Friday, March 30, 2012

Me, the contended 'patriarch'(?)

This evening was the first General Body Meeting of the residential association after I'd been anointed its President. To ensure a 'decent' quorum, a movie for the children supported by a 'chaat' evening for the members were organised. I must admit that our efforts had not been in vain as more members - I'd like this number to increase further in the subsequent ones and I'm pretty confident about that - stopped, paused and lent me their eyes and ears as I'd exhorted them, at the outset.

I think my telling them that I feel like a contended patriarch touched a chord deep, within many of them, who'd heard my appeal and I gave off two reasons as to why I felt so, which were:-

       (a) the gentleman who feeds birds every morning, just below my window. And this lovely sight comes into
        view, usually after I finish chanting the 'Gayatri mantra'! To me, it appears that whatever he does is for the
        good of all of us in the colony.
       (b) the gaiety and laughter that rent the air in the evening as the children - an assortment of them from pram  
        going to teens - and their parents, in merriment, on the well manicured lawns bristling towards one end
        with playing equipment.

And I took the occasion to appeal to the children to help me in participating in the 'Earth Hour' tomorrow, which was strictly voluntary with an assurance that none of us would be doing 'policing' of any kind! I also felt obliged to tell the gathering that I would be off to render urgent assistance to my mom with the preamble that a few of them were aware of my dad's passing away in January. It was just to tell them that I wasn't running away after putting them to a task.

The endorsement was swift. As I was leaving the venue, with the movie coming live in the background, many came and offered me condolences with the advice that I must go and help out my mom and that, they'd ensure the 'earth hour' is followed in true letter and spirit.

What more do I need?  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It needs tremendous strength.

I'm quite intrigued by the spate of self - immolations that have taken place over a span of the last few days. Last week, it was a Tibetan youngster at Delhi and this week, it's a young Tibetan monk somewhere in western China. Statistics put the total number of self - immolations by Tibetans over the past year to over 30 in ethnic Tibetan areas of China and their anguish has been against the unlawful Chinese occupation of Tibet and their autocratic rule.

While their charismatic leader, the Dalai lama, has been waging a peaceful struggle against the Chinese might, many youngsters have now begun clamouring for a more vigorous struggle. The spate of self-immolations is a consequential effect!

It needs tremendous strength coupled with a deep sense of commitment to prod an individual to take such an extreme step. Last week's video grab of the youngster in Delhi clearly showed the agony and the intense pain that he was experiencing - I must confess that I felt miserable watching it and his close up photographs that were splashed on almost all the newspapers, the next day, nauseated me.

My humble prayers for those valiant ones who've laid down their lives for the sake of their motherland. I'm sure their sacrifice shall not be in vain and China will relent in the end by giving them their rightful freedom!


The few friends that I have from there are so full of life, peaceloving and 'bursting' with music. And perhaps, because they hail from mountainous terrain, they're disarmingly simple in their outlook towards life!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

'Edyounet' Technology.

Mallus are going gaga over teleclassrooms. And 'Edyounet', a firm based at Kochi, offers this facility that envisages advanced classes in banking, shareholding, CA, graduation, medical and engineering entrance.

It's being suggested as the panacea for the lack of experience in teaching and would enable the learner to keep pace with the advances in knowledge and skills! It'll also bring specialised education imparted from different parts of the country and from abroad by networking through a dedicated path. Students will be provided with a wireless keyboard and mouse coupled with other audiovisual aids to regulate the controls on the large LCD board, through which they can interact with the teachers.

My take.

(a) It's good to assimilate the state-of-the-art technology to revamp classrooms.
(b) However, to think that it would substitute teachers in the long run would not be in the fitness of things.
 Nothing like dedicated teachers with a passion for bringing up children
(c) Education has to be value based to equip each child to chose the 'harder right' instead of the 'easier wrong'.
(d) To attract the best in the society into the noble profession of teaching, the teacher's pay and perks need to be redefined.
(e) A student is nurtured within the four walls of the classroom so that the child gets time to pursue sports, games and extracurricular activities after school time. And there's no requirement of a tuition!

Is my thinking Utopian? I'd like to believe not!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Creeping inadequacies and other irritants.

1. Creeping inadequacies?

This morning I'd a harrowing time thanks to my inability to recall the name of a medicine that had to be bought. My man, Friday was at hand to witness my dismal performance and out of pity, he tried to egg me on to the right information! I tried and I tried but to no avail and the recall just did not happen. Finally, the doctor's prescription was retrieved and the impasse was solved.

A case of dementia? So early in life? I hope not, as I can't even imagine the distress and discomfort that would be caused to my near and dear ones if it were to happen. I'd like to believe that it was a passing, rogue moment!

2. The continuing agitation.

For the last eight days, life has been difficult for the 'mallus' who've made it a habit of browsing through the vernacular newspapers along with their morning cuppa tea (it must be worse for those who require the 'hot' news to answer the nature's call - ain't kidding because I've come across people for whom it's a necessity) thanks to a strike called by the newspaper agents. Speaking to the guy who's responsible for supplying my newspapers, I think I've got a fair idea of their viewpoint.

At present, the agent gets a commission of 28% per copy and they're asking for a hike to 33% based on the following perceptions about the publishing houses/owners:-
                (a) the newspapers have a wide circulation and are raking in enormous profits.
                (b) the interest accrued from the initial deposits of the agents(a must for getting the rights of
                 distribution) which, again runs into crores.

The majors in the field like the Malayala Manorama, the Mathrubhumi etc want the agents to call off the strike and then come on to the negotiating table. The agents, on the other hand, have taken a stand that they'd do so only after their demands are met. And the impasse continues.

A few newspaper owners sympathise with the agents and have agreed to give in to their demands. Hence, I get a copy of my English daily but without its Malayalam contemporary, I must admit rather sheepishly, that the exercise of reading lacks the requisite stimulus! My guy has, however, promised to supply me a copy of a small scale publisher's vernacular from tomorrow till the ordeal is over! Damn sweet of him!!

3. The mosquito menace.

Kochi is home to a variety of mosquitoes thanks to the numerous dirty and stagnant water bodies that crisscross/dot the city. I'm not dwelling on the accompanying stench which an average Kochiite has learnt to live with! The mosquitoes are immune to repellents - and there's a host of them in the market - and are adaptable and very, very environment friendly. And they seem to be aware as to when they should strike - about ten to fifteen minutes after the lights are switched off when the inmates are already floating into the realm of slumber and are reluctant to get up yet again - mosquitoes be damned!!

It needs to be seen as to how the civil administration tackles this issue as something needs to be done on a war footing!!! Till then, the repellents need to be rotated frequently for some effect, at least.

4. Frequent power interruptions!

With the mercury soaring, the power interruptions have become more frequent. It's a yearly phenomenon and the agony that it causes need not be described all over again. Good governance coupled with strict measures against power thefts and the setting up of more power generating units are the only way out of this vexed issue. I only wish that I was in Modi's Gujarat where he's ensured uninterrupted power supply, always and every time.

Oops, have I made an incorrect political statement?

Monday, March 26, 2012

What's happening?

1. The General's disclosures.

General VK Singh's disclosure that people before him have been corrupt and those after him will continue to indulge in corrupt practices gives a dismal picture about the armed forces. It would pain anyone who has a larger-than-life view of the armed forces which enjoyed the public faith ,that, as an institution it was free from all bad practices and the waywardness, very frequently, found in the civvy street.

But how long could the armed forces remain aloof from being part of the society - from which its members are drawn - where everything runs on a 'chalta hai' attitude and anything goes to achieve 'targets'?

Having said that, the General too doesn't come out of the episode without blemish. Why was he silent all this while? And I've this sneaky feeling that there's gonna be more startlers in the days to come - these days, the game is to level charges at somebody who'll then have the onus of clearing his/her name. It's my fervent hope that by these revelations, the system would get cleared of all the ills that've been perceived to exist thus far.

2. The green signal.

Finally, decks seem to have been cleared to commission the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in the not too distant future. I'm still at a loss to assimilate as to what was wrong in the first place! Let me try to list out the events, that we're privy to, over the past few months:-

         (a) Oct '11 The work on the nuclear power plant comes to a grinding halt thanks to a mass uprising
          against the project saying that it lacked the necessary safeguards.
         (b) The nuclear establishment of the country reiterates that the plant has factored in all aspects of
         (c) Former President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam visits the site, makes contact with the agitating crowd
          and underlines the fact that all safeguards have been contemplated upon by the project team and
         (d) The PM comes out with the startling disclosure that the agitation against the project was spearheaded
          by the NGOs funded by the United States.
         (e) Mar '12 The Jayalalitha government of Tamilnadu clears the project.

What has changed from Oct '11 and now is what I've not been able to comprehend. Anyways, the project should be able to contribute towards increased power generation for the nation's needs. And if it has a foolproof safety mechanism then the overall aim would have been achieved. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

China's double standards, yet again.

China is again upto tricks with its belligerence. It has asked India to refrain from oil exploration in the resource rich Vietnamese blocks of the South China sea as the islands are under dispute. Isn't that a ridiculous joke and an example of double standards?

Then, what the hell are they doing in Pakistan occupied Kashmir? Their companies are involved in carrying out huge infrastructural projects out there and they seem to be at it, for the last few years, giving the Indian misgivings the go by.

When asked about the mismatch, the spokesperson of the Chinese government seems to have quipped that both are totally different issues because, insofar as Kashmir was concerned, it was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan which has to be resolved between the two. In the same breath, he added that the sovereignty of the islands of the South China was a 'major' issue implying that it cannot be 'trivialised' as a dispute between China and Vietnam. Moreover, the underlying warning that the Chinese seem to be passing  on is that it doesn't want anyone to bat for Vietnam.

To my mind, it's also economics that seems to be the primary concern in their double speak. They do not want India to become strong and self reliant!

It's hightime that the Chinese bluff is called and for us to take a tough stand and proceed with the oil exploration with the Vietnamese.     

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Finally, Kochunni comes calling.

My cousin, Kochunni, has come calling at long last. He's the eldest son of the late Appukuttan kochachan, my dad's immediate younger brother, who'd passed away in 1985 thanks to a massive heart attack. Being the eldest of six siblings, much of the family's financial burden and the struggle for their well being came to rest on his fragile shoulders, then.

He did a myriad of jobs to tide over the difficult situation like being a newspaperboy, a salesman in a stationery shop and even carrying outmasonry work on contract. His mother, my aunt - Saudamini chittamma - died a year later after her husband, due to the dreaded cancer.

Kochunni and I'd lost contact immediately after and I must shamelessly admit that I'd not made a determined effort to get in touch with him then. And I'm not justifying my lapse, but Kochunni's reluctance to come into the limelight also did not help in the matter. And it was years later, at my dad's funeral, that Kochunni had finally surfaced! His story about his family and himself was a pathetic one leaving me to wonder as to why life is cruel to some on a continuing spree. I'd helped him financially, then, to get him past a very difficult situation.

Kochunni, his wife and son have come calling and somewhere during the conversation, the young lady said that I'm a messiah for them. I was reminded of a piece of dialogue from an old Hindi movie as a retort to similar sentiments and I quote,"kabhi, kabhi kuch logon ko devata banna padtha hai". Did I utter that? I think I did! 

Kya dialogue maara, eh?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Vodka therapy and traversing distances.

I just wanted to share a couple of behavioural traits of two gentlemen that I'd interacted with on my recent sojourn. I suppose, it's these qualities that keep both of them ticking and endearing to me. It confirms the fact that if one's a steely determination nothing can prevent one from achieving one's objective.

(a) The vodka therapy.

The first gentleman has a strange skin condition and the poor guy is constantly at pains to put away the urge of itching while on business, in public. Over a period of time, through a process of elimination, he's found to his absolute relief that by applying vodka on his body, he's able to keep the discomfort away, albeit for a short while. He'd realised this when he'd accidentally spilled vodka onto his body during a crazy afternoon at a club. And mind you, despite his discomfort, he has a great way of interacting with the others with positive vibes emanating from him always and the wonderful ability to laugh at himself.

(b) Traversing distances.

The second gentleman didn't think twice to come over and spend time with me despite the fact that he was quite far away. While apologising for causing him the agony of traversing great distances, his justification - of looking forward to an interaction with me and consequently, time well spent - brought a lump in my throat.

It was with these fine guys, that I'd the privilege of interaction over breakfast, before pushing off to the airport for my return to Kochi. Tough guys, disarmingly simple in outlook but possessing steely determination in whatever they do are their hallmark and I'm glad that I've them as my friends. May god be with you in your endeavours! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

At Madras!

My official work went off like a song! Soon after he'd seen me and shaken hands, the senior told me and I quote, 'I've heard a lot about you and don't you worry, they've all been good!'

The initial sparring had gone off well, that means!

But what I enjoy most, whenever I come to Madras, is to spend time with an old lady who's looked after me years back whether it was at Coimbatore, Coonoor, Bombay or Delhi. I remember those lovely times of gaiety and learning, full of fun, laughter and care. She'd presented me with an RK Laxman's book of cartoons on a very special evening with some nice words inscribed on the first page which I treasure. How can I ever forget her when she's given me so much to remember?

This time too I'd the privilege of spending time with her. The greatest pleasure that I get is when I get to hear her peels of laughter on my PJs! At 86, she's frail and sadly, has become wheelchair bound - since I'd met her last - as her right leg has become weak thanks to diabetes. And she says that she bucks the diet regimen imposed by her doctor and strictly enforced by her daughter - quite often - with that naughty twinkle in her eyes. Her verve and zest for life are intact and I'm so glad for that! O God, pse do take care of her!!

As I was taking leave of her, this time she made a strange request and I quote, "Rajeev, can you write me letters? When will you come next?" In today's age of tweets(no, I'm still not into it), e-mail, blogs and cellphones, my habit of letter writing has taken a severe beating.

But for her sake, I shall rekindle an old passion!  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Off to the Coromandel coast.

I've touched down at Madras and will be out here for the next couple of days, on work. The journey was fine when I'd the added responsibility of sitting next to one of the emergency exits - thanks to the young gentleman at the airport's counter who found me fit(?) to handle an emergency and enquired as to whether he could allot it since I'd asked for a window side seat!

A young German couple, on a honeymoon trip to this country, were my immediate co-passengers. They'd a whole lot of queries about the places to visit in and around Madras and I've given them a list of 'must visits' from what little I know of the metropolis! Saravanan, a young simpleton and who drove really well, was my 'saarthi' on touchdown. After the initial sequence of official work and setting up activities for tomorrow, it's time to meet friends and well wishers...... 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Another farewell.

An old lady, about 76 years old, and the mother of a colleague passed away in the wee hours of the morning. The poor lady has been suffering for long and was totally bed ridden over the last month.

The residential welfare association has been with the family during their trying times.

I've insisted on this practice to be introduced to bring about more cohesion amongst the families and this was the first episode. I'm glad that people have been coming forth to help the bereaved family. A tradition that needs to acquire roots and become a normal course of happening.


Having said that, I'm a bit exercised by the fact that an expensive garden light has been broken by children, playing football, on the expansive lawn. Children will play and damages are bound to take place. How do I get to a real, reasonable solution?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Technology has tamed me.

Taking a look at my priorities, especially with respect to my Cruze, I find that technology has, indeed, tamed me to a large extent!

Let me try to explain this phenomenon. My first car was the beautiful, sleek and romantic two door Standard Herald. The model was 'Cleopatra' and my friends were quick to name me Mark Antony. Every 200 kms, I used to go beneath the car and tighten the five screws of the coupling that held its floating axle in place. The maintenance carried out by yours truly was meticulous, so much so, that my mechanic, Raju, always used to say that my car was silent(usually, those cars rattled and made a huge racket if not maintained properly) compared to her vintage. And I knew my car backwards and so confident was I that once, I'd come down the 13 winding curves - from Ooty to Mettupalayam and onward to - without the brake, before getting it fixed  finally at Coimbatore. Of course, jump starting, when the battery misbehaved was a common affair, especially if the car had been lying idle for a while, which happened much too often thanks to my movements in connection with work.

Compared to it, today's cars - thanks to the advent in technology - have no such hang ups. The Cruze, for example, is raw power straining under the leash. Sleek, silent, powerful are a few of the adjectives that I'd love to attribute to this marvel on four wheels. I seem to be getting pampered by the car simply because driving has become a pleasure.

Have I been tamed by technology or have I become technology dependent? I wonder.   

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A thorough mismatch!

Our school has just celebrated a landmark of its existence. A host of activities were conducted to commemorate the great event and all of them were executed with an aplomb and great efficiency, true to the school's tradition.

Alas, one activity amongst it did not fall into place in the manner it was envisaged to be. It was the documentary that was to project the school, in all its grandeur, to attract more and more students in the years to come. The surprising part was that the making of the documentary was entrusted to a youngster, who's cut his teeth in the celluloid world and is also an alumnus, himself!

The end product has been generally pooh poohed as a distasteful effort that highlights on the negative aspects of a boarding school - like kids taking on bad habits like smoking and the effects of corporal punishment, to name just a couple! Rightfully, the school authorities and the old boys' association have taken umbrage to the unfair depiction and feel that the documentary would, at best, fetch negative publicity and keep prospective students away from joining.

I must admit that I didn't quite grasp the first few minutes of the footage thanks to a lack of clarity of the sound track probably, enhanced by the bad acoustics of the hall that we're in!

I happened to be at the meeting, held today, to find a way ahead. At a particular juncture, I was flabbergasted to hear the director say that he was quite satisfied with his efforts and any attempt at altering the movie would be tantamount to infringing upon his creative freedom. I would like to believe that it was a statement made by the youngster to save his skin to tide over the unpleasant situation because he wasn't able to justify as to how a negatively themed documentary could give a positive publicity to the school.

Anyways, steps have been chalked out to retrieve the situation at the earliest!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Hobson's choice!

I'm in a bit of a dilemma. Sachin Tendulkar has made his 100th international ton. And the same match in which he'd crossed his important milestone - and definitely difficult to emulate - was conceded to Bangladesh, the minnows in cricket, by his team in their ongoing quest for the Asia Cup.

The team's loss has taken the sheen off his achievement, which he'd got after years of dedication and focus on the game. Moreover, it has given the skeptics reasons to ask as to whether his team's loss was due to his cautiousness while concentrating on achieving his personal triumph, thereby sacrificing the badly needed high run rate and consequently, precious overs which could have notched up a huge, unattainable score by the opponents!

He has been felicitated at every stage, adored by all of us and has been paid handsomely - I suppose - by the cricket board and sponsors at every stage of his glorious career. And we shall continue to love him for what he is.

But being the devil's advocate that I'm, it's my opinion that personal achievements mean nothing if it has no bearing on the team's performance and thereby, the country's standing! No one is greater than the game. And more than that, no one is greater than the country!!


And Sachin, on a personal note, I ask this of you. I've not been able to understand your statement that you'd love to play for the country as long as you enjoy playing the game. Well said and brave words, these! But ask of yourself this question, 'Are your agility and reflexes adequate to sustain pressures of international cricket as of date? Don't you think that there are very many deserving youngsters with raw talent, waiting out there, to take your place? You can't keep them waiting till eternity so that they lose out on their chance!

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's been tough!

It has been a tough, nine long years of life without Bruno - our adorable Doberman. He'd left us in the early morning hours of this day in 2003, while we're at Delhi.

His delightful capers and the host of memories that he's left behind continue to remind us about the scar and the pain that have been inflicted deep within by his passing into the mist of time.

We see him everyday through a 'blow up' of his that adorns one of the walls of our bedroom and on its nail, hangs the leash used on him towards his end.

Booney, we shall miss you always. Hope you're happy wherever you are!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A collage of thoughts!

1. An interesting survey about the Mallus - what actually actuates and what ails them?

 A recent survey carried out on the malayalee's style of living and related parameters has thrown up quite a few interesting aspects and it's there for all to see, thanks to the media. I shan't be going into the details of the findings but intend touching upon a few to highlight my worry about the skewed manner in which we seem to be progressing. And here I go:-

       (a) 87% of the population own a cellphone.
            Inferences -   (i) My poor mom belongs to the balance 13% who fiercely believe that the
                                  contraption is totally unnecessary when one has a land line!
                                 (ii) The seconds, minutes and hours spent on the instrument on aimless chatter.
                                 (iii) The parents of teenage children are a worried lot in a sustained manner!
                                 (iv) Cupid is working overtime!!

       (b) 47% of the population have toilets in their homes.
             Inferences -   (i) Why've toilets when the land around you is freely available to ease yourself?
                                  (ii) We've no more right to blame others for living filthily.
                                  (iii) We seem to be living on external appearances and personal hygiene be damned.

       (c) 57% of the womenfolk feel that their husbands have the right to beat them when wrong!
             Inferences -   (i) I must confess that this came as a jolt to me, what's happened to women's  
                                  (ii) Compared to this, 54% of the males surveyed feel that they've no right to resort
                                   to wife battering, even if she're in the wrong!

I'm of the opinion that this shows a trend of changing values, social mores and the idiotic aspiration of wanting to catch up with the prevalent trends elsewhere, without sensible thinking or hard nosed reasoning!

2. Into the mist of time.

After about 50 days of trauma, the li'l girl, Falak, has passed into the mist of time. Her end had come about thanks to a cardiac arrest, earlier in the day. As I'd said earlier, it's better that the poor girl didn't live to a continuous life of agony and despair replete with psychological scars. The sad fact is that the perpetrators of the dastardly crime committed on her are still at large.

I'd mentioned about her travails in my jottings of 29 Jan.

I bow to the memory of the li'l one.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

After a long time!

 Mr. Dinesh Trivedi's budget was a reasonable one coming after a long time from the Railway Minister's table. I do not want to go into as to what the political compulsions were, to avoid a populist budget - as has been the case all the while with goodies, specifically lined up for the minister's constituency. We've been lulled, till now, that the Indian Railways was running fine and therefore, excused a hike in fares for the last nine years or so which doesn't stand scrutiny when prices of all commodities have been going up! And naturally must have resulted in a financially unviable situation!

Let me be more specific. Much as it hurts you and me for having to shell out more money from our pockets while buying the tickets, one has to understand that enhanced prices are always justified for good services. And the outfit badly needs modernisation with emphasis on safety - both of which have been given priority as a large outlay of money has been set aside for them, this time.

It's time that people stopped playing politics over the Indian Railways. We need to have a vibrant, efficient, state-of-the-art railways that follow correct practices and provide us with quality service so that train journeys become enjoyable, safe and something that's preferred by every section of the society!

But I shall keep my fingers crossed till the budget takes its final form.

Having said that, being a 'mallu', I feel peeved that Kerala has been given a step motherly treatment insofar as new services/infrastructural improvements are concerned! Incidentally, much of the promises of the last year's budget is yet to find fruition!!


From a journalist friend of mine, there's a technical error when one says that a fare hike on railway tickets has not taken place for the last nine years. He's pretty clear that hikes had occurred when certain trains were upgraded as 'superfast' and a few others were added on to/deleted from the 'tatkal' scheme, a few years back when Ms. Mamta Banerjee was the minister for railways!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Who's given them this right?

Our politicians are a very, very funny lot. They - without exception, which means that it encompasses the entire spectrum of political parties - have presumed that they've been granted rights to lord over us forever. Some of them are known thugs, some others have numerous cases slapped on them and there are many more, known to be corrupt and who've indulged in corrupt practices but are awaiting the justice system to catch up with them, which unfortunately, is taking its time thanks to less number of judges; meanwhile, they continue to make hay while the sun shines without any let up!

Now, take a look at this piece of irony. Ms. Mayawati and her party have been trounced at the recent hustings.  But, even before the dust has settled, she's gearing up to get into the Rajya Sabha so that she enjoys the following:-
       (a) Immunity from legal proceedings against her in cases she's found guilty of wrongdoing during her rule
            of UP over the last five years.
       (b) She waits out her time in the opposition, away from the state, only to return in time for the next
             round of polls.
       (c) She cobbles up a working arrangement with the dispensation in power at the center.

And, if she were to be questioned about her actions she'd cry out that only she's being mercilessly targeted by one and all because she happens to be a 'dalit ki beti'!

And I must hasten to add that it's not just Mayawati but everyone who's tasted power, who've resorted to such gimmicks in the past and will continue to do so in the years to come!! Nothing can change unless, the general population ensures that only the right people are elected who'll deliver and provide them good, clean governance!!!

An after thought. Why not introduce a 10 year moratorium on standing for any election to all those who've lost once?

Mind your language!

Dateline 12 Mar.

Mr. VS Achuthanandan, the leader of the opposition, is mired in a controversy over his likening the Congress' woman leader, Ms. Sindhu Joy to a 'discarded harlot'. The CPM's continuing hatred towards the young lady is understandable because she'd left their political dispensation and had the 'audacity' to join the Congress, not very long ago. The veteran Marxist was just referring to her present status in the Congress as an ordinary party worker!

Firstly, it's totally in bad taste and especially when such unparliamentary and uncouth language comes from a senior leader - whatever be the provocation and in this case, seemingly none, except for gaining verbal one upmanship over the opposition in the light of the forthcoming Piravom bypoll - is unpardonable. Secondly, people well known in the public domain, need to carefully pick and choose their words while airing them aloud as they've the responsibility of respecting the position given to them by the general public!! By their irresponsible behaviour, what example are they setting to the public, at large and to the youth, in particular?

Has comrade VS unwittingly handed over victory to the UDF in the Piravom bypoll by his thoughtless and insensitive remark? It's my belief that the womenfolk of the constituency will not accept anything short of an unconditional apology from him and he'd better do that without much ado!

Because, a gentleman never denigrates a woman, ever. And that's that!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Found him at last!

This is in reference to my jottings of 24 Feb. This evening, on my return walk, I came across him after what seemed to be a long hiatus and true to my earlier promise that I'd made to myself, gleaned all about him within the short span of time that was available.

I must admit that I was apprehensive as to whether he'd part with his personal particulars as it could have been a natural thought in his mind as to why I was prying on him! I mean, did it smack of any sinister design, like hounding him for wrongdoing or even, handing him over to the police etc, etc? But I suppose the comfort level that he's acquired with me over the past so many days and months had him relaxed!!

He's Subba Rao from the temple town of Pazhani where his wife, Angamma lives alongwith their son, daughter-in-law and their li'l grand daughter. The son works as a casual labourer and looks after the family. He's all of 77 years and has been following this routine for the past six years. His recent absence was owing to the fact that that he'd gone visiting his family. He continues - speaks chaste Malayalam - that he's infirm and cannot do any work and hence has resorted to seeking alms!

I intend putting him in an old age shelter nearby.  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Morality - a new low!

Morality, in Kerala, has plumbed to an abysmal low as can be surmised, after I finish my narration of an unimaginable event that has hit the headlines.

In the sleepy hamlet of Kadakkal, in southern Kerala, where the population mainly subsists on gulf remittances, a mother and her mentally challenged son were forced to indulge in sexual acts by the brother-in-law of the lady and his friend and the scenes were caught on their mobile phone cameras. It was then that  a continuous mental torture of exploitation and extortion was brought to bear upon the lady. What has made the lady to spill the beans today, was when the nasty duo threatened to say it all to her husband who's slated to return from west Asia sometime next month. 

Degeneration going to such absurd lengths is unimaginable. But I'm reminded of my grandmother's saying and I quote, "This is kalyug. And in kalyug, anything and everything can happen showing as to how corrupt a human being can get, losing the very fundamental tenets of honesty, decency and the love of fellow beings. God, will then descend upon this earth for the cleansing in yet another avatar".

To the hapless mother and her son, I only wish to say that I grieve with you and hope that the perpetrators of the crime are brought to book forthwith!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring cleaning!

It was a day of cleaning of our house that has been under lock and key, all these days. With adequate help from hired labour, we could acieve a semblance of order and neatness by the end of the day. The migrant labour, that was employed, were drawn from Tamilnadu and I dunno whether my observation is correct when I say that they've acquired a tendency to take short cut in their work, if not supervised adequately - a legacy that might have been passed on to them by their malayalee counterparts!

Where have all the mallus gone? Unemployment is fairly high, not very many opportunities are comimg from the gulf region, so where's the youth of Kerala looking for jobs? And mind you, jobs are a plenty that are quite handsomely paid as per the existing rates backed by labour laws!

Which brings me to my conclusion - in Kerala, there's no dearth of jobs but what's sadly astonishing is the malayalee's preference to hanker for white collar jobs and he detests anything that requires him to do hard labour! Hence, the heavy dependence on migrant labour!!

But coming back to the immediate, Lekha and me, now, have a new address at Guruvayoor!!!

At Guruvayoor.

Dateline 08 Mar.

It's time to get our new house at Guruvayoor in order. To commence the spring cleaning, we'd set off to the temple town soon after breakfast. The weather was nice and the traffic comfortable that made the drive quite enjoyable. We reached our destination by lunchtime.

After lunch and siesta, we made our first reconnaissance of the house which was in a real shabby state, indeed. Crisp orders were passed to the people - thankfully got together by our neighbours who're thrilled to know that we're joining the neighbourhood pretty soon.

And after freshening up, we made a beeline to the Guruvayoor temple hoping that the crowds would have thinned down by then - the annual festival has seen unprecedented crowds, as is the custom year after year! But in this evening's case the deity - Guruvayoorappan - had come out of his sanctum sanctorum to give 'darshan' to his devotees!

And, our day was made! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The crumbs of office!

As I'd mentioned earlier, ever since I've become the president of the residential association that we're part of, there has been a sea change in the attitude of the others. More people have come and made friends with me and the recognition has been widespread!

The grocer is willing to get the stuff, that I've bought, home despite the fact that he doesn't have a helper. And mind you, till a week back he had never offered similar services. The lad that cleans and washes my car has not bothered to collect his remuneration of the previous month despite my telling him to do so through numerous messengers. The lift that I usually use, due to its proximity to my flat, is spick and span and the common space in between the flats of my floor is sparkling and the differences are discernible as I've been observing them for the past few months. The guys on security duties at the gate smile, without fail, while bracing up for a smart salute.

I would like to believe that most of the things noted above used to happen, even before, when I was a 'commoner' resident! But my inner self stoutly denies it and is perplexed, ready to revolt against this special treatment yet unsure as to how to go about it!!

Crumbs! Little do they understand that the so called crumbs of office do not excite me even a wee bit!!   

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The mini elections.

After weeks of electioneering followed by quite a number of phases of polls - in UP, especially - the results to the legislative assemblies of Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Utharakhand and Uttar Pradesh are interesting. Within the existing political system, I'm elated when the incumbent is given a drubbing to pave the way for a new dispensation to prove its worth - rightfully termed, by some quarters, as the 'revolving door' system. Though, Punjab has been an exception and after a long time at that - the last time such a thing had happened in the state was in 1972, it seems!

It actually keeps the guys in power on their toes with constant pressure upon them to deliver!

Another heartening aspect was that the polling percentage has been better than before but the scope for improvement definitely exists. For that to happen, people have to impose faith in our democracy. Hats off to the Election Commission for its sustained efforts at improving the electoral processes despite tremendous odds! From the ramshackle ballot papers to the electronic voting machines, they've come a long way. One only hopes that it's free of all glitches and is absolutely tamper proof!!

It's my fervent hope that caste - based politics and vote bank politics eventually become redundant, beckoning more and more honest people into the realm of politics whose mantra would be governance and nothing, but good governance.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why the reticence?

Are we, Indians, the only people in the world who can be unhelpful, boorish and insensitive to others? This 'unique selling proposition' is most visible in government offices and to a lesser extent, at the offices where services are provided.

I've always wondered as to why people doing such jobs cannot be nice to their fellow beings especially when their being in a similar situation is highly likely. In a recent incident, it was my sister who bore the brunt of the shenanigans of a young lady, working at one of the counters of a nationalised bank. Her mistake? Asking a couple of doubts regarding an entry that had not been reflected in her pass book! Of course, my sister had then proceeded into the manager's cubicle to complain about one of his colleague's high handedness and finally had her way, with the manager literally doing the job himself!

What amazes me is that many of these people are willing to go to any length to get their things done and expect the others to toe their line.

As my sister was making her way out of the bank, she overheard the 'smarting' young lady comment, "the manager is not going to be there all the time. Let me see as to how she's able to get her work done, then". What does one talk about her brazen attitude? Why can't her superiors rein her in?

My sister tells me that she just walked away without reacting as I was awaiting her at a difficult parking place! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

On being the president.

The mantle of the presidency of our 'residential welfare association' has come upon me. The outgoing committee has done a commendable job and they'd completed their full tenure! Hence, a new team has been put in place to replace the old in a smooth transition and there has been a wide acceptance of its composition as it has been brought about by an evolved survey of inputs from the inmates of the area.

It would be my team's endeavour to consolidate on the past achievements and make our residential colony the most sought after by people coming into the city. Towards this end, I'd insisted on the core committee being constituted of a judicious mix of ladies and gentlemen to have an all round view in tackling issues. The immediate steps that are being mooted are:-

     (a) The first official meet of the core committee has been scheduled two days from now to spell out the
           team's working code and the targets set to be achieved.
     (b) All payments to be made to the employees in the residential area by the last day of the month.
     (c) The president and the secretary, as a rule, will visit individual residences in case of an emergency, in
           the event of a happy occasion or otherwise or on invite to provide succour or assistance, as


People have been more forthcoming over the past couple of days. They make it a point to wish me, smile or smile and wave at me, with some others going a step further by trying to break into a conversation - and their numbers are on the rise! Is it the effect of my new found elevation? I'd like to believe that it's not!! Because, to the children, I'm still on top of their charts as their favourite uncle!!!

At Munnar.

Dateline 03 Mar.

It was a nice journey from Kochi to Munnar, especially for the change in temperatures experienced, albeit for a short while. Manoj, our saarthi, was an efficient and careful driver who double banked as our guide too as he took a keen interest to enlighten us about important landmarks enroute. For me and Lekha it was a tremendous experience as we're making it for the first time.

We'd kicked off around 0715 h and reached our destination by lunchtime. The tall Eucalyptus trees, the Jacarandas in full bloom, parks with a wide variety of flowers, the clipped tea plants of the estates and the aroma of the spices were heady and a splendid treat. The place where we're put up had a lovely view of the picturesque valley from its balcony as we watched the clouds approach and eventually, engulf us!

And much later in the evening, after a conducted tour of the place, it was a heavenly experience to sit at the glass fronted balcony - gently rocking on a comfortable rocking chair - listening to my favourite music, nursing a Baccardi and interacting with friends!

I couldn't have asked for anything better.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fracas on the road.

It was a busy evening, as usual, on the roads of Kochi. My saarthi, Tarakaraman, who's extremely good and patient behind the wheel was negotiating the traffic knot and trying to make a bit of sense out of the prevailing chaos.

We're approaching a junction and headed to negotiate the 'free left turn' that would take us to our destination when all hell broke loose. There was this uncouth guy (in his behaviour but snazzily dressed - obviously loaded with money and people like him usually think that they own the thoroughfare), who was actually headed straight but had egged his Honda City into our lane. My saarthi tried to squeeze his way through and in the process, grazed the other's rear view mirror with that of the Gypsy.

The guy, raising his voice, tried to intimidate my man and would have continued in that vein had I not intervened and acted a bit out of character while in uniform. Raising my voice, so that I could be heard above the din, I just queried as to what he was doing in our lane. It had an instant effect and the guy backed off, he even tried to sport a smile and negotiated his car so as to give us more room.

I do not know what would have happened had he not changed his tack on my intervention. It was an immature move on my part but my saarthi thinks me to be a hero!

I'm 'basking' in the glory but deep within me I know that it was an unsmart move!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

PN Panicker's 103rd birth anniversary.

Today's my grandfather's birth anniversary. The programme that was organised by the PN Panicker foundation at the Kalabhavan theatre, at Vazhuthacaud, in Thiruvananthapuram was notable for the following features:-

    (a) The programme had the active presence of the people, across the political spectrum as is the case of
          every event conducted in his memory, with the Chief Minister leading the pack.
    (b) The event had started dot on time at 8 AM.
    (c) The speeches paid glowing tributes to the man and many of them were peppered with anecdotes
          drawn from personal experiences.
    (d) The entire sequence of events associated with the programme was tautly conducted and stuck to the
    (e) The audience comprised a mixed and varying lot notable for their outstanding contributions to the
          society by the sheer quality of their work.
    (f) The jam packed movie hall consisted of people who believed that it was their duty to be part of an
         event concerning the social reformer!

What struck me most was that every speaker stressed upon the simplicity of PN Panicker and the steadfastness of his actions. His endeavour to bring about 100% literacy in the state coining the slogan, 'Vayichu Valaruka' (Read and grow) showed his belief in his deeds and as I understood from what speaker after speaker had to say, it was this quality of his that had endeared him to the people cutting across caste, creed or religion. And in his efforts, he never hankered for power or pelf, ever! (I've been told by quite a few of the old timers in politics that had my grandfather wanted, he could have easily become the second chief minister of the state!!)

Muthachan, here's my humble bow on the occasion. And am proud to be your grandson!


(a) After the speeches, the inaugural screening of a documentary on the life and times of PN Panicker - of 25 mts' duration and produced by the Government of Kerala - was carried out.
(b) My take.
     While the short movie has been able to capture the essence of the man, it somehow lacked the punch in  
      telling the viewers as to what made him great and what lessons the future generations could glean from
      the story of his life.