Fraud Alert

I know there are lot of crooks out there. I just thought putting out this information as to how it happened and how I dealt with it might help somebody somewhere. In this case, it is software companies and those pretend to be their representatives.

I am writing this in English so those involved in this fraud may read or somebody may bring it to their attention. All of them involved in this ring are Indians.

Back in August 2019, I wrote a story, and added this note at the end.. I thought I lost $99.00 and that was the end of it.

Now it surfaced in a different form. Make no mistake. This appears to be from a different bunch of people trying to rip off unwary customers.

A week ago, a man called me on phone, introduced himself as Eric Ericson, and said, “I am from Softcrux software company. You paid $99.00 in April 2019 and we want to refund that money. I will give you access to our website and you follow the instructions on the screen.”

I agreed, gave access to my laptop and followed through a few steps.

Then he asked me to open my bank account and check if the money was deposited.

I refused to open my bank account. I told him I would not open my account while he was online.

He tried to convince me that the account was encrypted and there was no risk. ‘

I refused to check while he was online and told him I’d do it later. He said he would call me a couple of hours later and hung up.

I thought about it and called my original contact from last year at Softcrux and asked him about the possible refund.

“No, we have no such plans,” he said.

Now it is clear, the call I’ve received is fraud.

I started to fix the problem.  

– Deleted the executable file Eric installed on my laptop..

– Restored the laptop to original factory settings, which removes all other installed software.

– Denied access to my laptop by others

– Blocked his number, so I don’t have to deal with him again.

I thought I was finished with him

I was wrong.

A few days later, I got another call from another number and another name but with the same pitch, “I am from Softcrux … …”

I told him I knew he was fraud, it was harrassment.

He stopped talking. I thought he got the message and hung up.

Again, I got another call after two days with another name and another number.

“I know you are fraud. I will report to the FTC,” I told him straight and hung up.

Then I thought I might as well do it. I went to Federal Trade Commission site, and reported the case with the phone number I had at the time.

I also signed up to stop “unwanted calls” on my phone service website. There is one more I can do is to sign up on the National Registry “do not call list” as additional safety measure.

The phone numbers from which I recieved calls are






They usually use a string of numbers for user name. Do not trust them. Even when they use a fake name, let the phone take message. Honest people will keave a message. Crooks hang up.

Possibly, there are more numbers. One common factor is they all are Indians and introduce themselves with American names, apparently fake.

My previous experience with Softcrux was also bad. (I had included it as a postscript to a story I published in August 2019.) For those who are not familiar with the story, here how it goes.   

My bad experience with went as follows:

I was having bad connection problems with WiFi, and called the customer service of my router,

Their representative said they can fix it for $99.00. I thought the charge was because warranty expired. I agreed to pay the amount.

He gave me another phone number, which I thought was tech support of the same company.

While the other company, Softcrux, was working on my computer I realized I was duped. They were totally different company and they were not working on my router. I told them it was fraud and asked for refund. The manager, Bhatia, agreed to pay $50.00 but never sent the money.

I called the Router company, and they had no such records.

In all, all these people at this software company, including the one at ARRIS, who diverted my business to this company without telling me, are Indians.

So, beware, of the crooks out there.

Hope this helps somebody from being duped. And, even more important, enough people need to file complaints with FTC, they can catch these crooks and throw them in jail.


(October 17, 2020)

Magical Realism in the Stories of Munipalle Raju


I have known Sri Munipalle Raju for over 60 years. I have come to know of his experiments with magical realism only in April 2014, when I started working on a translation of his anthology, Astitvanadam Aavali Teeraana(On the Shores Beyond the River of Existence).

In his preface to the anthology, Sri Raju stated that Western literary historians claim that the term “Magical realism” has been coined by Latin American writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but the same amazing mayavada rasa has manifested in the Indian folklore and the puranas—Ramayana, Maha Bharata and Bhagavata; and, that Vyasa Maharshi is the first poet to captivate it in a way nobody else could. He, also, has stated that he undertook his story-writing process keeping in mind that guru Vyasa, the creator of Magical Realism, and within the purview of the complex problems in our daily existence.

For the purpose of this article, we may also have to keep in mind his premise regarding the themes in these stories, as described by Sri Raju. According to him, in the Indian metaphysical world, the fundamental questions of human race fall into three categories of agony: Those caused by mind (adhyatmikam), those caused by others (adhibhautikam), and, those caused by Providence (adhidaivikam). “This complex set of questions has been pestering the human race in every yuga each time the wicked diabolical forces create the deadly fire and destroy the quietude of people’s lives. If we take from that time to the time, when someone assembles his creative energies and destroys these lawless rogues, as a transition period, in that twilight, these questions are the same as the doubts that cause the individuals to ache.

“… The social consciousness and the consciousness of self are the two flanks of modern man’s consciousness. They travel in the inner celestial chariot in his prolonged and distraught dream life at night. This magical realism is an attempt to articulate those mysterious vibrations. This genre has the power to transcend Time and Space. … … The magical realism, the marvelous reality, is the instrument that extricates the supra-mundane truths beneath the truths that are visible to the naked eye. Its natural form becomes visible only in the style of word-constructs of mayavada and chayavada schools. This does not follow the empty slogans of literary trends.” (Preface. Astitvanadam Aavali Teeraana).

Against this background, I attempt to shed some light on the concept of magical realism in Sri Raju’s stories.

Both in print and on the Internet, a vast amount of discussions of the term “Magical realism” is available. However, for the purpose of this article, somewhat simplistically, I would like to define magical realism as an element that is faithful to everyday events in our lives, with a touch of magic or mystery. It has been achieved in these stories through setting and expression.

Invariably, the term “magic” brings to our minds an assumption that it goes beyond what is visible to the naked eye and what we believe to be normal—the mysteries in our everyday lives. In our Puranas, a man born out of an earthen pot (kumbhasambhavudu), a dog that followed Dharmaraja to heaven, a monkey growing to gigantic proportions at will and crossing the ocean in one hop – all these constitute magic, and necessitate the readers to stretch their imagination in order to visualize the event. In our daily lives, we hear or tell stories, the authenticity of which we do not question or doubt. We tell children the story of a hare challenging a tortoise to race or a lion convincing a baby goat to pay for his father’s sins. No child asks what language they – the hare, the tortoise, the lion and the baby goat – spoke, how they communicated with each other. In fact, in today’s ever popular Science Ficion and mysteries, this magic is present. Nevertheless, the core theme is, most of the time if not always, virtue conquering vice. And let us not forget that the “virtue” and “vice” in these stories are in accordance with human values. The point is, in each case a group of animate objects is created to drive a point home. We, the listeners, accept them with “willing suspension of disbelief,” and proceed to grasp the underlying message. That is magical realism. An aura of magic or mystery is created in a given story in order to transport the reader into a new milieu. Within the context, the story is told to reaffirm a truth, the author’s point of view.

The dog in “Satrayagam in Naimisa Forest (Naimisaranyamlo Satrayagam) plays a significant role in the life of the protagonist. The bird in the “Goddess of Good Fortune” (Adrushta devatha) plays the role of a friend and intermediary. The big tree in “In the Shadows of Maha Bodhi Tree” (Maha Bodhi Chayalo) speaks not only words of wisdom, but also offers comfort to the protagonist. The parallel between this tree and the Peepal tree under which Gautama Buddha had received enlightenment is unmistakable. There is however one difference between the two. The tree in this story goes beyond imparting spiritual knowledge. It provokes him to ask questions, mundane, and act according to the responses he has received. In fact, he is also aware that nobody believes him if he says the tree has spoken to him. It is real for the protagonist and magic for the rest of us.
Of all the stories of Munipalle Raju, the story that has received the highest accolades is “The Red Dot to Honor a Hero (Veera kumkuma), in which the bull, Pullanna, plays the hero by defending his owner, Pratapa Reddy against two butchers. We all are aware only too well the relationship, mutual appreciation, between farmers and their animals. Pratapa Reddy inherited Pullanna from his grandmother; it was born in their home and therefore treated as their eldest son. That being the case, it is no surprise that when Reddy’s life was in peril, the bull went to his rescue and crushed the enemy. The fascinating part is at the end, when Pullanna hauled Reddy’s body with his horns on to his back and brought him home. The author said that he had heard the story while traveling in Rayalaseema in the early ’50s. In this story, the magic is not unimaginable, yet it is out of the ordinary and must be construed as an instance of magical realism!

The role the dog in “Satrayagam In the Naimisa Forest” played is interesting in its own way. At the beginning the protagonist, Chakri, saw it in the railway station, fed it briefly and later, as he embarked the train to Naimisa forest, tried to get rid of it. Chakri went to Naimisa forest in an attempt to renounce his worldly attachments and seek liberation. We see him struggle to leave the old baggage but not with much success. It is obvious when he narrates his past to Prof Baruva in a language that is clearly one of anger rather than of renunciation. He is still upset about the way the woman (Kamala) treated him and let him down; he blamed her for all his miseries. Normally, the first step for a person seeking the life of renunciation is to forgive all those, who had wronged him. He achieved it only after watching the death of not only Kamala, but also the dog. At one point, he did wonder if the dog was symbolic of his attachments. Thus the dog’s demise seems to complete the process. The magical element is evident in two instances – reappearance of Kamala and the dog in Badarikavanam, twelve years after he had taken the vow of renunciation and become sansyasi.

We will have to assume that the spatial relevance of the dog in Badarikavanam contributes to the idea of magical realism. Chakri (later Goswami Avadhuta) left it behind at the railway station on his way to the Naimisa forest. The same dog appeared at the foot of Himalayas in Badarikavanam and played the role of an envoy from Kamala. How it could overcome the distance is left to the readers’ imagination. Similarly, Kamala’s appearance seems to be a little more than a simple coincidence.

The tree in the story “In the Shadows of Maha Bodhi tree” (Maha Bodhi Chayalo) is, unlike in the case of Gautama Buddha, more than something that divulges knowledge. To him (we know him only as Chinnayya), the tree stands for all the six kinds of gurus mentioned in the same story—preraka, suchaka, vachaka, darsaka, sikshaka and bodhaka. Additionally, it is also his confidante. He finds immense solace under the shade of the tree. It consoles him, asks potent questions, and provides sensible answers. In some ways, it is like his conscience and the better part of his judgment. The part in which he has heard the tree communicate with him is similar to the experiences of the sages who live in the woods. People receive ideas or thoughts when they move away, far from the madding crowds, and listen to “the still small voice within.” The point is, we all rely on an animate or inanimate object for inspiration or answers to the confounding questions we come across.

Silence is a unique concept in Indian culture. In the west, silence carries a negative connotation; silence is weakness. Smart people speak, whereas weak people remain speechless. In our culture, on the other hand, silence is a poignant spiritual experience. A term for sage in Sanskrit is muni, which is a derivative of maunam (silence). The author refers to this concept of silence in “Satrayagam in Naimisa Forest” in two instances: First, when a sage on the banks of River Gomati puts stones in his mouth to help him maintain silence; and secondly, when he quotes a sloka from Dakshinamurthy stotra, which says that guru Dakshinamurthy remains silent and the disciple’s doubts are dispelled (gurostu maunam vyakhyanam, sishyastu cchinna samsayaah).

The author attempts to depict that silence is not just an abstract idea but a powerful spiritual experience in the story, “Silence is not a Word” (Nissabdam Oka padam kaadu). For me, however, the magical realism in this story is equally pervasive and evasive as the idea of silence itself.

The protagonist Rao, barely, speaks, and when he speaks, it is only to himself, in a sort of monologue. His wife complains, ‘We never know what is on his mind; he never tells us what’s bothering him. … … He worries only about his people (italics mine); not a whit about things here at home.” His son is supportive of his father, “Everybody has a soft spot for one’s own people (italics mine). What’s wrong with that?” In itself, the term “his own people” is not explained; no characters are introduced directly. In one instance, the daughter-in-law offers an explanation for her mother-in-law’s (Rao’s wife) annoyance as follows: “She suggested that he (Rao) should perform his father’s annual death ceremony not at home but in some choultry, and after that, he (Rao) stopped talking.” From this line it would appear that there is no love lost between Rao’s wife and his father, and possibly, his mother and siblings, if any. She could be referring to them when she said “his own people.” The point I am trying to make is, so much information is left unsaid. It seems as if not only Rao, but the narrator, also, courted silence. Life is elusive; human nature is elusive; we never know what another person has on his mind at any given moment. The silence of the protagonist and the narrator forces readers to draw their own conclusions. The author might be implying that the “unknown” is the magic and that is also the reality. I am not sure, though.

In the “Goddess of Good Fortune” [Adrushta Devatha], there is a fascinating episode in which the protagonist, Murali, listens, enraptured, to the music from his mother’s flute. At the end of the song, the wade of butter in the little cup placed in front of the god disappears. Murali believes that baby Krishna himself had come and eaten it. The description of this event is fascinating

As she began with the praise of Sabda Brahma [Creator of Sound] softly and continued to sing the Radhesyam bhajans and ashtapadis of Jayadeva invoking exquisite postures by a danseuse. He listened to the music, enraptured. In that moment, there were only two listeners—the baby Krishna and Murali. Amma swayed to the music with absolute devotion. The wad of butter in the silver cup, like a kiss of the moonlight, vanished leaving the imprints of the baby boy’s fingertips at the bottom of the silver cup. “Ammaa! Ammaa! The wad of butter?”
“Yes babu, Krishna heard our prayers.”

It is a magical moment when baby Krishna responded to the mesmerizing music from the magic wand called flute, played by his mother. The experience of the child Murali as totally immersed and lost in the magic of the music is fascinating. Is it possible that little Murali identified himself with baby Krishna, unconsciously of course, and ate the butter? Such interpretation is sustainable but takes the charm out of the story. The episode is probably intended to create that mystical aura around his mother, for whom he has enormous respect, and later allow him to communicate with the bird.

Murali needed to create a halo around his mother, matrumurthy (supreme mother incarnate); she was an outstanding musician, who had devoted her life to music but the world called her “kept woman,” being unaware that his father had married her while she was on her deathbed. He lived all his life with the resulting inferiority complex, incapable of speaking up at any cost, and incapable of acting on his own. He needed the bird for a friend.

Yet another example is the ending in the story “On the shores Beyond the River of Existentialism” (Astitvanadam Aavaliteerana). It is an interesting story. It illustrates the life of a man known as Bairagi in the beginning, and later as Raghu, seeking a life of renunciation. He ends up in a hospital where his friend Satchindanandam treats him. The narrator’s play upon the name—sat, chit, ananda —is probably intended to be a prognosis of the protagonist’s predicament. He was searching for that ultimate Ananda and he attained it while on the stretcher. Dr Lavanya removed the sheet on the stretcher to check upon the patient and found nothing, no Raghu, no patient. Presumably the gross body dissolved into the ether. One might think of some magic show, where a person disappears from a box or a cubicle.

Earlier in the story, the Bairagi sets out to free himself from worldly entanglements and obtain the ultimate absolution. For all appearances, he had left everything back, and moved on with only a shirt on his back and a small handbag. That he was inclined to relinquish everything he had, is evident when he gave the sheet from his bag to a half-naked woman, with her baby he found on the choultry steps. While pulling out the sheet, three rupees fell from the bag. Somebody alerted him, and Bairagi dismissed it as his last possession he was willing to let go, and went away. Later, however, while he woke up in the choultry and realized that his bag and the camera in it were gone. My question here is, would a person who had relinquished everything carry a camera on his way to absolution? Probably, we will have to take it as an element of magical realism. For want of better explanation, we may say that as long as one has the appetite to cling to something, it does not matter what that thing is.

In addition to the events that seem to spark an aura of magic, there is another contributory factor in the stories—that is the author’s experiments in the narrative technique, his use of peculiar figures of speech, metaphors and phrases, out of the ordinary at times.

Modern day short-story gurus instruct writers to write in a simple, straightforward language, at the level of a 10th grader, to be precise. Sri Raju goes against this trend, especially, in the magical realism stories. He draws heavily on his knowledge of our culture and language to create a specific mood in the reader’s mind. No doubt he trusts the readers’ intelligence, instinct and imagination. His use of unusual phrases is a stretch, at times; nevertheless, it serves the intended purpose. For instance, here are a few constructs: “Are some mysterious everlasting parents worried about the welfare of their heir on the planet below while in yogic sleep on the banks of a wholesome pond in the world above?” (Amidst the Monologues of Another World); “Dewy melodies amid flames of musical notes” (On the Shores Beyond the River of Existentialism); and, “Friendship with my classmates that has just started sprouting like the first response at dawn” (In the Shades of Maha Bodhi tree). These constructs make readers stop and try to comprehend the meaning. Let me also add that the above translations are mine. Readers need to go to the Telugu originals to appreciate them fully.

We see this kind of expansiveness mostly in the stories intended to create the milieu of the moment. This usage, naturally, puts readers’ imagination to test. But then, there is no magic without stretching one’s imagination.

The stories that are anchored in magical realism reflect Sri Raju’s in-depth knowledge of Indian culture and command of diction. As I tried to establish, it certainly helps to create the needed characteristic in those stories.

(The stories under reference in this article will soon be available in translation in the upcoming book, On the Shores Beyond the River of Existentialism by Munipalle Raju. Sahitya Akademi will be releasing the book soon. It is in press at the time of this writing.)

In the above paragraph, the word “soon” in still in effect. I will add “hopefully.” It is  still “in print” as they say, as of today, May 3, 2019)


(Originally published on Reprint, May 3, 2019)

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River Flows

This is the only piece of poetry in English, I am proud of writing. I never thought I could write poetry, much less in English. However, this turned to be one powerful piece and has been received very well.
This was written at the request of Dr. Parul Shah, professor of performing arts in 1998, and was performed in Madison, WI. Later, Dr. Shah informed me that she had performed on several occasions. Thanks to Dr. Shah, and all the readers who have enjoyed reading it.
This has been translated into Telugu by Maruvam Usha and Lakshmi Vasantha. For the translations, please, click on the links (translator’s name).
I am grateful to the two translators.)

Uncoiling in a sly, sensuous oscillation

Like an archetypal danseuse

In a dazzling finale,

Full of zest and splendor,

The river flows.

The river flows.

And moves on as she flows.

The river flows And moves on

I gaze in amazement

As she bursts through

The caverns on the hilltops

Like a towering inferno

Devouring space,

Or, like a raging bull

Charging his opponent,

Hungry lion

Pouncing on its prey.

The river flows

Rolling down the mountain slopes

Stomping on the rocks

Tumbling over the boulders

Like an expert juggler on a rope.

The river flows.


Stops for a moment

As if gasping for breath

Or, To size up

With a touch of disdain,

The transient lives,

The lost souls of animate things,

Their hopes, Fears, frustrations,

Anger and avarice,

Petty jealousies, Foolish clinging

To insignificant things

And Thousand shades of’

Empty aspirations.

The river flows.

The river flows

Stealing my heart

With her imperious gestures,

Like a seasoned dancer,

Following her own course,

Carrying the tender souls In her arms,

To the unknown shores

As she flows.

I wonder…

Does she feel the things

She holds In her luring heart?

Or, the things She collects

In time and tide

And what leaves behind

As she moves on?

Does she feel

The umpteen silly objects

She is forced to contain?

Paper boats, Broken hearts,

Flower bouquet,The holy dip,

Seashells on the riverbeds,

The dirty feet,The human waste,

The spit, Dead bodies, the moss, motorboats  tearing her guts,

Crocodiles glutting over the half-decomposed bodies,

Little fish Fighting for their lives,

The River flows.

The river flows

Moving in a stately defiance

Of the mean structures men construct,

Poking steel, pouring concrete,

Desecrating the pious waters

In a desperate attempt to curb

Her invincible waters

The river flows.

Following her own course

Enraged by their arrogance,

The river bursts forth into a ravishing outpour of fury

Shattering the dams and bridges

The mean structures men built and their dwellings,

In one clean sweep

As if breaking ground For a new order,

As if challenging their inadequacies,

And proving her own strength, beauty and integrity.

As if staging the fiery Cosmic Dance Of Nataraja.

I sit there on the shore  and wonder,

Is she aware of the bond between her apparently Unfathomable flow

And the complex lives of the myriads on the banks?

The mankind conglomerate,

replete with Mothers, daughters, Fathers and sons,

Polluted with politics, power and money?

Electric lights engulfed by Low life?


Where scholarship has failed Human decency,

And turned into a market commodity

And sold at discount price,

She flows quietly, Like a royal gamut

Untouched by the failures

Of mankind

As I sit there,

Listening to the murmurs of million little ripples,

Hitting the rocks on the shores, melodious to the beat,

I wonder.

Is She, unaware, unobtrusive, unattached, indifferent,

Intent on pursuing only her own course?


The river enters the plateau in a noble stride

Reciting Vedic chants,

Propping up the drooping spirits

Embracing the dismal creatures

And unfolding universal harmony.

As she flows

Touching myriad souls

Lighting up thousands of hearts,splashing the colors of rainbow

Holding up her generous heart

To the dark clouds,

The river flows graciously,

Basking in her own lustrous spirit,

And murmuring rhythmic notes.


The river flows.

The river flows like an ageless dancer Imparting the wisdom of centuries

The mettle of a divine warrior

And the aura of an empress,

The river flows…

The River and the Life, entwined in one intricate bond,

Each one intrinsic part of the other…

The river flows. and as the river flows

Life goes on!


(Nidadavolu Malathi, 3/3/98.

This piece was written at the request of Dr. Parul Shah, visiting professor of dance, for performance in Madison, WI. Later she informed me she had performed it on numerous occasions.)


Continue reading “River Flows”