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Posts Tagged ‘Humour’

There are indeed times when one is feeling rather chuffed and believing that God is in heaven and all is right with the world, and it is precisely at times such as these that life plays a cruel joke on one. Residents of Plumsville would agree that it quietly sneaks up behind one and strikes at the not-at-all-bulging-at-the-back head of one with a hollow lead pipe, duly stuffed with cast iron pellets.

A straight forward person like yours truly would never aspire to walk in the footsteps of someone like Soapy Molloy or Sid Marks. But life recently played a prank and made me come very close to such an experience.

I had just returned to my home and hearth in Pondicherry, India, from a lovely trip to Europe, full of sweet memories of the time spent with my children and grandchildren who inhabit that part of the world. The door bell rang and, to my utter surprise and horror, I found a stern looking policeman eyeing my humble abode with a suspicious gaze. I mustered some courage and peeped out of the main gate.

‘Ashok Kumar Bhatia?’, he asked, giving me a supercilious look which would have met with hearty approval of someone like Bartholomew.

Having had a great deal of experience with dominating bosses, I did what I know best – I nodded in quiet affirmation.

‘There is a warrant for you’, said the policeman.

Even at the best of times, the long arms of law leave me twiddling my thumbs. The declaration that there was a warrant for me left me shuddering from the top to the base of my frail frame.

‘Warrant?’, I bleated.

Ignoring my nervousness, the policeman proceeded to clarify that I was wanted in the court on the given date, though not as a criminal but merely as a witness. Given that the local language is as alien to me as is Latin and Greek, and that the party of the other part had never progressed beyond the first lesson of a correspondence course in Queen’s English, the dialogue between us was sporadic.

Eventually, it transpired that I was expected to appear in a court in connection with a crime which had been perpetrated by four criminals in respect of some property of a company I had worked for more than a decade back. The wheels of justice do move rather slowly. Sixteen years after the crime took place, I was supposed to pop up and testify that the crime indeed took place.

Well, as a duty-bound citizen, I had no other option but to receive the warrant. The soul was left all of a twitter. There were sleepless nights till the date of appearance. Dark circles formed below the eyes are yet to disappear.

An encounter with Ma Bassett

When the day dawned, a hurried breakfast was put down the hatch. A rush was made to the court complex. After parking blues were faced with a chin-up attitude, the challenge of locating the court room specified had to be braved. A climb of three floors left one’s heart thumping even more than the agitated state in which the poor thing already found itself on that fateful day. Once the court room concerned had been identified, the long wait for the honourable judge began. The gang of four criminals, standing in a corner with a furtive look on their not-so-pretty faces, kept giving me dirty looks at frequent intervals.

A stern looking lady judge shaped along the lines of Mom Bassett finally arrived. I confess I have no information as to the physical features of the lady who had brought into this world a unique specimen of the tribe of the delicately nurtured, namely Madeline Bassett. Unlike her daughter, she was neither soupy nor blonde. Nor was she a breath-taker that takes one’s breath away. If her daughter was mushy and fanciful, the lady beak in question was surely not. She had a perpetual frown on her visage, leaving me wondering if she suffered from dyspepsia.

The court was called to order. Several other witnesses got called, with each one getting cross-examined by a lawyer bloke who looked at witnesses as if they were the dust beneath his chariot wheels. The local language was in use, and yours truly could hardly understand precisely what was transpiring.

When called to the witness box, the soul was in torment. I confess I felt weak in the knees. An oath of truthfulness was administered. The lady beak had to be requested to accept my use of English, to which she very graciously consented, but not before eyeing me with unmasked contempt. The typist assisting her with the help of a vintage typewriter was duly instructed.

The lawyer concerned then pounced upon me with all ferocity, desperately trying to establish that I was not present on the scene of the crime. I meekly assented, because that was indeed the case. After each of my answers, the lady beak turned to the typist clerk and repeated what I said at a very slow pace, thereby enabling the typist to do justice to the transcription. After what sounded like a few hours, but might have merely been a span of twenty minutes, the questioning ended and I was asked to get off the stand.

The allure of policemen’s helmets

The ordeal over, I heaved a sigh of relief. I was asked to wait, so I could sign my statement typed out by the court clerk. While waiting outside the court room, I ran into two friendly cops who kept me engaged with their small cross-talk in the overcrowded corridor. Unlike Sergeant Edward Voules, they were rather slim and trim and were surely not built on the lines of the Albert Hall. Possibly, they could have made a cut as his nephews, Dobson 1 and Dobson 2, in search of their respective heartthrobs.

I was sorely tempted to request them to allow me to try out their toupees, but the sinister ambience of the court complex thwarted my ambitions. Pinching was out of the realm of feasibility, simply because it entailed the risk of their apparent friendliness getting quickly transformed into a disastrous viciousness.

This was not the first time, though, that I had missed an opportunity to lay my hands on a copper’s helmet. Even earlier, while at the Amsterdam airport, I had once spotted a pair of young policewomen who sported gleaming headgear. Their smartness merely added to the gravitational forces of allure which fans of P G Wodehouse generally experience when in the vicinity of policemen’s helmets. But the steely look in their opaque eyes and the manner in which they were wielding their batons had then stopped me in my tracks.

When it comes to making court appearances and pinching helmets, I guess I need to work further on my nerves and try to pour some chilled steel into them. I wonder if there are surgeons out there who wield a scalpel and are good at such transplants.

Or, my Guardian Angels need to send in a Stephanie Byng who would keep prodding me in the ribs at frequent intervals, exhorting me to pinch a policeman’s helmet as and when the next opportunity presents itself.

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Recently, your truly had the privilege of addressing members of the Rotary Club of Pondicherry Mid Town. Business lessons from some of the cartoons created by the inimitable R K Laxman and Mario Miranda were presented.

Since the orange juice served before the talk was not laced with an appropriate tissue restorative, yours truly was all of a twitter. At such occasions, one tends to get tongue-tied, much like a Gussie Fink Nottle when he runs into a Madeline Bassett. Nevertheless, the Wooster policy of a chin-up attitude comes to one’s rescue. Services of one’s nerves of chilled steel have to be called upon. It also helps not to have any giggling girls in the audience.

This is how yours truly was introduced to the audience.

“Mr Bhatia is a management guy by profession and a romantic at heart. He did his MBA in what he labels as the pre-Jurassic period of management education in India.

In the 42 years he has spent unlearning management theories in the private sector, he spent quite a lot of time with Tatas, Hidesign and HCL. Whenever he left these companies, the managements there were absolutely relieved and delighted. He has been a promoter director of several companies, all of which you will never hear of.

As a speaker, he has already been hooted out at several IIMs and other leading management institutes. Whichever city he speaks in, he makes the vendors there very happy, because the audience buys rotten tomatoes and eggs in bulk, so the same may be thrown at him. Organizers of his talks are invariably on the lookout for body scanners which can be used to screen the audience before they enter the auditorium.

He still has some grey cells left. These keep the flow of creative juices going on. He creates movies on topics of family interest. He has a regular blogger on various subjects – management, movies, P G Wodehouse, etc.

We may call him a wordsmith and a management thinker. He has even published a book entitled “Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’ – first in Portugal, then in India. He claims he is not a descendant of Vasco da Gama.

He claims to suffer from two maladies – Professor-itis and Wodehous-itis. He is not wanting to be cured of these.

He is a non-resident Puducherryite. He is a harmless creature otherwise.”

The talk ended with some brilliant questions posed by the attentive audience getting handled by a jittery speaker.

A Drones club atmosphere prevailed thereafter, what with a lavish dinner getting served and some bread-crumb-throwing getting practised by those present on the occasion.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/about-me)

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“He had just about enough intelligence to open his mouth when he wanted to eat, but certainly no more.”

“At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.”
(Uneasy Money)

“There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, ‘Do trousers matter?'”
“The mood will pass, sir.”
(The Code of the Woosters)

“He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life and found a dead beetle at the bottom.”

“I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.”
(The Code of the Woosters)

“She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and had forgotten to say “when”. 

“I always advise people never to give advice.”

“A melancholy-looking man, he had the appearance of one who has searched for the leak in life’s gas-pipe with a lighted candle.”
(The Man Upstairs and Other Stories)

“There is only one cure for grey hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.”

It was a confusion of ideas between him and one of the lions he was hunting in Kenya that had caused A. B. Spottsworth to make the obituary column. He thought the lion was dead, and the lion thought it wasn’t. – 
(Ring for Jeeves)

“And she has got brains enough for two, which is exact quantity the girl who marries you will need”. 

“She fitted into my biggest arm-chair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing arm-chairs tight about the hips that season.”

(Carry On Jeeves)

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ashokbhatia

We live in times when the only feline creatures we happen to know are from the realm of cat-toons. We knowPGW Doraemon Doraemon, Felix, Garfield, Tom and Top Cat, to name just a few. Their eccentricities we adore. Their haughtiness we endure. Their ingenuity makes our spirits soar. Their ruthless manner in handling mice of all kinds we ignore. To put it simply, in a world dominated by TV and internet, they have become a part of folklore.

Now, one does not mean to offend any of these personalities whose intrinsic felineness is rather unmistakable. But there are several others from the realm of literature who are no less admirable. They were born in times when the printed word was ruling the roost. They have left an indelible impression on the minds and psyches of several generations. They have exemplified the traits of bosses and the bossed-over alike. Surely, once in…

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There are indeed times when the harsh slings and arrows of Life weigh one’s soul down with woe. The intensity of each succeeding sling shot becomes more acute. The frequency also registers an uptick. Life seems to be overtaken with a Thos-like propensity – to test the depth of one’s reserves of patience and fortitude. It appears as if each arrow is doused in paraffin and is being shot by an Edwin the Scout to douse an already raging fire in one’s cottage. One’s Guardian Angels appear to have gone off on a long vacation. The air is congested with a series of W-shaped depressions which keep hitting one at regular intervals. Even before one has had a chance to pull oneself out of the preceding episode, the next one follows, leaving one all of a twitter. The soul remains in a phase of perennial torment.

When faced with a situation of this nature, one has two options. One can either wallow in self-pity, question one’s Guardian Angels as to what one has done to deserve a harsh treatment of the kind being dished out, and generally keep looking for shoulders which would not look askance at the prospect of getting wet with one’s tears. Or, one can start exploring the possibility of clawing one’s way back up the cesspool of darkness one finds oneself in.

In case the latter option suits one’s temperament, there could be no better way to beat the blues than to immerse oneself in one’s work with a renewed vigour and enthusiasm.

Besides, the following actions, if taken, might make one realize that one should never repine, never despair, and never allow the upper lip to unstiffen, come what may.

  1. Remaining in touch with the loved ones, who care and share.
  2. Being surrounded by those who bring some sunshine into one’s life. Warm hugs and embraces perk one up no end.
  3. Having advisors like Jeeves around whose keen intelligence and resourcefulness may enrich one’s life.
  4. Calling upon the services of pals like Bertie Wooster who would never let one down.
  5. Treating oneself with a daily dose of some Larsen Exercises, making an acquaintance like Ashe Marson proud.
  6. Trying to break the mould and doing something one has never done before; visiting far off places, meeting new people, and indulging in such heavenly pursuits which had so far remained pious intentions. These could even include such acts as pinching umbrellas and policemen’s helmets.
  7. Avoiding the company of aunts who feast on glass bottles and happen to be lionesses in the garb of sheep. Instead, getting oneself invited to lairs which boast of an Anatole on the premises.
  8. Standing up to a bully like Roderick Spode and giving him a piece of one’s mind; provided, of course, one has access to a Eulalie-like secret.
  9. If one belongs to the tribe of the delicately nurtured, one may like the company of someone configured along the lines of Rupert Psmith.
  10. If one is instead from the tribe of the so-called sterner sex, one may like the company of an Emerald Stoker, a soothing and sympathetic girl one can take one’s troubles to, thereby being confident of having one’s hand held and one’s head patted. However, it may help to avoid the company of persons built along the lines of Florence Craye, Honoria Glossop, Roberta Wickham or Stiffy Byng.
  11. Curling up in bed with one’s favourite whodunit, preferably with a tissue restorative by one’s side, and with soothing music softly playing in the background.
  12. Remembering that this phase too shall pass, as the wise men have said!

Overall, one may like to brood upon the singular advantage one’s Guardian Angels have conferred on one – that of facing harsher slings and arrows of Life. The perks of such a fate are many. One develops a spiritual outlook towards life, that too at a faster pace, much like the clergymen who come in contact with Master Thos. Nerves of chilled steel get developed. One’s inner resilience improves, leaving one less prone to distress of any kind in future. One develops a tendency to focus on the sunnier side of life. The inner will to live life to the hilt gets back on its throne. The brow is no longer furrowed. Rather than believing oneself to be a victim of circumstances, one learns to go with the flow of life, adapting to change. One learns to respond to life gracefully, with ease.

One may then look north, south, east and west and discover not a single cloud on the horizon. One realizes that no matter how dark the skies may be, the sun would be shining somewhere and will eventually come smiling through; just like Bertie Wooster says somewhere in his memoirs!

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/shopping-therapy-and-some-plummy-techniques-to-treat-depression)

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An innocent cow creamer filled with cream,
Brings forth into all eyes that mad gleam.

Even before the cream can thicken,
Many a soul is conscience stricken.

To pinch or not to pinch,
They feel drawn and pulled, inch by inch.

Waiting to be picked up it seems,
Sleeping or awake, it has appeared in many dreams.

Many will surely try their luck,
Not an easy task, though it appears to be a sitting duck.

So may the best man pinch her with stealth,
And ever after remain in good health.

(Permission of the author, an avid fan of P G Wodehouse, to publish this composition here is gratefully acknowledged.)

(Illustration courtesy the www)

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ashokbhatia

CEOs lead a challenging life. Apart from making and meeting long-term business goals, they face a relentless SQpressure, living from one quarter to the next. Customers have to be handled with kid gloves. Suppliers have to be kept in good humour. People have to be kept motivated at all times. Interpersonal conflicts between team members have to be sorted out. A lonely life has to be lived.

Unlike their juniors who invariably face Peer Pressure, CEOs face Pear Pressure. Some call it signs of prosperity. Some refer to it as a Battle of the Bulge. Others label it as flab around the waist.

The Battle of the Bulge

A CEO in possession of a portly disposition projects an image of a soul which has finally attained salvation and has become a super-hero of the species generally alluded to as managers. Walk into any gathering of the top dogs across most…

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