Gippy’s Galatta



by Gippy Doré





August was a pleasant month of cool breeze with showers that washed bright the leaves of sturdy trees standing amidst craters and potholes. Nature, ever reliable, cleansed the roads and the skies to the relief of tired lungs. The evening at Dore’s place was tinged with that Wodehousean bliss that is vain to seek elsewhere in the theatre or the movie halls, the shores of the sea or the desolate gardens.

A member spoke in despondent tones of the decline of this historic city, once vibrant with the classy touch of the cosmopolitan and the international, now groaning under the decay of neglect with broken bridges and shaking stairs (a decline that would have been the delight of Gibbon) under a siege of corruption and chaos. “Calm down, buddy”, responded a member. “All this is a temporary phase. Now it may look bleak like the morning darkness before daybreak. But with the rising sun “Westward look!, the land is bright.” The quote was lost on our friend who ranted about the skyline that is disappearing, the renovation that looks like rape and so on. Thoughtfully, refreshments were served and the mood changed with levity to laughter.

A member observed that these days the medical fraternity pushed patients into recklessly into hospitals. Now fit as a fiddle, bouncing on the jogging tracks, next day down with heart blocks but safe with some surgeon and his shiny knives. Stretched out like a leaf floating on water while stents, whether needed or not, are placed in his veins and arteries. The bewildered patient knows not what’s happening as various tests are run up and down, as apron coated doctors move about with clipboards in hand, with one eye on his bank passbook and the other to reassure his declining confidence. After a clean up of his purse he is discharged with a list of medicines and follow-up dates all tidily filed in an attractive folder.  Eternal vigilance, friends, is the need of the hour. Caution: Beware of doctors and lawyers.

A member described a one-day Seminar that he attended. The subject of the day’s deliberations was: “Scaling the walls of Corporate Excellence.” He was deputed by his company to attend the seminar and had resigned to confine himself for at least 6 hours with crashing bores from audience and faculty alike. He never did enjoy these seminars but his boss sent his nomination with the fees and here he was in a 4-star hotel where participants were received by a silk-saree-clad lady with folded hands and a sweet smile. They were escorted into a large hospital-bed size lift which opened to the flower decorated hall with many round tables covered with immaculate cloth, with small drinking water bottles, writing pads and ball pens. On the platform, two or three tables were joined to make a long table that was covered with clean white cloth with 5 water bottles and 5 flower vases placed at equidistant intervals. Each had a name plate kept nearby in case they forgot their names. This promised 5 speakers who, by the end of the day, would show the participants how to scale the slippery walls of corporate excellence without any ladder. A short character was adjusting the mikes by speaking out “One, two, three” as if memorizing numerals. The participants, many dressed in 2-piece suits (some in 3-piece), trickled in cautiously fiddling with their ties and looking around for a good seat or an inconspicuous seat from where one could make an easy unseen exit if required. Some ladies, well dressed in dark business suits, sat huddled together for comfort and general feeling of safety. Those seated were going through the bulky seminar folders packed with Xeroxed copies of articles from various past management magazines that are available so plentiful these days. There was a bustle as the speakers arrived and the Seminar Coordinator took the mike and commenced his well prepared speech introducing the subject. He scarcely spoke two sentences when the mike screeched in loud agony and greatly upset the audience that was slowly settling into a passive listening mode. Not so with Coordinator who was used to such antics of mikes everywhere. The short character adjusted some controls and the speech resumed. He explained that the first speaker was Dr.Bhoothalingam from some University in Bhopal, next we are fortunate to have with us (so he said) is Dr. Jambunathan from Jabalpur University followed by Dr.Jagadeesan from Jadavpur University, Dr.Sreedevi from Srikakulam and Dr. Hyder Ali from Hyderabad Chamber of Traders. Bhoothalingam had a loud penetrating voice like a peripatetic fruit vendor. He kept the audience alive with many jokes that sent ripples of laughter up and down the hall. He boasted of how he turned around Trickle and Solidified Honey Corporation which built up spiraling sales and smiling profits. Diversifying is vital, he thundered, as he spoke of how different types of honey from the slopes of every mountain range were exploited, including one from a flower that blooms once in seven years at a height of 5 thousand feet near Mahabhaleshwar.   He concluded saying, “So, dear friends! That is that and this is this.” (whatever that meant.) The next speaker Dr.Jambunathan proved to be a stunning bore. He spoke slowly and referred to various slips and notes. It appeared he had some success with a hardware outfit called “Dainty Scissors and Handy Hammers” which may have been a thrilling subject for tailors who worked with scissors and carpenters who loved hammers. The demand was from every household and every village across the country. It is the product that you sell, my friends that takes you to heights of excellence, he explained. There was not much interest in the participants who were unlikely to be thrilled by either of the products.  They looked forward to the short break where at last they stood in queue for the diuretic coffee and sandy biscuits. The rest of the day’s activity was much the same drivel where high sounding buzz words dwarfed the ability to think. Post tea break lectures were worse, passages were read out, audience yawning and looking here and there for signs of lunch. After lunch many chose to quit. A group entered the lift to go down and pressed the wrong button which took them to the basement where brooms, brushes, broken buckets were lying with sundry items collected over the years. They extricated themselves by reaching out to basement and then to the ground floor that was marked by “0” with a sigh of relief for fresh air.

Today, being rakshandhan it was a time for sisters to tie rakhis on the hand of brothers. Few may appreciate the valuable sentiment behind this wonderful festival and the token that brings a sister and a brother together even for a set of coloured threads embellished with an incarnate flower or other symbol. A member recalled an article in the previous day’s Asian Age which told of the first rakhi that was tied to Lord Krishna. It appears that Krishna cut his finger by accident and to stop the flow of blood Rukmini sent her servant to get a cloth for bandage. Sathyabhama herself rushed out to her room to get some bandage. But it was Draupadi who immediately tore her saree  and bandaged the bleeding cut. This was the first rakhi. This gesture was not lost on Lord Krishna who, years later, covered Draupadi with unending yards after yards of cloth while she was being disrobed in the Sabha. Of such is Divine Grace and a festival that comes around year after year.


— PG.




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