Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The year that was.

As the last day of 2013 draws to a close, I'm urged to look back into the year that was, to take stock of the events of my life over the last 365 days. And let me try listing them out.

    (a) My mom coming to stay with us for good.
    (b) My hanging up of the uniform.
    (c) The shifting of our 'base' to Guruvayur.
    (d) The streamlining of Lekha's treatment though the ulcer on her foot is still to heal.

In other words, it's been a tremendous change of tack and I've been trying to absorb the shift in the circumstances. Whether I've been successful in my endeavour, only time will tell.


Bunty and Babli, our help while we're at Delhi, have been in dire straits. Bunty was down with dengue fever a few months back and was in bad shape and his medical bills were beginning to strain the hapless family's resources. I'd promised them monetary assistance when Babli had called us about ten days back but with the hectic pace of life, I'd forgotten to effect the bank transfer.

She'd called us yesterday to give a sitrep to Lekha which had bolted me into action. This morning's call from her, confirming its receipt was a great relief.    


Monday, December 30, 2013

Chambu - a nice young man!

After attending my classmate's son's wedding in the forenoon, we'd reached my uncle's place which is in the outskirts of the city. Suresh and Sindhu had played the perfect hosts and looked after us catering to our minutest requirements. And after dropping them back at their place, we'd set off for the next destination.

Chambu - I call him that - was thrilled to have us at his place as always. The young lad is into his final semester in engineering, with Mechanical Engineering as his principal branch. He's a bit apprehensive about his overall performance as he's to clear a backlog of papers of the past one or two semesters. And he doesn't have any great ambition for now, except for the fact that his parents should be satisfied with the end results!

He stammers quite a bit and cutely admits that it's because of a lack of self confidence! A clear example of a youngster having done a serious introspection and a no-nonsense audit upon himself, very seldom found in his generation!! I've always loved my interactions with him when he's shown great courage in discussing his problems, the activities that he could have done better with forethought and determination, why he's still not decided on what profession he must pursue, his current friends and the necessary steps that need to be undertaken to give his stammer the final bye!

I'm sure that he'll do well in life and I wish him all the luck. Chambu, here's wishing that you get whatever you wish for. Take care and do not lose your disarming candour, ever because that's your ticket to success! May god be with you in all your endeavours!!


1. A fast moving day with interesting interactions. Feel rejuvenated!

2. Saw the Malayalam movie, "Oru Indian Pranayakatha'' (An Indian Love Story). Nice story telling and good acting. It's a good movie after a hiatus. Mom was initially not keen but warmed up to the movie as it progressed but the cinema's air conditioning system was working overtime as it's harsh - probably, because we're seated right under the a/c ducts!

3. Farooq Sheikh, the winsome hero of the so-called parallel cinema of yesteryear has passed into the mist of time. I've enjoyed his subdued and effortless acting in every movie of his and the lovely number that comes instantaneously to my mind is 'tum ko dekha tho yeh khyaal aayaa', picturised on him and Deepti Naval.

RIP, Farooq Sheikh. My humble prayers. You shall be remembered by the generations to come for your stellar contributions.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

To Thiruvananthapuram.

There were quite a few things required to be tied up. Vijayan, the caretaker, had given a rundown of essential and inescapable work on the house that required immediate attention. He'd lined up the people who'd undertake the job on the dates decided and the costs had to be arrived at. After having wrapped up the details, we'd set off to meet the mothers-in-law of both my sisters and Lekha's dad.

So, it's well past sunset when I'd pulled up at my uncle's place where we're gonna stay till 04 Jan to be part of the PM's programme, at Kanakakkunnu Palace, that would honour PN Panicker. After dropping my mom and my younger sister there we'd proceeded to my friend's place for an impromptu get together of a few of my classmates.

The drive was without hiccups and the roads were well lit but crowded with people who're out on a stroll, enjoying the illumination of the trees and the buildings by the roadside as a part of the celebrations to ring in the new year. There was a festive air all round and one could not help but be part of the prevalent gaiety even though from far!


This evening we're putting up with Suresh(my classmate from school) and Sindhu(my schoolmate) who take pains to give us a home away from home. And we've our classmate's son's wedding to attend tomorrow. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The roads were bad!

We'd set off from Guruvayur at a 5 to 11. The weather was nice and we're raring to go because it's almost two months since we'd visited our house at Kottarakkara. I must add that Mom was very excited and I could understand her sentiments! We should be able to reach within about four and a half hours, so I'd estimated. But how wrong I was?

I'd not reckoned for the traffic snarls that would pop up with a remarkable regularity making me wonder whether it was conspiratorial.

The first had popped just 5 kms into the journey. A heavily laden lorry, badly mauled in an early morning accident, was being towed away by a crane and consequently, the double lane traffic was being squeezed into a single lane by the police. We'd to wait for almost an hour on that stretch. The second was just short of the Kochi airport and we'd lost more than an hour because the volume of traffic was quite high as it was the merging point of two highways.

Our woes were far from over. Similar traffic snarls were experienced at three more vantage points. The total time lost at those three spots amounted to a trifle over two hours. Now you can imagine the mess that I'd been reduced to, at the end of it all, by virtue of being behind the wheel.

A bad day, indeed, from the driving point of view! But seeing mom's thrill on reaching our house, my fatigue just evaporated!!


It was catching up with Minni's news about her life at Bangalore. She's in cloud nine after what seemed to be a long time and laughs easily. I'm glad for her!  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Homeward bound!

After three days of non-stop partying, it's time to wind up and return. The night had been late after the reception last evening, with yakkitiyak at yet another friend's place. And the beauty about it was that none of us wanted the session to end despite the fact that our eyelids were getting to be heavier with every passing minute - a midnight coffee was pressed into service to keep it going that reminded me about our good 'ole days of the class XI examinations!

Was chauffeured to the airport well in time and hence, there was plenty of time available with me to interact with Dhananjaya as his flight was about a half an hour after mine. He'd opened up on the continuing medication that has become a must for his sustenance. The biggest residual effect of the serious wounds inflicted upon him, followed by a series of corrective surgeries(many of them done without anesthesia because he'd low blood pressure and problematic kidneys!) done on him to ease out his difficulties, has been the loss of the sensation of smell. I'd a lump in my throat when he said that he has forgotten as to what that sensation was at all! As my flight was called, we got into a bear hug and had promised to keep up with each other's news and woes from now on.

When I looked back from the bend, after which he was gonna get out of sight, I saw him straining to have a look see and was waving at me which I reciprocated. A friendship that has been cemented over the last three days of interaction and also because our rooms were adjacent to each other! And mind you, we hardly had come across each other while at the Academy because he was in 'Lima' and I was in 'Hunter'.

The flight was choc-a-bloc full making me wonder as to why everyone was making a scramble to 'malluland'. Probably to spend the new year's eve with their friends and relatives and of course, there was a large bunch of tourists among the passengers. As we're coming into land at Kochi, the pilot had to abort his first approach at landing, open throttle and climb again to carry out the second attempt as our flight had narrowly missed a bird hit!


Two hours later and after downing delicious tea at a wayside tea-stall, I was back at home. And we're already fine tuning the departure time of our journey tomorrow. The wedding of my classmate's son is on 30 Dec and we've to be at Thiruvananthapuram without fail for the occasion!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A wedding steeped in traditions.

Chirag and Anushree became man and wife sometime around noon.

Their wedding was conducted in the traditional manner with a long drawn out yet meaningful ritual set against a colourful backdrop. I tried to soak in the procedure and the reasons for every step being taken thanks to the pamphlet thrust into my hands by Anushree's dad. Moreover, the important milestones of the 'saraswath brahmin wedding' were also being explained aloud for the purpose of the understanding of the guests. Let me try to recollect the sequence of events as they'd unfolded....

 (a) Swagatam(welcoming) and varapooja(honouring the groom). Anushree's brother invites and
      escorts Chirag to the venue. He's honoured by Anushree's family and fed sweets.

 (b) Vadhupooja(honouring the bride) and phool-muddi(flower and ring). Anushree is brought to the
       stage. Her mother ties a necklace of black and golden beads around her neck signifying her
       blessings. Chirag's mom adorns her hair with a flower(phool) and gifts him a ring(muddi).
       The prayers are chanted and the actual wedding ceremonies begin.

 (c) Urad Muhurth(grinding of lentils). Anushree and Chirag are initiated into household duties by
       their using a hand mill to grind grains.

 (d) Samavartan/Kashiyatra. Apprehensive of worldly life, the bridegroom would renounce   
       everything and proceed to Kashi, in the days of old. Symbolic of this aspect, Chirag who
       walks away from the wedding is persuaded back into the stage by Anushree's dadwho
       explains the virtues of married life.

 (e) Vadhupravesham(arrival of the bride). Anushree's maternal uncle escorts her to the stage.

 (f) Antarpaat(the veil). A veil is held between Anushree and Chirag symbolising their separate
     identities prior to their union. It's lowered on the chanting of verses and they exchange garlands.
     Everyone blesses them by pelting 'akshatas'(dried, unbroken rice) at them.

 (g) Kanyadaan(giving away the bride). Anushree's parents formally entrusts her to Chirag by
      giving her hands in his and pour holy water and milk over them. The couple offers each other
      a ball of cummin seeds and brown sugar signifying their acceptance of the bitter-sweet
      responsibilies of married life. A white thread is wound around them five times and as the
      couple stands up the thread is slid down, collected and cut into two halves - one half
     is tied to Anushree's left wrist while the other is tied to Chirag's right wrist.

 (h) Taalibandhan(symbolises commitment). Chirag ties a necklace(taali) - presented by his mom
       symbolising her blessings for happiness and well being - around Anushree's neck showing his
       commitment to her.

 (j) Vivahahoma and Laajahoma(holy fire). The holy fire is lit, prayers are offered to 'Agni' and
      Anushree's brother gives her puffed rice to make an offering to the fire for a long and enduring
      married life. He, then, places silver toe rings on her toes and twists Chirag's ear as a warning
      to take good care of his sister!

 (k) Saptapadi(the seven steps). Chirag and Anushree go round the holy fire four times. They further
      take seven steps symbolising the seven guiding principles in life viz. support, strength and power,
     wealth and fortune, happiness, progeny, long life and spiritual well being. And finally, Chirag
     places Anushree's foot on a stone slab to signify that their union is firm as a rock!!


1. Congratulations, Anushree and Chirag and of course, Anjaneya and Sana. May you have a long and happy married life with everything that you wish for.
2. Thanks Ameeta and Chaitanya for giving me the opportunity to be part of your joyous occasion.  Everything was planned and executed perfectly. BZ!
3. Then, there was this 'Kodak' moment when I'd told Sana that Anjaneya had urinated on my shirt when I'd carried him as a little kid and everyone laughed!! 


Three days of non-stop partying! And meeting friends after what seemed to be a long time!! Telephone numbers and addresses have been exchanged. One can't ask for anything more!!!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A strange phenomenon.

Christmas day, when the Christians were celebrating the world over. At Pune, as I moved through the city, I realised that there was not much of an evidence of the celebrations. Or was it that I'd not moved through the areas where the fun and frolic were there? I'd like to believe that it was the latter. Or is it that the population of the christian community in the city was not very significant?

Syrill, my saarthi, had something very interesting to say and I quote, "People are less enthusiastic about celebrating any festive occasion because the economics wasn't working right owing to the rising prices and the prohibitive costs of essential household items". Probably, he's a point but the lack of enthusiasm was very, very evident.

On a personal level, it was a time to meet up with friends and catching up from where we'd left last. It's nice to be back at a home away from home and it felt that I'd never been away from them.There was adequate time at my disposal because the function connected to the wedding was in the evening.

The function was a glittering one with the massive lawn and the trees and shrubs around decorated with garlands of illumination lights. The entertainment programme was nice and well edited. After exchanging hellos and meeting up with friends, I'd made an early retreat to my friend's place nearby with the permission of the hosts. I suppose the excitement and the skipping of the afternoon siesta knocked me off within a jiffy. I found that I'd no control over my drooping eyelids!


My days at Pune seem to have a fairytale setting and every moment has that tinge of excitement. Simply great! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Off to Pune.

It's an early morning walk with a fairly strong breeze flowing by. I was excited by the fact that I was taking off for Pune within a few hours to attend the wedding and reception of Chaithanya's children. I've a strong affinity for the city since my Academy days though it has grown to be an unwieldy behemoth over the years, but retains its charm all the same!

The flight was delayed by half an hour, an information that was passed on through the telephone as well as by sms as Unnikrishnan drove me to the Kochi airport. I'd not taken any chances as it's about a two hour's drive from my place, provided the traffic was okay. Meanwhile, I could also get the clarification from Lekha's doctor that the perked up ulcer on her leg did not require additional medicines after reading the results of the 'pus culture' that was initiated during her visit to him last Friday and boy, didn't it give me a solid relief?

The journey was uneventful and the touchdown at the destination was around a quarter to 4. The white foam on the waters of the Mutha, visible from the sky, was a grim reminder of the wrong things that mankind is doing by pushing pollutants into the river. Chaithanya had organised our pick up and transportation to our accommodation and after a quick wash and change on arrival, we're transported to the venue of the 'sangeet' ceremony at the Sainik Aaraamgarh lawns.

It was a tremendous trip down memory lane. I'd the privilege of meeting a lot many of my old friends after a very, very long time. The conversation just didn't seem to stop and there was an all pervading mood that the evening just went on and on, the prevalent nip in the air notwithstanding! The variety entertainment on offer was aptly timed and well conceived and the artistic talent of the family was on display.

Congratulations, Aanjaneya-Sana and Anushree-Chirag! Here's wishing that you get whatever you wish for in your lives together. And Chaithanya-Ameeta, I'm glad that I could be with you on your joyous occasion.


1. As we're driven back to our accommodation, the gaiety of Christmas was on display with the 'Midnight Mass' on, in full swing in the churches that came our way and the lights on display looked nice. And I'd wished myself a merry Christmas.

2. Dhananjaya Raina had travelled with me, earlier in the evening from the airport and we're meeting after about 40 years. He and the late NS Rao were badly mauled during the end-of-term social as a prelude to their passing out from the Academy. It's the celebration of a custom and a tradition where the juniors took it on their seniors through the course of an evening, so that all grudges were removed and they parted as friends to become comrades-at-arms subsequently. But sometime during that fateful evening, the lines had got blurred and a few youngsters couldn't bridle their strong emotions and it happened during my course's watch, whose duty it was to ensure that the celebrations never went out of hand! He went through the episode, upon my insistence, but was neither angry nor sad at the event or its perpetrators. I could only apologise, on behalf of my course, yet again but the lump was there in my throat despite the lapse of time!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Where everyone thinks that he's smart!

Delhi is all set to see Arvind Kejriwal as its chief minister. The Aam Aadmi Party is forming a ministry with outside support from the Congress, the party that it had fought tooth and nail at the hustings bruising it beyond compare. The contradictions are for all to see and yet, the farce is going on. The longevity of such a government is your guess as well as mine.

Now, see the hard facts:-

   (a) The BJP has played it safe by staying out of the game as they know that it it would not be too long
         when the newly formed government will collapse by the weight of its own contradictions.
   (b) The Congress has changed tack - as the AAP agrees to form a government with its support - from
         unconditional to conditional support.
   (c) The AAP has said a lot of nice things that it would do if voted to power. Will they be able to achieve
        any single one out of them without a majority and mind you, the system that they intend to change has
        been put in place and patronised by the Congress and the BJP while in power.

So, what does one expect? If the AAP is able to achieve even one item of its manifesto it will be a great moral victory for it leaving the bigger parties licking their wounds. And all the dirty political tricks will be tried out to block such an outcome.

What I feel is that the AAP must endeavour to take spectacular decisions from day one for the benefit of the Delhiites, expose the other political parties for their duplicity and ask the people to give them the majority to serve them better.


I still can't fathom the reason as to why the Delhiites didn't give Kejriwal and his party a simple majority to rule. Or are they skeptical about the new political dispensation's capacity to deliver?


How I wish that with no political party wanting to rule, Delhi should have gone through another election to get a clear winner. The referendum through 'SMSes' by the AAP doesn't hold water as its political opponents might have taken advantage to ask it to govern and then show it in poor light by their machinations!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Touching base.

It's mom's 79th birthday today. The usual activities like the cutting of the cake and giving her a gift for the occasion went off like a song. My sister and brother-in-law, along with their friends living in the same building, made it a just about manageable crowd. What had the unmistakable imprint of the old lady was her ability to make friends withing the short time that she has been there. I saw a couple of her contemporaries bidding her farewell with tears in their eyes and insisting upon her that she visits her daughter more often so that they could also get to meet her.

The drive of about a 100 kms was smooth though the Chevy was heavily laden with stuff. We stopped for a break coupled with a cup of tea at a wayside motel and the guard on security, Babu, asked me in hushed tones as to whether I was a film actor much to the amusement of Lekha and mom but I was nonplussed because I've already rated myself a three out of a maximum of 10 in the looks department, remember? But Babu, it was damn sweet of you to give me that much of importance! And since mom and Lekha'd difficulty in their movements, they'd decided to have their cuppa in the car itself. I placed the order on the proprietor, adding that I'd collect the tea before I'd rushed to the rest room to relieve my 'about-to-burst bladder' only to return and find that the gentleman had done the honour. There're plenty of nice people all around us!

And by about a quarter to 4, we touched base. I'd driven 490 kms over the past few days and achieved a few milestones that were time bound and important. But disaster struck in the form of a leaking faucet and the kitchen was converted to a mini lake - the services of the plumber and the electrician were sought and the defects rectified after a few harrying moments.

Five days of absence! Plenty of dust has settled and a lot of dry leaves lay in the courtyard. It's a task cut out for Lekha's understudy tomorrow to spend those extra minutes for clearing the muck. Settling down had taken a wee bit longer with a rush to the market for sundries, unpacking the different sets of packages and bags and piecing together the newly bought racks for stowage! And it was the end of another journey!!


Mom had selected her room and was quick to unpack her personal stuff into the closet. And here's wishing that she enjoys every bit of her stay with us!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

On the road yet again.

2C, Panigrahi was formally handed over to the authorities by about a half past 9. After going through the informal farewells and bidding our personal goodbyes, we're off to Palakkad by about 11AM. I shall always remember our stay at the Panampilli Nagar - the best address in town - fondly. The overwhelming support that I received as the patriarch of the huge family, the random interactions with the residents which were effective feedback to fine tune decisions and the children's proprietorial attitude towards yours truly were a heady recipe for a contended stay of almost two and a half years.

The boot of our Chevy was loaded to capacity with the items that had been left behind during our last trip. As I drove off from the compound did I hear the strained tune of 'Auld Lang Syne' somewhere in the background? Or was it all my imagination, giving too much importance to the 'ahom' in me and taking myself seriously? But the occasion was overwhelming as the caretaker and the security guys gave me my last bows.

The drive was nice and the fast clip did ease the heavy feeling. And the stretch of road that has been recently surfaced made driving a pleasure. The only mismatch was when a guy driving a white Qualis prevented me from overtaking him and seemed to enjoy my predicament as could be gleaned from his side view mirror. Wonder why I and my Chevy bring out the beast in some?

We're at my sister's place by teatime and it was nice to be back with her and mom, who'd be coming to Guruvayur with us tomorrow.


Mom had cut her birthday cake made ready for the occasion by my sister. And after the celebrations, sat down with the day's newspaper to catch up on the news as I seemed to be totally out of date!    

Friday, December 20, 2013

Achieving targets despite hurdles.

I was at the Ernakulam 'sivakshetram' on the dot at 7 AM only to be told that the puja that I'd wanted to do, remembering dad, would commence at 8. I'd then sat at the entrance, reciting my daily set of prayers while watching the steady influx of people who're streaming in to pay their morning obeisance to god. Justice Krishna Iyer, along with the two young men who're assisting him, was the only person that I knew among the crowd that had passed by during my short stay in the temple premises.

The small portion of cooked rice, mixed with ghee, that was given by the priest was placed on a piece of banana leaf out at the open ground off the temple's southern entrance and I tried to recapitulate my times with dad. As I was leaving the spot, the priest who must have registered my worried looks, assured me that the crows would swoop down to take in the food on offer and that I didn't need to wait. But the question that I was asking myself was whether dad was upset about my last night's indiscretion which manifested in the crows' delayed arrival/hesitation! And I must reiterate that not a single one had come anywhere near the offering till I'd come off from the spot.

It was around 3, in the afternoon, that we'd set off to the hospital to meet up with Lekha's doctor. And boy, what a commotion it was on the roads? The members of the 'Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha' - from all over the sate - were conglomerating at the Jawaharlal Nehru international stadium at Kaloor to attend the valedictory function of the 150th birth centenary of Ayyankali, being presided over by none other than the President of India. Vehicles that brought in the delegates had clogged the arterial road as well as the feeders and at one point I was in total despair at the possibility of not being able to keep our appointment with the doctor which was so very essential considering Lekha's condition!

As we inched forward, upon reaching the final rail over bridge before turning off for the hospital, I'd got got out of the car amid the worst traffic snarl to walk the last stretch to catch an auto rickshaw, so that I could reach the reception counter at the hospital to beat the deadline of the registration formalities.

And then God arrived.........in the form of Raju, my man Friday of yester years in his autorickshaw, urging me to clamber on. Thanks to him, I could complete the formalities and receive Lekha who'd followed in the car a while later. The queue of patients who'd come with prior appointment was indeed a long one and by the time we're home bound it was well past a half past 9. The traffic was still bad but we could fortunately move without hindrance on the stretch where the Kochi metro construction activity was at its peak.


By the time, we'd settled down for dinner with Indraneil and Upasana, our neighbours, it was 10 and I really felt bad that they'd to be kept waiting for no fault of their's!

It was a long tiring day but I was glad that whatever was planned for the day could be accomplished despite the hurdles which looked very, very conspiratorial!      

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Winding up our Kochi address.

It was an early morning trip to the path lab nearby for the tests asked for by Lekha's doctor. Armed with the results, we'd be meeting him at the appointed hour tomorrow.

I'd gone to my previous office to collect mail that had collected up during my absence and to tie up the loose ends and also inquire about the things that needed to be done, if any. I could sort out SK's  minor problem regarding his accommodation - which he'd narrated to me on arrival - as the concerned person happened to be a cadet whom I'd trained at the Academy. I'd given my usual caution that I didn't want him to do anything that was out of the rules but he was cute to assure me that necessary action would be taken to set the situation right. What I could make out from the whole conversation was that it was a clash of egos in play!

Meanwhile, Lekha and my cousin had gone to the market to get small, little things for our house at Guruvayur. I could only keep my fingers crossed on two counts - (a) would the car's boot have sufficient space to carry all the stuff? (b) was Lekha aggravating her medical problem?

The evening walk was nice, as usual. Lekha's lab results show no cause for worry except for a perking ESR. It's now for her doctor to find the cause and the remedy.

The evening with Murali and Radhika was simply nice and elegant. I did not have the heart to keep away from the lovely meat preparations laid on the table as knowing her, she'd have really worked hard on it. Tomorrow happens to be dad's second remembrance day as per the Malayalam calendar and I've promised myself to go to the Ernakulam 'sivakshetram' early in the morning to offer my prayers and attend to the connected rituals. So, rightfully, I was supposed to be a strict vegetarian the previous night. A dilemma but I'm sure that my dad would understand!

By the time we'd called it a day, it was indeed quite late!


We've not been able to call on many of our friends due to a paucity of time and have substituted for them through phone calls. It's our hope that they understand our predicament!     

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Time and tide wait for none!

It was an early morning get away from 'The Quarterdeck', 20 minutes behind schedule but the roads were clear and we'd a free run, almost. Our first stop was at Ettumanoor, where Lekha was to light an earthenware lamp at the spot where the urn containing kochammachi's ashes have been placed till its immersion, a year later, at the confluence of the seas off Rameswaram. She'd to do it because she was unable to participate in the ceremonies connected with kochammachi's last rites!

Lesson one.

There's no substitute for the actual event. Whatever be the reasons, it should be the endeavour to take part, otherwise one'll have to satisfy with alternate measures/substitutes that might not quite recreate the 'right' effect!

After spending a while with our folks, reminiscing about good 'ole times, we'd kicked off for Kochi. The drive was smooth and we're in the city within an hour. The first task was to locate the fridge servicing station to hand over the broken vegetable tray for possible replacement. The machine is more than a decade old, is running fine and we'd no intentions of exchanging it but for the mishap of the breakage of the tray. The item has undergone modifications, the model is extinct but the company has promised to find us a substitute - damn sweet of them. And its gonna take 10 days. To avoid lugging the broken stuff, all over again, I managed to prevail upon the young lady at the counter to have it stowed at their store.

Lesson two.

In these times of galloping technology, there's no point in preserving equipment and machinery - however costly they might be - beyond five years. Beyond that, it would be very difficult to get spares and even to find guys to service/repair the item because of its vintage. Preservation by careful use seems to be history, as repair by replacement seems to be the present day 'mantra'.

We'd reached our previous house a trifle past lunchtime. The house that was ours for the past two and a half years now appeared alien with all our personal effects having been stripped and transported to 'The Quarterdeck'. Between the two of us we reminisced wistfully about the numerous occasions and fun times that we've had in the flat that had abundant natural lighting and was our pride not long ago.

Lesson three.

We've maintained essential requirements for us to stay during the short period of its retention. But suddenly, something seems to be missing. Have we transplanted the soul entirely into our new nest, at Guruvayur, so ruthlessly? I must reckon that we have! Everything has a time and place in one's life.


After interacting with some of the folks who'd dropped by to give us a helping hand, we'd gone to see a late night movie to shake off the melancholy. But it turned out to be unsuccessful.

How I wish that there was a pause button in my life to linger on at certain milestones for as long as the mind wants? Everything is transient!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Driving my Chevy around.

I've this mental frame whenever I drive my Chevy. I find that the roads are far too narrow, the traffic so badly snarled and the usual space that gets to be available is not adequate enough to maneuver, consequently finding me park quite far away from the intended destination. For me, her safety while staying parked and availability of plenty of space for other vehicles to move past to avoid any close quarter situation, resulting in ugly overtones to my car are a must!

Today, I'd taken a professional driver with me to take us through comparatively narrow roads, packed on either sides with shops. In fact, it was the same guy who'd taken me to Ettumanoor the other day. He did it with enormous ease, driving through narrower roads than what I've ever driven through and parked at impossible places where I didn't think that there was any space at all to pass through, let alone parking. But all the same, I knew that he was right because he wasn't giving anyone else any difficulty as there were no harsh sounds of the horn behind or anywhere near - more specifically, at us! And he was cool as a cucumber while going about his job. He took his own time to do things too and others simply didn't seem to mind!!

Why can't I be like that? And that too with the experience of having driven through many places all over the country? Am I too cautious? Or am I too careful about my car? Because wrong things can happen when one is overcautious and when one doesn't anticipate the other's actions/motives or even mistakes!

Guess what? I need to have more kilometers under my belt and need to be more deliberate while driving and be just cautious and not a wee bit more!


Tomorrow's gonna be a long day and a long drive as we've many milestones to achieve(no pun intended!).

Monday, December 16, 2013

A collage of thoughts.

Yet another day when things did not make much headway. Much have to be achieved though quite a lot have been done. The inertia inherent in everything, the near misses and the feeling of not having achieved anything while doing an audit of the day's activities get to bug me. I suppose these are essential everyday glitches that one needs to pass through. I'm jotting down a few things that came my way today:-

   (a) The first of the Malayalam calendar month, 'Dhanu'.

    Today's the first day of the month of 'Dhanu' on the Malayalam calendar and hence considered auspicious.
    I mean, it's believed that whatever happens today would set the trend for the events of the month. Well,
    the vegetable tray of our fridge had slipped from the hands of Lekha's new understudy and help, Sathi,
    and fragmented into pieces for which she was apologetic, blaming herself for the bad 'omen'. We'd to
    convince her that we did not believe in such things but all the same, the fridge being a decade old is
    vintage stuff and its spares are no more being manufactured by the company and the buying of a new
    one has become inevitable!

    (b) Uthradom Thirunal Maharaja.

    The affable and the epitome of regality, coupled with a rarely found humility, Uthradom Thirunal Maharaja
    passed into the mist of time in the wee hours of the morning. I'd the privilege of interacting with him on a
    couple of occasions in connection with the PN Panicker foundation's activities about which he used to
    keep track of, much to my pleasant surprise. Greatly revered by the Malayalees, his sane advice will be
    missed by his passing away at the age of 91.

    RIP, Your Highness. May your soul guide this state for the years to come. My humble salute and prayers
    for a thorough gentleman and a fountain of knowledge.


The land line telephone connection along with the internet has finally reached us. A small reason to be elated amid the slow pace of work on other fronts!     

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Good bye, 'Pim'!

It's sad to hear that yet another classmate of mine has passed into the mist of time. And it's
another name struck off from a get together that we've been planning.

 Let me try to remember P Mohan from the picture that I've of his, deep within. Roll no. 405,
who'd joined school a year earlier than me. The first thing that comes to my mind is CKC sir, master in Malayalam, addressing him as 'Pim' and in return, he used to give a thin lipped smile that was his hallmark. I must admit that we used to move in different groups and hence, weren't close friends while at school. And he used to be well groomed at all times.

Another thing that I remember was the continuous ribbing that he used to be subjected to by some among us about his almost non-existent butt, augmented with artificial ones and the beauty about him was that he neither got upset nor got angry at his tormentors. Probably, he was far more mature than most of us and considered our childishness as something that needed to be endured as a matter of course. I also remember him to be extremely shy who studiously kept away from the limelight.

It's a sad revelation about his divorce and perhaps, that must have taken a toll on him, his health. One would not expect such a thing even on one's enemy! He's two daughters.

RIP, P Mohan! I consider it as a privilege to have been your classmate.


Must endeavour to contact his daughters and convey our condolences. They need to also know that his clutch of classmates do care and would like to make them an integral part of this large family.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Outright churlishness!

The LDF has been at the Cliff House - the official residence of the chief minister at Thiruvananthapuram - blockade for about a week. It's to pressurise Oommen Chandy to resign on account of the solar scam. And the protestors have already hit a roadblock and are now resorting to churlish means to vent their anger at another carefully planned(?) venture having gone haywire!

It all began like this. Last Tuesday, Sandhya, a housewife staying in the vicinity had difficulty in seeing off her school going child thanks to the roadblock brought about by the protestors and the police barricades placed to counter it. And she, very naturally, vent her spleen on the protestors saying that they'd no right to put the public through untold suffering. Her doubt was as to what purpose the blockade was serving when the chief minister was away at Kollam on his 'mass contact programme'.

The leaders at the protest site were taken aback at the genuine anguish of the lady and tried to shift the blame on to the police for having set up the barricades but she'd have nothing of it and ended her tirade with the sucker punch that a people's movement, that the protestors were claiming their efforts to be, must essentially have the backing of the people and proclaimed her intention of getting the other ladies of the area organised to fight against the blockade.

Chittilapally Kochouseph, an industrialist and a philanthropist was quick to announce a gift of Rs. 5 lakhs to the lady for having taken a just and firm stand against the politicians' misdemeanour. 

The LDF ensured that the free movement of the people through the thoroughfare was ensured the very next day but has begun a venomous smear campaign against the housewife who'd the temerity to stand up to the might of the party. Sample a few of their actions:-

    (a) a banana plantation, nearby, owned by the lady was vandalised.
    (b) in the meeting held subsequently, leaders vied with each other in calling both the housewife
         and the industrialist some 'colourful' names.
    (c) has asked the transport commissioner to book the lady for not wearing a helmet on that
         fateful day.

Outright churlishness. What else can one say?


Nothing made headway today as there seemed to be a general lethargy in services, post the 'ekadasi' celebrations and it so happens that today is a Saturday, heralding the commencement of a long weekend! We'll never change!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.

Section 377 of the IPC was enacted by the British 153 years ago, in 1860, that terms consensual anal sex as an unnatural offence and provides punishment equivalent to that for the offence of rape under Section 376. It even outlaws oral sex between a man and a woman, while reiterating that only penile-vaginal sex was not "against the order of nature". The 'crime' can fetch a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

In Jul 2009, the Delhi High Court had brought out a historic judgment that decriminalised same sex relationships because Sec 377 IPC impinged upon the fundamental rights of an individual guaranteed by the Constitution and it's this judgment that the Supreme Court has overturned now.

I shall not dwell on the legal angle as the experts in the field are already at it but it's my opinion that the Parliament must bring about a legislation that would give the LGBT(Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders) community to live in our society without fear of discrimination or destruction. What is their mistake for having been born in this manner and who's given us the right to conclude that they're inhuman/abnormal? In the matter of sexual preferences, human beings can be divided into three categories - heterosexuals, homosexuals/lesbians and bisexuals.

I must narrate three personal experiences related to this topic:-

  (a) Some years ago, I was on my way to attend an evening function and enroute, was waiting for
        the green light to come on and at that precise moment saw two guys kissing passionately. I
        must admit that the sight gave me revulsion but calmly, thinking about it later I'd come to the
        conclusion that I'd not 'grown up' enough as a human being. In other words, I was still party
        to a mindset ingrained within me that 'same sex was bad'.

  (b) A senior, who's the father of two daughters and a good instructor, had committed suicide
        once his family had disowned him and he'd to put in his papers because of his bisexual
        orientation. Even the family was ostracised by the rest of the community simply because
        they're related to such a man!

  (c) A couple, that I'm friendly with, had reacted violently once they'd come to know of their
        only son's homosexual orientation. They'd wanted me - his favourite uncle - to advise him to
        get married!

I'm proud to say that I've a few wonderful friends who belong to this group. I can appreciate their fears about the repercussions if the society around them were to know about their sexual orientation. And feel impotent and sad that I can be of no help to them even though I feel that they must be allowed to live in this world without any fear whatsoever and with dignity.

And that's the reason why I support a speedy piece of legislation, with the support of all the political parties, where their right to live is assured.


Guruvayur has come to a standstill today - it's a sort of an unannounced 'Sunday routine' because the following are remembered:-

     (a) 'Ekadasi' - many, many eons ago Lord Krishna imparted the knowledge
                            contained in the Bhagwad Gita to Arjuna, reluctant to fight the people whom he
                            revered and loved at the battlefront at Kurukshetra.
     (b) It also commemorates the birth of 'Narayaneeyam' written by Melpathoor Narayana
           Bhattathiripad during his illness - which is nothing but a collection of hymns in praise of the
           lord - while he prayed at the temple premises.
     (c) Remembering 'Guruvayur Kesavan', the temple's elephant who'd died a day prior to the day of
           the Ekadasi. 

And the temple will be open for the devotees throughout the night!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

On the roll at 3 AM.

The day had started at 2, this morning. After going through my morning chores, I'd hit the road in my Chevy by 3. Unnikrishnan, a gulf returnee and who'd thousands of kilometers under his belt, was my 'saarthi' upon the family's insistence. I must admit that I wasn't very happy to see my car have someone else behind the wheel but the way Unni had handled the vehicle as he eased her out of the porch allayed all my misgivings.

He was a greenhorn insofar as the route was concerned but since our destination did not have too many diversions, that tricky aspect was sorted out. But we did go around in circles as we tried to negotiate out of Thrissur town and a turn negotiated at my bidding set us back by a few kilometers, though it had no impact in the final reckoning. We'd reached Ettumanoor, the destination, around 6 and since Unni was seeing the place for the first time, I'd insisted upon him to visit the famous 'Siva temple' as he was a keen temple-goer and because I did not want to be too early at my grand aunt's house, upsetting their early morning chores. And boy, didn't I give my uncle a start when he'd opened the front door to find me seated on one of the sofas in the courtyard and chided me for not having rung the doorbell on arrival. But frankly, it's hardly a wait! My folks and especially my aunts from Thiruvananthapuram were thrilled to see me.

The ceremony was simple, with each activity impregnated with meaning and the elderly 'karmi' took pains to explain the nuances. And it took about an hour and a half before we all sat down to have breakfast around 10 o'clock. An hour later, after getting interesting snatches from my grand uncle's diaries that he'd meticulously penned, I was on my way back satisfied having spent the day in a  worthwhile fashion and was back home by about 3 PM.

Meanwhile, Lekha was back after attending her cousin's wedding and had given me a debrief of the entire event.


I'd gone by my inner calling and to relive the times spent with my grand aunt who'd showered me with love and affection during her lifetime. When her sons thanked me for fetching up, I'd to gently remind them that it was my duty to be there as a mark of respect and love to the departed soul and a great person!


The person who'd have been damn glad by the day's proceedings would have been my ammachi, Mrs. PN Panicker for the following reasons:-

      (a) she was very, very fond of her kid sister, Kalyanikutty(the feelings were mutual, actually).
      (b) she used to encourage me to go to Ettumanoor at the slightest pretext.
      (c) when she'd passed into the mist of time on 25 Jul '91, my folks had kept me off from the
            devastating news because I was doing an important course(?) at the Staff College at Ooty
            and therefore, had missed out on all the ceremonies connected to her last rites.
      (d) by my going through the nuances for her sister, she'd have pardoned my absence then!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's pouring guests!

Lekha's cousin, Lekshmi, is getting married at the Guruvayur temple tomorrow. Her folks have been fetching up all through the afternoon and prior to settling down at the hotel complex where all the guests are being accommodated for the night by the bride's parents, everyone has been dropping in at 'The Quarterdeck' to have a look see at the way our nest has been shaping up.

Much has been achieved but much more needs to be done and seeing the influx, the ongoing work has been given a respite as it would have made things difficult. My position was tricky as however much I'd wanted the pending work to get over, it was not to be as the guests could not be left unattended and made to feel unwanted!

And as my neighbour had put it, we'd a 'deluge of guests' and felt privileged and honoured. The high strength was the cascading effect of the wedding party as highlighted earlier.


Tomorrow, Lekha and I'd be heading in different directions. While she attends Lekshmi's wedding, I'll be off to Ettumanoor about 200 km south, to partake in the 12th day's ceremony of my grand aunt last rites. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Life has been meandering on without any extraordinary event taking place but it has kept us occupied throughout, so much so, that our world seems to have shrunk within the four walls of our house. The only contact with the outside world is through the telephone calls that come by, the television, the radio and of course, the net. My walks, both in the morning and in the evening, have been invigorating exercises, occasions to run minor errands and to observe people!

My musings, today, are based on my observations of people whom I've come across over the past ten days of our being here and here I go:-

   (a) The caring patriarch.

    He's known to everyone as 'Hariyettan'. All of 87 years, he's a stickler for orderliness and is very,
    very observant. To cite just a sample, he tells me that the security light of my house had been
    burning till a half past 5 this morning and that I'd left for my walk at a quarter to 6! He's been
    helpful by giving tools, accessories and  the details of the right source to the boys at work at my
    place. In other words, he's been very protective about us and ever willing to help which are
    contrary to what was painted about him by some others. Perhaps, we've become his favourites!

    It was his family's day of conducting the entire 'puja' today at the Guruvayur temple and he was
    the heart, soul and the driving force of the stellar show.

    Bash on regardless, chetta! Here's wishing that you're bestowed with good health and happiness
    for the years to come and a huge thanks for everything.

    (b) The 'ogre' effect.

     I've always wondered as to what persona I present to the others and would love to put across
     myself as one who minds his business, can do no harm and can be relied upon in case any help
     was required. So, it bewilders me when I notice quite a few of the fairer sex bracing up,
     straightening imaginary creases off their clothing and dart an occasional glance towards me
     as they pass by. Why, of course, my eyes are casually on them - I'm observing people, you see!

     Do I give them the 'ogre' effect, I wonder?

     (c) A flurry of xeroxing activity.

      Since every single activity like applying for a new ration card, getting a cooking gas connection
      or a telephone connection requires 'a proof of identity' and 'a proof of residence', the small
      bookshop-cum-photostat shop is a place that I frequent to xerox many of the documents. The
      outfit is manned by two young ladies who cutely refer to me as the 'new Captain sir' in their
      neighbourhood and one of them admitted, while the other nodded in consonance, that they now
      know me thoroughly from the personal documents that have been scanned.

      How I wish that I could be like 'Mr. Walker of Denkali', of the favourite Phantom comics of
      childhood who moved around incognito while giving the roughnecks shivers down their spines?


Slowly finding my feet in the new environment. But the surprise with which people used to ask me as to why we're going to settle down in a new place used to make me wonder as to whether I was taking the right decision. From the experiences thus far, I do not think that I've erred! 



Monday, December 9, 2013

The news round up!

Of late much has been happening and many of them have been significant events. I'd like to go over each one of them and find out as to what can be made out of them.

 (a) Nelson Mandela.

 The icon of the anti-apartheid movement has passed into the mist of time. Much has been written
 about him and any attempt at it on my part will be like carrying coal to Newcastle and hence, I
 desist. But the single quality of his that has fascinated me is his forgiving attitude to all those who
 were responsible for his 27 long years of incarceration in prison. To err is human but to forgive is
 divine, it's said.

 RIP Nelson Mandela. You shall continue to shine as an eternal beacon for being an extraordinary
 human being and a great leader!

 (b) The Assembly elections.

 The results of the recently concluded elections for the five state legislatures have been true to
 predictions and have been discussed and analysed threadbare. So, no more of it from my side but
 I'd like to share my queries about the whole exercise and they are:-

       (i) Why didn't the Delhiites give Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party the working majority
            to rule them? Do they think that good intentions are fine for rhetoric, but governance
            requires the craftiness of the well entrenched political parties?
       (ii)Why do people like Digvijaya Singh mutter contrary to their body language
            when asked to comment about Rahul Gandhi being ineffective as a leader? Sycophancy
            has touched a new low.
      (iii)Will the elected representatives give their people a governance free of corruption and
       (iv)And who'll rule Delhi? I'm waiting to see that clincher!

  (c) Avoidable goof ups.

  Farooq Abdulla recently made a mess of himself when he gave that classless statement about
  employing women into his personal secretariat. As a minister and a senior leader looked up to
  by his party men, he should have been more dignified. But what I'd like to remind him and people
  like him who've similar mindset is that if they're clean in their dealings and if they respect the
  fairer sex, no one will have the temerity to implicate them through false allegations.

  It isn't hard to notice that most, if not all, of the guys implicated in the cases of sexual harassment
  have had questionable attitudes towards women.

  So, to my mind, Farooq Abdulla was only questioning aloud about his own behaviour! I must say
  that it's good to be introspective!!


The Quarterdeck continues to attain her full operational status in a slow but steady manner. There are lesser things that are strewn around but what worries me is the nagging ulcer on Lekha's right foot which looks quite offensive. She meets her doctor on the 20th.    

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The morning sights and sounds of Guruvayur.

I accept that it would be presumptuous on my part to say that what I've witnessed, over the last couple of outings, as the morning sights of this place is the complete picture of Guruvayur @ morning. But in the same breath I must hasten to add that the general picture that I'm gonna etch more or less encompasses the prevalent environment.

I must begin by pinpointing my centrum which is a kilometer and a half from the temple that has contributed to the name of the place. And though it's smack beside highway NH 17, the enduring environmental backdrop has an unmistakable rural hue. The early morning call of the rooster, the chirping of the birds and the dwindling task force of men and women who make their morning forays to milk the cows of the various households seem to be enduring factors.

The workforce, responsible for construction activities are already up with the lark and can be seen having their simple breakfast of either idlis or dosas - and mind you, a large number of them have migrated from the neighbouring Tamilnadu because for them, proverbially, two birds are being killed with a single stone viz. :-

        (a) a satisfactory life that assures them their daily bread and butter.
        (b) their proximity to Guruvayurappan - the ultimate, to whom they can pour out their angst
              without any loss of face.

Many men and women still prefer to have their bath at the ponds - situated within the compounds of the numerous temples that dot the landscape - near their homes and pray to their gods, wearing the wet clothes, before making their way back.

To me, the first impression is that there has been been a time warp in and around this area. The people's steadfast adherence to the traditions and a general 'feel good' ambience make this place unique by itself.

Devotional music and the strains of the 'naadaswaram' rent the air almost continuously, giving it that unmistakable stamp of a vibrant temple town. 


The roadside teashops with the 'one-yarder tea' and heated discussions predominantly on politics and other happenings among the regulars, before they set off for their day's routine, dot the landscape making Guruvayur vibrant.

There's a sizeable muslim population in the municipality and the religious amity that exists among the groups is noteworthy.      


Saturday, December 7, 2013

North by north-west and other trivia!

After a week of being at home overseeing the ongoing work, I'd decided to catch up on work that required my moving out despite the fact that there were people fixing up various things that were essential for a hassle-free living. It was on this note that we'd gone to register our cards at the polyclinic at Kunnamkulam, an overcrowded hamlet about 9 km north from where I live. But I hadn't bargained for the horrible traffic brought about by the narrow roads, ongoing repairs in patches and the weekend traffic.

And as I unwittingly turned into a wrong intersection, the helpful traffic cop had extricated me from the melee and I'd gunned my Chevy into a comparatively freer thoroughfare headed for a direction different to my requirement. The guiding thought being that I could get into the actual highway by taking a side feeder. But alas, on this quest I did make a long detour to arrive at the destination. The registration formalities didn't take much time and the subsequent interactions were worthwhile.

         *                                                    *                                                      *

Prabhath, one of the electrical boys working at our place was of a great help as I was submitting our written application(why it's required despite an earlier request made on line shows our general mistrust of computers! Or is it that the human connection is maintained for corrupt practices, I wonder?). He'd brought in a forgotten document to the office, upon my instructions to where I was, saving me an additional trip. And his services were also elicited as a witness to certify that my wife was indeed mine. I was explaining to him the reasons for taking his signature when he cutely replied, "You don't have to explain, I shall do anything for you". What should I say about such helpful and enlightened people except to thank my stars for having them around!

         *                                                     *                                                    *

Pulling money out of an ATM gives me the jitters, always. What if the system misbehaves? What if I take too much of time while there is a serpentine queue waiting impatiently for their turn etc are some of the difficulties that I experience whenever I go for such transactions and since the bank had closed for the day, the remedy in case of a faux pas, would only be available only after the weekend making it a nightmarish experience. Anyways, nothing of that sort was encountered and the required amount was safely pocketed though I'd insisted on Lekha being with me to correct me if I erred. The cctv camera must have recorded my apprehensions!


1. A major chunk of the work was left undone thanks to frequent power interruptions. The weekend will have to be spent with the shortfalls.

2. Our first dinner invite on reaching here at our neighbour's. A thoroughly enjoyable get together and they seemed to be happy that their surrounding was suddenly resonating with activity! 



Friday, December 6, 2013

The first morning walk!

After what has been the chaos on shifting berth, this morning I was able to go for my walk. It was still dark as I left the house, wished my neighbour who was all decked up in traditional attire of a shawl et all to go out - obviously to attend a family function - and shaped my course northward on the highway towards Kozhikode. The traffic was sparse and a few of the vehicles were driving at prohibitive speeds - probably trying to hit their destinations before sunrise, perhaps.

I was wearing my recent acquisition, the straw hat bought from Kuala Lumpur @ 70 Malaysian Ringitts. Consequently, I might have unwittingly portrayed myself as someone out on a survey of his fiefdom and received a few hellos from the little school children, sporting amused looks, that passed by, a few 'namasthes' from passersby and curious looks from the ladies on their way to college/work. Did I have a regal(?) look or did I resemble an old English character - minus the pipe - straight out of a Dickensian novel?

I must have trudged about 3 kms, reached a place called 'Choolpuram' and was passing by the Guruvayur municipality's crematorium. What struck me was that the compound was quiet with no early morning activity and a huge, comparatively new building smack at its center on the lines of a similar facility that I'd seen at Thiruvananthapuram, a couple of years back. We sure have come a long way - learned to respect the dead and provide a clean and eco-friendly environment in disposing off the mortal remains with dignity!

I'd undertaken a journey, without prior knowledge, to the place where my body would be taken ceremoniously on the liberation of my soul. Was it a sort of teaser trailer, huh? No, I ain't being morbid and I know for sure that I've a long innings to go and 'there are promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep!'


There was a lot of work tied up by me today. The most important of 'em all was the sorting out of the electrical wiring as Lekha and me had been grappling with the numerous switches over the past week. Streamlining it with an inverter back up - power interruptions are aplenty out here - was a job that had to be done and it was achieved today. Phew!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

In a continuing state of flux!

'The Quarterdeck' still needs to go a long way in getting organised. Things cannot be located, there are packing cases yet to be unpacked and quite a few appliances need to be buttoned up for the lack of end-connectors/adapters. This sort of situation not only baffles me but also unsettles me. The people responsible to get these things done up seem to be busy elsewhere and are hard to get. Coaxing, making telephone calls etc are resorted to but the results are not forthcoming. An inertia is prevalent which needs to be shaken.

*                                                  *                                                      *

One of the documents that's a must in getting most of the things done is the 'ownership'/'proof of residence' certificate the requisition for which had been given to the Municipality office almost three days ago. Unfortunately for us, the clerk who issues it has been away on leave for the last so many days and her return is a must for further action. What surprises me is that these government offices seem to have no contingency plans for such occasions! Or is it that they do have but aren't keen to exercise them? People have told me that there's an unwritten rule that's being followed - the requirement for the applicant to wait for a week to receive a document after tendering the application. To my mind these are bureaucratic practices that we've abhorred all this while.

*                                                   *                                                      *

With the decentralisation of the governmental decision making, the common man was supposed to benefit from the facility as it had shifted closer to his home. The staff, by virtue of having been drawn from the local population are familiar with the usual requirements, know their customers rather well and therefore, are equipped to redress grievances/provide succour without a hint of delay. Instead, what's seen is that there is a new breed of bureaucrats who throw their rank and try to show their importance. Many of them lack the basic decency in dealing with the customers.


1. I've to go through this maze and in the meanwhile, literally, put my house in order so that things can be retrieved in a jiffy! O, this continuing state of flux!! 

2. The television has been made operational and we've the luxury of watching our favorite channels. Was missing the early morning hymns, melodious and soothing.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

If you fall.....don't roll!

The heading that I've given to my thought for the day is the literal translation(e & oe, as it's my effort!) of a Malayalam saying, "veenittu, urularuthu". The story has it that if somebody were to fall due to a misstep, to avoid the others from coming to know of the mistake of the faulty step, he resorts to rolling on the ground to give an impression that, that was the actual intention! Shorn of all the niceties, it simply means that one must accept one's mistake. Period.

I'm reminded of this saying when I see Tarun Tejpal's statement against his act of sexual harassment of a younger colleague - his daughter's contemporary and friend, if you please! At the outset, let me make myself very clear. I'm not being judgmental and I'd like to quote Jesus Christ when he'd said many, many eons back, "Let the one who hasn't sinned cast the first stone".

And I'm not justifying Tejpal's misdemeanour either. He was my hero of sorts, when he showed corruption in the corridors of power in connection with defence deals through the 'tehelka sting operation'. Which Indian can ever forget the shot of a gleeful, Bangaru Laxman, stashing away the bundles of currency notes that he got as a bribe. The poor fellow - he's the president of the powerful BJP - was sunk forever consequent to the ignominy!

From then on, Tejpal and his portal, Tehelka stood on a very high moral pedestal and he became a celebrity overnight. Luxurious living, an eventful life jet setting from one spot of the globe to the other, rubbing shoulders with the high and the mighty, the beautiful and the powerful - all these and more must have given him the feeling of infallibility much to his undoing.

But what the hell, we're after all humans and we've our weak moments......we make mistakes. Just accept the mistake, apologise or take appropriate corrective action warranted by the situation and move on. And do not insult the victim to cover your faux pas.

Instead, his statement, "It was consensual and a simple flirtatious act" lacks class and is totally devoid of sensitivity. Wonder what he's gonna achieve out of it? Will his near and dear ones ever be able to forget the breach of faith?


It's 04 Dec and the Navy Day. Here's wishing the Indian Navy many laurels in the years ahead! And I'm looking forward to seeing INS Vikramaditya in our waters soon!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Politicisation of the police force.

See what wanton politicisation of the police force has resulted in?

The press has been giving the details of the extravagant lifestyle of the accused in the 'TP Chandrasekharan' murder case at the Kozhikode jail. The case is all about the killing of an erstwhile comrade who had got popular when he'd taken a stand against the CPM, for the policies of the leadership. Sensing the danger that he'd cause to the party at the hustings, a killer gang was deputed to eliminate him and they did just that! The trial is going on right now and the verdict is to be pronounced shortly.

And then comes the story of the luxurious style of living of the accused in the jail premises. Smartphones and other sources of entertainment give the boys enough opportunity to post their messages on the social network - Facebook seems to be the most popular!

How do they manage to do this? It's clear as daylight that some of the jail authorities are helping the inmates. Are they the ones who've political inclination to the said party? Don't they realise that these set dangerous precedences? If the police force does not stay neutral the political dispensation that comes to power will pressurise it to do things of their interest resulting in its alienation from the general public.

Imagine the common man when he feels that he needs to be aligned with one political dispensation or the other while seeking justice for his genuine grievances! And despite the strong case that he might have in his favour, he fails to find succour simply because he's from the opposing camp!!


My sympathies are for the men in uniform. Their's is a damned existence. They're blamed if they do and they're blamed if they don't with their political masters exercising unbridled powers with no accountability, whatsoever.

Thank god, the public has begun to question the injustices being heaped upon them. And all the wrongdoers know fully well that they've nowhere to go if the very same public sits in judgement upon them!  

Monday, December 2, 2013

The end of an era!

My cellphone had begun to ring incessantly around a half past 3 in the morning. Calls at such unearthly hour, usually, are bearers of bad news except for some freaky friends who want to break into your sleep time just to irk you and have a good laugh at your expense.

Tonight's call was the former.......it had that insistent tone. As my ears perked up, I could catch young Ranjith's clear voice, "Chetta, ammachi passed away around 0130h. Her cremation will be around 4 in the evening and hope to meet you then". It was just that, no queries as to whether I'd be able to attend!

Around 6, my mom had called up to wish me many happy returns as today happened to be my birthday as per the Malayalam calendar. And then she said that we'd to attend the cremation and more importantly, she wanted to have one last look-see at my grand aunt(They did indeed have an affinity that I'd observed many a time). I tried to tell her that there were so many things lined up for the day, many people were scheduled to visit the house for getting things going, Lekha wasn't quite okay after yesterday's unpacking and therefore, I'd go and offer my condolences sometime within the next 16 days but it fell on deaf ears(no pun intended please)......Having been left without an alternative, I then decided to obey mom's diktat.

Kalyanikutty Amma, my grand aunt(Kochammachi), all of 95 years and Mrs. PN Panicker's younger sister had passed into the mist of time after a brief illness.

We'd reached the house at Ettumanoor well in time and saw her swathed in a bright red shroud lying in state in the spacious sitting room where her writ ran large for decades. She looked tired and withered and time had really taken a toll of her once beautiful face.

At 1717h her mortal form was shut off from view as the red shroud was draped around. I was one of the six who'd participated in her last rites and carried her frail body to the cremation point in the backyard.

RIP, kochammachi. I shall remember you for the love and affection that you'd showered upon me.


Flashback of events from the same room came zooming in as I waited for my turn in the final ceremonies:-

    (a) My great grandmother telling my mom, in utter anguish, about my joining the Sainik School,
         "Chandramathy, why have you dumped your son into the defence forces?" I was on my first
         vacation from school in the summer of '67.

    (b) My mom's uncle conducting the after death ceremony of my great grandmother chiding me
         for the string of mistakes that I was committing, "During your free time you must practice
         performing the last rites". And mind you, he was dead serious! It was Dec '71.

    (c) The tearful farewell for Kochu muthachan by a mammoth gathering as he was a
          very popular teacher. The occurrence....17 years back in time.


1. Realised that mom was right on her insistence about me attending the funeral.And thank god, I could make it after the initial hesitation!

2. It's the end of an era in our family.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

And the unpacking!

I'd got up leisurely and was hoping for a quiet Sunday but it not what was gonna be.

Firstly, the patriarch had arranged for the cropping of the huge mango trees and a walnut tree that were shedding leaves into our courtyard. The keen observer that he is, he'd arranged for the operation to keep us in good humour but hats off for his thoughtfulness. The local electricity office was asked to shut down power for the sake of safety and the guys took advantage of the request by interrupting power for an extra half hour well after the work had been accomplished.

A word about the efficiency of the workers. Using ropes judiciously they'd chopped off the branches and expertly brought them down without snagging the overhead electric cable. Sankarankutty, Sathyan and Vijayan had left studies during their primary schooling but were practically using the nuances of Physics to their advantage - without, perhaps, realising it!   

Anup and Savitha had fetched up by lunch time and hence the unpacking had got delayed and they'd to leave for their home, back at Kochi, by 1700h. We'd got into the act together and could place quite a few of the items at their rightful place. In the process, I'd to give up my siesta! Of the photographs kept at the mantelpiece, only my ammachi's photograph was retrieved which reminded me of her unfulfilled wish of wanting to stay with us. Was the retrieval symbolic of her presence amid us? I'd like to believe so.

And soon after, Narayanan who was with me years back, at Delhi, had called on along with his wife, Rema. It's great catching up with him and his tidings.

The exercise of unpacking had to be stopped as the duo from Kochi had to return. There would be only a partial relief from staying out of our suitcases. God, doesn't it take time?


A Sunday that quickly went away. And much more needs to be done, tomorrow's gonna be hectic!  

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A quiet day!

It's indeed a quiet day in the real sense.

    - the newspaper boy was told of our requirements and he's promised to supply them from
      tomorrow. Probably, it makes his calculations easy as to morrow would be the first of a new
      month because he was unable to gimme a copy of the day's newspaper

    - the television/the cable guy would've been untraceable but for my neighbour's - he's all of 89 
      years, fit as a fiddle and keeps a hawk's eye on anything and everything that happens in our
      compound and last evening, he and his wife had given us company during the puja - persistence. 
      The cable television guy has promised to do the needful tomorrow.

    - the landline telephone is gonna take time but Sudhakaran, the guy responsible for the installation,
      has promised quick action. He'd taken great pains to trace the lines laid within the house because
      it's been about four years since the initial installation and there weren't any route diagrams!

So, imagine having none of the tools necessary for time pass, these days, except for my laptop! I must hasten to say that I did enjoy the situation and got reminded that I was in this world only because of the calls that kept coming on my cellphone.

The patriarch has been helpful and when I thank him, he retorts as to why I'm thanking him because he's enjoying doing things for us. The old lady was gracious enough to dispatch her maid to help Lekha with her chores and to clean up the house after what was left of the last evening's puja. I'm reminded of a saying so appropriate to the situation and I quote,

     "We don't meet people by accident. They're meant to cross our path for a reason".

And no, I didn't mean the small help provided by the couple but for their genuineness to help us because we're new out here!


It's also the sixth day of living out of our suitcases. Hopefully, Anoop and Savitha will help us to have our stuff out of the packing cases and lay them out in the shelves meant for the purpose by tomorrow.

Friday, November 29, 2013

At 'The Quarterdeck' finally!

We'd got up at a half past 3, this morning, to be in time for the 'Ganapati homam' which had to be finished before sunrise. Towards the end of the hour long prayer and chants, small figurines of the heads of the turtle, buffalo, elephant, pig and lion were buried within the floor and the god's seat was firmly placed above the spot for two reasons viz:-

       (a) the animals would absorb the negative aura, if any, that are inherent in the house - in other
            words, an antidote for bad 'vaastu'.
       (b) the spot's importance in the scheme of things in that by being beneath the god's place in the
            house, everyone's gonna treat it deferentially.

A quick breakfast and it was time for the house warming ceremony. Between a half past 9 and 10, the cooking range was lit from the fire from the makeshift stove used for the earlier ceremony. Lekha's pitcher of milk had boiled and spilled out in the southerly direction. The priest has consequently asked us to seek the blessings of our relations who have passed into the mist of time to ensure a trouble free stay at the new house. So much about symbolism!

There was a tight bunch of guests who'd made it for the lunch which was basically a thanksgiving to all the workers who'd put in efforts to get the house to its present state. They're also distributed with new clothes as part of the custom!

The evening 'puja', after sunset, for the goddess was a colourful affair. A very bright 'rangoli' and chants with an array of seven brightly lit lamps made it ceremonial, ethereal and with a mesmerising aura.


After seeing the last guest off, we'd settled down for the evening and it was our first night at 'The Quarterdeck'. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fanaticism on an apogee.

The Pakistani taliban has asked its countrymen to stop praising Sachin Tendulkar. They are fed up with the unending tributes to the little master by anyone and everyone who's fond of the game in Pakistan.

I just can't understand the sheer audacity of those mean people who're trying to curb the freedom of expression of their countrymen. It would be sad if the media and the people who love the game are muzzled by the threats and start obeying the diktats lest they lose their lives or risk being tormented. Definitely not a good sign insofar as the nation's health is concerned!


Work doesn't seem to end. Guys have been working without break to beat the deadline. We did help them in running errands, chat up with them and served them refreshments at appropriate intervals. And by the time we made our final exit, we found that we'd just made it in time for the last sitting for supper at the hotel!

Tomorrow's gonna be a long day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A quiet house thrums now!

It was like any other other new house till the other day. Locked and awaiting the owner's favourable decision to activate it - for his/her own use or for being converted into a milch cow for tenants to occupy in quick succession. Giving a house on rent for one tenant over long periods of time can  pave the way for protracted legal battles between the rightful owner and the pretender.

'The Quarterdeck' is slowly beginning to show signs of life. The lights have come on, fans circulate the air within and the motor pumps up water from the well into the overhead tank. The tank overflows due to someone's error, a sharp shout for switching off the motor and the gushing water turns to a trickle till it comes to a complete halt. Signs of life, accentuating on the man's priorities in life!

The workforce is active, the sounds of drills and jigs deafening and the excited conversation amid the workers rent the air. The deadline has to be met, appreciation about the work must come their way while the owner's wallet gets steadily slimmer!

As we came off from the house by about 8, in the evening, I could see that our nest had taken life and was on its own. It will have its own unique sights and sounds - and hopefully, be the host to a multitude of guests.


And yet, there seems to be a lot to do over the next thirty six hours!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Setting up the nest.

The day was spent in monitoring the progress of work in our house and helping the boys at work by running errands to ensure that resources were never in short supply.

It was also a day marked by us calling on people in the immediate neighbourhood to announce our arrival and inform them about the impending commissioning of our house. It was also a process of learning about human kindness and the intrinsic goodness of people. Help has been coming in from unexpected quarters and from people whom I'm meeting for the first time.

And yes, the process of my domestication is surely on in right earnest!


While going through the procedures of restoring the cooking gas connection, getting a new telephone connection or getting a new water connection from the municipality, following doubts have crept into my mind:-

        (a) Are procedures meant to be used to frustrate or help the common citizen?
        (b) Is the citizen a punching bag for the bureaucrats to take out their frustration on?
        (c) Are impediments put deliberately to disillusion the citizen and drive them away?
        (d) Are they tools to encourage corruption?
        (e) Are we generating an environment of distrust?
        (f) And finally, if the rules are so stringent for everyone how come the frauds have their way?
Why can't we set up a simple, user friendly system genuinely to help the common man or am I living in Utopia by thinking so? 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Finally, at Guruvayur - lock, stock and barrel!

I'd driven to the naval hospital to give my blood for one last check up. My veins displayed their usual reluctance to show up but the young medical assistant was quite good, in that, he could draw the sample after a couple of minutes' efforts and no, I didn't even know as to when he'd plunged the needle into me.

We'd finally kicked off on our way to Guruvayur at a trifle past 12. Earlier, I'd a walk around of our house for the past couple of years and nine months - the mute witness to many happy occasions and wonderful moments. Though I've the permission to retain the flat for another three months, I somehow get the feeling that it's no more mine.

The drive was nice and we'd reached our house by teatime where the draper and his team were putting in the pelmets and they'd hung a set of curtains to show us the final effect. They looked nice!

The run up to the commissioning of the house has been divided into milestones and I find that there are a whole lot of things to be done over the next three days and duties have been assigned to each in the team.


And just prior to supper, I was able to meet the priest who'd preside over the three 'pujas' on the day of the commissioning. It was an interesting though brief session where he narrated the finer aspects of the ceremony and the implications! 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The day after.

It was a Sunday and therefore, the feeling of not having to go to work didn't come into play . Instead, the residential area committee had organised a morning X-country for the children and I was given the honour of being the chief guest and to give away the prizes - a task that would be my swan song. A flash rain in the early morning didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the participants but I wished that the crowd was bigger.

Manu, Shihab and Kuriakose trooped in by a half past 9 to do the packing and transportation of our belongings and they went about their task in right earnest. Papers and documents, thought to have been lost, surfaced mysteriously but the task of discarding possessions was undertaken rather strictly. The fully laden pick up truck was stacked up with the household goods and could take off just around lunch time. There was a mishap, when Lekha'd slipped and fallen on a patch of water. I sincerely hope that it's minor but she had already begun to limp, soon after.

There was a bit of a doubt among the boys who kept insisting that we should carry the deities in our 'puja room' packed, in our car. After much quizzing, we realised that it was more of a mental block because they were doubtful as to how we'd take it when they - from different religions - would handle 'our gods'. We'd put them at ease by saying that our gods were very sporting and would not not mind it a wee bit!

After a lovely farewell lunch, hosted by my cousin in a star hotel, it was time for a work out and to prepare for the evening farewell that we're hosting at the 'Birdies'. The crowd consisted of close friends, well wishers and the many who'd pulled along with me in achieving my vision, over the two years and eleven months that I was here. It was a great evening when sentiments were expressed and emotions exchanged.

Our work at Kochi has come to its logical conclusion and we move off to Guruvayur tomorrow, in the morning. The almost barren house, except for the bare essentials for our stay in the night, was another reminder of the inevitability of life - change!


1. The final phase of work in our new house will have to be speeded up so that the house warming on 29 Nov can take place with the least of glitches.

2. 58 years ago, on this day, this bloke had come into being. Telephone calls, smses and e-mail came flooding and it gave me a wonderful feeling of being wanted. A hectic but wonderful day!  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Onward sunset boulevard!

1. Today’s my last day in uniform marking the completion of a journey which had begun way back on 28 Jan 67 when I’d joined class VII at the Sainik School, Kazhakootam. The transformation of a gawky, homesick lad to his present disposition has been a continuous process and is still on, thanks to a whole lot of people who’d  flitted in and out of his life, over the years.

2. After my initial schooling at the Naval Primary School, Bombay, the Holy Angel’s Convent and the Model School (the latter two at Thiruvananthapuram) I‘d reached the portals of the SSKZM. I was terribly homesick and didn’t want the others to know about it and I used to cry into my pillows! And another trait – that I’d got rid off after painstaking efforts – making fun of the others and reacting against anyone who did that to me. Consequently, I’d made and unmade friends and enemies at school, many times over. The roles of Prefect, House Captain and an Under Officer in the NCC, helped me gain confidence in myself and in taking a stand on issues, come what may, from an early age. I would be kidding if I said that there weren’t any events that had saddened me while at school – not being selected for the Advanced Leadership Course and the Republic Day Camp were dampeners. And the villain was my height!

3. My brief stint at the University College, prior to joining the NDA was an eye opener in the real sense and a trend setter in making new friends. I tasted the tremendous freedom on the college campus and the nasty goings on of campus politics. I’d opted for the Physics (Main) with Chemistry and Maths as subsidiaries and had the privilege to learn from fantastic teachers like Vishnu Narayanan Namboothiri sir (English) and Sankaran Namboothiri sir (Physics). I’d briefly nursed dreams of becoming a doctor - the manner in which everyone looked up to the doctor, when life was at stake, bolstered by so many movies that I was privy to gave a heady feeling, so I thought. But this brief dream was brushed aside when the NDA results had come about. How I could do medicine without doing the Pre-Degree Course with Biology main was a question that defied logic – probably deep within I knew that I would get into the NDA!
4. Life at the Academy was fast paced and gruelling. I’d learnt the art of survivability – thanks to my school life and the Academy life – at an early age. And I used to get noticed in all gatherings because of my height. I was the shortest in our course in the Hunter Squadron and because of it, I was exposed to a lot of ragging initially, so much so, that quite a few of my seniors used to inquire as to why I’d no friends/school types/place types among the seniors so that I could get exempted from the fallins . The upshot of the experience was that I could absorb a lot of physical pain and had vowed to myself that I wouldn’t resort to ragging my juniors. In return, they’d given me a wonderful gift that remains etched in my memory, “Blue in decency” in the write up on the passing out course in the NDA journal and I'd made a lot of friends with whom I continue to interact even to this day. I must let you into this one. When the appointments were announced in the 6th term, much to my chagrin, I found that I was made the CQMS(Cadet Quarter Master Sergeant) – a thankless and glamourless one as he did not have a ‘cane'. I’d put it across to my Divisional Officer that I did not want to take over the job. It was then that my Squadron Commander had stepped in to tell me that this post was given to me taking my integrity into account! 

5.  I’m among the very few with the dubious distinction of having passed out of the NDA twice and the story goes like this. I’d passed out first as an Air Force Cadet and had fetched up in the Elementary Flying School, Bidar. The instructors were hard task masters but friendly and indulgent towards me. They insisted that I must report my height as '4 ft fuck all inches' whenever queried. And while I’d got the hang of landing the trainer HT-2, my take offs were hoary for which I was introduced in the crew room as 'the guy who takes off from anywhere other than the tarmac'. For fitting into the bucket seat of the aircraft, I used to use a couple of cushions beneath and the second couple behind so that I could touch the rudder pedals fully adjusted towards me – a matter that was the cause for mirthful laughter and leg pulling.

6. But on the day of my solo check, due to mid-flight vibrations of the vintage aircraft, the rudder pedals had gone back to their  original position rendering me rudderless – I understood the meaning  of the word in  all its horrific consequences that day! Though the instructors did try to egg me on for another attempt at solo, my passion (?) for flying  had diminished when they confirmed that I could only become a transport/ helicopter pilot – because in those days my mind was full of being a MiG/Gnat pilot or nothing else.  Consequently, I'd returned to the Academy for my second 6th term as a naval cadet. And it was the time that I’d attained ‘Nirvana’ – came to know the Academy better and I was made a ‘cane appointment’ despite my insistence that it should be given to the guys from the actual course and not to people like me who had already had their chance!

7. I'd joined the good ‘ole Delhi (Ex HMS Achilles baptised in the second world war’s Battle of the River Plate) along with  my course mates in Jan 77, as a cadet for six months of training that brushed up the rudiments of life at sea, followed by six months of training as a Midshipman on board the old Beas.

8. I’d done the conventional with the unconventional, gone by the books and completely out of them and some of those pranks during those heady, initial days after getting my commission along with a few involuntary actions that made me a hero to the others in the course of my service life that come readily to my mind are as follows:-

-          Sitting on the footpath with friends opposite the Metro cinema in Bombay having “paav bhaji” – that guy with the push cart made it really well - fully tanked up, well past midnight.
-           Pulling on cigarettes, packed with Afghan charas, sitting on the low parapet wall beside the road at Malabar Hill with my circle of doctor friends.
-          Lying fully stretched on the marine drive at Chowpatty after being thrown off my bike and watching a Best double decker clipping past half a foot away.
-          Enjoying a mujra at the Bombay central where I’d got sentimental about the dancer as she’d given me a lot of ‘bhav’ (?) over the evening.
-          Missing death by an inch when I’d  gone on a Srilankan Naval ‘Kruger’ while chasing an LTTE boat who’d fired at us from their machine gun and a lead had singed my hair .
-          Saved a sailor from death from a taut tug wire rope that had entangled his leg (In gratitude, he has named his son after me)
-          Scooped out a sailor who’d fallen overboard with the ramp door of my ship flouting all rules of ship handling and seamanship.

9.  I can go on and on  but suffice to understand that these activities if they’d come out in the open,  either my family would have disowned me long before or the Navy would have court martialed me! With the highs came the lows but the main theme in my life has been to bounce back to live life all over again after the real bad patches.

10. As I pass through my last day in office and the handing/taking over activities are on in full swing, I suddenly realise that I'd be missing the trappings of service! And no, I do not have anything in mind and am in a 'fancy free and foot loose' sort of a situation. We'll be moving to Guruvayur on Monday morning and the commissioning of our new house is gonna be on 29 Nov. I've named the house 'The Quarterdeck' though Lekha has preferred the name, 'Sukriti'. 


It's onward sunset boulevard!