Friday, November 26, 2010

Speaking to Inform Project 3 - Rock, Paper, Scissors

[Started by  showing 3 gestures - a fist, an open palm and a V-sign]
Can anyone guess what my talk is going to be about?
It is about a very simple age-old game which originated from China and then became very popular in Japan. It is called Rock, Paper, and Scissors. I first came to know about this game during my schooldays when I read Ian Fleming’s book “You Only Live Twice”. In that book James Bond & Tiger Tanaka, the chief of Japanese secret service play this game.
Since then over the years I taught this game to my kid cousins, my niece and many small children. I got a very enthusiastic response from them. So if you want to keep young kids from getting into too much of mischief or want wean them away from computer games and TV serials which they have got addicted to, teach them this game. It will keep them occupied for a long time.
So without much ado let us start understanding the rules of this game.

This stands for Rock [showed a fist]; this stands for Paper [showed a palm]. Paper can cover the Rock [covered the fist with the palm], so it is stronger.
This stands for Scissors [made a V-sign].  A Rock can blunt the scissors. So Rock is stronger.
A Scissor can cut the Paper, so it is stronger than the Paper.

Let us play a demonstration game now. Can I have a volunteer please who will play with me ? [One person volunteered; incidentally she happened to be the Club President ! ]
At the count of three both of us will simultaneously show one of the three  - Rock or Paper or Scissors. The winner of the show will be decided based on the rules just explained
[Played three shows. Incidentally I won the game 2-1]

Now you know how this game is played. But mind you, it is more than a child’s game.
You may think that the results of this game is random like a tossing a coin. But it is not so, since human beings are in control of what they will choose, there is quite a bit of psychology and strategy involved in this game. You can get to know about these strategies in the internet.  One good website to go to is 

Many Rock Paper Scissors competitions are held world over.  Last year a film called “The Flying Scissors” was also made about this game.
A few years back this game was used to settle a long drawn out a legal battle between two parties in a Florida court.
Once  two famous auctioneers Christie’s and Sotheby’s were asked by a Japanese industrialist to play Rock, Paper, Scissors  to decide who will get  the contract  to auction the paintings which he had in his possession. Christie’s won the commission by choosing “Scissors”, since Sotheby’s chose “Paper”.
 We Toastmasters always expect a  message in a speech so here it goes  - Be strong (Rock gesture) ! Be Calm  (Palm gesture) ! Victory (V-sign)  will be yours.

[Date Delivered:  November  20 2010

  • Prepare a demonstration speech to clearly explain a process, product or activity.
  • Conduct the demonstration as part of a speech delivered without notes.
Time: Five to Seven Minutes

For this project, I had made up my mind not to do a Powerpoint presentation, since the facility for the same is not guaranteed in our club . But it so happened on this day two other speeches were  Project 8  speeches (Visual aid) from Competent Communicator Manual and the speakers had organized for LCD projection system  to make Powerpoint presentations ! If I had known about this in advance, probably I also could have joined them !

Anyway my initial intention was to demonstrate any scientific principle through some common objects, but somehow I could not think of anything which would keep the audience interested.
And then one day it suddenly struck me to do a demo of Rock, Paper, Scissors Game. And when I surfed internet, I could find quite a few interesting facts about this game. So the topic problem was solved !
After this it was pretty much smooth sailing. My speech did not require any rewrites (normally I rewrite 4 to 5 times ) and I hardly rehearsed. Yet, I think this was one speech in which I was completely my natural self while delivering it in a very interactive manner. 

 I try to avoid giving a message as far as possible in my speech (unless of course it is a  requirement of the project). I don't like to preach unless I can practice what I preach. 
But the audience (at least in my club) expects a message in every speech. I don't see any reason why this should be the case.
The original intended ending of the speech was
""Do you know what message this game conveys?  Why do you look for a message in every  speech? There is no message.  Just go and enjoy the game!""
But later I thought it would be better to introduce an element of self-deprecating humor at the Toastmasters by concocting a message out of blue when actually there was none. So I ended it as
"We Toastmasters always expect a  message in a speech so here it goes  - Be strong (Rock gesture) ! Be Calm  (Palm gesture) ! Victory (V-sign)  will be yours"
And to my astonishment it was taken very seriously and I received appreciation for this concocted and retrofitted message  by some members !
But I guess my disinterest in giving a message was very apparent since I got an evaluation which said that while the speech was good , I had hurried up the message part. It should have been delivered with more impact after a weighty pause !
Fellow Toastmasters, give me a break ! Why can't we have just some simple fun without preaching or being preached !

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Story Telling Project 3 - Adam, Aman and Acharya

“Aman, where are you my child?”
Adam came back home from work, and called out for his son as usual.  
No response!  What happened? Aman always used to come running, “Here I am Papa!”
Aman was Adam's son  on whom he showered all his affections.

He called out again, “Aman!” . Deafening   silence! Adam got worried.
He called out once again, “AMAN”.  
This time his neighbor barged in angrily and said, “Why are you shouting at top of your voice and disturbing me? Aman is not at home, go out and find him!”

Adam went to Aman’s school and met the Headmaster and said “Sir, Aman has not come back from school.” The Headmaster said, “I think I saw him leaving the school with his friend Balu”.

Adam then hurried to Balu’s house.  Balu said “Uncle, he did not come here. He said he will be going to the  library.”
Adam then rushed to the library and found it closed. He was now really worried. 

He ran hither and thither like a mad man and asked every one he knew in the town, “Have you seen Aman?” Everywhere he would get the same response, “Sorry, we did not see him”.  He then asked every stranger, and they all looked blank. “Who is Aman?” they asked him instead.

Now Adam was distraught and feared the worst. He barged into the police station. Inspector Acharya was on duty. Adam started wailing “I have lost my son. I searched him everywhere and can’t find him. Someone has kidnapped him. What I am going to do?”

Inspector Acharya  gave him a patient hearing and asked,”Adam, have you searched him in your own house?”
Adam suddenly realized, “Oh No! I did not!” He then hurried home. There he found Aman sleeping peacefully in his room.

What is the moral of this story?
There are three characters in this story - Adam, Aman and Acharya.
Adam represents mankind. Aman means happiness and peace. Acharya means a teacher or guru.
Everybody desires happiness and peace of mind i.e Aman.  But often the man i.e. Adam gets misled by all sorts of people mostly well meaning, but who themselves do not know the way to happiness.
Therefore he frantically hunts for it all around the world. And when he does not find what he is looking for he becomes restless and distraught.
A  genuine teacher or a guru  like Inspector Acharya  will show him the right path. He will say, “Stop! Don’t waste time and effort in searching for happiness and peace in the outside world. Look within yourself. Observe your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions. You will realize that the true happiness and peace lies within you ! It’s all in your mind!”


[Date Delivered:  October 9 2010

  • To understand that a story can be entertaining yet display moral values
  • To create a new story that offers a lesson or moral
  • To tell the story, using the skills developed in previous two projects
Time: Four to Six Minutes

One day my younger sister then about 2 years old was missing. We desperately searched for her everywhere and feared the worst when we were not able to find her. And then suddenly we found her playing inside a big packing case in our own  backyard.

There is also a saying in Hindi "Goad Mein Bachcha, Nagar mein dhindora", which means announcing to the whole town that you have lost your kid, when actually you are carrying it all along.

I  also firmly believe that neither the circumstances nor the external objects are the cause of our happiness or sadness. It is we who choose to be happy or otherwise.

I created this original story with based on the above facts.  


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Speaking to Inform Project 2 - The World of Rhetoric

How can I be a speaker who inspires; a speaker who successfully persuades the listeners; a speaker who generates enthusiasm?
These are the questions which play upon every earnest speaker’s mind.

The answer is simple. Use rhetorical techniques.
Now what is that?
Rhetoric is a way to attractively package the bland facts and deliver a speech that is memorable; a speech that creates an impact; a speech that strikes a chord with the audience.

Let me give you couple of examples.
Hamlet, a character in the Shakespeare’s play is very depressed and says “To be or not to be, that’s the question.” Now suppose instead of this Shakespeare had made him say “I can’t decide whether or to commit suicide or not”. Now tell me which one is a more powerful quote? Obviously the first one, though both mean the same.

Martin Luther King in his memorable speech said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” It created waves across America. But instead if he had said “I hope racial discrimination in America will disappear within a generation”. Would that have stirred the same emotions?

Effective speakers invariably make use of rhetorical techniques to get their message across.
Today I will give you three simple rhetorical techniques, which you can use in your speeches.

Let us begin with a technique called Contrast. What is a Contrast?  When you clearly bring out the difference between two things, you are creating a Contrast.

You can achieve contrast through comparison, like Aristotle who said “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies”.  Here he is achieving contrast by comparing the bravery of two persons.

Another way to bring contrast is by introducing a Pair of Opposites. As soon as he landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind”.   Small step!  Giant leap!   What a stark and dramatic sounding contrasts!

Reversing the phrases is yet another way to create elegant contrast. Winston Churchill once said “The optimist sees opportunity in every danger; the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity”. Just note how effectively he has differentiated between an optimist and a pessimist by reversing the order of the words “opportunity” and “danger”.

Now let us move on to another simple technique - Question. Ask the audience a question or a series of questions.
It will reinforce your opinion. For example instead of simply stating that children are the sweetest gift to mankind, the great orator Cicero said “Of all nature’s gifts to the human race, what is sweeter to a man than his children?”

Questioning will also make the audience sit up, think and wonder what the speaker is going to say next. For example, when Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Britain in midst of World War II, he said, “You ask, what our aim is? I can answer in one word. It is victory.”
Did you will realize that I myself have used this Questioning technique several times in this speech?

The third and the easiest technique is appropriately called the List of Three.
It can be three identical words for e.g. Three secrets of a great public speaker - Practice, Practice and Practice.
It can be three different but related words as in French revolution slogan – Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
It can be three phrases, which Mahatma Gandhi has used to define happiness. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”.

Research has shown that a three-part list creates an impression of completeness.
Lists with only two items sound inadequate and so the audience waits in anticipation for the third item. Therefore keep the most important point as the third item. And don’t create a longer list. You will loose your audience’s attention. [I left out these lines, during the speech. I just forgot ! Fortunately it went unnoticed !]

Today I have talked about three simple rhetorical techniques – Contrast, Question & List of Three. Use them in your speeches to create an impact.

Some say, “I don't believe in empty rhetoric. Action Speaks Louder than Words!” Agreed! But I would add, “Words Generate Action!”  Welcome to the world of rhetoric!

[Date Delivered:  July 31 2010

  • Analyze your audience regarding your chosen subject.
  • Focus your presentation at the audience's level of knowledge.
  • Build a supporting case for each major point using information gathered through research.
  • Effectively use at least one visual aid to enhance the audience's understanding.

 Time: Five to seven minutes.

I chose this topic because I was sure everyone in the audience will be interested in knowing how to enhance their speech to make it more effective. They wouldn't be attending the meeting in first place if they were not !
The speech was based on Chapter 6, The Persuasive Power of Words from the book - Lend Me Your Ears by Max Atkinson. Please see my review of this book in the other blog I write (Bookworm Reads)
The visual aid I used was a handout which was much appreciated by the audience.

The links to the audio/video files of some of the speeches I quoted from are :

I tried to speak as close to the original as possible. The audience liked the excerpt from Martin Luther King speech very much. ]

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Story Telling Project 2 - The Turning Point

You have to be a good English speaker in this globalized world!
The very fact that all of you have taken time to come to this meeting shows that you all agree with me.
There was a time when I could not even speak one sentence in English fluently and correctly.
And then I met someone and the things became better. No he was not a Toastmaster, trying to recruit me in his club!

I have to go back in time in early 70s when as a 10 year old boy I was growing up in a small town in Bihar, where my dad worked as an engineer.
Though I studied English at school, I was not at all fluent in speaking it. I used to speak in Hindi with my siblings and friends. I did not know even my mother tongue Tamil properly. This did not gel well with my dad. So one day he told me "I have nothing against Hindi. But when you talk to me and your mother, you should speak in Tamil only!”
So my mother tongue got its due and I picked up a fairly passable Tamil.
But where was the "poor English" in the scheme of things? It was still lying neglected in my tongue space while I graduated to real colloquial Hindi as it is spoken in Bihar.

One fine day, a business delegation from England visited my father’s office. A dinner was organized for the delegates in the Company Clubhouse. Around this time I had just got interested in cricket, so my dad told me that there was a cricket player among the delegates.
I asked," Appa, can I also come with you? I want to meet the cricketer and take his autograph. ““No! Absolutely not! Kids are not invited", said my father and left.

A couple of hours later, he gave me a call and said. "If you want to come, come immediately. The dinner is over and everyone is going to leave soon.” My dad was always like that. Whenever I used to ask something from him, his first reaction was always NO. But soon he would have a change of heart and would do whatever I had asked for.

So flushed with excitement, I dressed hurriedly, grabbed the autograph book and rushed to the club. When I reached there I found a gentleman in his late fifties about to get inside a black Ambassador car. He would have left earlier. But my dad had requested him to wait for few more minutes and he was very kind enough to oblige. "The boy has come", said my dad and nudged me towards him. This was the first time I had seen a foreigner. I was awe-struck by his glowing fair skin and sparkling light-grey eyes. Nervously I shook his hands and held out my autograph book. He asked me in a typical British accent, "Well young boy, how are you doing?” It was like a bouncer that just went over my head. I could not make head or tail out of what he was saying. I just blinked. I asked him to repeat what he said. Nothing wrong in it, except for the fact that I had blurted my request in typical Bihari Hindi, “Hum samjhe nahin. Phir se boliye! “(I don’t understand. Could you please repeat?). Now it was the Englishman who blinked and looked confused.

My poor dad! He was highly embarrassed at my inability to communicate in English.
He told me, “You will get nowhere if I continue sending you to the local school. You have to speak better English if you want to have a successful career".
And within a couple of years, he packed me off to a one of the best public schools in Bihar. It was expensive, but he did not mind that. My dad was prepared to undergo hardships in the best interests of his son.

By the time I passed out of the public school, I was able to converse fluently in English. This enabled me to effectively interact in my career with my colleagues and customers from different countries through the global lingua franca English.

Sometimes I wonder how different things would have been if I had not met Sir Leonard Hutton that day. Yes, the man I had met was Sir Leonard Hutton. He was one of the best Test players in English cricket history. He once held the record of highest individual test score of 364. He was also the first professional cricketer to captain England.

The cricketing world may remember him for these achievements, but I would always remember him as a person who was kind enough to wait for me and indirectly instrumental in my improved spoken English.
[Date Delivered:  June 5 2010

  • To learn the elements of a good story.
  • To create and tell an original story based on a personal experience
Time: Six to eight  minutes.

This speech is based on a real incident, though as per the guidelines of the project manual I have spiced it up with imaginary dialogues and vivid descriptions (Reality was not that colorful !).
The plain facts are as follows. I did grew up in Bihar speaking in Hindi most of the time and could not speak English fluently. And I did meet Sir Len Hutton and took his autograph (unfortunately I have lost it) as narrated in the speech. But the actual question which he asked was "Where should I sign ?". I replied in Bihari Hindi "Kya Cheez ? (What ?)". 

Just couple of years before I met  Sir Len Hutton, Indian cricket teams'  magnificent test series win over England had got me interested in cricket. In that series Sir Len Hutton' s son Richard Hutton had played for England. So I wanted to meet Sir Len Hutton because he was Richard Hutton's father ! I had no clue that he was such a distinguished cricketer, though I knew that he was an ex-Test cricketer.
It is also to a great extent true that my inability to communicate in English with Sir Len Hutton was one of the factors  which made my dad to consider changing my school.
Sir Len Hutton  passed away in 1990.

I have realistically portrayed my dad in this speech and the evaluator commented that his character came out well during my speech.
My dad is no more. He passed away when I was eighteen, while I was in my second year of engineering studies. I remembered my days with  him, while delivering the speech and was almost choked with emotion when I came to the following portions in the speech
a)" My dad was always like that. Whenever I used to ask something from him, his first reaction was always NO. But soon he would have a change of heart and would do whatever I had asked for."
b) "My dad was prepared to undergo hardships in the best interests of his son"
Appa, I still miss you  though it is  nearly thirty years now since you departed ! 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Toastmasters Program – An Experiential Learning

Ganapathy Subramanian  runs the Management Scholars Academy in Chennai, India which conducts training programs and workshops on the art and science of  project management. He fully recognizes the value a  Toastmasters program  adds in developing communication and leadership skills of an aspiring project manager.
He invited me to post a blog dealing with this aspect on the Management Scholars Academy website.
You can read my blog  "Toastmasters Program – An Experiential Learning" at

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Speaking to Inform Project 1 - Drug Development Process

I was involved with Drugs last year!  Don’t be shocked. I was not a drug addict.  I was not a drug peddler either.  I worked for a firm which developed software solutions for world’s leading drug manufacturers.
When you fall sick your doctor prescribes drugs. You swallow them and get back to normal. But have you ever wondered what it takes to make these drugs?
I came to know about the very fascinating and interesting process of drug development during my job.
I am going to share what I learnt with all of you today.  This will help you to appreciate better the effort involved in making the drugs that cure you.

A drug lifecycle has 3 stages – Pre-Clinical R&D, Clinical Trials, and Post Marketing Surveillance.

In Pre-Clinical R&D the symptoms and the causes of the disease are studied.  Through extensive research, candidate drug compounds are identified.  Sometimes these compounds are discovered accidently.
This is how Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic -Penicillin.  One day he forgot to cover the Petri dish containing the bacteria culture which he was investigating and went on a vacation. On returning he found that a mold had formed over this culture and destroyed it.  This mold was Penicillium notatum which was found to contain powerful anti-bacterial compounds.
Once potential drug compounds are identified, they must be isolated from their sources and produced in sufficient quantities for testing.  For Penicillin this work was taken up by the researchers Florey and Chain.
Isolated drug compounds are then tested on animals. Compounds found to be too toxic or ineffective are rejected.
Drugs which seem promising are ready for the second stage – the clinical trials.  But before they begin the clinical trials the drug manufacturer must obtain clearance from the drug regulatory authorities like FDA in USA, Drugs Controller General in India.  This is because the drugs will now be tested on people. Volunteers are identified to participate in the clinical trials. All the pros and cons are told to the volunteers who sign up.
Clinical Trials consists of 3 Phases.
In Phase I the drug is tested on 20-30 healthy volunteers. This is to find out whether the drug has any obvious adverse reactions on human beings.                                                                                                          
In Phase II about 100 patients who suffer from the disease, participate.  The researchers study the effectiveness of the drug and arrive at a proper dosage in this phase. 
In Phase III the drug is tested on several thousands of patients. This is to confirm the effectiveness, the dosage and the side effects of the drug.
 If clinical trials indicate that the drug is effective and safe, an application is filed with the regulatory body for approval. All the data gathered during the trials are also submitted along with the application. The regulatory body reviews all the information and decides whether the drug is sufficiently effective and safe to be marketed. If they approve, the drug is manufactured and sold.
Florey and Chain did clinical trials with penicillin on wounded soldiers of World War II. Their amazing success inspired them to develop methods for mass production and mass distribution of Penicillin in 1945. Fleming, Florey and Chain received Nobel Prize for Medicine the same year.
The final stage of Drug Development is the Post-marketing surveillance.  The drug manufacturer, with the help of doctors and pharmacists must continuously monitor the use of the drug and promptly report any additional, previously undetected rare side effects to the regulatory body. The firm where I was working was developing software to computerize and automate this process. The regulatory authorities will withdraw approval if new evidence indicates that a drug may cause severe side effect.
Thalidomide a sedative was sold worldwide in late 1950s. But then it was discovered that when pregnant women consumed it, it caused nearly 20,000 babies to be born with physical deformities.  It was withdrawn from the market in 1961. The thalidomide tragedy brought in very strict regulatory norms for drug testing on pregnant women.
The whole process of drug development takes between 2 to 12 years depending on the complexity of the disease and the drug compounds.
It is a very rigorous and painstaking process. Drug firms research and test 10,000 substances before one of them could be successfully introduced into the market.
Drug business is highly expensive and risky. It costs nearly $2 billion to introduce a new drug to market. And only one drug out of three introduced in the market recovers its development cost.

This is how a drug is identified, tested and introduced in the market.
Let me conclude by saying that the next  time you recover from an illness,  apart from thanking the doctor who treated you,  also spare some thought and -
thank the researchers who sweated out in their labs and the philanthropists who funded the research; thank the animals that were tortured during testing and the volunteers who participated in the trials; thank the regulatory authorities, doctors and pharmacists who rigorously monitored the process.
They all ensured that you lead a happy and healthy life!
[Date Delivered:  April 10 2010

  • Select new and useful information for presentation to the audience.
  • Organize the information for easy understandability and retention.
  • Present the information in a way that will help motivate the audience to learn.
Time: Five to Seven minutes.

As mentioned above the I chose to speak on the topic because I found the whole process of drug development very interesting when I first came to know about it.
I requested for Eight to ten minutes for this speech, since to give all the information in a easy to understand manner with examples and personal experiences it was virtually impossible to complete this speech within seven minutes as specified in the manual. I ended up speaking for nine and half minutes.]

Monday, March 1, 2010

One Year of this Blog - How did it fare in the cyberspace ?

A little over a year ago, when I was learning Web Analytics , I needed some web metrics to analyze. But I did not have a website of my own, so I started writing this blog.
It is now exactly 1 year since I started tracking the performance of this blog through Google Analytics.
Here is how this blog performed over the last year (Mar 1 2009 - Feb 28 2010):
  • This blog had 2386 Unique Visitors (6-7 visitors per day).
  • Visitors came from 72 countries , the Top 6 countries being - India, USA, Canada, UAE, Singapore & Saudi Arabia.
  • Total of 6205 page views , approx. 2 pages per visitor.
  • Top 5 page views were for the following speeches:
    1. Ragging - A Learning Experience (1015 Page views): This was my CC  Project 5 Speech, where I spoke about how I was ragged as a first year engineering student at NITK, Surathkal (then KREC, Surathkal).
    2. The Blog Home Page700 Page views
    3. Cherished Childhood Moments: (348 Page views) This was my Icebreaker Speech from the CC Manual, where I relived my  good old carefree childhood days.
    4. Mobile Phones - Early Days: (314 page views) This was my CC Project 2 speech. At that time I was working for Freescale and our business unit was developing wireless software for mobile phones. So I had enough background to speak on the story of how mobile phones evolved. 
    5. Wisdom, Wisdom Everywhere: (285 page views): This was my CC Project 8 speech. A few days before I gave this speech I had read the book , "Like the Flowing River " by Paulo Coelho. It had several soul-stirring stories and articles, some of them formed the basis of my speech. I have posted my review of this book in "Bookworm Reads", the other blog I write.
 Not bad at all for the first year of blogging. Hope to better this statistics, in this year !

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Story Telling Project 1 - All Fools Land

[With this speech I took my first step towards  Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB) award]

Please relax and go back to your childhood days. And  imagine yourselves as  8 year old kids gathered around your grandfather, eagerly expecting a story to be told.
Are you sitting comfortably ? Then I'll begin.

Once upon a time in a small town there lived a fool. His wife .....was also a fool !
Every day they used to argue and fight.  About what ? About who was a bigger fool !
Their neighbors were tired of their noisy fights.
One day they cornered the fool and told him, "Go and see the world. See how many kinds of fools  are there  in the world. What's the point of fighting like this?"

The very next day the fool set out on a journey. He wandered long and far till he came to a town.
As he was entering the town, he saw some woodcutters coming down the hill, carrying a huge log of wood. They were huffing and puffing.
He asked them, "Why don't you just roll the log down ? That would be much easier."
The woodcutters said,"Oh yeah ! That's the very good idea.  How come we never thought about it ? Thanks a lot ! We will definitely follow what you say." They paid him some money for his advice.

As he roamed about in the town he came across a house. It was almost noon. The sun had reached its zenith. He saw a lady sitting at the doorstep of the house with an empty basket in front of her.
He asked her, “What are you doing?"
She said, "Don't you see? It is very dark inside my house. So I am trying to bring light into my house. I am tired of filling up this basket with sunlight and taking inside my house . But my house is still dark."
The fool observed that her house did not have any windows.
He said ""O, that's easy. If you pay me a fee, I'll fill your house with light." The lady agreed.
He went into the house , made big holes on the walls. Light poured into the rooms. The lady was amazed.
She was delighted. She gave him a hefty fee and also treated him with delicious and scrumptious lunch.

Then he wandered on till he saw a house with a terrace garden with lush green lawns. The house belonged to a milkman.
He saw the milkman pushing, prodding and beating a buffalo. He was trying to get the buffalo to climb to the top of the house. The fool asked him, "What are you trying to do?"
 "O, my  buffalo is hungry. I want to let it graze on the terrace garden. But the buffalo is stupid. Even though I beat him, he won't climb onto the roof. What shall I do?", said the milkman.
"For a fee, I'd be happy to graze him," offered the fool.
"Take it, here," said the milkman, giving him some money.
The fool at once asked for a ladder, climbed onto the terrace, cut some of the grass, and threw it in front of the  buffalo, who happily began to chew on it.

On his way back to his own town, the fool came across the same group of woodcutters whom he had seen earlier in the day.
This time they were carrying the same log of wood up the hill. Clearly it was a very tedious job. They were huffing and puffing even more.
"What happened ?", asked the fool. "Well we are following your advice. We are taking this log up the hill once again so that we can roll it down every easily", replied the woodcutters.

 "Hey ! There are bigger and greater fools in this world", thought the fool.
And then a brilliant idea struck him out of the blue !
He hurried home and came back with his wife.
They both settled down in the town and lived happily for the rest of their lives.
For they had become rich and prosperous by becoming management consultants to the town folks.
 [Date delivered: February 13 2010

  • To tell a folk tale that is entertaining and enjoyable for a specific age group
  • To use vivid imagery and voice to enhance the tale
Time: Seven to nine minutes

The folk tale I told during this speech was largely based on the story called "Fools" from the book  "A Flowering Tree and other oral tales from India"  by A.K. Ramanujan.
However I blended in the incident of the woodcutters carrying the log of wood up and down the hill from a German folk tale which I had read when I was learning German. I also split this incident into two parts .Told one part in the first half of the speech and the other one towards the end.
The line in the beginning  "Are you sitting comfortably ? Then I will begin."  is actually  the opening line of "Listen with Mother', a children's  radio program that was broadcast every weekday afternoon from 1950 to 1982 by BBC.]