Archive for October, 2022

(Some autobiographical notes from a member of the canine species; based on true incidents; inspired by ‘The Mixer’, a story written by P G Wodehouse; I confess having fallen into the temptation of shamelessly borrowing some parts of the original story, for which I seek advance forgiveness.) 

Looking back at my life, I always consider that my career as a dog proper really started when I was bought over by a lovely – and loving – family. That event marked the end of my puppyhood.

I was pleasantly surprised to know that they paid a princely sum to acquire an ugly and thin pup like me. Suddenly, I realized that I was worth something in life. Moreover, the knowledge that I was considered worthy of the love of a family filled me with a sense of pride and new responsibilities. It also sobered me because howsoever interesting life may be at the small ken in a chalet up above the hills in a beautiful country where I was born and I used to live, it is only when you go out into the world that you really broaden your outlook and begin to see things. You get an opportunity to learn many new aspects of life. You come to know what refinement, manners and true culture means. The whole world becomes an oyster, as a brainy cove whose name I forget now said once upon a time. All you got to do is to sniff at it, lick it, prise it open, and savour it to your heart’s content.   

Within its limitations, my life till then had been singularly full and vivid. I was born, as I say, in a ken occupied by my doting Mother and a few playful and goofy set of brothers and sisters. I have heard that my then Master was a breeder of the canine species. I therefore suspect that my extended family may include several stepfathers, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

There was plenty of excitement. Before I was six weeks old, I had upset three visitors to the Master who inhabited the chalet by getting between their legs when they came round to the side-door, thinking they had heard suspicious noises; and I can still recall the interesting sensation of being chased twelve times round the yard with a broom-handle after a well-planned and completely successful raid on the flower beds so lovingly maintained by Master. I do not really blame him, because much like Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle fame, he used to love flowers and would often be found pottering about in his garden while wearing a not-so-tidy pair of trousers.

When I separated from Mother, she barked advice, telling me to be a credit to the family. Of course, I was then too excited to listen to her. But I did carry the thought in my bosom.

About Me  

I believe that I am a Yorkshire terrier, perhaps not of a Scottish origin but of a sub-breed which subsequently originated in Germany. I say this with some confidence because I am not particularly fond of chasing and catching rats. I have a long bushy tail which I can wag rather well. My hair is fluffy. My eyes are brown but can hardly be seen because of being covered by a mass of hair. My skin is white, though with large patches of black. My head has a golden-brown hue to it.

I have never disguised it from myself, and nobody has ever disguised it from me, that I am not a handsome dog. Even Mother never thought me beautiful. You may call me a European-cheese-hound if you like. No offence will be taken. As they say, beauty is only skin deep.

Like all those belonging to my breed, I believe I have far more strength than I really possess. I am playful and energetic. I like to make friends. While on a walk outside, if I run into another dog, I try my best to make it a point to exchange greetings in the finest tradition of our species – that of sniffing at each other’s snouts and so-called private parts. In case the perception is positive, we part with feelings of mutual acceptance and admiration. If either one feels threatened by the party of the other part, we bark at each other, our tails high up in the air. If hostilities ensue, our respective owners are bound to take prompt action and disentangle us. Then we go off our separate ways.

Just like humans, dogs also behave differently. If some suffer from an inferiority complex, there are many others who behave as if they are God’s gift to the universe. I am not fond of dogs who cast supercilious glances at me, simply ignore me and go on, holding their heads high in a haughty manner. Nor do I like the large ones who are not democratic in nature and start barking even before the first greetings have been exchanged. Mother always said: “A dog without influence or private means, if he is to make his way in the world, must have either good looks or amiability.” Since I have followed her advice and have cultivated an amiable disposition, I wish even my detractors well in their lives. By harbouring any anger against them, I know I shall be hurting myself more, even while they might continue to be blissfully unaware of my feelings towards them.

The Psychology of a Dog

We, the dogs, tend to be philosophical by nature. We soon forget such setbacks. We forgive. We do not waste time regretting what might have been. Nor do we worry ourselves sick thinking about what the morrow may bring. We live in the present. We relish it fully. Our idea is to simply enjoy our lives as much as we can. Our Intelligence Quotient levels may not be much to write home about. But our Emotional and Spiritual Quotients are rather high.

We are quick to understand the vibes of different persons and readily empathize with them. When they are in an uplifted mood, we also play around, often jumping with joy, wagging our tails, and licking their toes. When their brow is furrowed owing to a setback in life, we try to cheer them up by curling up near their feet and looking at them with soulful eyes. We are no match to Jeeves, but, like him, when we realize that our company is no longer desired, we respectfully slink away from point A to point B and reappear only when necessary.

We may not be able to deliver intellect-rich lessons from the Bhagavad Gita, the much-revered Indian scripture. But anyone observing us keenly will readily see how we could teach a thing or two to humans when it comes to living a happy and contented life. As Mother used to say, “Don’t bother your head about what doesn’t concern you. The only thing a dog need concern himself with is the quality of care and food he gets.” In some ways, Mother’s was a narrow outlook, but she was never hesitant to dish out some sane advice based on unalloyed common sense. 

My Parentage

Mother prided herself on being the best watchdog in the entire township. I hear that in her younger days, she had been a popular local belle with a good deal of sex-appeal. As to the question of my paternity, only she may be able to comment on it. I merely suspect that my father might have been one of the several stud-dogs who would have become enamoured of her charms over her long reproductive career. Otherwise, those who understand genealogy and are familiar with the concept of DNA tests might be able to throw some light on the subject. 

Many of the Homo sapiens are keen on forging what they label as matrimonial alliances. I am happy to see that over time, they are learning something from my species and living a free life, leaving owners of labs specializing in DNA and related tests laughing all the way to their banks.   

Since my puppyhood days, I have been restless, unable to settle down in one place and anxious to get on to the next thing. This may be either due to a nomadic strain in my ancestry or owing to my artistic temperament which makes me love nature. Perhaps, I acquired this temperament from a great grandfather who had been trained to perform in an orchestra at the famous Ukridge Academy of Performing Arts for Canines.

I owe the fullness and variety of my earlier life to this initial phase of restlessness of mine. However, I confess, I feel ‘settled’ now after having become a member of a doting Family. I keep learning the usefulness of family values from all its members. I no longer wish to move out of my newly acquired home to follow some perfect stranger who might mistreat me.

The Family   

The Family which has adopted me has many interesting characters.

There is a trim-and-slim father who is an upcoming entrepreneur. I hear that he is highly educated and has previously held senior management positions in companies in different European countries. He is an amiable and compassionate gentleman. He is fondly referred to as Ba.

Then there is a mother who is highly skilled at home making and fawns over her two kids and, of course, me. When it comes to cooking, she could easily beat Anatole hollow. Her Bollywood dancing classes are also very popular. She is known as Mumma.

The couple has an intelligent, cute, and loving daughter who is not only good at studies but also in drawing and story-writing. They also have a dashing son who is equally intelligent and physically active. He cuddles me fondly, though, at times, he punches me in the ribs in an unfriendly fashion. But, like all other dogs, I can always take the rough with the smooth.

The Family has named me Chicco.

The Family has relatives living not too far off. All the three families keep visiting each other frequently, making me feel responsible for the safety and security of all of them. Then there are family seniors who come visiting us occasionally. I am always pally with them, especially with those who fondle me, tickle me behind my ears, and take me out for regular walks. These ensure that I keep my muscles agile and rippling. Walks outside also help me to avoid soiling their homes. Besides, there are many perks of breathing in pristine air, and soaking in the beautiful scenery this unique country dotted with mountains and lakes offers. I love lolling about in lush green grass and hunt for some worms; this helps me to easily fulfil my daily quota of consuming around 200 calories.  

Another reason of my liking a saunter in the great open spaces is that I often run into my cousin Mailo. He has also been adopted by a loving family in the neighbourhood. Whenever we run into each other, we goof around quite a bit, vigorously sniffing and licking each other.   

In general, being of an amiable nature, I like humans. The smell of their feet, footwear, lower garment, and speech appeal to me. When they look me in the eye and address me, my spirits get uplifted, and I express my gratitude by wagging my bushy tail. I am rather unlike Bartholomew, a pet of Stiffy Byng’s, who is to be watched closely if he gets near anyone’s ankles, for he biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.

We also get many visitors. Those who are the regular ones, I welcome them warmly. When the family praises me endlessly to any of the visitors, I blush and feel elated. At others, I bark, trying to frighten them out of their wits. There are indeed times when I behave like the dachshund Poppet who charges at people with the apparent intention of seeing the colour of their insides but, closer to destination, he merely rises like a rocket and licks people on the chin. My feudal spirit prompts me to use my vocal cords and my body language effectively, so the family and its members remain safe. No harm should ever come their way.

Well, I ask you, I ask any dog, what else would you do in my place? Ever since I was old enough to listen, Mother had told me repeatedly what I must do in a case like this. It is the A.B.C. of a dog’s education. “If you are in a room, and you hear anyone trying to get in,” Mother used to say, “bark. It may be someone who has business there, or it may not. Bark first and inquire afterwards. Dogs were made to be heard and not seen. Your bark must always be worse than your bite.”

Whenever imposters, intruders or unknown people pay us a visit, I simply lift my head and yell. I have a good, deep, and throaty voice, possibly due to the hound strain in my pedigree. I also have strong lungs. Back at the chalet, when there was a full moon and I yelled because I thought something was amiss, I had often had the Master come rushing out to investigate what was wrong. On such occasions, I felt an inner glow of satisfaction, knowing that I had done my job well.

Some Adventures

I am happy that I have never had the experience of dog McIntosh who had to be extracted from a hotel room using aniseed powder which is popular in the dog-stealing industry. But I have lived through quite a few harsh slings and arrows of Fate. By practising equanimity, I have not only managed to survive these but have also added to my knowledge bank about various aspects of life.

Whenever I became restless and went on about wanting to go out into the world and see life, Mother often used to say, “You’ll be sorry when you do. The world isn’t all bones and liver.” On a few rare occasions, life has made me realize how right she was.

Learning About Gravity

On a fine day in summer, Family had decided to spend some time at a swimming club. Since dogs were not allowed near the main facility, they decided to smuggle me in, over a wire-net boundary, parking themselves in a remote corner of the vast lawns, quite some distance away from the main pool. The idea of not leaving me behind all alone in the house was indeed very appealing to me. All went well and I thoroughly enjoyed the open spaces, though I was not free to chase the birds and squirrels visiting the place and giving me envious looks owing to the kind of high-quality food I was consuming intermittently.   

While being smuggled back outside, I was hauled back over the boundary, with one person each on either side of the fence. That is when disaster struck. I slipped from the hand of one of the persons, leaving me mid-air, struggling to find my feet. A traumatic experience it was. However, it lasted a few seconds only and I was safely hauled back into the loving hands of the daughter. It reminded me of Sam Goldwyn who had likewise got into the loving arms of Corky once.

It’s a funny thing, but it seems as if it always happens that, when you are feeling most miserable, you end up learning something new in life. This brief experience taught me about the forces of gravity which pull all things down to the ground. Some brainy cove known as Newton had apparently discovered this force long time back, when, while sitting under an apple tree, he saw an apple fall on to the ground. If you ever get to see Newton, you can tell him that he is an ass. If I had been in his place, I would have rushed to put that apple down the hatch, rather than exercising my grey cells about the laws of nature. 

Causing A Highway Blockade

You never know what kind of adventure life hurls at you on any given day. Family had to go out to an amusement park quite far off and decided to leave me behind in the care of a neighbour of ours, who lives next door.

Mumma had apparently forgotten something, and she returned home soon for a brief visit to pick up the stuff. I could sense her presence from within the neighbour’s flat. Finding the door open, I ran out to tell her how lonely I was feeling. However, before I could reach her, she sped off in her car, on to the highway next to our community.

Dogs have an innate sense of direction, coupled with basic intelligence, ingenuity, and a sense of enterprise. I am no exception. To crawl beneath the fence and rush on to the highway was with me the work of a moment. But this was an unnerving experience, what with all the trucks and cars zipping past, making all kinds of threatening noises and spewing some poisonous fumes.

But drivers in my country need to be praised for their sense of decency and respect for life. Traffic came to a halt. A long queue soon piled up, blocking the highway. Shaking out of fear from the tip of my snout till the end of my tail, I ran underneath the chassis of the first car which had screeched to a halt near me. I felt more secure there. Luckily, the owner turned out to be an Air Force vet who somehow managed to entice me into his loving hands and put me in his car.

I am lucky the traffic police did not come over, sirens blaring, to arrest me for a patent illegality. I do hope that their chief gets awarded the highest civilian honour by the local government for his ethical and humane treatment of a member of the canine species; much like Eustace Mulliner, who excelled in his performance at the British Embassy in Berne and upon whom the Swiss government had conferred the Order of the Crimson Edelweiss, Third Class, with crossed cuckoo-clocks, carrying with it the right to yodel in the presence of the Vice-President.

The friendly Air Force officer took me to his home some 90 kms away. Unlike humans, dogs do not really mind when it comes to getting tagged and living in a surveillance state. The officer could easily identify the Family. He contacted them, and assured them that all was well, and that he would return me after a week or so, when he was due to come back for a visit to the area that the Family lives in.

He also found me a little skinny for my age and advised them about some changes in my diet. While with him, I got some sumptuous meals, rich in fat soluble vitamins, nutrients, and minerals of all kinds. After my return, the Family put me on an improved dietary regime.

I soon felt like a dog raised on Donaldson’s Dog-Joy biscuits and went on to become one of those fine, strong, upstanding dogs who go about with their chins up and both feet on the ground and look the world in the eye. If Freddie ever comes to know of me, he could feature me in one of his company advertisements. In the process, I could earn something for the Family.

Of Love, Care and Affection

Circumstances and incidents often alter our perception of life. We realize how our Guardian Angels ensure that we get all the love and care that we deserve.

Out on a biking expedition, I was sprinting behind Ba and the son when disaster struck yet again. One of my feet somehow came under the back wheel of one of the bikes. A painful fracture followed. Since the local vet was busy, I was rushed over to another one, some 75 kms away. A plaster was put, and I had to laze about on my comfortable bed in the house for a six-week period of rest and recuperation. It was great initially but soon became rather boring.

What stood out was the gentle care and affection the entire Family showered on me during the whole episode. They made a great fuss over me, pampering me with my favourite dishes, often making me forget the pain I had undergone. In about six weeks’ time normalcy returned to my life.

Family Values

By now, you might have noticed the kind of rich lessons I have learnt so far in my life. The virtues of practising forgiveness and equanimity. The perks of living in the present. Handling the harsh slings of arrows of fate with a chin-up attitude. Being amiable. Standing up to bullies. Judging people wisely. Cultivating a feudal spirit.

Given my introspective nature, I am sure many more will follow, broadening my outlook in life. For a dog, nothing could be more fulfilling. Flowers are in bloom, God is in heaven, and all is well with the world.

Families are all about caring and sharing. I hope, wish, and pray that all other puppies in the world are as lucky as I have been in getting adopted by a loving family. 

A hearty woof, woof!

(Illustration of Highway Blockade by Shalini)

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Thanks to several instant and overwhelming responses received from the brainy coves who infest the Fans of P G Wodehouse group on Facebook, to a query about fiction writers in the Wodehousean canon, Joe Stickney recently whipped up a piece as follows.

Rosie M. Banks might be his most memorable author and certainly his most prolific. She qualifies, I suspect, as a-novel-a-year romance author. While not in the same class, Lady Florence Craye penned the novel ‘Spindrift’ which ran five editions and was turned into an unsuccessful play. Meanwhile, even death couldn’t contain that romance writer Leila J. Pinkney. Her mystery writing nephew James Rodman begins writing and living a romance novel after moving into her former home Honeysuckle Cottage in possibly the oddest Halloween appropriate story ever.

Nor must we forget the works of Vladimir Brusiloff – that dark, mysterious and dull Russian novelist – who helped in the narrative titled Clicking of Cuthbert. Mark Twain once said of Russian novels that he figured out that the translations must be defective after he had wadded through a good dozen weighty and listless tomes. He learned Russian to read them in the original language so that he might find what made them great. However, after reading them in the Russian language, Mr. Twain claimed that the translators had improved upon them.

Grand dames and a few gallant gentlemen with great pretensions gather literati around themselves in a number of Plum’s works. Maybe the most notable amongst them is Ralston McTodd in Leave it to Psmith. Our hero, naturally impersonating the Canadian poet, has to attempt to explain that legendary line, Across the Pale Parabola of Joy.

Speaking of the Blandings saga, the first novel Something Fresh features that creator of Gridley Quayle himself, Ashe Marson. As Freddie Threepwood, the son of the house, is a fan of detective fiction meeting the author of one of his favorite series is as great a thrill to him as if we could somehow step back in time and meet Mr. Wodehouse himself. Freddie’s collection of thrillers would later be passed on to the castle butler Beach and play a role in a number of novels. The Lord of the Manor has no time for such trivial material as he dines on ‘Whiffle’s Care of the Pig’. Finally, on the Blandings side, we all wish that the riotous work of Gally Threepwood had seen print, particularly the story of the prawns.

James “Corky” Corcoran as the scribe for that ne’er-do-well Ukridge is something of a stand-in for Wodehouse himself and, of course, Bertie Wooster pens the yarns we are currently reading. Nor should we forget the great literary triumphs of Bertie’s; he not only won a prize in scripture knowledge but also went on to become a published author in his aunt’s struggling magazine, ‘My Lady’s Boudoir’.

All across the canon, several memoirs, authored by various noblemen, leave many others twiddling their thumbs, trying to steal manuscripts which, if published, may prove to be embarrassing to them. In Summer Lightning, Lady Constance is distracted with worries that the book of memoirs her brother Galahad is writing will bring shame to the family. Rupert Baxter gets rehired, so he may steal the manuscript. Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe also hires Pilbeam to retrieve them. However, Galahad tells Lady Constance that he will suppress his book if she agrees to sanction Sue and Ronnie’s marriage, and to persuade her sister Julia to do likewise. Family’s reputation gets protected.   

We are told to write what we know best, and Mr. Wodehouse took this to heart as he wrote of writers and their craft with a twinkle in his eye.

About the Author

Joe Stickney is an American admirer of P G Wodehouse who is slowly writing a book about reading a Wodehouse book a week for 52 weeks. A Year with Wodehouse, if that makes sense. So, he has been considering Plum’s works quite a lot recently. He can’t think of anything to qualify him as being an outstanding human being, save and except for his current passion of devouring Wodehouse’s works. One wonders if he is someone in the mould of Lord Ickenham, who even worked as a cowboy once, albeit with literary tastes.

His permission to reproduce this piece here is gratefully acknowledged. Yours truly confesses having made a few changes to the original post.

One wishes him the very best in his literary endeavours and would surely watch his future works with a keen sense of eager anticipation.

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Life is often full of contradictions. Our desire for companionship of someone special in our life co-exists with a gnawing realization that we need to accept the reality and be happy to live in a state of separation, if necessary, and not keep complaining about it. Women need the necessary space in a relationship to be able to pursue their own ambitions and career goals.

Tere bina…

Movie: Aandhi (1975)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar

Composer: R D Burman

Lyricist: Gulzar

Songs with simple lyrics and a dash of classical music never fail to regale one!

Jab deep jale aana…

Movie: Chitchor (1976)

Singers: K J Yesudas, Hemlata

Composer/Lyricist: Ravindra Jain

The male version of this lovely song is a song of passionate romance, whereas the female one deeply resents a separation forced by circumstances. Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia regale us with this poignant composition.   

Neela asmaan so gaya…

Movie: Silsila (1981)

Singers: Amitabh Bachchan, Lata Mangeshkar

Composers: Shiv, Hari

Lyricist: Javed Akhtar

This one captures the agony of a lover who believes that the other one deserves a better soul mate in life.

Tumko dekha to ye khayal aaya…

Movie: Saath Saath (1982)

Singers: Jagjit Singh, Chitra Singh

Composer: Kuldeep Singh

Lyricist: Javed Akhtar

When we turn a hypocrite and try to hide our tears with an artificial smile, a person who really cares for us is quick to spot it.

Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho…

Movie: Arth (1982)

Singer/Composer: Jagjit Singh

Lyricist: Kaifi Azmi

Some time back, I had listed out my favourite lullabies from Bollywood. Permit me to list here an outstanding one.

Surmayee akhiyon mein…

Movie: Sadma (1983)

Singer: K J Yesudas

Composer: Ilaiyaraaja

Lyricist: Gulzar

Here is an introspective song which makes us think of what the purpose of our life really is. Do we really know what we desire and yearn for? 

Aye dil-e-naadaan…

Movie: Razia Sultan (1983)

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Composer: Khayyam

Lyricist: Jan Nisaar Akhtar

There are times when even a highly talented person like Gulzar outshines himself. This song is a ready example of the same and showcases the yearning of a beloved for closure in a relationship. 

Mera kuchh saamaan…

Movie: Ijaazat (1987)

Singer: Asha Bhosle

Composer: R D Burman

Lyricist: Gulzar

Lilting music, captivating visuals, and the sizzling chemistry between the lead couple – all these go on to make this song an enticing romantic offering!

Tere mere hothon pe…

Movie: Chandni (1989)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Babla Mehta

Composers: Shiv, Hari

Lyricist: Anand Bakshi

Rains have arrived, but the beloved is yet to arrive, despite his having promised to do so!

Jhooti mooti mitwa aawan bole…

Movie: Rudaali (1993)

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Composer: Bhupen Hazarika

Lyricist: Gulzar

Here is a lovely romantic song from the stable of Rajshri Productions.

Pehla pehla pyar hai…

Movie: Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994)

Singer: S. P. Balasubrahmanyam

Composers: Raam Laxman

Lyrics: Dev Kohli

This song gives us hope that there is always someone out there in the universe who is destined to be our soulmate.

Ek dooje ke vaste…

Movie: Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Hariharan

Composer: Uttam Singh

Lyricist: Anand Bakshi

This beautiful composition is surely dedicated to those who have suffered the pain of unrequited love; also, to those whose spouses have chosen to move on from this planet to the Brighter World.

Main bhool jaun tumhe…

Album: Silsilay (1998)

Singer/Composer: Jagjit Singh

Lyricist: Javed Akhtar

As mentioned elsewhere, here is a touching lullaby which would surely put a kid to sleep.

Door kahin ek aam ki bagiya…

Movie: Zubeida (2001)

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Composer: A R Rehman

Lyricist: Javed Akhtar

The love between Radha and Krishna is the stuff of legend and folklore. Bollywood has never quite shied away from offering famous song-and-dance sequences to us based on the same. Songs like Hamen gop gwala kehte hain…(Navrang, 1955) and Mohe panghat pe…(Mughal-E-Azam, 1960) readily pop up in our minds. The latest version brings in the dancing skills of Madhuri Dixit, duly backed by Birju Maharaj’s choreography, music and lyrics.

Kaahe chhed chhed mohe…

Movie: Devdas (2002)

Singers: Birju Maharaj, Madhuri Dixit, Kavita Krishnamurthy

Composer/Lyricist: Birju Maharaj

This song effectively captures the innate desire of a female to bear a child, her vivid imagination of the physical form much before she brings him/her into this world.  

Kyun baar baar…

Movie: Filhaal (2002)

Singer: K S Chithra

Composer: Anu Malik

Lyricist: Gulzar

Some directors happen to have a keen ear for soulful music. Think of Raj Kapoor, Gulzar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and, of course, Yash Chopra. Decades may have passed, but the embers of undying commitment between two star-crossed lovers and their affection for each other continue to glow unabated. 

Tere liye…

Movie: Veer Zaara (2004)

Singers: Suresh Wadkar, Lata Mangeshkar

Composers: Madan Mohan, Sanjiv Kohli

Lyricist: Javed Akhtar

A lovely romantic song which captures the growing affection between two lovers separated by the high walls of material wealth and other societal concerns.

Piyu bole…

Movie: Parineeta (2004)

Singers: Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal

Composer: Shantanu Moitra

Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire

Indian scriptures tell us that the unbound souls in the universe decide the kind of next life they need in view of their past karma and choose their parents accordingly. Children descend from the heavens above and bestow profound hope and joy upon their family seniors. They deserve all the love and respect they can get.      

Taare zameen par…

Movie: Taare Zameen Par (2007)

Singers: Shankar Mahadevan, Bugs Bhargava, Vivinenne Pocha

Composers: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Lyricist: Prasoon Joshi

All of us have role models in our lives. These are persons who are better gifted than us in so many ways. We go to great lengths to remain in their orbits. This song vividly captures the search of three class fellows for their long-lost role model.   

Kahaan gaya usey dhoondo…

Movie: 3 Idiots (2009)

Singer: Shaan

Composer: Shantanu Moitra

Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire

Our homes and hearths are not mere blocks of bricks and mortar. Small moments of shared happiness, an abiding love and harmony between those who populate a dwelling, and tantalizing dreams, bring in the real warmth. And that is how a house becomes a home.   

Itti si khushi…

Movie: Barfi! (2012)

Singers: Shreya Ghoshal, Nikhil Paul George

Composer: Pritam

Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire

Yet another love song which captivates our hearts.

Chaar kadam…

Movie: PK 2014

Singers: Shaan, Shreya Ghoshal

Composer: Shantanu Moitra

Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire

Bollywood has offered us a few songs where the virtues of a mother are showcased by a loving son. Here is a rare one where it is the daughter who is expressing her love and admiration for the mother.

Meri pyari ammi…

Movie: Secret Superstar (2017)

Singer: Meghna Mishra

Composer: Amit Trivedi

Lyricist: Kausar Munir

I am rather hesitant to take this subjective list any further for two reasons.

One, by no stretch of imagination can this list be considered an exhaustive one. There are so many good songs which are available to us. However, out of respect for your time and attention, I cannot simply go on adding many other songs. That would go on to make the listing a wee bit unwieldy. I confess that selecting the songs listed above has not been an easy task for me.

Two, even though there are many which are of recent origin and happen to be popular as of now, we need to allow them more time to mature and acquire an alluring flavour in our emotional casks. I think the shelf-life of these can only be assessed after the lapse of a few years. I allude to such songs as Yaadon ki almaari…(Helicopter Eela; 2018), Teri mitti…(Kesari; 2019), Kitthe chaliye…(Shershaah; 2021) and Meri jaan…(Gangubhai Kathiawadi; 2022).

The Evolution of Bollywood Music

Over the decades, our songs have evolved in more ways than one.

One kind of transformation which has taken place is in the character of the lyrics. In the past, elements of nature used to play an important role, especially when it came to effectively capturing the emotions being depicted on the screen. Think of Aaja sanam madhur chandni mein hum (Chori Chori; 1956) and O sajana, barkha bahaar aayi (Parakh; 1960). This is no longer true. Now, once in a while, we get treated to a song like Suraj hua maddham (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham; 2001).

Also, gradually, the orchestra and the sound have elbowed out the lyrics somewhat. Songs which appealed to the audience not only for their deep layered meaning but also for their soulful music have become part of a rare breed. Philosophical truths of life have got relegated to the background. Thus, we have become used to getting entertained by offerings which accord a higher priority to our ears than to our minds. 

Moreover, with the new-found zeal for quick cuts, adroit camera work and the razzle-dazzle of a heightened visual appeal, we have virtually stopped hearing songs and have willy-nilly become reconciled to seeing them. Cinematography rules. Locations keep changing in quick succession. Even before we have had the chance to savour one, the next one pops up. The camera has become obtrusive. Even if a patriotic song like Teri mitti…comes up, we are exposed to a visual world which is in the fast forward mode. Since our eyes are constantly being bombarded with visual information, the hapless ear often has no other option but to take the back seat.  

Whatever may be the direction of evolution of songs, music remains a nourishment for the soul. The genre does not really matter. Our choices and preferences may differ widely. But what matters is the way it touches our hearts and resonates with our inner being.

Music makes us experience a glowing harmony between our inner and outer selves. It helps us to dig beneath the veneer of several masks that we wear in our mundane life. It also acts as a catalyst in our quest for our true inner selves, thereby raising our level of consciousness. Indeed, like all other forms of fine art, it washes off the dirt of our mundane lives and nurtures our souls.

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Music forms an integral part of movies. If the background score keeps capturing human emotions of different hues in each of the scenes, songs heighten the sentiments in diverse situations faced by those on the screen. Lyricists play a crucial role by not only depicting the feelings of the characters involved, but also conveying deep philosophical truths of life at times.  

Some songs elevate our spirits and motivate us to get up after each tumble and restart chasing our dreams. Others bring us happiness, even if some of these might be intrinsically sad.

Some of you may remember a song which Talat Mehmood had rendered in his velvet-like soothing voice long time back:

Hein sabse madhur woh geet jinhen hum dard ke swar mein gaate hain…

Roughly translated, this says that the songs which are the sweetest are the ones which are set to the melody of sorrow! You may agree that Shailendra was not much off the mark when he wrote this for the 1953 movie Patita. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XagIs_0zgaY

Each song is a multi-layered offering. If the lyricist pens something heartful, the composer sets it to music which tugs at our heart strings. The characters finally breathe life into it, either by lip-syncing it or by going through the motions while the song itself plays in the background.

Here is a collection of some of the songs which are close to my heart. Songs appear here in a chronological order, ranging from the year 1939 and coming forward up to 2017.   

Whenever the chips are down and dark clouds cover your inner space, here is a song which can motivate you to move ahead in life with a steely resolve and a chin-up attitude.   

Karun kya aas niras bhayi…

Movie: Dushman,1939

Singer: K L Saigal,

Composer: Pankaj Mullick

Lyricist : Aarzoo Lucknowi

When a lover’s heart is pining away for the beloved, this song comes in handy.  

Suhaani raat dhal chuki…

Movie: Dulari (1949)

Singer: Mohammed Rafi

Composer: Naushad

Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni

Here is a light-hearted and delightful experience in the art and craft of serenading, eventually prompting a reluctant heroine to overcome her hesitation and rush to meet the hero. Yet again, nature plays an important role in the proceedings.

Ye raat ye chandni phir kahaan…

Movie: Jaal (1952)

Singer: Hemant Kumar

Composer: S D Burman

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

This one is a romantic song which has soulful lyrics set to lilting music. The part that I find very touching is where the heroine imagines doing her make up while the hero quietly sits opposite her! Unfortunately, a YouTube search did not throw up the original movie footage.

Aa neele gagan tale pyar hum karein…

Movie: Badshah (1954)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Hemant Kumar

Composer: Shankar Jaikishan

Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri

V. Shantaram had a penchant for offering us movies with a distinctive touch of classical music replete with songs which used different elements of nature to enhance a contemplative communion with it. Here, we find someone of the stature of Gopi Krishna showcasing his enchanting dancing skills opposite Sandhya. This movie had used santoor for the first time, played by the inimitable Pt. Shivkumar Sharma.   

Nain so nain nahi milao…

Movie: Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje (1955)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Hemant Kumar

Composer: Vasant Desai

Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri

Here is a flirtatious song from an otherwise serious movie. The back-and-forth chat between the heroine and the hero is a sheer delight.   

Hum aapki ankhon mein…

Movie: Pyasa (1957)

Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Geeta Dutt

Composer: S D Burman

Lyricist: Sahir Ludianvi

Amongst the many songs steeped in chivalry that Bollywood has brought to us over the years, this one takes the cake. 

Pyar par bas to nahin…

Movie: Sone ki Chidiya (1958)

Singers: Talat Mehmood, Asha Bhosle

Composer: O P Nayyar

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

What really defines true living? According to this song, there are three elements: having someone whose smiles you can fall for, borrowing and shouldering someone else’s pain, and having love for someone in your heart!

Kisi ki muskarahaton pe ho nisaar…

Movie: Anari (1959)

Singer: Mukesh

Composers: Shankar Jaikishan

Lyricist: Shailendra

How do we enthuse a soulmate to share his/her suffering with you? Here is a poignant appeal from a beloved, set to unobtrusive music by Jaidev.

Jahaan mein aisa kaun hai…

Movie: Hum Dono (1961)

Singer: Asha Bhosle

Composer: Jaidev

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

When a passionate wooer praises the one being wooed rather profusely, how does the latter respond? Towards the end of the song, the heroine starts wondering if the excessive praise being showered upon her could lead her to entertain feelings of unjustified pride. Here is a lesson in humility and equanimity.

Bahut shukriya badi meharbani…

Movie: Ek Musaafir Ek Haseena (1962)

Singers: Asha Bhosle, Mohammed Rafi

Composer: O P Nayyar

Lyricist: Raja Mehdi Ali Khaan

Here, Sahir Ludianvi tells us that issues which cannot be resolved in life are best concluded with a loving twist!

Chalo ek baar phir se…

Movie: Gumraah (1963)

Singer: Mahendra Kapoor

Composer: Ravi

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

Each song sung by Manna Dey is unique. Interestingly, this one is open to two interpretations. At the mundane level, the lady is wondering how she can return to her home and hearth when a part of her attire is soiled. At a spiritual level, it expresses the yearning of a soul to be reunited with God. 

Laaga chunari mein daag…

Movie: Dil Hi To Hai (1963)

Singer: Manna Dey

Composers: Roshan and Omi Sonik

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

The pathos of a failed love which does not get reciprocated by the party of the other part, so very aptly rendered by Rafi here, leaves one speechless. Simple lyrics and soothing music make it the perfect song for those facing a similar situation in life. 

Mein ye soch kar…

Movie: Haqeeqat (1964)

Singer: Mohammed Rafi

Composer: Madan Mohan

Lyricist: Kaifi Azmi

Here is another song which tugs at one’s heartstrings by capturing the frustration of loneliness arising out of a misunderstanding in a relationship. 

Din dhal jaaye…

Movie: Guide (1965)

Singer: Mohammed Rafi

Composer: S D Burman

Lyricist: Shailendra

When lovers express their gratitude for the other person’s presence in their lives, unalloyed joy swirls around in their midst. Also, a dash of the Karma theory propounded by Bhagavad Gita raises the philosophical quotient of this song rather high.     

Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good…

Movie: The Sound of Music (1965)

Singers: Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer

Composer: Richard Rodgers

Lyricist: Oscar Hammerstein II

Those who hail from the tribe of the delicately nurtured and believe in female empowerment these days might scoff at this song. However, the fact remains that love based on a deep-rooted loyalty towards each other is truly a sentiment to be cherished.  

Chhupaa lo yuun dil mein pyaar mera…

Movie: Mamta (1966)

Singers: Hemant Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar

Composer: Roshan

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Many movies have captured the ambience of matrimonial bliss, with the couple exchanging meaningful and loving glances with each other. These are surely couples who have no use for the much-touted phrase ‘I love you’. Their body language says it all. Here is a song which never fails to touch my emotional chords.

Dheere dheere machal ae dil…

Movie: Anupama (1966)

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Composer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Kaifi Azmi

Here is an uplifting offering which also fits rather well with the sustainability issues we just appear to be waking up to in our chaotic times when Mother Nature often sounds as if she is trying to punish homo sapiens for destroying its beauty and plundering its limited resources.  Human greed has taken over prudence, thereby increasing the entropy in the natural system.   

Ye kaun chitrakaar hai…

Movie: Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti (1967)

Singer: Mukesh

Composer: Satish Bhatia

Lyricist: Bharat Vyas

By now, most of us are aware of the ills of social media, where people often talk without listening, dumping what they wish to say and completely ignoring what others are wanting to say. In movies, we keep running into those who talk without speaking. Their eyes, facial expressions and body language say it all. This song touched upon this aspect of our lives many decades back!

The sound of silence…

Movie: The Graduate (1967)

Singers/Composers: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel

Lyricist: Paul Simon

When lyrics get penned in chaste Hindi by someone of the stature of Neeraj, set to music by the inimitable S D Burman, rendered by a multi-talented Kishore Kumar and the song features the evergreen Dev Anand, something unique happens. Add the picturesque locales of Switzerland, and magic follows!   

Phoolon ke rang se…

Movie: Prem Pujari (1970)

Singer: Kishore Kumar

Composer: S D Burman

Lyricist: Neeraj

Here is another heart pining for the beloved; sung by Hemant Kumar in his eternally soothing voice.

Tum pukaar lo…

Movie: Khamoshi (1970)

Singer/Composer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Gulzar

Over the years, Bollywood has offered us many songs centred around the heroine’s eyes. Here is just one such which strengthens one’s desire to live a full life.

Jeevan se bhari teri aankhen…

Movie: Safar (1970)

Singer: Kishore Kumar

Composers: Kalyanji, Anandji

Lyricist: Indeevar (Shyamalal Babu Rai)

When one is in love, one accepts the person of the other part with all his/her strengths and weaknesses.

Koi jab tumhara hriday tod de…

Movie: Purab aur Paschim (1970)

Singer: Mukesh

Composer: Kalyanji, Anandji

Lyricist: Indeevar (Shyamlal Babu Rai)

One of the enchanting melodies from the inimitable Geeta Dutt, capturing the tender emotions of love between a couple.

Meri jaan, mujhe jaan na kaho…

Movie: Anubhav (1971)

Singer: Geeta Dutt

Composer: Kanu Roy

Lyricist: Gulzar

Life often makes us suffer the harsh slings and arrow of Fate, separating us from those whom we love. However, our Guardian Angels offer us life-long relationships with perfect strangers. Mukesh makes us brood over this facet of our lives.

Kaheen door jab din dhal jaaye…

Movie: Anand (1971)

Singer: Mukesh

Composer: Salil Chowdhury

Lyricist: Yogesh

When those who hurt us are the ones we consider our own, the hurt is indeed very deep.

Chingaari koi bhadke…

Movie: Amar Prem (1972)

Singer: Kishore Kumar

Composer: R. D. Burman

Lyricist: Anand Bakshi

Death of a spouse brings about a sense of despondency which refuses to wither away even after a long time.  

Beeti na bitayee raina…

Movie: Parichay (1972)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Bhupinder Singh

Composer: R. D. Burman

Lyricist: Gulzar

When relations between husband and wife turn sour, a tragedy proves to be a blessing in disguise, bringing them together, yet again. 

Tere mere milan ki ye raina…

Movie: Abhimaan (1973)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar

Composer: S D Burman

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

What happens when there is uncertainty and confusion in our relationships in life? Here is a soulful song which speaks of our yearning to seek a clarity in our thoughts by controlling the endless desires of our heart.

Kayi baar yoon bhi dekha hai…

Music: Rajnigandha (1974)

Singer: Mukesh

Composer: Salil Chowdhury

Lyrics: Yogesh


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Often, my so-called well-wishers criticize me for reading and admiring Plum too much. However, the reasons which keep this craving of mine – to keep devouring his works – alive and kicking, are not too difficult to fathom.

A Chin-up Attitude

There are practical instances wherein I am persuaded to believe that too much of an association with this gentleman’s works will not suggest any solutions to the problems I face in day-to-day life. However, once the problem is over, I realize that the courage to sail through the peril was somehow provided by him. The outcome is that of maintaining a jaunty sang froid while facing the harsh slings and arrows of Fate.

The Utility of a Plummy Lens

Many a time, say during an extreme crisis, I have observed that I switch myself off and start thinking of the situation in the light of his works. For example, when someone shouts at me or at anyone else who may be the weaker party in that situation, the face of the shout-er (irrespective of gender) resembles that of Roderick Spode whereas that of the shout-ee looks like that of either Bertie or Bingo Little. Somehow, my anger evaporates. I start giggling internally, of course, while experiencing extreme difficulty in keeping myself serious externally. Likewise, many of his characters keep assisting me from time to time. When a senior starts ridiculing me, I stand before him, often shuffling my feet, like one of the guilty pupils of Rev. Aubrey Upjohn, as if I had tried to steal some cookies from the jar kept inside the desk in his office. When a colleague starts showering some undue favours upon me, I feel like Oofy Prosser and suspect the person to be planning to soon touch me for the proverbial tenner.

To me, someone throwing weight around sounds like Pop Basset. Those who view me critically and make me feel as if I could do with a heavy dose of intellectual upliftment look like Aunt Agatha or Rupert Baxter. Someone in whose company I become tongue-tied and gawky remind me of Bertie when he is with either Madeline Bassett or Corky Pirbright. When I fail to recollect some crucial information at a critical juncture, which happens rather frequently, I feel like Lord Emsworth. Whenever I participate in a karate event, I feel as if Pauline Stoker is cheering me from amongst the viewers. When I am with my better half, I believe myself to be like Bingo Little, ensuring that she gets her evening cup of tea for sure. The list is endless. I wish I could keep on adding here. But you get the drift. In different situations, I readily imagine having the traits of one of his characters. 

Does a Dependence on Plum Help?

To be in context (which many of my friends, and well-wishers, bless them, feel 90% of the time I am not), I often wonder if too much dependency on this man has made me a bit of a person who lives in a dream world. Well, the straightforward answer to which is a ‘yes.’ The question that readily follows, and is perhaps more contextual, is, does that help? Well, the answer to this is not that straightforward. To be specific, sometimes it is a ‘yes’ and sometimes it is a ‘no’ depending on the mood I am in at that time. However, the funny part is, if it is a ‘yes’ then fine, but if it is otherwise, I have found, I end up going through a book of his to ultimately nullify the apprehension of saying ‘yes!’

I thank all my friends, family members, and patrons who have introduced me to the beautiful world created by him. It may not be fashionable to say this, but I think I suffer from, for want of a better term, an addiction. It keeps provoking me to revisit the world, created by this gentleman, again and again, ignoring the words of caution from my so-called critics and well-wishers who keep trying to make my life better with their thoughts of ‘wisdom.’

The Perks of an Addiction

As to words of wisdom, given the age I am at, the incitement to impart knowledge to others increases. In a way, this satisfies my ego which gets a chance to brag. Like Thos, I can afford to view those around me with a supercilious gaze. The fact remains that all of us have a kid within ourselves. One of the many achievements of this gentleman is that he successfully keeps that child alive within us through his works. As they say, er, isn’t there a proverb that connects a child, father, and man? The brainy cove who came up with it was surely spot on. 

An Appeal to the Wodehouse Estate

Let me also take this opportunity to convey a humble request of mine to the Wodehouse Estate. I would suggest that like such other products as tobacco and alcohol, all books and stories of the Master Wordsmith of our times should mandatorily carry a clear warning to the effect that reading his narratives could lead to a severe state of addiction, and that they read his works only at their own risk and peril.

Happy Birth Anniversary!

Happy 141st, Sir. 141 years and still so very relevant. It makes me feel chuffed, satiated, and proud to realize that we continue to breathe, live, and enjoy the same world, drinking deep from the underground reservoirs of unalloyed bliss and joy he has left behind for us.

(A version of this write-up has also been posted by the author on the Fans of P G Wodehouse page of FB. His permission to republish this piece here is gratefully acknowledged.)

(Suryamouli Datta is a 42-year young fan of P G Wodehouse. He is a software professional, presently associated with Tata Consultancy Services. He is an amateurish author who is yet to knock at the publisher’s door. He is a black-brown belt in karate and occasionally dabbles in theatre. He also happens to be a movie buff.

He believes that Wodehouse, like golf, should be caught early and that his Guardian Angels have will-nilly ensured that this is what has happened to him! Thus, the ‘child’ in him is yet to grow up and he is pretty elated about it.)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/my-dear-clarence)

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About the Book

What would happen if you got stuck at a place with dreaded Bollywood villains like Gulshan Grover and Ranjeet, and they actually rescue you from being harassed?

What would your reaction be if Madhuri Dixit said I Am Sorry to you?

Which Ambani could have possibly reported the Author to the moral, if not the actual police?

How did Hrithik Roshan fool a city editor?

To find out answers to these questions and more, pick up a copy of the Bestselling Memoir – Hotel Adventures with the Stars, penned by the International Hospitality Writer, L. Aruna Dhir, who calls Dehradun her forever Home.

The book is a delightful compendium of delicious stories based on L. Aruna Dhir’s encounters with celebrities from different walks of life, spanning the world of cinema, arts, music, sports, politics and literature. It is truly one of a kind book that chronicles several of Aruna’s engrossing encounters with a gamut of celebrities.

Funny, thrilling and heart-warming in equal measure, Aruna vividly recounts cherished memories of when Ustad Shujaat Husain Khan gave her a personal concert, Kapil Dev bowled her over and what it is to actually shake Sunny Deol’s Dhai Kilo Ka Haath (a hand weighing two and a half kilograms!) amongst many other equally endearing incidents involving Jackie Shroff, Dimple Kapadia, Ruskin Bond, Sharmila Tagore, Maneka Gandhi, Kiran Bedi, Khushwant Singh and several others, in this collector’s edition.

The Foreword for this enchanting Memoir has been written by the famous Master Storyteller, Ruskin Bond, who calls this unique recollection “Immensely readable.”

About the Author

As a four year old, growing up in the verdant Doon Valley, Aruna would prance about the garden while the great sitar maestro Vilayat Khan held his music soirees. Who knew that would set the shape of things to follow. At 19, Aruna had Bollywood’s sexiest hero of the time, Sanjay Dutt, say I Love You to her. By the time she began working with international Five Star hotels Aruna had stars from Bollywood and Hollywood orbiting her galaxy.

L. Aruna Dhir is today a recognized International Hospitality Writer with her insights presented in the #1 ranked global hospitality publication. She is on the Board of the Association of Commonwealth Leaders’ Conferences (ACLC) – a Commonwealth Body and a Member of the World Tourism Network (WTN).  A national-poll winning Communications Specialist, she has launched hospitality brands. As a Hotel PR Strategist, Aruna has worked with some of the world’s finest hotels such as the Hyatt, the Oberoi Group and The Imperial.

She has represented India to a select group of opinion-makers in the United States, as a Cultural Ambassador under the GSE Program of Rotary International. She has also participated in the IXth Commonwealth Study Conference held in Australia and chaired by Princess Anne.

During the course of her checkered and exciting career, Aruna has brushed her shoulders with a scintillating set of well-known personalities, including royalty. A clutch of them feature in highly entertaining anecdotal stories in Hotel Adventures with the Stars.

The quintessential Girl from Clement Town, Aruna grew up in Dehradun and spent her formative, school-going and collegiate years in the Valley Town. Quite naturally so, the Memoir is sprinkled with reminiscences of life in Doon in the 70s, 80s and the 90s.

As a young girl, Aruna would attend many a Kavi Sammelan held at the Town Hall or the Doon Club to participate in poetry recitals in the company of notable poets of the region. Unsurprisingly then, she graduated to become a poet par excellence, and has to her credit two published poetry anthologies. Aruna has the distinction of being India’s first-ever Creative Writer with Archies Greetings, with several series of cards sold under her by-line – an unprecedented feat that has not been repeated since. The milestone puts her in the league of Helen Steiner Rice, Susan Polis Schutz and Amanda Bradley.

Journey of the Book so far

Hotel Adventures with the Stars is the author’s third Book, but her Debut Non-fiction.

In less than 24 hours of its pre-order link being put up, the book debuted at the #2 spot on the Hot New Releases and at #25 spot on the Bestseller List of Biographies, Autobiographies and True Accounts, in a list that had President APJ Abdul Kalam’s Autobiography at #1!! 

Since its launch, the book has continuously popped up on the Bestseller list, to sit as a neighbour with the Man of the Hour, Elon Musk’s Biography and to be ahead of other popular biographies such as Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ Unfinished and Dr. NR Narayana Murthy’s Biography.

It is of little wonder then that the book has received exceptionally noteworthy endorsements from a string of superstars.

Some Endorsements from Celebrities

“Lucid, Witty & Engrossing…Aruna’s sharp writing makes this book a captivating read!” is how the Superstar Jackie Shroff describes the Memoir.

“L. Aruna Dhir is an extremely engaging writer. She involves you in her stories and entrances you with her beautiful writing. What a fine time travel the Memoir allows into nostalgia!” affirms the Super Cop woman, Dr. Kiran Bedi.

“Aruna is a Master-weaver. She has woven a colourful tapestry with gossamer threads to create a design of sensitive beauty,” says Sonal Mansingh, Padma Vibhushan Odissi classical dancer and Cultural Icon of India.

Sanjeev Kapoor, Internationally acclaimed Indian Masterchef, Restaurateur and the Khana Khazana TV Star has this to say about Hotel Adventures with the Stars, “A fun, honest, memorable portrayal of personalities interwoven with anecdotal slices of nostalgia! Readers will find themselves in the stories and come away with a pleasing sense of warmth and realism.”


Here’s the link for you to peruse and use: https://amzn.to/3wG1m9l

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The Anglo-Swiss Club Lucerne (ASCL) in Switzerland is a social club open to people of all nationalities who wish to meet other people and make new friends using English as the language of communication. Its members comprise people from diverse countries, besides Swiss nationals who have an interest in the English language and culture.

A Juicy Introduction

Yours truly recently had the opportunity of speaking to the members of the club about Plum and his ouvre. Chris Starling, the President of the club, kicked off the proceedings by introducing me to the audience in my own words:

Ashok Kumar Bhatia is a management guy by profession and a romantic at heart. Two maladies he claims to suffer from are – Professor-itis and Wodehous-itis. 

A postgraduate in Physics as also in Management, he spent close to 35 years in the corporate sector, unlearning quite a few management theories. Whenever he left a company, the management was relieved and delighted to have got rid of a deadwood. He has been a promoter director of several companies, all of which you will never hear of.

Once he hung up his corporate boots, he became an active blogger and an occasional author. Two books he has unleashed so far upon the unsuspecting public happen to be ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’ and ‘I Am Something: Developing a New Leader Mindset’ (co-authored with Prof G P Rao). Besides, he keeps coming up with articles and essays on management, P G Wodehouse, movies, and other topics. Unlike Bertie Wooster, he never won a prize in Scripture Knowledge at school, but does write about management lessons from Indian epics and scriptures.

He does not claim to be an expert on Wodehouse. He is merely a fan of the one of the greatest humourists we have had in the recent past.

He is presently associated with two NGOs: SPANDAN (India), which propagates human values in management; Conscious Enterprises Network (UK), which brings together people who believe in working for the realization of Sustainable Development Goals.

He hails from the North of India, though settled in the South at Pondicherry for more than twenty-seven years. Often, he can be found infesting parts of Norway and Switzerland.

As a speaker, he has already been hooted out at several management institutes of repute. Whichever city he speaks in, the local farmers as well as the supermarkets do a roaring business by getting rid of rotten tomatoes and bad eggs in bulk. His audience loves to throw these at him.

You do not see him wearing his protective gear today, for the simple reason that he has full confidence in the innate sense of decency which all of us at ASCL possess. 

A Plummy Presentation

The presentation that followed comprised the following:

1. PGW’s Life in Brief

2. Wodehouse and Switzerland

3. Literary Style and References

4. Major Characters from Novels and Stories

5. Some Quotes

6. Jeeves and Wooster: A Video Clip

Some Useful Links

A list of Wodehouse-related links was handed out to all the participants. It included the names and website addresses of various PGW socities across the world.

Spreading Sweetness and Light

One of the greatest concerns which leaves a Plum fan quivering internally like an aspen leaf while delivering a talk on the God’s gift to our mental juices is that of being struck by interim bouts of uncontrollable mirth, leaving the hapless audience baffled, bewildered, mystified, perplexed and puzzled, and the organizers desparately rushing to call in a loony specialist of the stature of Sir Roderick Glossop. Add to this the sheer irony of someone like me with a constipated look and sounding like the Honorary Vice President of the Global Association of Morons presenting the Master Humourist of our times, and you get a recipe with a rich potential for disaster. However, an eventuality of this kind was avoided, thanks to Chris Starling gracefully pitching in to read out the compilation of a few quotes from Plum’s stories and novels. His skillful and well-modulated reading of the quotes left the audience in splits.

Overall, the audience was delighted to discover the joys of reading Plum’s works. After the formal part of the presentation was over, many of them sat through for an extra fifty minutes, so as to savour the video clip till its end, in full.

Effusive thanks to the speaker followed. It appeared that the speaker, duly aided by Chris Starling, had been able to deliver some satisfaction. He was ostensibly chuffed at having spread some sweetness and light amongst the members of the club. Sure enough, he was grinning from ear to ear, looking like a cat which has had too much of cream.


The Drones Club tie you see me sporting in one of the photos was organized by Thomas Langston Reeves Smith (the absence of a P in Smith may kindly be noted).

PGW’s caricature courtesy Suvarna Sanyal, India.

Photos by Garima Goel.

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Here is a juicy excerpt from Blandings Castle which fans of P G Wodehouse and Mahatma Gandhi may relish!

“It has sometimes seemed to me (said Mr Mulliner, thoughtfully sipping his
hot Scotch and lemon) that to the modern craze for dieting may be attributed
all the unhappiness which is afflicting the world to-day. Women, of course,
are chiefly responsible. They go in for these slimming systems, their sunny
natures become warped, and they work off the resultant venom on their menfolk.

“These, looking about them for someone they can take it out of, pick on
the males of the neighbouring country, who themselves are spoiling for a
fight because their own wives are on a diet, and before you know where you
are war has broken out with all its attendant horrors.

“This is what happened in the case of China and Japan. It is this that lies at

View original post 100 more words

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