Sunday, October 31, 2010

And now it's the Adarsh Housing Society Scam!

As more murky details come out regarding the Adarsh Housing Society of Colaba, Bombay it becomes amply clear that senior officers of the Army and the Navy had colluded with their civilian counterparts to be allotted flats at the best known address in that city. What makes it even more shameful is that the society was formed to provide succour to the Kargil war widows.

Did these guys think that an unholy arrangement like this would never come into the public domain, what with the prying eyes of investigative journalism ever on the lookout for similar happenings? If the answer is on the affirmative, then, I’ve a poor opinion of their intellect to begin with. And in the aftermath of the media expose, the reactions and the cover ups provided by these worthies, even the offer of surrendering their flats, sound pathetically appalling.

Their ‘ignorance’ about the antecedents of the Housing Society and not being aware that the houses were meant for the Kargil war widows sounded comical if not outrageous! And for once, let me assume that the poor guys were led to invest their money into the scheme without being familiar with the facts and then, I involuntarily shudder because these guys headed great institutions and had taken momentous decisions. Is there, then, a requirement to revisit some of their decisions that might have been taken, perhaps in ignorance, as they’ve a propensity to do so?

Come on, the general public too have adequate brains to differentiate a genuine blunder from a dubious error!

Years back, Admiral Jeremy Boorda, the CNO of the US Navy had shot himself as it came to be known that he was wearing a ribbon on his chest of uniform which he was not entitled to. Though one’s not propagating something drastically similar, for heaven’s sake have the courage to acknowledge your wrongdoing and consequently, face the consequences.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

And it's struck again!

On the occasion of our wedding anniversary on 16 May, I’d written about Lekha being a patient of SLE and how her ailment had been brought under control. She’s been off medicines for the last 10 years. After 17 years, the wretched ailment has reared its ugly head.

Actually, for almost the last two months she has been put on a variety of pain killers and anti inflammatory drugs, by her doctor the genial Dr. Ramachandran, when she’d complained of excruciating pain on her left knee. No amount of variations in dosages or changes could bring down the intensity of pain. It’s an agonizing sight to see her get up early in the morning and sit on her side of the bed, preparing to haul herself up(in what seems to be like ages to me, at times) to go about her normal chores.

My cousin and her folks had, in the meanwhile, booked their tickets for a ten day visit to us beginning last Thursday and I’d wanted to tell them to call it off because of Lekha’s ailment. But it was she who’d prevailed upon me not to do so, saying that things were manageable. And today, we’d to go to NOIDA to fulfill our monthly appointment, after our guests had kicked off on the first leg of their tour.

Lekha seemed to be in extreme pain though she bravely went through the requirements and we’d gone to her doctor in the evening. Keeping in mind her impending trip to Kochi, to attend Sharanya’s wedding, the doctor has decided to put her on steroids. This was a painstaking decision but for all the pain that she’s going through, there’s no other alternative and I only hope that the ailment would be under control soon.

As I’d said earlier, there’s never a dull moment. Never!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Life comes full circle!

Eighty year old K Lakshmana, a former IG of the Kerala Police has been found guilty in the murder of Arikkad Varghese in Feb '70. Varghese, a naxalite, was a legend amongst the tribals and disadvantaged people in north Kerala during the height of the naxalite movement in Kerala during the late '60s and the early '70s.

Varghese's death was passed off as an encounter killing for almost three decades until Ramachandran Nair, one of the police constables who'd been a part of the team that killed Varghese, made the dramatic confession that Varghese was actually shot to death by him, at the behest of Lakshmana, who was then a DySP. The incident had taken place in the Tirunelly forest in Wayanad.

Ramachandran Nair, ridden by guilt had spilled the beans seeking his share of punishment. But fate had different plans for him, in that, he passed away in 2006. The CBI which had probed the case, consequent to Ramachandran Nair's confessions, had cracked the case with the help of the evidence provided by Haneefa who was the other constable at the seat of the crime.

A mystery to be solved many, many years after the act of crime can only be attributed to life coming back in full circle to put the facts in perspective and punish the guilty!

I suppose this is the cosmic truth!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Our guests from Kerala.

This evening four of my near relations have fetched up at our place. They’d booked their tickets almost three months back and were ever excited, since then, to reach here as early as time permitted. They used to call me at the most inappropriate times to cross check on the minutest of details, that though at times it irked me to no end, once I’d sensed their enthusiasm I decided to let it go at that and started enjoying the queries!

Two more of their bunch are joining us tomorrow and then they’d be off to Agra and Jaipur on the first leg and thereafter to Chandigarh and Shimla, on the second leg. Their itinerary has been tied up to the last hour and it’s my fervent wish that all serials go off with clockwise precision( Lekha, in the meanwhile, will go to Kochi to bless Sharanya at her wedding).

They seem to be quite kicked to be with us and it’s my sincere feeling that they like being with us as they consider us special – I shall not dwell too much upon this as it’s up to them to voice their opinion on the subject. And as Perry Mason says, “the prosecution rests”.

Landslide for the UDF.

In the recently concluded elections for the local bodies in Kerala, the UDF led by the Congress has virtually swept the arena. The arrogance and the rampant corruption on the part of the communists, with scant regard to public opinion, brought about their downfall. But I’d attribute it to the average malayalee’s belief that no political dispensation should be given more than a term except for exceptional circumstances. This is one aspect where the mallus are far ahead of their Bengali counterparts!

I’d like to believe that the UDF partners would turn a new leaf and present the Keralites with a dynamic administration failing which, they too would end up in a similar fiasco five years hence!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why's this happening time and again?

I mean why’re we letting these guys do it to us every time? I’m speaking on the increased frequency of border violations and provocative firing by the Pakistanis across our western borders. Every time a high ranking US official comes visiting our country, the Pakis go on a rampage and what do we do? Keep sulking and crying and subtly tell the Americans that the Pakis are indeed bad. And what do the ‘practical’ yanks resort to – play up to both the sides and look after their strategic interests!

What we need to understand is that we’ve to do our job. If the Pakis need their noses to be bloodied, so be it – they can’t keep messing with us and historically, have proved that their hatred is India centric and just can’t stand this country achieving positive milestones in every field. They need to be whipped time and again – through vigorous diplomatic moves -just like what a good teacher would do to an errant student!!

A sensible and smart foreign policy initiative!

Our Prime Minister’s recent visits to Japan and Malaysia is a smart and well thought out foreign policy initiative. The proof of the effectiveness has been China’s immediate reaction, where one of their lowly ranked foreign affairs' guy has nastily declared that their practice of stapled visas, for people from Jammu and Kashmir visiting their country, is going to continue.

The Chinese are also irked that we’ve called a temporary halt in military exchanges between the two countries, because of their refusal to clear the visit of the Indian Army’s Northern Army Commander, as part of the ongoing confidence building measures.

I’m glad that we’re calling the big bully’s bluff, finally at long last!!!

A tear for Paul, the octopus!

It's sad to hear about the death of Paul. He'd hit the headlines by his accurate predictions on the outcomes of the matches during the last Football World Cup matches. From the few close ups of his eyes from the TV grabs that I'd seen, I got this impression that he seemed to be an evolved being.

I bow in front of his memory. He, indeed, was extraordinary. But what's this that the Chinese are saying that he'd died way back in July itself? I mean what does this insinuation point to, I wonder?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The lovely festival of 'Karva Chauth'

Today is the festival of Karva Chauth when women keep fast throughout the day and pray to God to give their husbands long and healthy lives. Of late, the celebration of the day has acquired cinematic hues and efforts are made by the participants to attain the splurge and grandeur that are on display on the big and the small screens.

Lekha and I had the privilege of being witnesses to the celebration of the festival at two of our friends’ homes and we enjoyed every minute of our stay out there. The keenness and enthusiasm that were on display were simply infectious and I was especially impressed with the lovely and traditional dressing resorted to by the womenfolk with the most elaborate ‘henna’ designs on their hands.

A nice evening spent, after a long time, with a generous dose of associated customs and traditions to feast on!


As a prelude to this evening’s festivities, most of the womenfolk were on leave and consequently, the offices wore a deserted look. The two ladies in our office, Santosh and Sunita were also absent and will be there tomorrow with sweets for distribution amongst us!

The children of Delhi had a holiday and consequently, the roads were comparatively empty!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

And tomorrow I begin my medicals!

Tomorrow I commence my medical which is an annual feature and an essential one at that. One really comes to realize as to how stupidly one has lived, going by the results of the routine examination of the blood,ECG etc.

Of late, I find that I’m slowly losing the ‘battle of the bulge’. Despite my brisk walks every evening, coupled with a few yoga and associated ground exercises, I find that I’ve this tendency to gain weight at the slightest pretext. And as of now I’m over my ideal weight by five kgs. Controlling the intake of food is a great idea but my weak mind and the enthusiasm to eat just makes it simply impossible.

And I’m no saint either to control this universal human dichotomy! So just wish me luck that everything goes well!!

What a tragedy?

I was saddened by the news of a family of three in Sarita Vihar, East Delhi perishing, in toto, by being overwhelmed by the pressures of life. Shaminder Singh was a businessman who'd suffered losses in his business. His wife, Mini and their mentally challenged son(he was Rajni's student in her special classes) formed the family. The boy was suffering from certain medical complications and at some weak moment, the parents took his life and committed suicide by throwing themselves in front of a speeding train.

It was on this count that I'd asked this question earlier as to whether euthanasia is justified in such cases. Definitely, it's something that cannot be decided off the cuff as the thought itself is emotionally loaded.

RIP Shaminder and family!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weekend snippets from Kerala.

Kerala continues to baffle me with the type of incidents that seem to be taking place very often. Has the malayalee become more of an introvert and thereby become heartless? I think we’re slowly living up to the reputation of ‘God’s own country’ inhabited by ‘devil’s own people’.

1. Violence in Kannur.

As the first phase of elections to the local bodies has been completed, there have been reports of widespread violence in the northern most district of Kannur(Cannanore). The district boasts of a communist influence but of late, especially against the backdrop of the last Lok Sabha polls, the Congress seems to be gaining ground. This has caused enough heartburns amongst grassroots workers and the resultant tension is all the more palpable.

The paradox is that Mullappally Ramachandran , the MoS for Home Affairs in the union cabinet is ready to depute central forces for bolstering security but Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the state’s Home Minister and a CPM man, says that his police force is adequate but the stories about their errors and omissions keep piling up. Sadly, mindless violence has become the order of the day.

2.And again in Naadapuram.

Naadapuram is poised to go to polls tomorrow and it happens to be a Muslim dominated area. There has been poll related violence with opposing sides hardening their stands. Thankfully, the government has taken quick and effective steps to bring the situation under control but how I wish that the concerned people had taken the intelligence reports seriously, much before!

3.Do we have a heart at all?

K Ayyappan, the poet had died the most unfortunate death on a street of Thiruvananthapuram when he was hit by a vehicle, last Thursday. Since he was a loner, his body was being preserved in the morgue of a hospital in the city. Initially, it was announced that his funeral would take place over the weekend with full state honours. But the joke is that the ceremony has been postponed till the last phase of elections is over as all the ministers are busy. What a shame and what gross disrespect to a departed soul?

I hang my head in shame because as a malayalee I must share the blame for being disrespectful to a corpse along with all those heartless guys who took that unfortunate decision.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Beware, van owners!

I’ve often been dumbstruck in seeing a general weakness amongst us Indians. Most of us like to flaunt our position in society and are guilty of vulgar display of wealth. Otherwise, one simply cannot justify parents insisting on elaborate wedding ceremonies for their children or throwing lavish parties on somebody’s elevation to a higher position. While it’d be prudish on my part to insist on not celebrating important milestones in one’s life, it’s my earnest thought that ostentation should be kept on a tight leash on such occasions!

Coupled with this attitude is the tendency to pay undue importance to status symbols and to display behaviour accordingly. And I’d like to recount an incident that happened at the petrol pump this morning and mind you, it’s a place that I normally take in fuel for my 16 year old Maruti Omni(the reason for resorting to this practice is that the level of impurities, more or less, remain the same and hence, safeguards the vehicle’s carburetor).

As I turned my vehicle into the pump’s premises, I was directed by one of the boys to the farthest end and as my van was brought to a stop at the appropriate counter, I heard the head boy chiding him for not giving me a more central spot. I was rather amused when the owner, then, came and apologized for the ‘misunderstanding’ saying that the new boy didn’t know that I was an important(?) customer and had behaved so because my vehicle was a van(all van owners and potential ones, be aware of your standing and refrain from buying one if you’ve a fragile ego!)

I’ve even been told by many well meaning friends that I should indeed dispose of my van to a better vehicle and my question to all of them had been as to whether I was being an embarrassment to them because of that. And the mulish guy that I am, I continue to drive my van and enjoy it because, to me, a vehicle should have two qualities:-

(a) Should be smooth and ever ready for a trouble free journey.
(b) Should start at the first crank of the ignition.

‘Cutie’, as I call my van, is just that despite her vintage!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

We need to throw these people into the Arabian Sea!

Yesterday, a seminar was held at Delhi where a group of ‘mentally deranged’ people that included the Kashmiri separatists, naxalites/Maoist thugs, naga miscreants and Khalistanis came under a forum, along with Arundhati Roy, and called for seceding from this country. And even after twenty four hours, they’re at large and allowed to move freely in this country and for all you know, some of them might be attending cocktail parties as I punch in these words of mine.

How can they even dream of doing such an unforgivable act? These people are the perpetual losers and have no public backing and each one of them has been beneficiaries of the magnanimous acts of the central government of various political dispensations, from time to time. Firstly, as a citizen of this country and secondly, as a proud member of its armed forces, my question is as to why such rabble rousers are being provided an environment for exhorting people to break my country? And who gave them the right to do so? They’ve no place in my country and should be shot for treason once their culpability has been established beyond doubt though I must admit that I’m in support of an honourable citizen’s(who’d come on one of the news channels this evening) genuine doubt as to whether there’s anything left to probe on the proceedings of the seminar, when their guilt has already been established!

And what’s Arundhati Roy’s locus standii? At best I can only remember her as a cocktail circuit celebrity who’s trying to make her presence felt by taking part in causes where she gets media coverage and consequently, can be in the limelight. She needs to be considered as a one book wonder thanks to the Booker award for her ‘God of Small Things’ because nothing of substance has come from her pen ever since. And it’s for this singular reason that I’m inclined to think that she’s doing all this for cheap publicity. By participating in that seminar, is she championing the cause for a mutilated India? She, then, has no right to call herself an Indian since she’s been absolutely irresponsible in her conduct!

And to Geelani - the Pakistani stooge -I’d simply ask him to go to PoK forthwith and exhort the people over there to fight against Pakistan. If he does that he’d earn my kudos for being brave, otherwise it becomes difficult for me to even respect his age!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rama Chandra Sunuwar - my friend from Bhutan.

This morning as we’re moving to the office in our carpool, the conversation began on the visit of the King of Bhutan to this country. And then it veered to Rama Chandra Sunuwar, my course mate and friend from Bhutan, at the NDA.

Actually, he was a course senior to me to begin with but got relegated to mine as Academics was not his forte. Short and stocky, he was on the heavier side but was agile nevertheless! Disarmingly simple in his general outlook towards life, anyone who interacted with him could not resist liking him for his refreshing candour and childlike demeanour. And for friends, he could do anything like fetching the moon, perhaps, if asked for!

I shall narrate two trivial incidents just to illuminate the personality of Sunuwar and how, being with him, it was a constant cycle of mirthy laughter arising out of comical situations that he seemed to get into, in perpetuity:-

(a) Terror on wheels. All cadets, at the NDA, were issued with cycles to cover enormous distances to traverse and be on time for various sessions of the curriculum, spread from the outdoors to indoors and back again to the outdoors. The movement, however, had to be in organized squads in files of two which, goes without saying, required synchronous movement on the part of the cyclists which was anathema to young Sunuwar and he used be a wreck.

One morning, Sunuwar found himself to be out of one such squad and drove quite recklessly into the Ashoka Pillar circle where Subedar Major Padamdev Singh, was on watch, waiting to catch such defaulters. Shouting at the top of his voice, asking the errant cyclist to stop, he made a bold move by stepping onto the centre of the road, which alas, turned out to be his undoing. The ensuing sight was simply hilarious – Sunuwar and his cycle, crossing all limits of speed as it had begun hurtling down the slope towards the Khandwa gate with a grotesque Subedar Major sitting on the front wheel, facing Sunuwar who was squeaking time and again, “shaab, hamara brake nahin”.

(b) Crossing the ‘double ditch’. On the Obstacle Course, one of the trickiest obstacle to Sunuwar’s progress was the double ditch. He used to carefully analyse and organize himself – taking quite a bit of time in the process, at times. The secret of sailing over the double ditch was to neatly land on one foot on the narrow piece of land, between the two ditches, after jumping forward in one fluid movement from the edge of the first ditch. And with the spring obtained from the one foot landing, one could hurtle over the second ditch with ease.

For Sunuwar, the one foot landing was a difficult maneuver and he, invariably landed on both feet in that narrow space between ditches and then crossed the second with sheer momentum, literally scraping the edges of the concrete rim. All of us, cadets and the instructor, used to wait with bated breath for the evolution to be completed!

But having said that, Rama Chandra Sunuwar was a sweetheart and had a heart of gold. He used to regale us with some of the hilly tunes and associated songs –‘Mann ko kuraala, baaj nahaan ho’ or something to that effect, was my favourite- coupled with stories rich in his country’s traditions and customs.

Rama Chandra Sunuwar, wherever you are, I wish you the very best and Godspeed in all your endeavours. It’s my fond hope that we’ll be able to meet sometime in the future to exchange notes from where we left!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My father, my hero!

Tomorrow my father celebrates his 85th birthday as per the Malayalam calendar(Uthrattaathi of Thulaam). Both my sisters, Rema and Renjini along with my niece, Ammu are going to be in attendance at the birthday celebrations when a cake will be cut and my mother prepares a special lunch consisting of a few favourite dishes of his. Folks from Thiruvananthapuram will also be joining in and I've been told to keep it as a secret so that they can give him a surprise!

Reproduced below, is a letter that I’d written to my friends at my classmates’ group and a few close friends, last year which I'd like to share with you. So, here we go:-

“Dear folks,

1. On 31 Oct, my father celebrates his 84th birthday. I’d never understood the significance of Malayalees(only significant in Kerala) celebrating the eighty fourth birthday – but now have got the reason! A person who completes this milestone would have seen a thousand full moons in his life and the specific significance is that God has been kind to give that much of life to the person to accomplish whatever he wants to do in life. And if the spouse is alive it’s all the more good as it is in my father's case.

2. I’d like to, therefore, concentrate my thoughts on my father on this occasion and therefore, go back to the first conscious moment as a child after leaving the cradle, when my mind was able to formulate its own thoughts on people. My father bought me the best of toys, lots of them mind you and as a testimony to it, even now there’s a battery operated toy given to me, fully operational, in the showcase of my parents’ house! But he also showed me the importance of spending money appropriately in his own inimitable way.

3. I used to crave for the white tennis shoes with green border as it was the hip thing those days and told my father about it but he bought me a normal pair much to my chagrin and I was sure that it was not because he could not afford it but in his own way, he was trying to tell me that I should be able to find happiness with what I have and never whine!

4. He was a strict disciplinarian who always drilled into me the importance of telling the truth. This one incident proves it all.

5. When I was in the 2nd standard, one day I was given Rs. 5/- (a princely sum those days) to be given to the office assistant as the fees for the month and obtain the receipt. But sometime after our stand easy time, to my utter dismay, I found that the money was missing. I just kept quiet and did not report the matter to my class teacher – Mrs. Fernandez (with whom I was hopelessly in love and I was sure that she reciprocated it because I was first in class, if you please!) On my return home by about teatime, my father asked me to hand over the receipt for safe keeping. Though I answered in the affirmative I dithered by going to the bathroom, doing trivia and generally wasted time and my father must have sensed that something was amiss. He called me aside and asked me as to what had happened and I still pretended that I was searching for the elusive receipt. He got wild, hit me and in the process, I fell down on my open metallic school box and hurt the top of my cheek which started bleeding profusely, but the truth came out of me without any hesitation. My father rushed me to the hospital where stitches were administered on my wound. I knew that my father did feel guilty about the incident and never ever touched me or my sisters, thereafter. Of course, on the very next day he had gone to the school, reported the matter to the authorities and the amount was retrieved by the class teacher from a classmate of mine who was up to tricks at that early stage itself, with the connivance of a senior.

6. My father wanted me to be independent and was convinced that I’d always remain a sissy if I were to be with my grandparents on whom he prevailed upon that I should be sent by the normal line buses to the convent, that was about a few miles away and not by the school bus. By the time I was in the 6th standard, I was thro’ for admission into Lovedale, RIMC and Sainik School and thankfully, the last was chosen as my grandparents had voiced their opinion against sending me too far away from home.

7. I've seen him go through trying times never ever losing his cool and at the end of it, people looked forward to hear his words of wisdom - and mind you, his decisions were always acceptable and taken well by the concerned parties.

8. Years later, I’d asked him as to what he considered were his greatest achievement and his biggest regret in life. Though I did not appreciate his answers then, now I do! His greatest achievement was that he did not have any debt and his regret was that he’d let his father down once. The story goes something like this - my father was the third child (they’re eight siblings, four brothers and four sisters - the two elder to him were sisters) and since my grandfather had high hopes on him, he was put into an English medium school about 9 kms from home. My second appachi was also sent along with him to do her schooling in a local Malayalam medium school and cook meals for my father and herself and generally, take care of him. A few months into this idyllic setting, cupid struck the unkindest cut with my appachi going away with a guy whom she was in love with! My grandfather felt betrayed and my father felt that he’d let down his father, though I tried telling him that this was one area where he could have done nothing at all.

9. He loved, respected and feared his father. Must let you into this incident as well. I was doing my 10th in school then. He asked for a piece of the ancestral agricultural land for cultivation, through me, from his father. Being the cool man that he was, my grandfather sorted out the situation amicably.

10. As almost all of you’re aware, I’ve two sisters younger to me and the younger one had this problem of epilepsy and to find a suitable match for her was a trying task. Despite that, my father was insistent that his would-be-son-in-law was apprised of the fact and I really felt proud of his principled stand! Incidentally, throughout our childhood days never once did we see our parents fighting with each other, though now we’re witness to their fights over trivia!

11. When Lekha was seriously ill in ’93, she had to shift to my parents’ house from the Staff College and my father used to help her in moving from one place to the other almost for the entire forenoon, everyday, as my mother was working. When I’d asked him as to why he was going through such difficulty, his answer was simple, ‘To me, looking after your wife is a rare opportunity that God has given me and you just concentrate on your course'.

12. My father has always been tough, ever ready to give us a helping hand or lend us an understanding shoulder when we’re in doubt but the advancing age and the affliction of the Parkinson's Syndrome has sapped his energy but neither his sense of humour nor his zest for life have diminished. During my last visit home, it was painful to note that he was confined mostly to his favourite chair and groped the wall for support – his walking stick notwithstanding – to move from one place to the other. Of late, I see him withdrawing into his shell more often and it takes a lot of coaxing to get him to come out of it. Is it the effect of the Parkinson's, I wonder?

13. And from the feedback through my sisters, nephew and niece, I understand that he still laughs his guts out on my PJs and longs to hear them. Even to this day, he sits by his telephone on Sunday mornings around 9 to have a chat with us. And my mother says that the song from the movie Taj Mahal viz. ‘Jo waada kiya ho nibhana padega’ continues to be his favourite song.

14. His discourses on the Bhagwad Gita are still an all time favourite to many who come to hear them . His reading - which he was very fond of - has now been reduced to the headlines of his favourite newspaper but he continues to be an English tutor for many school and college going kids on their doubts.

15.After having said this I must confess that we've had our differences but we'd sorted out each of them and the beauty of it was that I always had this feeling that he didn't mind losing the argument and the upstart that I was, celebrated it as my victory!

16. To my father, I've only this much to say on this occasion, I'm proud of the fact that you're my father and I'd like to be born your son again.

17. Apologies to each one of you for putting across my very personal thoughts, but then!! Take care all of you. Affly, Rajeev.”

Tomorrow, both me and Lekha will call him up and wish him on the occasion, first thing in the morning. May God be with him always.

I love you dad! Have a great day!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Extremes of emotions!

I was somewhat dejected to hear the story of a lady named Sosamma who is a native of Mananthavadi, of Wyanad, the hill district of Kerala. She was lonely and desolate ever since the death of her husband, George who’d passed away a couple of years back. Sometime last week, having had enough of the wretched life that she was leading, she took off on an aimless journey hoping that her end would arrive so as to relieve herself from all the pain, accumulated over the past so many months. But, I think God had other plans for her. She was picked up by an NGO, at Thiruvananthapuram, that has the patronage of the poetess and social activist, Sugathakumari. After what seemed a long time for her, she is in caring hands.

And the shocker is here, Sosamma has two children, both well settled – one at London and the other at Hyderabad. And they do not have time for her! How heartless can people be? How I wish I could meet those disgusting children so that I could give them a mouthful and teach them a lesson!!

The Bihar Assembly elections.

I’m glad to see that politicians, cutting across party lines, are talking about ‘development’ in Bihar as canvassing for the forthcoming elections reaches a crescendo. Though political parties have gone on caste considerations for selection of candidates and covertly play the caste card, they cannot resist parroting the mantra of development to be with the crowd. I suppose, this is the greatest turn around that the incumbent CM, Nitish Kumar has provided the state by his rule over the last five years and he has set an example by focusing on areas that were totally overlooked earlier.

Two of the exit polls have predicted his return to power and as a well wisher of Bihar, I too am rooting for such a result so as to give him a chance to complete what he’s begun.

Bihar, once known for poll related violence coupled with a demoralized police force has recovered for the better and it’s my sincere hope that it never looks backward!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Women empowerment on the rise in Kerala?

I’ve been following the run up to the local body elections in Kerala. While the usual heat, dust and din have been raked up, there seems to be a significant aspect that’s discernible this time, compared to that of the previous times. There is an increase in the number of women candidates in the fray, as I reckon.

It’s my firm opinion that women are less prone to corruption than their male counterparts. And women can do a lot with the enormous reserves of their inner strength. Enlightened womenfolk can bring about wonders and be a catalyst to cataclysmic changes in society. History has time again proved that societies have survived extreme situations by the sheer grit and determination exhibited by the fairer sex. And it needs no emphasis to mention that women can suffer pain to unimaginable levels.

Against this backdrop, it’s my firm belief that the increased number of women candidates in the forthcoming elections is a harbinger of better things to come. The increasing trends in violence, intolerance to criticism and a proliferation of pressure groups – the goonda brigades and the sand mafia, to cite just a couple – could be more effectively sorted out by the womenfolk who play an active role in tackling social issues. I shall stick to my beliefs, briefly outlined in the previous paragraphs even though there is a cynical opinion, prevalent amongst the general public, that many of the women candidates come from families that are already politically active and actual power would be wielded by these veterans from behind!

It’s my fervent hope that the winds of change will usher in a new, dynamic Kerala which will be kinder to its people and treat everyone alike, without fear or favour!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Adieu, Mr. N Naagar Pillai!

I’d joined Sainik School, Thiruvananthapuram in class VII sometime towards the last week of Jan ’67. After going through the joining formalities, my father had left for home. I’d been assigned to Prasad House and the elegant Mr. KK Muthanna was the House Master( 517 Savio George, 519 Yours truly, 525 Josekutty Thomas and 526 BR Vijayakumar were the additions to the house’ strength that day, if my memory is correct). We were then allowed to settle down and towards this end, Ms. Sarojini Sreedharan, who was our matron, was a great help.

Fresh linen were issued and we’re taught as to how they’re to be spread, without even a single crease. And around 8 o’clock in the evening, we’re taken to the Cadets’ Mess for supper. And it was then that I had my first glimpse of Mr. N Naagar Pillai, the Mess Manager. A short, frail gentleman, a bit dark in complexion, sporting a thick mane of salt and pepper hair, the ever smiling visage of Mr. Pillai made its indelible impression in me as he moved around the huge dining hall in quick strides, catering to everyone’s needs. His starched white trousers hung from his slender waist by sheer will power, so I thought!

He seemed to be everywhere, passing crisp instructions exchanging notes with the cadets and the Masters who were present. He’d a loud and clear voice and his man Friday seemed to be the happy-go-lucky and roly poly John, the bearer, who complimented him to the tee. During our stay at school, his clear and loud directive to his man Friday, pointing towards a particular direction viz. “John, go and lay an egg on that table”(the literal translation from Malayalam meant that, but what he actually meant was to ask John to make up the deficiency of an egg as reported by a cadet sitting on the table) – became a ‘battle cry’ that we could never forget.

In my 51/2 years at school, I’ve always seen Mr. Naagar Pillai in the mess whenever I’d gone there and found him to be sincere, purposeful and efficient in his work. He gave us a variety of nutritious and hygienic food and had the welfare of the cadets, uppermost in his mind. So synonymous was he with the activities of the mess that I can never envisage that mess without him!

He’d passed away yesterday after being in the hospital for four days. I’d called up his son, Mahesh this morning to offer my condolences. Mr. Pillai was 89 years old at the time of his death and had led a healthy life save for his last few days in the hospital. He had lost his wife about 10 years back and was staying with his son and family at his ancestral house at Kazhakootam, a stone’s throw away from the school.

Mr. Pillai, I salute you for your dedication and for having nurtured me during my formative years. You shall always live in my heart. RIP!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Puja festival as I remember.

As a child, this was one festival that I waited for because it was only during those three days –encompassing the Durga Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijaya Dashami - that no one asked us, children, to study.

Since ours was a joint family, the preparations prior to the festival were elaborate and each one of us used to be assigned a task which we did as meticulously as possible. Towards the run up, the ‘puja room’ was cleaned thoroughly than what was done in the usual manner, by wiping the dust off the photographs and statues of the deities. All varieties of flowers were collected and used for decoration in the most intricate manner, like making of garlands of different sizes to fit the photographs/statues. All our books along with the spiritual texts like the Ramayan, Mahabharatham etc were arranged neatly on a temporarily made platform, for the purpose.

My Muthachan used to lead the prayers and it was considered blasphemous to miss the prayer session, which always ended in a colourful ‘arti’ with everyone chanting a popular hymn. It resembled a mini temple within the precincts of the house. And during the three days of the puja festival, we children went to ridiculous lengths to ensure that we did not read anything, including the day’s newspapers and kept a track of which one amongst us had defaulted on this count – I remember, I used to be a regular member in this category quite often, much to the derision of the others. And Lekha tells me that during their times – being over a decade junior to me – they studiously avoided watching the TV lest they read what came up on the screen!

On the day of ‘Vijaya Dashami’, after an early morning bath, the entire family used to gather at the puja room for the prayers and after the usual procedures were completed, everyone read out a few lines from each of his/her books and the spiritual ones. Little children were initiated into the world of letters by Muthachan or other elders during such occasions and I’ve had the privilege of seeing my sisters and cousins going through the ceremony. And after the activities at the Puja room, a feast awaited us!

Tomorrow, after many years, my parents are going to have the same ceremony at home as my little niece and sister are there with them and they seemed to be very, very excited about it!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The impending festivals.

Delhi has already moved on beyond the Commonwealth Games within the last 24 hours. Festivities are in the air and the cityscape is dotted with colourful and tastefully decorated pandals, erected specifically, to usher in the Durga Puja. Beautifully decked idols of the Goddess Durga occupy the pride of place in those pandals and pleasant hymns rent the air.

The weather is absolutely pleasant and there’s an early nip in the air, this year. The marketplace is bristling with activity and the tempo of sales has started picking up as fresh stocks have started arriving with the restriction of the entry of trucks - laden with foodstuff and other items, which were waiting outside the city limits over the last fortnight - having been lifted.

The mood of the festivities have reached our house too. In addition to the guests who’re arriving as per a schedule worked out earlier, our maid, Meena, is feverishly preparing an elaborate lunch which she’d serve to eleven little children tomorrow, as part of an age old custom, to appease the right Gods.

The coming days are going to get hectic as it will encompass visits to various places, meeting people to celebrate the festival and partaking in a few cultural activities. And this will continue till the first week of November when Deepavali will be celebrated!

Altogether a fun time and the ideal time to be at Delhi!!

Aussies, what a bad show?

As news of the vandalism resorted to by some of the Australian athletes, come in trickles, I’m surprised at the reactions of the Australian High Commission( Probably, for Peter Verghese, the High Commissioner, a second generation ‘Mallu Australian’and whose loyalty is under severe strain, it’s an unenviable situation that he finds himself in). It’s being said that the sportsmen were aggrieved by the 2-0 drubbing that our cricketers handed over to their team, the day before. I think the Aussies need to be told that, “while it’s good to win, it would be better when one is gracious in defeat”.

And that’s what true sportsman spirit is all about!!!

And then there were the Chinese checkers nay hackers.

The depressing news that certain computer users from China had hacked into the Delhi CWG website, with the sole intention of disrupting the games, brings in a wave of hatred towards that country. The culprits have been traced to research/educational institutions working in close consonance with the government.

We, as a country, had applauded China's efforts in putting up a good show at the Beijing Olympics and they do this to us! Why don't they understand that to become a superpower they need to consistently do the right things, through right means and based on their own strengths rather than by putting down another country?

I suppose ethics and fairplay do not come to bear in relationships between countries. Sad!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

An interesting aspect of life.

It was on 05 Aug that 33 miners had got trapped 2,500ft deep, within the bowels of the San Jose copper and gold mine, in the northern Atacama desert of Chile. They’d spent an agonizing 69 days, beneath a rubble of about 7 lakh tons of rock, before they’re rescued yesterday and the story of their survival is a saga of relentless faith coupled with a positive outlook.

What actually amazes me is the simple fact that the fate of all the 33 men are inexorably linked, that they’re ordained to go through a great catastrophe only to live again, so that the story of their survival would be passed on to successive generations, as an important lesson to be gleaned from this otherwise mysterious life.

An incredible story indeed and mind you, here's yet another occasion when truth is stranger than fiction!

And the 19th Commonwealth Games is behind us.

The grand closing ceremony is just behind us and I must admit that we’ve finally pulled it off. The most durable aspect of the Commonwealth Games – Delhi 2010 would definitely be the tremendous show of the Indian sportsmen with their rich haul of medals, as never before.

But we’ll have to brace ourselves for the petty fights of the organizers, over the days to come, when each of them are going to outdo and run down the other by coming up with stories of ineptitude, corruption and infighting – a fact, that we’re all aware of, right from the word go. I only hope the guilty is brought to book without fear or favour.

And as a Delhiite, I shall look forward to a peaceful drive to office tomorrow and hope that the local markets get stocked up quickly with essential items at their usual costs!!


I was so happy to see Aisha’s restructured face, after a plastic surgery. The young lady from Afghanistan had been brutally disfigured by her husband, a Taliban monster. May God give her a happy and prosperous life – she really deserves it after all the trauma that she’d to go through!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My midweek musings.

The beauty of innocence.

Saw this evening’s episode of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ on the Sony television channel. On the hot seat was a young school teacher named Chawda Vanraj Sinh, who hailed from a small village called ‘Khas’ in Gujarat. In that village till the recent past, the tradition for the children and youth was to shun education so as to get involved fully in the agricultural efforts and become accomplished farmers. However, the father of Vanraj decided to buck the tradition and encouraged his son to study. Vanraj is a graduate and is currently a teacher in the local government school that has about 800 students in its roll.

The young man feelingly narrated the hardships undergone by his parents, in bringing him up, during the course of his stay on the hot seat and he wanted to set up a library with the prize money he got from the show. His simplicity and absolute purity of thought were simply charming and endearing. A refreshing rural innocence was overwhelmingly evident and I wished that he won the entire prize money. He, finally, went away with Rs. 25 lakhs and I wish him all the best in his endeavours with the fond hope that he never, ever loses that innocence!

The hunger to win.

Yesterday, it was our hockey team that did our country proud by its fantastic performance against England at the Commonwealth Games. Coming from behind, they notched up an impressive 7 – 4 victory which reminded me about the movie ‘Chak de India’. And today, it was the turn of our cricket team to win the second test match against Australia at Bangalore. These two spectacular wins, against the rich haul of 35 gold medals in the ongoing Commonwealth games, show a resurgent India which is eager to do well and make winning a habit!

As an Indian, I was getting disgusted and tired of large Indian contingents going for international sports fixtures only to return empty handed and slink away, during the wee hours from the airport, on arrival. I would like to believe that all of it has become a thing of the past and India is going to do well in a sustained manner from now on!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The right call.

Off late, many of my colleagues and friends had asked as to whether anything was bothering me. They found me to be off colour, lacking in chutzpah, often listless and withdrawn – in general, not at my exuberant best. And life was going on as usual with a lot of unusual happenings of late, especially that of Lekha’s ailment.

There’s also a general feeling amongst people(and that includes many close relations too) that yours truly being at Delhi and consequently, close to the powers that be, anything and everything is achievable. And so requests of all sorts are received and the need to deliver becomes the endgame! To cite just one of the numerous incredible requests –“ can you ensure that this youngster clears the entrance to the institution even though he’s a bit down(?) in the merit list?” In other words, they don’t mind me being corrupt and buck correct practices, just this one time, for the sake of their child!

So, I am generally a bit trepid when my telephone rings. Calls that come in late at night or a trifle early in the morning have an ominous ring and I’m deeply superstitious that such calls, more often than not, bring in unpalatable news and therefore, I simply dread them. There are those non stop talkers who do not even check as to whether you’re in a position to continue with the conversation and blabber away while there’s a very interesting variety who call in with the opening question as to who you are – and when the call is on your cell phone, you can understand as to how irritating it can be!! And less said the better about wrong calls or those of the marketing variety.

However, this afternoon I got a call that was least expected and the caller was contacting me after what seemed to be a long, long time. Many saw and commented on the spring in my walk, a song in my heart and a twinkle in my eyes that suddenly seemed to have come about after the call was over.

Yes, it was a call from a soul mate that brought about the turn around.

Monday, October 11, 2010

From a Delhiite's diary.

Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar.

Today has been an important day for both. While Amitabh Bachchan celebrated his birthday with a new episode of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ on Sony Television, Sachin hit his 49th test century at Bangalore against Australia and he’s a few runs short of his double century. Both of them have achieved success in their respective fields and are well known Indians to the world at large for the sheer volume and quality of work that they’ve put in with sustained dedication. May they continue to perform for the years to come and here’s wishing good luck and Godspeed in all their endeavours.

Delhi’s changing – weatherwise!

Now that the Commonwealth Games are entering its grand finale, the Delhiites are heaving a sigh of relief that everything has gone well despite the initial hiccups. The Indian sportsmen have shown that they’ve it in them to be the world’s best and it’s so nice to see India with a comparatively huge medal tally. To my mind, it’s because of the sustained efforts in nurturing talent and concentrating on the events with a large tally of medals. The sportsmen have also had their way insofar as training and coaching camps are concerned – politics has reduced considerably, but much more needs to be done and our sportsmen need to strive further to become a force to reckon with their counterparts on the Olympic firmament.

Delhi, meanwhile, looks contended for having conducted itself so well during the course of the mighty event . Autumn is here and the trees have begun to shed their leaves. There’s a nip in the air, early in the mornings and late in the evenings, making the afternoons warm in comparison. There’s a general atmosphere of frolic and gaiety thanks to the impending festivals of Dussehra and Deepavali and with the festoons and pandals coming up at various places, the city has become active both by day and by night. This is the ideal time to visit the city and the period stretches till the end of next month when winter comes at its biting worst. For Lekha and me, our calendar is full this time with a series of friends and relatives scheduled to call on us, over the next three weeks. And as I’d said earlier, there’s never ever a dull moment!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why don't I see them in my dreams?

Life has been an interesting journey for me thus far. There have been experiences galore and the process of learning through simple lessons, that life metes out, goes on unabated. I’d started life in a privileged atmosphere where love was in abundance and each and everyone took it upon themselves to ensure that I got the best so that I did well in life.

While formal education was being administered, I must admit that there were a number of things that I’d imbibed in an informal and unobtrusive manner as I grew up. Towards this end my immediate family, consisting of my grandparents and parents, has played a great role for which I shall remain indebted to them for life. It is from them that I’d learnt the importance of giving without anything in return. I cannot sit in judgment over myself and it’s for the others, who’ve interacted with me at the various twists and turns of my life, to draw conclusions.

In the journey of life, I’ve lost quite a few of my near and dear ones – both relatives and friends – whose absence continues to leave a huge void deep within. They often come into my thoughts and perk me up when I need it, showing an everlasting bond that exists between them and me, which is my greatest strength! But what’s surprising is that I’ve never seen many of them ever in my dreams. I’ve tried to find the answer to this riddle from knowledgeable people. An oft repeated explanation is that those with whom you’ve been closest in life never, ever will appear in your dreams which is the cosmic law. I would like to believe it to be true. But the cynic and the non believer in me wonder as to whether it’s not because I’ve let them down in their expectations about me?

Crazy, you might say and I don’t blame you for thinking so. I admit to being a confused bundle of thoughts! My random thoughts as usual!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A myriad of thoughts.

In continuum…..

I’d gone to the market looking for the ‘disheveled, scrawny man’ of yesterday evening this forenoon but to no avail. I suppose it’s one of those things and if it has to happen, we shall meet and I can do something that I’d wanted to do but I shall leave it at that for now!

Omar Abdulla, the irresponsible!

Seeing his general conduct and utterances in the last few days, my take is that there’s no difference between the young politicians of today and their predecessors. They play the same dirty politics, resort to the same gimmicks of the cheap kind and avoid standing by the truth as they’re only bothered about their own survival and the chair that they occupy.

Omar has failed to win the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir. His performance as Chief Minister leaves much to be desired and when he has realized that his people are indeed fed up with him, he has come out with atrocious statements to outdo the separatists. He cannot be pardoned for the simple fact that he has served as a minister in the union cabinet and was sent as CM with a carefully crafted image – in other words, he’s having the best of both worlds. I wonder as to whether his wife who’s also from a politically active family and his father endorse his theatrics and brazen opportunism?

Of all the options, Kashmir has a bright future only by being a part of India. The politicians across the spectrum must work together for a settlement towards this end and must avoid playing games to satisfy their own narrow ends. And Omar Abdulla, please make good governance a priority rather than being a crybaby!

And ‘navaratri’ is here!

The holiest and the most auspicious nine days, rather nights, are here. Navaratra/i is biannual and both sets are associated with the Goddess. However, the first nine days of the Hindu month of Ashwin are always associated with Devi Durga. I’m looking forward to some nice times with my Gujarati and Bengali friends during the period.

Friday, October 8, 2010

On saying no...

The word ‘akrasia’ means doing something even after being fully aware of the fact that the end result is going to be unpalatable and the action would be repented. Almost in the same breath I must admit to belonging to that school of thought which is emphatic that one must not encourage begging at any cost.

My seemingly unrelated opening statements actually form the basis of my thought for the day.

I’d gone to the nearby grocery store, this evening, to make a few quick purchases. As I was paying up the bill, a scrawny and disheveled middle aged man came at the entrance asking for alms. My first reaction was to give something to him on my way out and looked into my wallet for a five rupee coin but realized that I was left with a paltry one rupee coin instead. And the transaction left me with a couple of 100 rupee notes. I decided not to give him anything justifying it as having flowed from my thinking on not encouraging begging!

As I was leaving the shop, I caught his gaze despite my efforts to avoid it and immediately regretted having decided not to give him anything and also cursed my luck for having only a one rupee coin which, to me, was too small a denomination to give him.

I still cannot forget that haunting gaze. I hope to amend my action tomorrow, when I go to the same place on some work that needs to be done by the forenoon. Only wish that I’m able to meet him!!


Saddened yet again on the lifer meted out to the cabbie responsible for Bangalore's Pratibha Murthy's death. Her mother really looked cheated in one of the TV grabs. It's simply not fair!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mera mann tera......pyaasa!

This evening I was out on my brisk walk as usual and as I shifted gears and gunned down the speed barriers, I was beginning to like my pace. In the bargain, passed by many of the regulars and as is everyday custom, traded one liners with some, simply hailed some others and generally let my mind pass through the day’s events to take stock of what’s been achieved(negligible,actually!) and what needed to be done(plenty, where’s the doubt?)

As I entered the Mall road, the Dev Anand evergreen ‘Mera mann tera pyaasa’(wonder which movie it’s from?) was wafting through the speakers for the benefit of the evening strollers and I was all ears to the lovely lyrics. Midway on that stretch, the threesome of Arzoo and her parents were seen to be coming my way and my heart skipped a beat! And this time too, I was lucky to receive that dazzling smile from the little one, making me wonder as to whether I was really 'pyaasa' for this moment? And I thank Him for making it a reality, totally out of the blue!

Babu Padmanabhan, yet again.

Much later after I’d returned from the walk, I was also fortunate to see a powerhouse of a performance by Babu Padmanabhan as he sang an old Ilayaraja number – oru veettukku veettukku vaasappadi venam - from the Tamil movie ‘Kizhakkuvaasal’ on the Idea Star Singer reality show on Asianet. That boy was simply superb and I was happy that he sang this favourite number of mine!


After, almost a month, today saw Lekha much more at peace with herself as the medicines, finally, seem to have taken effect and her aches and the pains seem to have reduced considerably. But I shall keep my fingers crossed for a while. O God, hope everything ends up well and the difficult phase is over!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A bit of news analysis.

1. Musharraf confirms something that we always knew.

It was amusing to read former Pakistani military dictator, Musharraf’s candid confession that he had actively encouraged and supported terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. Towards this end, the terrorists were trained and instigated by him, much to the embarrassment of Pakistan and its present government. Reactions seem to be on familiar lines but that does not seem to be important.
Musharraf is a crafty old guy and when he utters something, it’s always with an ulterior motive and never does something without a purpose. By uttering this historical truth, neither has he endeared himself to the people of Pakistan nor has he been able to score points amongst his constituency outside that country. And that’s what puzzles me. So why has he done it? What’s the spin off?

2. Priyadarshini Mattoo’s killer gets lifer.

It’s sad that Santosh Kumar Singh, the killer of Priyadarshini Mattoo, the law student has got away with the punishment of ‘life imprisonment’. I’m for capital punishment to all those people who indulge in heinous crimes and taking another’s life is definitely an act that’s unpardonable.
I’d go one step further and say that while dealing with such cases, the law of the Shariat would be ideal as it would act as a powerful deterrent for would be offenders.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A hectic day at the hospital

After tying up loose ends at the office right at opening hour, I rushed back home to pick up Lekha to attend to an appointment with the doctor(a good friend of ours) at the Army Hospital(Research & Referral). The dash to the hospital was achieved notwithstanding all the traffic restrictions, courtesy the CWG! She was supposed to have suffered a DVT(deep vein thrombosis) due to a fall, over the weekend and her left leg now looked as though she was suffering from Filaria!

Our hospitals can become very bureaucratic when one least expects them to be and I’d mentioned it earlier in this forum. The guy at the reception had to be put in his place with a bit of firm, no nonsense talk from my side. Since it was an emergency and the doctor had initialed its urgency, the people at the various counters that I went across, just came round to my frequency and we’re able to get the following tests done at a comparatively short time :-

(a) Doppler of the arteries and veins of both limbs.
(b) Blood tests to find out resurgence, if any, of her old ailment, SLE.

The blood samples came in the same way as was our last experience – the smiling sister just couldn’t find the right vein and had Lekha squirming with pain, throughout the ordeal.

Armed with the results, we did return to our doctor who’d then firmly ruled out DVT and said that the swelling was caused by the concussion of one of the veins during the weekend fall and thankfully, admission in the hospital was ruled out. Medicines were prescribed accordingly and we’re finally out of the maze of the hospital by a half past two.

After dropping Lekha at home and a quick change, I reached office soon after. The late lunch of noodles and fruits was relished with the comforting knowledge that the worry on my wife’s ailment was on its way out.

There never is a dull moment!

Monday, October 4, 2010

And to ride away into the sunset......

Since childhood, my favourites have been country music and movies covering stories of the wild west of America. My favourite actors are Steve Mac Queen, John Wayne, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman and the likes. I was simply fascinated by their strong presence, standing always for the right, ever ready to help an underdog and always masked their emotions even in the most difficult situations.

Straightforward in their approach towards life in general, they got extremely angry when evil got the better of the good and swung into action to ensure that good finally, wins over evil.

In many of the westerns, the lone ranger rides into the town along with the rising sun, beats up the bad guys all through the day to set things right, becomes the darling of the most beautiful and plucky girl around but rides away into the sunset, as lonely as he’d arrived. The romanticism, though unstated, hangs heavily around his personality and that makes him all the more vulnerable!

And talking about country music, while John Denver’s “Country roads, take me home to the place I belong” tops my charts, I’ve a sneaky preference to Kenny Rogers’ “Coward of the county”.

Life is actually very simple if one wants to keep it that way. And I’d definitely like to take it as it comes!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Delhi CWG 2010 has been rung in - after all the misses and the glitches!

As I saw the inauguration of the Commonwealth games amidst the pomp and show against a rich backdrop of colours, I was proud to be an Indian. Despite the glitches, sloth and overall inefficiency that marked the run up to the games the ‘shopwindow’ that one was fortunate to witness at the inauguration showed once again that we’ve it in us to excel!

But why do we do it so haphazardly? I was aghast to see Sheila Dikshit making tall claims as to how she’d turned it around over the last seven days and blamed everyone else for the setbacks and cited interference in her work(by none other than her Lieutenant Governor, himself). She has also claimed that had she been given a free run in the organizing of the games there would have been no slip ups whatsoever. She thinks that the general public has forgotten the fact that she’s been Delhi’s Chief minister for the last so many years, her party has been ruling at the centre for all those years and wants them to believe that she could not get to do the right things because vested interests wanted to put her down!! Why can’t she be graceful enough, even at this late stage, to accept her part of the blame, I wonder?

That’s because of our ‘chalta hai’ attitude – everything goes. We do things at the last moment and finally take shelter behind a passable outcome and claim it as a success!!!

To cite an example, a bit far removed from this episode but related albeit in an indirect manner, is the way many worthies have claimed that our country will become a superpower in 2025. The interesting fact is that none of them have clearly laid down or even suggested the milestones, that need to be achieved towards the run up to ’25, which is absolutely essential. Perhaps, most of them are only well aware that they wouldn’t be alive to answer the uncomfortable question if the country does not make it! Such aims to be achieved have to be backed up with sustained hard work, dedication and the important aspect of everyone pulling along to achieve a series of intermediate milestones.

Or are we happy just to be bumbling our way to superpower status with all the corruption and inefficiency that we see around us? I hope not!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Remembering the Mahatma on his 142nd birth anniversary

Aren’t we letting him down by our thoughts, actions?

Since my childhood, I’ve seen frenetic activity and tokenism being done on Gandhi Jayanti (02 Oct) and on Martyr’s day(31 Jan) when the whole country tries to remember Gandhiji. Voluntary social service activities like cleaning up the surroundings, organizing blood donation camps and conducting seminars on the great man are some of the gimmickries that come readily to my mind – the activities continue to be organized in the same lackadaisical manner even today but sadly, the ignorance about the great man and the values that he stood for persist amongst the young generation.

To my mind truth and a good value system have been the casualties in this present day life – the things that Gandhiji tried to spread through his own actions. However, the material comforts and trying to catch up with the latest technological advances have left very little time for the present generation to understand these important aspects of life. Respecting age and experience has become outdated. Each and everyone want to get rich quick and get his or her 15 minutes of fame. To achieve this one’s ready to take any short cut as the ends justify the means!
Going back in time, amongst the visuals of Gandhiji’s times and life that I’d come across thanks to the Attenborough film ‘Gandhi’, I consider that this country had discarded him soon after the achievement of Independence on 15 Aug 1947. The shot showing him sitting all alone by his ‘charkha’ with an empty flag mast close at hand at the Sabarmati Ashram, while the rejoicings were going on in Delhi and elsewhere was poignant and highlighted that his countrymen had dumped him soon after their aim was achieved.

I belong to a much later generation that have only read from books and also gleaned from stories related to us by our grandparents and parents on India’s freedom struggle and Gandhiji’s great leadership. If I were to be asked as to what qualities of Gandhiji have inspired me the most, I shall list the following:-

(a) Adherence to truth always and everytime.
(b) A steely strength of character.
(c) Religious tolerance and a broadness of thought.
(d) Respecting every other human being as one’s equal.
(e) A high sense of humour.
(f) The thirst for knowledge.

I salute the great man for his untiring efforts to get this country free from the British yoke with a promise that on a personal level I’ve tried to emulate him and continue to do so in my own little way. And at this juncture I can’t agree more to what Einstein had to say on Gandhiji soon after his assassination and I quote, ”Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this, in flesh and blood, had ever walked upon this earth ”.

We need to come out of tokenism and pledge to make India strong on the basis of Gandhiji's values and ideals and work towards that aim. Jai Hind!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Robot called Rajnikant.

It always amazes me to see the adulation of the masses and the sheer ecstacy that this man generates with each of his movies. The people and more so the Tamilians, the world over, worship him to the hilt.

Histrionically speaking, it's my opinion that he's not a patch on say, the thespian Dilip Kumar but he whips up a frenzy with his unique mannerisms and plays up to the gallery. His colleagues and juniors worship him and speak about him in superlatives. So, what makes him tick?

He has indeed come a long way to his present God like image in Tamilnadu. A Maharashtrian by birth, to a bus conductor in his teens on the crowded private buses of Bangalore and finally to superstardom in the Tamil tinselworld, his rise has been meteoric. It's said that he's humble despite his status and ever willing to help the underdog. The story has it that quite a few years back when his movie 'Baba' crashed at the box office, he made it a point to return the lost money and his remuneration to the producer and the distributors - something unheard of and only what a Rajni can do!

His latest movie 'Robot' or 'Yenthiran' in Tamil with Aishwarya Rai has opened in a record number of cinemas and tickets have been sold out for the first week. Well, that's the Rajni charisma at work.

On a personal level, what strikes me most is that he's perhaps the only actor who's shown a boldness to show his true visage in real life! Most actors are vain and hate to show their age and therefore, resort to gimmicks and artificial props.

May Rajnikant continue to make movies of his genre and here's wishing box office success for 'Yenthiran' nay 'Robot'!!