Coping with Diabetes

 Lily Scott is a diabetic getting the most out of life 

By Lamees Tanveer

 Drenched. She stands under the pouring rain simmering in the cold. A sudden bout of nausea and she runs towards the first building she sees. Crouched over a toilet seat in a bathroom at Swarthmore college, she asks herself. “What the hell went wrong?”

Lily Scott, 19, isn’t new to these sudden bouts –bouts of nausea, bouts of numbness or bouts of pain. She has lived through them all.

Like the 800,000 others who suffer from Juvenile, Type-1 Diabetes in the United States, Lily’s ordinary life is extraordinary, constantly monitoring her supply of insulin, that comes from a pump embedded inside her.  Being wary of  the symptoms of diabetes — excessive thirst, frequent urination, sudden unexplained weight loss and numbness of the feet  Moving along day to day with the reality of the disease sitting on her shoulder.

On the way, back from the party to Bryn Mawr College, she retraces her steps for the millionth time. “The blood sugar level was high to begin with, but I only had one drink. Maybe I was too conservative with the insulin intake. But it was only one drink. Maybe I drank more than I should have. No. It-was-only-one-drink.”

            This one drink, a mixture of Vodka and Country Time Lemonade powder is what she would later call, “Death on a stick for a diabetic.”

            As she answers the plethora of questions in her head, checking off the mental check-list , she feels it coming back. Like a rolling thunder, her blood gushes and the nausea sets in again. She gets off the bus and by that time is “horribly sick.”

            At 1:00 p.m. she finds herself being rushed to the health centre. Panic. Residents of Rockefeller dorm come out of their rooms, Text messages are forwarded like ricocheting bullets, “Lily Scott collapsed.”

            At the Health Centre, Lily’s friend, Sarina Dane talks to the nurse. The doctor is called and within seconds she is sent to the emergency room.

            “I thought she had had too much to drink. Then I found out it was dehydration so I decided to stay all night,” says Sarina.

            Triple Dehydration.  When you drink alcohol, you get dehydrated. When you have a high blood sugar content, you get dehydrated. When you vomit, you get dehydrated.

            The staff at the Health centre prepared to inject IV-fluids before things turned from bad to worse. It took them longer than usual and it hurt more than usual since her veins had shriveled.

            “It wasn’t a fun experience” says Lily. “Normal people don’t have to throw up after one drink. I don’t need alcohol to have fun but I should be able to have one drink. It shouldn’t have to be this way.”

 

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An Urban Church with a Rural Creche

Christmas at this church means a creche with live animals

By Emily Olsen

 

In the beginning of December the newly set-up stable and pen outside Old First Reformed Church, a United Church of Christ church, was empty.  Signs posted around the edges alternated between verses from Christmas gospel and “Don’t feed the animals.”  The animals were not there yet, but they would be soon. 

Old First Reformed, on the corner of fourth and Race Street in Philadelphia is known for the live-animal crèche it puts up each year.  The Reverend H. Daehler Hayes first began the crèche tradition in 1973 and it has been a part of Christmas at Old First ever since. 

The live crèche is set up each year in the tradition of Saint Francis of Assisi.  According to legend, it was Saint Francis who first set up the scene of the nativity with actors and live farm animals.
The current crèche holds six animals: a calf, a donkey, two sheep and two goats.  They are borrowed from a farm in Bucks County. 

Keith Haberern directed church volunteers in building the crèche on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  The basic set up is a pen with a stable area in the back.  The animals can go underneath the stable for shelter.  Mannequins, dressed as members of the Holy Family, shepherds, and wise men are also set up inside the stable.  A small fence keeps the animals from knocking them over.

Haberern, 50, has been in charge of building the crèche for the last 20 years.  He is an architect and engineer, who also plays mandolin during church services.    

Originally the crèche was built out of debris from the church and surrounding buildings after Old First was restored in the late 1960s.  By now, most parts have been replaced except for the roof beams.  Over the years Haberern has worked to make the set-up of the crèche safer.

 “One of the miracles of the crèche is that no one has gotten killed setting it up” said Haberern with a grin.

                                               

After the stable and pen structure is set-up, there is still more to do.  The mannequins have to be brought up from the basement and dressed.  Rosemary Poll, the church secretary is in charge of dressing the mannequins with the help of the pastor, the Rev. Dr. Manuel Shanaberger, and the volunteer coordinator, Kevin Waltz.

“I hate that job” said Poll, 66. 

The mannequins are past their prime, to say the least.  Poll described them as held together with duct tape.

“We have to tie them upright in the stable since their stands are broken” said Poll.

Old First used to have the mannequins repaired in Delaware County, but Poll said at this point they are beyond saving.  It was never an easy trip anyway.

Years ago one of the volunteers offered to drive the mannequins to be repaired up in Delaware county, said Poll.  Unfortunately he couldn’t fit all of them in his car.  Finally, he ended up tying the last mannequin onto the car roof.

 “People slowed down and honked” said Poll, laughing.  “It was a wonder he wasn’t pulled over by the police.”

For the rest of the year, the mannequins are placed in a closet, where they terrorize unsuspecting volunteers.

“It’s quite a shock to open a closet and find a whole bunch of naked mannequins” said Poll.

Kevin Waltz, has had special experience with the mannequins.  During his first week at the church Waltz, 23, mistakenly opened the closet where the mannequins were kept.

“A mannequin flew out at me” he said.  “I didn’t know about the crèche at the time and I thought this was just a very weird church.” Continue reading

At Home in America

South Asians who migrated to America adapt in their new homeland.

By Sneha Sadarangani

Quddusmakhan Bird smiles broadly as he spies a young Indian girl approach the counter at Dunkin Donuts. He greets her in fluent Hindi and she responds laughing, amused at hearing the cadences of her native language in the middle of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

Displaying the trademark hospitality of the east, Bird fusses over her order of a single donut and insists on giving her another one for free

 “I don’t want you getting as fat as the people in this country, mind you, but one donut isn’t nearly enough,” he smiles. “Here’s a blueberry one on me.”

Bird is just one of the thousands of South Asians who have emigrated and made Philadelphia their home. From Dunkin Donut workers and cab drivers to investment bankers and scientists, they move to a life of a cross-cultural quandary, where lucrative work is pitched against the rich cultural ethos that has created them.  It is this tension of opposites that make them so unique in experience and so much a part of the diverse American culture.

 Hailing from Dhaka in Bangladesh, Bird would put anyone at ease. He speaks six different languages including Spanish, Urdu, Greek and Bengali and has lived in four different countries. He moved from Bangladesh to Spain when he was 23, followed by a short stint in the United States only to shift to Dubai and then back to the U.S. in 1995. At 51, he’s well traveled and his favorite place in the world is New Zealand.

So why did such a nomad finally settle down in America?

 “My wife’s father passed away and there was no one to take care of her mother in Philadelphia,” he explains. “As the only child, my wife had to step up to the responsibility.”

Over the past 13 years, he has worked at Dunkin Donut stores and McDonalds franchises all over Philadelphia. With all this experience in the field, he hopes to own his own fast-food chain someday.

“I’ll call it Pizza Store and it’ll sell American food,” he says simply.

What about bringing his own culture to the heart of this proverbial ‘melting pot’?

Bird smiles and quips, “I don’t know about that- after all, there’s no such thing as Bangladeshi French fries.”

But while his choice of menu might be American, Bird stays true to his Bangladeshi origins and eastern values. He often takes his children back to his homeland for visits and objects even to the suggestion of a cross-cultural relationship.

“My children have to marry within the community. They are aware of this and wouldn’t consider anyone otherwise,” he states confidently.

But his conventional outlook on cross-cultural relationships aside, he definitely appreciates aspects of other cultures as well.

“I’m a Muslim but celebrate Hindu, Jewish and Christian holidays,” he says. “I don’t want to miss out on the fun!” 

Bird is rich in knowledge and experience and bears an unmistakable zest for life. So is he satisfied handing out lattes and jelly donuts to late night commuters on the Philadelphia regional rail?

It seems that American culture has churned him into one of its own species- a cog in a machine. Like a true workaholic, Bird claims, “I can work anywhere. At the end of the day, work is work.”

                                                                  

As you walk around Ardmore along Greenfield Avenue, an overwhelming aroma of spices permeates the air. This alluring trail of cumin and turmeric invites you into Khajuraho, a popular Indian restaurant on the Main Line.

The dim lighting, soothing strumming of the Sitar and paintings of Indian temples adorning the walls greet you into rustic India. In the true spirit of Indian hospitality, the owner, Bharat Luthria welcomes you at the door and oversees your service for the evening.

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The Spirit of Mumbia

Sneha Sadarangani is a native of Mumbai and a student at Haverford College.

By Sneha Sadarangani

 

The spirit of Mumbai is like a spring. No matter how much you try to compress it, it always bounces back. It’s carried the city through the riots in1993, the floods in 2005 and the train blasts in 2006. Within days, the city is back on the go, busy and bustling as ever. Rallies, rain and RDX have thus far been ineffective in keeping it down. But this time the citizens are tired of this default setting. The spirit of the city is getting them through via necessity, not personal choice.

The world is ruthless and doesn’t stop for terror attacks. They still have mouths to feed and heads to shelter. Their four children, ailing mother and retired uncle are relying on them and even a day of missed work costs them heavily.  They try to resume normal activity and continue with their routine lives.

But this time they want more than their undying spirit to brave these attacks.

This time they want action.

They want their sleepy politicians to look beyond their spacious apartments bought of bribes and secure the safety of the citizens instead of their next Honda Civic.

They want to be able to enter a multiplex or a restaurant without the fear of being bombarded with grenades and crazed terrorists.

They want a catastrophe to be ably handled instead of false promises of a more competent response in the future.

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The Epidemic of Musical Piracy

It happens a lot, but students say they don’t worry about being caught. So many do it, they believe there is safety in numbers.

By Mike Troup

Ben has over 15,000 songs stored on his computer and this Haverford College student says that all of them have been downloaded illegally.
The school’s Honor Code, which has rules against theft, at first acted as a deterrent to him, but not for long.
“When I got to Haverford I didn’t pirate music for a few weeks because I felt that it was against the Honor Code, but I got sick of not being able to get new music,” said Ben. (His name, along with others in this story, has been changed to conceal his identity. The students interviewed requested anonymity in exchange for candor about their downloading habits.)
Direct conflict with the Honor Code troubles many Haverford students, who struggle with the idea that music piracy is theft, but Ben has no qualms. He feels it is okay to break the rules that separate students from the music they want.
“I think copyright is intrinsically flawed in a digital era where content can be reproduced so easily,” he said. “I don’t think Duke Ellington is going to mind if I take one of his albums.”
Ben wasn’t kidding when he said pirating is easy. He uses free download sites like Kazaa and Limewire daily to contribute to his stash of 15,000 songs. Those sites make it possible to download over 100 songs in a day. If Ben played his pirated library from start to finish, the music would be playing for more than 21 days.
Ben isn’t the only Haverford student who pirates music. While not everyone has downloaded 15,000 songs, the majority of students interviewed for this story admit to using download websites to add to their music library.

Safety in Numbers
A student we will call Caroline has over 3,000 songs on her computer that she did not pay for. Her stance mirrors the “above the law” mentality that Haverford students have adopted on this issue. Their belief is that most Haverford students download music illegally, so there is no chance of getting in trouble.
“They’re not going to catch me, everyone does it,” said Caroline..
A woman we will call Lisa is another avid music pirate who shares Caroline’s belief that there is safety in numbers.
“I’m aware of the consequences, but everyone else downloads music so I don’t take the
consequences too seriously,” she said.
What students like Ben, Caroline and Lisa do not realize is that people do get caught pirating music on the Haverford campus.
Barbara Mindell, the Director of Academic Computing Services at Haverford, deals with attorneys that are taking legal action on students on campus.

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Quidditch Anyone? It’s Played for Real At BMC

They play it for real at Bryn Mawr
By Juliana Reyes

It’s a brisk morning after the celebrated Halloween party at Bryn Mawr College, but there is no time to nurse a hangover. It’s game day.
For Quidditch.
The wizarding game, played by Harry Potter and his friends, has been played at Bryn Mawr College since the late nineties.
“I can’t remember but it was before Harry Potter went mainstream,” says Dwyn Harben, who graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1986. “You couldn’t even get American editions.”
Since she has a car and a shed, Harben is in charge of keeping all the Quidditch materials.
“The stuff lives in my shed,” she says.
“The stuff” includes hoops made of gold tinsel attached to long plastic sticks (these are the goals), foam bats used to beat people in order to make them drop the large red ball, known as the Quaffle, hacky sacks attached to coat hangers (these are called Bludgers) and the most important part of the game: the Snitch.

Chasing the Snitch
In the Harry Potter books, the Snitch is a magical, winged gold ball that flies with intense speed and has the power to appear and disappear in a second. Catching the Snitch gives a team 150 points and usually wins them the game.
At Bryn Mawr, the Snitch is a painted gold ball that players hide in their pockets. It is stealthily passed along until the end of the game, when it is “released,” meaning that the player who has the Snitch is about to get chased down the field.
“That’s when the person with the Snitch realizes it wasn’t such a good idea to hold onto it,” says Mara Goldberg, a senior at Bryn Mawr College who organizes the Quidditch games.
Goldberg, who is wearing a pink hat with a flying pig on it, begins the game by telling everyone the rules.
“Absolutely no blows to the head,” she says. Then the Quaffle is thrown into the air and the game begins. Soon Goldberg tosses her hat to the sidelines; it’s getting in the way. Continue reading

A Mix of Musical Spices

A profile of Penn Masala, an a cappella group that knows how to mix the sounds of of South Asia with America.

 By Sneha SadaranganiFourteen guys with a love for music, a penchant for singing and a talent for fusing Indian beats and American tunes translate into Penn Masala, the University of Pennsylvania’s all-male, South-Asian a cappella group.
On this particular day, the group is hard at practice for their upcoming show.
They huddle in a close circle and launch into American pop sensation Ne-Yo’s Because of You, which is taken over by Hindi lyrics and Indian melodies, rounded off by western-style beat boxing.
The last strains of the song fade out and they go right into the next song; their own rendition of Sting’s Desert Rose, complete with a middle-eastern vibe and peppered with Arabic.
“Our music is distinct. Everything we perform has a Masala stamp on it,” said Anup Bharani, music director of the group.
Comprising primarily of South Asians born and brought up in America, Penn Masala merges the two cultures into a fusion of sound. They chose their English songs based on how well they blend with Hindi music and if the lyrics harmonize across the two languages. The end result is elastic, distinctive music, artfully juggling unexpected beats and melodies.

A Blend of Cultures
“Our parents feel really proud that we’ve merged the Indian culture they’ve instilled in us and the Western culture we’ve grown up with,” said Nikhil Marathe, lead percussionist of the group.
Currently on their fifth album, Penn Masala was founded in 1996 when four UPenn students decided to mould their love for South-Asian music into a more universally appreciated genre. After strengthening their fan base across campus, the group has gone on to perform in cities such as New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.
Their unique music has even earned them international acclaim. Penn Masala has performed in London, Toronto and across India, for sold-out crowds. Continue reading

Bryn Mawr’s Fashion Statement? Whatever

At Bryn Mawr anti-fashion is the look of the day

By Elizabeth Svokos

When it comes to fashion, there are so many routes one can take. There’s preppy, punk, indie, urban, classic, goth, and the list goes on. But at Bryn Mawr College, the preferred fashion trend seems to be “Whatever.”
“Well, I mean, I just grab whatever’s nearest to me,” says Sophomore Hope Filligin. “And clean.” Freshman Whitney Miller looks down at her raggedy boots and plain outfit. “It’s called I have class at 8 in the morning.”
“This is me trying to wake up,” Junior Becca Rossi attempts to defend her regular maroon shirt and jean get-up.
Walking through Bryn Mawr’s campus is walking through aa world of exquisite architecture and foliage more colorful than a samba dancer’s costume. Against this gorgeous backdrop, Bryn Mawr women embody the opposite of style.
But not without reason.

Work Clothes
Women attending Bryn Mawr College didn’t get there by watching the Style Channel. The women at this college not only take their academics seriously but about 70 percent of undergraduate students also devote their time to work on campus.
“I work in the dining hall from Monday to Thursday,” says Filligin. “So I have to wear pants and a tee shirt for work.”
Senior Stephanie Migliori is clad in a leather jacket and loose jeans. “I work for the theatre doing tech work and things that usually ruin my clothes,” she explains, “so I have to wear clothes that can be ruined.”
Sports teams on campus are also a factor in the choice of what to wear. A normal sports team will have practice after class around 4p.m. Junior Ariel Puleo, member of the cross-country team and sporting a bright red pea coat, explains that she has to dress according to her practice schedule and if she has time to change into her sports clothes. If she doesn’t, she wears her sports sweats.
The ever-changing Philadelphia weather also plays its role in creating the Bryn Mawr fashion trend. Continue reading

The Ginger Jesus of BMC

James Merriam is the only male living in the dorms.

By Juliana Reyes

Walk down the halls of any dorm at elite women’s school Bryn Mawr College, and you’ll see girls. Lots of them. They’re plucking their eyebrows in the bathroom, talking to their boyfriends on their cellphones or putting up posters of the hottest young actor. But in one dorm, you’ll see a little something different.
Cascades of bright orange hair usually shield his face, but don’t be fooled. That’s a guy in the bathroom. His name is James Merriam. And he is brushing his hair.
“I think he brushes his hair a lot more than me,” freshman Melanie Levy says. “Somebody braided his hair once. It was really thick. He’s pretty cool about things like that.”
Levy lives on the third floor of a dorm called Denbigh. It is the only dorm on campus where a male lives. Though men from Haverford College, Bryn Mawr’s sister school, often take classes, eat meals and socialize at Bryn Mawr, most choose to live on their own campus. The last time a Haverford male lived at Bryn Mawr was in 2003. Many of the students around during that time have graduated, so to the girls attending Bryn Mawr now, this is revolutionary.

“Ginger Jesus”
“It’s like yeah, I checked that box saying that I wouldn’t mind living in a co-ed dorm, but you always know that’s not going to happen,” says freshman Carrie Schoonover, who also lives on Merriam’s hall. “Well, except for this time.”
Merriam, a sophomore at Haverford, is tall and skinny. He sports a tuft of orange hair on his chin – “It’s weird when you see him shaving,” sophomore Natalie Kauppi admits, and of
course, there’s that unforgettable mass of nearly fluorescent-colored hair that has given him the nickname “Ginger Jesus.”
Save for the times when he’s headed for the shower with a towel wrapped around his waist, freshman Katie Sun says, “He’s not really the type to just walk around his boxers.” She remarks on his low-key existence in the dorm, saying it’s not a big deal. Her hallmates all seem to agree.
“He’s not obnoxious about being the only guy,” Kauppi says. She thinks that Merriam’s presence at Bryn Mawr has been so smooth partly because of the “quietness of himself.”
Still, Merriam is certainly aware of his status as “The Only Guy.”
Asked if other Haverford guys ever ask him if it’s awesome to live here because of all the girls.
“Yes,” he says.
“Is it?”
A wide grin spreads across his face. “Yes.”

Man on a Mission
All hormones aside, Merriam had a mission when he made the decision to live here last April.
“I wanted to take action,” Merriam says, “against the animosity between campuses.”
The hostility between Bryn Mawr and Haverford is no secret to the students at the two colleges. Maybe the Haverford girls are possessive over their men, maybe it’s the rumors spread about Bryn Mawr girls being “easy,” or maybe it’s just been going on for so long that it’s become second nature. Whatever it is, Merriam wants to fix it.
“I want to be a symbol of integration,” he says. When asked what college he attends, Merriam will answer “both.” He is a member of both Haverford and Bryn Mawr’s networks on Facebook and has a mailbox on both campuses as well. Two pairs of Haverford flip flops lie around his room, but he also whips out a green pair of Bryn Mawr running shorts.
“I wear them proudly,” he says, grinning. Continue reading

Main Line Rebel Without a Cause


Mark Dewitt’s skewed world view

By Virginia Rubey

Mark Dewitt has the look of any big-city bum: unkempt beard, long graying hair, missing teeth, wrinkles. He wears dirty Levis and a secondhand Stanford University sweatshirt.
Men who look like Mark fit right into the urban landscape, their presence as expected as the streetlights, the potholes in the sidewalk, the lack of available parking spaces.
But Mark, 51, never much liked urban landscapes. He lives on the Main Line, among upscale fur and jewelry shops where his presence is as welcome as a stock market crash. He says he has been a rebel his whole life.
“My dear, sweet mother said I was a rebel, a troublemaker, and a hoodlum.” He counts the charges off on his finger. “She was wrong. I’m no hoodlum!” He laughs and points to a tattoo on his right forearm that reads Fight Authority. “But she nailed me on the first two! Yeah!” he roars with a grin. “Hi!” he shouts to a man passing by on the street. The man walks faster.

#%$! Main Liners
“People are too damn snotty out here. Where I’m from, you didn’t stick your nose in the air just ‘cause you had something. F—k the Main Line!” he shouts.
Mark is originally from Montgomery County. He ran away from home when he was 16 to avoid beatings, groundings, and rules. He’s lived on the Main Line since 1998.
“I’m a noted character around the neighborhood,” he says. “They give me s–t here ‘cause I don’t look all hot s–t and whatnot. They say they’ll call the cops? S–t, I know the cops better than they do! I practically lived with ‘em!” he laughs. “But I don’t want to go back there.” Mark says he prefers his subsidized studio apartment near the Ardmore post office to his former prison cell. Continue reading