SUNDAY 29th. JUlY 2018 – WODEHOUSE CORNER AT DORE’S
Members arrived with their monsoon gear and for a while there was much animated talk on the new weather pattern that defies reliable forecasts. The daily weather report still gives delightfully vague statements like “One or two scattered showers, heavy to very heavy in some parts, accompanied by thunder and lightning in isolated parts” and so on. Cleverly crafted by some legal expert and hemmed by excellent principal and subordinate clauses. Dore said that reading such a forecast before stepping out is of no use as he for one could not say whether he stands in that part of the city where there will be isolated showers or heavy to very heavy rains. So he looks up the sky and opts to decide to take his umbrella giving the benefit of doubt to the weather blighter.
The reason why Dore has to step out, rain or shine, is the stubborn silence of his land line for the last three weeks and the telephone company has been doing nothing about it. He met the telephone company linesmen, supervisors, managers and several others up in the hierarchy but they were all frank in sincerely saying that nothing can be done about it as the diligent digging of several kilometers around by the Metro underground rail project had struck a fatal blow to the phone cables below and many a junction box has been ripped apart. The end result was that over 1500 phones were laid to rest and so severe has been the damage that there is no saying when the lines would be restored. Every morning and nightfall Dore says a silent prayer and lifts the receiver to check if the patient is showing even feeble signs of breath or recovery or any faint mutter or murmur but the silence persists. Wodehouse, in his place, would have said, “Tombs are chatty in comparison.”
A member observed that, in the last decade or so, hair care and hairdressing has been a preoccupation for thousands who are challenged by falling hair and growing bald silently at the back of the head. It starts with a circular patch, the size of a rupee, quietly increasing (owner unaware) until it reaches the size of an average papad noticed by the family and neighbours. This sets off a crisis and a hectic search is launched for a quick cure. The member said that his next door neighbour received by VPP a large size pack at a rip-off price in response to an advertisement in the back pages of a magazine in praise of a hair oil that guaranteed excellent results. The neighbour was maha-impressed by a warning in the instruction pamphlet to take care when rubbing the oil on the head not to touch it lest hair may grow on the palms. He purchased soft gloves and commenced the treatment. Daily he checked whether there was any growth by standing in his balcony in the bright light of the morning with a mirror, moving it to different angles to get the light and shade effect. By the end of the month he realised that he was the victim of a fraud but the seller could not be contacted as there was no such shop at the address given. Not one to to be defeated easily he researched into the world of wigs. Now wigs, it appears is an old device and much in vogue in India and abroad. Human hair was collected from the heads of corpses, stored and processed for making wigs even from the mediaeval times. Reference was made to an extract from Charles Nicoll’s treatise on “Shakespeare on Silver Street” where the immortal Bard’s lines were quoted:
“The golden tresses of the dead,
The right of sepulchers, were shorn away
To live a second life on second head….”
Strange thing, this love of people for hair, for promotion of healthy tresses and classy clinics for tonics and treatment. At this point, a member narrated how his friend had sported a wig after buying it at a fairly exorbitant price and was, in fact, using it for quite some time. Was his friend comfortable using the wig? “Not quite.” He admitted. It appears however that even the wig was not comfortable though seated imperially on the crown. This was evident when during a ride in a car on a windy day while negotiating a bend round a circular garden, the wig dislodged itself from its HQs and took off in a North-North easterly direction and vanished without even a vote of thanks. Relieved of the foreign body sitting on his head, he did not go for a replacement. He merely wiped his head and thanked God for small mercies.
Then there are those who dye their hair and the market is crowded with modern clinics and expensive stylists with their patents and promises. Anyone who holds out a hand of hope is always welcome to the young and the old. All these in the trade of hair, skin and products of beauty are prophets of hope. PG recalled how in a factory the GM’s steno-secretary one Mr.Nathan who had a basket of white hair on the head went ahead and dyed his hair with the darkest shade of black and turned up for work. The GM who on a normal working day dictated more than 20 letters by noon did not send for his secretary as he was under the mistaken impression that the chap did not show up, even though he was seated as usual in the general office. Late afternoon and the GM was restless and on enquiry was told that Nathan had come in as usual. Nathan was summoned and the GM was aghast to see the unrecognizable revised avatar of his steno-secretary, half smiling and half smirking, after “the alterations and repairs”. The GM, amused but also quite upset, shouted “What! Do you want to join Hollywood now?” Much laughter around defused the situation.
Well, these days if no one is around to make you laugh, you are advised to keep a pet. In his novels Wodehouse used a variety of pets (often to the discomfort of the characters around) from Eustace the monkey in Uneasy Money to a snake and an alligator (Wilfred) belonging to Lotus Blossom. Was this yet another masterly stroke of the author in calling upon his imagination to practical use? Well, it appears that reality is not far behind. In Melbourne a crazy fellow kept a one metre long crocodile as his pet but left his house open. The reptile wandered round the streets on Christmas Day and settled outside a Mall leading to some lady stumbling over it with her shopping bag. The croc was sitting quietly on the footpath and it seems the Police are frantically looking for its owner.
The bizarre tastes of our fellow men, in the end, make up the puzzling fabric of life and laughter.