Youngsters go for out-of-the-box ideas

“It is a Friday, more than any other day — the gateway to the weekend,” says Rochelle Sey, a management consultant working with an MNC in the city.

At her workplace on Friday, people brought ‘paper valentines’ — mostly handmade cards — for their co-workers. “Those who are not good with craft bought them from stores and wrote funny one-liners in them. You can be as snappy or snarky as you like,” says Rochelle. The 31-year-old feels the magic of Valentine’s Day is not the same anymore. “A few candles and lip-smacking food can create that special V-Day vibe, but it can be done any day.” This week, gift stores were filled with heart-shaped chocolate boxes, stuffed animals and candy hearts with little sayings on them to woo customers on Valentine’s Day. “But unlike other cities, Chennai has never been into soft toys. People here order tangible, utilitarian gifts,” says Rajan Kumar of tinygifts.com, an online gift store.

Hotels and resorts made the most of the Valentine’s weekend by offering various packages. “From ‘donuts dipped in love’ to special spa discounts, there were ‘cupid-struck’ offers in everything,” says Ranjana Shardul, an event organiser. This year, the price of roses went up by 30 per cent and on Valentine’s Day, the price of a single stem of rose went up to Rs. 50. Online delivery agents also promised a video of the recipient being delivered the ‘surprise gift.’

Beneath its sugary exterior, it was also a day fraught with expectations and anxieties for some. D. Ranjana, a visual communication student, said this year, she had planned a photo shoot with her boyfriend on the beach. “Last year, I made a personal crossword for him. Dinners and dance dates are getting boring now. The plan is to do something new every year which requires days of preparation.”

Young crusaders

Not all among the youth are thinking only about Valentine’s Day, though.

Some take their role as catalysts of change quite seriously. Their role is not limited to social causes. It is now increasingly being felt in health education too. The latest initiative in the city is youth health clubs. Spearheaded by Cancer Institute, Adyar, the clubs are a platform to engage school and college students in the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCD). So far, the clubs have been formed in 25 schools and 12 colleges. Close to 1,000 students are a part of these clubs.

It is important to inform students on the ill-effects of smoking, drinking, consuming junk food and physical inactivity at an early age, says E. Vidhubala, associate professor of psycho-oncology at Cancer Institute. Carol Nivitha, a second-year student of English, says sharing information on personal hygiene and prevention of lifestyle-related diseases has had a positive impact on students.

“Health education is very important for us. It does not stop with us as we take the message forward to our family and friends,” she says. Such activities are taking place because mostly, students want to make their parents aware of the dangers of smoking or chewing tobacco, says J. Asokan, assistant professor and club in-charge at Sir Theagaraya College.

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