Thursday, November 29, 2007

Requirements of a coach

-by KParthasarathi Thursday, November 29, 2007
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It appears that the former South African opener Gary Kirsten may be appointed as the coach for Indian team ending the long period of speculation.His credentials for the job as is understood from media are :

-has scored about 7000 runs each in both forms of cricket as an opener
-had the determination and ability to bat for long periods and a hunger for scoring runs
-is calm, level-headed and organised
-was a consultant batting coach for some team
-runs his own cricket academy in Cape Town since 2006.

Nothing spectacular about him except that he was one of the many good batsmen in the world of cricket. There are many other illustrious names with bigger coaching experience at national and international levels. There are many players in the current Indian team with equal or greater achievements to their credit. It would not have been the intention of the committee, which finalized on this name, that Kirsten would be teaching these seniors a few tricks of the trade they are not already aware of. May be they did not keep in mind the sensibilities of the senior players in choosing an individual who is at best an equal and not anything more. May be after the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the tenure of Chappell and the subsequent refusal of a coach to join after selection, there are not many big names willing to handle the job except on their own terms.We will never know what factors influenced the selectors to pitch upon Kirsten.
While excellence as a player for long years at the highest level, be they in batting or bowling, is an essential requirement, it alone is not sufficient. There must be proven evidence of having coached reputed teams of the top three or four countries in the cricket world. This requirement is not met in the instant case.The coach must have also exhibited outstanding man-management skills and capacity to motivate. He must be one who can command the respect and inspire the awe by his past records and profound knowledge of the game and proven ability to strategize for the team in big tournaments. He should have a long term vision and know the direction for taking the team.In the case of Indian team which has big men with bigger reputation and earning capacity, the coach should also be a superman even to make them listen.Remember the ordeal that Chappell went thro with some of the rebelliousplayers.
I do not know about Kristen’s capabilities to meet the high demands of coaching an Indian team and fondly hope that the wise heads who have selected him have taken note of these points.I do hope that the senior players would cooperate with the coach instead of belittling his efforts by devious ways.It would be nice if the current bowling and fielding coaches are also made part of the coaching scheme so that the good work being done by them is not lost.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Choosing gifts is an art

KParthasarathi Wednesday, November 28, 2007
My niece got married recently. When I went to my sister Lekha’s place a few days after the wedding, I found her and her daughters sitting amongst the heap of gift parcels with many of them remaining unopened. I saw on the table about a dozen table lamps of different designs with some of them identical in make except for the colour.There were wall clocks in plenty, framed pictures of gods and goddesses in silver, coffee cups in silver, china, silk saris, trinkets, marriage manuals and books on Bhagwad Gita and many more. They were still busy opening the wrapped packets. When my sister saw me, she said “Raju, tell me what do we do with so many clocks, table lamps, crockery? Saris are ok in a way although Shreya will find very limited use for saris in US. Frankly I am at my wits end as to where I can store all these in my congested flat.” I asked”Lekha, I hope you are keeping the bills or receipts carefully with the respective articles. While you cannot get cash as in US for the items returned, you can at least exchange them for something useful. You can get rid of some useless items at least.”
“What are you talking Raju? Who keeps the receipts theses days in the gift packets. In fact they tear off the price slips or stickers to keep the value of presents from being known. Where the stickers are difficult to be removed they erase the price by using permanent marker pens. Who cares whether you have got the same items from many? Forget it, these have to be disposed off over a long period of time as gifts to others when we are invited.”
I remember my daughter always buys gift cards or vouchers from Sears, Kohls, JCPenny, Target or Wal-Mart wherever she is not certain what they would like or where the things she finds decent are above the amount she had envisaged. The great advantage in this practice is the giftees can choose what they want and can even put some more money if necessary. The gift cards are given by shops with attractive envelopes. There is a great demand for such cards and people prefer these cards to gifts in kind. They can have long validity period say six months.
This concept has not taken off widely here though Landmark, Crossroads, West side, Pantaloon, Globus, Lifestyle issue gift vouchers starting from Rs.100 onwards. The middle class still have not come out of the traditional habit of gifting (mostly unwanted) silver, steel and trinkets. Just imagine the kind and volume of useless purchases made during Diwali time that are sheer waste of money. It is high time that branded stores, big hotels, beauty salons, boutiques and reputed shops sells this idea by offering some discounts initially like a Rs.500 card for Rs.475.It will soon catch up. The smaller stores, sweet marts, departmental chains, cloth shops should use this idea as the middle class and lower middle class people do not visit the high style and expensive places. Till such time, people should invariably put the receipts without removing the labels and packaging in the gift parcels. All are shrewd to know the value of an item gifted and removing the price tag doesn’t deceive anyone.
There is one more thing. There should be some effort to know what the person who receives the gift would like. There is little point in presenting books to someone who is not given to intellectual pursuits or giving music albums to one who has no ear for music. The nature of gift would instantly reveal how much you have known the person. I still remember how unwittingly I gave a very costly perfume to a boss of mine little realizing he was allergic to strong smells or the gaffe made in gifting a sleeveless silk suit to a prim lady colleague on her wedding day who always came in sari to office. Choosing right and appropriate gifts is an art. People who receive gifts always notice and appreciate them when they realize you have taken the time and effort to choose what they like best. It will show them how much close you are to them. The moral is that one should not be cavalier while choosing a gift as a wrong gift may be counter productive and take away the goodwill and esteem.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kindling the young minds

-by KParthasarathi Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Our former President Dr.Kalam always exhorts students to dream, hoping that dreams may ignite their minds to accomplish great things. This wasn’t so five decades ago for back then, a dream was associated with slumber and I still remember getting whacked for yawning in class. Yawn, I did not know then, is a prelude to sleep often induced by boring subjects or people.
No one explained why the paper planes that fly in the classroom glide effortlessly at times but nose-dive most often. Nobody ever asked such questions as minds were not encouraged to be inquisitive. It would be presumptuous to interrupt the class with questions and riskier if they turned out to be foolish.
I was in class VIII when the English teacher asked us to write an essay on what we would like to be when we grew up. As a child, I fancied being a steam engine driver with the thrill of driving the engine in the dead of night across the fields accompanied by the rhythm of the wheels and occasional long whistle, watching the stars and stopping at stations to drink coffee from the IR restaurants without the risk of ever missing the train. But afraid of being reprimanded, I wrote about some mundane ambition.
My friend Chellappa, more imaginative and bolder, refused to divulge the subject he wrote about. In the last hour of the day, the English teacher walked in. From his ominous look, we could smell that something untoward was about to happen. “Chellappa,” he bellowed, “Come here.” Chellapa walked up with trepidation towards the table.
“So, you want to be a scientist,” he roared and laughed hysterically like Gabbar Singh in Sholay. The entire class joined the laughter only to be stopped abruptly by the tight slap my friend got. “What is your optional subject,” the teacher asked.
Chellappa mumbled, “Book-keeping.” “How dare you want to be a scientist, having chosen book-keeping,” he demanded. My pal replied meekly, “Sir, you asked us to write what we would like to be and not what we would be.” Rebuffed, the teacher dismissed him from the class.
The teacher also ridiculed a boy who had a squeaky voice and wished to be a play back singer and another who took part only in the lemon-and-spoon race but wished to excel as an Olympic runner. Then, there was the boy who opted for Tamil medium on account of his poor scores in English, but wished to be a playwright like Shakespeare. The unimaginative teacher, who had neither vision nor compassion, smothered all the harmless instincts of the children. The young minds, peculiarly sensitive to ridicule, never recovered from the shock.
Luckily, this teacher was an exception. I have known several scholarly teachers who responded to their calling with sincerity and passion despite the pittance they received. They shaped minds and stoked fires that lay latent in young hearts. They would discover talent-academic, aesthetic and technical-and stimulate and guide the children to become proficient in their chosen skills. The teacher should act as a trigger, letting children roam free in their minds and seek answers to their unresolved questions. He should rejoice at the discovery of kindled spirits and provide the answers wherever he can.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Vishal’s kindness

KParthasarathi Monday, November 26, 2007
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Vishal Gupta was one of the fortunate few born with a silver spoon in the mouth. Blessed with a good natured wife and intelligent children, he had nothing much to wish for. He was walking in the narrow pathway of the large municipal park one evening. He was late that day and it was getting dark. Except for very few old people spending their time on the benches, the park was desolate. The lighting was also not adequate with lamp posts far from each other. But Gupta followed religiously the daily regimen of forty five minutes walk prescribed by his doctor to keep his weak heart in good condition.
Suddenly out of no where a man emerged from the bushes. He was a strong built man but his eyes were sunk and cheeks hollow betraying his indigent condition. He simply stood opposite Vishal Gupta with his threatening physique but pleading eyes.Vishal said in annoyed tone “What is your problem? Why are you standing in my way preventing me to proceed further? “He replied in a tremulous voice “I want some money immediately. Give me the money you have. I think you can afford it”. Gupta being timid by nature was afraid to argue with him considering there were none around to help. He normally carried a small amount with him for any emergency. He took his purse and gave it to him meekly. The man opened purse and counted six fifty rupee notes. He kept one fifty rupee note with him and returned the purse with the balance He left hastily after saying “this is adequate for my needs. I am sorry for taking this money like this. I do not know any other way. Please excuse me.”
Gupta was intrigued at the strange behaviour of the man. His curiosity thus aroused he followed the man at safe distance. After passing thro several lanes he reached a hut. He heard the man crying and telling loudly to his wife that he had become a despicable thief and robber taking away money from someone without earning it. His wife was consoling him saying “what other alternative we had to save the starving children. They have not taken a morsel since two days and are weeping continuously. No one around here is willing to help. I am also not comfortable with this way. I will not ask you to do it again, I swear upon God.” Gupta heard the man beating his head with his hands and sobbing in remorse. When he entered the dimly lit hut, the man was startled and started crying saying” Oh God, police have come to take me.” Gupta patted him on his shoulder and asked him to calm down telling there is no policeman. He told the man who was shying away from him “Don’t be afraid. No harm will come to you. When you took only fifty rupees from the purse and returned the balance, I realized you are no robber and that circumstances must have forced you to take this cranky step. My impression is vindicated by the feeling of guilt shown by you. I have forgiven you already. I have now seen your pitiable condition. You can work if you are willing as a gardener in my house from tomorrow.”
He thrust the balance money in the hands of the incredulous man standing before him with folded hands. The man and his wife fell at the feet of Gupta clasping his legs. The bewildered children too followed suit by falling on the ground before him. The man mumbled “Sir, you have saved us from falling into a life of wickedness and misery. You are our saviour and we are beholden to you.”

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, and kindness in your smile-Mother Teresa

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Magnanimity is above circumstance

-by KParthasarathi Saturday, November 24, 2007
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We live in a small town, rather an oversized village, about thirty kilometers away from a big city. It is an old house slightly narrow but very long with a porch at the entrance and a large vacant ground at the backyard. It was built during my husband’s grandfather’s time. We chose to live in this place as my husband had large areas of land in the adjacent villages. A lawyer by profession my husband is not practicing much these days except to help old clients. The children who are in the city visit us during week ends off and on.
One summer evening when I was watching the TV I heard someone calling ’Amma’. When I went to see who it was I found an old man of about seventy, frail and small built and not looking well off. He had a smiling face belying his indigent circumstances as revealed by his tattered shirt and much worn out chappals. With a soft and pleasant voice he said “Sorry to bother you. I came to this place to return some amount I had taken as a loan. The person to whom I returned the money came home only at 9pm.The last bus to my place had left at 8-30pm and the first bus leaves early in the morning at 6am.Would you kindly allow me to sleep on the raised platform (thinnai in Tamil) in the porch for the night. I do not know anyone else here. My relations with that person were a bit strained and there was no question of my asking him.” As my husband had not returned from the city, I hesitated for a moment. My six year old grand daughter who had come to stay with me for the week end said” Grand ma, please allow this thatha(grand father) to sleep in the porch. Where else can he sleep in the night? He looks tired and hungry.” This clinched the matter.
I gave him a mat, a pillow and a sheet to cover as mosquitoes are a menace here. Declining to have food, he accepted a glass of buttermilk when I insisted. I could hear his talking to my grand daughter and her peals of laughter now and then. I could see a jovial personality within this frail man depressed possibly by financial worries. When I came out to take my grand daughter, he told me that he had a married son with children who are living in the North. The daughter in law was also employed in the government.
The old man’s wife fell from the bus some years ago and is unable to walk. She needed help even to take her to bathroom. Luckily one lady in the adjacent flat is very friendly and helpful whenever he had to go outside. After this accident the son and his wife became distant and aloof. He was sending money earlier whenever asked for. But the old man has since stopped asking. He was getting some pension that was just adequate. He had no complaints to make and was thankful to god for keeping him physically fit and healthy to take care of his wife and manage his affairs without imposing on others
A thought crossed my mind. Financially not sound, advanced in age, a crippled wife, denied the affection of his only son in the twilight years of the couple, he counted his blessings instead of crying about his disappointments. He was grateful to god for the doughnut he had instead of cursing the holes in it. I wished him good night and went inside with my grand daughter Shruti.
When I got up in the morning and went out to the porch with a cup of coffee, I found he had gone. The mat and the sheet were neatly folded and kept over the pillow. When I lifted them to carry inside, I found a small paper folded and on opening a fifty rupee note fell down. He had scribbled in pencil “To dear Shruti, with love, Thatha” I wiped the tears from my cheeks.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chappell is not off the mark on a flawed team

KParthasarathi Monday, November 19, 2007
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The BCCI may be furious over Chappell's charges that Indian team for the word cup was a flawed group without many youngsters and may dismiss them as rubbish. The secretary may take shelter under the usual argument that the Board doesn’t get involved in selection maters that falls under the exclusive domain of selectors. Even the boy who plays cricket for the school knows that the tentacles of the board are spread far and wide on every aspect of the game. The Chairman of BCCI functions like the heads of dynastic political parties. All of them will swear that their parties function democratically with their strength drawn from the petty workers on the field. All decisions taken in the name of high command or executive council are really the wishes of the supremo.Everyone else is a paid hireling remaining in office at his/her pleasure. It was the same when Dalmia was at the helm and now the genuflection of the various functionaries in BCCI is much more pronounced with the head being a powerful minister with lot of clout. His word is decree and wishes are commands. Unless BCCI is saved from powerful people, things would continue like this. Let the half dozen old names who take turn to occupy offices yield their places to a totally new set of capable and younger people who wish to serve the game. For this the structure of BCCI should change.
The selection of Indian team has always been an amusing subject with no predictability or clear direction. The culture of the country with its hero worship and personality cult is very much prevalent in cricket body too. Some players from some regions do not come under normal evaluations. To talk about their fitness or suitability is sacrilege. Greg Chappell raised hornet’s nest by talking to Ganguly about the need to relinquish captaincy to focus on his game and pleading for more youngsters in the team to raise its level and competitive spirit. But the culture of trusting old and tired limbs and making the youngsters wait till they became old went against this insistence of the coach India’s foray was an anticipated disaster losing after the first round. Our ego would not accept the sane advice of an experienced coach.
The selection committee based on regional representation was not designed to be national in character. Invariably there would be briefings from the high command thro its minions on whom to select and whom not to. BCCI, an essentially money making body, go by the wishes of sponsors who are the bread and butter of the institution. They in turn have their commitments on some players on whom their crores ride on. The game and performance take a back stage in such a dénouement. The sponsors ensure they rope in the selectors too with assignments .They have a great say in the choice of players notwithstanding the protestations to the contrary. Everything is done behind the scene far from the scrutiny of the public.
The selection committee’s methodology and the reasons for selection or exclusion of players are always shrouded in mystery. Even the press conference after the selection of the team where the questions would be dealt with in mono syllables is dispensed with. Unless a speaking document signed by the selectors giving the reasons for inclusion and non inclusion of players in the zone of consideration is released, the hanky panky of favouritism would continue. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Let things come to public domain.
If an organization is incapable of choosing a new coach for more than a year and is content to give its cronies the position of managers, the game will be like what it is today. The lone success in T20 or some wins against a depleted Pakistan team should not make us complacent. In the view of Allan Donald it is only England and South Africa who is regarded as equal to mighty Aussies and who may supplant them. To prove him wrong the emphasis should be on talented youth and in building a vast reservoir of players for the highest level. Players above 30 however great and fit should compulsorily retire. Let everyone get an opportunity to serve the country. A country of billion will always throw up competent youngsters. Sadly we have gone back to an old warhorse as captain for test team. We have no guts to put our faith on a young Dhoni. We would continue with the thirty plus warriors with their slow reflexes and weak limbs and keep the youngsters waiting on the sidelines.
Instead of getting upset with what Chappell said and responding in arrogant tone, let BCCI change its ways. Otherwise we will be talking about the same issues after a rout in down under.

Monday, November 12, 2007

PC (not Chidambaram) in Perumbakkam

Saranya and Srimathi were asked by the Principal to do a project about the spread of computer literacy among the women in the villages to be sent to Education Department. She suggested a visit to Perumbakkam the next day and advised the girls to meet the womenfolk who generally assemble at the Noon meal centre to find out how much they know about computer
It was a tiny hamlet, dusty and dry. They found a few mothers sitting under a shaded tree adjacent to a thatched shed that passed for a school. The women stared at the girls as they alighted from the car. The girls who were exuding knowledge, confidence and prosperity introduced themselves in Tamil to the illiterate women and asked them how much they knew of the knowledge revolution in general and computers in particular.
Little girls, we don’t follow anything of what you are talking about. What do you, girls, want? asked one woman.
Don’t you know computer? It has a monitor like TV
Oh, yes, we have seen TV in Ramu’s house though he will not permit us to see. Occasionally we are allowed for Rajini or MGR movie.
No, not the TV we mean. There is a keyboard like type writer to the pc (They make sign of typing).If you type, words will appear on the screen
Oh, you mean the black box he presses to change the film from Rajini to MGR.
You are talking of remote
No, we sit very close to TV, not far. We can see Sneha’s face clearly.
My god, when you type on key board do you see words on the screen?
Words come at the bottom only when we see SunTV news.
The girls were at their wits end. They then remembered the laptop in the car. They brought it and opened the machine. When they saw the screensaver in colour, the women in chorus shouted “What a cute little TV box? Don’t you need current for this?
This is working on battery now. This is not TV
Papa (baby), do not lie to us. Please show us Rajini in Sivaji, please
The girls asked in serious tone Do you get emails?
What, email, what is that?
The girl said Letters you send to friends thro pc
We do not know to write.
Exasperated with their ignorance, they explained about personal computer, hard disc, modem, key board, Windows, emails, internet and Bill Gates to the blank faces. The womenfolk were admiring these young and pretty girls who seem to know so much about things that have no relevance to them. This encounter was a welcome change for them till the mid day gruel was ready. They had come to ensure that their wards get it in adequate quantity.
The girls with a smug smile on their faces submitted a neatly spiral- bound project report about the great strides the knowledge revolution has made and about the invasion of PC even in tiny hamlets and the access to internet for farmers for agriculture and for the village school teacher to download study materials. They envisioned every hut in the villages to have a pc in a decade. The principal patted them for the wonderful report in expectation of an appreciation for the school from the department.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Child's selfless act

KParthasarathi Saturday, November 10, 2007
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It was a small general provision store with racks of jars and tin boxes on the shelves on all the three sides of the little shop. On one side soaps, tooth pastes, hair oils, talcum powders, and other cosmetic items were on display from behind the glass doors. There were gunny bags of rice both boiled and raw, different varieties of dhalls, sugar, and gur stacked against each other. The tins of edible oils were in one corner. There was a creaking wall mounting fan over the head of the owner Dhanapalan producing more sound than breeze. There was a small boy ten years old perhaps, Pandian by name, assisting him in serving the customers. It was very hot and sultry that day with occasional customer stepping in to buy a single item or two.Dhanapalan was vacantly looking at the road while the urchin was seeing the pictures in an old film magazine, the pages of which were used for packing small items.
Dhanapalan sat up with a start when he heard a stone hitting a glass jar on the shelf. The jar broke into two pieces and the content spilled. When he and his assistant turned towards it, a young boy appeared from no where and took a bottle of soda (carbonated drink) kept on the bench on the front side. Dhanapalan on hearing the noise turned to see a boy of eight or nine running towards the opposite side of the road. He shouted to Pandian to catch the fleeing boy. The flat footed Pandian caught him eventually and dragged him before his master.Dhanapalan was more upset because of the broken glass jar and the spilt contents than the loss of a soda bottle. He slapped hard the boy even as he demanded an explanation from him for his crazy acts of breaking and stealing.
The boy who appeared poor started crying and said in remorseful tone “Sorry, Sir, I did not know what to do. The old woman over there fell down and fainted as she was walking. I tried to stop the passersby for help. None would even stand to listen let alone help. I took the soda without your permission and sprinkled a little on her face and gave the rest for her to drink”
“So you diverted my attention by breaking the jar and stole the soda, is it?”
The boy with tears flowing down his cheeks replied “It was a mistake. But the old woman was dying. Please excuse me”
When Dhanapalan went with the boy leaving Pandian behind at the store, he saw from the distance the old woman making an effort with difficulty to sit up. He rushed towards her with the boy in tow. He was shocked when he saw her and lifting her by his hands he asked “Amma (mom), what are you doing here? What happened to you? How come you are here?”
“I came by bus from your sister’s place to see you. It was very hot and I had not taken food for two days as I had diahorrea.I think that could be the reason for fainting. Thanks to this little boy, I am fine now.”
Dhanapalan was touched by the young boy’s noble deed aimed to help a total stranger even at the cost of sullying his character. He felt sad at having slapped him. He hugged the little boy, thrust a hundred rupee note in his pocket and asked for his forgiveness. He did not replace the broken jar and let it remain on the shelf reminding him of the selfless act of the boy and the great message of compassion it had for him

Friday, November 9, 2007

Shyamali’s escape


KParthasarathi Friday, November 09, 2007

The whole Kolkata city was then under the grip of panic. People were afraid to stir out of their homes after 9pm.They avoided secluded spots and desolate roads. A maniac was bashing with a heavy stone the heads of the hapless men or women sleeping on the pavements or outside their huts. He derived pleasure in killing solitary individuals he encountered on the way. Police did not have any clue. The media and the public raised a hue and cry at the inability of the police to nab the murderer. He changed his venues depending upon the place where the police mounted its vigil. One day it was Behala, another day at Kasba and Ekbalpur on another day. The homicidal maniac seemed cunning and shifted his operation easily from Ranikuthi to Salimpur baffling the police on where to increase its patrol.Rikshaw pullers refused to pull after 9pm and sought the safety of their homes. Even the homeless beggars found safety in numbers and stayed together. The middle class people avoided moving out alone except in cars.
It was during such fearful times that Shyamali had fallen in deep love with Sayan.He had promised to pick her up around 7PM for a dinner at an exotic restaurant. She wore a bright coloured chiffon salwar suit for the occasion. He came in his two wheeler on dot at 7PM.The dinner was a leisurely affair though not heavy. They had so much to talk about and the time went stealthily unnoticed. Around 9PM.he quietly took out a diamond ring and surprised her with his proposal. She did not expect it so soon although she knew it was coming. She readily accepted. They left immediately and when they saw the moon lit DhakuriaLake, he suggested a small stroll. Both were walking with hands clasped together along the lonely area though they kept close to the main road.
When Shyamali saw a police patrol van moving on the road, she remembered the maniac on prowl. Worried she told Sayan “I am scared about the killer with stone. Let us get out of this place quickly and go home.” Sayan was unwilling to go home so soon after the proposal as he wanted to get a little amorous with her. He put his hand on her shaking shoulder and assured her that she need have no worry as he was there with her. She knew what was in his mind but discretion won over valour. But when he found her pleading with tears in her eyes, he agreed. She was looking hither and thither till she took her seat in the pillion.
When they reached her place, she asked him to drop her at the main road itself. She didn’t want to be seen coming with her lover around 11pm.He demurred and said “I will accompany you up to the gate. This area is dark and surrounded by big trees.”
She said it was hardly two hundred yards to her house and waved her hand for him to depart. When the motor cycle started with a roar and moved on its way, she turned towards her home. She let out a shriek when she saw someone moving behind the trees. She stood there frozen with fear unable to run. The dark figure emerged with a big stone in both the hands. She let out a loud scream again and fainted.
When she opened her eyes she found herself surrounded by family members.Sayan was holding her hand. “It was by Ma’s grace that you escaped narrowly. I did not leave and was waiting for you to reach your home. When I heard your scream I turned the motor cycle and could hit him with the vehicle just as the killer was raising his hands to drop the stone. He is now in the custody of the police “he explained.
When she looked at him admiringly, he mischievously added with a twinkle in his eyes “We could have avoided this unpleasant episode had we stayed at the lake and enjoyed each other’s company for some more time.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The jinxed house

KParthasarathi Wednesday, November 07, 2007
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Sivamani Iyer had a large family. When he was transferred to Madurai he found an old and spacious independent house within his affordability. Although the house was pretty old with most of the roof tiled except for the front side, it was close to market and bus stand. It was a corner house abutted by main road on the front and a small road at the side with an alley on the rear. There was a well in the compound with a couple of coconut and guava trees. It was Iyer’s sheer luck that he got this house for a small rent as the broker put it. .Iyer brought his family soon. They were all very happy as they lived in a small portion consisting of four rooms in a single row with interconnecting doors. The children enjoyed playing in the garden and his wife was happy at the large supply of coconuts for her kitchen.
It was a month later around 9-30 pm when the family members were chatting in the living room that was under the tiled portion, they heard a rain of small stones on the roof. They could not make out what it was. It had stopped in a few seconds. While they were engaged in surmising what it could be, there was another rain of stones for a longer period. When Sivamani Iyer started to go out, his wife pleaded with him not to venture out alone. Even when they were debating there was another hail of stones. Accompanied by his two young sons, he went out with a torch in hand. There was a small alley behind his house. He could see none in that lane. It was dark with no street lights. After waiting for some time, he returned to the house. There was no further incident that night. But peace of mind was denied to them as the stone throwing continued with regularity at intermittent intervals of a day or two.
Sivamani Iyer’s wife was mentioning these strange happenings to the ladies of the adjacent house keen to know whether they too had similar experience. She came to know that none of the previous tenants stayed in that house for more than a month or two and vacated it mostly in haste. They have heard people say that it was an unlucky house visited by ghosts. This was the reason the owner gave such a big house for very small rent. They could not however enlighten Iyer’s wife what or who threw the stones though they gave the gratuitous advice that it is better not to live in such a jinxed place with young children.
It was then Iyer decided to seek the help of his friend who was an inspector in the police department. Both were certain that this was no handiwork of ghosts. The patrol car visited the side road and the lane a couple of times in the nights for a week and found none strolling in the dark alley. But on one of the nights there was stone throwing. Iyer’s police friend discussed the matter with the owner who lamented that the house remained frequently unoccupied for this reason. He added that some people offered to buy the house at throw away price and that he was not willing to sell. This bit of information set the police man thinking. He devised a strategy to catch the culprits.
On the third day there was the usual downpour of stones on the roof tiles around 11pm.Immediately there after, there was a knock on the front door.Iyer and his wife in a trembling voice asked who it was at that odd hour. It was the inspector who shouted”Iyer, open the door. I have caught the culprits .You can come out safely.”
When iyer opened he saw the neighbour and his two sons standing beside the inspector. He said they have confessed to their intimidatory tactics with a view to scare away the tenants and buy the property at low price. The neighbour unexpectedly fell at the feet of Iyer and begged him to save him from further action. He pleaded he had a big family and his daughter was to get married in a month’s time. He promised that Iyer and his family could live in peace and that he would be eternally grateful for his forgiveness.
Iyer requested his Inspector friend to drop the matter and wanted to know how he zeroed on him. The inspector said it was easy as he had planted a constable for the night on the top of the tree behind the neighbour’s house. Luckily Iyer’s neighbour got into his act the same night.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Haunted room

-by KParthasarathi Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Blog this story

It was not a starred hotel but a decent one that commanded a steady flow of patrons. The hotel was by the side of a large lake in a small city flooded by tourists. The ambience was good, the food delicious and service excellent. All the rooms were generally occupied on all days except the corner room in the first floor. It was the best room with large French windows on both sides with the magnificent view of the lake on one side and the green mountain on the other. But this room always remained locked not because the owner reserved it for himself. There was a story behind the door remaining locked. A young lady executive had taken that room for one night years back. She was not accompanied by anyone. She said that she missed her train and would leave the next morning. When there was no response to the repeated knocks by the bearer for the morning coffee she had earlier ordered the previous night, the police was summoned. When they broke open the door, the young lady was found strangled to death after a criminal assault. The sniffer dogs could not give any clue of the whereabouts of the culprit. Ever since the room always remained locked. A few brave men on different occasions who insisted on hiring the room telling they did not believe in ghosts came away running in the middle of night scared after they heard hideous and strangling sound from a dying woman from the bed. The management had reluctantly to keep it closed and never spoke about the room to the visitors.

Prakash, a daring youngman with rationalist views and no belief in god came to the hotel one evening seeking a room. He appeared a jolly fellow with a pleasant smile on his face. It happened that all the rooms were occupied that day. When the reception desk told him that no room was available, he pointed out to the board where keys were hung and showed the corner room in the first floor was vacant. The clerk explained that room was not let out. When he dropped names of leading politicians and informed his relationship to one of them and threatened that the hotel would come to harm if they refused to oblige, the clerk had no option but to reveal that the room was a haunted one. The young man with a derisive smile assured the timid clerk not to worry about the ghosts and that he can take care of them. He showed his pistol that he always carried to allay his fears that ghost would harm the occupant. The owner was out of station and the clerk had to let out the room. The sheets were changed and the room made spic and span before Prakash moved in. After dinner Prakash was watching a movie till midnight and then read a novel for some time. The lights in all the rooms were switched off save in the verandahs and the corner room.Prakash remained awake unperturbed and was eagerly awaiting any unsolicited nocturnal visit by strange beings. When nothing happened, he switched off the lights and went to sleep.
After about thirty minutes, a loud sound of a pistol shot emanating from the corner room was heard by all the occupants. The reception clerk along with a few security men came running. They knocked the door repeatedly. When there was no answer, the room was opened with police assistance. They found Prakash bleeding profusely with the pistol on his hand. He made hideous and strangling sound before life ebbed out. A doctor in one of the rooms examined him and nodded his head sideways to signify that it is all over. The police found the windows tightly secured and found no evidence of anyone breaking into the room. The body was sent to hospital. The police left the hotel surmising it a case of suicide. The reception clerk remembered the smiling face of Prakash and shook his head in disbelief.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Child’s magnanimity

KParthasarathi Monday, November 05, 2007

Raja became an orphan all of a sudden when his parents died in a boat mishap. His uncle took him along with him to the city. He was a gardener working part time in several houses. He had already a large family. Raja’s aunt took a dislike for the young boy from day one. She made him work in the house all day long and did not feed him too well. His uncle was aware of the plight of the hapless boy but could not be of much help against his vile wife. He took Raja along with him to Naren’s house where he tended the vast garden He pleaded with Naren’s dad that he had already too many mouths to feed and that his wife considered the boy a burden.. He requested that Raja be kept in their house to do all errands and be fed. With no other demands, the master was moved by the pitiable condition of the boy and agreed to keep him to the great relief of the uncle.
Raja became a part of the family over a period of time. He endeared himself to one and all by his pleasant disposition and unstinted service. The lady of the house made no distinction from her own children. He was admitted to a nearby school where he studied well.Naren older than Raja by three years was friendly with him. Life was smooth for Raja and he was grateful to his uncle for making this possible.
Naren fell into bad company and frequently cut classes to go to movies with friends. He spent money taking friends to fast food restaurants and came home late. He was always pressing his mom to give him money. His parents were under the impression that he was regular in the school. Raja knew all these but never talked about it. When Naren fared poorly in the examinations, his dad was annoyed and scolded him pointing out that Raja after doing all the work in the house did better. His mother also refused to give him money thereafter. This hurt him much. Naren for the first time hated Raja.
It was about a fortnight later there was a huge commotion in the house. A costly watch of the master was missing. It was on the table in the living room. No outsiders came till the loss of watch was noticed. Everyone pleaded ignorance about its whereabouts. When Naren’s dad asked Naren whether he saw it, he showed his irritability in his denial and added that the question should be addressed to outsiders in the house. Raja was summoned. He came trembling when he saw the master angry. When he said he had not seen the watch, Naren asked where it could go on its own. His dad asked him to keep quiet and told Raja no outsiders came since he left the watch on the table. The search in the entire house had not yielded result. It is better Raja found it out and hand over the watch. The implied insinuation was not lost on the poor boy. He started sobbing. The master said there is little point in crying and hoped he would redeem himself by getting the watch back before the end of the day.
The drawing master who doubled as PT instructor had a soft corner for the boy knowing him to be an orphan. When he asked Raja the reason for his troubled look, the boy unable to suppress his hurt in being suspected narrated him the incident. The teacher asked him not to worry and would find out in his own way how the watch mysteriously vanished. By the evening he told Raja that he found out talking to Naren’s friends the watch was pledged by Naren with the pawn broker.
In the evening all family members assembled again when Raja pleaded again his ignorance about the whereabouts of the watch. The master in uncontrollable rage called him an ungrateful wretch and caned the boy mercilessly and repeatedly. The boy cried in pain but did not reveal the information. It was then there was a bell in the front door. When the door was opened, the pawn broker entered. He said he came to know thro the teacher that the poor orphan boy was being suspected and considered his moral duty to save the child from ignominy by bringing the watch pledged for Rs.200 by Naren and give it to his dad. There was a shocked silence in the hall and sense of shame in all faces. Naren was seen crying. His dad’s anger was turned on him and he caned him endlessly till others snatched the cane from him. He lifted Raja in his hands and showered kisses on him cringing at the same time for his pardon. The magnanimity of the boy in not exposing Naren even in pain was not lost sight of by one and all and Naren in particular.