KO Questions

It’s always interesting to see how some difficult seemingly impossible questions are answered – I don’t mean puzzles, puns or riddles. Like the one that went like ‘How many dentists are there in city x?’ in the book Freakanomics.

Today there was one such query and a response in the mail that also brought to my mind another story of a different kind, a parable. Sharing them both starting with the parable:


There was a wise man who had come from far into the village. Everyone in the village went to him for his advice on his/her problems in life.

A prankster kid decided to play on the wise man.

He caught and held a tiny bird in his hand and went to the wise man.

Putting out his hands, both closed, he said: ‘Sir, there’s a bird in one of my hands. Please tell me if it’s alive or dead.’

If the wise man said ‘alive’, the boy would simply crush the bird and show it to be dead. If it was said to be ‘dead’ he would simply open his hand and let the bird fly away. Either way, the wise man would be wrong.

The wise man looked at the kid for a moment and smiled. And said:

‘Well, I cannot tell you which of the two hands holds the bird. But this much, yes…’ he paused.

The kid was beset with excitement and curiosity to hear the wise man go on to fail.

And so was I when I heard this story. How is he going to handle it?

The wise man said: ‘If you let it, it’ll live. And if you don’t, it wont. The answer is not with me. Like many other things in life, it is in your own hands.’

A response and its articulation – something I wouldn’t have come up with ever!


Here’s the one I got today by mail from a knowledge forum fielding questions from kids:

Question for Dr. Universe: What’s the best story ever made in the world? – From Jada, 13, New Jersey


Dear Jada,

Humans have been telling stories for thousands of years. At first, they told these stories out loud, then they started to write.

There are more than a hundred million published books on our planet now and to find out which one is best, I visited my friend Matthew Jockers. He’s a professor at Washington State University who combines his love of stories with computer science to research what makes some books bestsellers.

He uses a computer algorithm which can read a book super-fast—way faster than even the fastest reader in our world (who can read 25,000 words a minute). The algorithm is called the “bestseller-ometer,” and it pays attention to both the words and big patterns of a book.

Jockers told me that bestsellers tend to be page-turners. These books have rhythm and patterns, especially when it comes to how the writer creates and resolves conflict. These stories often have characters that get into trouble and then get out of trouble again.

We might see this kind of pattern in books like “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games.” These books also have a lot of cliffhangers. Still, the answer to your question goes beyond just looking at the bestseller list. We might also think about the best book in another way. Jockers said some of the best books are those that cross cultural boundaries.

There are some books that connect us no matter what language we speak or where we come from. Jockers said one of the writers who has reached readers around the globe is William Shakespeare. Shakespeare lived more than 400 years ago, but people everywhere from Japan to Germany to France to the U.S. still watch and read his plays.

The classics

We might also think about the “best” ones as the books that have stood the test of time. In this case, books that were written long ago have a better shot at taking the title of best book.

One book that was written in Ancient Greece was an adventure story called “The Odyssey.” It’s about a man who is on a journey home. People tend to like books where a hero goes on a quest and returns home, Jockers adds.

The best book might also be the one that changes the world. It might make humans think about things in new ways.

Finally, the answer to your question might just be that it’s a matter of opinion. “The best one is the one you think is the best book,” Jockers said.

Maybe you have a favorite book that you can re-read again and again. When you flip through the pages, maybe you find something new that you never noticed before.

But perhaps the best story is one that hasn’t even been told yet. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be the one to write it.


Dr. Universe

Could it be anything but this?



Source: Dr Universe

Disruptive Technology

From Usha Narayan:

What is Disruptive Technology ? 

When TV came to my house. I forgot how to read books. 

When the car came to my doorstep, I forgot how to walk. 

When I got the mobile in my hand, I forgot how to write letters. 

When computer came to my house, I forgot spellings.

When AC came to my house, I stopped going under the tree for cool breeze.

When I stayed in the city, I forgot the smell of mud. 

By dealing with banks and cards, I forgot the value of money. 

With the smell of perfume, I forgot the fragrance of fresh flowers. 

With the coming of fast food, I forgot to cook traditional cuisines.

Always running around, I forgot how to stop. 

And lastly, when I got whatsapp, I forgot how to talk.


All The World Loves A Loser!

‘Ayushman Bharat Scheme’ is a recently announced medicare scheme:


An Open Door

Benjamin is in the midst of a long dry spell in Las Vegas. Eventually he gambles away all his money and has to borrow a quarter from another gambler just to use the men’s room. He finds a stall that happens to be open and pockets the quarter.

Believing that his luck has finally changed, he puts the quarter in a slot machine and hits the jackpot. He takes his winnings and goes to the blackjack table and turns his modest winnings into a million dollars. 

Wealthy beyond his wildest dreams, Benjamin goes on the lecture circuit, where he tells his incredible story. He tells his audiences that he will always be eternally grateful to his benefactor, and if he ever finds the man he will share his fortune with him.

After months of speaking, a man in the audience jumps up and says, “I’m that man. I was the one who gave you the quarter.”

“Yes, I remember you well, but you aren’t the one I’m looking for. I mean the guy who left the stall door open!”


Jones jumped up from the card table white with rage.  “Stop this game,” he shouted, “Smith is cheating!”

“How do you know?”

“He’s not playing the hand I dealt him.”



Source: santabanta.com

Moments In The Morning (A Vignette)

A glorious morning to make one happy to be alive.

The rose bushes swayed a little in the gentle caress of a breeze.

The butterfly deftly balanced itself over the rose: ‘OMG, the man is coming to us here with his basket.’

‘Let him,’ said the rose unruffled.

‘Let him, eh? You very well know why he is headed here.’

‘Yes, he’s going to pluck those of us in full bloom – me included.’

‘And you’re not worried? How could these humans do that? Can’t they enjoy the beauty, letting you live and look gorgeous on the stem?’

‘Listen, don’t grieve for us. In any case we have only a couple of more days to go before we begin withering away. At least…’

‘What ‘at least’?’

‘If the man takes us with him, yes, that’s end of the road for us. But we go out in glory….you know we’ll adorn his deity, god…in the crown!  What better way to…’

The conversation ceased suddenly without goodbye’s said. A teary butterfly took off swiftly, getting out of harm’s way; for, the man was already up on the bush.

With his basket almost full up, the man was set to go when he spotted it.

As his fingers closed around, the butterfly made a valiant attempt to distract him.

To no avail.

All the same, buzzed by the flying insect, he lost his balance for a moment and the rose fell back into the bush.

Could see it lodged deep inside the bush on a bed of thorns, a few petals shed in the fall.

Like the great Kuru, Bishma?

‘So be it,’ the man walked god-wards, the loss tinging him for a moment.

The butterfly never in its life returned to the bush.


Two Crows On A Forage – A (Real) Story

Charcoal drawing from Etsy


Two kinds of people, in a day,

‘often come your way.  

Lo and behold, I saw them both today,

‘eyeing at where the eats lay.

Away and towards, slanting their heads,

‘rolling their dark suspicious eyes.

‘who here? friends or foes?

Thoughts racing in their minds…

Cookies crumbled for easy eat

‘proved far too much to resist.

Their escape could always be swift.

‘any time they saw a threat.

So they gingerly stepped up to it.

To human presence, ever alert.

The nervous one quickly stole one treat,

‘and made away without a regret.

The other took one and then one…

‘until there remained none,

‘not dropping his guard until done.

And, no looking back… was gone!

Two kinds of people, in a day,

‘often come your way.  

For always, right or wrong, who is to say

‘but this: while the sun shines, make hay?



Now, For Some Forgotten Melodies!

Songs we missed our classes to hear on radio! Not likely to be heard in these days.

A coincidence that I noticed later – all the songs are Shankar Jaikishen’s!

Good quality clips of these songs are difficult to obtain.


‘Tum Jo Humare Meet Na Hote Geet Ye Mere Geet Na Hote’ from Aashiq (1962) sung by Mukesh. Stars Raj Kapoor, Nanda, Padmini, Keshto Mukherjee and Leela Chitnis. Music: Shankar Jaikishen. Lyrics: Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. Director: Hrishikesh Mukerjee.

Video here.


‘Suno Ji Suno Hamari Bhi Suno’ in Ek Dil Sau Afsane (1963) sung by Mukesh. Stars: Raj Kapoor. Waheeda Rehman, Lalita Pawar, Sulochana Chatterjee, Mridula Rani, Mehar Banu and Jagdish Raj. Music: Shankar Jakishan. Lyrics: Shailendra.

Video here.


‘Bahar Banke Woh Muskuraye’ from Apne Huye Paraye (1964) sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Actors: Manoj Kumar, Mala Sinha, Shashikala, Lalita Pawar, Agha, Padma Kumari, Sunder, Chand Burke, Dulari, Iftekhar, Ramayan Tiwari, Savitri and Naina. Music: Shankar Jaikishan. Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri. Director: Ajit Chakraborty. Producer: Ajit Chakraborty.

Video here.


‘Begaani Shaadi Mein’ from Jis Desh Mein Behti Hai (1960) sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh. Actors: Padmini, Raj Kapoor, Pran, Lalita Pawar, Raj Mehra and Sulochana Chatterjee. Music: Shankar Jaikishan. Lyrics: Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. Director: Radhu Karmarkar.

Video here.



Unforgettable Melodies


‘Chal Mere Dil’ in Ishara (1964) sung by Mukesh. Stars: Joy Mukherjee, Vaijayanti Mala, Pran and Pratima Devi. Music: Kalyanji Anandji. Lyrics: Armaan Malik.

Video here.


‘Kisi Ki Muskurahaton Pe Ho Nisar’ in Anari (1959) sung by Mukesh. Stars: Raj Kapoor, Nutan, Nazir Hussain, Lalita Pawar, Motilal, Shubha Khote, Mukri and Helen. Music: Shankar Jaikishen. Lyrics: Shailendra.

Video here.


‘Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi’ in Chori Chori (1956) sung by Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar. Stars:  Nargis, Raj Kapoor, Gope, Pran, Bhagwan, Johnny Walker, David and Raj Mehra. Music: Shankar Jaikishen. Lyrics: Shailendra.

Video here.


 ‘Raat ne kya kya khwaab’ in Ek Gaon Ki Kahani (1957) sung by Talat Mahmood. Stars: Mala Sinha, Talat Mahmood, Abhi Bhattacharya, I. S. Johar, Nirupa Roy, Lalita Pawar, Bipin Gupta and Dulari. Music:  Salil Chaudhary. Lyrics: Shailendra.

Video here.