Posts Tagged ‘Sati’


Some Behavioural Traits of Indians

  • In Uneasy Money, Lady Wetherby despairingly speaks of having seen ‘Algie hanging over the rail during a three o’ clock race one May afternoon, yelling like an Indian’.
  • In The Prince and Betty, Mr. Benjamin Scobbel, the unscrupulous millionaire, has built a casino on the small Mediterranean island of Mervo. He prides himself on its interiors which comprise many rooms, each having a table of its own and furnished in a different style. Besides a Dutch room, a Japanese room, a Swiss room and the like, it also boasts of an Indian room. However, one is ‘wary of accosting some nasty Hindoos’ who look at one rather oddly.   
  • Visitors to Blandings Castle, when discussing the character of The Efficient Baxter, allude to paranoia – a rush of blood to the head and fellows running amuck. ‘I’ve heard fellows who have been in India talk of it. Natives get it. Don’t know what they’re doing, and charge through the streets taking cracks at people with dashed whacking great knives…I have seen it happen so often in India, don’t you know, where fellows run amuck and kick up the deuce’s own delight.’ (Something Fresh)
  • In Hot Water, Vicomte de Blissac is reputed to be like a charming young wild Indian. Mr. Gedge thinks he is never sober. His mother’s main reason for sending him to Chateau is that she wants him to have a few weeks of complete abstinence.

Of Customs, Conversations and Civil Services

  • In Hot Water, we also find the age-old sordid custom of ‘sati’, now disbanded, getting referred to by a widowed Mrs. Wilmot Brewster. She thinks that Mabel, her sister-in-law, would have perhaps liked her to commit ‘suttee’, a practice followed in India. It means a widow burning herself on the funeral pyre of her husband when he has kicked the bucket. 
  • In ‘Honeysuckle Cottage’, Meet Mr. Mulliner, James, playing his role of a good host,  tries to snap Colonel Carteret out of his absent-minded silence by talking about ‘the weather, golf, India, the Government, the high cost of living, first-class cricket, the modem dancing craze, and murderers he had met.’   
  • ‘When Papa Swore in Hindustani’, A Wodehouse Miscellany’ speaks of Colonel Reynolds, V. C., who, upon losing his temper, is apt to swear for half an hour in Hindustani, and for another half-hour in English. He feels better thereafter.  
  • In Ring for Jeeves, Jeeves clarifies that ‘Kuala Lumpur was first made a separate dependency of the British Crown in 1853 and placed under the Governor-General of India. In 1887 the Cocos or Keeling Islands were attached to the colony, and in 1889 Christmas Island. Mr. Somerset Maugham has written searchingly of life in those parts.’
  • In Mike at Wrykyn, the elite administrative service alluded to as the Indian Civil Service gets mentioned by Plum. When Mike is in the Great Hall which has panels showcasing the work the school has done in the world, he finds that the panels are covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of ‘Old Wrykynians who had taken firsts in Mods or Greats’, or achieved any other recognized success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list.  



The inspiration for this essay comes from the scholarly work done by Ms. Masha Lebedeva, who had earlier whipped up a research paper entitled The Russian Salad by P. G. Wodehouse.

The author expresses his sincere gratitude to an eminent expert on Plummy matters for having spared the time to go through a part of this composition and provide insightful suggestions. Some fans of P. G. Wodehouse have also suggested improvements in its contents.

Thanks are also due to Mr. Suvarna Sanyal for dishing out the main illustration in Part 1; also, to Ms. Sneha Shoney, who has edited the text.

Those of you who wish to cruise through this essay in its entirety may kindly write to akb_usha@rediffmail.com for a PDF version of the complete document to be mailed to them.

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