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ashokbhatia

The Guardian Angels who preside over the affairs of yours truly recently enabled a short trip to Netherlands. Other than a wonderful meeting with some fans of P G Wodehouse in Amsterdam, one could also visit Zaanse Schans and Rotterdam.

Of tilting at windmills

Zaanse Schans in Netherlands is best known for its collection of well-preserved historic windmills and houses. Built from 1576 AD onwards, these windmills have been used for multiple purposes. Claude Monet was so impressed that he came up with several paintings depicting these.

From 1961 to 1974 old buildings from all over the Zaanstreek were relocated to the area, so as to preserve this unique architectural heritage and to promote this as a unique open air museum of windmills, old houses and traditional crafts.

While crossing the windswept bridge over the river Zaan, one is captivated by the panoramic view of windmills. One could be excused…

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ashokbhatia

Dear Comrades,

Quite a few of you perhaps wonder as to how a very tall and lanky guy like me managed to win the affections of someone like Eve, who is of a medium height and radiates a sort of golden sunniness around her.

I believe the following to be some of the factors which enabled this courtship to reach a satisfactory outcome.

Dressing Nattily

Contrary to what cynics believe – that one should focus on the inner qualities of head and heart possessed by the party of the other part – the fact remains that external appearances alone assist in the initial stages of any courtship. A cheerful visage, a valiant gaiety, a set of bright eyes and a dash of self confidence are crucial enabling factors. Add to this a habit of dressing nattily and you get a winning formula which is hard to beat.

Whether one desires…

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ashokbhatia

The #MeToo allegations which have popped up recently in Bollywood go on to show the extent to which the virus of the infamous Director’s Couch Syndrome has not only permeated our entertainment industry but also morphed into a more disgraceful version of itself.

Perhaps a part of the solution lies within Bollywood itself. The gender insensitivity which is showcased and glorified in our movies is something which leaves us gasping for some innovative scripts. Exceptions are there. But these remain just exceptions.

When it comes to winning the affection of a heroine, a typical Bollywood hero spares no effort. He charms. He dazzles. He pursues. He flexes his rippling muscles. He shows off his biceps. He chases away a gang of baddies who try to harass his lady love. He poses as a well-endowed person. He even threatens and imposes himself.

Our heroes are adept at expressing their emotions in…

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Miscellaneous

As part of its Timeline theme spread over two floors, the museum also displays items of furniture, urns, vases, crockery and few miniatures.

Art and Consciousness

Pablo Picasso had once said that “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

We may or may not believe in the concept of a soul. But we cannot deny the fact that any interaction with any form of fine arts – be it dance, literature, music, paintings, sculptures – evokes a sense of connection, peace, and gratitude. Great works of art celebrate and express the beauty of Nature, that “the universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper,” as Eden Phillpotts put it.

With the best art we are reminded that we live in a Creative Universe that is itself a work of art, filled with masterpieces of rivers, stars, mountains, children, clouds, and flora and fauna. The greatest artists, poets, dancers, and musicians down through time (like Van Gogh, Rembrandt, M F Hussain, Walt Whitman, Rabindranath Tagore, Mrinalini Sarabhai, Mozart, Zubin Mehta, Pandit Ravi Shankar, to name only a few) have created a rich legacy which invariably uplifts our state of consciousness and encourages us to look carefully within, so as to enthuse us to develop our own creative potential.

A visit to any museum offers us this opportunity. World over, museums perform the enviable task of not only showcasing the uniqueness of the area’s culture, history and fine art but also that of keeping us inwardly awash with hope and keenly aware of a deeper reality in life. The National Museum of Sweden in Stockholm is no exception to this fact of life.  

Paintings and Portraits (Part 2)

We also get to see paintings depicting a bridge, a brooding person deep in thought, some blacksmiths, an outdoor table being laid out in the lap of nature, two girls which look like twins, piano performance at a church, some portraits, baby with a puppy and an indoor table just being laid out for a delicious meal, gently nudging a visitor to rush to the museum café for some exquisite Swedish dishes.  

      

As an amateur photographer, I always find it challenging to capture paintings better. Some paintings are shiny, others not so. Often, the lighting arrangements are such that I have to find the best angle at which the paintings can be seen the best, with minimum reflection of its spotlights. If you find this collection off-key in parts, you know whom to blame!

Paintings and Portraits (Part 1)

Glimpses of mundane life of royals as well as the hoi polloi can be had by virtue of the paintings and portraits on display at the museum. A lady doing gardening, a boy playing the flute, playful dogs, few Biblical fables, a lady milking the cow, some stiff-upper-lip portraits, the Cupids in action, natural scenery, a depiction of the Piazza San Marco in Venice and many others.

In the following parts of this series, you will get to see a few more paintings, crockery, vases and other items on display at the museum.

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The Timeline

The top two floors of the museum take us on an interesting journey spanning six centuries of artworks. One can spend hours here, soaking in the artistic richness of the items on display.

The top floor covers the period from the 16th century till the 18th century.

The middle floor has five sections, their respective timelines being 1800-1870, 1870-1900, the turn of the century 1900, 1920-1965 and 1965 to present day.  

The Treasury

Located on the middle floor, this section houses 1,170 small artefacts of major importance: 600 miniature portraits and other accessories like jewellery, boxes and pocket watches, the latter reminding one of the displays at the Patek Phillippe museum of royal watches and artefacts on display in Geneva (http://www.geneva.info/museums/patek-philippe-museum).

Keeping the Time

Time keeping has always been an important part of human endeavour. As a part of its Timeline theme spread over two floors, the museum has several kinds of clocks and watches which often leave one in awe of the craftsmen who created these exquisite pieces.

In the following parts of this series, you can have a look at some of the crockery, vases, paintings and many other items on display at the museum.

Related Post:

Not merely the number but the amazing variety and range of comic situations and characters that Plum has created entitle him to more than the appellation of a comic genius. And then there is the beauty of his language, the mot juste, the easy flow and the almost lyrical quality of the descriptions of nature, especially in the Blandings novels. It was not for nothing that Hillaire Bellock once described him as the best living writer of the English language. It is difficult to pick one’s favourites from his uniformly delightful output. One can merely endeavour to capture the broad contours of his canon here.

Take the case of the Blandings Castle stories wherein the humour is derived from such adorable absurdities as the woollen-headed peer, Lord Emsworth, whose sole passion in life is his prize pig, the Empress of Blandings; his eccentric brother, Galahad, who never went to bed till 4 am and has no business to be in the pink of health that he is in, in his fifties ; his son, Freddie, the go-getter salesman of Donadson’s Dog-joy biscuits; his secretary, the ever-suspicious Rupert Baxter; his gardener Agnes McAllister who detests any attempts by kids to pick up flaar’z from his fiefdom; the array of his formidable sisters and last, but not the least, the dignified and portly butler, Beach, whose walk reminds one of an elephant having a saunter in an Indian jungle, and one for whom it is difficult to stop once the subject of the lining of his stomach comes up. 

The Jeeves-Wooster stories depend on a plethora of odd-ball characters such as the hero, Bertie Wooster, himself; his incomparable gentleman’s personal gentleman, Jeeves, who is also Bertie’s friend, philosopher and guide and rescues him from many a sticky situation, being endowed with a master brain, probably the result of his predominantly piscine diet; Bertie’s favourite aunt, Dahlia, whose telephone conversations can be heard in the next county; Sir Watkyn Basset, the ex-magistrate, who, according to Bertie, has grown rich by pocketing a five pound fine here and a five pound there, imposed on miscreants; his daughter, Madeline, who thinks stars are God’s daisy chain; his niece Stiffy Byng, a girl to be carefully avoided by all sensible gentlemen because she is always hell-bent on sending them on crazy errands; Bingo Little, who beats the record of falling in and out of love with many members of the tribe of the delicately nurtured till he walks down the aisle with Rosie M Banks, and, of course, Roderick Spode, ‘the eight foot tall’ tinpot dictator, who is once reduced from being a menace to a mouse by Bertie telling him that he knows all about Eulalie!

Not to forget one of his friends, Augustus Fink-Nottle, the bespectacled newt-fancier, whose uninhibited speech at the Market Sondsbury Grammar School, made when he was duly oiled, plastered, sozzled, whiffled, and blotto (as Roget would have it), would need another piece altogether.

Can one really blame many of Plum’s fans who bemoan the fact that Rupert Psmith, the suave Etonian, appears in very few of his works? The way in which he manages his bosses in Psmith in the City, goes about wooing Eve Halliday in Leave it to Psmith, and even tackles underworld dons in Psmith the Journalist, leaves one yearning for more.

Mr. Mulliner’s juicy tales, narrated to a devoted audience of his at The Angler’s Rest, recounting the escapades of a vide array of his nephews and nieces, are so very delightful. Whether it is Eustace who, while working at the British Embassy in Berne, earns the right to yodel in the presence of the Vice-President, or Adrian who uses his crooked smile to enrich himself with a sum of hundred thousand pounds and even win over the love of his life, the sheer range of these characters would regale as well as baffle the mind of any lesser mortal.

And then we have the inimitable Ukridge, whose amoral and dreamy schemes to earn money simply tell us how not to conceive and run a business venture. After the failure of each of his ventures, he does not take much time to rebound. A chicken farm going for a toss merely leads him to start thinking of setting up a duck farm. A great lesson in tenacity and resilience, one would say.

Besides, we have many stand-alone novels which are simply superb. If The Damsel in Distress tells us about the lives of authors and music composers and ends on a strong anti-obesity note, The Girl in Blue covers the perils of shoplifting, renovating old crumbling properties, and teaching the rozzers a lesson or two by pushing them into the refreshing waters of a brook. Of course, there are many others, but I wish to let my audience have merely a bird’s eye view, so to say.    

These days, having just picked up ‘The Old Reliable’, I realize that though it is not as riotously funny as many of the above groups of stories, it is also a very nice read because of picturesque characterization and delightfully witty dialogue.

Plum had the unique skill of making the weirdest and oddest situations seem entirely laughable. His works make even a nonagenarian like me get up each morning, overcome the kind of subdued pessimism which engulfs one at a ripe age, and cheerfully look forward to the day, basking in his blissful humour while devouring one of my favourite tissue restoratives, there being no necessity to put any of Jeeves’s famous pick-me-ups down the hatch.

About the Author:

Mr. S. Subbaraman retired from the Archaeological Survey Of India (A.S.I.)  in 1987 as Superintending Archaeological Chemist, having been the Head of the Southern Region of the Chemistry Branch of A.S.I. at Hyderabad, and having worked on such famous monuments as Ajanta, Lepakshi and Brihdeeshwara (Thanjavur) temples etc on the conservation and restoration of our mural painting heritage and in Belur, Halebid etc in Karnataka on stone conservation. He has led many teams to exotic monuments abroad, rendering specialized services and advice for conservation of many structures.  

After retirement from A.S.I., he served as Director of the INTACH Chitrakalaparshath Art Conservation Centre, Bangalore, from 1993 to 2006. He was then responsible for the conservation and restoration of many art objects of various kinds for institutions as well as for individual owners.

He took voluntary retirement in June 2006 and settled down in Mysore to lead a life of retirement, consisting of such activities as reading. P G Wodehouse is one of his favourite authors.

Note:

I confess to having taken some liberties with the original text posted by the author on the Fans of P G Wodehouse page on Facebook recently; his permission to blog it here is gratefully acknowledged.

ashokbhatia

Where have all the Berties gone? 
The lilies that toil not, nor do they spin,
They’ve all arisen with the dawn,
To get their three miles running in.

Then holed up all day, in offices or banks,
Won’t join you in a leisurely brunch, 
No afternoon tennis or games or pranks,
Coping with month’s end accounting crunch.

Even dinner is a rushed affair, 
No time for idle chat or chit,
March through the rose garden’s scented air,
To meet the quota of the Fitbit.

One sighs for the Berties of yester-year,
Mentally negligible, but always at hand.
One found their naïveté rather dear,
And could have molded them into something grand!

(The above mentioned composition has been whipped up by Lisa Dianne Brouwer who describes herself thus:

“Lisa cut her milk teeth on P.G. Wodehouse. Literally, in fact, as many of her father, Professor W. Brouwer’s orange and white Penguins…

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A saunter down the National Museum of Sweden is a unique experience in more ways than one. It gives one a sneak peek into the country’s rich history and culture. It showcases the evolution of its fine arts over time. It tells us about its diplomatic relations and stand-offs with other countries. It also makes us aware of the various stages through which this exquisite Nordic country has passed to attain its present state.

The collection at the museum comprises around 70,000 artefacts: paintings, sculptures, drawings, and graphics from the 16th century until the turn of the century in 1900. The museum, originally started in 1792, was renovated last in the 2010s.

The Sculpture Courtyard

The ground floor has The Sculpture Courtyard which makes one wonder how Idealism in the past shifted to Realism during the 19th century. Mythology and gods represented here link us to human ideals and values, all of which are universal in nature.

(The images you see above have been downloaded from the internet. The images which follow are the works of an amateur photographer like yours truly.)

Few other sculptures of a relatively smaller size can be found on the upper floors of the museum, as a part of its Timeline theme. A piece depicting a horse also craves the viewer’s indulgence.

  

In the following parts of this series, you can have a look at some of the clocks, jewellery, paintings and other items on display at the museum.

Related Posts: