SUNDAY 25th. FEBRUARY 2018 –   WODEHOUSE CORNER AT DORE’S

Members recalled the glory of P.G.Wodehouse, the greatest humourist, who like the arab quietly folded his tent on Valentine’s Day and disappeared over the sands of time. In the echoes and parallels of eloquent prose it is vain to seek such elegance of language laced with a rare filigree of humour. He wove on the roaring loom of Time with the warp of imagination and the weft of humour till his last breath. Truly a blessed soul who wrote 90 plus novels in a life span of 90 plus years. A miracle indeed! Since his demise we have had a long winter in the world of humour. We tipped our hats to Sir P.G.Wodehouse.

 

We all know about Wodehouse as a cricketer but we have in Giri Dore another in our midst at Wodehouse Corner. Giri Dore, as seasoned as a cricket ball, was invited to Kolkota to be the National Match referee for Siemens teams across the country. With his years of experience on the field this was not surprising and soon Giri, recalling his sunny days in Calcutta between 1959 and 1965, winged his way to Kolkota. with the latest Cricket Rules in his hip pocket. On arrival, after much wading at the airport through a crowd of Chatterjees, Mukherjees and Bannerjees Giri was escorted through Tollygunge, Ballygunge and other outlying bally places to the sports ground where there were more Chatterjees and such of their ilk, besides an assortment of persons with appellations like Ghosh, Das and Sens. There he saw a delightful crowd cheering away. In one corner a chap was coaching a section of the crowd in hissing and other sounds to unnerve the players. The elite and the well bred sat at the far end away from the noise makers. Amongst them were delicate fair hands that elegantly held fans that opened now and then to wave off the flies or the rising heat. Their plunging necklines and pearl necklaes stamped the hallmark of class and affluence. Even in such gatherings there are class and caste shades, each segment coexisting seamlessly though, together but apart. The matches were hectic and on quite a few occasions disputed issues were referred to Giri, who with his balance, diplomacy and tact left the players satisfied with the final decision. By evening, the crowd stood tired and subdued, listless “with the drooping of their collective necks.” When it was announced that the session would conclude with a song by Dore they became attentive and were astonished to hear Giri sing a Portugese tune with Spanish rhythm followed by music on the harmonica. The audience gave a deafening applause which still rings time and again in Giri’s memory long after they faded.

Not many may remember Wodehouse having received an Honourary Doctorate from Oxford University in 1939 for his English but it turned out that he became equally adept as a doctor as many a depressed soul has recovered from a reading of his novels. In his writings, Wodehouse prescribes the cure for insomnia. Briefly stated, :

Breakfast: After toast and marmalade,
Jeeves and the Hard-boiled egg.
Lunch:      After cauliflower and lamb cutlet,
Jeeves and the kid Clementine.
Dinner:    Clear soup, chicken en casserole,
Jeeves and the Old School Chum.
Before Retiring: Liver pill followed by
Jeeves and the Impending Doom.

Actually, holding a Doctorate in say, Physics or Philosophy can be a social disadvantage. The physicist Dr. Millikan, famed for his accurate measurement of the diameter of the electron, overheard his charwoman answering a phone call in his apartment telling the caller, “No. the professor is no good for giving any medicine.” PG narrated an incident about his Professor at the Institute of Social Sciences who had a doctorate in sociology. His neighbours often rang his doorbell at night in quest of medicines and no amount of explanation would convince them of the fact that he knew nothing about medicine. They persisted in being given asome harmless pills, potions and powders. A powder to cure cough, a tablet for headache, a pill for fever and some mild purgative. What he thought was mild was perhaps too strong for the patient who never turned up thereafter.

On PG’s request to Ranju for a brief, precise narrative of his (Ranju’s) meeting with Krishna Mohan at Hyderabad he received a long, verbose, and detailed affidavit (designed not to omit any detail whatsoever).Attempts to condense it met fierce resistance as the stuff was tightly packed traversing history and geography enmeshed with sequenced  details. Any change attempted was like trying “to paint a lily”. So PG  thought let the readers have it thick and undiluted. Here it  goes:

“I met OMH Krishna Mohan Gabbita in the lobby of Hotel Taj Vivanta in Begumpet, Hyderabad on Wednesday 7th Feb. He arrived at 10.15 am sharp and I appreciated his punctuality.
Over coffee at Viva, I asked him if he had brought any PGW novel written by him in the Telugu. I had forgotten to mention this when I spoke to him that morning. I was curious to know how he had replicated the flavour and nuances of the written word and phrases in the English language by the Great Master. Some of my classmates ( many of whom had left that morning for the airport to return to respective destinations after the 5 day reunion ) had remarked that it is very difficult to capture the essence of Wodehouse humour and play on words in any other language other than English. Lost in translation was the phrase that jumped to mind.
OMH asked me if I had some time to spare. Our former neighbours from Mumbai had invited us for lunch at their home in Motinagar but when OMH requested me to visit his house, a ten minute drive away, I could not refuse. He said we would spend ten minutes at his place and his chauffeur would drop me back at the hotel.
I am glad I visited his home in Somajiguda where I met his wife. I am the proud owner of a large collection of books and novels but was amazed on seeing the contents of his library. An Ayn Rand novel caught my eye. OMH also showed me one of the eleven volumes of a Historical Compendium which he acquired after parting with a king’s ransom. I was tempted to count all the 92 books of PGW but lack of time and a sense of politeness came in the way.

Six novels of PGW have been written ( or transliterated ) by Krishna Mohan in Telugu language and these have been well accepted by his faithful readers. Each print edition is for 1000 copies and all have sold out***. He is now writing his 7th book. Krishna Mohan has to seek permission from the Wodehouse Estate and pay them a royalty for every 1000 copies plus three hard copies of each book printed. He has a group of PGW fans who meet regularly in Hyderabad. OMH talked about the late Bapu, a renowned artist and film producer who designed the covers of his books. He also spoke about B S Prakash***, an authority on PGW. All his friends have now re-christened Krishna Mohan as “Gabbita Wodehouse”.

I had a quick photo session during which I captured most of the contents of his library. Links to these pix have been sent to you.

I was most impressed with his achievements during his career with DRDO and BDL, particularly Krishna Mohan’s role in the development and production of the Prithvi missile used by the Indian Armed Forces. I just had to take his picture with a model of the missile, naively asking him to stop me if I am violating any Official Secrets Act!! “

During his visit to Hyderabad, one bright morning PG met Krishna Mohan (OMH) or KM at his residence. The meeting (just like the one Ranju had with him) could be called a mini-Wodehouse get-together. There was a nice interaction with KM on the travails of a translator, right from the start in selecting a novel that would be amenable for translation, the torturous struggle in adapting to the cultural milieu, the challenge of searching for the right word and phrase while keeping the humour alive, all this with an eye on the commercial imperatives and the petty cash of the cash register. A strenuous effort and kudos to KM for keeping the vernacular flag of Wodehouse flying. We carried our discussions to the lunch table. It was time for the wine cup and the guitar. The melodious strains of the guitar were not audible bu.t then as Keats said, “Heard melodies are sweet, those unheard are sweeter”. This was followed by a sumptuous lunch and it was merely stating “The food is tasty” “Exceedingly tasty” as we consumed calories far beyond the limits permitted by the quack.

— PG.

Suresh Surmises

 


SURESH SURMISES

By Suresh Doré
Email: sgdore@gmail.com

 


 

    • ROAD SIGNS:

In the United States, the categories, placement, and graphic standards for traffic signs and pavement markings are legally defined in the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as the standard.

A rather informal distinction among the directional signs is the one between advance directional signs, interchange directional signs, and reassurance signs. Advance directional signs appear at a certain distance from the interchange, giving information for each direction. A number of countries do not give information for the road ahead (so-called “pull-through” signs), and only for the directions left and right. Advance directional signs enable drivers to take precautions for the exit (e.g., switch lanes, double check whether this is the correct exit, slow down). They often do not appear on lesser roads, but are normally posted on expressways and motorways, as drivers would be missing exits without them. While each nation has its own system, the first approach sign for a motorway exit is mostly placed at least 1000 m from the actual interchange. After that sign, one or two additional advance directional signs typically follow before the actual interchange itself.

 .... Advance directional signs enable drivers to take precautions for the exit ....

The earliest road signs were milestones, giving distance or direction; for example, the Romans erected stone columns throughout their empire giving the distance to Rome. In the Middle Ages, multidirectional signs at intersections became common, giving directions to cities and towns.

 .... multidirectional signs at intersections became common, giving directions to cities and towns. ....

In 1686, the first known Traffic Regulation Act in Europe is established by King Peter II of Portugal. This act foresees the placement of priority signs in the narrowest streets of Lisbon, stating which traffic should back up to give way. One of these signs still exists at Salvador street, in the neighborhood of Alfama.

 .... road signs are milestones, giving distance or direction ....

The first modern road signs erected on a wide scale were designed for riders of high or “ordinary” bicycles in the late 1870s and early 1880s. These machines were fast, silent and their nature made them difficult to control, moreover their riders travelled considerable distances and often preferred to tour on unfamiliar roads. For such riders, cycling organizations began to erect signs that warned of potential hazards ahead (particularly steep hills), rather than merely giving distance or directions to places, thereby contributing the sign type that defines “modern” traffic signs.

 .... bike groups erected signs that warned of potential hazards ahead (e.g. steep hills), rather than just give distance or directions to places....

The development of automobiles encouraged more complex signage systems using more than just text-based notices. One of the first modern-day road sign systems was devised by the Italian Touring Club in 1895. By 1900, a Congress of the International League of Touring Organizations in Paris was considering proposals for standardization of road signage. In 1903 the British government introduced four “national” signs based on shape, but the basic patterns of most traffic signs were set at the 1908 International Road Congress in Paris.[citation needed] In 1909, nine European governments agreed on the use of four pictorial symbols, indicating “bump”, “curve”, “intersection”, and “grade-level railroad crossing”. The intensive work on international road signs that took place between 1926 and 1949 eventually led to the development of the European road sign system. Both Britain and the United States developed their own road signage systems, both of which were adopted or modified by many other nations in their respective spheres of influence. The UK adopted a version of the European road signs in 1964 and, over past decades, North American signage began using some symbols and graphics mixed in with English.

 .... North American & UK signage began using some symbols and graphics mixed in with English.....

Over the years, change was gradual. Pre-industrial signs were stone or wood, but with the development of Darby’s method of smelting iron using coke, painted cast iron became favoured in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Cast iron continued to be used until the mid-20th century, but it was gradually displaced by aluminium or other materials and processes, such as vitreous enamelled and/or pressed malleable iron, or (later) steel. Since 1945 most signs have been made from sheet aluminium with adhesive plastic coatings; these are normally retroreflective for nighttime and low-light visibility. Before the development of reflective plastics, reflectivity was provided by glass reflectors set into the lettering and symbols.

 .... most signs are made from sheet aluminium as these are normally retroreflective for nighttime and low-light visibility. ....

New generations of traffic signs based on electronic displays can also change their text (or, in some countries, symbols) to provide for “intelligent control” linked to automated traffic sensors or remote manual input. In over 20 countries, real-time Traffic Message Channel incident warnings are conveyed directly to vehicle navigation systems using inaudible signals carried via FM radio, 3G cellular data and satellite broadcasts. Finally, cars can pay tolls and trucks pass safety screening checks using video numberplate scanning, or RFID transponders in windshields linked to antennae over the road, in support of on-board signalling, toll collection, and travel time monitoring.

 ....cars can pay tolls and trucks pass safety screening checks using video numberplate scanning linked to antennae over the road....

Yet another “medium” for transferring information ordinarily associated with visible signs is RIAS (Remote Infrared Audible Signage), e.g., “talking signs” for print-handicapped (including blind/low-vision/illiterate) people. These are infra-red transmitters serving the same purpose as the usual graphic signs when received by an appropriate device such as a hand-held receiver or one built into a cell phone.

 .... another "medium" for transferring information ordinarily associated with visible signs is RIAS ("talking signs") for the print-handicapped (including blind/low-vision/illiterate) people. ....


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