Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
I just can't understand as to why we don't care about small things like being pleasant and nice to others! It really feels nice to say sorry!!
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
I'd attended a stag meet, where drinks were served in the course of business and was returning in my car on completion, feeling generally nice and happy. The time was a trifle beyond 2230 hrs, the roads were comparatively empty and I was cruising at an easy speed with the FM radio as company.
As I was taking the penultimate turn to my house, a couple of policemen, on duty, flagged me to a stop to undergo an alcohol test. No sooner had I rolled down my window to 'confess' that I'd indeed downed a couple over the evening, one of them thrust the offensive looking meter close to my mouth and asked me to blow into the mouthpiece. Resigned to my fate, I blew into the meter but unexpectedly, the instrument stayed quiet and the policemen quickly lost interest and allowed me to proceed onward.
I was thrilled, no not because I'd passed muster but because of the avoidance of unpleasantness that usually follows a detection through a strange quirk of fate. But the following doubts niggled me:-
(a) Did the police lose interest as a huge station wagon came thundering behind me, who to them, was the perfect fall guy because I happened to be from the armed forces?
(b) Was the meter really operational? Or was it part of a purchase riddled with a scam? Had I unwittingly stumbled on to another sensational story?
Friday, March 25, 2011
My conversation was measured, allaying their fears of the unknown and highlighting on the tremendous opportunities that lay ahead for each of them. There were pointed questions thrown at me, that covered most of the aspects of career progression, within the short span of time that was available. My thrust was on the need to be a good human being first before embarking on professional excellence.
The highpoint, on a personal note, was when a newly married couple came up to me and said a lot of nice things. The young lady, after her post graduation, was working as a librarian and is researching on 'PN Panicker, the father of the library movement in Kerala' and some of the things that she'd narrated from her thesis were not even known to me! And I thought I knew everything about my grandfather!!
An evening well spent thanks to the interaction with a dynamic and mostly, an idealistic set of youngsters. I, for one, got a lot of inputs on the interests of the present generation.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
We'd visited the 'Amritha Institute of Medical Sciences'. The registration formalities was done with a minimum amount of fuss thanks to the smiling volunteers who're ever ready to help with timely information and also usher the needy to the right counters - a delightful experience in malluland! On registration, she was issued with a smart card which has her 'unique identification number' and a page, on her name, had come alive on the hospital's website. The results of the tests that she's made to go through are passed on line by the concerned pathology labs - embedded in the hospital premises - into her web page(the mad rush to get back to the labs for collection of the results is thankfully avoided, phew!).
In other words, the patients just need to present themselves at the labs to facilitate collection of samples by the staff and when they visit their doctor, on the next appointment, he or she has the entire set of results on the monitor at the click of the mouse. Probably, these facilities exist in many hospitals around our country and for all you know, the westerners who're way ahead of us in the use of state-of-the-art technologies, might laugh at my 'shock and owe' over trivia after reading this piece!
Moreover, the premises were spick and span and the usually offensive smells of a hospital, that greet a visitor are again, thankfully, missing. In fact, the reception lounge looks like that of any star hotel!
Having had a pleasant experience I'm glad that Mata Amrithanandamayi has set up an institution like this for the welfare of the masses. May there be many more where quality healthcare is available, at affordable rates, for every cross section of the society!!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
A million dollar question!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
My friend - we're together in school as well as at the Academy - is a family man who loves to spend as much of his time as possible with them but is unable to do so because of circumstances. He's in the merchant marine and is out sailing almost round the year. His daughter is married and stays with her husband in an estate on the foothills of the western ghats and the son is abroad, pursuing a professional course. And it's his wife who's the lone occupant of the house through the year, of course, with the domestic helps as company.
In a lighter vein and after a couple of pegs of scotch, I'd accosted him playfully and asked him as to how long he planned to make money like this without enjoying life the way he'd have loved to. I did not realise my ability to put my foot into my mouth rather easily (being a Sagittarian) because my innocent prodding brought out my friend's sob story. He has heavy loans to repay thanks to the flat and his son's continuing education and by his estimate he'd have to work for another ten years!
The effect of the scotch just wore away and I was sober, feeling a tremendous compassion for my beleagured friend. As we parted, he gave me a tight hug and silently, I wished him an early resolution to his problems so that he could also enjoy the simple things of life.
Life, indeed, can be tough and unforgiving!!
Monday, March 21, 2011
The first gentleman talked in hyperboles, talked on subjects in an indirect manner and to my surprise, was hearing and not listening to me in the strictest sense. And mind you it was not that he was in a tearing hurry, we'd a one-on-one for over 45 minutes! To me this was a new experience as I believe in talking things straight - and no, it wasn't anything personal but a very genuine organisational need - like the proverbial cowboy who fires from his hip! Why did it happen so? I've tried to find answers from the following possibilities and am still grappling for the actual reason:-
(a) Was he offended because I'd taken him as an equal and was not subservient?
(b) Does he've a natural aversion for a 'mallu' as he hails from J&K, as he did point out a few aspects of Kerala that he found unacceptable, in the course of our conversation?
(c) Did he think that my meeting with him was stage managed to cover my visit to the town, ostensibly for a personal reason? He'd asked me as to whether I'd any relations in town but the fact was that I'd driven in straight from Kochi to Palakkad, finished the official interaction and returned to be at my office, a trifle after lunchtime as there was a lot to do. My sister, incidentally, stays at Palakkad and I'd like to meet her later while I'm on leave!
(d) Does my quiet demeanour incite people like him to finger me for their sheer sadistic pleasure?
(e) Or is it the general apathy for the armed forces that one's witness to, quite often, in this country?
My second interaction was with an elderly gentleman, who, despite his physical discomfort and constraints of time, showed an eagerness to be with me and offered to help, unconditionally! He was genuine and above all, respected and loved his fellow beings! In fact, I felt a tinge of sadness creeping into me as I took his permission to take leave of him.
May there be more of the latter!!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
And so I rung up home, the receiver was picked up after quite a while by Ammu, my niece. I was thrilled to know that dad and mom were tuned into the same programme and I could hear the beautiful number in the background. After hearing about her college gags from Ammu, I'd disconnected. A very elated dad called me up subsequently to say that he'd enjoyed the programme thoroughly.
Dad's sensibilities have not been dented a wee bit by his advancing age or the Parkinson's and I'm damn glad about that, though mom had told me this morning about his bouts of forgetfulness. God, please keep him like that for the times to come.
And dad, continue doing what you enjoy most. May God be with you!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
These dedicated people fully aware of their life's script - an overdose of radiation resulting in sure and painful death - are working feverishly to cool the damaged reactor and contain the contamination that would be catastrophic for their country and countrymen. Such lofty thoughts can only come about in people who have tremendous love for their country, which the Japanese have displayed time and again.
I'm, at this juncture, reminded of the 'kamikaze' pilots of the second world war who flew into the funnels of the ships of the allied forces to ensure sure destruction. It did have a telling effect on the morale of the allied forces, at least, for a short while. The pilots felt that it was the normal thing to do for ensuring the safety of their country.
The 'Kesshitai' are indeed heroes and here's wishing them a painless end. But I'd be delighted if all of them return to their near and dear ones unscathed. Or is it not possible?
We, Indians, definitely need to take lessons from the Japanese in patriotism and love for one's country!
Friday, March 18, 2011
The first thing that struck me about the lovely child was her demeanour and conduct which were much beyond her age. To my query of the class in which she was studying, pat came the reply, 'Uncle, I was in second now I'm going to the third'. Over the evening she was forthcoming as to who her best friends were(why, because I can tell them anything and they also help me and play with me) and which teacher she liked most( Usha ma'am - that's her teacher of class I, if you please! And why? Because she taught us in a very interesting manner, was friendly and liked all of us, was also strict and she is beautiful!).
After our chat, she took permission from me to go and watch her favourite programme on the 'Pogo' channel leaving me mightily impressed. What fine upbringing and I did convey my feelings to her parents.
And all the time that I was in conversation with the young kid, I was comparing myself to her at that age of mine! Totally a 'dumbo' when my aim was to grow big and become the driver of a 'double decker' bus - I was quite fascinated that one single guy could drive the two floors effortlessly!!
My parents almost disowned me for that 'earnest' wish of mine!!!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Taking a cue from this analogy, in today's international relationships between nations, strategic partnerships can only be strong if each of the sides considers the other as its equal. This needs to be the underlying factor while forging relationships.
The latest Wikileaks revelations put a question mark on this aspect. It's hoped that the anomaly is set right without any delay. The Americans seem to have an egg on its face over the issue!
In the annals of history, all battles that have taken place in this world thus far have been chronicled correctly, with the names of the victors and the vanquished clearly mentioned except for one and that's the 'Kalinga war'.
While the whole world is aware that the victor was Emperor Asoka, who on realising the futility of bloodshed was saddened and moved by his actions. Consequently, he'd embraced Buddhism and was an ardent proponent of 'ahimsa'. But who was the vanquished? History is silent on this name!
Why has this omission taken place? Was it because the personality of the victor was so overwhelming that it obliterated his opponent's?
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Here is my take on the performance of the Left Democratic Front, led by the CPM, thus far. Before coming to power, as the leader of the opposition, VS Achuthanandan had promised to cleanse up the system with particular emphasis to the following issues, if voted to power:-
(a) Encroachment of government land would be reversed - Munnar was just one of the many sites!
(b) The culprits involved in the infamous 'Kiliroor' case, where a girl was sexually exploited repeatedly, including relatives of 'powerful' people, would be brought to book within the first month of taking over!
(c) The agreement on 'Smart City' would be rewritten - citing a sell out to the TCOM company by the then UDF government - with better clauses, advantageous to the state!
Alas, as Chief Minister, he was unable to do anything substantial on the issues mentioned above as his government was under the siege, set, by his party's state secretariat. The Munnar evictions were started off with much fanfare but was hastily called off as it impinged upon the sheer existence of some of his own partymen and even some of the political allies of the LDF ! It was a period of lack of governance which was, however, corrected marginally towards the fag end by the 'Smart City' project getting through but not before making the ordinary people wonder as to whether there were any momentous changes at all over the earlier one! Moreover, at a personal level, his son's shenanigans have also clouded his efforts.
Pinarayi Vijayan, in the meanwhile, was getting mired in the 'SNC Lavalin' case for his decisions, on the project, as the then Electricity minister!
The disillusioned Keralites have realised one thing that has been reiterated earlier too - all political parties are the same. They promise something and do not deliver, only to come back in the next elections, promising the same things 'packaged' perhaps in the style of the times without being ashamed!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Her words echo in my mind now as I hear the news of the continuing tragedy being played out in Japan. A nuclear nightmare that almost recaps the manmade disaster of Hiroshima and Nagasaki of 1945 is looming large! When will the Japanese' string of woes end?
It's touching to see the stoicism and the resilience of the people as they face the barrage of nature's fury. My salute to the people of Japan with the fond hope that they rebuild their country at the earliest and regain their past glory within the minimum feasible timeline!!
Nandu has been quiet over the past couple of days. Hope he and his family are fine and are contributing their mite towards helping their counterparts who're less fortunate.
Monday, March 14, 2011
(a) PJ Thomas went on to become CVC despite the fact that his name had not been cleared in the 'Palmolein' case. He'd have become a hero if he'd asked for his name to be deleted when he was being considered!
(b) Suresh Kalmadi strutted out shamelessly during the CWG despite the mammoth embarassment that he'd caused to the nation's pride towards the run up to the event with unfinished stadia, crumbling foot overbridge and filthy living quarters for the athletes!!
(c) A Raja of the DMK went on to become the telecom minister in UPA 2 notwithstanding the irregularities of the 2G spectrum auction during his tenure as minister in UPA 1!!!
The bluster with which these worthies went about after their misdemeanours had become public made one wonder as to whether they were trying to cock a snook at the collective sensibilies of the people of this nation.
This can happen only in our country!
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Our stay at the mess, under the care of Johnson, the bearer, was free of all worries of running a house as things happened like clockwork, resulting in me putting on a few additional kilos to my expanding girth, the daily grind of exercises notwithstanding!
Over the past week, our luggage was unpacked and reset in the new house that has been allotted. And this evening was the first - after what seemed to be ages - at our new abode. The milkman and the newspaperboy will commence their work from tomorrow and life goes on, as usual.
The locality, where our new house is situated, is called 'Panampilli Nagar' after the late Shri Panampilli Govinda Menon who'd passed away while he was the union Law minister in the early '70s. He used to be a great friend of my grandfather and whenever he used to visit my grandparents, he used to gift me with chocolates. Years later, by my moving into a colony named after him, I feel that he's still taking care of me!
Friday, March 11, 2011
As I watched with horror and an overwhelming sense of sadness the pictures of devastation of Tokyo and its surroundings, thanks to the Tsunami, the very transience of life struck me with all its might. An act of God or nature's fury, as some of you'd like to put it, showed the vulnerability of us human beings who ignorantly boast of having conquered new frontiers through cutting edge technology and scientific advancements!
And mind you, Japan being a developed country with the wherewithal and the tenacity to overcome disasters of any magnitude was brought to its knees. At this juncture, I'm curious to know as to how we'd have tackled it this time because I ain't sure as to whether we've learnt lessons from the past and have an effective disaster management system in place! From previous experiences, the only thing we're adept at is to go on a blame game spree!
While offering my humble prayers to the thousands who've perished, it's my fond hope that at least now, we do learn from the present situation and take swift steps to set up a foolproof mechanism capable of taking on such eventualities, God forbid, if they're to happen in future.
Having pontificated over the issue, I must confess to being very selfish on hearing the news of the disaster. My first reaction was to get in touch with my cousin, Nandu, a research scholar staying at Yokahoma - alongwith his wife and two children - to find out as to whether all was well with them! Thankfully, they were as they're quite far away from the epicentre!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Is it because of the inherent fear of the sessions to be spent at the police station and the legal courts subsequently? Or is it the fear of retribution from the culprit and his gang for having 'squeaked' or is it plain indifference because it's not happening to me and so long as I'm safe, why bother?
I'd like to believe that the last factor is not the raison d'etre.
However, my doubts persist as I see increasing instances of such callous attitude. It's a sure sign of a decaying society. How does a society overcome this alarming trend? Firstly, each person must learn to respect and like the other human being so that his or her worries become his(Jesus Christ's 'love thy neighbour' accentuates this). A vibrant and happy society can only be brought about by having an abundance of this happy situation.
A relevant excerpt of Rabindranath Tagore's 'Gitanjali' comes to mind as I say this and I quote,
"It's in giving that you're given
It's in loving that you're loved
And it's in dying that you're born to eternal life".
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
As the process of my settling down at Kochi is nearing completion, I find that the attitudinal change between the people of the south and the north encompasses a wide chasm. The behavioural pattern gets magnified when one turns up as a customer at any of the outlets - be it a grocery shop, hotel, the road transport corporation's bus or other services that are generally available.
In the north while the customer is treated with respect and made to feel like a king, in the south or should I say only in 'Malluland', he's made to feel like an intruder because they're doing a huge favour by attending to his requirements.
Why is this so? I can only attribute it to the arrogance and the inflated ego of the mallus! The result is inefficiency and sloth that have stunted whatever little industrial growth the state could have got.
When will the mallus learn that nothing is lost by being courteous and nice to others?
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The thing that's certain is that the person who's committed the dastardly crime has no respect for the laws of the land and has no consideration for his fellow beings. That he's still at large and has evaded arrest thus far, despite the efforts of the Delhi Police, is a troubling thought. Hope the culprits are nabbed and brought to book at the earliest.
A prayer for the deceased young lady and I hang my head in shame that this deplorable and unacceptable act has taken place in my country!
Monday, March 7, 2011
The programme pans on a bunch of individuals, drawn from various walks of life with differing political ideologies, who opine on a contemporary topic with the 'Munshi' (like the proverbial 'speaking tree') finally giving his views sans partisanship! Tautly edited, I've liked the programme on two counts - firstly, its message is put across forcefully without fear or favour and secondly, because the protagonist is married to my 'kunjamma'/'maasi'.
A couple of days back, however, this long partnership suffered a setback. Actually, a series of events led to the faux pas, as I understand and reproduce below:-
(a) His good friend(a local Congress leader) had prevailed upon 'Munshi' to take a Congress party membership ostensibly for giving the party futher boost in the coming elections.
(b) The incident gets wide coverage in the local media.
(c) A surprised Anil Banerjee is irked that 'Munshi's' apolitical being had suffered a dent with one stroke which would consequently colour the programme politically!
(d) Sivasankara Kurup ceases to be 'Munshi'.
(a) Munshi had done it out of ignorance of the fallout. What he failed to appreciate was that since he was a public figure, he was a prisoner of circumstances and therefore, did not have the freedom to do things like the rest of us commoners.
(b) Having said that, I really can't fathom the 'boost' the Congress party would've got by 'Munshi' taking its primary membership.
(c) The channel of communication between 'Munshi' and Anil Banerjee seems to have had blocks that could have been avoided.
(d) The subsequent action by Anil Banerjee by airing the next episode with a new actor tearing Sivasankara Kurup, on a personal level, could have best been avoided. Maturity and restraint should have been exercised.
A typical case of harmless action that have hidden consequences triggering off ego hassles. Sad, because art and creativity are the ultimate losers. Period!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
It has been almost a month and a half of living out of suitcases. The end is slowly coming to sight what with the luggage having fetched up last week. The breakages have been minimal - the exact quantum is yet to be ascertained as boxes and packings are still being opened - thanks to the efficiency of the professional 'movers & packers'.
The way one has to set up one's house reminds one of the day in and day out exercise carried out by the ants in our surroundings. Life must be the same for all living creatures on this earth. The turmoil caused by the temporary displacement has to be the same for everyone but we, human beings, are able to talk about it thanks to our 'superiority' on the evolution table!
All in all, a tremendous experience when one has to change one's residential address while the e- mail address continues to be the same - thanks to technology!!
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Certain well meaning guys have said that they'd stand as independents knowing fully well that they do not stand a chance at winning and are sure to lose their security deposit too. So, calling ourselves the largest democracy and having free and fair elections every five years is akin to experiencing a mirage.
Don't we have any means to buck the trend? Why can't we elect upright men and women who'd serve their country sincerely and work for the overall progress? Newcomers from all walks of life with impeccable credentials are required to join the political mainstream - only then can we hope to cleanse the system.
Friday, March 4, 2011
I got to know my boys further - I mean, their aspirations, driving thoughts and worries. It's amazing to know that I've a sizeable bunch of guys who're disarmingly simple in their outlook. I'm sure that their simplicity in thoughts would help them achieve their wishes. For me, as usual, the interaction was invigorating which pumped up my adrenaline!
And Lekha seems to have enjoyed herself thoroughly.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Aruna, a nurse in the KEM Hospital, was brutally attacked by a sweeper who'd put a dog chain around her neck, dragged the hapless girl to a corner and forcefully had anal sex with her(because she was menstruating, if you please) - wonder what has happened to the beast? Hope, he's been sorted out at the gallows long back! Due to the strangulation, the oxygen supply to her brain had stopped and the cortex damaged irreversably. It's said that she's become featherweight, her bones are brittle and is ever prone to bedsores. Her wrists are twisted inwards, teeth decayed and she can only take in mashed food. Her brain is virtually dead and she's oblivious to the happenings around her. And mind you, she's been in this state for the past 37 years ever since that fateful day of 27 Nov '73.
What's the use of such existence? That poor soul needs to be released from this torture. Yes, only God who gives life has the right to take it away. But the same God has told in the Bhagwad Gita that one must also do one's karma - in this case, the collective karma of all Indians is to liberate poor Aruna's soul from continuing agony and therefore, support the plea for euthanasia.
If I ever were to be - God forbid - in a similar state I'd happily prefer to be put to rest without histrionics or sentiments. That's the least I expect from my friends and well wishers!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
"Down the bay where the nights are gay
And the sun shines daily on the mountain tops
I took a trip on a sailing ship
And when I reached Jamaica, I made a stop.
But I'm sad to say I'm on my way
I won't be back for many a day
My heart's down, my head's turnin' around
For I'd to leave a li'l girl in Kingston town.
Down the market you can hear
Ladies cry out while on their heads they bear
Country rice and fish are nice
And the rum's fine everytime a year.
But I'm sad to say I'm on my way
I won't be back for many a day
My heart's down, my head's turnin' around
For I'd to leave a li'l girl in Kingston town.
Sounds of laughter everywhere
And the dancin' girls sway to and fro
I must declare my heart's there
For I've been from Maine to Mexico.
But I'm sad to say I'm on my way
I won't be back for many a day
My heart's down, my head's turnin' around
For I'd to leave a li'l girl in Kingston town".
Truly an evergreen number immortalised by Harry Belafonte's mellifluous voice. I can never ever tire of hearing those wonderful words.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
The Godhra incident had triggered off the unfortunate Gujarat riots where thousands of muslims were rendered homeless and left devastated. Truly, a blot in India's history that can never, ever be wished away. I remember hearing 'educated people' coming on the media, in the immediate aftermath of the riots, justifying such a reaction and another bizarre one saying that the community had it coming.
Any country that wants to progress towards being a superpower and economically self sufficient has to ensure equal status to everyone of its citizens. Growth and prosperity have to be all inclusive without isolating any group or community.
It's my fond hope that such incidents will never recur in this country. All well meaning people have the moral right to ensure this as responsible citizens.