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Day 1

It is widely believed that Jeeves was fed a lot of fish in his childhood, thereby making him a brainy cove, with his head bulging at the back. However, all bloggers may not have had the same fortune. Their grey cells often register a protest, refusing to budge, much like Balaam’s Ass.

But there are indeed times when the creative juices are in full flow and an idea pops up!

Day 2

The idea simmers within. Many sub-ideas spring up and fall into the creative cauldron. The blogger often behaves like Angus McAllister, nurturing the Achilleas, the Bignonia Radicans and the Yucca in the Blandings garden, eventually creating a bouquet of exotic ideas, cleverly brought together.

The outcome is a juicy idea which often gives a sleepless night to the blogger who twiddles her thumbs to figure out words and phrases so the key idea gets draped appropriately.

Day 3

Thanks to one of Jeeves’ pick-me-ups, the idea takes the shape of words which flow on to the writing instrument preferred by the blogger. A working draft emerges. Many refinements take place over meals comprising soluble vitamins recommended by Laura Pyke. Putting different kinds of tissue restoratives down the hatch aids the creative process.

Day 4

The blogger sleeps over the draft. On the following day, when the sun is shining bright, birds are twittering and butterflies are hopping around taking in as much nourishment as they can muster, she gets back to her work station.

Much like Florence Craye, she makes several refinements. A chipping here, a cut there, and the stone of the core idea takes a well-hewn shape. Some cross references get traced. Spellings and grammar get checked.

Day 5

The D day arrives. After a final review, the blogger has a nice feeling about the way the post has shaped up. She has by now started developing a sense of detachment to the post, wanting it to have an independent existence of its own. Like Gwladys Pandlebury, she casts a final look at the portrait of Bertie Wooster, takes a deep breath and punches the ‘publish’ button!

Prompt steps are taken through proper channels to circulate the post over different social media platforms. She finally experiences the inner bliss of having conveyed her idea to the universe at large.

Day 6

A blogger does not necessarily court praise. Many scriptures also recommend that the adulation of the multitude should mean very little to a person. But when one has taken the trouble of whipping up what, in her opinion, is a highly juicy piece which would benefit a deep-in-the-soup society in many ways, her soul anticipates some nurturing by means of a meaningful interaction with a wider audience.

Absence of any feedback, or getting trolled for the same, upsets her deeply. It leads to a V-shaped depression getting experienced.

Some likes and fewer comments make her heave a sigh of relief, much like Rosie M Banks discovering that Bingo Little had indeed deposited the tenner entrusted to his care in the kid’s bank account.

The Law of Bloggers’ Happiness kicks in. The more the number of likes, the happier the blogger feels. Answering meaningful comments raises her Happiness Quotient even higher.

Day 7

Whether in moments of heart-bowed-gloominess or of the nectar of happiness brimming over the cup of life, there is nothing that calms the soul like a good go at one’s beauty snooze – a creative one, tuning the mental antenna to the creative forces of the universe, keenly searching for the next idea to pop up!

 

(Illustrations courtesy Ms Shalini Bhatia)

(Related posts:

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

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/a-plummy-way-to-banish-the-cruelty-that-authors-face

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/some-blogging-lessons-from-the-bhagavad-gita

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/bertie-social-media-and-blogging-blues)

 

 

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Dinner date with Plum

ashokbhatia

What ho! Here is a juicy post from Neha Dsouza which the residents of Plumsville may like.

Quote

It was quarter past seven and my date was late. I grew anxious; would he not show up? The waiter hovered around my table.
“Your order, ma’am?” he asked me for the third time.
“Il have tea and butter cookies”, said I
That got rid of him, temporarily.
I checked my watch, it was nearly half past seven. I concluded that my date had been hit by a bus. I decided to violate my code of womanly indifference and give him a call. It rang several times with no positive outcome. My date had been hit by a bus and the impact had dislodged his phone from his grip, undoubtedly.
My phone grunted, I received a text message. It was from my date. “Stuck at work, won’t make it, sorry”.

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{Here is a transcript of the Key Note Address delivered by Reginald Jeeves at the recently held Annual General Meeting of the Society for Prevention of Internet Narcissism (SPIN)}

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to thank your esteemed Society for having bestowed upon me the honour of sharing some of my thoughts on the issue of remaining happier and safer in these challenging times.

I take the liberty of calling our present as a challenging one not only because of the pandemic we collectively face these days. I also do so because we all suffer from another pandemic – that of the so-called social media spreading mistrust, misinformation and misgovernance.

Values which are vanishing like Indian Fakirs

I believe that truth and reality have taken a back seat. We live in an illusory world of our own where reality is nothing but a simulation. A handful of smart and goofy code developers are increasingly shaping our opinions and controlling our collective behavior. Given the dense fog of a media which tends to become more anti-social with each passing day, facts do not penetrate through to us. Commerce determines content. Aesthetes do the window dressing. Governments monitor it to manipulate us, giving democracy a run for its money. Privacy has gone for a toss. Our social conscience has started changing, resulting in the sharp rise of hate, mistrust and discrimination across the planet. The milk of human kindness is getting evaporated fast. The psychology of the individual is changing. It is ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘Mine’ which rule the roost.

I am sure that the Chief Patron of SPIN, Sir Roderick Glossop, while delivering his concluding remarks, would touch upon the rapid evolution of our loonier instincts in much greater detail.

Let me hasten to add that I admire the unique benefits that social media has brought to us. Acquiring knowledge has become easier. Newer modes of networking have emerged. When facing a crisis – medical, environmental or otherwise – help is easier to seek. It has made distances irrelevant, cocking a snook at the concept of international borders.

Subtle changes to the psychology of the individual   

Allow me to share some of my concerns with you.

One is the immeasurable power of certain companies in shaping public discourse anywhere in the world. Helping those in power to keep spinning out yarns to their gullible public and keep projecting a larger-than-life image of them.

The underground money making apparatus, duly supported by mining users’ data, aided and abetted by technological advances. The result is an invasion of our privacy, a fact which many of us are blissfully unaware of.

Thanks to persistent lockdowns, my boss, Mr Bertie Wooster, is no longer getting sozzled at late night gigs. But he still needs one of my trademark pick-me-ups. I keep discharging my feudal obligations, helping him to overcome his present addiction to social media. His mood swings have only become worse. Absence of a like on one of his posts featuring an audio clip belting out ‘Sonny Boy’ in his bath leaves him depressed. So does either a painting done by him or a banjolele recording not garnering a smiley. Often, I have to watch over him so as to check any suicidal tendencies arising in his bosom which, as we all know, is awash with the milk of human kindness.

I understand that user data gets routinely used to build models to predict user actions and companies retain user attention to maximize the profit from advertisements. The psychology of the individual is delicately profiled and then used to the hilt to generate revenue. Often, this would lead to increased depression and higher suicide rates, especially among those who lack nerves of chilled steel.

There are subtle changes being made to the P of the I, and these amount to our becoming zombies.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is disturbing, to say the least.

However, all is not lost. Example, in Wikipedia, we have a ray of hope. I believe that they continue to offer a neutral landscape for seeking information. 

Some rotten eggs in our basket of habits

We cannot whip up a delectable omelette by retaining some rotten eggs we carry in our behavioural baskets. These need to be promptly replaced by the ones laid by contented hens. The rotten ones can instead be put to better use to dissuade someone like Tuppy Glossop from rendering ‘Sonny Boy’ at his next appearance at one of the gigs organized by Beefy Bingham.

Some of you may recall the time when Mr Wooster had started entertaining the idea of having the prattle of tender feet around him. A trip to Brighton, followed by an address to a bevy of giggling young girls, made him drop the idea.

Likewise, any threat to us can be neutralized by using tact and resource. But what is also needed is a dash of will power and persistence.

I have brooded over this matter for some time now. I fancy I have a plan which may produce satisfactory results

My humble plan involves our developing habits of the following kind.

Getting rid of Commentitis

Overcoming the urge to either comment upon or getting involved in, some inane discussion on any of the social media platforms.

Shying away from Topicalitis

Learning to take a long-term view of things in life; not whipping up passions on something which is trending on social media and may get you only your 15 seconds of fame.

Avoiding recommended videos which are merely a ruse to keep you glued to a screen.

Doing away with Checkitis

Restricting the habit of frequently checking what is happening on the World Wide Web.

Cultivating Humouronia

Taking it easy, with a dash of humour. The virtual world is not the real world. A ‘like’ could be posted merely to be in your good books. A derogatory remark could be unpeeled to reveal invaluable feedback, or even to present an alternative perspective.

The perils of 5G and beyond

Discovering the environmental and behavioural perils of advanced technologies in the offing. Revenue-hungry governments would not be interested in your knowing these. Businesses chasing top and bottom lines could not care less.

Relishing the perks of Family Time

Having a budget for maximum screen time for yourself in a day. Set an example which others around you – especially kids – can follow. Spend more time with them. Encourage them to develop real relationships rather than virtual ones.

Do not pamper children by giving them access to smart phones which end up making them dumb. Allow social media use only after children reach high school.

Let all devices be out of the bedroom after a certain time; also, off the dining table during ‘family time’.

Sifting the wheat from the chaff

Building nerves of chilled steel to protect yourself, your family and your country from mischievous messages planted by media cells of governments and political parties to sway your opinion about things which really matter.

Looking for news feed from different platforms, even from the ones which oppose your own views and opinions. Trying and being objective about what you soak in.

Not forwarding unnecessary messages, even though these sound like ‘breaking news’ at the time.

Using search engines that do not keep a track of your searching history.

Checking your gadgets ruthlessly at least once a month. Remove all apps which you no longer use.

Working towards receiving minimum notifications.

Delivering satisfaction

I urge upon you to realize that we alone can stem this rot, whether individually or collectively. There is no messiah who is going to pop up and help us in this endeavour. We alone can stop the quivering of the foundations of our civilization.

Only then can we be assured of a life based on the premise of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, Truth and Peace.

Permit me to convey my gratitude for the patience with which you have listened to me. I do hope I have delivered some satisfaction!

 

(SPIN is a not-for-profit platform which advocates the cause of an unbiased social media and encourages users to refrain from indulging in narcissistic behavior when online.)

(This blog post is inspired by ‘The Social Dilemma’ a 2020 docudrama available on Netflix.)  

   

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/bertie-social-media-and-blogging-blues

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/bertie-jeeves-and-the-internet-of-things

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/the-delightful-variety-of-those-who-post-on-facebook-by-sriram-paravastu)

 

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ashokbhatia

While dishing out the unique fare that P G Wodehouse specialized in, never would he have imagined the kind of spell it would cast upon the unsuspecting youth in a country like India which remained a colony of the British Empire for quite some time. The kind of whodunits which he unleashed on the gullible youth occasionally launched an array of goofy schemes and practical jokes. And if the setting for rolling out such schemes happened to be an educational institution, one can merely bemoan the fate of its Reverend Aubrey Upjohns and other illustrious lion-tamers who had no other option but to be at the receiving end.

Imagine an educational institution which is teeming with a bevy of intellectually inclined youth. It is not difficult to surmise just how busy the institute’s Wodehouse Society office bearers would be, whipping up one goofy scheme or the other at regular intervals.

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 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 sorts. Often, he had the unique distinction of being called a manager, even though the grapevine declared him to be an overpaid and glorified clerk. Details of his experiments in mismanagement can be seen here

Companies like Tata International, Hidesign, HCL and others he has worked with were secretly delighted when he decided to quit them. Few of his seniors even celebrated the day of his departure from these companies as a ‘Happy Riddance Day’.  

Having hung his corporate boots, he keeps busy writing articles and books. Often, he can be found searching for a muse. Management institutes in different countries shy away from inviting him to deliver talks, lest their students get into the habit of dozing off while someone speaks. On the day a talk by him does get scheduled, vendors of rotten vegetables and eggs in the city do brisk business.  

PFP’s family life has followed a straight line, with nothing much to write home about. His late spouse has left behind two loving children and their families. They reside in the European Union. Long time friends and relatives keep a watchful eye, ensuring that the PFP is never up to any mischief. Since 1997, he has been infesting the environs of Pondicherry in India. 

What the PFP intends to bring to the table is a modern notion of chivalry. Opening car doors and holding chairs is passé. Instead, the emphasis would be on sharing responsibilities based on respective capabilities and in providing soulful companionship. All possible endeavours shall be made to ensure that the party of the other part never misses her evening cup of tea. 

Check if you could be the PSP

The aspiring PSP is expected to be smart, intelligent and well read. PFP strongly believes that those familiar with the works of P G Wodehouse would fit the bill rather well. It would help if the aspirant has a head which is steeped in Plummy thoughts and a heart which has an abundant supply of the milk of human kindness sloshing about within. An abiding interest in movies and music would be desirable. So would be an awareness of the spiritual dimensions of life.

It would be nice if the PSP has a sunny disposition and nerves of chilled steel. It would help her to handle the ass-like obstinacy of the PFP with equanimity and aplomb. Prior experience in managing children who throw tantrums at the drop of a hat would be equally useful.    

A sound bonding at the mental level would be the mot juste. Neither party shall try to have a whack at the other’s millions, if any.

Skills which keep invading cousins, aunts and friends away from the home and hearth would be greatly admired. So would be the ability of retaining cooks and maid servants in the face of stealthy moves by scheming neighbours and aunts who refuse to be gentlemen.

Some contours of companionship

The PSP shall be encouraged to pursue her own professional career and personal interests. It is expected that the resultant pocket-money meant for the PFP would get dished out without any hesitation or remorse. Nor would its usage be ever questioned or doubted, thereby supporting the sporting spirits of the PFP.

It may kindly be noted that the PFP shudders at the prospect of swimming a mile and then playing five sets of tennis post-lunch on weekends. Joint Larsen exercises, even under the curious eyes of the maid, the cook and stray dogs and cats, may be considered. An improvement in one’s intellect shall not be on the agenda of the proposed companionship. Sharing of knowledge, thoughts and views shall be encouraged. It is hoped that the PSP would keep such sensibilities in mind and refrain from using softer tactics to get the PFP to abide by her wishes.

Both parties would enjoy equal rights in terms of occasionally spending time with their own circle of friends at clubs and in other social circles. Valets and house maids who are members of clubs which insist on keeping records of juicy goings on in the lives of either of the parties shall not be hired.

It is hoped that when either of the parties faces one of Life’s harsh slings and arrows and is twiddling her/his thumbs trying to cope with a challenge, the other one would rally around and act like a Jeeves, marshalling not only his/her keen intelligence but also a deep understanding of the psychology of the individual.

Since either party could be facing unique challenges owing to the lining of the stomach being not in the pink of health, it is crucial that the PSP be adept at dishing out savouries which are nutritious and healthy. Co-morbidities, if any, shall need to be managed effectively. The PFP confesses that his own cooking talents are restricted to boiling milk and eggs originating from contented cows and hens.

Members of the tribe of the delicately nurtured who happen to be pure padded cell from the foundations up are discouraged to respond to this missive. Same goes for the likes of Laura Pyke and Madeline Bassett. Gold diggers need not respond to this missive. 

A joint endeavour

The intended purpose of the proposed companionship is to drink deep from the rivulets of life in the remaining time left for either of the parties on this planet. 

In case it works out, the arrangement may be annulled by either party at any time. Prior intimation and mutual consent would help.

All this will ensure that flowers shall always be in bloom, birds shall always chirp merrily, the sun shall shine merrily, peace shall prevail, and God shall continue to be in heaven, at least till the time one of the parties decides to either kick the bucket or bid adieu.

Those interested in exploring this concept further may like to send a mail to akb.usha1952@gmail.com. Privacy of messages exchanged is assured.  

 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/about-me

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/how-plum-dissuaded-me-from-opting-for-a-diplomatic-career

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/12/23/some-wodehousean-characters-i-can-relate-to)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In fond memory of Eduardo Garcia who handed in his dinner pail recently.

ashokbhatia

(Disclaimer : This composition is not by Ralston McTodd. But poets are, after all, also God’s creatures…)

I wish I could be Bertie, and let Jeeves do all the thinking
Whilst avoiding hard work – about it having no inkling,
I worship Ickenham’s horror of convention
And yet, often, am prevailed upon to avoid contention;

I yearn to saunter between tailor, bootmaker and hatter 
Rather than dentist and supermarket – whilst enduring boring chatter,
I dream of living in Blandings, superbly waited on by Beach
Unconcerned about rules I daily feel inclined to breach;

But, alas, one cannot live other’s lives – that’s our lot
And however irksome one’s existence, of it one cannot be shot,
So one must find solace in laughter, fellowship and books
To escape – however briefly – boredom’s nasty hooks;

And there is a place to go, unlike any other one
Which uplifting powers are…

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ashokbhatia

The Association of Sterner Husbands (ASH) hereby seeks nominations for its prestigious Star Sterner Awards which are conferred upon those of the tribe of the so-called sterner sex who have managed to break the bond between themselves and their delicately nurtured spouses during the preceding year.

ASH is devoted to the cause of promoting Masculinism. It has instituted the awards to counter the ‘rising trend of all this nonsense about the modern emancipation of women which has resulted in them getting it up their noses’, eventually manifesting itself in such ‘movements’ as Feminism, #MeToo and the like.

Things in the society have reached a state where physical violence inflicted upon the party of the other part, even if the husband is all sozzled up, is in the realm of imagination. So is the provocation of an extra-marital affair. The level of delicacy of the f of the s…

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I confess I have never had the chance of listening to the prattle of tender feet around me. However, this does not mean that I do not observe kids. I do so, with all the shrewdness at my command. When they giggle and stare at public speakers, the latter are all of a twitter. When they seek protection money from their wannabe step fathers, the soul cringes. When they use paraffin wax to douse fires, one sickens in horror. When they decide to extract a revenge of sorts from cabinet ministers who have reported their smoking endeavours in the shrubberies, one draws appropriate conclusions. When they celebrate their birthdays by either putting sherbet in ink pots or by going AWOL to enjoy a dinner and a movie, one gets overawed with the kind of courage they have.

Having suffered at the hands of such obnoxious kids as Thos, Seabury, Edwin the Scout, Kid Blumenfeld, Peggy Mainwaring and Kid Clementina, I have willy-nilly come to the conclusion that these kids need not be derided and mocked at. Rather, they deserve to be treated as role models for most other kids who would infest our planet in the decades to come.

Their parents need not be pitied and censured. On the contrary, they need to be applauded for the unique contribution they have made to the society at large. One, they have delivered roguish kids who are totally self-centered and can tackle the harsh realities of life with a chin up attitude. Two, they have demonstrated the kind of nerves of chilled steel they have by bringing up kids with such modern values as hatred, disdain, habit of questioning authority, strong faith in falsehoods and fake information, bullying and knowing which side their bread is buttered on. Those weaker than themselves get trampled upon and squished like crawling insects under a pair of size 11 boots. As to stronger bullies, they analyze their psychology, bury their egos and become submissive ‘nodders’. Social recognition, a rapid rise in a rigid hierarchy and accumulation of wealth is bound to follow them in due course.

A Set of Futuristic Values

What I am driving at is simply this. To prepare kids for a glorious future, we need to revamp our education policies. Parents –whether of the present or the aspiring kind – need to be clear as to the set of values which would serve their offspring better in the times to come.

Besides teaching them the virtues of the likes of Jesus, Rama, Krishna and Mahatma Gandhi, kids also need to be told of the sterling qualities of such figures as Satan, Ravana, Kansa, Duryodhana and Dushasana. Villains such as Sher Khan (The Jungle Book), Scar (The Lion King) and Tai Lung (Kung Fu Panda) could see them surviving the harsh slings and arrows of life with aplomb.

They need to be imparted skills as to how to thrive in an environment of hate, untruth, dishonesty, skulduggery, bullying and hoodwinking the weak and the vulnerable while sucking up to those who happen to be in power. A high degree of proficiency in hypocrisy is what they need to be egged on to achieve.

Hating the ‘Other’

Armed with a hateful attitude, they would prod the not-so-blessed kids into achieving perfection.  In any case, concepts like empathy, harmony and compassion are already passé. To teach them to love their neighbours no longer makes sense. Best opportunities come up for those who are selfish and have deep reserves of hatred towards the ‘other’. These could be people of a different race, religion, caste, creed, skin colour and economic wherewithal. Children need to be groomed to operate in an ecosystem of hate.

The Perks of Lying

Being glib liars, they would waltz through their lives in a smoother manner. The market share for truth is shrinking with each passing year. The market for falsehood, misleading data and fake news is zooming. By adopting a value system along these lines, explaining one’s conduct to either an aggressive boss or a nagging spouse would be far easier. Many of our leaders who have the unenviable task of governing countries have already perfected this art.

The Art of Cheating

A related core life skill is that of cheating. Fraud is a global industry which is recession proof. Companies do it all the time. Governments routinely resort to it so as to protect their public image. One is never too sure of the quality of data being unleashed upon the gullible public, whether regarding economic progress or public health. Reneging on sovereign guarantees by invoking a force majeure clause is set to become a norm.

Even when faced with a raging pandemic, human ingenuity in ripping off hapless patients has never been found wanting. Many healthcare professionals are capitalizing on the fear of the pandemic and laughing all the way to their banks.

Civic Disobedience

With a questioning mindset, innovations would rule the roost, propelling our civilization faster on the path of evolution.  The merits of standing up to those in power need to be driven home in a ruthless manner. In fact, with youth unrest spurting in many countries, we already have an inkling of the shape of things to come. All such protests produce a younger generation of leaders who would improve the delivery of services to a lay citizen. Homo sapiens will make mighty strides in all their endeavours.

Bullying and Nodding

The meek do not inherit the earth, so to say. One cannot be like my friend Gussie Fink Nottle who is tongue-tied when it comes to proposing to a female he feels attracted to. One has to be groomed to be a dasher. If one’s Dashiness Quotient is high, one can hope to achieve goals better and faster. Bullying and pushing others are habits which help one at all stages of one’s life.

But when it comes to those stronger than us, and those who are in power, one has to kowtow to their mighty egos. Becoming a professional ‘nodder’ and a thorough Yes-person is bound to bring home the bacon.

Proficiency in Hypocrisy

Scriptures impart our kids moral lessons which are much past their expiry date. Some of you may recall my having won a Scripture Prize while at school. But you may not be able to point out how that knowledge had ever helped me to wriggle out of the prospect of a saunter down the aisle. Invariably, it was Jeeves who always came to my rescue.

The guy who said that our thoughts, our words and our actions should be aligned was surely an ass of the first order. What works these days is exactly the opposite. Let us say you hate your government or your boss. If you say so openly, you could either be found cooling your heals in a jail – without the option, of course – or keep missing some juicy promotions in your career. If Bingo Little were to confess to having blown up his allowances on some sporting endeavour, the dove of matrimonial peace would hastily pack its bags and abandon his home and hearth.

Enabling a Faster Spiritual Evolution

Kids armed with such futuristic values would play an important role – that of hastening the process of spiritual evolution of our species.

Someone, whose name I forget, spoke of survival of the fittest. What I propose here, if followed by conscientious parents and our education policies, will surely lead us to nurture kids who would not only survive but also do well in the times to come.

If this were to happen, one could safely peer into the future and grunt in satisfaction in much the same manner as one would after having put down the hatch one of the lavish spreads dished out by Anatole. The soul, weighed down by current anxieties, would get revived.

Couples in the reproductive age bracket, whose unions get blessed with roguish kids, will be assured of a very bright future for their coming generations. By inheriting the combined loopiness of their parents, such kids would ensure a rapid spiritual growth of all those around them – the aunts, the uncles, the nurses, the governesses, the headmasters, the teachers, the priests, the sports coaches, the drivers, the liftmen, the gardeners and many others.

Some of you are already raising kids who are disobedient and undisciplined at home. Outside, they happen to be gun toting monsters. You deserve to be richly complimented for the many sacrifices you make for your progeny. Your decision to expose tender minds to inane television shows, inappropriate content on social media and violent cartoon shows is obviously helping.

Making Kids Hotter  

Even those amongst you who are convinced that I happen to be mentally negligible would agree with me that all kids need to be groomed into becoming ideal citizens of their respective nations and make a positive contribution to society through their ability to hate, lie, cheat, bully the weak and by learning the refined art of sycophancy, cozying up to those in power. They need to use resource and tact to break their eggs and whip up sumptuous omelettes for themselves and their near and dear ones.

Kids these days are already hot stuff. We need to take immediate steps through proper channels to make them hotter in the decades to come.  Bringing up losers is surely not your idea of having fun in life. Scripture knowledge has limitations. Character development centered on such values as love, respect, humility, compassion and empathy takes bright kids on a negative trajectory.

Who Can Bell the Cat?

Who can bring about this change in our thinking? Perhaps not our political leaders, many of whom hide their dictatorial ambitions behind a thin veneer of democratic principles. Our mandarins thrive on opacity and an innovative capacity to come up with roadblocks to whatever is proposed. When combined together, both love an obedient, subservient, meek and complaint public. For them, a vibrant, independently thinking and questioning citizen is a highly undesirable commodity.

Closer home, Lord Sidcup may not approve of the idea but deserves to be sounded out on this fruity scheme. I believe it is safe to interact with him over internet these days. I would not run the risk of being torn from limb to limb.

Perhaps Rosie M Banks and Bingo Little can be persuaded to spearhead a revolution of this kind.

Another possibility could be someone like Stiffy Byng or Roberta Wickham taking up the cudgels. When it comes to propagating values of the kind being proposed by me, their credibility is bound to be much higher. A promotional drive by them, directed at parents, would strengthen the foundations of our civilization no end. Education ministers and mandarins across different countries who do not pay heed will run the risk of either their hot water bottles being punctured or cell phones getting pinched.

Would you have any suggestions?!

(Inputs from Mr Satish Pande, an ardent fan of P G Wodehouse, are gratefully acknowledged)

 

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

 

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(Disclaimer- I make no claims to being an expert literary critic. I am just a lay reader who has been reading books in English for over seventy years. This is my take on why PG Wodehouse will never become dated and will always retain his appeal)
Reading- both fiction and non-fiction, is my principal hobby. I read for pleasure, rarely for profit. I have enjoyed the works of many over the years : Edgar Wallace, Sapper, HG Wells, Somerset Maugham, Lawrence Durrell, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Daphne Du Maurier, John Le Carre’, Harold Robbins, Kingsley Amis, Ian Fleming, Salman Rushdie, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Bronte sisters, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, PG Wodehouse, Dean Swift, Oscar Wilde, Leon Uris, James Clavell, Aldous Huxley and Pearl Buck- to name some.
I have been blessed with the rare opportunity of traveling physically to many of the locales which figured in their books- London, rural England, Paris, Switzerland, Egypt, Turkey, USA, Salinas County, Hamburg, Odessa, Moscow, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Teheran, Damascus, Baghdad, Tokyo etc. I could recall the vivid descriptions of places and people in the books and connect to them when I visit them.
Like most, I have also gone through phases in my literary diet; an Edgar Wallace phase, A Lawrence Durrel Phase, a Somerset Maugham Phase, a Du Maurier phase etc. when I tried to lay hands on every book they wrote. I still admire their work.
But there are only two authors who I loved at first reading and continue to love today- John Le Carre’ and (of course) PG Wodhouse.
They operated in vastly different genres- mystery and spy novels as opposed to airy, breezy romances laced with humor. Both wrote (Le Carre is still active!) wrote superb English. Le Carre’s world is somber and brooding while PGW is sunny and cheerful. They endure in my esteem, because their characters are real human beings and not super heroes who stretch credibility. George Smiley is believable, James Bond is a cartoon figure. The same is true of Wodehouse’s characters. Despite the settings in mythical rural England, London or the US, the protagonists are believable real and fallible humans.
Let us confess to the truth. Most of us are closer to Mr. Bean than James Bond, in real life! At least I am. In real life, ugly ducklings grow up to become ugly ducks only, never beautiful swans! (It is a different matter that some clever ugly ducks acquire Harvard MBAs, make killings in the Wall Street and have a succession of swan girlfriends!)
There are no super heroes in PGW books. Yes, there were a few assertive men- Rodrick Glossop, Psmith and Rupert Baxter and women like Aunt Agatha and Lady Constance Keeble. Actually, most of us are (at least I am) closer to Bertie Wooster! His villains are credible and not unreal caricatures unlike Stavro Blofeld, Professor Moriarty or Carl Petersen.
If we are not bullied by our butlers like the amiable idiot Wooster by Jeeves, we are bossed around by our wives! We frequently confront situations which baffle us and are beyond our control. We somehow survive.
Peel away the romanticized setting of English stately homes, American business men and gangsters, rowdy clubs like Drones- the characters are real and believable. They are human and fallible. That is why Wodehouse continues to be loved across continents, cultures, creeds and age groups.
Writers may come and go,
But Plum goes on forever.

 

(Captain Mohan Ram, ex Naval designer, eventually moved to the automobile industry where, if one may hazard a guess, he might have been designing some amphibian vehicles. His career trajectory followed the Peter’s Principle. He rose to senior positions, until finally retiring recently at the age of eighty four. He is currently cooling his heels, writing inane posts on Facebook.

His permission to reproduce this piece here is gratefully acknowledged.) 

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Never did Bertie imagine seeing such a mess in his life,

Eagerly waiting for Drones to reopen so loneliness gets over;

Target practicing with darts is a skill which is getting rusted,

Bingo Little has time to sit together but cannot come over.

 

Back-slapping, hugging and shaking hands is a strict no-no,

Chatting over phone alone sounds a safer proposition;

Telegraph services to-and-fro nephews no longer work,

Aunts use video calls, trying to change their matrimonial disposition.

 

Roads are virtually free but a drive to Brighton is ruled out,

Peggy receives from Miss Tomlinson online grace;

Kid Clementina is missing the fun of putting sherbet in ink pots,

Prudence Baxter awaits her next egg and spoon race.

 

Aunt Dahlia is unable to invite nephews and nieces for meals,

Though Anatole is ready and willing to offer many a lavish spread;

Uncle Tom is delighted at Milady’s Boudoir being in a limbo,

Amidst lockdowns losing his silver collection he does not dread.

 

Friends like Gussie Fink Nottle have ample time to study newts,

Madeline has bouts of insomnia and looks at stars all night long;

Roderick Spode is busy launching on a new Eulalie line with masks,

While Cora Bollinger practices a rappy version of Sonny Boy song.

 

 

Sir Roderick Glossop is frightfully busy attending to loony coves,

Dr Murgatroyd has a long list of patients with red spots;

Dr Sally is immune to proposals over WhatsApp while on duty,

Doctor Hailsham takes a pound a day off you with his vegan shots.

 

Lord Emsworth freely potters about in his gardens,

With Parva School Treat Day off, peace and relaxation he elicits;

The Empress in the pink of health, savouring her 57,800 calories,

Freddie peddling online some immunity-boosting Dog Joy biscuits.

 

Aline Peters has money but is looking for ways to spend it,

Joan Valentine has no money and would do anything to be paid;

Ashe Marson does Larsen exercises on the roof top these days,

He and Joan avoid kissing on the lawns, saddening a scullery maid.

 

Life is like a drink which they all keep drinking deeply from,

A cup in which the beetle of a virus floats with all its variations;

Or, gorging on a green salad on top of which rests a caterpillar,

Demanding an apology from anyone trying to disturb its meditations!

 

They appear to be adjusting quickly to their travails,

In Plumsville, the Principle of Peaceful Coexistence prevails;

All this may sound ironic but wisdom is in being positive,

And, when it comes to Coronavirus, testing negative!

 

(Illustrations courtesy Kevin Cornell)

 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/04/11/who-ropes-in-doctors-and-paramedics-from-plumsville-to-counter-corona-virus-part-1-of-2

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/of-lockdowns-p-g-wodehouse-and-the-milk-of-human-kindness

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/07/25/the-corona-gladiators-proposal-for-a-plummy-movie)

 

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