Friday, September 30, 2011

We mallus can never be beaten on this one!

I was on my customary walk in the evening and I'd to pass by an outlet of the 'Beverages Corporation' on that circuit. The Government of Kerala has declared tomorrow(01 Oct) and the day after(02 Oct) as 'dry' days and consequently, there was a serpentine queue of enthusiastic tipplers in front of the outlet to collect their stock!

No, I ain't taking a holier-than-thou-attitude as I've said earlier that I too enjoy a drink but in moderation and therefore, do not consider drinking to be bad, provided the consumption is within reasonable limits.

I decided to interrupt my walk for a while to observe the prospective buyers waiting patiently in the queue. The first thing that struck me was this was the only 'well behaved' queue that I've seen here - no jumping the queue by anyone and everyone exhibited a military like discipline. And I was lucky to see a couple of expressions that were simply unique - the first that covered ecstasy while the second encompassed a deep sense of loss.

The jeans clad youngster, who came out of the counter with his prized possession had a twinkle in his eye with a tremendous sense of smugness writ large on his face - ecstasy, in its unadulterated form as though he'd achieved the impossible! The dhoti clad middle aged gentleman did have a harrowing experience - to his utter horror, his prized possession had slipped through his grip and fallen on the ground to break into a few pieces, spewing the smell of its contents into the immediate neighbourhood and that was the time I decided to walk away. As I was getting into gear(?!), I happened to see the gentleman's face - he'd that unmistakable look of someone, who'd lost everything in life. For him, his world had come tumbling down! The rest of his colleagues in the queue joined him spontaneously in his grief.

A mallu's love for Bacchus' brew is touching!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Yours truly - the mediator!

A classmate of mine from school, gleefully announced the betrothal of his daughter the other day and I'd promised to keep that date in mid October for the family.

A day later, I was pleasantly surprised to get a call from another classmate of mine with whom I haven't been in touch for quite a while. But, he was doing so now because his nephew was the would-be-bridegroom in the case mentioned above and wanted to sound a warning bugle against the impending relationship. What he was perturbed about was that when the entire tie up was being formalised on the classmates' net, he'd expected the parents to be more forthcoming about the boy's antecedents. And he was tapping me to resolve the issue since yours truly was acceptable to both the sides!

While I feel nice about them having tremendous faith in my 'mediating abilities', as I watch the drama unfold I can foresee that I'm gonna make one side unhappy which makes me wish that I'd never got into this sticky situation.

Reminds me of the plight of Ulysses in the Greek mythology 'Iliad', when he was left with no other alternative but to take a choice between 'Scylla' - a sea monster and 'Charybdis' - a whirlpool during his long voyage across the seven seas, soon after the famous 'Trojan War'! And the story goes that Ulysses chose the latter and came unscathed!!

Wonder what lies in store for me? But it's my fond hope that I'd be able to satisfy both the parties - er, to the extent feasible!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Charlie Mike in town!

Charlie Mike is in town in connection with his kid sister's kidney transplant. He has a kid brother too with whom he'd broken his relationship when their ancestral property was partitioned, years back, as he was given a raw deal! His siblings had studiously kept themselves away from him thereafter till now.

But when the young lady was in trouble, the brother was called in for moral support and that's exactly what the large hearted Charlie Mike offered - his shoulders for her to cry on. Incidentally, the kidney donor is her younger son, who's just taken up a job in a Gulf - based multinational company. Another fine example of a son's unadulterated and overwhelming love for his mother! The boy's blessed!!

Hope to hear more from Charlie Mike as he spends the evening with us.


And witnessing the transplant is young Priya, who'd be getting married to the youngster shortly!

What a fine story of love, sacrifice and compassion! May God look after the young couple and make every wish of their's come true for the years to come.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A couple of points.

1. The Women's Code Bill.
A 12 - member panel under the chairmanship of former Justice VR Krishna Iyer had submitted the draft of the Women's Code Bill to the Chief Minister last Saturday. The draft, as appreciated by many, contains a number of good suggestions towards the welfare of women and children. And the bill touches upon the number of children per family - fixed at two and penalties to defaulters laid down as :-
(a) Bar the family from enjoying various government benefits.
(b) The breach to be considered as civil/criminal liabilty in the form of a fine of Rs. 10,000/- or even simple imprisonment, not exceeding three months.

There is stiff opposition, from expected quarters, to the penalties suggested. I fear that the politicians will give it a religious colouration and what shape the bill finally takes, is open to question. I'm reminded of the time the late Rajiv Gandhi had backed down on the 'Uniform Civil Code' issue when the famous Shah Bano case had come into the limelight.

I only hope that the panel's efforts don't go waste!


Our country has a problem of exploding population and concrete measures, without being swayed by sentiments, need to be appropriated without any delay. That's the need of the hour!! This draft is the first step in that direction.

2. Yet another tragedy.

Four children have died and one's in a critical stage when a school van, carrying 23 students, plunged into a river in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram due to the fault of the man behind the wheel - it has been ascertained that he was the cleaner, did not possess a driving license and was driving at a breakneck speed!

I've the following questions:-
(a) Is it only the driver who's to be blamed?
(b) What about the parents who fully well knew that the van was overloaded?
(c) What about the school authorities and the transport authorities who did not carry out their duties?
(d) And above all, what about the owner of the vehicle, who was using the vehicle like a milch cow?

If the questions that I'd posed above do not find remedial measures, in the form of effective deterrance, overcrowded vehicles will continue to ply putting the lives of unsuspecting children to grave risks. For god's sake, let's not pay mere lip service, shed crocodile tears and claim governmental compensation! Concrete and swift action is what's the need of the hour!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Remembering Anitha.

The Nairs(Captain GR and Anitha) were our neighbours, years back, at the Katari Bagh. The Captain was blessed with the green thumb and he'd a lovely garden all around his house in which he never tired spending hours everyday. Anitha was an active member of the Navy Wives' Welfare Association and spearheaded a lot of its welfare programmes. Her infectious laughter and enthusiastic chatter gave a bubbly outlook to the space encompassed by 18(our's) and 19(their's), Katari Bagh. And she took it upon herself, as her right, to look after Lekha and me.

It was this idyllic setting that we'd to leave behind when we shifted to Delhi in Jun 2000. And soon after, tragedy struck the Nairs when Anitha was diagnosed with a malignant lump in her breast. Despite medical management, the deterioration was swift and she continued her slide towards the inevitable. It's gonna be eight years, in a couple of days, when Anitha had bid adieu to this world and moved behind the mist of time! She's, incidentally, one amongst the departed souls for whom I say a small prayer everyday.

Today, Captain Nair had dropped in to catch up from where we'd left last. I'd always wanted to know about Anitha's last days and he was only too willing to oblige me on that score. Anitha spread happiness to her fellow patients, chatted with the doctors and the nurses and was a livewire to the visitors during the 30 days that she spent at the hospital before slipping into a coma, never to recover. She'd displayed indomitable courage and was a source of hope for the others despite the fact that she had the gravest disease of them all!

As he came to the end of the narration, we found that our eyes were moist and I had the satisfaction of having shared his very personal grief.

Anitha, you shall continue to live deep within till my very end. I humbly bow in prayer for your eternal peace.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A slice of history visited!

Lekha and me had kicked off early in the morning from Thiruvananthapuram to keep our date with 'Ambalapuzha Krishnan'.

It was a bright, sunny day and being a Sunday, the traffic was comparatively sparse on the highway making driving an absolute pleasure, the occasional rough patches on the road notwithstanding. At 9, we'd taken a break to speak to our parents as they'd have been waiting by their telephones to hear from us and after our chat, continued with the drive. We're at the god's abode by a trifle after 10 and had a nice 'darshan'.

It was after our visit to the temple and a light breakfast that we stepped into the innards of the 'Sahitya Panchaanan PK Memorial library', beside the western entrance to the temple. This institution has a very sacred place in my life as it has an important connection with my family. In 1945, my grandfather, PN Panicker, had set up this library and brought together about 47 rural libraries in the then Travancore region to form a confederation of libraries. When it took its final shape as the 'Kerala Grandhasala Sanghom' after the birth of the state in 1956 and then went on to celebrate the silver jubilee of its existence in 1970, PN Panicker, as its General Secretary, had set up a network of over 5,280 libraries all over the state, bringing about a social revolution in the field of literacy. In fact, there is this saying that there is no space in Kerala that does not have the footprints of PNP!

There were a few young readers in the reading room as we took in the sight of the library. I felt as if every artefact was trying to tell me about its association with my grandfather. A very humbling experience indeed!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The day had begun with the lighting of torches - each torch representing a batch/group whose members have passed into the mist of time - for the eventual lighting up of the eternal 'flame of remembrance' at the 'Stupa of Remembrance'. After this solemn function, we'd moved into the school auditorium for the 'Guruvandanam' - the programme of honouring of old teachers who'd shaped us into what we're today.

We, in the audience, were privileged to witness the historic occasion and were privy to some moving/tender scenes, inspiring speeches and wonderful gestures. And when it came to one-on-one interaction with those teachers, I realised that everyone of them, without exception, considered me as their own and opened up about their personal thoughts and fears. Their show of warmth and affection, recalling the incidents concerning me while I was a little boy, thrilled me to no end. It was truly humbling!

I'm gonna recall a few of those reactions as they mean so much to me and here I go:-
(a) NBN sir(our Chemistry teacher). I realise that I've missed out a lot by not attending the school's old boys' functions when I see your love and affection that I don't desrve. And when I'd told him that we're what we're thanks to him and his contemporaries, his retort had the stamp of his wit and I quote, ' Just like the newspaperboy delivers the newspapers without fail, like the milkman delivers the milk everyday, we too did our duty and did nothing out of the way'.
(b) Madhavan Nair sir(our Physics teacher). I'd a fall a couple of months back and had sustained an injury on my forehead. Consequent to that, I've frequent losses of memory.
(c) NG Thomas sir(our English teacher). My spondylitis troubles me quite a bit and travelling by road has become painful but I did not want to miss this opportunity of meeting all of you.
(d) KK Muthanna sir(my first House Master in Prasad) and his wife, Gauri Muthanna. Of course I remember you, you haven't changed much except that you've put on a little bit of weight. We still follow the activities of your grandfather's foundation.
(e) Dr. Samuel Raj sir and his wife, Thangam Samuel Raj(our History and Geography teacher). His statement, 'I'm sure you've maintained your handwriting even now', brought a lump into my throat.
(f) Saraswathy Amma teacher(taught us Biology). Of course Rajeev, don't I know you? You used to get good marks in my subject!

Truly humbling and I shall always remain indebted to each one of them who love me so much and what have I given them in return? Nothing! What made me feel guilty was that while they remembered me to such detail I must be honest that I've not even spared a thought for anyone of them.

I thank God for giving me the opportunity to be there on the occasion of the "Guruvandanam".

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pataudi and me.

I do not know whether I sound too pompous with this heading of mine for today's post but this was the most natural thing that had crystallised in my brain after I'd heard of his passing away. Pat was a hero to many of my generation with his easy style and in the swashbuckling manner that he played his cricket. So much so that I'd waltzed into my school's cricket eleven with my leg spinners, a decent batting prowess and solid fielding capabilities!

Pataudi is the guy who brought in class to Indian cricket and the feeling of self belief amongst the Indian cricket team by winning the first ever test series abroad, against new Zealand in 1967 - 68. And I can never forget his performance, in the third test in Dunedin in one of the innings, I presume, where his individual score was equal to the sum total of his teammates' aggregate! He was my hero in its true sense!! His marrying the gorgeous Sharmila Tagore just added to his stature.

And now I go into an entirely different time setting. It was early 1979 and I was a Subaltern on board the Indian Naval Ship Krishna. My senior, who was also my DivO in the Academy, Sarath Jain and me decided to watch the World Billiard Finals between Mike Russell of England and our own, Michael Ferreira at the Bombay Gymkhana Club. Into the first few laps of the game, Pataudi came and occupied the seat to my left and he queried on the scores and the way the game was poised. I was thrilled to bits and over the next couple of hours or so, we'd exchanged a lot of trivia along with the information that he'd wanted! In the process, I'd told him as to how I'd developed my love for the game of cricket thanks to him and narrated all that I'd experienced on the field till then. He seemed to be thrilled by my verbal gymnastics and had invited me to the Taj Mahal hotel for a drink and further interaction. Unfortunately, I'd another official engagement that day and could not redeem that offer. And the urgency of living my life did not give me another opportunity to get to know him closer. And I realise that the loss is entirely mine.

As I saw his last rites on television today, I've this overwhelming feeling of a very personal loss. May God give him peace in eternal life and I bow my head in tribute to my childhood hero! May his family have the strength to pass through their troubled times.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blessy's 'Pranayam'.

Lekha and me had the opportunity to see one of the current Malayalam films, 'Pranayam' directed by Blessy, yesterday. And it was a wonderful experience, we liked the movie immensely!

The main protagonists of the sory are Achutha Menon, Grace and Mathews portrayed by Anupam Kher, Jayaprada and Mohanlal respectively. Each one of them has given tremendous depth to their characters by the sheer weight of their performances. The theme is simple - 'Love has no limits of time and one's first love transcends all others'.

Achutha Menon and Grace fall in love only to separate after a son is born, thanks to the machinations of Grace's father( a character who's only talked about and never shown but you're angry with him, all the same - an effective story telling technique!). Incidentally, both Menon and Grace have a weakness for football and enjoy getting wet in the rain! Grace, then, marries Mathews at the behest of her father and the movie begins showing as to how madly they're in love with each other, despite advancing age and a paralytic attack that has made Mathews wheelchair bound.

Menon comes to stay at his son's flat and meets up with Grace and Mathews who stay in the same building, in their daughter's flat and how they become a comfortable threesome, providing support to each other, takes a major part of the two hour long film. Anup Menon as Grace's son from Menon and Dhanya Mary Varghese as her daughter from Mathews have small yet significant roles! I shall leave the rest of the story for potential viewers of the film.

A nice movie after a long lapse!


Couldn't help wonder as to how the movie would have been if Mammooty had acted in place of Anupam Kher. No, I'm not saying that Anupam Kher was bad but Blessy would have achieved a casting coup, for sure!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spirituality at the expense of earthly duties?

I've a friend of mine who is into meditation and spirituality, these days. He was the gregarious sort who enjoyed the good things of life, earlier. About a decade back, his heart had misbehaved and it was then that he had decided that enough was enough!

He has a 'Master' to guide him through his spiritual voyage and sincerely adheres to his directives that he receives from time to time. Steeped in the worldly life and its consequent pressures myself, I must confess that he's become very boring and I pull his leg by saying that if he'd made me his master he'd have been otherwise!

Jokes apart, I find that I haven't finished living my life to the fullest and I still enjoy my drink, sitting on my favourite rocking chair listening to exquisite music, perhaps a ghazal! True confirmation that I've miles to go before my 'graduation' in life!!

But coming back to the narrative of my spiritual friend I was aghast to hear that he'd refused to carry out the last rites of his mother, who'd died due to an advanced state of the Parkinson's Syndrome, as he was into spirituality! He happens to be her eldest son and she was extremely fond of him as I remember. I find no rationality in this sort of behaviour and felt immensely sad and confused about the stance that my friend had taken.

Am I being ignorant about life? Or is it that people, like this friend of mine, forget to live because of their misconceptions about life?


1. May the old lady rest in peace in her eternal life. And having known her, she'd have long forgiven her son for his follies!
2. I'm of the firm belief that when one completes one's earthly duties, one attains spirituality!!

And as I say again and again, I do not require an usher to guide me to my God. I shall attain Him, my fumbles and my bungles notwithstanding!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our rich heritage.

The 'Navarathri' celebrations are fast approaching. One of the important activities that accompanies the celebrations is the traditional 'Bommai Kolu' (display and pooja of dolls depicting the gods and goddesses) in Brahmin households.

Traditionally, the dolls were made of clay but in recent years 'Plaster-of-Paris' is also used in the making of the sculptures and figurines of various sizes and colours.

For the 'Bommai Kolu', the dolls are arranged in odd number of rows and pooja is performed in front of the display every evening. Although there are a number of beliefs associated with the 'Kolu', the practical aspect of the tradition used to be the reuse of clay obtained from desilting of irrigation canals which tend to get blocked after the rains!

A wonderful cultural happening!!

Some other interesting information acquired for the day.

(a) POTUS - an acronym for the 'President of the United states'.
(b) Dog-in-law - the dog in your in-laws' house.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Another day gone waste!

The opposition parties of the state assembly had called for all vehicles to be off road today to protest against the recent hike in petrol prices.

The result.

(a) Kochi looks totally deserted as shops have their shutters down, droves of cattle move on the desolate roads and enthusiastic children play impromptu cricket/ seven tiles on the side roads. The otherwise noisy atmosphere is quiet and the all round stillness is prominent as it's bright and sunny after a long lapse!

(b) Train services seem to have also been hit because the manned level cross, that I've to traverse through to reach my workplace, has been open since morning without interruption.

(c) There must be immense suffering for the average citizen in that urgent medical help, a quick movement required to sort out grave personal issues or the requirement to be at a place for a job interview might have gone for a toss with no remedy or succour.

(c) Loss of productive man hours and the resultant loss of economy.

(d) Mindless damage to public property and the resultant loss.

And who takes the blame?

No one!

Why don't people understand that there's nothing achieved through these mindless activities? And see their act of cowardice - they've enforced a 'hartal' without calling it so because of legal repercussions!

Why can't the parties - across the political spectrum - put a ban on such activities and give their rank and file a meaningful, ethical direction?


A couple of questions.

1. Will the prices that have gone up come down, ever? ........ Never.

2. And when we know that fuel costs in India are the highest compared to what it is in the world market. Then why does the costs keep going up? ......... To cover up the government's inefficiencies!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A lovely start to a quiet Sunday.

Today is the legendary Dev Anand's birthday and Doordarshan had appropriately dedicated its musical programme, 'Rangoli' - it has become a weakness of sorts for yours truly - to his body of work. And thankfully, the numbers aired were hauntingly nice that catapulted me to those halcyon days!

A lovely start to a quiet and sunny(after quite a while) Sunday!

Teja Bhai.

Happened to see a Malayalam movie by this name at a local cinema this evening. It depicts the life and times of an underworld don, played by Prithviraj - one of the popular young actors of the Malayalam field. He's, incidentally, a schoolmate of mine!

The general buzz amongst film critics is that Mammooty and Mohanlal, the reigning superstars of the Malayalam film world, have not been helping in the growth of cinema in that:-
(a) they play larger-than-life images in their films and have, thus, moved away from reality.
(b) their remunerations are of astronomical proportions, whereby budding film makers are at a disadvantage as production costs tend to become exhorbitant.
(c) their 'fans' associations' are unnecessary appendages and at best, provide nuisance value during the screening of rival films.

A lot many of the younger crop of actors silently endorse the views cited above against the superstars and one had sincerely hoped that they, along with the film makers who wanted to blaze a new trail(?), would show the way out by churning out good movies, Malayalam film industry is famed for. Alas, that'd remain a wish for some more time because the protagonists for change, are indulging in the same game that they blame their seniors for - yet another case of double standards!

A sad piece of news.

By the end of the day, the media was abuzz and had gone frenzy(and rightly so) over the massive earthquake that has shattered the north eastern region of our country. Many of the picturesque landscape of the area has been reduced to rubble, creating undue hardship to the inhabitants.

I can never forget my journey through the picturesque north east carried out quite a while back and as I take in the video grabs of destruction, I desperately want to cling on to some of those fond memories that I've deep within me like frozen snapshots from a favourite album:-
(a) the winding road that gives a spectacular view of the banks of the River Teesta.
(b) the unhurried walk on the mall road of the beautiful city of Gangtok.
(c) the ever smiling but shy inhabitants, with music being a necessary ingredient in their lives.
(d) the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding snow clad mountains especially at sunrise and sunset.

Here's my prayer that the affected people get timely and adequate help, their surroundings are restored to their pristine beauty at the earliest and may God help them to tide over their difficult times! And also my prayers to the departed.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A strange request.

My immediate neighbour is a retired Air Marshal who also happens to be a senior from my school, though I must confess that he'd passed out much before I'd joined. Over the last couple of years, we've become friendly thanks to the numerous conversations we've had over the telephone coupled with the common bond of being from the same school. His only daughter is married and is based at Bombay, busy with her work and family.

In our conversation today, he'd informed me about his mother-in-law being seriously ill and fighting for life in a local hospital. He sounded quite worried and vulnerable and it took a while for me to put him at ease - or was I really successful? What surprised me was that a person like him who must have gone through graver crises in his professional life and come up trumps on each of those occasions seemed to be forlorn and directionless during the time of a personal crisis.

And then followed his strange request. He pleaded I must ensure that he be given a decent funeral upon his death. Though I'd laughed it off was a crude attempt at humour and said that he'd overtake me in longevity, his fear had lingered in me much after the conversation had ended. I live day to day and try to take in the essence of life and therefore, when I come across people who think far ahead in life, I'm left thoroughly confused as to whether I was doing it right.

Reminded of that famous line from Charles Lamb's 'Essays of Elia', "Men fear death as children fear darkness".

Friday, September 16, 2011

The world of Timoth Jose.

Lekha and me had hired a rick to attend the evening's function organised for meeting up with a classmate of mine who was returning to Canada on Sunday. Since imbibing of wines was a distinct possibility I did not want to drive my Cruze and also because the police @ Kochi have been on the vigil to apprehend the offenders of late, I'd decided to go chauffeur driven! And boy, wasn't the ride in the rick a great experience?

Timoth Jose, the owner and driver, was all of 61 yrs, sported a thin, wiry frame and was outgoing and eager to interact. He drove the rick only in the evenings as he tended his automobile workshop during daytime. His running fight with the officials of the Municipal Corporation to get his shanty regularised is slowly bearing fruition! He says that the delay was caused by the simple fact that he did not believe in offering bribes!

He's never been through the portals of a school but has tried every job from scavenging to polishing gems to farming and finally ended up with automobile repairs. He hails from the outskirts of Thrissur but had come and settled down in the city about 14 yrs back. His parents had a huge family, in that, his father had two wives and sired 13 children, out of which he was the 7th from the first marriage. Thanks to the lack of harmony in his father's house, he'd left it disgusted at the tender age of 14 yrs in search of work.

His transit from Thrissur to Kochi was necessitated because he was duped by one of his regular customers at the workshop. And it was at Kochi that he'd fallen in love with a local girl which resulted in marriage and he sired three children out of that liaison - two sons and a daughter, who're well settled, living their own lives and refuse to have anything to do with him. His wife'd left him quite a while back, has married a second time and is happy with her new family.

What was discernible was that he's neither bitter nor does he blame his spate of misfortune on others. Instead, he's a great capacity to laugh at himself and find humour around him! And he says that he's not surprised at the way life has turned out for him because biblically, a person with a name like his was doomed to such a fate!!

I was bowled over by his stoic and zest for life. Here's wishing that god maintains Timoth Jose's optimism for the years to come!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Much ado about nothing! Or is there something after all?

It has become usual practice amongst my classgroup to leave the coordination of getting guys together for an occasion to yours truly. Not that I mind it because it keeps me looped with everyone and quite a few of them has said that they do not have the heart to refuse an invitation from me - a compliment that I wear on my sleeve!

In the process of invitation, I've found that many guys call themselves off diplomatically by quoting previous appointments but confide that they'd rather give a particular individual the miss and the reason's not hard to find - some sort of indiscretion on the part of the guest, while at school, had broken the relationship. But what I find amazing is that the grudge is being nursed even after so many years!! I've tried to reason with many, that, at school one might have tread on each other's toes without the back up of sound logic leading to prudent behaviour because the name of the game, then, was 'the survival of the fittest'. To my amazement, many a time, my reasoning had fallen on deaf ears.

I'm one who can boast of my ability to interact with each and everyone of my classmates from school and my coursemates from the Academy. Guys have been nice to have heeded to my requests even at the shortest notice. At this point I'd be kidding if I did not confess to the fact that I've fought bitterly with quite a few of them and become 'enemies' only to reconcile and make up, soon after! I've had my fair share of idiosyncrasies, three of which were listed by a classmate recently in his list of things that he remembered of schooldays and I quote him below, with my rejoinders in brackets:-
(a) I used to be jealous of his 'print' like handwriting(genetic inheritance and I'd no hand in it).
(b) He used to concentrate during evening study periods while people like me waited eagerly for the session to come to a speedy end(by doing so I was spared of burning the midnight oil just before exams).
(c) He used to have a handkerchief in his pocket always(our matron had issued a diktat on the matter right at the start of our stay and frankly, I didn't want to run afoul of her).

Tomorrow evening, we've a Canada based classmate of ours, alongwith his family, spending some time in the city and we're trying to rustle up an impromptu get together. I've not lost hopes yet to get the entire lot to attend, so wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Miss Universe 2011.

India stands nowhere in this year's Miss Universe pageant too. Lara Dutta was the last to win it in 2000 and the drought continues!

Vasuki Sunkavalli, the contestant from India had given a spirited account of herself towards the run up to the competition but she was dogged with ill luck. Earlier, she was disappointed as she could not pose in her national costume because it was not delivered on time! What the hell were the support staff doing?

Vasuki, we're sure you'd have given your best and we appreciate the efforts that you've put in!! This is not the end all of competitions and keep smiling.


I'd come across some real snide remarks from people on the site covering the pageant. Though the general public's disappointment at its representative not having won the crown is understandable, the comments have been downright crass and pathetic, with a few hitting below the belt! I'm sure they must have been the impulsive and emotional outbursts of people lacking in maturity.

Vasuki, we appreciate your guts to have performed on such a massive stage!!


In my opinion, the Indian woman draped elegantly in a saree is the classic statement of beauty and can beat her counterpart from any part of the world, always and every time!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The sad case of Anjali Gupta.

It was depressing to hear about the tragic death of Anjali Gupta, an ex-officer of the Indian Air Force. She'd shot to fame when she was cashiered from the service a few years back. Ironically, she'd accused a few of her superiors in the IAF of sexually harassing her, went through a Court of Inquiry which culminated in Court Martial proceedings being instituted against her and saw her eventual dismissal from service.

Throughout her difficult days, from the account of her general conduct by the media, I'd surmised her to be a strong young lady. Yet, her untimely end and that too by suicide, paints her to be insecure as well as vulnerable.

Cupid has neither eyes nor ears in matters of love, it's said. Love just happens and hence, her entanglement with a married guy does not have to be discussed or criticised. But what saddens me is that she had decided to end her life in this manner. Wonder what prompted her to take such an extreme step and it's hoped that the entire story will come out during the course of the police investigations.

RIP young lady!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A short pilgrimage!

Since mom had expressed a desire to visit the Kartikeya temple at Palani in Tamilnadu, I'd made arrangements for the immediate family to go on pilgrimage during the Onam break. A spanking new Innova driven by young Sajish, hired for the purpose, made our journey comfortable. We'd set off, soon after Thiruvonam lunch and reached the foothills of the famed temple town by about a half past 9.

Our team consisted of eight members but six of us had gone up the ropeway for the 'darshan' while I'd opted to stay with dad at the hotel. Taking dad beyond that point would have been exhausting and difficult for him as well as causing delay to other pilgrims - and especially when all of them, without exception, would have been on constraints of time! Mom was unhappy at this arrangement as she felt that I was frittering away a chance to pay obeisance to the deity on my maiden visit to the temple town!

What I didn't tell her was that, for me, it was their happiness that was of utmost importance. The sense of 'mission accomplished' was indeed heartening and gave me the thrills!

The total distance of 651 kms (up and down ) through the western ghats took us through well clipped tea gardens, series of spice gardens and some breathtaking sights of gushing waterfalls! It was essentially time well spent!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Another wonderful drive!

It was yet another drive that was exhilarating and fruitful. We'd kicked off from Kochi soon after lunch and the weather was good for a change, compared to what it had been for the past few days. The Cruze was a pleasure to drive as usual and the traffic, manageable though there were a few waits for snarls to untangle especially on entering the town of Alappuzha.

For a change, the fellow motorists that I'd come across during the journey were less boorish and seemed to be very law abiding! The good behaviour could have been generated by the festive mood prevalent, all around, thanks to Onam. Mallus can also behave if they really want, eh?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Onam's here!

Finally, Onam 2011 is here.

Tomorrow's the famed 'Uthrada paachil' - a euphemism for the mallu's last minute scramble to have all the things associated with the celebrations in place, by making a quick visit to the market for last minute purchases! Tomorrow's the first day of Onam viz. Uthradom - known by the star as per the Malayalam calendar and on Friday is 'Thiruvonam', the highlight and the most important day of the many!

Being in Kerala at this period of time, after a long lapse, I've told myself that I'd be a keen observer of every minute thing that happens in the name of this wonderful festival that's celebrated by every Malayalee, irrespective of caste, creed or religion. However, the prevalent enthusiasm has been so infectious that it has pulled me into its vortex with consummate ease and no, I do not mind being a participant either! It's a fantastic opportunity to meet up with friends and relatives.

So, I'm wishing myself a 'happy Onam'.


Having said that, the bomb blast within the premises of the Delhi High Court this morning has brought in bad tidings. One's heart goes out to those people who're in it and the video grabs of dazed looks and badly mutilated parts of human bodies have been horrific and distressing.

Celebrating Onam against that backdrop makes one feel guilty and it goes without saying that the celebrations would be muted. As per earlier arrangements, I'd be visiting the 'Pazhani temple' on pilgrimage with my immediate family and will say my prayers for the unfortunate ones who've been affected.

I bow, in pain, to the memory of the departed souls!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Master's piece!

In this 'make believe' world of today, many of us forget our own identity or even reshape our identity to be acceptable to a group that we long to be part of. Probably, it's the the basic human inclination to be with the Jones's - or in the language of the Behavioural Scientist, the human being's desperate need of a 'stroke'. Such relationships are doomed to extreme short life periods ending in unimaginable sorrow and a sour after taste to the individual who'd been behind the facade!

The cause is simple and the following factors contribute:-
(a) One cannot kid one's conscience all the time.
(b) Living behind a facade extracts emotional and at times, physical indulgence which are stress producers.
(c) When the realisation dawns that one needs to be happy to spread happiness and consequently, gain acceptability in any group.

And it's here that I'd like to share with you something that I'd recently come across and I'm reproducing it below. I quote,

"In the history of the universe, there has been nobody like and to the infinite of time to come, there will be no one like you. Existence should have loved you so much that it broke the mould after making you, so that another of your kind will never get repeated. You are original. You are rare. You are unique. You are a wonder. You are a masterpiece.............your Master's piece. Celebrate your Uniqueness".

So, there is no necessity for you to strip yourself off your originality to suit someone's whims and if you do, it will be at your own peril!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

On Teacher's Day.

"Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu
Gurudevo Maheshwara
Guru saakshaath Parabrahma
Tasmai shree guruve namah".

On this Teacher's Day, I remember all my teachers and gurus and pay obeisance to each one of them for guiding and making me into what I'm today.

Thank you dear teachers and I regret that I can never repay you, ever.

And for all those of you close to my heart who've chosen the noble profession of teaching, may God be with you in your endeavours and let your hard work and sincere love for the children that pass your hands be the beacon of light for the generations to come. My humble bows to your sustained dedication.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Down memory lane.

I'd the pleasure of attending the wedding of young Leah this morning. I must let in on a small secret of mine that I love to attend the church weddings. The innards of the church have a uniqueness coupled with a sense of time coming to a standstill, albeit for that short period! And more importantly, the priest in attendance sermonises the young couple as to how to live happily as man and wife. He also reiterates the responsibilities of the two families coming together thanks to the sacred union.

Comparatively, the priests who conduct the 'Nair' weddings are literally silent. Is it because the Nair boasts that he's a know all?

Leah's dad was in my House, years back in school. I happened to be his House Captain and hence feel that I too have had a role in his upbringing, a fact that he graciously accepts! I remember him being very emotional since he put his heart and soul into everything he did. In one particular instance, it took all my efforts to pacify an inconsolable Sam for having lost a football match!! And amongst his classmates, he was spirited, active and articulated his thoughts pretty well.

Over two decades back, I'd attended his wedding and as his daughter's wedding got underway I was glad that I could be with him during another momentous occasion in his life. On completion of the Mass, as he came to thank the people he shook hands with most but when it came to my turn, he gave me a bear hug. I felt privileged and I'd like to believe that it was his way of telling me that I was someone special in his life! Thanks Sam, you'd indeed made my day!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Am I getting emotional, melodramatic or simply, filmy?

1.Guru Dutt - the phenomenon.

This evening's 'Total recall' on Times Now covered Guru Dutt, one of my favourites. Boy, that man was talent unlimited and his movies are worth a watch even now - especially, to understand his effective use of light in the days of the 'black & white cinema' to highlight emotions!
What strikes me is that haunting melody, 'Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam.....' of the movie 'Kaagaz ke phool' which was picturised on his love, Waheeda Rehman and sung by his talented wife Gita Dutt! I suppose this is the twist that life encompasses!!

2. India has got talent.

One of the competitors on this reality show on 'Colors' was 'Priyush' who'd choreographed his moves on that superb number 'Tujhe sab hai pata, meri ma......' from the movie 'Taare Zameen Par'. He'd run away from his home in the North East to Bombay to eke out a living through his passion for dance! And the day's episode was used to unite him with his mother - after a lapse of 4 years - with all the attendant tears and smiles!!
I'm fond of this number as these wordings or wordings similar to them in content, were put forth to my mother by me when my parents had packed me off to a boarding school when I was in class VII. The gist of the number encompasses my troubled thoughts of those days. So homesick was I that I used to cry into my pillows after 'lights out' and made sure that no one saw me in my moments of weakness!

3. The latest from the Wikileaks.

Once again goes to prove the double standards that we Indians are famed for following. However, this time the brunt of the effect seems to be on the Communist Party. What the party should do now is to set its archaic dogmas aside and work on realistic issues that are important and relevant to the present day world. In Kerala, the leaks have further intensified the feud between the Achuthanandan and the Pinarayi factions.

And Karat simply seems to be inadequate, in stature, to guide his party out of the storm!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Strictly official!

I was at Thiruvananthapuram on official work. This time the journey was done by train and to my horror, I realised that while the 'Vanchinad express' took only three hours to reach Kollam, the remaining 70 kms' of distance was covered over 21/2 hrs as the train was stopped in the outer limits of the Thiruvananthapuram railway station, for want of a vacant platform! Louis L'Amour's 'Kilrone' was my companion for the journey and I was reading it for the umpteenth time - my favourite amongst his collections and I understand, his best!

My meeting with the DRM, Thiruvananthapuram was fruitful and it was the official engagement for which I'd reached the city. I'd kept the trip a secret from my aunts and relations to avoid mandatory call ons for which, frankly, I had no time. The only exception was to drop in at the office of the PN Panicker Foundation - to interact with the staff - which is situated in the neighbourhood of the DRM's office!

Lunch was the popular biriyani from the Azad hotel, courtesy my counterpart at Thiruvananthapuram soon after which I'd embarked upon my return journey to Kochi by the Janashatabdi. The journey was beset with problems like a faulty traction, bad weather in the form of a tree having fallen on the wayside slowing traffic and by the time the destination was reached, the train was more than two hours late! This time, I'd napped through most of the distance until the last couple of hours when a young lady and a management graduate got to be my co - passenger. She was quite busy on her cellphone sending messages every now and then, and boy she could do that with an amazing speed! Karthika is keen on joining the defence forces but is doubtful about her parents' consent to this wish of her's.

Kochi was afloat, thanks to the incessant rains and the traffic that had snarled for hours earlier in the evening, had untangled by the time Sebastian was driving me to my home at 9. It was 11 and quiet (Lekha is away to attend a marriage in the family) by the time I'd hit the sack. To my dismay, I found that I was pooped doing nothing the whole day!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Everything comes full circle.

As video grabs bring in details of Muammar Gaddafi's opulent underground bunker in Tripoli and his numerous palatial shelters, one thing that becomes certain is man's greed for riches. We're witness to the same old story when Romania came tumbling out of Caeucescu's clutches or when Saddam fell out of power in Iraq.

The commonality in all these cases is the most striking aspect of life's vagaries. The people who rode to power or siezed power under the garb of fighting corruption and sleaze, finally got blown away for following the same methods that they once abhorred!

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely!


I still can't fathom as to why people have faucets and other fixtures in their bathrooms - er, rest rooms - made of gold. Do they help in, anyways, to relieve their woes from constipation or loose bowels?