Monday, January 31, 2011

Kuch dil ne kaha!

At 2200h on Mondays and Tuesdays, there's a lovely musical programme called 'Kuch dil ne kaha' on the Doordarshan national hookup, which I'm hooked on. Currently, it's compered by the lovely and spirited Mouli Ganguly. Tonight, it was the continuation of the repertoire of the late RD Burman's work. And it was a lovely trip down memory lane.

RD Burman was indeed a maestro who experimented with music and the numerous classics that he's churned out, during his lifetime, shall always remain evergreen in every Indian heart. To my mind, his greatness has been that he did not get bogged down by one particular type of music and its testimony is that his music appeals to every cross section of the society, even to this day.

For me, it was a double delight of sorts spilling over from the weekend with a 'Waheeda Rehman special' on Sunday's Rangoli followed by this Kishore Kumar special.

Good, soulful music always perks me up and sends my spirits soaring! Hope there are many, many more of such occasions!!

What's happening to Egypt?

After almost 30 years in power, it's sad that a dictator like Hosni Mubarak did not fulfill the hopes and aspirations of his people. Rampant corruption, blatant nepotism and the widening gap between the rich and the poor has finally precipitated into the current turmoil. If he's smart enough, he must give up power and make himself available to his people for an impartial enquiry into the omissions and commissions of his long tenure as the country's head!

We are indeed passing through very, very interesting times in history!!

And yes, the big event of the day went off well without any glitches. The advantage was that people were impressed that I could take the exercise on, soon after taking over. But frankly, if you're to ask me, it was no big deal and anyone could have pulled it off with the right homework.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Am I becoming a 'Nostradamus'?

It was not very gladdening news regarding the arrival of my Cruze. The carrier conveying my vehicle alongwith eight others has its axle broken and is being tended to in Ahmednagar. It should recommence its journey by early morning tomorrow and consequently, the transporter has revised its ETA at Kochi, to this Friday. It's my fond hope that this new estimation is gonna be sacrosanct.

When the car was loaded at Delhi on 17 Jan, things went off with clockwork precision and I'd heaved a sigh of relief but the pessimist in me wondered about the glitches - the worst possible scenarios conjured up in my mind - enroute! Surprisingly, my premonition seems to have come true. Am I another 'Nostradamus - the man who saw tomorrow' in the making?

A working Sunday.

Since my boys were getting things done for the big event on Monday, it's a normal day for me today, workwise. Working in an environment when all the others are on holiday - there's an eerie silence as all the shops are closed and the roads, deserted - is a different experience by itself! Anyways, I didn't mind the activity as it gave me ample opportunity to understand my boys and the intricacies of my new work.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A touching tribute.

I'd the privilege of watching the Asianet - Ujala Film Awards. Not only was it colourful, but it also matched the Filmfare Awards in grandeur and substance. And most of the Malayalam film fraternity was in attendance showing the stature it has achieved over the years.

This year's awards ceremony had an additional flavour, in that, Amitabh Bachchan was felicitated with the 'lifetime achievement award' for his contribution to cinema. And the mallus did it in style by putting up a collage of songs from the movies that he'd done over the years before the final act of handing over the award. And clearly, the actor was moved.

I am told that it's only the Malayalam film industry that has done so! And the reason is that his movie 'Kandahar' with Mohanlal has been released just last month!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

I've got hooked!

At my new workspot, the newspaper that comes alongwith my morning cup of tea is the highly popular 'The New Indian Express'. I've been trying to get used to the change but find that I too have become partial towards the 'Times of India' owing, perhaps, to the force of habit over the past 101/2 years of seeing it every morning. And unfortunately, I don't get the thrill of reading the newspaper from its 'ethernet' edition!

The funniest thing is that there was a time when I'd feel that I'd not done anything for the day if I'd not read the Indian Express, simply because I'd grown up with this newspaper as it used to be subscribed for by my parents since my childhood.

From tomorrow, therefore, I'm gonna get my copy of the TOI - though, not in the morning - since Kochi gets to see it only around noon. Now, that's the state of affairs in today's age of high speed communications and connectivity. But what the hell, I shall suffer the delay and I'm all excited!

Talk about brand loyalty, huh?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My new friends.

Next to my cabin, where I stay these days, are two little girls - Simran and Samira - who're my newest friends. The former is in class VIII while the latter is in class IV and they're Jaswinder's daughters who was my shipmate not very long ago. It's indeed a treat to interact with those kids as they're smart, well behaved and simply adorable!

Where does love go?

I'd a youngster with me who'd opened up about how he was unable to do things of his calling because his wife would not let him do so. Theirs was a love marriage, each were from different religious backgrounds and had created a furore amongst their families on wedlock. They've two sons who're studying in Delhi - the elder one's doing Engineering and the other is doing class XII.
The husband seems to be a bit tired of it all by now and says that he's going along for the sake of their sons! His wife has a problem with his parents - who're elderly and sick - and that seems to have sapped his vitality and energy. He's a pale imitation of his former self that I'd seen about eight years back.

What happens to love in the course of living one's life? I was under the impression that the bond got stronger while understanding each other's strengths and weaknesses, on staying together over a period of time. And married life was all about give and take by both the parties.

It's my fervent hope that they find their love back and towards this end, their sons would be the catalyst.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's time to hang our heads in shame!

The brutal killing of Yashwant Sonawane, the Addl District Collector of Nasik, by the oil mafia on the eve of the Republic Day has brought us immense sadness and all right thinking Indians ought to hang their heads in shame. How can such an act take place in public and what was the crowd doing? It's poetic justice that the guy who'd actually torched the Collector is himself battling for life with third degree burns!

And more cases of high handedness (mind you, these are the ones covered by the media), I'm sure there're many, many more cases that've not been reported:-
(a) Chandrakant Patkar, Civil Engineer of the Kalyan Municipal Corporation killed for trying
to collect electricity dues from a local politician.
(b) Vikrant Karnik, an RTI activist stabbed repeatedly for questioning CRZ violations by builders/politicians in Bombay.
(c) Amarnath Pandey, another RTI activist shot at for raising the BDO's corrupt practices with
the NREGS funds in a district of UP.

Against this backdrop, as I watched the Republic Day celebrations of Delhi, on TV, I felt a tremendous amount of melancholy and on a personal note, felt that there was nothing to rejoice if the law of the jungle were to prevail upon this country. It's my fond hope that the perpetrators of the crime are brought to book at the earliest.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A quick end to a prolonged exercise!

On taking up my new assignment, I was briefed about a nagging case that has been dragging in court for over a decade or so. I'd asked for the relevant documents and briefing on the subject. After reading through the voluminous bundle, I was convinced that the fundamental problem was the ego of the lawyer and his associates who're handling the case. There were times when the advocate had given an appointment, only to cancel it at the last moment, simply because he was belittled by some worthy, from our side, earlier for reasons unknown.

After poring through the connected file and after pinpointing the actual reason, I'd asked my boys to take up an appointment for me with the lawyer which was granted at the second attempt. And this afternoon, around 1500h, I'd the pleasure of meeting with the gentleman whose office was in a bylane and reaching there through the mad Kochi traffic, at that hour, put all the skills of Balraj, my 'saarthi', to test!

Fifteen minutes of interaction with the lawyer was enough to find a solution to the vexed issue and he was more than eager to get the thing sorted out. For my guys who were with me, it was an achievement and a fantastic job done. No, I don't claim to be a seasoned troubleshooter nor am I a skilled negotiator(I lose my patience pretty fast). What I did was to appeal to his conscience, get him to understand the urgency of killing the issue and whatever I'd spoken was straight from my heart.

Probably, by visiting him in his den, I'd inadvertently played up to his ego. I ain't bothered because the thorny issue is soon gonna be a thing of the past!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is memory!

The music maestro, Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi has passed into memory. His mellifluous music drew one towards it like a strong magnet. I must admit that I do not understand the difference between a 'khayal' from an 'abhang' but I enjoy music of every kind and I really liked to hear his recitals. And yes, I do admit that I'm an ignoramus on this front.
What made him human is the fact that he had a passion for fast cars(he drove a Merc) and he loved his drinks! Panditji, you shall continue to live on through your music.
Here's wishing that God gives his family the strength to tide over this irrepairable loss. RIP.

The shamelessness continues.

There used to be a time, in the not too distant past, when political leaders sitting on important chairs of the government resigned unconditionally or offered to resign when they came under a cloud of impropriety. The late Lal Bahadur Shastri's resignation as Railway Minister, taking responsibilty for a gruesome rail accident that had happened then, comes to my mind as the best example.

Against that backdrop, the Karnataka Chief Minister Yeddiyurappa's shenanigans seem to be an act of desperation to cling on to his current chair. His argument that the Karnataka Governor's - the sad part is that he too has not been above board in his political life, thus far, which makes matters even worse - actions smack of partisanship does not hold water. He simply needs to clear his name off the land scams and for that, his first action is to resign forthwith! Otherwise, he's letting down his fellow 'Kannadigas' very badly.

Is it really an act of patriotism?

The BJP's determination to hoist the Indian tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar seems to be gathering a lot of heat for all the wrong reasons. Sadly, its related news has almost taken the heat off the numerous scams that had come out in recent times, as well as, the scorching rise of prices of essential commodities.
So a cynic of the system, like me, wonders as to whether the game is being played out by the party in power and the opposition to divert public attention from actual issues like say, the impending Wikipaedia leaks of the names of Indians who've stashed away ill gotten wealth in the Swiss Banks? These guys sure have a very low opinion about the common man's intelligence!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My weekend musings.

Despite my efforts, I find myself thoroughly disorganised from my recent shift. I'd wanted to do all the things that I did without any break, but to cite just an example, I've not been able to post my thoughts of Saturday on this masthead. And mind you I've a laptop but have not been able to own a telephone connection jack as yet! So much about my 'organised' disorderliness.

RIP Jagadeesan.
In the wee hours of Saturday, Lekha'd rung me up saying that Jagadeesan(brother of Murukesan, Lekha's eldest brother-in-law and all of 49 years) had passed away sometime past midnight. The family lives in Rajapalayam - a sleepy hamlet in Tamilnadu somewhere on the Kollam - Shencottai - Madurai - Madras Egmore line. By the time I'd made a connect with his immediate family members, an ophthalmologist was in the process of removing the eyes for transplant. Further, Jagadeesan had also pledged his kidneys for transplant and his body for medical research! A noble deed indeed by a very unassuming man as I understood him. I'd met him for the first and sadly, the only time, sometime in early Jan 2001. A quiet and unassuming guy, he leaves behind his wife and a son, who's just finished his course in Engineering.
Jagadeesan, by offering your body for the good of the society, you've shown that you're indeed a true hero and I salute you for your noble deed. The receipients of your organs will keep you alive in the years to come and your action shall always be inspirational to the others. RIP!

Another reunion.
I was on the lookout for the barber, to get my unruly hair under check, so that my appearance was okay, before I took over my new appointment on Monday. In fact, I'd got exasperated since the person who was supposed to come by did not fetch up. So, when I was on my evening walk, I decided to call up the guy from his shop and no sooner did he see me, there was a wide grin on his face literally asking me as to whether I'd not recognised him. It was Ramji Thakur, from Bihar, who'd done my hair many-a-time in the past during my earlier stint in Kochi. I must shamefacedly, admit that I didn't remember his name. Did he feel bad? I'm sure, I'd let him down and he was crestfallen but he did not show it. My apologies Ramji, for being shallow!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Retracing my roots!

As the day unfurled, it was a journey, of sorts, into the past. And I'd reiterated it to myself that the emphasis was to make contact with every single man that I come across this day and for the subsequent days, as each one of them is going to play a significant role in my life for the coming months. It was, therefore, my need to understand what actuates them and what bothered them.

There were my friends and well wishers who're generally happy to have me back as though they expected me to bring about a spectacular change and I was definitely surprised because you must understand that I'm still in mourning (at having left Delhi, if you please!).

As I went about putting my personal things on track I'd made a visit to the good 'ole 'Malabar Tailors' to place an order for a fresh set of uniforms. They're thrilled that I'd visited them and reiterated my loyalty as their trustworthy customer. And mind you, many people had tried dissuading me from going there on two counts:-
(a) There were guys within reach who could do the same thing and anyways, why sweat on quality when it comes to uniform? In other words, anything goes.
(b) Going towards broadway(mind you, in the '70s when this road was constructed it had a breadth of 100ft and was tom tommed as the widest road in the area and hence, christened 'broadway'. Today, it's hopelessly narrow and is witness to many a traffic snarl) during working hours is a nightmare and so why go through it if one can avoid it?

The reception that I got at the 'Malabar's Tailors' told me that I'd indeed taken the right decision!! Day 1 in Kochi, thus far, has gone off fine.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I've only words to take your heart away!

As I pulled out my existing telephone and internet connections at home, for the final handing over, I felt that my last life support system with Delhi was being snapped and consequently, felt a twinge of nostalgia. The packing of personal effects was finally achieved before noon, phew! The telephone rings were incessant and an erratic Airtel coverage made my visits to the balcony quite frequent, much to my discomfort in the cold, to respond to them.

The day'd started at 6, with me calling up my 'maasi' to wish her happy returns as today happens to be her 73rd birthday. The poor lady has had a fall while returning from a nearby temple, a couple of days back, but sounded quite glad to hear me and I was the first to wish her. She cutely put it that that's the way she liked it - well, that was damn cute of her and my day was made!

The flight to Kochi was uneventful and quiet, though, we're 20 minutes behind schedule. But thanks to the inflight entertainment system, I was able to connect to soulful music of the past of the very popular group 'Boyzone' whose evergreen number was savoured for the nth time - 'It's only words and words are all I have
To take your heart away'.

Delhi to Kochi by three and a half hours and yet another chapter of my life has begun!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My last day in office.

It was a touching day at the office today when my staff showed a rainbow of emotions on my imminent departure. Right from the first hour, people came to me with their show of warmth and the 'will be missing you' line. It definitely was an ego booster but from deep within me, the question that kept coming at me was as to what I'd done for such extreme display of finer feelings. Frankly, I've not done anything out of the way and all that I did was to do my job to the best of my ability. And as I'd told them in my valedictory speech, I put my mind to the work at hand and spoke, always from my heart - the recipe had never failed me.

But I now realise that I can stand for elections and I'm sure to win hands down as I've it in me to get people to understand and view things from my point of view! Should I've a 'Gandhi topi' stitched and kept ready for me?

The afternoon get together at the Kota House bar was a short but sweet affair. And as I was slowly getting nice and high, my coursemate Naresh Kalia, who happened to pass by then reminded me about his son's reception at the same venue in the evening and warned me of dire consequences if I did not make it. So, it's gonna be a double whammy in indulgence for me today!

I think I'll jog in the evening instead of my regular walk to get the Brandy-Ginger Ale concoction out of my system!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The many(?) faces of Kerala.

The intolerant.
A young dalit had died and his body has been lying in the mortuary of a hospital in Pathanamthitta for the last eight days. And the reason for this inordinate delay in performing his last rites - the church, that he's a part of, has refused to go through the full rituals before burial because he was not a regular churchgoer!
And I thought the Church was always compassionate!!

The compassionate.
It's the first of its kind in the state - the inauguration of a 'kidney bank' which will be supported by 'kidney donation centres' in each of the 14 district headquarters. The donors will register their names in these units and the family of the receiver, in return, promises and registers a donor from amongst them to pass on the kindness received by them to the society.
A truly noble as well as a novel idea!!

The mediator.
Impromptu settlement courts are going to dot the countryside which will have respectable people overseeing resolution of disputes, amongst people, outside the ambit of the judiciary where cases have taken years to be settled thanks to being overburdened. Actually, the PN Panicker Foundation under the able guidance of Justice VR Krishna Iyer had pioneered in this field to bring about a 'litigation free' panchayat in Kazhakootam.
A fond hope that the usually aggressive Malayalee learns to forgive and forget!!

The push to win at all costs.
The annual school cultural festival is right now on in full swing at Kottayam. At the end of the festival, the most talented boy and girl are awarded the 'kalaprathibha' and 'kalathilakom' titles, which open a whole new world for the winners. Hence the competition gets vitiated as parents enter into disputes on perceived wrongdoings on their children by the judges and towards the run up to the finals this year, there was a bizarre case of one of the judges slapping the mother of a child! I remember one of my aunts telling her son years back, when he did not make it in the finals, that the winner had got the results fudged by his parents in connivance with the judjes. I was aghast, because the kid had to be taught to lose graciously with the right advice from the parents and instead, my maasi was poisoning his young mind.
If I were to conduct this event, I'd insist on keeping the parents away from the festival.
It's my fond hope that this year the results would be above board!!

The paradoxical tailpiece.
The wife beater diplomat, Anil Verma, is being let off lightly - seemingly so - by the MEA headed by a lady and that too, a mallu!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's finally worked!

The relentless pressure put on by the media has finally brought in results. The rape victim of Banda, in UP has been released from jail and the villain of the piece has been taken into custody by the police or is it a farce? An ever prying media is a must to net the big sharks who use every power in their hands to hoodwink the system!

Having said this, why's the law taking its time to bring Kalmadi and his ilk to book? I wonder as to how these shameless guys have the guts to move in front of the media cameras, holding their heads high and giving off soundbytes at the drop of a hat? Do these people feel that they can get away with anything using their wealth? Or are they just not bothered about the common man's opinions? The common man be damned, eh?

The latest tape/CDs that have been handed over to the Wikileaks by an ex-Swiss bank official are going to raise a hornet's nest once the contents are made public. The phenomenon of making a fast buck and stashing the unholy wealth in Swiss banks was always known and quite a few of our politicians, with 'lily white' reputation, are gonna bite the dust. It would be very interesting to see what excuses they'd come up with to cover their misdemeanour!

These days the news has become interesting and has started resembling a long and absurd 'soap' with the most unexpected twists and turns! It would be worthwhile to note as to who's not corrupt? A tough proposition indeed!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A wonderful stag evening!

Randeep(45 NDA), Chaitanya(48 NDA) and self(49 NDA) had conglomerated at the Army Golf Club this evening to bid farewell to yours truly on a preliminary basis and since our wives were out of town, it turned out to be a stag evening! It was also convenient and coincidental since the fourth guy(a non ex-NDA, though a good friend) couldn't make it for the do owing to last minute commitments. Does it sound conspiratorial? If yes, I must emphasise that none of us had a hand in it but for the evening that had unfurled in this fashion!!

And it was a wonderful passage through time when we started from our Academy days, went through our service lives to end up in the present time zone. The anecdotes, the jokes and certain events that happened during the vast canvas of time had us in splits and the people in the nearby surroundings must have labelled us as crazy, if not outright mad! It definitely was a delightful get together and we've promised to meet yet again once our wives are back in town, a few weeks from now.

Just to set the records straight, Randeep was a fifth term 'Sergeant' of Golf Squadron, Chaitanya was a rookie second termer of Lima Squadron while I was a first termer of Hunter Squadron during Spring '73. While Randeep's and my paths had crossed many a time at the Academy, usually for the wrong reasons(the 'sarges' were the guardians of discipline, which was curiously putrid at the beginning of a term when all of us would have had, just, returned from our homes after the term breaks), I got to know Chaitanya more closely when we were together on board INS Amba, much later in 1981!

It was nice to be the 'baby' of the gathering when your seniors felt that you're indeed a babe-in-the-woods and needed to be taken care of. But what I'd wanted to accentuate was that the 'au revoir' sessions have been taking place, everyday, for the past 10 days and the rich food that I've been privy to, at these wonderful get togethers, have taken their toll on my system.

Much to my consternation, I find that I ain't comfortable with all the frills. I'm essentially a 'daal chaaval' man - maybe, a bit too rustic!?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A nice, quiet day.

It was a day of reading, listening to music and catching up with a few of my classmates. The sun was fairly strong and the cold has dipped in intensity. There was a lot to be done on my impending move and the list of activities, that needed to be done within the coming week, has been steadily swelling. And it's my fervent hope that nothing gets missed out in the maze of activities!
* * *
The afternoon was ideal for a long drive and I decided to do just that in my Cruze. Since the traffic was sparse, driving on the wide Delhi roads was indeed a pleasant experience which I'm surely gonna miss in my new assignment. One can't have everything, can one?
* * *
I'd bought a few blankets to be distributed to the people at the 'winter shelters' which is something that I do periodically during this period and derive a tremendous sense of satisfaction. Though I know that what I'm doing does not alleviate their problems or difficulties, I'd like to contribute in a small measure to give at least a few of them a temporary state of euphoria!
* * *
Yet another day is passing and I'm reminded of Pink Floyd's 'Time', the gist of which I reproduce below:-
"You run and you run
And you race with the sun.
The sun's the same in a relative way
It overtakes you to be behind you the next day
And you're one more day closer to death".

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tragedy at Sabarimala.

14 January sees a huge crowd of devotees at the Sabarimala shrine every year. This is because a devotee has the twin advantage of having the 'darshan' of the God and also a glimpse of the 'Makarajyothi' that lights up at the nearby hill only on that day. This year the crowd of pilgrims have been unprecedented. And the stampede caused by the returning devotees - wonder what the reason was - had caused the unfortunate loss of lives.

As I'd recounted earlier, I've been to Sabarimala eighteen times on the trot and most of the places, that are being talked about, are familiar as I've passed through them during my forays but must, however, admit that the place that has come live now - thanks to the tragedy - has never been crossed or passed through by me as I'd frequented a different route.

One of the beliefs associated with the Sabarimala pilgrimage is that a pilgrim can leave this earthly life anytime during the trek, on God's calling and towards that end, when the pilgrim breaks the coconut after the preparatory 'puja' and leaves for the shrine, a lamp is lit which only gets put off on his/her safe return!

Hope those 100 odd unfortunate pilgrims who lost their lives have attained their heavenly abode. And I offer my humble prayers.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why the reticence?

The Chinese are again upto mischief with their repeat insistence of stapled visas for people from Arunachal Pradesh. And mind you, this incident comes close on the heels of the PLA Army's incursions into Ladakh to stop governmental projects in progress, by threatening the local contractors. In the meanwhile, frenetic work on laying of roads, shelters or watch towers on their side of the border goes on unabated.

Why're we allowing those guys to bully us? Why can't we take a firm stand and show them that our patience is running thin and they'd better not mess with us. There's a limit to our patience and double speak, on their part is simply not acceptable, even tenable.

We cannot afford to be meek and need to call the Chinese bluff, forthwith without any hesitation!

A pleasant and welcome break in the cold!
The cold has suddenly reduced today and the sun was strong for a change. There was no westerly disturbance - a euphemism for a perceptible chill factor! Wonder how long it's gonna last as winter in Delhi is far from over. Probably, nature is also celebrating the festival of 'Lohri'. As I punch in these words of mine, there's a lot of gaiety and singing down below this block and one can't help but be part of the celebrations, albeit mentally!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Deeply distressing!

The senseless death of an eatery executive, thanks to roadrage and caused by an aviation pilot
at the Khan Market in Delhi really distresses me. Having the propensity myself,to fly off the handle
at times when I see things going wrong, I've paused to ponder as to whether it's really worth it
in the final reckoning - and that too, for a few scratches on one's car?

The pressures of life, coupled with some boorish behaviour from without, is a perfect recipe
for disaster.

I've analysed that it takes quite a bit of time for me to get angry or provoked, but having crossed
the threshold it takes a bit of time to cool down. Contemplation over long walks, meditation and to
a small extent, yoga have helped me in controlling this aspect but there's ample scope for improvement!

The villain's still at large.

The bizarre spectacle of Mayawati's MLA, charged with raping a minor - and the hapless victim paradoxically languishing in jail - moving freely and mouthing inanities, makes me feel angry. And what makes matters worse is that none of the high flying visitors in UP, like the Gandhi cousins, have had the time to meet the victim. Sadly, all politicians - young or old - are of the same genre in terms of humaneness; all of them seem to be bothered about their image and nothing else!

And it's a shame that Mayawati, herself, has not reacted to this date! How can a leader be so heartless? So shameless? It baffles me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My buying spree!

Since I was back from a break, I'd to stock up provisions and grocery for our maid to take care of my gastronomical needs over the next week. And just before I ventured out to the nearby market, I'd asked her to give me a list of items that were required.

And like a dutiful guy - I did not want her to feel that I was scrounging nor did I want her to rack her brains over trivia concerning my food requirements. Food is my last priority, one must eat to survive, that's my motto - I was back from the market with the stuff.

It was only when I saw the maid's expression did I realise that I'd gone overboard on my buying spree. Frankly, I'd not bothered about the prices and as I'd said the underlying factor which prompted me during my foray into the market was that she had to be given what she needed! Onions, ginger and whatnot @ the prevalent rates did not deter my enthusiasm but must have made her feel guilty.

My reply to her surprise was a sheepish grin. Even the Ambani brothers might not have done things on this scale!

Wonder whether the grocer had a hearty laugh at my expense?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Simply overwhelming!

It was a day when people showed as to how much they cared. There were a string of calls to know the details about my impending move out of Delhi. Help has been promised and details outlined for making the procedure of shifting berth as unobtrusive, as possible. It's wonderful to have friends like these, one can never go wrong!

As I begin winding up my present establishment, there has been an outpouring of feelings and cute gestures by the circle of friends that we've acquired during our stay here. Even the biting cold hasn't been a dampener in the manner that many of them have looked after me. I really feel privileged and would like to believe that the members of this extended family have given us - Lekha and me - a special place in their hearts.

I guess I shall ever remain indebted to each one of them for the kindness that they've showered upon us. Is there anything else that one requires in life? I hope that we can reciprocate, in some small measure, as early as possible.

Simply overwhelming!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A delightful journey.

After the customary farewells, I was off on the return leg of my journey with much trepidation about the weather at Delhi and the ability to be back at my place, at the appointed hour. Well, I found that my fears were totally unfounded and could reach my destination, albeit an hour late and the cold hit me with all its ferocity!

It was, however, yet another friend that I'd picked up - the young lady, Smita was on the adjacent seat - during the flight and the interaction with her that made the journey, of over four hours, memorable. Her good upbringing with the right value system was evident from the start. She's chirpy, very full of life and could laugh at herself. And the striking thing about her's that she's matured, far beyond her age, in her overall outlook towards life. She has varied interests, is currently working for an MNC and dotes on her six-and-a-half year old daughter, Neelu. And mind you, she's had a sad experience in life and anyone else in her place would have broken long before.

Smita Nair, continue being what you are and keep smiling. Here's me wishing you the very best in all your endeavours and may God be with you, always and everytime!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A day of travel and meeting up with old friends!

I was off to Kottayam alongwith my classmates, Padmasenan & his wife, Sujatha and Deric. The drive to the Baselios College at Kottayam and the church close by was a nice one with us catching up from where we'd left last and recounting the humorous episodes at school.

The wedding at the church, was as usual, elegant with an aristocratic touch. I was glad that I was fortunate that I could make it and then, it was the bonhomie between us classmates that was of interest to the other guests who also indulged in our boisterousness. After blessing the newly wedded couple and their parents, it was time to oblige the shutterbugs for capturing all of us for posterity.

By evening, I was back at 'chellakkili's' house and had the occasion to meet a few more of our friends. All in all, it was a day well spent! Meera and Siddharth dropped in and it was a sober get together. It's over a year since Rebu had passed away and I'm happy that Sucy has put her grief behind her to get seriously involved in the training activity that she's a master at!
The troubled father brought his daughter to have a detailed discussions with the lawyer for the way ahead. In my analysis, the young lady was still too early for marriage and perhaps, the incompatibility started from that point. I've promised to hear the boy's version before legal action is initiated for a separation and this has been generally agreed to by all parties!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A wonderful experience!

My flight took off an hour late from Delhi and reached Hyderabad by 1230h, an hour behind schedule. What amused me greatly was a horde of 'Ayyappa' devotees emplaining from there for their onward pilgrimage. They're in the traditional blacks and barefooted, much to the amusement of some of their copassengers and to an honest doubt raised by one amongst them, as to whether these pilgrims were doing the right thing by jetting down to their destination, I'd to explain to them that the good God, Lord Ayyappa, expected his devotees to trek the last five kms from the River Pamba to his sanctum sanctorum, perched upon the hill and they're free to use whatever conveyance they garnered to reach the base, at the River Pamba and hence, they're very much in the right to do so!

I also had the opportunity to see my new perch . Well, it's a nice place and I'd the privilege of meeting almost all the members of the team. My first impression about them was that the guys were capable and eager to pull along with me, as a new team.

Was finally at my cousin, chellakkili's house before sundown. It's always great to be here and to meet my two aunts - Ramakrishnan's mom(she's 96 years old) and chellakkili's mom(and she's 76) and our other friends. The gentleman who'd spoken about his daughter's incompatible marriage found time to drop in and it was heart rending to hear his story, first hand.


I was amazed by the story that the guy connected with the fraud SEBI letter and the whacking of about Rs. 300 cr of the investors'(the fact that none of them has made it a point to lodge a complaint against him show that, perhaps, their own wealth is suspect!)who're banking on him. What, saddened me, however, was that his grandparents and parents seemed to have been aware of his actions and they're his silent partners in crime.

And I thought that one's grandparents and parents were the harbingers of truth, always and everytime. I feel sorry for you Mr. Puri, for having such lousy grandparents/ parents! They're the people who need to be taken to task much before you!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

On a short trip.

It's time for a short trip and a break from the biting cold of Delhi, albeit for a very short while. The theme will be to meet as many people as possible, renew ties that bind and also get to know first hand about my new perch.

Getting into the travelling frequency from an inertia, that had set in, was a bit difficult but was accomplished with the minimum of fuss! It's always the case that something, that cannot wait and needs to be accomplished forthwith, has a way of cropping up at the last moment. It was no different this time too but things have been put on track and anyways, the weekend is a great show stopper!

Hope the fog doesn't play spoil sport and the journey is gonna be uneventful. And yes, must finish Bryson's 'A Short History About Everything' over this journey!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


For a person like Rupam Pathak of Purnea to take the law into her hands, one must understand the extent of revulsion that she must have accumulated, over a period, for the deceased beast. It is also a sad reflection of the complete loss of faith in governmental agencies and the law, in general, amongst the common man.

* * *

By dodging the public eye(how long can he go on like this?), the former CJI is lending credence to all the allegations heaped against him. I can understand the anguish in Justice Krishna Iyer's outburst on the entire episode! In fact, his crisp statement, "when speech is a necessity, silence is a crime", sums up as to what Mr. Balakrishnan must do forthwith!

* * *

Has the government been seized with a hopeless state of inaction, as Arnab Goswami of Times Now asks?Why isn't it taking action on throwing out Thomas - the CVC, Balakrishnan - the NHRC head and alongwith them haul Raja, Kalmadi and the perpetrators of the Adarsh housing scam for their misdeeds and bring them to book forthwith?

* * *

And why isn't Mayawati's MLA, who'd raped a minor, still walking free? Where's the opposition, where are the NGOs and above all, where's the public anguish over something that's blatantly not correct? Are we so insensitive or is it that the girl is not worth fighting for, as she comes from the weakest section of society?

* * *

Aparna(my buddy from the airport) and Rajiv are a twosome. They'd spent some time with me this afternoon to confirm their togetherness! My good wishes for them!!

* * *

My father-in-law's surgery went off as per schedule this afternoon. On a reassessment by the medical team, the amputation has been restricted to about three inches upwards, from the ankle. Almost the entire family was there beside him and that reduced his anguish, I'm sure, from what I'd heard from the people at the scene and of course, from Lekha. He did cry a lot, it seems, but's slowly coming to grips with the situation!

* * *

The cold in Delhi continues to get intense on a relentless note and the fog continues to play its game of hide and seek!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I can be nasty if you please!

This evening, soon after work there was a birthday party of a little child that I'd to attend. It was a wonderful get together that had quite a few faces that I was familiar with and I was enjoying the interaction. Soon, topics were covered with an amazing frequency that covered a wide canvas, beginning with the weather that has been really harsh of late! Such meetings help in doing unfinished work, clears doubts that perk up and end up with promises of interacting further. All in all, quite a lot of ground is covered without having to waste time, otherwise.

It was then that I bumped into a long lost friend with whom I've had a wonderful relationship earlier as we started through the paces of our career. However, somewhere down the line, I felt that he and his family did not have much time for me probably, because the priorities of life must have dictated a change. But frankly, I was a bit puzzled at that point of time because almost all my relationships that I've formed, over the years, have a strong foundation and I'd like to believe that they can never wilt or wither away! I must say that I was disheartened over the cooling off and had come to the conclusion that it was the way it was destined to be.

So, when I came across the couple, I was surprised that I no more had the thrill of meeting them though they showed great happiness. As we exchanged pleasantries, I found that I was unable to go beyond the superficiality and wanted to get away. I think it was then that I was invited to their place over the weekend and I couldn't find any worthwhile answer to cobble up.

To a query as to whether I was busy, the answer that I gave dazed me, ' I've the time but no more the inclination' and walked away as I found that I'd begun hurting! Yes, I can be nasty, real nasty!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

My father-in-law's difficult times.

The man with the strange initials - VO Nair (Vazhuvelil Oonnikrishnan Nair) - that was my first observation about my would be father-in-law in the run up to my marriage! He's passing through difficult times.

Lekha had called me up this evening to tell me about her father's impending surgery. His right leg is going to be amputated from a bit above the knee. A wound that he'd on one of his toes had festered over a period of time(he's badly diabetic), giving the doctors no other option but to remove the gangrenous portions without much ado. I believe he'd wept after hearing his doctor at the Kovai Medical Centre.

My father-in-law is a very strange person. He exhibits a tough exterior but has a soft interior. Since my marriage to his second daughter(he's three daughters and a son. Lekha's his favourite) in May 1991, I've had a love-hate relationship with him. He keeps himself aloof and this particular quality has been reinforced by his own family(he's a bother and sister elder to him and four brothers younger to him) in that, he was treated with a lot of respect, at home, as he'd joined the customs on his merit. They treated him like the customs officer that he was even while he was at home on annual leave!

Vendattu Velu Pillai was a firebrand criminal lawyer of his time and he'd become the cynosure of the eyes of the judiciary with his fiery arguments and ability to overturn the most difficult of cases in his favour. The then Kollam Sub Divisional Magistrate, Mr. Unnithan was so enamoured that he was keen to have one of his daughters - Ammini Amma- married into this lawyer's family and my father-in-law, Unnikrishnan Nair, the lawyer's second son was chosen for the match much against his wishes. Eventhough the marriage took place with a lot of pomp and show, the relationship between the couple was anything but smooth. They'd sired four children but the marriage broke down in the mid-eighties, while Lekha'd had just finished her class X. From what I've surmised from the narrations of the family, my father-in-law was a guy who'd always set the example for his younger siblings all through his life. He's had a clean life on the professional front, but in his personal life there were signs of rebellion. He'd chucked his first wife(Lekha's biological mother) out of his life and married a second time who, incidentally, was her 'mother' that I'd seen at the time of my marriage. I'd then promised myself to get Lekha's biological mother into our fold, in an amicable manner, sensing her agony. I believe her mother was among the hundreds of people who'd come to attend our wedding, that afternoon, without an invite!

Eventually, I did make my peace with Lekha's mother who used to, thereafter, visit us frequently, till she expired in Jan 1997. And Radhamani amma, Lekha's stepmother, died a couple of years ago. Both had endeared themselves to me by their differing temperaments and the love that they'd showered upon me during their lifetime!

My father-in-law has been leading a lonely existence at Palakkad, ever since. We visit him every year during our leave and it's Lekha's younger sister, who stays pretty close to him, who monitors his requirements closely and provides the needful. It's my fond hope that he's able to get over the psychological enormity of the present crisis and 05 Jan is his day of reckoning.

Being the simple guy that he actually is, I'm sure he'd be able to tide over this difficult situation too!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

On unwittingly coming into the limelight!

I'd been invited for an evening do and was promptly at the hosts' door, by a quarter to eight, like a good guest only to find that I was very, very early by Delhi's standards! But the positive outcome was that I'd enough time to bond with the hosts and willingly offered to help them in their last minute efforts!

It was a lovely musical evening where a couple of guests, who're good singers, gave a fine rendition of some of the favourite numbers now in circulation. As I warmed to the music, a suicidal bravado overtook me and I offered to sing the first two lines of a popular Hindi film song if somebody took on from me thereafter. There was widespread acceptance from the small crowd and I started on my favourite from a Sunil Dutt - Nanda starrer of yesteryears(I'd heard it on 'Rangoli' this morning),
"Yeh waadiyaan, yeh fizaayein bula rahi hai tumhe
Khamoshion ki sazaayein bula rahi hai tumhe"

The song was taken on from there by another guest who sang it beautifully to its logical conclusion and the applause lasted quite a while. Popular demand made me start up two gazals, thereafter, that are my favourites:-

"Baat karni mujhe mushkil kabhi aise tho na thi
Jaise ab hai teri mehfil kabhi aise tho na thi......." (sung by Mehdi Hassan)


"Der lagi hai aane mein tumko
Shukr hai phir bhi aaye tho
Aas ne dil ka saath na chhoda........." (sung by Jagjit Singh).

Well, the response was superb and my hosts were pleasantly surprised that they had found a prime mover to shake the other singers to action, in yours truly. And the upshot of the whole affair is that I've already got an invite for a get together this Wednesday, when all I wanted was to stay indoors in the comfortable environs of my cosy home in these harsh winter evenings.

I seem to have cooked my chips!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I want to have this cake and eat it too!

This morning I'd gone to the market for the weekly purchases. In the course of my buying spree, I'd also visited the 'malayalikkada' basically to spend some time with the old lady, who'd lost her husband on the eve of Diwali, last year. As I parked my vehicle, I was really glad to see her shop open, with her sitting at the counter, intently poring over a magazine. And I was glad to notice that she seemed to have gotten over her grief over her bereavement!

The moment she saw me, I could see her face light up with a million volt smile and had the look that seemed to say that she was expecting me. She wanted to know as to how Lekha was and where she was, at this point of time. And then giving me a thorough look, she lamented as to how weak I looked, having shed a few kilos and was pretty sure that my servant maid was not giving me the right food. In fact, she wanted me to go on a break at the earliest! However much I tried to convince her that I needed to shed some weight, she simply refused to accept my argument.

After having bought the requisite items, we talked for a while and she did express genuine surprise that I'd picked up the extremely popular woman's magazine 'Vanitha' to read. She then, took out a plum cake, neatly wrapped it up and handed it over to me saying that she'd wanted to give it to me but had been wondering as to how she could hand it over. I'd a lump in my throat because she'd humbled me with her kindness and this first gift of the year is truly priceless!

I guess I shall ever remain indebted to her for the genuine concern and love that she has for me.

O, God here's wishing that you'd be with her always and everytime!!