally one of the most peaceful- held up by the pillars of modern-day diplomacy and multilateralism.

Has there ever been a time where we’ve been more united, and on such an enormous scale?

April 24th is the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy, established by the United Nations in 2018.  It is meant to acknowledge the use of diplomatic and peaceful means to resolve conflicts between countries- even if it doesn’t always work.

Gone are the days where we siege nations for spices or silk- but now we fight for oil, labor, and more. The world is most certainly not perfect right now, there are so many ongoing issues- The Syrian War and the Israeli- Palestine conflict to name a few.

So how could we have a day celebrating diplomacy and multilateralism when it seems so superficial? When there is so much more to resolve?

But the purpose of the “International Day of Multilateralism and Peace” isn’t simply patting ourselves on the back for a job well done and dusting our hands of any more work.

 We may have achieved a level of peace and diplomacy of historically unprecedented levels- but that doesn’t mean all our work is over. It’s not only about recognizing how far we’ve come- but realizing how much further we have to go.

So much blood was shed to reach this point in history- where the world can unite; where we can stand together; where we can accept each other, and where we can work together.

April 24th is about celebrating a day that is a marker of progress, and a symbol of hope for the future. 

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History Space Technology

Space Bound

By : Sarvesh

The 12th of April is celebrated as the international day of human space flight. On this day 60 years ago, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to go to space. We have come a long way since. To appreciate the present one must learn the past.

 At the peak of the cold war, money was poured into the space research organizations by both superpowers. The Soviets always had better rocket systems and on 4 October 1957, 7:28 pm the first man-made satellite ‘SPUTNIK’ was launched into orbit. In 1958, the U.S. launched its satellite, Explorer I. That same year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a public order creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a federal agency dedicated to space exploration.

In 1959, the Soviet space program took another step forward with the launch of Luna 2, the first space probe to hit the moon. Two years after, Yuri Gagarin, traveling in the capsule-like spacecraft Vostok 1 made history.

The Americans retaliated later that May. President John F. Kennedy made the bold, public claim that the U.S. would land a man on the moon before the end of the decade. -NASA’s budget was increased almost 500 percent. On July 16, 1969, U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins set off on the Apollo 11 space mission, the first lunar landing attempt. One-sixth of the world’s population tuned in to see history being made. They were celebrated as heroes of humanity and this effectively concluded the cold war. Subsequently, Apollo 12 and 13 missions were green-lit. Truly a golden age for human space flight.

Then it all stopped. Ironically with the end of the cold war, manned missions to the moon and beyond froze. There was no incentive for the governments, there was no race to be won. There have been no manned missions to the moon in half a century. People say there is a silver lining to everything, and to the cold war, it came in form of huge funding and resource pooling towards the space industry. With no political pressure, funding greatly decreased and science took a backseat. 

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. It was first believed that everything right here was the universe. Then we compromised on being the center of the universe. We soon realized that the sun which was supposed to revolve around us, is actually a million times the size of our small round planet and it was us revolving around it. Later we grasped that our entire solar system is an insignificant fraction of a rather small galaxy. With powerful telescopes, we have discovered 2 trillion more galaxies. The scale of things truly becomes incomprehensible. To think the furthest a human has ever been is to the moon can suddenly seem demotivating but it truly is an incredible milestone in the history of our species. Even a journey of a billion miles begins with a small step.

In less than a century, the human population would become too much for the earth to handle. With a projected number of 9.9 billion by 2050, a war for resources is inevitable. The only place left for us….is up there, beyond our planet. Inexhaustible quantities of raw materials on various asteroids and mars are crucial for the continuation of our species.

The current goal for humanity is to colonize Mars. We have managed to launch several orbiters and even land rovers on Mars. Years of research have concluded the presence of ice and dried-up river and ocean beds on the Martian surface. This indicates mars had liquid water similar to earth. We have discovered all necessary chemicals to have sustained life on Mars in the past. If we can discover Martian life even in the form of a microbe or fossils, we would have answered one of earth’s biggest questions, “Are we alone?” The answer to this will yet again challenge our place and importance in the universe.

We all are aware of Elon Musk’s plan to go to the red planet. His plan to colonize mars involves getting a million people there by 2050. The vehicle entrusted with humanity’s graduation to a multi-planetary species is Space X’s ‘Starship’ fleet. While a million people to Mars in the next 2 decades seems outlandish, the technology being developed and the ship isn’t. Collaboration of the sharpest minds, working together will surely land us on the red planet in our lifetime. It is baffling to realize that the first human to walk on another world has already been born.

We have barely begun to scratch the surface of discovering our cosmic neighborhood. With dimes and nickels as funding and military-minded goals of governments, humanity will likely remain earth-bound for decades to come. There is certainly no better way of uncovering the secrets of the cosmos than by reaching for the unknown.

This is one of my favorite quotes ever was given by Carl Sagan on what is essentially earth’s first selfie. This photograph of Earth taken by NASA’s Voyager 1 at a distance of 6 billion kilometers from the Sun, somewhere near Saturn is dubbed the Pale Blue Dot’ (the cover picture)     “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor, and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”  

We miss the bigger picture as we continue our prolonged wars on defending our different ideologies.  While we practice our politics, shed blood, and remain ignorant, the universe awaits. Our goal as a space-faring civilization must be to grow and expand, uncovering the many secrets the universe hides. The ingredients of life are found everywhere in the expanse of this universe. If life could exist here, even by a billion to one chance, it must exist elsewhere too. I believe it’s not a question of “if aliens exist” but a question of “where”. Will, we ever be advanced enough to contact them or will we succumb to our differences?. Only time will tell.

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change culture growing up History Lessons life Self social society

The Art of Breaking

By:Chitteshwari

When my family recounts memories of me as a little kid- accounts of my own activity that my brain chose not to keep, there’s two things that they say with pride – I was a smart kid and more importantly, a gentle one.

Of course, this is a highly biased view and cannot be taken seriously, just like when parents feel that their baby is the most beautiful in the world (beauty is in the eyes and the eyes lie at the mercy of the heart). Just like most families out there, mine thought that the baby of their house spoke sooner and more coherently than any other child out there, and they made sure that they showed it off to anyone they met.

We know how this story ends right? The kid that was apparently brilliant during its early schooling grows up only to realize that every piece of knowledge in the universe is out of its brain’s grasp and constantly struggles with its seeming ineptitude in performing everyday activities. I mention it because I feel it is a concept not given enough importance: to grow up and grapple with the loss of skills you never really had but that others convinced you that you did. I’ll not go into this today though, because this is not about my existentialism and its various origins (something that I have to remind myself quite often these days).

What I want to talk about is the second feature: the gentleness. It sounds like a strange thing to brag about, but I’ve never broken a single toy as a child. Not for years and years. No eyes ripped off dolls with the cotton stuffing spilling out, no broken wheels of toy buses, no mutilated barbies. Everything I played with, I handled with immense care and some of them still lie today in my grandparent’s house (most of them were unfortunately used and broken years later by my younger cousins).

Somewhere along the road, gentleness tripped and fell, and I, the growing teen with wonder in my eyes, didn’t notice or bother to help it stand back up. The crassness in the world and people around me seeped into my skin as if through osmosis and slowly, the palm of my hands changed from their gentle, grass lined plains into uneven, stone covered plateaus.

I began breaking things.

A brand new ketchup bottle, my spectacles, the trust of people I loved, 5 pretty teacups, a phone charger and way too many promises to count.

Although it seems trivial, it is a difficult experience to discover that you are someone different than you thought yourself to be. Even more difficult when the new version of you seems to be a downgrade.

Here’s what I’ve realized though – all that we end up breaking, also breaks us in some way. We aren’t beings molded in stone and evolution isn’t something that just happens in science textbooks. We’re constantly shifting our shape; the molecules that make us are in a continual state of rearrangement. In Japan, there’s an art called Kintsugi in which pottery is broken and then put back together with gold. Which is to say, where we’re headed is more important than where we are right now; the person we are becoming is more beautiful than the person we are now.

Now when I retrace my steps in memory and traverse down the road to finally pick up my gentleness where I abandoned it, I realize the first thing I broke was myself. All I’m doing now during the rest of the journey is picking up little bits of gold that I see and glueing my pieces back together differently. 

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Christmas History life

We’re not so different, You and I

Author: Ankit

Christmas Truce. 

It was the December of 1914, a few months into the First World War (or the Great War as it was called then).
Mobilized troops already had had enough of the trench warfare and were looking forward to getting home for Christmas, to spend time with their family. 

Orders from the brass up above made sure that none left their posts from the war-front.

So, it was settled then. They’d not leave ground zero. At least not while still breathing.

The following story is narrated from the fictional perspective of a very-real, young, Private (later author) from the British Infantry, rifleman Henry Williamson.

“Gentlemen, today we fight no more. Lay your rifles to rest.”
The sun was nearly out, and everywhere I lay my eyes on I saw people sloppily walking back to their trenches.
I felt a sharp nudge on my back as my friend and fellow rifleman Wilkins “Willy” prodded me with the butt of his gun.

“Make it quick” he began. “The cake’s almost over!”.
I tightened the grip on my rifle and slowly ran to the ration hoard.
The night was getting darker and darker, we could see nothing for a while until the pale moonlight sifted through the clouds.
It was almost midnight, just when I had started to fall asleep that I felt a second nudge.

“Look at that”.

There it was, on the No Man’s Land, lining the German trenches, candles. Well-lit candles.

And we could hear faintly, a gradually approaching noise of Christmas carols.
“This could be a trap. Stay advised” cautioned a neighboring Lieutenant.
But we could already see our barracks moving towards them, now singing carols of their own.

I found myself following them, like a moth drawn to a flame. 

And at the border, I heard “Frohe Festtage!”. Seasons greetings.

At the stroke of midnight, we sang “Silent Night” together.

The next morning, we had long crossed the trenches into opposing enemy territories.
A young German officer I’d met earlier had given me some of his tobacco for me to smoke my pipe.

I couldn’t believe what my eyes were feasting upon.

German and British soldiers, riflemen, medics, and anybody else that was here, laughing and exchanging whatever they could get their hands on. Tobacco, alcohol, rationed meats, and even HATS!
What a wonderful sight.
It was around noon when someone had the bright idea of kicking a tin of bully-beef as a football.
The “football” was passed back, and so it began.

For a few good hours, we did nothing but play football.
”Would be nice if we settled the war this way eh?”

It was around evening later when the German soldiers slowly started retreating to their side.
Word around was that the German High Command wasn’t too pleased to hear about this friendly exchange.

We weren’t better off either, a lot of our senior ranking officers expressed their clear displeasure on the same.

The only disappointment in the faces of us Privates was on having to return to the trenches, knowing we’ll have to open fire on them a few days from now. The futility of war versus the spirit of brotherhood. Some of us had even made friends with them.

Like me, with the young man who had given up his tobacco for the month. 
He bid goodbye to me and walked away, after making a quick comment in a thick German accent.
“We’re not so different, you and I.”

CC: Unofficial World Cup

CC: Enemy soldiers decorating their mutual Christmas tree

CC: German and Brit soldiers exchange their headgear

Categories
History Sports World

Campeon Del Mundo

Author: Ankit

Gather round comrades, it is now time for a history lesson. I’ve now moved on from writing obscure interpretations of my favorite songs. This is now a trip down memory lane.

At this point, writing articles with the whole divisions of past, present and future has sort of become my signature, *clears throat* style. (I now possess the exaggerated swagger of a black teen). However, this time, in homage to multiple movie-makers I love, I’ll attempt a non-linear storytelling approach.

There’s more than enough boys in the world who refuse to shut up about football and whatnot, so my contribution to reducing that social menace is joining the club, but instead of churning out analyses, I’d like to take this opportunity to share perhaps the most beautiful moment in the history of the sport (in my opinion), a true display of sportsmanship.

Prelude

It is the 17th of July, 1994. The stage is set at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California.
A crowd of over 90,000 spectators have assembled to watch the FIFA World Cup Final between two absolutely stellar teams, Italy and Brazil- who were squaring off for the second time, previously being 1970.

The whistle is blown and the ball’s kicked off. After a rather unusual 90 minutes wound up, it was full-time.
Unusual because neither team had scored a goal, for the first time in a World Cup Final (a record that stands to this day).
A decisive penalty shootout followed, upon which the score was 3-2 in Brazil’s favor.

A million Italian hearts were shattered, a million more in Brazil screaming in exaltation.

Brazil had just won their 4th World Cup.

Brazilian skipper Carlos “Dunga” Verri marched out onto the field, propping up a banner supported by his teammates. 

Interlude

20th April 1994, in a friendly exhibition match between Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil (a rare instance of country vs club), Brazilian Formula One racing driver and triple world champion Ayrton Senna is present.

Known for his cut-throat, pedal to the metal, and dauntless driving style, he is at the time the greatest of them all (of all-time, in my humble opinion). 

He kicks off the ball, and post the friendly, proceeds to wish all the players of the Brazilian team good luck for the upcoming tournament, and hoped that both entities would be successful in their pursuit for the Gold.


Postlude

Ten days later, on the 1st of May 1994, Ayrton Senna crashes hard into the concrete barriers at 290km/h on lap 7 of the Imola Grand Prix in Italy, due to a mechanical failure of the steering column.
He is pronounced dead on the scene.  

The nation had just lost its greatest hero, and the world- their favorite racing driver. 

The government declared 3 days of nationwide mourning and millions piled onto the street to watch his funeral and bid him a final goodbye.

It would seem like the only thing that can pacify the gaping void left in the hearts of the Brazilian man would be the world cup trophy to return home. 

Cut back (or is it forward?) to the afternoon of July 17th. 

Dunga proclaims out loud for the world to hear, that the Brazilian team is dedicating this victory to Senna.


The banner reads “Senna… We’ve sped up together. The fourth title is ours”.

Such a befitting end to a travesty of a year, it’s more than just beautiful, it is poetic.

Senna represented Brazil and put it on the world map, being a Formula 1 ace. Both he and the Brazilian team were in pursuit of their 4th World Championship. Only one succeeded.

I think of moments like these, and realize the all-transcending nature of sports.
The greatest displays of humanity are often seen on the playing field.
Now before I get all teary-eyed and mess up this narration by getting preachy, I’ll take your leave.

Until the next time, tchau tchau.