Animation In Stone!

The Masculine Epic

This is an image of a ‘spy’ captured and tortured by Ramses 2 (1303 – 1213 BC; reigned 1279 – 1213 BC), to reveal the enemy plans in the imminent Battle of Kadesh.

The victim looked like Ravana with multiple limbs. I was curious to know if there were some links to or similarities with Ramayana.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Our guide, a Phd in archaeology, clarified: It was the artist’s way of showing the victim shaking with fear at the hands of the mighty Ramses 2!

According to many accounts, Ramses 2 did not exactly cover himself with glory in this battle with Hittites, contrary to the story of valor and success he tells about himself on the walls of the Abu Simbel temple!

And this, despite the fact in those days there were no elections for him to win!

It’s the surmise of the historians he did it to prop up the morale of his people.

Here’s one more:

battle-of-kadesh Abagond - WordPress com

The artist conveys the speed of the racing horse through time-lapsed snaps of its legs!!

A similar technique is employed elsewhere for an entirely different purpose:

IMG_5910 Temple Of Horus

This panel in the Temple of Horus shows porters bearing a boat, a frequently used motif/metaphor in the land of Nile.

How many of them at the back? Would you say 3, in a file?

Rows Temple of Horus

Look closely at the folds dropping down in the front of this man’s robe – this has nothing to do with the speed of the marcher. No animation here.

It’s actually the individual robes of 4 of 5 porters marching in a row, only the one closest to us is visible! In all there are 12 to 15 porters out there at the back.

Fooled? So we were!




Source: , and Google


Impossible Made ‘Possible’ – A Tenali Rama Story Never Told Before (For Children)

Tenali-Rama-and-the-Astrologer storyplanets com

Part 1

On a lazy afternoon, Raya was relaxing, taking in the sight and the smell of blooming roses and jasmine wafting in from the gardens beyond with Rama in attendance at his bidding. There were no pressing matters of state to keep him engaged.

Rama knew there was trouble just round the bend.

Well, he wasn’t wrong.

‘Rama, you know we have had some difficult times and luckily, it’s all behind us now. Things are rather quiet, like a bunch of trees standing still without a wind to stir up things. The ennui is becoming increasingly unbearable…killing. I would love for you to kick up some excitement…’

So, there it was…not long in coming, trouble in an alluring disguise!

‘Surely, my lord, if you could share with me what you have in mind…I can then take it from there.’

Leaving the field so wide open for Raya’s whims was absolutely foolhardy…but then there little else he could come up with in the instant.

‘I was thinking about it…mmm…how about this? I would like to see something unthinkable, impossible- to happen before me in real. No magic or tricks, please. Can you have something like that presented to me?’

Rama stood without a word like a naked pole waiting mournfully for the storm to pass.

‘I want to be reasonable…’

Reasonable, eh?

‘Yes, take a week’s time and come back with something interesting…am sure it’s not beyond you…’

When he said it, was it a fleeting smirk on Raya’s face? Saying ‘Son, it’ll do you a lot of good to take a fall  once in a while.’?

Rama put on a false bravado and withdrew himself with due courtesies.

Part 2

Four days had passed, yet he was no nearer to a solution. The real kicker was ‘no magic, no tricks.’

He looked suddenly aged.

Try he did – racking his much-vaunted grey cells, pulling hair off his pate – no luck.

The food lost its taste, sleep a distant memory.

He locked himself up in the house, turning away visitors…

On the fifth day…

It was the day of the week for the maid to come in and clean up.

She was shocked to see a disheveled man far from the sprightly person she had known her master to be. The house was turned upside down…things strewn all over the place. Whatever happened? She was hard put to guess. And it would be impertinent to ask.

Maybe it was from his search for ideas that had eluded him so far?

She took time dutifully returning things to their place. Finally, when she was ready to leave, she turned to him and cautioned:

‘Master, keep the back-door locked even during the day as far as possible till it gets warmer. These are days snakes sneak in for warmth, especially to the kitchens, where they curl up near the hearth. Two days ago, in one of those houses in the East Car Street, they found a large snake…something like fifteen feet long from head to tail…luckily, they found it before anyone stepped on it.  Had to be killed…it was poisonous.’

Given the state of his mind, Rama threw a look of incredulity mixed in equal parts with disinterest. Nonetheless…such a large snake? He abhorred snakes, small or big.  Under the circumstances, he would have bolted from the house as far and fast as his legs could carry him.

The maid offered further proof: ‘If you don’t believe…you know the book-keeper’s house, fourth on our left, the blue one? The girl working there is my friend…she told me.  You may check with her if you wish.’

Rama assured her he’ll and he’ll not – he’ll lock the door to keep away unwelcome guests and he’ll not be checking with the girl. He thanked her for her concern.

After a frugal lunch, he rested on the string-cot and fell asleep almost immediately from mental exhaustion.

It was a fitful sleep dreaming of frightful snakes of all shapes and sizes, slithering, hissing, dancing…with the hoods raised in full glory.

When he woke up sweating, he was happy to find himself in safer surroundings. Why did he have these nightmarish dreams? He abhorred snakes, small or big. Then he remembered – it was all the maid’s doing injecting them into his hitherto-snake-free thoughts.

That was also when a seed of an idea insinuated itself into his mind, no more than a straw for a drowning man.

Part 3

It was the day of reckoning:

Rama reached the palace early busying himself with off-stage arrangements – it needed some.

Close to the appointed hour, the host and the guests had gathered.

Raya was excited like a child at a fair. The royal court, filled to capacity, too was agog with anticipation – what kind of a ‘rabbit’ Rama was going to pull off the ‘hat’? Only ‘rabbits’ and ‘hats’ were expressly forbidden.

When everyone settled down to a quiet, Raya stood up to briefly address the audience:

‘I had asked our resourceful Rama to arrange for our viewing pleasure something we know as impossible, contrary to the laws of nature and yet it’ll happen right before us. No magic or tricks, I had said. So, not an easy task. And here we’re for Rama to show us.’

And signaled for the show to commence without further ado.

A veteran of many trials, Rama got down to business, looking his usual self. He called for Lakshmi to appear in their midst, introducing her as his maid who keeps his house in order.

Lakshmi was both surprised looking at a restored Rama and also visibly nervous standing before the august assembly.

Not wanting to prolong her agony,

‘Lakshmi, please tell everyone here what you know about the snake – remember the one you mentioned it to me in your last visit?’

After a few seconds seemingly to gain control of herself and recall the conversation alluded to, the words came out slowly:

‘Yes, master, I warned you about snakes. I told you how a huge snake had entered one of the houses and was killed before anyone got hurt.’

‘Where did this happen?’

‘In a house on the East Car Street.’

‘Oh, the short street with three or four houses…and when did this happen?’

‘Last Tuesday.’

‘You said it was huge, Lakshmi, how large…’

‘Master, it was about fifteen feet long, measured before it was buried.’

‘And how did you come to know about it?’

‘From my friend Padmini…she knew…’

‘Thank you, Lakshmi, what you shared with us was helpful. You may leave now.’

The audience shifted in their seats still clueless what was this business about snakes. Where was Rama headed?

Next, he summoned Padmini who waited in the wings not aware of her friend’s deposition before her.

Her story matched Lakshmi’s – the house was the same one on the East Car Street, the day was last Tuesday – in all details except one. The snake was ten feet long.

Savitri, her friend, followed.  It was a five feet long snake.

And finally, by the time Saraswati from the house on the East Car Street, the scene of ‘crime’, ground zero, stood before them, the audience kind of knew where Rama was going with it.

The hapless reptile was no more than two feet, she averred.

While chuckles rippled in the audience, something was still missing – after all, exaggeration in any cascaded communication was a social phenomenon not entirely unknown.  They were not sated.

Until Rama supplied them the perspective of ‘the impossible’:

‘My lord and gentlemen of the court, now we know it’s ‘possible’ even for the dead to grow!!’

And, took a bow.

Dead silence in the court for a short while and then commotion, albeit muted. It was mighty clever of Rama to put it to them in the way he did, they reluctantly conceded.

It would be another day, if ever, for them to see what they had hoped for – Rama flat on the mat.

Raya was filled with rage when he heard a voice telling him Rama had actually trivialized his wish.  Then another voice in his head said, ‘Be reasonable, did you really expect a miracle to happen?  What else save a miracle would make an ‘impossible’ happen before you? Rama did the next best thing. Thank your stars he’s on your side.’

Raya got up from his seat and walked slowly to Rama with arms open.





Source: Inspired by a post from Elango Velur Thiruturaipoondi []  and image from

Theory And Practice (A Short Story)


It was early morning on the 16th day of Margazhi (the month). The day’s discourse concluded on the 16th Thiruppavai paasuram (see note on Thiruppavai at the end), peeling away its literal sense to uncover its manifold metaphorical allusions:

*naayaganaay ninRa, nandagOpanuDaiya
kOyil kaappaanE!* koDit tOnRum tOraNa
vaayil kaappaanE!* maNik kadavaM taaL tiRavaay*…   

The audience dispersed, some to the adjoining temple for darshan and some spilling onto the street heading homewards.

The man and the woman, the first to emerge, paused at the gate where footwears were left behind on the outside before entering the temple.

She saw here and there and said: ‘I can’t find my chappals. Had left them right here.’

The man: ‘Look carefully, it must be somewhere here.’

‘I’ve seen all around…it’s not here. It is a new one.’

‘Whoever told you to wear a new pair to the temple?’

Losing one’s footwear, especially new, at public places like temples is not uncommon.

The man turned to the meek looking Nepali in a crumpled ill-fitting khaki standing at the gate: ‘Watchman, did you see anyone take off wearing her chappals?’

The poor immigrant was used to rudeness: ‘No, Sir. No one was here in the time I’m standing here on watch. You’re the first to come over here.’

Giving him a disdainful look reserved for an erring domestic, the man to his wife in Tamizh: ‘Who knows, this fellow may have swiped it himself. You can’t trust them at all. Days are such…’

The Nepali guessed they were talking about him, none of it complimentary. Mumbling to himself: ‘Don’t they know I’m here to guard the temple’s things and god’s against theft and not for keeping a watch on footwears left outside?’

Just then the woman cried an excited ‘Eureka’: ‘Oh, I found them…thank god. Some mutt had left his jumbo shoes on top of my chappals. That’s why…’

They left, not looking back.

Back at home, his mother to the woman: ‘So how was it today?’

Every day when they returned from the discourse, his mother always wanted know. It would not be out of place to mention she had been to at least half a dozen discourses on the subject before her knees gave way. Still…

The woman summed it up for her: ‘Amma, it was very nice today. In today’s paasuram, the thOzigal (cow-herd girl-friends) are up and ready – they have assembled in front of Nandagopan’s palatial house, also Krishna’s residence. And you know what? This is so much like what happens today…to gain entry into the house for Krishna’s darshan, they try to enlist the support of others who matter – first, the guard at the main gate, then another watching the courtyard and the inner door. That’s not all – once inside, they now appeal to Krishna’s elder brother Balram too and mother Yashodha. Even here, see how smart they’re: when they address the guards, it’s not by their names, but by describing the important job they are doing – remember how Krishna is under constant threats from asura’s assuming unimaginable forms – massaging their professional pride! The operating principle here’s: ‘When you go to seek favors (god’s grace), don’t offend others on the way. In fact it helps to get them on your side!` Just like what we do today, isn’t it? Digressing briefly at this point, the upanyasakar (the speaker at the discourse) pointed out, how many of us understand and appreciate, whenever we go to temples, the job dwarapaalakaa’s (the two iconic door-keepers depicted on the doors at the entrance; full-sized stone moorthy’s (icons) in bigger temples) do – keeping watch on in-comers – and are worthy of our serious devotion as noble servants of god?  And, we hardly notice them much less bow to these watchmen…’




Source: Image from United We Blog!

On Thiruppavai (from Wiki):

The Tiruppavai is a collection of thirty stanzas (paasurams) written in Tamizh by Andal, belonging to the pavai genre of songs, in praise of the Lord Vishnu. Andal assumes the guise of a cowherd in these 30 verses and is intent upon performing a particular religious vow to marry the Lord, thereby obtain His everlasting company, and inviting all her girl-friends to join her. Sri Vaishnavas sing these stanzas every day of the year in the temple as well as in their homes to bring peace, prosperity and Divine Grace. This practice assumes special significance during Margazhi: each day of this month gets its name from one of the thirty verses. There are references to this vow in the late-sangam era Tamil musical anthology Paripadal.


Pritamji And His Nuska’s (A Short-Story)

walk-in-indiaThe park had a track laid out along its periphery, used by joggers in the morning and by senior citizens for their evening walks.

One evening, reaching the track, I saw him already doing rounds all by himself.

I fell in step with him: ‘Namshkar, Pritamji, you’re early today! Or, am I late?’

‘No, my friend, you’re very much on time. It’s just that I wanted to go for a few extra rounds starting a little earlier and finishing with you.’

‘Looks like only two of us today. Wish I too could go with you full length but for these knees…’

Too late, the words had already gotten out. No phrase in English, as far as I know, captured my predicament so vividly as Hindi’s ‘Aa Bhail, mujhe maar’ (Dear bull, I invite you to hit me). Oh, boy, now for the music, sure as night follows day.

‘I told you and you won’t listen. Let me meet Bhabhi and tell her. I’m sure she would ensure you do it. People have reported dramatic improvements within two weeks.’

Rummaging my memory did not yield any recall of the subject conversation.

A little bit of a background is in order here so I don’t lose you: Pritamji, my co-walker for a couple of years now, is a likeable soft-spoken ex-shop-keeper who has handed over the reign to his children and now spends time watching on TV and sharing with a willing audience – he’s perceptive and considerate –  all about how indigenous patthe (leaves, herbs), powders, pastes or potions are far more effective and affordable than the ‘poisons’ pushed by these foreign pharma companies. He calls them MNC’s, Multi National Colonialists, a new breed ominously redolent of the infamous East India Company of the good old Brits. Did it have anything to do with what he had told us some time ago – the pharmacy abutting his shop in the market-place had refused a few years earlier to sell him some space for expansion at any price. Perhaps, not – we never brought it up.

Now, do I make a willing audience?  Before I respond, consider this for a moment: I subjected myself for years successively to various nuska’s (prescriptions) for diabetes – karela juice (bitter-gourd) on empty stomach first thing in the morning, methi seeds (fenugreek) with dahi (curds), pomegranate seeds mixed with ghud-maar (gymnema sylvestre) powder, water left standing overnight in a copper vessel with/without pieces of okhra soaked in it, wearing a brass-band on the wrist, looking out-of-the-world with green-gram seeds press-pasted visibly on nerve points all over the limbs, etc. etc. And, if you rush to me with one of your own, not figuring in this list, the one you thought would have if only I had, I must tell you it’s all over now, water under the bridge, with me going on emergency under the knives wielded by a leading cardiac surgeon a few years ago. And, post-surgery, diabetes managed by frequent and liberal doses of insulin every day.  This being the case, I’m sure, you won’t fault me for my disposition towards these gharelu nuska’s (home remedies).

This doesn’t mean I shut him up whenever Pritamji gets going. He’s a nice and friendly guy. I must tell you they don’t do it to me either when I wax on philately in general and in particular about my collection of stamps of island states. Each to his eccentricities.  In fact, there are a few in our group, easily outnumbering the interest in stamps, keen to hear him out and even try out a few of those prescriptions. On those evenings like this one when there are only two of us, I still let him, of course within limits, unspool updates, new finds and whatever, responding passively with appropriate ‘interesting’, ‘really’… And, he too knows how I feel about the subject, but that doesn’t discourage him from pursuing his suggestions with me.

Going back to where I left you off with my failed search:

‘Pritamji, I’m unable to recall the occasion you’re alluding to when we talked about my knees.’

What made me say this beats me even now. This was more like rolling out the red carpet to the bull yet undecided on the invitation held out last.

He was pleased with my hitherto-never-evinced ‘interest’: ‘Doesn’t matter if you don’t remember. I’ll be too happy to repeat for you to benefit: Collect tender neem leaves from a plant-tree that hasn’t grown higher than ten feet, heat it with a few betel leaves and a pinch of camphor in til (sesame) oil on a slow flame until the leaves turn crisp. Mix it with enough of rice flour – ah, take care, it must be from unpolished rice – to form a paste. And it is this hot paste that’s slapped onto your knee caps. Every night, lying on the bed, this paste is applied on each knee-cap, held in place by a tightly wound piece of cloth; no movement of the limbs for twenty minutes. That’s all to it, so simple, isn’t it?’

I had no intention of stringing him along any further. Kept a bunch of queries to myself: Won’t it scald the skin? Won’t it spill onto the sheet? Besides, the room would be soaked up in an odor strong enough to drive away anyone within twenty-five feet. Not to mention the stiffness in the lower limbs. Are neem leaves sold backed by some kind of a provenance statement on their source to ascertain if they indeed come from a plant-tree?

He read my mind and was ready: ‘As for the spill, smell and stiffness, well, don’t they say: ‘No pain, no gain, eh.’?’

Gain? All I wanted was ‘no pain’.

The one he did not read was on provenance of the leaves.

I let it go for the same aforesaid reason.

Like a hound on a scent, he was not to be easily shaken off: ‘While on neem, let me tell you something else: a group based in Rishikesh has done research and found a preparation of these leaves takes years off your age, if reports are to be believed. Am trying it out on myself for a month now…I intend finding out more about it. Haven’t told anyone about it. You’re the first to hear.’

‘Am honored, Pritamji. But, wait a minute…’

‘Yes, you heard it right, my friend, you live longer.’

This was something else.

Seizing the ‘baton’, I said light-heartedly: ’And do what, Pritamji? Did you see today’s TOI (The Times Of India)? A boy killed his mother and sister because she scolded him for not studying.  You want to live through witnessing all that? Kalyug, it’s predicted, would see unabated spread all around of despair, disease, disaster, debauchery, depravity and devilry.’

Admittedly I got a little carried away there.

Encountering an unexpected objection to living long, the usually unflappable Pritamji showed a mix of irritation and incredulity at this ‘imbecility’: ‘Life is not what TOI sees and says. There’s so much more to life…So much one could be doing…’

Precisely at this moment Pritamji’s exposition on gift of life was prematurely ended by the sudden arrival of his wife.

Namashkar, Babhiji,’ I greeted.

Namashkar, Bhaisab,’ she then turned to her spouse: ‘Bhool gaye kya? Dentist ka mera appointment hai in half an hour.’ (Have you forgotten my appointment with the dentist?)

I winked at Pritamji, untainted by mock or malice, I assure you: ‘Kya, Pritamji, aapne koi nuska naheen bathaya Babhijiko?’ (Didn’t you recommend any of your prescriptions to her?’)

Babhiji assumed the strike: ‘Arrhe chodiye ye nuske, vuske ko. (Leave all that aside) Don’t get me wrong, am not against it. It’s perhaps good for health in peace time boosting defenses against diseases. But not fast enough when you’re riding an ambulance hosting some specific ailment…’. She quite seamlessly mixed Hindi and English with enviable felicity.

To her spouse: ‘Maaf keejiye, Shoharji, you know how it sits with me.’ (Am sorry, dear husband…)

To me, softening it up a little for Pritamji: ‘Bhaisab, don’t go entirely by what I’m saying. It might work for you, who knows. Listening to those guys on the show religiously every day, my patidev should know what he’s talking about.’

Pritamji was somewhat mollified to be back in the game.

Some insights were shared: ‘In fact that’s all he watches on the TV…for about half an hour in the morning. These days, he finds newspapers – purveyors of gloom and doom, books – too many pages to make a point, magazines – voyeuristic, music – just loud sans melody, places – crowded and noisy, travel – a hassle, spirituality – a leap into the unknown, gadgets – too complicated with more keys than a piano, gym – a myth minted by mass over mind, money matters – if money didn’t matter…’

At this, a self-congratulatory smile appeared on his visage, pleased with himself for an accurate assessment of the world around us. Therein was also an invite, it seemed, for me to join him on his take.

Regrettably I did not oblige my co-walker on this occasion, me thinking: ‘So, turning his back on life, what did he do with his days?’

Babhiji saw in it something none of us did and quite seriously: ‘Did I miss out anything, dear…You know what? Come to think of it, you may be onto something big – a nuska to relieve boredom. You’re hardly ever, if you noticed. I did. Ever thought of it?’

Oh, my…she was right. He never pulled a long face, cursed anything or anybody, held his head between his hands or whatever people do when weighed down. . Was it the neem leaves? Can’t be…for one thing, it was only a month of usage. Moreover, if it did work as claimed, it would only aggravate the ailment, piling more time on his table when our poor dear didn’t know what to do with the time he already had with him. Then, what was it?

I was not the only one pondering over it. I saw Pritamji already off the starting block in a race of self-inquiry and self-discovery for the elusive nuska, proudly his own.

Before he could cover any ground Babhji called a halt: ‘Sunoji, dheri ho raha hai. Vo khadoos doctor naraaj hojayega. I don’t want an upset doctor holding a drill to my teeth.’ (Come, let’s go, it’s time. That moody chap (doctor) would get annoyed…)

Till date our group is on its evening rounds with the fond hope our Pritamji would share his nuska with us first; this time he’s sure to have an audience, much larger than he can imagine, and willing too.





PS: This is largely fictional, written in jest, not to put down nuska’s.

Source: Image from

Friendly Neighborhood

Shuchi Krishan

At the dinner table, it was unusually quiet.

“Over the last few days, you’re not your usual self, I’ve been observing. Is something the matter? Are you alright? What’s eating you?”

Tongue-tied, none of the chirp and cheer of the last couple of weeks in evidence since we booked ourselves on a 10-day tour of Europe fulfilling a long standing wish of hers.

“Oh, nothing, don’t fuss.”

“Come on, look at yourself in the mirror…you know, long face, this trip has gotten to me too now.  Am going to tell K (the tour operator) to give us at least half a day at Louvre.  Anything less is scandalous.”

“Tch…I wish I had not pestered you for this tour…Incidentally no one full of life likes visiting museum’s that are but dwellings of the dead.”

“Why? What happened? You were like a kid before his birthday and now…Incidentally, Mona Lisa residing in Louvre is 500+ years young, outliving everyone of her contemporaries, and going strong!”

“Last week I told Sneha aunty about our tour as matter of neighborly courtesy.”

“That’s good. She can receive any courier packets coming to us.”

Mathlabi…that’s not it. Ever since I told her, she has been cautioning me with one thing or the other. It’s scary. Tell me, was there a crazy shootout a few days ago in Brussels at a crowded shopping mall randomly killing innocent public? I missed the story – these days I don’t read papers like I used to.”

“Happens all the time in some part of the world or the other. The trick in life is not to be there at the spot at the time.”

“Ha…why, these guys send you a sms before rolling out their vile plans to let their pal get out of harm’s way? Get serious. This is another thing – is winter in Europe severe this year? People getting stranded for days? Can you imagine us cooped up in some hotel miles away from humanity? Aunty got these horror stories coming from her cousin in Zurich.”

“Dear, this is an annual phenomenon.  It’s winter. Unless hell is freezing over, guys out there cope up with it day-in and day-out. If it does become unmanageable, I’m sure, K would cancel, reroute or do something about it.  Why think of and worry about a worst-case situation?  Don’t forget there are eighteen others going with us on the trip. It’s amazing our aunty keeps tabs on far beyond the walls of her house, even across oceans!”

“Oh, she reads papers, watches news channels; have no doubts –  her stories are authentic, put out by sources trusted world-wide. And today, you know what?  Poor dear tells me – I could detect a tinge of envy – I’m lucky to have you take me to these places while Arvindji (her husband) doesn’t even think of it, not even to places within India, all the time worrying about the expenses. I thought he had a good business going in Kalbadevi. They don’t look hard up…That reminds me, last month apparently our Rupee slipped badly against the Euro and continues to be weak, pushing up costs in Europe by 15% to 20%. Curse our luck.”

Ah, so that’s what it really was. Now it all made sense. Well, the problem was not without solution, though this was not one of them – much as I hated to admit: I didn’t think my persuasion skills were that good to get Arvindji to change his time-hardened ways. On the other hand I could certainly…now let me not get ahead of myself.

Picking it up from where my wife left off: “I presume this also comes from our aunty since you don’t read papers these days. Didn’t know currencies and conversions too receive her attention. What a waste of talent to confined within the four walls of her home, a truly world.wide.woman!”

“Correction: I said “not like I used to”. Doesn’t mean I don’t look at it all. Let’s keep the lady out of this – sizing up her expertise, its reach and depth are no part of the agenda here – and get back to Rupee vis-à-vis Euro.  Looks like we’re going to be over the budget by 15 to 20%. All this had to happen just when we’re stepping out.”

“Don’t lose your sleep over it, it’s not going to majorly impact us. Remember, we booked the tickets two months ago? K is bound to hold the prices. And ours is an all-inclusive tour, K taking up all expenses. Yes, some incidentals we incur would be pricier – but that’s not big-ticket. Now, you feel better about going?”

“Yah…if all that you say is what it is. Though aunty may not think so.”

“Quit worrying and get ready – we have no more than 72 hours before we leave and so much to do. And, as a measure of abundant caution, you may wish to go to the temple sometime and pray for our safe journey and back.”

“Please don’t jest in these matters. And, I certainly intend to at the earliest.”

So, we made it finally. The days were so packed my wife quickly forgot all about her apprehensions (or, aunty’s, to be accurate, whom we ceased forthwith talking about since last injunction) and gave herself up fully to the excitement of travel, sight-seeing and sumptuous food. We were lodged in hotels where our rooms were clean and comfortable. Bonus: We made friends with other families going with us on the tour adding much spice to our experience.  The tour was an unqualified success and an unforgettable experience for my wife – as for self, it was not as novel, having visited some of these places earlier while in service. Mercifully, the gentleman, Murphy, for some reason, had not thrown his rule-book at us.

We returned late evening on a Friday. Saturday was spent in running some errands and in doing some chores – emptying the travel bags and stowing them away, collecting clothes for wash, sorting out toys, trinkets and gifts for friends and relatives.

My wife walked in just then: “Hey, that handbag looks classy, thank you.”

“Sorry, not for you.”

“Don’t tell me once again this is for your boss’s wife. She must already have the largest collection in the land, a good part of it coming from you. And, I never noticed it, when did you buy this?”

I just shrugged. Another tip for blissful life: “It’s not always questions need to be answered.”

On Sunday, in the afternoon, we had our aunty inviting herself in.

She was all cheers, half-hugging my wife, as much as their torso’s permitted the maneuver. To my wife’s surprise and delight, she asked at length all about the places we went to, people whom we met, the food we had and so on.

As she got up to leave at the end of it,

“Next you must go to Scandinavian countries, very scenic and tourist-friendly places, my cousin tells me.”

“Oh, the one in Zurich? Aunty, since it’s further up north, the temperatures must be closer or below zero.”

“My dear, all you need is the right kind of clothes. After all you handled European winter and not any worse for it.”

“What about random violence?”

“Which part of the world outside of your house is totally safe from the crazies these days, tell me? You must plan it for next year.”

As she stood on the landing outside of our door,

“Oh, how remiss of me, I forgot all about it. Thanks very much, dear, for the prettiest purse you got for me. And of course, the chocolates-n’-candies hamper. So nice of you to have taken the trouble.”

Parting time: “And don’t forget what I said about Scandinavia.”

As my wife turned around closing the doors, I got ready to explain myself.

How did it end?  Well, realization – there indeed was a problem and it was not with her – took a while and recognition – the fix was swift, smooth and smart – a little longer. No harm in tooting one’s horn once in a way, right?





Source: Painting by Shuchi Krishnan

The Story Of A Rich Man

Rich Men

The man was once asked, “How does it feel to be the richest man in the land?”

He said,

Richest man in the land…mmm…Well, I don’t know about that, but I certainly know of one who’s…”

After a pause,

“Many years ago, one day, while on duty in the downtown area, I paused at a stall selling newspapers.

A title in bold carried by one of them on display caught my sight. I wanted​ to buy a copy.

Rummaging my pockets, I couldn’t find the change (coins).

I stood there for a moment with my eyes still fixed on the paper, before moving away.

The observant boy ‘manning’ the stall pulled one and said:

“Take it.”

I said, “But I don’t have change”

“No problem, I’ll give you for free”.

The paper, on the inside, had an advertisement I found on subsequent perusal that was to change my life forever.

Six years later:

I was living in an affluent suburb and working from a marquee address in the central district. Downtown never figured in my beat.

On one occasion I suddenly remembered the incident – can’t quite recall what exactly triggered it. And I decided to find the boy.

Cutting to the chase, after a month and a half of search he was located – still at it, selling newspapers from a street a little away from where I had seen him last.

I asked him, “Remember me?”

There was no recognition. He looked at me head-to-toes, at my business suit, the sleek car I had alighted from…all way out of his league.

“You gave me for free a newspaper one day many years ago. I didn’t have the needed change.”

After some effort, “Yes, now I do.”

“I want to compensate you for what you did…and more. Tell me what would…?”

He cut in: “That’s very generous of you. Though, it still won’t be the same!”


He said, “I gave you when you were poor and I could hardly afford give-away’s; you want to give me now, when you are rich. See?”

More words between us, to no avail…he stood where he stood.

I came away, my purse as heavy as ever, not a rupee poorer.

So, here I’m, unable to discharge my debt I owed. Now, what do you think? Does that make me…




Source – Based on a story from Vijay ( coming originally from Institute of Chartered Accountants of India – CA Students. Images from Success Stories and

This Too Shall Pass (Short Story)

Based on a mushy story in Tamizh making rounds in WhatsApp, running its course quite predictably, here’s my effort, muddying up the waters a wee bit along the way:

Oratechsolve old_people_India

‘Last month itself I had warned you when you sent hundred rupees. Now this letter. This will not end here, I’m telling you again. Once it’s falling roof, this time it’s hospital charges…who knows your dear sister may be behind all this.’

She paused to regain her breath.

‘Don’t forget we have two children of our own growing up. There’s fees to pay once the school reopens, new uniforms…’

‘All right, all right. I’ll write to them. Will you please stop now?’

‘Please do that first thing…One thing you do well is to shut my mouth.’


It became the lot of utensils in kitchen sink to bear the brunt.

Normalcy returned over next couple of days helped by the week-end outing with the children – it was the last before the close of summer vacation.

A week later, one evening when he returned from his office,

It was all quiet in the house. The children were heads-down into their books – quite unusual so early in their term. No usual greetings and hugs. He could see through the open door her feet on the bed.   It wasn’t time yet. At the end of a long day he was in no rush to find reasons for the calm. He peeled off his pants and shirt to wear a comfortable dhoti and banyan. There was no coffee on the table. So be it. As he looked around for morning newspaper before settling down in his easy-chair, his gaze fell up on an opened envelope sticking out from under a magazine on the table, quite unsuccessful in its attempt to be elsewhere aided by the draft of the ceiling fan.

As he picked it up, he knew it was his mother. It was always so ever since his father’s fingers had turned stiff some years ago. Schooled up to sixth grade before going off to her in-laws’ house, she could write though not tidily.

He sat on the straight-backed chair never designed to suffer its occupant for long, and read:

Dear Son,

We’re sorry and concerned to hear about the sickness of our dear grandson. The young lad still has a long way to go. Tell bahu (daughter-in-law) to give him lots of vegetables and fruits and milk…of course she knows.

Don’t spare any expense in getting him treated. Along with this letter there’s a check for five thousand rupees. Hope it helps. If you need more let us know.

Do not worry yourself, this money is legit. You know we had this small patch of land at the back of our house, the one we had willed to you? Luckily for us, we could sell it at short notice to be able to send you this check and keep some for treating your father. Our neighbor had his eyes on this land for long. He was good enough to pay all of ten thousand readily across the table.

Your father was very much against it. He doesn’t understand. You needed the money right now and we needed it too. He maintained it was worth many times more – it could even fetch as much as a couple of lakhs, if we wait a little longer. But, how could we? You sounded so helpless. Of course, he could be right – these days freehold land prices are suddenly shooting up unbelievably.  He says our neighbor unfairly knocked us down for a pittance knowing our urgency.  I had to press on him very hard to go ahead with the deal. Last couple of days, he isn’t even talking to me. Don’t worry, he’ll come around. I hope you too don’t think I’ve erred.

And don’t lose sleep over his health. Now we have the money to pay the doctors.

Once again, take good care of the child. We’re sure you’ll. Do keep us informed. And tell us if you need more, we’ll manage.

Yours affly,


The letter slipped gently onto the floor from where it took off to the far corner, greatly relieved, its job done.

Feeling like a loser, though he wasn’t sure what was it about, he got up to make some coffee for himself. He needed it.

He’ll come around.