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Girl power icons

OKAY so the title says it all. Here we are going to mention those women who made, if not huge, but at least some impact in people's lives. Even the most extreme chauvinists would not be able to deny their significance on so many lives.

Oprah Winfrey
Born from a single mother in an impoverished village in Mississippi, Oprah was raped at the age of 9 and gave birth at the age of 14 to a son who ultimately passed away. Moreover she had to flee from her trouble-stricken home which gave her nothing but abuses. Where an ordinary human being would have broken down in such circumstances, Oprah persevered to win the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant and capture a job at the local black radio station. Since her first step into media there was no looking back for her. She worked as anchor in a number of television shows until she started off with her very own Oprah Winfrey Show, which is the highest rated talk show in the history of television. Her show concentrated on self-improvement through revelations. People came and talked about their life and its problems. In this way, Oprah helped to improve the lives of many. Currently at a self-worth of $2.7 billion, she is definitely a true icon for women who are in the media industry or about to step into one.

J.K. Rowling
She is most likely the only woman in contemporary times who, made children and elders dream and believe in fantasies. Her childhood passed off peacefully until her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and passed away ten years later. The loss of Harry's parents in the first book was accentuated by Rowling's own personal loss. Rowling started writing her masterpiece on a train. However her book was turned down by a lot of renowned publications until a lesser-known one Bloomsbury accepted it but was still skeptical whether it would sell since a woman who wrote it. Soon after, she became the twelfth richest woman in Britain selling more than 400 million copies of her books and winning numerous awards. Apart from being an author Rowling is also a social activist whose organization Volant Charitable Trust helps one parent families, patients with multiple sclerosis and poor people. She is surely an ideal woman to look up to who made it big as a single mom.

Kelly Clarkson
Becoming the first American Idol in 2002, Clarkson started a trend to make singing reality shows super popular worldwide. Born and brought up in a small town in Texas, her childhood was not a nice one. Her family split apart after her parents' divorce and she had to struggle for support financially. She performed in various musical shows during her school life and came to know that music was what she was destined for. After her high school graduation she got scholarships from highly reputed universities which she turned down because by then she was too engrossed in singing and song-writing. Post-American Idol, Clarkson has released three albums among which the first two became multi-platinum ones. Winner of two Grammy awards, she has a lot more accolades to her name.

Maria Sharapova
What do you get when you add a tennis racket to an average Russian teen? The answer would be a world-class tennis player known for her swinging volley and striking sense of fashion. She shushed all those who said sports were for men only. Starting off with winning the Wimbledon as early as the age of 17, Sharapova moved on to win three Grand Slam titles along with a number of Opens. She held a racket for the first time at the age of 4 and played on to turn a professional in the year 2001. Winning multiple awards and accolades and a title of World No. 1, Sharapova now enjoys being the highest paid female athlete as of 2008.

Valentina Tereshkova
The masses might not know her although she is the first woman to fly into space. Raised in a laborer's family and a single mother she started working as a teenager to ease off pressure from her mother. Her continuous interests in parachute jumping led her to bag a job at an aviation club at the age of 22. She simultaneously worked using her knowledge on cotton-spinning technology to finally set up the Cotton Mill Workers' Parachute Club. Later when she got to know about Yuri Gagarin's Soviet space programme, she immediately enrolled into it and got selected. Thus the first woman shot up into space in 1963. When asked about her “out-of the-world” experience, she talked about the breathtaking beauty of the Earth that distinguished it from the other planets. She remained in space for three days and orbited the Earth 48 times.

Audrey Hepburn
She was one of the pioneers of Hollywood actresses. Her early life was full of hardship as she faced the separation of her parents along with the Second World War where she witnessed the death of members of her own family. She started her career as a ballerina and moved on to become an actress who played minor roles in movies. Her first lead character was played in the Broadway play Gigi which ran for 219 performances. She came to the limelight with her role as a ballerina (which she pulled of exceptionally well as expected) in the film Secret People. Nevertheless she is remembered most proficiently for her blockbuster Roman Holiday opposite Gregory Peck. This movie brought her a Golden Globe, Oscar and BAFTA. From then onwards, Sabrina, The Charade, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Ondine and loads of chart topping movies were added to her glory. As a witness of a real war, she became involved in social work for UNICEF during the later years of her life. Her death in 1993 from abdominal cancer was a tragedy for millions of her fans.

Reference: Wikipedia, The Independent

By Faria Sanjana
Reference: Wikipedia, The Independent

Book review

The Truth

PRATCHETT, has always drawn parallels to the real world. As his Discworld grew, so did the way he wrote and incorporated real world issues in his stories. In The Truth he takes journalism head on and even manages to make atrocities committed against journalists funny.

This time around we're back in the swamp city/state of Ankh Morpork. However, unlike the others books written about Ankh Morpork, where the characters mostly focused on either The City Watch or The Wizards, this time Pratchett focuses on a whole different side of the city.

Movable type, or in other words, printing presses have always been banned in the city because of the people's belief that words are sacred and printing them in mass is no way to go about things. The Engravers Guild is strictly against it and the William de Worde, our protagonist, has to make do with the Engravers Guild to print out his monthly 'letter of news'.

William is a man who has an affinity for words, and because that's his calling he has chosen a profession that earns him a living writing out letters and such for the general masses, people to whom a pencil is a complex bit of machinery. He also runs this monthly newsletter for the respectable nobles living outside of Ankh Morpork to keep them up with the happenings in the money capital of the Disc.

On his way to the Engravers one night , Mr. de Worde encounters a group of dwarves and gets knocked out by a flying piece of machinery from the kind of accident that just has to happen in cases like these.

When he comes to, he finds himself in a shed. The dwarves around him have set up a machine, and William is dumbfounded as he watches them print out his newsletters in less than ten minutes.

That is the start of how Ankh Morpork, and the Disc get their first ever newspaper. As things move forwards, William finds himself in charge of what used to be his monthly newsletter, which has now turned into The Ankh Morpork Times.

News in the city had always been dispersed through town criers and word of mouth, and because of this stuff like raining snakes and other of the ilk is common, stuff is made up and passed on as news that pains William, who fashions himself as a man of the truth. Political scandal is just not interesting enough because it's the truth and thus boring.

The story moves at a hilarious pace, with William hiring beggars as his newspaper distributers, a vampire allergic to light as his photographer, finding a secret informant who's a talking dog and falling for his own news editor. Mixed with this are political scandals that no one seems interested in reading about.

Pratchett talks about how news and newspaper can literally rock a nation and here we truly see the pen go up against the sword as William fights to stay alive and keep his newspaper alive. The fact that newspapers are an entirely new concept in the Discworld adds hilarity to the sometimes serious avenues that Pratchett explores, always managing to make his readers think after about what he really said. If you want a book that's a good read and more, one that delves deeper than a few laughs, then this is it; a book to keep the hope up in these trying times.

By Tareq Adnan



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