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INDIA Geography

 

On a rainy day in October, Ippolit Matveyevich, in his silver

star-spangled waistcoat and without a jacket, was working busily in

Ivanopulo's room. He was working at the windowsill, since there still was no

table in the room. The smooth operator had been commissioned to paint a

large number of address plates for various housing co-operatives. The

stencilling of the plates had been passed on to Vorobyaninov, while Ostap,

for almost the whole of the month since their return to Moscow, had cruised

round the area of the October Station looking with incredible avidity for

clues to the last chair, which undoubtedly contained Madame Petukhov's

jewels. Wrinkling his brow, Ippolit Matveyevich stencilled away at the iron

plates. During the six months of the jewel race he had lost certain of his

habits.

At night Ippolit Matveyevich dreamed about mountain ridges adorned with

weird transparents, Iznurenkov, who hovered in front of him, shaking his

brown thighs, boats that capsized, people who drowned, bricks falling out of

the sky, and ground that heaved and poured smoke into his eyes.

Ostap had not observed the change in Vorobyaninov, for he was with him

every day. Ippolit Matveyevich, however, had changed in a remarkable way.

Even his gait was different; the expression of his eyes had become wild and

his long moustache was no longer parallel to the earth's surface, but

drooped almost vertically, like that of an aged cat.

He had also altered inwardly. He had developed determination and

cruelty, which were traits of character unknown to him before. Three

episodes had gradually brought out these streaks in him: the miraculous

escape from the hard fists of the Vasyuki enthusiasts, his debut in the

field of begging in the Flower Garden at Pyatigorsk, and, finally, the

earthquake, since which Ippolit Matveyevich had become somewhat unhinged and

harboured a secret loathing for his partner.

Ippolit Matveyevich had recently been seized by the strongest

suspicions. He was afraid that Ostap would open the chair without him and

make off with the treasure, abandoning him to his own fate. He did not dare

voice these suspicions, knowing Ostap's strong arm and iron will. But each

day, as he sat at the window scraping off surplus paint with an old, jagged

razor, Ippolit Matveyevich wondered. Every day he feared that Ostap would

not come back and that he, a former marshal of the nobility, would die of

starvation under some wet Moscow wall.

Ostap nevertheless returned each evening, though he never brought any

good news. His energy and good spirits were inexhaustible. Hope never

deserted him for a moment.

There was a sound of running footsteps in the corridor and someone

crashed into the cabinet; the plywood door flew open with the ease of a page

turned by the wind, and in the doorway stood the smooth operator. His

clothes were soaked, and his cheeks glowed like apples. He was panting.

"Ippolit Matveyevich!" he shouted. "Ippolit Matveyevich!" Vorobyaninov was



startled. Never before had the technical adviser called him by his first two

names. Then he cottoned on. . . .

"It's there?" he gasped.

"You're dead right, it's there, Pussy. Damn you."

"Don't shout. Everyone will hear."

"That's right, they might hear," whispered Ostap. "It's there, Pussy,

and if you want, I can show it to you right away. It's in the

railway-workers' club, a new one. It was opened yesterday. How did I find

it? Was it child's play? It was singularly difficult. A stroke of genius,

brilliantly carried through to the end. An ancient adventure. In a word,

first rate!"

Without waiting for Ippolit Matveyevich to pull on his jacket, Ostap

ran to the corridor. Vorobyaninov joined him on the landing. Excitedly

shooting questions at one another, they both hurried along the wet streets

to Kalanchev Square. They did not even think of taking a tram.

"You're dressed like a navvy," said Ostap jubilantly. "Who goes about

like that, Pussy? You should have starched underwear, silk socks, and, of

course, a top hat. There's something noble about your face. Tell me, were

you really a marshal of the nobility?"

Pointing out the chair, which was standing in the chess-room, and

looked a perfectly normal Hambs chair, although it contained such untold

wealth, Ostap pulled Ippolit Matveyevich into the corridor. There was no one

about. Ostap went up to a window that had not yet been sealed for the winter

and drew back the bolts on both sets of frames.

"Through this window," he said, "we can easily get into the club at any

time of the night. Remember, Pussy, the third window from the front

entrance."

For a while longer the friends wandered about the club, pretending to

be railway-union representatives, and were more and more amazed by the

splendid halls and rooms.

"If I had played the match in Vasyuki," said Ostap, "sitting on a chair

like this, I wouldn't have lost a single game. My enthusiasm would have

prevented it. Anyway, let's go, old man. I have twenty-five roubles. We

ought to have a glass of beer and relax before our nocturnal visitation. The

idea of beer doesn't shock you, does it, marshal? No harm. Tomorrow you can

lap up champagne in unlimited quantities."

By the time they emerged from the beer-hall, Bender was thoroughly

enjoying himself and made taunting remarks at the passers-by. He embraced

the slightly tipsy Ippolit Matveyevich round the shoulders and said

lovingly:

"You're an extremely nice old man, Pussy, but I'm not going to give you

more than ten per cent. Honestly, I'm not. What would you want with all that

money? "

"What do you mean, what would I want?" Ippolit Matveyevich seethed with

rage.

Ostap laughed heartily and rubbed his cheek against his partner's wet

sleeve.

"Well, what would you buy, Pussy? You haven't any imagination.

Honestly, fifteen thousand is more than enough for you. You'll soon die,

you're so old. You don't need any money at all. You know, Pussy, I don't

think I'll give you anything. I don't want to spoil you. I'll take you on as

a secretary, Pussy my lad. What do you say? Forty roubles a month and all

your grub. You get work clothes, tips, and national health. Well, is it a

deal?"

Ippolit Matveyevich tore his arm free and quickly walked ahead. Jokes

like that exasperated him. Ostap caught him up at the entrance to the little

pink house. "Are you really mad at me?" asked Ostap. "I was only joking.

You'll get your three per cent. Honestly, three per cent is all you need,

Pussy."

Ippolit Matveyevich sullenly entered the room. "Well, Pussy, take three

per cent." Ostap was having fun. "Come on, take three. Anyone else would.

You don't have any rooms to rent. It's a blessing Ivanopulo has gone to Tver

for a whole year. Anyway, come and be my valet. . . an easy job."

Seeing that Ippolit Matveyevich could not be baited, Ostap yawned

sweetly, stretched himself, almost touching the ceiling as he filled his

broad chest with air, and said:

"Well, friend, make your pockets ready. We'll go to the club just

before dawn. That's the best time. The watchmen are asleep, having sweet

dreams, for which they get fired without severance pay. In the meantime,

chum, I advise you to have a nap."

Ostap stretched himself out on the three chairs, acquired from

different corners of Moscow, and said, as he dozed off:

"Or my valet . . . a decent salary. No, I was joking. . . . The

hearing's continued. Things are moving, gentlemen of the jury."

Those were the smooth operator's last words. He fell into a deep,

refreshing sleep, untroubled by dreams.

Ippolit Matveyevich went out into the street. He was full of

desperation and cold fury. The moon hopped about among the banks of cloud.

The wet railings of the houses glistened greasily. In the street the

flickering gas lamps were encircled by halos of moisture. A drunk was being

thrown out of the Eagle beer-hall. He began bawling. Ippolit Matveyevich

frowned and went back inside. His one wish was to finish the whole business

as soon as possible.

He went back into the room, looked grimly at the sleeping Ostap, wiped

his pince-nez and took up the razor from the window sill. There were still

some dried scales of oil paint on its jagged edge. He put the razor in his

pocket, walked past Ostap again, without looking at him, but listening to

his breathing, and then went out into the corridor. It was dark and sleepy

out there. Everyone had evidently gone to bed. In the pitch darkness of the

corridor Ippolit Matveyevich suddenly smiled in the most evil way, and felt

the skin creep on his forehead. To test this new sensation he smiled again.

He suddenly remembered a boy at school who had been able to move his ears.

Ippolit Matveyevich went as far as the stairs and listened carefully.

There was no one there. From the street came the drumming of a carthorse's

hooves, intentionally loud and clear as though someone was counting on an

abacus. As stealthily as a cat, the marshal went back into the room, removed

twenty-five roubles and the pair of pliers from Ostap's jacket hanging on

the back of a chair, put on his own yachting cap, and again listened

intently.

Ostap was sleeping quietly. His nose and lungs were working perfectly,

smoothly inhaling and exhaling air. A brawny arm hung down to the floor.

Conscious of the second-long pulses in his temple, Ippolit Matveyevich

slowly rolled up his right sleeve above the elbow and bound a

wafer-patterned towel around his bare arm; he stepped back to the door, took

the razor out of his pocket, and gauging the position of the furniture in

the room turned the switch. The light went out, but the room was still lit

by a bluish aquarium-like light from the street lamps.

"So much the better," whispered Ippolit Matveyevich.

He approached the back of the chair and, drawing back his hand with the

razor, plunged the blade slantways into Ostap's throat, pulled it out, and

jumped backward towards the wall. The smooth operator gave a gurgle like a

kitchen sink sucking down the last water. Ippolit Matveyevich managed to

avoid being splashed with blood. Wiping the wall with his jacket, he stole

towards the blue door, and for a brief moment looked back at Ostap. His body

had arched twice and slumped against the backs of the chairs. The light from

the street moved across a black puddle forming on the floor.

What is that puddle? wondered Vorobyaninov. Oh, yes, it's blood.

Comrade Bender is dead.

He unwound the slightly stained towel, threw it aside, carefully put

the razor on the floor, and left, closing the door quietly.

Finding himself in the street, Vorobyaninov scowled and, muttering "The

jewels are all mine, not just six per cent," went off to Kalanchev Square.

He stopped at the third window from the front entrance to the railway

club. The mirrorlike windows of the new club shone pearl-grey in the

approaching dawn. Through the damp air came the muffled voices of goods

trains. Ippolit Matveyevich nimbly scrambled on to the ledge, pushed the

frames, and silently dropped into the corridor.

Finding his way without difficulty through the grey pre-dawn halls of

the club, he reached the chess-room and went over to the chair, bumping his

head on a portrait of Lasker hanging on the wall. He was in no hurry. There

was no point in it. No one was after him. Grossmeister Bender was asleep for

ever in the little pink house.

Ippolit Matveyevich sat down on the floor, gripped the chair between

his sinewy legs, and with the coolness of a dentist, began extracting the

tacks, not missing a single one. His work was complete at the sixty-second

tack. The English chintz and canvas lay loosely on top of the stuffing.

He had only to lift them to see the caskets, boxes, and cases

containing the precious stones.

Straight into a car, thought Ippolit Matveyevich, who had learned the

facts of life from the smooth operator, then to the station, and on to the

Polish frontier. For a small gem they should get me across, then . . .

And desiring to find out as soon as possible what would happen then,

Ippolit Matveyevich pulled away the covering from the chair. Before his eyes

were springs, beautiful English springs, and stuffing, wonderful pre-war

stuffing, the like of which you never see nowadays. But there was nothing

else in the chair. Ippolit Matveyevich mechanically turned the chair inside

out and sat for a whole hour clutching it between his legs and repeating in

a dull voice:

"Why isn't there anything there? It can't be right. It can't be." It

was almost light when Vorobyaninov, leaving everything as it was in the

chess-room and forgetting the pliers and his yachting cap with the gold

insignia of a non-existent yacht club, crawled tired, heavy and unobserved

through the window into the street.

"It can't be right," he kept repeating, having walked a block away. "It

can't be right."

Then he returned to the club and began wandering up and down by the

large windows, mouthing the words: "It can't be right. It can't be."

From time to time he let out a shriek and seized hold of his head, wet

from the morning mist. Remembering the events of that night, he shook his

dishevelled grey hair. The excitement of the jewels was too much for him; he

had withered in five minutes. "There's all kinds come here!" said a voice by

his ear,

He saw in front of him a watchman in canvas work-clothes and poor

quality boots. He was very old and evidently friendly.

"They keep comin'," said the old man politely, tired of his nocturnal

solitude. "And you, comrade, are interested. That's right. Our club's kind

of unusual."

Ippolit Matveyevich looked ruefully at the red-cheeked old man.

"Yes, sir," said the old man, "a very unusual club; there ain't another

like it."

"And what's so unusual about it?" asked Ippolit Matveyevich, trying to

gather his wits.

The little old man beamed at Vorobyaninov. The story of the unusual

club seemed to please him, and he liked to retell it.

"Well, it's like this," began the old man, "I've been a watchman here

for more'n ten years, and nothing like that ever happened. Listen, soldier

boy! Well, there used to be a club here, you know the one, for workers in

the first transportation division. I used to be the watchman. A no-good club

it was. They heated and heated and couldn't do anythin'. Then Comrade

Krasilnikov comes to me and asks, 'Where's all that firewood goin'?' Did he

think I was eatin' it or somethin"? Comrade Krasilnikov had a job with that

club, he did. They asked for five years' credit for a new club, but I don't

know what became of it. They didn't allow the credit. Then, in the spring,

Comrade Krasilnikov bought a new chair for the stage, a good soft'n."

With his whole body close to the watchman's, Ippolit Matveyevich

listened. He was only half conscious, as the watchman, cackling with

laughter, told how he had once clambered on to the chair to put in a new

bulb and missed his footing.

"I slipped off the chair and the coverin' was torn off. So I look round

and see bits of glass and beads on a string come pouring out."

"Beads?" repeated Ippolit Matveyevich.

"Beads!" hooted the old man with delight. "And I look, soldier boy, and

there are all sorts of little boxes. I didn't touch 'em. I went straight to

Comrade Krasilnikov and reported it. And that's what I told the committee

afterwards. I didn't touch the boxes, I didn't. And a good thing I didn't,

soldier boy. Because jewellery was found in 'em, hidden by the bourgeois. .

. ."

"Where are the jewels?" cried the marshal.

"Where, where?" the watchman imitated him. "Here they are, soldier boy,

use your imagination! Here they are."

"Where?"

"Here they are!" cried the ruddy-faced old man, enjoying the effect.

"Wipe your eyes. The club was built with them, soldier boy. You see? It's

the club. Central heating, draughts with timing-clocks, a buffet, theatre;

you aren't allowed inside in your galoshes."

Ippolit Matveyevich stiffened and, without moving, ran his eyes over

the ledges.

So that was where it was. Madame Petukhov's treasure. There. All of it.

A hundred and fifty thousand roubles, zero zero kopeks, as Ostap Suleiman

Bertha Maria Bender used to say.

The jewels had turned into a solid frontage of glass and ferroconcrete

floors. Cool gymnasiums had been made from the pearls. The diamond diadem

had become a theatre-auditorium with a revolving stage; the ruby pendants

had grown into chandeliers; the serpent bracelets had been transformed into

a beautiful library, and the clasp had metamorphosed into a creche, a glider

workshop, a chess and billiards room.

The treasures remained; it had been preserved and had even grown. It

could be touched with the hand, though not taken away. It had gone into the

service of new people. Ippolit Matveyevich felt the granite facing. The

coldness of the stone penetrated deep into his heart.

And he gave a cry.

It was an insane, impassioned wild cry-the cry of a vixen shot through

the body-it flew into the centre of the square, streaked under the bridge,

and, rebuffed everywhere by the sounds of the waking city, began fading and

died away in a moment. A marvellous autumn morning slipped from the wet

roof-tops into the Moscow streets. The city set off on its daily routine.

 

INDIA Geography

India comprises the bulk of the Indian subcontinent and lies atop the minor Indian tectonic plate, which in turn belongs to the Indo-Australian Plate.[108] India's defining geological processes commenced 75 million years ago when the Indian subcontinent, then part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana, began a north-eastward drift across the then-unformed Indian Ocean that lasted fifty million years.[108] The subcontinent's subsequent collision with, and subduction under, the Eurasian Plate bore aloft the planet's highest mountains, the Himalayas. They abut India in the north and the north-east.[108] In the former seabed immediately south of the emerging Himalayas, plate movement created a vast trough that has gradually filled with river-borne sediment;[109] it now forms the Indo-Gangetic Plain.[110] To the west lies the Thar Desert, which is cut off by the Aravalli Range.[111]

The original Indian plate survives as peninsular India, which is the oldest and geologically most stable part of India; it extends as far north as the Satpura and Vindhya ranges in central India. These parallel chains run from the Arabian Sea coast in Gujarat in the west to the coal-rich Chota Nagpur Plateau in Jharkhand in the east.[112] To the south, the remaining peninsular landmass, the Deccan Plateau, is flanked on the west and east by coastal ranges known as the Western and Eastern Ghats;[113] the plateau contains the nation's oldest rock formations, some of them over one billion years old. Constituted in such fashion, India lies to the north of the equator between 6 44' and 35 30' north latitude[e] and 68 7' and 97 25' east longitude.[114]

The Kedar Range of the Greater Himalayas rises behind Kedarnath Temple, which is one of the twelve jyotirlinga shrines. Shola highlands are found in Kudremukh National Park, which is part of the Western Ghats.

India's coastline measures 7,517 kilometres (4,700 mi) in length; of this distance, 5,423 kilometres (3,400 mi) belong to peninsular India and 2,094 kilometres (1,300 mi) to the Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep island chains.[115] According to the Indian naval hydrographic charts, the mainland coastline consists of the following: 43% sandy beaches; 11% rocky shores, including cliffs; and 46% mudflats or marshy shores.[115]

Major Himalayan-origin rivers that substantially flow through India include the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, both of which drain into the Bay of Bengal.[116] Important tributaries of the Ganges include the Yamuna and the Kosi; the latter's extremely low gradient often leads to severe floods and course changes.[117] Major peninsular rivers, whose steeper gradients prevent their waters from flooding, include the Godavari, the Mahanadi, the Kaveri, and the Krishna, which also drain into the Bay of Bengal;[118] and the Narmada and the Tapti, which drain into the Arabian Sea.[119] Coastal features include the marshy Rann of Kutch of western India and the alluvial Sundarbans delta of eastern India; the latter is shared with Bangladesh.[120] India has two archipelagos: the Lakshadweep, coral atolls off India's south-western coast; and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a volcanic chain in the Andaman Sea.[121]

The Indian climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, both of which drive the economically and culturally pivotal summer and winter monsoons.[122] The Himalayas prevent cold Central Asian katabatic winds from blowing in, keeping the bulk of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations at similar latitudes.[123][124] The Thar Desert plays a crucial role in attracting the moisture-laden south-west summer monsoon winds that, between June and October, provide the majority of India's rainfall.[122] Four major climatic groupings predominate in India: tropical wet, tropical dry, subtropical humid, and montane.[125]


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 158


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