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Archive for July, 2015

PGWodehouseThe foundations of our civilization are quivering. Homo sapiens are faced with a medical crisis of gigantic proportions. There is widespread concern about the pace at which the epidemic of Wodehousitis is spreading across countries and continents. Medical researchers of all hues are twiddling their thumbs, trying to figure out a cure for this dreaded affliction.

Wodehousitis is reported to be a disease which affects all human beings, irrespective of their age, sex, cast, creed or ethnicity. It is said to be highly contagious. A word of mouth is all that is required to lead one to contract it. One merely borrows a work of P G Wodehouse. A cursory perusal of any part of a narrative follows. A lifetime of bondage ensues. Frequent purchases of his books gladden the hearts of many a publisher. When one is not able to lay one’s hands on a particular title, one’s moral upbringing goes for a toss. Intentions of returning borrowed titles weaken. Stealing a book from the shelf of a friend becomes the norm.

To put it simply, once the germs of Wodehousitis have managed to find a foothold in any neuro-system, one’s fate is sealed.

The Symptoms

Wodehousitis manifests itself in many ways. Public display of uncontrolled mirth, a tendency to erupt into laughter at inappropriate moments, occasional falls from a chair or a sofa while lapping up one of the juicy narratives, an insatiable thirst for acquiring as many titles of his works as is humanly possible, a relentless devouring of the works of P G Wodehouse, a perpetual state of intoxication with his words of wisdom, and a pitiless analysis of the scintillating characters created by him – these are but some of the symptoms.

As a tribe, bloggers suffering from Wodehousitis also display peculiar symptoms. They cannot help themselves but publish posts based only on Master’s works. With each subsequent post, the time interval between two posts gets shortened. When they pick up any work of his, the simple joy of reading it gets subdued, only to be replaced by a tendency to analyse the narrative from different angles. An irresistible urge to compile some juicy quotes takes over, casting a gloomy spell on the otherwise sparkling wit and humour embedded in the Master’s works.

The most serious symptom happens to be the disinclination of all those suffering from Wodehousitis to seek a cure for this dreaded affliction. Once afflicted, one is apt to remain happy to continue in a state of perennial addiction. Medical fraternity is yet to find a solution to this unique kind of drug resistance.

Medicos use these symptoms to ascertain if the person under scrutiny deserves to be classified as one suffering from Wodehousitis.

Three Stages

There are three stages of Wodehousitis which have been identified and catalogued so far.

In the first stage, one displays occasional signs of having any of the symptoms described above.

In the second stage, one shows grave signs of many of these symptoms, but is still considered treatable.

The third stage is the most critical one, with no cure in sight as of now. Medicos continue to be baffled. In this stage, one is obsessed with all facets of Plum’s narratives, much to the exclusion of every other piece of literature one comes across. In each and every situation of life, a streak of one of the narratives is invariably noticed. All relatives and friends get identified with one or the other characters created by P G Wodehouse.

A person suffering from the last stage of Wodehousitis often complains of a stifling sensation. No other work of literature appeals any longer. The allure of catching up on the latest best sellers fades away. All friends, philosophers and guides sound like Jeeves. All aunts appear to be moulded along the lines of either Aunt Agatha or Aunt Dahlia.

Cops sound like Constable Oates, using their investigating skills to the hilt, but meekly surrendering to the dictates of the Justices of Peace. Introspection leads one to identify oneself with the woolly-headedness of the likes of Bertie Wooster and Lord Emsworth. All kids appear to have traces of traits like those of Thos and Edwin.

Even pets assume a halo of some kind – the canine ones sound either like a Bottles or a Bartholomew; the feline ones sound like an Augustus. All pigs look like malnourished cousins of the Empress of Blandings.

A psychoanalyst, having examined a person who has attained this blissful state, would be forgiven for certifying the person to be eminently fit to be admitted to a loony bin.

Searching for a cure

Governments the world over are justifiably worried over the relentless spread of this affliction. If our armed forces contract this affliction, fighting wars would be a thing of the past. Ex-service-persons would need to identify alternative employment avenues. Cops would take a benevolent view of law and order problems. Doctors may end up prescribing only Laughter Therapy to seriously ill patients. Politicos mighst take a leaf out of the Code of the Woosters and start rolling out welfare schemes based only on the milk of human kindness, thereby resulting in empty coffers. The socio-economic implications of widespread Wodehousitis are mind-boggling indeed.

While steps are being taken to motivate medicos to come up with a cure for Wodehousitis, fans of the author wonder if finding a solution to this endemic problem is really necessary. The overriding feeling is that the germs of Wodehousitis should instead be deployed cleverly, thereby improving the score of Gross National Happiness of all countries.

The case against finding a cure for Wodehousitis

Imagine a scenario where reading Wodehouse is made mandatory at all levels of education, all across the world. Pretty soon, professionals of all hues would end up being afflicted with Wodehousitis. Judges would end up having stiffer lips, possibly dishing out harsher sentences. Their propensity to get swayed by non-judicial considerations would get curtailed. Illegal activities of any kind would get nipped in the bud. Lawyers, doctors, engineers and professionals across all vocations would have a better sense of humour. As a consequence, their ability to deliver results would improve drastically.

Members of the so-called sterner sex would end up being more chivalrous, thereby minimizing misdemeanours directed at the delicately nurtured. Following the dictums propounded by Jeeves, match-making quality would improve. Divorce rates would plummet. Loving husbands would be more likely to follow the example of Bingo Little, thereby ensuring that the doves of peace keep their wings flapping over their humble abodes.

Even kids who are normally a threat to societal peace would aspire to be worthy of their favourite silver screen divas. Headmasters and headmistresses would lose their faith in the old adage which exhorts them to spare the rod and spoil the child.

Global peace and harmony

The premier of a country who is toying with the idea of unleashing violence upon a neighbouring country would simply meet up her counterpart, say ‘What ho!’ and gift the other a set of Wodehouse books. Peace and love would stand a better chance.

Those planning a terror strike would look at their plans askance and wonder if better results could not be achieved by persuasive methods of a gentler kind. If advised by the likes of Roberta Wickham, they might even conclude that their goals could be met more effectively by merely ensuring that the hot water bottles of the dissenting politicians and their immediate family members get punctured at frequent intervals.

Money being spent on arms of all kinds would eventually get deployed to eradicate poverty across all our continents. Gross Happiness Indices of all countries would reach stratospheric heights.

International bodies such as the United Nations would come up with a Charter of Global Happiness and take initiatives designed to spread cheer and happiness amongst all the citizens of our planet. Peace Keeping Forces would be trained in Wodehousian skills and redeployed to monitor and promote laughter and mirth in strife torn areas.

In other words, Wodehousitis need not be contained or cured. On the contrary, it needs to be spread as quickly as may be possible. This could ensure that God continues to be in heaven and all remains well with the world.

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All of us encounter angry bosses – whether at our places of work or at our homes. Permit me to re-share some thoughts on this subject with you.

ashokbhatia

Quite often, life gives us a roller-coaster ride. We get pulled and pushed by forces beyond our control. Then, we suddenly discover someone on whom we can work off our pent-up feelings. In the house, it could be the unsuspecting spouse who ends up absorbing the shock. In an office setting, we ourselves could be at the receiving end. If so, we quickly find a scapegoat onto whom our own brand of vitriol could be off-loaded.

Consider this. The CEO, when things are going wrong, takes it out on the VP. The VP goes and ticks off the General Manager. The GM, the unpleasant OVERSTAYING ONE’S WELCOMEinteraction concluded, immediately proceeds to crucify the Manager. The Manager loses no time in giving a piece of his mind to the hapless Executive. While the Manager sits down to have a cup of coffee in an attempt to cool off, the fuming Executive takes the…

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When it comes to making a choice between characters of all sizes and shapes created by P G Wodehouse, one would be left twiddling one’s thumbs. A sense of bafflement would overwhelm us. Our minds boggle. Not so for the jury which declares the winner. They happen to be used to a pitiless analysis of characters and situations. They have nerves of chilled steel.
Pig….hoooooo….eeeey!

Plumtopia

Having taken the obligatory swigs of orange juice, it gives me great pleasure to announce the prize winner of the ‘Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party’ competition. Judging was more difficult than expected. I’m only sorry there aren’t enough prizes to go around.

The entries deserves some discussion, beginning with Sally — what a wonderful name for a Wodehouse lover. Sally was quick off the mark in suggesting Cakebread, butler of Shipley Hall in Money in the Bank. A fine answer. Even the name Cakebread implies calories. Those of you who’ve read Money in the Bank will also know it’s an alias. Cakebread isn’t Cakebread. He’s not a real butler either. But he is large.

‘The newcomer, as the sound of his footsteps had suggested, was built on generous lines. In shape, he resembled a pear, reasonably narrow at the top but getting wider and wider all the way down and…

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Professionals need to step back every once in a while and check if their brand image is bright and shining. Keeping one’s brand value burnished helps in career progression. It is also an immensely satisfying slice of life which promotes self-worth and boosts self-confidence.

Here is a checklist of the kind of inputs which go into keeping a professional’s brand value burnished.

1. Under-promise, over-deliver
Being aware of our core strengths as well as limitations helps us to assess our chances of success in delivering on a project. By ensuring that we commit conservatively but deliver zealously, we build up a reputation of reliability. There are indeed times when a polite ‘no’ could save us from denting our reputation.

2. Practice honesty and openness in relationships
Our colleagues and team members are equally smart. They are quick to sense a touch of opacity on our part. They detest a lack of transparency in us. Dealing with those around us with honesty ensures that they repose their faith and trust in us. As a result, our capability of getting things done improves.

3. Be a friend, philosopher and guide
All of us have some expertise which may not be directly relevant to our Key Result Area. It could be an insight into theTEAMS realm of alternative therapies which a colleague can use for one of her family members. It could be about handling rebellious teenagers at home. If we put such expertise to use by helping others around us, word goes around and others rush in to seek our counsel. We might have the image of a tough task master, but this softer aspect of our personality helps us to build a unique brand for ourselves.

4. Network
Whether within the organization or outside, networking goes a long way in building up our reputation. The trick, however, is in avoiding those with a negative outlook, while promoting ties with those who have positive vibes.

5. Keep learning
Keeping the saw sharpened always helps. By refreshing our knowledge pool continuously, we remain a leader in more ways than one. Often, a dash of humility is all it needs to remain ahead of the curve.

6. Be genuine
By being ourselves, we enhance our dependability. Others feel reassured and refreshed after each encounter with us. They do not mind confiding in us. In turn, this helps us to understand and address their anxiety and concerns better. Our ability to deliver improves.

A brand is all about reliability and dependability. It offers good value for money. So do professionals who work on the basis of deliverables. Smart ones realize that an image is merely a matter of perception. It needs to be backed by real inputs so one’s brand value remains intact and is kept burnished at all times.

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If ‘Paan Singh Tomar’, ‘Bhaag Milka Bhaag’ and ‘Mary Kom’ had you in enthral, here is a line up of future biopics from Bollywood. As always, a thoroughly informative post from the stable of ‘My views on Bollywood’!

My Views On Bollywood

By  Sharada Iyer

The box-office success as well as critical acclaim of recent biopics Paan Singh Tomar, Bhaag Milka Bhaag and Mary Kom celebrating the spirit and determination of our sportspersons seems to have spawned a plethora of biopics in our industry. We are attacking this genre with a new found vigour and enthusiasm.

In fact this year on 23rd October, 2015, the biopic on our very own Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Indian Cricket Captain is going to hit the theatres. Titled M S Dhoni: The Untold Story, the film is directed by Neeraj Pandey and young Sushant Singh Rajput will be essaying the role of the Indian Captain while Alia Bhatt will play his wife Sakshi. The link below shows the stars who will be playing the other members of the Indian squad.

13th May 2016 will see the release of Azhar, the biopic on cricketer…

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Life is replete with hierarchies of all sizes and shapes. Those who happen to be rich look at their less fortunate cousins with some derision. Those who happen to be highly educated view the uneducated with some scorn. Those who have a great job with a famous blue chip company, when introduced to someone who has to be asked oh-which-company-did-you-say-you-are-working-with, treat the party of the other part with marked contempt.

All of us appear to be on a ladder of sorts – some perched above and others struggling to catch up from below. The ladder could be either materialistic or spiritual in nature.

The hierarchy of wellness

Some of the sick and the infirm also suffer from this ‘ladder syndrome’. Many could be secretly delighted upon Caring Michelangelo's_Pietarealizing that the best of physicians have no clue as to what precisely the nature of their affliction is. Those having AIDS and cancer could look deprecatingly at someone having, say, a viral infection. Those suffering from a heart ailment could gloat over the fact that they are consulting a world-renowned cardiac expert, whereas the other person, given his limited means or his station in life, has to remain content with a mere local doctor.

To a person diagnosed with a pancreatic cyst, someone suffering from acidity could appear to be a being which is yet to transcend several stages of evolution. Someone who has had to undergo an orthopedic surgery might treat another complaining of knee pain with a dash of scorn. A diabetic whose daily dose of insulin is in the range of, say, 50 units, could treat the other one surviving on 15 units as merely the dust beneath his chariot wheels.

The difference in the realm of wellness is that the ladder works both ways. An insulin dependent diabetic could also feel a gnawing dissatisfaction within that life has been patently unfair only to him. A person having a heart ailment may consider others around him luckier, living a fuller and happier life. It is felt that when life dishes out such harsh sentences, without the option of an anticipatory bail, our Guardian Angels are busy elsewhere, not bothering to protect us from the perils of life.

Listen to a conversation between two patients, or their attendants, in a hospital ward and both trends become discernible. Some would be happy, others would be complaining. This unique facet of wellness shows us the importance of our attitudes. When we are afflicted with an irreversible condition, how do we look at it? As a bane, or as a boon?

The perks of ill health

If we think of ill health as a bane, we enter into a vicious cycle which keeps depleting us of our positive energies. The mind absorbs negativity. The body responds by a further decline in its immunity levels. It is like a downward spiral which does not allow us to look at the sunnier side of life.

How could one treat a long term health challenge as a boon, you might well ask? Well, barring accidents and cases of a special medical nature, this does sound like a workable proposition. Especially in the case of what are known as lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart ailments and the like.

Better preparation

One, it helps us to check the healthcare eco-system around us. Efficacy of doctors gets assessed. Clinics and hospitalsCaring Michelangelo_pietà_rondanini get evaluated for the kind of care they provide. In case a further challenge comes up, we are better prepared to handle it.

Better habits

Two, we realize that the body revolts only when it is pressed beyond a point of its tolerance. Abuse of a particular organ over a period of time comes into sharp focus. Corrective steps get taken. Introspection follows. Better habits follow. Better health comes about.

Fulfilling pious intentions

Three, a critical intervention, say, like a coronary arterial by-pass graft, gives the patient a good time to relax, recuperate and introspect. For that matter, any surgery affords us the luxury of listening to good music, catching up with books on our to-be-read list or with movies on our to-be-watched list. In other words, several pious intentions of ours get worked upon.

Acquiring a specialization

Four, we end up becoming a subject expert on the affliction concerned. Now, what could be more gratifying than people coming up to us to either confide their health problems with us or seeking our advice?

Handling planned obsolescence

Five, a realization dawns that, much like modern automobiles and white goods, our bodies also come with an in-built feature of planned obsolescence.

Cars and washing machines have a definite life span. Warranties are limited. Once the warranty period is over, an annual maintenance contract kicks in.

Likewise, human bodies have an upper limit to their time spans. To keep them going longer, regular maintenance is necessary. Healthy nourishment, regular exercises and a positive attitude alone help. Howsoever hard we may work upon ourselves, we realize that our physical bodies come with a date of expiry. The date, of course, remains a mystery of sorts.

A sunny disposition

As life advances, we realize that each stage of life offers its unique mix of advantages and disadvantages.

When we enter a phase of our lives which offers us relative peace and an opportunity of fulfilling some of our pious RETIRINGintentions we have secretly harbored all through our lives, we could instead fall into the trap of complaining about the health challenges we face, thereby robbing us of the exquisite joy of this part of the journey.

A sunny disposition, acquired early in life, can work wonders in keeping illnesses at bay. Ageing gracefully is an art as well as a habit which can be consciously cultivated to fend off the W-shaped depressions we could face when the yoke of family and career responsibilities falls off our no-longer-sturdy shoulders.

It helps to have a small circle of close friends. Pursuing a hobby we are passionate about keeps our neurons in good shape. Being in touch with the younger lot makes our system keep running on all six cylinders. Simply looking back at the high points of our life keeps our spirits buoyed up.

The silver lining

Setbacks in health occasionally hover over us, much like ominous clouds which cut off the sunlight of the simple joys of life. But, like all clouds, these have a silver lining which one can focus on. Armed with a chin-up attitude, one can face the harsh slings and arrows of life better.

(Note: This blog post is a part of an article which was carried by NAMAH, the journal of integral health, in its issue of October 2015:

http://www.namahjournal.com/doc/Actual/Of-hierarchies-attitudes-and-spiritual-potential-of-our-illnesses-vol-23-iss-3.html)

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Pottering about in the garden, placing owl statuettes at vantage points, paying homage to the Empress of Blandings, attracting a bunch of hungry ponies……these are but some of the perks of retired life, recounted in this leisurely blog post.

Enjoy!

derrickjknight

On a largely overcast and humid morning I took an amble down to Roger’s footpath and back.

Parsley and fennel

Parsley and fennel are now flowering in the bed opposite the kitchen window.

Nicotiana

White nicotiana spreads its scent across the patio.

Rose Absolutely Fabulous

The Absolutely Fabulous rose now bears numerous fresh flowers.

Violas

Violas suspended from the entrance arch to the back drive soak up the sun’s fleeting rays.

Owl and petunias

I found that a snowy owl has been sneaked in.

Convolvulus

Small, ground-hugging, convolvulus now straggles the verges of Downton Lane.

For the purposes of rearranging the furniture I was permitted to enter the shed this morning. If truth be told, I was probably more hindrance than help, although the Head Gardener was too kind to say so. I was taken back, however, to my very early childhood when, asking my mother if I could help with the housework, I would receive the response: ‘Yes. Sit on a chair and…

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