Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Story : The King and the Well

Scene 1: Prologue:
Once upon a time, in  land far, far away, there was a princely state having a beautiful capital town which was very prosperous and had a generous King.
This state and its neighbors would hold gatherings every four years, with the venues being rotated among the states. Now was our King's turn to plan. He wanted to showcase something great, something brilliant, to all the other states. So, he sent out an edict : On the chosen Day, the main well in the town (now dry and unused) was to be filled with milk!

All the milk sellers in the town were at first worried, because understandably how could one produce so much extra milk when they regularly didn't. But their fears were allayed when it was announced that they would all receive the necessary funding from the royal treasury for the same. It was a matter of national honor - no compromises were to be made.
Strangely enough, the town had got an extra dozen milk-sellers registered in the main market just days before the announcement, so there, everybody was happy. A well full of milk! Wow, that would Really psyche the visitors out! This town, and this state were on the path to become legendary!

Scene 2 : 6 months to the Day:
It seems the treasury was indeed very generous - to facilitate all the world-class requirements of the milk suppliers, no expense was spared; on the contrary more were regularly added to the whole, in bits and pieces, that is! Right from imported grass to special medicines for the cows to the latest preservatives and refrigeration technologies- everything had to be world-class! It was a matter of honor! Some people did point out that the combined budget was going over 10 times the initially planned one, but it was all taken in good spirit.

Scene 3 : 1 month to the Day:
Everyone was now gung-ho about it! The checking commission decided to inspect the well. They were all expecting a treat. What they got was a shock.




The well was full of water.

In subsequent investigations, some disturbing truths emerged. Apparently, everyone had thought, "Everyone else is putting in milk, let me just put some water instead and save the extra money for myself!"

As you can expect, there was an uproar. How could this happen? And why were they finding out about this only a month away from the Day? Wasn't anybody checking? As it turns out, even in the checking committee, everybody thought everyone else was checking diligently, so everybody had just slipped in an "All is well" report all this time.
Anyways, now was not the time to get stuck in all these things, said the milk suppliers and their representatives - the Day was just a month away! It was a matter of the town's reputation, so silly things like accountability and prosecution must be put to the side! Deadlines were laid out, and each one was of course delayed - circumstances, you know! But still, assurances were made that everything would be right by the appointed Day. 101%!

Of course, it didn't look like everything would be alright, but still, it felt good to get assurances like this, and so the King and his people soldiered on. A small number of people did object, some even had the gall to sneak into some of the dairy farms and then tell everyone that the cattle that had to make the milk was being kept in very poor conditions! Ha! After all the resources put into this thing? Ridiculous! These heretics were branded as traitors, and duly outcasted by the administration. How dare they even dare to speak anything against the great occasion? It was a matter of national honor, after all!

Scene 4: The appointed Day arrives!
The foreign delegations came amid great fanfare! There was much joy and celebrations all around. Big speeches were made, toasts were raised. A marvellous opening ceremony was held with dancers and acrobats from across the land! All so generously provided for by the Royal Treasury, of course! It was the King and his people's honor at stake, right?
And then finally it came to the main event! Unbeknownst to the foreign delegations, everybody had their fingers crossed! When the great well was uncovered, a gasp of delight escaped the visitors, and in a slightly lower volume, a sigh of relief from the locals! The well was full of milk and it looked gorgeous!

So, hence started the activities that had been planned in conjunction with this - including swimming in the milk! The athletes of all the delegations jumped in...

..and after sometime, they all scrambled back out, choking and coughing. One was slightly unlucky.. he'd been fasting since 2 days for this occasion and gone in with his mouth wide open.

Scene 5 : Epilogue
A detailed analysis showed that the concoction inside the well was mostly added flavors, colors and preservatives, with very little real milk in it.

The event ended in infamy. Most of the other states snapped off all relations with this one. In the town itself, a public inquiry was launched. However, in the last month, thanks to the free reign provided in the name of the town's honor, the rogue milk suppliers had all made their arrangements and made good their escape. Later investigations found that all the new guys registered just before the Event's announcement, were bogus. Their dairy farms only existed on paper. That had been enough, however, for all the suppliers to milk their way to the bank - with expenses being taken care of by the royal Treasury, everyone had been very generous with the prices they charged for each and everything. Turns out many of the King's ministers may have known about this. But they were quick in declaring that all their recently purchased new bungalows and cars had nothing to do with this, and that they were just following orders.

The townspeople were left with a bitter pill to swallow. The royal Treasury, in its moment of expansion, had actually "borrowed" funds from other plans and programs to fund the cost increases in this one. They'd planned on making it even from all the revenues to be earned at the event. After the catastrophe, they actually had to pay people's money back, and in the case of the poisoned swimmers, even provide massive compensation to avoid a war with the other states. And in all this, over the past year, since the announcement, the people had had to pay evermore taxes and surcharges. And now, after having paid so many taxes, they were left with insufficient funds to run the town. Chaos set it, the infrastructure crumbled and in a short time, the prosperity of the town was replaced by despondency and poverty. The people had to pay the price for the King's Pride. Naturally, he wasn't spared either. He's presently in the Royal Jail.

The End.

Moral of the Story : Excessive Pride can be a bad thing too.
And there's no such thing as a free lunch. If there is, it means you're paying for it in some other way, and somebody's ripping you off in the process.

PS: Still don't know what this story's really about? Check out the labels of this post -;)

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