Wednesday, February 29, 2012

At Thiruvananthapuram.

The drive, as usual, was exhilarating and I'd gone on a slight detour from the main track, to pick up my mom and my younger sister. In the process, I was privileged to see the school in which the latter teaches.

During my half - an - hour's stay in the school, what struck me most was the ambiance prevalent within the compound. The buildings encasing the offices, the staff rooms and the class rooms were aesthetically built to merge with the undulating, hilly terrain and were adequately complemented by the tall green Asokas and quite a few fruit bearing trees bearing thick foliage! The Principal, the Headmistress and a few of the teachers with whom I was able to interact with, exuded dedication and had the good upbringing of the children uppermost in their minds. As we drove out of the majestic school compound, I said a silent prayer for the school's glorious future and was particularly happy that my sister was a much liked member of the dedicated team of staff members.

In the course of the day, I 'd also got the opportunity to meet with a wide cross section of people and hear their views on a variety of issues. Many of them remembered the efforts of my grandfather and a few, even narrated incidents and their experiences with him that were 'game changers' in their lives! There was this anecdote that highlights his personality and I reproduce it below.

He had gone to Kochi in connection with the review of the performance of certain libraries and give them their annual grant. By the time, he'd finished his work he'd missed the last train. Since he did not wish to use public money on hotel charges for himself, he prevailed upon his assistant who was accompanying him on tour, to spend the night on the small mound of sand kept for construction purposes in front of the railway station!      

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Another wasted day.

A 24 hour nationwide strike called by the joint co-ordination council of 11 trade unions from midnight of 27/28 Feb had paralysed the state, nay country. The trade unions, cutting across party affiliations, had taken this step to highlight the following:-

      (a) Sidelining of workers by governments, from time to time, with regard to their welfare.
      (b) Lack of effective steps to contain price rise.
      (c) Disinvestment of public sector companies to be stopped.
      (d) Privatisation of services that could lead to job loss.

It was yet another day of agony for the common man. People were stranded at airports, railway stations and bus stations! Was enraged to see a few of the smiling trade union leaders come on television, on prime time news, in the course of the day claiming success of their call for the strike. Successful in causing undue hardship for their brethren? What does one do to these spoilsports? And what are they attributing their success to?

       (a) Over million productive man hours gone down the drain?
       (b) No production of any sort which would have fetched crores of rupees in return?
       (c) Losses due to damage to public property?
       (d) Causing untold pain and suffering to their fellow citizens?

Are they friends of the nation or otherwise? Always wonder as to why we do not have the Japanese - they love their motherland - culture? An oft repeated story of the workers of a shoe company making one shoe out of a pair to protest against their management's policy - no loss of man hours, no loss of productivity and above all, no loss or damage to public property!

And exploitation took another unprecedented leap in malluland, in terms of novelty! Some of the guys who'd given the call for the strike were using their vehicles to ferry stranded passengers at exhorbitant rates!!

Yes, this happens only in India!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Familiar reactions........

Too many things have been happening today and I'm glad that I'm able to follow each of them and I'm gonna give my reactions without being asked for......

But what makes them interesting is that they're breaking the predictability tag - I think so! - and so here I go.

1. Oscars 2012.

It's always a wonderful experience to watch the Annual Academy Awards as the event has become a much haloed one and the style that's projected, year after year, has a uniqueness about it. Members of the silver tinsel, the world over, covet an Oscar award and would go any length to achieve it.

I make it a point to watch the awards ceremony on the television, though the transmission timings clash with my Monday morning chores! It's simply because of the professionalism and the excellent packaging that go to make it an awesome presentation. This year too was no exception.
      (a) Was very happy that Meryl Streep had picked up the award for the best actress for her role as
            Margaret Thatcher in 'The Iron Lady'. She continues to be a favourite of mine and mind you, has
            retained her elegance and grace even at 62 yrs.
      (b) For a black and white, silent movie like 'The Artist' to win the award for the best movie shows as to
            how a strong story line coupled with taut narration makes the observer riveted to the film!
      (c) And I thought it most appropriate that the Iranian film 'A Separation' won the award for the best
           foreign film as the film depicts the Iranian people with emotions like you and me, unlike what they're
           being portrayed these days thanks to the warped thinking of their political leaders.
      (d) Kudos to the Pakistani film 'Saving Face' for having won the award for the best documentary. It       talks about a non resident Pakistani Plastic Surgeon, in London, returning to his roots to help acid burns' victims.

2. India's rebuff.

To China's objection of the Indian Defence Minister's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, there has been an instantaneous retort from the government and with Mr. Antony's reply we've told the Chinese that we're no more going to take their shenanigans lying down! It's my hope that we maintain this 'no nonsense' attitude with the dragon country!!

3. Are we bad losers?

We seem to be! Having displayed miserable performances in the tri - nation cricket series, currently on in Australia, we've started whining about bad umpiring decisions. Why does the team play awfully to get into 'close quarter situations' with the umpires? By doing so, you're undermining the efforts of the winning team.

And that's definitely not gentlemanly, simply not cricket!!  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A drill gone awry!

I'm really shocked at the way a 24 year old lady lost her life, at Bangalore, during a fire alarm drill last week. What makes the matter worse is the apathy shown by those concerned who doesn't seem to want to learn from the catastrophe!

Recapitulating the incident, the unfortunate young lady who'd volunteered for the tricky escape from the higher floor was given a rope by the fire servicemen to use for traversing down and no sooner had she started slithering down, the rope had snapped plunging the poor thing into that fatal fall. Two questions immediately spring to one's mind:-

      (a) Why wasn't the safety net in place to break the fall in case of such an eventuality?
      (b) Was the rope and all other material used for the exercise checked adequately for their worthiness
            prior to the commencement of the exercise?

The guilty needs to be brought to book without fail because this is an example of professional slackness and blunder.


There's a general tendency to take exercises lightly and not give them the seriousness that they deserve. They're executed and done just to fill up the registers and clear subsequent inspections! To highlight my statement, here's an announcement that I'd heard a 'Fire Officer' making quite a while back and I quote, "Surprise fire fighting exercise will be carried out at 1630 hrs next Saturday".

Wonder who was being surprised in this instance?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Sicilian - nay, Italian rhapsody!

Over the last fortnight or so, the media in Kerala - both print and visual - has been actively covering the goings on in connection with the killing of two malayalee fishermen, off the coast of Kochi, by armed marines of an Italian vessel.

The story goes something like this. An Italian merchantman, Enrica Lexie, was passing through our seas, about 23 nautical miles off the coast of Kerala when it observed a fishing vessel in its vicinity. Since the vessel was passing through the Gulf of Aden, where there have been very many cases of midsea piracy in the past few years, she had a posse of armed marine guards on board to thwart possible attacks from pirates. Mistaking the unsuspecting mallu fishermen in their bright lungis and colourful vests to be pirates, the Italian marines emptied their weapons killing two of them instantly.

Thanks to some quick and deft moves of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard, the Customs and the Kerala police, the vessel has been brought alongside the Ernakulam Tanker wharf for investigation and legal proceedings at the court of the Judicial First Class Magistrate. Representatives of the Italian government and its consulate, in our country, have also come in to assist in the legal proceedings closely monitored by the Kerala High Court.

 The question that would nag any seasoned mariner would be as to whether the ship had used force commensurate to that of its supposed adversary. Or was it an over reaction? And going even further, was it a case of pure trigger happy gunmen having a go?

It'd be interesting to note as to how the 'rhapsody' will play out eventually!  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Where - o - where's he?

Every day, as I go from my home to the office and back, he's been a regular sight at the railway level cross that falls enroute. Today, much to my surprise, I've realised that he's been missing  and that too, for the past few days.

I must sheepishly admit that I do not know his name. He's fairly tall (over 51/2 ft, as I reckon) with a slight hint of a stoop due to advancing age but looks fairly healthy with a hint of a smile all the time and a faraway, wistful look and is dark complexioned. He moves from one vehicle to the other - waiting for the level cross to open - asking for alms. He's never perturbed if someone were to shoo him away and mind you, he never approaches me when I'm in uniform but obliges me with an affable smile. So, on Saturdays, when I'm in civvies and driving my Cruze I hand over his share to enable him to have a satisfying meal (notwithstanding the fact that I advocate that we should not encourage begging and hence, must desist from giving alms!). What I find remarkable in him is that his pride is intact while he goes about his daily ritual or is it just a mask to cover his seething discontent, deep within, in having to demean himself in this manner? I would never know.

I find that I'm missing him thanks to the last one year of our quaint relationship. Wonder what has happened to him? Hope he's keeping well. And I have decided to know more about him when we meet next, of course, at the level cross!

God, please take care of him till then!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

And we aspire to be a 'superpower'!

In my reckoning, a superpower would ensure that all its people lead a decent life that derives benefit from the state of the art technology which ensures optimum use of resources. Consequently, having even a single citizen bereft of the essentials of life or being denied essential services like health care or financial assistance would be tantamount to blasphemy. In other words, the country must indeed be the proverbial 'land of milk and honey' where each and every citizen feels secure and wanted!

It's against this backdrop that the story of the travails of a newborn baby girl brings about anguish and revulsion. The place of occurrence is Guna in Madhya Pradesh. Earlier, the child's mother, who was going through birth pangs, had approached the local government hospital for delivery only to be thwarted by the staff under the pretext that there were no doctors available. They didn't even have the courtesy to provide her with an ambulance for transportation to any of the nearby hospitals for immediate medical management because of the simple and stark fact that she was very, very poor!

The poor lady, then, gave birth to baby 'Gudiya' out in the open, within the premises of the hospital. Exhausted by the ordeal, she was in a semi conscious state when a pig tried to drag away the child and in the process, the little one had sustained injuries. She was saved in time by an alert villager who happened to pass by at that point of time. The subsequent reactions from the concerned authorities are pathetic and disgusting.

This has come out in the open thanks to an alert media but what about the many that go unnoticed by the print or the visual media? This happens only in India!

And when numerous such unacceptable conditions exist, isn't our aspiring to be a superpower a big joke? I, as an Indian citizen, am ashamed!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

With punctilious manners at all times!

There's a certain amount of decorum that one's expected to maintain when in company of the others and when one's in public view. It goes without saying that this responsibility is proportional to the stature the individual enjoys in society.

It's against the backdrop of this sentiment that the ugly scene created at the Wasabi restaurant of the Taj hotel in Bombay by movie actor Saif Ali Khan is simply not acceptable. He's supposed to have broken the nose of an NRI businessman and socked his 68 year old father-in-law because they'd the gumption to tell the management to ask him and his guests to desist from being a nuisance to the others by their noisy chatter.

To insist upon the general public to watch his films to make him successful and popular is a decent proposal but his insistence to accept and put up with his boorishness and tantrums is definitely an indecent proposal! Moreover, this is also not the first time that the actor has got into such situations - in other words, he's a habitual offender.

I wonder as to what makes people like him to take law into their hands and subsequently, sneak through the backdoors of the police station - which is what happened in this case - or cover their faces while transiting from the police station to the court and back? It's a paradox, that, people like him crave for maximum publicity otherwise but try to shrink into obscurity during adverse situations without even having the grace to admit their mistake and tender an apology.

And for all you know, there must be heavy backroom parleys going on to hush up the case and reach an out-of-court settlement! Well, our heroes definitely have feet of clay!!

I'm reminded of an inscription that I'd seen in my Squadron at the Academy that says it all and is quite appropriate on this occasion and I quote,

                   "If you're a gentleman, nothing else matters
                    If you're not a gentleman, still nothing matters".  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Faux pas - on my part, of course!

1. No reciprocity.

 I'd to attend a formal function where one jostled with a lot of people - familiar and unfamiliar! I must admit that it was a well attended gathering. It was during one of the breaks that Sam, my friend, introduced me to this accomplished lady who has carved a niche for herself for the stand that she'd taken on social issues. As we started our conversation, I'd offered my hand to shake her's but it was quite a while before I realised that she'd not reciprocated though we're pursuing with our conversation, all the while.

I, then, sheepishly withdrew my hand on realising it, without breaking the flow of our interaction. As we came across some other guests, we broke off with a promise to chat up later.

But going through the incident later, I felt sheepish and small to have exceeded the limits of propriety expected of me by what my mom had taught me a long time back. "You must never offer your hand to a lady first but do so only after she offers her's first".

I'd broken the code of conduct. It definitely was a bad show on my part! Sorry, Ma.

2. A quiet snub?

We've four lifts in our building which is actually a great boon in easing congestion during peak hours. This evening, while I was waiting for one there was a young lady waiting for the other and it so happened that the lift that I'd called for fetched up first.

I, then, called her up to join me as a matter of normal courtesy but her reaction made me feel that I'd done something blasphemous. Was she only irked with the fact that her lift was taking its own sweet time? Or did she feel that I was being petulantly triumphant on my lift having come before her's and was being falsely magnanimous? I would never know!

It was a snub, anyways!! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

The return.

Mom was taken to the doctor who'd given her the hearing aid as she wasn't satisfied with the functioning of the contraption right from the beginning. She was taken to the ENT specialist and thence to the hearing aid clinic where the machine was fine tuned. The background clutter has been reduced and she gave me a 'thumbs up' signal that it was okay and I only hope that she gets used to this external aid which will bolster her confidence.

She has aged considerably since dad's passing away. The mirthful laughter is a thing of the past and I must hasten to add that the reluctant recipient of those playful taunts and the resultant laughter was dad. Her agility has been affected though her limbs are okay as certified by the doctor in his last review and her hair has turned grey all over.

My younger sister and she of course, thrash out their differences - and they seem to be having many but are great friends, otherwise - with my li'l niece as the neutral umpire. It's with these little tidbits that we kicked off back to Kochi, soon after lunch.


Enroute, we'd to meet and spend time with my sister's mother-in-law who'd celebrated her 84th birthday when we're away at Nagpur. Wasn't she thrilled to see us? As we're casting off, I saw her bowed in prayer and it was then that her eldest son, who was at hand, said that she was saying her prayer for our safe journey. With that sort of 'kavach', does one ever have to worry?

The 41st day ceremony.

Dateline 19 Feb.

We'd kicked off for my home at 6 and the drive was nice as the roads were comparatively empty, being a Sunday. As we reached my place, we'd to head to the nearby 'Siva' temple to attend a 'puja' sponsored by us on the occasion. Meanwhile, a couple of lady hymnists were reciting the relevant excerpts of the 'Mahabhagavatham' - which had begun at 8 AM - that would last through to sunset.

The 41st day after death has a great significance. It's believed that the soul of the deceased lingers around the focal point of its existence, in its 'just finished life' for 41 days before it attains its new form in the next 'avatar'. The cycle of birth continues and that's the cosmic truth.

My dad's soul has flown away from our precincts. Did he enjoy every moment of his that he'd spent with us during his lifetime? Did I live up to his expectations? I'd like to believe that the answers to both the questions are on the affirmative.

Or has he attained the universal soul?

Wherever you are dad, I'll miss you every waking moment of mine and feel sad that I couldn't spend more of my time with you.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nagpur to Kochi via Bombay.

It was with a heavy heart that we left Nagpur this morning. Vijaya'd taken our permission to go to school in the morning because that'd save her the awkwardness of the farewell! Perot and Pebble, barked, groaned and tried to cling on to us to the extent feasible. Their sad looks will continue to haunt me for a while. And for once, all the flights were on time.

Bombay was sultry as usual but our friends, Ashok and Latha, made our stay pleasant and exciting. And a couple of hours after sunset, we'd fetched up at Kochi.

And despite the best of efforts, it was well past midnight before we're ready to take off for my home tomorrow. It's gonna be another long day, packed with activities.

Friday, February 17, 2012

At zero point.

We're at zero point Nagpur - the geographical midpoint of India - at 1233h this afternoon. Sekhar - my squadron mate from the Academy - alongwith his wife, Vijaya were taking us on a conducted tour of the city. For our sake, the elegant lady had taken a day off from school - which  was damn sweet of her!

Lunch was at an ethnic joint and I relished the local delicacies of 'pitla and bhaakri ki roti' combined with 'thali peet' and 'puran poli'. It was an exquisite experience for my gastronomic system and our way of thanking the efforts of our gracious hosts! It was also just before it that we'd the privilege of meeting my classmate and coursemate, John V, his wife, the ever friendly, Manisha alongwith the bridegroom - the smart young Joel. John V was sentimental in that I'd made it for the occasion and readily pardoned me for rushing back to my home to take part in the 41st day ceremony after my dad's passing away, without attending the reception, post wedding tomorrow!!

The 'sangeet ceremony' at a nearby hall, in the evening, was a grand celebration where Lekha and me had the privilege of meeting young Joel's object off attention, Pallavi. They make a handsome couple and it was our proud privilege to bless them on the occasion. A superb band was in attendance and I too got pulled onto the dance floor by two elegant, young ladies who gave me the dutch courage by their continuous  attendance. If I were to say that I'd set alight the dance floor with my dancing, you readers have the right to call me a congenital liar because I was sure that the audience did suffer my unconventional dance moves, that resembled a patient's reaction to therapeutic electrical impulses, with a rare sense of indulgence reserved for the underdog!!!

At the end of it, as we bid goodbye, John V's tight hug made my eyes misty. A small gesture on my part could generate so much of feelings was something that overwhelmed  and humbled me on the occasion. However much I try to believe it, I ask this question to myself, 'do I mean so much to people?' If it's affirmative, then I must be hurting many more by my insensitive and thoughtless behaviour most of the time.

Gosh, I seem to be sounding like someone at the 'confessional'!


I would not be doing my duty if I did not mention about the duo - Perot and Pebble - who exhibited unrestrained love and affection to us all through the 36 hours that we're there. Perot - meaning 'dog' in Spanish is a lovable golden yellow Labrador and Pebble, a spirited Dalmatian whose black spots resembled scattered pebbles! How does one thank these animals who'd showered their attention  and love on us? Absolutely delightful four year olds!!        

In the city of oranges.

Dateline 16 Feb.

My classmate, John's son is getting married at Nagpur - Joel is marrying his childhood sweetheart, Pallavi. I'd earlier promised to attend their engagement ceremony at Jodhpur in early Nov '11 but couldn't keep my word because of personal reasons. But I'd made a promise to myself that I'd attend the wedding, come what may.

It also was an added attraction that my course mate, Sekhar happened to be at the same place and I'd not met him after passing out of the NDA. And thus crystallised this trip when Lekha and me set off from our house in the wee hours of the day. The long break that we're presented in between, at Bombay, helped us to meet up with Ashok and Latha who'd gone out of their way to make things comfortable for us.

I can't express my emotions, coupled with the tremendous thrill, that I experienced while meeting with Sekhar and his wife, Vijaya whom we're meeting for the first time. The kindness shown and the way they've made our stay pleasant makes this trip memorable.

I've passed through this city a number of times in the past but to finally arrive and be part of a wonderful event is a dream come true. Thanks from the depth of my heart and on behalf of Lekha to Sekhar - Vijaya, John - Manisha and of course, Joel - Pallavi for making this happen.


Ever since our touchdown at 2000h, life has been on a roller coaster! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In life, everything happens in a cyclic!

Yes, I can say this with what I've seen and experienced, though, I must admit that I'm still hesitant to establish it as a postulate! Everything in one's life happens to take a cyclic path and to underscore it, let me tell you this story.

I've transferred some money from my personal account to a cousin of mine who's going through tough times. I'd heard his tragic story from him on my dad's cremation day. I was seeing the youngster after more than two decades and must confess that I didn't even know of his whereabouts all this while. So I was elated to see him and had talked to him soon after the ceremony. His story was saddening in that he was on the verge of donating his kidney along with that of his wife's, to collect funds for riding over a bad debt. I don't know as to what'd prompted me then but I promised to send him the requisite amount soon after I got back to my workplace and on getting the funds organised! And I took an assurance from him that he would no longer harbour crazy thoughts to generate funds. Having said that anyone, who concludes that I've enough moolah to splash around, on reading the narration is way off the mark from the actual fact. I'd agreed to this action of mine due to the following:-

      (a) Couldn't digest the fact that someone close to me was in such a hopeless state.
      (b) If he'd taken the extreme step subsequently, I would never ever be able to forgive myself for
      not providing succour at the right moment.
I've not asked him as to when he'd return the amount because, as of now, I'm pretty sure that he'd be unable to answer that question in his present state. May he become financially sound without much ado and I'm sure he'd do the needful.

But what brings me to my story is that, many years back, my dad had helped his dad to tide over a similarly tough situation by transferring ownership of a prime piece of ancestral property that he'd rightfully inherited, to his dad for free, without any remuneration. A case of history repeating itself!    

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's day.

Thanks to more and more Indians going abroad to study, work and becoming permanent citizens in faraway countries, many of the social and cultural events - which have specific significance in those countries - have become popular in our country much to the dismay of many. Consequently, it has been cynically put as a 'cultural import' or a 'cultural onslaught'. With ever improving communications, the boundaries between countries increasingly get to be irrelevant and free social and cultural exchanges are bound to take place.

In understanding such exchanges, a sense of restraint and maturity is a must rather than blindly accepting or aping what appears to be convenient. It's simply because of the fact that people within the country, who haven't had a 'dekho' abroad, do not understand the ethos behind a celebration that's totally alien to them. And the dangerous aftermath is that the more strident amongst them resort to 'cultural talibanism' causing much heartburn and pain.

It's against this backdrop that the celebration of Valentine's day needs to be viewed. If one were to ask me, its biggest advantage seems to be that it provides a considerable dose of verve to the 'timid' to put across his/her feelings to the object of desire - not necessarily resulting in positive endings, though!

I'm, however, amused by the pedestrian interpretation of love that's usually on display during the occasion. Love's a deeper feeling that one has for the other that transcends time and the operative word is 'give'. And the expression of love can never be confined to a single day! Love, in the Indian ethos, is all encompassing and has a wider meaning!!

Nevertheless, let's wish ourselves a 'happy Valentine's day' to be with the current trends and to keep away from being mistaken for an entity from the 'palaeolithic age'!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The people power - see what it can do.

Vilappilsala is a sleepy strip of land in suburban Thiruvananthapuram which has been in the news of late.

The entire garbage of the city was being treated at the waste treatment plant situated here. Perhaps, there's something unscientific about the plant - the residents of the area have long been complaining of the continuous pollution of their potable water, a high rate of skin and other ailments coupled with an all pervading stench that had made their lives miserable. They'd highlighted their problem to anyone and everyone, across the political spectrum, who lent their ears but to no avail. So, finally fed up with governmental apathy, the residents had refused to let the city waste to come into their area creating a real 'stink' in the state's capital over the past few weeks.

Armed with a court order to resume partial operation of the waste treatment plant, the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation had sent two garbage-laden trucks with the accompaniment of about 350 policemen and the ADM. After hours of high drama all through the forenoon, when the entire lot of residents cutting across their political affiliations joined the blockade, women and children blocked the roads and courted arrest resulting in the impasse slowly beginning to turn ugly, the whole exercise was called off and the officials had to return.

Another case that highlights the potency of people's power!

My take.

It would be prudent for all the stake holders, in the matter, to sit across a negotiating table and thrash out their differences to find a lasting solution. The residents of Vilappilsala need to be heard! Their waste treatment plant needs to be effective and efficient, shorn of scientific glitches.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Where have the finer qualities gone?

Shocking news from the Mangalore airport!

The crew and the cabin crew of an airline refused to take in a seriously ill, one and a half year old infant, who'd to be urgently transferred to Bangalore for better medical management. They had no valid reason for not complying to the collective request of the hapless parents, the doctor and the hospital management under whose care the kid was and a few of the passengers. Instead they insisted on a clearance certificate from the Medical Officer of their airline, knowing fully well that the individual was unavailable!

What sort of barbarians are they? Would any of them have accepted a similar fate being meted to their own near and dear ones? What makes such people thrive in this world? I would like to believe that all those responsible for this boorish behaviour are from honourable families with honourable parents. Is this the value system that they've imbibed from them?

And what were they scared of? Being fired from their jobs by their management for incurring monetary losses, foisted upon it as compensation, on account of the child's probable death while in transit? Come on, have a heart and learn to respect another's life! It's much more precious than your job and not to forget, the lifelong guilt for the blot of anything untoward - god forbid - happening to the little one!!


The kid had to be taken by road, in an ambulance, on account of the faux pas cited above. My prayers for the kid's speedy recovery.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The army chief's age row.

Finally, the much discussed event over almost the past one year has been dealt with by the Supreme Court, though partially. The government has withdrawn its order of late Dec '11 against the General's petition who, in turn, withdrew his petition seeking acceptance of 10 may 1951 as his actual date of birth instead of 10 May 1950.

One wonders as to whether the chief had to go through this unfortunate incident at all, especially against the backdrop of the Solicitor General Fali Nariman's initial salvo of the General having accepted 10 May 1950 as his date of birth in the interest of service, sometime earlier. Its acceptance had facilitated in his promotions to the post of Corps Commander(as Major General), Army Commander(as Lieutenant General) and to his ultimate elevation as the COAS(as a four star General). The court has highlighted that the date of 10 May 1950 would be the General's date of birth for service purposes.

From the foregoing, one wonders as to what the General was able to achieve in the end except for the fact that the reputations of his immediate two predecessors have been besmirched. I mean, the sordid story of a succession plan to favour an individual has been brought out. In other words, looking at it positively, much of the goings on regarding senior officers' promotions have come into public domain. That should effectively put a check to such transgressions in future.

It's my fervent hope that restraint coupled with large heartedness on the part of all the players in the drama should put the whole issue away as a bad dream that one's occasionally forced with.


Saw the Hindi movie, 'Ek mein or ek tu' last evening. Highly watchable and a light one at that. Reminded me of 'Jab we met'.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The cosmic 'tandava'.

While man's continuous endeavour is to tame nature to suit his needs, he's realised that despite the scientific advances made by him in subduing nature or understanding its mysteries, his achievements on that note is ziltch - the knowledge that he's acquired, thus far, is only a tip of the iceberg.

Now, just try to make sense of this phenomenon of nature - while most parts of Europe were reeling under brutal cold wave conditions highlighted by heavy snowfall that has claimed about 400 lives (the temperature has dipped to -40 degrees! Incidentally, a friend of mine is in Oslo these days who rarely leaves the comforts of the centralised heater's comfort except for essentials), Mt. Etna, the tallest and the most active volcano in Italy's island of Sicily was spewing hot, molten lava!

This is nothing but a cosmic tandava!! One can realise as to how foolish man is when he tries to control nature!!!


Yesterday's highlight was a leisurely stroll on Main Street during the busy evening hours, visiting familiar haunts and a not so quiet stay at the nearby Institute, albeit for a short while, thereafter.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ah! The city that I love, yet again!!

As the aircraft made a smooth touchdown at Pune's tarmac, there was a rush of adrenaline. I was excited like a school kid and was trying to identify the numerous landmarks of the city that are familiar to me - from the air - as we're descending. I've always asked myself as to why I go through this state every time I visit this city.

Perhaps, it all began from that cold January morning of 1973 when I'd first got down from the train as an unsure lad to join the NDA which was going to be my home for the next three years. Thereafter, the newspapers brought in the daily news about the city and coupled with my countless forays into the city on 'liberty' enhanced my liking for it. I'd made a sizeable number of friends beginning with the families of a few of my coursemates and the extended family today is fairly large!

Over the next three days, it shall be business combined with meeting people to ease the gnawing grief that has been the mainstay over the last few weeks. Tomorrow, it's gonna be a month since dad has left us. How time flies?

And thanks all of you for having taken it upon yourselves to share my grief. How do I repay your kindness?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

To watch or not to watch!

Three ministers of the Karnataka state government have resigned. They're caught watching pornography on their mobile phones inside the Legislative Assembly, while the house was in session!

The events, post resignation of the three ministers, neither speak well for the individuals nor for the party that they represent as can be gleaned from the following:-

   (a) the trio tender their resignation which is endorsed by the Governor.
   (b) the speaker of the Assembly debars them from attending the proceedings of the house without specifying
         the period! He, then, goes on to adjourn the house 'sine die' two days before the current session ends!!
   (c) the Chief Minister says that they've done nothing wrong. The trio, themselves, keep emphasising that they
        aren't habitual watchers of porn.

 My take.

1. All the players seem to be missing the point or are they deliberately doing so, I wonder? Watching porn, to my mind, is not an offence if it's done privately without causing aversion/disturbance to the people around. The moot point here is that these people had the audacity to do so while the house was transacting an important piece of legislation.

2. As ministers, they're supposed to be party to the proceedings and had no business to be inattentive. Moreover, the Assembly in session, derives its sustenance from the taxpayers' money and therefore, the elected representatives cannot afford to while away precious time on frivolous activities. Moreover, they're incumbent to uphold the dignity of the house.

3. There's, thus, no doubt that they've erred.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A collage of thoughts.

1. Charles Dickens is 200 yrs.

Born in 1812, today is Charles Dickens' 200th birthday. His works can never be forgotten and I, for one, can never forget those English classes of Mr. AP Soans at school when characters like David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Peggotty, Charlotte (I can also never forget 'Charlotty' as pronounced by another instructor much to the angst of Mr. Soans), Barkis and others came alive.

Most of his novels are drawn from his early experiences and are depictions of contemporary life.

Yes, Barkis is willin'. Give me a Dickens any day and I'll finish it from cover to cover!

2. An ideological change.

The CPM concedes that China is rife with growing unemployment, regional imbalances and and is also corruption ridden. And these trends are 'alien' to socialism!

In their latest ideological document, the party has tuned its ideological line taking cognizance of the changing global and Indian context. This ideological resolution has been reworked for the first time since 1992. A step in the right direction in making the outfit more dynamic in evolving with the times.

3. The Syrian agony.

Despite the regime changes that took place in the recent past in Egypt and Libya, where the supposedly strongmen Hosni Mubarrak and Muammar Gaddafi had bitten dust thanks to people power, Bashar al Assad of Syria still seems to be clinging on to power. His forces have shelled the thickly populated Homs to neutralise the rebels and it could be a mistake for which they've to pay dearly in the days to come.

But how long will the Syrians' agony continue? How many more innocents will be mowed down? Why don't guys learn from the past, from history?

Monday, February 6, 2012

A wonderful day!

It was an early morning today as we'd to attend the wedding of li'l Sneha, the daughter of good friends of ours. The parents have been fretting over the fact that their daughter's marriage was taking too long a time to come by! We'd to often put them at ease by saying that everything had a time stipulated to it and they'd nod in meek acceptance to our 'pearls of wisdom'.

And finally, it's come by.

The over two hours' journey to our destination through the picturesque backwaters was invigorating. 

The wedding was at Manarcadu, past Kottayam at the popular Lourde Mary's church. The ceremonies at the church and the vows were keenly watched as my fascination for the church weddings continues! The interaction with the guests, post wedding and during lunch, was a wonderful trip through memory lane meeting many whom we'd not met for quite a while!!


The highlight of the simple yet elegant lunch was the exquisite 'mutton biryani' - tasty, well cooked, amply flavoured, with the chunks of meat all too ready to melt in the mouth!

Its fragrance is still lingering!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

There's no dearth of money here!

Dateline 05 Feb.

One is always told that our country's poor and a developing nation. There're many things that we can ill afford and state-of-the-art technology was only available with a high price tag. There's a sizeable percentage of people living quite below the poverty line and cannot have a square meal a day.

But when one is confronted with the commercial activities that take place everyday then one wonders whether the foregoing statement is true. Close on the heels of the opening of the largest textile showroom of Emmanuval Silks, we, Kochiites witnessed the grand opening of the biggest jewellery showroom of Joy Alukkas on the Marine Drive this morning. And it was inaugurated by none other than the pretty playback singer, Shreya Ghoshal who seems to have become a darling of the mallu crowds.

Where's the lack of money in this country? Or is it a case of rich getting richer and poor, poorer?  

The rebel in me.

Dateline 04 Feb.

I was once again on my evening walk and was skirting the busy main road when I heard the all too familiar wail of an ambulance. Some patient being rushed to the nearby hospital and time is precious - it seemed to say! Every passing second is a 'do-or-die'(pun intended) situation for the person in that ambulance.

And the road was choc-a-bloc with vehicles trying to beat the evening rush hour - impatience coupled with frayed nerves brought out the real personalities out of the people behind the wheels. One such obnoxious guy was blocking the ambulance's move because he refused to budge - the wail notwithstanding! I was shocked about the guy's insensitivity and felt miserable and impotent, albeit for a while.

 Then I dunno what took over me when I moved towards the car with the recalcitrant driver. One yank of his door and I pulled out the guy from his seat. Shoving him aside, I got into the car and moved it just enough to let the ambulance pass through. Satisfied with what I'd done, I quickly got out of the car and retrieved the car back to its rightful owner who gave me a dazed but grim grin.

 Looking around, I could get approving glances from many of the stranded drivers and a smiling approval from the policeman on the beat. Feeling shy about the unwanted limelight, I was surprised that my anger had once again brought out the rebel in me!

But I felt light as I was sure that I was right for a change, this time!!    

Friday, February 3, 2012

Comrade Jesus?

I was quite amused by the news that the CPM has hailed Jesus Christ as history's greatest liberation warrior. It has gone on to amplify that Jesus has stood for liberation of the oppressed throughout his lifetime and hence, communists and Christians could work together in liberating people from exploitation!

I've been 'enlightened' by this latest school of thought. And saddened too. Does the party require any additional props to be acceptable to the masses? Has its earlier stance of not wooing any religious sections, towards bolstering its votebank, been cast away? Reminds one of the same party's eagerness to embrace the acute thinking 'NDF' for electoral gains during the last elections to the state's legislature with disastrous results.

Why don't the political parties understand that the common man needs just good governance whereby he enjoys the fruits of all round development and the country's wealth is equitably distributed to one and all - to bring about a substantial reduction in gap between the rich and the poor till it vanishes absolutely? A Utopian dream, perhaps!

But definitely attainable if one did not elect the fraudsters and the fixers into the law making bodies! In other words, it's possible if clean men and women are elected and positioned at the helm whose only 'mantra' is to serve the people without wanting anything in return!!

 Till then, it's 'Comrade Jesus Zindabad', 'Inquilab Zindabad'!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Just not on!

Are a small group of intolerant people trying to take over the collective conscience of the country? Who has given them the power to sit on judgement over the others? And why is the society being a mute witness to their illogical thinking? Or have all of us got into the 'sab chalta hai' attitude - I shall only react when it were to happen to me or to the people who matter to me? It portends dangerous tendencies for the future.

At the first instance, it was Salman Rushdie who was prevented from participating in the recently conducted Literary Fest at Jaipur. And now, Taslima Nasreen has been prevented from attending a function at Calcutta. Where's the freedom of expression that's enjoyed by each and everyone in this country? The major political parties and the powers that be have been silent over taking a stand, perhaps, due to vote bank considerations in the approaching byelections in a few states. The miscreants seem to be making hay while the sun shines, nay taking advantage of the chink in their armour which is what cowards do to gain an upper hand.

While having said that, it's incumbent on the worthies who've a sizeable following amongst the masses, to temper their thoughts with maturity and compassion so as to avoid making statements that could hurt the others, however miniscule that population would be. They owe it to their followers and therefore, cannot afford to be flippant, derogatory or insensitive in their articulations!

I've no personal inclination or liking to the names mentioned above but what makes me sad is that wrong things are taking place in my fine country which is historically famed for its racial, cultural and religious tolerance since times immemorial!

And so, such acts of intimidation are just not on!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An unusual tryst.

Towards the end of my customary evening walk, I'd gone into a nicely stocked lending library near our premises and was trying to pick up a couple of books for leisure reading.

I was distracted by a sweet young girl who was standing close and watching me intently. On striking a hush hush conversation with the young one, I came to know that she was Megha, studying in class II in a nearby school. She was insistent that I meet her mother, who was then collecting her books at the counter. I was struck by the fact that she stiffened on seeing me and I closed in the remaining gap between us purposefully, holding the li'l one's hand. I was really curious to know as to why she'd reacted so - did I give an impression to the others as an obnoxious boor or a cad?!

After exchanging the initial pleasantries, we got down to talking. Her tale is indeed a sad one. Shalini is a widow at the young age of 32, having lost her husband in a road accident a few months back. She's slowly beginning to pick up the tempo of her life, aided by her parents and reading helps her to pep up.

And here's the twist - I resembled her late husband. Hence, the child's gleeful though doubtful acceptance and her initial reaction! Boy, isn't that something straight out of a movie's storyline?

I've only heard about one having seven others in resemblance but trashed it as yarn - a 'doppelganger' phenomenon - in this astounding world that we live in! I must see Megha's dad's photograph when I visit them.  


Dateline 31 Jan.

1. ToI.

The Times of India has finally arrived! Its Kerala edition begins from tomorrow!! I don't have to wait for my copy till mid day anymore.

Cocking a snook at it and almost sounding pompous, has it followed me to God's own country? Whatever it is, it's a state of bliss to have yet another giant of the print media amidst us. So, it's welcome ToI at long last!

2. A classic innovation.

Devassy, a fish vendor of Thrissur, has this unique way of waking up his customers at 0630h everyday with an 'sms' from his cellphone that covers the prices of the varieties of fish. Orders are taken through 'return' smses and the fish of one's choice is delivered at one's doorstep!

That's indeed a unique way of clubbing technology with business acumen to maximise returns!! Devassy, here's wishing you success in everything you do.

3. Nurses on the warpath.

It's common knowledge that the nurses do not get remuneration matching their work. Their plight has been festering for a while and signs of dissidence are now being reported from various hospitals with a remarkable regularity. The latest to join are the lot from the nearby Lakeshore hospital. The state government has taken a difficult-to-comprehend stance that it cannot get into every imbroglio of this sort.

Meanwhile, the tussle between the hospital's management and the striking nurses continue much to the discomfort of the numerous patients. Hope that an acceptable solution is reached without much ado!