Friday, July 29, 2011

Simply outrageous!

1. The Karnataka Tamasha.

The spectacle in Karnataka by a tainted Chief Minister is indeed a sad one. His own party seems to be stumped by his defiance which is what surprises me to no end. If political parties practised what they preached and did not follow double standards, they'd never come to such a sorry mess like the BJP has in this case. And what further surprises me is that the man believes that his shenanigans are nothing compared to what some others have done or are doing and hence, why's he being targeted? He goes on to claim that he's many supporters and hearing some of them on TV, I wonder as to how they're unable to read the writing on the wall.

What they sadly seem to forget is that corruption by a rupee has the same connotation as corruption in crores! Corruption is a misdemeanour that can never be tolerated!!

2. Denying Anna Hazare the premises of Jantar Mantar.

It's my firm belief that here's yet another decision taken without adequate study of the pros and the cons by the people concerned. Perceptions need to be clarified, dialogue initiated and a swift remedy is the call of the hour and it's my fond hope that all well meaning people will work towards that goal. And egos have no place in the process!

3. The Communist party's archaic diktats.

Out here in Kerala, the press has given coverage to VS Achuthanandan's short visit to the house of 'Berlin Kunhanandan Nair'- CPM veteran and a journalist, who's expelled by the party sometime last year for his forthright views about the way his party was going - despite the party's diktat forbading him from doing so.

The question that comes uppermost to any layman is as to whether the party is oblivious of the primacy of human relationships and decency.

In this context, I'm reminded of an incident that impinged upon my grandfather and thereby, the entire family in the late '70s. PN Panicker was the General Secretary of the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham, an organisation that he'd founded and nurtured and the gifted Thayattu Sankaran, its President. Perhaps fazed by the former's overwheming popularity within the organisation, the latter wrote a stinging article - hitting below the belt on a very personal level - in the popular fortnightly 'Kalakaumudi'.

I remember one point that he'd raised against my grandfather which was his so called 'affinity' for anything foreign and to substantiate it, he quoted his possession of a bottle of Old Spice after shave lotion! The fact was that it was gifted by yours truly when I'd visited my grandparents while on leave and my grandfather used to savour it as a 'prized' possession and had innocently bragged about it to the author in one of their official tours, together!

My grandfather, shattered by the whole episode met his friend, EMS Namboodiripad and asked him to rein in the author as he happened to be his partyman. EMS' reply was that while he was fully aware of the purity and simplicity of PN Panicker, he was in a helpless situation as it happened to be a 'party' matter! My grandfather had to return empty handed. My beloved EMS uncle who'd bought plenty of chocolates for me, during my childhood days, became my enemy overnight as he'd hurt my grandfather!

And as Perry mason says, 'Prosecution rests!'

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The technology conundrum.

Galloping technology has revolutionalised our life without us realising it and many a time, the results are humorous if not idiotic! To a passive observer it's discernible making one wonder about the big puzzle that life is all about.

This afternoon, I was at the railway level cross waiting for the train to pass and was witness to this amusing sight. It was drizzling and two young ladies were walking past. One of them had a bag full of something while the other was holding an umbrella over the both of them and they're in serious conversation with one another. All of a sudden, as if on cue, both their cell phones rang simultaneously. Their consequent reactions were a bit comical, at least, as they appeared to me. They broke ranks and began their conversations with their callers, completely oblivious of their surroundings as a motorist, moving into a side lane, had to hoot continuously to drive past them. In the process, the young lady with the umbrella had the canopy over her while the other was left to face the fury(?) of nature and the beauty of it was that she didn't seem to mind a wee bit.

O, these cell phones!

Shows how we've progressed through time. There were times when telephones had two digit numbers prefixed by the name of the place( for eg. Kochi 91) and it would be announced that a trunk call was coming in and therefore, to be standby after which there would be a fairly long pause when one could even lose one's patience. And when the call was ultimately through, one had to howl to be heard at the other end - a passive observer might have still wondered as to whether the instrument was required at all, in the first place, with the decibels exercised!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An amazing story.

Today's the 9th anniversary of the Muhamma boat tragedy. Muhamma is a sleepy hamlet, about 30 kms south of Kochi. The death toll was 29 that included children, women and men. Not much has happened in terms of improvement in facilities, with emphasis on safety, all these years despite thundering promises by the leaders of the time - typical of the great Indian apathy!

But against this bleak backdrop, the story of a couple who'd lost their only son in the boat mishap, makes interesting news. The boy was on his way to write the examination conducted by the Kerala Public Service Commission that fateful morning never to return, plunging the parents into grief. Three days on, a crow started visiting them and food was provided by the grieving parents and the trend has continued to this day. The bird insists on eating from the mother's hand and she's been indulgent.

The parents are quite sure that the crow is their son in a new 'avatar' and it, in turn, dwells on one of the trees in their compound for the whole of the daytime - probably, savouring every minute of the proximity to his parents!

Another one of those cosmic mysteries and as they say, 'truth is stranger than fiction'. May the unfortunate parents continue to find solace in the friendly crow - nay, their son! God, do please take care of them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Raja's charge, Kalmadi's gimmicks and Pakistani gymnastics!

We're yet again being exposed to the same old pantomime that we're all so familiar with. At first, Raja and Kalmadi showed defiance at the charges that sprung up against them, with a remarkable regularity, after which they desperately clung on to their offices till they're given the boot and eventually, ended up in Tihar.

Their desperate measures to get out of jail seem to be fodder for the press. Raja's implication that the PM knew all about what he was doing as the Minister for Telecom is a slap on the latter's earlier statement that he could not oust him, despite numerous charges that were emerging, on account of 'coalition dharma'. And Kalmadi has taken refuge behind a medical report of his saying that he's suffering from dementia. Why was he, then, holding key positions in the national sports bodies? Desperation seems to be writ large in their actions.

And the Pakistani Gymnastics.

I was under the impression that the new Foreign Minister of Pakistan would carve a niche for herself by doing something different from her predecessors on her first visit to this country. But nothing ever changes and I seemed to have forgotten that she represents the same Pakistani establishment whose cornerstone is 'to conduct its foreign policy on vitriolic anti Indian propaganda'.

Her decision to meet the Kashmiri separatists is definitely a step that could have been avoided! What gives a bad taste to it is that she's fully aware of the negative impact that such an action creates in this country. But I suppose they care a damn!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Not acceptable.

Recent inputs on the news channels about several Indians on lecture circuits, organised by Pakistan's ISI, for huge amounts as remuneration makes one wonder as to how people can be so greedy. How can they work or think contrary to the interests of their motherland?

Is money the end all of everything? And how much money do they require to feel completely satisfied? Or is it simply insatiable greed? Can't help but wonder at their guts to lead a normal life after such treacherous deeds on their part.

The entire matter needs to be thoroughly investigated and the guilty exposed and brought to book without any leniency. They should be then tried for treason and suitably punished!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Madras musings.

I was away at Madras on work. It was hectic as usual and I only wish that I'd time in hand to meet up with more people. I thought of sharing three interesting episodes that came my way during my short stay out there and here I go.

(a) Incommunicado.
My 'saarthi', on arrival, was a youngster named Palani and his attitude towards life in general can make the most sober amongst us end up with high blood pressure. To my utter surprise when I'd tried to contact him on arrival, he was driving around the vicinity of the airport to avoid paying parking charges! He was fluent in Tamil and I don't understand a wee bit of it, so communication between us was through sign language. Palani's driving skills are amazing and these are my observations:-
(i) His faith in his own machine is beyond doubt as he drives with a gay abandon.
(ii) His faith in the ability of the other drivers and their machines is touching.
(iii) He finds space in the deluge of traffic with ease and weaves his car in and out of traffic, as though he owns the thoroughfare!
(iv) His cell phone is an inseperable part of his personality as he's continuously answering calls that came by and they seemed to be never ending!

We've established a rapport through sign language and he's promised to be my 'saarthi' during my subsequent visits too, in the times to come.

(b) A chance reunion.
As I was checking in at the hotel, there was this guy who seemed to be giving me a thorough scrutiny and initially, since I wasn't expecting to bump into anyone that I knew, I didn't give him any attention when the gentleman called out my name. It was then that I realised that it was Ashok, my coursemate from the Academy. I remember him to be short and compact, quite agile and fit and being good at PT. Thanks to the ravages of time and the good things of life, he sports an unwieldy paunch but retains his exuberance and warmth! The long time gap that we'd traversed, not having communicated with each other after leaving the Academy, melted over the evening as we caught up from where we'd left with the promise that we'd make amends from now on. Consequently, we jotted down each other's contact numbers and addresses, as we parted.

(c) Out of the chain?
One of my colleagues from Bangalore dabbles in astrology and is occasionally prone to gazing the crystal ball. He makes it a point to spend time with me and I've this feeling that he's fond of me! He's told me this time that this is my last life in this world.

The Hindu philosophy talks about the soul taking many lives and many forms as it traverses through life in this world and once it attains purity - in the strictest sense of the term - gets liberated from the chain of birth and rebirth to become one with the universal soul or God! And this is what my friend says that my soul's achieved!! Without getting into the merits or demerits of the observation and taking it to be true, I've the following observations/doubts:-

(a) I'm a guy with my warts and my moles.
(b) I've always been under the impression that one's to lead a saintly life to attain purity while I've been leading a very ordinary life, deeply caught up with the fallibilities of life.
(c) I don't have an indication - or is it supposed to be there at all? - of having reached the end.
(d) Will it change my perceptions from now on? Never, I shall be the same.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A moment of pride.

I'd visited the swanky new 'Container Trans - shipment Berth' at Vallarpadam. The infrastructure is still in the process of being set up, with two more phases in the process of development. Spread over an area of 110 hectares, it's a sheer engineering marvel that almost the entire space has been reclaimed from the dredging of the surrounding shallow water area and the reclamation augments the tiny Vallarpadam island!

Highly automated and equipped with heavy duty cranes and associated equipment, the infrastructure will make every Indian proud. For Kerala, it's definitely a boon and it has already brought about a change in the skyline of the surrounding areas. The associated islands were inaccessible and lacked modern communications, once upon a time, but all those have become a thing of the past.

On a personal note, I'd started reading about the 'proposed Supertanker berth' sometime during the mid 80s and with all the problems regarding zeroing in on the site, the project almost being shifted out of the state as part of petty politicking and the tamasha of land acquisition made me wonder as to whether the project would ever take off. So, when I was finally at the huge, well laid out complex, I was flush with pride and glad to be an Indian!

May there be many more such projects!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Interesting personalities.

I'm gonna talk about two ordinary men who'd led extraordinary lives. The commonality between the two, despite the fact that they represented differing generations, is that they passed away almost simultaneously in the wee hours of last Sunday. And so here I go:-

(a) Swami Athuradas.

He was the motiff of the Kurichy Athurasramam and is synonymous with the promotion and popularisation of homoeopathy and costless system of treatment with native medicines. He hails from near my muthachan's birthplace of Neelamperoor. He would've crossed 99 years of age on 16 Jul!

He was christened 'Vasudevan Nair', who was restless in his growing up stages and wandered as an 'avadhooth' in Bengal including the cradle of the Ganges. After taking on a spiritual path, from the wisdom gained through holy books, he also acquired knowledge on homoeopathy and various systems of native medicines. Armed with this knowledge, he returned to his native land which he once despised.

His forays include the following:-
(i) Helped scores of youngsters with free education in the homoeo medical college that he'd set up.
(ii) Set up a 'Gita Mandir' to promote prayers of all religions.
(iii) Set up a housing colony for the poor in Malampuzha.
(iv) Established 19 working women's hostels in various parts of the state and neighbouring ones and
(v) Set up 2 Central schools, a slew of nursery schools and other educational institutions.

(b) Sri TP Sundararajan, IPS.

He shot into prominence when he'd moved the Supreme Court that the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple - a prominent landmark of Thiruvananthapuram - had immense wealth in its secret vaults that needed assessment to prevent any fraud or theft. Consequent to the court's directives, a team that started the assessment has confirmed the presence of the riches and it's temporarily been asked not to open the remaining vault - again by the court - till adequate security measures are put in place by the government.

The alley that leads to the western entrance of the temple has the 'agraharam' - the brahmin neighbourhood. 70 year old, Sundararajan, a practising Supreme Court lawyer, was a bachelor and staying with his elder brother in that locality. An ardent devotee of the Sree Padmanabhan, he used to visit the temple religiously every morning and evening! He belongs to the 1964 batch of IPS officers, was in the Central Intelligence Bureau during Mrs. Indira Gandhi's tenure as PM and later sought premature retirement to nurse his ailing father.


Two different men ignited by a passion from within and stuck to their calling with perseverence. Probably, this was the script written for them by the 'Master script writer'. RIP Swamy Athuradas, Mr. Sundararajan.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Narendran kochachan.

Today is Narendran Kochachan's remembrance day. He'd moved into the mist of time, 12 years ago.

Narendran Nair was the youngest of eight siblings of NK Panicker and Kalyani Amma, my paternal grandparents of Krishna Mandiram at Thalavoor, a sleepy hamlet of Kollam district. He was fond of me as I happened to be his eldest brother's(the third sibling of the Panickers, after two daughters) son.

My first encounter with him was sometime in Dec '63 when my dad had taken me to his ancestral home to spend a few days of my Christmas holidays with his folks. He was in class IX or X then, I am not sure. Narendran kochachan was entrusted with my safety and my dad - he's scared of him - had asked him to show me around with my grandfather emphasising on the dos and don'ts! His firm diktat was that I should be kept away from the swift flowing stream that happened to be the northern boundary of his tiny estate. However, once we're out of the elders' view, Narendran kochachan took matters into his own stride, assuring me that his intention was to ensure that I'd a feel of everything about the countryside. We tried to cross the stream when I was almost taken away by the swift flow. I remember a shaken kochachan holding on - no, literally clinging on - to me after retrieval!!

He, then, asked me as to whether I wanted to see God to which my answer was affirmative. Asking me to keep my clenched right fist - palm down - he hit me with a marble from a sitting position about 5' or so away from me. It really hurt and I told him that I was going to report the matter to my dad and my grandfather, through my tears. I remember how he'd looked after me and lavished me with sweets and small gifts, for the remaining part of a week that I was there. I can go on and on about my experiences with him.

When Sajeev, his son, called me up last night to remind me of today's ceremony, it reminded me of the call(the timing had an uncanny resemblance - sometime past 1900 hrs!) that I'd received from his home, 12 years ago, saying that he's no more and when I'd rushed in there, my aunt had broken down weeping and collapsed into my arms. I do not know as to how long I'd sat there letting her express her sorrow with tears but I remember being wet all over and being totally numb. The numbness had continued even as I went about performing his last rites with the others.

Narendran kochacha, there were many this afternoon, who remembered you for your simplicity, charm and the happiness that you spread around. And there were many of your friends from the Mata Amritanandamayi ashram nearby who'd recounted their experiences with you.

RIP Kochacha! We miss you all the time.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Some vanity!

I happened to hear a young, aspiring actress emphasising that she'd not act in films opposite elderly actors like Mammooty and Mohanlal - the current superstars of the Malayalam film world! She goes on to add that she's only comfortable acting opposite actors of her age because she's playing her age.

To my mind, she has chosen the wrong career and if she insists on this thought process of her's, she's sure to be a failure.

I was aghast that the young lady was aspiring for a career in filmdom without understanding the essential characteristics and unique features of the medium of films. I'm sure even a layman understands that it's a make believe world where fantasies are woven so convincingly that the viewer is tempted to acquire that aura himself! And in that creation elders look young, beauty becomes ugly and good becomes evil!

Moreover, what she seems to be missing are a few aspects that are intrinsic to the evolution of a good actor, which are:-
(a) The range of acting prowesses of fellow artistes - and it's almost encyclopaedic when it's an experienced actor opposite you - that helps one to emote. It's a necessary education!
(b) What answer would she've when actors younger to her say the same thing about acting with her, a few years from now?
(c) And if she's put off by the high handedness of the senior actors, she should take a vow not to exhibit similar behaviour when she achieves fame and status - which is education, in the true sense.


Or was it a publicity stunt to attract film offers opposite the superstars?

Friday, July 15, 2011

And now, the 'Quotation gangs'!

I've seen a number of malayalam movies in which the 'villain' launches a team of goons , on payment, to cause untold suffering and hardship to the 'hero' or even do away with him. Since it was on reel, I'd always thought of them as a figment of imagination on the part of the directors of such celluloid efforts and never gave it a serious thought! In 'Bambaiya' - the colloquial used by the average Bombayite - and immortalised in so many Hindi movies, it's nothing but 'supari'!

However, today, I've come to realise that it's no fiction but a harsh fact that's increasingly prevalent in today's society of Kerala. The Keral High Court has issued strictures on the state government for this sad state of affairs and urged it to take all possible action to eliminate this malaise, on a war footing.

A state with a high literacy amongst its people, who boast of being more enlightened(?!) than many of their counterparts in the other states, should feel sad at this state of affairs.

It's another pointer to show the degree of degeneration of the society and I hope that more and more well meaning people would come forth and make a meaningful contribution to its eradication. In the process, extreme hardships could be suffered but once the aim is achieved, the cause would have been worth the fight!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

When people watched oblivious of their responsibility!

I happened to read about a shocker that had happened on a busy street in Coimbatore.

A man on a motorcycle was tripped by a group of men and thrashed to death even as dozens of people watched in horror. Not one in the crowd had the courage to go to the aid of the hapless man or ask the goons as to why they're doing so or prevent them from getting on with the brutal act.

What sort of people were the onlookers? Didn't they know of their responsibilities to society? When will they lend their voice to something constructive and stand for justice? What were they scared of? Will their conscience ever be able to justify their inaction and in that sense, can life be the same for them anymore ?

Would they've behaved in the same manner, if any of their kith and kin were to have been harassed in a similar fashion?

Things have a way of catching up with people. They too will weep, one day, when a crowd does not respond to their calling, in similar circumstances.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What a shame?

The blasts in Bombay are a shame!

Wonder what the perpetrators of this dastardly crime has achieved? The same scenes of terror and fear, against the backdrop of lifeless and wounded innocents, force their way into one's senses again and again thanks to the images beamed in by the television channels. The viewer is forced into a state of mental paralysis with high octane action and begins to wonder as to whether all those images were indeed, fact or fiction.

I bow my head in prayer to the departed souls while wishing a speedy recovery of all those injured.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A breach of faith?!

I was attending a function, towards the end of which, I was drawn into a very interesting discussion on God, the type of prayer that we offer and our 'tumultous' relationship with him related with the highs and lows of life.

Subsequently, I did an audit of my ongoing interactions with God and came up with these observations!

To my mind, except for my childhood requests to God for clearing me in my examinations, I've never asked for any favours for myself and that trend continues to this date. However, I've asked for umpteen number of favours on others' behalf - for those who're close to me and mean the very essence of my life.

And it's my firm belief that I'd get His help in times of need without me asking for it as He's all pervading and all encompassing!!

And what is the substance of my interactions? Let me list them, strictly in their order, without sounding trivial or frivolous:-
(a) A four line mantra highlighting the power of the goddess Laxmi(12 times).
(b) Good health, prosperity and a long, healthy life for my close relatives and friends, by name.
(c) Eternal peace for all deceased - from close relatives to friends and acquaintances(again by name) who've played a role in making me what I'm.
(d) A four line mantra highlighting the power of the snake god.
(e) A request to make me a better person. Its wordings had been passed on to me by my Muthachan.
(f) The Gayatri mantra(11 times)
(g) 100 pooja mantras for the goddess Laxmi, Shukra sthothram, Sani sthothram, the Surya sthothram and
(h) The Vishnu sahasranama sthothram.

This interaction is the first thing that happens at the beginning of the day and I must admit that there's a feeling of contentment after having gone through them. Unscheduled visits to any religious place, subsequently, see me with folded hands and vacant thoughts!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Too many pin pricks!

This morning, I was at the MI Room in pursuit of giving the tests as part of my medical examination for the year.

As my official Gypsy was down with a snapped fan-belt and my Cruze was at the service station, it was my neighbour DK who'd graciously offered to chauffeur me to the hospital of whose staff, he was a member. He insisted on taking me to the sample collection room and literally, handed me over to the Sister on duty.

Now, I've this problem of 'invisible' and 'untraceable' veins which becomes very pronounced when blood samples have to be drawn from me! The Sister tried her best to bring them to the fore after tying the mandatory tourniquet and slapping at the fold of my elbow many a time. Finally, almost crying Eureka, she whispered into my ears, 'one small prick sir' and plunged the offensive needle into my body but to no avail. Profusely apologetic, she withdrew the needle and carried out a similar exercise on the other hand with similar, disastrous consequences!!

It was finally, at the third attempt, that she could achieve success and that too after 'voyaging' through the innards of my hand, with the needle, after its insertion!!! The poor young lady was flustered and apologetic for which I'd to put her at ease by telling her that she was much better than her predecessors.

DK's comment as I was moving to the nearby cafe for a quick snatch of breakfast was intriguing as it left many things unsaid and I quote him, 'Sir, I had observed that she was totally perplexed and unsure of herself as she started it all and may I assure you that she's one of the best. Wonder what's happened today?' Was she intimidated by my demeanour or by my stripes? I shall never know.

By the time I'd finished giving the sample post-breakfast, an hour and a half later, I must've resembled a 'junkie' heavily onto drugs!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Horror in the Madras cantonment premises.

The killing of 13 year old Dilson, the son of poor labourers, in the cantonment area of Madras is an unfortunate incident that should never have happened.

So long as there are fruit bearing trees or flowering plants, children of all ages - at times, you can't rule out even elders - will try their luck in acquiring the fruits or the flowers depending on the circumstances. The enterprising amongst them would even uproot the offshoots to be shifted into their own backyards! While one may resort to scaring the errant children/individuals with dire consequences, anything harsher than warnings isn't called for and it's important that one should not let one's anger take charge of the situation for which one would regret later.

Moreover, childish pranks need to be understood for their spontaneity and thus, handled with care and maturity!

In this case, apologists might say that the retired army officer had only wanted to give a warning to the kids but the stray shot had unfortunately killed the child. He, then, stands guilty of two charges:-
(a) Had forgotten the cardinal fact that a weapon should never be taken recourse to when the mind's coloured by extreme emotions.
(b) He is a poor shot.

I'm sure the law would deal with the incident and its perpetrators adequately. But I've the following observations to make:-
(a) I wish that the officer had not waited for the investigations to pin him down. He should have reported his misdemeanour forthwith. That would have been officerlike and gentlemanly!
(b) Dilson, RIP boy! May God give your parents the strength to withstand your journey into the mist of time!!

I offer my silent prayer to you.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Is my Cruze jinxed or am I a bad driver?

This afternoon, as I was driving off to the club with Lekha to attend a farewell lunch of a dear old friend, disaster struck.

Sarath, in his late 20s, was on a borrowed Yamaha and was trying to overtake me through the left when I'd begun to turn to the same side to enter the naval base area. The scenes that flipped past my eyes, then on, were like seeing clips of a fast action movie in slow time.

There was a not-so-loud-thump as I eased the wheel to zero and saw the youngster being hurled off his bike and land on his head about 5 mts ahead of me. I'd, by then, come to a dead stop and saw him get up, stagger towards me and as I got out and confronted him, he accused me of having switched on the 'left turning indicator' at the last moment which didn't give him much leeway to take avoiding action. Local support was quick to come to his aid and had already taken the side of the lighter vehicle - a bike vs car situation and mine happened to be a Chevrolet Cruze, that too! I did not have the heart to tell anyone about the simple fact that since he was overtaking me from the left - the wrong side - the dice was loaded in my favour should the incident attain a legal hue, as I was only bothered about his well being.

Therefore, without going into verbal calisthenics, I'd the youngster moved to the nearby hospital after revealing my identity and waited for help to come from my office nearby. Thankfully, the doctor who'd inspected the youngster confirmed that except for the loss of skin on both his hands and other minor abrasions, there was no cause to worry. The young man had, luckily, strapped on his helmet well and therefore, was safe from the angle of head injury.

The bike's actual owner had then come alongwith his friends who're quick to realise that there weren't any major defects and were all too eager to sort the case amidst us. After giving my address and contact numbers, I drove off my Cruze straight to the service station for corrective action.It's gonna take about 10 days for the repairs to be effected and will cost about 30 grand!

Lekha and Sebastian, my saarthi, felt that the car was jinxed and have already made plans to take corrective action on its receipt after repairs and I've given my meek assent. Deep within me, however, I can't forgive myself for not having anticipated the point of impact and to that extent, I consider myself to be a bad driver!

But above all that, I shall be on tenterhooks, for the next 48 hrs about the youngster, because that's the time during which the effects of head injury, if any, could manifest.

God, please take care of young Sarath!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Another budget.

Finance Minister KM Mani of Kerala has come out with this year's budget for the state. There're two anomalies as I see in it, though I must hasten to add that my knowledge on all matters financial is abysmally poor and hence, I'd term my doubts as purely layman in nature.

His budget establishes a revenue deficit of over Rs. 5,000 cr but has not announced any measures to remove or reduce it! Perhaps, he's playing to the gallery and doesn't want to burn his fingers by introducing/enhancing taxes! But, who'll take that remedial action and when will it happen?

The second point is that there're a slew of infrastructure initiatives for Kottayam district that houses his constituency and where his party has a strong presence. In the process, the coastal areas and the Malabar region have been given a raw deal and by doing so, he gives the impression of being the FM of Kottayam!

Why can't people like him stop playing politics and be more statesmanlike? It's the long term objectives that will take the state to prosperity through all encompassing, all inclusive growth.

I hope I ain't horribly wrong or am I being naive in my thoughts?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

254 dope cheats?

The latest scam to hit news headlines is the taint of dope casting a shadow on many of our sports personalities.

On a personal level, I was glad that we, as a nation, have started improving upon our medals tally in international sports meets like the olympics, the commonwealth games, the Asiad etc. I was proud of the fact that our sports personalities - despite meagre resources and less ground support in comparison with their counterparts in other countries - could overcome all the odds to dazzle in the international arenas through sheer perseverence, hard work and love for their country.

All that has taken a beating after hearing about the latest doping stories. The sports personalities have been quick to pass the buck on to their coaches which might be true in many cases when viewed against the fact that quite a few of them are neither highly educated nor proficient in English and hence could be ignorant of the chemical composition of the drugs that they take to tackle, say, a common cold or head ache etc. This is where our sports bodies and the sports ministries of the governments - both central and state - need to pull together to have a truly national team capable of standing their stead at the international meets.

Sadly, politics, favouritism, parochialism, rampant corruption and what not riddle our sports efforts. And it's not that no one is aware of this, it's almost a public secret!

My agony is only on one aspect. Do all the medals that have come in to our country, thus far, have a taint of dope in them?

If the answer is yes, I weep for my country for having collectively let her down, yet again.

Here's one time when I wouldn't mind being absolutely wrong in my perceptions!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A wet day when kindness was showered!

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away".

Today, at Kochi, it was a real wet day. The heavens had opened right through the middle of the night forcing me to take my morning walk on the treadmill, indoors. The rains were all pervading that I'd this funny feeling of being damp due to the resultant humidity all around! Traffic, thankfully, did not go out of gear but the pace was considerably lower than what it usually was.

Both Lekha and me had appointments with two different doctors and therefore, headed straight for the hospital in the morning before going to work. Thanks to RS Sharma, who played the good samaritan, we're able to walk out of the premises within a couple of hours after accomplishing our intended tasks.

As I'd said, RS Sharma was Godsend, who'd taken it up on himself to help us cut through the usual red tapism that hospitals are famous for! He'd even beckoned a doctor, who was on 'ward rounds', to return to his consulting room without much ado so that we did not have to wait too long. We're pleasantly surprised at this voluntary help that was being provided without even asking for it.

We'd never know as to what prompted him to help us but shall always remember the occasion and have added him to our long list of friends. It's our fond hope that we're able to repay his kindness in some small measure in the times to come.

And may there be many more 'Sharmas' in this world, it's the likes of them that make life interesting and worth living!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rise in juvenile crimes in Kerala.

Reports and statistics prove that there has been a steady increase in juvenile crimes in Kerala. Many of these children have left studies to pursue their 'desires' which have been instigated by movies and the programmes on the small screen, to a great extent.

I've also seen, much to my surprise, parents being scared of scolding or using corporal punishment on their errant children - I'm speaking from what I've seen within my own family where my cousins show varying degrees of helplessness in dealing with their children's mistakes. What makes matters worse is that there are quite a few amongst them who're single child parents and to even scold or correct their child, for a genuine mistake, is unthinkable to them. On the contrary, the gratification process - for a silly thing like doing the homework soon after returning from school and before the evening games - has attained costly overtones and the children take advantage of the situation!

Parents resort to these gimmicks due to the following reasons, as I reckon:-
(a) They'd felt restricted by their parents during their younger days and many of them feel having got a raw deal for themselves. They'd no freedom of choice as family traditions and trends came to play when the choice of a career or marital relationships fetched up.
(b) Thanks to the tremendous amount of information available, the children of today are much more evolved and hence require careful handling.
(c) Many of the parents give in to their children's tantrums to cover their own inadequacies and their inability to project themselves as role models.
(d) As the children enter their teens, there's hardly any communication within the house as each of them spins a cocoon around.

I'm reminded of the 'Tiannenman uprising' of China, in the not too distant past, that had similar overtones in character - the uprising was engineered by a generation that were single children to their parents thanks to the country's drive to curb population! The point, of course, also needs to be conceded that in China 'freedom of speech' is wishful thinking for its populace!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The bountiful wealth.

As the special mustering team gives shape to the inventory of valuables of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy kshetram's interior vaults, the collections seem to be an astounding amount of wealth throwing even the government into a tizzy about its safe keeping! And as I understand, there's yet another vault that's left to be opened!!

The temple, which is an important landmark of the city of Thiruvananthapuram - the city has got its name from the deity 'Lord Vishnu reclining on a bed made up of the coiled snake, Vasuki with its hood protecting the Lord' (Thiru Anantha Puram) - has always had the patronage of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore. Perhaps, the wealth has been accumulated over the ages by the kings through their military exploits of the neighbouring princely states coupled with the offerings of the devotees, as someone had observed.

It's my opinion that while retaining a part of the wealth for the temple's onward maintenance and well being, the remaining amount should be used to put into stream developmental projects essential for the state.

The government will then, not have to worry about its security and incur additional expenditure!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Much ado about nothing?!

A carefree Sunday, and we'd made our customary calls home. Dad's voice seems to be undergoing a change. Hope it's not the manifestation of an increased effect of Parkinson's! Though he'd told me that there's nothing to worry, I've every reason to do just that.

There's a neighbour of my sister's at Delhi, not very long ago, who'd this ailment. Her voice had gone hoarse that she couldn't have a morsel without coughing and it was finally diagnosed that the Parkinson's syndrome had caught up with her pharynx. She'd to be administered liquid food through tubes, till her end, subsequently.

I'd a detailed chat with dad's doctor and being the good friend that he's, tried to allay my justifiable fears but I could realise that something was not okay! I only hope that my dad doesn't have to go through discomfort and pain. I'm sure that, being the tough guy that he's, he'd overcome all his adverse moments. And God, you'd better look after him because he's enormous faith in you and I'd lose it completely, if you're to prove otherwise!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Why do people stay away?

I've always looked forward to being with my classmates from school and coursemates from the Academy as well as those, whom I've picked up as friends during my journey of life, thus far. I must clarify that I'd like to believe that the feelings have been reciprocated with the same intensity from the other side too!

I'm of the firm belief that there's no point in holding on to a relationship that has ceased to exist. Sentimental attachment to the past should be avoided if a similar feeling doesn't exist and I'm reminded of the evergreen 'Abba' number, 'It's time to move on'.

We'd a small get together, this evening, at a hotel in the heart of the city. I'd personally spoken to each of my classmates - there're nine of them - and barring two, everyone had confirmed their attendance. Of course, two of them had buzzed me to say that they'd got caught in something unexpected and would still try to make it time permitting, but didn't.

It was finally just the three of us classmates, amongst the big crowd, when one of them quipped and I quote, "Rajeev, there are quite a few of us who'd prefer to stay away from such conglomerations because they aren't as sincere as you're and there's nothing much that is achieved from our meetings".

The fact is that I too know that nothing much is 'achieved' in concrete terms from such outings but what about the tremendous thrill that one gets from meeting one's old classfellows, friends or acquaintances?

They've to grudge me that happiness, however, momentarily it's gonna be!

Friday, July 1, 2011

When do we achieve similar highs?

China has opened the world's longest cross - sea bridge, the salient features of which are as follows:-
(a) Name Jiaozhou Bay Bridge
(b) Length 42 kms and is supported by 5,000 pillars
(c) Connects China's eastern port city of Qingdao with the island of Huangdao
(d) Width 35 mts
(e) Cost over 1.5 billion $
(f) Took 4 years to complete
(g) Has an undersea tunnel all along!

And we seemed to have gone overboard when the 5 km Bandra - Worli sea link was opened!!

When will we achieve a similar high as the Chinese bridge? Or am I being naive to be thinking on these lines?

We need to go miles beyond!