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Flipping through the Slam Book

Along with school text and notebooks, several ragged tatty small books circulate in schools during the last few weeks before the board exam. Yes, this is the season for indulging in some slam book writing! Unfortunately many schools have banned “the Slam Book” as the management feels it distracts students. But the students under a veil of secrecy managed to pour their hearts out on to the glossy pages. The practice still continues. Only that the readymade slam books available in the market have become a tad boring and students have switched over to personal diaries.

“Slam books are not distractions but treasure troves holding tonnes of memories” declares G. Dakshayani studying in Xth standard.

Questions like, who is your first crush, who would be your dream date and other spooky ones in the formatted slam books led to the ban, she feels.

But the idea of inking your memories and secrets is very much popular in schools. Only that the customised slam books have changed to personal diaries, year book, sign book and photo books.

“The questions in the slam books became boring and repetitive and so writing in a friend’s diary became more fun and totally different,” says B.Subhiksha, XIIth grader. “In a diary, we are not limited by space or stereotypical questions. Rather, we can frankly, humorously and emotionally recall all those memories we made in classrooms, labs, library, canteen, playground, auditorium. It also gives us a chance to show off our language and drawing skills," she adds.

Most students write about the fun they had in school. Many recall how many times they sneaked out of assembly hall, secretly discussed love stories or maintained FB accounts, the bonding that took place in tuition classes, jokes cracked during the school bus ride or while sharing a meal during lunch break and much more.

Irrespective of the invasion by Facebook, twitter and other social media, slam books and diaries have retained their place among the school students.

“Social media does not affect slam book writing. Over the years it’s only the hand written notes of our friends which will make us feel good,” points out Afritha Hasana, studying in class XII.

Interestingly many boys consider filling slam book to be a “complete waste of time”. Says 12th grader K.M Nikshithi, “Some boys go blank on a lot of questions and find the slam book to be a girly stuff”. His friend S. Krishnan agrees, “I don’t feel slam books are worth the time. It just takes few seconds to say Hi to my friend on what’s app or FB. Diary writing is not my cup of tea” he confesses.

The Vice-principal of Mahatma School, Ms.Shanthi Ramoharan, says, “We try to avoid the slam book culture because we find it distracts students in many ways. They waste lot of time decorating it and writing on them. Moreover questions like who is your favourite hero or heroine, song or movie makes them lose focus on studies.”

But the point is when slam books are so easily available, and even many small shops are well stocked with them, why wouldn’t a student simply pick it up and use it? At their age, the slam book culture obviously appeals to them. But what happens when they go to college?

“All my slam books are safely piled up in my cupboard, it’s been over a year since I read them” notes V. Meenakshi Pritika a Final Year IT student at SRM University, Chennai.

“New friends and college life fun has weakened her connection with the slam book from school days, she admits.

J. Santhosh Kumar doing Visual communication at Madras Christian College says, “In school there is not much choice but to fill up each other’s slam book. But college life is totally different and now we don’t pull out the slam books even for time pass.”

“These days the forwarded messages in what’s app are like the slam book liners and people are wasting time on that now,” says M. Subhashri doing B.Sc. Chemistry at MCC.

Opinions of school and college students may vary, but at some point in time, they all feel the slam book is worth a thousand memories.

When you go back to those hand-written pages, you realise how far you have travelled. And that is when perhaps you begin to miss your golden years spent in school.

No matter what, a slam book is a precious keepsake!

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 4:20:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/flipping-through-the-slam-book/article8193480.ece

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