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What happens when a banking professional like Suvarna Sanyal, who has spent a life time poring over bulky ledgers and checking debit and credit figures, turns his attention to one of the popular stories dished out by P G Wodehouse? Well, he simply whips up a series of illustrations which figure some of the better known characters from the canon in some selected scenes from the story!

Residents of Plumsville would recall that this is the only story in the canon which is narrated by Jeeves.

Savour below the results of his labour of love. Yours truly takes the rap for having taken a few liberties with the original text (in italics, please).

 

“My sister will be back from India next week with her three little girls. I’ll give up this flat and take a house and have them all to live with me. By Jove, Jeeves, I think that’s rather a scheme, what? Prattle of childish voices, eh? Little feet pattering hither and thither, yes!”

“If you will pardon my saying so, sir,” I suggested, tactfully, “I think you are not quite yourself after your influenza. If I might express the opinion, what you require is a few days by the sea. Brighton is very handy, sir.”

“Well, I’m not sure you’re not right. I am feeling more or less of an onion. You might shove a few things in a suit-case and drive me down in the car to-morrow.”

“Very good, sir.”

 

While returning from Brighton, we noticed a red-haired young person with a snub nose and an extremely large grin seeking a lift. Her age might have been around twelve.

We stopped and fulfilled her wish.

 

 

“I’m going to get into a frightful row,” she began. “Miss Tomlinson will be perfectly furious. I thought I could get back in time so that nobody would notice I’d gone, but I got this nail in my shoe.”

“Oh, I say, this is rather rotten,” he observed. “Isn’t there anything to be done? I say, Jeeves, don’t you think something could be done?”

“I think it would be a legitimate subterfuge were you to inform the young lady’s school-mistress that you are an old friend of the young lady’s father; that you had been passing the school and had seen the young lady at the gate and taken her for a drive. Miss Tomlinson’s chagrin would no doubt in these circumstances be sensibly diminished if not altogether dispersed.”

The young one was delighted at this generous offer.

 

 

 

I turned in at the gates of a house of imposing dimensions, bringing the car to a halt at the front door.

 

 

I took the initiative of meeting Miss Tomlinson who turned out  to be a handsome but strong-minded person, reminding me of Aunt Agatha. ‘She had the same penetrating gaze and that indefinable air of being reluctant to stand any nonsense.’

“He did not inform you, then, that he was the Mr. Wooster?”

“The Mr. Wooster?”

“Bertram Wooster, madam.”

“Oh, Bertram Wooster!” she said.

“He is an extremely retiring gentleman, madam, and would be the last to suggest it himself, but, knowing him as I do, I am sure that he would take it as a graceful compliment if you were to ask him to address the young ladies. He is an excellent extempore speaker.”

“A very good idea!” said Miss Tomlinson, decidedly.

 

“At the school where I was employed, sir, the young ladies had a regular game which they used to play when a male visitor arrived. They would stare fixedly at him and giggle, and there was a small prize for the one who made him blush first.”

“I’d no idea small girls were such demons.”

“More deadly than the male, sir.”

The guv’nor passed a handkerchief over his brow.

 

Peggy came back to look me up.

 

 

Guv’nor returned to persuade me to leave the school premises immediately. Meanwhile, I had already foreseen the car to have suddenly developed a technical snag of some kind.

 

 

Miss Tomlinson caught up with guv’nor.

 

 

The large schoolroom was situated on the ground floor, with commodious French windows, which, as the weather was clement, remained open throughout the proceedings. By stationing myself behind a pillar on the porch or veranda which adjoined the room, I was enabled to see and hear all. It was an experience which I should be sorry to have missed. The guv’nor indubitably excelled himself.

Mr. Wooster is a young gentleman with practically every desirable quality except one. I do not mean brains, for in an employer brains are not desirable. The quality to which I allude is hard to define, but perhaps I might call it the gift of dealing with the Unusual Situation.

 

 

“Well, you know——” said the guv’nor.

Then it seemed to strike him that this opening lacked the proper formal dignity.

“Ladies——”

A silvery peal of laughter from the front row stopped him again.

“Girls!” said Miss Tomlinson. She spoke in a low, soft voice, but the effect was immediate. Perfect stillness instantly descended upon all present. I am bound to say that, brief as my acquaintance with Miss Tomlinson had been, I could recall few women I had admired more. She had grip.

I fancy that Miss Tomlinson had gauged the guv’nor’s oratorical capabilities pretty correctly by this time, and had come to the conclusion that nothing much in the way of a stirring address was to be expected from him.

“Perhaps,” she said, “as it is getting late, and he has not very much time to spare, Mr. Wooster will just give you some little word of advice which may be helpful to you in after-life, and then we will sing the school song and disperse to our evening lessons.”

 

 

She looked at the guv’nor. The guv’nor passed a finger round the inside of his collar.

“Advice? After-life? What? Well, I don’t know——”

“Just some brief word of counsel, Mr. Wooster,” said Miss Tomlinson, firmly.

“Oh, well—— Well, yes—— Well——” It was painful to see the guv’nor’s brain endeavouring to work.

“Oh, ah, yes,” said the guv’nor. “Story? Story?” He appeared completely distraught, poor young gentleman. “I wonder if you’ve heard the one about the stock-broker and the chorus-girl?”

“We will now sing the school song,” said Miss Tomlinson, rising like an iceberg.

 

 

In a very few moments the guv’nor came tottering up. The guv’nor’s is not one of those inscrutable faces which it is impossible to read. 

I had climbed into my seat and was about to start the engine, when voices made themselves heard; and at the first sound of them the guv’nor sprang with almost incredible nimbleness …..when I glanced round he was on the floor covering himself with a rug. The last I saw of him was a pleading eye.

When Miss Tomlinson asked about the whereabouts of guv’nor, I had no other option but to  express my helplessness in the matter.

“Get a move on! Start her up! Get going and keep going!”

I trod on the self-starter.

“It would perhaps be safest to drive carefully until we are out of the school-grounds, sir,” I said. “I might run over one of the young ladies, sir.”

“Well, what’s the objection to that?” demanded the guv’nor, with extraordinary bitterness.

“Or even Miss Tomlinson, sir.”

“Don’t!” said the guv’nor, wistfully. “You make my mouth water!”

 

 

“Have you succeeded in finding a suitable house yet, sir?”

“House? What do you mean, house?”

“I understood, sir, that it was your intention to give up the flat and take a house of sufficient size to enable you to have your sister, Mrs. Scholfield, and her three young ladies to live with you.”

The guv’nor shuddered strongly.

“You do get the damnedest silliest ideas sometimes, Jeeves,” he said.

 

 

 

So, how does one manage bosses and ensure they never go round the bend when they get too enthusiastic about an idea of theirs? Jeeves would heartily recommend ‘tact’ and ‘resource’!

 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/06/28/when-bertie-entertains-thoughts-of-having-children-around

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/06/08/lord-emsworth-and-the-girl-friend-a-visual-version)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ashokbhatia

LEADERSThere is something unique about managers from India. Apparently, they have a Western mind and an Eastern heart. In other words, a unique combination of analytical prowess and intuitive faculties.

Here is a thought-provoking guest post from Mr K V Rao, Resident Director – ASEAN, Tata Sons Ltd , Singapore.

“I was born and raised in India in small towns, and started reflecting how is it that so many of my compatriots make it to global leadership positions ?

Many of our ilk have left the shores, for distant foreign lands. Have studied and imbued the best of cultures, but retained some of some of that inner rusticity, and native eclectic personalities. They have made it to the top jobs of Google, Microsoft, Mastercard, or a Pepsi, and the list is endless and still more to surface. All have been exceptional fighters, who seem to compete fiercely but fairly, often guided…

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ashokbhatia

Here is a country where the mind is without fear

And the head is held high

Where knowledge to children and youth is virtually free

And those distressed by the world are welcomed with open arms;

Where the definition of nationalism implies inclusivity

Fine arts of all countries and cultures are welcome

If narrow domestic walls exist, these are only to protect national interests

Where respect for the law of the land reigns supreme;

Where gender equity and diversity is not a mere slogan

The care offered to the elderly is exemplary

Some wish the taxes to be lower but realize the money is well spent

In many ways does it serve and comfort the citizens; 

Where human endeavour aims to attain perfection

Words come out from an inner conviction

Gentle, helpful, physically active and resilient

Following a work culture which deserves to be aped;

Where one can encounter the true…

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ashokbhatia

You are the main engine of economic growth,

Making global MNCs continue to fuss over you;

Splurging on goodies, traveling all over the world,

Your hard work yielding fruits which are your due.

You work very hard to secure a better future,

For yourself, for your progeny, and for your kith and kin;

The joint family system you appear to have given up,

Bringing up kids amidst the social media din.

 

You are the upholder of values and character,

Quietly paying your taxes, fulfilling social commitments;

A God-fearing and law-abiding citizen of the country,

Balancing a scientific outlook with superstitious predicaments.

 

Great sacrifices you are also willing to make,

When making India stronger is your belief and view;

You do not mind spending hours in a queue,

Retrieving hard-earned cash which is due to you.

 

Government subsidies you are willing to give up,

So the poor and…

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Hapless leaders keep getting bombarded with an overdose of new ideas these days. Other than leading their followers into a world where the roses would always be in bloom and where the sun would never set, poor souls are expected to work upon path-breaking ideas. Consultants keep dishing out advice, followed by hefty bills. Other leaders whose scintillating speeches act like Botox shots to the sagging visage of their organizations have to be incessantly tracked. Political outfits of all hues and shapes need to be kept in good humour. Hellhounds of various taxation departments have to be kept at an arm’s length. Relentless window-dressing of quarterly accounts leaves them no time to pause and reflect on the basic meaning of life. Being connected to operations makes it impossible for them to relax and unwind.

Authors and intellectuals, whose contribution to the evolution of our species is dubious in any case, also do not leave them in peace. They keep churning out literary tomes and books which a leader would not touch with a hundred foot pole even on a space flight to a distant galaxy.

Take the case of the latest book on Leader Mindsets. Here are some reasons they can avoid picking it up.

  1. Even though the focus of the book is on universal human values, it appears to be based on an Asian view point. When leaders think of this part of the world, they only remember irrelevant scriptures, outdated religious beliefs, widespread poverty and illiteracy, and a certain lack of decency in public spaces which others on the planet could readily deride. In other words, there could not be much to learn from the book.
  2. At a time when leaders are grappling with the upheavals being caused by Industrial Revolution 4.0, the need is to understand and adapt newer technologies. The underlying belief is that in the times to come, the human dimension is going to be less important. Understanding machines is what should be a priority. Human behaviour has already been mapped thoroughly. Even if one were to understand it better, one would run the risk of ending up being a ‘soft’ leader who is unable to take ‘hard’ decisions, thereby compromising one’s effectiveness as a leader.
  3. The book appears to be based on the premise that to become an effective leader, one has to change oneself – a tough proposition, indeed. There is nothing wrong with the leaders in their present mould; hence, there is no need to tweak anything within them.

The book goes on to propose that having changed one’s mindset, one should help others to change their mindsets. If the first step is undesirable, this one is near impossible; and the next one – that of changing the entire organization – even more so.

After all, management is the art of the possible. Leaders are happy the way they are.

Smart leaders would do well to brood over these thoughts. It would save them lot of time and trouble. Their followers would heave a sigh of relief upon realizing that they have been spared the trauma of being asked to change themselves in any way; that they can trudge along merrily without a care in the world, focusing on immediate and important tasks at hand. If the critical and strategic tasks get neglected in the process, so be it.

Even if the author were to gift a copy of the book to a leader, the latter would do well to either gift it to one of his arch-rivals, or to simply throw it into the nearest waste paper basket. If the shameless author persists by sending a soft copy as well, prompt use of the delete command would be highly useful.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/02/10/a-word-about-the-book-on-leadership)

 

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Non-statutory warning

If you happen to have a pre-determined preference for any specific political outfit in India, you read this only at your own risk and peril. You may get miffed at some parts of this piece, albeit written with malice towards none.

 

Come election time, and the denizens of India forget all their miseries and have a rollicking time. With the biggest festival of democracy on its way, the pampering they receive makes them hopeful of their future yet again. Freebies, sackfuls of the green stuff and tissue restoratives of all kinds are made available in abundant measure. Dreams of the next round of good and secure days get dished out with much aplomb.

Politicos who have an eye on their power and pelf get busy computing their likely ‘returns on investment’ in a high risk game. The media barons enjoy supreme bliss at all the moolah they rake in, thanks to their TRP ratings reaching stratospheric levels. Almost all sectors of the economy experience a boom, what with hassled leaders nipping around all corners of the country.

One can readily spot a Roderick Spode who continues to hone his oratorical skills while peddling his deep commitment to the Cause. The gullible public dreads the day he invokes Shakespeare at the beginning of any of his speeches, addressing them as ‘Friends, countrymen….’ A team of devoted followers ensure that those in opposition keep getting hauled over coals over their acts of omission and commission, the latter term specifically alluding to some alleged scams in the past.

Aunt Dahlia can be seen quietly tucking into the lavish spreads of Anatole, while keeping an indulgent eye on the career moves of Bonzo. The latter, having learnt his lessons well from the Market Snodsbury Grammar School speech of Gussie, keeps pointing accusatory fingers at those of the other party. To boost his electoral prospects, his sister Angela Travers also pitches in. The jury is still out if she runs the risk of being bitten by any sharks – political or otherwise – on one of her river cruises.

The revolutionary pals who fail to recognize the new-age challenges facing their outdated ideology have their share of the fun by beating up policemen, burning buildings and vehicles, smashing shop-windows, and resorting to pressure tactics to get the clueless citizenry to cast their vote in favour of their party.

When the self-assured stuffed-frog charisma of an A B Filmer starts waning, his family members get deployed to keep the power closer to his saggy bosom. Likewise, the morally dubious character of several of the candidates can be seen to be built along the lines of either a Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe or an Edward Cootes. Many of them have criminal cases pending against them for crimes which exclude the pinching of an Empress of Blandings. The never-say-die spirit of several John Bickersdykes keeps the public guessing as to which political party they might end up joining next.

There is no dearth of aspirants who could beat Smooth Lizzie at her own game. Targeting the constituency of those who toil down the stairs – under-butlers, housekeepers, scullery maids, footmen, and the like – tall promises get dished out with much fervour.

Some of the candidates are cast in the mould of either a Ginger or a Stilton. They happen to be reluctant politicians, upon whom political ambition has been thrust by a no-nonsense family member.

Quite a few lion-tamers built along the lines of Rev Aubrey Upjohn can be seen carefully guarding their speeches, lest they get pinched by the opposition camp, leaving them literally speechless at public gatherings.

What boggles the mind of a lay voter is the kind of melange of politicos on the offer on the opposite side. If one were to devour the exploits of Bertie Wooster, Lord Emsworth, Rupert Psmith, Bingo Little, Madeline Bassett, Stiffy Byng and Aunt Agatha in rapid succession, one could be excused for experiencing a similar swimming sensation in the old cerebrum.

The not-so-pale parabola of joy

As the General Drama unfolds, the conduct of the country’s election watchdogs comes under the kind of severe scrutiny which would put a professional newt-fancier to shame. They keep burning the proverbial midnight oil to keep a track of the blatant violations of its Model Wooster Code, which is observed more in breach than in adherence. At times, where opposition parties are concerned, a Sam Goldwyn kind of aggressive approach is taken to address violations. As to the ruling dispensation, a Poppet like deferential approach often becomes the oportet actio.

Even the likes of Sir Watkyn Bassett, who might have by now risen to the highest echelons of judiciary, are not spared the trauma of being dragged into some controversy or the other, thereby distracting them from dishing out harsh sentences without the option.

Some specific shades of this parabola of joy are as under:

The Eulalie Effect

When the colours of an opponents’ underwear get mentioned as part of a political discourse.

The Angry Swan Syndrome

If the public is behaving like an irate swan, and it is raining accusations on several other fronts, it makes sense to climb to a safer roof top and take cover under the umbrella of a different issue altogether.

The Juice of an Orange Factor

Those who entertain thoughts of civil disobedience in any form routinely get pampered with patchwork incentives which are in the nature of the juice of an orange. These ensure that while fundamental issues do not get resolved, short-term solutions with a transient feel-good effect get worked upon. Rebellion is kept at bay.

Unfortunately, many Indians still survive only on a handful of rice and could indulge in acts of civil disobedience. However, since the Father of the Nation is no longer around, a leadership vacuum of his style – fans may recall that he never sat down to a good juicy steak and follow it up with roly-poly pudding and a spot of Stilton, as advised by one of the Hollywood producers – ensures that our political Dream Merchants may breathe easy.

The Peggy Rebuttal

If a voter cannot unnerve a speaker by simply staring and giggling at him, the option of watching the person land in a whirring helicopter, collecting one’s quota of freebies and leaving the place before the speech begins is always open.

The Gladys Spell

Empathizing with the vulnerable sections of the society and offering them protection from the Angus McAllisters of poverty, illness and unemployment just before the drum rolls start beating. This enables the Lord Emsworths of our times to make their ancestors singularly proud of them.

The Stiffy Byng Approach

In order to keep the opposition leaders on tenterhooks, central investigating agencies get unleashed upon them, much like a bunch of Bartholomews pouncing upon their next human prey. Supercilious gazes and raids apart, they keep sniffing with much alacrity at the latter, often making them climb up their cupboards storing some dark secrets , and then pull these up after them when they have done so.

The Psmith Skillset

In order to bring home the gravy in the form of political power, gangsters in the mould of Bat Jarvis get befriended. They even get encouraged to contest elections and romp home to the highest law-making body of the land.

The Schnellenhamer Track

Movie moghuls are encouraged to dish out flicks which support the ruling party’s agenda, leaving them relishing their place under the sun and also laughing all the way to their banks.

The Rosie M Banks Approach

Authors, editors, content creators and intellectual coves of all hues get hired to tom-tom the achievements of the political party sponsoring their outpourings.

Apparently apolitical interviews to adoring movie stars get used to showcase the softer side of political stars.

The Ashe Marson Effect

When politicos routinely display their exercising skills in prominent public spaces for the entire world to see, the cabmen, the waiters, the chambermaids, the proprietors of the fast food joints nearby, street cleaners, children and cats stop laughing after some time.

The Captain Bradbury Approach

Love for their motherland makes some of the candidates take this approach. It involves invoking the armed forces, the nuclear weapons and such other strong arm tactics which one would prefer to see in a street brawl instead.

The Chivalry Challenge

When the game of naming and shaming one of the female candidates starts, all notions of chivalry vanish. A competition as to who can stoop lower starts in right earnest. A wager on the outcome could remind one of the betting records set by The Great Sermon Handicap.

The Bobby Wickham Technique

Taking a leaf out of the conduct of Bobby Wickham who pitted John Hamilton Potter and Clifford Gandle against each other so as to secure her spinsterhood, politicos have already perfected the art of dividing the society along religion and caste fault lines, thereby securing their respective vote banks.

The Alfred Mulliner Magic Trick

When data becomes a liability, either suppress it, or hire some smart statisticians who might perform the magic of concocting another version which could be unleashed on the unsuspecting public.

If votes are getting recorded in some contraptions of an electronic kind, hire experts to find out the feasibility of tinkering with the same.

The Digital Sharks

These are the unsung digital warriors who have learnt their art of being conscientious from The Efficient Baxter. They keep churning out all kinds of stuff: The Flattering and Deceiving kind, as also the Outright Derogatory kind. Hundreds of millions of voters who are glued to their smart screens take these for gospel truths and unwittingly decide the destiny of the country, handing over the reins to a government they deserve!

The Amusement Quotient

Gullible denizens can be excused for believing that all politicians are as different as chalk and cheese. Nothing could be more misleading. Their means might appear to be different, but their goals are not. Irrespective of their affiliation, they chase the goal of grabbing and retaining power. If they cannot be kings, they aspire to be king-makers.

They live in a fish bowl. Whatever they say or do should appeal to their constituents. Their private lives have to bear the strictest investigation. Their sources of funds have to be kept under wraps. When it comes to their misdemeanours, the media has to be kept at an arm’s length.

With each election, the level of the political discourse keeps deteriorating. But the Amusement Quotient keeps improving, bringing much-needed succour to the Common Man facing the harsh slings and arrows of Life.

(Illustration on top courtesy Suvarna Sanyal, a retired banker who has an eye and an ear for all there is to see, listen to and laugh at in this world.

Caricature of Mahatma Gandhi  by R K Laxman)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/18/how-about-promoting-election-tourism

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/politicos-in-plumsville-part-1

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/delightful-characters-of-the-canine-kind-in-plumsville)

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Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free; 

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments;

By narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; 

Where the mind is led forward by thee 

Into ever-widening thought and action 

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

 

(1913, Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate)

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