Sunday, September 30, 2012

What do we, Malayalees, have to hide?

Yes, this is my question that defies an answer. And that too while travelling in one's personal car.

Thanks to the court's directive and for tackling security hazards, the use of sun films on the windshield and the windows has been banned. Strict checking by the wayside, coupled with the slapping of fines seemed to have chastened the Malayalees! The use of sun films have, now, become a thing of the past. But the ingenuous and irrepressible 'mallu' could not be pinned down for long.

Because, these days, he's flirting with the use of curtains in lieu and that too, with a vengeance! Owners have been on a mad scramble to fix curtains in their vehicles. What's the need to cover the interiors? And that too, in the present day vehicles, where the use of tinted glasses by the manufacturers has become common practice?

So, what do we have to hide? Let me try and hazard a few guesses:-

      (a) We're up to tricks while travelling.
      (b) We're prone to doing unlawful things while we're on the move.
      (c)  We do not want to see the filth and squalor all around and by the roadside, in particular.
      (d) We do not want to see the wretched(?) people by the roadside who's not as lucky to own
            their own vehicles.

As I said, the answer eludes me. Could anyone help, please?


And there's a proliferation in the use of mini televisions to watch movies while travelling. While its okay in a bus or a maxicab/minivan, to my mind, it's definitely a no no in personal vehicles. Just imagine one's plight when one's behind the wheel and the rest of the family is enjoying a movie? It kills communication....... er, ruthlessly! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A mother's apprehensions....her son's defiance!

We're at my cousin's place for the evening. It was pleasant as usual and the discussions kept on and on, never seeming to end. The topic of course was current and generated a lot of heat.

My cousin had broached the topic of her son's love affair. A touchy issue, but then. Though she admits that the girl is good for her son, she insists that it's a non starter because:-
     (a) The girl is yet to tell her parents all about her love.
     (b) She's dead scared of her father and will give up if he were to take a stand against it.
     (c) Her son is soft and brittle. He won't be able to survive a break up.
     (d) She insists that love, these days, is flippant and lacks the depth of her days.

But her son stands by his convictions and according to him the following will take place:-

     (a) The girl is finishing her engineering and awaiting her placement.
     (b) The day she gets her placement, she's gonna tell her parents all about him and them.
     (c) If her dad rejects the relationship, she'll walk away from her home to be with him!
     (d) He's exasperated about his mom's harking back to her days and her 'outdated' theories.

The father has been a mute spectator. It's my feeling that he doesn't want to offend either of the parties by taking sides!

My take.

I only hope that the son is able to prove his mother wrong and live a life with his love.


Friday, September 28, 2012

So much of violence?

(a) Rs. 5.25 crore - money meant to be loaded into ATMs - was looted by armed men in broad daylight in the Defence Colony area of Delhi. The security guard, who was fired at, is languishing in a hospital with serious injuries.

(b) Goons thrash and fire at the officials of the toll plaza in Gurgaon, seriously injuring one.

(c) Elsewhere in the country, in Bihar, an MLA's husband brandishes his gun at protesting teachers.

And I'm sure that there are very many more similar cases that have, sadly, missed the media's eyes. Therefore, we're blissfully unaware. But the point is why are we, as a people, becoming increasingly violent and intolerant of divergent views? Do we consider lives to be cheap and therefore, disposable at will? And who's given us the power to take the law into our hands?

 What about the aftermath of the gory crime? A life wasted in the confines of a dinghy cell in jail?

Is it a trend of the times or is it just an aberration, that will pass? I sincerely hope that it's the latter! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Taking a long short cut!

I'm tempted to let you into this one incident from my Academy days, since I'm at it.

I don't recall the exact timeline but it was during one of my junior terms, perhaps in the second or the third term. Those days, the Academy's cadet appointments used to insist upon us to double, nay sprint, in small squads of 6 to 8 cadets towards the auditorium for watching the movies - English movies on Saturdays and Hindi movies on Sundays. I don't think that I ever missed out on the  evening movie bonanza during the weekends!

On this particular occasion, my course mate, squadron mate and friend, Chandu Sharma and I decided to avoid the 'mad charge' and opted for taking a short cut - a misnomer in the real sense, because it was circuitous and entailed passing through fairly thick foliage towards the end but deposited us smack at the left entrance of the auditorium.

Chandu and me had heard about 'timing' being an important aspect in life but didn't expect it to happen at such an inappropriate moment. N/Sub Bhoop Singh - yes, the same drill ustad of the Charlie Squadron -  happened to be at that vantage(?) point, on duty, to apprehend misguided youngsters like us who dared to  take that short cut! After giving away our names and numbers, we made a dash into the hall not wanting to miss any part of the movie, including the initial advertisements!

Retribution came in swiftly, a couple of days after. We're arraigned in front of our Squadron Commander, this time and he was eagerly awaiting our explanation to the charge endorsed against our names, 'Taking long short cut'. And when I was finished with mine, he let go off a loud guffaw and couldn't stop his laughter for quite a while!

 We're surprised to hear him say, "I'm leaving you this time as you guys have made my day". We could hear his laughter as we rushed to the mess to save whatever was left of the 'breakfast time'.


(a) What N/Sub Bhoop Singh had transcribed was a hard fact. It's a short cut that was long and he'd recorded it in his inimitable way!

(b) The drill ustads' drafting of charges were used by the cadets to further their cause at humour. I'm quoting an oft repeated yarn about one such ustad who seems to have told the cadets, who're standing at the shade on the far side of the 'drill square' as they'd been excused drill on medical grounds and I quote, "Those cadets understanding the tree, making loose motions meet me after the Sudan Block behind the 7th period".

Legend. (i) Sudan Block - the main administrative block of the NDA.
             (ii) The end of the 7th period marked the beginning of the lunch hour.
             (iii) The jury is still out on establishing whether it's a yarn, courtesy the fertile minds of the cadets or  
                     an actual order passed by one among the famed dedicated ustads who gave the all important
                     'halo' to the immaculate Academy Drill Square! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lock unlocked!

After paying tributes to Dr RK Keshwani, my mind is aflutter and is still dwelling in those nostalgic days at the NDA. As a cadet, I'd this propensity to get into trouble with a consummate ease that bewildered and amused most of my coursemates and friends. I shall let you into an incident and leave it to your judgement to pronounce me guilty or not.

 Lock unlocked.

No, this isn't a riddle. It's a charge put on me by the redoubtable and smart N/Sub Bhoop Singh, the 'drill ustad' of Charlie Squadron.

As I'd said earlier, I'd this quality of losing my keys, quite often, especially during my first term at the Academy. Exasperated by the consequential loss of valuable time, I deviced my own method to tide over the discomfort. My bicycle(H 73) used to have the chain and lock like the others had, except for the fact that the lock remained permanently locked(its key having been lost quite a while before) and one of the links in the chain was purposely broken. Consequently, while the others took time to lock up their respective cycles I didn't and the arrangement worked wonderfully well. At least for a while.

But the idyllic situation had a surprisingly short life, when N/Sub Bhoop Singh stumbled upon it one day(to this day I'm baffled as to why the theory of probability did not work in my favour especially because there were 1499 - give or take a dozen due to medical categories or flats - other cycles in the reckoning!) and caught me at my game. I'd realised that something was amiss when I found the locking system missing - after the classes - but didn't give it much thought as precious lunch time could not be squandered away worrying about trivia.

Retribution was swift. Two days later came the day of the reckoning. As I was getting ready to charge off to the mess for wolfing down my breakfast came a message that I was to meet the Batallion Commander. And so, much to my anguish, I was marched into his 'haloed' office. On his table was a sheet of paper with the charge 'Lock locked, bike unlocked' written against my name and he was contemplating the punishment to be meted out to me but wanted to know what the charge was all about and was awaiting enlightenment from the protagonist himself!

As I explained the stuff, he burst out into laughter and awarded me two days' 'Restrictions'. The reasons:-
   (a) For getting caught after having committed a mistake.
   (b)And a silly mistake at that!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The fragility of human relationships.

There's turmoil in the Raheja household of Bombay.

The Rs. 11,000 crore worth GL Raheja group is the oldest construction company in the city. Popularly known as 'GL', Gopal had built his mighty real estate empire over a period of five decades. The conglomerate consists of 25 companies and is one among the biggest private owners of land in Bombay. The 78 year old patriarch still controls the running of the group and is being assisted by his son.

The father has now taken his son to court on charges that he, with the machinations of his daughter-in-law, recently did not provide him with adequate medical attention after an abdominal surgery and was left to die. He has further accused  his son of trying to usurp his position in the company!

There'd be much washing of dirty linen in public as the battle between the father and son rages in court, in the days to come. But, a question that lingers is 'are power and pelf the only important things in life?'

My take.

Once again shows the fickleness of human relationships. Aren't bonds in a family based on trust, love, affection and mutual respect? How can one, ever, forget the parents' contribution towards one's nurturing through infancy, childhood, adulthood and finally, manhood? This fundamental aspect is prevalent in every household - from the poorest to the richest. Relationships emerge from the deep understanding of individuals and their contributions towards one's evolution through life.

To my mind, anyone who disrespects one's parents, is on a sure path to destruction. And that individual can never sustain meaningful relationships, ever!   

Monday, September 24, 2012


When people who've enriched one's life take flight for their eternal life, a void is felt. The enormous sadness is brought about by the knowledge that they'd never be available in their physical forms that one was comfortable and familiar with, thus far. Two such personalities had moved into the mist of time in quick succession. I'd like to concentrate on the lovely memories provided by them.

1. Dr RK Keshwani.

He was our Chemistry instructor at the NDA. His classes were always interesting in that he'd a fund of anecdotes that were simply super. Known by the sobriquet, 'Adjutant of the Science Block' because of his insistence that we cadets maintained discipline at all times, parked our cycles properly at their earmarked racks while we're in the classrooms and were properly turned out! And he'd an elephantine memory.

When I'd returned a few years later as a DivO, while I'd called on him, with the excitement of a schoolkid he'd recalled, "The meticulous Cadet Rajeev of Hunter Squadron who'd the habit of losing his keys quite often". And I'd a lump in my throat. What a trivial thing to be remembered by a great person and a fantastic instructor like him!

An oft repeated crib of his was about the partiality shown by the cadets to him and his family regarding offering of marks of respect. And I quote, "When I'm alone nobody salutes me, when I'm with my wife 50% of the Academy salutes me but when I'm with my daughter(pronounced 'daaater') everybody salutes me, including the drill square failures"(For this unfortunate population salutes were taboo and they're only supposed to brace themselves to attention, in lieu, as per the Academy traditions and customs!), in his familiar and loud nasal twang.

He'd passed away, after a brief illness, on 21 Sep.

Dr Keshwani sir, you'll always live on in my heart till my very end and we shall ever remain indebted to you for the fine values that you'd taught us. RIP. My humble prayers and salute!

2. Malayalam cine actor Thilakan.

An actor who'd carved a powerful niche for himself in all the roles that he'd essayed during his lifetime. To me, his characters in the title role of 'Perunthachan' and as the constable father in 'Kireedom', are my all time  favourites.

And because of his acting prowess, was there a hint of the famous 'malayalee arrogance' in him? Well, he never hesitated to call a spade, a spade!

Mr Thilakan passed away in the wee hours of this morning at Thiruvananthapuram.

The void left by you in the Malayalam cinema will be difficult to fill. My humble prayers to a great actor. RIP.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Sunday mishap.

At an unmanned railway level crossing at Aroor - between Alappuzha and Ernakulam - at around 1430h, a superfast train rammed into a car carrying four adults and a 2 year old kid, killing all of them. The mangled remains of the car is a grim reminder that none of the deceased had a chance of saying their last prayers!

The resultant 'tamasha' was replete with the normal reactions one's so familiar with, in our country. The heavier vehicle is always the villain! The local population came in droves, put concrete boulders on the tracks to prevent any further rail movement. Some even chucked stones at another train that came in from the opposite direction and which had nothing to do with the accident. And their justification of their intemperate behaviour:-

        (a) The Indian Railways' total disregard to safety measures.
        (b) Their repeated requests for the railway level crossing to be manned had gone unactioned.
        (c) Thick growth of foliage obscures the view from the entry point of the level crossing of trains
              approaching from the north thanks to a curve about a 100 mts prior to it. Had the railways
              ensured its periodic trimming, the view would not have been interrupted and the accident
              may perhaps, have been avoided.

One could only feel bad at the pitiable state of the passengers travelling in the long distance train who're prevented from reaching their destinations for no fault of theirs. Lack of food and water must have been the consequential problems coupled with the state of uncertainty!


Why can't the railways have all its level crossings manned? It would generate job opportunities to many while ensuring safety! And I don't think that it would be too much of a burden on the exchequer, either!! Or are human lives so cheap that they need to perish, every now and then, on these high risk points?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The answer is blowing in the wind.......

In e-mail parlance, forwards come by a dime a dozen, everyday. Some are short quips, some are long winded and some others are catchy photographs or even video clips. Since it has been forwarded by a friend, who understands one's tastes and sensibilities, it's assumed that it should be perused at any cost. The flip side is that some are long winding and rambling that one presses the 'delete' button even before going through it completely. I wonder whether it's only your's truly who does such sort of things or does one have company?

Anyways, today there was this lovely Bob Dylan number that was sent to me. It's one of my favourites for the earnestness and the purity of its lyrics.

I'd like to share the beautiful words of 'The answer is blowing in the wind' with all of you and so here I go:-

   How many times must a man walk down
    Before they call him a man
   How many seas must a white dove sail
    Before she sleeps in the sand
   How many times must the cannon balls fly
    Before they're forever banned.

  The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind
  The answer is blowing in the wind.

   How many years must a mountain exist
    Before it is washed to the sea
   How many years can some people exist
    Before they're allowed to be free
   How many times can a man turn his head
    And pretend that he just doesn't see
  The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind
  The answer is blowing in the wind.

   How many times must a man look up
    Before he can see the sky
   How many ears must one man have
    Before he hears people cry
   How many deaths will it take till he knows
    That too many people have died

  The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind
  The answer is blowing in the wind
  ......The answer is blowing in the wind!


Truly mind blowing. It touches upon the fultility of wars and unwanted loss of lives!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Oh, how heartless can one be?

These thoughts would sound like juicy gossip. But my intention is not to take advantage of someone else's discomfiture. It flows from the agony of a lovely dog, who's in the house next to mine, that I've been relating to all these days.

I've this neighbour who'd bought a Dalmatian pup about a year back, with much fanfare. And now they want to part with the hapless animal! In the initial days I'd to dissuade them from using heavy chain on the pup as I saw the animal having a tough time bearing its weight. The problem with many of these wannabe dog owners is that they acquire the animals for projection as a status symbol and not out of any genuine love for them! And from the beginning I'd realised that my neighbours, sadly, belonged to this category.

The dog used to be left in the house, unattended for long periods, as they went about their outside errands and its barks and wails were frequent. Being a dog lover one could only lament silently along with the unlucky animal!

The reasons for their disenchantment are churlish and flimsy and I'd like to quote a few that are being bandied about, to highlight their gross ignorance:-

       (a) It has no manners as it snatches food meant for the people.
       (b) It has gnawed away the edges of expensive shoes and curtains, even certain pieces of furniture.
       (c) The whole house is smelly thanks to its excreta even after taking it out for doing the needful - once
             in the morning and once in the night!

I wish that they only knew that their dog was going through its teething phase and the poor animal doesn't have 'disciplined' bowel habits which has to be patiently taught over a period of time. A big piece of bone for the former problem and taking the dog out for more forays would have sorted out their anguish. And what do I tell about manners? It follows what it sees from its master and the other members of the family!


I've tried to tell them that they should not give away the animal but by spending a little more of their quality time with it, the dog would get to be a sweet heart of their dreams. Wonder whether they've accepted my reasoning that the dog, if given away, would fret and assume that there's something grievously wrong with it and ultimately lose the will to live?       

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yippeeee.......we're different!

We, Malayalees are different. We've shown it time and again. And today happens to be yet another occasion!

It's 'Bharath Bandh' today and we've mercifully(?) kept ourselves out of it. No, it's not that we've given the calls for 'hartals' and 'bandhs' the go by. We'd just 'celebrated' a 'hartal', protesting over the same issues, last Saturday. And thus we're the first to raise our voice against coalgate, FDI in retail and aviation etc, etc and of course, the Rs.5/- hike in the price of diesel.

The railway level crossings that remained open throughout the day were stark reminders of the untold suffering that the passengers, who're unfortunate to be on trains today, had experienced in various parts of our country. We'll never come to know of their sorry plight because the organisers have already proclaimed that their strike was a grand success! And they care a damn about the plight of their fellowmen!!

The huge loss in terms of productivity, the consequent idle man hours and destruction to public property have set the country back in terms of progress. By how many days, nay weeks or is it months? Forget it, one's gonna feel terribly sad at the grim statistics.

A recurring theme, a continuing story! We haven't learnt our lessons from the past and we don't seem to want to do so. Will we ever learn?

I weep for you, my country! I'm ashamed about my countrymen committing the same mistakes again and again and again.....   

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The awesome God!

"Ganapati boppa moriya"

It's the auspicious start of the 10 day Vinayaka Chathurthi celebrations. The colourful idols of Lord Ganesha - of varying sizes - had flooded the market towards the run up. But the scale at which the Maharashtrians celebrate the occasion is the grandest as per my estimate!

Among the pantheon of the Hindu gods, it's Lord Ganesha who invokes the maximum respect out of the fundamental human emotion of fear. It's a universal belief that new projects cannot take off without his endorsement because, among his many names, the one that aptly describes him is 'Vighneswara' - to use a current slang in use, it means 'the blocker'! And it's only at his doorstep that one sees devotees, holding their ears, sincerely requesting him to pardon them for their mistakes.

That sums up the thrall his followers have for the elephant headed son of Lord Siva and Parvathy.

Let me, too, join the chorus and bow my head in humble prayer,

              "Vakratunda maha kaya
               Suryakoti sama prabha
               Nir vighnam kuru mey deva
               Sarva kayeshu sarvada".

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Voyeurism needs to be discouraged!

The European press has gone to town with the photographs of a topless Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William. A fortnight back it was Prince harry's turn to be shot in the raw while binging with his friends! In our own country, the paparazzi is toiling hard to get the first mugshot of Aishwarya Rai's daughter!!

The celebrities, too, have their personal lives and they're bound to behave like normal human beings while enjoying the exclusivity of a private beach or a family resort. They cannot be grudged that freedom! Stories abound of adventurous lensmen who've stalked the objects of their coverage, at times going to ridiculous  lengths, to get their dream shots. But what they tend to forget in their enthusiasm is that the celebrities, too, are entitled to their privacy and that they're trespassing into forbidden area.

Having said the foregoing, it's universal knowledge that both the press and the celebrities need the other for their existence. But, somewhere, a line needs to be drawn where decency and decorum are not given the go by.

Voyeurism needs to be condemned roundly. To me, it's a clear example of warped minds and bad upbringing. Period!

And, er, is anyone really interested in seeing such exposures?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Is it worthwhile?

The one thing that has always puzzled me and repeatedly questioned my sensibilities is as to whether it's worthwhile to look at one's life in retrospect! I'm impressed by people who say that they'd like to do things in the same manner that they'd done in this life of their's if provided a new life by some cosmic intervention!!

Let me try to explain my predicament. Yes, if given a chance, I'd like to be born again in the same 'avatar' of mine as of now. And I do not want to repeat the errors that I've committed. And herein lies the dichotomy! The definition of one's life in this world is the sum total of the rights and the wrongs of the individual, as I understand. That, indeed, is the script of one's role on the life's stage and it has been scripted by the 'master scriptwriter', himself!

I'm reminded of the first few lines from my favourite Malayalam film song penned by the late 'Vayalar Rama Varma' and I would like to recall those mesmerising words:-

     "Chandra kalabham chaarthi vidarum theeram
       Indra dhanussin thooval kozhiyum theeram
       Ee manohara theerathu tharumo
       Iniyoru janmam koodi........
       Enikkini oru janmam koodi..."

In essence, the protagonist is asking for a repeat of his life or is it another life altogether? Yet another impasse, eh? This is the quintessential charm that life has!


I'd, in an earlier piece, said that I'd love to be born again in the same 'avatar' with all my existing relations intact and in place! That rider is enduring!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

At the wrong end of the law.

The Sunday'd begun with a couple of social calls. The first was a lady, in her late 50s, who was struck by a paralytic attack and has been bed ridden for the past few months. Wasn't she thrilled seeing us? I was all the while feeling guilty as I'd taken up so much time to call on her but any excuse I'd have tried to dole out would have sounded banal to my own ears and hence, desisted from doing so! After spending over an hour with her, we also had the pleasant occasion to attend a house warming ceremony of a close friend.

Consequent to the visits and after dropping maman at the railway station, we're on our return leg to Kochi. The drive was smooth again as the traffic was sparse and the roads comparatively smooth with an odd pothole here or an odd crater there.

As I entered the outer limits of the city, the 'usually-brimming-with traffic' flyovers were almost empty that enticed me to step on the gas and I succumbed to the temptation with a gay abandon. But the idyllic and ecstatic state didn't last long as my Chevy was flagged down by the highway patrolmen. As I revealed my identity, the policemen on duty, tried to feed answers into me to tide over the lapse, damn sweet of them. The inspector asked me as to whether I was going to meet someone in hospital or whether official directives required me to be at a particular place, pronto!

I just nodded my head in the negative sense, meaning that no such requirement had existed and reiterated the fact that I'd erred and was doing higher speeds, not permitted on that stretch of the highway, as per existing rules. As he wrote out the receipt for the amount collected from me, he gave me a hugely apologetic look and I'd to tell him that he was indeed doing his duty and a good one at that!


I recall an earlier incident, a couple of years back at Delhi, when I was caught for overspeeding - a recurring weakness on my part - the inspector, then, had asked and I quote, "Sir, if people like you do such things, what do we tell the other motorists?" I could only mumble my apologies after paying the fine and drive away sheepishly but chastised!  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

To Neelamperoor, my grandfather's birthplace.

It's another 'hartal' in the state, this time to protest on the Rs.5/- hike on diesel prices that has been announced by the government. Life'd come to a standstill but my office had followed its normal Saturday routine.

At 1700h, it was kick off time for Neelamperoor to be in time for the evening 'aarti' at the 'devi' temple there and to a pilgrimage to the 'Puthuvayil Veedu' - a stone's throwaway from the temple - where young PN Panicker was born on 01 Mar 1909. The journey was smooth as the usual flow of traffic had not gained its momentum after the 12 hour disruption, perhaps, because another weekend was already on.

We'd reached Neelamperoor by a half past eight and had a 'darshan' of the goddess, who's out of the sanctum sanctorum, surveying the entire scene and the sea of people, that was in a frenzy to get the 'padayani' going or the battle lines drawn, with the numerous figures of birds, elephants etc (termed 'annam') - made out of wood, the soft bark of the banana trees and hay - of varying sizes and hues. The air was rent with an electric and all pervasive excitement.

The 'Puthuvayil House' was lit up in all its glory. I'd a trip down memory lane as I went about pacing the courtyard and the entire surroundings.


I was told by our folks that my grandfather had always made it a point to be at Neelamperoor on the day of the 'pooram', year after year. And I'm sure that he was there, silently, this time too!

It was also great to meet my relations of that branch of the family tree. Silently, I told myself that I'd also keep my appointment with the Neelamperoor Devi every year on pooram, from now on!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Disturbing trends.....

1. Where has ethics gone?

We'd decided to go for a late night Malayalam movie as maman was with us. In fact, he'd insisted on taking us out for the evening. The movie, which was the common choice, happened to be running in a triple theatre complex. On reaching there, a trifle after 2100h, we found to our utter dismay to find a 'House Full' board hanging out at the main gate. Undeterred, maman and Lekha ventured into the premises to reaffirm whether the tickets for the movie in question had also been sold out. Their thinking was based on the knowledge that the movie had been running for almost a month and would have consequently, lost steam in terms of the number of viewers!

The guy at the counter congratulated(?) them on their luck because he claimed that he was left with a limited number of tickets for the balcony as the theatre was almost choc-a-bloc with the weekend viewers! Since I'd taken a longer time to park my Chevy, I'd sat away from them till interval. It was during the break that I came to know about the initial happenings and against that backdrop, we noticed that not even a single seat of the entire 'dress circle'(encompasses the front benches also) was occupied. In other words, only the tickets for the balcony were sold for the particular screening hours, falsely  showing an imaginary glut! The guy at the counter had deliberately fibbed!!

A case of real swindling of the public!!!

2. Without my patronage!

On return from the movie, I was in for a rude shock. We're aghast to find notices, in Malayalam, pasted on the lifts of our residential building saying that 'the domestic helps and their families must avoid using two of the three lifts available, failing which they'd be ejected out of the premises' - and that the order was from the president, himself, meaning your's truly!

As I'd said in my thoughts of the previous day, I'm totally against such discriminatory practices based on a misplaced, feudalistic mindset!

My maman and Lekha were quick to give me a rap on the knuckles for the barbaric notice. The only way that I could show them that it wasn't my directive was to tear off the notices from the buildings -which I went about doing at that unearthly hour itself - while making a mental note to tell the secretary of my action and to correct the misplaced perception, the first thing in the morning!


Bewilders me totally! Are these the trends of the times? I hope not and sincerely wish that I'm wrong on this one!!   

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The mental block that we suffer from...

This evening we'd the meeting of 'the core committee' of our residential association. Many new faces have been inducted and the team ,now, has a balanced mix of experience and freshness! The presence of women members has enhanced the quality of decisions so say some of the residents and I shan't contest that because valuable inputs from them have helped me to bring about sweeping changes in the way the organisation functions and delivers.

I guess that this will be the team that I'd handover to the next incumbent which is still a long way off and before that happens, the team needs to do much more.

In the course of this evening's proceedings, a point came in from some of the members about disallowing domestic helps from using the lifts. I've strongly opposed this ideology all the while because, to my mind, it persists in some of us thanks to the British scorn passed on to us from the days of their rule when 'dogs and Indians were disallowed' entry into many places. I'd my way when we arrived at the final decision that no such restrictions will be clamped in our colony. And no, I'm not looking for popularity as I've no intention of standing for elections! It's from a conviction, deep within, which endorses the sentiments that in an enlightened society no one should ever be crucified for the 'accident of their birth'.


The other bugbear that surfaces during such meetings is to hanker for disallowing pets - usually dogs - in the lifts. I remember Bruno, my pet Doberman - he's no more, died 9 yrs back - invariably lifted his leg to ease himself, immediately, on entering the lift.

How does one ensure that the dog owner follows the correct etiquette on such occasions - he's to ensure that the poop is cleared immediately after and cleanliness restored. He has the option to do it himself or to get it done through someone else - but mind you, a genuine animal lover shall never grudge doing that himself, ever!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Emerging Kerala....

A three day meet of prospective investors has begun in the city, this morning, after its formal inauguration by our Prime Minister. There has been a lot of hiccups in the run up to the event and I shall try to list them as per my comprehension of the various points and counterpoints that have been circulating courtesy a vigilant press:-

    (a) Projects have been added and then deleted, only to be added in another form later, in the agenda for
         discussions. The last minute inclusion of the master plan for the development of the Sabarimala area
         and the project for the new airport at Aranmula smacked of haphazardness and the detractors were
         quick to call for a 'hartal' in the would-be-affected district of Pathanamthitta.

    (b) The entire opposition viz. the left democratic front have refused to participate in the meet making one
          wonder as to whether the projects cleared at the meet can ever move forward without the consensus
          of all the parties across the political spectrum.

    (c) It cannot be easily forgotten that a similar jamboree, in the name of 'GIM'(an acronym for Global
         Investors' Meet) held in 2003, had cleared a number of projects that are yet to take off even to this

    (d) Ideally, such get togethers should have been followed up with immediate signing of 'MoUs' and
         necessary clearances given soon after - say, within a period of three months - so that the projects
         bear fruition within the stipulated time period. Sadly, this is not gonna be so as per the government's
         own admission!

    (c) Interest shown by China and Japan, along with the US and Britain, towards investing in massive
         infrastructure projects in the state, to me, sounds interesting. Of course, the security concerns rising
         out of Chinese investments will have to be addressed.

If projects were to gain a start, Kerala would benefit in the long run. If sustained development and inclusive growth form the basis of the investments, the people of Kerala need to give their blessings for a positive outcome to the meet with all the political parties converging on issues, without being a divided house.

And how about doing away with 'hartals' to show the prospective investors that we're serious this time in the partnerships that will be forged? I agree with Shashi Tharoor's call in this regard.


Thanks to the deployment of additional policemen on the roads, the traffic has been smooth thus far, even with the PM and his entourage staying in close vicinity! And the badly potholed roads have been spruced up overnight. Restrictions to the flow of traffic are imposed but it looks reasonable, for a change!!

Have been seeing freshly erected barricades on either side of the roads usually associated with crowds, jostling with one another, to have a glimpse of the PM and wave at him. This time around the barricades seemed to be conspicuously empty with the average 'mallu' going about his daily chores as usual!!!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Oh Rajan, what've you done?

As I began to punch in my thoughts for the day - on a topic that I'd already decided - my cellphone went hooting. Was there an urgency about its tone? And when I saw the number, it seemed to be a call from abroad. Probably, a friend who wanted to catch up or was asking for assistance.

But the caller was none other than Rajan - a lad in his mid 20s - hailing from a poor family of Tirunelveli in Tamilnadu. He was in Singapore - doing hard manual labour in one of its construction sites - thanks to a 'fly-by-night' job recruitment agency back home which had swindled a sum of Rs.2 lakhs, promising him a job that would be paying him Rs.25,000/- per month. On arrival, he was crestfallen when told that he'd be working as a labourer in a construction company for a measly pay packet of Rs.5,000/- per month! He'd got his first pay earlier in the day and was making a desperate call to me citing his predicament. I was helpless, sad and angry with the young man.

Why did he take such a decision, in the first place, without keeping me or the people that matter in his life in the loop?

I'd seen the lad about a couple of years back, in the company of Thangamani - a volunteer, from the area, in my grandfather's foundation. Thangamani, then, had apprised me of Rajan's background and sought my help to get him decently employed. I'd explained to him certain avenues - he'd not cleared his class X. He'd tried a few but must have got disillusioned as the results were not encouraging and about six months back, had stopped making his usual weekend calls to me. From Thangamani I'd come to understand that he was going about his daily chores, at his friend's grocery shop's counter and was waiting for his break. Rajan is a hard worker and a simpleton to the core.

He needs to be retrieved from his wretchedness. How it's gonna be accomplished..... I don't even have the foggiest idea!


For starters, I need to catch hold of that 'job recruitment agency' which has put Rajan in this predicament and get them to bring him back. As the first step, I've roped in the services of a local political leader of Tirunelveli for necessary action.


Rajan's story had to be the day's story too!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Trivia......more of trivia...

1. The battle of the bulge.

A fine example of a losing battle. I'm religious about my daily walk and exercises. But despite the strict regimen that I've kept for myself, the propensity to put on weight is very much there! And that baffles me because I've disciplined myself on my inputs - though I must hasten to add that I do not believe in dieting and keeping away from 'fat inducing' foods.

A friend offered me a sound(?) reason for my predicament and I'd like to believe that it's true. She says that it's because I remain happy most of the times. True to a great extent but I too have my ups and downs! Meanwhile and what worries me is that at present I'm on the losing end of the battle.

2. A bit of a breather...

After the hectic three weeks that have gone by, now's the time to pause and take a deep breath. And I'm enjoying every bit of it. I'd clocked a distance of about 2,500 kms over the month of August and my Chevy was due for the next service. This morning I'd driven her to the service station.

In the evening, soon after work, while going to pick her up, I was stranded in the worst possible traffic snarl and lost about an hour waiting for the knot to get untangled. Thankfully, the worse aspects of the motorists weren't visible!

3. Potholed roads.

Owning a car is to one's disadvantage these days. And the reasons are simple; I'm listing out a few of them:-

   (a) The roads have disappeared. Huge potholes, nay craters, dot the entire network of roads. And
        motorists, trying to avoid them, can come uncomfortably close to you for comfort.

   (b) The autoricks play havoc by their maneuverability and crazy driving along with the recklessness
         of the private buses and the net result makes one's life on the roads a bizarre experience.

   (c) And where's the parking area? I won't be exaggerating if I were to say that a situation will soon
        come around when you've to park at Aluva and walk it all the way to your destination at Ernakulam!

And didn't the government claim just a year back that they're going to make our roads, world class? Probably, the announcement was made on 01 April!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The budding artistes..

This afternoon we'd the privilege of being part of an onam celebration of a nearby residential area. Preceding the lunch was a variety entertainment programme that was simply awesome by the wide cultural spread of its contents, the colourful and bright costumes and the energy and the enthusiasm displayed by every participant - from the young to the old.

The outstanding three who really stood out during the spectacular show were:-

    (a) Fiona. Three year old kindergarten student came in the 'Mohiniyaattam' finery and she was angelic. It
                    was great to see her swaying to the tunes, while standing at the sidelines, waiting patiently for
                    her turn.

    (b) Rajashree. The 13 year old was simply great as she swayed to the famous 'Mera piya aaya...' from the
                           movie 'Hum Apke Hain Kaun'. She simply beat Madhuri Dixit in performance.

    (c) Daisy. The 15 year old's expressions were apt and mind blowing. She was performing on the 'Hawa

What a wonderful afternoon! May the budding artistes go on to prove their mettle in the years to come.

Take a bow, Li'l Fiona, Rajashree and Daisy! You've really stolen my heart!!


Adieu, Dr. Verghese Kurien!

He'd put the dusty, agricultural village of Anand on the world's map as India's milk capital. He and his team were pioneers in the art of processing milk powder and cheese from buffalo's milk - in India, buffalo's milk is the main raw material, unlike Europe and other parts, where cow's milk is abundant! Credit also goes to him for nurturing Amul as the country's biggest food brand.

Truly a man of vision. My humble prayers. RIP, Dr. Verghese Kurien!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My favourite programme is back.

Yes, television viewing has become interesting for me all over again as 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' is back. Amitabh bachchan, as the quizmaster, makes it watchable and it's a treat to see him interact with the contestants, the audience and the viewers with an aplomb that's his characteristic signature.

The Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings are gonna be 'action' packed!

Ammu, my niece, is working hard at getting on to the hot seat and she's decided to give the name of your's truly on her 'phone a friend' lifeline. I only hope that I'm able to live up to her expectations and don't turn out to be a dud!

Friday, September 7, 2012

My friend's angst...

I was through a discussion when my friend had called me up on my cellphone asking as to whether we could meet at the earliest. His voice did not reveal much but I could sense the urgency, feel an anxiety.....or was it my imagination? We, then, decided to meet up in the evening an hour before calling it a day.

No sooner were we closeted within the confines of the room, that my friend broke down and narrated the event that has shaken the peace of the entire family. His elder son who'd expressed finer feelings for a malayalee christian girl about four years back(it was laughed away then, saying that the youngster wasn't ready to start a family by virtue of his age and maturity) - working in an office which is a stone's throw away from the boy's, in Hyderabad - had taken an irrevocable decision, concerning the two of them. They were staying together as man and wife without letting their immediate families know. They'd taken the plunge because of anticipated resistance from their parents and my friend had come to know of it from somebody he knew, living in that city.

The dad's worry was that the boy was under duress to accept the present arrangement and might even go through a conversion of his religion, which is being insisted upon by the girl's folks! I'm also aware that the dad is heart broken on yet another score, perhaps, the more serious cause.

He and his wife had brought up their sons - they've two - in typical defence services' style and were more like friends communicating with each other freely and frankly, anything and everything that they'd come across. It was this sacred covenant that was broken by the youngster when he did not keep his parents in the loop! And consequently, the father's in tatters!!

It was decided that there was no point in wishing away the new relationship and its early formalisation was the need of the hour. A reception has to be organised and the young lady's parents had to be taken into confidence without much ado. An action plan has been drawn up and a time frame of thirty days have been fixed for its execution.


I could only pacify my friend and his wife by highlighting the following:-

      (a) They'd done their duty as parents in giving their son a fine education and by putting him in a position
            where he's capable of shaping his own future.

      (b) He's going through the tortuous path that he's chosen because that, in essence, is his life's script.

      (c) They must never wish him anything bad because, after all, he's a part of them and anything untoward
            that befalls him would take its toll on them too.  


Having said all that, I must concede that the couple is going through extreme agony. It's easy for an outsider like me to clinically diagnose the situation and offer solutions but life and its complications are a different ballgame altogether. What worries me is my friend's health as he's had certain cardiac complications in the recent past and is in the process of recuperation. And the wounds inflicted by the son are lethal!  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Setting an example.......

I'd a call from a classmate of mine today and he seemed to be exercised by a colourful anecdote that I'd forwarded to my classmates' group. His retort was cryptic, "you shouldn't have sent it". And it got me thinking.........because, over the years I've been subjected to the same refrain!

My maternal grandparents were the first to tell me that I, being the first from the family's second generation, had the onerous responsibility to lead the way and set an example for all the siblings to follow. I never contested it and took on my job seriously.

My parents insisted upon the fact that I play the roles of friend, philosopher and guide to both my sisters, younger to me. Again, I never contested it and took on my responsibility seriously.

When I joined the Holy Angels' Convent, I was made the leader of the boys and was ever under pressure to behave and conduct ourselves well and set an example to the girls of our class. I was constantly under the watchful eyes of Sister Anne and the teachers for my impeccable(?) behaviour. I didn't have a doubt and took on the role in my stride.

When I joined Sainik School, from the initial years to the final years, when I was made a Prefect first and then the House Captain - in charge of 50 students drawn from the junior classes - the refrain from my House Master and the teachers was that I must not let down my family's reputation and I accepted the covenant without a murmur of protest.

In the Academy too, the credo was to 'never let yourself down' in front of your superiors, colleagues or subordinates through unacceptable behaviour!

And it has been thus ever since. My overall performance in this regard is for the others to judge and comment and I'd like to leave it at that!


To continuously set an example throughout one's existence is one tall order. Why can't I rebel once in a way?  Why do you grudge me that freedom?   

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Today is teacher's day.

1. Today is teacher's day.

On the occasion of teacher's day, I would like to offer my prayers and gratitude to all my teachers who've played a significant role in making me what I am. Nothing in this world can be given in return for their selfless and genuine interest in making me their blessed one. My humble bows to each one of them!

2. A blast from the past!

It was a pleasant surprise this morning when I saw a friend of mine, in a programme, on television. Actually, I usually have the set switched on at a low volume, during working hours, to catch up with the news that keep happening.

Badsha and me were together quite a while back, keeping track of each other, but had not been in regular touch over the past year and a half. We're close buddies and what I must admit is that there never is a dull moment when he's around. His daughter had wanted an introduction to a Bollywood regular as she was interested in taking up work on the costume designing aspect. The needful was done but sadly, their association didn't take off in the real sense for reasons unknown. Perhaps, it's a case of professional competition or even sheer laziness! I've seen people in the profession working against 'pressure schedules' and 'irregular timings' to meet deadlines!! And they've no stamina left after going through the gruelling schedules. After all, creativity cannot happen within a 9 to 5 routine!!!

Well, the young lady seems to have cut her teeth in the world of glamour and it was great to watch the programme that panned her engagement, the run up and the preparations to the wedding and the finale. The whole event was covered in the channel, NDTV Good Times and the programme was titled 'Band Baaja Bride'. Through the course of the show, Badsha opened up to explain as to why he'd insisted on a tomboyish look for his daughter during her student days. What really came out of the entire episode was the strong bonds that existed within the family and the transformation of young Benazir from a shy, unsure young girl to a confident young lady!

Benazir, here's wishing you and Asif - yes, the couple share the same name as that of the Bhuttos of Pakistan. A coincidence, eh? - a long and blissful life together filled with all that you wish for!


After having said my piece, I'm amazed at the hard work and the resources that go into trivial - at least, I thought them to be - aspects like haircut, skin treatment and the works, the brocades on dress material that contribute to personal grooming! No wonder then that the Indian weddings are getting to be more and more ostentatious!!

I suppose beauty doesn't come without the frills!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


 A bill that's not good.

A government that's being continuously buffeted by scam after scam, the opposition trying to fish in troubled waters and the continuing logjam, thanks to the pandemonium in Parliament has brought about a hastily conceived bill on 'Reservation for promotion' that's almost sure to sail through as it's yet another example of vote bank politics. And who'd be the beneficiaries? Paswan's dependents and the likes, who've the best of both worlds! When will we ever learn? Or do we never want to learn?

Reservation for the downtrodden - the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes - was instituted at the time of independence with the noble thought of their welfare and to provide equal opportunities to them along with their counterparts from the forward castes. It was supposed to last for 10 years to allow them to attain parity with the others but has been maintained ever since to serve a selfish political system! Unfortunately, 66 years have passed and the divide is perpetrated in the form of 'reservation for promotion'. In between, there was an unsuccessful attempt at issuing them with identity cards too - thankfully, the hare brained scheme got the contempt that it deserved and was dropped quietly.

And through the tabling of this bill, isn't the government tacitly admitting that the existing promotion system in its departments is faulty?


Years back, I and a few of my course mates were out together at a picnic. During the course of the fun and frolic, one of them had come up with a joke to regale all of us and I quote, 'An announcement heard from an athletic meet - last and final call for 400 mts' run. And here's a special announcement to make, athletes under the reservation quota need run only 200 mts'.

I still remember the Herculean efforts required on my part to mollify two of our mates, subsequent to that. And I can never forget one of them asking me in the quiet confines of our staying area later, 'Rajeev, do you really like me for what I am or is it the sympathy factor thanks to my wretched background?' I remember having mumbled that no such devious thought ever came into my mind and assured him that I liked him for what he was and would always like to have him as my buddy, whenever I was in harm's way, because I knew that my life was safe in his hands!

I think my answer was convincing enough for him for I heard his snore soon after as I lay with a lump in my throat with sleep hard to come by!


Have we ever allowed the SC/STs to attain parity with us?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Boorish behaviour.

Another venue....another wedding....

The venue was a very spacious auditorium, situated smack on the main thoroughfare of the town. There was no parking space within its premises and the vehicles, which brought in people for the function,  had to be parked on either side of the main thoroughfare. Now that seemed to be a tricky and harrowing affair as was my experience.

Identifying a suitable spot on the roadside, I drove my chevy in but no sooner had I switched off the ignition did a worker from the wayside shop come up to say that they're expecting the arrival of their consignments and therefore, I couldn't park there. I was incensed, but controlling my irritation I told him that he should have told me the same before I'd shut off the engine and therefore, I considered it to be unacceptable behaviour. Having said that, I was trying to shut my door to start up when the guy held on to it refusing to let me do so.

It was then that I got furious and told him in no uncertain terms that I meant business. He was not going to browbeat me when I'd pointed out that what he did wasn't acceptable. I got out of the vehicle to face him, if required. Probably, seeing me in that 'avatar' he was quick to back off. And acceding to his suggestion, I parked my vehicle elsewhere.


It, indeed, was boorish on my part to have lost my shirt on trivia! Or was it, really?



Dateline 02 Sep.

It was another trip home and my maman was with us. He'd to be dropped at the venue of a wedding, enroute. But on reaching there, he insisted on us too joining the proceedings especially when a couple - whom we knew and was from the groom's side - on sighting us, wouldn't let us go without being part of the crowd. Frankly, one wasn't dressed up for the occasion - I was wearing a very loud, dark green Khadi shirt with yellow blotches presented by maman as 'onakkodi'. I'd worn it as it was flowing and comfortable, fit for travel!

To the lady's comment that she always thought me to have an acceptable dress sense but was now plumbing abysmally low depths in that department could only elicit a weak, helpless smile from me. Silence is a virtue on such occasions and I'd hung onto that virtue!

There was a sizable section of the guests who're familiar with my grandfather. I can never forget the way an elderly lady - whom I was introduced to during the course of my stay at the venue - wistfully remembering my grandfather's official visits near her locality, the way he used to conduct the functions and how they're made to feel as a part of a huge, close knit family. She kept holding my hands and wouldn't let them go even as we're preparing to leave! And 'chechi' - she was addressed thus by everyone - hailed from Kannur.


I must admit that I never felt out of place, at the venue, as there were many that I knew and it was great to meet them, albeit out of the blue. Of course, I did feel self conscious while having lunch - that I was never invited to - which I must hasten to add was elegant and delicious. The newly wedded couple was blessed and here's wishing them a long and happy wedded life, yet again. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A solemn job on my first day.

Soon after my taking over additional responsibilities, I was asked of a favour by my friend at Bangalore. Accordingly, my boys had received the grieving brother and in laws - who'd come down from Dubai - of one of the pilots, Squadron Leader Manoj, who'd lost his life in the tragic air accident that had taken place at Jamnagar yesterday. They're seen off on their trip to Coimbatore, immediately after, where the funeral had taken place this evening.

 In the meanwhile, the second pilot, Flight Lieutenant Sreejith, was transiting through Kochi to Thrissur on his final journey. I found it quite conspiratorial. Were the youngsters waiting for me to bid their final adieu?

My salute to the fallen heroes. Here's wishing that their families have the strength to tide over these difficult times.