This is a picture of Premchand Childhood is that phase in life when we live in a larger world: a world that knows no barriers of class, wealth, or creed. The adult lives in a world made small by such barriers.

"Gulli-danda" by Munshi Premchand tells the story of a boy from a well-to-do family who loves to play "gulli-danda" or tip-cat. Gaya is the champion tip-cat player among the boys. But, no one knows whether Gaya has parents, or whether he gets enough food to eat. Gaya cannot tolerate cheating; he often scolds the narrator and even smacks him at times for cheating.

Times have changed. The children have grown into young men. The narrator is now an engineer. He happens to arrive at his old village. Childhood memories crowd his mind. He wishes to search out his old playmates, and the first name that springs to his mind is that of Gaya. He manages to find Gaya who works as a stablehand.

The narrator wishes to play a game of tip-cat with Gaya to relive the childhood days. He discovers that Gaya is no longer his old self; Gaya can neither strike the billet nor catch it. He has lost all touch with the game! The narrator also discovers that he can now easily cheat Gaya and get away with it. So, he cheats and Gaya does not utter a single word of protest.

But there is more discovery in store for the narrator. He discovers on the next day that Gaya had only humoured him on the previous day; Gaya is still a champion player, and he still cannot tolerate cheating. Gaya had only treated him with pity on the previous day because he was now no longer Gaya's equal. The narrator discovers that the difference in their social status had created a wall between him and Gaya; he could now earn Gaya's respect, but never his companionship!

(This story is being republished)

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Free Bicycle Ride

A pair of bicycles Those were the good old days of the bicycles. My slender blue-coloured BSA was my constant companion. I envied people who whizzed past me on their scooters or motorcycles; those who had no vehicles, not even a bicycle, envied me.

One day, I was returning home from the market when a stocky man requested me to give him a lift on my bicycle!

The ride was uphill, and I did not relish the thought of carrying someone. It would have been very laborious. But, having been a Boy Scout during my childhood, I decided to perform my kind act of the day.

I told him to sit on the bicycle carrier. He did not need a second invitation and at once hopped onto the carrier. The carrier was quite slender and I was afraid it would break under the man's weight, but it held on.

(This story is being republished)

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Rare Coins

Alphametic problem Any numismatist will tell you that rare coins are invaluable. So, RARE + COIN should be equal to INVALUABLE. However, my friend has given me this problem to solve, according to which RARE + COIN = TEPID. Now, whatever does that mean?

Anyway, this has nothing to do with linguistic skills but is an alphametic poser. Each alphabet stands for a unique number from 0 to 9. The sum works out to be true when the alphabets are replaced by their corresponding numbers. The four-digit numbers, whose sum has to be found, cannot start with zero. Thus, "R", "C" and "T" cannot be zero.

To start with, I will tell you what "A" stands for. A = 6. Now you have to find the other numbers so that the sum is true.

(This puzzle is being republished)

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Some useful links for
your career:

  • 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