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The Book Lover's Reward

This is the cover of a book by Ashapurna Debi Can you imagine the agony of a book addict who is surrounded with books, but is prohibited from even touching them? It must be torture!

Nothing gives Mintu more joy than reading a storybook; if you give her a storybook, she couldn't ask for more. Mintu's school has closed for the summer holidays, but she does not have a storybook to read. She has had to borrow the same book thrice and read it thirteen times; she has had to read the telephone directory, the railway timetable, and the almanac.

In such a situation, you can well understand her joy when she looks out of the window and sees a new neighbour moving into her locality. It is not the sight of a new neighbour that has thrilled Mintu, but it is the sight of the loads and loads of books moved into the house that has lifted her to the seventh heaven! All that Mintu has to do is to make friends with the neighbour, and, then, she can get to read all those storybooks.

Easier said than done. Mintu sees a girl of her own age stepping out of the house. She, at once, rushes to make friends with the girl. But, the girl doesn't want to be friends. It is her uncle's order. The uncle has told her not to make friends with anyone because after becoming friends, people come home and want to borrow books. The books belong to the uncle. The uncle doesn't like to lend his books! So, Mintu's wish to read those books goes phut. Or, does it? Does she get to read those books? How can she get to read those books?

I first read this delightful story by Ashapurna Debi ages ago when I was a child. I still love to read it, not just thirteen times like Mintu, but a hundred times. I have attempted to translate the story into English; I know it is a poor attempt, but I hope the readers will enjoy it nevertheless.

(This story is being republished)

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Nice pillow!

Funny picture of a dog wearing a hat I was reading noted Marathi humorist P L Deshpande's story "Mhais" in which he describes his journey from Ratnagiri to Mumbai in a State Transport bus.

The author writes that he was feeling "jealous" of the co-passenger sitting to his left. The reason: The co-passenger had taken for granted that the author's left shoulder was a complimentary cushion offered by the State Transport Corporation.

The sleeping man is awakened when the bus suddenly jerks; but he goes back to sleep after muttering a few words of annoyance. The author does not mention whether he woke up the sleeping man and told him to sit properly. I was not so lucky. In fact, I sympathize with the sleeping man; when you are asleep how can you control the movements of your head, hands and feet? And how can you stay awake at 3am?

(This story is being republished)

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Upside-down Number Plate

An upside down number plate While going through "Human Computer" Shakuntala Devi's book on puzzles, I came across one which I liked very much. In fact, all the puzzles are good, but I liked this particular one because it was the only one I could solve, and that too after spending days trying to figure it out.

I saw a vehicle, which bore a characteristic number. The number could be read upside down also. If the number plate were fixed upside down, an observer wouldn't realize it; he would think the number plate was fixed in the proper way and the number of the vehicle he was seeing was the correct number.

The registration number consisted of five digits (all of them different). If the number plate was fixed upside down, the number that the observer saw was different from the actual one and it was greater than the actual number by 78633. What is the actual number?

(This puzzle is being republished)

Please solve

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