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How does one handle bosses and secretaries? What are the scientific laws which govern interpersonal relations? What kind of management lessons can be drawn from Indian epics?

Launched in the Portuguese market in March 2016, the book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’ was recently unleashed upon unsuspecting business magnates and management honchos at Pondicherry in India.

The book, published by Partridge India, presents insightful lessons for managers at all levels – the aspiring kind, the practicing and the tired kind, and even the retired kind. For hassled business executives and entrepreneurs, relentlessly chasing goals and deadlines, the punchy prose – infused with a Wodehousean humour – should come as a relaxing and uplifting read.  

No connection with Vasco da Gama

One does not claim to be a descendant of Vasco da Gama, but it so happened that the original manuscript, penned in English along the coast of the Bay of Bengal over the last three years, found its way to Porto, Portugal, on the Atlantic coast. CEO World, a unique start up there, managed to secure the support of Liberty Seguros. Vida Economica took it up for publication in Portuguese.

The Portuguese version, ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’, has found its way to the office of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Portugal, His Excellency, Mr. António Luís Santos da Costa, GCIH, who has roots in Goa.

It has also been presented to Ms. Clara Nunes dos Santos, the Ambassador of Portugal in Norway, and to Mr. José Manuel Castro Santiago, Minister – Counsellor at the Embassy of Portugal in Switzerland.

The book has also been discussed at IMiF (International Minds in Finland), a select group of entrepreneurs and intellectuals in Finland.

English version launched at Pondicherry, India

Recently, a book launch function was organized at Pondicherry, India, by People for Pondicherry Heritage (PPH), a group of individuals and NGOs who are passionate about protecting as well as showcasing the unique heritage of Pondicherry.

Ms. Sunaina Mandeen of PPH spoke of the need to preserve our values and our rich heritage, the latter including works of literary kind.

Ms. Sunaina Narang introduced the author to the audience.

While launching the upgraded English version of the book, Mr. R Mananathan, Chairman of Manatec Electronics Private Limited, spoke warmly of several topics covered in the book. He found it to be a unique book which covers a vast area of business management. In particular, it touches upon leadership, administration and refined concepts in the domain of human resources. He felt that I deserve credit for having summed up my forty year long practical experience and present it in a crisp and humorous manner. He wished that the language used could have been somewhat simpler in some parts, though.

Mr. P Rangaraj, Chairman and Managing Director, Chemin Controls and Instrumentation Private Limited, said that the book is replete with rich management lessons which would be useful to managers and business owners of all kinds. He was appreciative of the fact that the book also draws upon such Indian ancient scriptures as Ramayana, Mahabharata and Thirukkural.

The book presentation on the occasion touched upon some of the hundred odd topics covered in the book, like Meeting the Boss halfway through, Female Power and Stress, among others.

The presentation also brought into focus a new perspective on leadership by means of an upgraded Blake Mouton Grid, wherein a third dimension is proposed – that of the Concern for Ethics. It advocates the importance of developing not only one’s intelligence and emotional quotient, but also one’s spiritual quotient.

The book transports the reader back to an era when the instructive yet delightful works of such luminaries as C Northcote Parkinson, Lawrence J Peter and Sharu Rangnekar ruled the management book market.

 

The launch of the book in two countries is a reaffirmation of the fact that managerial knowledge and skills happen to be universal in nature. Books can act as bridges between two countries and two civilizations and bring these closer to each other for the purpose of forging mutually beneficial relationships.

Press coverage

Here is a press report covering the launch event: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/the-art-and-science-of-management/article19338392.ece

Details

“Surviving in the Corporate Jungle”

By Ashok Kumar Bhatia

(http://www.amazon.in/Surviving-Corporate-Jungle-Ashok-Bhatia/dp/1482888505)

(This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016.)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/the-book-como-sobreviver-na-selva-empresarial-guia-pratico

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

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/an-interaction-with-senior-professionals-in-finland)

 

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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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Recently, while on a trip to Norway, yours truly had the opportunity of calling upon Ms. Clara Nunes dos Santos, the Ambassador of Portugal in Norway.

Despite her busy schedule, she was kind enough to grant an audience to yours truly, who wished to present to her a copy of his book ‘Como Sobreviver Na Selva Empresarial’.

On a day when the skies were a characteristic Norwegian grey, the Embassy of Portugal in Oslo stood out in its dignified glory. Much like the genial and warm people of Portugal, the welcoming interior left one with an inner glow of joy, much akin to a homecoming of sorts.

An informal meeting took place in her exquisitely done up office. She was charm, grace and dignity personified. The frankness with which she spoke and the warmth she exuded was typical of the people of character, resource and rich culture she represents.

She was kind enough to leaf through the book and found that it demystified the art and science of management in a lucid manner. The Portuguese translation came in for some praise. The courtesy extended to an ordinary soul from an emerging economy like India was impeccable.

Ambassadors represent all that their land is and aspires to be. Ms Clara Nunes dos Santos is no exception. Given her keen intelligence, sharp eye, wit and humour, one has no doubt that she handles managerial challenges coming her way with characteristic aplomb.

One wishes her and her country a great innings in the days to come.

(Note:

This is how you can lay your hands on the Portuguese version of the book, launched in Portugal during March, 2016, courtesy Liberty Seguros and Vida Economica.)

(The English version of the book, entitled ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, was released recently.)

(Related Post:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/03/04/the-book-como-sobreviver-na-selva-empresarial-guia-pratico-1-0)

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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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Some residents of Plumsville might be interested in this news release from the Nordic branch of PBC, the Plum Broadcasting Corporation.

Quote

It is a well documented fact that the epidemic of Wodehousitis peaks at two times in a year. One, around the 15th of October, the day on which P G Wodehouse was born. Two, around the 14th of February, the day he decided to start regaling his Guardian Angels instead.

This is not to say that the epidemic is dormant during the rest of the year. It merely subsides a wee bit, popping up here and there, irrespective of caste, creed, religion, sex or ethnicity.

The medical fraternity continues to be clueless as to how to contain the dreaded epidemic. Researchers of all hues continue to be baffled at the unique kind of drug resistance displayed by those who suffer from Wodehousitis – they exhibit no desire to be rid of the affliction.

It is learnt from reliable sources that residents of Plumsville, a euphimistic term deployed to identify those suffering from acute Wodehousitis, could go to any lengths to celebrate their shared suffering from the dreaded affliction. To them, cultural, linguistic and continental barriers do not count. Man-made boundaries do not matter.

Take the case of one Morten Anersen from Norway and one Ashok Bhatia from India. On the 15th of October, 2016, the two decided to put their nose bags together and meet up at the Little England Tea Rooms (LETR) at Vollen in Norway.

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It is understood that wide-ranging talks were held between the two on the occasion. The atmosphere was said to have been highly cordial and congenial. The couple running the show at LETR, Henning Edin Lyche and Liv Kjersti Lyche, when forewarned about the specific occasion being celebrated, revived the best of Drones Club traditions. British high tea was served with much enthusiasm and attention to detail.

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The talks are said to have covered the following topics:

  • BREXIT: Whether Wodehouse, had he been around these days, would have approved of Brexit. The conjecture of the duo was in the negative.
  • The Technological Twist: Would he have continued churning out juicy narratives, with his trademark old world charm, replete with eccentric lords, super-intelligent butlers, domineering aunts, goofy females, woolly-headed bachelors, romantic cops and kids who could motivate even vicars to aspire to higher levels of spiritual upliftment? Especially, in this age of technology and the Internet of Things? The guess was in the affirmative. Probably, at best, telegrams might have got replaced by WhatsApp messages and phone calls by Skype or Viber calls.
  • Of dyspepsia, class distinctions and scarabs: Some ever fresh lessons from ‘Something Fresh‘ came up for discussion. Larsen Exercises, brisk walks and cold baths and the need to have a digestive system which keeps firing at all twelve cylinders, were mentioned with much enthusiasm. The socio-economic divide between Aline Peters and Joan Valentine, inter alia, came under the duo’s lens. The correlation between being a millionaire and being a collector of scarabs was discussed.
  • Real People and Real Books: Many facets of Wodehouse’s personality were discussed. The fact that he modelled his characters based on real life people was mentioned. So was the fact that books like ‘Types of Ethical Theory‘, once used by Florence Craye to attempt to uplift the intellectual leanings of Bertie Wooster, really did exist.
  • The Nietzsche Taboo: Surprise was expressed at the fact that Friedrich Nietzsche, held to be basically unsound by a person no less than Jeeves, was also born on the 15th of October, though the year of his birth was 1844. There were mutual confessions that Jeeves’ world was taken rather seriously. Hence, no attempts were likely to be made to read up any of Nietzsche’s works.
  • No darts, please: Out of respect for the excellent interior design of LETR, as well as for several other customers present, plans to throw some darts were deferred.
  • Potential members: It was noted with much regret that such eminent members as Geir Hasnes, Jo Ingebrigt Spalder, Jens Magne Andreassen, Oystein Moe and others could not join in the festivities.
  • Of 2017: It was hoped that a meeting planned some time in either April or May 2017 would attract better attention of Plum fans based in various parts of Norway. A strong need was felt for a local Jeeves who would be able to spare some time and coordinate the affair.

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It is reliably learnt that Liv Kjersti Lyche, the delicately nurtured better-half of the owner of the place, a charming lady in the mould of Mrs Spottsworth, had spent some time during her teens in India, learning the art of dishing out piping hot samosas and chicken tikka sandwiches.

She also turned out to be a Plum fan, thereby adding some more sparkle and warmth to the proceedings. Another round of animated discussion is said to have followed, wherein ‘Laughing Gas‘ was merely one of the several works of Wodehouse which had popped up.

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The meeting is said to have generated much laughter and camaraderie and reconfirmed the presence of Wodehousitis in the Nordic country which already boasts of more than 40 works of Plum translated into Norwegian. It also set a precedent of sorts in terms of achieving Gender Diversity for the Drones Club.

Unquote

Vikings are believed to have had a stiff-upper-lip approach to life in the distant past. Gallows Humour is said to be a typical Scandinavian offering.

Folklore has it that the sense of humour of Indians also leaves much to be desired. If it has been there, perhaps it has been more of the loud and overt kind.

But goofy gatherings of the kind reported herein above indicate that those inhabiting Nordic and Asian regions of the world these days perhaps relish not only a chuckle or two but also a loud guffaw once in a while. Subtle humour of the Wodehousean kind appears to have gained currency in these regions.

One wonders if the Humour Quotient of Homo Sapiens tends to improve in tandem with their gradual evolution over a period of time. If so, sunnier days are ahead. Further research by anthropologists and historians is strongly recommended to validate this hypothesis.

The global per capita density of the epidemic of Wodehousitis also needs to be studied further.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/the-epidemic-of-wodehousitis

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

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/what-ho-what-ho)

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The winter Sunday was in its latter half. With a light fog enveloping Asker in Norway, the fading daylight was falling on a little garden which the recent spate of snowfall had converted into a quaint little skating rink. Some children were honing their skating skills under the watchful but indulgent eyes of their parents. The air was fresh with a whiff of ozone, imbued with a chilly sharpness so very characteristic of Nordic winters.

From Facebook to Face-to-Face

In a cosy corner of Egon, an artistically done up restaurant near the Asker train station, a meeting of some members of the Drones Club was in progress. An Egg, a Bean and a Crumpet could be seen happily chatting with each other.

Introductions and exchange of pleasantries had got over. The conversation had already covered such wide-ranging topics as genealogy, the open-ended social milieu of Norway, the economic challenges being faced owing to the dip in oil fortunes and the state-of-art infrastructure of the country. Concern had been expressed about the global challenge of maintaining harmony and peace in these troubled times. The relevance of the Code of the Woosters to usher in a phase of sustainable peace had been discussed.

A dash of patriotism

Norway National DayThe Egg and the Bean spoke of the National Day of Norway, which is celebrated with much gaiety and fervour on the 17th of May every year. The Constitution of Norway was signed on this day in the year 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark–Norway’s devastating defeat in the Napoleonic Wars. All residents come out in their respective national dresses and participate in a parade. The King and the Queen are an integral part of the proceedings.

The Crumpet shared the details of the Indian Republic Day which honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950. The military might of the country is on full display in a parade which marches down an important thoroughfare of the capital city New Delhi. So is the social diversity which gets covered in several colourful tableaux which form a part of the parade. Indian Republic Day

The Egg and the Bean touched upon their exploits in the Norwegian military in their younger days. The Crumpet was delighted to know that the delicately nurtured had equal opportunity to join those of the so-called sterner sex in guarding the national frontiers of Norway. The Egg and the Bean were also happy to be informed that the Indian armed forces follow a similar policy.

The Drones who sought Leave of Absence

The audience would surely be wondering by now as to why there were only three members present and where the other members were. Well, a Whisky and Soda had already explained that he would be on the road attending to a critical chore which was essential to keep his body and soul together. A Pieface could not join in because he was confined to bed and was trying to nurse a viral infection with one of Jeeves’ pick-me-ups.

A Gin and Tonic had not responded, apparently because she was busy somewhere on the slopes of Galdhopiggen, tending to some injury of Pauline Stoker’s suffered by her during a skiing adventure. A Couch Potato had also not responded to the overtures, possibly owing to a lack of expertise in throwing darts, should a competition got organized.

Aurora_Borealis_and_Australis_PosterAn intellectual cove, who is one of the forty odd literarily gifted persons having had the distinction of translating Plum’s work into the Norwegian language, was discovered just after the meeting. He was said to be busy enjoying the mesmerizing display of Northern Lights somewhere in the Arctic Circle. The loss was entirely that of the members assembled.

Thus, only the Egg, the Bean and the Crumpet had trooped in.

The joy and the pall of gloom

At one stage, the emotions of the three members assembled had almost overpowered them. These called for a ready outlet. They wanted to stand up and announce that a common passion had brought together persons from two countries – Norway and India – which are as different as chalk and cheese. But the ambience of the place restrained them. They wanted to stand on the sturdy table in front of them and sing ‘Sonny Boy’ in unison. But they could not do so because customers would complain. They wanted to shout three cheers in a boisterous fashion, but couldn’t do so. The management would have looked askance and perhaps called in some rozzers eager to augment their incomes on a Sunday evening.

The pall of gloom which such severe restrictions cast on them did not last too long. Miss Postlethwaite, the efficient barmaid, soon popped up. The quiet simplicity of her costume and the devout manner in which she pulled the wine-handle brought in the requisite cheer. Soon, the pot-boy appeared with a steaming hot creamy fish soup which appeared to be coming straight from the stables of Anatole. Nose bags were duly put on and a free-flowing conversation followed.

Of Plummy affairs

The Egg brought up the innumerable qualities of Jeeves, expressing his ardent wish he could get hold of one such gentleman’s gentleman. The Bean admired the woolly headedness of Lord Emsworth and wondered if he did not possess similar qualities. The Crumpet spoke reverentially of the personality traits of independent women like Joan Valentine and Sally. The goofiness of Madeline Bassett got an honourable mention. So did the romantic nature of Mrs. Spottsworth. The Eastern connections of Captain Biggar-Biggar and his own Code of Conduct were fondly recalled.

Lessons of good health espoused by Ashe Marson came in for general praise. Several escapades of Bingo Little and Rosie M. Banks which contribute to the cause of matrimonial harmony were mentioned. The paramount importance of women having their afternoon cup of tea was analysed threadbare. The fact that not many details were available concerning the parents of Bertie Wooster came up for discussion.PGW HughLaurie-BertieWooster

An action movie on Master’s works?

Over coffee, the Egg and the Bean mentioned the authors whose work they read. The Crumpet lamented his being at the terminal stage of Wodehousitis, making him incapable of devouring anything else. The general opinion of the group was that if reading Wodehouse is escapism, then all forms of literature and fine arts could also get labelled likewise.

Movies with a Wodehousian sense of humour came up for discussion. The members present wondered if ever an action movie could be based on the works of the Master. It was doubted if any movie moghul would consider sliding down pipes to escape the fury of an aunt interesting enough. Or, for that matter, either the case of a minister facing an angry swan while perched on a roof in the midst of heavy rains, or the burning down of country cottages by conscientious boy scouts.

Spreading the virus of Wodehousitis

Norway Drones Club Jan 2016The Bean raised the sartorial standard of the meeting by wearing a Drone Club tie which is no longer in circulation. The Egg and the Crumpet are now in the market looking for benevolent souls who might like to donate theirs!

While the deliberations were on, darkness had stealthily enveloped the surroundings. Decorative lights put up by merchants hoping to clear their shelves by offering hefty January Sale discounts were imparting a soft glow to the snow on the streets. It was time to get back to the real world.

The meeting ended with much back-slapping. Hopes were expressed that more such meetings would get planned in future, thereby spreading the virus of Wodehousitis far and wide.

Notes:

  • The intellectual cove who could not be invited: Prof Johan I Borgos. He can be reached at http://www.borgos.nndata.no/Wodehouse.htm
  • The members who attended the meeting: Morten Arnesen, Jo Ingebrigt Spalder and Ashok Bhatia.
  • Should Jeeves come across this narrative, the members shall have no objection to its contents getting entered in the dreaded book maintained by the Junior Ganymede Club. Prior intimation would, however, be necessary.
  • The members deliberately chose not to pass any adverse comments about the several aunts which populate Plumsville. This ensures that Anatole’s services can be sought for future meetings of this nature.

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A friend suggested visiting the National Gallery in Oslo. Having had the opportunity of admiring the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso and others in the last few years, I was naturally curious as to what Norwegian artists had come up with in the past. The visit turned out to be a truly instructive one. I realized the depth and range of work done by painters as well as sculptors and marvelled at the passion and artistic fervour of the artists concerned.IMG_1716

Founded in 1837, the National Gallery houses Norway’s largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures. In its permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum presents older art, with principal emphasis on art from Norway.IMG_1652

Highlights from the collection are shown in the permanent exhibition “The Dance of Life – The Collection from Antiquity to 1945”.IMG_1664

The exhibition presents a chronological overview of more than 300 Norwegian and international masterpieces from the Renaissance, the Baroque period, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism, Cubism and modern abstract art. IMG_1658

Special attention is devoted to paintings by J.C. Dahl and Romanticism, Christian Krohg and Realism, Edvard Munch’s renowned works, as well as Norwegian evocative painting from the turn of the last century.The_Scream

Central attractions include Edvard Munch’s The Scream and Madonna and paintings by Cézanne and Monet.IMG_1672

Paintings by Picasso and several other artists are also on display.IMG_1683

In the exhibition on abstract art, one could see some striking works. A particular one I found of great interest was entitled ‘The Universal Flag.’IMG_1638

With more than 4,000 paintings, 1,000 sculptures and nearly 50,000 works on paper, the National Gallery’s art collection is the most comprehensive and wide ranging in Norway, and one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.IMG_1692

Michelangelo is said to have taken four years to adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Leonardo da Vinci is said to have taken three years to finish ‘The Last Supper.’ Dahl is said to have taken six years to paint ‘Stalheim’; remarkably, he did it while he was nowhere near a fjord in Norway!Dahl-Stalheim

All these eminent artists worked in an age devoid of photography, computers, internet, trains, aeroplanes and mobile phones. They suffered innumerable hardships while creating their works. Since they simply loved what they were doing at the time, they would have surely derived immense joy and satisfaction while pursuing their creative goals.IMG_1678

Leads one to wonder how creativity originates. We may know the external circumstances and the trials and tribulations they faced. We may marvel at the outstanding works of art they have produced. We may surmise as to the motivation and the feeling behind each work. But would we ever know the precise moment when the germ of an idea really hit them? How long did it simmer within them before taking a tangible shape? Unless they have left behind an autobiographical account, or someone else has covered their life and times in some detail, we might never be able to identify the real point of origin of their creative outburst.IMG_1689

Surely, all great artists have a streak of divinity in them. Besides, they have passion for their form of art. Patience and perseverance would be only two of their several sterling qualities. They would also have been lucky to get mentors who spotted and nurtured their talents. Some blossomed in adversity, enabled perhaps only by their innermost conviction.IMG_1702

We may not know the exact point of conception. We may be unaware of the technical details or the process of eventual delivery. But we shall be forever grateful that they have left behind a rich tapestry of the dance of life, capturing its precious moments for posterity. It is a legacy which continues to attract, entice and inspire artists and laymen alike all over the world.

Note: ‘Scream’ and ‘Stalheim’ reproductions are courtesy Wikipedia. Others are a result of my photographic skills, which are severely limited. Please bear with me for deficiencies – if you notice any – in these.  

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