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Picture of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore This is a heart-wrenching story about a Kabuliwallah who earns his living by selling dry fruits and other articles on the streets of Kolkata, far away from his homeland. The narrator of the story, a writer, has a five-year-old daughter, Mini. Rahamat, the Kabuliwallah, befriends Mini by bribing her with nuts and raisins. Rahamat finds happiness in Mini's company, and comes to meet her every day. What could be the reason for this? The narrator's wife suspects Rahamat of evil intentions; she thinks the burly Kabuliwallah with a sack slung across his shoulders visits her home with the intention of carrying away her daughter. The narrator, on the other hand, quite encourages the friendship between Mini and the Kabuliwallah; his heart fills with joy at the strange friendship between a five-year-old girl and an elderly Kabuliwallah. The narrator also likes to listen to stories about Rahamat's homeland. Rahamat commits a crime; he stabs a customer who had purchased a Rampuri shawl from him but refused to pay for it. Rahamat is arrested, held guilty, and sentenced to several years imprisonment. With Rahamat in prison and no longer visiting his home, and owing to the daily grind of life, the Kabuliwallah's memory gradually fades from the narrator's mind. Mini, a mere child, makes new friends on her journey to adulthood; she forgets about Kabuliwalah. Then, unanticipatedly, Kabuliwallah makes a reappearance; he has served his term and has been released. Rahamat visits the narrator's house and wishes to see Mini. Incidentally, it is the day of Mini's wedding. Rahamat had hoped to see the same five-year-old mini; instead, he sees a grown up Mini in her bridal attire. The Kabuliwallah is astonished. Rahamat realizes that his own daughter in faraway Kabul must have grown up. Yes, that's the reason Rahamat had befriended Mini; he had a daughter in Kabul, and Mini reminded him of her. That's why he found happiness in Mini's company.

(This story is being republished)

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Why I got myself a mobile phone

Funny picture of dog wearing a hat In my early years I was rather scared of the telephone; that was long ago! In those days telephones were a novelty and I don't remember having ever picked up a telephone until after I had passed out of college. Nowadays, I feel amazed, and even downright stupid, when I see toddlers playing with mobile phones. After completing studies and finding myself a job, there was no escape from this instrument. Initially, when I was alone in the office and the telephone rang, it scared me stiff! Whenever the telephone rang, it sounded like a fire alarm to my ears! Gradually, I overcame my fear and the good old telephone became a part of life. Many years later, came the age of the mobile phones. Yet, I did not buy a handset for a long, long time. It was only when I was transferred to a different city that I thought about getting myself a mobile phone to stay in touch with home. In fact, I wouldn't have purchased a mobile phone but for an embarrassing incident.

(This story is being republished)

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Train journey

A train making its journey Talk about coincidence, this takes the cake. I was travelling from Udaipur to Chittorgarh by train (let's call it Train A), and on the same day and time my friend was travelling from Chittorgarh to Udaipur on Train B! So, we were travelling in opposite directions. Of course, I didn't know about this then; we exchanged notes later. I was travelling in a slower train. Both the trains - Train A and Train B - started from Udaipur and Chittorgarh at the same time. They were running on parallel tracks, and crossed each other after a certain time (had I known my friend was in the other train, I would have stuck my head out and waved at him). After passing each other, my train, Train A, took one hour and 30 minutes to reach Chittorgarh, while Train B took 40 minutes to reach Udaipur. If the speed of Train A is 45km/hr, what is the speed of Train B?

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

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  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
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  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
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  • 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