Posts Tagged ‘Stiffy Byng’

(Some autobiographical notes from a member of the canine species; based on true incidents; inspired by ‘The Mixer’, a story written by P G Wodehouse; I confess having fallen into the temptation of shamelessly borrowing some parts of the original story, for which I seek advance forgiveness.) 

Looking back at my life, I always consider that my career as a dog proper really started when I was bought over by a lovely – and loving – family. That event marked the end of my puppyhood.

I was pleasantly surprised to know that they paid a princely sum to acquire an ugly and thin pup like me. Suddenly, I realized that I was worth something in life. Moreover, the knowledge that I was considered worthy of the love of a family filled me with a sense of pride and new responsibilities. It also sobered me because howsoever interesting life may be at the small ken in a chalet up above the hills in a beautiful country where I was born and I used to live, it is only when you go out into the world that you really broaden your outlook and begin to see things. You get an opportunity to learn many new aspects of life. You come to know what refinement, manners and true culture means. The whole world becomes an oyster, as a brainy cove whose name I forget now said once upon a time. All you got to do is to sniff at it, lick it, prise it open, and savour it to your heart’s content.   

Within its limitations, my life till then had been singularly full and vivid. I was born, as I say, in a ken occupied by my doting Mother and a few playful and goofy set of brothers and sisters. I have heard that my then Master was a breeder of the canine species. I therefore suspect that my extended family may include several stepfathers, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

There was plenty of excitement. Before I was six weeks old, I had upset three visitors to the Master who inhabited the chalet by getting between their legs when they came round to the side-door, thinking they had heard suspicious noises; and I can still recall the interesting sensation of being chased twelve times round the yard with a broom-handle after a well-planned and completely successful raid on the flower beds so lovingly maintained by Master. I do not really blame him, because much like Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle fame, he used to love flowers and would often be found pottering about in his garden while wearing a not-so-tidy pair of trousers.

When I separated from Mother, she barked advice, telling me to be a credit to the family. Of course, I was then too excited to listen to her. But I did carry the thought in my bosom.

About Me  

I believe that I am a Yorkshire terrier, perhaps not of a Scottish origin but of a sub-breed which subsequently originated in Germany. I say this with some confidence because I am not particularly fond of chasing and catching rats. I have a long bushy tail which I can wag rather well. My hair is fluffy. My eyes are brown but can hardly be seen because of being covered by a mass of hair. My skin is white, though with large patches of black. My head has a golden-brown hue to it.

I have never disguised it from myself, and nobody has ever disguised it from me, that I am not a handsome dog. Even Mother never thought me beautiful. You may call me a European-cheese-hound if you like. No offence will be taken. As they say, beauty is only skin deep.

Like all those belonging to my breed, I believe I have far more strength than I really possess. I am playful and energetic. I like to make friends. While on a walk outside, if I run into another dog, I try my best to make it a point to exchange greetings in the finest tradition of our species – that of sniffing at each other’s snouts and so-called private parts. In case the perception is positive, we part with feelings of mutual acceptance and admiration. If either one feels threatened by the party of the other part, we bark at each other, our tails high up in the air. If hostilities ensue, our respective owners are bound to take prompt action and disentangle us. Then we go off our separate ways.

Just like humans, dogs also behave differently. If some suffer from an inferiority complex, there are many others who behave as if they are God’s gift to the universe. I am not fond of dogs who cast supercilious glances at me, simply ignore me and go on, holding their heads high in a haughty manner. Nor do I like the large ones who are not democratic in nature and start barking even before the first greetings have been exchanged. Mother always said: “A dog without influence or private means, if he is to make his way in the world, must have either good looks or amiability.” Since I have followed her advice and have cultivated an amiable disposition, I wish even my detractors well in their lives. By harbouring any anger against them, I know I shall be hurting myself more, even while they might continue to be blissfully unaware of my feelings towards them.

The Psychology of a Dog

We, the dogs, tend to be philosophical by nature. We soon forget such setbacks. We forgive. We do not waste time regretting what might have been. Nor do we worry ourselves sick thinking about what the morrow may bring. We live in the present. We relish it fully. Our idea is to simply enjoy our lives as much as we can. Our Intelligence Quotient levels may not be much to write home about. But our Emotional and Spiritual Quotients are rather high.

We are quick to understand the vibes of different persons and readily empathize with them. When they are in an uplifted mood, we also play around, often jumping with joy, wagging our tails, and licking their toes. When their brow is furrowed owing to a setback in life, we try to cheer them up by curling up near their feet and looking at them with soulful eyes. We are no match to Jeeves, but, like him, when we realize that our company is no longer desired, we respectfully slink away from point A to point B and reappear only when necessary.

We may not be able to deliver intellect-rich lessons from the Bhagavad Gita, the much-revered Indian scripture. But anyone observing us keenly will readily see how we could teach a thing or two to humans when it comes to living a happy and contented life. As Mother used to say, “Don’t bother your head about what doesn’t concern you. The only thing a dog need concern himself with is the quality of care and food he gets.” In some ways, Mother’s was a narrow outlook, but she was never hesitant to dish out some sane advice based on unalloyed common sense. 

My Parentage

Mother prided herself on being the best watchdog in the entire township. I hear that in her younger days, she had been a popular local belle with a good deal of sex-appeal. As to the question of my paternity, only she may be able to comment on it. I merely suspect that my father might have been one of the several stud-dogs who would have become enamoured of her charms over her long reproductive career. Otherwise, those who understand genealogy and are familiar with the concept of DNA tests might be able to throw some light on the subject. 

Many of the Homo sapiens are keen on forging what they label as matrimonial alliances. I am happy to see that over time, they are learning something from my species and living a free life, leaving owners of labs specializing in DNA and related tests laughing all the way to their banks.   

Since my puppyhood days, I have been restless, unable to settle down in one place and anxious to get on to the next thing. This may be either due to a nomadic strain in my ancestry or owing to my artistic temperament which makes me love nature. Perhaps, I acquired this temperament from a great grandfather who had been trained to perform in an orchestra at the famous Ukridge Academy of Performing Arts for Canines.

I owe the fullness and variety of my earlier life to this initial phase of restlessness of mine. However, I confess, I feel ‘settled’ now after having become a member of a doting Family. I keep learning the usefulness of family values from all its members. I no longer wish to move out of my newly acquired home to follow some perfect stranger who might mistreat me.

The Family   

The Family which has adopted me has many interesting characters.

There is a trim-and-slim father who is an upcoming entrepreneur. I hear that he is highly educated and has previously held senior management positions in companies in different European countries. He is an amiable and compassionate gentleman. He is fondly referred to as Ba.

Then there is a mother who is highly skilled at home making and fawns over her two kids and, of course, me. When it comes to cooking, she could easily beat Anatole hollow. Her Bollywood dancing classes are also very popular. She is known as Mumma.

The couple has an intelligent, cute, and loving daughter who is not only good at studies but also in drawing and story-writing. They also have a dashing son who is equally intelligent and physically active. He cuddles me fondly, though, at times, he punches me in the ribs in an unfriendly fashion. But, like all other dogs, I can always take the rough with the smooth.

The Family has named me Chicco.

The Family has relatives living not too far off. All the three families keep visiting each other frequently, making me feel responsible for the safety and security of all of them. Then there are family seniors who come visiting us occasionally. I am always pally with them, especially with those who fondle me, tickle me behind my ears, and take me out for regular walks. These ensure that I keep my muscles agile and rippling. Walks outside also help me to avoid soiling their homes. Besides, there are many perks of breathing in pristine air, and soaking in the beautiful scenery this unique country dotted with mountains and lakes offers. I love lolling about in lush green grass and hunt for some worms; this helps me to easily fulfil my daily quota of consuming around 200 calories.  

Another reason of my liking a saunter in the great open spaces is that I often run into my cousin Mailo. He has also been adopted by a loving family in the neighbourhood. Whenever we run into each other, we goof around quite a bit, vigorously sniffing and licking each other.   

In general, being of an amiable nature, I like humans. The smell of their feet, footwear, lower garment, and speech appeal to me. When they look me in the eye and address me, my spirits get uplifted, and I express my gratitude by wagging my bushy tail. I am rather unlike Bartholomew, a pet of Stiffy Byng’s, who is to be watched closely if he gets near anyone’s ankles, for he biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.

We also get many visitors. Those who are the regular ones, I welcome them warmly. When the family praises me endlessly to any of the visitors, I blush and feel elated. At others, I bark, trying to frighten them out of their wits. There are indeed times when I behave like the dachshund Poppet who charges at people with the apparent intention of seeing the colour of their insides but, closer to destination, he merely rises like a rocket and licks people on the chin. My feudal spirit prompts me to use my vocal cords and my body language effectively, so the family and its members remain safe. No harm should ever come their way.

Well, I ask you, I ask any dog, what else would you do in my place? Ever since I was old enough to listen, Mother had told me repeatedly what I must do in a case like this. It is the A.B.C. of a dog’s education. “If you are in a room, and you hear anyone trying to get in,” Mother used to say, “bark. It may be someone who has business there, or it may not. Bark first and inquire afterwards. Dogs were made to be heard and not seen. Your bark must always be worse than your bite.”

Whenever imposters, intruders or unknown people pay us a visit, I simply lift my head and yell. I have a good, deep, and throaty voice, possibly due to the hound strain in my pedigree. I also have strong lungs. Back at the chalet, when there was a full moon and I yelled because I thought something was amiss, I had often had the Master come rushing out to investigate what was wrong. On such occasions, I felt an inner glow of satisfaction, knowing that I had done my job well.

Some Adventures

I am happy that I have never had the experience of dog McIntosh who had to be extracted from a hotel room using aniseed powder which is popular in the dog-stealing industry. But I have lived through quite a few harsh slings and arrows of Fate. By practising equanimity, I have not only managed to survive these but have also added to my knowledge bank about various aspects of life.

Whenever I became restless and went on about wanting to go out into the world and see life, Mother often used to say, “You’ll be sorry when you do. The world isn’t all bones and liver.” On a few rare occasions, life has made me realize how right she was.

Learning About Gravity

On a fine day in summer, Family had decided to spend some time at a swimming club. Since dogs were not allowed near the main facility, they decided to smuggle me in, over a wire-net boundary, parking themselves in a remote corner of the vast lawns, quite some distance away from the main pool. The idea of not leaving me behind all alone in the house was indeed very appealing to me. All went well and I thoroughly enjoyed the open spaces, though I was not free to chase the birds and squirrels visiting the place and giving me envious looks owing to the kind of high-quality food I was consuming intermittently.   

While being smuggled back outside, I was hauled back over the boundary, with one person each on either side of the fence. That is when disaster struck. I slipped from the hand of one of the persons, leaving me mid-air, struggling to find my feet. A traumatic experience it was. However, it lasted a few seconds only and I was safely hauled back into the loving hands of the daughter. It reminded me of Sam Goldwyn who had likewise got into the loving arms of Corky once.

It’s a funny thing, but it seems as if it always happens that, when you are feeling most miserable, you end up learning something new in life. This brief experience taught me about the forces of gravity which pull all things down to the ground. Some brainy cove known as Newton had apparently discovered this force long time back, when, while sitting under an apple tree, he saw an apple fall on to the ground. If you ever get to see Newton, you can tell him that he is an ass. If I had been in his place, I would have rushed to put that apple down the hatch, rather than exercising my grey cells about the laws of nature. 

Causing A Highway Blockade

You never know what kind of adventure life hurls at you on any given day. Family had to go out to an amusement park quite far off and decided to leave me behind in the care of a neighbour of ours, who lives next door.

Mumma had apparently forgotten something, and she returned home soon for a brief visit to pick up the stuff. I could sense her presence from within the neighbour’s flat. Finding the door open, I ran out to tell her how lonely I was feeling. However, before I could reach her, she sped off in her car, on to the highway next to our community.

Dogs have an innate sense of direction, coupled with basic intelligence, ingenuity, and a sense of enterprise. I am no exception. To crawl beneath the fence and rush on to the highway was with me the work of a moment. But this was an unnerving experience, what with all the trucks and cars zipping past, making all kinds of threatening noises and spewing some poisonous fumes.

But drivers in my country need to be praised for their sense of decency and respect for life. Traffic came to a halt. A long queue soon piled up, blocking the highway. Shaking out of fear from the tip of my snout till the end of my tail, I ran underneath the chassis of the first car which had screeched to a halt near me. I felt more secure there. Luckily, the owner turned out to be an Air Force vet who somehow managed to entice me into his loving hands and put me in his car.

I am lucky the traffic police did not come over, sirens blaring, to arrest me for a patent illegality. I do hope that their chief gets awarded the highest civilian honour by the local government for his ethical and humane treatment of a member of the canine species; much like Eustace Mulliner, who excelled in his performance at the British Embassy in Berne and upon whom the Swiss government had conferred 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.

The friendly Air Force officer took me to his home some 90 kms away. Unlike humans, dogs do not really mind when it comes to getting tagged and living in a surveillance state. The officer could easily identify the Family. He contacted them, and assured them that all was well, and that he would return me after a week or so, when he was due to come back for a visit to the area that the Family lives in.

He also found me a little skinny for my age and advised them about some changes in my diet. While with him, I got some sumptuous meals, rich in fat soluble vitamins, nutrients, and minerals of all kinds. After my return, the Family put me on an improved dietary regime.

I soon felt like a dog raised on Donaldson’s Dog-Joy biscuits and went on to become one of those fine, strong, upstanding dogs who go about with their chins up and both feet on the ground and look the world in the eye. If Freddie ever comes to know of me, he could feature me in one of his company advertisements. In the process, I could earn something for the Family.

Of Love, Care and Affection

Circumstances and incidents often alter our perception of life. We realize how our Guardian Angels ensure that we get all the love and care that we deserve.

Out on a biking expedition, I was sprinting behind Ba and the son when disaster struck yet again. One of my feet somehow came under the back wheel of one of the bikes. A painful fracture followed. Since the local vet was busy, I was rushed over to another one, some 75 kms away. A plaster was put, and I had to laze about on my comfortable bed in the house for a six-week period of rest and recuperation. It was great initially but soon became rather boring.

What stood out was the gentle care and affection the entire Family showered on me during the whole episode. They made a great fuss over me, pampering me with my favourite dishes, often making me forget the pain I had undergone. In about six weeks’ time normalcy returned to my life.

Family Values

By now, you might have noticed the kind of rich lessons I have learnt so far in my life. The virtues of practising forgiveness and equanimity. The perks of living in the present. Handling the harsh slings of arrows of fate with a chin-up attitude. Being amiable. Standing up to bullies. Judging people wisely. Cultivating a feudal spirit.

Given my introspective nature, I am sure many more will follow, broadening my outlook in life. For a dog, nothing could be more fulfilling. Flowers are in bloom, God is in heaven, and all is well with the world.

Families are all about caring and sharing. I hope, wish, and pray that all other puppies in the world are as lucky as I have been in getting adopted by a loving family. 

A hearty woof, woof!

(Illustration of Highway Blockade by Shalini)

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I confess I have never had the chance of listening to the prattle of tender feet around me. However, this does not mean that I do not observe kids. I do so, with all the shrewdness at my command. When they giggle and stare at public speakers, the latter are all of a twitter. When they seek protection money from their wannabe step fathers, the soul cringes. When they use paraffin wax to douse fires, one sickens in horror. When they decide to extract a revenge of sorts from cabinet ministers who have reported their smoking endeavours in the shrubberies, one draws appropriate conclusions. When they celebrate their birthdays by either putting sherbet in ink pots or by going AWOL to enjoy a dinner and a movie, one gets overawed with the kind of courage they have.

Having suffered at the hands of such obnoxious kids as Thos, Seabury, Edwin…

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I confess I have never had the chance of listening to the prattle of tender feet around me. However, this does not mean that I do not observe kids. I do so, with all the shrewdness at my command. When they giggle and stare at public speakers, the latter are all of a twitter. When they seek protection money from their wannabe step fathers, the soul cringes. When they use paraffin wax to douse fires, one sickens in horror. When they decide to extract a revenge of sorts from cabinet ministers who have reported their smoking endeavours in the shrubberies, one draws appropriate conclusions. When they celebrate their birthdays by either putting sherbet in ink pots or by going AWOL to enjoy a dinner and a movie, one gets overawed with the kind of courage they have.

Having suffered at the hands of such obnoxious kids as Thos, Seabury, Edwin the Scout, Kid Blumenfeld, Peggy Mainwaring and Kid Clementina, I have willy-nilly come to the conclusion that these kids need not be derided and mocked at. Rather, they deserve to be treated as role models for most other kids who would infest our planet in the decades to come.

Their parents need not be pitied and censured. On the contrary, they need to be applauded for the unique contribution they have made to the society at large. One, they have delivered roguish kids who are totally self-centered and can tackle the harsh realities of life with a chin up attitude. Two, they have demonstrated the kind of nerves of chilled steel they have by bringing up kids with such modern values as hatred, disdain, habit of questioning authority, strong faith in falsehoods and fake information, bullying and knowing which side their bread is buttered on. Those weaker than themselves get trampled upon and squished like crawling insects under a pair of size 11 boots. As to stronger bullies, they analyze their psychology, bury their egos and become submissive ‘nodders’. Social recognition, a rapid rise in a rigid hierarchy and accumulation of wealth is bound to follow them in due course.

A Set of Futuristic Values

What I am driving at is simply this. To prepare kids for a glorious future, we need to revamp our education policies. Parents –whether of the present or the aspiring kind – need to be clear as to the set of values which would serve their offspring better in the times to come.

Besides teaching them the virtues of the likes of Jesus, Rama, Krishna and Mahatma Gandhi, kids also need to be told of the sterling qualities of such figures as Satan, Ravana, Kansa, Duryodhana and Dushasana. Villains such as Sher Khan (The Jungle Book), Scar (The Lion King) and Tai Lung (Kung Fu Panda) could see them surviving the harsh slings and arrows of life with aplomb.

They need to be imparted skills as to how to thrive in an environment of hate, untruth, dishonesty, skulduggery, bullying and hoodwinking the weak and the vulnerable while sucking up to those who happen to be in power. A high degree of proficiency in hypocrisy is what they need to be egged on to achieve.

Hating the ‘Other’

Armed with a hateful attitude, they would prod the not-so-blessed kids into achieving perfection.  In any case, concepts like empathy, harmony and compassion are already passé. To teach them to love their neighbours no longer makes sense. Best opportunities come up for those who are selfish and have deep reserves of hatred towards the ‘other’. These could be people of a different race, religion, caste, creed, skin colour and economic wherewithal. Children need to be groomed to operate in an ecosystem of hate.

The Perks of Lying

Being glib liars, they would waltz through their lives in a smoother manner. The market share for truth is shrinking with each passing year. The market for falsehood, misleading data and fake news is zooming. By adopting a value system along these lines, explaining one’s conduct to either an aggressive boss or a nagging spouse would be far easier. Many of our leaders who have the unenviable task of governing countries have already perfected this art.

The Art of Cheating

A related core life skill is that of cheating. Fraud is a global industry which is recession proof. Companies do it all the time. Governments routinely resort to it so as to protect their public image. One is never too sure of the quality of data being unleashed upon the gullible public, whether regarding economic progress or public health. Reneging on sovereign guarantees by invoking a force majeure clause is set to become a norm.

Even when faced with a raging pandemic, human ingenuity in ripping off hapless patients has never been found wanting. Many healthcare professionals are capitalizing on the fear of the pandemic and laughing all the way to their banks.

Civic Disobedience

With a questioning mindset, innovations would rule the roost, propelling our civilization faster on the path of evolution.  The merits of standing up to those in power need to be driven home in a ruthless manner. In fact, with youth unrest spurting in many countries, we already have an inkling of the shape of things to come. All such protests produce a younger generation of leaders who would improve the delivery of services to a lay citizen. Homo sapiens will make mighty strides in all their endeavours.

Bullying and Nodding

The meek do not inherit the earth, so to say. One cannot be like my friend Gussie Fink Nottle who is tongue-tied when it comes to proposing to a female he feels attracted to. One has to be groomed to be a dasher. If one’s Dashiness Quotient is high, one can hope to achieve goals better and faster. Bullying and pushing others are habits which help one at all stages of one’s life.

But when it comes to those stronger than us, and those who are in power, one has to kowtow to their mighty egos. Becoming a professional ‘nodder’ and a thorough Yes-person is bound to bring home the bacon.

Proficiency in Hypocrisy

Scriptures impart our kids moral lessons which are much past their expiry date. Some of you may recall my having won a Scripture Prize while at school. But you may not be able to point out how that knowledge had ever helped me to wriggle out of the prospect of a saunter down the aisle. Invariably, it was Jeeves who always came to my rescue.

The guy who said that our thoughts, our words and our actions should be aligned was surely an ass of the first order. What works these days is exactly the opposite. Let us say you hate your government or your boss. If you say so openly, you could either be found cooling your heals in a jail – without the option, of course – or keep missing some juicy promotions in your career. If Bingo Little were to confess to having blown up his allowances on some sporting endeavour, the dove of matrimonial peace would hastily pack its bags and abandon his home and hearth.

Enabling a Faster Spiritual Evolution

Kids armed with such futuristic values would play an important role – that of hastening the process of spiritual evolution of our species.

Someone, whose name I forget, spoke of survival of the fittest. What I propose here, if followed by conscientious parents and our education policies, will surely lead us to nurture kids who would not only survive but also do well in the times to come.

If this were to happen, one could safely peer into the future and grunt in satisfaction in much the same manner as one would after having put down the hatch one of the lavish spreads dished out by Anatole. The soul, weighed down by current anxieties, would get revived.

Couples in the reproductive age bracket, whose unions get blessed with roguish kids, will be assured of a very bright future for their coming generations. By inheriting the combined loopiness of their parents, such kids would ensure a rapid spiritual growth of all those around them – the aunts, the uncles, the nurses, the governesses, the headmasters, the teachers, the priests, the sports coaches, the drivers, the liftmen, the gardeners and many others.

Some of you are already raising kids who are disobedient and undisciplined at home. Outside, they happen to be gun toting monsters. You deserve to be richly complimented for the many sacrifices you make for your progeny. Your decision to expose tender minds to inane television shows, inappropriate content on social media and violent cartoon shows is obviously helping.

Making Kids Hotter  

Even those amongst you who are convinced that I happen to be mentally negligible would agree with me that all kids need to be groomed into becoming ideal citizens of their respective nations and make a positive contribution to society through their ability to hate, lie, cheat, bully the weak and by learning the refined art of sycophancy, cozying up to those in power. They need to use resource and tact to break their eggs and whip up sumptuous omelettes for themselves and their near and dear ones.

Kids these days are already hot stuff. We need to take immediate steps through proper channels to make them hotter in the decades to come.  Bringing up losers is surely not your idea of having fun in life. Scripture knowledge has limitations. Character development centered on such values as love, respect, humility, compassion and empathy takes bright kids on a negative trajectory.

Who Can Bell the Cat?

Who can bring about this change in our thinking? Perhaps not our political leaders, many of whom hide their dictatorial ambitions behind a thin veneer of democratic principles. Our mandarins thrive on opacity and an innovative capacity to come up with roadblocks to whatever is proposed. When combined together, both love an obedient, subservient, meek and complaint public. For them, a vibrant, independently thinking and questioning citizen is a highly undesirable commodity.

Closer home, Lord Sidcup may not approve of the idea but deserves to be sounded out on this fruity scheme. I believe it is safe to interact with him over internet these days. I would not run the risk of being torn from limb to limb.

Perhaps Rosie M Banks and Bingo Little can be persuaded to spearhead a revolution of this kind.

Another possibility could be someone like Stiffy Byng or Roberta Wickham taking up the cudgels. When it comes to propagating values of the kind being proposed by me, their credibility is bound to be much higher. A promotional drive by them, directed at parents, would strengthen the foundations of our civilization no end. Education ministers and mandarins across different countries who do not pay heed will run the risk of either their hot water bottles being punctured or cell phones getting pinched.

Would you have any suggestions?!

(Inputs from Mr Satish Pande, an ardent fan of P G Wodehouse, are gratefully acknowledged)


(Related Post:  https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/07/05/the-gallery-of-rogue-kids-in-plumsville)  


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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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Did you hear that Roberta Wickham and Stiffy Byng happen to be the First Fellows of the Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies?!

If you happen to be a marketing wizard on the look out for an exciting career opportunity, read this post very carefully. You could otherwise be losing a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to improve the world around us!


'The Thinker' : Rodin ‘The Thinker’ : Rodin

The Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies desires to hire the services of a Director Marketing who would assume the responsibility of aggressively marketing its unique range of technologies and products.

The Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies is an ISO-certified international academy of goofy schemes which are designed to resolve ticklish issues afflicting our society. It does so by promoting and propagating non-violent techniques of registering protests and wreaking vengeance upon those who profess views which are at odds with those of theirs. The Academy brings together the world’s leading scientists, engineers and technologists to advance and promote excellence in innovative methods designed to secure socially desirable results.

The First Fellows of the Academy include such illustrious figures as Roberta Wickham and Stephanie Byng. Researchers and innovators of all hues continue to be inspired by their inimitable schemes to pursue the lofty goals of the Academy.


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