Friday, April 29, 2011

Another mindless hartal!

Life has come to a grinding halt to the common man in Kerala thanks to the dawn to dusk 'hartal' called by the LDF(CPM and its allies). And this is to impress upon the central government to impose a ban on the use of the deadly pesticide 'Endosulphan'! Whom are these guys trying to impress? The entire thing is a farcical script being played out by selfish guys, trying to outsmart the other, without realising (or is it more likely that they're fully aware yet do not care)that the average Keralite is fuming because he's to go through untold suffering thanks to the hartal.

The following points show the gimmickry perpetuated by the players in this pantomime:-

(a) A few days back, the Achuthanandan faction of the CPM had sat on a daylong fast(?) to highlight the same issue thus scoring a point over the Pinarayi Vijayan faction. It happened to be the day of the commencement of the Stockholm convention where the countries of the world were discussing the use/ban of toxic materials.
(b) The call for hartal today, to coincide with the final day of the same convention, has been called by the Pinarayi Vijayan faction!
(c) The interesting paradox is that the very same CPM, had brutally opposed the forum of people who called for an end to the use of Endosulphan, earlier!

The UDF(Congress and its allies) has been harping on the CPM's duplicity. It's another matter that the central government wants to conduct yet another study before advocating the cause of a total ban on the use of 'Endosulfan - mind you, there have been three documented studies carried out earlier by responsible and government appointed agencies! The ravages caused by the harmful chemical is there for all to see amongst the people staying in and around the cashew plantations - where the pesticide is used - of Kasaragod.

Another stark reality where we seem to be favouring MNCs in their profit making ventures without ethical backing! Sad!!

And then the pantomime of the 'holier-than-thou' attitude being played out by the political parties. Very sad!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

An investiture ceremony from the past.

Today's investiture ceremony at the command parade ground at Kochi, saw yet another batch of officers and men of the Indian Navy being awarded medals of gallantry and meritorious service by the Chief of the Naval Staff. The gaiety, pomp and celebrations associated with the occasion were very much evident all over the base, as Sebastian drove me into the office in the morning.

And I was transported 23 years back in time, to another such ceremony where I was presented with a Naosena Medal(Gallantry) for my exploits in Sri Lanka during 'Operation Pawan' while in command of the landing craft, INLCU L36! It was Apr 1988 and the venue was the Kohli stadium of the Western Naval Command at Bombay.

Every award winner is permitted to get two close relatives to take part in the events connected with the Investiture Ceremony. Since I was a bachelor then, there was no wife and my parents were unable to attend as they're busy at their work. I'd, therefore, invited my friends Dr. Dinesh Kapadia and his wife, Indu staying at the Marine Lines opposite Opera House to be my chosen relatives and boy, didn't they enjoy their outing with the IN? I remember them clapping the loudest and the longest as my citation was read out and the Chief pinned the medal on to my chest.

The defining moment was when Indu said that she was proud to be associated with a brave, young naval officer and she reinforced this aspect in many get togethers that she'd organised subsequently!

Dinesh and Indu had become my friends thanks to the Indian Railways in Jan '79. Dinesh, by virtue of being the President of the Indian Dental Association, alongwith Indu had come to Madras to attend their annual conference. They're stuck at Arakkonam thanks to a lightning strike called by the locomen of the Southern Railway and on the advice given by the railway staff that guys from the defence forces were the most accommodative on such occasions, had approached me for help as I was on board the only Bombay - bound train that day. I and my friend had accommodated them in one of our berths in the Ist class while I offered to sleep on deck with my hold all spread. That was the beginning of our long association!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lilly - Lekha's new friend!

Ever since we'd shifted into our present house, Lekha's help in the house is an elderly lady by the name of Lilly. A mother of three daughters - all married and settled, the husband had left her early and his whereabouts are not known - Lilly does her work diligently and is quite protective about Lekha after getting to know her over the past month.

Lilly, incidentally, owns prime property in Panampilly Nagar which will fetch her crores and as per my reckoning, she doesn't have to lead the life that she's leading today. Her youngest daughter suffers from an ailment, requiring blood transfusions every month and looking after her medical needs is her prime concern. She says that the only work that she excels in is what she's doing currently and hence doesn't find it infradig! Talk about 'dignity of labour' and I can't think of a better case study.

May God be with her in all her endeavours!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Back to Delhi!

On Delhi on a short visit, strictly official but the social interaction has been hectic and this time I'm staying with the Khans. Matloob Khan was actually expecting me to join him earlier, but once I'd finished all my initial tying up I'd fetched up at their place by about 3 in the afternoon and he was waiting to have lunch with me and I felt guilty! He has not been keeping well of late thanks to a bad case of Bronchial Asthma. So thrilled was he to have me at his place that he'd called up his daughter abroad and many of his relatives around Delhi to tell them about my arrival!

Earlier, as I was going to the airport to catch my early morning flight I was pleasantly surprised to see a lady with baggage thumbing for a lift and eventually getting one in those early hours! Kerala is safe and I must say hats off to the guts of the lady for doing so!!

On board the aircraft, I saw the old Hindi movie 'Hamraaz' and the song ' O......neele gagan' sounded so appropriate for the occasion and I was sure that the trip was going to be a nice one.

The visit to my old office at Delhi was nostalgic and the staff expressed their happiness in more ways than one making me feel humbled. It was nice to catch up with each one of them.

And once my work was over, on my way to the Delhi airport for my return, I stopped by at Bruno's gravesite to say my prayers. The trees that I'd planted look bigger and greener. There was a lump in my throat as I left him.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

We're Mallus and we're like that!

Yet another incident that only us mallus can boast of, for its sheer audacity!

Cherthala is a sleepy hamlet about 35 kms south of Kochi and at the Taluk Hospital there, 22 deliveries were conducted through mass Caesarian sections, by three gynaecologists, before Thursday this week so that they could avail of the long weekend! And the women on whom the surgeries were conducted had their delivery dates originally scheduled for next week!!

The press reports further claim that the mothers, alongwith their newborns, were lying on the floors as the beds were fully occupied!!

Where's the professionalism? How can one's personal requirements override professional ethics and one's duty to the people under one's charge? Words fail me and if you're to ask me their medical degrees should be withdrawn, forthwith!

Friday, April 22, 2011

A short pilgrimage.

Around 7 in the morning, we'd taken off for 'Mannarasala', the famous 'naagaraja' temple situated about 70 kms south of Kochi. Thanks to the early morning rains, the air was fresh and cool. Driving my Cruze on the highway was sheer pleasure and the journey was completed over an hour as the traffic was thankfully sparse.

Our pilgrimage to the temple is an annual feature and today's trip was just that. However, we did not cater for the huge crowd of devotees and it took a while to have a 'dekho' of the sanctum sanctorum and tell our piece to the good Lord. As we're returning through the main entrance, a young lady clad in the traditional two piece 'mundum neryathum', looking extremely sad(a personal problem that's weighing heavily on her, for sure) and carrying a gold figurine of a hooded snake, on a platter, passed us as she made her way into the innards of the temple.

She seemed to be sure that the 'Mannarasala naagaraj' would sort out her problems and it's our hope that her prayers are answered. Pse help her God!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi.

I too am praying for his speedy recovery for the sake of a few of my aunts and some close friends who're ardent admirers and followers of the Baba. I'm sure they'd be devastated if, God forbid, something were to happen to him. My aunts have foresaken even their food and are in constant prayers for his recovery. What makes them and millions of other followers of his, around the globe - consists of the high and the mighty, mind you! - get into this sort of frenzy?

He'd proclaimed earlier that he's the descendant of the Sai Baba of Shirdi and that he'd live on to a ripe old age of 96 and then, take rebirth as 'Prem Sai'. His worsening condition in the ventilator now - at 86 years of age - is in direct conflict with that statement of his. My aunts insist that his present condition is consequent to the fact that he's taken in the evils of all his devotees into himself, being the compassionate person that he is and attribute divinity in him thanks to a whole lot of miracles that are associated with him, during his lifetime.

While respecting the sentiments and faith of my aunts(I'm no one to belittle them or their beliefs!), in my opinion the divinity that the Baba possesses is nothing more than what every being, that comes into this world, possesses. And I'm of the firm belief that I do not require an 'usher' to communicate with my God! This is the reason that I'm baffled at their strong loyalty!!

So, for their sake, I bow in prayers for the Baba's recovery which, I'm sure, would do wonders to his devotees, especially my aunts.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The holy week.

This is the holy week and the Christians, the world over, are in fast and prayer reminiscing the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God. It's a visit to the ethos of God taking the brunt of the waywardness of mankind! The purity of thought and nobility in action are reinforced. I too bow my head in humble prayer on the occasion!


Many people have taken advantage of the long weekend by driving off to nearby places of interest. But guys like me do not not have this luxury as we're working on Saturdays!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Are we fond of being corrupt?

When Anna Hazare was able to convince the nation of his earnestness to root out corruption in public life, there was jubilation all around the country. The first few steps taken to reach the negotiating table, for discussing the contents of the proposed 'Lokpal' bill, showed maturity on both the sides and I, for one, thought that we'd soon have a draft that would be universally acceptable.

But alas, the sparring has begun and with the latest CD episode that has surfaced, the ugly side of the confrontation is there for everyone to see. And it's a sad state of affairs!

43 years of dithering and somewhere close to an effective Lokpal bill - the brakes seem to be coming on, yet again. Do we, Indians, want to remain corrupt and ridiculed by others for being so? Surely not, I'm sure we shall overcome!

"Hum honge Kaamyaab"!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Of coincidences, events and people - an interesting weekend!

On 13 Apr, I was off to Madras on duty and it was the day of the elections in both the states! The journey was uneventful but the coincidence was uncanny - I'd to fly the domestic carrier and the flight numbers, up and down, were AI 519! And my roll number at school - 519!!

I was in attendance at an old friend and coursemate's farewell. As the proceedings started winding up, I decided to toss away my shyness and sang the 'Jamaican Farewell' to lighten the mood. By the end of the evening's proceedings, I seemed to have picked up a lot of admirers and friends! The next forenoon saw me fetch up at Laila Samson's doorstep as I was determined to meet her and spend time with her, this time. And boy, it was a delightful experience indeed and time well spent! At 86, she's full of life and was more worried about looking after me, during the period I was there with her and wanted to know the details of Lekha's ailment and her current state of health!!

On return to Kochi, Lekha and me set up the 'vishukkani' that we saw at 0230h on 15 Apr, as is the normal custom amongst us. We'd then set off for home to be with Lekha's dad and my parents for the weekend which, also provided ample scope to meet up with people of our village and it was an exhilarating experience!

The final leg of the trip was to Thiruvananthapuram to attend the wedding reception of my classmate's daughter. As we met, I'd told the proud couple that Lekha and I'd kept our promise of attending the 'do' despite constraints of time and distances to be traversed. And their prompt reply - 'We always knew you'd surely be with us!' - reminded me of the expectations. A humbling experience, really! We'd kicked off from Thiruvananthapuram, a trifle after 5 and was at Kochi, after a comfortable drive, to be in time for work. A short break from the usual routine and time well spent!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Food for thought!

"You're not responsible for what people think about you. But you're responsible for what you give them to think about you". A profound thought indeed!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A sad thing in this day and time!

When Mr. AK Ramakrishnan, ex-IG of Registration retired recently, a section of his office staff had 'purified' his office and official vehicle using 'holy water mixed with cowdung' as he belonged to the Scheduled Caste community! A disturbing and unacceptable behaviour for the following reasons:-
(a) It's happened in Kerala where people are supposed to be more enlightened.
(b) The state is far ahead than the others in socio - cultural progress.
(c) The 'act' was committed by his own colleagues in the staff. Were they 'suffering' him thus far while working with him?
(d) This incident took place in the state's capital, Thiruvananthapuram where the government sits!

Why do we punish people for the accident of their birth? And who gives us the right to do so? I feel ashamed of the entire episode. There are unconfirmed reports that the incident was orchestrated by a disgruntled Joint Secretary of the department who felt victimised by the ex-IG. I'd like to believe that this story is true and the episode did not have the blessings of the remaining others!! If not, whither Kerala?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Return of the native.

Read about the story of Gopal Das, a Punjabi who'd been freed after languishing for 27 long years in a Pakistani jail on charges of spying. His initial snapshots soon after he'd crossed the Attari border show that he's come out of his ordeal fairly unscathed and that's a tremendous achievement. He has gone through the ignominy of losing out on the best years of his life and retained his sanity which shows the strength of his character. What makes people like Gopal Das tick? Sheer faith in their God coupled with the strength of their innocence, I'm sure. Here's hoping that he's able to redeem his life to the extent feasible!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A crusade that needs everyone's support.

Anna Hazare, the noted social activist's crusade against corruption that has seeped into every layer of the Indian society is a historical and bold step. His fast unto death, though, is harsh on his frail body. While pledging my moral support to his cause, I pray to God for his well being and safety. My salute to the man of the hour and indeed, a true hero!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

On an artificial limb!

I'd, in a few posts earlier, narrated about how Lekha's dad had his right leg amputated thanks to complications caused by diabetes. After the healing of the wound, he's been provided with an artificial limb which he's slowly getting used to. He is with us currently on his onward transit to his ancestral house over the coming weekend. It feels sad to see him hobbling around with his new dispensation but I suppose it's not sympathy that he needs from us and we make it a point not to exhibit it! But there was a poignant moment in the process. He turned off to bed with his footwear on, saying that it keeps him ready to go to the washroom anytime during the night when an eventuality arises! This acceptance of the harsh reality is against the backdrop that he's very meticulous in his personal habits and he'd have considered such an act unthinkable a few months back!! I suppose, necessity is the mother of all inventions! It's my fervent hope that he gets used to his new appendage.

Monday, April 4, 2011

At a wedding.

Despite a busy day at work, there was a requirement to attend the wedding of a relative at a hall nearby. The relatives of the bride and the bridegroom were naturally busy with the goings on of the actual ceremony and hence, might not have been able to attend to minor details of parking of vehicles and attending to the guests! The parking area was pathetically small and to make matters worse, not easily approachable. Parking, therefore, was a horrendous affair and after much difficulty, when a spot was found, a group of children warned me about their impending cricket match and hence, the safety of my car could not be assured! After driving in circles, a spot was finally found and once the job was done, I'd to walk some distance to the venue with the satisfying thought that my car was safe!! I was just in time to witness the appointed hour of the wedding when the couple were exchanging garlands. The stage was packed with a whole lot of people - obviously, the entire gang of relatives and a posse of photographers/videographers who're hell bent on not missing out on a single moment - thereby, obscuring the view of the audience. Wonder why wedding ceremonies can't be made simpler with the minimum of clutter around the scene of happening? It would provide the guests, sitting as audience, to participate in every aspect of the ceremony making it a pleasant memory.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My weekend musings.

1. A pleasant meeting. The General body meeting of our residential enclave was held at the beginning of the weekend that had just gone by. Many good points had come up, discussed threadbare and solutions found during the ongoing discussions which were spirited but marred by low attendance. And I was amused at one of the points that had come by, that spoke of discouraging the domestic helps and attendant workers from wearing 'nighties' or lungies. In malluland, this can be a tall order because one must not forget that it was us malayalees who'd converted the 'lungi' and the 'nightie' to national dresses. I'd to remind the audience of this historic(?) truth!

2. At the Santhi Mandiram. I'd a pleasant Saturday afternoon at the Santhi Mandiram, an orphanage at Aluva that provides shelter for about 150 children and old ladies. The establishment was set up in 1966 in memory of one of the noted social reformers of his times, Sahodaran Ayyappan and Parvathi Ayyappan, his wife. Much has been written about this noble institution and anything that I might say will end up as a case of carrying coal to Newcastle and hence I desist. I had gone as a member of the adopted family of Pratibha who was getting married on Sunday to partake in the pre - wedding celebrations. Interaction with the inmates and a tour of their inhouse efforts in baking and curry powder manufacturing - which, incidentally, they market through an organised network - impressed me. The four hours spent were rejuvenating and well spent. My good wishes shall always be with the 'Santhi Mandiram' in their noble deed. May there be many more such institutions!

3. It's pouring cricket! Our cricket team winning the ICC World cup was a memorable experience and one really felt proud of being an Indian. But its aftermath has been an overdose of celebrations and felicitations. The team members are being showered with gifts, in various forms, by all and sundry. For heaven's sake, let's not spoil them - they've not done anything extraordinary but have only done what they're expected to do for which they're being paid handsomely!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Of uncouth children.

The place where we stay has a lot of children who're enjoying their holidays. They dissipate their energies by indulging in their favourite outdoor sports and games much to the heartburn of their elders whose cars are parked all over. An innocently smashed six by an 'accomplished' cricketer can leave one's car with a grotesque dent or a 'header' from a budding footballer can knock off one's driving mirror! There was an incident over the last weekend when one of the inmates was moved to tears because there were deep scratches etched on his newly acquired Honda City. He's informed, on the quiet, as to who the real culprit was and armed with this information he confronted the parents of the errant child. Instead of taking appropriate action, they chided him for making false allegations but when he persisted, he was asked to furnish 'concrete proof '! The poor guy is impotently raged!! What does one say about parents who spare the rod on their children when they make mistakes? I hope they are aware of the adage, 'if you spare the rod and make your child a monster, there will be others who'll put the kid in place by using their's and you'll be left being a helpless spectator'. Badly brought up children are an eyesore and one's heart goes for them because the real culprits are their parents who do not have time to spare for them! If one were to ask me, they need to be whipped!!