Mr. P.K. Atre was a noted Marathi writer, poet, and orator of yesteryears. People from Maharashtra (the state of India where I live) know him for many things but definitely for his quick-wittedness. His retorts silenced the trouble-mongers. Let me offer some very popular ones here (source):

Once Atre stood up for a speech in a college and said, “Gentlemen…”.

A brat from the audience interrupted, “yes, please?”

There were bursts of laughter in the crowd.

But the real roar of laughter came when Atre said, “sorry, I was not addressing you.”

His interactions with another contemporary author Mr. N. S. Phadke were especially of interest, many of them however couldn’t be verified for authenticity.

Once Atre greeted Phadke, “Namaste!”

Phadke said, “I do not talk to Jackasses.”

Atre quipped, “Oh! I do talk though.”

Atre was founder-editor of several newspapers.

Once people had a dead donkey on the road for several days. After seeing no action by the municipal corporation, people approached Atre. He called up the municipal commisioner and informed him about the problem.

The municipal commisioner retorted, “ You people talk of cleaning up the society. Could you have not taken care of this yourself?

Atre had to say this, “Oh! That is what I am going to do but first I had to inform the relatives of the dead thing.”

Here is one incident when I had to pull the “Atre” act:

During my days of working at the Department of Space, we had a little Staff Recreation Club. The staff pooled money every month and we spent it on buying books and magazines and have cultural programs. I was secretary of the club for some time and enjoyed serving the staff.  Besides managing the procurement of books and magazines, I even hosted several quizzes and shows for the staff on various occasions.

I had noticed that there was no variety in the magazines that we had got. After taking over management of the club’s library, I had added some informative magazines to our existing ones to have a good balance of themes. Most of the staff was happy to see the way I was bringing in some fresh ideas. But, there were few detractors for sure.

I had volunteered to man the club library, which we kept open briefly during lunch hours for staff to get the books and magazines issued for reading. On this day, one of my coworkers, Mr. KR who was never happy with the changes, dropped in. His allegation was that I was wasting money by subscribing to useless magazines. When I asked him to explain, he picked up an issue of “Body and Beauty Care” magazine and said, “Look at this. Is it really worth it?”

I was irked by his nagging and wanted to simply shut him off. I said, “KR, I agree that God has not given you beauty, but has given you a body for sure. What’s wrong in taking care of that!”

KR had no choice but to simply walk out while the people who overheard this were controlling their laughter.

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(featured image: I am at extreme right during a function of staff club. Lighting is poor, but don’t see it in a bad light 🙂  )