Monday, December 31, 2012

Another hectic day!

Rema, my sister, had woken me up at 4 this morning. After going through my chores, we'd started off for Varkala's 'papanasam beach' for carrying out the rituals, in connection with my dad's first remembrance day. We're at the beach by 7 and the ceremony was conducted by the priest without much ado.

Dad seems to have liked the way the ceremony was conducted - so, said the priest( Thumping his own back, perhaps!) - as the crows swooped in on the offerings that we'd placed at the beach. It was followed by the visit to the ancient 'Janardanaswamy temple' on top of a steep hillock, right at the beachhead. And after about an hour and a half, we're headed for home.

There was inadequate voltage level, the previous night thanks to a flash downpour and the consequent fire on an electric lamp post in front of our house. So, working the motor and pumping up the water into the overhead tank was out of question, resulting in a water shortage. Drawing water from the well, by the traditional bucket and pulley was resorted to so that some amount of water could be collected to tide over the temporary scarcity!

It was around 10 AM, when we'd kicked off for Kochi. I'd set myself a deadline to be back by lunchtime - I missed it by an hour and a half, thanks to traffic snarls at two points enroute! But I could catch up on all the work that had to be done on arrival and that, indeed, gave me a great sense of accomplishment.


I cannot access the internet because the service provider that I subscribe to doesn't cover the area where my house is. And therefore, it must have appeared crazy for the passersby when they saw your's truly working on my laptop from the bonnet of my car, under the shade of a huge, big banyan tree by the wayside! It was accomplished as we'd decided to have a break for freshening up at our familiar 'highway inn'.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Remembering dad.

The whole family had come down to our place to spend time and reminisce about dad on the occasion of his first remembrance day, as per the Malayalam calendar.

Lunch was boisterous but had a few glitches as a few dishes seemed to be missing. I'd taken the blame on two counts, viz :-
     (a) Had put implicit faith upon the service providers to do their job well. But cross checks need to be
           resorted to as it has become the norm and I'd not done that as I thought I shouldn't interfere.
     (b) They'd all come down, from their busy schedules, to be party to this get together based on my  
           invitation and the glitches looked as though it was meant to belittle them!

But the folks were graceful, saying that for them to be with us on the occasion was of the highest priority
while food, etc were incidental. Wonder whether they'd said that to mollify me?

But what really bowled me were the eulogies that were paid out for dad. The gist was that dad had endeared himself to everyone by his disarmingly simple outlook. I'm appending a few of the anecdotes shared:-

      (a) Mom... I miss him all the time but I can feel his presence, here around me.
      (b) Kurup kochachan...To me, he was big brother and whenever I'd any major decisions to take, I used
           to consult him.
      (c) Maman... I used to look forward to his visits to our house as a kid because it was always a festive
           occasion with my mom making his favourite dishes. And he used to get gifts for everyone of us.
      (d) Indira kunjamma....He used to be very considerate and didn't like to bother me while he stayed
           overnight at our place. He used to ask me to have his morning coffee put into a flask the previous
           night, at his bedside.
      (e) Sree kochachan.....He was a thorough gentleman and a man of principles.

It went on and on and people weren't even bothered by the time that was being spent on the programme. And as I'd set the ball rolling with my reminiscences, there was a clamour to know more from me even though I used to interject in between with thoughts that came my way.


 I'd advanced the cake cutting ceremony on account of my mom's birthday that falls on 01 Jan. Her special day of 2012 was not celebrated as my dad had passed away, the previous day.    

Saturday, December 29, 2012

At my home.

We'd set off from Kochi a trifle past lunchtime. The weather was oppressively hot but mom and Rema kept us in splits recounting their experiences over the past few days, nay weeks!

All of a sudden, a young boy on his gleaming but horribly painted bike overtook us, looking at me menacingly, and drove off ahead at an incredibly high speed at that narrow stretch(thanks to widening work in progress) only to return on the reciprocal and showed faces at me before driving off, with a triumphant look! Wonder why he did that?

We reached home by about a quarter to 8 - what with the electricity loadshedding on - after picking up sundries enroute. And it was time to get down to brasstacks and do some spring cleaning as the house was closed for almost a week....... We're dog tired at the end of it all.

But it gave us a tremendous sense of happiness. Like the times of old when everyone was around!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A bad start.

Since I was going home for the weekend, in connection with my dad's remembrance day, I'd decided to drive my Chevy to the office to top her up with fuel and check the tyre pressure.

Wonder what was happening to me this morning as there were hiccups galore right after I'd got up from bed. I'd fumbled many a time on the prayer that I usually say and it took a host of repeats to get it right, finally. The water supply was interrupted due to some unidentifiable reason and I could finally manage a bath-of-sorts with a bucket of water making me remember my Academy days, all over again - of course, I must hasten to add that it was not the water that was at a premium there but time, that was in eternal shortage!

I'd to retrace my steps twice to my flat to pick up things that I'd forgotten and finally, it was kick off time. As I was backing my car out of the slot in the stilt parking, I must have used less of wheel which resulted in the 'kissing' of a Honda City parked immediately behind. And my heart sank because my Chevy, too, had sustained minor abrasions and I'd got her 'dented and painted' just a fortnight ago.

I'd driven off immediately after but had to wait at the railway level cross, enroute, before reaching the petrol bunk within the naval base. Unfortunately, there was no power and Martin, the pump man, sheepishly tells me that there was no electricity and hence, fuel could not be supplied. He, further, added that the power interruption could drag on for a while due to a major breakdown!

On reaching my office, I'd called up Ravi, the caretaker of our residential area to get the details of the owner of the Honda City. I'd then called up the owner and informed him about my lapse and my readiness to pay up for doing up the damages to his car at my expense. His reply, 'Sir, what a surprise. At least you're gracious enough to tell me about it and that makes up for everything. Consider that I've no issue about it', soothed my ruffled feathers and was music to my ears.

That, indeed, was the proverbial silver lining to the otherwise disastrous day. One needn't despair as good, well meaning guys are a plenty!


The rest of the day was cool when your's truly went about doing a lot of things that had to be done and thankfully, there weren't any more hiccups!!  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

When invitations elude you.......

Today happened to be a very strange day for me. There were three events happening in the city concerning people who're close to me........I mean, we've shared a lot in the course of life.

Lakshmi's son was getting married. He was a toddler when he'd lost his father in a mishap at sea. The desolate mother, had steeled herself taking in the pain within and brought up the child against all odds. And today, he's an aviator in the Indian Navy and has embarked on a life with his partner. Two couples, invited for the function, had come to meet us as they're pretty sure that we'd be attending the function, considering our closeness. But the fact was that I wasn't invited!

Ajith's daughter was getting married. Ajith and his brother, Anil were youngsters in my house and your's truly was a prefect to Ajith and a house captain for Anil, a year later. And coincidentally, their sister is married to a classmate and friend of mine! He, too, had dropped in for a while at our place wanting to know the reason for our absence at the function. Again, the fact was that I wasn't invited!

The Georges were having the housewarming function before moving into their spanking new villa, this afternoon. We've spent quite a few lovely moments with them over the years. Alex and Asha had come to pick us up so that we could make it together for the do but they were in for a surprise. We weren't invited yet again.

My take.

Why do things happen this way? The three sets of friends that I've mentioned above continue to be my good friends, honest why did this happen? I think it's one of the following reasons or a combination of all of them:-

    (a) Out of sight....out of mind. I've not been regular in my communication with them.
    (b) When important events come knocking, there's a tendency to concentrate on the immediate and on
          those that are fresh in one's mind.
    (c) In any well planned affair, there's a chance of missing out on some of the details...the Mac Murphy's
         law kicking in.

I was sad that I could not be part of those important moments of the people who're close to my heart. And no, having said it, I've no ill will towards any of them.


(a) Here's me wishing all of them the very best in their endeavour in the years to come.
(b) I need to seriously take care of my communications. I should reach out to everyone on a regular basis!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The intrinsic goodness in every man.

Every man is good. I'm a firm believer of this statement as it has been reinforced time and again. Today was yet another instance.

My mom had to be taken to the optician for ordering a new pair of spectacles. The one that she's currently wearing is broken and has been repaired by one of the boys back home to enable her to use it. She'd accidentally stepped on it, a couple of weeks back.

Going out shopping at Kochi, these days, is not only tedious but also a harrowing experience for those who drive their own cars. As I'd mentioned earlier on this forum, the traffic out here is mad thanks mainly to the roads of the '60s catering to the exponential increase in the number of vehicles of '12! And the parking areas are, often, quite far away from the destination which entail traversing sizeable distances on foot. For my mom, walk was out of question.

So, I'd opted to call for an autorickshaw - since its low floor chassis would be helpful for my mom to clamber on and get out. And it could be parked next to the optical shop, that I frequented, at 'Broadway'. Nandakumar, the owner-cum-driver of the rick seemed to be one of those silent, brooding types. To my request to wait till we completed all the formalities so that we could return in the same vehicle, he readily agreed, with a rider, that he should not be kept waiting beyond 15 mts as he'd a regular customer to be transported home at 1700h.

Thankfully, the shop wasn't very crowded and seeing mom - and her winning ways - she was attended to, promptly and we could go through the review of her sight, select her choice of a frame, the billing and the final payment could be made within the stipulated time that Nandakumar had provided us. On return, after we'd alighted and I'd asked him about the fare, he told me to give him an amount that I deemed fit.

I gave him Rs.200/- and was pleasantly surprised when he returned Rs.50/- with the words and I quote, "Sir, it was a treat to watch you take care of your ageing mother and I'm only charging for my services that I'd rendered".


From my house, deep within Panampilli Nagar, to Broadway and back should be about 12 kms, erring on the positive side. The waiting period of over 15 mts compounded make the fare look pretty reasonable! But more important was that the job could be executed without glitches or hassles for my mom!!    

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas '12.

It was bright and sunny. The day had begun with a frenzy to catch up on friends as an important social event was to take up most of the day.

We'd kicked off for Kidangoor by a quarter to 9 and since it was Christmas and a holiday, the roads were more or less deserted that made driving a pleasure. We reached Malu's place, well in time, for being part of the 'break up' activity which was witnessed by a select lot of friends and well wishers.

At the venue - the 'karayogam hall', in which the engagement ceremony was held, just a few months back with pomp and ceremony - the presence was restricted to only male members of the family. I must admit that our team was quite matured in the overall outlook regarding the conduct of the proceedings. There would be neither fault finding nor bad mouthing as the decision taken during the engagement ceremony had to be undone and annulled.

 I was apprised of the previous evening's interaction of the elders of the family with the boy - he'd flown in the previous night from abroad - to ascertain his side of the story about the entire sequence of events leading to this unfortunate split. And I believe that the boy had given her a clean chit by saying that she was 'old fashioned' and did not fit into his concept of a modern day girl. Wonder whether living as man and wife before tying the knot is the so called modern concept? Then my query to such people would be as to what is the sanctity of marriage. Going a step further, then what's the necessity to go through the ritual of a wedding, wasting so much of money?

Or am I being too old fashioned?

My aunt was in tatters as she'd already accepted the boy as her 'son'. And why did I get the impression that she blamed her daughter for being too rigid? Their - my uncle, aunt and Malu's - grief on this score is understandable and it would take time to heal. But what each one us - the outsiders, really - underlined was that any relationship that starts on compromises was not destined to last long and what had happened was happening for the good!

The return drive was peaceful and as mom had emphasised as we're kicking off to Kochi, "We'd come to be with you during your difficult times and we shall be with you in whatever decisions you'd take. Now don't brood anymore". I saw the look of gratitude on my uncle's face and I felt proud of my mom. Her presence had, indeed, made the difference.


The Christmas celebrations at a friend's place, in the evening, was grand and bubbly but a dull ache was persistent, deep within, thanks to the morning's turn of events.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The aftermath of drought.

Kerala is reeling under extreme drought conditions as monsoons had failed this year.

Water is getting scarcer by the day as levels in the various reservoirs are approaching low levels. The rivers too have less volumes of water, thereby affecting the potability of their waters. And consequently, electricity generation has taken a hit. Here, at Kochi, we're subjected to power restrictions twice a day - an hour each in the morning and in the evening!

Water comes from two sources into our residential area - one through pipes, from the River Periyar and the other from the daily supply by eight bowsers. The low water level in the Periyar raises the salinity content of the water and the supply has to be interrupted.

I'm sure that all Malyalees - including me, that is - are looking forward to the next round of monsoons. Only hope that the raingod doesn't let us down!!


The weather has been changing drastically. The changes are being witnessed with a befuddled surprise.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A broken engagement.

Just got the news from my uncle that Malu's engagement is being called off. Their marriage was to take place on 21 Apr '13.

It was just about six months back that their betrothal ceremony was conducted before friends and elders of the two families, at a glittering ceremony. The couple looked radiant and happy and if I were to take poetic liberties, looked made for each other - he, in a beige 'sherwani' and she, in a green, spangled saree worn the 'Gujju' way! The settings looked picture perfect and we'd broken off then, promising to meet at the wedding!!

The boy and the girl were constantly in touch through e-mail and the telephone - the advantages that the present generation have in understanding each other. As the boy was working abroad, according to Malu, he wanted to be in touch almost all through the day, which hindered her work at the office and she'd communicated her difficulty to him to which he'd taken umbrage to.

Malu says that she found something amiss because of the following reactions from the boy:-

    (a) He'd started dictating terms and taking things for granted as though they're already man and wife.
    (b) He'd entailed the services of two of his friends, at Thiruvananthapuram, to tail her to find out as to
          whether she was into another relationship.
    (c) His elder brother - he's back home and has just got his visa to go abroad - began demanding reasons
         from her about her 'wayward'(?) behaviour.

I believe that the two families had talked things over and have agreed to disagree and disengage!

Despite her parents misgivings, Malu is emphatic that he's not her man and wants to break off the engagement. And we've gone by her wish, mindful of the possible repercussions. On a personal level, I'm with Malu, not because she's my niece, but because I'm of the opinion that if a relationship begins on a note of suspicion and misunderstanding, it's never gonna take off and would have a very, very short life!


A painful decision but an appropriate one. The discomfort it causes now would be much lesser than what the repercussions would be, if carried out later. And what would the others say? Should anyone be bothered and who're they to sit in judgement? And one can't stop them, anyways, because, 'kuch tho log kahenge'.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My mom.

Minni, my sister, and her daughter, Ammu were off to Bangalore for a week. We'd made a dash for home to be with mom and to get her with us, to Kochi.

The drive was okay as the roads have been done up though, at certain places, the patches on the road gave a rather bumpy ride at times. Enroute, I'd tied up the loose ends for the family union on my dad's remembrance day on 31 Dec, as per the Malayalam calender. The family's coming together is to remember dad, through each one's experiences and anecdotes associated with their interaction with him, over the years! There has been queries as to whether there was any time limit per individual and as the chief co-ordinator, I've said no - on a purely selfish reason. I want to know more about him!!

After dinner, we're sitting with mom watching the television. Sadly, my normally alert mom, was dozing off quite often just like dad used to do a few years back - and he used to be the butt of her ribbing then! When I suggested that she should go to bed, she refused saying that she would retire only along with us - the same old answer that dad used to give when he was around.

How time flies? And it's amazing to see the toll it's taking. My energetic and vibrant mom has become quieter and seems to be missing dad, all the time. And I'm a helpless spectator.


The script remains the same, usually. Only the characters change.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wish India was as forceful as the Italians!

The two Italian marines of their merchantman, 'Enrica Lexie' have been allowed to go home to be with their families for Christmas. It's a diplomatic victory for the Italians much to the discomfort of the government of Kerala.

Citing past instances, the Kerala government is not so sure about the marines returning to see the logical conclusion of the case which indicts them for having shot dead the Malayalee fishermen. The case is to resume in the Kerala courts in early Jan. The government of India , following diplomatic niceties, had cleared the marines' move thanks to the request from the Italian government.

And it's here that I give full marks to the Italian diplomatic initiatives to get their citizens back. They'd put intense pressure on our government by the visits of their government officials - at various levels - including their minister and the Ambassador to bring about a thaw.

Compared to this, we seem to have done too little to extricate our countrymen who continue to languish in the custody of the Somalian pirates. Wonder why and as a citizen of this country, I've the following questions to the powers that be:-

      (a) Are the lives of the ordinary Indians less precious?
      (b) Is it because none of those people in captivity have any connection with the people in power?
      (c) Is there a difficulty in identifying the right group among the Somali pirates with whom talks can be
           carried out? If that be the case can't we carry out a rescue operation by our troops?


In addition, a vigorous 'track - 2' diplomacy needs to be pursued to bring about the release of the hapless prisoners! Otherwise, they're going to feel sad that they're Indians!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The killer bus visits the family!

It's Lathika's funeral today. She's Lekha's aunt on whom death approached quickly and violently last evening, in the form of a private bus at the 'pump junction' of Aluva.

Lathika, the manager of a Union Bank in the area, was picked up by Radhakrishnan, her husband, to go across to a nearby firm in connection with the finalisation of a deal. Since the roads are clogged with traffic during the peak hours, they'd decided to go on a two wheeler which proved to be their undoing. They'd negotiated a busy junction and had gotten on to the slope towards the destination, when a private bus that had a malfunctioning brake hurtled towards them, struck the two wheeler throwing them off - Lathika onto the road and Radhakrishnan onto the kerbside - and went over Lathika, killing her instantly, before coming to a stop at a residential boundary wall. He's unconscious and under medical surveillance in the ICU of a nearby hospital.

Everything seemed to be timed and inevitable - I mean, she was destined to meet up with the ill fated bus at her appointed hour!

She was 49, has two daughters - one in the IT sector and the other in a bank. The elder one's married and has a three month old son while the younger one's engaged to get married shortly - and seemed to be in a hurry to see her younger daughter's marriage. And she was very fond of Lekha and me.

RIP Lathika. My humble prayer to your bubbly personality. We will miss your spontaneous laughter and the love that you showered upon us. It's our hope that Radhakrishnan, Athira and Anjali are able to tide over this tremendous loss.


(a) Having narrated the incident, I must hasten to add that the driver of the bus tried to warn them about the recalcitrant brake. Unfortunately, his loud cries fell on deaf ears(Radhakrishnan had his helmet on!).

(b) Lathika was in bad shape and all that could be seen was a shrouded body, at the funeral.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A costly prank.

I'm a fan of the FM channels because they keep me peppy as I go about my usual chores in the morning and they become instant companions while I'm on long drives. The contents and information pushed out by the presenters are, at best, light on the uptake and enables me to pass the time.

However, what happened to the late Jacintha Saldanha from Mangalore is sad and unpardonable. A quick recap of the sad incident - despite the fact that it has been reported on various news channels time and again, over the last few days - would be in order.

46 year old Jacintha was working as a nurse in King Edward VII hospital in central London. She stayed, along with her husband and two teenage children in Bristol which was far away from her place of work. On that fateful night, two presenters of the Sydney radio station, 2DayFM - Michael Christian and Mel Greig - had impersonated Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla and got connected to Jacintha, on duty, who gave the details of Kate Middleton's(The wife of Prince William) morning sickness based on the queries posed to her. By the time she'd realised that it was a hoax call, the damage was done as the FM station had gone to town with its 'sensational scoop'.

The pressure and the taunts aftermath, drove the hapless young lady to suicide by hanging fron the fan in her room. What a sad end to a simple girl, who'd by all accounts, lived by the rules.

RIP Jacintha. I humbly bow to your dedication to work and the high degree of self esteem that you possessed. May god give your family the strength to tide over this difficult situation.

My take.

(a) The DJs, many a time, can be irritating with their non stop chatter. And continuous conversation can border on the inane but one really can't blame them in the manner they rule the air waves. But they need to be briefed properly on the limits of their work and handled firmly, in case of a behavioural overrun!

(b) The presenters are quite young - a few, even in their late teens - and thanks to their lack of maturity can resort to childish pranks. It's up to the station to monitor any such misdemeanour and nip it at the bud and it's here that 2DayFM failed totally.


I'd spoken my mind earlier on this topic too. Just like we guard our privacy, why can't we allow the celebrities to safeguard theirs?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We deserve it!

The Indian cricket team has lost its supremacy in Test cricket to England after 28 years and the big blow is that it happened on its home turf. The Indians were beaten in every department of the game and we've to give credit to where it belongs. The best team has won and as a cricket buff, despite the fear of being dubbed unfair to our team, I'm damn glad about the outcome.

Because I hope that the team and the administrators would take stock of the situation, carry out a meaningful SWOT analysis and make out a strategy for winning ways, in the days to come, to retrieve lost glory. It's my sincere hope that sentiments and statistics will not come in the way of meaningful revamp of the existing team.

My take.

Having said about what should be the logical sequence of corrective action, I know for sure that nothing of that sort is gonna happen. Now, it's a cynical Indian and that too, a thoroughbred 'Malayalee' who's speaking and it's based on past happenings and experiences. Let me try to be Nostradamus and gaze into my crystal ball to see as to how things will shape up:-

       (a) The team's disgusting show will be attributed to the 'lousy' pitches that were provided. The curators and the groundsmen are going to come under heavy weather and their points of view will not even be heard.

       (b) The stress factor, owing to playing too much of cricket encompassing all the formats, will not even
        be talked about.

       (c) Sentiments and statistics will be bandied about to retain many of the players who're woefully out of
        form and who require to be sent out. Talented youngsters will continue to languish outside without
        godfathers to promote them!

       (d) The crazy onslaught of the next 'IPL' session is going to drown out any suggestion of remedial
        measures and sane advice.

       (d) And all because cricket is a money spinner and those in the business want to milch this holy cow! 


Sad. What's the use of filling up the BCCI's coffers when its team is on a regressive trail?

Monday, December 17, 2012

A case for the 'Sharia'.

A twenty three year old medical intern was gang-raped in one of the buses of New Delhi.

She and her male friend, working in an IT firm, had boarded the bus at Munirka, in south Delhi, around 2145 h last Sunday and were headed for Palam. After overpowering her male companion, four guys in the bus took turns to violate the hapless girl and after the sordid affair, beat them with an iron rod and chucked them out of the moving vehicle. The boy and the girl were picked up near the Mahipalpur flyover by the police and rushed to the hospital. The boy has since been discharged after administration of first aid but the girl is currently battling for her life in an ICU of the Safdarjung hospital, where she was sent, after initial admission in the AIIMS.

What sort of sadists are those people who'd committed this heinous crime? Don't they have mothers, sisters etc whom they respect and love and will not see that any harm befell them? And if so, why do they do this to the other's daughters, sisters and in this case, lover? The perpetrators of the crime deserve no mercy.

They've to be nabbed and brought to book at the earliest.

My take.

 I often wonder as to why retribution is not swift in such cases. A sure case for the 'Sharia' to be brought in. Once their guilt is proved, they should be castrated and made to live the rest of their lives in agony and wretchedness, repenting about their past!


Even at the cost of sounding harsh, for the sake of the hapless young lady, I wish her a swift and painless end from the agony and trauma that she's going through. I can't imagine the living hell that she'd have to undergo if she were to come out of this episode, alive.

And may god give strength to her parents, near and dear ones to tide over these trying times.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Promotions quotaised....

Political parties can go to any lengths for the sake of votebank politics and for playing up to the gallery.

The latest is the bill that's being pushed in Parliament for reservation of seats for promotions in government jobs for the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes. It might sail through with deft floor management in both the houses but doesn't augur well for the country in the long run. Firstly, it gives undue advantage for a section of the society while putting the remaining majority into a perennial disadvantage. And secondly, one wonders as to whether it's really helpful to the section that it's supposed to bring in succour.

I recall years ago, Sri Girdhari lal, who was transferred to my office as a staff officer in his final years in service. He'd reached that position, jumping over many of his contemporaries, because he belonged to one of the scheduled castes. A well meaning man and a thorough gentleman, Girdhari had six children(two boys and four girls) and hailed from Gorakhpur in western UP. What I remember of him was the way he smoked cigarette after cigarette during the course of a day. I used to chide him on this habit of his, because of his deep and at times, prolonged coughs, but he used to take it lightly - giving me his hallmark, toothy grin in the process - firstly, because I puffed on my pipe and secondly, because he was convinced that he couldn't kick the butt in this life of his.

He used to tell me about his personal matters and was constantly worried about his sons who'd done badly in their studies and did manual jobs and a bit of farming in their plot of land. They're clamouring for their share of the property and he was averse to the idea, as he wanted to get his daughters - incidentally, all of them were good at studies - married away in a decent manner. He was particularly sad that his wife was batting for the sons! In his disarmingly honest way, he'd told me that he wouldn't be much of a help in written work and as a quid pro quo, he was willing to run errands for me. While refusing his suggestion, I used to keep him under my wings and explain my decisions that I took and about what I wrote, so much so that the others, in the office, used to refer to him as my alter ego!

I vividly remember his final day at the office, prior to retirement. At the official send off party, he said a lot of flattering things about your's truly and I felt humbled. Here was a gentleman, as old as my dad, heaping praise on me for having taught him the nuances of his work. And then he made a candid confession, "I was under tremendous pressure because I was aware that all of you, except 'sahib' looked at me as having got an unfair advantage in the profession. I'm sorry but it's not my fault and I'd never asked for it too".

That one statement showed as to how much evolved he was, compared to all of us present there that day! And it endeared him to me further and he used to visit me often subsequently, while I was at Delhi.


(a) All four of his girls have got government jobs and are married, leading their own lives . His sons and their wives, alongwith their children, live with him and his wife. He says that he has dumped cigarettes but puffs on a hookah instead. Girdahari Lalji can be incorrigible on that score!

(b) I've given this narrative, just to show that many of the so called beneficiaries of the bill, actually do not even hanker for it!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Talking about serials on television........

I get hooked on to certain serials simply because the storylines have a certain catchy trend. Be it in Hindi or Malayalam - and I suppose it's the same in other languages too - many of them begin on a very promising note with strong characters who're principled. And there's nothing nicer than to see good triumphing over evil, in the end.

The three serials that I watch, off and on, these days are:-
            (a) Kunkumappovu (Malayalam) on Asianet on all working days from 2130 to 2200h.
            (b) Kya hothi utharan (Hindi) on Colors on all working days from 2200 to 2230h and
            (c) Bade achhe lagte hain(Hindi) on Sony from Monday to Thursday from 2230 to 2300h.

I find that most of the serials have the same disheartening trends. Probably getting carried away with high TRPs, the makers of the serials stretch the storylines to absurd limits rendering some of the characters -  that one loved for their steadfastness and principles - to become monsters or weak 'uns, making one detest them and in turn, hate the serials too, in toto.

Don't the makers of the serials understand this or is it that they don't care? Why can't they keep their narrations short and taut? Why don't they take their viewers seriously and understand that they too have the basic intelligence to sift the chaff from the grain?

Now consider the following characters in the serials, mentioned above, ad seriatim:-
            (a) Jayanthi's affinity for Shalini does not seem to raise doubts as to what the reason could
                 be, in her husband and son. And they're shown to be logical at the beginning. Have their
                 senses got dulled over time?
            (b) Mr. Rathore, the husband of Tapasya and the father of Mukta, was a very strong guy
                  to begin with but is now shown as an irresponsible guy, willing to disappear from
                  the scene, at the drop of a hat, when his wife and daughter are in serious trouble.
            (c) Ram Kapoor was a reasonable and loving husband at first but the same guy
                  has become one of the most unreasonable chaps and he, himself looks unconvinced.
                  Has he suffered a head injury?

Probably, I'm an impatient viewer and want the serial to come out with the logical end at the earliest. But for the serial makers that doesn't make good business sense. And there in lies the dichotomy!


I must ease out on my serial viewing and concentrate more on reality shows, perhaps!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Pakis do it again.

Rehman Malik, the Pakistani Interior Minister, has done it yet again.

He's in our country to ink a more relaxed visa regime between the two countries. Before his arrival, his visit had begun with hiccups galore. He was travelling by a military C130 aircraft and they'd insisted on being allowed to land at the IAF's 'technical area' in Palam which was rightfully negated by us. Yet another instance of trying to score brownie points - the Pakistani military establishment gets a psychological kick while landing in our defence forces' airfields!

As it is, that country is going through a host of problems caused by their own misdeeds in the past. It should have been the endeavour of the civilian government in power(The entire world is aware that they aren't the real rulers and that the government - sadly - is driven by their armed forces) to rule effectively, correct many of the historical wrongs - like changing their foreign policy which is built on the cornerstone of an 'anti-India' stance, gather overwhelming public support and armed with it, send their army back to the barracks for good. But this seems to be wishful thinking.

See what Rehman Malik has done. Immediately after stepping on Indian soil, he makes two outrageous statements:-

     (a) Captain Saurav Kalia, who was brutally tortured and killed after being taken prisoner by their army,
          according to him, was killed by the weather.
     (b) He's likened the Babri Masjid incident to the terror strikes on Parliament and Bombay. And hasn't
           provided any assurance to bring the perpetrators of terrorism to book.

The guy, like most of his predecessors who've visited India, has taken advantage of the Indian decency and throwing all diplomatic niceties to the wind, has made unacceptable statements to pamper his constituency - the armed forces. General Kayani and his ilk must be getting cheap thrills to see their political leaders grovelling before them!

My take.

(a) Couldn't we've sent this bloke back to his country, without doing any business with him, immediately after he'd made those outrageous statements?

(b) It's Pakistan who's going to benefit greatly from the relaxed visa regime that has been cleared thanks to our magnanimity. One has heard that many of these Pakis take advantage of it and do not return to their country after the expiry of their visas. So, is it really worth it?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Certain half truths, facts and fiction!

In my dreams I fancy myself to be a writer and a successful one at that! This is because I can rustle up a passable story without racking my brains and that's why my friends say that I'd be a successful scriptwriter in films and the television. As I'd said earlier on this forum, one of my greatest passions is to understand human beings and I observe individuals closely, to the extent feasible, to find out what actuates or what ails them. In the process, life becomes a learning experience and I can assure you that it's very, very interesting. Therefore, the following story can be extrapolated and suitable scripts derived for further use, strictly for entertainment.

It was an evening get together that I'd the privilege to attend recently and it had a generous sprinkling of people whom I knew. Almost at the start of the party,  came in a couple and since they're known, I walked across and received them even helping the lady to negotiate the flight of stairs by holding her hand which she was quick to retrieve on reaching the safe landing(Did I hold onto her hand a bit longer than was expected? No, as I reckon for sure but then it's time for me to take you back in time - a flashback, yes!)

I was a young subaltern then and Anne and her friends were introduced to me and my friends by a teacher whom we're all aware of, at a fest. Anne(I must admit having been drawn to her) and me hit it off instantly and our friendship continued for a while - strictly at a chat, ice creams and long walks' level! A couple of months later I'd to move away from Kochi on professional prodding and the communication between me and Anne began to dwindle till it ceased completely. A couple of years later, a classmate had called me up to invite me for his wedding saying that he'd a surprise for me.

Puzzled as I was then, the import of his statement hit me when I saw Anne as his bride at the wedding. It was one of those strange coincidences that I'd come across in the course of my life and I must tell my readers that  I felt quite happy for them and wished them a very long, happy and successful married life.

.......Cut. Back to the present......

And I was meeting the two of them after a long lapse. There was no awkwardness as we made polite conversation and generally spent the evening with the crowd which had singing sessions amid conversation and dinner. Anne and another friend covered the evening's images in their cameras. Those exposures were released into our 'groupsite' on the web.

And I don't figure in any of the exposures covered by Anne!

Is she angry with me? If yes, for what?


Her eldest son has just picked up a job and the younger son is doing his engineering in Coimbatore. She's even asked Lekha(I'm glad that they've hit it off well!) to look for a suitable girl.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 - 12 - '12.

What a hype it was? The press and the people, at large, were excited about this rare happening. Just imagine an overdrive of 12s at 12 minutes &12 seconds past 12 today! Singapore and Hong Kong are celebrating today as an auspicious occasion for weddings - consequently, hundreds of them are gonna take place. And it's said that many would-be-mothers in India have insisted on having their babies at this time and so, there's gonna be a record of sorts of childbirths by Caesarean section!!

The next time such a similar phenomenon is gonna take place would be on 01 Jan 2101(01 - 01 - '01) which is only 89 years away! And the next 12 - 12 - '12 would be exactly a 100 years from now!! So much about interesting statistics.

And how did the day go?

1. The Kochi - Muziris Biennale.

The day marked the colourful beginning of the art and cultural extravaganza, when the Chief Minister inaugurated a crowded function at the parade ground at Fort Kochi. Kochi and Muziris have been the hub of the spice trade and the area has the unique distinction of having been occupied by three colonisers viz. the English, the Dutch and the Portuguese!

The biennale has had 150 editions, thus far, since its inception in Venice in 1895. The organisers claim this one to be unique in that the cultural programmes, on show, are based on local traditions - from sufi nights to ghazals to panchavadyam to staging of plays. The exhibition space or the venues are spread over a wide canvas across the coastal area which includes Kochi, Muziris and the nearby islands.

1,300 artists from 24 countries are participating and the festival will go on for a period of three months.
      Legend.      Kochi     - effectively, the port of Kochi
                        Muziris   - ancient port town at Kodungalloor, about 60 kms north of Kochi.
                        Biennale - an Italian word meaning, 'every other year'.

2. Pandit Ravi Shankar.

Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar passed into the mist of time. He was 92 and he was the face of Indian music for millions of people all over the world. And he shall always be remembered for the music that he gave to the patriotic song, 'Saare Jahaan se Achha'.

RIP Pandit Ravi Shankarji. We, Indians, shall always be proud of your contributions.


It also happened to be my birthday as per the Malayalam calender. So it was nice to be wished all over again by family and friends.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Audacity that needs to be checked forthwith.

Kerala seems to be under the control of mafias of all kinds. The Italian version that one had read about in Mario Puzo's 'The Godfather' has found its way to God's own country in a variety of shades - the 'sand' mafia, the 'quarry' mafia and so on.....

These groups, unfortunately, have the blessings of a minute set of corrupt police officials and consequently, act with impunity. I'm talking about the sand mafia that has been in the news lately. They resort to illegal mining of sand from the riverbeds and in a few instances, from the sea beaches which has been banned by the government. The mining, the filling up of the sand into tipper lorries and its subsequent transportation to their intended destinations are nocturnal activities carried out under the cover of darkness. The police 'connection' gives them advance information of the raids - the place, the composition of the raiding party and the name of the police officer who's its leader. Incidentally, the tipper lorries are preceded by helmet clad bikers who act as the bouncers.

I suspect that there's a political nexus, too, behind this organised crime and the menace has acquired gargantuan proportions! Consider this incident that had taken place last week at Kozhikode. The district collector and a senior police officer were conducting raids of the area, when a tipper lorry had stopped dead on the road and tipped its sand onto the collector's vehicle. The culprits - actually, the goons and not their leaders - are yet to be nabbed completely, which bears ample testimony to their reach and influence in the corridors of power!

And the price of a truckload of sand can burn a hole in an ordinary citizen's pocket.


The respect and fear of the law are the important edifices on which a society survives. But when the lawmakers and the law enforcers start breaking the law themselves, then it's a hopeless situation. Are we headed that way? And don't tell me that we do not have honest men?

Monday, December 10, 2012

The ignominious flight of a guileless chicken.

A senior had visited me this morning and walked the talk. There was a fruitful exchange of ideas and suggestions to improve the quality of work, further.

After the visit there was the customary lunch at a designated place. Strained nerves had been soothed, there were no more anxious moments, in fact, they'd become a thing of the past and a general feeling of having pulled it off well, rent the air. What followed was a never ending round of handshakes, lots of back thumping and boisterous bonhomie when chilled beer flowed in unlimited supply. Since there was a classmates' get together in the evening, I was in my best behaviour and consequently, nursed a mocktail - 'Virgin Mary'( a 'Bloody Mary' minus the vodka) and made the usual polite conversation.

And soon, it was time for lunch and having collected the food, I sat at a table and commenced eating without much ado, as the menu - English food - was something that I'm fond of. But disaster lay in store for me. I'd forked a piece of boneless chicken dipped in red sauce to deposit it into my mouth, but the defiant guy had other plans. It took flight and I could only watch, helplessly, the way it traversed through my white uniform making a coloured wake all through till it fell harmlessly, on the chair between my legs. The rest of the lunch was had listlessly as my enthusiasm had dwindled. I'd gone to the washroom and tried cleaning the colourful blotches with water which gave unsatisfactory results! And, therefore, I'd to parade around with the new 'medal' that I'd picked up, much to my consternation.


(a) I'd to go home and change into another uniform before attending the next function to avoid further embarrassment.

(b) The evening's backwater cruise that I'd organised for my class mates was okay but for a few of them ditching the event at the last moment. It was again a throwback in time when most of us exercised our vocal cords to belt out old numbers.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A hectic Sunday.

There were quite a few things that needed to be done today and I found that I was on a spin. Each one was taken care of and the day proceeded ahead beautifully.

But in the afternoon, while I was negotiating my Chevy to turn her around did I damage its front left bumper. The tough non metallic material was torn asunder by a mean tree stump. But I must admit that the fault was entirely mine and I shall remain in a state of flux till the problem is rectified. But I can take my car to the service station only after a couple of days as a few other things need to be sorted out before that.

In the evening, we'd gone to the hospital to look up my grand aunt. She seemed to be weak and sleeping thanks to the heavy dosage of antibiotics being pumped into her for the entire fortnight. It was necessitated because surgery, at her age - she's 98 years, was ruled out. Her recalcitrant gall bladder needs to fall in line and till now, has refused to relent.


Ramakrishnan, her son, is a keen follower of astrology. As per predictions she's a tough time ahead and has to cross two hurdles:-
       (a) 11 Dec  -   her birthday.
       (b) 13 Dec  -   the new moon day.

The astrologer has promised to look at her horoscope after my aunt clears the obstacles!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The greed to live.

"Men fear death like children fear darkness", so said Charles Lamb long ago. How enduringly true? The greed to live is prevalent in most human beings except for a few evolved ones!

21 Dec marks the conclusion of the '5,125 year' Mayan calendar. The Mayans are a tribe of Central American Indians and their's is chronicled to be the earliest advanced civilisation in that part of the world. Their successive generations have inhabited and continue to do so in northern Gautemala and British Honduras.

It's on this day, therefore, that the doomsday mongers predict a cataclysmic end to this planet that we live on. Panic buying of candles and essentials in China and Russia, exploding sales of hi-tech underground survival shelters in America have just been a few of the consequential reactions. The exact end remains vague but the majority believe that it would be brought about by the celestial collision between the earth and the mythical planet, Nibiru. A few astrophysicists have advised the people to be prepared for solar flares, radiation and electromagnetic pulses.

My take.

Why fret about something that one has no control of? If a majority of us are going to perish and the remainder is left with a devastated and unsuitable environment, is it worth living on? And what happens when you come out from underground shelters only to realise that many of your near and dear ones have ceased to exist?


Let's be ready to drink a toast on 22 Dec to the hoax of the world's end prediction. And perhaps, many of us would have shed the greed to live in the bargain!

Friday, December 7, 2012

My li'l Paro.

Three year old Paro - it's not her real name but the name given by me at our first meeting itself - is my latest friend.

Doll like with dark glistening eyes, her playschool going routine coincides with my office timings. We say our hellos at a half past eight, every morning and I kick off only after seeing her off. This arrangement, has been put in place upon her insistence because on the first day I'd left earlier and I was told that she cried and refused to go to school because 'uncle' had left before her! And she returns by one just as I do, when I come home for lunch. At times, I've to wait for her school van to arrive but I don't mind it a wee bit and it has become a habit. Her mom sees her off and receives her, religiously, everyday.

This afternoon, she had returned earlier than me and as I got off from my vehicle, came running to tell me that her mom hadn't arrived to collect her as yet. I quickly realised that she was complaining to me and naturally, expected appropriate action on my part. And the following thoughts passed my mind:-
      (a) How did she know that your's truly was the president of the residential area?
      (b) Did she think that I'd punitive powers to take charge of people exhibiting errant behaviour - in this
            case, her mom?

I was going through this dilemma, with the li'l one holding my hand when her mom came by to take her away. She was apologetic about being late and attributed her late coming to writing down a complaint in her flat, on the register meant for the purpose in the complaint cell, for the scrutiny of the caretaker. And mind you, I'd not even asked her as to why she was late!

Probably, the whole lot sees the patriarch in me and want to be on my right(?) side!


As I fetched up from my customary walk in the evening, a group of ladies had ganged up to tell me about their water woes over the past few days - the salinity levels of the piped water from the River Periyar has been up, thanks to a technical problem. While telling them about the remedial action taken - they did agree that the water was okay as of now - I was wondering as to why such an abnormality didn't come my way in my house.

Is it that I've a higher affinity or even, weakness for salt? If yes, should I visit my doctor?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Unacceptable and deplorable!

Young Santosh savagely attacked and stabbed to death by five youth in Bombay. His crime ......he tried to help a girl from eve teasing by the five goons!

ASI Ravinder Pal Singh shot many times at point blank range and killed by a piddling politician of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Ranjith Singh Rana, at Amritsar. His crime........he dared the guy who was onto harassing his daughter.

What was the common factor in both the cases? The crimes were carried out in broad daylight with a sizeable crowd watching who shamefully did nothing! Aren't they also abettors to the heinous crime?

My take.

These guys should be tried by a fast track court and punished as early as possible. The Human Rights Commission or an NGO should file cases in the courts of Bombay and Amritsar on a 'suo moto' basis, as the life of the common citizen is threatened.


(a) And I'd go a step further.....these beasts need to be hanged for their misdeeds. They'd no right to take away precious lives.
(b) I hang my head in shame at the cowardly inaction on the part of the crowd. Would anyone of them have remained unmoved if his/her kith and kin was at the receiving end?
(c) RIP Santosh and Ravinder Pal. We, your countrymen, have collectively let you down! May your families have the strength to tide over these extremely difficult times!!


And the worst part or the proverbial, unkindest cut is that none of the mainstream print media speaks anything about it. Ignorance is bliss, eh? Or is it that they're too scared to take on the so called 'powerful politicians'? Or is it too trivial a story for them to cover?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Politics should be taboo in these and many more...

It's my belief that the entry of politics into certain activities or politicising issues has led to numerous festering problems where decisions cannot be taken, just because of the unreasonable stands taken by the contesting sides. And usually, the ridiculous lengths to which the disputes are stretched are found wanting in genuine ideological reasoning - the hard positions are taken by one side just to spite the other. Three such areas are being taken as examples to show the utter waste of time, energy and precious resources in that they have defied concrete results/outcome over the years and will continue to do so.

And here I go,

1. Sports.

It's a pity that even after 67 years on attaining independence, India is not a force to reckon with at any international sports arena. Our performances have been pathetic and we go berserk and ecstatic when any of our sportsmen brings in a medal. Definitely not acceptable for a country with a population of over 100 crores! Sadly, there's talent but it has not been tapped because of the politicisation of sports - with politicians and administrators, sitting as heads of sports organisations, not indate with the latest trends of the disciplines that they lead!

And the latest ignominy is the ban on the Indian Olympic Association by the International Olympic Committee for non adherence to its charter on the election process of the office bearers!

2. River water sharing between states.

The Cauvery river water dispute, between Tamilnadu and Karnataka, has been a vexed issue over the years made complicated by the political parties ever in search of of short term political gains. Many hundreds of common people have died in connected agitations over the years. Sharing of waters by riparian states has to be bilaterally and amicably settled, without fear or favour!

The rivalry between the two states reminds me that each of them considers the other to be their biggest enemy! When will we learn? Or will we, ever?

3. The 'young Turks'.

Politics, in educational campuses, is another area where every political party has their vested interest. Political parties are fully aware of the adage that in a democracy, a government cannot survive if they do not have the support of the students. While attracting the youth into mainstream politics is a must, it has to be in keeping with the best of traditions and for the promotion of ethical practices in politics. More often than not, it's rampant use of rhetoric for short term gains, coupled with a tendency to adopt violence in achieving their ends that have come to stay.

In Kerala, the one unrealistic fact is the enforcement of absurdly low bus fares in the name of student's concession! No student organisation has had the guts to validate the rates with maturity to meet the contemporary economic situation and trends.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The judgement from Oslo..

Indian software professional, V Chandrasekhar working for the TCS at Oslo, has been awarded a prison term of 18 months while his wife, Anupama has been awarded a 15 month term by the district court there for physically abusing their seven year old son, Sai Sairam.

Sai had complained to his teacher, about nine months back, that his parents were threatening to punish him severely and send him back to India for wetting his trousers in the school bus. He'd burn marks on his lower leg which was thanks to the scalding from a heated spoon, that his father had used. The father had also beaten him with his belt. Consequently many a time, Sai wasn't very keen to return to his home after school hours because he dreaded his parents.

The case has been disposed off quickly thanks to the efforts of the 'Norwegian Child Welfare Authorities'.

My take.

1. I must laud the efforts of the Norwegian Child Welfare Authorities in bringing to book the people indulging in ill treating the children.
2. Having said that, don't the parents have the right to use corrective measures - to use the rod even, at times - against errant behaviour on the part of their children? No, I do not support child battering and any physical abuse like scalding, whacking with external objects or verbal abuse using gutter language is a strict no no. But a whack with a cane on the child's palm or its rear, boxing of the ears or a 'pinch' on the upper arm(my mom's favourite punishment and I've received quite a number of them as I was a naughty child but I don't hold any grudges against her!) can pass muster.
3. Can the child's words be taken at face value? What about the tendency, in most kids, to exaggerate things and gain sympathy for its cause?


(a) Will the relationship between the parents and young Sai ever be the same?
(b) It's the ideal time for Sai's grandparents to step in and provide the soothing balm to the deep wounds - inflicted unwittingly by the incident - of the parents and the child.

Monday, December 3, 2012

That should be the way.....

India has always been magnanimous about her neighbouring countries' problems and their internal political requirements - despite the fact that they've done things, often, against her interests. Towards this end, there have been times when lenient positions have been taken much to my(as an Indian citizen) chagrin, I must admit. And so, today's action has gladdened me and we need to take similar actions in other vexed issues as well:-

   (a) The Male conundrum.

   The Maldivian government has decided to terminate the $500 million contract awarded to GMR - an   Indian company - for developing the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport at Male. Rumours have it that the present government is undoing all the decisions taken by the previous government for no rhyme or reason.

India's decision to freeze aid to Male and hinting at a possible severing of diplomatic ties between the two nations are steps in the right direction. I'm sure that the Maldivian government understands that they cannot afford to mess around and take us for granted! Let's hope that better sense prevails!!

    (b) The 'Aman ki Asha' initiative.

     The initiatives to bring about normalcy in relationship between India and Pakistan has been on under this programme called 'aman ki asha' which consists of a team of eminent people, from all walks of life, pitching in to bring about a change in the mindset as part of the 'track 2' diplomacy. What frustrates one is the oft repeated statement that 'a solution is complex because of historical hostilities'.

For the sake of the generations to come, Pakistan needs to change its mindset of an 'anti-India' agenda that's the corner stone of its foreign policy and for that, they need to become a true democracy with the Army firmly - in the real sense of the term. Period! - back in the barracks! Otherwise, no amount of parleys among well meaning people from both sides is gonna make any difference!!

    (c) The Naval Chief's reiteration.
    The navy chief's reiteration that IN ships are prepared to set sail for the South China Sea if the country's economic interests are threatened is appropriate on two counts and they're:-

          (i) It's incumbent on the chief to put forth his vision, for the service he leads, at the time of the Navy  
              Day and he's done just that in unambiguous terms!

          (ii) An Indian delegation, headed by the National Security Advisor, is currently at Beijing discussing
               the border dispute and the passport controversy.

Let's hope that this round of discussions between the two sides will end on a positive note and pave the way for healthy interaction with mutual respect, in the days to come.



Sunday, December 2, 2012

At the Puthuvayil house.

According to previous arrangements, my maman and I had set off to Neelamperoor this morning. The last of the glitches needed to be sorted out before handing over the house to the government and the ASI to convert it into a national monument. The house in which PN Panicker was born and brought up should, rightfully, be the state's property and must inspire generations to take up causes for the uplift of the society at large.

It's always nostalgic when I fetch up at Neelamperoor and today's visit was no less different. Our immediate family had conglomerated at the house by morning and there was an infectiously festive atmosphere that was prevalent. Gomathi peramma(the second daughter of the late P Kesava Panicker, the elder brother of PN Panicker) and her children currently, reside in the ancestral house. In her late 70s and though infirmity has slowed her considerably, she was very happy to see us and it showed on her face. In her excitement, she was continuously issuing orders to her daughter to feed us! I was touched by her kindness, eagerness to put us at ease and she seemed to be wanting to do a lot of things, all at once!

Through the course of discussions, a common ground was reached and the initial paperwork for the dedication of the house as a monument, was formalised. And then, it was time to break bread and as the lunch was on in the small, yet roomy kitchen I went again and again through the entire house and its surroundings, mentally and didn't feel quite satisfied. The fact that my grandfather was nurtured from an infant to his adulthood in the house made it a very exciting and special occasion, especially, with a string of anecdotes being 'fed' along with the exquisite lunch spread.


I'd bought a ticket, for the one hour return travel to Kochi, on the Thiruvanathapuram - Gauhati superfast express and boy, wasn't the journey an experience of a lifetime? Just consider these and you'll agree with what I mean:-

      (a) The compartments were overflowing with passengers and literally, packed like sardines. It seemed
            as though the entire crowd from the north-east, currently in Kerala, were returning to their homes!
      (b) The guys who'd reservation were inflexible and unhelpful. Two of the Sabarimala pilgrims, from
            Andhra Pradesh, were so rude that I'd to tell them that their pilgrimage had come to a naught as
            they're devoid of compassion to their fellow beings - they relented, on hearing my sermons!
      (c) Two elderly ladies, with their heavy luggage were helped to detrain through the crowded corridor
            and they wouldn't leave my hands thanking in appreciation.
      (d) Wonder what would happen to the many passengers who'd clambered onto the reserved compart
            -ments without reservation? Don't the TTEs ever take rounds to take stock of the situation and  
            provide remedial measures?

Thankfully, the train reached Ernakulam in one hour flat!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A journey, backwards in time.

This afternoon I'd the opportunity to visit the house where I'd lived with my parents when I was a year old. It was under renovation and therefore, I'd no problems of walking in and finding my way around. As I stepped in, I seemed to identify every nook and corner of the compact two bedroom house thanks to the numerous anecdotes that I'd heard from my parents - particularly, from my mom.
The house faces east, has abundant natural lighting and is bound by roads on its eastern and southern boundaries. I've heard of my mom's mortal fear of me getting on those roads and coming in the way of speeding motorists!

Let me take you through some of the spots within the house which have at least one anecdote associated with it.

(a) The immediate corner of the sitting room on entry.

This was the space where I seemed to have spent the maximum time, especially when my parents were busy with their work. I believe I used to sit there and rock myself, uttering gibberish and generally was in a world of my own! And it was also the corner where I found solace after having received a chide from my parents!

(b) The rear verandah, partially open to the garden behind, partially sandwiched between the bedrooms and the kitchen.

This was the space for my unlimited movements especially from the house to the rear garden. My parents did have a tough time catching up with me in my moments of flight! Two anecdotes come to my mind with utmost clarity:-

     (a) My mom had applied oil on me before giving a bath. I'd wanted to run around in between,
          which was disallowed by her and when I'd persisted, she gave me a sound spanking. In a
          fit of fury, I'd yanked the gold chain around my loin, broke it in the bargain and chucked it
          into the garden and my mom and dad had a tough time retrieving it from amidst the grass!
          And you can imagine the pressure on my poor parents as we're supposed to go on a long   
          journey immediately after!
     (b) It was an evening and my grandfather, alongwith the then chief minister, were to visit our
           home for dinner and my parents were busy with getting things ready. My mom had placed a
           big bowl of drinking water on a stove, just outside the kitchen on the verandah, for boiling.
           Furious at not having got a pappad that I'd insisted upon, I urinated into the bowl of boiling
           water - imagine our guests having 'jeera water' laced with my urine! I was rightfully spanked
           by my dad about which I'd later complained to my grandfather on his arrival!!
(c) The bathroom.

I'd, again in a fit of fury, run into the bathroom and locked myself in. My parents tried their best to have the door opened and they even passed instructions to me but to no avail. Finally, the door had to be broken open and poor dad, had to install a new door and pay from his pocket!

As I stood there, this afternoon, several thoughts came flooding and I wished that I could rewind in time and have my parents beside me, youthful and energetic. Did the stone and mortar, nay the entire house, recognise me in my present 'avatar' after being familiar with me in my toddler form?


An array of banana trees lined the southern greens and the garden in the front was intact while the one behind was badly disfigured thanks to the constant movement of the workers(they're amused when I told them that I'd stayed in the house as a one year old toddler!). There are two huge rain trees in the south east and south west corners of the compund - did they grow up with me?

I shall make a trip again when the renovation work gets completed and I hope to get my mom to walk down the memory lane with me. And hope to gather more anecdotes in the bargain! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Gujral doctrine and Palestine's endorsement.

I shall touch upon two events that took place today. Both seemingly have no connections but a bit of digging into history will throw up the connections.

1. The Gujral doctrine.

The former Prime Minister passed into the mist of time this afternoon. He shall always bear testimony to the fact that decency and being a gentleman in politics don't mean much in our political environment. His tenure showed him as an ineffective leader thanks to the contradictory pulls of coalition politics - small and ambitious men of ragtag political parties prevented him from taking any meaningful decisions! But he shall always be remembered for the emphasis that he laid on carrying our neighbours alongwith us adding that India, as the big brother, could afford to be more magnanimous and giving, to cement relationships - euphemistically termed the 'Gujral Doctrine'.

Probably, the process of give and take must have been nurtured deep within him as he and his parents had felt the traumatic phase of partition, post independence.

He'd held the office of the foreign minister too, among many others, and was an important link in shaping our foreign policy during the cold war years and the period, immediately after. This included our stand on Palestine from times immemorial and hence, the connection!

RIP Mr. Gujral. This nation shall always remember your contributions with gratitude, I'm sure.

2. Palestine's endorsement by the UN.

Palestine has become 'a non-member state with observer status' at the world body, thanks to a historical resolution passed by the General assembly. It also should not be forgotten that the US and Israel had fiercely opposed the motion.

What's interesting is that exactly 65 years ago, the same 'august body' had passed a resolution - known as No. 181 - allowing the division of the then British ruled state - consisting of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem - into a Jewish state(Israel) and an Arab country(Palestine).

There's much more distance to traverse to attain the gospel of 'peaceful existence of nations' respecting the right of every nation state to co-exist with its neighbours with dignity and honour! It's one's hope that one of the world's most explosive spots - West Asia - is on a sure path to peace and prosperity.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Under painful circumstances!

To me, an injection is something that I look at with mortal fear. Every time the doctor advises one, I go through a total state of fear and restlessness till the ordeal is over. And it's for this reason that I admire women. Their eagerness to have their ears(though the enthusiasm on their part is debatable as the exercise is carried out when they're babes in arms and therefore, do not have a choice, perhaps!), these days even ear lobes, nose and belly buttons(for the flashy, though) perforated has surprised me no end and continue to do so. As I'd said earlier, it amazes me that anyone can go through pain only to adorn ornaments!

Today, it was Lekha's turn to go through discomfort on this score. Her stud on the left ear was troubling her for the last couple of days. When the jewellers were shown the recalcitrant stud, they'd suggested medical intervention to retrieve it as she'd managed to screw the stud's key onto the soft flesh surrounding it. Probably, her fingers were unable to appreciate the actual extent to which it was being screwed in, thanks to a lack of sensation at the extremities!

The doctor had retrieved it, applied a soothing balm and has advised her to avoid wearing the stud for the next one month. Consequently, she sports a small bandage around the tip of her left ear lobe!


The upshot of the incident is that she's reluctant to attend functions where people would be conglomerating. No amount of my telling her that there would hardly be anyone who'd be bothered about the fact that she's not wearing her studs has had any effect. So, attending them would be a solo performance on the part of your's truly! And there're quite a few lined up, much to my discomfort!! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

At long last!

I'm very, very impatient. And that too, the accompanying irritation consumes the whole of me especially when a deadline is to be met. One thing, after the other, starts going wrong and it looks so conspiratorial.

It happens to be a similar situation right now. I'm hurtling dangerously close to the deadline to write down my thoughts but the telephone line seems to be off and there seems to be a loose connection. Again, my thoughts are hazy and yet to crystallise! Life can, indeed, be difficult!!


The line has just come around. And I've decided to lay bare the confusion that's surrounding me. Apologies, folks!   

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A game changer, they say.

The UDF government in Kerala has tom-tommed its decision as the game changer of all times. Come 01 Jan '13, a set of subsidies will be paid directly into the bank accounts of individuals to ensure speedy disbursement, avoid duplication and also to prevent exploitation by middlemen! The idea seems to have germinated from the late Rajiv Gandhi's lament that only 15 paise out of every rupee, spent by the government on an individual's welfare, reaches the beneficiary!! By end '13, the central government intends to have this scheme extended to the entire country.

The first list of subsidies will have 29 items, the notable among them being the widow pension, the old age pension, pension for the handicapped and the educational scholarships.

Much of the beneficiaries would belong to the families living below poverty line who do not boast of having a personal bank account. And what's on offer to tide over this difficulty? The following steps have been mooted:-

     (a) 'Aadhaar' documents would suffice to open an account.
     (b) No money is required as initial deposit.
     (c) If direct access to the bank is difficult, the account holder can operate by proxy. The bank reps
          will visit such homes for direct disbursement through portable 'mini ATMs'.
     (d) The 'anganwadi' workers, teachers and 'self help groups' can assume the role of bank reps!
           Their remuneration would be determined by the volume of their business. Post Offices and
           hospitals can also do the duties of bank reps.
     (e) No minimum amount, will be insisted upon, in the account!

At one look it looks a fine idea with noble intentions. Let's see how it rolls!


Being a thoroughbred Malayalee and having been witness to many a grandiose scheme turning out to be duds, I've the following doubts:-
     (a) Wouldn't the poor people be open to exploitation by a new breed of population in the form
           of bank reps?
     (b) How many of the 'bpl' population have the 'aadhaar' documents?
     (c) And mind you, the project is being taken up just before a general election. Isn't it another
          poll gimmick?
     (d) Who's the greatest beneficiary? The banks. And the banking system is gonna encompass the
           entire Indian population.
     (e) A small question, finally. What about the illiterates, though Kerala seems to be on a good    
          wicket here?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Why the intolerance?

I'm part of my school's group on the net where anecdotes, appeals for help/assistance, news about the old boys who're seldom heard and spirited discussions on various issues take place quite frequently. In other words, it's a lively forum and I spend sometime, everyday, to go through the happenings on the circuit. And I must admit that I come away a much wiser man on issues, having perused the opinions of a wide cross section of my school mates in terms of age and geographical separation - it definitely ensures a meaningful dialogue!

But, of late, there are trends that alarm and sadden me. An opinion is viciously trashed and the originator is often hit below the belt with sarcastic comments tinged with malicious content. The individual is almost asked to just "shut up".

The great art of a debate or a discussion is the thrill that one gets from hearing all the opposing and contradicting viewpoints on a subject and by using reasonable and forceful articulations, one's able to get the majority, if not everyone, to accept one's way of thinking! And of course, in extreme situations, agree to disagree but never by belittling the opposition nor by resorting to personal digs.

Sadly, the tendency to shout down the opposition is a rising trend and individuals have displayed levels of intolerance that doesn't augur well. I'd still like to believe that it's an aberration and an attempt to generate 'heat' in the circuit and shall wait for it to pass.


What amazes me is that the intolerant behaviour is generally restricted to guys who've been nurtured by many of us or even my seniors. I thought the mulishness came from some of our elders with their set pattern of thinking or am I far off the mark on this one? 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weekend musings.

It was a busy weekend as I'd packed quite a few activities that needed to be done and could not be made to wait. A sense of timing is a must to put things in perspective.

1. To the hospital.

97 year old grand aunt of mine , Ammini Amma, has been having difficulty in breathing and is fighting a general weakness because of alarmingly low Sodium levels in her system. She's been derisive occasionally but at other times, shows clarity in her thinking. I'd gone to meet her and though she didn't seem to recognise me by sight - she held on to my hand tightly while blabbering away, incoherently, all through.

It's my fond hope that she comes out of this difficulty as quickly as possible. One might call us greedy and not in sync with life's vagaries, but what's wrong in us wanting her to be around for some more time?

2. Voter's ID card.

We'll soon have our voter's ID card. The online registration, the consequent appointment for photography and other activities had taken its stipulated time but finally, that work has been done. At least, one feels armed for the next elections and is not required to scan voters' lists and move around with slips, in lieu. Whatever said and done, the election commission has been going about it systematically and there sure's a methodicity in the madness.

3.  Review of the security system.

Owing to the recent burglary, the entire security system of our residential area is under close scrutiny. I really feel small because I've been reactive, rather than being proactive, in this aspect and the irony is total when I've been a staunch critic of the security system prevalent all around! Tighter measures - which might invite strong disapproval from the residents themselves - including plugging of the gaps of a porous boundary and enhancing the height/augmenting with coils of barbed wire of a section of the wall and instituting a 'biometric' entry for all are some of the measures that are being discussed.

But the biggest hurdle is to bring about a change in attitude in the people. They've to understand that security can only be foolproof if they're willing to go through frequent queries by the sentry and frisks, if required. There's no short cut to an efficient and effective security system. The administering of the 'bitter pill' is my responsibility and I need to do it at the earliest.

4. 'Changing' neighbourhood.

Our neighbours are set to move for Bombay shortly. They're in the process of undoing their house and putting their articles into packing cartons. We've been providing them with logistic support which is the usual custom anywhere and there's nothing great to write home about. But they've been extremely grateful and have gone to town about our 'helpful' attitude. I can only smile at the fact that it just requires minutely small deeds to get acclaimed and as I'd said, we've not done anything spectacular or gone out of the way.


And there was a bit of work which required my presence in station and therefore, going home to meet mom had to be put off. She's recovered completely and probably sensing my predicament, she had said, "You don't have to worry about me and anyways, I'm going to be with you by the second week of next month when your sister goes off to Bangalore", during our customary morning chat, today, over the telephone.

Was she disappointed with me? Had I let her down?......She'll never let me know!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A couple of thoughts.

1. 24 Nov.

Today's my birthday and as is the usual trend, there were calls, smses and messages by e-mail from friends - quite a few of them were being heard after a long, long time. I really can't explain the sheer thrill that I'd experienced from each of the gestures. While thanking each one of them, it's great to know that they care and that the bonds that we'd created continue to exist with the same intensity overcoming time and distances.

The most notable was when my phone went off charge, talking to young Gavvy - a youngster that I'm fond of - who'd called me yet again on the landline to continue with our conversation. A truly amazing day as messages continued to pour in even into the night. Now it would be understood as to why I like celebrating my birthdays. And mind you, my birthday as per the Malayalam calendar is on the twelfth of next month when my family makes it a point to get in touch. Yes, it's a double delight!

Today is auspicious because it's the day when the 'Ekadasi' is celebrated with all the attendant pomp and show at the Guruvayur temple - its significance being that almost 5,000 years ago, Lord Krishna had imparted the 'Gitopadesam' to an unsure Arjuna, prior to the battle of 'Kurukshetra'. Arjuna's transformation and the course that the battle had subsequently taken is folklore. It also happens to be the day when Melpathoor Narayana Bhattathiri had dedicated his 'Narayaneeyam' to his god and to the people.

2. A sad end.

Came to know that Prakash, my cousin's husband, had passed into the mist of time but the exact whereabouts of his end is still a mystery thanks to his close family wanting to keep it a secret. And it has a sad story behind it.

They used to stay near my father's house till a couple of years back. Prakash and Syamala chechi have a son and a daughter and their small world took a jolt when the son - a well behaved young man who was into the business of film making as an assistant director - went and married a girl older than him and to make matters worse(?), she was from another community. The angry parents separated the couple forcibly and had their son under lock and key in their house claiming that he was mentally unsound. That the girl and a few of her close associates came and took away the boy, with police help, was a blow to Prakash's ego whose carefully nurtured image in the village was in tatters. So overwheming was the bruised ego that they'd left their house one night and had lived in an undisclosed place ever since. The story has it that they're with their daughter, at Kochi, when his end came about thanks to the cirhossis of his liver.

On behalf of the family, I'm endeavouring to get my cousin and her children back to their house and in the process try to put it across to her that ego and false pride have no place in life, if one were to wish for peace and tranquility. And yes, I'd be leaving the narrative incomplete if I did not mention the fact that my cousin's mother had rocked their household, years back, when she'd eloped with the man she loved while she was staying with my dad and they're pursuing with their studies.

RIP Prakash and my prayers will be with you. And wish me luck to get your family on even keel!  

Friday, November 23, 2012

In the line of fire.

Mac Murphy has expounded famously that, 'If anything has to go wrong, it will'.

Well it seems that the axiom has proved to be true in our residential area today. I'd started feeling comfortable that all checks and procedures have been streamlined for the smooth running of the residential area with the state of security established at 'Zulu Alpha' levels - meaning that no loophole was left unattended! And now it seems as to how foolhardy I was in that assumption of mine.

I got a call this morning, from the caretaker, that the house of a resident - the family is away on leave - has been burgled. The padlock on the main door of the house has been mysteriously left untampered with, and it has been unhinged instead. Whosoever had done it had kept an enormous amount of time in hand to carry out the perfidy! On initial check, one of the cupboards within the house is seen to be ransacked. Further losses, if any, will be pinpointed once the owner returns and thankfully, he's from the neighbourhood and so, it's not gonna take much time.

The case will be thoroughly investigated by the appropriate agencies and the culprits brought to book. And till that happens it would be miserable. I would be naive if I were to ask as to why this is happening because my assumption is that everyone staying, under my umbrella, is contended and no one requires wealth acquired through ill gotten means. And I shall definitely not resort to any crystal ball gazing to ascertain the guilty though the temptation gets strong in the course of time when pieces of information come trickling down.


I need to have a relook at the security arrangements that have been put in place. Perhaps, a revamp is required as I must have missed out on the details. And the buck stops with me. Period!  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Another farewell.

It was fairly a quiet day with nothing much happening. Around 7, in the morning, I'd made a dash to the nearby lab to collect Lekha's test results as she'd an appointment with her doctor later in the day. Eventhough, we'd fetched up at the hospital by a half past 3, we could return only by 8 thanks to the fairly long queue of patients before us. So my evening walk had gone for a toss and on returning home it was a quiet dinner, viewing of the TV for a few of our favourite programmes and as I was floating into sleep came a call from Thiruvananthapuram, informing me about the passing away of Mr. P Govinda Pillai, the veteran Marxist idealogue and one of the popular leaders of the CPM. He was 86.

I remembered the gentle, bespectacled elder with whom I'd the privilege to interact, a few years back when I'd fetched him from his house, for a programme on the occasion of my grandfather's remembrance day.

He and my grandfather were friends because they'd a common passion - books and the library! And it was only befitting that he graced the occasion. On introducing myself, he'd expressed his happiness at having met my grandfather's grandson and he was only too eager to pass on quite a few anecdotes that bound the two of them. For me it was interesting information and I lapped it all up, savouring each story. As we're about 20 minutes into our journey to the venue, I found him to be restless and going through a bit of discomfort. As I gave him a glass of water to drink, he said that he'd like to have a chocolate to tide over his discomfort which seemed to bother him - and weakly he conceded that he was badly diabetic. 

I remember having pulled my car towards a shop by the roadside, literally grabbed a couple of Cadbury's chocolate bars from the shopkeeper, unwrapped one and handed it over to PG(he was popularly known by his initials) sir who'd started sweating by then. I waited awhile as he devoured the chocolates and slowly returned to his normal self - I must concede that they're agonising moments for me! And as we continued our journey towards the venue, he continued with his stock of anecdotes about my grandfather without giving an inkling of the acute discomfort that had engulfed him, only moments earlier.

As I drove in through the gates of the VJT Hall and dropped him at the venue, he tells the crowd that had gathered to receive him, "I owe my life to PN Panicker's grandson and had he not taken appropriate action you wouldn't have had me here this moment". And turning to me he said, "I owe you some money for those chocolates and I shall keep it that way just to ensure that you return to me and I shall tell you more about your grandfather and of course, give you the money!" 

RIP PG sir. My humble prayers and I shall always remember the time spent with you and the enormous love that you'd showered upon me then.


In the eagerness of living my life, I have not had an opportunity to meet up with him subsequently and the loss is entirely, not for the cost of the chocolates(it was a grandson's gift to his grandfather's friend) but for the immense fund of anecdotes concerning the two of them!