Sunday, March 31, 2013

A hectic Sunday.

It was a hectic Sunday. Mom and my niece, Ammu, had to go to the nearby temple as it was the latter's 20th birthday. By the time we'd returned from the temple, Faisal had arrived back from Saudi Arabia.

A distraught Faisal, as well as his parents, had to be pacified and in a moment of compassion, I'd promised that the young man's employment in the country is my responsibility. I must admit that I haven't the foggiest idea as to how I'm gonna swing it, but swing it, I must! After all it's a promise and I'm sure the almighty will come to my rescue!

And then, it was the birthday celebrations with the cake cutting and the accompanying photo sessions. A small crowd of Ammu's friends and family formed the gathering. It was a quick lunch and departure for Kochi as I wanted to be in time for my evening walk.

The drive was hassle free and smooth though there were a large number of vehicles, up and down, on the highway probably making a beeline for their original destinations after the stretch of holidays in the past week. And we're at our destination by 1700 hrs.


It was only after unpacking that I discovered that I'd left my pair of walking shoes back home. And so, the evening walk had to be conveniently forgotten! What a blow?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A sentimental meeting.

Got up to the sight of mom lighting the lamp in the puja room and my day was made.

A trip to the Village Office for my nativity certificate was successful thanks to the concerted efforts of my sister, Minni and Soman, the Panchayat member.

Met Prabhakaran chettan in the evening - he's my senior most cousin from my father's family. Sadly, he has lost his sight and is now confined to the four walls of his house. It was a sentimental meeting!

Back at home.

Dateline 29 Mar.

A short drive and we're at home by lunchtime. The thrill on my mom's face made my day!

And then, it was meeting people all the way and by the end of the day, I was updated about most of the things. What was required to be done needs to be gone about systematically.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A mother's agony.

I was in the midst of meeting a deadline at work and on such occasions I hate any form of interruption. But my phone had begun to ring and there seemed to be an urgency on the part of the caller - at least I thought so. And I'd taken the call, though I must confess, reluctantly.

It was Zaheerabeevi who stays near my ancestral house. She was in tears as her son, Faisal was fetching up from Saudi Arabia over the weekend. The 'first' casualty, from my neck of the woods, after the 'nitaqat' has been introduced by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is a scheme to reduce unemployment among the local population. Earlier, the stipulation was that for every 10 foreign nationals one local individual had to be provided a job by organisations. The new scheme changes all that - it wants a local individual to be employed for every foreign national!

Faisal was working as a storekeeper in Dammam. He's the fourth son of Usman and Zaheerabeevi, out of seven children and I remember the fanfare with which he'd set off for Saudi Arabia, four years back, after paying Rs.3 lakhs to an agent. The couple runs a small mango drink manufacturing unit which is in our immediate neighbourhood and they keep an eye on my mom when she's all by herself during the daytime. They'd planned to get young Faisal married later this year when he was slated to come on leave. But fate had willed otherwise. Now, who'll give the lad a girl if he's unemployed?

I tried to put Zaheerabeevi at ease, to the extent feasible and told her that I'd be reaching home for the long weekend and we'd discuss and formulate a plan about the youngster's employment out here. Her parting shot was, "Son, we're banking on you. We know that you'll be able to help him".


Zaheerabeevi thinks that I'm the UPSC chairman and therefore, capable of pulling out any job from my hat! People's expectations are scary!! I only hope that I don't let her down and I'm sure that something will come my way to give her son a helping hand!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Small things, great happiness!

The day of Holi. Calls had to be made, wishing close friends and relatives and gave me a reason to connect with them after quite a while. And of course, there were incoming ones and the messages that needed immediate attention. There were a few things that had taken place which gladdened me immensely. Let me narrate them.

   (a) 'Free' advice.

   Vaidy and his wife, Geetha are worried parents. There son, Balaji, doing the sixth semester in Mechanical
   Engineering has become the proud owner of a mobike. They're worried about the prospect of their son
   overspeeding through the crazy traffic of Coimbatore - without a helmet that too - and getting into trouble.
   They'd wanted me to speak to him about being careful, saying that he'd definitely listen to me as I was his

   Reminded me about a call that had come to me, sometime after midnight, from home quite a while back. I
   was studying for an examination the next day and feared the worst as calls at unearthly hours usually
   brought in bad news. It was my dad at the other end, very apologetic about the call but put it across that
   it was because my mom had seen a bad dream about your's truly - I was planning to by myself a spanking
   new bike. I don't know as to whether it was out of relief that it was not the bad news that I'd expected or
   for the advice that I must buy a car instead of the bike at such an unseemly hour that the immature me did
   take off on my dad - and he quietly rode through his son's tantrum! The end result was that I did acquire
   a Standard Herald(Cleopatra) - a good buy - immediately after, while I was at Coimbatore!!

   I did congratulate the young man for his new acquisition and put across the dos and don'ts while driving
   with the statement that his parents loved him so much that they did not want him to end up in trouble
   while he drove on the roads, thanks to the mistakes of the other motorists. I only hope that he did not
   dump me as another 'pesky' uncle, interfering in his personal matters!

  (b) My last ride.

  My official Gypsy is of '96 vintage and has clocked around a lakh and seventy eight thousand kilometers.
  It is beset with a host of problems and is prone to visit the mechanic quite often, of late. It's due for being
  downgraded and must, therefore, go through a whole lot of paper work and other related procedures. But,
  having said this, I must admit that it had never let me down whenever I was in it, though the experience had
  been otherwise for some of the others!

  It's gonna take a while before we get a spanking new vehicle in lieu, for my organisation and during the  
  interim, we'd have to take help, as and when required. Of course, I shall be using my Chevy for my use
  and will have to get used to driving myself after the luxury of being chauffeur driven.

  It was a flawless run and I must confess that I'll miss it, at least, at the initial stretch but I'm also glad that
  we're embarked on the process of getting a new vehicle, after an initial bit of hesitation on my part!

  (c) A colourful Holi.

  It was a boisterous and colourful Holi in our residential premises with the children having a lot of fun. And
  it was a great sight to see them being careful about not splashing colours within the buildings. I get more and
  more impressed with the maturity of the young children of today! They're definitely gonna be the good
  citizens of the morrow.


Someone came and blackened me with dark colours. I wondered as to how such dark a shade was achieved and must admit that it took a long while to wash it off!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Misfortunes haven't dented his zest to live.

Manikantan Pillai, with the white cane, is an extraordinary gentleman and I'd the privilege of befriending him today.

I'd often wondered as to what he did within the confines of the naval base but it had defied an answer for quite a while. But the opportunity to know him better came my way today as I was returning home from work. He was standing by the wayside for a lift and soon after he'd settled down in the Gypsy, our conversation had begun because we'd very little time to interact - he needed a drop at the main gate so that he could avoid the monotonous trudge of around two kilometers, in the heat!

He wasn't born without sight, in fact after his education, he was working as a technical assistant in the University of Gujarat at Ahmedabad and had begun to enjoy his work when disaster struck. About four years into his stay there, an ulcer in his eyes began to cause him utter discomfort and during one of his breaks when he'd come down to his home, he'd gone to the famous eye hospital, at Angamali, for treatment. His sight had improved after a surgery and he'd assumed that the problem was a thing of the past and things were okay for the next couple of years. But the ulcer reappeared yet again and despite a second surgery, he'd lost his sight forever.

While narrating his life's story, what was striking was that he neither heaped blame on the others nor did he wallow in self pity about his fate.

He'd to give up his job and he returned to his hometown at Kochi. It was then that he applied for the job of a telephone operator and has been working, as one, in one of the naval establishments, out here, for the last 27 yrs. His family consists of his wife, a son studying in class VI and his aged mother - he's the sole bread winner of the house. As we dropped him and my 'saarthi', Sebastian, had walked him to the safe confines of his bus stop, I couldn't help but say a small prayer for him for his continued well being.

To be snatched the gift of sight at the prime of one's life is devastating if not catastrophic! He seems to have forgiven his God long ago. But surely, he's a braveheart!!


My tryst with Manikandan Pillai reminded me of an old saying and I quote, "I cried because I'd no shoes till I saw somebody who'd no feet".


And news has just come about the sad passing away of Malayalam cine actress, Sukumari, a cousin of the famous Travancore sisters - Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini - after a month's stay at a hospital in Madras, due to a massive cardiac arrest. Her internal organs had failed thanks to burns suffered while lighting the traditional lamp in the puja room of her house. An actress par excellence on whom any role was suitable because of her versatility. She was 73.

The Malayalam film industry can never recover from this irreparable loss. RIP Sukumari amma. My humble prayers to a powerhouse of talent.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The holy week.

From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, this is the holy week. Christians, the world over have been on prayer and abstinence for the last forty days or so.

Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem after which he's seized and crucified by the then rulers who're alarmed by his vast and spontaneous following! While Good Friday, sadly, witnessed his crucifixion, the following Sunday - the Easter Sunday - became a day to be celebrated and rejoiced to commemorate his resurrection and attainment of heaven.

Here, at Kochi and in various other parts of the state, it's a common sight, these days, of people in saffron clothes/robes on a trek to the church at Malayattoor. And they carry the cross to symbolise the hardship and discomfort that Jesus Christ had gone through, for the sake of mankind as a whole. The cross that each pilgrim carries is planted at the church site and a mass - attended by thousands of the trekking devotees - is conducted on Good Friday.

Here's a gem. How's Easter Sunday calculated?

This is one festival that keeps shifting dates unlike Christmas. Strangely, the heavenly bodies come into play in this calculation. The March Equinox, Full moons and Sundays are the prime players.

Easter is the first Sunday, after the full moon, following the March Equinox!

So, Easter always falls between 22 Mar and 25 Apr - a stretch of a month plus!!


The Malayattoor church pilgrimage reminds me of the 'kaawarias' who undertake long treks to collect 'Gangajal' as an annual pilgrimage in north India!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In eternity.

The Sunday was hot and so, going out was unthinkable. I was plain lazy to do even the routine chores.

What I've observed over the years is that folks find the day as an excuse to stay in bed and catch up on their sleep.  And what amuses me is that most people give up even their fitness routines a holiday. It amuses me because to my mind, the body needs to be kept toned always for a healthy and thus, carefree life. The endeavour towards that end should not get interrupted by a Sunday or for that matter, any reason whatsoever.

One might say that one must enjoy doing whatever one might embark upon and getting up early on a Sunday morning neither invites happiness readily nor can it be ecstatic in the strictest sense.

So when I'd gone out for my walk this morning, the usual crowd was missing. There were just a handful of diehard walkers and I do not know whether I'm right in saying this, but at least a couple of them were forced to  be outdoors as their pet dogs needed the break. I owe an explanation for the tongue-in-cheek statement that I've made - their walks were short, both in terms of distances covered and the time duration that they're seen out. Probably, the cosy confines of their beds was too irresistible to be left unoccupied and therefore, they made a beeline for their destinations soon after their pets had finished their jobs!!

And no, I've no problems on that score so long as they're able to maintain their body fitness and anyways, it's their decision entirely, huh!


I could catch up with a bit of reading and also did some spring cleaning with the help of the vacuum cleaner. Effort on my part was the least, you see, thanks to the handy contraption! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My friend's last day at the office.

While at school, we're not the best of friends. I mean, each of us had our own circle of friends, were in different houses and also, in separate divisions of the class. We used to come across during common interactions like the school's annual day or the sports day and at the mess. What I remember about him, during the school days, was the masterly manner in which he grappled the nuances of the English language despite his Malayalam medium background and had acquired proficiency as we we're leaving its portals.

At the Academy, again, though course mates we're in different squadrons and separate divisions. We used to cross each other intermittently and regularly, of course, during the train journeys at the term breaks! And we'd gone our different ways on passing out from the Academy as we're in different services. It was during the last one year, while being here at Kochi, that we got to know each other better and there was a particular time during the run up to his daughter's marriage where he'd required my help to tackle a tricky situation.

There's an easy camaraderie between the two of us and we discuss anything and everything that interests or exercises us. A simple guy who can never harm another but can get flustered at even the slightest deviation from a planned activity and he's very close to his family. He doesn't have the heart to say what's on his mind lest he hurts the other and it's this quality of his that made him run afoul of another classmate and friend of our's, getting thoroughly 'bruised' - deep within - in the bargain.

Paddy, it's good to speak your mind out as it clears all misunderstandings and sorts out the clutter that gets accumulated. One cannot be nice to everyone, every time!


I shall be missing you, especially in the manner that you readily laughed at my PJs. Take care and may god be with you! Here's wishing that you get whatever you wish for!! May your nest be ready at the earliest and I was dead serious when I'd asked you to reserve a room for me in it - I can drop in whenever I feel the need!!!     

Friday, March 22, 2013

Seen and heard.

I've been witness to some fascinating, as well as intriguing, sights and sounds that have come my way and I thought that I must share them on this forum and so, here I go:-

      (a) An 'outdoors' family.

      I'd gone to pick up a friend from the railway station and on my return, while we're waiting at the red light
      at a traffic junction, there was this wonderful sight of an entire family - consisting of the father, mother,
      son and daughter - in sports gear on a morning jog. For some unfathomable reason, I was quite happy
      for that early morning sight!

      (b) An acrimonious occasion.

      It was a formal lunch and there was a wide sprinkling of guests from the various walks of life. I and two
      other classmates were also in attendance. I wasn't aware of the fact that my friends were not even on
      talking terms with each other till I saw them keeping a discreet distance from each other and the sad fact
      was that their spouses, too, followed in their wake. It's because of a perceived 'official' slight from the
      senior among them.

      A few harsh words were exchanged between the two and I'd to forcibly intervene and stop them,
      failing which it could have gone unwieldy and ugly. Must call the foursome home and settle things
      amicably; I can't have my buddies be 'enemies' all over again over trivia(which we realise now) which
      used to be a regular affair while we're at school! And I must hasten to add that those inimical
      relationships had a very, very short shelf life!!

      (c) In preparation of the 'Earth Hour'.

      As I came in after my evening walk - it was timed a trifle earlier as we'd to look up somebody - when
      a group of children came to me to find out as to whether we're participating in the 'earth hour' tomorrow.
      I was gladdened by their enthusiasm and have assigned them tasks to 'police' the residential area to
      ensure strict compliance among the residents.

      Meenakshi, a class VI student, tells me and I quote, "Uncle, this time we shall make sure that everyone
      keeps even their fridges off!" I couldn't help but admire the child's logic!!


A master stroke in diplomacy with Italy yielding to pressure and agreeing to send back its two marines to go through the legal proceedings in our country. But has their return been facilitated on the assurance that they wouldn't be awarded the death sentence?

Sent to me by a friend.
       "Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.........
        Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.......
        Walk beside me and be my friend......."


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why're we blatantly partial?

Cine actor Sanjay Dutt has been sentenced to a 5 yr jail term by the Supreme Court in connection with the Bombay blasts of 1993. He has been convicted under the Arms Act for the illegal possession of AK 56 rifle, 9mm pistol with ammunition and grenades which were part of the consignment smuggled in by the underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim and his cohorts to cause serial blasts in Bombay during Mar '93.

It has been established earlier that he'd no role in the conspiracy and was clean on that score. Perhaps, he'd got into bad company during the dark phase of his life when he lived a wayward life and was used by those wicked men to achieve their ends or even to derail the investigations that were bound to follow and in the process, cover up their tracks. That the ruse failed completely highlights the meticulous homework carried out by the investigating agencies and the police.

The reactions, consequent to the Supreme Court's judgement, show our emotional stupidity. Almost all the TV channels had panels of distinguished people - including, to my utter surprise, eminent legal luminaries - discussing the pros and cons of Sanjay going to jail. That he's committed a mistake which, if committed by a common man will fetch that man a stint behind the bars, is a harsh fact and an unpalatable truth! Therefore, he needed to be punished and the quantum of punishment meted out to him by the learned judges took into account the gravity of his involvement. Period.

While appreciating the fact that he's regaled us through many of his movies and the 'Munnabhai' series, in particular, it doesn't give the 'raison d'etre' for trivialising his mistake and allowing him to go scotfree. If that were to happen, the common man would aptly conclude that the rich and the mighty, of the land, have a separate set of rules to govern them!

Let not emotions colour our judgement!


Kennedy was a much liked President of the United States. When he was brutally assassinated, photographs and news clips showed his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, in bloodstained clothes with their young son, John, saluting his dad's bier. They were heart rending sights all right but not a single American clamoured for Jackie to be made President. I suppose this is the basic difference between us and them!


That I like Sanjay Dutt is a fact, thanks to the numerous roles that he's essayed in so many Hindi movies. In fact, my friends pull my leg at my ability to watch the Munnabhai movies anytime and every time. I've lost count on the number of times that I've seen them and hence, the agony that he's going through is shared despite my views above - make no mistake on that! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shanaya, the 'first rays of the sun'.

Today, we'd the pleasant occasion of looking up a three day old baby girl and her mom at a hospital which is a stone's throw away from where we live.

Shanaya Mariam Felix is the daughter and the first child of her parents - Felix and Mily - and the grand daughter of my classmate and friend, Jojy and his wife, Saly. Her parents had done a lot of study and zeroed in on the name which, in Sanskrit, means the 'first rays of the sun'. Pretty thoughtful, I must say! The young lady has already carved a niche for herself - she insists on having both her hands out of the protective wrap around her.

I was particularly happy for her grandparents and must let you on to this information. There was a time when they wanted to give a baby sister to their son and I'd put them onto a good friend and doctor, Shash. Unfortunately, due to the administration of a particular medicine, they're forced to abandon their wish and it was an agonising incident for all of us - the couple, the doctor and me! Shash was devastated as he'd a good reputation in his professional field. The pain was always there deep within me as I felt responsible for the mishap - I mean, they wouldn't have met each other had it not been for this common friend of their's!

To my mind, it was redemption of sorts from a long felt agony, with the arrival of the grand daughter!


As she lay serenely, she was obviously unaware of the world around her with all its incongruities. Here's wishing that she gets all that she wishes for in her journey of life!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When the lawmakers take the law into their hands.

The current trend of witnessing bizarre happenings is an ongoing pantomime. People in power misusing their position - paradoxically, gifted to them by the very same gullible ones - is nothing new in this country. What gets to be pathetic after such a misdemeanour is that the blighter clutches his chest and gets admitted into a hospital to show that he's very ill to avoid going to the jail!

They're our lawmakers! And the majority of them think that it's their birthright to dodge the law as they happen to be the privileged ones!!

The latest misdemeanour comes from the premises of the Maharashtra state assembly where about half a dozen legislators, from various parties, punched, kicked and slapped a policeman, Assistant Sub Inspector Sachin Suryawanshi who's now convalescing in a hospital. The joke is that all the political parties have done a lot of chest thumping and shed crocodile tears and each party has vowed that the guilty, if he were from their fold, would face dire consequences!

And what was poor Sachin's fault? He'd the audacity(?) to book an MLA's car for overspeeding!

The behind-the-scene-activity must have already begun. The ASI would be cajoled, threatened and pleaded with by the goons to give a statement clearing them and I won't be surprised if the hapless gentleman admits to his 'fault' of having provoked them!


Apologies. But the cynic in me is convinced that I'm not wrong in my assumptions! And if I'm wrong, I'd be the happiest! But these goons need to be shown the door!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

At the wedding!

It was a well organised function at the Krishna Inn of Guruvayur. Earlier, between 6 and 7 in the morning, Rahul and Athulya had gone through the paces of the 'thali kettu' at the temple's premises which was a short and sweet affair. And then was the function at the hotel.

Quite a few of our friends and course mates were present in their Sunday best. And I made it a point to meet each and everyone to exchange hellos and catch up with what was happening to them. Invites have already been given by two of our friends, whose children are getting married in May in quick succession and thankfully, there's no clash of dates.

Through all the bonhomie and the back thumping that went by, what astonished me was the reticence on the part of a few guys to interact freely with the others. Were they carrying a chip on their shoulders thanks to the aura of their current status? Or were they playing a wait and watch game as to who'd break the ice first and end up with no interaction, thereby losing a golden opportunity? Or did some past misunderstanding come in the way as a stumbling block? Or was it plain disinterest in interacting with too many people that would eventually fetch no meaningful returns, anyways?

To my mind it can only be termed as a 'wasted' opportunity'


I must add that I'd a whale of a time interacting with almost everyone at the function eliciting a reaction from a friend that I seemed to know everybody and was popular! ....Well!!  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A working Sunday!

I'd decided to go on a morning walk but finally, stayed on in bed as I developed cold feet at the last moment and decided to have that extra sleep because it happened to be a Sunday!

Subsequently, we could hit the road to Guruvayur only by a half past 10. The drive was nice as the roads were empty thanks to the holiday and we could reach our destination in two hours flat. A quick lunch, a short snooze and the meeting with the workforce, readying up our house, went off with clockwork precision followed with a lovely cup of coffee with our neighbours. They seem to be waiting for our arrival and one felt humbled to see their eagerness.

The evening's pre-wedding reception of Athulya was a nicely organised function. It was also an occasion when I was able to meet up with a lot many classmates, schoolmates, course mates and friends. I could catch up with many of them and felt happy. Vaidy and Geetha were staying at the same hotel as us and we could, therefore, chat up leisurely.


All in all an engaging day where I could meet up with many of my friends after what seemed to be a long, long time!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

10 years!

It's ten years to the day since Bruno had left us. That fateful morning still disturbs me like a bad dream.

Our 10 year old Doberman had breathed his last in the morning of 16 Mar 2003 while we're at Delhi. He was in dire straits in the wee hours of the morning as I'd got up abruptly hearing a very unusual sound. It was my poor fellow breathing harsh and quick and he was under our bed. I could see his agony and felt powerless, impotent and angry with myself of not being able to do anything to relieve him of his acute discomfort. I spoke to him a few words of comfort that I'd take him to the hospital in the morning and also remember telling him that he was the best thing that had happened to us and how he'd changed our lives tremendously!

He must have been aware about his impending end and was facing, with stoic and calm, the final throes of the inevitable - the only truth in life!

He's left us with plenty of memories - his delightful capers, his sneaky preference to Lekha over me which I didn't mind a wee bit, his eagerness to be amidst us all the time and the happiness that he displayed every time I entered the house and so many more!

I miss him every waking moment of mine.


Should I get another pet? I am seriously thinking of getting a pair of retrievers but am holding back because of the dread of losing them. The agony is unbearable from experience!


Friday, March 15, 2013

The dietitian's tips.

A couple of weeks back there was a medical camp that had drawn blood samples to ascertain the risk of heart disease, among the residents, thanks to the lifestyle in vogue. My results showed that the sugar levels were going awry.

I decided to meet the specialist to ascertain that everything was fine but she did tell me that if I lived the way as I was doing as of now, I could have difficulties a few years from now. She has put me on medicines and has slapped quite a few tests to be undergone, after a month, before the next review! Seeing the number of lab forms, I'd started feeling medically down. And she'd referred me to the dietitian for tips on the foods to have with a list of dos and don'ts.

The dietitian seemed to be quite understanding when I told her that she must permit me to have whatever I like, at least once in a way, at acceptable frequencies. It's a strict diet for 30 calendar days aiming for a reduction of five kgs even though my present weight is within acceptable limits.

It's my fond hope that the medications will be tapered, as has been promised, at the next review because I'm gonna follow the medical and dietary advice, to the letter!


Anything to keep my heart ticking, eh?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Do they consider us weak?

Going by media reports about events happening around the globe and actions by certain countries that have immediate ramifications on us, as a nation, I find that the answer to this question of mine is disturbing! Is it the price that we pay for the diplomatic niceties that we follow? And is it that they consider our decency as a perennial weakness?

I'm perturbed because of the following events:-

    (a) The marines shall not return, says Italy.

          The two Italian marines, responsible for the killing of the three fishermen off the coast of Kerala, had
          been sent back to their country to facilitate voting(Did we've to send them in the first place? Doesn't
          the Italians have the system of postal ballot?) in their national elections. Italy has now said that they
          shan't return and if at all there's the need to continue with the case, India could pursue it in an
          international court of arbitration.

     (b) The Pakistanis pass a resolution on Afzal Guru.

           The Pakistanis have passed a resolution in their national assembly demanding the return of Afzal
           Guru's body to his family. The audacity is all the more outrageous that this has taken place exactly
           three days after its Prime Minister was allowed to visit the dargah at Ajmer! Why is that country
           being allowed to mock at our sensibilities time and again? And the paradox is that their legislators
           have a lot to discuss and bring out legislation to sort out the chaos within!!

      (c) The Maldivians back out of an agreement.

            The present government of Male, went back on the understanding reached with us, and had arrested
            their former president. Diplomatic agreements have to be adhered to for maintaining good      
            relationships between countries. Were they playing to their Chinese constituency?

To vote or not to vote against Sri lanka, on the UN's apex body of Human Rights is another dilemma for the central government keeping in mind the relationship between the two countries against the backdrop of domestic political compulsions in Tamilnadu!


We need to flex our muscles and convey to the rest of the world that we're strong and decent and never to misconstrue our magnanimity for weakness!        

The weather gods seem to be displeased!

Dateline 13 Mar.

Life has been difficult, weatherwise, in Kochi. The mercury has shot up and the days have become unbearably hot.

I have missed the deadline for posting this thought of mine thanks to conditions that look conspiratorial:-
        (a) Erratic power supply. Power outages are a common phenomenon these days. The electricity board
             says that most of the reservoirs feeding our hydel projects are crying for want of immediate rains to
             maintain acceptable levels of water for power generation. But there doesn't seem to be a possibility
             of even a thundershower in the catchment areas!

        (b) Erratic telephony. The telephone seems to be on the blink, wonder why? Probably, the heat is
              taking its toll on the communications as a whole.

        (c) Erratic internet. It goes without saying that when the telephone is down can the net avoid an
             interruption? But this one takes the cake. The net is down even while the telephone is okay and
             I don't seem to understand the technical niceties. When the service provider is asked as to what's
             going on, he has a ready answer, 'the OFC cable is faulty'. Doesn't ofc mean, overhead feeder cable
             and so, isn't it a case of double fault with a cable as its appendage? Or is it a convenient excuse to
             give to an insistent caller?

I smell a conspiracy!


Am reminded of a similar episode in Jamnagar while I was undergoing a course. My mate in the adjacent room had sleepless nights because of an erratic fan. After lodging a complaint with the electrical workshop and waiting for the mandatory 48 hrs, he accosted the electrician and blasted him who meekly told him, "Saab, EMF ka problem hai. Store mein EMF stock mein nahin hain. Local purchase karna padega aur uske liye waqt lagega"(Sir, EMF is the problem and currently, it's not on stock in the store and will have to resort to purchasing from the market that will take time).

My friend seemed to be happy with the answer till somebody told him as to what EMF was all about. He has not forgiven that electrician to this date as I understand!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The young lady in the red shoes!

For the last couple of days, I've been out on morning walks and I find them refreshing, in a different sense, compared to my evening outings. The basic difference is that, in the evenings, one gets to come across more number of people out as they go about their normal lives - making a dash for their homes after, perhaps, a hectic day at their workplace! The scenario in the morning is entirely different.

The quietude, the sparse traffic, the freshness in the air and the typical morning smells emanating from the roadside eateries coupled with the commuters wolfing down their breakfast - while their luckier counterparts have the luxury of being in bed for a while more - are sights that underline the intriguing facets of life. The hymns blaring from the loudspeakers of the temples add a religious twang to the morning air!

Among the early morning walkers on the beat that I take, I've been noticing a young lady as I bluster through my circuit of roughly, 6 kms. I overtake her once and she crosses me on my home stretch but since the light is less as it's still dark, her visage hasn't been clear! But what hit my eyes were her bright red and black bordered(Or is it blue?)  pair of walking shoes - an unusual but eye catching colour, I must admit!!

And I identify her as the 'the young lady in red shoes' courtesy a famous childhood fable that all of us are familiar with. I would be failing in my duty, as I spin this yarn, if I did not acknowledge the fact that she's a fitness freak. And I'm also glad that the tribe of people, out of their homes and exercising, is on the rise.


Long live the jogging/walking brigade! Good health is a must and the best wealth!!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Adieu, Prabha chechi.

Prabha chechi, a close friend of my second aunt, Vilasini kunjamma, has passed into the mist of time. My aunt cried and cried in front of her friend's lifeless body and people have observed that she'd not displayed so much of emotions, even when her own husband had passed away earlier.

I suppose that is an indicator about the depth of their relationship of which I was fortunate to be privy to, albeit in a small way, during my school days. I'd just been admitted into the class III of the Holy Angels' Convent at Thiruvananthapuram and Vilasini kunjamma's office, the Khadi Board, used to be located behind the Government Secretariat, at the Statue junction. I used to feel terribly homesick and would trudge my way to her office at the slightest pretext. Prabha chechi was my kunjamma's best friend at the office and I'd observed that they shared an easy rapport and a camaraderie without frills. In addition, what I remember about them was that they're always immaculately dressed in their khadi silks, both strikingly good looking and had the propensity to laugh spontaneously. I've this sneaky feeling that chechi played an important role, as the messenger, when my kunjamma was in love with her future husband.

Prabha chechi was fond of me and used to shower me with gifts and chocolates while advising me that I'd to concentrate on my studies for which regular attendance in the classes was a pre-requisite!

She used to keep track of my progress subsequently and I used to make it a point to meet her whenever I came down on holidays. And according to Vilasini kunjamma, she was very keen that I married her daughter but, as luck would have it, she was taller than me and I feel uncomfortable when girls 'look down upon me'! So, that aspect did fizzle out without much ado and more importantly, without heart burns! A few years back, while I was at Delhi, I got a call from her saying that I must help her son-in-law to buy brass clips, handles and other knick-knacks for his new house, under construction, and wasn't she very, very effusive in her gratitude for rendering that trivial help?

RIP, Prabha chechi! You shall always remain in my heart and I shall cherish the fact that I was a special guy in your life. Here's wishing your family the strength to tide over these difficult times.


Did she have a premonition about her ultimate journey? She'd a two hour chat with my aunt, just a day prior, touching upon people and events whom they'd encountered in the course of their lives! 

A quiet Sunday.

Dateline 10 Mar.

It was a quiet Sunday. There were two events that were taking place in Kochi which kept many of the Kochiites indoors thanks to prolonged traffic snarls towards the northern approaches to the city and the events were:-

         (a) Lakhs of people paying their respects for their near and dear ones, who're deceased, at the
              River Periyar's banks at Aluva on the occasion of Mahasivaratri.
         (b) The inauguration of the 'Lulu shopping mall', the largest of its kind.

I'm always amused by the sincerity that people show in carrying out ceremonies to honour their dead. Are the strong sentiments displayed out of guilt for not having looked after them while they're alive?


1. The long drawn out ceremonies/rituals in connection with remembering folks, who've passed into the mist of time, exploits the guilt in people for not having done right while they're alive and the fear of retribution!

2. The Kochiites have the luxury of one more shopping mall to spend their time during weekends and holidays!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bad upbringing, atrocious parents!

Biti Mohanti, the fugitive from the law, has finally been caught from a bank in Kannur where he was working as a probationary officer. He was undergoing a jail term of 7 yrs, in a jail in Jaipur, for raping a German lady. After a few months in jail, he'd gone on parole during which he'd given the slip to the police and was  absconding, ever since, again for the last 7 yrs. He couldn't have done this on his own and must have been helped by the people close to him - hence, his father comes under close scrutiny. With power and pelf, in this country, people have done the unthinkable in the past!

It goes without saying that he must have been assisted in his escapade by his father who was a serving DGP in the Orissa cadre then. The father and his cronies must have scripted his disappearance, his subsequent admission for the MBA course in a college in Puttaparthi, his clearing the bank test and finally, fetching up on probation at a relatively obscure public sector bank at Pazhayangadi in Kannur. A sad spectacle of the protector of the law helping the guilty to dodge the very same law!

It's crystal clear that the boy has been brought up to be a beast and the responsibility in having produced a bad citizen, rests entirely on the parents. I'm appalled by the incident and have the following queries:-

         (a) Didn't the boy's mother know about her son's shenanigans and his wicked streak earlier? And what
              were her remedial actions?

         (b) Or did she play the role of a typical Hindi movie mother, who swallowed everything that her
               husband and son fed her with? If so, is she unsound of mind or an illiterate?

         (c) Does the father believe that his son harbours deep respect for him in blessing him in his escapades?
              He doesn't realise that deep within his son's mind, the youngster might have utter contempt for him.

         (d) How was he able to do the MBA course and write the bank test? As it transpires, he's resorted
              to impersonation.


Yet another victim of bad upbringing, brought up by parents who never seems to have had time for him as they're busy in their own rat race!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Celina @ Thrikkakkara!

Today's the International day of the woman. A host of programmes are on the agenda at various parts of the city to highlight the importance of the woman. While appreciating the efforts on organising events to highlight womanhood, the cynic in me wonders as to why we resort to meaningless lip service without any change in our mindset about women.

Perhaps, the inputs that would be provided by these events would be the catalyst for change.

As a run up to this day, there has been plenty of real life stories about women who've made a mark in society by breaking into bastions hitherto known to be exclusively male oriented and have scripted success with their grit and determination. May I thank the media for bringing to life these silent and unsung heroes.

Celina is in charge of the crematorium at Thrikkakkara, at Kochi. Three years back after an initial apprenticeship with the previous contract holders, she made a bid for the crematorium's operations and won the contract. Since then, she has taken the cremation of the dead as a sacred duty and provides succour to the mourners in her unique manner, thereby, winning their heartfelt appreciation. There are many occasions when she spends time at her workplace, into the wee hours of the night, to ensure the burning of the corpses
without interruption and says a prayer for all those who 'pass' through her hands.

With her earnings, she nurtures her family consisting of her children and grandchildren. And her greatest asset is that she's positive and looks at the sunnier side of life - in one of her interactions with the media, she'd said and I quote, "My grandchildren say that I'm off mood when no corpses are brought in for cremation, whereas they don't realise that the hearth is kept alive with my earnings". And that too with a disarming smile!

Celina, keep doing what your mind tells you. There's no job that's unimportant or dirty. You're the answer to many people who complain about no jobs being available and here's wishing you success in all your endeavours and everything that you wish for!


It also happened to be the day when I got stuck in a lift for about half an hour. The emergency lamp within the lift went off after 10 mts. I'd promised to ride out the impasse without initiating the hooter which elicited the response from our neighbour and I quote, "You seem to have enjoyed the lift's breakdown". What do I say to that and flashed my famous grin for want of a suitable retort! I was only trying not to panic!!     

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Does this happen only to me?

This evening, after work, I'd gone to the Geeyem Motors to collect my Chevy after her servicing on completing 27,500 kms. I'd met the the servicemen who'd actually worked on my car, to get a first hand knowledge of the state of the undercarriage(I've this habit of going through unwieldy bumps and depressions on roads at prohibitive speeds and in the process, kiss the surface quite too frequently!), the state of the fluids replaced and generally, about the work that have been done and about the spares that were replaced during the servicing. And it's always a treat to get tips on driving from those technicians, all hard core automobile enthusiasts!

Armed with the new information, I was driving back home at a comfortable speed through the evening traffic maze and was awaiting the green signal at one of the main traffic junctions! Just as the light came on, to avoid an autorickshaw that had come uncomfortably close to my Chevy, I'd swerved to the right and in the process, heard a sickening thud as the bumper took a scratch from the lorry standing beside - thankfully, its driver wasn't upset at all as it seemingly, didn't affect his vehicle. And I was left with two options:-

            (a) Take my Chevy back to the service station and get the dent repaired tomorrow itself.
            (b) Drive around with the dent till the next servicing!

Between Scylla and Charybdis, I chose the latter!!

I'm reminded about other recurring phenomena, of the same genre, all through my life and shall narrate a couple, here:-

             (a) I'd have returned from my school/Academy, for the recess, after a semester. The whole family
                  would be at the table to break bread together and mom would have spread the freshly starched,
                  white table cloth. And it would invariably be me who'd soil the cover by dropping some dish
                  onto it while serving into my plate! Mom would check her exasperation as your's truly was back
                  home after a long while but my sisters would chuckle to their hearts' content at my discomfiture
                  and dad would offer his support by saying that mistakes are only human!!

             (b) The washroom would have been scrubbed clean but when I walk into it, I usually end up leaving
                   my footfalls on the floor thanks to my soiled footwear! And mind you, my mom was and
                   continues to be a stickler for cleanliness!


Why am I clumsy? Why do I always end up fluffing the punchlines in a narration? And why do I get belated ideas to do the right thing at the right time?   

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

An early morning snub!

With Sebastian, my saarthi, at the wheel our Maruti Gypsy had come out of the gate of the residential enclave and was negotiating to enter the main road, perpendicular to our exit. For doing so, Sebastian had headed for the break in the central median towards our right - a short cut of sorts, instead of the rightful turn to the left for the break, prior - as was being done as a matter of routine till yesterday.

An elderly gentleman, in a red Tavera, had come by at that moment and stopped his vehicle, blocking our passage. He then pointed out that we're in the wrong. And went on to say that while he respected the man in uniform very much, he expected him to do the correct thing always and every time, so as to set an example to the common man!

My instinctive reaction was to tell him to go take a walk and to write to my superior about my misdemeanour, as he'd threatened at the start. But, I suppose, better sense had prevailed and I meekly accepted the faux pas on my part and we'd pressed on for the morning engagements after hearing him out.

But the incident did get me thinking. I'd earlier admitted to the fact that I'm a confused bundle of thoughts! My thoughts went on these lines:-

       (a) Was my saarthi disillusioned with me, in that, I'd taken it lying down? Wasn't my meekness    
             tantamount to accepting the fact that he was in the wrong? The 'men' expect their Commander to      
             win in every situation and never be projected in a losing situation which is, in essence, the 'sine qua
             non' of the officer-man relationship in the services!

             Should I, then, have howled at and brow beaten the gentleman and bulldozed my way through to
             attain 'izzat' in the eyes of my Man Friday?

       (b) Wasn't the gentleman's reaction so because it was a 'man-in-uniform' at the receiving end? Would
             he have checked a civilian in a similar situation?

             I wonder! And no, it doesn't mitigate my wrong in any which way!!


Having said all that, the mistake was on my part, in that, I should have ensured that my 'saarthi' followed the right path from the very beginning itself! Perhaps, such a situation would have never risen!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why do we hesitate to call a spade, a spade?

The sickening visuals of a lady and her father being beaten up by Punjab's cops, at Tarn Taarn, should shame any right thinking Indian. And what was her crime? She wanted to lodge a complaint, on the truck drivers who'd earlier used filthy language and 'verbally' molested her, with the 'enforcers' of the law.

Instead of providing succour to the young lady, the law enforcers decided to take the law into their own hands and beat up the lady and her father, who was accompanying her, mercilessly in full view of the public making one wonder as to which of the following really actuated them:-

         (a) Showing off their prowess, as law enforcers, to the public at large?
         (b) A streak of sadism?
         (c) Displaying anger at the temerity of the young lady to complain against men?
         (d) Displaying their loyalty to the powerful(?) men behind the crime by intimidating the victim?
         (e) With the government in power they do not expect any retribution and could get away with  
               anything, including murder?

Subsequently, it was pathetic to see people who should have reacted appropriately and taken action, trying hard to justify their state of inaction. What have we come to? Why are the well meaning people in society hesitant to call a spade, a spade? I guess the reasons are not hard to find and I'm sad. I shall list them, all over again, as I've done earlier too:-

         (a) 'Sab chalta hai' attitude. We must understand that this is India and anything and everything goes,
               you see.
         (b) So long as it doesn't happen to me or my immediate relations, I don't care as they don't affect me.
         (c) The young lady must have been in the wrong and that's why the police had reacted in that fashion.
         (d) She shouldn't have reacted to the taunts at all and instead, ignored them. After all 'boyz would be


Mistakes must never go unpunished. The perpetrators, otherwise, would think that they've the public endorsement. And the next time their actions could get nastier!

Monday, March 4, 2013

News roundup!

Certain news items of the day scare me but there are certain others that call for optimism! So here I go:-

1. Raj Thackeray's goons are at it again.

    The chaps have disrupted the medical tests for Sainik School aspirants at Satara, demanding preference for students of Marathi origin. In the process, they beat up students hailing from UP, Bihar and other states at the district government hospital. Their parents, who're in attendance, were also not spared and consequently, most of the victims fled from the hospital and even from the city fearing further attacks. The Shiv Sena has lauded the drive!

    Wonder why police protection was not provided for the aspiring candidates? How can the goons be allowed to get away? It's a sad commentary of the state of affairs. What prevents miscreants and anti-social elements from recreating similar scenes in other parts of the country? The law must be tough on guys like Raj Thackeray and his goons - there's no other way!

2. Rs.100 crores for a CNG plant?

    A large group of ministers, MPs and bureaucrats headed by the chief minister had headed for Delhi with the fond hope of netting goodies for the state in the wake of the recent railway and union budgets, which had given it a step-motherly treatment. The wish list has not even been given serious consideration by the central government judging from the initial reactions.

    The positive response, however, was the offer of Rs.100 crores to set up a 'compressed natural gas'(CNG) plant instead of the diesel asked for at subsidised rates! My suggestion is that the state must jump at the offer, convert all the buses of its road transport corporation to CNG users. Perhaps, that would pave the way for rejuvenating the corporation and reduce atmospheric pollution. The Delhi government had taken a positive step on this score, about a decade back, with spectacular results!

3. A fourth termer CM.

    Manik Sarkar's sweeping victory in the recently held assembly polls in Tripura is laudable. He's set for a fourth term as CM. The state has progressed on all fronts, under him, from accounts in the press. A selfless leader, who's not made wealth for himself but has worked tirelessly for his people! He's definitely a rare political specimen.

And that's what good leadership is all about!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Blast from the past!

Most of the day was spent behind the wheel. We drove off from home, after breakfast, towards Thiruvananthapuram to attend the wedding of a friend's daughter.

Pooja got married to Hari at a well conducted function in the Trivandrum Club. It was nice to see the young lady whom I'd seen growing up over the years in the 'avatar' of a demure bride. May the young couple have a long and happily wedded life! And we're able to meet up with a lot of friends and catch up from where we'd left last - telephone numbers and addresses have been exchanged with promises of follow up action. Thanks, Hari Prakash and Sandhya, for making it possible!

I ate myself silly at the 'sadya' as the spread was tasty. The 'payasams' had me bowled over and the 'pal payasam-boli' combination did me in!? The drive to Kochi, soon after, was undertaken just because it was necessary to be back by the end of the day. Otherwise, a siesta would have been appropriate and in order!!


The drive of about 300 kms was hassle free and nice. My evening walk, after that, was enjoyable!  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Another quiet day.

It was a quiet day at home, basically running errands for mom.

In the evening, the entire family had gone to the nearby Thrikkonnamarkodu Bhagavathi temple as desired my mom. The place has been renovated and the goddess looks nice, visible from afar!

Friday, March 1, 2013

PN Panicker's 104th birth anniversary.

Today is Muthachan's 104th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, the foundation had organised a programme at the Kanakunnu Palace at Thiruvananthapuram announcing its campaign to attain 100% e-literacy in the state, over the next 33 months. The programme is being organised under the auspices of the state's education and the local self government ministries and the Pallichal and the Manickal grama panchayats of the Thiruvananthapuram district came into the ambit of the programme on the occasion.

As is usual in any programme connected with my grandfather, there were leaders from the entire political spectrum on the occasion. The chief minister and the leader of the opposition had graced the occasion. The finance minister had endorsed the government's blessings on the initiative. The most poignant moment of the programme was when litterateur, Puthusserry Ramachandran sir recounted a public meeting - held years back in the late '50s - in which the then education minister of the first communist government, Prof Joseph Mundasseri, irked by my grandfather's all out efforts in getting the 'Kerala Library Movement' going, vainly announced that he'd see to it that PN Panicker was sent back to his old job of teaching in a primary school in a remote corner of Pala! Puthusserry sir had strongly objected to the statement despite the fact that he and the education minister were good friends. And as he put it, it was because the people of Kerala had by then realised that PN Panicker's efforts were genuine and irreversible.

A day well spent and the family had the occasion to interact with a wide cross section of the society.


1. It was also noteworthy on two counts:-

     (a) The audience had a larger percentage of women than men and the hall was packed to capacity.
     (b) The nuances of the computers, the internet and its applications were explained to the simple
           and ordinary people, from the two panchayats, by specialists in the field through power point

2. Muthachan would have been really very happy, had he been around!