Archive for June, 2019


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…

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Kind of moody the guv’nor had been for some days. Not at all his usual bright self. I had put it down to reaction from a slight attack of influenza which he’d been having: and, of course, I took no notice, just performing my duties as usual, until this evening which I’m talking about, when I brought him his whisky and siphon as was customary and he burst out at me.

“Oh, dash it, Jeeves!” he said, sort of overwrought. “I wish at least you’d put it on another table for a change.”

“Sir?” I said.

“Every night, hang it all,” proceeded the guv’nor, “you come in at exactly the same old time with the same old tray and put it on the same dashed old table. I’m fed up, I tell you. It’s the bally monotony of it that makes it all seem so frightfully bally.”

I confess that his words filled me with a certain apprehension. I had heard gentlemen in whose employment I’ve been talk in very much the same way before, and it had almost invariably meant that they were contemplating matrimony. It disturbed me, therefore, I’m free to admit, when Mr. Wooster spoke in this fashion. I had no desire to sever a connection so pleasant in every respect as his and mine had been, and my experience is that when the wife comes in at the front door the valet of bachelor days goes out at the back.

“It’s not your fault, of course,” went on the guv’nor, calming down a trifle. “I’m not blaming you. But, by Jove, I mean, you must acknowledge, I mean to say—I’ve been thinking pretty deeply these last few days, Jeeves, and I’ve come to the conclusion mine is an empty life. I’m lonely, Jeeves.”

“You have a great many friends, sir,” I pointed out.

“What’s the good of friends?”

“Emerson says a friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature, sir.”

“Well, you can tell Emerson from me next time you see him that he’s an ass.”

“Very good, sir.”

“What I want—Jeeves, have you seen that play called I-forget-its-dashed-name?”

“No, sir.”

“It’s on at the What-d’you-call-it. I went last night. The hero’s a chap who’s buzzing along, you know, quite merry and bright, and suddenly a kid turns up and says she’s his daughter. Left over from act one, you know—absolutely the first he’d heard of it. Well, of course, there’s a bit of a fuss and they say to him: ‘What-ho?’ and he says: ‘Well, what about it?’ and they say: ‘Well, what about it?’ and he says: ‘Oh, all right, then, if that’s the way you feel!’ and he takes the kid and goes off with her out into the world together, you know. Well, what I’m driving at, Jeeves, is that I envied that chappie. Most awfully jolly little girl, you know, clinging to him trustingly and what not. Something to look after, if you know what I mean. Jeeves, I wish I had a daughter. I wonder what the procedure is?”

“Marriage is, I believe, considered the preliminary step, sir.”

“No, I mean about adopting a kid. You can adopt kids, you know, Jeeves. I’ve seen it in the papers, often. ‘So-and-so, adopted daughter of Tiddleypush.’ It can be done all right. But what I want to know is how you start about it.”

“The process, I should imagine, would be highly complicated and laborious, sir. It would cut into your spare time.”

This seemed to check him for a while. Then he brightened up.

“Well, I’ll tell you what I could do, then. My sister will be back from India next week with her three little girls. I’ll give up this flat and take a house and have them all to live with me. By Jove, Jeeves, I think that’s rather a scheme, what? Prattle of childish voices, eh? Little feet pattering hither and thither, yes!”

I concealed my perturbation. The scheme the guv’nor was toying with meant the finish of our cosy bachelor establishment if it came off: and no doubt some men in my place would at this juncture have voiced their disapproval and probably got the sack for it, the guv’nor being in what you might call an edgey mood. I avoided this tracasserie.

“If you will pardon my saying so, sir,” I suggested, tactfully, “I think you are not quite yourself after your influenza. If I might express the opinion, what you require is a few days by the sea. Brighton is very handy, sir.”

“Are you suggesting that I’m talking through my hat?”

“By no means, sir. I merely advocate a short stay at Brighton as a physical recuperative.”

The guv’nor thought it over.

“Well, I’m not sure you’re not right. I am feeling more or less of an onion. You might shove a few things in a suit-case and drive me down in the car to-morrow.”

“Very good, sir.”

“And when we get back I’ll be in the pink and ready to tackle this pattering feet wheeze.”

“Exactly, sir.”

Well, it was a respite, and I welcomed it. But I began to see that a crisis had arisen which would require adroit handling. Rarely had I observed the guv’nor more set on a thing. Indeed, I could recall no such exhibition of determination on his part since the time when he had insisted, against my obvious disapproval, on wearing purple socks. However, I had coped successfully with that outbreak, and I was by no means un-sanguine that I should eventually be able to bring the present affair to a happy issue. Employers are like horses. They want managing. Some of us have the knack of managing them, some haven’t. I, I am happy to say, have no cause for complaint.

(Source: Bertie Changes His Mind – the only story in the Wodehouse canon which is narrated by Jeeves)

(Illustration courtesy Suvarna Sanyal)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/07/05/the-gallery-of-rogue-kids-in-plumsville)

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Can we identify a God who can be beseeched to preside over our Internet-ional GaneshaAffairs?

In Hinduism, for example, we are exposed to a mind-boggling variety of divine manifestations. Down the long corridors of time, since the dawn of history, the Hindu pantheon has evolved with a multitude of deities.

The deities offer an eclectic mix – some are highly specialized whereas others are all-purpose ones. Some are removers of any obstacles that a seeker may face in life. Some grant better learning abilities and wisdom. Some bestow immense wealth and prosperity. Then we have the generalist trinity – one is said to have crafted the creation, one runs it smoothly like a true blue CEO while another destroys and reconstructs. The latter two intervene in human affairs as and when they deem it necessary.Ravi_Varma-Lakshmi

In fact, there is no sphere of life which has not been touched by some…

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Lord Krishna, whose birthday will be celebrated tomorrow, happens to be one of the most revered and liked gods of the Hindu pantheon. Looked at from a management point of view, he is a leader par excellence. He manages events and people in such a manner that the end result is eventually positive and leads to a greater good.

Here are some facets of his personality which might be instructive for managers at all levels.

A friendly demeanour

When a devotee plans to seek a straight forward favour, like when a much-awaited promotion is due and hard workKrishna_holding_flute has indeed been put in for the purpose, Lord Rama is often the more sought after religious figure. But when a devious request has to be made, say when praying for the transfer of a CEO who keeps disturbing one’s mental peace, the attention invariably turns to Lord Krishna. After all, he…

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Just like ‘Ramayana’, the epic of ‘Mahabharata’ also has many management lessons for the present day business leaders and managers. Greed, jealousy, quest for power, trying to achieve goals irrespective of the fairness of the means deployed – all these contradictions in life are very poignantly brought out.

Here are some lessons which could be drawn from the epic.

  • Merit over Birth

When it comes to announcing a successor to his vast kingdom, King Bharata does not choose any of his own sons. Instead, he namesMahabharat King Bharat Bhumanyu whom he considers more capable to manage the affairs of his kingdom. In a dynastic rule, seeds of democracy are thus sown.

In India Inc’s power rankings, professional CEOs are on the rise. Three of the top ten in the 2013 edition of ‘India Inc’s Most Powerful CEOs’ are professionals. Five years back, K V Kamath was the only professional in the top…

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The brand called Jeeves stands for impeccable service. It signifies delivery of results which exceed one’s expectations, that too with due respect, politeness and sagacity. The methods may be rough at times, but the neat results obtained do provide satisfaction to all concerned.

On the flip side, the brand also represents cunning. An undercurrent of subterfuge often manifests itself. An excessive control over the affairs of the hapless and mentally negligible masters is a cost to be borne to avail of the service package on offer.

Residents of Plumsville often wonder as to how Jeeves, the well-known gentleman’s personal gentleman, acquired the traits that eventually made him an indispensable asset to the upper crust of English society – the art of shimmering in and out, the detailed knowledge of Debrett’s British Peerage, the knack of solving some tricky problems facing his blue-blooded masters or his pals, and, of course…

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Now, when a friend like Psoumya approaches with a problem of Plummy proportions what is one to do? I mean noblesse oblige and all that rot.

Especially a pal with whom you have swapped creative juices while working on a series of books, a saga that you have let loose on unsuspecting masses in five bally parts. Add to that more such collaborations are in the works, to be hurled at naïve souls when they are at their most vulnerable.

The Code of the Psenguptas compels you to spring into action, sleeves rolled up and palms spat on. The old bean races like a cheetah resolved to catch the first scene before the curtain is raised, unscheduled maintenance work on Piccadilly notwithstanding.

You see, Psoumya was just pottering about, minding her own business and generally spreading sweetness and light, when she was blind-sighted by this blighter of a friend asking her to compile a list of ten books. Following that she was to publish the list, one measly volume after another, into what has become the tangled web of our lives, FaceBook – that mingled yarn, fusing good and ill together.

Being an artist, and a topping one at that, Psoumya decided to put her own crafty spin on it. With her diligent brush-strokes, she dragged her choice of books onto canvas. She made them wear the frame, Spode-like, around their spines and leather jackets. To cut a long story short, she started making paintings of each book in her list.

And having dipped the wick of her creative soul in the dangerous spirit of graphic novelling, in which yours truly has waded alongside as her comrade in arms, she was ignited with the desire to put words into the mouths of the books. As if all that they held from cover to cover was not good enough. She brought in speech bubbles.

Being a Plummite herself, it was not too long before she plunged for Doctor Sally among her choices. And with jolly old Wodehouse fare literally in the picture, so to say, she rang for her partner in crime to come to her aid.

“What ho!”

“Of all the infernal nuisance …”

“Good morning to you too.”

“I picked Doctor Sally.”

“Did you now? No Psmith, no Blandings, no Jeeves. That’s the most unkindest cut of all.”

“I could pick only one Wodehouse book. Dashed difficult thing too, given he seems to have produced one every alternate day.”

“I wonder what the rest of the volumes have to say about that in your cartoon?”

“They will have some testy tinkerty-tonks up their sleeves, won’t they?””

“Given they will be cut to the quick at not being picked, I doubt they will stop at the unprintable.”

“They are books, for g’s sake. They cannot access the unprintable.”

“Take it from me, old p-in-c, that little technical impossibility won’t stop them. Besides, this is the electronic world. Print is passe and all that sort of thing… Also, given a shelf, they can stand up for themselves … and they don’t lack spines.”

There was what you would call a pregnant silence before she gushed forth:

“I say, can you help me come up with some words for these pestilent perishers?”

“Well, you see, what with this thing and that …”

“Arun, I mean now!”

“Oh, sure, indeed, right-ho, sure thing, happy to help and all that.”

So, that was the gist of it. As rummy old Shakespeare says, if you’re going to do a thing you might as well pop right at it and get it over.

With firmness of purpose we did just that, and in the image above you see the result.

If for some reason you find yourself intrigued about the Psoumya-Psengupta collaborations I surreptitiously hinted at (perhaps because someone took away your all-day sucker at the age of six), I am adding the details of the blasted lot without a blush of shame on our cheeks of modesty.

(Sportswriter Arun Sengupta and artist Soumya Ganesh (Maha) have collaborated in producing a series of graphic novels based on the History of World Cup Football. However, both remain Plummy types. Hence, faced with a FaceBook challenge, they combined to produce something Wodehousean.

Arun Sengupta writes the story behind the Plum-piece. The artwork is by Soumya Ganesh.

Sudden Death: An Illustrated History of World Cup Football as a Mystery Thriller Volumes 1 to 5 by Arun and Maha …published by Criketsoccer … available from Amazon and other outlets)

(This article appeared in the May-June 2019 issue of Nothing Serious, the journal of the P G Wodehouse Society of Netherlands)

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