Friday, March 27, 2020

Week 10 Story: How the Snow Leopard Saved Her Own Life

There was once a young son of a rich family who liked to play outside in his family’s large courtyards. One day, as he and his toy trucks were playing under a tree, a snow leopard crept into the courtyard. She had been held captive by a travelling circus but had recently escaped. She had no idea how to get home, as the poachers had stolen her from the icy mountains several years ago. Tired, lost, and thirsty, the snow leopard heard the splashing of the rich family’s fountain and only stopped by to get a drink. However, the young boy saw the strange animal and started crying. The family and their guards run outside to see what was wrong, and the father demanded that the snow leopard be captured.

The family gathers around to see the newly restrained snow leopard, and seeing it again makes the son resume his wails. Thus, the father demands that the leopard be killed. But none of them had seen this type of animal before, and they were really not sure how to kill it. Some recommended shooting it…but where? Some recommended drowning it…but how? Finally, one guard who particularly feared the cold recommended just taking her up to the icy mountains and leaving her there…it would freeze her to death quickly and leave no blood on their hands nor body to deal with.

The snow leopard had been listening to their discussions and piped up there, “Oh sir! What terrible thing did I do that would be deserving of the icy mountains? Being drowned or shot sound awful, but the mountains! That would be the most terrible thing you could do to me! I would never be able to survive the mountains!”

So naturally, the guardsmen thought that sounded like a great idea, and they promptly arranged to transport the snow leopard into the mountains. They drop her off on the highest, iciest peak, and she quickly bounds away. She laughs to herself as she fluffs up her plush, naturally camouflaged coat and heads back to her old home, “Those people really didn’t know how safe I am in the mountains.”

Snow Leopard in India (Jammu & Kashmir Wildlife Protection Department, link)

Author's Note: This was based on the Jakata Tale "How the Turtle Saved His Own Life" which went much the same way, except the subject was a turtle and they decided to throw him in the river, thus saving his life. I wanted to maintain the animal theme but pick something a little more exotic, and once again she used a little reverse-psychology to get herself out of trouble.

Bibliography: Jakata Tales by Ellen C. Babbitt (link)

Reading Notes: Babbitt's Jakata Tales Part B

  • The Elephant Girly-face
    • The king had an elephant named Girly-face, because the elephant was so gentle and good and looked so kind, and would never hurt anybody
      • One night some robbers entered the courtyard and sat down to talk about breaking into a house, right outside Girly-face's stall
        • They talk about how a robber must not be afraid to kill, to be cruel and have no pity
          • Girly-face interpreted this as a lesson on how to act: he decides he must be cruel, and show no pity, and not be good even for a moment
            • The next morning the keeper comes to feed him, so he picks him up and throws him to the ground and kills him
              • Another keeper ran to see, so GF killed him too
      • For days GF was so ugly that no one dared go near
        • The king heard of this and sent one of his wise men to find out what was wrong
          • The wise man knew GF and looked him over carefully, finding nothing wrong and finally decided he must have overheard some bad men talking
            • So he asks the keepers if there were any bad men recently, and the keeper says a band of robbers was caught a few weeks ago
          • The wise man reports back to the king that GF must have been listening to bad men talk, so if he could hear some good men talk he will be a good elephant again
            • The king sent a company of good men to sit near GF's stall and talk, as they told each other that it is wrong to hurt any one, wrong to kill, and everyone should be gentle and good
              • GF absorbs this new lesson, and thinks he must be gentle and good and not kill anyone
                • And from then on, he was as tame and good as an Elephant could be
  • The King's White Elephant
    • A number of carpenters lived on a river bank near a large forest, and every day travelled in boats to the forest to cut down the trees and make lumber
      • While they were at work an elephant approached them, limping on 3 feet
        • They see a huge splinter in his foot, pull it out, and washed it carefully so the elephant would be well again soon
          • The elephant was very thankful and decides to be useful to the carpenters to repay them
            • He would pull up trees for the carpenters, or sometimes roll the logs down to the river, or bring them their tools. In exchange, the carpenters fed him well three times a day
    • Now the elephant was getting old, as elephants do, so he called his son - an all-white, beautiful, strong elephant - and took him to learn to help the carpenters in his place
      • The white elephant did as his father told him, and was also cared for and fed by the carpenters
        • At night when the work was done, the white elephant would play with the carpenters' children in the river. He would pick them up and set the children in trees, then let them climb down on his back
          • One day the king came down to the river and saw the beautiful white elephant and wanted him. He paid the carpenters well, and took the elephant home with him
            • The king was very proud of his new elephant and took the best care of him
    • Seem a little anticlimactic, right? I interpret it as a metaphor, that through kindness, hard work, and doing the right thing, one can achieve great rewards and high status

Bibliography: Jakata Tales by Ellen C. Babbitt (link)

A White Elephant (Wikimedia, link)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Reading Notes: Babbitt's Jakata Tales Part A

  • The Monkey and the Crocodile
    • Crocodile really coveted a monkey for dinner. So she told her son to go get one for her
      • Little Croc has to do some thinking
        • Lures the monkey to go to the island where the fruit was ripe, so the monkey gets on Lil Croc's back
          • Lil Croc starts to dive underwater and hold the monkey down, but foolishly explains why
            • The monkey makes the excuse that he left his heart back at the tree, and escapes up the tree once Lil Croc brings him back
    • So, Lil Croc lies on a rock and waits to ambush the monkey
      • Who has noticed that rock is taller than it should be. So he calls out to the rock, "expecting" a response
        • So the stupid crocodile responds, and once again gives his plan away
          • The monkey tells Lil Croc to open wide so he can jump directly into his mouth (knowing that as the mouth opens, the eyes close) so the monkey jumps off the croc's head and onto the riverbank, running up a tree again
  • How the Turtle Saved His Own Life
    • A King had several young sons who one day saw a turtle in the lake and got scared because they didn't know what it was. Must be a demon, then.
      • The King orders it brought back to him, and the princes cry again, so he orders it killed.
        • But how do you kill a turtle? They debated heavily. Maybe pound it to a powder, maybe bake it in hot coals. But one old man was afraid of the water and said to throw it in the lake, where it will surely be killed.
          • The turtle heard, and said essentially "oh no, the lake would be the most dreadful consequence! The other things were bad, but the lake would be beyond cruel!"
            • So naturally the King thought that sounded like a great idea and had his men yuck it into the lake.
              • The turtle laughed to himself as he swam back down the river to his old home, "Good! Those people do not know how safe I am in the water!"
  • The Ox Who Won the Forfeit
    • A man had a very strong ox, and was very proud of him. So one day he rolls up to the village and says he'll pay one thousand pieces of silver if his strong ox can't pull a line of 100 wagons
      • The men laughed at him but obliged.
        • The man brought his ox and yoked him up, then whipped him and called him rude names and told him to go. But the ox wouldn't go.
          • The man sadly pays the forfeit and takes his ox home, where he cries on his bed.
            • As he gets about his work, he goes to feed the ox who asks why he whipped him and called him rude names...he had never done that before, he had always been a kind master
              • The man apologizes and promises never to do that again, and the ox promises to gain back what he lost
    • So they go into the village the next day and the man bets TWO thousand pieces of silver that his ox can pull 100 carts
      • This time the man compliments his ox and strokes him and pats his neck
        • So the ox pulls all the carts, and the crowd has to pay back the forfeit the man lost
          • So both ox and man went home, happy
Source: Jakata Tales by Ellen C. Babbitt (link)

Oxen and Cart (Wikimedia, link)

Friday, March 13, 2020

Week 9 Story: The Trial of Arjuna

“Silence! Silence in the courtroom!” the Judge calls as she pounds her gavel emphatically. “Now what do we have going on here?”

The prosecutor’s lawyer clears his throat and stands. “Your Honor, I am here today to represent Duryodhana, brother in law of Jayadratha, who accuses the defendant of murdering Jayadratha.”

“I see,” says the Judge, with a hint of interest. “Defendant, what do you have to say?”

The defendant’s lawyer stands and says “Good morning Judge, I am representing Arjuna, who is being tried for the murder of Jayadratha.”

The Judge barks, “Well, don’t keep me in suspense, defendant! What does he plead?”

“Guilty, your honor.”

“Well then, what’s the debate? Why are you in my courtroom?” The Judge had not had her morning coffee and may have been a bit hungover from the night before, so she was not in the mood to draw this out.

The defendant draws a lightly nervous breath – he knew this case was a far stretch, but he was being paid to give it a shot. “Your Honor, Arjuna believes that the murder was justified. You see, the murdered party in question, Jayadratha, had trapped and killed Arjuna’s young son earlier that same day. What else was Arjuna to do but to avenge the death of his only son?”

The Judge feels her headache intensify at the decision she’s going to have to make, but a flicker of curiosity prompts her to ask, “How, exactly, did the defendant murder Jayadratha?”

The lawyer responds, “You see, your Honor, Arjuna had made a fairly specific vow that he would kill Jayadratha that same day. Jayadratha, however, learned of the revenge plan and decides to hide for the rest of the day. I won’t pass any judgement on his character, your Honor, but…that’s up to you. Anyway, Arjuna learns of his target’s location and recruits a friend with special effects capabilities to fake a sunset. When Jayadratha sees that the sun had supposedly set he leaves his hiding place, and Arjuna kills him to fulfill his vow.”

The Judge really just wishes she had a Gatorade and an Advil right now. “Well he’s definitely guilty, but I guess it was justified. Free the man, let him go. Case closed.”

The courtroom swells into a rumble of disbelief, and Duryodhana drops his cup of coffee as the prosecuting lawyer shoots to his feet, “But your Honor-“

“SILENCE!” The Judge pounds her gavel hard enough to make herself wince. “I have made my decision! Now all of you get out of my courtroom!”

Arjuna Kills Jayadratha [Wikimedia, link]
Author's Note: I took the brief story from the Mahabharata about Arjuna killing Jayadratha and modernized it. I consulted the list of different writing stories to maybe mix things up a bit, and the "courtroom setting" looked like it would apply well to a story about murder. To keep the story short, I gave the judge a hangover so she wouldn't be in the mood for a bunch of debating. And frankly, she had to let him go so he could go kill more people later on in the Mahabharata.

Source: Reading Guide for Narayan's Mahabharata, by Laura Gibbs [link]

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Reading Notes: Narayan's Mahabharata Part D

  • Krishna goes to Hastinapura
    • He's an emissary for Yudhishthira's final plea for peace
      • Dhritarashtra wants a lavish reception for Krishna, but Vidura explains that K would prefer peace and justice over Stuff.
      • In an interesting non sequitur, Duryodhana plans to take Krishna captive
        • Krishna sees Kunti and brings her news of her sons
      • Dury rejects the peace offering, so Krishna manifests himself before things can get too messy, forcing Dury to realize he can't be imprisoned.
        • Karna promises to single out Arjuna, and only Arjuna, in the coming battle and promises his mom Kunti
  • All Hell Breaks Loose
    • Arjuna is led away from the main battle by a diversion from Drona
      • In his absence, his [young] sun Abhimanyu is asked to penetrate the enemy's formation, which he does but doesn't know how to escape
        • So Jayadratha, Dury's bro-in-law, traps Abhi and kills him. sad day.
      • Arjuna learns of his son's death and vows to kill Jayadratha before the next day is over
        • Jaya hides and only comes out when the sun sets bc he's a coward, but it was a trick where Krishna had used his discus to make it seem like the sunset. Arjuna slays Jaya to fulfil his vow.
    • Remember Karna's vow to kill Arjuna? They fight until Karna's chariot wheel gets stuck in the mud, he begs for mercy, but Krishna urges Arjuna to end him anyway (so he does.)
    • Dury gets sad cause his army is sucking and hides out at the bottom of a lake
      • He comes out for a final duel with Bhima (who fatally wounds him). Dury makes excuses about Krishna's trickery, but Krishna insists that karma brought the deaths of the warriors. Then Dury is killed.
  • End of the batle
    • The Pandavas go to Hastinapura
      • Everyone is really sad; they bury the dead but Yud feels no joy in the victory
      • Yud steps down as king and appoints Arjuna in his place, but his family and Krishna complain until he agrees to become king
  • The End
    • Yud consults the still dying Bhisma to learn about kingship
      • The losing side of the war go to live in the forest and die in a forest fire
      • Krishna's people destroy themselves in a civil war and the city is swallowed by the sea
      • Krishna is killed on the bank of a river by a hunter who mistook his feet for birds
      • The Pandavas die one by one until only Yud lives, and he departs for heaven in his bodily forn
      • Arjuna's grandson, Parikshit son of Abhimanyu, grows up to be king at Hastinapura to continue the Pandava line
  • From Reading Guide for Narayan's Mahabharata, by Laura Gibbs [link]
Arjuna and Krishna [Wikimedia, link]

Friday, March 6, 2020

Week 8 Progress

  • Looking Back
    • So far, I am happy with my progress. I've gone from eking out a story based on another story, to creating my own narrative in different styles lightly guided by a previous story. My weekly routine is not exactly what you might call good, but I've pretty solidly been taking the time after PT and before my first class of the day to get the assignments done. I don't know if I'm getting old or what, but it's become really hard to do work in the parents always told me I'd grow up to be a morning person, I suppose. I enjoy the storytelling class assignments, particularly the microfictions that I dabbled in. I have not yet done any extra credit - every week I promise myself I will, so surely I'll get to it eventually. I'm pleased with the development of my blog, because it was something I was very uncomfortable with at first but now I'm whipping out blog posts like it's no big deal!
  • Looking Forward
    • As with my entire educational career, I find myself needing to break the cycle of procrastination. Staying on top of the assignments will minimize my suffering for sure...and this IS the last semester of my undergrad, ever. I will continue to experiment with new writing styles, probably as suggested in the assignments, but I don't have any changes to make to my blog. The website still needs a little shuffling and personalization though. Time is limited...but we're gonna make it.

Encouragement [Saying Images, link]

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Week 8 Comments and Feedback

  • Feedback In
    • So far, I've enjoyed the comments I've received from the other students in the class. They tend to be more positive and supportive than actually constructive, but there have been a couple comments that I have noted and used for edits. The most useful ones are usually the "but did you think of this?" comments. Odds are I did, but maybe didn't portray it clearly enough for the reader to pick up what I was thinking.
  • Feedback Out
    • I think I have been leaving some solid comments and feedback for other students. I always make sure to leave an actionable suggestion, not just affirmation, in order to help improve their writings. I like the WWW model because it balances affirmation, possibilities for expansion, and edits and therefore does not come across as just affirming or conversely too critical.
  • Blog Comments
    • I do feel like I've been getting to know people via their blogs. Most of them have been pretty memorable so if I encounter their writings again I recognize and remember the author! I'm still happy with my introduction post and blog format because it is pretty memorable (my life is a bit surprising to most people); my only concern is that having read many other blogs, some are significantly longer than mine. I debated going back and adding more details, but ultimately I think I wrote enough to be memorable, and I hit on most of my major highlights...for the moment.
  • Looking Forward
    • I have noticed through this exercise that I don't really value feedback that has no constructive criticism or suggestions for improvement. Sometimes it can be hard to give out what may seem like negative comments, but ultimately those are useful and affirmation is not, so I'll try to always include that kind of feedback (thus the WWW model, which combines both.) I might make my Comment Wall more interesting, like including a meme or something, because I've decided the wall does not properly represent the dynamic nature of the stories.

You can learn! [Growth Mindset Memes, link]
I think this meme is really important to the feedback process, because often criticism can be misconstrued as an attack. I personally don't enjoy getting criticism, because it sometimes feels like someone is tearing down what I have worked on. However, it is important to remember that feedback is not personal, and to take those suggestions are learn from them instead of getting hung up on a perceived emotional attack.