Thursday, October 31, 2013

Under God's nose!

Got up to the lovely hymns, saluting the good lord, wafting from the numerous speakers all around. The temple town doesn't sleep except for the two hours immediately after midnight. People are up and about by three, in the morning, to have the 'darshan' of the 'nirmaalyam' - when the deity is given its bath! The atmosphere is charged with the chants of the pilgrims and their footfalls never, ever seem to end.

The bride's dad's - my uncle - first job was to get a special prayer done on the 'thaali' by the priest at the sanctum. The ornament would be draped on the bride's neck by the bridegroom at the auspicious moment which was around 1050 hrs. Most parents prefer this event to take place in god's presence on the numerous platforms built for the purpose at the eastern entrance of the temple and the subsequent ceremonies take place in one of the halls - there're many nearby and owning one makes good business sense.

.......And all too soon it was a three quarters past 10 and a tight number of family members had taken station in the queue below the platform, awaiting the appointed hour. And as an active(?) observer, I was watching the crowd associated with each couple pushing and jostling one another to get on to the elevated platform meant for the purpose. As it approached the appointed hour, my uncle had started getting restless about not meeting the deadline - of time, mind you - because the ones in the queue before our's were taking an inordinately long time. The priests were going through the ritual of handing over the 'thaali' to the boy's father who then, hands it over to the bridegroom who in turn, drapes it on his would-be-wife's neck that seals them in their new avatar as 'man and wife' and eventually, seek the blessings of the priest and then the God. (Wonder why this order? It's always baffled me but I've refrained from raising the question lest I be considered an ignoramus and also because, according to me the order of precedence should be the parents, the god and finally, the priest!).

It was just one more couple before our's, when an uncle of that contingent jostled rather harshly casting the choicest expletives as he tried to get a ringside view of the proceedings - his right, of course - and I had to tell him that his behaviour was not appropriate for the occasion to which the responses were quick and many totally unexpected, I must admit:-

     (a) a quizzical look as if questioning my temerity to check him.
     (b) a violent sideward swaying of his head as if to quieten and shoo me away and
     (c) a suppressed laughter from the crowd probably sensing the incongruity of it all!

Man shows his true colours even if he's meekly seeking the blessings of his god. Wonder what the god's take on this would be?


And come to think of it, as my mom put it, her wedding had taken place right in front of the sanctum with a clutch of friends and close relatives, years ago. There was hardly any crowd other than their's she recalls!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A day packed with events.

Today was hectic. And the beauty was that the events cascaded over one another that, I must admit that I was left gasping in the end but on a high! I'd reached the office at my usual time and half an hour later, my good 'ole classmates - Ramesh, Mohan and his son, Vivek - gave me a surprise by dropping in.

I'd finished the morning's backlog by then and found time to catch up on our old escapades with my friends. Hence, I didn't feel guilty for a change! Meanwhile there was an other important event that was taking place - auditors were at work as part of their six monthly routine. Soon after my friends' were seen off, it was the turn of the auditor to provide a rundown. Things seem to be okay as he did not have any major points but I've always seen that their insightful observations are reminders that we could make mistakes, despite the best of efforts. A sobering factor, indeed!

And as I was about to leave, my successor had dropped by and I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was scheduled to leave for Guruvayur in connection with my cousin's wedding by 1400h. And after exchanging essential information, we'd bid farewell to meet up next Monday.

And then, it was a race to reach home, have a quick bite of lunch and kicked off for Guruvayur, along with mom. The drive was fine, with the traffic that was really manageable and could reach our destination by teatime. And the family just started growing as each group started fetching up. It was simply great.

And the evening moved onto a late night, but the catching up with everyone's life was still to reach its logical end.


Four generations of the PN Panicker family together after a long, long while! Simply fantastic!!     

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The games people play.

Can't help but be amused with the way games are played by people - politicians, in this context - bringing me to wonder yet again that they consider the common man to be swayed by the stupid posers and arguments through which brownie points are scored at the expense of their opponents without discussing real issues.

 (a) The fight for Sardar Patel's legacy.

 One can't help but laugh at this non-issue. At the time of the struggle for independence, the Indians without
 any political affiliation had cast themselves with Gandhiji as his means to achieve self-rule from the Britishers
 through the civil disobedience movement, satyagraha and other non-violent means had a mass appeal. The
 post-independence period saw the birth of many political parties - if one were to analyse the splits - to
 satisfy personal egos!

 What I'm trying to say is that every party can claim the legacy of those towering leaders, but what has it
 got to counter the rampant corruption, stagnated growth and the policy of expediency?

 (b) Nitish Kumar vs Narendra Modi.

 Nitish Kumar, according to me, has played into his bete noir's hands by giving a point by point rebuttal
 to the latter's observations against him. Coming to think of it, none would remain idle when one's ego is
 bruised and so, his rebuttal has to be listened to though great leaders show magnanimity in avoiding heaping
 personal insults upon their opponents.

 But then, who's talking about decency or decorum or propriety in politics?

And now, coming to seriousness from the frivolous, can't help but come back to the 'pre-ordained script' that I've touched upon, every now and then.

I'm gonna talk about the Stanford University professor, Nalini Ambady, all of 54 years, who'd passed into the mist of time when she succumbed to the dreaded Leukaemia. After eight years in remission, she was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 and since no donor was found from the US national marrow donor programme, her friends and family had conducted a series of bone marrow drives across the country and had actively campaigned online through the website, and social networking sites to find a donor for her.

To quote a close friend, "Several potential donors were found but many of them were not a full match. Some refused to donate when the time came.. Finally, a potential donor was found but could not donate as the donor had a low platelet count".

Perhaps, this was what Nalini's life's script was all about.

RIP Nalini. My humble prayers and here's wishing that your near and dear ones have the strength to tide over these difficult times.


Am reminded of half a 'sher' - why now, I can't explain but I shall say it all the same,

  "Apni haalat ko ehsaas nahin mujhko...
   Auron se suna hai ki pareshaan hun mein!"

Monday, October 28, 2013

I'm a bad driver. QED.

I'd driven my Chevy to work this morning and realised that there was a persistent low, grumbling noise emanating from the left side of the chassis at slower speeds(< 25 kmph). There wasn't any problem from the point of view of driving but the unwanted noise did bother me and which I gave a miss, the moment I'd entered my office. It was in the afternoon, prior to going home for lunch that I noticed that the front bumper had come apart from its original moorings at the driver's end and that there was a bit of a bend at its extremity.

And Eureka, the tube light in my brain suddenly lit up - the cause of the rumbling noise that I'd heard during the morning drive was established beyond doubt. As I drove through the afternoon traffic, I'd to quickly formalise an action plan. Giving up on my afternoon siesta, rather reluctantly, I'd driven straight to the Geeyem Motors for initiating remedial action as we've a trip planned for Guruvayur this coming Wednesday, to attend my cousin's wedding.

The customer care executive was businesslike and went about his task of assessing the damage and the extent of work - I shudder to think as to what he thought about this latest visit of mine. Perhaps, something like this, "There comes the blighter after getting into another muddle. Thanks to his driving prowess, the company's gonna make a quick buck. God, may there be more customers like him!"

They'd given me a drop at my office after estimating the costs at a little over Rs. 20 grand! Well, it's a sure process of learning against my depleting pocket!!


And how did I manage this new 'medal' for my Chevy? On Saturday, while casting off from under the clump of trees in front of my house at Guruvayur, the front bumper had got entangled with one of the logs heaped close by and thinking it to be a minor hurdle, I'd forced my car on the reverse and the damage was done. That it didn't impede the return trip and as the mechanic had said, that I could drive with the existing problem without worry, show the ruggedness of the car.

But I've taken the 'desirable' option as I do not want it to fester into a larger defect!  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A collage of thoughts.

It was a quiet Sunday to begin with. The normal chores were performed in a leisurely manner with the feeling that there was plenty of time around. Today happens to be Leela kunjamma's second remembrance day and it was an occasion to remember her, with mom recalling many of the things that they did together during their childhood at Ambalapuzha. Saw her eyes brimming with tears, many a time, during the narration accentuating the fact as to how much she missed her all the while!

          *                                 *                             *

Oommen Chandy, the chief minister, was hurt by broken shards of glass when the LDF demonstrators had pelted stones at his car. He was in Kannur to attend the concluding ceremony of the Kerala Police annual athletic meet and also to attend a public meeting organised by the Congress. It definitely, was a bad scene.

The LDF's plans to prevent the chief minister from attending any public function till he resigned on the solar scam issue has backfired yet again. Wonder why such meaningless, strong arm tactics are being resorted to? I mean, such protests must have a meaningful, peaceful agenda that must essentially have the support of the people. Otherwise, the entire script can go haywire! Let's see as to how they've burnt their fingers on this score till now:-

    (a) The siege of the government secretariat at Thiruvananthapuram by thousands of LDF volunteers was
         called off on the second day itself without any result. The influx of additional people in the city was
         choking the city's already bursting infrastructure and the sustained disruption of normal life would have
         got the anti-stir sentiments of the city's population against them.

    (b) Their plans to disrupt the CM's 'mass contact programme' with the masses was hastily called off
          because of strong public sentiments which acknowledges that the event helps many of them to get
          relief for their long standing problems, cutting through bureaucratic red tape.
    (c) And now the media's coverage of an injured CM has garnered public sympathy best summed up
         by my mom's reaction, "The poor man was up till the wee hours of the morning just the other day
         at Kochi, patiently listening to the grievances of the public and providing 'on the spot' relief and this
         is what we ungrateful wretches give him in return. Why don't the communists shun their violence?"

             *                                 *                               *

Li'l Shanaya - she's 71/2 months old and hyperactive and as her mom, cutely puts it, 'warms up' to guys in general - along with her mom, dad and grandmom had called on us in the evening. I'd intentionally kept myself away from holding and cuddling her, despite her inclination, because I was awash with sweat after my evening walk and had to contend with a couple of pecks on her cheeks!

Her 'quizzical' looks at my strange behaviour had to be silently borne with regret!! I've promised to be all spruced up when she drops in on us during her next visit!!!


And the so-called serial blasts in Patna before Narendra Modi's rally was definitely in bad taste. One's political opponents must be blunted with one's own positive and meaningful agenda. And all the guys around in the field must exhibit decency, speak and act within the limits of propriety expected of every individual in public life and must be shining examples of sportsmanship!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Another hectic day.

We could finally kick off for Guruvayur by 7. My cousin had to be picked up on the way as I needed his expertise in interior designing for our house that's slowly being brought up to habitable standards as the date of our shifting in, looms near. It has a sentimental angle, in that, had his dad - my dad's youngest brother - been around he'd have actively involved himself in the making of my house, a desire that he'd expressed quite often during our interactions.

The drive was nice, the traffic manageable and we could reach the spot much before 10. There were a lot of people that had to be met so that detail instructions could be given for tying up a host of little things prior to our final shifting. This trip was formalised after a lot of juggling around of events, tying up with the various individuals involved and after three aborted attempts! And it was good that it had taken place today because we could correct the truss work, according to our requirement, before it was completed.

And in the process of meeting up with the groups, I'd forgotten to punch in my thoughts within the correct time slot. And boy, didn't I feel miserable for the slip which was of my own doing? I'd carried my laptop with me for the purpose but had completely forgotten about what I'd planned to do, in the enthusiasm of overseeing the work in the house and giving instructions to the executors of the project.

And soon it was kick off time back for Kochi, after lunch at our regular eating place. The drive was nice and we're back in time so that I could keep my date with my evening walk!


1. The housewarming will be on 20 Nov and no, I don't intend making it an extravagant event. It shall be a day of prayers, essential religious ceremonies carried out on such occasions and a meal for the men and women who'd made it all possible. I've begun telling my friends and relatives about the big day with the rider, "No gifts, only wishes but if you still insist that you must, then do discuss with me and I shall tell you as to what needs to be done". The usual response has been a loud guffaw but I really mean by what I say because the house gets cluttered with a whole lot of things, of which, many never fit into the scheme of things and lie, gathering dust, in some remote corner of the house!

2. Getting a land line telephone connection seems to be tedious especially when the house is not situated in the path of the existing lines as it is in our case. With the availability of cellphones, does one require it, one might ask but it has the following advantages:-
     (a) it circumvents the twin problems of call drops and lack of coverage - frequent occurrences in
     (b) it gives the owner a 'proof of residence'.

3. And of course, the water from the municipality's distribution line also needs to be streamlined. Hope it's not gonna be a long wait, the water currently being pumped in from the well, notwithstanding!

A day that buzzed past!

Apologies for the unscheduled break. The fault is mine but more about it later.

Dateline 25 Oct.

Half an hour before midnight, I'd boarded the train for Payyannur to be at the Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala, on work. The train was on time and had arrived at the destination on the dot and Roshan Lal, my liaison officer, was efficiency personified! The drive up the hills was exhilarating and the pristine landscape all around was looking all spruced up and fresh due to the spell of rains  during the night. It was business as usual and after a late but hurried lunch, I was back at the railway station to catch my train to return home.

Five of my colleagues from the railways - with whom I'd interacted during the forenoon session - were my co-passengers and it was a great interaction with them during the journey. The tremendous love and affection that they shower upon me humbles me and makes me wonder as to whether I'm really eligible for all those finer emotions.

It was my privilege of getting to know a fine family - that consisted of a distinguished space scientist couple, their school going daughter and the sprightly, 86 year old matriarch, Madhavi. She has an elegance that stands out and a personality that's extremely lovable and I must say that I was bowled over. But being the shy guy that I am, I'd taken a while to interact with the family and must add that it was Lukose, the simple and straight-talking railwayman, who was with us, who was the prime mover!

Our discussions had covered a wide range of topics - about life in general - but looking back at the whole interaction, I think I didn't allow them to speak as I was filling them up with I, me and myself! A weakness that I don't seem to rid myself off!! Gosh, will I change, ever? The taste of the Vadakara 'unni appam' and a banana - from an organic garden - that they'd offered me continues to linger in my palate.

It was half an hour past midnight when I bid farewell to them so that Girish, my 'saarthi', could take me back home. To be frank, I was under the impression that the young man was fond of his tots because of his looks but a police detail that had checked him enroute on that score found him to be squeaky clean! Sorry, Girish, for reading you wrong and yes, appearances can be deceptive!!


By the time I'd a light dinner and we'd hit the sack, it was one. And the new day ahead looked fairly long!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Adieu Manna Dey!

94 year old Manna Dey, the legendary playback singer of the Hindi movies, passed into the mist of time in the wee hours of this morning. His 'maanasa mayine varoo..' in the all time Malayalam classic 'Chemmeen' - made in '65 - made him a household name in Kerala. 4,000 songs over a span of 70 years and it had all begun in 1943 when he sang for the movie 'Tamanna' - what a great body of work! And there's a 'mallu' connection too - his wife, Sulochana hailed from Kozhikode.

He was suffering from respiratory problems for the last few months and was with his elder daughter, at Bangalore, when his end had come about.

Another legend has left us with a treasure trove of lovely songs through which he shall ever remain alive in our hearts. Some of his numbers that come to my mind, off the cuff, are:-

       (a) Ye tho chathur naar.....                   Padosan                       duet with Kishore Kumar.
       (b) Ye dosti hum nahin chhodenge...     Sholay                                        "
       (c) Hey bhai, zara dekh ke chalo...       Mera naam Joker         picturised on Raj Kapoor.
       (d) Zindagi..kaisi hai paheli hai...          Anand                          picturised on Rajesh Khanna.
My all time favourite number, though, is from the movie 'Aavishkar' - starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore - that had hit the screens sometime in the mid '70s as I reckon. The lyrics are wonderful and Manna Dey had immortalised them in his classy voice and the words go like this.....

         "Hasne ki chaah ne itna mujhe rulaaya hai
          Koi humdard nahin, dard mera saaya hai....."

RIP Manna Dey and my humble prayers. Generations to come will remember you through the haunting melodies that you've rendered over the years. May the family have the strength to tide over this sad day.


He, along with Salil Chowdhary, has given a handful of soulful numbers in Malayalam too.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This is life!

I'd like to concentrate on two things that I happened to come across while scanning the news bulletins in the media. Life, as we're aware to a great extent, has its vagaries but what I'd like to add is that most of them are man made. And therefore, to make it peaceful and generally happy, man has to introspect and live righteously and truthful to the inner calling.

I hope that I ain't sounding to be condescending but the 'thumb rule' that I've mentioned above keeps one away from heartaches and needless worries. Lest I go off on a tangent, let me touch upon the couple that I'd mentioned in my opening line.

 (a) The hand of god.

 Alireza M, all of 37 years, was hanged for 12 minutes from a noose and pronounced dead by the attending
 doctor at a jail in north eastern Iran. He'd been found guilty on charges of drug trafficking and punished to
 be hanged to death. His lifeless body was transferred to the morgue - in the city of Bojnourd - where the
 staff, much to their dismay, had later discovered that the shrouded body was still breathing!

 Perhaps, Alireza has been provided with another opportunity by god to mend his ways and do good to the
 society. Sincerely wish that he grabs the opportunity and turns over a new leaf!!

 (b) Cyberbullying has come to stay.

 Studies conducted in different parts of the world have sadly come to the startling conclusion that online
 abuse is common, affecting the psyche of the little children. What makes it pathetic is that most of the
 children are resigned to the fact that cyberbullying was normal practice!

 While it's good to be computer savvy in this technology driven world of our's, prompting children to
 the extensive use of the gadget quite early in life, care needs to be exercised by their parents, guardians
 and teachers to prevent the evil side of the system from taking over and corrupting the young minds.
 To ensure that, a free two-way communication needs to be tended and encouraged so that warnings
 could be given and mistakes rectified, well in time.


Nothing is insurmountable. It just requires the watchful eyes of the elders to protect their children from abuse,
without being too intrusive or stifling!

And what does one say about the hand of god? Even Argentinian footballer, Diego Maradona, had used the phrase to justify that famous goal of his, in one of the world cups!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Old friends drop by.

Today, while at work, there was a stream of visitors to look up your's truly. I must concede that I try my best to avoid visitors during working hours because of two factors:-

       (a) My train of thoughts gets affected, consequently work accumulates. And when work piles on
            restlessness sets in, making me a boor and a cad, at times.
       (b) Cannot give full attention to the visitor, who genuinely wants to spend some time with me.

Both ways, I'm the loser. Today's was an exception in that all the three of them seemed to have sensed my mood and the urgency and hence, spent just about adequate time and I suppose my boys did not miss my 'absence' as I indulged in small talk and polite conversation. Each of the three guests had their individual stamp and that was the factor that had come to bear, all through.

Jaison, a do-gooder for all seasons, was the first, seeking help for his course mate's daughter who needed to travel at short notice to attend an interview. Thankfully, his requirement could be met without a hitch. A satisfied Jai was beaming from ear to ear as he thanked me profusely and left, shortly after.

Next was Jacob, my class mate from school and a fellow traveler in the Academy too. He'd dropped in to spend some time with me to recall those halcyon days at school and for having a few quick 'laffs'! He's currently in the merchant marine and the ship, of which he's the Master, is berthed just a stone's throw away from my workplace. Many of our contemporaries give him a wide berth because he's this wonderful quality of calling a spade, just that! And a few among them have even wondered aloud as to how I was able to spend time with him and I've a standing answer - his off the hip retorts have a refreshing candour and there are a few things to learn from his experiences! At times, though, he's known to go overboard when he becomes an 'I' specialist but today he didn't and floored me by saying that he liked spending time with me!

And then, during the post lunch session, came in Prasad who had been wanting to drop by and had warned me accordingly, a couple of days back. A gentleman who's hardworking and sincere. It's always refreshing to hear him and to understand the way he analyses personalities and events.

It's a working day with a difference!


1. I like the latest joke that's doing the rounds after the Mohali ODI, where Australia had thrashed us and pacer, Ishant Sharma had gifted 30 runs in the 48th over and I quote,
    "Dear Dhoni, Ishant ko mein bech de". (For the uninitiated, this is a portal on the net where one can buy or sell things).

2. It's Karva Chauth yet again. I'm quite contended watching the sheer charm of the wonderful traditions and customs associated with the occasion!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thought provoking!

There has been a lot of interesting news in circulation over the last few days. The real texture of the stories makes me wonder as to whether these happenings are possible only in our country or whether, they can happen anywhere else in the world as these are the general trends of the time. So, here I go!

 (a) Digging for gold.

      The Archeological Survey of India(ASI) has been excavating for gold in a village of the Unnao district of  
      Uttar Pradesh. The quantity is over a 1,000 tons as projected in a dream of Swami Shobhan Sarkar.
      The alacrity with which the ASI has gone about their job has, more than amusing me, raised a lot of
      doubts within which are:-

               (i) what should be the basis of such projects in embarkation of the 'truth'? Can an individual's -
                   however pure or divine he or she might be - dream/inner call alone be the basis of frenetic
                   activity? I'm sure that the authorities have valid reasons.
               (ii) how long is the excavation work gonna continue? Shouldn't every project have a starting
                    and a finishing point?
               (iii) suppose the treasure is ultimately found, what would be the Swami's consultation fees be -
                    no, I ain't mocking but couldn't find a more appropriate term to explain the phenomenon?

 (b) Mothers are for disposal.

      Take the curious case of a 90 year old lady who was brought by her near and dear ones - can such
      creeps really ever be dear, I wonder - for a pilgrimage to Guruvayur the other day. She was left to
      pray at the sanctum sanctorum of the temple while they scooted from the spot!

      My take.

      (i) They must have also had the 'darshan' of their deity and must have prayed for something for
          themselves. The god would have definitely been perplexed to see their audacity to seek for
          favours despite their act of wickedness!
     (ii) The old lady has been sheltered by an NGO, which is into the business of providing hope and
          succour for hapless people like her.
    (iii) She should refuse to rejoin her relatives who're bound to return - especially after the media
          coverage that's been extensive - repenting their mistake or some such story to cover their mistake.


It surely is a strange world. Events, unimaginable, are taking place. My grandmother would have called it as the evils of the 'kaliyug', that we're passing through.     

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A day with frenetic activity around, with me as an observer.

A hectic day for Lekha as her folks had arrived by breakfast time, to pick up the trousseau for her cousin, Laxmi, whose wedding has been scheduled during the second week of December. After a noisy breakfast, they'd left for their task, a trifle after 10, leaving me and my mom behind. And I knew that it was gonna be a long drawn out affair as was the experience, in a similar exercise, about a fortnight back.

The day had passed off like any other Sunday, with me catching up on close relatives. Ramjee had fetched up, as per earlier arrangement, to do the needful. His daughter and her two children, are with his family, back home in his village in Bihar and he seems to take solace from the fact that his rogue son-in-law has been out of sight and remained incommunicado, all this while.

The shoppers had returned by about 7, a trifle earlier than the last time and soon after, had departed for their destinations. And it was left for us to finish the last social obligation of the day - to celebrate my aunt's 78th birthday. The celebration was on a low key as three of her four children couldn't fetch up due to their preoccupation and had substituted for their absence with lengthy, long distance calls!

This time, we'd decided to do something different and accordingly, draped a shawl around her shoulders for her contributions to the family and the manner in which she has held the family together. While I spoke a few words on the occasion, I saw that she'd a continuous stream of tears, through smiles, thankful for our efforts - hardly any, if you ask - in her short yet cute thanksgiving speech. And of course, there was a round of photography to capture the prevailing mood for posterity.


Today, also happens to be the 90th birthday of VS Achuthanandan, the veteran and firebrand communist, currently the Leader of the Opposition in the state's Legislative Assembly. In an interview given on the occasion, I was aghast to know that his party's stand during the Sino-Indian conflict of '62 was to exhort their volunteers and party workers not to donate blood for the Indian jawan!

Shocking, to say the least! The Indian jawan was only protecting his country from the aggression unleashed by China and what the comrades seemed to have missed was that their own existence would have been in jeopardy had the Indian soldier flinched from his responsibility. There can be no substitute for each and every citizen's loyalty to his's simply not negotiable.

I felt bad for those numerous men in uniform who'd willingly given up their lives while giving a stiff fight to the unmerciful Chinese onslaught. Sad!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Down memory lane.

It's a long journey down memory lane since last evening. My friends had fetched up from outstation to attend the wedding reception of their friend's daughter which was scheduled for this evening. So, since last evening it was catching up from where we'd left during our previous rendezvous!

And we'd decided to call on another classmate of our's, who stays a stone's throw away from the place where we live. Accordingly, we'd met at a common point where I'd fetched up after work, followed by a quick bite of lunch. And what a wonderful meeting it was! I'd carried four Cadbury's chocolate bars for the four 'kids' as I called them and it sure did floor them. I was privy to two additional bear hugs from my two classmates and I knew that my innocuous action had touched a deep chord within both!

And, then, it was a long, sentimental journey down memory lane. The thread of conversation went on and on, with none of us wanting it to end and though, there were many times that we'd gotten up to leave, the attempt would be gladly postponed when some untouched school memorabilia suddenly would crop up! And the cycle would continue. The beauty was that the ladies, too, didn't seem to mind and sportingly played along with our madness.

A plan has been conceived to go on the 'Manasarovar yatra', sometime next year. It'd be an occasion to be together and to enjoy nature's beauty along with the people with whom one'd grown up, fought to become 'enemies', many a time, to become friends all over again and spent one's formative years within the school that was, then, our secondary home!


A day well spent! And we're already charting the next occasion to meet up again!!    

Friday, October 18, 2013

A task accomplished.

The day meandered through with nothing very spectacular happening and the dominant feeling was that I felt tremendously sleepy and longed to hit the sack at the first opportunity. But unfortunately that was not to be.

I was at the railway station, shortly after midnight, to oversee the smooth passage of a train of ours.
Actually, the standard operating procedures and the advance notice, along with the painstaking home
work done by the people concerned, enable me to observe the entire serial taking place without much
effort on my part, I must admit!

However, it was different this time. Due to a faux pas - committed by whom, why and when, I do not know
and ain't particularly bothered about knowing the detail - the turning around, end to end, of the train to
facilitate flawless disembarkation had not been carried out and if it wasn't done at this station there was gonna be a whole lot of fireworks coupled with embarassment, at the destination. My counterpart there had called me up to say that I needed to pull him out of this mess, that wasn't of his making.

Unsure about myself, I'd walked into the office of the gentleman on duty. I'd quickly explained the situation
to him but he expressed his inability to help me out saying that he required the green signal of his superiors to initiate necessary action, which was difficult to obtain and he didn't want to incur their wrath at being woken up at this unearthly hour. Three things have to be said at this point of the narration, which are:-

     (a) he was receptive to what I was saying and looked(?) positive.
     (b) he insisted on speaking to me in a Malayalam-flavoured-English despite my speaking to him in the
          lingo and
     (c) he'd not offered me a seat to sit down and I wasn't going to plonk myself into the chair without
          permission, as is my won't.

Perhaps, the earnestness in my voice made him realise the gravity of the situation and he promised to help me out by pushing 'certain channels'. About 20' must have elapsed, as he cranked up or dialled the numbers on an assorted array of telephones spread on his massive table before he got back to me saying that the turn around of the train would be carried out at the marshalling yard of the station.

I thanked him for his efforts and the help that he was providing. His retort, through a wide toothy grin was, "I don't think that anyone can say no to you. At least, I can't". And the gentleman was on his feet, offering me his hand for a shake.

I felt humbled.


I'm thrilled by the amazing story of Chandralekha, a young housewife, from a poor family. She'd sung an old Malayalam film song, which was recorded and posted on 'You tube' where it was an instant success, inviting over four lakh hits. I, too, am captivated by the texture and quality of her melodious voice.

There's no looking back in life for her now. Her first number, for an upcoming movie, was recorded at a studio in Kochi today. And the beauty of her singing prowess is that she's not had any formal training! Just goes to show that talent can never go unnoticed!!

Do well, Chandralekha. Here's me wishing you the best.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The chronology of corruption.

These days, it's become routine for some scam or the other to burst on prime time television or in the media, in general. The wealth that is being swindled is on astronomical proportions and guys from every section of the society figure in these misdemeanours. And the reactions from the people who figure in them are ridiculous, at times, bordering on the bizarre! I suppose that's the line usually taken by the hardcore among them because of the concept that one's innocent until proved guilty. And the lengths to which these shameless people can go to cover their flanks makes one wonder about the thickness of their hide!! They definitely have a poor opinion of the common man's intellect.

Are we a corrupt people? Why do we hanker for something that's not rightfully our's? No, I'm not being condescending but what amazes me - I've said it time and again on this forum - is the question as to whatever has happened to the values imbibed from the home and the family. I'm sure that the parents, as well as the grandparents, ingrain into their children the advantages of doing things right and upholding the truth. These values are nurtured during the formative years until they become an 'honour code' in the personal lexicon.

Yes, it's quite common to see wrong things getting condoned and people following unethical means to achieve their ends gaining an edge, albeit for a short while. The tremendous loss of one's worth in the aftermath of a tumble should be reason enough to prevent wrongs. But short term gains seem to make them look attractive.

I'm reminded of a line from the Academy prayer that we used to recite every morning and I quote, "Help us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong". Were they just parroted to tide over the times as it was a necessity? Didn't those words make an impression, deep within? And if yes, won't they prevent one from doing anything wrong? Would it be easy to get over the consequent guilt?

And the last and the most important doubt that I have is, 'why do the parents condone or remain silent about their progeny's misdeeds blaming the 'system' or the 'environment' or most interestingly, 'the trend of the times'?' That's the thing that disgusts me most!


Is the urge to acquire power and pelf so overwhelming that one isn't bothered about the inconsistencies of the mind? So long as one has a standing(?) in the society - obtained by any which way - that alone seems to matter!

Finer feelings be damned!! Am I being naive?  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Did I do wrong?

It was a holiday on account of Bakr Id. An occasion to contact quite a few of my friends with whom I'd not talked for a while, to wish them on the occasion. The interactions had pepped me up and by the time I'd finished with the calls, it was well past 10! I'd updated my information about each and have promised to be in touch more often as insisted upon by everyone of them!

It was around that time that I'd gone to answer the doorbell when I found that the two bags containing waste material were still lying outside, uncollected. I was surprised that Majid, the conscientious and sincere garbage collector, who'd have usually completed the job by then seemed to have gone off key. On inquiry with the security personnel on duty, I came to know that the garbage had already been collected from the adjacent blocks and he said that he'd tell the concerned guy to complete his work without further delay.

I'd forgotten about the incident, when there was a long and harsh ring on our doorbell. It was young Sardar, the son of Majid - he's standing in for his dad who'd gone off to his village in southern Tamilnadu, on leave - at the door, with the two bags of waste in his hand. He said and I quote, "Today it's a holiday, but I've decided to collect the garbage because you, as president, desire it, as told to me by the duty security personnel".

I felt miserable for having made him work - and that too on his special day! In fact, while apologising to him for the faux pas, I'd asked him to leave the bags back for collection tomorrow. However, he finally did carry the bags away. To get over my guilt, I'd called up my man Friday, the caretaker, for remedial action like giving the youngster a day off tomorrow, in compensation. It was then that he said that he's waiting for a chance to recommend the youngster's services to be terminated as he was getting to be increasingly cocky. What was holding him back from taking a drastic action was the exemplary behaviour of the boy's dad!

Some respite! But the youngster's accusatory face lingered within me for the rest of the day!!


Why did young Sardar react in the manner that he did? Obviously, he'd told me something that had grazed my Achilles' heel but didn't match with his doings on the ground. Was it because the residential area's administrative committee had put on hold a suggested increase in his remuneration, I wonder?   

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The twist in the tale!

On a Sunday around lunchtime, a couple of months ago, I'd received an unusual call from an uncle of mine. He'd called up to say that his mom and my grandaunt, aged 94, was sinking and that her end could come about anytime because her condition was critical - she'd stopped taking food and had not even uttered a word during the previous days. The simple guy that he is, he further added that he was just warning me to be on the standby to make the dash in case of the inevitable!

I was damn angry with him. No, not that he was saying so out of any mistaken thoughts because of having had to look after his mom for the last so many years, severely restricting the family's movements away from home and was tired of it all! He's too good a man, loves his mom tremendously and disarmingly simple in his outlook towards life in general and that's the reason that he's endeared himself to everyone in our family!

......And I had just heard him out then. But predicting anyone's end, I'd like to believe, is beyond the purview of the human being. If he can do so, he's elevated to being god. Period!

A couple of days back, this uncle of mine was hit by a vehicle as he stood at the side of the main thoroughfare, waiting to cross over to the opposite side. On impact, he'd fallen flat on his chest and had hit his head on the road in the process. Suspecting damage to his brain, he was under observation and wheeled into the ICU of a nearby hospital. He'd begun to throw up in quick succession, increasing our anxiety. In an unguarded moment of time, I'd asked myself as to whether this was the twist in the tale.

Luckily, he's been discharged and brought back to his home this evening after having crossed the critical stage. Got to speak to him - for the first time after his accident - and I couldn't help cracking a PJ, that he did not have to go to such great lengths of 'trying to stop a moving vehicle' to get into the Guinness Book! His reaction relieved me of all my apprehensions about his state of being.....He guffawed!


We seem to have done it. And done it well that too, in the wake of the colossal loss of lives during the super cyclone of 1999! The cyclone, Phailin's, path was carefully tracked and predicted well in time and the people living in its path were evacuated to safer places and provided food and other necessities.

This is governance - to come to the aid of the people in their times of need!

I must say that I'm mighty thrilled. It just shows that we can!!


My grandaunt is in great shape and we'd celebrated her 95th birthday a fortnight ago. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Adieu Prabhakaran chetta!

Prabhakaran chettan, all of 74 years, passed into the mist of time a couple of hours after midnight. He was the first among my generation from my father's family - the eldest of five siblings of my dad's eldest sister, Sarasamma aunty. His father was in the police, who'd his own fights with my paternal grandparents over his wife's share of her family wealth. The upshot of the turbulent relationship was that, neither he nor his siblings ever got the benefit of the upbringing by their maternal grandparents - a tremendous loss about which I can vouch for! The father had passed a diktat that none of his kids would go anywhere near their mom's folks!!

To make matters worse, his mother had a problem of a weak heart that took its toll as she passed away in the mid '50s(immediately after my parents' marriage and I've only seen her in photographs. She's indeed very pretty!) and Prabhakaran chettan was, then, in his teens and was grappling with a tempestuous relationship with his dad. Something had snapped deep within him and he became the quintessential rebel of the family - he'd long given up on going to school and started doing all sorts of sundry jobs. And then, marriage happened. His wife, a smart young lady from a financially not so well off but loving family, finally brought about a semblance of stability into his life. Together they sired four children but sadly, they don't get along well even to this day.

I've always looked at Prabhakaran chettan's life with dismay. Here was a gentleman from a good family, who could have reached unimaginable heights in life but frittered it away for some unfathomable reason or the other - or am I being harsh on him as it's the external circumstances that threw him out of gear? And so he worked as a farm labourer much to the consternation of the family and he didn't seem to have any complaint or ill will towards anyone for that. A simpleton to the core, he used to be very fond of me and my sisters. Whenever I used to fetch up at home on holidays or on leave, he used to make it a point to come and meet me, to spend time with me. He was a good listener and used to hear my stories from the school, the Academy and at the workplace with awe, sometimes guffawing at my foolish escapades and the stories of my running fights with some of my friends! He'd told me rather apologetically that he's unable to call me to his place because he didn't have the wherewithal to look after me despite my telling him that such aspects never bothered me.

I'd met him, last, about four months back. He'd lost his eyesight by then and had made me talk about myself, as usual, holding my hand all the while and laughing innocently and genuinely at my PJs! I saw that he'd a remarkable resemblance to my dad, whom he used to adore and revere.

A simple man who never hankered for anything, was contented with what he'd and had no complaints or ill will towards anyone for his state of being and he was a wonderful human being.

RIP Prabhakaran chetta, I shall miss you! May chechi, your children and grandchildren have the strength to tide over your irreparable loss.


As I drove into town late in the evening, I was witness to a bad case of tailgating. A youngster, seemed to be in his teens and was with his friend, drove into the main thoroughfare from a side road at full clip narrowly missing a huge 'SUV' in the swerve. The enraged suv guy, picked up speed, overtook the small car and tapped its bonnet with his left quarter causing a loss of paint and dent, before scooting off.

Another case of road rage that seems to be in vogue and quite common, these days!    

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The family get together.

We'd kicked off from Kochi at 0840h to a fine weather. The drive was fine as the traffic was sparse and the highway has been patched up covering most of the difficult potholes.

Pitter patter rains were experienced enroute but the drive overall was a nice experience. And we'd driven into Lekha's dad's place in time for lunch - boy, it's a damn impressive spread. Thanks Lata, you've been kind and god bless! Lekha's dad was his usual self - eager to pass on the news regarding the family. We're finally at our house by about 1600h and found that Vijayan, the caretaker had done a fairly good job of cleaning up the entire house.

The house was back to its previous sights and sounds with the entire family conglomerating before sunset. My nephew, Achu, was the only absentee who's currently at Hyderabad on a short course and we really did miss him. To make up for it we'd a long chat with him in the evening. And we'd to catch up from where we'd left last.

It's an evening filled with nostalgia and exchange of ideas with a promise to meet up once every quarter. And the interaction took us late into the night! 


(a) It took a while for us to be to ourselves as there was a steady stream of mom's friends and well wishers visiting us. Mom seemed to be at the top of the world as she interacted with each one of them in her own inimitable manner!

(b) Savio, my classmate and a doctor practising at Chicago had called up at 6 - and I'd just come home after my morning walk - to inquire about my mom's health and insisted on giving me certain finer tips. Damn sweet of him!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The moment of reckoning!

After having breakfast with mom and giving her the morning round of medicines, we'd left for my cousin's place to board the maxicab that was to convey the eleven of us to the Marthoma church at Thiruvalla - the venue of Niki's wedding. Though scheduled to kick off at 0800h, by the time everyone in their carefully chosen silks of their Sunday best had fetched up and boarded the vehicle, it was a quarter past 8. It was a sing song session throughout the journey and I did lend support to the few good singers among us with my off key rendition just because I was aware of the lyrics a wee bit more than the others.

The traffic wasn't that bad and hence, we're able to cover the three quarters of the distance well within time and we'd disembarked at a wayside motel for having a cup of coffee and to stretch our legs - actually, an excuse to have a round of photography! And I was the group's photographer!!

The happiness writ large on Suzie's face, the moment she saw us at the church before the commencement of the mass and the other connected ceremonies, made my day. The serene atmosphere, the dignified aura and the tight gathering of guests and relatives made it an occasion to remember. And as I've said earlier, I look forward to attend a church wedding as I simply adore the traditions and customs associated with the occasion!

About 45 minutes of homily, conducted by the priest, pronounced Niki and Suja, man and wife at the end of it and soon after, the couple had changed into their next rig to meet the guests formally in their new 'avatar'. And it took some time for us to reach the couple as there was a lengthy photography session with their friends from the professional front. I must confess that I wasn't prepared for young Niki's actions as we're meeting after a gap of almost five years.

He touched mine as well as Lekha's feet, hugging us before and after and insisted upon his wife to follow suit - which she did - and I was reminded of Suzie's words which I quote, yet again, "You must come for the function to stand in for Rebu". And within that minutely small period of time, I'd asked my God to give the couple a long and happy married life with all that they wish for.

And then we broke bread and departed from the venue, soon after.


In the process, I'd done something blasphemous(?). I'd tucked in a generous helping of the non vegetarian food on offer, only to realise - why it dawned on me only at the end of it all and not at the beginning, beats my comprehension - that it was Dussehra and I'd breached the code of conduct expected of me of being a strict vegetarian.

Must ask god for a generous dose of forgiving!      

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mom's excitement.

Last evening I'd explained our programme for the weekend to my mom. I plan to drive off early morning on Sunday to be at our ancestral house by lunch time. I'd informed Vijayan, the caretaker, about our plan and ever since that piece of conversation, he's been calling up frequently to fix up things to the minutest detail. Damn sweet of him! He tells me that there's a whole lot of people who've been inquiring about my mom's arrival details and the duration that she's gonna be there, seeing the house opened for some 'spring cleaning'.

It's over two months - how time flies?! - when I'd brought mom along with us and she was in a bad state then! Minni, my younger sister, was on her way to Bangalore to join her husband and the house had to be put under lock and key. And as we'd kicked off that morning, mom was given an emotional and tearful farewell by her friends and well wishers.

She's responded fairly well to the treatment administered so far but I shan't say anything further and prefer to leave it to her friends and well wishers to evaluate her current physical being. Meanwhile, mom has been preparing for the trip in right earnest and has been prodding Lekha into buying small knick-knacks to be given away while she's gonna be there. So excited is she about her impending visit, that I'm going through a pang of guilt for having taken her out off the surroundings that she's quite comfortable with! But, honest, I was left with no other choice!!


Tomorrow, we'd be off to Thiruvalla - about 90 kms from our place at Kochi - to attend the wedding of Niki, the only child of Rebu and Suzie. We'd seen him graduate from a toddler to a gawky teenager with braces for straightening out his dentures to a strapping, young 'gym-made' gentleman that he's today. Sadly, Rebu had passed into the mist of time about seven years back owing to a massive heart failure. Suzie has commanded all of us, close to her, to be there at the function without fail to er,......... 'stand in for Rebu'! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A fatal assault!

It's a shocking story!

Three students of the Infant Jesus Engineering College at the sleepy hamlet of Vallanadu in the district of Tuticorin of Tamilnadu had chased and hacked their principal to death on the college campus. The savages - I can't think of any other adjective to define them - who'd committed the inexcusable crime were:-

    (a) P Pichaikannan  21  Fourth year Aeronautical Engineering student.
    (b) M Prabaharan   21  Fourth year Civil Engineering student and
    (c) G Danish           22  Fourth year Civil Engineering student.

The Principal was walking towards his office, when the guys had chased him and mercilessly hacked him with the sickles that they'd carried for the purpose. After committing the crime, they did make an effort to flee but the other students and a few members of the staff apprehended and handed them over to the police. The time of the crime - around a half past 8, in the morning!

And what was the reason? Pitchaikannan was suspended from the college, a couple of days ago, on the grounds of ragging. He couldn't take the 'humiliation'(?) and had embarked on this dastardly act, with the support of his friends!

My take.

What a way to tackle one's mistake? Yet another example of monsters being created and the fault, unquestionably, is attributable to the parents. Right values and respect for fellow human beings, respect for the law and above all, respect for the teacher should have been imbibed from their homes - ingrained into them by the parents!

A fast track court must try these guys and punish them without any delay. And no covering of their heads with black hoods while being paraded because the people must have a glimpse of the rotten guys!

My humble prayer for the departed soul, wishing that god gives his near and dear ones the strength to tide over their irreparable loss and trying times!


I'd three visitors at my workplace today - the first two were my seniors while the third and last happened to be my classmate. They'd come for assistance and I was happy that I could send all of them back satisfied, with their tasks accomplished.

Couldn't help but notice as to how time had taken its toll on my seniors. Both of them have their children doing well abroad and consequently, have access to the best of things thanks to their doting offspring. And in these days of I-pads, swanky cellphones and electronic diaries it was interesting to watch them using their small pocket diaries to note down my contact numbers.

.....Some things never change, huh? 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

An impending celestial happening.....

An interesting celestial event is about to occur within the next three months. The magnetic poles of 'our sun' - can't help being proprietorial on this one - which resemble the ends of a giant bar magnet are about to flip. It means that the sun's polar north will become the polar south and vice versa!

Why does it happen?

It's caused by the motion of plasma flows inside the sun. At many million degrees, the sun's interior is so hot that matter breaks up into electrically charged particles and the motion of these particles produces magnetic fields, akin to a dynamo in reverse. The process is technically known as the 'solar dynamo mechanism'.

What's its periodicity?

It takes place once every 11 years. The current solar cycle is the 24th since 1755, when this activity was recorded for the first time. And scientists say that it's unique because of the following factors:-

   (a) is one of the weakest in 100 years.
   (b) consequently, a high cosmic ray influx from outer space(a strong field would've been an effective
         shield!) is being recorded.

This is also the time when sun spots - intense magnetic field fluctuations that appear as dark spots on the solar surface - are the highest in number!

And how will it affect us?

The following are the likely fall outs:-

    (a) The chances of solar magnetic storms occurring are high, which carry a great amount of charged
          particles and magnetic fields through interplanetary space.
    (b) These storms pose a threat to satellite operations and telecommunications.
    (c) They also pose a threat to air traffic on polar routes and power grids in countries at high latitudes.


Another mysterious dance of nature that makes mankind look at it in 'shock and awe'!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Is Kerala's efforts in the field of literacy flagging?

I feel sad at the piece of news which says that the state's efforts in the field of literacy has suffered a setback. PN Panicker's soul would be definitely sad at this turn of events.

Is it really true? Or is it just a statistical mish-mash to show certain quarters in poor light? The answers must be forthcoming, I'm sure.

The immediate pointer has been the staking of claim for the top literacy spot by the chief minister of Tripura with a rate of 94.65% as against Kerala's last census figure of 93.91%! Though the difference seems to be quite small, the reality can be understood when I say that Tripura has reached this level from a much lower percentage during the late 80s and the early 90s. The literacy activities in the state seem to lack the fervour of old despite initiatives under the 'continuing education programmes' by the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority(KSLMA), which provides the overall leadership to the campaign. Experts in the field confirm that targets have not been achieved and the reasons cited, along with my comments in italics, are as follows:-

       (a) Frequent changes in policies coinciding with the changes in governments.
            Why it should happen beats me. Governmental policies on education must cater for
            the overall good of the people and cannot be tampered with by changing political     
            dispensations. Continuity and consensus are a must!
       (b) Frequent change of the head of the institution every few years.
             An essential requirement because the post is held by bureaucrats who're bound by 
            government service conditions.
       (c) Funding by the National Literacy Mission was stopped in 2009 and providing further funds
            is the responsibility of the state government.
            A fallout after the state had achieved total female literacy that year. Sadly, subsequent
           funding by the state government has been erratic.
       (d) Lack of committed workers.
            Again, sadly it's turned out to be a governmental job with a 9 to 5 routine. A recurring 
            fallout of any institution that's taken over by the government!


A case for releasing the literacy mission and its activities from governmental control? Yes, it must be a vibrant movement with the participation of all well meaning people of the society with an enlightened, committed and innovative leadership to provide effective guidance!! That is the need of the hour!!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The decision to form Telangana and the aftermath.

The media has been covering the chaos that has descended upon the Seemandhra region of Andhra Pradesh ever since the Union Cabinet had given the nod for a separate Telangana state. As one is aware, the state consists of three regions viz. Andhra, Telangana and Rayalaseema. While being made a new state several benefits accrue and hence, the people living in the Telangana region are euphoric about the developments, the majority of the 'Andhraites' have an emotional attachment for the retention of an undivided Andhra Pradesh and hence their reactions! This mismatch in thoughts and emotions have brought about the current impasse!

And the devastation that it's causing is there for all to see. To name just a few:-

      (a) Several hydel and thermal power stations have stopped functioning completely thanks to the indefinite
           strike called by the employees of the power sector. Consequently, following have resulted:-

             (i) Complete blackout in many areas.
            (ii)  Rail traffic has been hit.
           (iii)  Supply of drinking water has got disrupted in many places.
           (iv)  The functioning of hospitals have taken a hit. Urgent surgeries and medical management have
                  been badly affected. Essential life saving drugs and blood in the blood banks are gonna get
                  spoilt, if not already spoilt.
            (v)  ATMs at many places have begun to blink, bringing transactions to a standstill.
        (b) Inter-state and intra-state movements of essential goods like food grains, vegetables, fruits and
             other items that are needed for day-to-day use have ceased due to blockades of arterial roads.

        (c) Business transactions have come to an end as shutters have come down on shops and markets.

        (d) The threat of a collapse of the southern electric grid that provides power to the southern states of
             Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry and Andhra Pradesh, itself, looms large.

The untold suffering that the common man must be undergoing defies explanation. The sequence of events that has brought the situation to this sorry pass is all because of 'vote bank' politics where everyone wants to take the credit and avoid brickbats. The gimmicks and antics that make an impartial observer laugh are:-
         (a) Union ministers, hailing from the state, have tendered their resignations. But their resignations
              have not been accepted officially(?) and so, they continue to enjoy the fruits of office viz. the
             official bungalows, their cars and all other trappings!
         (b) Jagan Reddy fasting at Hyderabad and Chandrababu Naidu fasting at New Delhi.

         (c) No leader or political party has taken any initiative to bring about the sorry mess to a hasty end. All
              seem to be on a 'wait and watch' mode. Maximum benefits need to be achieved, you see and the
              plight of the common man be damned!


1. To my mind, such a situation would have never risen,
   (a) If development over the years had been uniform across the state, without petty politics coming in the
   (b) If the bifurcation was inevitable, the people of the state could have been subjected to a tautly  
        conducted referendum after appraising them of the pros and the cons of such a move.
   (c) If discussions between every conceivable group and organisation were encouraged, to collate common
        ideas to a lasting solution.

2. Instead, every conceivable stake holder in the issue played his own game to bring about this
    pantomime, that's causing a tremendous loss to the exchequer. But who cares? .......Sad!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

An abundance of goodness!

There are plenty of genuinely nice people all around the globe in this otherwise harsh environment which tends to border on the 'dog eats dog' syndrome. Permit me to narrate a real life incident that has been reported from Illinois, US.

Aurora Kephart works as a bar tender at the Conway's Restaurant & Lounge at Illinois. She comes across customers of differing behavioural patterns during the course of her work and says that she enjoys her interactions with each thoroughly, as it helps her to understand human behaviour better. The customers tip her generously for her prompt, efficient and pleasant service.

Just before the commencement of the previous weekend she'd a completely different experience altogether! A customer had tipped her with a lottery ticket. Though it had dipped her enthusiasm, albeit for a minutely short while, she had laughed off the experience as another one of those weird ones that happen occasionally in her work environment. Customers are customers, with a wide range of personality traits!

And then the unthinkable happened. Luck was at her behest when the lottery ticket fetched her a prize of $17,500! The simple person that she was had, without any inhibition, agreed to return the ticket to the customer who'd tipped her with it.

And guess what? The gentleman has refused to take back the ticket, saying that he'd tipped her with it and hence, it was rightfully her's and not his anymore!

Goodness begets goodness! Cheers!!


Had kicked off for Guruvayur by a trifle short of 7, as I did not want Lekha or mom to feel the pressure of having to get up too early in the morning. Tasks accomplished, we're able to return by 4 in the evening. No traffic snarls, nice weather and no 'mood spoiling' potholes on the route made it a nice experience..... And I was well in time for my evening walk!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Beginning the day with bonhomie.

I'm going through the events of the day as they meandered by.

1. The morning hello.

No sooner had I stepped out of the building around a half past 5, for my walk, did I notice a gentleman headed in the same direction as I and I'd been noticing him for the past couple of days. He and me seem to have chosen the same time slot to exercise. I decided to say a hello to him and that got him to open up. He's Prakash, an engineer of the Military Engineering Service, living within our residential area. He'd hesitantly begun the conversation by saying that he had always thought me to be a north Indian and I didn't know as to whether I should accept that as a compliment or otherwise!

A simple man who was eager to tell me all about himself and I let him do just that by being on a listening watch! And thanks to his company, the walk of 3 kms seemed to be too damn short!! Thanks Prakash for being with me and looking forward to many more walks together in the coming days.

             *                                  *                                  *
2. Yet another miss!

My classmate from school was passing through the city. I haven't seen him after leaving school and had wanted to meet him but his engagements against my schedule just did not permit that rendezvous. We'd to settle for a poor substitute - a long chat over the telephone and brought ourselves up on each other. Jacob Koshy and me were in the same class all through our tenure at the Sainik School. He's one of the two bachelors of our class and I'm still curious to know as to why he's chosen to be one. I'd intended to ask of him the reason when we met but I suppose it will have to wait till the coming February when he comes down from Bahrain, to attend his niece's wedding.

He's off to Mangalore as I punch in these thoughts.

              *                                  *                                  *
3. Monitoring mom's health.

Mom seems to be bouncing back to normalcy. She's begun to hold longer sessions of conversation and spends more time in front of the television set. But over the last two evenings, she develops swelling on both her legs which disappears, mysteriously, by morning. The funny thing is that she hardly moves around and even if she did, they're a hesitating few steps with the least amount of strain as I'd like to believe and hence, the phenomenon is hard to explain.

Near normalcy in locomotion is gonna take time according to her doctor. Perhaps, an ayurvedic treatment complete with oils and massage or the 'panchakarma' is the next logical step after she's regained her fitness completely. I've already apprised the doc of my plans and he's endorsed my idea, as he's also not keen to pump in more medicines into her for prolonged periods!


Tomorrow's gonna be a long day. We'd be off to Guruvayur, to give the final way ahead for the completion of the remaining tasks so that our shifting into it by the end of the next month is smooth and with the least amount of hassles!  

Friday, October 4, 2013

The NIA Special Court punishes the 13 for anti-India activities!

A special court of the National Investigation Agency has awarded life imprisonment to the 13 convicts, found to have committed treason, in what is now familiar as the 'Kashmir Recruitment Case' - they'd trained Malayali youth in terrorist activities, at the Lolab forests in Kashmir and sent them to fight the Indian Army on the LoC under the tutelage of the Pakistani terrorist outfit, the LeT.


It's coincidental that the 'Kashmir recruitment case' ended on the same day it first came to light on 04 Oct '08, when the Indian Army had spotted a group of militants, that included five Keralites, in the Kupwara forests while they're attempting to cross the border. Two Keralites were killed on 07 Oct in the subsequent encounter and two more, along with a Pakistani militant, on 11 Oct.

The case diary.

14 Aug 2008            Thadiyantavide Nazeer organises a special class at Karukachaal in Kannur. He recruits
                                a few youth for the purpose.
10 Sep                     8 youth proceed to Hyderabad out of which 5 proceed to Delhi for further training.
15 Sep                     The group reaches Kashmir.
02 Oct                     The cellphone numbers used by them is passed on to the Kerala Police by the IB.
07,11 Oct                Four Malayali youth get killed in their encounter with the Indian Army in the forests of
13 Oct                     The Kerala Police begins investigations.
23, 26 Oct               And they confirm that the four dead during the encounter were indeed Malayali youth.
09 Feb 2010            The case findings handed over to the NIA.
23 Mar 2010            7 men arrested in connection with the case remanded to Viyyur central jail.
09 Feb 2012            The NIA Special Court commences the proceedings.
01 Oct 2013            The court pronounces that 13 of the accused are guilty.

The unsolved riddles.

(a) 'Play White Sock' was a code received from Sarfraz Nawaz of the LeT in Pakistan, by one of the convicts. The convicts had pleaded ignorance about the code during the investigations. The meaning continues to elude.
(b) In another intercepted phone call, there's talk about another 180 persons ready to take their place in case of attrition. No such force has been unearthed thus far.


1. The aspects of the case that worries me are the following:-

   (a) Fidayeen recruitment camps have come to Kerala.
   (b) The Malayali jihadi is neither driven by poverty nor alienation. Despite ample scope for social and
         political expression, these misguided youth are being injected with religious extremism.
   (c) The NIA's disclosure that the 180 trained militants could be present as 'sleeper cells', ready to get
        activated any time.

2. And the only glimmer of hope in this dangerous case is the statement made by Safiya - the mother of one of the slain Malayalee recruits, Fayaz - on hearing the verdict and I quote, "Those who took my son to his death deserved to die".


Kudos to the NIA and the Kerala Police for their investigation prowess. The Kerala Police has once again proved that they're a force to reckon with!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Chinese tourist and another yarn!

A collage of thoughts for the day. And here I go.

 (a) The Chinese tourist.

 There has been an overwhelming chorus from various quarters that the Chinese tourist was the most
 indisciplined on a comparative basis with his counterparts from other countries. I'd pooh-poohed it, then,
 as one of those statistics that did not have a valid standing but with the news that China has, indeed, come
 out with a code of conduct for its tourists/travellers validate the statement. And the instructions are:-

      (i) Do not pick nose in public.
     (ii) Keep hair-in-the-nostrils trimmed.
    (iii) Picking the teeth with fingers is banned.
    (iv) Do not stay too long in public toilets.
     (v) No footprints on the toilet seat, please.
    (vi) Don't pee in the swimming pools.
   (vii) No slurping sounds while eating noodles.
  (viii) Don't steal life jackets from flights.

 My take.

 (i) If one were to ask me, many of these strictures are applicable to all tourists across the board.
 (ii) What makes the Chinese to take liberties when he's out of his country? Stifling regulations and lack of
     freedom at home?
 (iii) And how'd they confirm conformity?

 (b) The hunt for the trousseau.

 Malu, my cousin, and her aunts had set off from home at about a half past 10 for selecting her trousseau.
 Her wedding is slated for the 31st of this month at Guruvayur. Would you believe me when I say that they'd
 returned after task accomplishment by about 2000 hrs? Translates to over ten hours of continuous shopping
 with about two short breaks for snacking! Shopping for a wedding has gotten very innovative and just to
 describe one - the would-be-bride is dressed in various outfits by the attendants at the outlet to identify
 the most suited attire, the appropriate colour and the shade. The matching footwear and the hairstyle are
 also suggested!

 Boy, I'm impressed. The Malayali woman now endeavours to look good with a purpose. We've indeed
 come a long way!!


1. We're passing through exciting times!
2. Thank god, I hadn't accompanied the ladies on their shopping spree though I was invited. I'd politely refused because frankly, I don't have the patience!!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hope they get it right this time.

When we're transiting through Colombo on 17 Sep, there was graffiti all over the city along with flex boards proclaiming elections on the following Sunday in three of the provinces viz. North Western Province, Central Province and the Tamil-dominated North Province.

While the United People's Freedom Alliance romped home in the North Western and the Central provinces securing about 60% of the votes, it was the Tamil National Alliance that won overwhelmingly in the Northern Province with about 78% of the votes! CV Wigneswaran is the chief minister designate of the Northern Province who's topped the preference votes with a tally of 1,80,000 votes!!

Sadly, the results show a growing ethnic polarisation. Rajapaksa and his government must recognise the ground realities and initiate steps to bring about ethnic reconciliation by addressing the genuine fears and grievances of the Tamil minority. Their hopes and aspirations cannot afford to be overlooked. From the slew of policy decisions taken over the last couple of years since the obliteration of Prabhakaran and his outfit, the thinking seems to be that rapid economic development would enable the government to win over the Tamils to their side without giving in to their demands.

The results at the polls show that the thinking could be skewed and to quote an expert on the subject, "Reconciliation can take place not by economic development alone but by respecting diversity and pluralism".

The Tamil National Alliance can deliver the goods and keep the more fiery Tamils at bay, only if Colombo brings about an attitudinal change in the Sinhalese majority and considers all the sections of its population as equal partners towards nation building. To amplify this aspect just consider what the TNA is up against:-

     (a) The last few years have witnessed the whittling down of the provisions of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord
           and the 13th amendment.
     (b) The merger of the north and the east has been undone by a judicial pronouncement.
     (c) The President and the Defence Secretary have made it clear that police powers will be with the
           federal government.
     (d) The Supreme Court has come out with a recent judgement that the rights over land will be exercised
           by the federal government.

So, how can the Tamil National Alliance deliver with no control over land and police and to make matters worse, at also having to work with limited financial resources? And not to forget, the army is omnipresent and for the Tamils to conduct anything from a sports meet to other cultural activities, its clearance is mandatory!


History being ignored? Feel uneasy deep within. Sincerely hope that I'm unnecessarily being hyper! Hope they get it right at least this time!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The governmental shutdown in the US.

President Obama has set the ball rolling to his signature health care reforms. The key parts of the law called 'The Affordable Care Act', euphemistically termed by the President's hardcore supporters as 'Obamacare' have come into force with effect from today. Accordingly, the US Department of Health and Human Services opened new insurance market places in 50 states and have begun business.

The new insurance offers a broad range of essential benefits that were not included in the individual policies of the past like mental health, birth control and preventive care. Linked to other insurance market reforms, it promises an important safeguard to the consumer - no discrimination on the basis of gender or health history! Furthermore, the policies available will be based on an individual's income, location, family size and the level of coverage.

The accompanying legislation requires the Americans to obtain insurance within 6 months or pay a fine.

The governmental shutdown has been brought about because of the showdown between the Republicans and the Democrats on the implementation of the healthcare bill. While the Democrats have said that, come what may, the bill kicks off with effect from today, the Republicans insist that they would fund the American federal government in return for a one-year delay in the implementation of the law! And, therein, lies the impasse!!

And the outcome? The national parks and other government tourist spots will remain closed. NASA, the environmental protection agency and the local housing authorities will also have their shutters down. The White House and other governmental agencies will be manned by skeletal staff. And the worst - the employees, forced to go on compulsory leave - won't get their paychecks!

Bipartisanship between the Republicans and the Democrats was essential in these trying times. And the worst is yet to come when on the 17th of this month the limit to the government's financial borrowings will be arrived at. And to let the government free 'off the hook', the Republicans have asked for a slew of financial reforms.

The effects the shutdown will have on the world economy remains to be seen - to name just one, our exports are gonna take a serious hit!


The politicians, the world over, are the same. They work for their own individual welfare and don't care a damn either about the nation or the people, who'd voted them to power! What a curse?