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The Greedy Stones

Picture of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore This is but a poor translation of "Khudito Pashan", a story by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The story revolves around the fatal supernatural attraction a cotton tax collector feels for a marble palace. The tax collector resides in a marble palace that had been built by Shah-Mahmood II 250 years ago. Karim Khan, the longest-serving clerk in his office, cautioned the tax collector against living in the palace. But the tax collector did not heed the advice. All kinds of strange things start happening. The tax collector hears sounds of footsteps on the river stairs, but can see no one; he feels maidens are bathing in the river and splashing water at one another, yet he can see no one! While spending the night in the palace he experiences the strangest scene - a scene right out of the pages of the Arabian Nights. An Arab servant maiden escorts him to the presence of a Persian girl whose face he cannot see. He could only catch a glimpse of the lower portion of a saffron-coloured puffed pajama and a pair of beautiful feet, adorned with laced slippers. Then the illusion evaporated as suddenly as it had appeared. The illusions continued to visit the tax collector, and he cursed the arrival of nightfall. Yet, when night fell, he would inexorably be drawn to the palace. He would, then, wear a red-coloured velvet fez cap, loose pajamas, and a long silk choga with a colourful handkerchief dabbed with perfume like some Persian prince. At such times he would catch a glimpse of the Persian maiden in the mirror. Things reached a flash point when the tax collector hears sobs of the Persian maiden who wants him to rescue her. The tax collector decides he had enough of all these strange happenings and would avoid the palace at any cost. But as evening approaches he is once again drawn to the palace like a moth attracted to fire. He goes through the same experience once again, and this time he certainly believes that two tear drops had fallen from above on his forehead; he feels that a maiden is lying on the carpet on the floor tearing at her hair. The illusion evaporates once again, and the tax collector finds Meher Ali, a mad man, going round the palace shouting, "Stay away, stay away. Everything is false." The tax collector had often seen Meher Ali going round the palace and calling out in this same fashion. The tax collector realizes that Meher Ali, too, might have fallen prey to the attractions of the palace at one time and turned insane. The tax collector realizes that the same fate may lie in store for him. He rushes to his office and seeks an explanation from Karim Khan, the long-standing clerk. Karim Khan offers an explanation, and he also suggests a way in which the tax collector could escape from clutches of the marble palace.

(This story is being republished)

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Funny picture of dog wearing a hat Sunday saw me translating a story by Munshi Premchand. It was a clumsy translation as always owing to my poor linguistic skills. But I really enjoyed the story. "Kaushal" tells the story of a woman who yearns for a necklace but her husband cannot buy her one. Actually, if the husband takes upon himself to work some more he can easily make enough money to purchase the piece of jewellery. However, the husband is lazy and avoids work like plague. The wife pulls a fast one on the husband and gets her necklace (you will have to read that story to find out how she does it). I rolled on the floor laughing at how the woman outwitted her husband. "What a fellow to be taken in so easily!" I said to myself, "I shan't allow anyone to pull the wool over my eyes." Still smirking at the man's foolishness, I decided to do some work (I can't remember when I had last taken such a noble decision). So, there I was with a broom in hand sweeping away the dry leaves in the courtyard. A man on a scooter rode past. But, after riding a few metres, he halted, turned back, and came up to me. "Hi, do you recognize me?" he asked.

(This story is being republished)

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Let's play

A hockey game in progress In a class of 50 students, 30 students like to play cricket, 25 like to play football, and 32 like to play hockey. Each student likes to play at least one of the three games. If 15 students like to play both cricket and football, eleven like to play both football and hockey, and 18 like to play both cricket and hockey then please tell me: How many students play all the three games? How many students play only football? How many students play only hockey?

(This puzzle had been carried before and 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