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It All Began with Drip Drip

It All Began with Drip Drip

A tiger was caught in a storm, he had wandered into the fields looking for something to eat. He huddled close to the wall of Naini’s hut for shelter. Naini was an ill-tempered old woman who lived on the outskirts of the village. She was feeling especially ill-tempered that day, because her roof leaked badly. “This drip-drip!” she muttered, pushing her tin trunks and bed from place to place to keep them dry. “Is there no escape?...

Where Did Chess Originate?

Where Did Chess Originate?

Chess originated in India around 7th century AD (around 1400 years ago). The game was then called Chaturanga – chatur meaning four and anga meaning parts. The game comprised the four parts of the army: elephants, horses, chariots and foot soldiers besides the king and his mantri (minister). The game was in fact a battle-plan drawn on a smaller scale, to find out ways and means of outsmarting the enemy. How was it played? In the game, one side of the army had to knock out or capture the opponent’s pieces from the board until the king was captured or ‘checked’, that is, made immobile....

The Boy and the Magic Brush

The Boy and the Magic Brush

A folktale from Myanmar, it will acquaint readers with a new word called ‘Nat’. Nats are spirits, good or bad, and they are believed to have supernatural powers. The Buddhists believe that everybody goes through the cycle of life, death and rebirth – all determined by the person’s ‘karma’ or deeds. Being a Nat is just one of the cycle of lives. Nats need salvation as much as humans and so they help humans by being their guardian spirits....

The King and the Squirrel

Once upon a time, there was a king who was very proud of his matchless position. He was young, well-read and intelligent and none of the youths of his kingdom equaled him in strength or valour. Moreover, he was the richest man in the kingdom. One day, while strolling in his garden, he said to his wise, old minister, I am sure no one would ever dare to boast before me. I am glad that I am superior to everybody in every respect....

The King who Played Marbles

The little kingdom was plunged in darkness. There were no festivities, no sounds of music or laughter. Grief was writ large on the faces of the people and the lamps in the palace burned low. Outside the curtained bedroom of the young ruler, the men and women who worked for him stood and sat in anxious postures, full of sorrow. Many were weeping softly. The king was ill. He was on his deathbed. The short illness that had struck so suddenly but a week before, had been pronounced beyond treatment by the doctors who had come their heads together and tried every possible medicine… but death was stronger than their medical knowledge....

Tenali Rama and the Jinx

Tenali Rama and the Jinx

Clown, jester, poet…Tenali Rama, minister in the court of the ruler of Vijaynagar, Krishnadeva Rai (reign: 1509-30), was a lot of things. Stories, about Tenali Rama and his practical jokes on everyone around him including distinguished fellow poets and the emperor himself, abound in south India. His fame spread beyond Vijaynagar (present-day Andhra Pradesh), to areas that come in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka today. Tenali Rama was also a great scholar of several languages that included Marathi, Tamil and Kannada....

War Memorial for Child Soldiers

War Memorial for Child Soldiers

Where: New York, USA September 23, 2000: “Everyone was dying. You saw the legs or hands of your friends lying in front of you. It was so horrifying, you couldn’t make sense of it. It was hell… Boys lay on the ground for three or four days without being buried. We were fighting around their corpses.” This is how Rashid, an Ethiopian high school student, described his experience of fighting on the Badme front in 1999....

Paris is Bugged by Termites!

Paris is Bugged by Termites!

Recently Parisians have been facing quite a bit of trouble; bookshop owners live in mortal terror of their precious books disintegrating, while owners of wooden houses are constantly worrying that their homes might collapse into a pile of rubble. Strangely enough, the cause of all this problem is really teeny. In fact the culprit that has most of Paris, France, upset is able to squeeze through an opening as small as 1/32 of an inch! Not so terrifying after all, but then these creatures live in gigantic colonies – consisting of more than a million members and love munching on wood and paper....

Tawara Toda

Tawara Toda

In Japan, in 365 AD, the Yamato Empire flourished, gaining strength and fame with each passing year. The emperor Nintoku was a fierce warrior well-known for his conquests. In Nintoku’s army, there was a soldier named Tawara Toda. He was a poor and simple villager who was devoted to his land and emperor even though he was considered the joke of the army. Nintoku’s guards whipped him regularly, yet every night before sundown, in his prayers he would ask Lord Buddha to protect his emperor and keep his land from harm....

The Eyes of a Child Soldier

The Eyes of a Child Soldier

Where: Sierra Leone, Africa August 5, 2000: A child is recognised everywhere as a symbol of innocence. Those who fight wars know this fact. And the more brutal among them use this knowledge to do the most terrible thing. They force children to fight the wars that they have started. This is what the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) does in the West African country of Sierra Leone. The title of the group suggests that it is performing heroic acts....

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