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Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

 

Mr Schnellenhamer, the head of the Perfecto-Zizz-baum Corporation, the leading movie studio, is reported to be having an odd disagreeable feeling these days. Perhaps, it is caused by what Roget’s Thesaurus would describe as  agitation, fury, violent anger, wrath and similar emotions listed under the heading ‘Rage’, that too of an impotent kind.

Having struck a deal with Coronavirus Global Corp (CGC in short) to unleash upon the public a movie based on the current pandemic, he believes things to be moving a tad sluggishly. He is not able to gather enough goofy ideas to add a sparkle to the script. Discussions with his team of directors, script-writers, music composers, yes-persons, deputy yes-persons, junior yes-persons, nodders and trainee nodders have led to finalization of the basic outlines of the movie. But he feels much more could be done. CGC had mandated that the movie should get released before any vaccine or virus anti-dote hits the market.

Tentatively titled ‘The Corona Gladiators’, the movie would capture the positive effects of the pandemic over all the inhabitants of our planet; also, the eventual victory of Homo sapiens over the deadly virus emanating from the laboratories of Coronavirus Global Corp (CGC in short).

Details of the plot are yet to be revealed but perhaps the hero and the heroine, cast in the mould of Psmith and Eve, would both be scientists working on an anti-virus drug. Frustrated at the lack of results, they go underground on a super secret mission to steal innovative ideas from laboratories elsewhere in the world. To be shot in Washington, London, Paris, Oslo, Beijing, Tokyo, New Delhi and Canberra, the movie will have car chases, gun fights, encounters with secret services and many other elements which would ensure not only commercial success but also critical acclaim.

The climax may see the couple, after having whipped up an anti-virus drug, facing a bunch of rogue Vice Presidents of CGC inside the Colosseum in Rome. Before being threatened with pistols designed to fire a volley of vials filled with the brand new anti-dote and running off to safer pastures, CGC personnel will blast humanity in general for its apathy towards environment and Mother Nature. As the drums start beating, declaring the brave gladiators to be victors, the titles start rolling. The end will leave the doors open for a sequel which could cover the onset of a far more deadly version of the virus.

Some of the sub-plots discussed so far for spicing up the script are as follows.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Leaders  

 Poor politicos live in glass houses but are well-endowed to hurl stones at others, as and when the situation demands so. The pandemic is merely just another tool in their hands to beef up their image further and also to win upcoming elections by clipping the wings of those in opposition.

Top honchos like Prime Ministers and others are improving upon their macho-but-sensitive images these days by not only flexing their muscles to browbeat enemies – real or imaginary – but also remaining in news for unexpected reasons.

Scribes were recently surprised – much like a nymph while bathing – when the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson did some push-ups on his office carpet during a newspaper interview to demonstrate his post-Corona fitness for the job.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredricksen decided to postpone her wedding in order to be able to attend a meeting of the European Council on the virus. We understand this is the third time she has done this.

Hon’ble A B Filmer has been requested to collect more details on the leaders who have publically defied such norms as social distancing and wearing masks.

Atithi Devo Bhava

Back home, India has always believed in treating guests with reverence, atithi devo bhava being the norm. Many Indians thus decided to heartily welcome the Country Managers of Coronavirus Global Corp (CGC) by clapping, lighting candles, ringing bells and banging pots and pans from their balconies.

In order to assist CGC in exceeding its own estimates of market share and bottom line in the country, some imaginative steps were taken. First, a complete lockdown ensured that the migrant labourers got stuck in cramped urban spaces where they could easily get infected. Gradually, they were prodded to migrate to distant rural areas, thereby improving the spread. Those who remained in urban areas threw caution to the winds when it came to wearing masks and following norms of social distancing. After all, there is a limit to what a hassled government and its officers can do to change the behaviour of its citizens in public places.

Aunt Dahlia is in agreement that this needs to be considered for inclusion in the proposed movie.

A Budding Romance

When two young and bright persons come to explore a small and peaceful place like Pondicherry in south India, a transient bond of affection gets strengthened. But on the 4th day of their stay, they are caught unawares by a harsh lockdown announced by the government at a notice of less than 4 hours!

While their needs for survival are adequately met, the sheer fact of living through a major event in their budding lives brings about a stronger play of the hormones. A not-so-astute observer might be forgiven for missing the stars in their eyes and the way their faces light up when they happen to be together.

Angela and Tuppy Glossop concur with this idea.

Cupid and the Mummification of the Corpse

Cupid is busy with his e-initiatives. Love birds living in different metros have learnt to remain contented with video and text chats till the time things return to a newer state of normalcy. A young couple whose marriage had got indefinitely postponed find that the boring part of their relationship has already started. The bride-to-be feels that there is a limit to the number of times one can ask each other how their day was, what they plan to have for dinner and the movie they intend to watch every night. It feels as if they have been living in a fast forward mode and have already sensed the process of the mummification of the corpse of love some time after the priest has chanted the last mantra and the marriage has been sanctified.

Bertie Wooster is delighted that he is not being asked to play a role in the movie.

Some Green Shoots

It is an open secret that thanks to the aggressive marketing strategy being practiced by CGC the world over, sale of sanitizers and related hygiene products has registered an exponential growth. Lifestyle coaches and loony doctors are laughing all the way to their respective banks. Yoga-gurus-turned-business-honchos are busy re-labelling and re-launching select products, unleashing these upon an unsuspecting public. So are the owners of online streaming platforms who have grabbed the rights of movies being churned out by our dream merchants.

The last mentioned would be delighted to know of a retired Rev. Aubrey Upjohn who has created an excel sheet which lists the movies on offer on various streaming platforms. Much of his time now gets spent on keeping the list always updated in terms of new arrivals and the ones which are yet to be watched!

Immunity-boosting Tissue Restoratives

Across homes, homemakers are whipping up turmeric and basil based tissue restoratives, prompting all their family members to gobble the same without much ado. Those who are in the business of spices are chuffed at the sudden uptick in their fortunes.

Laura Pyke heartily approves.

Suggestions are welcome!

Would you have a suggestion to offer as to how to make this movie a wee bit juicier? Suggestions may be mailed to Wilmot.mulliner@zizzbaum.org.

Those whose ideas get selected will receive an invitation to visit the studios and have a meal with Mabel Potter and Wilmot Mulliner.

(Illustration courtesy Mr Suvarna Sanyal)

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CEDRIC MULLINER DEFEATS QUARANTINE: Guest Post by Eduardo Garcia

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

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When one speaks of an Indian-Italian courtship these days, one’s imagination invariably veers around to the recent diplomatic row between the two countries on a matter involving the highest ‘court’ of India and the unfortunate death of two Indian fishermen at the hands of two marines of an Italian ‘ship’. But the ‘courtship’ between the two countries is much broader and deeper than this!

Italy and India are so similar, yet so different. One is a developed country; the other is striving to meet its Ajanta_Padmapanidevelopmental goals. One has a population of 62 million; the other is struggling to cope with its 1.2 billion! Italy is placed 10th in overall GDP terms globally, whereas India is placed at 3rd. In per capita terms though, Italy (USD 30,116) is 29th in the world, whereas India (USD 3,851) is placed 129th!

Yet, the two countries are very similar to each other! Both Italians and Indians tend to be warm-hearted, open and talkative. Both share a common disdain for their politicians and judiciary. Whether it is art and culture, variety of cuisine and language, history and geography, heritage and movies, both share several common characteristics. Both are famous for their movies, motor scooters, cars and gossip magazines.

The Italian Charms!

Indians have fallen for Italian charms since quite some time. During the 1970s, the preferred choice of a scooter in India was Vespa, an Italian brand. Espresso coffee soon followed and quickly became a household name. Pizza was the next to captivate the taste buds of Indians of all age groups. Gucci, Prada, Armani and Versace are already the favourite brands of the well-heeled. Several other major brands – like Alberta Ferreti, Fendi, Byblos and Scorpion Bay, to name only a few – have already firmed up plans to woo the Indian customer in the days to come.Colosseum_in_Rome,_Italy

Each state in India has its own delectable cuisine. Likewise, all the 20 regions of Italy boast of their own cuisines. If India has its paranthas, chhole-kulche and dosas, Italy has pizzas, risotto, lasagne and pasta. In each category, both offer a mind-boggling variety to choose from.

Mamma Mia!

Both countries place a high emphasis on family values, especially the affection their own brand of tiger moms bestow on their respective precious cubs! Culturally, within a family, the male adult comes first, is served first at the table and is fussed over better. It is never in doubt as to who wears the pants in the family. Females in both countries play an important role in the kitchen and like to focus on displaying their culinary skills better.

Both Italians and Indians tend to be passionate and express their feelings loud and clear when upset! In both countries, weddings are increasingly based on love, as opposed to being ‘arranged’ in the past.

A Soulful Connection

For Indians who have perfected the art of living with filth and squalor all around them, visiting Italy is like a sophisticated and upgraded home-coming of sorts. Despite being a European country, Italy has a unique Indian touch which captivates and enamours the Indian soul quite effectively.IMGP9042

Taking a leisurely stroll near the Rome Termini Train Station, one is gently reminded of similar surroundings of the railway stations in India. Running into few homeless vagabonds sleeping in a corner is quite likely. The stench of stale urine emanating from a boundary wall makes one feel quite at home. However, one still misses the graphic art masterpieces in various hues of maroon so lovingly created by our paan-chewing brethren on all kinds of walls back home.

One will find laundry drying and ladies squatting and chatting away merrily on roads and streets. Driving on roads is the same, that is, on the left side. Also, there is no difference in driving habits; in India as well as in Italy, the values of Freedom, Fraternity and Democracy are upheld with remarkable zeal on the roads, holding all rules in sheer contempt!

How We Hate Our Courts and Politicians

There is a shared contempt of courts. Emblem_of_Italy.svg was sentenced to a year in prison but does not appear to be going to jail anytime soon. The Indian legislative bodies can justifiably claim to have a liberal sprinkling of criminals. If Italy has a strong presence of the mafia, India has its own share of the underworld dons.

People in both countries are perhaps tired of the ruling dispensation as well as the opposition camps of all hues. Recent elections in Italy have thrown up a hung parliament. India has been experimenting with the coalition model of governance for more than two decades now and can offer rich expertise to Italy on managing Emblem_of_India.svg‘coalition compulsions’!

The Begging Bowl Syndrome

Italy and India share the same level of income disparities amongst their populace. If one were to go by the UN Gini index, Italy was assessed at 32 in 2006, whereas India was assessed at 33.4 in 2005. (Nil disparity would mean the Gini index would be ‘zero’; maximum disparity would mean the Gini index would be ‘100’). India has a middle class which keeps suffering in the space of public delivery of services in dignified silence.

It comes as no surprise that begging is an invariable part of life and is an art practised in both the countries. However, it is far more sophisticated in Italy. Boarding a train, one could find a pretty young lady claiming to be deserted by her boy-friend openly seeking money to raise her kids. On the streets of Florence, one could encounter statuesque artists dressed up in plaster-of-paris-like costumes, seeking alms.

History and GeographyVitruvianMan

Historically, India had been mostly ruled by the Mughals and the British. Italy had been under the influence of Austria, France and Germany. Both were cobbled together by several princely states, distinct kingdoms or regions coming together.

Geographically, both countries have similar profiles. Italy has the Alps on its Northern side, just like India has the Himalayas. Sea beaches are in abundance in both the countries. Italy shares its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. India does so with China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal. In fact, Andaman and Nicobar share a maritime boundary with Thailand and Indonesia.Luciano_Pavarotti

Fine Arts and Science

Both Italy and India have had truly illustrious people in the realm of fine arts, literature, sculpture and science. If Italy can boast of Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Enrico Fermi and Dante, India can talk of Aryabhatt, C V Raman, J C Bose and Rabindranath Tagore. If Italy has Pavarotti, India has Pandit Jasraj and M S Subbalakshmi. If Italy stakes claim to as many as 47 UNESCO World Heritage sites, India does it for 29.

Language, Religion and Regional InitiativesPandit_Jasraj

Italian language has several dialects. Indians cope with as many as 26 scheduled languages, many of which have several dialects.

More than 91% of Italians are Christians. India has Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and Jains as major groups of a diverse religious landscape.

Italy is a founding member of NATO and EU. India had espoused the cause of Panchsheel and is a founding member of BRICS. Italy is home to the Vatican. India is home to diverse ethnic groups and religions. Both are held to be important regional powers.

Architectural and Artistic Elegance

India boasts of the Taj Mahal which took 16 years to build. Italy boasts of St. Peter’s Basilica which took 120 years to get compTajleted. India has the Qutab Minar; Italy has the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The difference surely lies in the attention paid towards maintenance of museums, heritage buildings and the exquisite paintings and sculptures Italy possesses. Visiting ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, one would notice the exquisite care with which the humidity and temperature are controlled in the hall containing the famous fresco. The care with which Michelangelo’s original masterpiece of ‘David’ is maintained in a Florence museum is something to be learnt from.

In India, tourists keep defacing the Ajanta and Ellora murals as well as all historical monuments with utter disregard and impDavid_von_Michelangelounity, slowly destroying a very rich heritage that the country possesses.

Lessons in Governance

When it comes to governing the ungovernable, there is a lot that Italy can learn from India. The latter has unique expertise in managing a complex country which can justifiably boast of flourishing black markets, mobsters, super-slow courts, crooked politicians, warring business families, hosting mega religious gatherings like the Kumbh Mela, cities which think they are states, states which believe they are independent countries and regions which believe they are continents.

Coming back to the marines imbroglio, diplomacy has won the day. Both Italy and India have managed to avoid embarrassing each other in international forums.The_Last_Supper

One has no doubt that despite occasional friction which is the hallmark of a deeper engagement, the two countries will continue with their courtship for a long time to come!

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