Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Gilded Heavens

-Gregarious Griffin

You could lose yourself in the endless skies,
Drowning in an ocean of sighs
The last rays of the sun lilting by
As you float up above in the sky.

The sky,
Molten gold as if painted with ichor
And the wind roaring, like summer’s laughter
Playing with your hair and stroking your face
As you stand there and stare away in space.

The valediction of the sky to the sun,
A night of separation from its companion,
The all encompassing blues,
Light up into a million hues.

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Introducing Word Games

-Coordinators, ELS

1545153_275374439277145_740983095_nWord games is probably the most lovable event of the ELS. It is an event of a kind where you solve a paper for a duration of two hours and not once do you feel like you’re writing an exam. It is an event for the lot of us who used to despise writing grammar exams in school but could never get over our fascination with words.

The event involves answering puzzles and questions for a time duration that varies from 15 minutes to about two hours. The beauty of this event is that you never want those two hours to pass. There is always a word at the tip of your tongue and you keep struggling to rekindle that one hazy part of your memory, fishing agitatedly for that one elusive token in the mental lexicon that will put the pieces together.

While the nature and difficulty varies, depending upon the event, there are certain questions that you will almost always find in any word games sheet. One of them is my personal favorite- the diamondword pyramid. Do not underestimate the pyramid. They employ a number of puzzle techniques in just one question- from anagrams to cryptic clues to leaving the solver at cursing his/her own poor soul for being unable to recall the right word.

Then there are the classic rebuses with graphic representations of commonly used phrases. One can take the liberty of calling them graphic puns.rebus

One cannot help but picture two early men communicating with each other using rebuses. It should not be hard to imagine how painfully delightful their jokes must have been.

One very important part of the Word Games is the cryptic crossword. Yes, the same crossword for which the not-so-inclined towards finances amongst us would care to open The Economic Times. It becomes imperative to mention Christine Lovatt’s crossword puzzles, a favourite among crossword enthusiasts.crossword

We do not hesitate to include other languages for all the aspiring polyglots out there wanting to test their language skills with questions on etymology and origins of phrases and proverbs.

The number and type of questions in every Word Games is different and with each new puzzle sheet, we go further into the depths of English grammar and morphology. Anagrams, homophones, homograms, palindromes, word plays, puns, rhymes, similes, idioms, proverbs- the list is endless. We do not confine ourselves to the realm of pen and paper. There are interactive rounds akin to quiz contests which are usually preceded by a qualifier in the form of word problems. These rounds require quick thinking,  good hand- eye coordination to raise one’s hands at the right time, extremely well developed finger muscles to pen down the answers and cheetah like agility to make one’s way through the swarm of other contestants to get to submit one’s answers first.

All these prerequisites aside, solving a word games puzzle does not require one to be a linguistic  prodigy of any sort. All one has to have is a profound love of the letters of the English alphabet.

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Fresher’s Creative Writing 2

Remember the Fresher’s creative writing contest? Here’s another winning entry in the “depressing” category.

 

Lonely Lila, Alone Alli

-Vaidehi Menon

To: lila@xyz.com

From: alli@abc.com

Subject: SOS

Hi Lila,

How are you? I’m not in the best state these days. That’s not an unusual occurrence for me, but this time it’s especially bad. I wish I could put it all down in this mail, but there is now way that my angst will fit into it. When I finish, this letter will still be less than a lousy nibble in the gazillion terabytes of the vast vortex of cyberspace.

So it’s 11 9.m.; I’m sitting in my room. The door’s closed; the curtains are drawn tight. Only the blue glow of the computer screen is marring the blackness. I’m pretending as always that I’m alone by choice; pretending that I’ve shut the door of my room against a house which is not silent and empty and cold. I’m bobbing my head in time to the music pouring out of the speakers as if I’m not just using it to drown out the quiet; as if I really enjoy it.

I haven’t spoken to a real person in two days; I’ve just had thirty-second phone conversations with people about nothing in particular. At this point though, I’m grateful for even that much. I am tired of being in this suspended state of forced solitude, but I’ve been like this for so long that I can’t break the cycle. People make me anxious now; they make me unsure of myself; they make me hate indiscriminately. I’ve lost the ability of making meaningless conversation and so I don’t fit in anywhere.

Oh no, sorry, I do fit in somewhere; into the dark corners of classrooms, of houses, of open spaces where no dark corners exist. I’m worse than a wallflower, because I’m invisible; and I can’t avail any ‘perks’ of being the same as observing people live their happy, normal, phony lives gives me no joy.

I write to you in hope that you understand; that you care. I write, because you listen when no one even bothers to ask if I’m okay. I write to you so that I can feel less pathetic; but that one feeling never fades. Because, no matter what, you’re part of the act. You’re the finale of the great pretense that is my life, Lila. I lie to myself everyday that you’re not just another email account I created on a different domain. Truth is: you don’t exist any more than I do in the real world.

Anyway, it’s getting late now, I should go. I’m expecting an email from my friend. She needs help, she gets really depressed and alone sometimes.

Love Alli

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Filed under Creative Writing Competition, Letter

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head

-Loquacious Llama

A limerick is a humorous form of poetry with a strict rhyme scheme (AABBA). The limerick form was popularized by Edward Lear in his first Book of Nonsense (1845) and a later work (1872) on the same theme. An example is:

There once was a young lady named Bright,
Whose speed was much faster than light;
She set out one day,
In a relative way,
And returned on the previous night.

What would you call it if limericks weren’t funny? I’ll go with Anti-limericks. So, here are some attempts at Anti-limericks.

I once met a very sad monk,
Who was always half-drunk;
He wanted to end it all,
Said life was too banal,
And the world put him in a dark blue funk.

 

There was a fish who swam in the Amazon,
Who sang a very melodious antiphon;
One day he started to sing,
And choked on a plastic ring,
By the next dawn he was forever gone.

 

He was created in a field of corn,
A love between the two was sworn;
But there came a big divide,
Religion pushed each to a side,
And he was to always remain unborn.

 

There once was a poor old clown,
His  face was always in a frown;
Asked about the secret he hid,
Said he had been abused as a kid,
And hung himself ‘cos he was feeling down.

 

Once there was a man named Esque,
Whose appearance was generally grotesque;
“I too had many dreams”, he said,
“But they didn’t fetch any bread”,
So he had to live out his life at a desk.

 

Funny how close we always are to death,
Teetering on the edge like Macbeth;
The clock keeps counting down,
The mourner wears his gown,
Wondering if this would be his last breath.

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Filed under Creative Writing Topic, Poetry

There She Stood

-Pink Iguana

Like a pennant at half mast
Fluttering in an undead past
Sinews wasting in an eternity to brood;
They showed me – there she stood.

He left her – said his friends,
He seemed to have played her heart’s most delicate strands
If you may trust the bridesmaid-to-be;
There were others who would weigh their speech as free
And they would be unmoved: she was disgraced.
If the Lord stands unfazed
They agreed to vow – “O! For our faith in good,
We know she was marred and there she stood!”

It was certain she would plunge –
For the sinking vessel, one of them had a hunch,
Autumn would be the season, when melancholy sprawls
Or perhaps when the sixth hour of the 157th day calls.
The Veiled Spring may flit around in her memories.
But when I saw her again, There she stood – stamping her worries!

I might have seen spring blooming at that phoenix’s feet,
Had it not wilted at the sight of a dazzling dame.
I might have dared to supplicate once
And she said, “We parted ways.”
I guess he went away and There she stood!

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The Dawn of Justice

-Contentious Cheetah

The war was fought. The undead sorcerer, Pastmaster raised his evil head, only to be buried once again at the hands of the gallant superheroes. On the night of 14th August, the fourth wall broke down in IIT Kanpur as it turned into a gigantic battleground, witnessing clashes more exciting than any of the battles in Megakat City or Gotham City.

Yes, I’m talking about the Treasure Hunt, the most awaited freshers’ event of the year, conducted by the English Literary Society, the Hindi Sahitya Sabha and the Quiz Club, IIT Kanpur.  The theme this year was “Dawn of Justice” where the freshmen rose to the occasion and took on the mantles of super heroes to battle it out with a cohort of some of the most nightmarish villains to save the day! (and win treasure too!)

This year we saw a massive turnout, with 133 teams of 5 registering for the event. We kicked off with the conventional scavenger hunt where the participants wrought mayhem on the battlefield scouting the campus for a plethora of items each of which would inch them closer to their victory.

So, while the Pastmaster was engaged in plotting a terrible conspiracy to gain dominion over the entire world, the super-heroes swarmed in from every corner of the campus with buckets in their hands. Hordes of half-shaved men with a stamp on their forehead were hunting for pink lipstick, while some, seeking the easy way out, chased the coordinators for a selfie, which would be their ticket to ride. The chaos lasted for an hour, post which the top eighteen teams were chosen to battle it out in a grand finale. It was time for the superheroes to put on their thinking caps, or rather, their superhero capes as they received their first clue, finally embarking on the ultimate quest. The rules were very simple. Each clue, received at a destination, would lead to another destination and would put you one step closer to the treasure. But just like Batman didn’t have it easy, so didn’t the freshie superheroes. At each destination, they had to prove their mettle to the vicious super-villains waiting for them, who hungrily scoured them for the slightest hint of a slip up.

All 18 teams managed to crack the first clue, that led to the institute nursery. With a little wave down their bodies, the teams set out in search of Venom with the following hint in hand:

Integral of e^x from -∞ to 0=x+iy . Go to y.

This led them to the IME building in our campus (How?) where they were challenged to solve a round of word games. As they ventured deeper into this arena, they had to perform multifarious activities to make headway, ranging from an exacting round of quizzes and mind-puzzles to performing some refreshing dumb charades. The teams hence, had to forgo sanity as they reached the fourth destination where only a ‘Pencil Dance’ or a ‘Save the Trees’ campaign could get them past their foes. At their next stop, the Girls Hostel Tower, the super-heroes had to prove their mettle anew, in a war where only the strongest would survive. So, running around with their partners on their backs, they soon entered into the final phase of the treasure hunt. The super-heroes of a team had to combine their powers to emerge as a five-headed monster to gain a victory over the villains. Simply put, they had to recite a poem collectively on the spur of the moment, which had a pre-defined rhyming scheme and was based on a set of given keywords. Many turned out to be surprisingly brilliant wordsmiths, much to their adversary’s dismay. The teams then zapped to the convocation ground where their enemies  spurred them to try a picture clue round.

The sun had risen by then. But justice had yet to dawn, for one battle remained unfought. The past eight gruelling hours of the battle had only seemed to augment their excitement as they continued to contemplate hard on the epoch-defining penultimate clue: 

1.0987458 × 10^(-14) light years x 7.18775919 × 10^(-15) light years

4.0885652 × 10^(26) atomic mass units – 2.58952075 × 10^(26) atomic mass units 

Yep, you guessed it right, it led to the football ground! (If you didn’t, note it represents nothing but the dimensions of a stadium and the mass of a football respectively.)  The football ground then transfigured into a battlefield, where the survivors tried to overpower the villains in a penalty shootout, a true clash of good and evil! Finally, after they had superimposed the clues they had received at 3 varied locations to arrive at a mega-clue, the teams reached what they strangely perceived as a nose and a dragon (we call it the ‘crow’). There the war ended and ‘Pirates’ and ‘The Sound of Silence’ emerged as the ultimate heroes, crushing all the villains who had dared to tread their path. Most of the other teams had stayed till the end too, as the event was capped off with everyone receiving a grand treat in a local eatery from the very super-villains they had vanquished, at the dawn of what seemed to be a beautiful new day.

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Fresher’s Creative Writing

This year we introduced creative writing as a part of the Fresher’s Frolica. You can have a look at the topic sheet here: Creative Writing: Freshers. One of the winning entries in the “macabre” category follows.

The Web

-Infernal Knight

I waited long in shadows dark,
And stealthily did blend behind.
My hooves are strict, my vision stark.
By my absence am I defined.

The walls around clearly reflect
In red of blood and darker hue.
The realms in me have no object
Save add some sweet tinge redder new.

My breath is calm, for yours are not
And eyes as still as pleasant doom.
And while you shriek in shriekless drought
Your silence shall be silent soon.

Pacified in thoughts of dark deaths
And lives that end in cheerful pain
And terror in those final breaths
Breathing terror right in your vein.

From eyes as cold as sickness spread
In Winter’s cusp as Fall is led
Before Spring and its placid thread
Shall end your year in rational dread.

When you are through ruddying my niche,
My realms unquenched seek yet a friend.
For Death’s a high and Time a bitch.
Far slow in pace, ere gifts are sent.

Hark goes that sound and mark its tune.
Behold as I twitch and delight.
My hooves are strict, my lips are sewn,
My vision stark in dimming light.

And when it knocks on my front door
I slide and halt, and wedge and grab
And down to the chasms and down more
Uncover it and slowly stab.

And tense my paws to hold it tight.
My breath is calm, for its is not.
I gently view my gift in sight
While it (too) shrieks in shriekless drought.

And now you know what did happen
While you were out foraging there.
The fall and grip, some dark omen.
The twist to kill, that killing stare.

And now you know you never knock
On doors hidden below your feet.
For who can tell what you unlock
Altering yourself in one heartbeat.

And while your life does slowly ebb
Know that I spin no threads in queue.
When tarantula spins a web
Know I am spinning it for you.

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Filed under Creative Writing Competition, Poetry