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Gopal Bhand, the barber, was the chief jester at the Rajbari (Royal Court) of Raja Krishnachandra Rai, the famous Emperor of Krishnanagar (Nadia), West Bengal during the 18th century. Gopal was a genius and is included in the genre of Birbal and Tenali Raman. Countless stories of his exploits where he outwits other fellow courtiers and men are narrated in Bengal and Bangladesh even to this day.
Gopal as a court jester was able to influence the King in many matters. He always had wit at his disposal, whether in the form of puns, riddles, doggerel verse, antics or babble which he used to soften the blow of a critical comment or edgy moment in a way that prevented a dignified personage from losing face. His ability to make people laugh coupled with his riotous imagination with the tinge of sympathy and pathos did have a stunning effect to defuse tense situations.
A hilarious bouquet of Gopal’s timeless anecdotes are presented in this book which really are eye openers – imparting new thoughts, new dreams, new solutions, new ideas, new wordplay, newer takes on humour, parodies, satire and a window to a whole new world of imagination and basic wisdom.
The reader might ask himself, ‘What makes the book a compelling read?’ Sure, the answer is . . . the stories of the book are short with a heady mix of wit, comedy, funny description and wonderful characterizations dusted with Gopal’s inimitable sprinklings of humor which provoke one to think beyond the seemingly simple things. The book offers tales of wise men and their battles of wit during the medieval royal Bengal; stories of knotty problems with ingenious solutions and mind fertilizing anecdotes which not only inform, advise, enthuse, inspire and amuse but impart specific and terse wise lessons appropriate to the issues at point to ‘Manage the Problems’ neatly.
In one story, Gopal was walking down the road with the Zamindaar (landlord). The arrogant Zamindaar said, “I am the Ruler of this great big earth. Everybody should fear me.” Gopal immediately questioned, “Who told you that Sire?” “God himself told me!” said the Zamindaar confidently. “But I never told you that!” replied Gopal leaving the Zamindaar tightlipped.
The author has taken great care to narrate the anecdotes in the most descriptive manner focusing on wise lessons at the end of each account laced with equally fascinating illustrations. The presentation of the book is unique as it can be read from any chapter, but still it will stimulate the reader – like a pealed banana, which can be eaten from any side, thus enjoying its sweetness.
It’s a fascinating assortment of entertaining anecdotal short stories guaranteed to leave the reader in stitches. It tends to work like an aspirin. Only it will work twice as fast. So you can’t afford to be without this.