Tenali Raman Turns To Sleuthing (A Story For Children)

Part 1

It was another day in the royal court of Krishna Deva Raya.

And a ‘knotty’ case had come up.

It was between a much-harried diminutive woman and a confident statuesque looking dame towering over the former by a foot and a half at least.

A gist of what the court heard:

The woman’s complaint: When her husband was alive and his business thriving, a couple of years ago, he had bought from the defendant this house in the middle of a sparsely inhabited neighborhood  quite away from the town for them to spend some days in peace removed from the daily hustle and bustle.  Which they did though not as often as they wished, after carrying out some adaptations and changes for their convenience.  

After her husband’s untimely demise, she sold off her house in the town where they lived to settle her husband’s business debts and had gone off on a pilgrimage to the north importantly to immerse his ashes in the river Ganga at Gaya followed by visits to various holy places like Badrinath, Hardwar, Rishikesh…And when she returned some nine months later – no motorized rapid transport in those days – she found this house occupied by the defendant claiming it to be hers. She was turned back at the gate itself, rendering her homeless.   

The defendant asserted that indeed was the fact and the woman was needlessly harassing her. She had always stayed in the house, it was always hers.

Those were the days when registration of property transactions was not rigorously followed. So no records could be adduced by either party to support its claim.

As things stood, it meant some detailed field investigation. The officers of the court looked at each other until one of them spoke up:

‘Your Highness, this is just the kind of matter our Raman is best suited for its resolution. My suggestion is… (mumbling inaudibly) It’s time he goes out under the sun and sweats a bit.’

Raya looked at Raman.

Usually a practitioner of his ready wit, Raman had no choice but to accept the investigative assignment.

Part 2

Next day, a none-too-eager Raman rode to the distant part of the town where the house stood.

There were a few small houses in the vicinity, none close by, where he made discreet inquiries. There seemed hardly any interaction with the big house and its occupants. Though, they confirmed seeing the dame on occasions going in or coming out.  Strike one for the diminutive woman.

He then decided to enter the disputed house to see things for himself, accompanied by the plaintiff. The dame had no objection to their visit.

On the inside the house was a compact single stored structure, everything looking like new. As the dame showed them around, the plaintiff followed like she was in a daze – there was not one piece in the house she could positively identify as hers. Even on the outside no flowering plants she claimed to have planted were to be found. Strike two for the plaintiff.

The tour of the house concluded, the host seated them and went in to bring some buttermilk for them.

Shortly afterwards Raman thanked the host for her cooperation and got up to leave, when the woman suddenly got up, coming to life: ‘Sir, there’s a niche we had not seen. It’s mine…I would like to…if you don’t mind.’ Were her eyes tearing up?

The host obligingly took them to the part of the house where the niche was. Yes, they had missed it on their earlier tour. It was a low-ceilinged ‘secret tunnel’ running behind and parallel to the wall on the far side of the kitchen for a third of its length with an opening for air and light – just big enough for a person and a half to pass. Its no-door entrance placed at the near-corner was cleverly concealed by a piece of ornamental tapestry – easily missed in a first glance unless one went looking for it. Set apart for a good reason, it was a place for a woman to dress and to keep her knick-knacks.

Now it was mostly empty but for a few discarded clothes in a small pile at the deep end. The plaintiff went in first, chin up, coming out dejected after a while unable to find anything in there she could recognize. Strike three for the plaintiff.

Ouch! Raman went in next and received a painful knock on his head from the low ceiling. Bowing down a little, he diligently took in the contents of the narrow ‘tunnel’.  On his way out, suddenly before him he caught the sight of a woman’s red garment flowing from waist down to silver anklets adorning a pair of legs. Startled for a moment, he realized he was seeing on a mirror on the wall before him, the host standing in the kitchen. A gentleman he was, Raman blushed and quickly looked away.

It was a pensive Raman returning to the kitchen, proceeding to look again at things in the house.  

Announcing his task was finished and instructing both the women to appear before the royal court on the following day, he thanked and took leave of the host, dropped the homeless woman at a dharamshala and went home.  

Part 3

At about noon on the flowing day, the matter came up before the royal court in the presence of both the plaintiff and the defendant.

Raya set the ball rolling:

‘Rama, have you been able to ascertain the truth and come to a conclusion?’

‘Your Highness, I’ve.’

‘Then let’s hear of it.’

Appraising the court of the happenings and findings of the day before,

‘In conclusion, the plaintiff herself would agree with me, there was nothing evident to show she ever occupied the house.’

For a brief moment the plaintiff received from the court glances filled with sympathy and derision in an equal split.

Raman continued: ‘On occasions, the neighbors had seen the defendant go in and come out of the house, never the plaintiff. There were no articles inside the house recognized by the plaintiff as hers. In face of these facts, if we still have to believe the plaintiff, the defendant must have completely refurnished the fixtures and furniture in the house leaving nothing behind as a link to the plaintiff…’

‘Which I believe the defendant had done…’

There was a furore in the court.

‘That’s not right,’ screamed the defendant.

 The court was called to order for Raman to continue.

‘There were two lapses she had committed…one was a careless omission and another…she didn’t think of its significance.’

Raman went on to explain how she had somehow overlooked fitting or replacing the one piece that proved to be her undoing – the mirror in the ‘tunnel’ was left in its original low mounting to suit the diminutive plaintiff. He recalled how it showed only a waist-down image of the host standing behind him which had triggered his thinking. Everywhere else the fittings and fixtures and shelves in the kitchen were shifted up and placed at a height suited for the statuesque defendant. 

Yes, there was something else too, Raman recalled…the low ceiling of the ‘tunnel’ brought home by the painful knock on his head. Its import had not occurred to the defendant and hence on occupation did not trouble herself altering it in any manner – the ‘tunnel’ was a space added after purchase by the plaintiff’s late husband for his diminutive wife’s exclusive use!

‘If we hold the defendant in custody and interrogate her more thoroughly, I’m sure, she would…’

Tenali Raman took a bow and sat down, his stature in the court further enhanced. Moments later the court broke into a resounding cheer, his detractors reluctantly joining in.

End

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Take Those Candies Back, Will You?

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We were on our evening walk – about thirty minutes up and another thirty minutes down the sidewalk lining a main road in Rockville (Washington DC).

For an urban area, there’s a lot of greenery on both sides interspersing prim-looking townhouses, apartment blocks and single-family homes set back from the road by their foliage-and-grass front-yards. Sometimes we even sight a deer or two lazily grazing in the open spaces between the houses.  The only anxious moments are given by those tethered dogs straining at their leash menacingly baring their teeth and barking at us as we hasten up past those houses.

Usually sharing it with us are a few other ‘oldies’ out on walk like us, some joggers sweating it out causing the green-eyed monster to well up in our hearts momentarily though, young parents pushing their little ones in carts…yes, and a few walking their dogs that we stay clear off – smaller they’re more aggressive they seem to get.

Presently we were gone a little beyond the pretty little cottage when my wife a few paces ahead – for many years now I hopelessly trail behind her in these walks, forced into a single file to make way for the odd biker pushing ahead at break-neck-and-a-few-limbs speed – turned back: ‘You saw those children?’

Obviously I had not.

‘They were waving to us and saying something.’

On an impulse, I turned around and walked back to see a couple of small children of Chinese origin standing on the porch looking happy and still waving hands. Keeping watch on them was an elderly lady seated at the back in a cane-chair.

As I neared them, an older boy (10 to 12 years?) rushed up to me from somewhere at the back of the house inquiring nervously: ‘What’s it? What’s it?’

‘Nothing, not to worry,’ I pulled out a couple of chocolate-candies from my reserve stock I always carried being a diabetic and handed them to him, ‘just these…for them’ pointing at the children now curiously looking on.

The boy took it from my hand.

Then it struck me. I rummaged my sling-bag and found the last piece: ‘This is for you.’

I gave the elderly lady at the back – I thought I saw a smile – a friendly nod and walked away to join my waiting wife so far left wondering about my sudden detour, though it was only for a couple of minutes.

And, man, for the rest of the walk I listened to: ‘How many times do I have to tell you not to go near strangers…You’ll learn your lesson only when you get reported to the police…’

Mind is a strange device often dredging up on a cue unconnected memories – for some reason, I remembered  what I had learnt several decades ago on how a small signal applied at the base was amplified beta times at the emitter of a transistor!

Yes, she had told me before and I understand this is not the ‘done’ thing in these lands. I suppose one of these days this would be drilled hard into me in a manner not very pleasant and I’ll be cured of my impulses.

You can say it again: Life, these days, is different for sure.

End

Figure This Out…

if you’ve a little time!

If you too are where I’m (mentally) a cup of good coffee helps, I assure you.

The question: Of the seven chillies in the pix below, find the one that’s a mere drawing. The rest are real chillies.

Fun Mag one is a drawing it is 2

I’ve always been fond of riddles, posers, puzzles and problems. The present state of affairs is this is just about as much as I can handle.   Well, in this instance, may be another couple of chillies more before it gets too complicated!

If the coffee hasn’t done much good, the solution is in the ‘Comments’.

End

 

PS: When my g-daughter (8 yo) came to me one day complaining of boredom – it’s vacation for her – I pulled out this one expecting her to be engaged with it for some time. It was of little comfort to see her blurt out at first glance the principle of the solution. Strangely and luckily (!) she had trouble applying it through to find the solution  – thus the objective of relieving her boredom for sometime was met before we moved onto the next.

Source: Fun Mag

 

How Fate Changed Its Course! (A Children’s Story)

The old man was a jyotish (astrologer), known to be infallible in his predictions. It was like he sneaked a peek at Brahma’s (creator’s) notes when he said what he said. People came from far and near with their horoscopes to consult him.

One day a poor daily-wage earning man came up to him: “Sir, I’m gasping for breath in the firm grip of dire poverty, deeply mired in loans taken from all possible sources. Further, there’re two daughters to be married off. Haven’t a clue how I’m going to see through it all. Could you kindly take a look at my horoscope, Sir, and suggest if there’s a way out for me?”

jyotish-research.com janam-kundali

The jyotish took the horoscope and gave it a quick look. Rolling his cowries, he became pensive.  Breaking the silence, he said: “My dear fellow, I’ve some important tasks to complete. Your horoscope needs a more closer look. Leave it with me for today and come back at this time tomorrow – I’ll have my reading ready for you.”

Agreeing to the suggestion, the man inquired if he had to pay now any fees in advance. The jyotish said it wasn’t necessary, he would collect upon completing the job.

On the man taking leave, the jyotish’s daughter came up to him: “Appa, why did you fob him off, the poor man?  Only a little while ago, you said you’ve finished the backlog and you’re free to receive new clients for the day.”

The jyotish explained his action: “Dear girl, you’re an astute observer. Actually the horoscope was very clear saying his life would end tonight itself. And there may be no time or means to perform prescribed pariharam (remedial measures). I didn’t have the heart to tell him.”

In the meanwhile the poor man was headed back home picking his way through the paddy fields. On the way, suddenly, dark clouds gathered overhead. Very soon, rain broke out accompanied by thunder and lightning. Hastening his strides to find some shelter, the man came upon an abandoned mandap (a pillared structure). In a corner away from the shower he set his bag down – a long piece of cloth with its edges bunched and tied together to form a kind of pouch, usually slung over the shoulder – containing grains of rice for his wife to cook; and himself rested on a dry slab of stone forming the floor of the mandap at its center.

In an hour, the rain let up somewhat and he was ready to go. When he lifted his bag, it came off light in his hand and…almost empty! It was then he noticed on the floor a huge swarm of ants, countless, had raided his pouch and made away with the grains. There was little he could do. With a wan smile, he poured out whatever was left also for the ants and stepped out. The dinner tonight would be without staple rice.

On the following day, he went at appointed time to meet the jyotish.

Seeing him the jyotish was dumbstruck. His predictions never failed. Did he make a mistake? He took out the horoscope and examined again it diligently. He had not erred in his reading. Then how?? This man of meagre means could have hardly performed in short time the parihaaram needed to counter what the fate had ordained.

What had happened…after their meeting the day before? The jyotish asked him. There wasn’t much eventful that had happened previous evening to account for. The jyotish however persisted until he got it all from the man.

He went back and checked his palm leaves – inscribed on them was the jyotisha shastra (science of astrology). As he read the relevant parts, it took awhile for the full import to sink in…so that was it!!

While it was comforting to know he wasn’t wrong after all, at the same time he was awash with shame over his lapse; for, it was clear to him now he had not advised his client appropriately.  The man had performed the pariharam quite inadvertently, no thanks to the jyotish. The shastra had set out the pariharam in this instance as: he should feed a hundred hungry mouths before the day’s sunset to hold off the certain death fated for him. The swarm of ants feasting on the rice grains had ensured it was done…in excess too. There was no stipulation in the shastra the mouths must be human! Something the jyotish had unfortunately overlooked and considered the pariharam to be undoable given the man’s finances and the time available to comply.

It was a second life for the man, the jyotish explained. In the time to come a big upswing in his fortunes was predicted for him; the jyotish also impressed upon him the need to be always charitable and kind to all in his life.

The jyotish did not collect any fees this time, atoning for his lapse.

 

End

 

More stories here on winning over Fate:

How Fate Was Overcome…

How Fate Was Outwitted… (a 5-part story)

 

 

 

 

Source: Adapted from Palani Mohan’s post in FB and jyotish-research.com

The Best From Philly

(Not another travelogue or extracts from city tour-guides – pls read till the end)

It was an enjoyable 2-day trip to the historic city of Philadelphia.

On the way back, between songs played from a phone, Ne (8 years old) threw a question: What was it one liked the best among the various sites visited during the trip?

She kicked off with The US Mint – that’s what I liked the most.” Though on a Sunday the machines were switched off and no shining piles of coins to be seen.

Phil punching press

(Pic: This diminutive press packs the wallop of an elephant herd!)

Her jaws dropped reading the titbit on the enormous pressure required to punch  blanks out of sheet-rolls. For instance, to stamp a penny blank, weight of 16 elephants or the force of 3 speeding trains are required!!

Others too came up with (edited for readability):

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Phil GettyImages-636161920

The sight of the huge suspension bridge over the Delaware river, luxury apartments on the waterfront, the leisurely walk on the crowds-free pier sticking out into the river, gazing at the waters… Adding spice to the scene was a just-married joyous couple made to pose like this, like that, by a photographer throwing himself in unusual postures like going down on all fours, stepping up on a tree-trunk… Also, the Liberty Bell with its rich history.

Phila

Phila franklin-institute-philadelphia-2-600

Walking through a huge model of a human heart…brought back memories of the days 25+ years ago when we dissected a goat’s heart in the lab…Also the comparative display of heart sizes of small to big animals and birds.This was at the Benjamin Franklin Museum.

A demo of Virtual Reality at the Museum – had never seen one before, though read and heard a lot… companies like Google, Facebook freaking on it.

The 3D-printing demo, also at the Museum…unbelievable…printing such intricate parts!!! An interesting chat ensued with staff in attendance, a mechanical engineer, on the relative strengths of parts forged, machined and printed,

The last to respond was Sh (11 years old): The best for me was the time I could spend out here with you all…such fun!!

 

End

 

 

Source: images from visitphilly.com, yelp

 

A Child’s Play…

with colors:

Drawings by kids are always interesting for the splash of colors, the juxtaposed objects, their shapes…Here  are some, selected from a large collection:

Phoenix (by Sh, 11 yrs)

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A ‘The Sun And The Moon’ theme (by Ne, 8 yrs)

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A Deer In The Forest (by An, 8 yrs)

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Love Birds (by Ne) 

When asked, the ugly on the left is the boy and the pretty on the right is the girl, the artist clarified!

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Love Birds (by Sh)

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A Lion and Its Cub (by Ni)

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The cub is demanding attention and the father won’t be bothered, explained Ni.

A Stingray And A Coral (by Sh)

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A Stingray And Corals (by Ni)

IMG_6602 (1)

 

End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accounting Karma (A Story For Children)

Watch out…you may be hit with it even if you had nothing to do with the act if you’re not careful. .

An old story brought back in WhatsApp:

Sagarworld com

It was a Friday. As customary, the King was out on the palace grounds under a shamiana performing anna dhaanam, distributing with his own hands food to the poor and the needy.

Presently at the head of the food line was an old man bent with age, hunger writ on his face.

Just then an eagle flew overhead holding its meal by its claws – a serpent. In a desperate struggle to free itself from a certain death the serpent spit out its poison. No one noticed a drop of it falling down through a netted air-vent in the shamiana’s canopy into the large anda of rice porridge being served out.

The old man received a generous helping of the porridge with a kind word spoken by the King.

No sooner he stepped out, overcome by hunger, he partook some of the porridge, his unsteady hands spilling much of it on the ground. Even before the little went down from the mouth to his stomach, the old man was stricken with convulsions and he dropped dead right there for all to see.

Elsewhere in the Heavens…

The venerable Chitragupta, the eternal book-keeper was vexed. The eagle was simply returning home after the hunt, holding the prey with its claws, to feed its young.  It had not anything violating its dharma. The serpent was only trying all it could to escape a certain death. The king had no knowledge of what had happened as he went about doing his good deed. Under the circumstances, to whom should he debit the karma of causing the death of the hapless old man?

Unable to resolve it satisfactorily, Chitragupta took the matter to his master, Lord Yama, the god of all dharma and death. Yama heard him out and advised him to wait for some more time; surely, he would get his answers.

In the afternoon a small group of Brahmins, returning from a pilgrimage to Kashi, came into the city.  Informed of the King’s anna dhanam, they reached the shamiana, only to find it completely deserted with no living soul anywhere in sight. Unaware of the morning’s happening, they suspected, given the prosperity evident all around, perhaps the King ran out of people to give and hence had gone back to his quarters.  While speculating on their next move, one of them suggested they should still try to meet the King in person. He would not send them back hungry. Also they could present him with a few of the gangai-chombu’s (small copper vessels filled with water from the Ganges and sealed at the mouth) they carried with themselves for people back home who were not fortunate to make the trip. The King was sure to like receiving them, a rarity in his land.

They located a fruit vendor at a distance and asked her directions for the King’s quarters. She obliged them pointing out the way. They thanked her and set themselves about when she called one of them and said in hushed voice:

’You all appear to be innocent out-of-town folks. Sad it would be to see you landing in trouble. And, don’t ever tell anyone I cautioned you. If you must and when you do meet him – I’ve no idea why you wanted to – don’t ever touch the food the King may offer you. Think of some ruse to say no. If he doesn’t like someone’s face, without a twinge of conscience he would poison his food. And who is to say he would like your faces? Just this morning I saw with my own eyes…’

At that instant Chitragupta in the Heavens was greatly relieved. Just as his master had said, now he knew whom to debit…

 

End     

 

Source: Image from sagarworld.com