Monday, December 22, 2014

Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories by R K Narayan

Rating: 3/5
Finished On: December 11,2014


Edition Details:
Format: Paperback
Page count : 193
Publishers: Indian Thought Publication


R K Narayan is one of my most favourite authors and i've always loved to read them. He's not only known for writing profound things using the simplest of language but for brevity of his books. His stories are beautiful and short and have no unnecessary explanations. Under the banyan tree and other stories is his second collection of stories containing 28 stories. The stories are :




1) Nitya 2/5

First Sentence:
"Nitya, at six on Friday morning," said his father determinedly,"we leave by bus."

Nitya's parents had made a promise to their family deity a long time ago. The promised involved offering Nitya's hair. Now Nitya's twenty and his parents have decided to fulfill that promise. And Nitya is no mood to part his hair. It was an okay story.

2) House Opposite 2.5/5

First Sentence :
The Hermit invariably shuddered when he looked out of his window.

The peaceful life of Hermit gets destroyed by the coming of a woman in a hut opposite to his hut. The woman is of shady character and all types of man visit her. This infuriates the hermit and he plans to confront her and make a stop to the debauchery that is taking place in his neighbourhood. Will he be able to do that? Well read the story to find out.
Sometime we think low of people who are different than us and don't follow our life style even thought these people are not harming us. The same thing happens to this hermit. He sees a woman who's carrying her business but is not interfering in the hermits life, and held her responsible for his inability to meditate any longer.

3) A Horse and Two Goats 3.5/5

First Sentence:
Of the seven hundred thousand villages dotting the map of India, in which the majority of India's five hundred million live, flourish, and die, Kritam was probably the tiniest, indicated on the district survey map by a microscopic dot, the map being meant more for the revenue official out to collect tax, than for the guidance of the motorist, who in any case could not hope to reach it since it sprawled far from the highway at the end of a rough track furrowed up by the iron-hooped wheels of bullock carts.

Muni must be the poorest guy in his village. He lives with his wife and they are barely able to make ends meet. Usually, he sets out in the morning with his goats and goes in the outskirts of town where the goats can graze. On one such morning he encounters an American businessman. What happens then? Well, read the story to find out dude.
It is one of the  most funny story in the book. The conversations between Muni and the American will surely make you laugh.

4)The Roman Image 3/5

First Sentence:
The Talkative Man said:
Once i was an archaeologist's assistant.

In malgudi there was a man who was known as The Talkative Man. His stories were hard to believe but were fun to hear. The roman image is one such story where the talkative man describes how he once became an assistant to a renowned Archaeologist. They both decide to ancient artifacts in Malgudi which would change how people have perceived history. Will they succeed? I can tell you, but i think the Talkative Man would not like it. It's better if you hear from the horse's mouth .

5)The Watchman 2/5

First Sentence:
There was still a faint splash of red on the western horizon.

The tank has been notorious for people trying to end their life. The watchman that guards that tanks knows what hassles follow after the deed has been done. He doesn't wants that. So, one day late at night he sees a woman putting a letter on the steps leading to the tank and then entering it, he approaches her and tries to dissuade her from committing the scene. Will he succeed??

It was an okay story. But the end was left ambiguous by the author.


6)A Career 3/5

First Sentence:
The talkative man said:
Years and Years ago i had a shop.

This is the second story featuring The Talkative Man. In this the talkative man talks about the time when he had opened a shop. His business was going great.One day a guy called Ramu comes to his shop and asks for work. The Talkative Man takes liking to him and keeps him under his employ. Ramu works hard and wins heart of not only the proprietor but his family and his customers. But then what happened which forced The Talkative Man to close down his booming business. Well, read the story to find out.

It's always fun to read the stories involving The Talkative Man. I liked the story. It was fun reading it.


7)Old Man of the temple 3/5

First Sentence:
The Talkative Man said:
It was some years ago that this happened.

In this third story The Talkative Man is entertaining the people by narrating them his supernatural experience. What was that experience? Well,  you know how you can find out.

I loved the story. The stories of The Talkative Man are always fun to read and this doesn't veers from the trend.

8) A Hero 3.5/5

First Sentence:
For Swami events took an unexpected turn.

Swami had never thought a general discussion on a news about a brave boy in the paper could havoc in his life. But that was what exactly happened. Now, Swami has been asked by his father to prove that he's brave by sleeping alone in his office.  Will Swami survive the ordeal ? Well, Swami is sure he'll not make through this alive.What do you think??
This was a funny story. It was fun to read Swami's thoughts as they always made me laugh. Also, there used to come a serial called Malgudi days and that serial had this story. The guy who was Swami in that serial had nailed it and while reading i was imagining him. This thing also made the story so funny. If you haven't watched the serial, you could watch the episode by clicking the following link:
A Hero

9) Dodu

First Sentence:
Dodu was eight years old and wanted money badly.

Dodu want's money. And since he nobody takes his financial worry seriously he decides to take matters in his own hands. He wants to earn money. What will he do?Will he get the money?
It was a sweet story. I must say Narayan sir writes children beautifully. I loved it.

10) Another Community 4.5/5

First Sentence:
I am not going to mention caste or community in this story.

The story deals with the inter-community clashes. This was the first story that tackles such a sensitive topic and i really loved how he handled the story.

11) Like the Sun 3/5

First Sentence:
Truth, Sekhar reflected, is like the sun.

Sekhar has decided he'll speak truth for a whole day. Will he succeed and what will be the price he'll have to pay? Read the story to find out.
In our daily live we lie a lot. We may deny that and most of the times we lie not for selfish reasons but because we don't want to make people around us unhappy. But can we do away with those little lies? I think not and soon Sekhar will also know it. I liked the story.

12) Chippy 2/5
First Sentence:
I cannot give a very clear account of Chippy's early life.

Chippy is a story about a dog. It details his life from when he was puppy and how he ended up with Swami in Malgudi.
It was an okay story.

13) Uncle's Letters 2/5
First Sentence:
Little man, just a line to welcome you into this world, my newest nephew.

This is not a story but just pieces of advice given to a nephew by his uncle. The advises are interspersed throughout the life of nephew from his birth to when he's celebrated his 1000 moon seeing.
It was an okay read.

14) All Avoidable Talk 4/5
First Sentence:
He was told to avoid all quarrels that day.

Sastri has been told not to engage in any avoidable talk today by one of his astrologer friend. He knows what that friend has prophesied  about him has always come true. Well, will he succeed in avoiding 'All avoidable talk'.

It was fun to read. The more Sastri tries to avoid confrontation the more he gets confronted by people. This leads to funny situations as the reader gets to know what Sastri wants to say and what he says. It was a good read.


15) A Snake in the Grass 3/5
First Sentence:
On a sunny afternoon, when the inmates of the bungalow were at their siesta, a cyclist rang his bell at the gate frantically and announced: "A big cobra has got into your compound. It crossed my wheel."

When its announced that a snake has been seen in the courtyard, chaos ensues in the house. The people of the house are after the servant to catch the mischievous reptile. Will he succeed ?? It was an entertaining story.



16) The Evening Gift 3/5

First Sentence:
He had a most curious occupation in life.

Sankar has been appointed by a wealthy man to make sure he doesn't drink too much in the bar. Sankar has been paid well for this job and he's doing the job perfectly. But now his kin in the village need money and Sankar has not yet saved enough to meet their needs.  What will Sankar do?

It was an entertaining story.

17) A Breath of Lucifer 3/5

First Sentence:
Nature has so designed us that we are compelled to spend at least eight hours out of twenty four with eyes shut in sleep or in an attempt to sleep.

This story by Narayan sir is based on his own experience when he had an operations of his eyes . The doctor after operation had kept his eyes bandaged for a considerable amount of time. The story is about Sam and a writer in Malgudi who goes through an eye operation. Sam is always on call and has never disappointed the writer. But Sam is always cagey about details of himself and what he did before becoming male nurse. Now the writer has formed his opinions about how Sam looks and has a desire to see him when his bandages are removed.
It was also an okay story. The stories of Sam are interesting.



18) Annamalai 2.5/5

First Sentence:
The mail brought me only a postcard, with the message in Tamil crammed on the back of it in minute calligraphy.

The story is narrated in first person. The narrator of the story had a gardener, Annamalai, once. Annamalai was illiterate and so the narrator had to read the his letters. It's been a long time since the Annamali left the job and went back to his village. So when the postcard from Annamalai's brother comes to the narrator asking for his help the narrator starts thinking about how Annamalai had entered his life and how he had left. This form the whole story.
It was an okay story. It's one of the longest in the book. There are parts of it that are very entertaining but some times it bored me and i wanted it to finish. So, that's the reason for me giving it 2.5 stars.



19) The Shelter 3/5

First Sentence:
The rain came down suddenly.

It been raining heavily. A man runs to a banyan tree near the road side for the shelter. He is surprised to find his estranged wife there. What ensues between them?? You'll have to read the story to find out.

The story deals with a married couple who couldn't adjust with each other.


20) The mute Companions 3/5

First Sentence:
Other beggars had this advantage over him: they could ask for alms, while he could make a sort of gurgling at the throat.

Sami has been eking out a miserable living as a beggar. His fate changes once he captures a monkey. He trains him and starts earning well. But everything changes when he plans to do a show for a wealthy person's son. What happened there?? Read the story to find out.

I have noticed about Narayan Sir's characters that most of them never have a happy ending. This thing is also in the same category. I enjoyed the story and then felt sad for Sami.

21)At the Portal 3/5

First Sentence:
If i missed attending a certain committee meeting that evening it was purely unintentional.

Well, i have nothing to say about the story. If you have read the first sentence, you must be curious to know what made the narrator miss the meeting. I don't know about you but i was and so i read the story. If you are, then i recommend the same for you.

It was an entertaining story. It was a little different from the other stories in the book. I liked it.

22)Four Rupees 3.5/5

First Sentence:
Ranga was never certain what he was going to do next.

Ranga is loitering about in the village when his fate changes. He gets asked to go into the well and retrieve a brass pot from there.He asks for four rupees and when they agree for the wage, he decides to do the job. But one look at the well and Ranga knows he has bitten more than he can chew. He has never entered the well before his life and thinks this can be fatal to him. Will he get the job done? Read the story to find out,

It was funny sometimes and held my interest till the end. I loved the story.


23)Flavour of the Coconut 2/5

First Sentence:
It was a formidable gathering of accusers.

The trial is on and the people are willing to execute him. Who is the prisoner? What was the crime that he committed which warrants this dire result. Well, read the story my friend and get acquainted with the ruthless criminal.


24) Fruition at Forty 2/5

First Sentence:
Rama Rao obtained his officer's permission to absent himself on the following day.

Rama Rao is turning forty and he decides to celebrate it with aplomb. Well man proposes and usually god disposes. Will this be the case of Rama Rao?? Read the story to find out.
It was an okay story.

25) Crime and Punishment 2/5

First Sentence:
"What is sixteen and three multiplied?", asked the teacher.

It was an okay story. A teacher has been appointed for teaching a kid. The parents of kid believe that beating a child is a strict no no and they have ordered the teacher against it. The kid knows this and takes full advantage of the situation. But then something changes and teacher finally gets the upper hand? What happened? Read the story to find out.

26)Half a Rupee Worth 3/5

First Sentence:
Subbiah sold rice at the market gate.

The story is about Subbiah who is a rice merchant. It details his life how he prospers in his business.
It was an okay story. It shows the black marketing of grains that was constant scenario of that time. How businessmen used to loot the general public and fill their coffers.

27) The Antidote 3.5/5

First Sentence:
His director was already at work on the set-the interior of the office with the large table in the middle and a revolving chair beyond it.

Gopal is an actor. His astrologer has told him that he do nothing unpleasant today. But his director is adamant in making him do a death scene. Will Gopal come out of this unscathed?
It was a funny story. I liked it.

28) Under the Banyan Tree 4/5

First Sentence:
The village Somal, nestling away in the forest tracts of Mempi, had a population of less than three hundred.

Nambi has been the entertainer of the village Somal from a long time. He has been enchanting them with his stories since time immemorial. He lives in a small temple near the end of village. There is a banyan tree there and people gather there for the story sessions that involve Nambi telling them the stories. The village people have always looked for it and it has been a source of entertainment for them. But nothing lasts for ever. Will the story sessions continue or the age will take toll on Nambi? Read the story to find out.
I liked reading the story.

I loved most of the stories in the collection. The stories are about the common people and their common lives. It's amazing how Narayan Sir weaves stories about such simple topics. It has been fun to read him and i think everyone should read it. You'll definitely find something to enjoy in this collection.

If you have read the collection you can tell me about the stories that you liked. But if you haven't and want to read you can get the book from the following links:

Flipkart's link for Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories
Amazon's link for Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories


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