Byomkesh Quiz 5- Uposonghaar (উপসংহার)

This is the fifth part of a series of trivia quizzes on Byomkesh Bakshi. This quiz is based on the story, Uposonghaar. If you’ve read the story or seen the television episode, then you should have no trouble answering these questions.

Questions:

1. What brand of matches did Byomkesh and Ajit use? What was the brand it was replaced with by the suspicious stranger that Byomkesh met?

*2. What was the name that the villain used to introduce himself by in Uposonghaar? What was his actual name?

*3. What is the name of Byomkesh’s faithful servant?

4. How did Byomkesh’s servant remember the number on the taxi that the villain used to escape even though he didn’t know any English?

5. What was the name printed on the letter given to Byomkesh? (Hint: Byomkesh couldn’t remember knowing anyone with this unusual name).

*6. What was the name of the newspaper that Byomkesh read? Whose death in Srirampur was published in this newspaper?

7. The villain took two items that in clear view when he escaped from his quarters. One was a hand-bag; what was the other item?

8. What was the price of the matchbox as advertised in the newspaper?

Answers:

1. The used the “Horse brand” matches (ঘোড়া মার্কা). The stranger had exchanged it the Satyagrahi brand (সত্যাগ্রহী).

*2. Anukulbabu who Byomkesh first met in Satyanveshi introduced himself as Byomkesh Bose.

3. Puntiram

4. It is true that Puntiram didn’t know any English. Due to extremely good fortune, the number on the license plate which he saw was 8008 (in English) which Puntiram recalled to Byomkesh as 4004 since it resembles ৪০০৪. The character for the number “four” is “৪” in Bengali/Bangla.

5. Kokonod Gupta, a rather odd name that the villain used to indicate his association with cocaine in Satyanveshi.

6. Dainik Kalketu (দৈনিক কালকেতু). The death of an unknown 30-year-old who Byomkesh hoped the villain would think was him had been announced in this newspaper

7. A clay water pot (জলের কুঁজো)

8. One lakh (100,000) Rupees

*Questions similar to the ones marked with an asterisk were also asked in BBC Mastermind India, 2000.

©2010 Byomkesh.com. All rights reserved.

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Byomkesh Quiz 4- Khunji Khunji Nari (খুঁজি খুঁজি নারি)

This is the fourth part of a series of trivia quizzes on Byomkesh Bakshi. This quiz is based on the story, Khunji Khunji Nari. If you’ve read the story or seen the television episode, then you should have no trouble answering these questions.

Questions:

1. What was the smell coming from the bottle of glue in Rameswar Ray’s room in Khunji Khunji Nari?

2. What was the main reason that Labanya, daughter-in-law of Rameswar Ray, didn’t want to employ any servants in the household?

3. Why did Rameswar Ray need to write a last will and testament document to bestow part of his property to his daughter, Nalini?

4. Nalini’s husband, Debnath mentions that there needs to be two witnesses present for a will to be legally binding in Bengal. Byomkesh mentions that there is an exception. What is it?

5. Where was the letter which Rameswar Ray sent to Byomkesh and Ajit misplaced?

Answers:

1. The smell of pureed onions which Rameswar Ray used to write “invisibly” with.

2. Labanya was afraid that Rameswar Ray would reestablish regular communication with his daughter-in-law Nalini.

3. The story is based before the Hindu Succession Acts of 1956 and 2005, by which a daughter is equally entitled to inherit her father’s estate. If Rameswar Ray didn’t write it out in his will, his daughter would not inherit anything.

4. If the person wanting his or her last will and testament enacted writes it out completely in his or her handwriting it is valid.

5.The letter was placed inside Kaliprasanna Singha’s Bengali Mahabharata (Volume II)

©2010 Byomkesh.com. All rights reserved.

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Byomkesh Quiz 3- Chorabali (চোরাবালি)

This is the third part of a series of trivia quizzes on Byomkesh Bakshi. This quiz is based on the story, Chorabali. If you’ve read the book or seen the television episode, then you should have no trouble answering these questions.

Questions:

*1. Which character in Chorabali had the amazing gift of being able to imitate animal noises?

*2. At the beginning of Chorabali, Byomkesh and Ajit are on a hunting expedition. Their host was introduced in an earlier story. Can you name him and the story?

3. What geographical discovery did Byomkesh explicitly tell Ajit to keep secret from everyone else?

4. Byomkesh leaves Ajit to visit the nearest town for part of a day. What does he do there?

5. What does Byomkesh learn about the night that Harinath disappeared from an almanac (পাঁজি)?

Answers:

*1. Kaligati Bhattacharya

*2. Kumar Tridib, first introduced in Seemanto-heera (সীমন্ত-হীরা)

3. The discovery of the chorabali (চোরাবালি) or quicksand pit on Himangshubabu’s property.

4. Two things- he stalks out Anadi Sarkar’s widowed daughter, Radha, and he visits the government registry office or office of records.

5. That night was a new moon (অমাবস্যা).

*Questions similar to the ones marked with an asterisk were also asked in BBC Mastermind India, 2000.

©2010 Byomkesh.com. All rights reserved.

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Byomkesh: “What happened flashes in front of my eyes like a movie”

By the time Saradindu Bandyopadhyay has Byomkesh Bakshi mention these words in Chorabali, he has already solved the mystery of the disappearance of Harinath, teacher to the daughter of Himangshubabu. Saradindu does not deceive the reader by hiding details or springing surprises at the end of the story. Every single clue that Byomkesh uses to solve this fascinating case is presented with integrity and honesty to the reader. Saradindu even provides extra clues through Ajit. And when the reader is near the end of the story when Byomkesh reveals the sinister and sad chain of events at the Chorabali Estate, readers can analyze their own powers of deduction and find out how much of the story (from 0% to 100%) they could figure out from the clues themselves.

As mentioned, the story nominally deals with the disappearance of Harinath, a poor teacher to Baby, the daughter of Himangshubabu who is the zamindar of Chorabali, an estate named for the quicksand within its confines. Within this story is the subtext of the estate which has fallen on hard-days and moral dilemmas facing the main characters in the story. That is the main thread of the story, but Chorabali works on so many levels – social, moral, psychological, and legal that books can be written about the themes in this story itself!

I was extremely thrilled by the controversial resolution of the plot. The first time I read the story, I was able to pick up on many of the clues so I had a fairly strong idea of what I thought had happened and why. However, I knew that there was little by way which Byomkesh could actually prove some of these occurrences beyond doubt in a court of law. But Byomkesh takes a thrilling stand by not bending to the law. I was able to understand what was going on in his head as I read the last few pages of the story, but I was amazed with the clarity with which Saradindu presents an ethical dilemma. Do you let a criminal get away just because you cannot prove he is guilty? Do you stop the chain of events or do you script them so that he gets “what he deserves”?

These are provocative questions that very few detective stories address adequately, but the genius of Saradindu is that he does not dance around them. Chorabali is a type of story that will make you sit up, even if you know what is about to happen

As you may have guessed by now, Chorabali, is one of my favorite detective stories in any language. Personally, the story appeals to the rational scientist in me, who is not as impressed by literary  showmanship as much as he is by an extremely well-crafted, logical story. And Chorabali gets full-marks on both accounts!

©2010 Byomkesh.com. All rights reserved.

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Byomkesh Quiz 2 – Arthamanartham (অর্থমনর্থম্‌)

This is the second part of a series of trivia quizzes on Byomkesh Bakshi. This quiz is based on the story, Arthamanartham. If you’ve read the book or seen the television episode, then you should have no trouble answering these questions.

Questions:

*1. Byomkesh first meets Satyabati, his future wife, in Arthamanartham. Whose murder was he investigating in this story?

2. Who did Bidhubabu, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, first suspect was the criminal? Who did suspicion later turn to?

3. Byomkesh mentions that the murder by putting a sewing needle in between the medulla and vertebra reminds him of Sir Walter Scott historical novel. What is the name of this novel? On a related note, what book was marked with a red pencil in Sukumar’s room?

4. What sewing tool was Byomkesh looking for? (Hint: Byomkesh even asked Ajit what the Bengali for this tool was.)

5. How many spoons of sugar did Karalibabu prefer in his tea and how many did Satyabati give him in the morning?

Answers:

*1. Karali Charan Basu

2. Matilal Kar, and then after damning evidence was found in his room, Sukumar.

3. Bride of Lammermoor. The book in Sukumar’s room was Gray’s Anatomy

4. Byomkesh was looking for a thimble. The sewing needle was found at the crime-scene, but a thimble was not.

5. Karalibabu preferred 3-4 teaspoons of sugar, but Satyabati forgot to add any that morning.

*Questions similar to the ones marked with an asterisk were also asked in BBC Mastermind India, 2000.

©2009 Byomkesh.com. All rights reserved.

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Byomkesh: “It is impossible for someone who is an idiot by nature to act intelligently”

How can someone seemingly brilliant like the medical student, Sukumar, make numerous idiotic mistakes in committing a premeditated murder? This is the question that perplexes Byomkesh Bakshi in Saradindu Bandyopadhyay’s story Arthamanartham (অর্থমনর্থম্‌) and it is one that resonates with readers.

Arthamanartham is a magnificent story that demonstrates Saradindu’s skill at the top of his oeuvre. In this story, Byomkesh demonstrates his knowledge with important factors associated with homicide investigation that are taught to modern forensic researchers such as  motive, modus operandi, time of death, condition of corpse,  crime scene, and statements of the prime suspects. Sarandindu also displays remarkable economy in setting the stage: the murder is established in the sixth sentence of the story.

Karali Charan Basu, a wealthy Bengali, with no direct heir, has been murdered in his sleep. As Byomkesh determines later in the story, the victim was chloroformed in his sleep and killed by the insertion of a sewing needle multiple times between his medulla oblongata and vertebra, a curious choice that would indicate that this was a premeditated murder and that the culprit had at least some knowledge of medical procedures.  The fact that the victim was very short-tempered and in the habit of frequently changing his will made it possible that anyone who could inherit his estate would have a motive to commit the crime. The five suspects who fell in this category included the victim’s three nephews, Matilal Kar, Maniklal Kar, and Phanibhushan Kar- all uneducated brothers with no source of income who would definitely benefit from a windfall. The other two suspects were the children of the victim’s sister-in-law, Sukumar and Satyabati.

The story also presents a whole range of characters who make it interesting such as the police officer, Bidhubabu, whose incompetence is only matched by his dislike for Byomkesh. If Sherlock Holmes had his impediments from Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard, then Byomkesh certainly had his from Lalbazar!

The story also has introduces the readers to Satyabati, who of course, Byomkesh later gets married to. I suspect many readers who are not familiar with this story will know this and end up eliminating her name from the list of suspects. However, she is by far, the most interesting of the characters in Arthamanartham and she displays exhibits exceptional poise in order to protect her brother, Sukumar, who turns out to be the prime suspect once key evidence such as a modified will, and bottle of chloroform are found in his room. Murderer, Sukumar, is not, and this is evident in part because the evidence is too neatly stacked up against him. It turns out that Phanibhushan, the very well-read, but crippled youngest brother of the trio is the perpetrator. In the end, Phanibhushan decides to kill himself instead of handing himself over to the authorities and admittedly this seems a bit contrived to modern readers.

There are also passages in the story which modern post-colonial and feminist readers may find somewhat paternalistic and condescending especially when referring to Satyabati  and Phanibhushan. I’d like to remind readers the obvious: Saradindu, was a politically-incorrect writer in a politically-incorrect, colonial age.

(Please also see the Byomkesh quiz on Arthamanartham)

©2009 Byomkesh.com. All rights reserved.

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Byomkesh Quiz 1 – Satyanveshi (সত্যান্বেষী)

This is the first part of a series of trivia quizzes on Byomkesh Bakshi. The first quiz is based on the story, Satyanveshi. If you’ve read the book or seen the television episode, then you should have no trouble answering these questions. However, you may want to read my review of this story first if you need hints.

Questions:

*1. What name did Byomkesh Bakshi adopt when he first met Ajit Bandyopadhyay in Satyanveshi?

2. What was Ajit’s landlord, Anukulbabu’s profession?

3. Whose murder did Aswinikumar Choudhury witness, for which he had to pay with his own life?

4. How was Aswinikumar murdered?

*5. In which monthly magazine were the first Byomkesh stories published?

Answers:

*1. Atulchandra Mitra

2. Anukulbabu was a homeopath

3. Sheikh Abdul Gofur, one of the drug-dealers working for Anukulbabu.

4. His throat was slit with a razor and he bled to death

*5. Basumati, one of the premier Bengali literary magazines of the day, now defunct.

*Questions similar to the ones marked with an asterisk were also asked in BBC Mastermind India, 2000.

©2009 Byomkesh.com. All rights reserved.

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