Light plus Weighty

Moses – the Original Bureacrat …

Posted on August 1, 2019. Filed under: Light plus Weighty |

By Avay Shukla – Rules of the Babu Game”

I have for some time been convinced that Moses (of Old Testament fame) was the original bureaucrat.

The anecdotal evidence is convincing. He offered to his peoples the Promised Land—and then made them wander around in the desert for 40 years. He was adept at beating around the bush, till one of them caught fire and he called it an act of God!

He was wont to deliver sermons from raised areas which no one understood. And here’s the clinching one—he framed the first set of Conduct Rules, which came to be known as the Ten Commandments.

And a fine set of rules they are too, except perhaps for that one about not coveting thy neighbour’s wife, which contradicts a subsequent sub-rule which exhorts one to love thy neighbour, and we all know that the later rule supersedes the earlier one.

The true descendent of Moses is the IAS, not the state of Israel.

An IAS officer is at his best when he is drafting all manner of rules—if they are incomprehensible, he is happy, and if they are unimplementable, then he is overjoyed. I’d like to share a few I’ve had the good fortune to encounter during my career.

Have you wondered why government servants are so short-sighted? It’s the rules, stupid!

In the early eighties I was posted as a joint secretary in the finance department at Shimla. My duties involved approving claims for medical reimbursement. Those days contact lenses were deemed to be a cosmetic procedure and  their expenses were not reimbursable.

One day I received a claim from a High Court judge who had contact lenses fixed. I promptly took the file to the finance secretary. The secretary looked at me with a cunning grin and said: “Approve it!”. I was aghast, just as Moses must have been when he saw the Israelites worshipping the golden calf.

“But the rules, sir …” I blurted. And then the finance secretary explained: “Avay, you must understand the rules which govern rules. The most important rule in government is the rule of precedents. A precedent, once set, is sacrosanct, notwithstanding all other rules.

Once you allow something for one person you cannot deny it to others. So let this judge have his bloody contact lenses—after all, how can a lowly finance secretary refuse a mighty High Court judge? And hereinafter all of us can also have contact lenses!”

And that’s how contact lenses are now reimbursable. We now have more IAS officers adorned with the lenses than starlets in Bollywood.

Rule number two: In 2007, after years of subsisting on bread and water, I finally built myself a cottage in Mashobra, intending to spend my dotage refreshing my knowledge of the birds and the bees.

I applied for a gas connection from the Civil Supplies Corporation for the new house. It was refused: two connections could not be given in the same name, and I already had one in my house in Shimla. The MD of the Corporation was my neighbour and I pestered him till he came up with a solution: he would be able to sanction a second connection if I gave an affidavit stating my wife intended to divorce me and was living separately from me in Mashobra!

I was stumped.

Firstly, government servants cannot go around swearing affidavits with the same gay abandon that our MPs and MLAs do at election time.

Secondly, I had no intention of separating from my wife, having hung on to her for dear life for 30 years.

Thirdly, once she started living separately who knew what might happen?—she might get used to the idea!

Fourthly, Mashobra has a lot of retired defence services officers who spend all their time looking for lost golf balls and single women.

No, this was not a good idea at all, I told my wife. She asked for two days to consider the suggestion! Finally, of course, she agreed with me.

She confided later that she was tempted by the idea but decided against it because then who’d make the bed tea in the morning, or take the dog for a walk?! So we didn’t use that particular rule after all: instead I went and bought a cylinder and regulator on the black market.

Most IAS officers have very high levels of schadenfreude, and love nothing better than to see the proletariat squirm; nothing else can explain this last rule I’m about to share with you.

One of the consequences of having a large government is that you also have a large number of pensioners who steadfastly refuse to kick the bucket.

Pension rules stipulate that every July a pensioner is required to submit a “life certificate” attesting to the fact that he is still alive (being brain dead is no disqualification for a government pensioner, on the assumption that most of them were in this condition in any case while in service).

This life certificate can be attested by any gazetted officer or by the bank manager. The system worked very well till a few years ago when some bright finance secretary in Shimla decided that the attestation would have to be done by a Patwari (revenue official) instead.

Now, a Patwari in the mountainous regions of Himachal is a mythical figure. They are more difficult to spot than the snow leopard: it’s easier to track down a man-eater than locate a Patwari. But rules are rules, and so now the mountain slopes are crawling with pensioners looking for their Patwaris, usually in vain.

Some have taken to camping in caves hoping to way lay him one day, others organise havans hoping to be blessed with his presence, still  others seek out astrologers to predict the Patwari’s movements.

Drones are employed to sight this elusive yeti. But the astute finance secretary, I am told, is a happy man: the outgo of pensions has declined sharply, the mortality among pensioners has gone up to satisfying levels what with all the exertion now required of them, and the budget deficit is coming under control.

How about giving him a Padma Shri?

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Art – Tricks the Eyes …

Posted on March 9, 2019. Filed under: Light plus Weighty |

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The Old n the Young …

Posted on March 4, 2019. Filed under: Light plus Weighty |

An old physician, Doctor Gordon Geezer, became very bored in retirement and decided to re-open a medical clinic. He put a sign up outside that said: “Dr. Geezer’s clinic. Get your treatment for $500 – if not cured, get back $1,000.

Doctor Digger Young, who was positive that this old geezer didn’t know beans about medicine, thought this would be a great opportunity to get $1,000. So he went to Dr. Geezer’s clinic.
Dr. Young: “Dr. Geezer, I have lost all taste in my mouth. Can you please help me?”
Dr. Geezer: “Nurse, please bring medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in Dr. Young’s mouth.”
Dr. Young: ‘Aaagh! — This is Gasoline!”
Dr. Geezer: “Congratulations! You’ve got your taste back. That will be $500.”

Dr.Young gets annoyed and goes back after a couple of days figuring to recover his money.
Dr.Young: “I have lost my memory, I cannot remember anything.”
Dr. Geezer: “Nurse, please bring medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in the patient’s mouth.”
Dr. Young: “Oh, no you don’t — that’s Gasoline!
Dr. Geezer: “Congratulations! You’ve got your memory back. That will be $500.”

Dr.Young (after having lost $1000) leaves angrily and comes back after several more days.
Dr.Young: “My eyesight has become weak — I can hardly see anything!”
Dr. Geezer: “Well, I don’t have any medicine for that so here’s your $1000 back” (giving him a $10 bill).
Dr. Young: “But this is only $10!”
Dr.Geezer: “Congratulations! You got your vision back! That will be $500.

Moral -Just because you’re “Young” doesn’t mean that you can outsmart an old Geezer. Remember: Don’t make old people mad. We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to tick us off.

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Bond? No – Its Sherlock …

Posted on December 30, 2018. Filed under: Light plus Weighty |

The Case of the Missing Aircraft

My notes indicate that it was on a certain wintry December afternoon of the year ’18 that I found myself once more in front of our old barsati at b122, Bekar Street, the starting point of so many remarkable adventures I have had in the company of my friend Mr ‘Chalak’ Om.

I find it recorded in my scribbled memo that I was having difficulty breathing that day on account of Delhi’s polluted air. (I find the same thing recorded also for every other day of the year. In a year or two after that, we learnt to stop breathing in order to cope with the situation.)

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Australians – Cannot be Beat …

Posted on April 14, 2018. Filed under: Light plus Weighty |

Happy Laughing Happy Weekend.

The 2012 Australian Poetry Competition held in Sydney Opera House had come down to two finalists; A – A university graduate. B – An old aboriginal.

They were given a common word, and then allowed two minutes to reflect on the word and recite a short four line poem that contained the word.    The word they were given was ‘ TIMBUKTU ‘. First to recite his poem was the university graduate. He stepped to the microphone and recited  –

Slowly across the desert sand,
Trekked a lonely caravan
Men on camels two by two
Destination – Timbuktu .

The crowd went crazy! No way could the old aboriginal top that – they thought. The old aboriginal calmly made his way to the microphone and recited –

Me and Tim a huntin’ went
Met three whores in a pop up tent
They were three, and we was two
So I bucked one, and Tim – buk tu .

The aboriginal won, pants down!

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Smile …

Posted on September 30, 2017. Filed under: Light plus Weighty, Searching for Success |

♦ I read that 4,153,237 people got married last year; not to cause any trouble but shouldn’t that be an even number?

♦ When wearing a bikini, women reveal 90% of their body… men are so polite they only look at the covered parts.

♦ A recent study has found that women who carry a little extra weight, live longer than the men who mention it.

♦ Relationships are a lot like algebra Have you ever looked at your X and wondered Y?

♦ America is a country which produces citizens who will cross the ocean to fight for democracy but won’t cross the street to vote.

♦ You know that tingly little feeling you get when you like someone? That’s your common sense leaving your body.

♦ Did you know that dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish?

♦ My therapist says I have a preoccupation with vengeance. We’ll see about that.

♦ I think my neighbor is stalking me as she’s been googling my name on her computer. I saw it through my telescope last night.

♦ Money talks, but all mine ever says is goodbye.

♦ If you think nobody cares whether you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

♦ I always wondered what the job application is like at Hooters. Do they just give you a bra and say, “Here, fill this out?”

♦ Denny’s has a slogan, “If it’s your birthday, the meal is on us.” If you’re in Denny’s and it’s your birthday, your life sucks!

♦ The location of your mailbox shows you how far away from your house you can be in a robe before you start looking like a mental patient.

♦ The reason Mayberry was so peaceful and quiet was because nobody was married. Andy, Aunt Bea, Barney, Floyd, Howard, Goober, Gomer, Sam, Earnest T Bass, Helen, Thelma Lou, Clara and, of course, Opie were all single. The only married person was Otis, and he stayed drunk.

♦ I find it ironic that the colors red, white, and blue stand for freedom until they are flashing behind you.

♦ I think it’s pretty cool how Chinese people made a language entirely out of tattoos.

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Battle of Two Museums …

Posted on September 20, 2017. Filed under: Light plus Weighty, Personalities, Uncategorized |

2017 is undoubtedly the year of the feud. As celebrities and corporations alike take to Twitter to hash things out, two of the UK’s most respected scientific institutions, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, have got in on the action.

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The Smart Kid …

Posted on May 23, 2017. Filed under: Light plus Weighty |

This kid will be a success ! He is brilliant!                                                                                    ..

Q1.. In which battle did Napoleon die? …  * His last battle

Q2.. Where was the Declaration of Independence signed? … * At the bottom of the page
Q3.. River Ravi flows in which state? …  * Liquid
Q4.. What is the main reason for divorce? …* Marriage
Q5.. What is the main reason for failure? …* Exams
Q6.. What can you never eat for breakfast? … * Lunch & dinner
Q7.. What looks like half an apple … * The other half
Q8.. If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what will it become?… * Wet
 Q9.. How can a man go eight days without sleeping ? …* By sleeping at night.
Q10. How can you lift an elephant with one hand? …*   You will never find an elephant that has one hand.
Q11. If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in other hand, what would you have? … * Very large hands
Q12. If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it? … *No time at all, the wall is already built.
Q13. How can u drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it? … *Any way you want, concrete floors are very hard to crack.
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Wonderful Witty Ad …

Posted on January 27, 2017. Filed under: Light plus Weighty |

Carnation Milk 65 Years Ago.

A little old lady from Wisconsin had worked in and around her family dairy farms since she was old enough to walk, with hours of hard work and little compensation.

When canned Carnation Milk became available in grocery stores in the 1940s, she read an advertisement offering $5,000 for the best slogan.The producers wanted a rhyme beginning with ‘Carnation Milk is best of all.

She thought to herself, I know everything there is to know about milk and dairy farms – I can do this!

She sent in her entry and several weeks later a black car pulled up in front of her house. A large man got out, knocked on her door and said, “Ma’am , I am President of Carnation milk. We absolutely LOVED your entry. So much, in fact, that we are here to award you $1,000 even though we will not be able to use it our advertisements!”

He did, however, have one printed up to hang on his office wall.

Carnation Milk is Best of All,
No tits to pull, No  hay to haul,
No buckets to wash, No shit to pitch,
Just Poke a hole in the Son of a Bitch!

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This Wonderful English Language …

Posted on December 24, 2016. Filed under: Guide Posts, Light plus Weighty, The English, Uncategorized |

C. N. Annadurai was a prominent Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, India,  known for his proficiency in English. Once at Yale University he was asked to mention a hundred words which did not have any of the letters –  A, B, C or D.

He promptly recited ‘One to Ninety Nine’ ………….. and then shouted ‘STOP’ – thus completing the one hundred words without any  of the Four Letters !

The next request was to  construct a sentence repeating ‘because’ three times contiguously.

After a moments thought, he says, “A sentence never ends with ‘because,’ because ‘because’ is a conjunction”.

Over to Messrs Shakespeare and Milton!



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