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Archive for January, 2017

For those who are new to the world of P G Wodehouse, here is a post which offers interesting tips on where to start devouring his sunlit works.

To those who already reside in Plumsville, this post offers a new perspective on the order in which his works may be savoured.

Plumtopia

world-of-jeevesThis piece is the second in a series of guides for readers wanting to discover the joys of Jeeves and Wooster, Blandings, and the wider world of Wodehouse ‘hidden gems’. The previous post provided reading suggestions for new Wodehouse readers.

Today’s piece offers a suggested reading order for the Jeeves and Wooster stories, followed by some general notes and guidance for readers.

If you particularly dislike short stories and want to skip straight to the novels, I suggest starting your reading from Right Ho, Jeeves.

Jeeves and Wooster Reading List

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Most authors happen to be sensitive souls. The kind of cruelty they get subjected to in their routine lives makes one wonder as to how they keep dishing out juicy narratives day after day, despite facing mighty challenges.

For those who specialize in spinning fictional yarns, the basic challenge is that of cranking up a plot and etching out characters which fit into the overall scheme of things. For those who dish out a non-fiction piece of work, the challenge is that of coming up with a novel subject which would provide some satisfaction to their target audience.

Cruelty in the Creative Phase

When their creative juices are in full flow, distractions abound. Social commitments often impede the pace of work. Spouses pop up with some mundane queries just when the proceedings happen to be perking up. Maid servants and postmen come in just at the time when the heroine is about to swoon and fall into the hero’s out-stretched arms. An all too important marriage comes up in the spouse’s family just when the manuscript is being given the finishing touches.

Distractions of this kind interrupt the flow of creative juices. The author develops a ‘block’. To claw her way out of a block, a muse has to come to the aid of the party of the first part. Sanity is restored on its throne. Creative juices resume their flow.

Cruelty in the Publishing Phase authors-n-publishers

Once the creative foray in the imaginary mind space is over, a wannabe author lands on the hard terrain of real life. Publishers of all hues get contacted. The agonizing wait for a firm but polite rejection note, if any, begins. Quite a few publishers believe in the dictum that ‘Silence itself signifies rejection’. Heart-broken, the hapless author starts examining other options. Self-publishing pundits get consulted.

Leads given by friends who are blissfully ignorant of the current challenges being faced by traditional publishers keep getting followed up. The fact that they face an existential crisis these days, what with the barrage of e-books available at the click of a button, gets neglected. Their survival instincts lead them to woo well-established authors even while being wooed by newbie authors.

Surviving in the Publishing Jungle

Keen to share her work with the world, the author finally relents and settles down to a mode of publishing which meets her ambition, her purse strings and the content of the work to be peddled.

The interaction with a publisher – whether of the traditional, the print-on-demand, or the vanity kind – saps the energy of the author no end. Reserves of patience get called upon to answer all the queries raised and the permissions asked for. A realization dawns that nerves of chilled steel are a prerequisite for publishing a work. Exasperation sets in.

Reaching out to potential readers

The mood of despondency gets somewhat lifted when the first copy of the book comes into the author’s hands. But this is no time to sit back and relax. Marketing plans need to be acted upon. Social media updates have to be fed to the virtual world in a relentless manner. Myriad queries keep the poor soul in a perennial state of torment.

Harsh critics pan either the contents or the approach of the book. Dreams of being on the To-Be-Read list of the target audience evaporate. Visions of one being on the Best Seller list in some part of the world get clouded. The art of competing with millions of other wannabe authors to attract the eye-balls of unsuspecting readers gets learnt the hard way.

A Plummy initiativePGWodehouse

Some of you would be delighted to know that Rosie M Banks, the Chair-person of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Authors (SPCA), is recently said to have invited nominations for some of the annual awards conferred by the society in the following categories:

  1. Bingo Little Award: For spouses who provide flexible me-only distraction-free time to wannabe authors and ensure that their afternoon cup of tea is invariably served piping hot.
  2. Aunt Dahlia Award: For family members who keep inviting authors to devour the lavish spreads of Anatole, thereby keeping them in a positive frame of mind and ensuring a free flow of their creative juices.
  3. Bertie Wooster Award for Milk of Human Kindness: Meant for pals who are present only when they are needed, and are part of the cheering squad, specifically when the chips are down and tissue restoratives need to be served.
  4. Lord Tilbury Award: For publishers who display their kindness by responding to unsolicited manuscripts within two weeks, and, when rejecting one, are gracious enough to suggest alternate publishing houses who might be interested in the material submitted.
  5. Florence Craye Award: For intellectual critics who realize the kind of hard work that goes into whipping up a book like ‘Spindrift’ and provide constructive criticism of any work referred to them for a review.
  6. Daphne Dolores MoreheadAward: For bulk buyers who pick up more than 25% of the total first print order of an upcoming book.

Do you wish to nominate someone for any of these coveted awards? Further details can be had at www.plumspca.com. The entry fee is a modest tenner, to be remitted to the bank account of Bingo Junior.

The 19 rejections of Plum

A word to cheer up wannabe authors would be in order.

As reported by the late Norman Murphy in the September 2016 issue of ‘By The Way’, published by the P G Wodehouse Society (UK), during the month of June, 1901, a twenty year old Plum was down with mumps and was at Stableford for three weeks.  During this period, he wrote 19 short stories. All were rejected!

If this is what could happen to a Master Wordsmith of our times, there is much hope yet for first time authors of all sizes and shapes.

Having a chin up attitude, recalling one’s bulldog spirit, and facing the harsh slings and arrows of cruelty with aplomb would surely help!

(Related Posts:  

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/of-writers-and-their-blocks

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/the-confessions-of-an-armchair-blogger)

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Bollywood playback singer Mahendra Kapoor has rendered songs of all genres. Here is an exhaustive look at his duets, many of which have an immortal quality to them.

My Views On Bollywood

By

Sharada Iyer

Mahendra Kapoor with his distinct robust vocals carved a unique niche for himself as a superb singer during the Golden era of Hindi cinema. He was adept at singing all kinds of songs which included bhajans, ghazals, qawaalis, romantic numbers, sad songs as well as patriotic songs. His voice was immortalized on the small screen also when he sang the title track of director B R Chopra’s magnum opus TV serial Mahabharat. He was loved by his fans across all age-groups not only for his style of singing but also for his soft-spoken, friendly and humble demeanor.

For his outstanding contribution to the world of Indian film music, the Government of India bestowed upon him the coveted Padma Shree in the year 1972. He also won the prestigious Filmfare trophy for the ‘Best Male Playback Singer’ three times in his career (1964, 1968,1975) and the National Award…

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panjab-university-ubs

An academic course in management obviously does not offer lessons in managing the affairs of the heart. But the Class of 1977 broke through the academic shackles, with some of its members walking out of the campus with a clear strategy as to who their future soul mate shall be.

The stiff-upper-lip approach

Management education is all about the stiff-upper-lip approach of the mind. Analytical skills rule supreme, leading to rummy situations where analysis often leads to paralysis. Linear programming models get worked upon. Statistical techniques get dished out by stern looking professors who might have been hotter in their jobs more as police officers or as judges.

Hapless students are made to understand exponential smoothening techniques so as to be able to forecast business parameters in an uncertain business environment. Those with an engineering background struggle to match their debits and credits. The lucky ones who have had a background in commerce twiddle their fingers trying to grasp the complexities of quantitative techniques in decision-making.

The neglected need to boost our EQs

The behavioural sciences do provide a little bit of cheer to the tormented souls undergoing a typical MBA course. But to understand the psychology of an individual is no mean task. Mere case studies and management tips for handling an industrial strife do not improve one’s EQ substantially. Handling a tough boss eventually gets learnt only in the corporate world outside. The real world also teaches us to handle errant subordinates whose emotional blackmail upon reporting for work after a spell of French leave needs deft handling. The harsh realities of business world provide a high quality learning which can surely not be replicated within the stifling confines of a classroom.

The dashers and the rabbits

In fact, for some of those who formed the batch of 1977, the beautifully laid out campus outside provided a far better laboratory to test their hypotheses on the softer matters of the heart. These were the chosen ones who were smitten by the tender arrows of a smart Cupid.

The snag in the business of falling in love is much like that of mixed up career choices. Take an introvert and put him in a marketing assignment and the results could be disastrous. Take an extrovert used to making tall claims and put him in charge of manufacturing. The customers could soon melt away, leaving the company grappling with a credibility gap.

Bertie image

Same is the case in matters of love. As per the Bertie Wooster doctrine:

“….parties of the first part so often get mixed up with the wrong parties of the second part, robbed of their cooler judgment by the parties of the second part’s glamour. Put it like this. The male sex is divided into rabbits and non-rabbits and the female sex into dashers and dormice, and the trouble is that the male rabbit has a way of getting attracted by a female dasher (who would be fine for the male non-rabbit) and realizing too late that he ought to have been concentrating on some mild, gentle dormouse with whom he could settle down peacefully and nibble lettuce.”

The USP of the Class of 1977

The batch of 1977 had as many as five members of the tribe of the delicately nurtured. Since the previous one, the Class of 1976, had none, they were the cynosure of all eyes. They were invariably the prime focus of attention for many of us in the batch of 1976. All we seniors required was an inane excuse to pop up and try to grab the attention of at least one out of the five pairs of eyes we could feast on. The faculty members simply loved them – not necessarily for their academic proficiency, but merely for ensuring some discipline amongst the men folk loitering around.

Some of the members of our tribe of the so-called sterner sex were the shy and silent kind. Some were busy chasing their academic pursuits and kept their hormones under check. Others were benignly interested but limited their interactions to admiring gazes alone. Very few were the dashing types who, their puny chests all puffed up, attempted to indicate a more than passing interest in the parties of the other part.

Managed walks down the aisle

Those were traditional times when the distinction between an ‘arranged marriage’, a ‘love marriage’ and a ‘love marriage which had to be managed’ was pretty clear. Live-in relationships were not heard of.

The majority amongst us believed in the straight and narrow path that life offered then – the comfort of an ‘arranged marriage’ where the parents take the flak for subsequent problems, if any, and where love blossomed, albeit hesitatingly in some cases, much after the walk down the aisle took place. The time on the campus was, therefore, used by the members of this tribe merely to exchange furtive glances, suffer the pangs of transient infatuations and a silent admiration for the physical profile of the party of the other part.

pu-student-center

Then there were the dashing types, the risk takers who could use their time on the campus to firm up their affection for each other and concoct some dreamy plans for their future together. To avoid inquisitive and prying eyes, they would often vanish in thin air, possibly to land in such distant locales as the Sukhna Lake or the Rose Garden.

Management knowledge put to loving use

These were indeed the souls which put most of their management knowledge to actual use. No manual has been published till now, but it is clear that strategic decisions were taken by them with due diligence. Flawless planning and execution followed. Regression Analysis was applied to ensure that respective parents fell in line with the wishes of their wards. Soft-nosed commerce was used to draw up joint P&L Accounts and Balance Sheet, so the planned merger would face little financial turbulence. Principals of Materials Management were applied to ensure that the eventual stock transfer of one party to the abode of the party of the other part was carried out in a smooth and cordial fashion. Inspiration was drawn from a random sample of other couples who had successfully handled their affairs in an exemplary fashion.

Managing the Affairs of the Heart

cupidCupid, when it chooses to strike, is pretty democratic in nature. If one of the Class of 1977 decided to hitch her lot with a classmate of hers, yet another signed and sealed a merger deal with a senior of the Class of 1976. Both lived happily thereafter!

Close to forty years down the road, looking at the success of these mergers and alliances, it is highly regrettable that management academics still continue to adopt the stiff-upper-lip approach which focuses on analytical skills alone.

A day should surely dawn when ‘Managing the Affairs of the Heart’ gets introduced as a compulsory full semester subject across all management institutes; a time when doctoral theses on such subjects shall be encouraged.

After all, there are as many management lessons to be drawn from the works of Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, P G Wodehouse, O Henry and Jane Austen as can be gleaned from the tomes dished out by such luminaries as Peter F Drucker, McGregor and Philip Kotler.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/the-class-of-1976-how-it-managed-to-get-suspended-for-a-week

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/the-class-of-1990-how-ubs-prompted-sandeep-mann-to-learn-management-from-movies)

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AyurvedaAyurveda, the Indian science of physical and mental well-being, is more than 5,000 years old. It may lack the kind of scientific rigour which Western thought demands, but its recommendations are highly effective.

Much of this knowledge gets passed down from one generation to the next in an informal manner – not by means of written texts but by way of sheer practice.

Here are some tried and tested recipes which could help one in facing challenges of a physical nature.

Gastritis 

  • Lightly roast ajwain seeds (50gms), cumin seeds (50 gms) and asfoetida  (1 gm) in ghee
  • Grind to powder and add 1 tablespoon of rock salt
  • Store in a glass bottle and use 1 tablespoon of powder before all meals with lukewarm water.

Heartburn 

  • Cold coconut water (1 cup)
  • Cold rice milk (half cup), if taken immediately when symptoms arise.

Constipation

  • 1 banana followed by a cup of warm milk with green cardamom daily at nighttime.
  • 6-8 figs and black raisins soaked overnight to be chewed in the morning followed by warm water

Lack of sleep 

  • Warm milk with ghee 5 drops, turmeric half teaspoon and honey 1 teaspoon
  • One hour before going to bed, watch or read any thing that soothes your frayed nerves and makes you smile and relax.

Chest congestion 

  • Roast 5 pods of garlic in mustard oil and apply it on chest every morning and evening.

Fever

  • Squeeze half lemon for its juice and add same amount of honey to the lemon juice.
  • Drink with warm water and sit with 2 blankets wrapped around.

These treatments are tested on oneself and have been found to be quite effective. This is traditional knowledge which is being shared here so all may benefit.

(Image, courtesy the world wide web, used only for representational purposes)

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On the occasion of Thiruvalluvar day, celebrated on this day in the state of Tamil Nadu in India, in memory of Saint Thiruvalluvar who is said to have lived in a period between second century BC and 8th century AD.

ashokbhatia

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

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

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

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

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ashokbhatia

In Ritusamhara, Kalidasa uses the season of winter to give his readers a sneak peek into the inner chambers of houses where couples are eager to get reunited. Given his flair for romance, he does not disappoint. He touches upon the use of intoxicants and the amorous intentions of women of age. He speaks of the agony of the air trapped between intimate body parts of a couple who are in a tight embrace. He talks of the dressing behavior of women in the mornings after they have experienced intense love-making during the preceding night.

Bollywood is not far behind in giving its viewers a sneak peek into the private moments of a couple. In fact, with each passing year, the envelope only gets pushed further and bedroom scenes become bolder and steamier. But to do so, our dream merchants do not necessarily depend upon the winter season alone…

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