Thursday, June 30, 2011

The early morning sights, sounds and smells of Kochi.

My heart's a'flutter and the doctor has advised me to work out more and as a follow through, I've begun to go on a morning jog/brisk walk over a stretch of six and a half kms in addition to my evening work outs.

And today's was my first outing before sunrise. As the sights, sounds and smells of the city hit me with an electrifying intensity - the contrast to that of the Delhi Cantt premises is drastic but, every place has its 'USP' - and I shall try to list them out, at random, as I can recall:-

(a) The chanting of prayers and mantras, accompanied by the clanking of bells and recorded devotional songs wafting from the music system of the temples.
(b) Believers making a beeline to the places of worship to pay obeisance to their gods.
(c) Strong smell of burning incence sticks and camphor(was pleasantly surprised that quite a few auto rickshaw drivers and taximen resorted to this activity - perhaps, praying for anticipatory bail from their gods for the fleecing they'd do on their customers during the course of the day!).
(d) The aroma of fresh, crisp dosas being made on the hot metallic plates with the accompanying smell of the gruelly 'sambar'.
(e) Thick plumes of cigarette smoke accompanied by the smell of burning tobacco, especially at street corners where the auto rickshaw stands are.
(f) Children - many of them accompanied by parents - pouring into the numerous pick up points to be in time for their school buses.
(g) People making a beeline to hop on to the early morning buses/autorickshaws and taxis - depending on the quantum of luggage and their levels of affluence, strictly in that order - to catch the first train, RTC buses or even flights to reach their destinations.
(h) Gentlemen and ladies in fancy jog wear(I was amused by a portly gentleman with his 'mundu' at half mast, huffing and puffing on his flashy pair of Reeboks, with an umbrella tucked under his left arm. However, hats off to his spirit!)
(j) Senior citizens, who move in dignified groups, in serious discussions.
(k) The tea stall vendors, dotting the roads, busy making the 'one yarder tea' while spinning a yarn to the listeners (usually drawn from the attendants to the patients admitted in the nearby hospitals).
(l) Hordes of blabbering migrant labour - with a generous sprinkling of Tamilians - awaiting their transport that will fetch them to their working sites.
(m) And surprise of surprises, with rapid urbanisation and consequent depletion of livestock being maintained by the people, the calls of a faraway rooster and the 'caw caws' of the insistent crows made the atmosphere a trifle noisy yet assuring!

Today, thus, there was no scope for reflection as I was taking in everything as they came by. Probably, as I get used to them I'll have time to reflect!

At the end of it, I felt light, fresh and was raring to go. Moreover, pangs of hunger had set in!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A day of howlers!

I'd gone to the service station this afternoon to pick up my Cruze that had undergone repairs after the narrow brush that I'd with a Maruti 800, last week, on my return from Thiruvananthapuram. It was a week, to the day, after I'd handed over the car to its mentors and they'd done a very good job.

As I was driving away from the premises, there was an indicator that was playing truant and the guys - Sinod and Linimon - who'd worked on it, were summoned to have the errant one to behave. It was a socket connection that had worked out loose and had unfortunately, missed their eyes. As I drove out a second time, I was witness to a weird howling sound as I'd picked up to my usual cruising speed of 80 kmph and returned to the servicing station to report about the matter. As I stopped and called for the duo, I realised that I'd left one of the rear windows open and the howling sound was courtesy the highspeed winds that blew into the car!

We did go for a test drive, yet again, but heard no abnormal noise and I'd to apologise for my faux pas but the youngsters were gracious and did further trimminging of the beading of the windows - just to save my face!

I shall remain indebted to them for their act of kindness!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


A youngster, studying Engineering, had found a unique method to repay his educational loan. He facilitated his clients - those fond of watching human beings in various stages of undress and into sexual activities- to have a peek into such clips (which he'd downloaded from sites) that provided this sort of entertainment for a nominal fee. And the fee was to be paid, online, into a bank account of the youngster!

Reports say that the kid had almost finished repaying his loan. What ingenuity? And as I'd said earlier, we Malayalees are never found wanting either in creativity or ingenuity.

And what about his poor parents who used to brag to their friends and relatives about the computer wizard their son was? They're crestfallen as the 'cyber crime cell' of the Kerala Police has caught up with the apple of their eye.

My take.

I'm not trying to be a prude. If someone wants to watch porn, it's his or her personal freedom to do what one likes. But when that one person initiates others into it, what does one call it - online pimping?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Panchamda - the late RD Burman.

He gave us 'Mehbooba', 'Chura Liya' and 'Dum Maro Dum'. Rahul Dev Burman is, perhaps, the only Indian composer whose creations are loved and sung by all generations.

Today, on Panchamda's 72nd birth anniversary, here're some interesting trivia on the legend:-
(a) He was nicknamed so because, as a child whenever he cried, it sounded like the fifth note(Pa) of the Indian musical scale. The word Pancham means five in Bengali.
(b) He composed the tune of his father's hit song 'Sar jo tera chakraaye' when he was a kid.
(c) For 'Chura Liya', he actually used the sound of a spoon hitting a glass.
(d) He was nominated for 16 Filmfare awards of which he won only 3.
(e) Once he spent a whole night in his house's balcony recording the sound of rainfall for a song!

Truly an awsome personality who was a powerhouse of talent. My humble bow on his remembrance.

I'm grateful to the youngster who'd sent in these nuggets. Thanks indeed!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Is this the Indian prowess?

It's sad to read about the collapse of three spanking new river bridges of Jharkhand in the ongoing heavy rains. A statistical information regarding the bridges would let the readers understand the details of the loss and the true horror:-
(a) Jologhat Rs. 5 cr commissioned in 2010.
(b) Dumri Rs. 1.4 cr commissioned, again in 2010.
(c) Balghat Rs. 3 cr commissioned in 2008.

Is this the famed Indian prowess of setting up infrastructure? Doesn't these guys - the engineers, contractors and the others involved in the projects - have a sense of patriotism and loyalty to their state and the country? Is making money so important even if it were to be at the expense of the well being of their motherland? Don't they understand the simple fact that the well being of their country is essential for their survival even if they've loads of money?

The guys responsible for the catastrophe, according to me, are traitors and need to be shot!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another pantomime that we're familiar with!

The prices of diesel and cooking gas are being hiked and naturally, reactions have erupted from every section of society. While the political parties in power justify the price hike saying that it has been brought about by the global market pressures(?), the ones in opposition have come out strongly against it, not because of any valid reason except for the fact that they need to oppose the government in whatever they do.

The farce being played out - and I call it the pantomime - is that the opposition would have done the same thing if they'd been in power! In other words, the price hike was inevitable and the resultant discomfort that it's gonna cause the common man be damned!

A couple of doubts that come to mind everytime such a situation arises are expressed below:-
(a) If global trends are the cause, how's it that the prices of petroleum products the highest in India even when the price of crude in the global market is at an all time low?
(b) If the government justifies the hike in prices how's it that it's oblivious to the attendant effects on the other services?

Transportation is going to get affected instantly and the shooting up of prices of essential commodities is just a matter of time making life for us difficult!

In Kerala, the private bus owners have asked for raising their ticket rates and are going to go off the roads with effect from Wednesday - probably, it's posturing to derive maximum mileage from the government - that's gonna cause hardship to the general public. As a layman, I too have wondered as to how student concessions at ridiculously unreasonable rates are being maintained, to cite just one aspect of the problem. Hope all concerned come on the negotiating table to find an everlasting and amicable solution to the vexed problem, at the earliest.

It reminds me of the ridiculously low cost of bread in the erstwhile Soviet Union before it crumbled thanks to the inherent contradictions!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The cosmic connections.

Ramakrishnan and his mom, the 96 year old Ammini Amma are inseparable. I'd written about them earlier on this forum. I also find it difficult to believe in horoscopes and cosmic connections but a few recent happenings concerning the two have put my mind into a tizzy like a windmill in gale!

Ramakrishnan's mom was discharged from the hospital last week as her doctor felt that she was deteriorating and her end was coming in a matter of time. Unfazed by that, Ramakrishnan went to an astrologer to find out as to what he could do next for the sake of his mom's longevity. She seems to have told him about an unfulfilled wish of his mother which was required to be satisfied. The story goes something like this.

About 15 years back, Ramakrishnan was badly mauled in an accident when his scooter had rammed into a lorry and after what seemed to be ages, he came out of the hospital fit as a fiddle thanks to his mom's constant prayers. She'd made a vow then,that Ramakrishnan would do the 'sayanapradakshinam'(side roll) around the Gurvayoor sanctum sanctorum as thanksgiving. Over the years, she'd got fed up asking him to undertake the ordeal as Ramakrishnan showed no inclination to do it saying that it would be detrimental to his health!

But this time, on hearing the astrologer, Ramakrishnan set off for Guruvayoor and carried out his mother's vow around 7 in the morning last Wednesday. Thanks to cellphones, his attendants passed on the intricate details of Ramakrishnan going through his 'adventure' back home to his wife and relatives. Ramakrishnan's mom who'd not had clear bowel movements for the previous days was relieved and she also had more food than what was being had in the preceding days on his completing the 'parikrama'.

Are these incidents related? Do they've a cosmic connection?

I do not know but it's touching to see Ramakrishnan's love for his mom and I wonder as to whether my love for my mother matched his, in intensity?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

O Kochi!

Apologies, Tasni Banu.

Being a Kochiite, I'm immensely sad to hear of the incident where you're abused and attacked by a misguided group of people and am at a loss for words to comfort you.

For acquainting everyone with the incident, Tasni Banu and her friend were on their way to the IT firm at Kakkanad where they're employed, to join up for the night shift, when they're waylaid by miscreants saying that they'd not let 'Kochi' to be converted to 'Bangalore' at any cost! The couple gave a spirited fightback, despite the injuries inflicted upon them, apprehended one of them and handed him over to the police to lodge an FIR. Not only did the ASI, on duty, refuse to lodge the hapless couple's complaint but he also had the audacity to let the apprehended guy get away!

Thanks to the personal intervention of the Chief Minister, the case has now been registered and the miscreants are being brought to book and the errant ASI has been suspended, pending enquiry.

And what's Tasni Banu's crime? She's married the guy whom she's in love with!

Who's given the right to these people to take the law into their hands? Are they also pure in their thoughts, deeds and actions? Though, even if they're, it does not give them the right to do moral policing!

The second 'Busday @ Kochi'.

22 Jun was the second 'Busday @ Kochi'. Judging from the media reports, this time it was a bigger flop than the previous one and the proliferation of the private vehicles on the roads made the movement of the buses more difficult! Don't we want to be good citizens?

When do we learn to be responsible and disciplined? Or is it that we'd only learn with a stick behind us?

We Kochiites have let you down, Kerala!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A regrettable accident.

We'd left Thiruvananthapuram by a half past 2 and I was maintaining a comfortable cruising speed of 80 kmph depending upon the traffic on the road. After crossing the Haripad main junction, we're looking forward to the restaurant by the wayside that offered a decent shelter and evening snacks with coffee.

A blue Maruti 800 was moving ahead of us and a superfast bus of the state road transport corporation was charging towards us. I'd begun to overtake the car when the bus lurched towards me and then angled away to pass by without any mishap and it was then that I'd heard a thump on the left. Sensing that something was amiss, I stopped my car to survey the scene, risking hostilities from the localites in case something had gone wrong horribly(I must confess that the 'Mr. Hyde' in me urged to step on the gas and scoot, but, thankfully, the 'Dr. Jekyll' in me prevailed over that impulse!).

The sight was grotesque as I saw an elderly gentleman and his wife emerge out of the Maruti, half submerged in a pool of dirty water, about 8 ft below the level of the road. I quickly approached them and conveyed my apologies for the discomfort caused - the gentleman who was a retired Colonel touching 70(as I gathered later) was naturally fuming, but realising that I'd stopped despite the option of scooting, was quick to acknowledge my 'decency'. I must admit that I was in no mood to accept compliments for my conduct as I was very sorry on three counts, strictly in the order of their intensities/priorities :-
(a) For having caused discomfort to a fellow driver by my hurry
(b) For upsetting our schedule of reaching Kochi to meet up an old lady, seriously ill and
(c) For causing damage to my own car as paint had peeled off at the point of impact.

A local crane was requisitioned to fish out the car, a mechanic surveyed the damages to give an estimate of 25 grand and the police went through the process of filing an FIR. As these activities were taking place, a sizeable population had gathered out of curiosity and quite a few of them turned out to be the Colonel saab's relatives(He, a resident of Haripad was going to Ambalappuzha nearby, on a social visit). What amazed and comforted me was that there was no animosity, whatsoever, amongst the crowd and a few people even came to me to say that I wasn't at fault. When I finally revealed my identity with the promise of footing whatever expenses that would ensue, on my word of honour, I realised that I'd picked up quite a few admirers!

As I got off to move, the Colonel saab told me that if the expenses were footed by the insurance cover of the car, he'd bother me no more and gave me a standing invitation to visit his place - damn sweet of him!

1. The KSRTC bus just scooted off without even bothering to check probably because its driver knew that he's at fault!
2. I shudder to imagine the consequences had the Maruti turned turtle during its fall or hit the concrete wall skirting the pool of water, in which it fell.
3. Thankfully, there were no human casualties, the loss was truly materialistic and I'm so glad for that!
4. Yet another lesson for yours truly to drive safely and avoid being rash - always and everytime!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A humbling experience.

At the Victoria Jubilee Town(VJT) Hall, a prominent landmark of the city of Thiruvananthapuram, I was asked to give an impromptu lecture on 'Personality' to the volunteers of the PN Panicker Knowledge Kendras. This was squeezed into the otherwise flowing programme to ensure that the audience could interact with as many people as possible.

The rapport with the enlightened audience was not difficult to build and I found words coming out of me freely. I must admit that the part I enjoyed most - and kept me on my toes all the time - was the question and answer session. The queries came in thick and fast and it was then that I realised that I'd an audience fully aware of their environment and were matured far beyond their age.

I would like to believe that I wasn't accepted by them thanks to the halo of being my grandfather's grandson. Their eagerness to interact was a humbling experience indeed!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

19 Jun '11.

I6 years back on this sad day, my grandfather had passed away into eternity. Ever since that day, the state government celebrates this day as the 'Reading Day' and today's function kicked off by the Chief Minister is going to encompass a lot many activities over the coming week which, as in the past, is being celebrated as the 'Reading Week'.

To me, on a very personal note, this is an occasion to know more about my grandfather through the experiences of the others. For instance, just came to know of Mr. Oomen Chandy's feelings for him. Years ago, my grandfather had reached the government guest house at Kottayam one evening and as he was a trifle unwell, asked for a room to spend the night as spending money in hotels was a strict no for him. The Manager expressed his inability to allot him any accommodation as the only room, meant for VVIPs, that was vacant was awaiting the Home Minister! But seeing PN Panicker's discomfiture and since he was all too familiar with his work, the Manager offered that room on the condition that it would have to be vacated on the arrival of the minister, at short notice!

Somewhere, around midnight, the minister - none other than Oomen Chandy - had arrived and on hearing that PNP was fast asleep in the room meant for him, he calmed the trembling manager by saying that he'd manage with the available resources but wouldn't want the sleeping PNP to be disturbed!

And I remember his genuine sadness at the death of my grandfather, when he spent a lot of time beside PNP's mortal remains.

My grandfather's soul would be very, very happy today in the fact that Oomen Chandy had kicked off the activities of the Reading Week.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Being unashamedly nostalgic!

Back in school after 30 years and it was an emotional roller coaster from the moment I waited for my turn to go through the process of registration for our school Old Boys' day function.

I'd decided to go through a 'flashback' of my days at school from day one - 28 Jan '67, when I'd joined class VII and so sat on the same bed of the then 'Prasad House' to begin my pilgrimage! As I went through the various spots of interest during my schooldays, the room that I'd lived as House Captain during my final years was where I did spend the most amount of time - how I wished that I could get back to those carefree days, courtesy a time warp!!

The labs, the classrooms, the playing fields and the library besides other places that used to be my regular/favourite haunts, during those 51/2 years at school, went past in a blur leaving me nostalgic.

I was proud to see my name on a few 'state boards' which would remain a mute testimony to the fact that this guy'd passed that way, years back. It was also a pleasure and an honour to meet a few of our old teachers. And interacting with the young cadets definitely did make my day.

The evening at the Officers' Institute amidst my classmates and their families was the perfect finale to a nice day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Out on leave.

I'm on 5 days' leave from my place of work which has been necessitated because of urgent personal commitments. There's always a feeling of guilt when I ask for leave - a misplaced feeling of being indispensable to the organisation! And the paradox is that I've always encouraged my boys to take decisions on their own so that I could concentrate on my work!

The commitments are going to make this trip of ours to Thiruvananthapuram, rather hectic. My parents had to be dropped at my father's house at Kottarakkara after which it was a dash to look up Lekha's dad who's at a city hospital. He's been under hospital care for over a fortnight but his outlook hasn't changed a wee bit and I was pretty blunt in putting across my observation to his doctor and the attendants - my doubt was as to whether they'd got the diagnosis of his medical problem right. The doctor did give me a disconcerting look to say that he did not quite enjoy the 'know all's(me!) viewpoint!

And then it was a quiet evening at my classmates' house at Kazhakootam to facilitate a short travelling time to school tomorrow to attend the Old Boys' day. Mohanachandran and Manju are superb hosts and they made our evening a memorable one. Thanks both of you for your wonderful gesture and I must confess that we shall remain indebted to you for the minutest details that you'd taken care of to make it so! Thanks indeed!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

40 years without Sathyan!

Sathyan was the ultimate superstar of his times through the numerous roles that he'd essayed in the world of Malayalam cinema.

After an initial career in the Army when he'd seen action during the II World War on the Burmese front, he became a Sub Inspector in the police force and finally, entered the Malayalam filmdom in 1952 through the film 'Atmasakhi' eventhough his first movie was 'Thyagaseema' which never saw light and remained in the can! The films that he'd acted in, were the rage of the times - the 50s and the 60s - as he lived his assigned roles and brought to life many brilliant characters. His celluloid personality was striking and awe inspiring, though he was comparatively short and dark. That, in itself, shows his perseverence, hard work and never-say-die attitude.

His movies have been my favourites without any exception but if I were to be asked to pick and choose any eleven out of them, I'd sadly(for constraining me) choose the following:-
(a) Neelakkuyil
(b) Ammaye kaanaan
(c) Bhaarya
(d) Ningalenne Communistaakki
(e) Chemmeen
(f) Adimakal
(g) Kattuthulasi
(h) Mooladhanam
(j) Odayilninnu
(k) Anubhavangal Paalichakal and
(l) Oru Penninte Katha.

He was one of the very few personalities who spoke and practised what he preached. The following incident proves my point. He was approached by a film producer and director to do the lead role of that of a 'comrade' in a movie centred on the Punnapra - Vayalar incidents of the mid 50s(the communists, who're considered renegades, had faced a lot of hardships from the police forces sent after them by the then government, in power, during the incidents). Sathyan refused the offer because he was in the police then and had sincerely carried out the orders of his superiors to take on the comrades and therefore, sure of the fact that he's morally not justified to play the role. That's the ethical aspect of the man!

The late Sarangapani(reknowned scriptwriter) who'd scripted a lot of movies of the 'vadakkanpaattu' genre was one of the guys who'd a taste of Sathyan in his 'avatar' as a policeman. Sathyan went on to immortalise the characters of 'Thacholi Othenan' and 'Aaromal Chekavar' etched by him in subsequent films!

Sathyan went through great pain and hardship towards his life's end thanks to the dreaded cancer and breathed his last, this day, 40 years ago. It was a sad day for Indian cinema as a whole and Malayalam cinema, in particular. Even to this day, the void left by him continues to remain unfilled.

Our families were friends and their admiration was mutual.

May his soul rest in peace and my salute to a great artiste!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A few tidbits!

1. Shashank's connect.

"The loveliest day comes when you wake up to find that life still colours your world through people who never fail to remember you".

This beautiful message was SMSed to me by one of my young friends, acquired courtsey the railways! Shashank is doing his final Engineering and will soon be graduating to another important phase of his life, shortly. I wish him the best in all his endeavours as he's a nice boy with the right values and he's done exceedingly well in Academics thus far!

2. The newest grandparents in town.

(Chandrasekhar Joshi)Joe and Priscilla have become the latest grandparents of Pune when their daughter, Ankita(Chinky)gave birth to a healthy baby girl, this morning. Time has indeed flown.

Joe was my room mate at the NDA Wing, Ghorpuri way back in spring '82, when I was DS and he, the RMO. Prisci took him away from me on 06 Mar and over the years, their's is one of the nests that I've always loved to be in. I've carried li'l Chinky in my arms many a time and it's simply overwhelming, yet wonderful to know that the young lady's become a mother!

May you've fun filled times with your li'l bundle of joy and yes, I'll meet her soon - that's a promise!!

3. The Gita classes.

The morning, these days, is power packed. Courtesy, my dad I'm enjoying his 'Gita' classes before breakfast. His rendering of the 'slokas', alongwith their meanings coupled with anecdotes make the sessions interesting and inspiring. How I wish that this state of affairs goes on and on and on........!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head........!

The day was cloudy and heavy rains threatened to pour. I was on my way to work and decided to keep my pair of gumboots in the Maruti Gypsy as I was in a mood to walk through the rains, the paucity of time notwithstanding. It was not long before that it started pouring and we'd just begun to negotiate the Venduruthy bridge.

I, then, got of the Gypsy with an umbrella above my head and asked Sebastian, my 'saarthi', to glide along through the difficult traffic and wait for me at the end of the bridge. The pitter patter of the rains quickly graduated to a downpour and I was thoroughly enjoying the 'plutch, plutch' noise made by my boots! It took great efforts on my part to hold the massive umbrella above my head as the accompanying winds were pretty strong. And in my enthusiasm, I'd covered the stretch of the bridge within a short time while Sebastian was still trying to make some sense of the honking, slow moving traffic.

He'd, by then, concluded that I'd gone mad as I could make out from his surprised and quizzical look - probably, when one's behind the wheel and is negotiating through tricky traffic and that too in blinding rains, romanticism is the last emotion that comes to mind! As I dumped my umbrella into the innards of the Gypsy and got in, I felt light and happy with a sense of accomplishment! A nice, though, thoroughly wet day to begin with!!

And I was humming, 'Raindrops keep fallin' on my head.......' that immortal number from the movie 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' made memorable by Robert Redford and the late Paul Newman!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

At my parents' feet......again.

As I sit and punch in these thoughts, mom and dad are on the bed and making conversation about the family get together that we'd attended earlier in the day.

It was a fun filled and emotional occasion as it facilitated the meeting of my parents with my great aunt - she's 92 and confined to her house, at Ettumanoor, due to infirmity. They tried to pack in as much of their thoughts as possible and exchanged them during the brief interaction and parted, hoping that they'd meet again. I'd the privilege of noting the thrill in the three of them - laced with tears - for being able to meet up after a long while! And many of their friends and relatives, who've passed away into eternity, came into their conversation.

Mom and dad have come along to go through mom's review of her eyes, post cataract surgery after a calendar month. She's quite thrilled about being able to read her books and favourite magazines alongwith the fine print of the newspapers! And these days, she's giving the final touches to the numerous lectures that she's going to undertake during the coming week, in connection with the 'Reading Week' commencing 19 Jun, in remembrance of her father. Each piece will highlight a particular facet of PN Panicker, covered liberally with attendant anecdotes - I can bet that those speeches will be well received by audiences of all age groups!

Due to his ailment, my dad takes a while to adjust to the layout of the house that he's visiting, especially when he wakes up in the night to go to the wash room. In his mind, he must have gone through his 'internal programming' many a time, after having reached here.

As I wind up, he asks me as to whether I'd mind if he were to wake me up during such occasions. How do I tell him that his requirement can never be a botheration, ever?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Another interesting one.

My young cousin, an engineer in the merchant marine, is getting engaged. He'd put in the following requirements in his would-be-wife:-
(a) Should be religious
(b) Should shun outfits like jeans and tees
(c) Should be a vegetarian and
(d) Should be lean.

In this day and age and especially when the Indian woman wants to be heard, seen and stands for her rights, I was quite surprised that he's found a partner and they're slated to get engaged soon.

I, for one, found my cousin's insistence as childish, unreasonable and old fashioned and was pretty sure that he'd come round to saner thinking, when he found the going tough. I seem to have bitten dust!

It's my fond hope that they've a long and happy partnership!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yet another comrade slips.

Here's another case of a DYFI(Democratic Youth Front of India) - the CPM's counterpart to the Youth Congress of the INC - comrade who's paid Rs. 50 lakhs to secure a medical seat, from the management's NRI quota of the Pariyaram Medical College of North Kerala, for his daughter! And what makes it farcical is that the very same outfit had gone against the setting up of the college in 1994, citing that education in Kerala was being commercialised!

In the ensuing violence that had erupted, five youth lost their lives in police firing and a young man languishes, to this day, as a living vegetable with one of those bullets lodged in his head. Our comrades are surely beating the capitalists in lifestyle preferences! How does one amass so much of money because parting with hard earned cash on such expenses is definitely gonna cause heartburns to a normal guy? And that's why one easily surmises it to be easy money.

And coming on the heels of this story is that the Education Minister's son has been admitted in a Medical College after tweaking the merit list. He'll also have to respect the sentiments of the people which had pressurised another minister to withdraw his daughter from the Pariyaram Medical College just a few days back.

One's getting sick of the double standards and the doublespeak!

My take.

I've nothing against people aspiring for something big, because it's a must and especially when somebody has the resources to back it up. What becomes a problem is when the same individual preaches otherwise for his not so affluent fellow citizens!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Musafir hoon yaaron......

As I punch in my thoughts, this classic number from the movie 'Parichay' is being aired on the FM and I'm taken back in time. I was a first termer at the NDA and a senior, who'd decided that I lacked discipline, was taking me to task because I'd come late for his fall in that he'd called for before lunch. The reason for my latecoming was that a coursemate had suddenly gotten ill in class and I'd volunteered to take him to the nearby MH, Kharakvasla for medical management. But my answer was taken as a weak alibi and I was asked to roll on the Squadron's long corridor.

Since it was our first month at the Academy, we're still moving around in civvies and I was wearing a spanking new Zodiac tie to go with my shirt.The tie seemed to irk my senior and he'd rolled it and put the roll into my mouth for a chew, which I'd initially shammed thinking that he's joking and didn't seriously mean it. His reaction - an unexpected punch on my abdomen - made me go mad with a very private rage coupled with the shock and pain, that I chewed the tie into a miserable mass and he seemed to be mighty pleased with my effort.

The front rolls had begun soon after that.

And it was then that the Kishore Kumar magical number came wafting in from the high definition speakers of the Squadron's music system in the ante room. Kishoreda's voice, the lovely lyrics and the haunting music - that I was hearing for the first time - rejuvenated me and I'd already forgiven my senior, as I was beginning to enjoy the stuation. Subsequently, there were many occasions when I'd heard and reheard that number, in the most awkward of positions which were considered an essential element of making men out of us, rookies!

And I grew up, identifying the lyrics as highlighting my own personal story and it's one of my favourites. My coursemates, for a while, used to call me 'Musafir' thanks to my craze of wanting to hear it again and again and again!

Musafir hoon yaaron.........!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A couple of issues!

The Perils of Using a Credit Card

I've got used to the generous usage of plastic money for the past ten years or so. It becomes very convenient especially when one's travelling as it precludes carrying too much money on person. And since I do not subscribe to having too many cards, I've just a couple and one of them is in the process of renewal - which is taking an inordinately long time! So, for the last couple of outings, I've been using the second card and this 'working' card has had glitches much to my discomfort.

The first time it had happened was at a roadside fuel bunk while we're on our way to Bangalore. The looks that the cashier, at the bunk, gave were enough for me to wish that I'd shrunk into my clothes. These days with the media unearthing fraudsters by a dime a dozen, cynicism has begun to creep into every Indian and consequently, everyone is viewed with suspicion unless proved otherwise. A malfunctioning credit card is the perfect recipe for suspicions to take wings! I'd put the whole incident aside as a non issue because many of the highway bunks prefer hard cash to plastic money and hence, claim problems on their card processing machines when one offers one's card for completing the transaction!!

The second glitch had occurred in a department store at Kochi and the bill had to be settled by paying hard cash. I'd got disgusted and ultimately went to the bank to see what the problem was all about. To my utter horror and ofcourse, to my pleasant surprise the cause was due to a faulty directive - meant for another account - that had been injected into mine. The operator gave a weak smile and apologised profusely - the young lady could not understand the agony that I'd gone through, perhaps, for her faux pas!

The Roads of Kochi

With the monsoon's fury lashing the city without any let up, the first thing that has begun to give way are the roads of the city. Potholes of varying sizes have started to spring up and what makes driving a nightmare is that the man behind the wheel is unable to fathom the 'largeness' thanks to the rainwater that gets filled up in them. The road surface that gets mauled badly are usually, towards the approaches to the bus stops where buses brake frequently for picking up passengers.

Repairs will be undertaken only after the cessation of the monsoons and obviously, one has to literally grin and bear it until then. I feel sorry for my Cruze and myself - strictly, in that order!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Begging is our birthright!

We Malayalees have once again proved that we're unique. The press has been quite graphic in the unearthing of a new racket amongst the people of Kerala. Instances of central government employees and perhaps, even some from the state government offices too, I'm sure - and no, it's not a stray case mind you - taking breaks from their official work to beg!

Their modus operandi seems to be very interesting. After changing into saffron robes or similar looking clothes, they take station in front of religious places and beg for alms from the unsuspecting devotees. And the quantum of contributions from the people have also undergone a sea change - it varies from Rs. 2/- to Rs. 10/- ! The 'beggars' have the added option of having the free 'langar' provided by the religious establishment.

This is ingenuity and double income for a song! And that's the latest lesson that we Malayalees have for the world. We need to thump our backs!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A wet Sunday.

My nephews and a niece had come down from Thiruvananthapuram, to spend the weekend with us. Madhavan(class IV), Kripashankar(class V) and Kirtana(class IX) had also wanted to spend a day at the water theme park nearby. With continuous rains out here, that was one outing that I was not enthusiastic about but with the children egging me on, I did not want to be a spoilsport.

We entered the park by a half past 10 and I really didn't know how time flew as I was without my watch! The time spent with the kids was invigorating and full of fun. They wanted me to do everything alongwith them and I saw some of the bystanders with an amused look at this 'overgrown' kid. It all ended abruptly, as I perceived, when we'd to leave the park at a half past 5 as the children had to return with their parents to be back at school the next day.

The kids opened up quite a lot of their 'secrets' to this 'maman' of theirs and some of them really amazed me. Madhavan and Kirtana call their father, 'Hitler Qureshi' and their mother as 'witch no.1' just because they're strict with them and do not brook any nonsense - they'd to be gently conveyed the message that I too was with their parents, on that score, because they enforced discipline to ensure that their children were likeable to one and all, as they grew up. Kripashankar was technically oriented and he used to get busy on his 'playstation port' in between the themes. He needs to accept the 'nays' from his parents because they're very, very indulgent.

All in all, a wet Sunday but a thoroughly educative one at that. I was once again reminded of the harsh fact that I was a dumbo at their age and learnt quite a lot in the process!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Communists becoming class conscious?

In the run up to India's independence and immediately after, the communists in India wanted to be recognised as a responsible party looking after the interests and being the sole representatives of the working class and the down trodden. Much of the younger generation, then, was fired by the imagination and joined the movement with zeal and enthusiasm, going through hardship and police brutality in the bargain. Simple living and high thinking were the mainstay and children of affluent parents also joined the movement, making it a potent one, as it encompassed the entire strata of society.

There were numerous instances where girls from affluent families had fallen for the dashing comrades for their idealism, exalted thinking and the strong urge to right the many wrongs rampant in society then. To the question posed by those hapless parents as to why their children were not being spared, the instant answer was that they too were human beings and were naturally influenced by Cupid's ways over which they'd no control!

In 1957, the first communist government had captured power through the ballot in Kerala and since then the party has been a force to reckon with for their opposition in the states of West Bengal and Tripura too, thanks to some imaginative legislation like the land reforms bill etc. But having tasted power, the communists seem to be metamorphosing in retrogade.

Though many examples can be cited for its doublespeak, this latest incident from the sleepy Mylom village of Kollam district in Kerala takes the cake for its sheer audacity! The Panchayat President is a young lady(Minimol) from the CPM cadre and she has been asked by the party's bigwigs to put in her resignation. The reason - she'd the gumption to fall in love with a taxie driver(Jayan) and they've gone ahead and tied the knot despite the displeasure of the local party bosses!!

The party fears that its image will 'suffer a dent' because of the union!!! Since when have the comrades started becoming class conscious? Ample reason for both Marx and Engels to turn in their graves.

Well, as Perry Mason says, 'the prosecution rests'.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Retribution can be swift!

The media has gone to town with the shenanigans of Dayanidhi Maran, a former Telecom Minister of the union cabinet. I, for one, get a wry satisfaction from the discomfort that this worthy seems to be going through because of a personal experience of mine with him in Jun '04. He'd just become a minister and the trappings of power had gone into his head - though I realised it much later. At that point of time, I'd surmised that he, being a comparative youngster in the cabinet wanted to prove himself and being from the new(?) generation, was clean and wanted to avoid hangers on and visitors to avoid corruption of any kind.

My maman and I'd gone to invite him to the PN Panicker postage stamp release ceremony and the attendant cancellation of the first day cover on 19 Jun '04, at Thiruvananthapuram, in his capacity as the Telecom Minister. It was the follow up action after he'd made Justice Krishna Iyer - calling from Kochi - wait for over 45' on the telephone line before disconnecting it with no conversation, the previous day! The Justice had wanted to invite him personally as he was the Patron and Chairman of the PN Panicker Foundation.

After a long wait for over an hour, we finally got the chance to meet this 'worthy' who told us in no uncertain terms that he did not find it compelling or important enough to be present at the function. It was a mean blow to our pride but much more than that he'd besmirched the memory of PN Panicker and his contribution to society. He'd spoken like an ignoramus but I refuse to believe that, because a minister is briefed by his personal staff (headed by none other than a bureaucrat) before a visitor is let into the office and therefore, I insinuate that Maran had made that scene fully aware of the background!

What he seemed to have forgotten - which one's taught quite early in life and he, definitely seems to have missed this lesson totally - is that one needs to be humble as one progresses in life. Life has come full circle for him and he's become a laughing stock in the Indian psyche. It's my fond hope that he learns about life in its actual sense and strives to be a better human being as the present drama unfolds itself to its logical conclusion!

Yes, retribution is swift and God is great!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The Ayurveda Acharya.

Dr PK Varier, the head of the Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala celebrates his 90th birthday today. He's a wonderful gentleman who's humility personified and is a living example of being unspoilt by success and adulation. I remember my numerous visits to his Arya Vaidyasala and his home with my grandparents for whom his medical advice was gospel. His kind words, the benign smile and the ever helpful countenance gave his patients the will to fight their discomfort and the resultant popularity was all encompassing.

Sir, while wishing you many happy returns, it's our fond hope that you'll continue to be amidst us and here's us praying to the Almighty to give you many more years of good health and happiness. I'm sure my grandparents - Mr and Mrs PN Panicker - would be blessing you from wherever they are!

Katha Ammoomma has left us.

Mrs Kamalakshi Amma, the wife of the literary colossus the late Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, has become memory. She used to be affectionately addressed as 'Katha' by her husband to avoid confusion as his sister too had the same name!

As we pray for the departed soul, I'm reminded of my numerous visits to the Thakazhi home during my school days alongwith my grandparents, as they shared a wonderful relationship. Katha Ammoomma would always ensure that I was tended with sweet meats and other delicacies. She'd enormous love for everybody and was a genuine and simple human being. I shall always remain indebted to her for the tremendous love and affection she'd showered upon me.

I offer my tears and prayers and am sure that Katha Ammoomma is with her husband at long last!