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Holiday!

Image of Rabindranath Tagore This is only a poor translation of a short story by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, and we would like to urge readers to read the original or better translations. We are republishing this story with a brief summary; we had first published it in May 2012. Boys between the ages of 13 and 14 stand at crossroads; this is the age when boys experience psychological and physical changes. They tend to grow very fast, they develop a hoarseness in their voice, they feel that somehow they don't fit into the society. Under such a situation, any home other than their mother's is unbearable to the boys. The loveless environment, away from their mother, pricks them like a thorn. This was the case with Phatik too. When his uncle offered to take him to Kolkata, Phatik readily agreed to go. But, once in Kolkata, he found himself in a loveless environment, and he pined for those days in his native village when he could run around trying to fly his huge kite; the incessant strolling on the banks of the river; going for a swim whenever he felt like it; his friends; and his independence. He wanted to go back to his mother. But he can go back only during the Puja holidays, and the vacations are still a long time to come. Phatik feels he is a burden on his uncle and aunt. Phatik cannot wait for the holidays to begin so that he can go back to his native village and to his mother. One day, returning from school, the boy feels feverish. But he doesn't tell his uncle and aunt about it because that would cause them un-necessary trouble. The boy craves to be with his mother. In his state of illness and in pouring rain the boy sets out for his native village to be with his mother without informing his uncle and aunt. He is found and brought back to his uncle's home in a drenched condition and seriously ill. His mother is fetched. It is only when his mother arrives, that Phatik finds peace. With his mother by his side, the delirious boy mumbles, "Ma, my holidays have begun. Now I am going home." This delirious statement, made by a boy who perhaps may not survive, is full of meaning: The boy had been given to understand that he could go back to his village and to his mother only during the holidays; his mother's presence brings him great joy and peace and, so, for him the holidays have begun. Then, holidays also signify "freedom" and "home" signifies the "eternal home" and, so, the statement could imply that the boy has gained freedom and is now travelling to his eternal home. Please note this is my personal interpretation, and you may not agree with it.

(This story is being republished)

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The namesake

Funny picture of dog wearing hat My mobile phone rang. I pressed the green button to take the call. "How are you?" Manish's voice floated into my ears. "I am fine, thank you," I replied, truly gratified at his concern. "Hope you have not broken any bones," he asked. Now, this was getting annoying. "Why should I go about breaking my bones?" I retorted. "Heard you met with an accident," Manish told me. "I haven't met with any accident," I shot back, sure that Manish was only pulling my leg. But, Manish was in earnest. What transpired was thus: There was another person by the same name as mine who resided in the same city, and who worked in the same industry. Of course, he worked in a different organisation and held a managerial position. I was merely a non-entity, somewhere at the bottom of my own organisational hierarchy.

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A 'cap'ital problem

Caps displayed by a seller Ten soldiers have been captured by the enemy and are to be executed the next day. The king is ruthless but, at the same time, he believes that every soldier, condemned to death, should be provided one last opportunity to escape death as every brave soldier has the right to conquer death. The king's minister tells the soldiers that they would be made to stand in a single column and a cap, either a red one or a black one, will be put on each man's head. A soldier will not be able to see the cap he is wearing. The soldiers cannot turn back, and cannot communicate with one another. However, every soldier will be able to see the cap that the others in front of him are wearing. Starting with the last in the queue, that is the tenth soldier, each would be asked to tell the colour of the cap he is wearing. He has to simply answer "Black" or "Red" loudly so that all the others can hear his answer. The soldiers who answer correctly would be set free. Please help these soldiers escape execution.

(This puzzle had been carried before and is being republished)

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Some useful links for
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  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu