Archive for November, 2015

Mairie hall b4 collapse

Governor Bontemps gave me a glorious life in the year 1870,

I had a long innings of 144 years, serving all of you aplenty.


Just a year after I was born, the French Parliament gave you representation,

Panon Desbassyns de Richemont had the first honour by your recommendation.


The first seeds of your emancipation he and Ponnu Thambi Pillai alone pooled,

The latter walked into the court wearing shoes and established equality between the rulers and the ruled.


Local governance brought in better degree of autonomous gaiety,

When the first ever Municipal Elections were held in 1880.


The novel concept of Renocants was introduced through the 1881 decree,

A beginning of assimilation of two diverse cultures I could then see.


In 1892, setting up of the Gaebele (Bharati) Mill was a historic event,

The starting up of the Rodier (AFT) Mill in 1898 was no different.


As the farmers started acquiring industrial skills, making different work ethics align,

Of the faint stirrings of a home-grown ‘Swadesi’ movement there was a clear sign.


Subramaniam Bharati soon arrived and ignited your patriotic fervour,

1910 saw Sri Aurobindo come in and assume the role of a spiritual saviour. 


V. S. Aiyar and Va. Ra. shortly followed, giving an impetus to the freedom movement,

The French rulers were aware but did not think it worthwhile to comment.


I watched in horror as the twin disasters of two World Wars unfolded,

I salute those who made the ultimate sacrifice with my hands folded.


The year 1947 made me rejoice as the Indian Union awoke to its tryst with destiny,

I watched in quite sorrow as 1948 saw a farce election being held with impunity.


I was a dumb and mute witness to Monsieur Menard’s brutal repression,

Leading to a complete hartal in 1954, giving the natives’ wish an expression.


Our de facto transfer to India came about on the 1st of November, 1954,

The rich tapestry of French influence of 280 years became a part of history and folklore.


I witnessed the dream of Auroville manifesting itself in a manner grand,

With quiet dismay I saw the promenade losing its lovely stretch of sand.


Matri Mandir added to the golden-hued spiritual ambience of the town,

Enthusiasm of people from all over making Pondicherry their home could never be put down.


Having people who use 55 diverse languages and together face a tsunami-like adversity,

It sets a fine example, a testimony to cultural harmony and unity in diversity.


I did play an important role in making Pondicherry what it is at present,

An oasis of peace in a vast desert which is turning increasingly turbulent.


I breathed my last this day in 2014, hoping I shall be reborn soon,

A new body received in a spirit of harmony and utility shall be a boon.


My soul continues to hover unabated, shining through many of you,

I hope that you shall overcome your differences and rebuild me with a holistic view.

(Historical facts quoted from ‘A Concise History of Pondicherry’ by Prof. P. Raja, ISBN 81-87619-03-1)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/the-soul-of-mairie-speaks)

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When the dark clouds of sorrow envelop us and Life makes us glum,

A brilliant ray of humour breaks through in the form of a narrative Plum;

The deep blues of despair and despondency get chased away,

Replaced by a warm glow of joy which holds us in its sway.


There is no problem which a brilliant Jeeves cannot solve,

Be it an intellectual girl friend or a scheming aunt with a goofy resolve;

When he shimmers in with one of his pick-me-ups on a tray,

Our hangovers evaporate, making us forget all shades of grey.


All his solutions are based on the psychology of the individual,

His approach to solving problems is often circuitous and gradual;

Breaking a few eggs to make an omelette is a sign of his maturity,

By ensuring his master never ties the knot, he enjoys job security.


With a pal like Bertie Wooster around, never to let us down,

He pleads the case of a tongue-tied lover, his face without a frown;

To bring together two hearts, he would even shove a kid into the lake,

The Code of the Woosters he follows, would do anything for a pal’s sake.


The pride of the Wooster clan is close to his heart, the feudal spirit intact,

For the sake of an aunt, restoring a stolen cat to its owner is part of a pact;

For the happiness of an uncle, thirty days without the option is no big deal,

At the end of which he merely aspires for a delectable Anatole meal.


The sporting spirit of Bingo Little keeps our spirits soaring,

His endeavours to touch the son’s Godfather for a tenner are endearing;

A knight in shining armour, he ensures Rosie gets her afternoon cup of tea,

For matrimonial nectar to pour in, he works as hard as a honey bee.


The generosity of Lord Emsworth is an example for all of us to follow,

A girl friend deserves to be treated lavishly, sans any hospitality hollow;

McAllister notwithstanding, the sanctity of the moss-covered yew alley is to be maintained,

For the Empress to feed well, thoughts of drawing a parson’s son as a niece’s life partner may be entertained.


Those who wish to unleash their animal spirits get great entrepreneurial advice,

The likes of Sally and Joan Valentine are there to inspire them at the throw of a dice;

Unless you speculate, you do not accumulate, is what Ukridge strongly recommends,

Those burning their houses to claim insurance get caught and need to make amends.


Psmith provides us many tips to survive and do well at our place of work,

Cultivating a Friendly Native is something from which he would never shirk;

Motivating an efficient deputy like Mike to do his bidding is a part of his plan,

Haunting the boss at his club or at public rallies he does with great suavity and elan.


Mr Mulliner gives us a sneak peek into the world of eccentric movie producers,

Of struggling starlets, dreamy script writers and subservient nodders;

Fighting a guerilla to win the affections of a lady love is the work of a moment,

When fed only on the juice of an orange, people go to war with their souls in torment.


Ashe Marson is there to provide tips to all those wanting to remain fit,

Larsen exercises, brisk walks and cold baths form a part of his wellness kit;

Troubles of the lining of the stomach unite those who are young at heart,

Forsaking the pleasures of the table and allowing Prudence to win over Greed is a worthy art.


Hapless rozzers watch with dismay as criminals are let off the hook by the Justices of Peace,

Members of the canine species restraining them from discharging their duties they catch with ease;

Ceaseless vigil is their motto, but they face the professional hazard of getting their helmets pinched,

They have their own methods of investigation, but their sinister ‘Ho’s and ‘Ha’s fail to get a matter clinched.


When judges look at us with a stern eye, dishing out a hefty fine of five bobs,

We think on our feet and give out an assumed name, sparing the family some sobs;

Supportive members of the delicately nurtured tribe rescue us from confinement,

The art of pinching umbrellas and silver cow-creamers surely needs some refinement.


Boy scouts out on their errands of mercy use paraffin to douse a chimney fire,

Would-be step-fathers not paying up protection money face consequences dire;

Rogue ones, when in love with Hollywood divas, start behaving angelically,

Priests need them around so as to be hotter on their jobs and to evolve spiritually.


Female lion-tamers appear in the form of a school headmistress,

A sharp reprimand on smoking in the shrubbery causes much distress;

Escapades to steal cookies are met with steely eyes and a stiff upper lip,

Getting six juicy ones on the soft spot is a chance we would like to give a slip.


Dogs gaze at us with soulful eyes, get led like a lamb with the whiff of aniseed,

Sleepy cats adore those who scratch them behind the ears whenever they need;

Young hippopotami wilt and retreat when faced with White Hunters duly armed,

Cabinet Ministers brave heavy rain, face an angry swan and return shaken but unharmed.


Touch any aspect of life and Plum would have covered it in one of his works,

They cast a spell, improve mental health, and protect us from life’s harsh jerks;

Some may label it escapism, others the portrayal of an era long since past,

Oh, what a pleasure it is to bask in the sunshine of Plumsville’s plains vast.


Each narrative embellished with the pristine language of the Queen,

Laced with lofty codes of conduct flouting which is no task mean;

Eccentric characters, delightful situations, unalloyed humour, sparkling wit,

Enough to earn us ridicule in public places but a great prescription for keeping fit.


His works carry life lessons which we can pick up and apply,

Amongst his characters, milk of human kindness is never in short supply;

On offer are sumptuous literary quotes and many a spiritual insight,

Keeping our passion for laughter and happiness alive and shining bright.


(This composition has also been translated into Italian language. Same can be accessed at http://www.ilcovile.it/scritti/COVILE_935_Wodehouse_2.pdf)

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When winsome kids get cast in Bollywood flicks, the results are invariably gratifying. They could be playing to role of a Cupid, reuniting sundered hearts. They could be showcasing a unique illness, thereby winning our sympathies. They could be providing comic interludes, so as to pep up the proceedings. Or, they could be chasing their simple but profound dreams, battling parental oversight, poverty and other odds. Whatever their role, they bring solace to our souls.

It is a tough task to try to encapsulate all such roles essayed by children in movies. It goes to the credit of Sharada Iyer to whip up yet another detailed post on an important facet of Bollywood!

My Views On Bollywood

By   Sharada Iyer

Our film industry has been very fortunate to have had some of the most brilliant child artistes who have given memorable performances in scores of films. These child-stars have endeared themselves to us with their spontaneity and natural acting. Coupled with their innate innocence and amazing confidence, they have effortlessly stolen the show from their seasoned co-stars on screen.

pic112 Daisy Irani and Baby Naaz

Daisy Irani, Honey Irani, Baby Naaz, Baby Tabassum, Baby Farida, Baby Gowri, Wonder child-Bobby, Baby Guddu, Master Raju, Master Ratan, Master Sachin, Master Satyajeet, Master Alankar, Master Shahid, Master Tito,  Junior Mehmood, etc., are some of the names which immediately come to our mind though there are many more who have been associated with our films. It is really difficult to comprehend how such small children could memorize such long dialogues and bring such perfect expressions and emote with so much feeling…

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Here is a short and crisp overview of the magnetic force known as P G Wodehouse.

Here be Stephen's blog

In the past couple of years, there are few authors that I have come to know and enjoy as much as P.G Wodehouse.  An absolutely remarkable, and somewhat tragic, man in real life, Wodehouse’s extensive literary output is lesser known today than it should be.  I am far from the only person to believe that Wodehouse possessed a mastery of the English language that has seldom ever been seen, and when combined with his remarkable, creative, and versatile comic genius, you get a unique, highly enjoyable author.  I do not think there are many harder books to write than a humorous one.  To base a book solely on its humor is incredibly challenging.  To write as many as Wodehouse did as well as he did is unbelievable.  His books never fail to, at the least, have me chuckling inwardly, and will even force an audible laugh from my lips (a…

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The rekindled romance of Joe and Julia makes us realize that wounds caused by Cupid’s arrows do not get healed very easily. These remain subdued, only to resurface when we least expect them to. Even the younger lot benefit from the same.

Here is yet another juicy post from Plumtopia.


PGW Man with two left feetHot on the heels of the Blandings centenary in June comes the 100th anniversary of P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster and Reginald Jeeves, who made their first appearance in the story “Extricating Young Gussie”, published September 1915 in the Saturday Evening Post. The centenary has been commemorated with a flurry of articles –try What ho! Celebrating 100 years of Bertie, Jeeves and Blandings by Aparna Narrain, or  Jeeves and the vital oolong in The Economist. But in spite of praise for Wodehouse and his beloved duo –who made their final appearance in 1974’s Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen– this first story, “Extricating Young Gussie“, continues to hide it’s light under a bushel. If indeed that’s what lights do.

In his introduction to the 1967 omnibus The World of Jeeves, Wodehouse laments giving Jeeves just two lines, and no important role in the story:

It was only some time later, when I was going into the…

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CEOs lead a challenging life. Apart from making and meeting long-term business goals, they face a relentless SQpressure, living from one quarter to the next. Customers have to be handled with kid gloves. Suppliers have to be kept in good humour. People have to be kept motivated at all times. Interpersonal conflicts between team members have to be sorted out. A lonely life has to be lived.

Unlike their juniors who invariably face Peer Pressure, CEOs face Pear Pressure. Some call it signs of prosperity. Some refer to it as a Battle of the Bulge. Others label it as flab around the waist.

The Battle of the Bulge

A CEO in possession of a portly disposition projects an image of a soul which has finally attained salvation and has become a super-hero of the species generally alluded to as managers. Walk into any gathering of the top dogs across most professions and one would be convinced that bosses are generally more portly than their bossed-over managers.

The smarter the top boss, the more he is likely to make his team members run around achieving targets. In the process, the juniors end up getting flatter tummies, a much-coveted attribute. In turn, hard-working subordinates often end up making their bosses lazier, with the latter ending up with convex-shaped protrusions in their midriffs.

Over 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight. Of these, some 600 million are further classified as obese. How does this come about? Lack of exercise is said to be the main culprit. Stress is yet another. Genetic factors take a part of the blame. Long working hours leading to lesser workouts get blamed.Exercise 1

Of decision-making and waistlines

Recently, a study by Australian universities has ended up linking decision-making to higher Body Mass Index.

According to researchers, people whose work days require constant decision-making are at greater risk of expanded waistlines. Conversely, workers who exercise control by regularly applying their skills to their jobs — known as skill discretion — were found to have lower Body Mass Index and a smaller waist size.

In other words, the researchers conclude that it is skinny people who are most often good at what they do and enjoy using their skills. However, those who have the power to make decisions are distinctly wider around the middle.

This justifies the derisive term Fat Cats often used to refer to those who control the levers of business. Admittedly, larger waistlines are perhaps a consequence of the CEOs’ sedentary job requirements instead of being the reason for their elevation to decision-making levels.

Perhaps further studies may reveal that weighty decisions need personal countervailing ballast in order to be balanced. It sounds as if power ends up making business leaders more expansive.

Beyond the Peter Principle

Concerned CEOs may wish further research to be designed in such a way as to establish the veracity of some Peters_principle.svgprinciples of the following kind:

1. A manager’s waistline is directly proportional to his position in any decision-making hierarchy.

2.  According to the Peter Principle, in any organization, employees rise to their level of incompetence. Further studies could confirm if their rise is also linked to the propensity of their bodies to achieve the maximum girth permitted by their constitution.

3.  Depending upon their Body Mass Index and the waistline, successful CEOs could be classified into three categories.
Potato CEOs: Those who have dazzled with their performance in the good old days. They have outgrown   the stage of feeling Pear Pressure.
Pear CEOs: Those who are currently guiding teams and delivering reasonably good results. The hapless souls are yet to come to terms with their pear-shaped midriffs.
Banana CEOs: Those who are good at planning as well as execution. They aspire to attain the status of Peer CEOs, without their bariatric blues.

4. For Potato CEOs, Pear CEOs are objects of envy. Likewise, Pear CEOs, howsoever reassured they might sound, secretly aspire to be like Banana CEOs, with concave-shaped bellies.

5. A hypothesis that can be put to test would be if the rate of rise in a hierarchy determines the rate of increase in waistlines.

6. All these propositions need to be cross-validated across different cultures and societies.

Such studies would enrich the science of Hierarchiology. These would be highly useful for head hunters as well as for Human Resource professionals. The insights gained thus would enable managers of all sizes and shapes to improve their quality of life.

Pear Pressure in organizations

Ironically, what is true of individual CEOs is also true of organizations.

The very successful and dynamic ones indulge in frequent bariatric surgeries and ensure that their midriffs remainZOO ORGANIZATIONS under strict control. They are acutely aware of Pear Pressure and have checks and balances in place to avoid carrying excessive flab.

The mediocre ones end up accumulating flab in the middle. At every success, they end up hiring more people than is necessary. At every failure, they undergo a liposuction procedure. They have learnt the art of managing Pear Pressure.

The not-so-successful organizations have the highest Body Mass Index. They are replete with massive layers in their hierarchies. Their processes are bogged down with archaic procedures. Most public sector undertakings are shining examples of this kind.

This is THE challenge all CEOs need to fight single-handedly. They have to wage a relentless war on adipose tissue of all kinds. Unless they decide to take the matter in their own hands, literally as well as metaphorically, the excess belly fat – whether on their own personas or in their organizations – would refuse to melt away.

(Reference: http://www.theweek.in/news/sci-tech/how-your-job-could-be-influencing-your-waistline-study.html)

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Geeta_Dutt portrait

For those who love songs from Bollywood, the versatile singing talent of the late Geeta Dutt is remembered very fondly to this day. Here is an article from Mr Raj Kanwar, an India-based author, freelance journalist and music lover.

A Singer called ‘Geeta’

Geeta Dutt and her versatile voice are remembered on her death anniversary, which was on July 20.

When Geeta Dutt (née Roy) sang, ‘Yaad karoge, yaad karoge, ik din humko yaad karoge’ in ‘Do Bhai’ in 1947, she had not imagined how prophetic the lyrics by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan would turn out to be. Today, 68 years after that song had captured the imagination of music lovers and 43 years since her death in 1972, three generations of her die-hard fans still fondly remember her and her melodious voice continues to mesmerise them. Her 43 death anniversary was observed on July 20.

The music of ‘Do Bhai’ with another of Geeta’s song, ‘Mera sundar sapna beet gaya,’ topping the charts, was a hit, and the movie became the second highest grosser at the box office in 1947.

It was virtually Geeta’s first movie, and the countrywide popularity of her songs made the teenager’s nascent career leap overnight to another dimension. Her popularity scaled newer heights in 1948 and 1949, eclipsing Shamshad Begum and Raj Kumari, who then ruled the roost. She became every director’s choice and the reigning diva.

Then suddenly, she found her supremacy being challenged by another teenager, Lata Mangeshkar. Lata had scored a unique hat-trick in 1949 with three mega-hits in ‘Mahal,’ ‘Andaz’ and ‘Barsaat.’ Naushad’s lilting music in Mehboob Khan’s ‘Andaaz’ and Khemchand Prakash’s soulful songs in Kamal Amrohi’s ‘Mahal,’ enthralled listeners. However, it was in Raj Kapoor’s ‘Barsaat,’ with amazing music by the new duo Shankar-Jaikishan, that Lata demonstrated new facets of her talent. She emerged as the new singing sensation, and Geeta found herself relegated to the second position. Nevertheless, Geeta managed to hold her own.

In fact, 1950 turned out to be the most productive year for Geeta, during which she recorded more songs than in the previous year. In ‘Jogan,’ she sang six of Meerabai’s devotional bhajans. ‘Mat jaa mat jaa jogi,’ ‘Main to Giridhar ke ghar jaaoon,’ ‘Eri main to prem diwani’ and the most popular one, ‘Ghunghat ke pat khol’ that captivated the devout. That year, she sang for several reputed music composers as well, such as S.D. Burman, Avinash Vyas, Bulo C. Rani, Chitragupta, Ghulam Mohammed, Khayyam, Hansraj Behl, Khemchand Prakash, Husnlal Bhagatram, SN Tripathi and Vasant Desai.

Then Guru Dutt happened in 1951. Dev Anand’s ‘Baazi’ was his directorial debut. It was on its sets that Geeta and Guru met and fell in love. They married in May, 1953. They spent the first three years blissfully. Their first son Tarun came in 1954 and the next, Arun, in 1956.

Ironically, Dutt’s entry into her life became both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, as Geeta’s career blossomed and she sang some of the most lilting songs in movies such as ‘Aar Paar’ (1954) and ‘Mr. and Mrs. 55’ (1955). Both were huge hits. Coquettish songs such as ‘Ye lo main haari piya’, ‘Jaa jaa jaa bewafa’ and ‘Babu ji dheere chalna’ became chartbusters.

Other singers, such as Lata, were as good if not better, but Geeta’s singing possessed an ethereal charm; she sang from the heart. At one moment, she would sing a devotional song and the next, she would switch over to a catchy ‘Mera naam chin chin chu,’ and then to a seductive number, ‘Tadbir se bigdi hui taqdeer bana de.’ There was no end to her versatility.

“A soft spoken woman in real life, she would metamorphose into an exotic cabaret performer with clever modulation of voice in the recording studio. Her voice was rich, vibrant and well-toned and could switch from exotica to melancholy in a matter of minutes,” says Shikha Biswas Vohra, daughter of the veteran composer, Anil Biswas.

Both Geeta and Guru were temperamental, sensitive and emotionally fragile. Geeta as a top playback singer in 1953 made more money than Guru Dutt, who was struggling to make his mark as a director. A few busybodies insinuated that Dutt had married Geeta for money. That hurt Guru no end and he asked her to sing only for his movies. Some brushed aside these insinuations. “Guru Dutt belonged to the type for whom money meant nothing; it was only a commodity to trade dreams with,” comments Amit Biswas who, as a child, used to play with Tarun and Arun in their beautiful bungalow on top of Pali Hill.

Guru was a strict disciplinarian on the sets, but was the opposite in personal life; he was a chain smoker and drank a lot. Though ostensibly they continued to live together, they had started drifting apart. In the midst of this marital turmoil, Guru Dutt introduced a newcomer, Waheeda Rehman in his movie ‘C.I.D.’ in 1956. Rumours of Guru’s affair with Waheeda distressed Geeta. She ignored rehearsals and recordings, neglected her riyaz and took to drinking. Both began neglecting their respective careers. Then Guru Dutt faced heavy financial loss with ‘Kaagaz ke Phool.’

Amid the personal problems was born their third child, Nina, in 1962. Two years later, on October 10, 1964, Guru Dutt allegedly committed suicide. His death shattered Geeta. Then followed the years of financial hardship.

It was out of compulsion that she took up singing again in Basu Bhattacharya’s ‘Anubhav.’ Music was by Kanu Roy and lyrics by Gulzar. She sang three memorable songs, ‘Meri jaan mujhe jaan na kaho,’ ‘Koi chupke se aake’ and ‘Mera dil jo mera hota.’ It was remarkable that Geeta, despite a gap of a few years, had not lost the verve and vivacity of old.

She loved her children. “She was an extrovert and a fun-loving person. I remember the good times we had; at a moment’s notice Mummy would say, ‘Come on, let’s go for a picnic,’ and we would pack up and leave. She loved having people around, our friends used to stay over and she would cook and look after everyone. She loved doing that,” Arun had said about his mother.

But she continued to drink, which eventually took its toll and she died on July 20, 1972, of cirrhosis of the liver. She was only 42.


  1. The writer Mr Raj Kanwar can be reached at rkanwar_in@yahoo.co.uk.
  2. This article of his appeared in The Hindu. Here is the link: http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/remembering-geeta-dutt-on-her-death-anniversary/article7456125.ece
  3. Permission from the author to re-publish it here is gratefully acknowledged.
  4. Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/bollywood-legends-talat-mahmood

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If you missed being with Psmith in Pseattle, do not worry. Here is a quick recap of the revelries which ensued. Honoria Glossop recounts her escapade with some juicy details in this post of hers.

Her speech on the psychology of the Plum reader, ostensibly delivered after she had gulped down a jugful of the right stuff, was received with much enthusiasm.

Soak in the sunny details!



What Ho, old beans!

Last week I attended an excellent binge at The Wodehouse Society’s (TWS) 18th convention, Psmith in Pseattle. It was my first TWS convention, and even more psensational than anticipated. So, climb upon my knee, Sonny Boy, and I’ll tell you about it.

As a TWS first timer, I entered the lobby of the impressive Fairmont Olympic Hotel under a cloud –not one of Seattle’s famous v-shaped depressions, but a personal one. Having lived almost exclusively behind a keyboard for the last few years, my people skills are not what they once were. Nor are my trousers, which are let out far more often than I am. So it’s fair to say I was not at my confident best, and beginning to wish I’d stayed under my little rock in Somerset UK. Added to this, I had recklessly agreed to appear as a speaker and…

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The festival season is already upon us, yet again. Those in the Western world are gearing up for celebrating Christmas and New Year. Those in such emerging economies as India are already in the midst of a shopping frenzy, having kick-started the season with Raksha Bandhan, Janamashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Vijayadashmi and Muharram.new-year-2014-firework

They now eagerly look forward to celebrating Guru Nanak Dev’s birthday, Diwali, the festival of lights, and Eid. These would be followed by Christmas, just before the New Year rings in, bringing in its wake Pongal, celebrated in the southern parts and Makar Sankranti, celebrated in the northern parts of India.

Come festive season and a new spirit seems, every year, to cast its spell over the entire community. A spirit of outwardly cheerfulness and goodwill prevails. Fresh rays of hope penetrate through the dense clouds of gloom. Concerns of eking out a living fade away, giving way to a transient resurgence of happiness. Relationships get nurtured afresh. Networking concerns reign supreme.

Much before the actual festival, a tornado of gigantic preparations hits the unsuspecting populace. Hectic preparations get made. Almost all segments of the community experience a rush which sends the adrenaline shooting up to stratospheric heights. Many bemoan the fact that there is so much work to do that there is hardly any time left to, well, celebrate!

Some corporate sparklers

The CEOs in companies can be seen burning the midnight oil to scrutinize the list of VIPs and friends who deserve to Deepawali-festivalbe gifted this year, ostensibly in proportion to their Helpfulness Quotient to the company they work for. Hapless managers can be seen working late hours in warehouses and super markets, collecting either samples or bulk deliveries of the goods to be ferried to the offices and residences of the high and mighty.

HR honchos are busy trying to freeze their festival bonus negotiations. Finance wizards are scratching their heads, trying to dig up deep resources for the upcoming heavy strain on their company’s accounts. Marketing experts are busy ensuring that all promotional campaigns run with clockwork precision, and that distributors’ payments are rolling in at the same speed at which the goods are flying off the shelves. Hassled production guys are praying for the festive rush to get over so they might be able to return to their home and hearth, sit by the fireplace and spend some quality time with their families.

Inwardly, lesser mortals twiddle their thumbs trying to figure out how to manage the finances for buying new clothes, sweets, gifts, crackers and decorative items which go along with the festivities. Much time and effort is spent in ensuring that their bosses – whether at home or at the place of work – are not left behind with a sour taste in the mouth after the festivities get over and the last of the sweets have been shoved down the hatch.

The retail fireworks

Those still in the business of brick-and-mortar retail continue to have sleepless nights. Stocking the right goods, replenishing stocks at the Sikh_Gurus_Guru Nanak with_Bhai_Bala_and_Bhai_Mardanaspeed of Light and changing the window displays thrice in a day are only some of the challenges they have to cope with.

Owners of shopping malls chew their nails trying to figure out which happening brand to bring in next year so as to arrest the downward spiral of customer footfalls.

As e-retailers become more aggressive, hefty discounts allure the lay customer. Courier companies make hay while the festive sun shines. Telecom companies register abnormal jumps in their revenues. Career prospects of delivery boys and girls brighten up. The economy gets a solid boost, cheering the politicians who claim absolute credit for better days having finally arrived for the hoi polloi.

In traditional communities, the festival of Diwali cannot be consummated unless some yellow metal is bought afresh. Bullion traders, designers, jewelers and craftsmen work round the clock and laugh all the way to their respective banks.

A positive spin on the news of the day

Those who devour their daily newspaper with much relish, a cup of steaming hot tea by their sides, are a happier lot these days.

News of a depressing kind – terror, violence, murder, rape, vindictive politics – is relegated to the background. Instead, full-page advertisements and pull-outs featuring scantily dressed models enticing them to own the latest smart phones, electrical appliances, cars, furniture, clothes, jewellery, pickles and such other items greet them upfront.

An alien being passing by our planet these days, were she to come across some of the enticements on offer, could be excused for believing that she has finally landed in Heaven!

The frowning calorie-counters

At festive times, managers face a different genre of pressure – not the ‘peer’ kind but that of the ‘pear’ kind. Since noeid-e-miladunnabi_64275 celebration is complete without their gorging on an assortment of delectable sweets and cakes, not to mention their having to guzzle down a wide range of tissue restoratives, the fitness freaks amongst them are a worried lot.

Calorie-conscious denizens are revisiting their exercise related pious intentions stated in their last New Year’s resolutions. Larsen Exercises popularized by Ashe Marson are being looked up on Google. Gym memberships are hard to come by. Sales of physical fitness equipments zoom.

Some models which fail

Minor employees of shops, departmental stores and other nests peddling their goods and services smile invitingly when approached by customers. Lured by hefty but deceptive discounts, the latter shop to their heart’s content. In supermarket aisles, it is common to see hassled husbands hidden behind a tower of shiny gift packets dutifully following their wives to the nearest billing counter. Lobby managers in hotels and restaurants can be seen perspiring, trying to manage the queue of weary shoppers pouring in.

Those in the transportation business have no moment to spare either. Since everyone wants to travel to some place or the other, even the best of linear programming models and queuing theories fail to provide succour to a professionally trained manager desperately trying to satisfy her customers.

Thrifty homemakers

What happens to all the festival presents? This is a question which has long vexed thinking Homo sapiens. EveryChristmas-and-New-Year-Gifts year, a tsunami of incredibly useless junk bursts upon our civilization. Experts in Sustainable Development advocate drawing recycling lessons from many of our religious outfits which permit the same invocatory items to be sold and resold to gullible devotees, till the process of natural decay or irreparable damage takes over.

Thrifty homemakers rummage through their cupboards to pull out gifts received from others during the year. Skills in polishing leather, silver and brass items help them to burnish their own brand value. Experts at repackaging the same for another set of beneficiaries, their shopping is merely confined to glistening gift wrapping papers, shiny ribbons and cute little cards which must carry the name of the gift-giver more prominently than that of the clueless gift-receiver.

If they happen to possess qualities of humaneness and genuine love, they gift items which can be recycled by the unsuspecting recipients next year round. The risk, of course is for them to receive the same item back a few years down the road.

Members of the rag-picking tribe do a wonderful job – that of picking up the junk discarded by haughty recipients and handing it back to retail chains which are happy to recycle the stuff at the next festival that comes bounding up.Chrisrmas_postcard_1907

It stands to reason that the tribes which manufacture and distribute such items strongly resent such practices.

Sulking youngsters

The young brats who cause many a doting parent to wonder if the decision to bear a progeny was indeed a wise one can be seen sitting in a dark corner with a sullen expression on their faces.

Santa Claus appears to have neglected them. Their friends have procured the latest range of crackers – a feat which their father has not been able to accomplish. The i-Phone or the tablet they were hoping to get by way of a gift is nowhere in sight. Instead, they have been dumped with some creaky plastic toy which has long since gone out of fashion. An uncle who has popped up from a distant land has merely brought a digital time clock so they may get up in time to catch the school bus.

Surely, all this does not deserve the old-time gratitude, warmth and sincerity which even a chocolate bar used to merit a few years back. The Yuletide spirit is singularly absent.

Raising the level of intellect

Some shop for books to be gifted. Shiny volumes of Shakespeare, Tennyson or Wordsworth get chosen for the elderly.CodeOfTheWoosters Neatly packed omnibus editions of Omar Khayyam, P G Wodehouse, Khalil Gibran and Rabindranath Tagore get selected for the young-at-heart. Shimmering publications in the Harry Potter series fly off the warehouse shelves, delighting old and young alike.

All these activities generate much-desired revenue for a number of writers who refuse to abandon the proverbial pen and keep churning out stuff which gets devoured only by a select group of their fans. Employers who have been deprived of their services breathe easy, having been spared the torture of hiring and firing absent-minded writers who would have otherwise messed up quite a few things in their company’s operations.

Publishers who are still in the conventional mould rely on the festive season to help them to get rid of several non-moving worst-seller tomes which they have published during the past few months, merely to oblige their spouses’ relations.

Of e-greetings

Thanks to advancements in technology, the tedious task of selecting shiny greeting cards, signing them individually and then ensuring that the same get posted well within time to the right addresses of the intended recipients has got simplified. The omnipresent Internet ensures that common relatives and friends can get greeted with effortless ease over mails, social media or applications like WhatsApp.

Invoking the Guardian Angel

The manner in which we view our festivals depends on the phase of the life we are in.

For a homemaker bringing up irrepressible kids in a joint family, there is no time to brood over such matters. She canChristmas Nativity_tree2011 be seen hurriedly pulling out all the grandma’s recipes so as to effectively compete with Anatole and get praised by her family as ‘God’s gift for the gastric juices’. The so-called Lord and Master of the household can be seen scouring the markets for the best deal possible for gifts to be procured.

A quieter soul like that of Bertie Wooster might wish to skip all the buzz and plan to instead go off on a retreat and enjoy a few weeks of rest and repose. A country cottage built along the lines of Wee Nooke would get booked. Arrangements would be made to ensure that Edwin the Boy Scout is not around. All supplies of paraffin would be cleverly concealed. While Jeeves would ensure a steady supply of soluble piscine vitamins, Bertie would invoke his Guardian Angel and practice on his banjeole. His batteries would then be fully charged up for the big bash lined up at Drones on the eve of Christmas.

An elderly person in the mould of Lord Emsworth might just continue to potter around the sprawling gardens at Blandings Castle and wonder if there a way to stay aloof from all the commercial jazz. Instead, he might simply prefer to find a quiet meditative spot in the moss-covered yew alley, get connected to the higher power which any particular festival is supposed to invoke, and pray for an all-in-one package to be granted: For the Empress to remain in the pink of health, for the Hon. Frederick Threepwood to remain preoccupied with the promotion of Donaldson’s Dog-Biscuits in distant lands, and for Lady Constance to remain off his abode for a long time to come.

Peace would prevail. God would be in heaven. All would be well with the world. Real celebrations can then begin!

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Think of those lavish spreads of Anatole’s and the mouth waters. MereWodehouse characters description of the dishes dished out by the “God’s gift to our gastric juices” makes us drool.

Even though the names of the dishes sound enticing, not many of us pause to think of the ingredients.

Take a saunter down Moulder’s Lane and you will find each of the dishes de-mystified. This delectable post would not only whet your appetite but also make you wonder at the investigative skills of the authoress who could perhaps pose a danger to the career prospects of Sherlock Holmes.

Bon appetit!

Statutory Warning: Partaking of all the dishes mentioned herein in one go could upset your calorie counts. The lining of your stomach could register a protest. Restraint is advised.

(Illustration courtesy www)

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Moulders Lane

After an amusing discussion at Baker’s Daughter blog on food in books and eating the Enid Blyton way, and a prompt from that witty Wodehouse fan the Old Reliable Ashokbhatia, I have polished up my A level French and scoured the internet to bring you this Wodehousian feast. Aficianados will recall it is the menu put together by Bertie in The Code of the Woosters after he anticipates being jugged in lieu of Aunt Dahlia:

‘Bertie! Do you mean this?’

‘I should say so. What’s a mere thirty days in the second division? A bagatelle. I can do it on my head. Let Bassett do his worst. And, ‘ I added in a softer voice, ‘ when my time is up and I come out into the world once more a free man, let Anatole do his best. A month of bread and water or skilly or whatever they…

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