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During the pre-independence days, an Iyer and a Britisher were travelling by the Howrah Express train, from Madras to Calcutta. The train left Madras Central railway station at 8 p.m. sharp, and the next morning at 7 a.m., it was at Vijayawada.

The Britisher had a sumptuous Spencer's breakfast, delivered to him by a butler, in livery. But the Iyer opened the top box of his 4-compartment, steel tiffin carrier, and ate two idlis.

Lunch at Waltair station (asVisakhapatnam was then called), was a heavy meal served to the Britisher, by the Railway Refreshment stall. But the Iyer only opened the second box of his tiffin carrier, pulled out 4 idlis, and ate them with relish. The Britisher was curious, as to what was happening. But being a Britisher, kept his stiff-upper-lip posture on.

But when the scene repeated, during dinner at Berhampur, the Britisher could no longer contain himself, and enquired from the Iyer, " Sir, what are those white things you have been eating, all along? "

The Iyer replied, " Sir, these are called intelligence tablets. We South Indians, can live on them for days, together. "

Britisher: " But how do you make them ? "

The Iyer went into an elaborate description, of the raw materials and processes, of making idlis.

Britisher : " Can you please give me a couple of them? But you need not give them to me free of charge. I'll be happy to pay you, whatever price you quote. "

The Iyer thought for a while, and said, "Actually, I have only three more of them left, for tomorrow morning's breakfast. But since I am going to my relative's place, I can spare them for you. But they will cost you, 20 Indian Rupees each ".

The Britisher paid up immediately, happy that he was so lucky. The next morning, at the Howrah railway station in Calcutta, as they were about to part ways, the Britisher asked the Iyer, "But tell me sir, are you sure you have told me the entire process, without leaving out any details? ".

Iyer replied, "Yes, I told you all the details".

Britisher: "Then why were those intelligence tablets, so costly?"

The Iyer replied,"See?! You ate only 3 of them last night, and they have already started working?!"

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