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A long, long time ago, in the Age of Mahabharat, there was a Hunter-Prince who went by the name Ekolobyo. He was the best archer of his tribe but as is wont with people who possess sheer awesomeness, he wanted to be even better. So he decided he would ask for lessons from one of the most renowned arms teachers of the world, Drona. Being the best in what he did, Drona was the teacher of the High-Princes of Hostina. These were the Pandavas, the five brothers at the centre of the story of Mahabharat, and the Kouravas, their cousins and later dire-enemies.

Ekolobyo journeyed to Hostina, sought out Drona and asked humbly for an apprenticeship. Upon learning his lineage, Drona refused haughtily. You see, hunters were of the untouchable caste and even their princes were not fit to take lessons with the High-Princes of the warrior caste. Thwarted, but not ready to give up, Ekolobyo headed for the jungle.

A couple of years later, the High-Princes went hunting. One of them had a hunting dog. In the forest, while the princes chased after game, the dog nosed around the bushes. All of a sudden, loud barks could be heard which were abruptly stopped. A little while later, the dog returned to his astonished master, tail firmly between his legs and his mouth sealed with seven arrows. Curious more than scared [for none among them, even Arjuna who would later fight beside the gods and be hailed as the greatest archer of all time, could perform such a feat], they searched the forest and came upon a dark, tangle-haired, lean man, target practising with great diligence.

They approached the tall stranger and asked him who he was. “I am Ekolobyo, son of Hironnodhonu, student of Drona.”

The princes rushed back to their teacher, their hearts filled with resentment. Did Drona have another student? Was he teaching Ekolobyo things he wasn't teaching them? They asked Drona, “Teacher, what have we done wrong that you have taught Ekolobyo so many things that you haven't taught us?” Drona placated the princes, promised to make things right and went with them to meet Ekolobyo. When he entered the forest clearing, the Hunter-Prince fell to his knees and said reverently, “Guru, you have, at last, come to visit you student.”

The thing is, Ekolobyo had accepted Drona as his mentor in his heart. Since he could not take lessons from the real person, he had built a statue of Drona and with tremendous focus and will power, started to master the bow.

Drona understood all this. He said, “You have done well without my direct supervision. There is not much I can teach you anymore. But seeing as your apprenticeship is over, I demand my Gurudokkhina [tuition fees].”

The devoted Ekolobyo, finally acknowledged, asked his Guru what his heart desired. Drona looked in his eyes and said, “My heart desires your right thumb.” Without his thumb, an archer is useless. But such was his loyalty to his teacher that, Ekolobyo happily cut off his thumb with his hunting knife and handed it to Drona with the utmost respect.

Task done, Drona returned to Hostina with the High-Princes, who were now satisfied that Ekolobyo could no longer shoot. And the Prince of the Hunters went back to his people, thumb-less, but his name will never fade into obscurity.

By Dr Who

Art 'attacked'

To say those of us who can't draw well, are regularly ambushed by art would be an understatement. That's because your art related sufferings start from playgroup and span your entire educational life. To a subject as arrogant as art, you are always a bonsai- never growing up and always ready for more humiliation. And every time it definitely has to be accompanied by a freefall of your grades. So why is art so important? Well, its not. It's just the chicanery of colours your life could do without.

You thought mangoes came in all sizes and tastes. But that miniaturised mango on your exam paper seriously irked your art teacher and you don't really understand why? After all smaller mangoes often taste better than their bigger counterparts and more importantly they take less time to draw! As you art teacher can't really beat you up, your grade takes a beating you thought it never deserved. To top it off, a lot of your friends who had subscribed to the incredulity of drawing large mangoes, are showing off their good grades!

You thought you got rid of art and your lousy art teacher once and for all as you had the option to do so in grade nine. Unfortunately you picked your poison in the form of Biology. Not to mention your biology teacher who thinks she is on a flight of fantasy on Pegasus, apparently borrowed from her medical college. A delightful sense of schadenfreude engulfs her every time she sees your deficient diagrams. As if bad grades in art for the past eight years were not enough. And it's better not to mention the embarrassing errands on the white board for which you were always her number one pick.

Unfortunately, your sufferings don't end there. Art attack continues but this time in the form of devil drawing- a morsel of misery and mishap you never needed. You are converted into a truck for carrying T-scales, tapes and triangles and buried under a pile of assignments. Why is it that you have to cut every 3D object and view it from all six sides? By this time you understand- a D is your destiny and that too because your teacher just can't afford to fail you and exacerbate the already clogged conditions of higher education. Apparently an era of agony is not enough, you still probably have miles of go before your suffering ceases!

By Nayeem Islam

Book Review

Dragons Of Autumn Twilight

Face it you don't have a dynamic, action-packed life. You'll beg to differ, but deep inside, you know it's true; your life is uneventful. However, there is an alternative to whining over your bland life: teleport to a world of mystic creatures and intense battles. How, you ask? Oh, just head over to Krynn and step into the world of Dragonlance.

'Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight' initiates the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy, the result of the collaboration of Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis. Inspired by the game 'Dungeons and Dragons', this book will get a good grip on fantasy freaks. As already mentioned, the story is set in the fictional world of Krynn. The book kicks off with five friends - Tanis Half-Elven, Sturm Brightblade, Caramon Majere, Raistlin Majere, Flint Fireforge, and Tasslehoff Burrfoot - reuniting after 5 years of separation- each of them were on an independent quest to find out why the gods had abandoned the land. During their meeting, they discover that the village they are in has been taken over by the Seekers, who are something of a religious cult - soon enough, the companions get involved in a fight with reptilian beings known as Draconians. These incidences indicate that a dark future awaits Krynn- the friends must now embark on a quest to restore faith in the True Gods and put an end to the existing evils. Hence, they find themselves progressing towards a battle against the very essence of evil the Dark Queen Thakisis.

This book undertakes the job of introducing and developing the characters and the general theme of the trilogy. The character development is pretty strong, and all of them have very distinctive personalities; you will find yourselves loving some characters, getting annoyed by others and absolutely despising some others. You might crave a few more fight scenes, but the existing ones ought to be enough to sate your bloodlust (it's not like you've fought off any dragons or Draconians). However, yours truly believes that the actual writing has room for improvements.

The fact remains, however, that the book will keep you interested till the very end thanks to its solid story line. It is fantasy, yes, so you will inevitably find yourself on the theme of good and evil but it is not your clichéd hodgepodge of elves, humans, dwarfs and dragons. Rather, it is a clever mix of humour, action, romance and friendship. 'Dragons of Autumn Twilight' serves not only as an introduction to the Dragonlance series, but also as a good introduction to the fantasy genre. Try getting a hold of the book at the very least, you will finally realise how dull your life is.

By Sarwat Yunus



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