Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010.

Yet another year is passing into history. There would be a lot of analyses about a year that had surprisingly knocked out the bottom of many of our beliefs. In our country sadly, corruption has hit an all time high and one's left wondering as to whether there's any institution that has not been tainted.

On a personal level, things have progressed in the same manner as in the previous years bordering, at times, on monotony. There were plenty of guests for us and in the process, we've been able to renew the bonds. There were however, a few painful farewells from within the family and from the extended family whose void will continue to linger, deep within.

As I wind up for the year, something in me tells that my mission in Delhi has been accomplished and I've to move on. The varied experiences have been a great teacher and has helped me to understand life better.

Hope 2011 proves to be exciting!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Yesterday, two fine people(Ravi and Meera's mom - shucks, I don't even know her name) passed away and we've been left poorer by the reduction in the number of people who always wished us well. While offering condolences to their near and dear ones, who've suffered the irrepairable loss, one was struck with the only truth in this world - death - yet again.

Ravi Dhankar was a close friend who'd lived his life well but an aspect of his that had endeared him to me was his fighting spirit. We'd rolled, laughed, played pranks on each other at every stage of our growing up and shared our dreams as well as the disappointments - giving comfort to each other when it mattered. By bringing about his end in a gruesome road accident, I feel that death has cheated him in its haste to take him away from our midst. Ameeta, Rohan and Adarsh, we grieve with you. RIP Ravi, you shall continue to live within us for all that you'd so willingly given us during your lifetime.

Meera's mom was a sprightly old lady in her early eighties, so full of life and quite fond of Lekha and me because in her words, we'd seen more in life than she'd! Whenever we're in Kochi we used to make it a point to look her up and she always insisted on playing the perfect host, despite the fact that she was bed ridden with a broken hip, when we'd met her last year. Her greatest asset was that she could be cheerful despite her physical discomfort. RIP Meera's mom, I guess I shall always remain indebted to you for the unadulterated love and affection that you'd showered upon me.

Tailpiece - When my PJ did the trick.

Meera and Sidharth are good friends of ours. It was when I'd called up on Meera's cell to offer my condolences, that I'd come to know about Sidharth's recent fall from the stairs(was it an indication about what was to follow, I wonder?) and consequently, had fractured his right hand which was in a cast.

The cell was passed on to Meera who was tearful and could barely speak. After mumbling about being with her during troubled times, I told her that it's in the day's Malayala Manorama, in graphic detail, as to how she'd pushed Sidharth down the stairs and in the process, sustained the fracture. Meera's reaction surprised even me - she laughed!

The immediate reaction from the assembled mourners, as I'd gathered later - 'the girl has gone hysterical with grief. She was very much attached to her mother, you know!' Sorry, Meera for that ill timed prank but I was just trying to lighten you up in my clumsy way!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's happening to us?

As a country, we're on the sure path to become a superpower, so everyone says. Indian professionals and scientists have, time and again, proved that they've it in them to bring about spectacular results in the areas they work in. But as a commoner, I wonder as to why we haven't been able to chalk out a definite plan - identifying achievable milestones - to reach our destination.

Two news items, of the previous days, have brought out the sceptic in me all over again. The failure of the launch of the GSLV launch is a body blow to our space programme. My thoughts and sympathies are for our space scientists who must be extremely dejected by the unfortunate outcome. It's my fond hope that the failures would steel them to achieve greater heights and ultimate success. We've to do it because we can.

The second story is about the acute shortage of tampons in the market, putting our womenfolk to extreme hardships. What really surprised me was the knowledge that it's only one company that manufactures this item in our country! When the television is full of advertisements on the consumable, why isn't there a conscious effort to manufacture more and have more players at it?

The index of prosperity of any country is the adequate availability of all essential items in the markets catering to the needs of the people of every cross section. Perhaps, one would counter argue that many people are starving and therefore, it would be frivolous to think of anything else that's considered a luxury. A 'heads-I-win-tails-you-lose' sort of a situation!

Notwithstanding the above, I'm sure we shall overcome.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recommending a split!

Based on a relative's recommendation, a gentleman had called me up regarding his daughter's travails
in her married life. His son-in-law is a navyman who, from the girl's family's narrations, appears to be a
guy in need of money, more money and still, more money.

The sad part is that the instigators of this ugly marital discord are the boy's mother and sister. The girl -
who's an only daughter to her parents- has been harried and subjected to torture of an inhuman kind. Unfortunately, the couple has a one year old daughter and currently, the girl and her child have been brought back to her house at Kochi.What the
boy is now insisting upon, is that the girl's parents' must transfer their house onto his name!

The father was trying to find out as to whether I could help him out in sorting out this sordid mess. I've taken on the boy's background, facts about his parents' whereabouts in Thiruvananthapuram and his whereabouts as of now. He needs to be put in the right perspective after hearing out his version.

But based on my gut feeling, I'd told the hapless father that subject to his daughter's approval, they must go and appeal for a divorce as I feel that any marital relationship that's based on economics is a non starter.

The poor child born in wedlock will understandably go through hell but I'm sure, a new life free of fear, taunts and torture is a better bargain than being scarred permanently by continuing in the present situation.

A tricky situation, indeed! Hope I'm able to provide them relief.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Truly overwhelming!

The reactions of my close friends and staff on my marching orders have been truly overwhelming. In fact, a couple of them have gone to the extent of asking me as to why I was not using my 'contacts' to have it cancelled or even, deferred perhaps!

I could only tell them that while appreciating their love and affection for yours truly, I'd no intention of doing anything to stall what has come by. I take it that everything that happens is for one's good, in the ultimate analysis and this is yet another event in my life and I've to take it head on!!

I'm reminded of the poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade", which is the story of the valour shown by a brigade of tough men - badly mutilated in an earlier battle, awaiting casualty evacuation and additional reinforcements - on receiving an erroneous order to advance to the forward area for combat, during the Crimean War.

And I quote those famous lines from the poem, now immortal:-

"Their's is not to question why
Their's is but to do and die
Into the valley of death rode the six hundred".

That, in essence, is the high value system that we uphold and all the rest shall follow!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

'Paaleri Maanikyam'

I had the opportunity to see this Malayalam movie yesterday and must say that I enjoyed it thoroughly. The movie had won many awards this year and Mammootty, the superstar of the Malayalam film world, was pitted against Amitabh Bachchan for the award for the best actor for his performance in this movie.

But what fascinated me was that the story covered a wide canvas, timewise - from 1957 to the present day - and it has been beautifully scripted and crafted! The traditional method of registering a case prevalent in Kerala then, the high expectations amongst the people from the first communist government coming to power, the communists using the same chinks in the system to their advantage(the communists justifying such actions brings about a cruel anticlimax and people, soon become disillusioned with them and their ways) and the cruel exploitation of the lower castes are very well etched and hold the viewer's attention till the very end.

Mammootty essays three roles - as the father and two half sons - with immaculate ease and conviction. However, I must admit that I liked the father with a roving eye, where he doesn't spare any good looking woman in the area(his power, as a rich muslim landlord and pelf are used rather shamelessly to buy the governmental organs to submission), the most and a particular scene where he kills a man by stamping repeatedly on his chest brings out the cruelty of that character with all its ferocity! Shweta Menon(the model) lends credence to her role as a submissive lady to the cruel landlord but strangely, has a weakness for him! She's the head of the 'Paleri' household as her son is mentally challenged and 'Manikyam', her comely daughter-in-law!

Manikyam is brutally raped and murdered on a cold morning of '57 and the movie unravels the mystery of the bizarre murder. A good Malayalam film after quite a while!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

O Aparna! - a Bollywood script?

I was at the airport waiting for my flight to be announced. Delhi was smothered by fog, flying operations had gone haywire and flights were either cancelled or being rescheduled. It was gonna be a long wait and no sooner had I put my head into a book when I heard someone crying next to me and continuously muttering something incoherently. It turned out to be a young lady, who was running out of tissues, as she used up one after the other out of her stock. My first observation was as to who could be so heartless to drive such a beautiful person to tears or was it that she'd lost someone dear, whose final rites she was rushing to attend - the script writer, deep within me, had started taking wings!

Mustering my courage - one can be snubbed, you know and be asked to mind one's own business - I offered her my pack of tissues and she gratefully picked up a couple of leaves out of the pack and tried to smile with little success. Emboldened by her reactions, I asked her the reason for her melancholy. It turned out to be that a friend of her's had suddenly stopped regular communication and was being nasty of late. The young lady was pretty sure that he was friendly with someone else and this was the aspect that she hoped to find out on reaching Chandigarh, where she was headed to - the guy has no inkling as to what's coming at him and coincidentally, he shares the same name as mine!

Soon, over a cup of coffee, she wanted me to analyse as to what her friend was upto. It was indeed a tall order because I'd heard only one side of the story, nevertheless I offered the three fundamental truths about relationships that I believe in, which are:-
(a) A relationship is truly over when communication becomes scarce/non existent.
(b) If faults/differences are being constantly highlighted, it has to be deduced that the person is meeting someone else and a continuous comparison is being made to justify the present situation.
(c) And lastly, I cited a 'forward' that I'd received in the not so recent past which spoke about relationships being for a 'reason', a 'season' or 'lifelong' - the last category was however, less and far between.

As Aparna(that's her name) was going towards the exit when her flight was announced, she gave me a hug as though I'd given the elixir of her life. She has promised to keep in touch and let me know about all that happens. Yet another friend picked up courtesy a journey and it's my sincere hope that she has a pleasant experience!

Friday, December 24, 2010

My grandfather and Karunakaran.

Karunakaran, the veteran Congress leader has become memory. A man who gathered tremendous strength from his political life, he seemed to have answers for every move his opponents made, during his lifetime. Much has been and will be written or beamed by the print and visual media, respectively, over the coming days and hence I shall desist from revisiting those aspects!

His name to fame came about in 1969, when he became the Home Minister in a coalition ministry headed by the late Achutha Menon, who is still regarded by most as the best Chief Minister, Kerala has seen thus far. Karunakaran, of course, did not stay long in that capacity because of the infamous Rajan case(Rajan, an engineering student was picked up by the police due to his alleged links with the naxalites and died while in custody) and has been implicated in the Palmolein case too. But whatever one might say, he was an able administrator and the setting up of the Kochi International Airport and the Kaloor International Stadium were a couple of his most recent achievements.

I remember him for an incident at the Kerala House here, in Delhi, in Dec '94. My grandfather had gone to meet a minister from Kerala who was camping there at the time. After the meeting, as we(I and my maman were also with him) were coming out on the corridor, Karunakaran who was the CM then, was in his room holding one of his durbars. My grandfather tried to get into the room to say a cursory hello to him but was thwarted from the attempt by the overzealous security guys at the door.

An angry PN Panicker walked away in a huff, lamenting at the way politicians insulated themselves from reality with the trappings of power. Perhaps, Karunakaran must have been apprised of the commotion outside because he quickly came out, took my grandfather into his room and they exchanged pleasantries as we looked on. I suppose their friendship started when Karunakaran was acquiring his political stature - like many other political leaders across the political spectrum then - through the vibrant 'Kerala Library Association' set up by my grandfather. He, then, made it a point to see off my grandfather, at the entrance, as I drove away with him that evening!

Their association continued in the same vein till my grandfather's passing away in '95. I and my maman'd made it a point to appraise him of the activities of the PN Panicker Foundation as he evinced a keen interest and he used to put forth his suggestions which we faithfully incorporated.

I'd gone to the Kerala House today to pay my homage to the departed soul. In the process, I saw the very same corridor and the room where they'd met almost 16 years back on a similar cold wintry day and experienced a lump in my throat. And I realised that my eyes were moist!

RIP Karunakaranji!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Personal thoughts - old and new.

Smita Patil.

Today is her rememberence day. She was an extremely talented actress who'd a fantastic charm
on celluloid and I never missed her movies though I must admit that most of them left me sad
for days, immediately thereafter, as they depicted the harsh facts of life(except, of course the humorous
'Namak Halal'). But I must admit that
the frozen image of 'Smita Patil as an actress' in my mind, is the one in which she, as a slum
dweller, is having a bath under a roadside tap. No other scene in a Hindi movie has so strongly
depicted the urban economic disparity and the actress had expressed the angst with consummate ease.

Smita, your contribution to the growth of the Indian cinema will always be remembered. May you have eternal peace!

The mad scramble for DDA houses.

As the last day of receipt of applications for the allotment of the new DDA flats approaches - which happens to be tomorrow - there's a mad scramble for the registration forms, attendant bank loans and finally, the submission. Many well meaning friends have tried to egg me on but I've politely declined since I neither have the resources nor the inclination. And I do not have any intention to stay on here, at Delhi, once my mission is over.

But the fact that I'm trying to depict is yet another unique quality of the Delhiites, which simply defies logic, because I'm told that many in the crowd already have a house of their own!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An onion story!

It's a case of spiralling prices of onions all over again, out here in Delhi. As somebody had rightly said on prime time TV, for the common man, just an onion with rotis is a substantial meal. The price hike really seems to hurt everybody across the board. What I can't fathom is that apart from the fact that the Ministry of Agriculture has no contingency plan to provide the commodity at reasonable prices to its people, they seem to have been completely taken by surprise by the ticklish situation or was this situation consciously brought about?

But I'm reminded about a humorous incident that happened the last time such a situation had risen. A guy in the neighbourhood, for whom onions are a must for every meal, had gone and purchased a sackful of onions at the prevalent prices then - quite higher than normal - to tide over the situation! And it's also a fact that the very same gentleman doesn't touch onions during the fast of the 'navaratras' which he undertakes religiously, every year. That essentially is the spirit of the Delhiite - a never say die attitude!!

My man Friday, Bunty, has taken his tot of rum from my liquor cabinet saying that he was feeling very cold this evening. I oblige him and look at him with envy as I'm following the abstinence ritual connected with the Sabarimala season. Jokes apart, no there's no urge at all to imbibe and instead, I feel very nice that I can stay away from it all if I want!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The home made Christmas cake.

This morning was indeed hectic with me literally running out of the house to make it in time for an appointment. Traffic was comparatively sparce thanks to many of the Delhiites having prefixed and suffixed holidays to have a long, uninterrupted leave through the week.

My first stop was at the nearby hospital to look up an old friend who's undergone a surgery. She seemed to be cheerful and recovering well and should be discharged by this weekend. And my second stop was at the MI Room for monitoring my blood pressure that has been erratic for no rhyme or reason. Thankfully, the readings have come back to normal - perhaps, it was one of the rogue phenomena that, at times, perks up to give one the jitters.

In my case, frankly I did not have any misgivings about my health as there was no discomfort, whatsoever. The false alarm was sounded last week when I'd gone for lunch at a friend's place who'd this fancy gadget and had tried it on me to show as to how it works. The readings simply surprised me and presto, everyone present was adequately convinced that there was something seriously wrong and had I not vehemently opposed it, I would've been admitted into a clinic(A strong reason not to have doctors as friends!) forthwith!!

Then there was this meeting that dragged on to lunchtime. As I made it back to my office, there was Shaji - a mallu Christian and a member of the staff - with a nicely packaged Christmas cake that was baked at his home, meant for yours truly. Well, that was indeed the highlight of the day.

Thanks, Shaji for your wonderful gesture and here's wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

An unwanted clamour!

Sachin Tendulkar has scored 50 centuries in test cricket. A commendable feat indeed and at 37 yrs, he's shown what perseverence is all about. To keep himself fit and still having that hunger to wield the willow to score runs shows his class and also that he's a cut above the rest. Let many more runs flow from his bat and may he continue to play for India for many more years.

But having said that I must say that I do not understand the clamour made at some quarters for him to be conferred the 'Bharat Ratna'. As I understand, the highest civilian honour is bestowed on individuals whose contribution to the country's legacy is all round and spread over a wide canvas. Sachin has been honoured with the highest awards in the field of sports and he has even got a Padma award. He, therefore, needs to continue to do well as the country has given him so much and above all, an iconic status! For heaven's sake, do not deify him!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Babita and I - my horse tales(2).

Yet another day on the Equitation Lines. I'd, by then, mastered the art of clinging on to Babita as wisdom dictated that a fall could have lasting ramifications. On this particular day, our instructor was in a foul mood and he, thus, found nothing going right with anyone of us. As a part of disciplining us, he made us exchange horses which was sheer torture.

We're supposed to dismount from one side of the horse, go from under its belly and mount the next horse nearby. And this rigmarole continued for a while by the end of which I was sweating through all my pores. By my rotten luck, I was astride on Peter Saldhana's steed(Peter was about 6 ft tall and the stirrups were adjusted to suit his leg length). And no sooner had all of us mounted our horses, the instructor asked us to follow him on a cross country gallop!

It was about a half-an-hour's torture but by the end of it I'd earned my spurs! I knew it because whatever was left of my fear of riding was overcome then. I must have been a comical sight all through as I was clinging on to the horse's neck(as the stirrups were woefully out of reach!) and in the process, partially blinding the poor animal who kept raising its speed in sheer panic thanks to its temporary blindness! And all the while Peter was riding astride Babita, like a jockey, hooked on to the stirrups adjusted to my leg length!!

As we finally came to a halt back in the equestrian area, my breeches were torn and I'd a deep gash on my right thigh brought about by the constant rubbing of a buckle of the saddle. As usual practice, when we patted our horses 'good bye', I saw Babita giving me a long, hard look as if to say, "I wouldn't have harmed you, ever". The instructor, Iqbal Singh, insisted on my reporting to the Military Hospital forthwith but I'd have nothing to do with it as I was worried about the breakfast break being eaten away, which was unthinkable! This is essentially an NDA cadet's mentality - more about it some other time, perhaps!!
* * *
Horse riding, from then, had become a favourite outdoor for me and Babita had become an important part of my life as we understood each other perfectly during our subsequent outings.

A few years later, when I was posted into the Directing Staff of the Academy, I'd gone to visit Babita at the Equitation Lines only to be told that she'd passed into the mist of time a few months before. I remember feeling sad for quite a while, thereafter! RIP Babita and I hope that you're happy wherever you are.

Iqbal Singh, by then a JCO, had a lot of nice words for yours truly and insisted on having a photograph of him and his family, with me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Babita and I - my horse tales (1)

My initial foray into the equestrian world was a comical one, when as a first termer at the NDA, I was initiated into this amazing outdoor sport. I was a beginner and had all the pitfalls of a greenhorn, perhaps, more than some of my contemporaries. At the Academy, two squadrons used to be combined to form a class at the equitation lines and 'Golf' and 'Hunter' squadrons were thus buddies on horsebacks!

Usually, the cadets were assigned to a particular animal and I thus came to partner Babita, a majestic, chestnut brown mare that had a few random white spots all over her shiny body. I remember the first time that I sat astride on her, I really felt on top of the world. It's said that a horse sizes up the quality of the rider within no time and Babita had amply measured my ability!
* * *
Prodded by the instructor, I dug my heels into the flanks of the hapless animal a bit too often that Babita looked back at me as if to say, "Idiot, I'm doing you a favour by allowing you to sit on me but don't you dare do anything funny". The message was received without ambiguity and I decided to desist from any further egging on. But Babita had to teach me a lesson in her own way and she did it soon after. The entire squad of 15 horses and the trainees were asked to go through a waterpoint where the animal's belly would have barely touched water. And as we're negotiating the puddle, Babita decided to bend her limbs drenching me in the process and she shot a glance back at a miserable me with a grin on her face! My breeches and the undergarments were wet in the bargain, putting me through a lot of discomfort. I never ever acted funny with her, thereafter.
* * *
On another occasion, then Captain 'Pickles' Sodhi, the Equitation Officer had come to see the progress we'd made on our riding ability and the instructor was very keen to show him as to how we negotiated a simple stile that acted as an obstacle. I was the first student and therefore, called upon to execute the manouvre. With the slightest of pressure on her flanks, Babita was off the mark and headed for the starting point from where I was supposed to get her to gather sufficient momentum to clear the obstacle. Babita's poise and her reactions indeed surprised and thrilled me as we waited for the instructor's final order. As it was given, Babita got on to a trot and then to a canter. As the obstacle came charging towards us, she bypassed it at the last moment and headed to join the squad by squeezing in between the other horses antogonising many of my course mates, in the bargain. Pickles Sodhi was simply shaking his head as if he knew that such an eventuality was expected and an angry instructor punctured whatever little ego that was left in me by his thunderous question, "Cadet Rajeev, tum ghode par savaar ho ya ghoda tum par"?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Charlie Mike.

Charlie Mike is a classmate of mine from school with whom I've had some fantastic times over the years and we continue to be in touch with each other though he's based at far away Madras. Life has been unkind to him in more ways than one and today, he's a far cry from the fun loving and crazy guy that I've known him to be during our formative years in the navy.

He joined school in 1965 and I'd joined the same class two years later, in class VII. I must admit that we weren't the best of buddies while at school as we'd a different set of friends since we were in different divisions and in different houses -he in 'C' and I in 'A' and housewise, he in 'Shivaji' and I in 'Tagore'. The one thing that I remember of him in school is the fact that he was the first and only guy amongst us to be stricken with 'Trachoma' and consequentially, sported red eyes for quite a while!

We actually became close after joining the IN on graduating from the NDA - as cadets on Delhi, his number was 60 and mine 61 - and I'd the privilege of knowing him from close quarters. He'd a ready wit and his arguments on any topic had a crazy twist, though essentially relevant to the situation. His ability to quickly read and appreciate a tactical situation, in a war scenario, was something that I've always admired.

Charlie Mike is a simple soul, hails from Palakkad and has always been close to his family. His brother and sister, whom he was rather fond of, had a tiff following the division of their ancestral property and he's still to get over the jolt, though the event had taken place many years earlier.

His wife, Sasikala, is essentially a simple and fun loving person who can never be harsh with anyone and they've two sons, Arjun and Aneesh, who've done the engineering course. Arjun, however, has had certain medical complications and hence, Charlie Mike has been dejected in a sense. He also has a recurrent problem in his right knee that had taken an impact, years ago, during a road accident on the Palakkad - Coimbatore route.

I'd spoken to him last evening and to my utter sadness realised that his zest for life is not what it was. May God give him and his family all that they wish for in life. And I'd like to be with the gregarious Charlie Mike of old and God, don't tell me that I'm asking for too much!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vijay diwas.

16 Dec '71 shall always be remembered for the spectacular win by our armed forces over the descredited and demoralised Pakistani armed forces culminating in the birth of a new country - Bangladesh. It was a crowning moment for India and Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then PM, showed that she was a fine wartime leader. In victory, she showed magnanimity and handed over the 93,000 POWs back to Pakistan and even the areas captured by the Indian Army on its offensive on the western borders. Some people sincerely feel that we shouldn't have given them back till we bargained and got some tangible gains. But I suppose, real statesmanship is when as victor one doesn't humiliate the vanquished!

Years later, in early '98 I'd the honour of being the LO to the chief architect of this fine victory, Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw when he was on a four day visit to Kochi. For me, every minute spent with him was education that was precious and unforgettable. And in the process, there were nuggets of information that were passed on to me and he endeared himself to me with his ready wit and an easygoing charm.

Sadly, the celebration of the 'Vijay Diwas' today was a muted event restricted more or less to the service cantonments. What does one say about a nation that forgets to remember its Armed Forces once their need gets over?

I salute the indomitable spirit of all those valiant men who'd sacrificed their today for their country's tomorrow and sincerely hope that their near and dear ones have learnt to cope with their irrepairable loss!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Everything seems to be rotten!

I'm getting disillusioned with everything about our country, what with the non stop reporting by the media about everything that seems to be wrong in all aspects of governance and the attendant establishments. Scams are by the galore and fraudsters seem to have got into every level of the government and its institutions pressing for their agenda. Earlier, one used to feel smug about the fact that China and Pakistan - naming just our adversaries - were quite ahead of us in the degree of corruption, alongwith many others. But now one's at a loss after skeletons keep tumbling down everday with a sickening regularity.

And the aspect that frightens me is that the very watchdogs of our democratic set up, that are supposed to sniff out the wrongdoings so that appropriate corrective measures can be applied on time, seem to be floundering. Moreover, they seem to have lost their will to do what's expected of them. Or have they been stifled to the point of inaction by their political masters with enthusiastic help from the bureaucratic behemoth? When institutions lose their credibility, then everything is lost as it brings in general cynicism amongst the citizens - a dangerous proposition!

The latest fracas between the former CJI and a sitting judge of the Supreme Court is ugly, to put it bluntly. Another 'mallu' biting the dust? The controversy, however, needs to be sorted out at the earliest by the concerned parties and the truth must come out. Period!!

But having said this, the optimist in me feels that all that's happening around us, these days, will eventually clean up the system once for all and the 'good people' of the society will come out forcefully to make this country an envy to the rest of the world!!!

And may that take place at the earliest!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When things went right all the way!

This morning I'd an appointment at the RTO's office for the renewal of my driving licence. I was ready for inordinate delays and the possibility of running around for getting the papers scrutinised and cleared by the authorities as was the experience during my previous outing. Well, I was in for a shock and if I were to be permitted to use poetic licence, a pleasant one. Things are so streamlined that the movement from one counter to the next(and one really needs to go around a whole lot of them for their scrutiny of the documents) was systematic and since the entire procedure has been computerised, the whole exercise took me just twenty minutes! Technology intensive services really help the customer and thank God, our country is witness to such momentous changes.

The paper work is complete.
In the afternoon, I was informed that the final set of papers of my Chevrolet Cruze have arrived from the RTO's office. This has been the result of some painstaking moves by my friends, well wishers and to a much lesser intent, yours truly. It's the culmination of a long and arduous process of acquiring a new vehicle in Delhi, in these trying times!

The surprise call from Calcutta.
I was pleasantly surprised by a call, in the evening, from my friends(from my NDA days of '82 when I was a Divisional Officer to the cadets) who'd ganged up at Calcutta on the occasion of the 'Vijay Divas' being commemmorated on 16 Dec. It was nice hearing the Joshis(Jo and Priscilla) and the Koijams(Amrit and Padma) who'd looked after me during those days and have always endeavoured to be in touch with me at every occasion feasible, concerned about my well being and Lekha's health. It's nice to feel wanted and as each one of them had told me, I become a topic of their discussions whenever they conglomerate anywhere. And as I've said earlier, I feel honoured and humbled by such genuine show of affection. We've promised to meet up soon before this year ends and I need to juggle with dates to make it possible!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Saving the environment.

I must admit that whenever I'd heard that the earth that we inhabit is moving fast towards annihilation, thanks to the human plunder of its natural resources, I'd always thought that it was a line of argument adopted by the so called 'nature lovers' for whom anything about human beings came last, always and everytime! But as things start showing up at every change of season, one has reasons to believe, now, that these people have indeed been warning us of a real problem, that's looming large, to engulf us in the not too distant future!

The recent happenings at Cancun, at least show that the world has been seized of the enormity of the problem. While I wouldn't like to dwell upon the details of the deliberations, what's discernible is that there's a lot of mismatch in the perceptions of the developed and the developing world. While the developed world wants a seizure of developmental activities that involves wanton destruction of natural resources, the developing world feels that they've the right to go through with it to become developed and self sufficient before agreeing to self restraint. So long as this fundamental difference of opinion is not sorted out amicably there can never be a universal accord, wherein all countries work together in safeguarding the environment.

But what I want to highlight is the manner in which the seasons have begun to change drastically over the last few years. For example, the biting cold that's prevalent all over Europe and the British Isles today. In our country, the South West monsoons have almost culminated into the North East monsoons, judjing by what's being experienced in Kerala today. The cold has come comparatively earlier, this year, in North India.

Surely these changes have happened because of the carelessness shown by human beings, the world over, in exploiting the natural resources. When I say this, unplanned industrialisation is what I've in mind as one of the primary concerns.

Development with a humane touch would definitely be a step in the right direction. And yes, we need to safeguard the environment for the sake of the coming generations!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Disturbing news!

This evening's news on the Surya channel talked of an increasingly disturbing trend, amongst the school children of Kerala, of getting drawn into the use of drugs. The addiction ranges from the abuse of 'nail polish remover'(and I thought it was the most harmless of things!) to the use of 'brown sugar'.
Why do children get derailed in their journey of life at such an early stage? Are they disgusted with what they hear and see around them about the atrocious things that are happening in the society? Are their parents so busy that they've no time to spend with them? Or is it the 'in thing' to flaunt the use of drugs as a fashion statement?
Having asked the questions, time and again to myself, I'd like to believe that it's the handiwork of certain unscrupulous and disgruntled elements in society who're hell bent on making money at the expense of this country's future.
A concerted and combined effort on the part of the parents, school authorities and voluntary organisations need to focus on eradicating this scourge.

Can't the use of Endosulphan be curbed?
In the northern district of Kannur, in Kerala there are generations of people who've been ravaged by the extensive use of 'Endosulphan' as pesticide in the lush cashew plantations that are cash cows! Commerce at the cost of the health of the people is definitely unethical and self defeating. The horrible frames of the people suffering from the ill effects of the dreaded chemical makes one recoil in horror and shock.
There has been a sustained effort by the 'people's action groups' to put pressure upon the government to ban the use of this harmful chemical. But I suppose the pressure is not adequate enough to bring about the badly needed succour to the suffering people.

The cold in Delhi is getting to be intense as December progresses. Thankfully, today was clear and the sun had adequate strength. However, the Delhiites move around doing their normal chores without dwelling upon the discomfort! And that's the spirit that keeps thoroughbred 'mallus' like me to grin and bear it!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

In tribute.

Today, I'd received a mail from a coursemate of mine who'd attached a fine article written by Ameeta Mulla Wattal who's the Principal of the Springdales School on Pusa Road, Delhi. She also happens to be the daughter of the Indian Navy's hero of the '71 war, Captain MN Mulla, MVC who'd skippered the ill fated INS Khukri and had gone down gallantly while helping many of his shipmates to escape from the sinking ship! His brave action has already become folklore and will continue to inspire navymen in the years to come.

I was particularly touched by the proud daughter's efforts to analyse her father's action out of the probable reasons that she enumerates and comes with a clear answer, being her father's daughter. Without diluting her thoughts, I'd like to quote her as she analyses her father's driving motive in doing what he did then:-
"Was it a quest for immortality beyond death? Or was it an old naval tradition or did he make the choice because he felt it was the right thing to do?''
And she answers it in her own way when she says and I quote, "knowing him as I did, he felt that it was the right thing and it was the only thing that he would do".

Ameeta, you've just confirmed what many of us have always believed to be the truth. Your father is a hero and you can justifiably be proud of him!

Friday, December 10, 2010

We've done it!

I was really happy on reading a particular news item of the day. Rejecting the 'demarche' of the Chinese government asking India not to attend today's Nobel Peace prize award distribution ceremony (where Liu Xia Bao was felicitated) we've rightly stood up against Chinese strong arm tactics. And what is his crime for which the Chinese government is after him? He has written against the one party authoritarian rule in his country and has advocated for freedom of expression. He has dedicated his work to the innocents who'd laid down their lives in the Tiannenman incident of '99.
One is unhappy by China's continued irritating tactics of stapled visas for Kashmiris and one still cannot forget their recent visa denial to one of our Generals!
India must stand up against Chinese duplicity and convey to them that their obstinate attitude will not be tolerated anymore.

Much ado about nothing.
There was a hue and cry raised in the media about Meera Shankar's(India's Ambassador in the US) 'pat down' frisking done by their security officials at the airport despite the immunity that she possesses by virtue of being from the diplomatic corps. The powers that be, out there, have already apologised for the faux pas - but such behaviour on the part of the Americans is not something that's new. They seem to leave no loopholes in matters of security!
Rather than whine about it, we in India, need to take lessons from their security proceedures and subject everyone to stringent security checks in our environment too. In matters of our country's security we should not be bothered about other's opinions!!

A trip down memory lane.
Chaitanya had returned today after a short trip to Pune for attending the 48th course get together at the National Defence Academy. This course was immediately senior to mine and hence it was nostalgic to know about his coursemates' journey through life after passing out from the Academy in Jun '75. The familiar landmarks of the NDA brought in a touch of nostalgia and going through the updates about the course was informative.
And I was reminded of the wordings of that evergreen number 'Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be....'
And again, what does one say about a guy who gets unashamedly sentimental?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blast from the past!

Lekha, alongwith my sister Rema, had gone to attend the wedding of a cousin of mine (from Palakkad) today, at Coimbatore. This youngster is flying back to the US with his wife, a fortnight from now, since he works there. At the venue, Lekha was asked about the whereabouts of yours truly by my relations from Palakkad. And one of them, Unnikrishnettan(as I call him) had called up and we'd a long chat laughing at our follies and fondly remembering the good times at my grandparents' house at Thiruvananthapuram way back(I was in class V then).

There was a particular incident, at play, through which I'd hurt him then. It was a game of carrom between Unnikrishnettan and my maman - I must concede that I was unashamedly partial towards my maman. As the game progressed, the time had arrived when both the players were sweating it out to pocket the 'queen' and 'her consort'. Maman had lost a golden chance and Unnikrishnettan was fairly well poised to go for the kill. He'd pocketed the queen and as he readied himself for taking the consort, I distracted him by shooting my hand across his line of vision and he, consequently missed a sure sitter!

Unnikrishnettan was in tears and wouldn't talk to me for the next couple of days despite my repeated apologies. Deep within me I realised that I'd hurt him and I was keen to make up with him before he left for Dubai, a few days later, for taking up his new job. The reconciliation never took place then and the incident had always remained in the innermost recess of my mind as an unfinished job. In the eagerness of living our lives, neither did we get a chance to come across each other nor did we endeavour(at least I didn't) to get in touch!

And today, finally the opportunity did arrive. The thorough gentleman that he's, he guffawed when I'd asked him to forgive me for my childhood folly and the ice was broken! He remains as he was simple and likeable, as I remember, despite his successes in life.

Unnikrishnetta, I'll look you up when I make it home the next time. That's a promise!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spreading cheer!

I'd gone to a nearby hospital where my friend was admitted into the ICU as he was in an extremely precarious condition - Oxygen level in the blood at an alarming low of 60% coupled with an equally low level of Sodium! Since my visit was untimely, I couldn't enter the sanitised area and therefore, was unable to see him. But his immediate family waiting outside were visibly relieved and when his wife told me that she'd tell him about my visit, because she was sure that the news would perk him up and get him out of harm's way, I was humbled and had a lump in my throat!

I must insist that I'd not done anything out of the way and my visit was meant to convey that I too was with them during their difficult times. It was also meant to convey that I could be called on to render any sort of assistance that might come up during the long haul.

The reactions, yet again, confirmed the age old saying that it takes very little on one's part to light up others' lives. A bit of one's time, an appropriate gesture or sharing the pain goes a long way and mind you, it doesn't cost even a penny!


On the occasion, I was reminded of Mrs. Afshan Khan, our friend, who'd spent the entire day with Lekha while I was under the surgeon's knife for the removal of a troublesome stone from my urinary bladder, sometime in September last year. I guess I shall ever remain indebted to her for that wonderful gesture!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Heartless acts!

One of the inmates of this huge colony had recently gone away on transfer. During their stay out here, they had a Boxer as their pet. Each member of the family, as I gather, used to show off their prized possession and the people around considered them to be genuine dog lovers! Well, the real story has now come out in the open. They've left the dog back and gone off to their new destination.

The Boxer is still bewildered and used to move around like a stray animal. Luckily, there are genuine animal lovers too, in our midst and one such family has taken the hapless dog under its wings.

Who gave the right to people to bring up pets and then dump them once their interest had waned? Why do these people consider owning pets only as a status symbol? The psychology of a dog is that, when it gets dumped, it starts fretting and starts to believe that there's something seriously wrong with it. Its end is pretty quick thereafter. And I'm sure that the type of people, cited above, do not value relationships even with their own kith and kin. I sincerely wish that they're taught a lesson or two in life without delay!

Blast in Varanasi.

This evening's blast in the vicinity of the 'Sankat mochan' temple of Varanasi is another cowardly and heartless act by its perpetrators. The violent death of that infant, I'm sure, will haunt them for the times to come! Hope the culprits are brought to book and the sternest punishment meted out to send out a clear message to the would-be-defaulters!

Monday, December 6, 2010

We shall overcome!

As one watches the television these days, it's getting to be obvious that we're a land of the wheeler dealers, the fraudsters, the fixers and the ones who've the least interest to do things the right way. Am I over reacting? But tell me, what does one make out of this madness where at least one scam is being unearthed, everyday by the media, with a sickening regularity? Isn't there any institution that can be fearlessly pointed out to be absolutely corruption free?

What makes it worse is that the tainted people have no gumption to stand up and justify their wrongdoing while deflecting the blame on to their opponents. It simply doesn't make sense.

Or is it that there's a sustained effort by the country's enemies to discredit every institution so as to create a general sense of helplessness amongst the people? It goes without saying that all the scams must be investigated thoroughly and the guilty be brought to justice at the earliest. I'm sure that such a cleansing act will finally churn out good people from the society to come up and assume leadership to guide the country to a prosperous future and ultimate greatness.

Yes, we shall overcome!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Why did it happen so?

I'd mentioned earlier that I've two birthdays - one by the English calendar, which is 24 Nov and the other as per the Malayalam calendar, which turns up anywhere between the third week of November and the second week of December. Lekha is the only person who wishes me on both the dates and insists on giving me gifts on both occasions!

This year, however, it did not turn out to be so. Lekha has been going through a rough patch insofar as her illness is concerned and has been visiting the doctor for over the last four months for medical management. Probably it's because of her physical discomfort and this time, she was surprised herself that she'd missed out on 24 Nov and was very, very apologetic.

And today was my birthday as per the Malayalam calendar. She'd over the past few days bought a card, some clothes as gifts and had ordered for a cake! But early this morning I'd got up hearing her cry because of excruciating pain all over her body. It took some time to manage her discomfort and she was feeling guilty that my birthday had kicked off on this note. It took all my powers of conviction to put her at ease and to convey to her that her good health was the best birthday gift for me.

I think that the resurgence of her old ailment(SLE) and an early setting in of winter in Delhi have made matters worse for her this year. It's my fervent hope that once she reaches home and her dad on Tuesday, things will turn around for the better. She'd join up with me here, at Delhi, sometime during the third week of Feb '11 after the winter has receded.

And therefore, it's gonna be a long lonely winter!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Today's Navy day!

04 December is celebrated as Navy Day. It commemmorates the spectacular attack on Karachi by the IN's, then almost freshly inducted, Missile Boats on this date during the Indo-Pak war of 1971. The rest is history.

The Navy is a fine service where individuals have a wide ranging set of opportunities to attain professional satisfaction. And there's no job that matches a 'Command at sea'! Furthermore, the navy's uniqueness is that it's a very important arm of the nation's foreign policy wherein naval ships visit other countries to spread goodwill.

And of course, the white uniform has an irresistible charm! On a very personal note, the most poignant experience has been that of the combined effect of the sea and a star filled sky while sailing on a ship - man's ultimate blending with nature. A truly humbling experience!

So, three cheers to the Indian Navy and here's wishing it many, many more laurels in the years to come!!

Whither India?

Today, Sivaswamy Kalanidhi, a dear friend had called up from Bombay to update me about his whereabouts. Kals, as he's known to his contemporaries, is simple, straight forward and always does things the right way.He'd been away in Madras for the last one month, calling on his near relatives and tying up things that had required his personal attention.

But on his return today and to his bewilderment, he found that somebody had vandalised his two wheeler. And the culprit is a local goon of sorts who was asked by Kals 'to behave' when he found him indulging in malpractices, prior to his trip to Madras.

Kals, however is unfazed and says that he'll make the goon understand by his methods - Gandhigiri of sorts, yet again. Here's wishing him the very best.

But what the hell' s happening in this country? Each and everyone seems to be taking the law in his own hands. Good people from the society must come together and nip this ugly tendency before it reaches a point of no return. And that's why I want Kals to succeed!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Today's a special day!

Today is 'World Disabled Day' and I'd prefer calling it 'the World Physically Challenged Day'.

Our country has come a long way in accommodating this sizeable population with compassion and empathy. Public utilities like the transportation system and its associated utility services like the airports, railway stations and bus stations have catered for the welfare of this cross section of the society and it's indeed a step in the right direction. But we need to do much more with a generous spirit of accommodation.

While taking a solemn pledge to contribute my mite towards the betterment of this population, it's my fond hope that the society, at large, would take care of them wholeheartedly and sincerely!

And to Aviraj and Arzoo, lots and lots of love with the best of wishes. May God be with you always. Here's a promise that I shall endeavour to be with you, always and everytime.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Delhi diary.

It's December and we're in the last month of 2010 but it seems that we'd rung in the year just the other day. How time has flown, at an amazingly incredible pace - one can't even comprehend. The cold is biting and for a thoroughbred 'mallu' like me it's almost like being at the poles. The layers of clothing are a pain but essential to keep the cold away.

A series of scams have, otherwise, heated up the atmosphere. The parliament, supposed to be in session, is in a state of suspended animation and an amicable end doesn't seem to be anywhere in sight. Spokespersons from various political parties give their soundbytes through the media, ostensibly for our benefit, making us feel that we are all a bunch of idiots! And how long will the actually corrupt guys take to own up their mistakes and undergo the logical course of the law?

In the midst of all this, I'm amused by the 'mallu' angle in the scam. I mean, the malayalees have been in the news recently for their superb showing at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and the recently concluded Asian Games at Guangzhou besides excelling in varied fields all the year round! But sadly, now even in this aspect! And that's what deepens the angst.

The CVC, continues to make a mess of the circumstances and in the process, makes it somewhat clear that he's playing out his final act in public life. Did he have to go through this ignominy? Absolutely not, if he'd refused to become the CVC when his name was being linked to the infamous and by now, the vintage 'palmolein deal'(Karunakaran's rough days seem to be just round the corner) of Kerala and the recent 2G spectrum auction scandal!

While the political atmosphere has been heating up, the Delhi police has also been kept on its toes thanks to the rape of a young lady from Mizoram, by serial offenders, near Dhaula Kuan just a stone's throw away from where I live. Three of the accused seem to have been nabbed but what about the remaining two?
I've always felt that the Delhi police have a tough job in hand. Approximately within a distance of 25 - 30 km, a miscreant after having committed a crime within the city can slip into the neighbouring state without getting caught. Yet, despite this handicap and the meagre resources it has, they're doing a good job and we, as Delhi's citizens need to help them in their endeavours. I'm sure that they'd be able to nab all the culprits in this case as quickly as possible!

Hope things clear up at the earliest and the culprits are brought to book so that we can ring in 2011 and make it a wonderful year for all of us!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An embarassing experience!

This morning I'd gone to attend a meeting which lasted for almost an hour and a half. As I came out of the venue of the meeting, I quickly charged into a nearby rest room to relieve my overburdened bladder. Despite my hurry, I was surprised to see the room devoid of the standing cubicles, but mentally attributed their absence to the vintage of the building and proceeded to carry out the ritual that I'd come in for, in one of the WCs at hand, without even bothering to bolt the door!

I guess God and luck were by my side today. As a 'relieved' me came out of the rest room, I saw three ladies entering and it was then that it dawned on me that I'd done my job in the ladies' rest room! Profusely apologising to them, I then made a quick, sheepish exit and it was yet another occasion when I'd wanted to shrink into my clothes!

My 'timing' seemed to be just right for saving me from a massive embarassment and excused me from giving feeble explanations later!

A sad footnote.

Over the weekend, the Surya Malayalam news channel covered the plight of Sangeetha, a young lady who' d chucked up her job, got soon after having attained graduation. She had taken this step to look after her ailing and bed ridden mother. They stayed in a wretched hut in the outskirts of the city of Thiruvananthapuram and were going through tough times to make both ends meet.

Once the news of their poverty had entered the public domain, there were quite a few good samaritans willing to offer help. But, alas, when one such group came knocking to give them hope, they were witness to the ghastly sight of the lifeless body of the young lady hanging from the roof and her mother's dead body down on the floor.

Why did Sangeetha end her life? Was she so overwelmed by her mother's death that she decided to end her life too? Or was she too proud of being supported by others without any effort on her part? I suppose these questions will remain unanswered and go alongwith them to their graves.

Here's me saying a silent prayer for them. RIP.