Archive for January, 2015

The Indian Republic is awash with fresh winds of change these days. New policies and programs are getting rolled out. Animal spirits of the economy are attempting to come out of a period of relative hibernation. Start-ups of all sizes and shapes are mushrooming by leaps and bounds. World leaders appear to be courting India in the hope that their own countries become an integral part of the growth story of India.happy-republic-day

Our science historians are busy digging up the glory of our ancient knowledge. Flying contraptions, genetic feats and precision surgical achievements of yore dominate the public discourse. Educationists are busy twiddling their thumbs trying to figure out ways of revamping the entire education system.

Some of our religious and political leaders are busy exhorting young women to reproduce at a higher rate, so the future of the country is brighter. Reversing the inverted triangle in red which denoted the family control program a few decades back, they are telling the delicately nurtured that having only two children will no longer work. Some advocate having five, some ten.

In these testosterone-driven times, those who have entrepreneurial inclinations could perhaps consider the following start-up ideas in the year to come:

1. KamaSutra.com
Taking advantage of the profound wisdom enshrined in ancient Indian texts, such start-ups would fire up the romantic fervor of those in the reproductive age group. Nothing vulgar and illegal would appear here. The content would merely offer simplified lessons in social and dating etiquette, personal hygiene, and reproductive pursuits of all kinds. Guidance would be available on the comparative merits and efficacy of all kinds of libido-enhancing supplements.

2. DesignerBabies.com
Some of the delicately nurtured might take a leaf out of our ancient scriptures like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Estrogen-enriched sweets and savouries would be on offer here. For securing designer babies, the high standards set by some of the women in our epics would be followed. Demand for high quality sperms of illustrious figures from our armed forces, sports, entertainment and business arenas would be met by these start-ups, albeit at a premium. Sperm banks would be created and aggressively marketed.

3. Priest.com
For the religiously inclined, wanting to invoke Gods and Goddesses representing diverse virtues, these start-ups would provide wide-ranging ceremonial and IVF services. Invocating, propitiating and bidding farewell to entities from higher realms would get covered. Special designer packages would also be on offer.

4. GrandMom.com
This one would address all the neo-natal and post-natal services required by young women who wish to contribute towards the endeavor of nation building. For couples who have to overcome fertility issues, these start-ups would offer free advice and a listing of all fertility clinics in each district of the country. The government could announce special awards and incentives to honor those who deliver quadruplets and higher multiples of young babies in a single shot.

5. BackToTheFuture.com
Since our health infrastructure would be left gasping to handle the sudden surge in demand, start-ups in this category would promote the practice of home deliveries. It would provide on-call services of midwives who are adept at handling deliveries in the comfort of one’s own house. With internet accessibility improving, deliveries would be guided over Skype and Viber, thereby making life easier for wannabe mothers in the hinterland.

6. Lakshmi.com
Herein lies a unique opportunity to correct the adverse gender ratio in most parts of the country. Start-ups in this category would facilitate the proliferation of female babies as opposed to male ones. Over a period of time, when the country has a marginal excess of the delicately nurtured, their harassment would become a thing of the past. Female power would rule the roost.

7. TinyTots.com
To handle the rush of baby boomers, a string of preparatory schools would be on offer here. Teachers wanting to get trained to higher levels of proficiency would get directed to educational outfits specializing in this area. The need for additional educational facilities would be addressed in a mission mode.

8. ToysAndLiterature.com
The new wave of babies would need to be entertained, amused and kept busy. Toys, accessories and all related items would need to be made in India. Comic strip producers will need to scale up their capacities. Games and apps based on our epics would need to be developed and made available, so the hassled parents can upload these onto their latest kid-friendly tablets and enable the young ones to learn India’s ancient values and social mores.

9. Nanny.com
The demand for well-behaved nannies would undergo a quantum jump. Start-ups in this category would identify, train and place highly proficient nannies. Couples desirous of having such services without any interruption would get a nanny within a few hours of the earlier distraught one having left the household.

The possibilities are limitless. The mind boggles. Different sectors in manufacturing as well as in services would witness a boom. Mop up of direct as well as indirect taxes would exceed all targets.

Here is a call to all the young and patriotic citizens of India to gird up those loins, oil those wombs and get down to some serious work. There could be no better way of celebrating our 66th Republic Day.

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Ode to a shiner..

Here is a composition by Ms. Sukanya Lakshmi Narayan, an ardent fan of P G Wodehouse. It is based on a true incident, which she has beautifully captured in a typical Wodehousian manner. A fitting tribute, indeed.


Our friend, a thorough and jolly gentleman
On Wodehousian principles his life ran,
Raised by overbearing aunts and grandmas
A La Dahlias and Agathas
Even though nary a one was a gentleman.

The devoted son sent his mother
To the park with the nurse and chauffeur
The nurse got drunk
The chauffeur did the bunk
And the nurse socked the master a shiner.

The sinister saga didn’t end there
There was more mystery and dare
To cut a long story short
The master decided to take a shot
And investigate the matter threadbare.

The hunt began for the missing driver
Anyone and everyone was promised a fiver
He was finally found
After much searching around
Crouching in the garage of a neighbour.

It was like a sneaky midnight raid
He was found to be neither sober nor staid
Hulk he was, and mighty
He was tried and found guilty
Of two timing the mother-in-law’s maid.

One gave him a multi-hued shiner
Another back stabbed like a dagger
Oh Plum! See me through
Only you can, only you
Restore my faith in mankind via laughter.

(Thank you, Sukanya, for permitting me to publish this limerick.)

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For those who live in Pondicherry, it is often nice to get an objective view of the place, as it appears to someone from outside. Whenever time gives you a break, go through this post. It might be rewarding in more ways than one!

The People Village

Who wants a taste of Française in India?

The Promenade, White Town, PondicherryThe Promenade, White Town, Pondicherry

Welcome to Pondicherry (Puducherry), the little humid French town which the French left to the Indians to domesticate. Though it is best to avoid seaside towns located any where near the Equator, I had to pay this town a visit as a traveller and voila. I discovered that this part of India is rich in culture and history and I am not just talking about Pondy but Karaikal, Tranquebar, Kumbakonam, Chidamabaram, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam… all within a four hour radius.

Joan of ArcJoan of Arc

Now let me surprise all of you who have not visited Pondicherry. The entire town does not look French. Only the original part of it does. And that small rectangle is limited to White Town which is between the sea and the canals which now line up the streets of Kassim Salai(Gingee Salai) and Ambour…

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Thirukkural (திருக்குறள்), also known as the Kural, is a classic Tamil ‘sangam’ (3rd century BC to 4th century AD) literature composition. It has 1,330 couplets or ‘kurals’. It was authored by the renowned poet Thiruvalluvar.

The Thirukkural is one of the most important works in the Tamil language. This is reflected in some of the other names by which the text is given by such as ‘Tamil marai’ (Tamil Vedas); ‘poyyamozhi’ (words that never fail); and ‘Deiva nool’ (divine text).

Just like ‘Ramayana’, ‘Mahabharata’, ‘Bhagavad-Gita’ and other scriptures, Thirukkural is also replete with words of wisdom. It is simple and contains profound messages.

Thirukkural has 133 chapters, each containing 10 couplets. Broadly speaking, all the 133 chapters can be divided into three sections: Righteousness, Wealth and Love. In the text below, the serial number of each couplet appears on the top, followed by its Tamil text and then by its near-literal translation in English.


Practising as well as aspiring managers could draw quite a few lessons from Thirukkural. Here is a modest attempt to capture a few of its facets.


Leadership is more of an attitude and a way of living and behaving. It is about opening one’s heart. It is about inspiring those around one. It is about leading others by example. It is about standing up for others and shielding them from harm.

770Thirukural 770Of what avail is the army of heroic warriors if there be no general to guide them?

388Thirukural 388He is a God among men who shields his subjects.

A good leader is an avid listener. He encourages dissent.

416Thirukural 416Listen to wholesome counsel however meager; for out of it springs great good.

389Thirukural 389The world is under the sway of the monarch who puts up with bold and bitter counsel.

529Thirukural 529Reject none on the score of disagreement. Men who have become estranged will flock to you.


A leader’s life is not easy. Following ‘dharma’ (righteousness) is his/her foremost trait. Being impartial and just is another.

33Thirukural 33Avail yourself of all opportunities. Do not cease from practicing Dharma on all possible occasions to the best of your ability.

111Thirukural 111An equity which knows no partiality is in itself a unique virtue.

432Thirukural 432Niggardliness, empty honor, blind favoritism, are all the faults of a king.

541Thirukural 541Strict enquiry and impartial justice mark the rule of a just monarch.

Intuition plays an important role in the life of a leader. Steve Jobs’ life is a living example of this trait.

429Thirukural 429Men of foresight who guard themselves against coming events know no distress.

Leadership is about human experiences and not about processes.

578Thirukural 578The world belongs to a king who can do his duty and yet be courteous.

Mergers and acquisitions often follow the rule of tying up with a former adversary in business. Google acquired Android, YouTube and Motorola Mobility, so as to extend the reach of its business as also to diversify into related verticals.

679Thirukural 679It is much more urgent to secure the alliance of one’s enemies, than to do good to one’s friends.

Brand Image of an Organization

Thirukkural has chapters which are intended for developing and managing kingdoms. The attributes of an ideal kingdom mentioned in the ancient text are equally applicable to the contemporary corporate world.

Thirukural 738Five are the ornaments of a kingdom – absence of disease, wealth, fertility, happiness and security.

This can be interpreted to mean that a great company is one which has a strong brand image amongst all its stakeholders. Healthy and vibrant employees form the backbone of a company. By generating a surplus for its shareholders, wealth gets created. A culture which enables fertile imagination and innovation ensures its long-term survival and well-being. A result-oriented but relaxed culture results into greater happiness of its employees. Guarding the company’s assets – material as well as intellectual – ensures survival in a highly competitive environment.


Managers need to be resolute, decisive and action-oriented. Loyalty to the management and operating within the company policy paradigm are two of the several qualities they need to have.

668Thirukural 668What you have clearly decided to do, do it without hesitation and delay.

766Thirukural 766Heroism, honor, tried policy and fidelity to the king, these four are an army’s shelter.

Stephen Covey has spoken of the habit of ‘sharpening the saw’. The poet also emphasizes the need to keep upgrading our subject knowledge, so as to do well in our careers.

401Thirukural 401Entering an assembly without sufficient knowledge is like playing at a dice board without its knowledge.

444Thirukural 444To follow in the footsteps of those who are greater than oneself is the crown of one’s strengths.

Planning, and thinking ahead, needs to be given a high priority. Want to beat the competition? Know its strengths and review your plans accordingly.

461Thirukural 461After much deliberation over profit and loss and the final gains, launch on a task.

471Thirukural 471A king must act after measuring the strength of his plan, his own resources, the strength of the enemy and that of the ally.

Restraining anger is important. Anger is also an important weapon in a manager’s arsenal. It can be used to put in place a team member who might be getting too big for his boots. When held back and allowed to simmer within, it can be used very effectively. Patience and forbearance are recommended. We also need to have the knack of getting our timing right!

305Thirukural 305If a man were to guard himself, let him restrain anger. Otherwise anger gets the better of him.

487Thirukural 487The wise will not fly into a passion when assailed; they allow their anger to smoulder within till the right time comes.

158Thirukural 158Conquer with forbearance one who has done you harm and caused you anguish.

484Thirukural 484One can succeed in the attempt to conquer the world if the right time and the right place are chosen.

Management is all about getting things done. A smart manager would know what needs to be done, who is the best person for doing it, and the right time to get it done.

516Thirukural 516The thing to be done, the proper person for it and the appropriate time for doing it, must all be duly weighed.


Here are some guidelines on when to speak, how to speak and what to speak.

711Thirukural 711Men should weigh their words in speaking when addressing an audience.

714Thirukural 714Before brilliant people, be brilliant; before plain people, be as plain as white chalk.

715Thirukural 715The humility to maintain silence before superiors is the best of all good qualities.

Planning and Execution

The poet exhorts us to avoid procrastination.

674Thirukural 674An unfinished deed and an unfinished fight will, like a half-extinguished fire, cause ultimate harm.

675Thirukural 675Do a thing after carefully deliberating on five things – resources, means, the time, the nature of the deed, and the place.


677Thirukural 677The manner in which a thing should be done is to be determined after consulting an expert.

Getting Hired

Whether we are hiring a chartered accountant or an engineer, the cultural fit with the company is of great importance. People who sound the same based on their CVs are all different. Their value systems are determined by the family they belong to and the environment they have grown up in. Their personality traits are not the same.

Would they fit in with their immediate team members? Would they vibe well with the culture of the organization? These are some of the questions to be asked so as to ensure that we make better hiring decisions.

960Thirukural 960Out of modesty springs one’s greatness. Out of humility rises the honor of the family.

951Thirukural 951Probity and a sense of shame are virtues innate only in men of noble lineage.

The poet also exhorts us to make a hiring choice with due diligence.

509Thirukural 509Let men be chosen with deliberate care; when once the choice is made, let no suspicions crawl into your soul.

632Thirukural 632A minister should have five qualities: tenacity of purpose, birth in a respectable family, welfare of people, profound learning and perseverance.

Managing the Self

Like all spiritual texts, Thirukkural also extols the virtues of connecting with one’s inner self.

Being amiable and speaking positively helps.

93Thirukural 93To welcome one with a pleasant look and loving words is righteousness.

Helping others in a self-less manner may result into long-term loyalists getting developed. However, help rendered to an ungrateful person could be a waste of one’s time and efforts.

103Thirukural 103Help done expecting no return, if weighed, will be vaster than the sea.

105Thirukural 105Help rendered is not in terms of the return but its value depends on the receiver.

Forgetting and forgiving helps us to reduce our own stress levels.

108Thirukural 108It is not good to forget the benefit received; but it is good to forget then and there the injury done by another.

Self control is the real treasure. So is walking on the right path.

122Thirukural 122There is no greater wealth than self-control; treasure it as your wealth.
132Thirukural 132Strive hard to walk in the right path. One finds it one’s surest ally.


Loose talk, inane gossip and back-biting happen to be some of the tricks of making enemies and losing friends!

187Thirukural 187Those who alienate friends by back-biting may have forgotten the art of making friends through suavity of speech.
200Thirukural 200Speak profitable words; avoid nonsense.

Gems of General Wisdom


234Thirukural 234The wise are not favored by the gods; but the renowned on earth are adored by them.


250Thirukural 250Oppress not the weak; remember your own fate in stronger hands.


298Thirukural 298Water cleanses the body; truth cleanses the soul.

True knowledge

352Thirukural 352Men of pure vision are led from darkness to light.

Will Power

595Thirukural 595The greatness of a person is proportionate to the strength of his will power.



Laugh over your obstacles; nothing like it to push them further and further.


When it comes to cautioning leaders and managers against amorous advances within the confines of their place of work, Thirukkural is silent. However, it is interesting to note that in the Love section, it does deal with matters of romance, sex and lust. If there are observations from the view-point of the so-called sterner sex, we also find insights from the delicately nurtured amongst us. To that extent, the text may be held to demonstrate a decent level of gender parity. Chivalry is far from being dead!

Each ‘kural’ is complete in itself. It deserves to be meditated upon, one at a time, and imbibed in our day-to-day lives. One wonders at the keen observations of the poet, his sagacity and the effort he has taken to collate and compile this beautiful work, replete with words of wisdom which continue to be as relevant today as they were in the days of yore.


  1. English translations of the ‘kurals’ quoted here are courtesy Mr V R Ramachandra Dikshitar, as per the book ‘Thirukkural of Tiruvalluvar’ brought out by The Adyar Library and Research Centre of The Theosophical Society, Chennai, India; ISBN 81-85141-08-8.
  2. My sincere gratitude to various persons who enabled this multilingual compilation.
  3. An abridged version of this post also appears in my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, ISBN 978-1-4828-8850-8.)

(Related Posts:

The many-faceted Thirukkural

Management Lessons from ‘Ramayana’

Management Lessons from ‘Mahabharata’

Management Lessons from the life of Lord Krishna

Sacred scriptures of India and the Bhagavad Gita

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We live in times when the only feline creatures we happen to know are from the realm of cat-toons. We knowPGW Doraemon Doraemon, Felix, Garfield, Tom and Top Cat, to name just a few. Their eccentricities we adore. Their haughtiness we endure. Their ingenuity makes our spirits soar. Their ruthless manner in handling mice of all kinds we ignore. To put it simply, in a world dominated by TV and internet, they have become a part of folklore.

Now, one does not mean to offend any of these personalities whose intrinsic felineness is rather unmistakable. But there are several others from the realm of literature who are no less admirable. They were born in times when the printed word was ruling the roost. They have left an indelible impression on the minds and psyches of several generations. They have exemplified the traits of bosses and the bossed-over alike. Surely, once in a while, they also deserve to be remembered, honored and feted for having shaped the mindset of humanity.

Take the case of Plumsville. The feline creatures we meet here have sterling qualities of head and heart. Almost all of them wish their privacy to be respected. Some are outright lazy and must have theirPGW Garfieldand_friends twenty-three hours of beauty sleep. Some love being tickled beneath the ears before extending a paw of friendship. Others would go to any lengths to ensure that they get their daily dose of vitamins.

Some of them believe in the power of collective bargaining. They tend to assemble under the bed of an eligible bachelor and end up ensuring that his betrothal to a female lion tamer gets scratched. Some exercise great influence over horses, making them win or lose races for their masters.

For those of us who wish to shake a friendly paw with them, here is a quick recap.

The Burden of Snootiness

All feline creatures find it difficult to forget that in some ancient civilizations, they were revered as gods.

Cats, as a class, have never completely got over the snootiness caused by the fact that in Ancient Egypt they were worshipped as gods.PGW Tom and Jerry

(The Story of Webster, Mulliner Nights)

One can readily understand the burden of snootiness they carry on their slender shoulders. Perhaps, this also explains the high-handed behavior they exhibit when dealing with humans.

When a Fish wants an Apology

Fans of Bertie Wooster shall forever remain in debt of the bunch of twenty-three cats found underneath his bed. Thanks to this bunch, Bertie could avoid the dreaded prospect of a saunter down the aisle with Honoria Glossop. (The Inimitable Jeeves)

I was about fed up with the whole thing. I mean, cats in your bedroom—a bit thick, what? I didn’t know how the dickens they had got in, but I was jolly well resolved that they weren’t going to stay picknicking there any longer. I flung open the door. I got a momentary flash of about a hundred and fifteen cats of all sizes and colours scrapping in the middle of the room, and then they all shot past me with a rush and out of the front door: and all that was left of the mob-scene was the head of a whacking big fish, lying on the carpet and staring up at me in a rather austere sort of way, as if it wanted a written explanation and apology.

Elsewhere, Pop Glossop appears in a dialogue of this nature:PGW Inimitable_jeeves

‘No, she’s got a lunch date. She’s browsing with Sir Roderick Glossop, the loony-doctor. You don’t know him, do you?’

‘Only from hearing you speak of him. A tough egg, I gather.’

‘One of the toughest.’

‘He was the chap, wasn’t he, who found the twenty-four cats in your bedroom?’

‘Twenty-three,’ I corrected. I like to get things right. ‘They were not my cats. They had been deposited there by my Cousins Claude and Eustace. But I found them difficult to explain. He’s a rather bad listener. I hope I shan’t find him at Brinkley, too.’

Suffering from Traumatic Symplegia

In Jeeves in the Offing, we get introduced to the inimitable Augustus. When it comes to a choice between hunting mice and catching up on his sleep, his priorities are very clear.

‘I thought as much, or you would be aware that Augustus is a broken reed to lean on in the matter of catching mice. My own acquaintance with him is a longstanding one, and I have come to know his psychology from soup to nuts. He hasn’t caught a mouse since he was a slip of a kitten. Except when eating, he does nothing but sleep. Lethargic is the word that springs to the lips. If you cast an eye on him, you will see that he’s asleep now.’

‘Coo! So he is.’

‘It’s a sort of disease. There’s a scientific name for it. Trau-something. Traumatic symplegia, that’s it. This cat has traumatic symplegia. In other words, putting it in simple language adapted to the lay mind, where other cats are content to get their eight hours, Augustus wants his twenty-four. If you will be ruled by me, you will abandon the whole project and take him back to the kitchen. You’re simply wasting your time here.’

My eloquence was not without its effect. She said ‘Coo!’ again, picked up the cat, who muttered something drowsily which I couldn’t follow, and went out, leaving me to carry on.PGW JeevesInTheOffing

Then we have the scene depicting an encounter between Augustus and Poppet which gets played out by the side of a lake. The Rev. Aubrey Upjohn, his step-daughter Phyllis, Bobbie Wickham, Wilbert Cream, Kipper and Bertie Wooster have gathered there. As per plans, Bertie is to shove Upjohn into the water, followed by Kipper diving in and saving him. This, it is hoped, would improve the chances of Kipper persuading Upjohn to withdraw the libel case he is planning in connection with a derogatory review Kipper has written of an article of his.

At the moment when Augustus touched ground and curling himself into a ball fell into a light doze, Poppet had completed his tenth lap and was preparing to start on his eleventh. Seeing Augustus, he halted in mid-stride, smiled broadly, turned his ears inside-out, stuck his tail straight up at right angles to the parent body and bounded forward, barking merrily.

I could have told the silly ass his attitude was all wrong. Roused abruptly from slumber, the most easygoing cat is apt to wake up cross. Already Augustus had had much to endure from Phyllis, who had doubtless jerked him out of dreamland when scooping him up in the garden, and all this noise and heartiness breaking out just as he dropped off again put the lid on his sullen mood.

He spat peevishly, there was a sharp yelp, and something long and brown came shooting between my legs, precipitating itself and me into the depths. The waters closed about me, and for an instant I knew no more.

The Object of a high-bred Horse’s Affections

In Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, we run into a feline creature which exercises great influence on Potato Chip, a race horse.PGW AuntsArentGentlemen

To recover from pink spots, Bertie goes to Maiden Eggesford in Somerset, with its two leading men, Jimmy Briscoe and Pop Cook, their respective horses, Simla and Potato Chip, and their dark rivalry. Aunt Dahlia, a friend of Jimmy Briscoe, has bet on Simla only to find that it isn’t a cinch. Bertie is annoyed to see old enemy Major Plank (previously met in Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves) in residence with Vanessa Cook and her Pop Cook. The latter takes an instant dislike to Bertie when he is found tickling a passing cat which is a favorite of his horse Potato Chip.

Highly bred horses like Potato Chip often develop a strong affection for either a goat or a sheep. In this narrative, the object of his affections is a cat which sleeps in his stall and is there to meet him when he returns from his daily exercise. In the cat’s absence, Potato Chip becomes listless and even refuses any nourishment offered.

We do not get to learn the cat’s name, but Bertie describes his first encounter as follows:

It was a cat of rather individual appearance, being black in its general color scheme but with splashes of white about the ribs and also on the tip of its nose. I chirruped and twiddled my fingers, as is my custom on these occasions, and it advanced with its tail up and rubbed its nose against my leg in a manner that indicated clearly that in Bertram Wooster it was convinced that it had found a kindred soul and one of the boys.

I scratched this one behind the ear, and it received the attention with obvious gratification, purring like the rumble of distant thunder.

Things get muddy when Aunt Dahlia gets a neighborhood poacher to steal the cat in the hope to impede its horse friend, embroiling Bertie in the to-do.

As always, Jeeves rises to the occasion. Thanks to him, Bertie avoids getting married to Vanessa Cook. He also avoids getting into the bad books of Aunt Dahlia.

Tabby Terror

Ever met a cat who has a black heart hidden by a sleek coat of tabby fur? We would consider stroking one such cat a luxury, little knowing that its shapely head hides a scheming brain. Moreover, like other members of its species, this cat has a conscience as well.

The struggle between Prater’s cat and Prater’s cat’s conscience was short, and ended in the hollowest of victories for the former. The conscience really had no sort of chance from the beginning.

When a can of sardines is found empty on the premises, investigations of a Sherlock-Watson nature are undertaken. Considering the harsh reality that the alleged culprit troops in without knocking, different ways to get rid of the feline menace get deliberated upon.PGWodehouse

At tea on the following evening the first really serious engagement of the campaign took place. The cat strolled into the team room in the patronising way characteristic of his kind, but was heavily shelled with lump sugar, and beat a rapid retreat… From that moment its paw was against every man, and the tale of the things it stole is too terrible to relate in detail. Like Death in the poem, it knocked at the doors of the highest and the lowest alike. Or rather, it did not exactly knock. It came in without knocking.

In the hands of P G Wodehouse, animals display not only their intrinsic traits. They also acquire characteristics which set them apart from the rest of the crowd. Pigs charm us by their majestic manner. Dogs regale us with their propensity to bite the rozzers who disrupt the normal flow of our carefree lives.

Cats also get etched out with the attention to detail they deserve. They acquire personable traits. Pointy ears, whiskers, round eyes and a propensity to meow could, after all, also describe a person. But in Plumsville, cats evolve into real characters with a distinctive personality of their own, often surpassing human beings in more ways than one.

A real cat scene, so to say!

[Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/delightful-characters-of-the-canine-kind-in-plumsville, https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/seven-traits-that-bosses-share-with-cats%5D

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Here is a guest post from Mr. Ramendra Kumar which all the fans of P G Wodehouse would relish. It is a juicy summary of the sunlit valleys and the murmuring rivulets of humor which criss-cross through all of Plumsville.


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For 144 long years, suffering neglect, I served you all,
Elements of nature eventually took their toll, making my frail body fall.

Mairie hall b4 collapse

Lofty hopes of your rulers once soared in lime and stone,
The best materials gradually became my flesh and bone;
The architecture was flawless; of ingenuity in design there was no dearth,
To only serve you was I visualized and made to spring up from the earth.

Mairie Hall Pondicherry

Celebrities, dignitaries, citizens and visitors marveled at my grace,
On the sands of Puducherry’s history, I have left many a trace;
The creaking body of mine gave you several hints in the past,
Your apathy made me crumble, leaving a gap in the Promenade vast.

My soul continues to hover unabated, shining through many of you,
I hope that my passing would give rise to a united fervour and view;
For the sake of posterity, Puducherry’s heritage is yours to preserve,
I yearn to be reborn; beseech you to restore others which also deserve.

Mairie hall after restoration

All over the planet, many structures like me seek care and restoration,
Connecting you with your glorious past, we cannot survive merely on adoration;
Like ageing human beings, we also need love, nursing and tender care,
Let others not meet the same fate as befell me, leaving the earth barren and bare.

[All those who are fond of taking a brisk walk on the beach front of Puducherry would henceforth be sourly missing an imposing structure – the Hotel de Ville, also known as the Mairie Hall.

Built in 1870-71, the Mairie (French for town hall) building was an important part of an ensemble of sea-facing landmark structures, including the old lighthouse, the Chief Secretariat and the French Consulate.

A landmark building with a unique architectural style, it was a majestic structure which one passed by casually, often marveling at its splendor and beauty. On the 29th of November, 2014, owing to heavy rains which lashed the coastal town of Puducherry over the preceding week, it collapsed.

This composition is dedicated to Mairie Hall.]

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-soul-of-mairie-recounts)

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Yet another New Year has dawned. It is time for me to exercise my tiny grey cells and fulfill my obligations to societyExercise 1 by making a resolution. Ideally speaking, I should make one which does not get consigned to the dustbins of my pious intentions before the first week of January gets over.

I happen to be a self-proclaimed couch potato. When it comes to being a lazy bum, I am a leader amongst men. The resolution which has appealed to me since the past several years goes something like this:

‘I hereby resolve, like in all the previous years, to start doing some kind of exercise.’

Had one of the Master Wordsmiths of our times, P G Wodehouse, been around, he might have permitted me to express myself in the following manner.

A couple of decades back, I was content to crawl out of bed and undergo the daily ritual of performing the morning ablutions. I would then proceed to the breakfast table, all geared up to attack the deep-fried stuff on offer, accompanied by liberal helpings of milk, with dates, dry fruits and corn flakes thrown in for good measure. A glorious start to the proceedings of the day!

These days, life presents different challenges. A health-conscious spouse ensures that the breakfast table merely offers a slice of apple, a boiled egg sans yolk, and some oats, which, on my luckier days, come with a dash of soya milk. My digestive juices register a strong protest at the lack of attention being paid to them. My stomach grumbles, but to no avail. The day starts on a somber note.

The epidemic of strict dieting and supreme physical fitness pervades the collective conscience of the denizens of our country. If I am not a member of a gym, I am looked down upon. If I am not following exciting tips on achieving a life eternal on internet and social media, I am considered backward. Friends bandy about health-monitoring apps on their smart-phones, making me feel inadequate, unsuccessful and depressed.

I am continuously exhorted to follow a wide array of exercise regimen, ranging from complicated yogic postures to Larsen exercises popularized by Ashe Marson of ‘Something Fresh’ fame. Physicians of all kinds keep threatening me that if I fail to do so, I shall meet a fate worse than death. To help me achieve a healthier life, a mind-boggling variety of methods are on offer. Each of these is vying for my attention, promising salvation in the form of perfect physique and robust health.

Movies are full of the virtues of having six-pack abs. Heroes, oozing testosterone, routinely thrash villains by the dozen. After surviving all odds, they eventually end up in a tight embrace with a perfectly formed specimen of the delicately nurtured amongst us. Opening a magazine, I run into semi-nude demigods with stiff upper lips and finely chiseled bodies, eyeing me rather condescendingly. Their bulging muscles make me turn green with envy. Switching on a TV channel, I am apt to run into a Bollywood diva imparting lessons on all kinds of aerobic exercises. All this depresses me somewhat. Realization dawns that I have failed to live up to the exacting standards of physique in vogue these days.

The younger ones in the family keep prodding me in the ribs, exhorting me to join a gym of some kind or the other. AExercise 2 neighbor who fancies himself to be a friend keeps inviting me to join him in his daily morning 5-km walks. He is of the firm opinion that unless one bends, stretches and undergoes a rigorous regimen of gravity-defying yogic poses, one has no hope of being able to survive.

Exercising is not easy. There are insurmountable odds to be overcome. One, the weather often plays spoil sport. If it is too cold, I find it pretty demanding to get out of the warmth of my bedroom. If it is too hot, I shudder at the prospect of sweating profusely after having done the prescribed quota of jogging, push-ups or whatever. If it is raining, I have a perfect excuse to continue to laze around in bed, quietly sipping my morning dose of a tissue restorative. On some mornings, I am just not feeling energetic enough to start the day by troubling my body in any way. On others, the rush to work makes it feel like such a waste of time. Then there are several assignments to be completed even before one heads to office, making it well-nigh impossible to indulge in the luxury of an exercise of some sort or the other.

Then there is the handicap of living in cities. Cocooned in a concrete match-box, one’s endeavors to throw about one’s limbs end up upsetting a lot of stuff. This promptly starts a verbal World War III between me and my better half. If attempted in the small balcony, I am apt to be looked at with derision and amusement by all those enjoying their morning cup of tea in the balconies opposite. If some of them happen to belong to the tribe of the delicately nurtured, my fate is sealed.

Moreover, by their very nature, cities take a jaundiced view of any kind of physical exercise, unless undertaken with some practical object in view. I may run to catch a bus or a metro but no eyebrows would get raised. I may even chase a just-dislodged cap on a busy thoroughfare – without causing adverse comment. I may skip and jump so as to avoid either an auto rickshaw or a speeding car. But, if I run simply because I wish to strengthen my heart or jump because it improves my calf muscles, I merely invite sarcasm and ridicule.

The privacy of my own home is also illusory in nature. Before beginning an exercise routine, I have to ensure the maid is not around, lest my efforts are either greeted with some sly giggles or misconstrued as advances of an amorous kind. If the milk vendor comes in just when I am getting warmed up, an irritating break comes about.

Even if I am able to snatch some precious moments to take care of my body in the privacy of my own home, pretty soon it becomes highly monotonous. Anything done routinely becomes so very boring. If I were to invest in a stationary bicycle, the prospect of having to peddle it while watching a favorite movie on my TV/laptop is so very appalling. The bicycle would merely end up evolving into a frightfully expensive towel stand.

This philosophy – of body over mind – makes me pause and think if all this emphasis on physical improvement does not have an adverse effect on the soul.

If I were to become a very strong person physically, I would cease to be a peace-loving feather-weight crusader of sorts. Given my super size ego, I am sure to become a guy who could impart coaching on the subject of ‘How to Lose Friends and Win Enemies.’ I would give all my colleagues an inferiority complex. I would simply dominate all conversations I become a part of. To me, silence would cease to be golden. I shall go about with my chest expanded, a nuisance to all whom I encounter. All this would drive me further away from my own true self. Given my soft and delicate nature, my soul shall forever be in torment.

It would also affect my moral fiber. Rather than being modest, as at present, I would end up being proud of myself. When I run into a highly intelligent person not being able to touch his toes forty times without bending his knees, I would simply feel superior and look down upon him. The old reverence and the deferential attitude would simply evaporate. This would be morally corrupting.

After having brooded for some time over this predicament of Homo sapiens, I have realized that what humanityExercise 3 really needs is a system of spiritual exercises which shall develop the soul in a systematic manner. This way, the soul can keep pace with the muscles and the self-esteem.

By joining an organization which conducts group meditations, I have managed to be assured of at least two hours of sitting in a hard-backed chair in an upright posture every single day. During this time, spread over four sessions, I nudge my mind towards creative visualization. I imagine that I am doing all the yogic postures and pranayamas prescribed by the yogis of yore. In between, much like a commercial break on a TV channel, I allow my mind to hover over some pleasurable experience – a chat with the kids, an uproariously funny scene from a Bollywood flick, or a delicious meal enjoyed at a friend’s place recently. All this is done while sitting in my bedroom, or even while sipping my early morning restorative on the balcony.

An approach of this kind, when tried for a week recently, has worked wonders. It has helped me to overcome the deep feeling of guilt for not taking adequate care of my body. My moral fiber is intact. My soul is contented, having been given an opportunity to grow in tandem with my physical self.

To sum it up, my entire being feels happy and joyful. I am still my sober and delicate self. I continue with my humble frame of mind, admirably calculated to nullify the sinful pride generated by rigorous physical exercises.

My friends have already started asking me the secret of my youthfulness. I have no hesitation in spreading some cheer around by sharing with them the special exercise regimen I have developed for myself.

I do believe that I now have a New Year resolution which will not fade away into unsung glory, to be rediscovered only at the end of the year. Hope most of you have also been able to come up with ones which really get fulfilled.

Happy New Year!

(Dedicated to P G Wodehouse. Illustrations done by Tanya are gratefully acknowledged.)

[Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/a-potato-protests%5D

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