Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why the lack of sensitivity?

I'd aspired to be a doctor, once upon a time, because I used to be impressed by the way a doctor came out from the ICU, after reviewing a patient, to give the rundown to the relatives anxiously waiting outside for a word of hope to cling on. Every word that he'd utter is carefully assimilated and every advice adhered to in letter and spirit! It seemed as though the doctor had a special covenant with god regarding life and death and hence, his words were gospel!

Then came the awakening that the doctors were ordinary mortals like anyone and had their limitations, just like it is in any other profession. It came through experiences, case studies and numerous books - both fiction and non fiction - on the profession! But I must admit that Ivan Ilyich's 'Nemesis' helped me to understand and appreciate the pros and the cons of the profession to a great extent.

Having said all that, on a personal note and from what I've gathered from the experiences of a few friends and relatives, there're increasing cases of insensitive behaviour from some in the profession. I'd like to believe that these form a miniscule and also because of the fact that cases of errant behaviour are not restricted to this profession alone.

A patient's attendants have the right to know as to what the problem was(not so much in medical terminology), as to what's being done to alleviate the problem and a few words of consolation would go a long way in reducing their anxiety. One can't buy the theory that a doctor doesn't have the time to show sentiments when there are many of them who practice good bedside manners and go out of their way to interact with the attendants despite being hard pressed for time and are simultaneously busy, taming the problem at hand.

The supporting tableau.

The father of one of my boys was shifted from one hospital to another as he was in an extremely critical medical condition with a multi organ failure - the kidneys have stopped functioning with no output of urine and Creatinine levels exceeding limits, lungs working at low efficiency due to the combined effect of an abscess in the left lung and contraction of pneumonia and a heart that has already suffered a mild attack right at the beginning.

Time taken to carry out the paperwork in connection with the transfer of the patient from one hospital to the other - over two hours! Simply ridiculous and unacceptable!!

Is it because human lives are cheap in this country?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On a negative roll?

I'm disappointed at the way certain events seem to be taking place in our country, over the past few days. Naming just a few of them:-
    (a) The continuing stalemate in Parliament when there're so many important bills that are pending legislation. Why aren't the lawmakers assuming responsibility and carry out the jobs that they're supposed to do for which we've elected them?
    (b) The HRD minister's missive to government schools to introduce an 'all pass' examination system. Are we taking for granted that our young generation is brittle and hence can't absorb failures? If they aren't exposed to successes and failures from the early stage of their lives, when do we expect them to be exposed?
    (c) The continuing dilly dallying about the enactment of the 'lokpal bil'. Can't help agreeing with Anna Hazareji when he says that no one is interested in bringing about a strong bill on the subject because corruption has become a way of life in this country. Doesn't it substantiate the oft repeated charge that politics is a cesspool of corruption?

The list is endless. Is there a methodicity in this madness?

I'm an Indian who is sure that my country has all the requisites in terms of manpower and other resources to become a superpower. But, we need to understand that time is at a premium and that we do not have the luxury to fritter it away on pointless activities.

The need of the time is for everyone to rally around to make our country strong, focus on the issues that matter and strive to achieve our ultimate objective within the shortest time period. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hopelessly lost!

I've always admired men who're good at the culinary art. Probably, my admiration comes from an utter helplessness, on my part, to do something worthwhile in the kitchen. Thanks to some painstaking lessons from Lekha, I can now make a passable cup of tea!

 And there are some attendant muddles that I invariably end up with when I'm in the kitchen - like forgetting to shut down the cooking range completely(once, I'd to rush back from office to shut down the system), the normally well behaved gas lighter has a tendency to have quite a few false starts and ultimately when it does, a huge flame bursts out which could end up in a fire hazard(thankfully, it hasn't thus far) and the worst is that I end up with a burnt hand/hands simply because I'd tried to handle a utensil, that was above room temperature and I'd forgotten in the heat(?!) of the moment thanks to a misplaced, irrational enthusiasm!

My culinary attempts or the lack of it has been the butt of jokes amongst my friends, course mates and family. Quite a while back, while I was at the Academy and going through the paces of Camp Greenhorn in my II term, I'd deviced what seemed to be a novel idea to me then. Dry rations given to each cadet at the beginning of the night march were supposed to be cooked at the end of the trek and eaten before turning in for the night. While most of my friends laboured with their resources and made passable meals for themselves, I'd mixed my share of the raw rice with sugar and had the 'dry porridge' for supper giving rise to a mirthful night at the campsite, for the 'route march weary' and exhausted crowd! A few of them offered to share their meals with me seeing my efforts!! 

I take a philosophical stand on such occasions to hide my deficiency and stand rooted to the saying, "one must eat to live and never live to eat".

Lekha's off for a couple of days to attend a family function and I'm already feeling helpless! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Chinese checkers.

The Chinese are at it again in brow beating India but this time, thankfully, our response has been appropriate and laudable. On a personal level, though, I wish our honourable President and Prime Minister had also attended the function and bestowed upon the conglomeration the sanctity that it deserves. But, I suppose, the government has followed its decision of following diplomatic niceties even while their Chinese counterparts have acted nasty by calling off the border talks, scheduled this week!

And why did the Chinese play dirty this time? It objected to the participation of the Dalai Lama at the Global Buddhist Congregation currently being held at New Delhi. It also fears the break away of Tibet from their area of influence if the Dalai Lama were to be given a free run.

One of the aims of this conference is to bring together the three streams of Buddhism viz. 'Theravada', 'Bodhisattvayana' and 'Vajrayana' on a common platform and the participants are going to debate the finer points of Buddhist Philosophy while touching upon their ideas of right living. And the Dalai Lama will give the valedictory speech on 30 Nov.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

On the highway.

It was a trip that I was dreading as my experience, made last a couple of months back, was not entirely memorable. The 23 km stretch between Mannuthi, soon after Thrissur, and Vadakkancherri was a mess with unimaginably big potholes and many a time, I was looking for the road to get to drive. That stretch happens to be through hilly features and hence has a gradient that gives the added difficulty!

And to add to that, one has to reckon with obnoxious drivers who lack etiquette. They simply do not believe in being nice to their fellow drivers as they overtake at points where there's no space whatsoever, blare their vehicular horns to momentarily stun the other and at times, lean out smirking at the momentarily dazed and hapless victim of their uncouth behaviour! When would these guys ever understand that driving is not only an activity to derive pleasure and enjoyment, but it is also meant to ensure that other fellow travellers have pleasant experiences when they pass you?

Today's trip was much better though I must say that the condition of that 23 km stretch leaves much to be desired. The road repairs have been reduced to patchwork, with substandard material, that have already started giving way at numerous places. When will these guys ever learn and it's high time that the contractors, who've presented such shoddy work, along with the officials who've cleared the quality of work are brought to book and pay for their sins!    

Friday, November 25, 2011

At random.

1. Now it hurts them!

It can only be seen as double speak when the Maoists say that their leader, Kishenji, was killed in a fake encounter. The guy deserved the death that he met with because of the violent ends that he'd imperiously bestowed upon innocent civilians and the numerous security personnel, over a period of time. Kudos to the Security forces on their success; may reason and maturity prevail and it's hoped that all the concerned parties would sit across a table, mull over the fundamental problems that incite terrorism and bring about a lasting solution to tackle the situation.

The economic backwardness of a region coupled with the perception that there's no one to guarantee their legitimate rights spur the people to latch on to such pressure groups which are led by unscrupulous guys who're in search of their 15 minutes of fame - and boy, these guys can go to any lengths at that! The element of fear is also an important aspect that forces the common man to follow them.

2. The Brits still rule us.

65 years after having attained our independence from the Brits, it's amazing to know that we're still ruled by them! I mean, we still follow blindly a slew of rules and directives established by them and naturally, quite a few of them reflect an occupant's perception of his subjugates! To cite just one example, while the Indian Railways has laws that guarantee protection of its stock and material(and rightfully so) it has none that covers the rights of its customers - the passengers!! On the flip side, I'm also aware that there are many rules that are sound and relevant to the present times and beyond - real 'monuments' that have withstood the test of time.

It's high time that the concerned people reviewed the archaic laws that are prevalent and substituted them with new ones that suit the times.     

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nice to be remembered!

24 Nov happens to be my birthday. This year it has an added spice that my day, as per the Malayalam calendar, falls immediately the day after! But as a friend had remarked, both the days coincide once, every 19 years!!

Wishes and messages came in many ways thanks to the many options available for communication. Every word uttered, every sentiment expressed and every gesture communicated, reinforced the bonds nurtured over time. And I must confess that I'm fond of receiving gifts making me look forward to my next b'day even before this day becomes history!

It was also an occasion to catch up with people with whom I've not been in contact, on a regular basis. But what I sorely missed, this time, was the call from Leela kunjamma who used to make it a point to call up early in the morning and wish me happy returns.

I'd like to believe that she's with me this day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dam 999.

This is the name of a movie, made in five languages viz. English,Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu and currently a hot topic of contention between the states of Kerala and Tamilnadu - basically, raked up by the political parties! The film encompasses the widespread havoc and destruction caused by the collapse of a dam while highlighting the story of nine characters and nine moods(the nava rasas).

The story talks of a corrupt Mayor who is instrumental in building a new dam for political gains and personal glory. It further pans on nine lives that get entwined by the looming disaster because of the dam's inherent faults!

The movie has gained currency because of the topical 'Mullaperiyar' dam situated in Kerala that provides the much needed waters for Tamilnadu. There's a growing feeling that the dam has outlived its time, hence dangerous for the people living in the vicinity and therefore, there's a consequential demand by Kerala for building a new dam to tide over the crisis while, Tamilnadu doesn't seem to be of that opinion!

To a layman like me it's another case that's being politicised unnecessarily. Why can't the concerned parties, together with the experts, sit across a table and arrive at a solution acceptable to all? River waters of the country are to be shared by the riparian states without letting narrow thoughts or differences to come into play regarding the utilisation.

The film's shoot  had begun on a jarring note, when the veteran Malayalam actor, Thilakan, who was to play the lead role was prevented from from doing so by 'AMMA', an organisation of the Malayalam movie fraternity, with which the actor had a difference of opinion! I suppose, the movie is going to be viewed by the average movie goer, out of sheer curiosity, thanks to the hype and the controversies kicked up thus far!   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

At the children's park.

To be a child all over again. Ah, what a dream! The paradox is that I wanted to grow up pretty fast when I was a kid only to realise now as to how idiotic that want was!

After my evening walk and exercises, I had taken my young nephews - Govind and Sanath - to the park in front of our building and let them loose. Soon after, a sizeable number of children had conglomerated at the park and it was headed by none other than li'l Anoushka, my best friend and favourite. It was nice conversing with each one of them and a few of them had a lot of questions to ask like why I wasn't out in the mornings on exercise(they're rather amused when I said that I was lazy and abhorred getting up in the mornings) and curious as to how were the two kids, that I was chaperoning, related to me. In the process, they extracted a promise from me to be a spectator for their 'kabaddi' match tomorrow morning!

When one of the mother's quipped that I was the residential 'Pied Piper' immensely popular with the kids, I must confess that I did feel proud. But once again came to the conclusion that I was a dumbo at their age!  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Relationships - logical or illogical?

Human relationships have been a fascinating aspect of study and countless treatises have been written on the subject and will continue to be written as long as human beings walk upon this earth. Being an ardent and curious student myself, I've tried to analyse a few cases and I shall cite one here that defies logic by my reckoning!

The protagonist is in the legal profession. She's married, but the couple unfortunately has no children. In fact, quite a few years back she'd spoken out in a popular magazine that siring children could become a hindrance to an individual's professional growth. The family was aghast but she stood her ground. Knowing her, she still stands strongly by that conviction of her's but is actively involved into a lot of philanthropic activities concerning destitute children.

A few years back, she'd added a boy to her extended family. Actually, the boy happened to come in search of her as he felt an affinity after hearing his dad's story. His dad was her first husband but the marriage didn't last beyond a couple of months, thanks to an absence of compatibility between the two and a cantankerous mother-in-law who carried tales about the young bride succeeding in breaking the relationship, ultimately! The guy went on to marry again and this boy happens to be the son from that marriage. Over the years, he'd realised the injustice meted out to his first wife and in one weak moment, blurted out his story to his son asking him to be a source of support to her from then on. The lad found out his 'foster' mother and the rest is history. Incidentally, even the mother-in-law is repenting about her past deeds!

The subject of our story dotes on the young man and to the query as to what she expects from the relationship, her answer is strangely lacking in logic which is - "his father has realised his mistake and sincerely feels bad about it. I see in the boy, a younger version of his dad that I was head over heals with, years ago. And that's that".

Now, what do you say to that?


Is it that a part of her self still lingers in the virtual world of her first marriage and sees this boy as her son that could have been? A nice illusion, perhaps?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A lovely Sunday!

After seeing off my friend, I'd settled down to watch the programme 'Rangoli' on the national channel. The first number promised me(I get these inklings) that the day was going to be interesting. It was that lovely duet sung by Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from the movie, 'Parasmani' and I shall reproduce the first two lines below, simply because the words are mesmeric :-

                        'Woh jab yaad aaye
                         Bahut yaad aaye'.

I was the co - host for an official lunch where I'd the privilege and honour to meet many of my friends, seniors as well as juniors, after a lapse of many years. Though I met many people, exchanged telephone numbers and addresses, the real thrill was when I met the Joses who're with me at Coimbatore and among the few who'd looked after me during those times. I must confess that I've a fondness for them and still remember the nice times that I've had at their place. As we brought ourselves upto date of each other, the years that had lapsed without communication just seemed to melt away. They both looked good and had just returned from Toronto where their children(with whom I've played when they're kids) have settled down as Canadian citizens.

The evening was spent with a simple family at their house - now, that's a tongue twister - 'Pullattinjalil' at Aluva. A word about the family - the patriarch is a manual labourer, who works in the farms nearby and he and his shy wife have established a happy and contended house with ample support from their three sons. Two out of them are married and the elder daughter-in-law happens to be our maid's daughter! She's pregnant and we'd gone to celebrate the occasion! The positive vibes in the house are infectious and their cousins, from the extended family, are talented. We'd the privilege of hearing Sandhya(a ranker from school and now doing her CA) and Dhanya(studying in class X) who're on their way to a musical nite and they're further, scheduled to perform with their team at London and Toronto during the first half of December! 

May god look after the 'Pullattinjalil' inmates and shower them with all that they wish for in the coming times! And let happiness and togetherness be their theme song forever!!

A wonderful day indeed!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

An ugly situation retrieved.

My saarthi, Sebastian, was on an errand in the unit's Gypsy. Enroute, as he's cruising on an easy speed, there was a sudden application of brakes by a couple of vehicles ahead of him which resulted in the Gypsy grazing the Alto in front.

The reaction was swift, the Alto's driver was raging mad as he insisted on Sebastian to accompany him to the nearest servicing station to do up the damages and foot the bill. Our man coolly replied that the correct action would be to report to the nearest police staion to have a case registered and drove off in the direction of the post. Much to his relief, they're transiting through a railway level cross at that instant and the Alto that was following him was left behind as the gate had closed soon after he'd crossed it. He then, headed back straight to me at my office to gave me a rundown of the incident. I realised that he'd come off without sorting out the problem with the aggrieved and therefore, there existed a possibility of future escalation when the Alto's driver accosted my man.

It did not take much time to contact the police staion covering the area of the mishap who put us on to the traffic police post where the incident was reported to the personnel on duty. He was apprised that the number of the Alto was not noted in the prevailing confusion and panic, but the colour of the car was described. The duty policeman, pleasantly surprised, had promised to convey through wireless to alert the 'sad' Alto driver that the Gypsy's 'owner' could be contacted for further action, if required, as he'd our access numbers!

As I finished with the last call, I'd a glimpse of Sebastian's face and noticed a look of relief!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A fantastic education.

Vaidee, my friend and course mate, had dropped in to spend the weekend with us. He had called up a few weeks earlier and told us of his intentions just to ensure that we'd not planned anything otherwise. He's like that - thoughtful and concerned about others.

I must confess that we're not the best of friends, at the initial stages, as we embarked on our professional lives as we'd our own circle of friends. Over a period of time, the reticence was shed and we'd become good friends discussing anything and everything under the sun. And mind you, Vaidee takes time to make friends because he has this great quality of calling a spade, a spade! A voracious reader, he's an affinity to read any book that his hands can get on and that's yet another quality that I admire in him.

And my education was on as he regaled me with the nuances of the 'Mahabhagavatham', the essential differences between the Mahabharatha and the Mahabhagavatham and quite a few of the stories of the Kathopanishad. So interesting was his narration that I didn't realise as to how time flew and as I hit the sack, well past midnight, I was sad that it had to end so soon and how I wished it could go on and on.

Thanks Vaidee, for your patience in answering many of my silly doubts and for your decision to spend time with us. We're already looking forward to more such informative teaching and discussions!   

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tributes to a Braveheart.

Sister Valsa John, a nun-cum-activist, in the Santhal Pargana region had been ordained nun with the Sisters of Charity and was involved with tribal work for the last twenty years. She was brutally silenced two days ago in Jharkhand. The brutal killing took place at Pachwara of Pakur district of Jharkhand.

And her crime? She'd the audacity to organise the 'adivasis' of the area against exploitation by the coal mafia. She had relentlessly fought for the right amount of compensation and rehabilitation of the 'adivasis', from and by the coal mining companies that were active in the area. The police has reported that a crowd of 50 'adivasis' carried out the dastardly crime - 25 of them had encircled her hut while the remaining had gone on to attack her with a combination of lathis, hockey sticks and axes! A bit far fetched to believe that the crowd had taken on the hapless nun out of vengeance and if so, why had there been no known animosity between them? There's, however, a police-added input that, over the last few years, she'd been working in an administrative capacity with a school built by a coal company.

An interesting aspect is that she fell to the brutal assault on her father's remembrance day - a native of Kochi, he'd passed away 29 years back.

Sister Valsa John, your efforts will not go in vain as the empowered 'adivasis' will surely fight for their rights, now that they're fully aware of them. May the culprits be brought to book at the earliest and punished for their misdeeds. My salutes to a Braveheart.



Today's the first of the month of 'Vrushchikam' on the Malayalam calendar. The 'Sabarimala' shrine has opened for the rush of devotees and will remain so over the next couple of months. 'Swami Saranam' rents the air and the devotees, clad in their characteristic black, are visible all over.

I, too, am following the regimen of a pilgrim through the next two months though I shall not be visiting the shrine. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

O, these ricks!

I was heading for the nearest petrol pump to put in diesel into my Cruze as it was to be handed over to the GM motors for its third and last free servicing. The roads were pretty well crowded, with vehicles, as the schools had  just wound up for the day. Therefore, mustering up a decent speed was unthinkable but disaster can still strike, under such circumstances, as can be seen from the incident that I'm gonna narrate, which left me twiddling my thumbs helplessly!

I was negotiating a crowded circle, when all of a sudden an autorickshaw - obviously in a tearing hurry - nudged its way through, overtook me - wonder how he managed that - and in the process, scraped the paint off my car's front bumper. My heart sank as I heard the sickening noise and mind you, achieved at almost zero speed! Stopping my vehicle to grab the guy's collar was a strict no-no because by doing so, I'd have attracted the wrath of the other motorists behind me who're, anyways, working on their horns rather incessantly! I'd to just grin and bear it. The autorickshaw driver seemed to appreciate my predicament fully well as he garnered speed to wriggle out of the situation.

But what slapped my ego, was the guy's backward peep, from his perch, on my car's 'by now miserable looking bumper'! Was that a triumphant look at having taught a lesson to another of those pompous(?) guys moving in sleek cars? Or was it a sympathetic look at having caused discomfort to a fellow driver? I'd never know but I'd like to believe that it's the latter!


Having narrated the discomfort caused by the rick, I must hasten to add that they're ideal for transportation if one were to be in a hurry - can wriggle through any difficult traffic situation, interaction with the driver can get you interesting experiences and the journey is comparatively, less expensive! A necessary evil!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happenings and more happenings.

1. A dangerous trend.

The CPM had organised a peaceful demonstration in front of the High Court here, yesterday, to protest against the last week's court order of sending MV Jayarajan, one of its activists, to jail for the disparaging remarks he'd made against the court for its ban on roadside political meetings. As an ordinary citizen of the country, I feel that the ban was long overdue and is a step in the right direction, because many of these demonstrations lead to anarchy on the roads and if one happened to be travelling for an important requirement, it could result in disastrous consequences depending on the nature of the errand!

Standing by their point of view, the party carried out the demonstration on the road, in front of the High Court terming it as 'people's anger' for being denied their right to protest and by doing so, cocked a snook at the court's ban on such meetings. This portends a dangerous trend - the executive, the legislature, the judiciary and the fourth estate need to be equally strong, respectful of each other's turfs and independent for a vibrant democracy!

Sadly, there has been no reactions from well meaning people of the society whose sane words and advice should have come in appropriately, while roundly condemning the incident.

2. Many happy returns!

Former Justice VR Krishna Iyer - the country's legal colossus - is celebrating his 97th birthday today. On behalf of the family, I wish him an eventful year to guide this country through trying times with his matured and sane advice. Here's wishing that God grants him good health and the drive to take on projects that would go a long way in making the life of the common man better!

On a very personal note, I feel proud to be associated with him through my grandfather's legacy.

3. A golden jubilee that every 'mallu' would be proud of.

This week saw Yesudas completing 50 years of providing a continuous treat of mellifluous music to fellow Malayalees. His dedication and humility are folklore and anything that I might say would sound too little and inadequate and hence I desist.

Here's wishing that God gives him good health for rendering further masterpieces, to the world of music, through his gifted voice.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sentiments or misplaced loyalties?

We'd to attend a function that was unavoidable despite the fact that we're in a state of mourning. Moreover, I did not have the heart to say no to these friends of ours as it was a very special occasion for them.

The function was very well organised and we'd the opportunity to meet and interact with quite a few people that we'd always been planning to do but couldn't, due to paucity of time and other distractions. So we took advantage of the opportunity that had fallen into our laps on its own and considered it as godsend! Then, as if on cue, my cellphone got insistent and as I got to take the call, the people around me had noticed that the pouch that I carry the gadget in, was in tatters and pulled my leg.

No amount of my telling them that the pouch was presented to me by a very special friend and hence, had a sentimental value that was priceless, did they deter from making fun of me. Their bone of contention was that I was stupidly emotional and sentimental over trivia, one of them even offered to buy me a new pouch at that instant which I'd to politely, yet firmly turn down - damn sweet of her, though!

The same questions were expressed when I'd insisted on spending more time at Leela kunjamma's and Santhan kochachan's homes, over the last few days. On a personal note, by doing so, I was trying to shake off the guilt of not having given more of my time for them when they're up and about!

Being stupidly sentimental as the people for whom I'm displaying emotions are not even going to be aware of it? But what about the tremendous sense of satisfaction that I derive from deep within?

Yes, I'm a confused bundle of thoughts but I ain't worried as I feel comfortable and am sure that I'm right!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Past events, yet again!

1. Moral policing.

We, mallus, have done it yet again. Shaheed - also known as Bava - all of 26 yrs, was manhandled by a few of the locals who'd objected to 'an immoral relationship' he had in the area called Mukkam, near Kozhikode. He was tied to an electric post and given the third degree treatment. Shaheed, later succumbed to his injuries at the hospital where he was in intensive care. The police also speculates that it could've been out of spite on the part of a few locals with whom Shaheed had an altercation on account of a minor accident in which his bike was involved, a few days before.

Who gave these people the right to take another's life? I hope that the culprits are brought to book without delay. It's such incidents that make me wish that we should also have the law of the 'Sharia'at' in our country!

2. Former President frisked.

It has once again come to light that Mr. Abdul Kalam, our former President, was frisked at the JFK airport, in New York, last month and the yanks have reportedly apologised for the faux pas. Why do these things get repeated, time and again? I'm sure the former President's credentials would have been clearly stated in his travel documents and if so, why did the error ever take place? Probably, the yanks are unrelenting in aspects of security which is also right, when one were to view the whole incident dispassionately and that explains the reason, that, being the gentleman that he is, Mr. Kalam went through the whole rigmarole without making a fuss!

Why don't we too take a leaf out of the Americans' outlook on security and do it strictly, correctly without fear or favour!

The ultimate.

Dateline 12 Nov.

0832h . A portion of Leela kunjamma's ashes were immersed in the serene backwaters of the Paravoor 'kaayal' by her eldest son, Gopee Krishna.

1042h . The remaining portion of her ashes were immersed in the waters of the Arabian Sea, at Paapanaasam in Varkala about 15 kms from where she'd lived.

Leela kunjamma's earthly form has thus become memory and one can only take solace of continuing to see her smiling face from the numerous snaps on the family album and fondly remember those nice moments that she'd given us! 

RIP Leela kunjamma, you shall always be in our thoughts!! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our needs are fleeting.

Shekinah, the 16 yr old daughter of the Mathews has left for her heavenly abode.

She was supposed to have taken her class X examinations in 2010.

She was diagnosed with bone cancer and had undergone many rounds of chemotherapy at the CMC, Vellore. She was a valiant young lady who fought the fearsome illness with fortitude and a smile on her face.

Santhosh Mathew, her father and my schoolmate, struggling to hold back his tears said at the eulogy in church and I quote, "In early 2000, the matter that worried me most was Shekinah's X standard examinations. In 2011, the same time, we're praying for her life and exams were out of mind, inconsequential". Unquote.

Shows how transient needs are in life - a few of them attained and many not!

A tearful prayer for the young lady and prayers for giving the grieving parents adequate strength to tide over their difficult times.


My apologies for spreading melancholia in my last few posts but the losses that are taking place, in close vicinity, have taken its toll. Hope my readers understand! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Biju, Francis and Sukumaran.

At Thiruvananthapuram. Traffic was horrific and consequently took support of the autorickshaws - the interaction with three of those drivers were eye openers! And a fantastic education at that.

1. 0650h. From Palkulangara to Pattom.
I was to be at Vilasini kunjamma's house for the 3rd day ceremonies after Santhan kochachan's demise. Biju's auto was timely and godsend. It was a brand new, gleaming vehicle and I happened to be his first customer - an honour! His speech was slurred due to a growth in his vocal chords and the doctors have given a fifty percent chance of a successful surgery. His acceptance of the situation was something that touched me and I quote, "I'd feel quite sad if I were to lose my voice, post surgery and I'm 38 yrs old so, it doesn't matter anymore. Moreover, my wife doesn't mind, so why should I bother?" He has a son(in class 7), a daughter(in class 5) and has no complaints about life. He's promised to be in touch with me.

2. 0710h. From Pattom to 'Santhi kavadom' and back.
Me and an uncle were hurtling towards the cremation grounds to collect Santhan kochachan's ashes. The solitary car that was earmarked for the purpose was oversubscribed because a couple of officials of the Nair Service Society - the co-ordinators of the ceremony - had to be accommodated. Francis, whose auto it was, was incensed that the NSS guys were prone to taking short cuts in the conduct of the ceremony. Answering our surprised looks, he said coyly that his wife was a Nair and hence, was aware of the entire sequence. He was only feeling bad that the guys were taking advantage of our grief (and ignorance too!). Damn nice of him. People with whom you've no connection, do bat for you - yet another example to show that every human being is good deep within!!

3. 1115h. From Pattom to Palkulangara,
Sukumaran happened to be our 'saarthi' and right at the start, he gave us a rundown about the massive choke in the arterial road thanks to a roadblock orchestrated by the CPM and the consequent route that he was gonna take. A strong Congress party backer, his life is a 'riches to rags' story wherein his family had sunk a lot of money on him to fight the assembly elections in the late 70s, which he lost and attributes it to the shenanigans of his coworkers and mind you, he was a communist then! He'd some real pungent and colourful adjectives for some of its current crop of leaders. His wife, however, is a loyal communist even to this day. Presently, he finds solace that his children - Shiny and Shaiju - are stars by themselves by their excellence in the world of sports. The daughter is an IT graduate while his son is an aspiring IPS trainee!

A great day and a fantastic fund of experiences from simple, yet resolute people. Thanks, Biju, Francis and Sukumaran for the superb education delivered to me on a platter. I shall remain indebted to you!       

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm at loggerheads with my God.

Yes, I'm 'kattie' with my God. He's taken away two people that I was quite fond of within a span of a week. Leela kunjamma and Santhan kochachan were wonderful people and did no harm to anyone. And I can vouch for the fact that their personal needs were so little and they always believed in giving and spreading happiness around them. They could have lived for many more years as their medical discomfort were not acute or insurmountable!

As an elder tried to console me, I'm trying to accept the explanation that their time for being with us had come to an end and they are on to better things, according to the philosophy of life which is also the cosmic truth. According to customs and traditions practiced by us, going to places of worship, lighting the lamp in one's 'puja room' at home and saying one's prayers are taboo during the period of mourning.

I have suddenly become skeptical about the efficacy of saying prayers everyday, especially when God hasn't heeded to my pleas of not taking my near and dear ones away. I'm seriously wondering as to whether I should resume my daily prayers after the period of mourning is over!

Krishna's explanation to Arjuna in the Bhagwad Gita that every human being comes into this world on a pre-ordained script written by him, notwitstanding!!   

An unplanned gift.

Yesterday also happened to be my dad's 87th birthday. But we'd decided to keep the celebrations muted to wishing him 'many happy returns' thanks to the unexpected passing away of Santhan kochachan.

Lekha and me had reached Thiruvananthapuram directly while my parents, along with my younger sister and her daughter, had gone for an urgent social calling to be with a good friend of their's going through trying times before fetching up at Vilasini kunjamma's house. Both mom and dad were very sad seeing Santhan kochachan's   lifeless form lying in state. Their lament was as to why god had spared the elder ones like them and chosen the younger ones. I could understand their angst as both, Leela kunjamma and Santhan kochachan, used to consult them on every important thing that happened in their lives because, for them, their 'chettan and chechi's' endorsement was sacrosanct.

I could only watch my parents' anguish like a helpless spectator!

Just before my parents' departure, my dad had called me aside and asked me as to whether I could fetch him a new walking stick as the existing one was giving him problems. The needful was done as two of my nephews volunteered to go to the 'medical equipment shop' a few kms away and get the quadruped stick.

As he wielded his new walking stick, my dad tells me quietly, 'son, this is a very special birthday gift for me'. I could feel the lump in my throat because I'd definitely not planned this!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Another link has snapped.

I was woken up at a quarter to 4, this morning, by the insistent ringing of the telephone and my antenna was up almost as a matter of instinct. Calls at unearthly hours usually bring in unwelcome news and today's call was just that. My affable and mild mannered uncle had passed away.

Santhan kochachan, all of 74 years and the husband of my second maasi - Vilasini kunjamma, had got up with a complaint of breathlessness around 3 AM and within an hour, had left this earthly life. Lekha and me had made a dash to Thiruvananthapuram to be in time to say our prayers, by his mortal remains before it was consigned to the flames.

I was taken back in time, when we'd - my dad, mom, me and my sisters - fetched up from Bombay, some time in end Nov '63 and my maman(who was there to receive us) pointed towards two gentlemen standing by one of the pillars at the entrance of the Thiruvananthapuram railway station, saying that one of them was Santhakumar, who was slated to marry my maasi, Vilasini kunjamma. They'd gone through a whirlwind courtship over six months and had decided to get married - a unique happening those days, amongst orthodox Hindu families. He'd come to the station, then, to get the endorsement of his fiancee's eldest sister, my mother! He used to tell me subsequently, that he'd never sweated ever like he did then during that evening - before or after!!

I've completed 18 visits to the shrine of Sabarimala, as part of my annual ritual and Santhan kochachan was the mainstay for the conduct of the connected 'puja' and the entire procedure of the 'yatra'. During my first visit he'd undertaken the exercise twice - and that too, back to back. During the first trek, that year, he'd accompanied my grandmother, mom and dad - did  it the second time just for my sake, as I'd reached a trifle late on leave. He'd accompanied me 13 times after which, he'd do the 'puja' and see me off as the doctor had advised him against such exertions due to the condition of his heart.

We're also a formidable team in the family, in the game of cards and our strong point was the 'mallu' favourite of 28.

He and my maasi were eternally in love till this morning, I and every other member of the family can vouch for it. And he'd that fantastic quality to get along with anyone of any age or of any background. He and maasi used to stand in for my parents, as my guests and guardians at my school's annual day and its annual sports day. I'd spoken to him at length just last week, at Leela kunjamma's funeral and I can't believe that I shall never see his smiling, handsome visage ever again. And another link in the family tree has snapped forever.

Santhan kochachan, I shall miss you till my very end. My tearful tribute in your memory.


1. The electric cum normal crematorium at 'Santhi kavaadom' looks like a five star complex and I'd joked that I didn't mind dying with such facilities being available after life. Jokes apart, the mallus seem to have given a serious thought to look after the dead with dignity! People can organise a condolence meeting soon after the funeral, within the premises! And the place is maintained clean by the conservancy staff appointed by the municipal corporation, for the purpose, at all times - absolutely free of filth and foul smells.

2. My uncle seems to have passed away on an inauspicious day - 'karinaal' which falls within the last five days of any month in the Malayalam calendar. The saying has it that such a happening triggers off a series of deaths in the same family, within a calendar year. I don't believe this but statistics and past happenings were cited to prove the point! So, the 'pundit' will carry out some remedial 'puja' for the family. Earlier, a fowl used to be sacrificed for salvation, things have now been further simplified - thank god - and an egg(symbolises life) was placed along with the body before it was placed on the furnace.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Why am I angry?

It was drizzling this evening as I got out of the house for my customary walk. To shield my head I'd my favourite cap on and didn't mind getting wet otherwise because as I perceive, an umbrella hinders the walking speed and a raincape gets me suffocated! The roads had huge puddles of water, at many places, thanks to the incessant rains that had begun just before sunset.

I must have walked a bare 50 metres, when an autorickshaw drove past with its driver saying something that was directed at me. Therefore, I'd beckoned him to stop and repeat what he'd to say. He then told me that I was walking on the road and since my clothes had a dark hue, I was hardly visible to him till the last moment and if I were to continue in the same manner, I'd have serious trouble from a speeding motorist now that I've been saved by his deft driving!

As he said his piece, I could feel my anger rising because he was fully well aware of the fact that I was skirting a huge puddle of water at that instant, when he was crossing me and in the process, had got onto the road! Raising my voice, I'd asked him as to why he was cautioning me when he saw me doing what I was, as I was passing under the glare of the sodium vapour street lamp at that point. I then cautioned him that it's people like him who should be watchful and drive at very slow speeds to avoid inconveniencing pedestrians whose problems enhance, especially during rains!

Seeing my belligerance, he backed off and without another word, joined the queue of autorickshaws at the street corner. Why did I get angry with him? He must have been genuinely concerned about my safety and hence, was trying to caution me, perhaps! Or was it his mallu sarcasm to find mistakes in others?

As I finished my circuit, I'd come to the conclusion that it could have been the former and looked around for the autorickshaw at the stand to tender an apology for my brusqueness, but he'd left by then - presumably on another trip!   

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bhupen Hazarika is no more.

Padma Bhushan Bhupen Hazarika is no more amidst us. The 85 yr old music maestro was a multifaceted personality and rightfully, the 'bard of Brahmaputra'. His contributions to the country's cultural heritage will be remembered by generations to come especially for the fact that he'd woven magic out of traditional Assamese music! He left for his heavenly abode this evening.

A self proclaimed 'jajabor' meaning 'wanderer', he was a balladeer par excellence. For his all round contribution to the cultural milieu, the country had honoured him with the prestigious 'Dadasaheb Phalke' award.

My initiation to his music happened late in 2001 when my friends, the Banerjees, gifted me a cassette containing his music. We'd gone on a trip that covered Agra, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehra Dun and Mussorie over a period of six days in my van and on passage, a good amount of the distance was made skirting the River Ganga. And the music was appropriate and I remember having played the number 'Ganga behati hai kyon' a number of times, perhaps, much to the boredom of the others though they'd never complained! I'd like to reproduce its first stanza for the sheer beauty of concept,
      "Vistaar hai apaar,
        Praja don paar
       Karein ahaakaar,
       Mast sadaa,
       Ganga tu, Ganga tu, o' Ganga behati hai kyun".

Through this number, he was expressing his anguish at 'Ganga mainya' continuing to flow without complaints despite the wrongdoings committed by the citizens inhabiting her banks! A truly patriotic thought!!

The other number was the melodious "Dil hoon, hoon karein.....ghabarayein..." I suppose I can go on and on.

My humble tribute to a legend and here's wishing him peace in eternal life.

Friday, November 4, 2011


After work, I'd decided to go around the Indian Navy's estate of Ezhimala. The monumental institution of the Naval Academy stands against the green backdrop of the 'seven hills' of 'Ezhimala'. The colour scheme chosen for the buildings merges well with the backdrop and adds to their architectural beauty.

The drive was over the length and breadth of the estate and I tried to take in as much as I could and made a mental note as to how lucky the young cadets are gonna be when they get the opportunity to make similar cross country trips on horsebacks as part of their training! The Mount Dilli lighthouse was another imposing fixture, within the precincts of the estate, that has guided mariners to safe passage across the sea over the years. The keeper, Selvan, was eager to conduct me around and I took advantage of the offer. As we reached the summit of the lighthouse after climbing a few steep ladders, towards the end, seeing the entire system from a reciprocal view gave a deep sense of satisfaction and achievement. I was also reminded of the time, years back, when I'd anchored my ship off the lighthouse and had gone along with my boys to do reconnaissance of the pristine Etticulam beach on which I'd walked a little while before.

The over 2,500 acre vast estate is an ideal place for nurturing the naval leaders of tomorrow. I felt proud of the 'monument' in the making!


Samad, my 'saarthi' during the visit, wistfully pointed out to a patch of land with a small house - close to the lighthouse that was his family's once upon a time(young Samad was studying in class 7 then) - acquired by the government for the making of the Academy. They're, of course, compensated and with a bit of that money, his father had set up their new home much near the Academy and saw Samad off to work at Abudhabi for 22 years. He's returned finally to his familiar surroundings to run his own taxi service!  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What a thrill?

I happened to watch snatches of the 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' episode where Sushil Kumar had won the prize money of Rs. 5 crores. To me it was a thrilling moment and I felt happy as though I was the winner!

A computer operator, earning a measly sum of Rs. 6,000/- per month, Sushil Kumar hails from Motihari of the Champaran district of Bihar. Disarmingly simple in his outlook towards life, in general, as gleaned from his conversation with Mr. Bachchan throughout the game show, one couldn't help but back him at every stage. His answers were logical and well thought out, showing that he is widely read and aware of so many things that many of us are ignorant of. His reaction at the end of it showed the child in him when he collected the spangles - showered upon him after his winning answer - from the ground and dabbed it all over his face!

His wife and brothers were studiously and elegantly subdued in their reactions. But the most fascinating thing is that the episode is a 'game changer' of their lives and that aspect was yet to sink into them during the adulation!

Motihari, Champaran had been the place where epoch making events during our freedom struggle, under Gandhiji's leadership had taken place. The place is again in the reckoning - a simple son of its soil had the audacity to dream and make his dream come true! Sushil Kumar, may your life's story be an inspiration for future generations!!

 My hearty congratulations!   

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A day on wheels.

Today has been an exceptional day on wheels as the number of unfinished tasks seems to keep mounting even after ticking the ones that had been successfully finished. I've never felt like this before and I've this sneaky feeling that I get the impression because I've been constantly on the move, this Wednesday.

It all started in the morning, when I'd to take Lekha to the AIMS for her tests as part of the monthly medical review. The drive was through blinding rains made all the more difficult by errant motorists, many of whom drove madly, as though they'd acquired the road on lease to themselves! I was at work, soon after, a trifle later than usual though and as I was trying to finish a few pending projects, a call had come for an impromptu meeting after which a dash had to be made to look up a friend of mine, admitted in the nearby hospital.

Back to work and after winding up things for the day, I was off home to do my packing to move to Payyannur to attend a meeting that's being held there, tomorrow morning. The drive is gonna be long, but my saarthi is happy that we'd be at Ezhimala till sunset tomorrow. In his words, he gets a tremendous sense of happiness seeing the lush green scenery all around and I second him wholeheartedly.

Drives are fascinating as they give an opportunity to reflect upon things and as huge trees, buildings, hamlets and vehicles whizz past, a feeling of accomplishment sets in and a renewed energy is acquired to take on new projects!

 The usp of today's drive has been its wetness thanks to the rains, almost continuous!!  


This is my 519th post and this number, as I've cited earlier, has a significance in my life. It's my roll number in school!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What ails the Indian Carrier - Air India?

One has often been hearing that the Air India is in a terrible mess - it seems to have an assorted set of problems like highly paid yet disgruntled pilots, the skewed ratio of the crew per aircraft, in flight services that could be more humane, passenger service counters on the ground that could definitely be more professional and friendly, eternally in the doldrums financially etc, etc.

If the 'customer is really the king', why can't the carrier revamp itself and bring about a change in its outlook and the way it does its business? After all, it has a headstart by its sheer vintage and the associated infrastructure, that it has accumulated over the years, compared to its fledgling competitors. Or is it that the carrier simply doesn't care as it's continuously bailed out off its woes by a sympathetic(?) and ever-ready-to-help, successive governments?

The aviation ministry and the top management - at least, that's the way it seems for an outsider - do not have a dearth of talent but somehow, have failed to deliver and thus let down the large population of enthusiastic fliers who're simply on the lookout for a comfortable and hassle free air travel. In fact, being a frequent flier I had anticipated a variety of choices and a healthy competition amidst the numerous players that had embarked into the airline industry, but that seems to be wishful thinking from the experiences thus far.

It's my fervent hope that things would change for the better and that Air India would become the most sought after airline in the not too distant future.