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Archive for November, 2021

ashokbhatia

Practising managers have had a look at it. Entrepreneurs – of the social as well as the anti-social kind – have gone through it. Management consultants have flipped through it. Eminent personalities have browsed through it. Academicians have devoured it.

Here are some of the comments received so far in respect of the book Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’.

“Behind the veil of humour and punch – there is a message. As the human drama unfolds itself in the corporate jungle, the best and worst of human natures battle for space.  Sure enough, the early warnings in the book might help the hapless to survive and the smart to succeed. However, buried in the crevices of the chapters lies a deeper secret. The secret of an inner tuning – developing an inner compass based on personal values that not just protects you but also guides you towards happiness…

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ashokbhatia

Of all the reading that I have done, I have never ever had so much fun,
Than whilst perusing Wodehouse, Laughing to burst out of my blouse.

That Bertie Wooster is so British, such a jolly good fellow,
Can erupt like a volcano at times, yet is disarmingly mellow,
Ample bosomed Aunt Agatha et al bully him into the ground,
Bertie would be lost if Jeeves, that paragon wasn’t around.

The aunts make mincemeat of Bertie without so much as a by your leave,
If it wasn’t for Jeeves the saviour, we’d weep for Bertie and for him grieve,
The Wooster name would fall into ruin, rust corrode their noble family crest,
Sans Jeeves to keep a vigilant eye and shoo away both aunt and other pest.

Bertie Wooster is so upper class, so stiff upper lip, simply so very English,
He belongs to the right club, yet tormented by…

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ashokbhatia

The big and fat weddings which keep taking place all across the length and breadth of India are well known. These are occasions on which gullible parents, overjoyed by the prospect of finally getting rid of their respective wards, loosen their purse strings, showcasing their wealth, power and pelf.

Ostentatious decorations, lavish dinner spreads which could make Anatole raise his eyebrows a fraction of an inch, sumptuous upholstering of those in attendance and a chain of rituals which keep the hapless bride and the groom on their toes – all of these create an ambience which befits the social status of the well-heeled parents, making many others green with envy. It is another matter that such display of wealth often makes our tax sleuths sit up and take notice. The Bartholomews under their supervision promptly start sniffing around, their bare teeth on full display. Unless prompt steps are taken through…

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Chakravarti Madhusudana, Australia

P G Wodehouse never visited India. But even a first reading of his works reveals his affinity for India, Indians and Indian things in general. He may not be always complimentary about Indians and sometimes be even wrong, but his observations were totally without malice and always with an acute sense of the absurd.

In “The Indian Curry Dished Out”, Ashok Bhatia has made an extensive study of Indian references in Plum’s stories and novels. He has classified them into more than a dozen categories and presented them in a style that would be the envy of probably the master himself. I particularly liked the section “Missed Ingredients…” which hints at how PGW’s works might have been enriched by looking at other aspects of Indian culture.

This is a momentous work performed with great love and respect for Plum. I am sure it will be read with delight by Wodehouse fans whether or not they have an Indian background.

John Dawson, USA

This is a unique, delightful and informative essay. Of course I knew that Plum had referenced Indian matters quite a few times in his books, but the volume of these references you’ve included were surprising to me. You’ve done a superb job on an ambitious project! I don’t believe anyone has heretofore attempted to gather all of the Indian references in Wodehouse’s books. Please accept my congratulations for a lovely and worthwhile contribution to Wodehouse scholarship.  

Masha Lebedeva, Russia

The article is absolutely wonderful. It not only gives us a chance to enjoy Master’s humour again and again but also a possibility to look through Plum’s eyes at India’s history, politics and culture. Bravo, Ashok, great work!

Kartik Pashupati, USA

Excellent essay. It’s interesting that Plum’s cat was named Poona. “Poonai” is also the Tamil word for cat, although I doubt if that’s what he had in mind. It’s also worth noting that all of the references to gemstones and similar artifacts stolen from Indian temples are parodies of “The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins, which is said to be one of the earliest detective novels in English.

Nikhil Rathod, India 

Thank you for the fascinating piece. It took me a while, but I finally finished all 50+ pages. You’ve really researched it!

A couple of things stood out to me:

– India was a huge part of British culture. More than PGW having a fascination for India, I got the impression he was just reflecting the popular culture. PGW was quintessentially English, which is reflected in his writing-style and stories. The references to India weren’t particularly knowledge about India.

– Speaking of “stories”, I’ve loved reading PGW. But, I always knew that the storyline or theme of most books never changed. Obviously, that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of his writing. Similarly, the references that you pointed out in your essay were also repeated in several books. The essay really illustrated this point.

I would have said, Happy Reading, in conclusion, but I don’t think we’ll find an author to compare. Again, thanks for sharing your essay.

Pradeep Swaminathan, India

Ashok has taken the pains book by book to correlate all facts that the Master has made about India. Right from the origins of Wodehouse Road in Colaba, Mumbai, to practically every single mention of anything connected with India. I was a small kid living in Colaba, in the early 60s, when my father was working for that very British institution – The Indian Railways. The colonial hangover still lingered. Colaba was where British India administered Mumbai and the surrounding areas. I still recollect the magnificent building we lived in – Beryl House. Just for the record the ICS exams were replaced with the IAS exams after 1947, so this British Structure is still very much there.

Back to Ashok. If and when he decides to share his essays publically do make it a point to delve deeply into them. How PGW without ever coming to India could garner so many facts about India amazes me. How Ashok has managed to pick each of these gems relate it to the book and give the references also amazes me.

Rajeev Varma, India

This is a fabulous collection of PGW’s literary rendezvous with the Indian curry – scorpions, cats, cobras, fakirs and their spikes, the Maharajas, the princes, the Taj Mahal and Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore – all put in an appearance.  Some modern day Indian nationalists might be critical  of what PGW felt about Mahatama Gandhi’s fasting but one must take into account the time and circumstances while he spoke of Indian Civil Disobedience.  Ashok has admirably captured the essence of PGW’s humour and wit. Undoubtedly, Ashok’s write-up will be immensely liked by PGW’s fans all over India and even elsewhere.

Ashok’s command over the language and the flourish of presentation evoke immediate interest in his writing. A commendable work indeed!

Shalini Kala, India

What a feat – a comprehensive compilation of Plum’s India, accompanied with a wonderful commentary! Loved every bit of it.  I think it will be a treat for any Indian or Indophile who has enjoyed PGW’s writings.

Sriram Paravastu, India

Brilliant writeup and accompanying cartoons by Suvarna Sanyal sir.

Subrata Sarkar, India

Superb. All people wanted to know about “Plum and India” but were too lazy to find out themselves. Hurry Bongsho Jabberjee is obviously a Bengali. I suspect Plum remembered the surname had something to do with incessant talking “chatter” which he recalled as “jabber”. And hence Jabberjee.

Oh! I must mention Suvarna Sanyal and his collage. He brings the characters to life with an additional x-factor.

Suvarna Sanyal, India

Truly PhD level work.

Swarupa Chatterjee, India

This is brilliant. Such an exhaustive account of PGW’s Indian references. And the accompanying illustration is out of the world!

Thakshila Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka

What a read! Enjoyed it very much. I had no idea there were so many references to India in Plum’s books. I suppose you only realise the extent of it when they’re all compiled together like this. Thank you for sharing this with me. It is truly a labour of love as only a real Wodehouse fan could’ve had such dedication.

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ashokbhatia

 A well-bred professional, a docile male rabbit of about 68 winters, is desirous of the companionship of a gentle and mild dormouse with whom he could nurture a peaceful bond and nibble lettuce.

The Party of the First Part (PFP) is not a patch on the inimitable Rupert Psmith. It follows that the Party of the Second Part (PSP) need not be cast in the mould of Eve Halliday.

Who is PFP?

Born in Mathura (UP), he had his education in Delhi and Chandigarh. Throughout his uninspiring career of over 35 years in senior management cadre, he, being a dumb brick of the first order, kept learning and relearning the same lessons repeatedly. One can be excused for believing how lucky these companies were to get him. In reality, it was the other way round. His inability to grasp what it was all about made him a legend of…

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John Dawson recently shared with me a few excerpts from his book P. G. Wodehouse’s Early Years: His Life and Work 1881-1908.

The Context

Thomas Anstey Guthrie (1856–1934) of Kensington was a comic novelist and playwright who practiced law for a brief period after leaving school. His first published short story was a farce set in ancient Rome called “Accompanied by a Flute.” It ran in the humor magazine Mirth in 1878; a compositor’s error credited “F. Anstey,” the pen name he would use for the rest of his career.

While at Cambridge, Guthrie had begun an ingenious novel of a father and son switching bodies that he called Vice Versa, or A Lesson to Fathers. When finally published in 1882, it became an overnight sensation. Graphic: “A touch of the romance of Arabian Nights, some of the peculiar whimsicalities of Gilbert, a humour akin to Dickens, and an insight into modern school boy life as deep as that of Hughes or Farrar. A writer with a personality and a bright, clever style.”

Novelist Andrew Lang introduced Guthrie to the editor of Punch, F. C. Burnand. The result was “Voces Populi,” a series of sketches of Brits at work and play that were, according to Brander Matthews of Cosmopolitan: “Photographic in their accuracy. Anstey has caught the cockney in the very act of cockneyism, but wholly without bitterness or rancor. He knows his roughs, his ruffians, his housemaids, his travellers. He sees their weakness, but he is tolerant and does not dislike them in his heart”— another description that could have fit the work of Wodehouse.

In 1958 Plum told his biographer Richard Usborne that he was “soaked in Anstey’s stuff.” He had been for a long time; fifty-three years earlier, as he compiled notes for “Sunshine and Chickens,” (published in 1906 as Love Among the Chickens) he wrote: “Cook as old soldier like a man in Anstey’s Fallen Idol [1886] always grumbling and vaguely indignant with other people when he does anything wrong.” (Phrases, Notes Etc.) The character did not make it into the book.

From Wodehouse’s The White Feather of 1907: “In stories, as Mr. Anstey has pointed out, the hero is never long without his chance of retrieving his reputation,” which is the main theme of the story.

Enter Baboo Jabberjee

Guthrie’s most notable imprint on Wodehouse’s work comes from the pages of Baboo Jabberjee, B.A., published in 1897. Murphy: “At the end of the nineteenth century, hundreds of young Indians came to London to read law, which led F. Anstey to write a series of essays for Punch in the 1890s, supposedly written by one of them. They became the rage and the whole country quoted Mr. ‘Baboo’ Jabberjee, a pompous young Indian law student, who wrote weekly letters to ‘Hon’ble Punch,’ describing his experiences as a visitor to England. His style of speech was orotund eighteenth century Augustan English, and ten words were used when one would do, mixed in with Shakespearean misquotations.” Indeed—in the first installment, Baboo introduces himself to the editors: “Since my sojourn here, I have accomplished the laborious perusal of your transcendent and tip-top periodical, and hoity toity! I am like a duck in thunder with admiring wonderment at the drollishness and jocosity with which your paper is ready to burst.

Plum’s first quotes from the garrulous Indian appear in “The Manoeuvres of Charteris” and in book form in A Prefect’s Uncle: “The Bishop, like Mr. Hurry Bungsho Jabberjee, B.A., became at once the silent tomb.” The silent t. wheeze is one well known to Wodehouse’s readers.

It might have brought a smile of satisfaction to Wodehouse in May 1906 when Ernest Foster, then editor of Chums, the constant companion of his boyhood, commissioned him to write a “not so public-schooly serial with rather a lurid plot.” He turned to Bill Townend for ideas, and under the alias Basil Windham the pair collaborated on a serial novel “full of kidnappings, attempted murders, etc.” called The Luck Stone. It had a long gestation; serialization wasn’t begun until September 1908. Plum referred to the story in a 1911 letter to L. H. Bradshaw as “in the Andrew Home vein.” The formulaic page-turner might best be described to Americans of a certain age as a British version of a Hardy Boys adventure. ‘Basil Windham’ lifted Baboo’s rem acu tetigisti (Lt., you have touched the matter with a needle) which Anstey had cribbed from the Roman playwright Plautus, and mens sana in corpore sano (Lt., a sound mind in a sound body) courtesy of Juvenal; both phrases are well known to Wodehouse’s readers. The authors created a delightful Baboo clone with the Indian student Ram:

Misters and fellow-sufferers permit me to offer a few obiter dicta on unhappy situation in re lamentable foodstuffs supplied to poor schoolboy. For how without food, even if that food be the unappetising and a bit off, shall we support life and not pop off mortal coil, as Hon’ble Shakespeare says? ’Tis better, misters, as Hon’ble Shakespeare also says, to bear with the snip-snaps we know of than fly to others which may prove but a jumping from frying-pan into fire. Half a loaf is better than an entire nullity of the staff of life. (Abridged from original text)

Plum deprived English literature of what would surely have been a comic masterpiece by not letting his readers in on Ram’s recitation of Hamlet’s soliloquy: “Even in its original form this is admitted by most people to be a pretty good piece of writing, and Ram improved on the original. He happened to forget the exact words half-way through, and, scorning to retire gracefully, as a lesser man might have done, he improvised.”

Usborne detected Baboo’s influence in the speech patterns of three of Wodehouse’s most famous characters: “Take your line through Ram, into Psmith the buzzer, Bertie the burbler and Jeeves the orotund, and you may feel inclined to pay a passing tribute to F. Anstey for planting a seed in the rich soil of young Wodehouse’s burgeoning mind. Jabberjee was powerfully seminal to Psmith. Some of his false concords [disagreement of relative and antecedent, misgovernment of pronouns, mistaking the adverb for the adjective, etc.] are repeated verbatim by Bertie Wooster, and some of his inflated phraseology goes into Jeeves’s vocabulary. It was Jabberjee, not Bertie, who first misunderstood Shakespeare’s “an eye like Ma’s to threaten and command.” (“An eye like Mars, from Hamlet)

Chapter 10 of the book, entitled “A Booky Sort of Person,” discusses Wodehouse’s early reading habits and literary influences.

For all Plum enthusiasts, the book is a treasure trove!

(Permission to reproduce these excerpts on this blog site is gratefully appreciated).     

 

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The Indian Curry Dished Out by P. G. Wodehouse

  

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My Views On Bollywood

By

Sharada Iyer

When it comes to versatility and range, there is no doubt that Asha Bhosle’s name would easily be above every other singer who has ever sung in Hindi cinema. Qawwalis, ghazals, devotional songs, classical songs, peppy romantic numbers, cabaret songs, dance numbers, folk music, mujra songs, sensuous numbers, sad songs, songs of yearning and separation, disco songs-she has excelled in them all with equal adroitness and alacrity. Asha’s uniquely melodious, exuberant, alluring and resonating vocals added that extra ‘X-factor’ to even the seemingly simple songs which ensured that no one else would be able to emulate her style or recreate her magic ever again.

Though Asha Bhosle was always versatile, she had to face a long struggle before she could get to sing for the lead heroine of the film. Right from the beginning, in order to carve a distinct niche for herself she moulded her vocals…

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