Friday, December 26, 2008

Free Radical: The Journey

For you, my new love: Free Radical Issue #6.

Nandu, Deepak, Shaswat, Rohit, Shashank, Yash, Nitish, Shaurya, Gargi, and Etika, Great work guys!! Not only did you manage to pull it off but also made everyone very proud!

My thoughts go back to the time when we (Sridhar, Saurabh, Sid and I) were trying to figure out how to start a magazine. This is how I recall it:
The Mission
We wanted to give JSSites a platform where they could freely express themselves, read quality articles and improve upon their English. It had to be a free magazine-- completely 'of, by and for' the students plus free of charge.
Initially it was slated to be a Lingua Franca thing. Also, we didn't know how frequently we could manage to publish it. Sridhar wanted a weekly or at least a monthly thing while I thought just an annual almanac would be possible. Finally we decided that a semester-wise issue would be most practical.
The Name
Some of the few names that were finalized were: '"Le Parlons" or Let's Speak in French (by Sridhar), "Chaitanya" meaning knowledge in Sanskrit (given by me, also a friend's name) and "Free Radical" given by Sid.
We had mulled on a couple of names, I remember I had a list of 15 odd names sans "Free Radical" and still none of them quite captured the spirit, the zeal that we wanted to present. Then one day Sid uttered 'Free Radical' and immediately we took a liking to it. We knew at that very moment that it was The name. Now, all we had to do was to go and convince the Humanities department that this name wasn't a scary rebellion-stirring name it seemed to be. Sridhar and I walked into the staff room and began the war. We knew we had to stick to our guns for the teachers would pressurize us to leave a name so unconventional. We had more than an hour long argument and came out victorious! Sid and Saurabh waited outside and we recounted the encounter with burst of giggles.
Another funny moment was when a guy from college associated “Free Radical” with something that’s "free of cost".
Red Tape, Volgan Style
Then we had to deal with the faculty, the staff, the printer and everyone else in between. Leave red-tape, it was a red-wall that stood between us and the shiny pages. There was an extraordinary need to get everything authorized, signed, labelled, doubly checked, confirmed, re-checked and applications to sign and get signed. We waited patiently for heads to nod.
The Clueless Struggle
There we were, a bunch of second year kids, trying to figure out how one finds sponsorship, collects articles and gets them printed. After getting the approvalssss, a major task was to get the money. Fortunately Sridhar got one from Pepsi. A decent ad with Sharukh reaching out for a bottle with the caption "Yeh Dil Mannge More". The beuracrate wanted Sharukh smaller. (it had to be decent!). Next, we needed students' contributions to be printed. There was another society that had thought of printing a college magazine right when we were going to. Unfortunately they steered a few articles to themselves which never got printed.
The Birth
The first issue took nine months. So it was in every sense of the word "our baby". When we held it in our hands it felt like God's gift from heaven for we knew how many sleepless nights were spent on it. The cover page had the College's photo and the tagline "speak your mind" in an oval. It was the most beautiful magazine in the world.
There was a grand event for the launch. We invited the Principal, Advisor, CAO and the entire faculty, staff and students. The advisor said, "This should not be the only issue. I hope many will follow". We sure lived up to that, and so did you guys. We were sceptical at first as to how we would get more sponsors, whether the administration would remain benevolent.
The Journey
All the issues remain close to our hearts. They have been read a million times by each one of us. Each page reminds me of the work that was put in it even though I didn't go to the printer's office very often (Sorry guys), cause the location freaked me (Isn't fit for my royal ass, as one had put it). The criticism and appreciation that came, the joy of seeing seeds of imagination inked...everything...everything that came with it is etched in heart and mind.