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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How The Hoopoe Got His Crown

It is told of the Wise King Solomon that once he was travelling in the heat of the sun and called upon the vultures to shield him from its fierce rays. When they refused their help, he cursed them and, as a punishment, God removed the feathers from their neck and so all vultures have now a bare neck.
King Solomon went on his way, and the heat grew worse than ever. Presently he saw in the distance, a flight of hoopoes, and called aloud to them.
"O hoopoes, come near, and shiled me from the rays of this burning sun". Then king of the hoopoes answered:
"O King, we are but small and feeble birds; still, we will do our best". The hoopoes then came nearer, and formed themselves into a close flock. They flew over the King and his party and shielded them from the sun until evening. At sunset, they asked the king's permission to depart. The king thanked them and said: "Before you go, tell me what reward I shall give you for your kindness in shielding me from the sun to-day".
The king of the hoopoes said : "We wish for no reward; we have only our duty".
But the king insisted and at last the king of the hoopoes said:
"Let me first go and consult my wife, and then I will return for the reward".
So the king of the hoopoes flew away home and told his wife all that had happened, and asked: "Now, what reward shall I choose?"
His wife replied: "Let us ask for golden crowns, to wear on our heads. They will look very fine, and we shall be the most beautiful of all birds."
The king of the hoopoes then returned to King Solomon and told him what his wish was. King Solomon smiled and said: "Are you sure, that you are asking for the best thing". The hoopoe replied: "My wife wishes it and so I have asked for it."
"Very well", said the king, "your request shall be granted", but if ever you repent of your words, come back to me".
So away the hoopoe king flew. When he reached home, he found his wife with a golden crown on her head, admiring herself in the looking glass. And, when he feld his own head, he found a golden crown there too. All the hoopoes were proud of their golden crowns and went about thinking themselves the most handsome of all birds.
The happiness of the hoopoes did not last long. One day, a birdcatcher found in one of his traps a hoopoe. To his surprise, it had a crown on its head. "This is very curious", he said. "I will take it into the town for I shall perhaps get a good price for a bird with a brass crown on its head". He never dreamt, that the crown was of gold. He took it to a shop and the shopkeeper looked at it. At first he thought, as the bird-catcher had thought, that the crown was of brass.
"How much do you want for this bird?" he asked. "You ought to give me a good price for it, as it is very rare", replied the bird catcher. The shop keeper looked at the crown again and saw that it was of pure gold. Hiding his joy, he said: "Yes, it is rather rare, I will give you a rupee for it". The bird catcher refused to sell the bird for less than two rupees and the shop keeper at last agreed to this. As the bird catcher was going off, well pleased with his two rupees, the shopkeeper said: "If you catch any more birds of this kind, bring them to me, and I will pay you the same price for them."
Other bird catchers caught some hoopoes, too, that day, and of course the secret was soon out. Every one heard that the hoopoes were wearing crowns of real gold on their heads, worth at least fifty rupees. And so everyone was on the look-out to catch a hoopoe and make some money.
The poor hoopoes thus found that the reward they had asked of King Solomon had turned into a bitter punishment. They were hunted from field to tree and from tree to bush until they did not know where to turn for safety. Their king then made up his mind to go to King Solomon and to tell him how badly their reward had turned out for them.
Very weary he looked when, after a hard journey, he reached the royal palace. When the king saw him, he called out in surprise: "What, is that my handsome little friend, the hoopoe? How wretched he looks! What's the matter?" The hoopoe told his story, and begged the king to take away the fatal gift, and let the hoopoes be, as before, without crowns.
King Solomon said: "It is not the crowns that matter, but the gold they are made of. Keep your crowns as a sign of my thanks, but henceforth they shall be of feathers, and not of gold"
So off the hoopoe went, with his crown of gold turned into a crown of feathers. When people found that the crowns of the hoopoes were only of feathers, they ceased to hunt them and the hoopoes had peace and quiet once more.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Anecdote about Mussolini, Napoleon and Machiavelli

According to a story circulating in Rome, Mussolini dies, and goes to Paradise, where he greeted warmly by Napoleon.
"God will be here in a few minutes," says Napoleon. "Since you are new here, you should probably be warned that we rise when He enters".
"What! I get up? Don't forget that I am the Duce".
"I am Caesar", states a voice. "Yet I have the manners to rise".
"Not I", says Mussolini.
The argument is becoming warm when Machiavelli approaches.
"Peace, friends" he exclaims. "I will arrange everything".
"Attention!" thunder Machiavelli. "Here comes the photographer!"
Whereupon Mussolini hops to his feet, folds his arms, sticks out chin and chest.

From Thesaurus of Anecdotes

The Human Comedy

This is the captivating story of an American Schoolboy who in the evening also worked as a messenger of the telegraph-office in the Second World War.
Here follows  a part of the story:
The messenger got off his bicycle in front of the house of Mrs Rosa Sandoval. He went to the door and knocked gently. He knew almost immediately that someone was inside the house. He could not hear anything, but he was sure the knock was bringing someone to the door and he was most eager to see who this person would be - this woman named Rosa Sandoval, who was now to hear of murder in the world and to feel it in herself.
The door was not a long time opening, but there was no hurry in the way it moved on its hinges. Then the door was open, and there she was...
To Homer the Mexican woman was beautiful. He could see that she had been patient all her life, so that now, after years of it, her lips were set in a gentle and saintly smile. But like all people who never receive telegrams the appearance of a messenger at the front door is full of terrible implications. Homer knew that she knew the message was not a welcome one.
"You have a telegram"?  she said. It wasn't Homer's fault. His work was to deliver telegrams. Even so, it seemed to him that he was part of the whole mistake. He felt awkward and almost as if he alone were responsible for what had happened. At the same time he wanted to come right out and say, "I am only a messenger, Mrs Sandoval. I am very sorry I must bring you a telegram like this, but it is only because it is my work to do so."
"Who is it for?" the Mexican woman said.
"Mrs Rosa Sandoval, 1129 G Street", Homer said. He extended the telegram to the Mexican woman, but she would not touch it. "Are you Mrs Sandoval?" Homer said.
"Please", the woman said, "Please come in. I cannot read English. I am Mexican". She paused a moment and looked at the boy, standing awkwardly as near the door as he could be and still be inside the house.
"Please, " She said, "what does the telegram say?"
"Mrs Sandoval", the messenger said, "the telegram says..."
But now the woman interrupted him. "But you must open the telegram and read it to me", she said. "You have not opened it".
"Yes ma'am", Homer  said as if he were speaking to a school teacher who just corrected him. He opened the telegram with nervous fingers.The Mexican woman stooped to pick up the torn envelope and tried to smooth it out. As she did so she said: "Who sent the telegram - my son Juan Domingo?"
"No, ma'am", Homer said. "The telegram is from the War Department".
"War Department?"
"Mrs. Sandoval", Homer said swiftly, "your son is dead. Maybe it's a  mistake, Mrs. Sandoval. Maybe it wasn't your son. Maybe it was somebody else. The telegram says it was Juan Domingo. But maybe the telegram wrong".
The Mexican woman pretended not to hear.
"Oh do not be afraid," she said. "Come inside; come inside.  I will bring you candy". She took the boy's arm and brought him to the table at the center of the room and there she made him sit.
"All you boys like candy," she said, "I will bring you candy". She  went into another room and soon returned with an old chocolate candy box. She opened the box at the table and in it Homer saw a strange kind of candy.
"Here," she said. "Eat this candy. All boys like candy'. Homer took a piece of the candy from the box and tried to chew.
"You would not bring me a bad telegram", she said. "You are a good boy - like my little Juanito when he was a little boy. Eat another piece."
Homer sat chewing the dry candy while the Mexican woman talked. "It is our own candy", she said, "from cactus. I make it for my Juanito when he comes home, but you eat it. You are my boy too."
Now suddenly she began to sob, holding herself in as if weeping were a disgrace. Homer wanted to get up and run but he knew he would stay. He even thought he might stay the rest of his life. He just didn't know what else to do to try to make the woman less unhappy, and if she had asked him to take the place of her son, he would not have been able to refuse, because he would not have known how. He got to his feet as if by standing he meant to begin correcting what could not be corrected and then he knew the foolishness of this intention and became more awkward than ever. In his hear he was saying over and over again. "What can I do? What the hell can I do? I am only the messenger." The woman suddenly took him in her arms, saying, "My little boy, my little boy".
He didn't know why, because he only felt wounded by the whole thing. He didn't dislike the woman or any body else, but what was happening to her seemed so wrong and so full of ugliness that he was sick and didn't know if he ever wanted to go on living again. The woman forced him into another chair and stood over him.
"Let me look at you", she said. She looked at him strangely and, sick everywhere within himself, the messenger could not move. He felt neither love nor hate but something very close to disgust, but at the same time he felt great compassion, not for the poor woman alone, but for all things and the ridiculous way of their enduring and dying.
He saw her back in time, a beautiful young woman sitting beside the crib of her infant son. He saw her looking down at this amazing human thing, speechless and helpless and full of the world to come. He saw her rocking the crib and he heard her singing to the child. Now look at her, he said to himself.
He was on his bicycle suddenly, riding swiftly down the dark street, tears coming out of his eyes and his mouth whispering young and crazy curses. When he go back to the telegraph office the tears had stopped, but everything else had started and he knew there would be no stopping them.
"Otherwise I'm just good as dead myself", he said, as if someone were listening whose hearing was not perfect

from : The Human Comedy
by : William Saroyan

James Simpson, the Discoverer of Chloroform

James Simpson was a Scotman, a man of humble birth, the son of a baker. He was born in a small village in Scotland, in the early part of the last century.Though his father was only a poor man, he made up his mind that he would give his son James the best of all possible gifts, a good education.  He sent him first to the village school. James quickly proved himslef a good student, and very soon stood high among his class fellows. He worked hard at his books and, in his spare time and holidays, like a good son, worked hard for his father. He was not ashamed to help him in his trade, and would often serve the customers who came into the shop, or would go round with his father's horse and cart, to deliver bread to customers in the neighboring farms and villages. As soon as he had passed through the school, his father sent him on to the University of Edinburg. It was not an easy thing for a poor baker to find enough money to send his son to the University. But the father was determined to give his promising son the best possible education and was ready to make every kind of sacrifice in order to achieve this object.
So to Edinburg University James went, then, as now, a famous school for the study of medicine. There James made friends with two young men, who were studying medicine and soon made up his mind that he too would become a doctor. This meant a long course of study, and James, who knew, that it was no easy thing for his family to pay his University-expenses, lived as carefully and economically as he could, while every penny that he could save went to buy the books necessary for his studies. In the vacations he not only helped his father as before, but also assisted the village doctor by visiting patients and dispensing medicines for him. In this way his time was spent, until he had passed all the necessary examinations, and was qualified to practise as a doctor. Just about this time his father died. His elder brother thought it would be greatly to James' advantage, if he could continue for a further period at the University, in order to pursue his medical studies still longer. He, accordingly, with great generousity, came to this help and James continued to pursue his medical studies, not only in Edinburg but also at some of the more famous universities and schools of medicine in different countries in Europe. So that, when he at last embarked on his medical career, it was with the highest degrees and qualifications that the Universities of Europe could give him.
Now James Simpson, or Dr James Simpson as we ought perhaps now to call him, was often horrified at the terrible sufferings of people who came to the hospitals for treatment; and  he began to make it the chief aim of his life, to find out some new discovery, which would help to get rid of, or at least alleviate, this cruel suffering. It is impossible to describe the suffering of men and women who had undergo operations, in the days before the discovery of  chloroform. It was said, and probably with truth, that a patient preparing for an operation was like a condemned criminal waiting for execution. Such was the terror of unfortunate people about to undergo an operation, that cases had been known, where patients had died, simply out of fear of the terrible pain that awaited them. Knowing all these facts only too well, Dr Simpson would ask himself again and again: "Can nothing be done to prevent this awful suffering?"
When his long day's work was over, he gave up all his spare time, often working till long after midnight to testing the effects of different drugs in lessening pain. He used to get chemists to send him different drugs, and he and some of his medical friends would make experiments with them, first trying their effects, not upon their patients, but upon themselves. He knew that such experiments were full of danger, but he thought only of how he could bring relief to suffering men  and women, and paid little heed to the danger.
One day a chemist sent him a certain drug that had lately been discovered. That very night he put to the test. He and some of his friends began to  inhale the vapour of the drug, in order to see what effect it had. First of all they began to feel excited and cheerful, then, one by one, they became quiet and sleepy, and at last subsided upon the floor.  Dr Simpson was one of  the first to recover consciousness. As soon as he recovered his senses, he cried out: "This is the drug that I have been looking for".
The name of that drug was chloroform. Next day Dr Simpson ordered a quantity of the drug from the chemist, and began to try its effects upon his patients. The results were wonderful. After trying a number of experiments, Dr Simpson wrote a book, in which he told the world all about this marvellous discovery. It seems  strange to us nowadays to hear that a great many people objected to the use of chloroform, and said that it was wrong and even wicked to administer such a drug to sufferers.
Some were jealous of Dr Simpson's wonderful success. Others said that it was not right to prevent pain. They said that pain was sent by God and that it was wicked  to try to do away with it. But Dr Simpson knew only too well what a terrible thing pain is and paid no heed to these objections.
He knew that many men, who were brave enough to face death on the field of battle, would tremble at the thought of the surgeon's knife, and regardless of all hostile criticism, he set himself to conquer and kill the monster: Pain.
He had to fight against many difficulties, and to overcome many enemies, but he knew he was right; and in the end, in spite of all opposition, he was victorious. And we to-day enjoy the results of all his hard work, patient study and devoted selfsacrifice.
James Simpson, the poor baker's son, now became a very famous man, whose name and work were known throughout the whole world and the honour of a baronetcy was conferred upon him by the Queen, as a reward for his services to mankind. But, though he became famous and wealthy, he never became proud or selfish, and was always ready to place his great skill at the service of even the poorest, from whom he could hope for no reward but their gratitude. And when at last he died, in the arms of that loving elder brother, who had done so much to help him in his boyhood, not only his own country, but the whole world, united to pay honour to him, as one of the great benefactors of the human race.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Rainbow Fairies

Two little clouds one summer's day
Went flying through the sky
They went so fast they bumped their heads
And both began to cry

Old Father Sun looked out and said:
"Oh, never mind, my dears,
I'll send my little fairy folk
To dry your falling tears"

One fairy came in violet,
And one in indigo
In blue, green, yellow, orange, red,
They made a pretty row

They wiped the cloud tears all away
And then, from out the sky,
Upon a laine the sunbeam made
They hung their gowns to dry

L.M Hadley