Neat, Shaken or On the rocks…?

It’s story time guys ! There’s this cute little story in the Panchatantra about a merchant who loses all his money in his business. So he decides to try his luck in a different part of the country.  Before setting out from his village he leaves a heavy ancestral iron balance with his friend for safe keeping until the time he should return. In a few years time the merchant is successful and decides to return to his native town. After his return when he goes to his friend’s house to get back his balance, imagine his shock and dismay when the friend expresses his inability to return it because as he informs the merchant  “rats ate up his iron balance”!

When I narrated this story to the little kids in my weekly Indian Culture class, they could barely control their giggles and chuckles. The children then proceeded to have an animated discussion on exactly what they thought of the merchant’s friend. “Greedy friend” pronounced one child, another said “Liar pot” and then added “Cheater Cock” for good measure. Yet others declared the friend to be disloyal, selfish, unfaithful and more along the same lines. One  fellow remarked that the friend was an “Idiot”. When asked to elaborate, the wise little guy said that if the friend did not want to return the iron thingy he should have thought of a better, more plausible excuse! Good point!

This fable was written around the 2nd or 3rd Century.

Cut to the present 21st Century. May 5th 2017 to be precise….. The Times of India reports that the Bihar State Police seized around 9 lakh litres of alcohol from people caught flouting prohibition laws in the state and stored them in the police station warehouse. Well….. predictably, the bottles went missing – all 9 lakh litres of them!!! When confronted by the media the state police announced that rats had finished off the liquor!

Now, when I read this out to my son he couldn’t stop chuckling and he said that he was impressed with the imagination of the agents of law. Rats’ Day Out indeed!!  My imagination, however, went wild  thinking up various scenarios, where intoxicated police men try to apprehend thugs and criminals with bottles and bottle openers, instead of the mandatory guns and handcuffs. Hands Up!  Sure, but before that – Bottoms Up!!

With a tall tale such as this one,  would even the most gullible goof give the benefit of doubt  – either to the rats or to the  ‘you know whos’ ?  Such incidents do nothing to enhance the reputation of the men in khaki, with ordinary law-abiding citizens already having cynical opinions of them.  The long arm of the law – holding up a  Johnnie Walker –  unfortunately does not instill a sense of confidence among the public.  When a tipsy finger is pointed accusingly at the poor rodents, do we just wag a finger and tell our law enforcers “Don’t lie, Don’t lie!”.  Or, should we simply call them a few juicy names and turn the page over? Or shall we roll our eyes, shrug our shoulders and say “Boys will be Boys”!

On the up side of it {ever the optimist ain’t I?}, if you ever lose your way somewhere in the eastern part of India, forget about GPS or the compass or other unreliable sources of directions; if you see rats staggering and hiccupping down the sewers……… rest assured you are in Bihar!!!!

Have a merry day. Hic!!

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9 thoughts on “Neat, Shaken or On the rocks…?

  1. I believe the cops are telling the truth. At least they are confirming that rats drank! Now it is up to us to judge who are these rats.

    Good one Radhika

    Liked by 1 person

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