Songs of the Youth: Here’s to Growing Up and Never Losing Hope

Written by Ringicha Chakma, 2nd year

” We’ve been there. We’ve done that.”

What?

“You know, ‘the growing up’ business.”

Someone has wisely said that growing up is a huge pain-in-the-ass. Forgive my opening salvo, but this is as close as we can get (should we choose to be “inappropriate”) in order to explain the adolescent period that everyone in their lifetime goes through.  Tough, isn’t it?  

To be no longer a child and yet…. not an adult?

If growing up has taught us anything at all, is this:  it’s never over until it’s over.

Or maybe we just don’t want to grow up.  Maybe it’s too much to take, too much to handle, too much to breathe.  Perhaps, it’s too much too soon?

Music plays an important role in the life of us human beings, and even more so, during the transition from one’s childhood to its emerging adulthood. Here is a compiled list of songs that evokes just about the right emotions that one feels during this turbulent period of one’s life, and inspires one to mould oneself into the kind of adult they want to be.

  1. I’m just a kid by Simple Plan

Whoever says that adolescence is the easiest phase of one’s life surely needs to give it a rethink and take a detour down memory lane. If making friends wasn’t hard enough, trying to fit in with the crowd and getting them to like you back, was even more. As Simple Plan cries out in its chorus, “I’m just a kid and life is a nightmare”, the phrase ‘truer words were never spoken’ comes to mind.  After all, adolescence is a stage when peer acceptance matters greatly, and none of us particularly look forward to being alienated by our age group.

2. Fifteen by Taylor Swift

Hey, Taylor Swift fans! This song is for all girls out there! No one gets us like Taylor Swift does. Irrespective of whether you agree or disagree, it is undeniable that her songs have resonated with a huge legion of teenage girls.

Adolescent girls are often said to be more vicious to each other as compared to their male counterparts. Backbiting, name-calling and teasing- these are often life-changing for many. Taylor Swift in this song draws inspiration from her very own life and tells us how she’s like, at fifteen- and her experiences do resonate with many of us- whether it’s believing declarations of true love and marriage, wholeheartedly believing in the myth of the Prince Charming, going out on a nervous first date and even, for some, the loss of virginity.  Fifteen is a tender age where getting involved in a romantic relationship is pretty much on the agenda on almost every girl’s mind, and inevitably  giving way to our very own first heart-break.This is all part of growing up.

3. Still fighting it – Ben Folds

Growing up is a life-long struggle. It never ends. This song accurately depicts the shared sentiment that we all feel – “We’re still fighting it.” The transitional period from a child to an adult is painful, to say the least; one has to deal with issues like independence, self-identity, studies, peer pressure, social life, and romantic relationships.  So obviously, when the song plays these following lines, “Everybody knows/ It sucks to grow up”, we cannot help but nod in empathy.

4. Hero – Family of the Year

Well, who doesn’t want to run away from life and its responsibilities when it gets too tough to deal with? After all, we only have two shoulders (if not bony) and there is only so much load we can take on our shoulders before we feel like exploding like potent firecrackers on New Year’s Eve!  We just want to let go at times, to not to be burdened by expectations- simply because we are not ready yet.  Maybe growing up and coming to terms with adulthood is something that shouldn’t be forced upon. But more often than not, it’s our circumstances, fate and life itself which compel us to walk that extra mile towards becoming an adult.  Ready or not, life happens. If not, we can always listen to this song and brood with all that teenage angst in the corner of our rooms.

5. Wake up – Arcade Fire

This is what happens when you realize that life out there in the real world is not what you could ever fathom even in your wildest dreams. This is that stage of your adolescence when you part with your innocence and naivety and you wake up to see the world for its true colours. It’s hard and it’s cruel. It toughens you up. And as the lyrics of this song goes, “Now that I’m older/ my heart’s colder.” Again, my friend, this is all part of growing up.

6. Forever Young – Jay Z feat Mr Hudson

If only we could freeze time and space, and if only we could live forever young. But in our hearts and in our very souls, we know we are forever young. It has nothing to do with age. and everything to do with spirit. We are young. We are awesome. And we know it.

This is our list of a few songs that make us reminisce about growing up and prepare us for the impending doom, that is, adulthood. What about yours? Tell us your favourites! What are the songs that has helped/ still helps you survive growing up?

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Youth, Crime and Education in India: Examining the Intersection

Written by Namrata Sadhnani, 2nd year

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The newly defined developmental period of the life course, ‘emerging adulthood’, reflects a distinctive developmental phase. It is characterized by change, and a process of exploration of possible life directions in love, work, and world-views. When their initial high expectations and optimism fail to see the light of the day, it takes the form of anxiety and depression which, according to various studies, has proved to be the highest among emerging adults. Their impulsiveness and increased negative behaviour has long been identified by criminologists as a major factor that contributes to criminal conduct in adolescence as well as adulthood.

A glance at the morning newspaper is indeed disheartening, as headlines frequently highlight the increasing crime rates in our country, from which there appears to be no respite. This hopelessness is often ascribed to the corrupt police ranks and the hapless judiciary, riddled with long trials. It seems that for every inspiring story, there are hundred dispiriting ones left in the shadows. Perhaps, it is because of the deplorable scarcity of opportunities- whether in employment, education, health or public and private life.  The mass human capital in India is wasted, while  the consumerist society amplifies the yearning of our youth for a better life. As the system fails to accomplish the hopes of millions, crime seems the easy escape, right from the social to the individual level- whether it is white collar crime or petty thievery.

Crime is increasingly being associated with emerging adults. It begins with the addiction to smoke illegal marijuana at college, progresses to sexual gratification by any means, grows to the greed for material possessions and is worsened by the pressure of societal norms and the existing job market. This rise in crime and subjugation to pressure can be attributed to sudden breakdown of joint family concept and enormous pressure of inflation that is put on households, forcing both the parents to work and thereby leaving children to see out childhood without guidance.

These emerging adults have enormous pressure to succeed and when they succumb to these pressures, crime seems to be the only way. Another reason for the rise in crime or social deviation amongst emerging adults, is the way current educational system functions.  Each day we come across national tabloids highlighting suicides committed by students for having scored lower grades. They usually belong to the educated population who have failed to secure jobs they dreamt of. Professional hackers involved in  multi-million scams is now common. An educational system that feeds the idea of greed among the populace helps encourage fraud committed by young employees. The increasing number of rapes, sexual harassment and sexual offences among the youth has also become widespread.

Our educational system is supposed to work towards a better society, and a better society is not how the consumerists define it to be – a society where everyone’s needs are fulfilled and where everyone is growing and so eventually the society itself is growing. But, sadly, it is the opposite. A developing society is where life is at peace, and there is no undue exploitation of others for individual excellence; where the society lives harmoniously and prosperously.

Our emerging adults are the drivers to the future, the flesh and blood of the country. The youth’s energy is the pulse of the nation’s system and thus it is paramount for us to deal with the problem of crime among emerging adults at a war footing.

As I approach the end of my morning newspaper, I also read stories of the glorious art the society is creating, and how individuals are protecting the culture, and living in harmony with the nature. It is then that I can optimistically dream that somewhere the spark of hope is still burning and shall kindle the fires within ourselves.

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Themes of Adolescence in ‘Boyhood’

​Written by Shardha Rajam, 2nd year

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The theme of emerging adulthood, most would agree, is beautifully displayed in the film ‘Boyhood’. The metamorphosis from childhood to adolescence is smoothly shown as the movie was shot over a span of twelve years using the same actors. The director has kept the plot simple and yet complicated enough to mirror reality. Perhaps the entire plot of the movie could be summed up in a single question Mason poses to his father- “Does magic really exist?”

Questions, like this one, ease Mason into adolescence. His father’s reply to the question about magic is even more significant as he wants his son to believe in possibilities and realise that magic lies in everyday things. Yet when pushed further, he tells him the brutal truth- that elves do not exist and therefore, magic is, in fact, a sham. Perhaps that succinctly describes his outlook towards life too- Mason’s father plays the role of the irresponsible parent gallivanting off to Alaska believing in possibilities, but when pushed by life and circumstances, he accepts reality and educates himself in order to live a regular life.

There are several poignant incidents which show Mason’s encounter with the adult world- the explicit magazine he sees with his friend, the time he is reprimanded by Bill for not doing his chores, when he sees his mother Olivia argue with Mason Senior, and other significant moments. They resonate with us all deeply.

Another remarkable aspect of this film is that unlike a lot of other movies, both parents are portrayed to be loving.  They are, perhaps surprisingly, functional and adore their kids to the fullest. They do have their own faults which annoy the kids (for instance Mason Senior’s smoking habit) but the kids love their parents too and do not cause too much trouble. For the Indian psyche the film also shows that the typical American family, symbolic of the American dream, has problems of its own and does not live in a perfect world.

Mason’s coming of age is also shown in the form of camping trips, parties, new friendships, girls, alcohol and the road trips. When Mason’s grandfather gifts him a rifle, it is an emotional moment as it is a family heirloom. His grandfather recognises him as a ‘man’ and therefore teaches him how to shoot.

To me, Mason Jr.’s steps towards adolescence are exhibited by his changing hairstyles. At first, it is the typical boyish cut at the start of the movie, then there’s the more rebellious long hair and so on. At a later stage, when his step father (Bill) forces Mason to get a crew cut, its significance is conspicuous. At this juncture he is forced by things beyond his control to enter a more mature phase, much like his haircut. He feels humiliated and angry and it seems this is the first notable instance of the same. His sister and mother, too, undergo these changes. The mother’s haircut, for me, symbolized that even after entering adulthood there are various sub-stages that one experiences- early parenthood, late parenthood, near-retirement. For instance, from the first stage of Mason’s life as displayed in the movie, Mason is concerned about his mother. He awakens from his sleep to the sound of his mother arguing with her boyfriend (Ted) and feels helpless. At a later stage, he tells her to leave his step father Bill because of the haircut incident.

The movie in its entirety traces not only Mason’s stages of life, but also those of his parents, and his sister’s. As a viewer, I believe the director has made a laudable attempt to display the small, as well as great joys we experience, at various stages of life. Without a typical climax scene, the film makers have shot it as they saw it- that life and growing up is a continuous process, and we never truly stop learning.

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The Losses and Vagaries of Adolescence: Through the Lens of Art

Written by Aratrika Choudhuri, 2nd Year

Adolescence is the half-lit abyss between the innocence of childhood and the onset of terrifying adulthood. Fraught with looming hardships and early nostalgia, it represents a delicate and highly volatile period in the human life-cycle – but it is more than simply a period of life. It is in fact, an orientation, a very particular kind of body, with a distinct set of capacities to affect and to be affected. It is fluid, a time of events, a time of nonchalant resistance to the signifying and affective assemblages of grown-up existence, a taut in-between, a vague inter-zone. No wonder then, adolescence and its poignant losses, its curiosities and significance, have invoked artistic passions since time immemorial. This article takes a look at some paintings depicting various shades of adolescence, and examines their motifs.

 Exhibit A

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This painting, finished in 2012, by then 18 year old Sebastian Eriksson, perfectly captures the tenor of listlessness, self-consciousness, criticism, bewilderment and hopelessness emblematic of adolescence. The stark depiction in black and white heightens the oppressive and consuming atmosphere- as does the innovative incorporation of a never-ending spiral in the personal agony. Hauntingly reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s Scream, this surrealist piece is a fitting depiction of the human experience of adolescence. In the artist’s own words, “This is another paradox…It describes a person with psychological problems such as schizophrenia, insanity, depression or other mental problems. His endless screaming makes his own mind eat him up. I have periods in my life where I feel like this. I wanted to make an illustration of my thoughts and my pain within.”

Exhibit B

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Yet another work by Eriksson, this painting is a vibrant and insightful take on the tumult and chaotic energy characteristic to young adulthood. Before responsibilities set in, before we are whisked away to a world of dizzying expectation, is the thrilling period of liberty and exposure. The impulse to indulge, to explore, to chart one’s own path or to not chart one at all, remains a stepping stone to carving self-identity. The clever juxtaposition of the girl’s body on the guitar, the halo of light surrounding the guitarist, the aftershocks of sound and electricity depicted in light grey- all represent that stage of just letting go.

Exhibit C

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This self-portrait of Eriksson strikes one as a particularly thoughtful take on self-image and self-discovery in adolescence. The contrast offered by the stoic human expression, and the malevolent skeletal grin shows how we begin getting in touch with the more sadistic and evil side of human nature as we grow up, concomitatnt with the loss of innocence. The puzzle pieces are a noteworthy motif perhaps signifying the piecing together and deconstruction of self, that begins and ends indefinitely. How we fit these pieces together is a quest that well extends to adulthood.

Exhibit D

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This evocative piece by Silvia Pelissero a.k.a. Agnes Cecile, involves the productive utilisation of chance- the odd mark, the bleary eyes, the stray stain, the symmetrical shape, the loose hair. This realm of the figural is impossible to predict, arriving as it does from an altogether different regime to the every-day (an underground seething world of yet-to-be-actualized potentialities). This Painting might utilize cliché, but only as a first step; ultimately it is the exploration, the discovery of these unseen worlds hidden within the seen. It is controlled, measured (the careful contours of worlds-in-process) but at their heart it involves the productive utilization of chance, this confrontation with chaos (how else could the new emerge?). It is a balance, then, between accident and intention, between formlessness and form. This is the rhythm of art and adolescence.

Exhibit E

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A scintillating riot of colours, this painting is certainly a spectacular psychedelic piece. Aptly entitled “Mind BLOWN”, it is postmodern in concept and execution. It represents a language of revolt, an authentic antithesis to repression, an oscillation between figuration and abstraction. The clawing hands symbolize the ensuing regrets, the pain of loss and conventionally moral restrictions. But in a world of rollicking fun and access to vices that only expedite self-destruction, who is to blame? That is an important paradox, and its apparent resolution has perplexed us all. There is no denying, however, that adolescence is a tumultuous, absolutely imperative experience that all of us share. The memories of adolescence shall remain etched in our consciousness forever.

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Challenge #3 – Reading Challenge!

By Ringicha Chakma & Sandhya Shyamsundar, 2nd Year

In order to commemorate this month’s theme  ‘Obscenity and Standard of Censorship’, we have decided to set up a reading challenge to get people to read real pieces of literature which are otherwise banned/ censored in different parts of the world due to various reasons.  The list of books to be read for the challenge are the following:

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  3. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  4. The Handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood
  5. The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Read them all or as many as you can! We will be conducting a quiz based on these books at the end of this month (29th November) and whoever gets the most answers correct will be rewarded with two movie tickets of their choice.  So get reading!

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The Curious Case of Private Censorship: Protectors of Divine Sensibilities

by Mahima Selvakumar, 2nd Year

It is important that we do not fail to commemorate the heroes who make India the nation she is today. More importantly, we ought not to forget the efforts of the class of heroes who strive to shield Divine entities from the lethal prick of the most minute and exquisite of literary and artistic pieces. These esteemed protectors of the sensibilities of God have been busy in action for decades now. Continue reading

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“Art-Scenity”

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By Devanjali Banerjee, 1st Year

Where does art stray into the realms of obscenity?

Can obscene art still be considered art or is it just a celebration of all things lewd and nude?

Is a nude still a work of art? Continue reading

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