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Posts Tagged ‘Humour’

Those who practice as physicians in our society are increasingly looked upon with some suspicion. Dig a little deeper and one is apt to find that they are more to be pitied than to be censured.

A physician is denied the fundamental right to some solitude. Even at a social gathering, she is likely to be surrounded by wannabe patients who are keen to seek her impromptu advice as to the latest affliction the party of the other part has heard about and imagines oneself to be suffering from the same.

Close relatives are not too considerate either. A distant relative could call late at night, skillfully steering the conversation from children’s career prospects to the current bout of migraine she happens to be suffering from. If anyone in the circle of friends or relatives happens to be admitted to a hospital, the physician ends up spending sleepless nights, adroitly juggling her official commitments and personal relations, often messing up both.

Latest advancements in medicine keep them on their toes. So does the competition from various streams of medicine, such as Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and many other local variants of each of these streams. Superstitions, local beliefs, religion, social norms are but some of the constraints which need to be kept in mind. Legal tangles, such as those apply to road accident cases, keep them on the defensive.

In advanced countries, they face tough customer care regulations. In emerging economies like India, they suffer humiliation – occasionally violent – at the hands of irate relatives and well-wishers if the latter perceive the medical service provided to their kith and kin to be deficient.

Return on Investment considerations

To be a mere graduate in any discipline of medicine does not amount to much these days. Even to become a graduate, the hapless souls have to experience at least five and a half years of the tyranny of the classroom, with the trauma of a stint as an intern thrown in for good measure.

Monetary rewards obviously vary depending upon their choice of a career. They could choose to be in their own private practice, or join a private sector outfit, or become a part of the public health delivery mechanism.

If public spending on health infrastructure is woefully inadequate, private players end up playing an important role in the medical education scenario. Many aspiring physicians opt for a private sector skill provider. As a consequence, hassled parents end up shelling out sackfuls of the green stuff. Return on Investment considerations then determine the choice of their career.

The blue-eyed ones

The resourceful ones set up their own practice. If the going is good, some of them end up laughing all the way to the bank, what with hefty commissions coming in from such allied medical service providers as marketeers of branded medicines and diagnostic clinics.

Those who happen to be associated with five-star private sector health facilities have tough business targets to meet. This is not to say that patient care necessarily gets compromised, but an overdose of medical investigations surely leaves the patient and her family deprived of mental peace and some hard-earned green stuff.

When the costliest of medicines and gadgets get recommended by physicians, stakeholders of pharmaceutical companies and those in the field of medical equipment laugh all the way to the bank. Admittedly, quite a lot of money gets pumped into research and development, but it is open to debate as to how much profit could be considered rational and socially justified.

Much like the marketing honchos in the private sector who bring in business and resultant moolah, such physicians happen to be the blue-eyed boys of any entity which boasts of being a corporate facility.

The grey eyed ones

Physicians who are part of the government healthcare delivery system and happen to be conscientious by nature are often overloaded with work. Monetary rewards are often not commensurate with the efforts being put in. The eyes of a majority of them would be a dull grey, revealing a soul which is tormented and has given up hope.

Besides having to publish research papers in peer-reviewed journals and making presentations at medical seminars, students have to be guided, examinations have to be conducted and internal meetings need to be attended. Administrative chores cannot be ignored.

Above all, routine patient care cannot be made to suffer. Patients, whether of the ‘in’ or the ‘out’ kind, descend in droves, all eager to jump the queue and catch the attention of the physician. The plight of those in most of the emerging economies is most distressing because the per capita availability of physicians leaves much to be desired.

Of Attitude and Inner Resilience

Much depends on the attitude of a patient. One could come across persons with a cheerful disposition headed for their second open heart surgery, relishing a deep-fried item with much glee. One could also run into those who worry endlessly over such transient ailments as a bout of common cold or sinusitis.

Physicians obviously deal with a baffling variety of patients with much finesse and aplomb. Nerves of chilled steel get deployed. A sense of detachment pervades their handling of a patient. Their inner resilience deserves to be applauded.

With such fine qualities of head and heart, one can merely admire the quality of their work which keeps upholding the reputation of their profession. The Hippocratic Oath might appear to be relegated to the background, but is surely alive and kicking.

In many streams of alternative medicine, the patient is taken as a composite whole and treated holistically. The inner resilience of a patient is accorded a higher weightage. Allopathy, the mainstay of masses in the times we live in, does it the other way round, where each organ is looked at and treated separately. In mathematical parlance, alternative streams could be likened to Integral Calculus, whereas allopathy could be likened to Differential Calculus.

Shoring up one’s inner resilience

There are indeed ways for patients to improve one’s inner resilience, so as to be able to handle the harsh slings and arrows of Fate in a more positive manner. A deeper inner connection helps. To achieve the same, regular introspection and meditation helps.

As the Mother has said, the right approach would be to simply disallow negative thoughts to gain a foothold in one’s psychical system. Patients obviously need loads of patience to be able to put this advice in practice!

(Note: Inputs from Dr. Shivani Salil Dr. Shruti Bhatia are gratefully acknowledged.)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/of-patient-satisfaction-quotient-motivation-and-kinds-of-patients)

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Be it Blandings Castle or Totleigh Towers, summer is eternal and the sun beams benevolently across the books of Mr Wodehouse. And Mr Ashok Bhatia, who has spent much of his 60-odd years curling up in bed with the works of the great humourist, hails from a land where the sun-shine is as eternal, although not quite so benevolent. It is more prone to broil the citizens till they totter on the brink of the loony-bin.

In Amsterdam, however, even as the calendar assured that it was nearing the end of April, the weather was having a cold hearty cackle at the expense of misguided tourists shivering in their light jackets. Thus, the erstwhile management consultant and his wife turned up at Restaurant Szmulewicz wrapped from head to toe under many, many layers of wool, fleece and polyester.

Ashok is done with navigating the highways of the corporate world. He now spends his time with NGOs in the rather diverse and distinct disciplines of Management and Spirituality. That is provided he can tear himself away from his lifelong perusal of the antics of Jeeves, Ukridge, Lord Emsworth and the rest of them. He has recently authored a book himself, which takes a humorous look at the principles of management and, as a corollary, mismanagement. But perhaps he is happiest when adding thoughts and reflections to his blog, which, needless to say, is dominated by PG Wodehouse.

Mrs Bhatia has not really been an avid Wodehouse reader herself. But matrimony comes with associative afflictions. She is not immune to the moments when her husband is spotted variously chuckling, guffawing and, to use a modern illusion, rolling on the floor with laughter. Investigations carried out at these junctures do keep popping up Wodehousean passages as chief suspects. And she excels at that profound quality found in the better or worse halves of devoted readers, without which the very pursuit of reading would be rendered impossible – indulgence. She indulges Ashok as he reads, and tolerates him even as he sometimes reads aloud to her. It was this sterling indulgence that had brought her to Szmulewicz, withstanding the association of not only her husband but three more Wodehouseans.

Josepha Olsthoorn and Wil Brouwers had turned up before one could even say ‘Bring on the Girls’, charming and hospitable, eager to spread sweetness and light. And Arun too had been allowed in the restaurant … although as he entered there had been a distinct sound of a very old sheep clearing its throat in the southern alps, followed by the words, “Long hair, sir, in my opinion, is dangerous.”

Thus glasses were clinked, old Plum was toasted, Empress was remembered, Ukridge was discussed. It grew louder and funnier by the minute, an evening filled with humour and hapjes, Galahad and gezelligheid.

In short, it was a perfect what’s-its-name of the thingummy and the thing-um-a-bob of the what d’you-call-it.

(The aforesaid write-up, whipped up by Arunabha Sengupta, appeared in ‘Nothing Serious‘, the magazine unleashed upon its members by the Dutch Wodehouse Society at regular intervals.

Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and freelance sports journalist based in Amsterdam. He also has a past in the software industry that still gives him the jitters. Apart from being a Wodehousean, he is also a Holmesian and is the author of the pastiche ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Birth of The Ashes.’

Permission to reproduce this piece, if piece is indeed the word one wants, is gratefully acknowledged.)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/a-drones-club-meeting-in-amsterdam)

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Those who happen to know me personally are often deceived by my polite manners. They often wonder as to why I never opted for a diplomatic career.

Allow me to set the record straight. P G Wodehouse played some role in indicating that my Guardian Angels had planned my life much unlike that of Eustace Mulliner, who was a part of the British Embassy in Switzerland.

Jeeves’ psychology-of-an-individual factor has also led me to believe that the diplomatic corps on this planet are better off without me.

My limited intuitive faculties also tell me that life as a career diplomat could not be as glamorous and hunky dory as it might appear to be from the outside of an embassy building.

The Eustace Mulliner saga

Wodehouse fans might recall that the splendid idea of Eustace Mulliner joining the British Embassy in Switzerland was dangled before him by his godfather, Lord Knubble of Knopp. Eustace had stoutly refused to avail himself of the offer.

However, things turned out differently when he was caught misbehaving with Francis, a feline creature which was a favourite of his Aunt Georgina. At the time, two more characters had popped up, taking a jaundiced view of the proceedings. His obduracy evaporated. He decided that Switzerland was a safer country to be in.

Unlike Eustace Mulliner, my Guardian Angels had planned my life along different lines.

One, I never fancied maintaining a ‘Open House’ for pets of all kinds.

Two, Fate never bestowed upon me a girl friend, that too someone like Marcella Tyrrwhitt, who would take the risk of entrusting her favourite Peke and her canary to me while going off to Paris on a brief sojourn.

Three, I have never had the privilege of having a wealthy aunt who might have taken offence at my throwing cucumber sandwiches at her cat.

Four, never have I come across an ardent animal lover like Orlando Wotherspoon, the perennial Vice President of the Dumb Chumbs’ League, who would threaten to thrash me within an inch of my life.

Nor have I had the privilege of coming across a girl friend who had Spanish blood in her; someone who would have liked to whack me with the heaviest parasol she could lay her hands on, the provocation being her discovery that a favourite Peke of hers had been gifted by me to one Beatrice Watterson.Those who have followed the ruminations of Mr Mulliner (Mulliner Nights, Open House) would recall that Eustace, upon joining the British Embassy in Switzerland, had stuck to his duties with unremitting energy.

‘So much so that, he had been awarded 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.’

One might miss the rights to yodel in the presence of the high and mighty, but life has been kind to me in so many other ways.

The psychology of the individual

Jeeves would have surely approved of my keeping away from a diplomatic career. I am certain that several diplomatic disasters and gaffes have thus been avoided, saving our planet from a more uncertain future. August bodies such as the United Nations surely breathe easier.

The simpleton that I am, a career in diplomacy would have tested my reserves of patience to the hilt. Putting on a plastic smile, when necessary, would have tried my nerves no end. A Bollywood producer, had he cast me as a lead actor for one of his inane movies, would have cried all the way to his bank. Having to make inane conversations with perfect strangers on topics which are alien to the restricted domain of my knowledge would have left my soul in perennial torment.

To a lay person, the life of a career diplomat might sound flashy and exciting. Rubbing shoulders with world leaders. Travelling to exotic locales. Devouring Anatole-ish spreads. Attending conferences and banquets. Making clever speeches which get received with a thunderous applause and, possibly, even a standing ovation.

But it is not too difficult to surmise the harsh realities of a diplomatic life. These pose many challenges of a managerial kind.

Of diplomats and their career blues

Maintaining cordial international relations in our turbulent times would be no mean task. The dignity and the image of the home country needs to be upheld. Culture, heritage and values need to be showcased. Cultural nuances of the land where they happen to be posted to need to be understood and rigorously followed.

Besides negotiating and facilitating treaties, opportunities for trade promotion and closer collaboration have to be exploited to the hilt. An eye has to be kept open for business opportunities between the two countries. Unique strengths of the home country have to be showcased. Stakeholders of diverse hues, shapes, sizes and temperaments have to be kept in a positive frame of mind. Political masters have to be kept in good humour. Business barons snapping at their heels have to be kept at bay.

Meetings, conferences and banquets have to be attended. Impeccable sartorial standards have to be maintained, showcasing their home country while keeping the local sensibilities in mind. Consular services have to be dished out with courtesy, transparency and efficiency.

Morale of the staff has to be upheld at all times. Resistance to change needs to be overcome. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has to be understood and applied in all cases. Career priorities invariably take precedence over personal matters.

The harsh slings and arrows of fate do not stop with such mighty challenges. Once in a blue moon, some odd requests have to be granted. Interviews by a bunch of giggly communication students may need to be granted. Inquisitive media journalists desperately searching for some exciting sound bites may have to be tolerated.

Lay citizens of a distant country could pop up, wanting to present a book authored by them on a subject which sounds like Latin and Greek, simply because the book was launched back home, in the home language.

The last mentioned was the fate suffered recently by two senior members of the international diplomatic corps, when I popped up in flesh and blood to present to them a copy of my book ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’.

It was kind of them to have granted me an audience. Like many a harsh slings and arrows of Fate coming their way, they took it very sportingly, thereby shoring up the image of their country in the feeble mind of a lesser mortal from one of the emerging economies of the world.

Bertie Wooster would have heartily approved of their chin up attitude. So would have Eustace Mulliner.

As to my not having gravitated towards a diplomatic career myself, Jeeves would have surely approved.

Thank you, Plum!

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/a-meeting-with-the-ambassador-of-portugal-in-norway

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/a-meeting-with-the-minister-counsellor-of-portugal-in-switzerland)

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The Patient Satisfaction Quotient

It is well-known that the Patient Satisfaction Quotient is a function of various factors – the time spent with the physician, the quality of interaction had, the seniority of the physician in the system hierarchy, etc.

It follows that the following laws might apply:

Law #1: The more the time spent with a physician, the higher the level of satisfaction of a patient.

Admittedly, this law does not apply to those perched on a dentist chair. Nor does it apply to those facing a minor surgical procedure without the aid of analgesics.

Law #2: The better the quality of interaction, the higher the level of satisfaction of a patient.

This law is a direct derivative of the psychology of the individual. The more a patient is able to off-load her worries and anxieties onto the hapless physician, the happier she is apt to feel.

There are some exceptions here as well. A physician found making an inappropriate remark about the weight of a patient who is a member of the female of our species risks losing the latter’s goodwill.

Law #3: The patient satisfaction level is directly proportional to the seniority of the physician being consulted.

Amongst the well-heeled patients, the respect and admiration for a physician depends upon the amount of fee being charged, the waiting period to get an appointment, the seniority of the physician in the system, and the value as well as the rare availability of the medications being prescribed.

This one surely does not apply to the teeming multitudes who strive to keep their body and soul together day after day.

It follows that most patients using the public hospitals are left dissatisfied. It does not occur to them that the sheer exposure of such physicians is so very wide that the medical advice they dish out is much better. Superfluous investigations are discouraged. Medications recommended are often of a generic kind, saving the patient some precious money.

A Patient Motivation-Hygiene Proposition

Those familiar with Herzberg’s two-factor theory, popular in the realm of organizational behaviour, would notice a striking similarity between the situation envisaged in organizations and the one we are endeavouring to explore here.

In case of organizations, job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction are not part of a continuum. Absence of satisfaction does not necessarily imply presence of dissatisfaction. If the presence of Motivation Factors (respect and recognition on the job, for instance) improves job satisfaction levels, the absence of Hygiene Factors (such as physical working conditions, etc) leads to higher job dissatisfaction levels.

Likewise, satisfaction/dissatisfaction levels of patients perhaps tend to be independent of each other. If the treatment is effective in the long run, the satisfaction level improves. If the time spent by the physician is inadequate, dissatisfaction sets in.
In that sense, Effectiveness of Treatment would be akin to a Motivation Factor in the theory propounded by Herzberg.

However, the set of laws proposed above would be like Hygiene Factors, the absence of which would cause a patient dissatisfaction.

Patients of various hues

Patients obviously come in various body sizes, pocket sizes, shapes and hues. Amongst those who do not face a medical emergency, there are wide variations in temperaments. Here are some which might be of interest.

The Reluctant Ones

These are patients who believe that a doctor should be visited only as a last resort and that medicines need to be stopped as soon as the immediate problem is addressed. They believe that there is no need for any follow-up visit, till, of course, the next crisis strikes.

The Casual Ones

These are the ones who are casual in their approach. They may or may not follow either a doctor’s prescriptions or the food restrictions placed on them. Nevertheless, a medical consultation is akin to a pleasurable outing for the, so they shall keep coming back to see the physician. For a public service doctor, they happen to be a nuisance. For those in the private sector, they are a source of delight.

The Conscientious Ones

In this category fall the hapless and anxious souls who take their illnesses rather seriously. They take medicines regularly, and follow diet-related advice to the best of their ability. They tend to seek guidance at frequent intervals. Those who suffer from lifestyle diseases often end up forging a close bond with the physician, thereby replicating the age-old system of ‘family doctors’.

The Anxious Ones

Then there are the well-heeled hyper-anxious ones who take a magnified view of their afflictions, tend to be jumpy, worry excessively about prognosis, and keep troubling the physician concerned with inane queries from time to time.

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Residents of Plumsville who have been keeping a watch on the gradual resurgence of Wodehousitis in the Nordic countries might recall that at the last meeting of the Drones Club at Vollen in Norway, befittingly held on the 15th of October 2016, those present had planned for the next meeting of the Club to be held closer to the National Day of Norway, that is, on or around the 17th of May 2017.

And that is how it transpired that the Egg, the Bean, the Crumpet and the Pieface met at Asker recently. After much back-slapping, flag waving and associated patriotic activities, the four settled down to wide ranging discussions on a variety of Plummy affairs.

Here is a quick recapitulation of the deliberations.

Spreading cheer and happiness

Plum has left behind a range of work which is as prolific as it is magnificent. Homo sapiens need to be made aware and encouraged to drink deep from this underground reservoir of bliss. Hope was expressed that the economies dependent on black gold till now would eventually start becoming dependent on this joyous variety of gold, thereby improving the happiness levels of humanity.

The prodigal sons

When it comes to musicals, it is well recognized that kids of rich producers with bulging pockets and cigars in their mouth alone call the shots. Attempts should be made to breed more of such canine species as McIntosh, so kids can be suitably influenced and musicals can bounce back and regain their popularity amongst the masses.

A teen connection

Thanks to their ignorance about the Wodehouse canon, the millennials are not aware of what they happen to be missing in life. The group wondered if some of our dream merchants would start producing short animated clips which showcase the stories dished out by Plum. Once launched on dedicated ‘Apps’ and other digital platforms, the younger lot with their short attention spans may get drawn to the sunlit valleys of Plumsville, with streets lined on both sides with low hanging fruits of delectable humour.

The translation challenge

The Crumpet wondered as to how the beauty of Plum’s writings could be retained while translating his works into such other languages as Norwegian. The Pieface clarified that such translators often dig up the local history and quote juicy instances therefrom, thereby maintaining the lyrical beauty of the original prose.

Of feminism and the delicately nurtured

In a society which provides equal opportunity to its delicately nurtured, even going to the extent of making both the sexes serve a fixed duration military tenure, just how popular could be the old Victorian-era notions of chivalry, such as opening doors, holding chairs, and the like?

The Bean opined that such notions no longer had a meaning. The practice of such overt gestures of chivalry might be silently appreciated. But the absence of such gestures does not get noticed, much to the obvious relief of the so-called sterner sex.

The literary landscape of Plum

Almost all his works are littered with quotes from, and references to, those at the high table of English literature, such as Shakespeare, et al.

The Egg felt that literary figures preceding Plum had helped shape the present contour of English language. The Pieface thought that this is a vast subject which merits much careful analysis. The group felt they would admire the perseverance and erudite scholarship of anyone who might undertake a mighty task of this nature.

The real estate connection

Is Plum in any way related to the real estate sector of the economy? The Pieface did think so. He felt that he was nowhere near achieving his ambition of having collected all of Plum’s works in English as well as in Norwegian. His room was already overflowing, inviting sinister comments from the Rosie M Banks of his life. In order to fulfil his desire, a barn may soon need to be added. This, he felt, would serve a completely unintended purpose – that of providing a much-needed fillip to the local economy.

The Empress of Blandings

She was the guest of honour, adorned atop a small cake which was baked and provided by the daughter of the Crumpet. The Egg did the honours. All those assembled hummed ‘Sonny Boy’ and devoured few helpings of the same.

Wodehousitis in Norway

Those assembled agreed that all efforts need to be made to popularize the fact that such meetings are taking place in the Land of the Midnight Sun. By making prospective members green with envy, it was felt, the objective could be accomplished in the days to come.

The uneven spread of Wodehousitis

Concern was expressed at the fact that there were wide disparities in the per capita affliction of Wodehousitis across different countries. According to latest informal estimates, USA, UK and India appeared to be leading other countries when it came to per capita affliction of the dreaded disease. Netherlands, Italy and Russia appeared to be forming the middle order. Down Under, the affliction rates were reported to be rather poor. Same was the case with Switzerland which, though famous for its cheese, chocolates and watches, had very little to show when it came to Wodehousitis.

The consensus was that much more needed to be done to facilitate a more equitable distribution of Wodehousitis across the globe. The Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies may be approached to come up with a concrete action plan which, once approved by Rupert Psmith, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Plumsville, may be set in motion.  It would also do well to conduct studies establishing the precise characteristics of Wodehousitis, thereby making it amenable to measurement.

Norway is a unique country in more ways than one. It hosts the Nobel Peace Prize. It is presently ranked as the happiest country in the world. The fact that it is shoring up its ranking in terms of Wodehousitis is yet another feather in its cap.  

(A vote of thanks is due to Morten Arnesen, Jo Ingebrigt Spalder and Oystein Moe for propelling the Nordic Wodehousitis Mission further)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/a-drones-club-meet-at-asker-in-Norway

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/a-drones-club-meeting-at-vollen-in-Norway

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/a-drones-club-meeting-in-Amsterdam)

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Why is Wodehouse so very famous in India? In particular, why do Indians love Jeeves?!

Here is an interesting event coming up on the subject.

Plumtopia

What Ho!

Another treat for Wodehouse lovers is taking place at the British Library, this time as part of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival. A panel, involving MP and Author Shashi Tharoor, MP and journalist Swapan Dasgupta, business writer Mihir S. Sharma, and Wodehouse expert Tony Ring will be discussing:

The Wodehouse Effect : Why India Loves Jeeves: – JLF at The British Library

It’s an intriguing subject, and one that provokes a good deal of discussion amongst the chaps and chapettes in our little Wodehouse community. (Yes, chapettes! Don’t let the all-male panel or misguided notions about Wodehouse appealing mainly to men mislead you — he has a large and enthusiastic following among Indian women).

Many people have tried to explain the reasons for Wodehouse’s popularity in India, including Shashi Tharoor in a 2012 article How the Woosters Captured Delhi. In particular, he highlights Wodehouse’s wonderful use…

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The intermittent rays of a highly reluctant evening sun were falling on the city of a wind-swept Amsterdam. The Amstel flowed quietly. The Opera House rose from its banks in a majestic manner.

At the Rembrandt Square, a swathe of wide-eyed tourists of various sizes, shapes and ethnicities were busy getting photographed for the sake of posterity. Some liked to be remembered standing just beneath the imposing statue of the famous painter of the country. Others preferred to get clicked with the soldiers surrounding the main statue in the square. Some others fancied being seen in the company of army drummers which formed a part of the ensemble of statues at the square.

Just off the square, located on Bakkerstraat, inside a cosy and warm restaurant by the name of Szmulewicz, the owner, with a stiff upper lip which would have put even the Rev. Aubrey Upjohn to shame, was surveying his patrons of the day with a distinct frown of disapproval. He thought those visiting his place on the day were rather a noisy and boisterous lot. A sprightly and conscientious Miss Mabel was scurrying around, serving customers with alacrity and elan.

Psmith, the efficient coordinator who had organized the Drones Club meeting at the restaurant, was anxiously waiting for his invitees to join him.

Given the address, one could be forgiven to presume that he was expecting the famous detective and his companion, Doctor Watson, to join up. After all, literally translated from Dutch, Bakkerstraat is nothing but Baker Street. Alas, that was not the case, for the street was located not in London but in Amsterdam.

Nor were artists of such fame as Bill Lister, Corky or Gwaldys Pandlebury on his list of those invited to participate in the festivities.

Instead, on his list of invitees were some of the characters etched out with much finesse in the Wodehousean canon. Eve Halliday, the famous librarian from Blandings Castle, was expected. So was Aunt Dahlia from Brinkley Court. Also, joining in were Bingo Little and Rosie M Banks from India. Regrettably, Galahad, the President of the local Wodehouse Society, had already expressed his inability to make it to the meeting due to some harsh sling  and arrow of Fate he was facing at the time.

Within a few minutes of the appointed time, the group had assembled. Introductions had been performed. The couple from India was overjoyed to be meeting some members of the Society, which had seen as many as twenty-seven springs since it came to be formed.

Psmith was quick to inform everyone that due to constraints of space at the restaurant, plans to hold a dart throwing competition had been abandoned. Even though bread crumbs could be ordered, all assembled concurred that any projectile activity involving the same could be deferred to the next meeting, so deliberations could take place in a serene atmosphere, in tune with the decorum of the place. Plans to stand on the table and sing Sonny Boy were also vetoed for the same reason. Orders for tissue restoratives and the exotic fare on the menu were duly placed.

When asked about the whereabouts of the family members of Bertie Wooster’s sister in India, Bingo Little appeared to be clueless. It transpired that Bingo Little had progressed beyond being an editor of Wee Tots and had now become an author in his own right. On her part, Rosie M Banks had grown out of her previous role as an author and ventured instead into the realm of spirituality and meditative practices. Both confirmed that Bingo was still following the tradition of ensuring a regular supply of afternoon tea to his better half, thereby ensuring matrimonial harmony on the domestic turf.

Psmith, a prolific author in his own right, was delighted to present Bingo Little with his latest book, Sherlock Holmes and the Birth of The Ashes, a delectable tale of the detective unraveling the villainy behind and other events which took place at The Oval during August, 1882. Bingo regretted his inability to reciprocate the gesture, not having on hand his recently launched book, a light-hearted take on the art and science of management.

Aunt Dahlia, geniality personified, was keen to leave the gathering a wee bit early. It appeared that Anatole had planned a lavish spread at home. She feared that her absence at such an important event could make him put in his papers, thereby causing much disruption at Brinkley Court. This, she felt, would be worse than the perilous implications of the impending stand-off between USA and North Korea. The group wished her good luck.

Eve Halliday was elaborate and generous in her praise of her previous employer, Lord Emsworth. She fondly recollected her time at the Blandings Castle, and her invigorating encounters with the Empress of Blandings.

She and Psmith got into an animated discussion over the relative superiority of Plum’s screen plays vis-à-vis his romantic whodunits and other creative endeavours. As expected, the discussion was inconclusive.

The speech of Gussie Fink Nottle, delivered many years back at the Market Snodsbury School, came in for a loving mention. So were the sterling characters of such strong-willed women as Joan Valentine, Sally and Mrs Spottsorth. The conduct of such kids as Thos, Seabury and Edwin came up for discussion. One of the members sympathized with Aunt Agatha for the challenges she faced so very bravely while bringing up Thos.

There was a consensus that many of the problems faced by humanity at present – poverty, treatment meted out to the delicately nurtured, and terror, to name just a few – could be effectively tackled by ensuring that Homo sapiens followed the Code of the Woosters.

The meeting was yet another evidence, if evidence is indeed necessary, of the love for Plum’s works which transcends boundaries and can bring people of diverse origins together.

(Note: Yours truly and his spouse wish to express their heartfelt gratitude for the warm hospitality extended to them by Ms Josepha Olsthoorn, Mr Arunabha Sengupta and Ms Wil Brouwer.)

 

 

 

 

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