Monday, February 28, 2011

A hit and a miss.

The hit.

Our coursemate, RK Singh, flew into town this morning for his follow on discussions with the Cochin Shipyard Ltd. He'd invited all of us course mates for a get together in the evening at the hotel that he was putting up. It was a pleasant evening all through and a lot of anecdotes, experiences which were an essential part of our professional growth were exchanged/revisited. We'd much to our delight the famous athlete, Shiny Wilson, supping with her family at the table next to ours. She was sporting enough to let the other diners pose with her for photographs and was full of her infectious smile! Success, thankfully, has not affected her a wee bit!!

Thanks, RK for the wonderful evening!

And the miss!

On return to our cabin, I realised that we'd missed out on the 'Guru Dutt' special on the TV programme, 'Kuch dil ne kaha'. However, the last two numbers could be savoured. A real miss and one felt really sad, hope the retelecast can be viewed!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My stupidity, nay carelessness!

It was a Sunday that saw us in frenetic activity basically because we'd to meet a lot of people with whom promises had been made earlier. Meeting a variety of people from different backgrounds was invigorating as well as continuing education! And there was a lot of driving and thanks to the Sunday quietude, the roads were thinly populated and navigating my Cruze was a pleasant experience!

However, I was prone to making idiotic mistakes like driving with parking brakes on but the worse was yet to come. After having put in fuel, I had negotiated the vehicle over an unaesthetically made speedbreaker and as I heard the dull thump of the car's bottom hitting the asphalt, I noted regretfully that I'd got it all wrong - the thump gave me the experience of a hard 'thwak' on my bottom!! Since the speed was low, there did not seem to be any visible damage. And the sad fact was that a harmless exit was available close by. Why I chose to avoid it has no decent explanation - a case of 'akrasia', perhaps?

Will I ever get over my carelessness?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A musical evening.

It was an interesting musical evening at my cousin's place. Her house was full of guests mostly consisting of relations and close friends. Everyone contributed to the musical onslaught and it was nice to hear some of the old and golden numbers! Lekha and Meera had taken the occasion to render some classics and since both of them have learnt music, their renditions encompassed all the necessary and essential nuances.

Food and other accessories were secondary and I too put in my two bit which were well taken by the audience. However, I was forgetful of some of the lyrics and I observe that this trend has become increasingly frequent. I'd like to believe that the loss of memory is temporary brought about by the exuberance of the circumstances.

Or am I going the Alzheimer's way?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Is this the new value system?

I'd a wonderful interaction with Mr. Jagan Mohan Rao, the Manager of a branch of the Syndicate Bank in town where I'd gone to open a new account. I'd wanted to know as to how he viewed his job because once upon a time, a banking job was considered to be a comfortable and cushy job and hence preferred to by youngsters, while choosing a profession! It's no more so, what with the public - often incited by the wily politicians for their personal ends - targetting the bank officials for not providing educational loans resulting in a couple of suicides, committed by students, in the state.

While accepting the fact that the procedure for getting a bank loan is tedious and difficult, the Manager had the following observations:-
(a) The stringent measures have been put in place only to ensure loan repayment capability of the customer.
(b) The history of loan repayments, in general, paints a grim picture. For example, in case of an educational loan, the parents enthusiastically support their children's cases in the fond hope that they'd repay it on finding suitable employment consequent to completion of their education. But paradoxically, many of the children refuse to fulfill this part of the 'unwritten' agreement saying that it's their parents' responsibility and refuse to give their subsequent addresses. The banks are left with no other alternative but to retrieve the loans from the hapless parents!
(c) Lately, there's another game of taking up an insurance policy almost concurrently with the application for loan, in the fond hope that one would sort out the other, in case of a difficult situation and that makes matters more complicated.

Though Mr. Rao and the banks have their point of view, what amazes me is the manner in which the parents of today encourage their children to pursue avenues, which are often, much beyond their reach. I remember my parents who'd insisted that I'd to do well in studies to pursue my dreams of taking on a professional career of my choice as they'd no money to give away as capitation fees/donations or to grease anyone's palms. They'd also made it very clear that they'd not use their influence for securing me something that I wasn't deserving! And frankly, I've no ill feelings on that score because :-
(a) My parents did not have to lose face or get into difficult situations on account of their children.
(b) I and my two sisters could pursue our dreams as our educational performances were good.

I'm of the opinion that the parents are to blame for giving false perceptions and hopes to their children. The children need to be brought up with the best of values and the emphasis should be to make them good human beings that would eventually make them do well in life!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My grandfather's grandson.

Laxman, my classmate from school, is hanging his uniform by the end of this month. Last Monday, after my return from Delhi, I'd spent a while with him and gathered that 24th was the only day that he could spare for his classmates to organise a farewell.

Each one of the class of '72, at Kochi(we're 15 ), were contacted and apprised of the situation. And keeping the message terse, I just told everyone that they should try and make it to the USO club by 1930 hrs. The response was overwhelming and the conglomeration started off on a high note. The rest of the evening went off like clockwork and the bond that exists amongst us was very evident in the emotions expressed, the anecdotes shared and the promises made to meet more often. The best part was that the ladies reciprocated the sentiments in equal measure.

In the end, as I thanked each and everyone of them for fetching up and making the evening memorable, a friend on behalf of everyone present said and I quote, "Rajeev, you've a special place in our hearts and when you make an invite, one really doesn't feel like saying no as all of us like being with you to hear your chatter".

Years back, I'd heard a similar sentiment being echoed about my grandfather. Have I inherited that quality? I'd like to believe that I have!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Life's like that!

These days, it's fun to read the local newspapers in Kerala. The Chief Minister and his ministers are on an inauguration and foundation stone laying spree - half baked projects and unfinished infrastructure notwithstanding! What really amuses me is that even the guys who participate in these frivolous activities seem to be clear that the next government is surely not gonna let many of these projects to see the light of day, once they come to power.

Charges and countercharges are being hurled at each other with a gay abandon. The latest to get hit is the upright Chief Minister, thanks to his son's shenanigans - some of the charges against the son can, destroy the old man's reputation.

The most interesting aspect is that both the coalitions have been hit but my crystal ball gazing tells me that the UDF has an edge in the forthcoming elections! They must, however, endeavour to field new and honest guys!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An outing out of the ordinary.

Last night I was watching yet another edition of 'Kuch dil ne kaha' and was delighted to see the Asha Bhonsle special being beamed. And two of my favourite numbers viz.
(a) 'Paan khao sainya hamaro......' and
(b) 'In ankhon ki masti.......'(I'd dedicated this number to someone I'm fond of, a long time back) were part of the collection.

And as I turned in for the night, I knew that my official trip to Thiruvananthapuram today was gonna be a smooth one. It, indeed, had turned out to be just that!

I, alongwith my deputy, had kicked off from Kochi at 0430h and the drive in my Cruze was comfortable and free of untoward events. The purpose of my visit was achieved but I'd restricted my visits to people that had an official twang. None of my relations at Thiruvananthapuram have an inkling of this visit, otherwise, visits to each and everyone - which was mandatory - would not have kept the exercise time bound! (I shall make up with them later). We'd returned to Kochi by a half past 4 in the evening but the return journey was through blinding rains, which made my drive all the more exciting.

'Cutie' has been handed over!

Our previous vehicle, a Maruti Omni bought on 14 Oct '94, was finally given away to my friend and automobile enthusiast, Swarup Nandi, last Sunday. In fact, I'd driven us to the airport in the van and then handed it over to Vijender who's Swarup's understudy. 'Cutie' had given us a trouble - free service and she'd conveyed my grandfather and of course, Bruno during our long association.

We'd travelled extensively and visited a lot many places, with Cutie in attendance. The beauty about Cutie was that she never ever gave me any trouble or land us in embarassments. And she always started on the first crank of the ignition switch!

I'd decided to give her away to Swarup only because of the knowledge that he, being an automobile engineer and also because of the fact that he was familiar with her, would look after her well, probably better than the way I'd done!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A kaleidoscope of events!

Ever since the change of government in Egypt, countries in the African continent have been witnessing unthinkable events showing the impatience of the common people in the slow, if not, negligible development in their countries. The upheavals are spontaneous and seem to have an avalanche-like effect when the governmental forces have either proved to be totally ineffective or have refused to take on the protestors, frontally.

The latest people to join the 'change of government' movement are the Libyans. Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's dictator of 40 years is facing opposition and it seems to be just a matter of time for him to go the Mubarak way, though his forces are using their might to cow them down. Yet again, 40 years and no worthwhile development - time frittered away, with him and his family leading a life of disgusting opulence and debauchery. Paradoxically, these were the very same reasons cited by Gaddafi as reasons for overthrowing his predecessor!

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. How true!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bye Delhi, for now!

Like all good things must come to an end, our stay at Delhi finally was over when we took off from the Delhi airport, this evening. In the short span of three days at our disposal, which were memorable thanks to our friends and extended family and though both of us were down with a bad bout of cold and fever, all milestones were accomplished as was conceived!

It was nice to know that we've a special place in their thoughts and everyone has promised to be in touch and quite a few have even threatened to visit us at Kochi! My counter to that has been that I'd ensure that they saw Kerala in the manner that I'd would want them to see it.

It's really funny that if one were to query me as to what our achievements had been while being at Delhi, I'd be left with not very much to talk about and the list would be rather short. But what comes easily to mind are the distinct flavours of every season, the riot of colours associated with various festivities and the enormous opportunities to savour the regional cultures, that are showcased in the national capital, from time to time! We drew on these opportunities at a laidback pace. And above all, the nation's history is being written every day.

Lekha and me have enjoyed our stay and in some strange way are sure that we'd be back in the not too distant future. The beauty is that I don't even have the foggiest idea about the 'why' and the 'when' for such an eventuality to take place but am certain that it will happen!

So Delhi, it's bye for now!

Friday, February 18, 2011

At Bruno's gravesite!

Our luggage is on its onward movement to Kochi and the house has been handed over to the authorities. The last serial was the most painful of our current trip to Delhi - saying goodbye to Bruno, at his final resting place.

Lekha and me spent a fairly long time out there and felt reluctant to leave him. Both of us are aware of the fact that a part of us lay with Bruno, beneath that mound of earth. And it was for this main reason that we never even wanted to think about a move, for us, out of Delhi.

We recalled our arrival around midnight in the month of Jun 2000, at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway station, for our onward trip to the house at Sector 21 of NOIDA. He seemed to be more excited than us to have finished the long journey by train and was a riot at the station, pulling me in different directions. The next three years, till his unfortunate end on 16 Mar 2003, saw him criss cross to places, in and around Delhi, like Agra, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehra Dun and Mussorie! He'd also become a darling of the I AC staff of the Thiruvananthapuram Rajdhani by virtue of our annual homebound trips on vacation!

Was he then aware of the fact that Delhi would become his final resting place? Recounting his initial enthusiasm, I daresay that he did have an inkling! His gravesite shall always remain a place of pilgrimage for us whenever we visit Delhi in future!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Back in Delhi!

Lekha and me are back in Delhi for winding up our establishment and handing over the house. The cold is still around but manageable and Lekha seems to be comfortable and she's got on to her packing activities straight away!

But what seems to puzzle us is the fact that our maid and her family want to accompany us to Kochi. However much we try to tell her that her children's education will get affected she seems to want to shift along with us. A hobson's choice, really!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Arushi saga.

I was indeed glad when the CBI, last week, had finally come out and named the Talwars - the parents of the brutally murdered Arushi - as the prime accused in the case. The organisation had taken the help of circumstantial evidences to establish that the twin murders could not have been done by an outsider and therefore, the Talwars had a lot to answer.

I'd been following the media's coverage of the case right from the start and as a layman, had the following doubts:-
(a) Why were the Talwars in a tearing hurry to do the last rites of their little girl especially after her death in suspicious circumstances? They'd put the blame on their domestic help, Hemraj and if my memory is correct, they're brought back from their journey to Haridwar.
(b) Why didn't the initial investigators check out on all entry and exit points of the scene of accident? A systematic search would have led them into the terrace and eventually, to Hemraj's corpse right at the beginning!
(c) And surprisingly, no friend or classmate of Arushi has come up with any sort of information. Usually, kids confide in their friends the details of what happens in their homes in all their innocence. Arushi's friends' silence has indeed been very, very loud - it almost gave me the impression that they'd been asked not to talk!

The Talwars will have to eventually come out with the real story and that's the cosmic truth!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Preparing to go to Delhi.

The entire day was spent in tying up loose ends for our impending trip to Delhi. And there's lots to do within a short span of time. People have been quite forthcoming in their offer of help and our Delhi calender is already booked with invites for breakfasts, lunches and dinners! Truly overwhelming and both Lekha and me are looking forward to meeting most, if not all, of our friends out there.

The News Updates.
1. Egypt has come under a new set of rulers and hope that the country is on its road to prosperity after the recent upheavals, thankfully without bloodbath, that usually gets associated with people's uprisings.

2. The 2G scam is getting larger and larger with every passing day. More and more people seem to be involved and one starts wondering as to whether all that we've heard on the subject is only a tip of the proverbial iceberg! Institutions have taken a beating and to revive the trust of the average citizen on them will definitely be a Herculean task!!

3. The revelations by K Sudhakaran, MP that he was witness to a Supreme Court judge taking a bribe at the Kerala House, New Delhi has sent shock waves amongst both, the judiciary and the political class. It's not something new for the common man because he'd always doubted the goings on till now and the spill has only confirmed his fears! Let's have many more of such 'spillages' so that the rot can be stemmed and the system revamped with clean people coming into public life.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Tirur juggernaut!

Me and Sebastian, a youngster in my staff, had kicked off northward by a half past 6, on the NH 17, this morning. The roads were good and the traffic sparse, being Sunday made the drive an enjoyable one and we're at Tirur, the destination, within three hours.

After interaction and lunch, we returned this time on the NH 47 - a decision that was entirely mine - only to regret it later as we're caught up in a traffic snarl, for 45 minutes, thanks to the BJP's 'Kerala yatra'. I just made it in time for young Sebastian to attend the regular evening mass of his church. I'd have felt guilty had Sebastian missed it as I appreciate the importance of churchgoing in his life.

Lekha is back after a gap of over two months!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chevy to the Levy.

Don MacLean's enduring number 'American Pie' - a heady sensation of the mid '70s - comes into focus today and there's a reason. But firstly, before I go into the reason, let me recount the opening lines of that delectable number and here I go,

"Bye, bye Miss American Pie

Drove my chevy to the levy but the levy was dry

End-o'-row of boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye

Singin' this will be the day that I die,

This will be the day that I die".

And now, the reason - I'd taken my 'Cruze' to the only 'Chevy' servicing station out here, at Kochi, for an overall check before I go for yet another long run, tomorrow, for picking up Lekha.


Saw the movie 'Dhobhi Ghat' and frankly, I found it to be more like a documentary with the following observations:-

(a) Prateik reminded me of his mother and yes, he's emoted effortlessly. Monica Dongre's good.

(b) Bombay has been etched very well.

(c) The pace of the narrative was too laidback and yes, I really couldn't get to the depth of the story.


Is it because of the fact that I'd missed the first 15 minutes of the movie as I was late?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lunch with Mom and Dad.

It was my first long outing, in my Cruze, after coming here. I'd kicked off for home at 7, in the morning, taking Johnson - my man, Friday - as company, in case of help. The drive was comfortable as the roads that I took were all, thankfully, in good condition. Before meeting my parents, I'd called on Rema's mother-in-law as her house was enroute and didn't I surprise them? And by a half past 10, I was with my parents - my first visit to them after taking up my new job!

It's always wonderful to be with mom and dad as we exchanged information and caught up with the present. Dad looks weak but is cheerful and mom was her chirpy self and looks beautiful. We, then, made plans for a trip to Rema at Palakkad, to Guruvayoor and our new dwelling place at Kochi once I and Lekha settle down, by early March. And it was nice to be at lunch with my parents and mom had really gone overboard by preparing a lot of dishes. Johnson seemed to have enjoyed every minute as he told my neighbour, in the mess, on return.

We'd kicked off back soon after lunch as my parents enjoy their afternoon siesta and I did not want them to forego that luxury because of my presence. The return was smooth with me reaching my cabin in time for my customary evening walk!

A day well spent!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

To Aluva and back!

The anniversary celebrations were a grand affair. The cultural programme followed by a delicious 'sadya' savoured from the traditional banana leaf were indeed well organised and of a high standard. The two 'paayasams' were heavy for my system and sleep was beckoning! In the process, the forenoon was passe and in the afternoon I went to have a look see of the house that has been allotted to me - the second floor flat is comparatively new, is bright thanks to natural lighting and at a nice address in town.

Can't ask for anything better!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Official responsibilities!

The flight from Madras to Kochi was bang on time and thanks to a 'private bus owners' strike today, my transit through the 34 kms from the airport to my workplace was comparatively easy and smooth!

As per my earlier requests, the official call ons went off with clockwork precision and that was a pending job that's now behind me. It was nice meeting them and for the free and frank exchange of views.

Tomorrow seems to be yet another hectic day with commitments that are to be met and as my assistant, Sajith, says "Sir, you've to be there. Otherwise, they'll feel bad and there'll be no fun". Am I the glamour quotient?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My day in Madras.

It was a day of connecting with people. I was back in Madras after what seemed a long time! My 'saarthis' were Vijayakumar, a mallu, for the forenoon and Raghavan, a tamilian, for the afternoon. My interaction with them threw up some very interesting observations regarding the outcome of the forthcoming assembly elections in that state and I'm giving them in point form below:-
(a) At present, no one is sure as to who will come to power. The party that has the actor Vijayakant(he's known as 'Captain' amongst his followers and had a voteshare of 12% in the last elections. He's playing his cards close to his chest - he' s shown an inclination to side with Jayalalitha but it seems that Karunanidhi is offering him crores to stand independently to split the votes to give a chance to win it!)
(b) Another rumour doing the rounds is that Karunanidhi's guys are offering Rs. 5,000/- per vote. Isn't that crazy? It was colour TVs last time and now, this! It can now safely be surmised that Raja's 2G shenanigans have filled up the party's war chest!

My interaction with Jayapal was informative as well as catching up with our personal updates.

Much to my regret, I couldn't meet up with Mrs. Laila Samson owing to time constraints. I've had very many wonderful moments with the Samsons while I was at Coimbatore during the mid 80s and later, during my forays to Bombay in the last decade. She'd looked after me in her efficient manner and was always a treat to be with! I shall make up for it when I go to Madras next and that's a promise.

The evening was spent at Charlie Mike's. It was great to interact with Sasikala, Arjun and Anish and of course, with Charlie Mike after what seemed to be a long time. As the evening melted into the night, it was touching to note the high esteem that the family has placed on yours truly. It was truly a humbling experience!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A hectic day.

A host of people have been met. The trip to Madras, in connection with my official work, for tomorrow has been finalised! And as a preparatory step, I'd to meet the Area Manager of the Ernakulam Railway Circle and wasn't he thrilled to have me because he was gheraoed by a political group just an hour earlier and he seemed to feel protected by my mere presence!

RK Singh, my coursemate and a good friend, had fetched up at Kochi on work. He's the Director of a budding ship repair yard at the Gulf of Khambatt, in Gujarat and has recently signed an MoU with the Government of Gujarat for a project that has an outlay of Rs. 2,500 crores(He's the backing of a wealthy Gujju, who's impressed with his ideas). We met in the evening at his hotel and I was on a listening watch when he gave a presentation about his pet project, hopes and aspirations. What impressed me most was RK's ability to think big - in crores - ever after his premature departure from the IN, quite a while back. He continues to be his effervescent self and has asked me to be his buddy, at Kochi, once his project takes off!

RK, here's me wishing you all the best in your endeavours and may your dreams come true!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A collage of thoughts.

A lovely evening.
The cosy times with Suresh and Supriya last evening was interesting because we'd a common friend Murari and his wife, Sushma also in attendance. It was again a trip down memory lane as Murari and me were mates on Amba, way back in 1981! Good food, light hearted banter and fond memories made it a nice experience and we'd have gone on and on, much past midnight, had it not been for the fact that the Potnises were scheduled to fly back to Pune by Sunday morning. Thanks, Suresh and Supriya for making it possible, thanks indeed!

My Cruze is in Kochi.
After a lapse of almost three weeks, my Cruze reached me last night. The car has come safely, without a scratch and I've only my good friend, Swaroop Nandi to thank for all the spadework that he'd done prior to its despatch. His contact man had brokered the deal with a leading 'Maruti delivering transporter' and though me, Swaroop and the boy who'd handed over the car to the transporters were under the impression that the car was loaded on the 17th and should have, by usual practice reached here at Kochi by the 27th or 28th(after the tenth day), it was actually loaded into a 10 car trailer only on the 29th. So the broker was pulling a fast one all this while!
Wonder why he did it? He could have told me the facts because I was more interested in the safety of my car and not bothered about the time factor, a fact that I'd made very clear right at the start. Anyways, all's well that ends well!
Clipping through the deserted Sunday streets of Kochi, late into the night, was an adrenaline - rush experience!!

A sad end!
Another young lady, the 23 year old Saumya, succumbed to her grievous injuries this afternoon. She had sustained those injuries last week when a guy(or was it more than one?) had tried molesting her in a running train - the Shoranur Passenger - and pushed her out, showing yet another instance of debauchery creeping into the 'mallu' society and the crass insensitivity displayed by the Indian Railways thereafter, in handling the investigation.
My prayers for the young lady whose violent end shall continue to haunt us for the times to come.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dev Anand, the legend.

'Hum Dono', a blockbuster of the sixties starring the legendary Dev Anand, Sadhana and Nanda has been released in colour for the first time. To see the sprightly Dev Anand, enthusiastically going about its premiere, tackling the media's questions with elan and exhibiting a childlike enthusiasm all through, was a treat by itself. Despite the advancing age, his reflexes and the train of thoughts have remarkable clarity.

'Main zindagi ke saath nibhata chala gaya', one of the evergreen hits of the movie seems to be his life's dictum. May the coloured version be a superhit all over!

I shall definitely see the film, without fail, at the first available opportunity. My humble tribute to the legend!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A taste of Kerala's politics after a long lapse!

The morning opened to deserted streets, closed shops and no sign of human beings, save for an occasional pedestrian, in and around the port of Kochi. This was because the combined might of the trade unions of the Cochin Port Trust had called for a hartal in protest against the impending commissioning of the spanking new 'Supertanker berth facilities' at Vallarpadam, nearby. It's needless to say that the epicentre of the port operations will shift over to the new hub. The unions' stand is that, with the high level of automation being achieved at the new premises, the threat of reduction in manpower and consequential job loss, will not be permitted. What a way to receive a new project which, undoubtedly, is going to change the landscape of the existing city and perk up a whole lot of new allied and complimentary industries!

Only we can do it! Trust us, mallus, to come out with 'innovative' ideas! What's the use of being literate when in a larger sense we're sadly uneducated?

My workplace is smack in the heart of Kochi and hence, the situation brought about by the 'hartal' could be felt, unadulterated. It was a taste of politics, the Kerala variety, right on my face after a lapse of over 10 years!

Some things never change, huh!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Egyptian Turnaround?

I was crestfallen to see on the evening edition of the news, that the press has been gagged and pro - Mubarak supporters seemed to have gained an upperhand over the anti - Mubarak forces. There has been loss of lives and hundreds of people have been injured in the scuffle between the two forces.

Aren't the people, clamouring for Mubarak's ouster, convinced about their aims and aspirations? If they aren't, their grievances about Mubarak's omissions and commissions can only be taken as a figment of their imagination! People's movements take a long time to crystallise and once it's on stream, it becomes unstoppable till the 'change', that they aspire for, is brought in - this is the truth, based on historical facts.

The Egyptian armed forces' allegiance is still not discernible though their pro - Mubarak stand seems to have taken a dent but from their actions of the day, doubts have crept into my mind but I'm a novice in my understanding of international affairs.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Back to basics!

With Lekha at her sister's place keeping a watch on her dad's progress, post surgery and me waiting for the government accommodation to be allotted, I've been staying in the Mess and have my man Friday - Johnson(who likes his two tots every evening) - to fuss over me. And I must admit that he does it well.

Getting up at 6 has become a habit - these days, the call of the cuckoo is an accompaniment that's greatly welcome - and after the usual routine, my monologue with God, wash and breakfast I'm just in time for the office at 9. Balraj and Sebastian (both pongoes) are my 'saarthis', in turn. The television is switched on when I get up, for the early morning 'bhajans' and numbers from the old Malayalam movies. The working hours are comfortable from 9 to 5, with an hour's lunchbreak at 1.

And by 6, in the evening, I'm usually out of the cabin for my brisk walk of roughly 5 kms and since I take the road on the perimeter, I'm privy to sights that encompass the entire microcosm of India compressed into the compactness of the area. It's really very freshening and exhilarating!

After a bit of yoga and associated ground exercises my limited social interactions are limited to pow wows with the chirpy duo of Simran and Samira and their parents. Of course there are unannounced visitors, many a time and that's the time I really miss being with the two kids who've endeared themselves to me by their innocent and lively chatter. By 9, I tune in to Arnab Goswami's spirited crusade against the goings on around the world and having heard the gist of it, move on for supper. A light intake washed down with a cup of Horlicks is my favourite menu these days.

Back in the cabin, it's time for some light bedtime reading while the television is beaming in my favourite programmes. And by 11, it's pipedown - reminds me of my good old days as a young subaltern in the same surroundings! A sort of a rewind of life and yours truly is a well behaved boy!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A nostalgic meeting.

Today, my itinerary included meeting an old friend from school. Though we've been bumping into each other during the course of our official work, this was the first occasion when we're able to sit and exchange thoughts and catch up from where we'd left last. I was his 'Prefect' in Jun 1969 and then his 'House Captain' from Jun 1970 till I passed out in May '72 from school!

He was expansive about the manner in which I'd gone about being the class's mentor. He recapitulated as to how I used to egg him and his classmates before a match on the sportsfield and the words of encouragement that I gave before an examination. He recounted a particular football match, in which they'd lost and the whole team felt bad about having let their House Captain down. He was one amongst them who'd cried then and says that he and his mates learnt the art of losing graciously from yours truly, that evening!

To me, hearing about my own self and my antics of those days was a rare insight. Incidentally, many of his classmates are in touch with me and the thing that really tickled me was that one of his friends, Sudhir Ranjan Das, used to sign with the same flourish of the letter 'R' as I do, after having come across my signature! Sudhir, however, is no more with us having left for his heavenly abode, quite a few years back and the narration brought a lump in my throat.

RIP Sudhir! I shall always be proud of the fact that your class has accepted me unconditionally for all that I am!!