Mirror Magazine


Early days at uni
By The Fresher
As someone once said, "University life is a bit like love; anticipated with relish, experienced with discomfort and remembered with nostalgia".

Studying English at University - I always dreamt of doing it. Ever since I was young, one of my main priorities in life has been to take on this particular challenge. Though fully aware of all the complexities that would come with it, I have spent whole afternoons in the past wondering if University would really be that place of dreams that everyone who's been there, claims it to be.

Once I got over the initial jubilation of being accepted into this institution, which according to our Vice Chancellor brings together the 'cream of our country' ( I wonder), I had to change mode quickly and enter a totally different mind frame. Having had a break from studies for almost a year and a half, it was obviously a bit difficult to get back into the groove where reference, libraries, exams, tutorials and assignments would become 'the way forward'.

Most of my friends have opted to go overseas and discover greener pastures in the form of degrees in medicine, law and business studies at reputed colleges such as Cambridge, King's, Imperial and Manchester, while the rest preferred to stay here and either get their Attorney's-at-Law, do a marketing degree or simply start working on their careers. What amazes me is the fact that I too went in for a few of these options... but came a full circle, and dived right back into that childhood dream.

The challenge began, with me being a bundle of nerves and worrying about anything and everything. There must be no other institution in any part of the world where students worry this much about their attire, about not offending anyone and strive to master the art of being friendly towards their seniors, always keeping in mind that they ARE indeed seniors and need their share of respect! Believe me, these first few days at University have got to be the most stressful ones in all of our young lives.

If you want to learn the real art of surviving, congratulations - you have entered the right domain! Having those old school friends with you is one plus point when entering this big bad world. For me, going in with just two people I already knew wasn't very helpful, but as is the normal scenario, with time comes new friends. When a bunch of strangers are thrown in together in an alien environment, bonding just comes naturally.

Doing the exact same subject combination, and so having each other literally 'in your face' every single day, our group so far, seems to be getting along quite well! Variety sure is the spice of life for me at campus, since the interests of the crowd I am with, is so contrasting. Drama, music, rugger, dancing - you name it, it's there! We've even got our very own Rocker whose capabilities of singing his heart out on a stage on a Saturday night and then listening attentively to a lecture on Homer's Iliad for Western Classical Culture the next Tuesday, never fails to amaze me!

Then we come to that ever famous, ever present phenomenon of ragging. Thanks to the horror stories that keep surfacing ever so often, it is natural for all first years to be bracing themselves for something terrible. In this frame of mind, almost everything seems to signify the epitome of ragging. Be it walking up the lengthy, renowned kanda (which is an intrinsic feature of our campus) when you are already late for your lectures, having to walk by seniors who seem to relish the thought of glaring at you while being comfortably perched on the Thel Bamma, and finally being asked utterly simple questions about yourself (which you were expected to answer when you were in pre-school) such as your name, school and subject combination, believe me, as simple as these exercises may sound, they are more than capable of making your palms clammy! But other than these routines, there really is no ragging in that form of the word, so all you potential freshers, fear not.

One thing that baffles me about University is how exactly the cost of living factor does not affect it - breakfast for just 10 rupees, tea for one fifty, lunch for twenty rupees, photo copies for two bucks. The amazing list goes on. Unlimited access to the Internet and e-mail are among the more luxurious facilities available.

Having been in University for just about a month so far, I've got to admit I like what I see. It's all about adjusting to this foreign environment, complete with its very own culture and traditions that no one dares to change. Problems within the system are bound to crop up sometime, but I've always believed that the best feature of problems is that they have the knack of solving themselves.

I finally feel that I've found my niche - this is where I've always wanted to be, and now that I'm here, I'm loving every moment. From long chats on life, to discovering new friends and laughing at each other's jokes, this maybe proving itself to be that place of dreams after all. And for someone who knows zilch about love, I'm hoping University life can teach me a thing or two about anticipating with relish, experiencing with discomfort and remembering with nostalgia.

Love you more than anything
By Leyla Swan
Whom do we turn to when we're

heartbroken, unwell or confused? Our pets, of course.

Pop singer Pink's closest companion is a Jack Russell, while the most reliable male in Julia Roberts' life is a Labrador called Diego. Alicia Silverstone cuddles up to her rottweiller-pit bull cross Samson, and Madonna was devoted to her chihuahuas Chiquita, Rosita and Evita until the birth of her son Rocco meant she was forced to give Chiquita and Rosita to a friend.

Indeed, humans have kept pets for thousands of years. Examine the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt, and you will discover images of cats and dogs on leashes.

Medieval proclamations warned Londoners to keep their household dogs from wandering, while a 16th century German visitor to London noted that some of the mastiffs he saw were "so large and heavy that if they have to be transported long distances, they are provided with shoes so that they do not wear out their feet".

Pets, it seems, are far better equipped than friends and family to provide us with comfort and companionship, loyalty and devotion when we most need it.

When Manchester United football star Roy Keane was banished from the Irish team during the 2002 World Cup, he sought solace in walks with his dog Triggs in the fields near his Cheshire home. And, according to the fiery footballer, it was strolling with his four-legged friend that helped him see sense when he considered quitting football altogether after he was sent off during a game against Newcastle.

"I walked Triggs a long way," he said, "running the options through my head."

Millions of Manchester United fans around the world - not to mention manager Sir Alex Ferguson - will be grateful to the dog for persuading him to stay.

Even Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams - reviled by many as a glorified terrorist - admits to being soft when it comes to dogs, describing himself as a "real Steve McQueen, hardcore, irredeemable, never-say-die doggie man."

Such is his fondness for canine companionship that while he was interned during the mid-1970s, Adams and some of his fellow prisoners stole a black-and-white collie pup from their British army guards.

"'Our' pup didn't last long before it was returned by our inquisitive guards to its anxious mother," says Adams, who now owns a Rottweiler called Cara and a "nearly all" King Charles named Oscar. "But it was worth the risk."

Former world boxing champion Mike Tyson has a suitably heavyweight pet in the form of Kenya, a 45 stone white tiger. It was poor old Kenya that Tyson blamed after the boxer received a ban for biting rival Evander Holyfield's ear - a tactic Tyson said he used to show the tiger who was boss.

During the long, lonely hours when British hat designer Philip Treacy is working on his latest creations, it is his faithful Jack Russell Mr Pig who keeps him company.

"Making hats can be very solitary," says Treacy. "You end up sitting on your own for hours - and he stays with me, watching everything. He's very sensitive."

In return, Treacy lavishes his pet with all the luxury and pampering he can afford, dressing him in a red quilted collar by Chanel, and putting him to rest at night in a bed crafted from "Mongolian lamb, by Louis Vuitton". Apparently, Treacy even hired Grace Jones to sing Happy Birthday to the Jack Russell.

Such extravagance toward pets is by no means a modern phenomenon.

The expensive animal collars now produced by fashion houses such as Chanel and Burberry have precedents in the collars "colered with gold and torretes filed round" that Geoffrey Chaucer noted were worn by noble dogs at court in his Knight's Tale. In China, archaeologists have recovered a collar of gold, silver and turquoise on a dog buried with the pre-dynastic King Cuo, and during the Renaissance, pets at the noble courts of Europe were dressed in coats and capes to keep them warm.

In the 16th century, the Medici family even adorned their dogs with ribbons and earrings, a fashion they exported with their daughters to the French royal court - a 1660 portrait shows Henriette d'Orleans' dog sporting a pair of ornate drop earrings. And, by 1833 in England, a young Princess Victoria reported in her diary that she had "dressed dear sweet little Dash in a scarlet jacket and blue trousers".

Within the next few decades, several Parisian boutiques began selling a wide range of luxurious dog accessories. Aux Etats-Unis stocked "collars of the latest style, overcoats and kennels"; the Palais-Royal sold lace underwear for chiens de luxe; and Lochet aine and Dedertrand advertised winter and summer costumes, raincoats and beachwear with sailors' collars stitched with the names of the fashionable beaches of Cabourg and Trouville.

By the 20th century, India's Maharajah of Junagadh dressed his favourite dog in necklaces and had her carried on a silver palanquin (he also established a hospital for the rest of his 800 pet dogs), while the Duke and Duchess of Windsor decked out their pugs with wing collars and bow ties and held them with leads woven from silver and gold thread.

Over the centuries, cats, too, have been loved and adored by their human owners. The Ming Dynasty of China so revered the feline species that it banned dogs from the Ancestral Temple and palaces. Even after the court of the Manchu restored the Pekingese dog in 1644, princesses continued to keep cats as pets. "Chinese ladies never allow them to leave their apartments where the most delicate of nourishment and the tenderest of care are lavished upon them," wrote the Abbe Grosier in 1819.

In Russia, when revolutionaries arrested Tsar Nicholas II's cousin, the Grand Duke Nikolai Mikhailovich, the duke begged his persecutors to let him take his cat with him to the Peter and Paul fortress in St Petersburg. The guards relented. But, despite Maxim Gorky's pleas to release Mikhailovich, he was executed - his beloved cat still curled on his lap.

It is just that kind of unconditional devotion that explains our continuing penchant for keeping pets. Our allies and supporters in times of trouble, pain and adversity, they are always there to remind us of the priceless gift of love.

As writer Axel Munthe expressed it in The Story of San Michele, a pet remains a reassuring presence at our side to the very last: "Don't worry! Never mind if they all abandon you, I am here to replace all your friends and to fight all your enemies."

And, as every pet owner knows, you can't ask more than that.

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