Reading - Together

The Jackal and the Drum


One day, a jackal called Gomaya was very hungry, and was wandering about in search of food. After some time, he wandered out of the jungle he lived in, and reached a deserted battlefield. In this deserted battlefield, a battle was fought recently. The fighting armies had left behind a drum, which was lying near a tree. As strong winds blew, the branches of the tree got rubbed against the drum. This made a strange noise.

When the jackal heard this sound, he got very frightened and thought of running away, "If I cannot flee from here before I am seen by the person making all this noise, I will be in trouble". As he was about to run away, he had a second thought. "It is unwise to run away from something without knowing. Instead, I must be careful in finding out the source of this noise". He took the courage to creep forward cautiously. When he saw the drum, he realized that it was only the wind that was causing all the noise.

He continued his search for food, and near the drum he found sufficient food and water.

Moral of the story:

Only the brave succeed in life.

Source: Tales of Panchatantra



The Peacock's Complaint


A peacock was very unhappy with his ugly voice, and he spent most of his days complaining about it.

"It is true that you cannot sing," said the fox, "But look how beautiful you are!"

"Oh, but what good is all this beauty," moaned the dishearten bird, "with such an unpleasant voice!"

"Oh hear," said the fox, "Each one has its special gift. You have such beauty, the nightingale has his song, the owl has his eyes and the eagle his strength. Even if you had an eloquent voice, you would still complain about another thing."

Moral of the story:

Do not envy the gifts of others. Make the most of your own.

Source: Aesop’s Fable



History of 'Hello'


What do you say when you pick up the phone?

You say "hello," of course.

What do you say when someone introduces a friend, a relative, anybody at all?

You say "hello."

Hello came into existence in the mid-1800s. It is an alteration of hallo, which was an alteration of holla or hollo. People said hello to attract attention ("Hello, what do you think you're doing?"), or to express surprise ("Hello, what have we here?").

Hello gained widespread usage though the increased use of the telephone. As per the Oxford Dictionary it was Thomas Edison who put hello into common usage. He urged the people who used his phone to say "hello" when answering. His rival, Alexander Graham Bell, thought the better word was "ahoy."

Whatever the reason, hello pushed past ahoy and never looked back! The telephone hello soon became a face-to-face greeting too.

Source: The Internet



A Look at a Book...

Next to Agatha Christie, Jules Verne is the most translated author of all time, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is probably his most popular work with many versions ranging from full-length annotated versions to entry-level books that focus on the basic story.


What’s the story?

Just after the American Civil War, French biologist Pierre Aronnax, accompanied by his faithful assistant Conseil, embark on a voyage in search of a mysterious creature that's been attacking ships around the world. In due course the creature proves to be a submarine, and he, Conseil, and French-Canadian harpooner Ned Land are taken captive by its master, the mysterious Captain Nemo. For many months the trio, prisoners aboard the Nautilus, behold undersea wonders from one end of the globe to another, while learning very little about what dark force drives their captor.

Science-minded children may love Professor Aronnax's tendency to describe every fish and plant he sees wherever he goes, and trivia-minded ones may love some of the historical tales on the side. One of the pioneering works of science fiction, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, first published in 1870, is downright uncanny in the accuracy with which it predicted much technology to come, from submarines to electricity.

Source: The Internet



Classical Notes

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849)

An American writer, editor, and literary critic. Poe was best known for his poetry and short stories. Widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and American literature as a whole, he was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story. Poe is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.


A Dream within a Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow--
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand--
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep--while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?



Meet the Author


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859, educated at Stonyhurst and Edinburgh and was trained as a doctor. After a medical practice at Southsea between 1882 and 1890 in which he was only moderately successful, he took to writing. His works include a number of short stories and romances, but his greatest popular triumph was Sherlock Holmes. Holmes was the master of the minute observation who was inevitably forced to explain his techniques in detail to his sidekick Dr. Watson.

The first Holmes book was A Study in Scarlet (1887) and continued in publications such as "Strand Magazine". The string of sequels - notably The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1891) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) testifies to the growing and continued popularity of this figure. Indeed, fanatics of the series were so angered by Holmes's apparent death at the hands of arch-villain Moriarty that Doyle was forced into reviving the character who, by that time, was becoming something of a burden. The author himself was fonder of his historical romances, for example Micah Clarke (1888), The White Company (1891) and Rodney Stone (1896). The reading public has never agreed, though critics have judged them to be worthwhile.

Doyle’s later life was dominated by his interest in spiritualism (he wrote a book on the history of the subject in 1926) and his doomed personal quest to convince others of its value. He had more success writing outside fiction, for instance the pamphlet 'The War in South Africa' and other books with public issues as their heart.

Source: www.bibliomania.com

Image by Walter Benington



The Dove and the Ant

One hot day, an ant was searching for some water. After walking around for some time, the ant came to a spring. To reach the spring, it had to climb up a blade of grass. While making it’s way up, the ant slipped and fell into the water.

The ant would have drowned if a dove up a nearby tree had not seen her. Seeing that the ant was in trouble, the dove quickly plucked off a leaf and dropped it into the water near the struggling ant. The ant moved towards the leaf and climbed up there. The leaf carried the ant safely to dry ground. Just at that time, a hunter nearby was throwing out his net towards the dove, hoping to trap it.

Guessing what he was about to do, the ant quickly bit him on the heel. Feeling the pain, the hunter dropped his net. The dove was quick to fly away to safety.

Moral: Do to others as you wish them to do to you.

Source: Aesop’s Fables



The Origin of the word “O.K.”

O.K. is a pair of initials with a plethora of uses. However, the origin of OK also has a number of explanations. Here is the story of the word’s origin.

In 1839, an abbreviation craze swept Boston. Charles Gordon Greene, editor of the Boston Morning Post, came up with an abbreviation -- o.k. -- which he indicated meant "all correct" if you didn't know how to spell "all correct." So when “o.k.” appeared in print on page two of the Boston Morning Post on March 23, 1839, it was intended to be the shortening of “oll korrect,” the humorous misspelling of “all correct.”

OK reappeared in another Boston Morning Post article three days later, and it very slowly seeped into the American vernacular during 1839. By the end of the year, it had showed up in the Boston Evening Transcript, New York Evening Tattler and the Philadelphia Gazette. The spotlight of the following year’s presidential campaign, however, set OK on the path to linguistic stardom.

A major factor in OK’s success is its adaptability —meaning that OK can be a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, interjection, abbreviation, or acronym (technically, an initialism). It can be spelled “o.k.,” “ok,” “O.K.,” “OK,” “okay,” and sometimes “okey” or “okeh.” That adaptability also applies to its meaning. OK is affirmative, but it doesn’t gush or overpromise. Few things in the world will ever be outstanding, wonderful, top-notch, or world-class, but many things are OK!

Source: The World Wide Web



Classical Notes

Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)

Four-time Pulitzer Prize winning American poet, teacher and lecturer wrote many popular and oft-quoted poems such as “After Apple-Picking”, “The Road Not Taken”, “Home Burial” and “Mending Wall”. His work was principally associated with the life and landscape of New England.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.



The Brahmin and the Cobra


There was a Brahmin called Haridatta who had a farm in a certain town. He was hard-working. But despite his hard work on his farm, his farm did not produce enough for him to prosper.

One day, while working in the farm, he could not bear the heat anymore and decided to rest under the shade of a tree in his farm. Beside the tree, there was an anthill. While he was resting there, a cobra emerged from the anthill with his hood raised.

Observing this, he thought, "This cobra must be the deity of the farm. From today, I will worship and offer oblations to the cobra. Perhaps, the cobra will bless the farm with a rich produce."

The Brahmin brought milk on a plate and offered it in front of the anthill and said, "I was not aware of your presence, O protector of my farm, please forgive me and accept my offering."

As was the tradition, he went home after he made the offering. The next day, when he came to the anthill, he saw a gold coin on the plate he had offered milk in. He accepted the gold coin as a blessing from the cobra.

This went on for a long time. Every day, the Brahmin would offer milk to the cobra and received a gold coin in the plate he offered the milk in. He started growing rich.

After some time, the Brahmin needed to visit another village. In order that the worship of the cobra was not hampered, he instructed his son to offer milk to the cobra every day, and keep the blessing the cobra gives in return.

Following his instructions, the Brahmin's son did offer milk to the cobra in due time and went home. When he returned next day, he was astonished to find a gold coin lying in the plate.

He thought, "If the cobra gives a gold coin every day, there must be lots of gold coins inside the anthill. I can take out all the gold coins if I kill the cobra."

The next morning, instead of offering milk, the Brahmin's son waited for the cobra to emerge from the anthill and hit the cobra with a stick in an attempt to kill him. The cobra fought back angrily as it was not a deadly blow, and bit the Brahmin's son. He died from the poison, and his body was cremated in the very farm by their relatives.

When the Brahmin returned, he heard what had happened and that his son had died. His relatives wanted to kill the cobra for revenge.

The Brahmin was indeed aggrieved for his son's death, but did not favor his behavior that led to his death. He did not blame the cobra, and defended the cobra's action.

The next morning, the Brahmin went to offer milk to the cobra as usual. He stood near the anthill and started praying. On hearing this, the cobra came out of the anthill and confronted him.

The cobra said, "Look at yourself. You have even forgotten your son's death and have come here out of the greed for a gold coin! You do not come here out of respect, but for greed. Our friendship cannot last any longer now".

The cobra continued, "I bit your son in retaliation to his attack. He got greedy for gold and died. What he did was out of his youthful rashness, but how can you forget his death? Take a look at the funeral pyre, and take a look at my injured hood."

The cobra gifted the Brahmin with a diamond this time, and said, "Shattered love cannot be restored with a display of affection. Never come here again!"

The Brahmin went home with the diamond, and grieved his son's foolishness and his death, and did not return to the cobra again.

The wise indeed say:
Greed crosses all borders of reasoning and ends in disaster.




Strong or Weak

There was a proud teak tree in the forest. He was tall and strong. There was a small herb next to the tree.

The teak tree said, “I am very handsome and strong. No one can defeat me”. Hearing this the herb replied, “Dear friend, too much pride is harmful. Even the strong will fall one day”.

The teak ignored the herb’s words. He continued to praise himself.

A strong wind blew. The teak stood firmly. Even when it rained, the teak stood strong by spreading its leaves.

At the same time, the herb bowed low. The teak made fun of the herb.

One day there was a storm in the forest. The herb bowed low. As usual the teak did not want to bow.

The storm kept growing stronger. The teak could no longer bear it. He felt his strength giving way.

Short Stories - Strong or Weak

He fell down. This was the end of the proud tree. When everything was calm the herb stood straight. He looked around. He saw the proud teak had fallen.



The   Lion   &   Mouse

Once when a Lion was asleep, a little Mouse began running up and down upon him. This soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him and opened his big jaws to swallow him.

"Pardon, O King!" cried the little Mouse, "Forgive me this time. I shall never repeat it and I shall never forget your kindness. And who knows, but I may be able to do you a good turn one of these days?"

The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him that he lifted up his paw and let him go.

Sometime later a few hunters captured the King and tied him to a tree while they went in search of a wagon to carry him on.

Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight, in which the Lion was, ran up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the King of the Beasts. "Was I not right?" said the little Mouse, very happy to help the Lion.

MORAL: Little friends may prove great friends.



ACHYUTA SAMANTA: AN INSPIRING STORY

In a world, so full of competitions amongst the rich, the powerful and the rank holders, that the inner self of a human being often finds itself lost or rather trampled. We live in a world which is ruled by Money, Power, Status and Corruption. There are still some people around us who could have become powerful both in strength and in financial means but who instead dared to create an equitable world sans hunger and ignorance despite being surrounded by wealth and power.

In the early sixties, history was about to be written in as ordinary village called Kalarabanka in the district of Cuttack. One finds that after 50 years, the non-descript obscure village Kalarabanka and its surrounding villages have become an education hub, for the region acquiring the status of a model Panchayat, when Kalarabanka became the first village in India to cover its citizens by the Health Insurance.

The unbelievable trait has happened, not through any miracle but, through the continuous and dedicated effort of its prodigy, a frail looking young man Achyuta Samanta who was raised there against all hopes of survival due to the untold miseries inflicted on him and his family by cruel destiny. Wild spinach and rice gruel were all that his mother could give Achyuta for sustenance, for she had to fend the entire family of seven in absence of her husband who died untimely when Achyuta was only four when his father passed away that summer.

It was indeed a difficult choice for anyone grown in such a hopeless situation to think for getting education, but as if driven by an instinct, young Achyuta followed the few elderly boys to reach the school.

Surprised by his will to stay put in the class, the headmaster had to give in and the journey for the young lad started. Journey from a Primary School to High School and from High School to College and from a College to the University, always with the merit scholarship was both fascinating and challenging for Achyuta. In his journey from the village to a district Headquarters town and from there to the State capital Achyuta learned the hard ways of life. Since hunger was writ large on the walls of his house in village, empty stomach in the city could not be a hindrance for him to get his Master’s in Chemistry from Utkal University. Scholarship was not enough for him to sail through for which he had to take up giving tuition to the students. The adversities of life, the penury he experienced made him to struggle and stand in the midst of just a very microscopic few who could transform his woes to advantages. The logical end to a struggling young man’s quest was a job to sustain his family back home. His academic excellence got him the job of a teacher in a local college, but his destiny had other plans for him.

The hunger, the poverty and the will to forge ahead kept him going. The prospects of a good life did not make him forget his wretched condition and deprivation.

Adversaries of life taught him to take life as it came. Being crushed in poverty he learned to survive and transform his adversaries to advantages. Thus, Achyuta thought something big for deprived children

where each one of them could study. It definitely needs courage to give up a secured future to run after a mirage. Few people dare to think of coming nearer to the horizon but very few of them set their own horizons and Achyuta was proving to be one in the second category. With all his savings, a paltry sum of Rs. 5,000/- (100 US $), Achyuta started a small Industrial Training Institute in 1993 which has grown into one of the finest multi-disciplinary Universities of the country. It is yet another story of a successful social entrepreneur which Achyuta has already been accepted. It was not his aim to open up an Industrial Training Centre and then upgrade it to an Engineering College to mint money. Around this time, Achyuta started a small school for 125 children belonging to the under-privileged section of the society. That small institute – Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) has now grown into the largest institute of the world for 20,000 tribal children, who are provided with accommodation, food, health care and education from KG to PG absolutely free.

Born out of love, passion and dedication, KISS today stands testimony to Achyuta Samanta’s expression of feelings and his sincerity to empower millions of under privileged aborigines through education. He has taken a very firm and bold step towards the creation of an equitable world. Through KISS, Achyuta Samanta ensured that no child should ever have a nightmarish shattered childhood. He now plays, father to nearly 20,000 children, as he knows what it meant to be a fatherless child. Love and care helped the tribal children to shine in every field. Whether it is to represent the nation in international sports or to secure position in various qualifying examinations, the indigenous children have proved beyond any doubt that given scope, they could outshine everyone. Participation of world organizations like UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA and US Federal Government in various projects of KISS proves that KISS has become the most accepted model to empower and create sustainable livelihood through education. Great economic planners, statesmen including Presidents, Prime Minster, Chief Ministers, Nobel Laureates and Social workers come here to appreciate and experience KISS. While world leaders are concerned about creating a better world and the UN also has set certain goals like Millennium Development Goals, KISS has slowly but steadily been inching towards fulfilling many of those goals. Volumes can be written about KISS and volumes can be written about Achyuta Samanta who single-handedly dared to give the underprivileged children, their due in the society.

Establishment of KIIT and KISS shows just a small glimpse of Achyuta Samanta’s persona. His concern for the ailing society, his friends and people around him get lot of admirations for him even from his bitter critics. Regional, national and international publications have hailed him. ‘Time magazine’, ‘Outlook’, ‘India Today’ have featured him and now ‘Reader’s Digest’, brought out in 21 languages from 50 countries put him in the cover giving a moving description of Samanta.

Achyuta Samanta stands apart as a person who could have bought all the luxuries of life, but for a man like him for whom puffed rice was the luxury, the money and luxury meant very little. Neither he ever craved for power nor did he ever think of living in comfort and luxury.

He finds the greatest satisfaction in his Gandhian life style, his simple vegetarian food and inexpensive dress which speak a lot about him. He shares the pain of others and for him kindness in thinking creates profoundness and kindness creates love. It is the love for humanity that inspires Achyuta Samanta to stand as a class of his own in the midst of Great Philanthropists.

What good is one’s wealth, if it is not used to improve or enhance the general quality of mankind? One cannot just keep earning money, if he does not have anything worthwhile to spend it. A time comes in every rich person’s life when he starts thinking of the poor. While great philanthropists like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Li Ka Shing, George Soros, Wang Jianlin, Terrence Pwegula and the likes, Even after having a luxurious  life, started donating out their money for others,

Samanta helps every one without having a house or a bank account in his name, for he thinks giving others is his greatest luxury in life. His struggle, his sacrifice and his simplicity are definitely more precious than anything money could buy.