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Anecdotal Post for English

I have been studying in international schools all my life,  both of which encourage us to speak good English and not use our native tongue. It was even banned in my ‘international’ school in Mumbai to speak in any language other than English. Teachers shushed us any time they heard colloquial slangs that had phrases in English but hints of Hindi.

I didn’t think much of this back then, and simply thought it was a way for us to improve our English speaking skills, considering the fact that it was a second language to most of us. However, now that I am in an international school in Singapore, which actively promotes diversity, it seems strange that we were not allowed to speak in our native language in my previous school. If it truly was an ‘international’ school, shouldn’t it have been more appropriate for us to talk freely, at least in our freetimes, and not have the constant fear of a lurking teacher who would instantenously shut us down?

In my previous school, it did seem that English held a linguistic superiority over other languages. There were plenty of negative connotations regarding the use of other languages. I remember how teachers would shout, “Speak hindi with your family or outside school, NEVER inside school!” The school was seen as a place where we learnt and it was never seen to be appropriate to not speak in an ‘official’ language.

Reflection after first experience of football session

If I am being honest, I was quite nervous right before the start of the session. The last time I played football in my school team was in Middle School. It was probably the last time I played competitively as well. Having not played football competitively for the last three years, I was afraid whether my skills would match up to my peers.

However, I would say the experience was a worthwhile way to spend my evening. When the session began, I realised that many of my other peers were feeling the same way. Many of us hadn’t played competitive football for more than a year mainly due to the pandemic. I felt comfortable as I was mainly around my friends, however, all the people there were surprisingly, very supportive. I did make a very costly mistake in the game and I was extremely disappointed in myself.  I was extremely nervous and messed up an opportunity that should have been something relatively easy. However, my teammates were very supportive and those who did make fun of me were my friends who did it in an understandably joking manner.

Though I was frustrated, I was looking forward to participating in the future and getting to know my other teammates. In terms of what I would like to get out of this activity and my goals, I think I would like to improve my football skills and be more flexible in terms of my playing positions.

PSE Iceberg Activity

I didn’t necessarily learn anything new, but it definitely made me think about what is seen by people and what is underneath. People see me as this normal Indian guy but I believe that different people see me in different ways. My friends would know me as a kind and sometimes talkative person, however people I don’t know probably think of me as more of a quiet person. This is due to the fact that it takes me a while to get comfortable with someone and really interact with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if I came off as an introvert to some people.

Sometimes, I wish that my peers knew that I usually have the same type of interests as them and it is possible for them to talk to me.

Answering Abstract Questions

Do we really all have the ability to act freely? – Areeb

Freedom is said to be the ability to do whatever we like, to be under the rules of no man. I, however, think we all act on the demand of a system, we cannot help but act accordingly.  Think of human beings as minuscule particles all following our religion, our job or even our body.  We always work for someone else, we follow what we are told and if we don’t, we are ostracized by society. Yet, even then we cannot enjoy freedom. 

In a rich man’s house, there is no place to spit but his face”, said the infamous Greek cynic philosopher Diogenes. Diogenes could be called a free man. He did whatever he wished. He lived in a barrel on the streets, defecated in public and insulted philosophers. He did not follow the laws at that time nor did he care about morals. However, would you envy his life? Yes, he acted freely at least in terms of the laws or morals at that time but true freedom is not the same as a sparrow leaving its cage and flying into the sky. True freedom is living a life looked down upon by others, separated from society and a life with parasites.

To answer your question, yes we might just have the ability to live freely to a certain extent, however, would you want such a life? Humans have created a system where ascension in society is due to respect, income and knowledge. When we attempt to be a ‘black sheep’, we are unfortunately separated from society and must look out for ourselves for survival.


Final Reflection of Grade 10 CREST Project

When looking at this project in its entirety, I am able to say that overall it has been a success. If I border it down to specifics, I would say I was able to communicate what exactly I was planning, to my audience. Secondly, I think the choice of creating a video paid off as the end result is interesting and is able to communicate my ideas effectively. What made the video interesting and engaging was the videos, pictures and GIFs that I had collected. Therefore, high-quality media was a success.

However, I would also say that there are parts of my project that weren’t so successful. I think that there were times where I could have inputted more scientific knowledge. The video had a long section of the science behind maglev trains but, I think I could have used more scientific explanations in my reasoning for my conclusion. For example, I did state maglevs are a very expensive investment,  however, I should have talked about what made them expensive. I could have talked about the use of superconducting magnets and that liquid helium is being used. I should have then connected that to the price of such trains. I think the reason for its high price would have been more insightful for my audience. Secondly, I also think that I lacked specificity in my conclusion. Though I stated that maglevs could be a future investment for superpowers,  I should have also considered the developing nations and whether it is truly worth it to have some nations with some trains while others do not.

I think I have learned a lot in the entire process of creating this project. Something very important that I learned was the physics behind such trains. I learnt about the use of superconducting magnets and why they were more efficient in producing electricity. I learnt that though it has been an idea around for a long time, it just wasn’t used due to the high costs and the amount of time to spend on it. The Japanese spent 4 decades creating and developing their maglev train models. Other than the science, I also think that this project has made me more comfortable with making such informative videos. I have found out the easiest way of making an interactive project like this and is something I will definitely use in the future. This has also has been a great lesson in improving my efficiency when doing such independent tasks. 

I would say my project will raise awareness on the topic of maglev trains. Though many of us have heard of their existence, I don’t think we understand just how long of a project this has been. This idea has been around since the early 20th century and most of us still haven’t seen such trains. I also think more people will understand the wide impact of such a project and its many benefits to the world.

If I were to get a chance to improve my work, I think I would have created a substantial structure prior to the creation of the video. This structure would have been a rough plan of my project. By doing so, I think it would be easier for me to follow and for the audience itself as there would be a clear structure. After I planned my topic, I immediately began working on the script. But instead of this, I should have split the entire project into sections which I could expand on when making my project. Secondly, I would be more careful about straying away from the main point of my project and straying away from scientific explanations.

In the future, if I get the chance to come back to this project and develop on my ideas, I think I would focus on upcoming technology that may use electromagnets or magnets. Rather than solely focusing on the maglev, I would have a more general view and compare the pieces of technology and whether they are valid. For example, an interesting idea for me are the use of magnets on roads for self-driving cars. A recent experiment from Volvo documented an article about this. I would take a look at other upcoming technology and discern the future of electromagnetism and magnets.


Short Story Analysis

Hop-Frog by Edgar Allen Poe:

Hop-Frog by Edgar Allan Poe is a short story that was very interesting and shocking to me. It is narrated in the first person though sometimes it feels like the third person due to the lack of thoughts and feelings by the narrator itself. The narrator describes what he sees and his few reactions reflect what the audience would feel in certain situations. By doing so, the author is able to have the reader agree with the narrator which makes for an immersive experience. For most of the story, we sympathize with the dwarf due to the inhumane way the king treats him. I say inhumane because it feels as though this dwarf has been completely dehumanised. The first part of his dehumanisation comes from his name. He has the name of a reptile that people are typically disgusted with – a frog. Secondly, the narrator himself does not know where exactly this dwarf comes from. He states, “It was from some barbarous region, however, that no person ever heard of — a vast distance from the court of our king.” By calling it a ‘barbarous region’, it feels as if people treat dwarves as being some sort of aliens who are completely different from humans. However, the reader is completely left shocked in the ending due to how the dwarf brutally murders the king and the 7 ministers.

A Private Experience By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

A Private Experience by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one that is quite pleasant in which a rich girl learns and empathizes with a poor woman. What I find most interesting is the way in which the author represents the social disparity between these two women. This is achieved firstly as Chika, the rich woman compares the possessions she lost during the riot and the ones the poor woman lost. Chika lost a Burberry handbag that was bought in London whereas the other woman lost a necklace. A necklace would not seem all that poor but then, Chika assumes the necklace to be ‘plastic beads threaded on a piece of string.’ The character Chika makes plenty of assumptions about the state of living of this poorer woman which do seem snarky at times. There is also irony used in this short story when in the beginning, Chika thinks “Riots like this were what happened to other people.” But later in the story after she learns about this woman and witnesses the dead body of her sister it states that “she will fling the radio to the wall and a fierce red rage will run through her at how it has all been packaged and sanitised and made to fit into so few words, all those bodies.” The irony here is that she never truly grasped the severity of this situation but now she seems to criticize the media for ‘sanitizing’ the truth.

Kino by Haruki Murakami

This was probably the best short story out of the three I read, which was very interesting and had a bizarre plot arc. It is narrated in third person limited and looks through the perspective of Kino. It is very rich in detailed descriptions which gives the reader a very immersive experience, and these descriptions are each very purposeful. It is a story that is a little more difficult to read and deserved my full attention. It’s difficult due to the fact that at some points I am left confused. The descriptions of the bar are very mysterious and there are bizarre characters introduced. It is established in the beginning that Kino is a very emotionless person. This is done when he catches his wife cheating but without complaining, he simply leaves the room and files for divorce. His life functions in a very systematic way and there are parts where the reader is confused by his actions. For example, when the mysterious character Kamita saves Kino by fighting the two goons, Kino doesn’t thank him or even ask him why he is doing this. This is something quite strange to me. The book ends with him sitting in a tiny room and simply weeping his heart out of all those emotions that he had kept up in there. The last line is, “All the while the rain did not let up, drenching the world in a cold chill.” This line is done from a wider lens that looks at the entire cold world that is somewhat immune to Kino’s feelings. The descriptions of the cold rainy atmosphere perfectly encapsulate this.

Hellboy Comic Analysis Task

  1. One moment that you think best illustrates the style of the comic overall and the mood it intends to create in the story.

This would actually be the first page for me. The artwork and certain techniques were things I had never seen before. The first panel includes a desolate house on a small patch of land with a very dark background. On the bottom left corner, there is a zoomed-in image of a tree bark. This image was placed as a panel within the first panel. It is something quite unique to this comic and a great way to immerse the reader in the environment. It feels as if a camera lens is taking you around and focusing on certain elements. Secondly, there is heavy usage of chiaroscuro in the second panel in order to create a very dark atmosphere, which is prevalent in the rest of the comic. There is also the use of onomatopoeia when it states, ‘CREEE-‘ indicating the creaking of the door. The ‘CREEE-‘ is written in yellow so as to contrast the black background and make it evident to the reader. The entire comic creates a very ominous mood as things are slowly revealed to the reader. For example, on the first page the use of the word ‘CREEE-‘ definitely creates a very ominous mood. Secondly, the slow reveal of Hellboy’s red face also does this.

  1. One moment that you think is a particularly powerful example of words and images working together to tell the story

In the second panel of this page, as the witch gives the barren woman two flowers and states, “Do not eat of the uglier of the two, but only the one that is good.” this is brilliantly presented through the image of the two flowers. One that is bright and yellow and the other that is dark and ugly. The reader immediately knows which one is the ‘good’ flower without any words used. Both these flowers are then mirrored into the child they each produce. The ‘good’ one produces a perfect girl, with blond hair and blue eyes. There is a bright yellow background behind this baby. This provides a stark contrast between the rest of the dark comic. Blond hair and blue eyes are a sort of cliche we use to describe a ‘perfect’ child and the author has embraced this cliche in order to better present it to us. The next baby that is produced by the ‘uglier’ flower is dark green in colour and perfectly encapsulates that.

3.One moment that you think is a particularly powerful example of comic language being used to create character/relationship

This one image with a speech bubble is able to provide so many details and reveals the relationship between these characters. There is a dark background with many curves which might be showing the face of the troll and the blue speech bubble that says “Sister…” This reveals to the reader that this witch troll is the ugly baby in the story and the sister she refers to is the beautiful baby girl. The blue speech bubble contrasts the dark background and signals to the reader its importance. The dead face invokes emotion into the reader as they understand the relationship. It also represents loneliness as this person lives in an isolated house all alone, with the face of her sister. This brilliantly encapsulates the relationship between these characters.

What do you find most striking about the ways in which two or more of the short stories connect?

The short stories, ‘Sticks’ by George Saunders and ‘Likeable’ by DEB OLIN UNFERTH are ones that are very similar. The most obvious similarity is how they both convey a feeling of loneliness in both characters. ‘Sticks’ conveys this in a disturbing way through descriptions of a metal pole that describe the state of mind of the character ‘dad’. I say disturbing due to the fact that the dad decorates the metal pole in a very bizarre manner. He begins by decorating the metal pole in the occasion of traditions such as Fourth of July, Superbowl, Halloween and etc. This seems to the audience to be pretty normal, however, the author decides a shift in the character which is evidenced by the paragraphing. In the second paragraph, dad decorates the metal pole in very bizarre and unconventional manners. For example, when his wife died he dressed the pole as death. It seems as if the dad is becoming more and more obsessed with the metal pole and is becoming closer to insanity. The short story ends in a sombre tone by his lonely death and the trashing of his possessions. Similarly, the story Likeable begins with a paranoid woman who thinks that she has become unlikeable due to her old age. However, the story advances with the woman giving up and accepting her fate that she is unlikeable. It ends on another disturbing note by stating that ‘she will have to be shoved into a hole and left there.’ Both these stories seem to depict the human condition in the context of loneliness. The disturbing effect it has on the audience is there for both but I think, Sticks is more disturbing due to the fact that it describes a person’s emotions through an inanimate metal pole. The fact that ‘sticks’ is in the third person through the perspective of his son makes it feel as if there is someone to care for the dad. But ‘Likeable’ is in the first person which better encapsulates a feeling of loneliness.

Connecting two short films

The short films, Alive in Joburg by Neil Blomkamp and Bottle Rocket by Wes Anderson are of completely different genres. However, they still have certain similarities that connect the two. The first connection I have witnessed is in their cinematic choices. Both use a handheld camera in some of their movement sequences. This might be due to a low production budget as these were both concept films. However, after a little bit of research, I found out that one of the trademarks of the director Neil Blomkamp is the use of handheld cameras. The handheld camera allows for the video to be shaking and might display uncertainty or panic. This is very well used in many of the scenes in Alive in Joburg when the soldiers are pursuing the aliens. The camera is shaking and it feels as if one of the soldiers themselves are carrying a camera to document this. I think the handheld camera is excellently used in order to showcase the uncertainty in such perilous times. This is something quite visually striking to the audience and is explicitly shown.

In the case of Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket however, it is very bizarre for someone who has seen many of his recent films.  When looking at most of his films, such as The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Royal Tenenbaums, what one sees are perfectly choreographed still-shots. In this, the camera never moves and there is often the usage of the rule of thirds and characters are positioned in a very symmetrical manner. However, in many of the movement sequences in Bottle Rocket, the camera is seen shaking and it is obvious that a handheld camera is being used. Though both films use a handheld camera, I think their reasons are vastly different. In my personal opinion, I don’t think the effect of a shaking camera was intentional in Bottle Rocket, however, it does have an interesting effect for the film. For example, during the scene when the Wilson brothers argue about their robbery, we can see the camera shake. This is one of the first moments of tension in the film and I think the motion of the camera aids the writing in conveying the rise of tension.

My second connection for both of these films would be the realistic aspect of them. Even though Alive in Joburg is a science fiction short film about aliens, there is something real about it. I think if aliens were to come to the earth this would be a very accurate representation of what would happen.  The use of the handheld camera is one of the reasons why both films are realistic. It feels as if we are just watching over the characters act. Secondly, both films also use their writing in order to make it realistic. Characters interrupt each other, they pause while speaking and laugh in naturalistic ways. In Alive in Joburg, the many interviews of villagers, scientists and soldiers help the film to be naturalistic. Thirdly, there are many things going around in the mise-en-scene in both films that make it feel realistic.  In one moment of Alive in Joburg, there is a chicken walking in the foreground, and in the background, there are children walking around in a panicked manner. For Bottle Rocket, there are cars and trucks moving around in the background while the two main characters walk in the foreground. It feels as though traffic is moving naturally and there is no choreographing or devising that takes place. I think a feeling of realism fully immerses the viewer and allows them to simply observe the characters act in Bottle Rocket and observe chaos ensue in Alive in Joburg.




Personal Statement 2020 Grade 10

I would say grade 10 as a whole has been a very productive and an extremely good learning journey. Despite COVID-19’s disastrous effects on schooling, it was nevertheless a very fruitful year.

In terms of academics, I have improved in many of my subjects.  I can truly say that it has been a joy to learn so many different things. From the American Civil War in History to Behavioural Economics. If we were to take a look at my learning in History, the highlight would be the drafting of my essay on the Apartheid in South Africa. I worked very hard on this essay and learnt a lot, not just about history but about writing. How to entice your reader, how to write a solid conclusion. These were aspects that I had a lot of fun with, now that I am looking back. If I reflect on the history of Apartheid or The American Civil War and Slavery, I would say such topics are very pertinent right now with the death of George Floyd. Black people even now are not only asking for their legal rights but their rights to be a human being. After more than a century of fighting for their rights, I feel like we haven’t improved enough. It is not only saddening but jaw-dropping to me that even after so long racism exists.

Learning such grim topics in History were very important as they were part of my understanding of racism. However, even now, I have plenty of questions. This is a topic that I have read about and watched many films about and I am slowly piecing together the hatred people have.

I would like to also note my learning journey in Economics. This was a new subject to me in Grade 9, however, I am better understanding it now. The most notable of these topics was Development Economics, where we learned about poverty. We learned the difference between developing and developed countries and how to lift families out of poverty. To consolidate my learning in this unit I created an analytical movie that compared poverty statistics between Mumbai and Tokyo. This was a particularly enjoyable task, in which I learnt plenty of new skills and gained new insights into the poverty situation.

Even during COVID-19, I am learning about behavioural economics and this might just be the most interesting unit yet. We have conducted fun activities and games with our peers and learned a lot about rationality and the functioning of economic agents.

In all the other subjects, such as Drama, English, Maths, Science, PE and French I have learnt a great deal. English is a subject in which I am happy with my development. In grade 9, I remember struggling with analytical essays, however, it’s starting to come naturally to me now. I am improving quickly in Language and Literature and am very keen to continue my studies in the future.

In terms of service, I have continued my responsibility as blog manager in Tiger Watch GC. This has been an important learning experience for me and was enjoyable at times. My problem in Middle School was that I felt I did not have much of an impact on my service. However now, I feel somewhat different. I feel like I am needed so that the service can advertise and raise awareness for the cause of tiger conservation.

Howard Berman, an American attorney and former US Democratic representative said that “Intellectual property theft by a government represents the very essence of organised crime.” This was the quote I used in my MUN UWC opening speech many months ago. The times I had at MUN UWC seem so long ago. It was an event of ups and downs. I made many mistakes and did my best to redeem myself for them. I will not lie, though it was an excellent and fruitful event, there were times when I struggled and was disappointed in myself. However, more than anything, it was a learning journey for me that I will be forever grateful to be a part of. At the end of the day, I received an honourable mention for my contributions to the committee. I was happy by this and it pushed me to achieve more.

I would like to take some time in order to talk about my life during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the beginning, I was looking forward to writing my IGCSE exam and was willing to prove the practice I had done. However, COVID-19 snatched that away. This was something that left me a little saddened. But, after a little thinking, I stopped caring about it. I decided to persevere and be my best self in the coming weeks. I would say that even though the pandemic got in the way, I was able to work well and make the best of my education.