Archive for June, 2015

Here is yet another interesting post from Plumtopia.

The freshness of ‘Something Fresh’ is everlasting. To me, there are at least two reasons for it. One, the manner in which it showcases physical fitness. Two, the independent minded Joan Valentine who speaks thus:
‘You look on woman as a weak creature to be shielded and petted. We aren’t anything of the sort. We’re terrors. We’re as hard as nails. We’re awful creatures. You mustn’t let my sex interfere with your trying to get this reward.’


1915 Something Fresh collage

It’s a pretty special week for P.G. Wodehouse fans. June 26th will mark 100 years since the first Blandings story, Something Fresh, was serialised in the ‘Saturday Evening Post’. It was published in book form later that year (in the U.S. as Something New).

If Wodehouse had not gone on to write more Blandings stories, Something Fresh would be highly-regarded as a fine comic novel. Aside from the memorable central romance between detective fiction writer Ashe Marson and the enterprising Joan Valentine, Wodehouse gives us all the subplots and subterfuge we expect from a Blandings adventure.

And as the work that introduced characters like Lord Emsworth, Freddie Threepwood, Rupert Baxter, and Beach, Something Fresh holds a special place in many Wodehouse lovers’ hearts. It’s one of the books I often return to. The title Something Fresh seems particularly apt because the story leaps from the page, as fresh…

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We have already discussed the antics of some of the kids we encounter in Plumsville. Barring Edwin the Boy Scout and Ogden Ford, we have failed to meet anyone who can aspire to rise to the same heights of roguishness that Master Thomas achieves.


Master Thomas is the King of the Underworld. He is also known as The Shadow. He has carroty hair and a cynical expression. His manner is curt and supercilious. Annoy him, and he could arrange for a drawing pin to greet your fleshy parts when you sit on your favourite chair.

A tip from Captain Flint

In Jeeves and the Impending Doom (Very Good, Jeeves), Thos is being tutored by Bingo Little at Woollam Chersey, Aunt Agatha’s place, where Bertie has been invited over. Unbeknown to him, the aunt aspires for a secretarial career for Bertie, assisting Mr Filmer, the Cabinet Minister.

When Thos is caught smoking and reported to his formidable mother by Mr VeryGoodJeevesFilmer, he starts looking for an opportunity to inflict some hideous revenge on the Cabinet Minister. He confides in Jeeves that he wants to model his own conduct on that of a certain Captain Flint.

‘But, good heavens, Jeeves! If I remember Treasure Island, Flint was the bird who went about hitting people with a cutlass. You don’t think young Thomas would bean Mr Filmer with a cutlass?’

‘Possibly he does not possess a cutlass, sir.’

‘Well, with anything.’

‘We can but wait and see, sir. The tie, if I might suggest it, sir, a shade more tightly knotted. One aims at the perfect butterfly effect. If you will permit me -’

‘What do ties matter, Jeeves, at a time like this? Do you realize that Mr Little’s domestic happiness is hanging in the scale?’

‘There is no time, sir, at which ties do not matter.’

Rest, as they say, is history. Mr Filmer, while visiting an island in the middle of a lake, gets marooned there in heavy rains. Thos, following the example of Flint, sets his boat adrift. An angry swan, which does not approve of this attack on its privacy, makes Mr Filmer seek refuge on the roof of a building known as the Octagon.

Mr Filmer gets rescued. In order to save Bingo’s tutoring assignment, Jeeves convinces the Cabinet Minister that it was Bertie who had set his boat adrift. Before Aunt Agatha can have an audience with her nephew, the latter resorts to a down-the-stout-water-pipe act and seeks refuge in the metropolis.

In love with Greta Garbo

We also get to meet Thos in the short story The Love that Purifies (Very Good, Jeeves). When competing with Sebastian Moon and Bonzo for the Good Conduct Award announced by Mister Anstruther, Thos comes out with flying colours. He walks several miles so as to fetch a newspaper for Bertie. When Sebastian gets a nail in his shoe, Thos carries him on his back all the way back home in hot sunshine. He loves Greta Garbo and proposes to spend the remainder of his life trying to be worthy of her.

Eventually, faced with Jeeves’ cunning, Thos loses his cool and the Good Conduct Award. Sebastian Moon, himself in love with Clara Bow, speaks disparagingly of Greta Garbo. An argument takes place and all hell breaks loose. Aunt Dahlia wins a bet and Anatole continues to serve her household.

The spiritual advancement of clergymen

Thos also puts in an appearance in The Mating Season. In this narrative, he has been left behind under Bertie’s care and is delighted at being accompanied by Miss Cora Pirbright, his Hollywood heart-throb, to see a picture. He manages to get fifty of her autographs, expecting to get sixpence apiece from the boys at his school. Eventually, he manages to fetch a bob for each of the autographs.

In order to avoid Aunt Agatha landing up at Deverill Hall and discovering BertiePGW MatingSeason masquerading as Gussie, Thomas is persuaded to vanish from his school at Bramley-on-Sea. He is charmed into spending a few days at the Vicarage where Corky is staying. The Vicar is none too happy, but Corky feels that it is good for clergymen to have these trials. Such encounters make them more spiritual, and consequently hotter at their jobs.

Of course, Thos runs the risk of getting some juicy ones on the old spot. Bertie belives that Aunt Agatha would be more hopping mad than anxious at her cub’s disappearance.

‘Thos,’ I said, ‘makes rather a speciality of running away from school. He’s done it twice before this, once to attend a cup final and once to go hunting for buried treasure in the Caribbees, and I don’t remember Aunt Agatha on either occasion as the stricken mother. Thos was the one who got stricken. Six of the best on the old spot, he tells me.’

A bright future for Thos

Imagine his plight when Esmond Haddock ends up defying his aunts, five in all, thereby sealing the prospect of his taking a saunter down the aisle with Corky.

‘Why did you sigh?’

‘I was thinking of Master Thomas, sir. The announcement of Miss Pirbright’s betrothal came as a severe blow to him.’

I refused to allow my spirits to be lowered by any such side issues.

‘Waste no time in commiserating with young Thos, Jeeves. His is a resilient nature, and the agony will pass. He may have lost Corky, but there’s always Betty Grable and Dorothy Lamour and Jennifer Jones.’

‘I understand those women are married, sir.’

‘That won’t affect Thos. He’ll be getting their autographs, just the same. I see a bright future ahead of him.’

This is one case where one is apt to concede that Aunt Agatha is more to be pitied than censured – for having to manage someone like Thos, who ranks so very high on the Richter scale of Roguishness.


Gender disparity in endeavours of a roguish kind

Many a mom would confirm that bringing up boys is a far more daunting task than that of bringing up girls. Kids in Plumsville conform to this rule but Wodehouse paints his sweet little girls with a somewhat delicate but deadlier depth of character.

Allow me to come back to the ranking of Clementina and Peggy Mainwaring, in whose case, the jury awarding the ranks is still out. The reason for the jury being baffled is that the so-called delicately nurtured kids happen to be discreetly naughtier than their male counterparts.

Admittedly, their public behavior is above reproach. While being treated onPGWodehouse their birthdays or being given a lift in a car, they are at their best behavior. But leave them alone and they are found to be lacing ink-pots with sherbet or going AWOL. Stealing and relishing cigarettes comes easily to them. To make a guest lecturer nervous by simply giggling and staring is their natural tendency. When it comes to delivering mischief, they appear to deploy subtler methods. When playing a prank, they appear to be more delicate in their approach.

Not so for the kids of the so-called sterner sex. Their roguish tendencies manifest in a straight forward manner, in full public view. If they use paraffin to douse a fire, they simply look you in the eye and own up. If they nip the theater career of an aspiring actor in the bud, they tick him off openly. If they seek protection money from their would-be fathers, they do so unabashedly. Yes, their methods as well as the outcomes are pretty rough.


The mighty soft power of kids

In whichever narrative they appear, the kids exercise great influence on the adults as well as on the proceedings. By winning prizes, they ensure that their fathers get the courage necessary for them to squeeze their bosses for a raise. Making or breaking matrimonial alliances is the work of a moment for them. Wreaking vengeance is an art they appear to have perfected. Supporting their fathers and controlling the career prospects of artists of all hues comes naturally to them. When seniors devise a Good Conduct award, they leave no stone unturned to prove their mettle. When infatuated with celebrities, they devote their lives to being worthy of their affections. When in the company of clergymen, they end up making them more spiritual, thereby making them hotter on their jobs.


Some lessons from the kids in Plumsville

The poet who said ‘The Child is father of the Man’ was not too much off the mark. Whatever their rank on the Richter scale of Roguishness, there is much we can learn from the kids in Plumsville.

  • Notice a colleague sulking because of not being able to squeeze the boss for a raise? We can get her to deliver a speech which is heartily applauded and appreciated. Or, wait for her kid to get a gold medal at school. See how her confidence level shoots up.
  • Competing for a coveted promotion? Like Prudence Baxter, we need to ensure getting noticed by a Jeeves-like senior who is good at spotting potential and is willing to place his bets on someone with our limited abilities.
  • Just like Oswald, let us learn swimming and surviving skills at an early age. When pushed into a lake of troubles, let us develop a capacity to be able to reach the shore on our own. If we keep waiting for a Bingo Little to dive in and save us, we might just sink without a trace.
  • Want to teach a lesson or two to a nasty colleague? Let us develop a supercilious gaze. When he gets up to make a presentation, tell him his tie knot needs to be adjusted. If possible, giggle. Stare. Keep staring till the time he fumbles.
  • When discussing our favourite silver screen divas, let us be open-minded.
  • Despise a politician or a boss? Let us find out the nearest lake with an island in its middle. Leave him marooned there. Let nature do the rest.
  • Let us try to be like a Boy Scout, dishing out acts of kindness to those who matter. When we goof up like Edwin, like by using paraffin to douse a fire, let us own up. We could earn respect and admiration.
  • Do we happen to know someone who could do with a higher Spirituality Quotient? Let us unleash a kid on the person for a few days. We shall be rewarded with excellent results. Kids provide this unique but much under-appreciated service at home to many amongst us.

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On the occasion of the upcoming International Yoga Day, managers of all sizes and shapes are all of a twitter, shuddering at the prospect of being called upon to celebrate the day by performing some complicated asanas, that too at the crack of dawn, on a day which, unfortunately, happens to be a Sunday.

It is not that people who pride themselves to be managers are any less patriotic. Nor are they any less health conscious. Those who believe that managers are forever thinking only of evading taxes while leading a sedentary life full of fun and frolic at star rated joints could not be more wrong.

The reason managers need not earmark a particular day for practicing yoga is rather simple. This hapless overworked breed is already devoting much of its time and energy to following yogic pursuits. This alone helps them to retain their sanity while riding their high octane roller coaster careers. By following yogic principles, managers are continually enhancing their mental and physical well being, living a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

A communion and a harmony

Most of us are well aware that yoga is a state of communion. Spiritual enthusiasts tell us that it is the science of unison of our finite self with the cosmic Self. Bhagavad Gita describes it as the art of perfect unanimity with right thoughts and action.

To a conscientious manager, though, the communion is that between one’s individual value systems and those of the organization and the boss one works for. As long as harmony prevails, one is able to discharge one’s obligations while remaining in a state of bliss.

The yogins in an organization

Organizations have an eclectic mix of professionals with yogic propensities of different kinds.

There are the intellectual kinds who follow Jnana Yoga. Usually, they gravitate towards R&D, product design, market research and planning kind of careers but could be found in any stream of an organization. Those in the higher echelons of management often believe they practice this kind of yoga.

Karma Yoga is rigorously followed by those who implement and execute plans. Often, they are found performing unattached service to their organizations and bosses. The genuinely committed ones continue to perform, without waiting for promotions or increments.

The mystic path of devotion gets followed by quite a few. They practice Bhakti Yoga. They hang on to the coat tails or skirts of their bosses till the time the latter’s career advancements result into their own climb on the corporate ladder. Organizations keep devising imaginative severance packages so as to ensure that their bloodstreams do not remain clogged with deadwood which entertains a misplaced sense of devotion.

A manager’s yogic postures

Those who place a greater emphasis on the different kinds of yogic postures try to devour the vast repertoire of such experts as B K S Iyengar. They look up Larsen exercises (popularized by ‘Something Fresh’ of P G Wodehouse fame). They try to unravel the mystery behind Sivananda yoga. They try to differentiate between Bikram yoga and Anusara yoga.

After brooding over the various alternatives on offer, managers become better aware of the kind of posturing they have to indulge in so as to be able to survive and do well at their places of work. Whether employed in the public or the private sector, here are some of the popular yogic postures deployed by them.


(A Child’s Posture)

Yoga BalasanaWhile sipping the morning dose of their favourite tissue restorative, when the better half is interrupting their devoted perusal of the morning newspaper and is handing over the list of domestic chores to be completed by the end of the day without fail.

(“Balasana” by Iveto – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons )


(A Cock’s Posture)

Yoga Kukkutasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhile rushing through peak hour traffic, managers inhale and inflate their chest cavity to full when handling errant bikers whizzing across their path; they exhale and deflate their lungs when accosted with buses and trucks pouncing upon their humble means of transport. At all times, while driving, they maintain a hawk like vigil.

(“Kukkutasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Ardha Chandrasana

(The Half Moon Posture)

Yoga Ardha-Chandrasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhen the task assigned is impossible to achieve and the boss needs to be convinced that a divine intervention alone could help.

(Ardha-Chandrasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Ardha Matsyendrasana

(Half Lord of the Fish Posture)

Yoga Ardha-Matsyendrasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhen a situation calls for a look-in-the-eye confrontation, making the party of the other part wilt and run for cover.

(“Ardha-Matsyendrasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )


(The Wheel Posture)

Yoga Chakrasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhen presented with a problem which has wheels within wheels – or multiple implications – the manager takes some time off to perform this asana. Soon, the mind is stilled and an out-of-the-box solution emerges.

(“Chakrasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )


(The Bow Posture)

Yoga Dhanurasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelManagers practice it when called upon to either announce or execute unpopular tasks, which could range from closing down business units to handing over a pink slip. The unpleasant arrow, conceptualized and designed by the top management, is shot. The manager graciously offers himself as a bow from which the arrow is finally shot.

(“Dhanurasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Ek Pada Koundinyasana

(Koundinya’s Single Foot Posture)

Yoga Parivritta_Eka_Pada_KoundinyasanaA task which was on the back burner for the past six months suddenly needs to be executed at a lightning speed. Going off on a vacation is not an option.

(“Parivritta Eka Pada Koundinyasana” by Jemasty – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )


(The Eagle Posture)

Yoga Garudasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelHandling either a supplier who, despite repeated warnings, fails to deliver on time or an employee who continues to under-perform.

(“Garudasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana

(The Single Foot King Pigeon Posture)

Yoga Eka-Pada-Raja-Kapotasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelMeeting either a politician or a government servant, with an attitude of abject surrender and servitude.

(“Eka-Pada-Raja-Kapotasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )


(Lord Hanuman’s Posture)

Yoga Hanumanasana_-_Hanuman's_Posture_-_in_Diagonal_ViewAttending to an urgent task dished out by the boss at the last minute.

(“Hanumanasana – Hanuman’s Posture – in Diagonal View” by lululemon athletica – Flickr: Yoga Journal Conference. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons )


(The Head to Calf Forward Bend Posture) Yoga Janusirsasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelTackling the CFO and answering some ticklish audit related queries.

(“Janusirsasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )


(The Fish Posture)

Yoga Matsyasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhen reversing an earlier decision dished out to the team members, the manager needs to be as slippery as a fish only can be.

(“Matsyasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )


(The Tree Posture)

Yoga Vriksasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhen motivating team members to undertake a task which sounds impossible.

(“Vriksasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )


(The Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Yoga Ado-muka-shvanasanaWhen the boss decides to reprimand the manager, hopefully in private.

(“Ado-muka-shvanasana” by Joseph RENGER – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )


(The Bharadvaj Posture)Yoga Bharadvajasana1When a junior approaches the manager seeking either leave or an undue favour.

(“Bharadvajasana1 (cropped)” by Iveto – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons )


(The Downward Facing Tree Posture)Yoga AcroDanceHandstandWhen the manager herself needs to seek either leave or an undue favour from the boss.

(“AcroDanceHandstand” by Lambtron at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )


(The Lotus Posture)

Yoga Tanumânasî_en_Meditacion_Loto_PadmasanaAfter listening to the end of the day woes of the better half, this posture, if performed, leads to mental peace.

(“Tanumânasî en Meditacion Loto Padmasana” by Jesús Bonilla (Tanumânasî) – Retiros de yoga. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons )

With all these postures already a part of a manager’s daily life, is there a need for them to do some yoga on the appointed day as well?

Well, on this International Day of Yoga, I am toying with the idea of taking a dip in the Bay of Bengal nearby. To a busybee like me, it is a more exciting activity than Surya Namaskar – a set of twelve asanas for those with a lot of time on their hands.

Yet another option is to simply perform my favourite one only – the Shavasana.


(The Corpse Pose)

Yoga ShavasanaShavasana involves shutting down one unit of one’s body after another like a factory in the small place where I live, and then again turning them on one after another like the well heeled women at a ghazal concert.

Most managers would agree with me that this is the coolest thing that yoga offers.

(“Shavasana” by Joseph RENGER – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

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Bingo Little Junior and Prudence Baxter earn a negative ranking on the Richter scale of Roguishness. However, there are several others who deceive us with their apparent innocence – Kid Clamentina, Oswald and Peggy Mainwaring, to name the ones we have covered in the last post.

Here are a few more who deserve to be considered.


Bonzo, the son of Aunt Dahlia, has a sound reputation as a pest. But if Thos sets a gold standard in devilry, Bonzo is merely a good, ordinary mischief-maker. His proud mother compares the two as follows:

‘Whenever it comes to devilry, Bonzo is a good, ordinary selling-plater. Whereas Thomas is a classic yearling.’

When Bonzo is in love, his nature gets altered. He tries to lead a finer, betterVeryGoodJeeves life. When tempted to climb on the roof and boo down Mr Anstruther’s chimney, he refuses to oblige. When prompted to burst a paper bag below the chair of a resting old man, he merely walks off in a huff.

We get introduced to him and also to Sebastian Moon in The Love that Purifies (Very Good, Jeeves).

Sebastian Moon

Sebastian Moon has goggle eyes and golden curls. He has a breezy candidness about him. Few years junior to both Thos and Bonzo, he happens to have long nourished a deep regard for Miss Clara Bow.

Except for his presence in the short story mentioned above, more details of his escapades are not available.


Kid Blumenfeld

Here is a dish-faced kid who, despite his tender age, controls the theatrical productions of his father.

A king maker

In A Letter of Introduction (The Inimitable Jeeves), he wrecks the career aspirations of Cyril Bassington-Bassington, much to the relief of Aunt Agatha and Bertie. He is a stoutish infant with a lot of freckles. He has one of those cold, clammy and accusing sort of eyes. He looks at you as being an unnecessary product brought in by a cat after rummaging through a trash can.

Having been taught by his mother to be brutally frank while expressing hisPGW Inimitable_jeeves opinions, he tells Bertie that his (kid’s) father happens to be richer than him (Bertie). He has no hesitation in telling Cyril upfront that he is fish-faced, thereby inviting a scuffle between the two.

The father believes that the kid has the IQ of an average audience’s, and can be relied upon to certify the suitability of any play. Conversely, what he does not like will be too rotten for anyone.

This is how the scene unfolds at a rehearsal.

‘You got to work good for my pop!’ said the stout child, waggling his head reprovingly at Cyril.

‘I don’t want any bally cheek from you!’ said Cyril, gurgling a bit.

‘What’s that?’ barked old Blumenfeld. ‘Do you understand that this boy is my son?’

‘Yes, I do,’ said Cyril. ‘And you both have my sympathy!’

‘You’re fired!’ bellowed old Blumenfeld, swelling a good bit more. ‘Get out of my theatre!’

Thus ends the artistic career of Cyril, much to the delight of Aunt Agatha. Jeeves is equally contented, having taken the liberty of gifting Bertie’s favourite purple socks to the lift attendant.

A fancy for Aberdeen terriers

The kid also puts in an appearance in Episode of the Dog McIntosh (Very Good, Jeeves).

When Blumenfeld Sr comes over from New York to check if there are any plays worth buying, the kid is brought along to put his seal of approval on any good play he comes across.

Bobbie Wickham, in her keenness to get her mother’s dramatized version of a novel of hers, allows the kid to walk off with McIntosh, Aunt Agatha’s Aberdeen terrier, left in Bertie’s charge while she goes off to Aix-les-Bains to take the cure.

A sense of Noblesse oblige restrains Bertie from dashing off to the Savoy and demanding the pet back. As always, Jeeves comes up with a solution – a look-alike replacement is arranged for the kid, whereas Bertie rescues McIntosh after sprinkling his trousers with aniseed powder. Aniseed has an aroma which appears to speak straight to the deeps of the terrier’s soul. The innocent subterfuge works. Peace prevails.


Seabury of the Butter-slide fame

Seabury puts in an appearance in Thank you, Jeeves. He is described as a smallish, freckled kid with aeroplane ears. He has a supercilious gaze which leaves you wondering what you had done wrong.

‘In my Rogues Gallery of repulsive small boys I suppose he would come about third – not quite so bad as my Aunt Agatha’s son, Young Thos, or Blumenfeld’s Junior, but well ahead of little Sebastian Moon, my Aunt Dahlia’s Bonzo, and the field.’

If you run into him, he is apt to demand protection money. If you decide not toPGW ThankYouJeeves pay up, things could happen to you. There could be a lizard in your bed, crawling up the left pyjama leg when you slip between the sheets for some well-earned sleep.

Unpleasantness ensues between Master Seabury and Master Dwight Stoker when the latter refuses to part with a sum of one shilling and sixpence for protection. A brawl follows. Lady Chuffnell behaves like a tigress out to protect her cub. Pop Stoker kicks in on behalf of his progeny. Diplomatic relations between the two families get severed, thereby putting the sale of Chuffnell Hall in jeopardy. Prospects of Chuffy proposing to Pauline Stoker nosedive.

Another romance which gets threatened in its embryonic stage by Seabury is the one between his tigress mother and the renowned looney doctor, Sir Roderick Glossop. Having failed in his endeavours to extract a sum of ten shillings from his future stepfather, Seabury plans something in the nature of a reprisal.

‘He wouldn’t have the nerve to do the dirty on a future stepfather, would he?’

‘Young gentlemen are headstrong, sir.’

‘True, one recalls the case of my Aunt Agatha’s son, young Thos, and the Cabinet Minister.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘In a spirit of ill-will he marooned him on an island in the lake with a swan.’

‘Yes, sir.’

A butter-slide is laid as a trap. Stealthily followed by Mary, a parlour maid of a somewhat frivolous nature, Pop Glossop takes a toss with some heaviness. A rift ensues between the two seniors. The tidal wave of an injured motherly love scores over the affection felt by Woman Chuffnell for Sir Roderick Glossop.

Eventually, the mother realizes her folly and laments her having been too harsh on the looney doctor, who, in act of unparalleled magnanimity, had blackened his face to merely amuse the fiend in human shape – Seabury.


Edwin the Boy Scout

Like many of his contemporaries listed above, Edwin plays a key role in shaping events in the life of Bertie when he lands up at Steeple Bumpleigh on an errand of mercy for Uncle Percy. Even otherwise, when Edwin tries to catch up with his acts of kindness, human life is imperiled. We get to meet him in Joy in the Morning.

Edwin is a small boy with a face like a ferret. He is a conscientious Boy ScoutJoyInTheMorning who insists on keeping his score of charitable acts up to date at all times. The list of his charitable acts includes cleaning up cottage chimneys using gunpowder. If a chimney were to catch fire, he rushes in to douse it with paraffin, thereby making the whole cottage go up in flames.

When he finds a brooch meant for his sister, Florence Craye, he loses no time in handing it over to her, claiming it to be a birthday present from Bertie. The sister returns the true love of her life, Stilton Cheeseright, to store and decides to get married to Bertie, leaving him all of a twitter.

In order to get de-Florenced, Bertie decides to deliver a forceful kick to her favourite brother in her presence. Edwin educates Bertie on the behavior of ants, ex-members of the Hymenoptera family. Upon stooping down, he does receive a juicy one from Bertie. However, rather than getting annoyed, Florence is appreciative of the act, because Edwin has been pasting press clippings on her latest book ‘Spindrift’ upside down in an album of hers!

When he finds burglars on the lawns in the middle of the night, he promptly tackles them using a Scout’s stick. UncleWodehouse characters Percy gets biffed on his trouser seat. Bertie gets sloshed on the back hair, leaving him with a golf ball sized contusion.

When he decides to mend an egg boiler, a hapless egg kept in position flies off like a bullet, catching a prospective egg consumer like Boko on the tip of his nose which continues to bleed for a few hours.

Yet another act of kindness he does is to place a hedgehog in Bertie’s bed. While doing so, he notices a policeman’s uniform on the bed and promptly reports the matter to Stilton, who has been missing his own after a swim in the river. Bertie comes very close to getting pinched, being saved at the last minute by his Uncle Percy. The latter refuses to sign on the warrant authorizing Bertie’s arrest, ticking off the officers of the Law who forget their sacred obligations and bring trumped-up charges right and left in a selfish desire to secure promotion.

This revolting exhibition of fraud makes Stilton resign from the Force, thereby removing the barrier between himself and Florence. Bertie avoids the peril of walking down the aisle with an ace spiritual reformer in his life.

Ogden Ford, the darling of kidnappers

Here is someone who could give all the other kids a run for their money. He is fourteen years of age, round andPGW PiccadillyJim overfed. If there is a spoilt and unpleasant brat who is overindulged by his wealthy parents, it is Ogden, the supreme fiend in human shape. Here is a juicy description of his.

Years of grown-up society and the absence of anything approaching discipline had given him a precocity on which the earnest efforts of a series of private tutors had expended themselves in vain. They came, full of optimism and self-confidence, to retire after a brief interval, shattered by the boy’s stodgy resistance to education in any form or shape. To Mr. Pett, never at his ease with boys, Ogden Ford was a constant irritant. He disliked his stepson’s personality, and he more than suspected him of stealing his cigarettes. It was an additional annoyance that he was fully aware of the impossibility of ever catching him at it.

He thinks nothing of ticking off his step-father. Forever in the eyes of kidnappers, he loses no time in introducing numerous vices to the boarding school he is sent to. We meet him and his mother, Nesta, in two narratives – The Little Nugget and Piccadilly Jim.

Both Edwin and Ogden compete with Thos for the top ranking on the Richter scale of Roguishness.

(To be continued; caricatures of characters courtesy www)

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During 1950s and 60s, TB played the role of a villain in quite a few Bollywood flicks. Cancer soon took over. Movies like ‘Anand’, ‘Safar’, ‘Mili’ and ‘Ankhiyon ke Jharokhon Se’ had scripts which were centered around some form of cancer or the other.

‘Anand’ remains a Bollywood classic in more ways than one. Hard hitting socio-economic messages well-couched in scintillating humour gave us enough food for thought. Hrishikesh Mukherji conveyed some profound thoughts on life and the need to have a positive attitude.

The illness from which the hero suffered became engraved in our memory cells. Here is an interesting post on the illness.

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Mr. & Mrs. 55 - Classic Bollywood Revisited!

Your average non-Bollywood viewer will probably read the words above and feel nothing. They will also probably pronounce intestine with a normal emphasis on the second syllable and won’t make it rhyme with “shine.” But ask anyone on the streets of Bombay who knows a thing or two about life from the silver screen, and you’ll be amazed. For Hindi cinema, the dreaded diagnosis “lymphosarcoma of the intestine” is synonymous with unavoidable impending doom of a most serious and scientifically complex nature. How did this all start and Bollywood folklore aside, what is lymphosarcoma of the intestine? Let us step back in time to 1971 to the film Anand when the hysteria all began…

Amitabh Bachhan and Rajesh Khanna both can’t pronounce intestine in Anand (1971)

Anand is a film about a life-loving cancer patient whose optimism touches everyone he encounters. The film’s writer, Hrishikesh Mukherji, had majored in chemistry…

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Respected Madam,

As a pro-active Education Minister, you surely wish to leave a distinguished mark on the history of educational reforms in India. Permit me to share with you some broad areas which you may find relevant.

1. Re-engineering our education system 

India no longer needs to produce only administrators, followers and executors. She also needs innovators. She needsMay 2014 033 people who can think big. Those who can think out-of-the-box and can come up with novel solutions to her unique set of problems. She deserves a system which places less emphasis on rote and more on development of creative faculties.

2. Doing away with the ‘centum’ craze

We need to offer an eco-system which does away with the mind-numbing race to score higher and higher marks. These days, if a student manages to secure 99% either in languages or in any stream of humanities, we are led to wonder if the testing system itself is credible.

3. Excelling in research, avoiding re-search

Let the institutions of higher learning focus on teaching and research. An over-emphasis on organizing seminars and other extra-curricular activities is leading to a situation where the core job of faculty – teaching and research – is getting diluted. The fact that not a single Indian institution of higher learning figures in the list of top 200 universities prepared by The Times Higher Education Supplement makes one pause and think.

4. Credits are good, monochromatic mediocrity is not

The proposed Choice Based Credit System is commendable, but makes better sense at the post-graduate level. What we do not need is a monochromatic and mediocre spectrum of higher education which spoils the beauty that India innately is – diverse and federal. Let the autonomy remain and even be encouraged. Institutions of higher learning need to excel in their respective domains; to do so, they need autonomy. Standardization across the country is an idea which could be allowed to rest in peace.



5. Values, ethics and morals

We need citizens who not only demand rights but also respect and discharge their own obligations. One of the goals we need to have is to blend the material and the spiritual. Courses which propagate higher values, ethics and morals need to be designed and offered. Scriptures from various religions are a repository of great wisdom. Great seers and thinkers like Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo have left behind a rich legacy of concepts and thoughts. We need to encourage institutions which can translate and communicate these in a relevant and effective manner to the youth of today.

6. Educated in India

In an increasingly globalized world, the need is to attract Ivy League institutions and true blue academicians to India. Policies need to be announced to attract some of our best minds into teaching and research. Schemes need to be devised to ensure that our teachers are motivated better. An open-minded policy on foreign languages would help the youth connect better with the world. Much like our mission to ‘Make in India’, let us strive to create a brand ‘Educated in India’. Let India become the hub of higher learning in the Asian region yet again and regain its past glory.

7. Goals are found, means need to follow

As a percentage to GDP, India spends less than 3.5% on education. This will not do. Revamping the conceptual infrastructure of the education system is as critical to the long-term growth of India as the creation of physical infrastructure is. What we sow now, our coming generations shall reap. Objectives of our educational infrastructure cannot be fulfilled only by an increasing participation of the private sector. Funding for education deserves to be accorded a higher priority.

I submit the above with all humility at my command. I do hope these would get considered and a due diligence carried out by subject experts on your panel. Discussions with major stakeholders would ensure that a radically new education policy is announced soon. The future of India is in your capable hands.

Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to participate in a discussion of this nature.

An ordinary citizen of India

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P G Wodehouse has etched out the kids in his works with much finesse.  When it comes to ranking these kids on a Richter scale of Roguishness, our task is not too difficult. If Edwin, Thos and Seabury secure the top ranks, kid Blumenfeld, Bonzo and Sebastian Moon occupy the middle order. Kid Clementina, Oswald and Peggy Mainwaring appear to be competing for the lower ranks.

We also get to meet kids who can only earn a negative rank on the Richter scale of Roguishness. Their conduct is as pure as driven snow.

Prudence Baxter does not herself outsmart the real winners at an Egg and Spoon race. It is Jeeves’ desire to help a Bingo in distress which helps her to claim the prize.

Bingo Junior wins a baby contest and is blissfully unaware of the extent to which his accomplishment boosts up the morale of his father. He is too young even to understand that he saves his Godfather, Oofy Prosser, from the prospect of getting married. A soul’s awakening, as it were.

Here is a recap of the antics of some of the kids we come across in Plumsville, broadly recounted in an increasing order of roguishness.


Algernon Aubrey Little and the Soul’s Awakening

Proving lucky for the father

Well, here is a son who proves lucky for his father, Bingo Little, when he happened to be the editor of Wee Tots, a journal for the nursery and the home. P P Purkiss, the miserly proprietor of this rag, was adept at shrugging off Bingo’s apologetic hints at giving him a raise. The tightness of money and the rising cost of pulp paper were brought up as and when the old miser was endeavoured to be touched for an increase in the pay packet.

A day dawned when the bouncing baby stood first in a baby contest. He wasPGW MatingSeason kissed by the wife of a Cabinet Minister and generally fawned upon by all and sundry. The next morning, the proud father, with a strange glow on his face, strode into the miser’s office without knocking, banged the desk and demanded an additional ten fish in his pay envelope starting the following Saturday itself. When P P Purkiss started to go into his act, Bingo Little banged the desk again and said he hadn’t come there to argue. ‘Yes or no, Purkiss!’ he said, and the old miser meekly consented to the proposal.

In The Mating Season, Bertie narrates this incident to Corky while trying to convince her of the soundness of the scheme to ensure that Esmond Haddock’s hunting song at the village concert is greeted with thunderous applause. This, he is sure, would give Esmond the courage to defy his five aunts, thereby gaining her respect, admiration and love.


Saving a Godfather from a saunter down the aisle

When Mrs Bingo Little is away to see her mother through while she undergoes some treatment at the Droitwich brine bath, Bingo Little loses his allowance on a Gargoyle which merely finishes in the first six. Oofy Prosser refuses to pitch in to make good a loss of ten quids. Since Bingo has intruded into one of his serious romances, he even expresses his desire to dance on the mangled remains of his corpse in hobnailed boots.

Another ten pound note arrives in the mail from Mrs Little. The money is to allow Bingo to open a bank account in the name of Junior. This also gets wiped off in a bet. Bingo then remembers that Oofy Prosser happens to be the Godfather of the child.

On a fateful morning, the son is left behind alone for some time with Oofy. His frightful company, coupled with his ‘homicidal fried egg’ visage, leaves Oofy convinced of the perils of matrimony. To show his gratitude, he consents to give Bingo Little fifty quids, thereby saving the latter an embarrassing ‘Oh, how could you?’ moment with his better half. (Sonny BoyEggs, Beans and Crupmets)

Prudence Baxter, the Egg and Spoon racer

Prudence Baxter is a small girl who is participating in the Egg and Spoon race at the local village school-treat at Twing. She is pretty excited about the rag-doll she has just won in the Lucky Dip and confides in Bertie her plans to name it Gertrude. (The Purity of the Turf: The Inimitable Jeeves)

Prudence turns out to be a good conversationalist but does not seem to havePGW Inimitable_jeeves the build for a winner. According to Jeeves, she is a long shot. Bingo, wounded to the very depth of his soul by the recently failed Cynthia affair, has thirty quids at ten to one riding on her.

The favourite of bookies instead happens to be a Sarah Mills. She has grace and a practised precision about it. Her egg does not even wobble. As widely predicted, she comes first, followed by Jane Parker, Bessie Clay, Rosie Jukes and, well, Prudence Baxter.

Thanks to Jeeves, the first four in the race forfeit their amateur status and get disqualified. The prize, a handsome work-bag, presented by Lord Wickhammersley, goes consequently to Prudence Baxter!


Kid Clementina and the art of celebrating a birthday AWOL

A cousin of Bobbie Wickham, kid Clementina is a quiet, saint-like child.  Bertie is charmed into treating her to dinner and a movie on her thirteenth birthday. Unlike other young women, who snigger and giggle when they are in Bertie’s company, she gazes at her benefactor in silent admiration. She is a sympathetic and attentive listener. Her hands are spotless. Her behavior throughout the evening is unexceptionable. At the conclusion of the proceedings, she even thanks Bertie with visible emotion.

Bobbie is of the opinion that at St Monica’s, Clementina is sourly misjudged.VeryGoodJeeves After all, what is the point in sending a decent kid like her off to bed in the afternoon itself, that too on her birthday, just for putting some sherbet in the ink to make it fizz?

It transpires that the kid is out of her school without leave, and Bertie now has the unenviable task of bunging her in without incurring the wrath of Miss Mapleton, the formidable headmistress who also happens to be a close chum of Aunt Agatha.

Thanks to the super-human intelligence of Jeeves, the mission gets accomplished in a smooth manner, with Bertie earning words of praise from Miss Mapleton, the lion tamer. After all, it is not every day that she comes across a modern young man who can single-handedly tackle burglars in the school garden with much vim and courage. (Jeeves and the Kid Clementina: Very Good, Jeeves)


Oswald and the Australian crawl

The brother of the formidable Honoria Glossop, Oswald happens to be one of those supercilious souls who give you the impression that you went to the wrong school and that your clothes do not quite fit.

Young Bingo finds it very difficult to love Oswald. The hapless guy, who happens to be passing through the Honoria-is-my-soul-mate phase of his life just then has no other option but to keep trying. After all, Honoria is devoted to the little brute. (The Hero’s Reward: The Inimitable Jeeves)

Bertie comes up with a scheme to enable Bingo to win over Honoria’s heart.1923 The Inimitable Jeeves mycopy He would shove Oswald into the lake. Bingo would save him.

At the appointed hour, the push from the stone bridge gets made. A kind of yelp emanates. A splash follows. However, Bingo is not where he is supposed to be. The outcome is that Bertie himself has to chuck off his coat and vault over, only to find upon surfacing that Oswald is already swimming ashore, using the Australian crawl. Honoria decides to marry Bertie, so as to be able to reform him.


Peggy Mainwaring and the art of unnerving lecturers

In Bertie changes his mind (Carry on, Jeeves), we meet Peggy Mainwaring. She is a red-haired young girl with a snub-nose and an extremely large grin. She is perhaps around twelve years of age.

Having enjoyed her half-holiday at Brighton putting pennies in the slotPGW CarryOnJeeves machine, the poor girl ends up getting a nail in her shoe. This delays her return to the boarding school. Faced with the prospect of incurring the wrath of Miss Tomlinson, the formidable headmistress built along the lines of Aunt Agatha, she is all of a twitter.

Bertie and Jeeves offer her a lift and a solution to her grim predicament. Back at school, Bertie is to present himself as an old friend of the young lady’s father. He is supposed to have taken Peggy out for a short drive.

The subterfuge works. Jeeves portrays Bertie as a celebrity of sorts and manages to persuade Miss Tomlinson to get him to address an assembly of girls.

Peggy’s father, Professor Mainwaring, might be an authority on matters philosophical, but the young woman is quite down to earth in her approach to life. She distributes Bertie’s cigarettes for her friends to relish in the shrubbery. Her views on unnerving guest lecturers are also very straight forward.

‘Oh, I say,’ she said, ‘will you give this to Mr Wooster when you see him?’

 She held out Mr Wooster’s cigarette-case.

‘He must have dropped it somewhere. I say,’ she proceeded, ‘it’s an awful lark. He’s going to give a lecture to the school.’

‘Indeed, miss?’

‘We love it when there are lectures. We sit and stare at the poor dears, and try to make them dry up. There was a man last term who got hiccoughs. Do you think Mr Wooster will get hiccoughs?’

‘We can but hope for the best, miss.’

‘It would be such a lark, wouldn’t it?’

‘Highly enjoyable, miss.’

‘Well, I must be getting back. I want to get a front seat.’

The experience of delivering a lecture to a vast group of giggling and staring young women leaves Bertie shaken and stirred. He drops his plans to get married. He gives up his desire of hearing the prattle of young feet around him.

Jeeves manages to avoid severing an association so very pleasant in every respect.

(To be continued)

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The Gallery of Rogue Kids in Plumsville

Bertie changes his mind: A Visual Version


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WORK-LIFE BALANCECXOs of today operate in a hyper-competitive, fast-paced world. Round the clock connectivity gives them a great advantage – of being always accessible. However, it also takes a heavy toll. Making time for personal commitments poses a serious challenge; so does the absence of introspection as to where their own life and career is headed.

Here are some simple and do-able tips for CXOs to keep driving in the fast lane, with a clear view of the horizon and occasional stopovers in the sunlit valleys of life. In other words, to achieve the delicate goal of better work-life harmony.

Family time IS important

If you happen to be in station, earmark a time of the day which is exclusively for the family. Could be breakfast time. Could be dinner time. Make sure your international calls and Skype conferences are scheduled in such a way as to not to impinge on to this time.

Treat your weekly off days with the respect they deserve. Do not allow yourself the luxury of driving over to your office on such days.

Avoid sweating over small stuff

Small stuff is important. But you do have team members who take care of the minute details. Guide them, by all means. Do not get directly involved. You would only get blamed for micro-managing.

Prioritize well. Prioritize in advance. Follow Bhagavad Gita, which exhorts us to render our duties faithfully, guided not by desired results but by imperatives of the tasks themselves.

Check if you suffer from a decision fatigue. Put routine decision-making in an auto-pilot mode. This is bound to free up lot of your time which could be used more productively.

Managing technology

Let your biological age not bog you down. Learn and use technology in such a manner as to ensure some breathing space for yourself. That is when you will feel connected to terrestrial life outside your extra-terrestrial universe of work.

Technology can enable you to be virtually present at different places in different time zones. It can also enable you to be connected to anything critical happening which you genuinely feel might need your intervention. Use technology to delegate better and more effectively.

Schedule your priorities

Time is a finite resource. Use it intelligently. Engage when necessary; take a break when required. Meaningful interactions with family and close friends could leave you well charged up for the tasks ahead. Productive discussions with clients and professionals can help in resolving issues more effectively.

Excellence needs the fuel of passion. When passion drives your professional journey, constraints become less formidable. Tasks cease to become chores. Wise scheduling of your priorities results into excellence.

From IQ and EQ, on to SQ

Give your overworked brain some rest. Try using your heart to decide upon an issue. You will notice that improving your Spiritual Quotient would improve your performance. Small doses of gratitude and compassion help. Being aware of yourself and being conscious of what is happening within you helps. Humility helps. Developing equanimity helps.

Happiness and contentment within is great to have. You end up radiating it to those around you. Harmony in the work atmosphere improves. Output of the whole group improves.

You might find that IQ, EQ and SQ are like the spokes in the wheel of life, of which career is but one component. If all are equally developed, the wheel does not wobble – it runs smoothly.

A non sequitur?!

Before I sign off, allow me the liberty to pose a question. By hyphenating ‘work’ and ‘life’, are we not demeaning life? While chugging through our careers, we could honestly believe that work is much greater than life. In fact, it is merely a part of life. A subset, which needs to be in harmony with all other aspects of the multi-hued experience we call life. Perhaps, it is time to correct our perspective.

My proposal is this. Next time round, do not think about work-life harmony. Think only about achieving a state of harmony between the work-sphere of your life and the other spheres of your life – family, friends, hobbies, and the like.

When the conductor of an opera gets on to the stage to produce music that touches our souls, what he strives for is excellence, based on harmony. A discordant note from a single cello could ruin the performance. Likewise, all CXOs strive to get desired results, based on a harmony – between different managerial functions, between the organization and its various stakeholders and, above all, between the different constituents of their own lives.

So, how do you achieve this state of harmony? Would you like to share some insights?

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Given an opportunity, would you hire Jeeves? Many of us would jump at the prospect. With a super human intelligence by our side, life could be so very smooth. But some of us may brood. We might resent our being taken for granted. Our fiercely independent soul may revolt at the prospect of submitting to his superior intelligence.

Which school of thought do you belong to?

Here is yet another juicy post from Plumtopia which examines this question in-depth. As always, it endeavours to – and does – provide satisfaction!


Meet Jeeves, the world’s most famous valet and P.G. Wodehouse’s best known character. The name Jeeves has come to symbolise the epitome of efficient service to millions who’ve never even read Wodehouse. Among fans, he is spoken of with a reverence usually reserved for deities. And how many of us have wished for a Jeeves in our lives? But is this rosy view of Jeeves’ as Bertie Wooster’s domestic saviour justified, when so often it is Jeeves who contrives the situations from which Bertie must be rescued? Nor is his support lacking in self-interest. In Wodehouse’s idyllic world, is Jeeves more serpent than servant?

The story of Jeeves’ introduction to the Wooster home is told in ‘Jeeves Takes Charge’ (Carry On Jeeves). Jeeves enters Bertie’s employment after Bertie’s previous man, Meadowes, is caught pinching his socks.

I was reluctantly compelled to hand the misguided blighter the mitten and…

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SQIt would not be wrong to say that in today’s world, a relentless pursuit of wealth and material belongings has left a deep scar on our souls. Many of us are twiddling our thumbs trying to figure out either how to de-stress ourselves or how to keep fighting those depressive blues. There is a nagging emptiness within and the mind boggles as to why and how it has come about. Most of us have no clue as to what could be done about it.

Redefining ‘Success’ and ‘Happiness’

One way out of this dilemma is to perhaps redefine our concepts of ‘success’ and ‘happiness’. What do these terms really mean? When we dig deeper, we might find that these two are not really dependent on external factors. There is an inner connection somewhere.

Something very elaborate, say a long well-planned vacation, might not yield the emotional high that we expected. On the contrary, a post-dinner spontaneous outing for a late night ice cream binge could leave us elated.

Why do some things make us happy and others do not? We love beauty. We cherish humour. We like being appreciated and being loved. We love doing something ‘different’. Anything which connects us to our inner selves tends to make us happy. A movie or a work of fiction which we are able to relate to relaxes us. Exploring new frontiers and visiting new places often makes us happy. Perhaps the soul revels in its experience of exploration when we were cave-dwellers and hunters!

A paradigm shift could perhaps help. If ‘success’ ceases to be about the property we own, the social respect and fame we enjoy, and the high and mighty ‘connections’ we boast of, we might arrive at a different picture of ourselves. The quality of sleep we get. The inner glow of satisfaction we have when we leave our place of work for the day. The love we get when we get back home after a hard day’s work. A change in perspective brings about a stupendous transformation in how we think and feel. Our attitude becomes positive.

Materialism, Big Data and Perception Management

This is not to say that materialism is bad, per se. To satisfy one’s needs is a basic requirement of life. But we often end up over-doing it. Also, we fail to distinguish between our needs and our desires. Needs may be satiated easily. But desires have a tendency to regenerate and evolve, keeping us engaged. Desires keep making us run after an illusory rainbow which forever keeps drifting away from us.

Marketing professionals invariably target their products, services and communications at our desires. With the advent of Big Data, promotional campaigns are becoming far more segment-focused. We hear of ‘evidence-based decision making’ or ‘actionable information’. Even public policies are getting framed and aggressively communicated by governments to promote the feel good factor, whereas ground realities might show only a marginal improvement. Managing perceptions is essentially about catering to the desires of the average person. Fulfilling genuine needs can take a back seat.

Enter – Spiritual Quotient

Another way of striking a balance between materialism and spirituality is to become aware of our Spiritual Quotient; that is, our ability to understand and comprehend the spiritual aspects of life. In other words, moving on from the world of mind and heart to the realm of our inner selves.

When we move on from IQ to SQ, we move from the gross to the subtle, from the finite to the infinite, from tangible to the intangible.

Those who have a high SQ have this uncanny ability to be creative and insightful in their approach to problem solving. They build up their level of self-awareness and there intuitive faculties. They realize that there is a realm of intelligence which is beyond the five senses our bodies are endowed with.

IQ is what sees us through academic pursuits. EQ is what we gain by experiencing life. SQ is something of which we become aware a little later in our life.

IQ can be readily measured. EQ can also be estimated, though not with the same level of precision that IQ can be. However, SQ does not lend itself to easy measurement. All its attributes happen to be subjective in nature. By observing a person for a long time, one can perhaps estimate her SQ more realistically.

How relevant is SQ to a business?

SQ has several components: gratitude, self-esteem, self-awareness, consciousness, compassion, surrender, service and ego. Let us attempt to examine its relevance in the lives of individuals and business entities.

  • A sense of gratitude can make a practicing manager humble. She is able to see her own station in life/career more objectively. External factors or people who have played an important role in her career advancement become easily apparent. Team members, peers as well as superiors invariably end up liking her better. In turn, this fuels a better rate of career enrichment.
  • Self-esteem makes it easier for a manager to say a categorical ‘no’ when the situation demands so. It also leads to better levels of self-confidence. When negative news is to be conveyed to a team member who is not performing on all six cylinders, a manager with a higher degree of self-esteem can look her in the eye and tackle the situation head-on. Effectiveness improves.
  • Leaders and managers with a higher degree of self-awareness tend to be more successful. They are able to reprimand someone without letting it affect their own inner well-being. They are better at identifying appropriate moments to convey what they wish to communicate. They are better at radiating their sunny disposition to those around them, thereby improving morale and securing better results for the business.
  • A higher level of consciousness makes a manager connect better with others. The realization dawns that the team member or the stakeholder being addressed is yet another entity blessed with unique qualities and, hence, has to be treated at par. The challenge being faced by the other, as also the innate capacity of the person to handle it – both get factored in the line of action being suggested. Based on this approach, even large businesses can be shut down without much recrimination or hurt.
  • Compassion is a logical fall-out of a higher level of consciousness. A distributor or a supplier facing a financial crunch might feel repulsed at being pitied. But a compassionate gesture which addresses his immediate concerns can build a relationship rooted in mutual faith, loyalty and genuine respect. A manager who prevails upon his CFO and gets even a post-dated cheque issued to a hapless supplier ends up winning corporate loyalty. When Taj Hotel faces a terror attack, the whole company gears up to rehabilitate and reward the affected staff.
  • Surrender does not imply an abject abdication, but a well nuanced and calibrated acceptance of the reality at hand. A company which has nurtured an iconic brand over several decades may suddenly need to shift gears so as to match the change in its market demand. A new business vertical which utilizes a core competency of the group may need to be entered into. Flexibility and fleet-footedness in business is a sine qua non for long-term survival and growth.
  • A sense of service is what leads to sustainability. When an IT major like Infosys decides to compensate its carbon footprints by providing green products to rural households, it makes eminent sense. When a MNC like HUL decides to use a government scheme like MNREGA to create water potential for farmers in one of the most water-starved areas of India, it is servicing the society it draws its inputs from. When an Air Asia flight goes down killing all passengers on board, the CEO resorts to Twitter to keep the anxious relatives updated. When the Tata group sets up a Center of Performing Arts, as also institutions like TIFR, TISS and IIS, a value of giving back something to society becomes manifest.
  • Managing ego is at the core of the art of managing things. A manager who allows herself to be treated like a door-mat could disappear from a company’s landscape pretty soon. Another one who is forever having an ego clash with people around her would also not survive in the long run. What is required by a manager to be successful is a fine balance between the two extremes, buttressed by a strong sense of self-esteem.

Dr Ian Marshall and Danah Zohar, in their 2001 book, SQ: Connecting With Our Spiritual Intelligence, say that ‘while computers have IQ and animals can have EQ, it is essentially an SQ that sets human beings apart.’

It follows that to have a smooth ride in life, all three – IQ, EQ and SQ – have to be relied upon equally by all of us – whether in our personal lives or in our businesses.

A disruptive future

Technology is changing the way we live, think, behave and feel. The rate of change is only going to go up in future. Leaders, managers and even individuals with a high level of SQ are bound to have a better chance of tasting success in the decades to come.

It is time to still our brains, rein in our emotions and start building up our Spiritual Quotients!

(Caricature drawn by Sanket is gratefully acknowledged)

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