Friday, January 31, 2014

Newsing around!

Going by the news in circulation, I wonder as to why such things keep happening. In fact, they keep on repeating. And no one seems to mind - 'sab kuch chaltha hai'! Without intending to bore, here is my take on a few of them:-

 (a) 'Instruments' of the political parties.

  The mobile camera grab on the brutal assault of two guys, whose car was stopped on the middle of the
  road by a few mobike riding goons, had gone viral today. The incident had taken place in broad daylight,
  in front of a sizeable crowd on one of the busy roads of Tirur of Malappuram district. It's believed that the
  spark was ignited by a long standing vendetta between the CPM and the Muslim League.

  One doesn't require a gaze into the crystal ball to predict retaliatory strikes and in the process, even loss
  of lives. Why don't these youngsters understand that they're being used by the political parties for their
  ends? I've often wondered as to what sustains the 'goonda gangs'? Anyone of the following, if not all, may
  perhaps be the factors:-

      (i) Most of them are school dropouts and the literate among them are unemployed. They're on the
          lookout for 'easy' jobs because they detest doing anything that require hard work on their part.
     (ii) Political patronage gives them 'power' and perhaps, an indulgent attitude by the police if they're
          to land up in trouble while executing their patron's diktats.
    (iii) Their day-to-day existence is looked after by the crumbs thrown at them by their godfathers.

  (b) The new governor of Jammu & Kashmir.

  Sivashankar Menon is tipped to be the next governor of J&K after his term as the National Security
  Advisor expires. Another example of a lacklustre bureaucrat being kicked upstairs just because of his
  political leanings. His performance as the country's foreign secretary was more reactive than proactive
  and it was during his tenure, both as the foreign secretary and the NSA, that China had made quite a
  few unacceptable incursions on our borders.

  And we're told at the time of his taking over as the foreign secretary, that he'd be able to give a dynamic
  thrust to the relationship with our immediate neighbours with his vast(?) knowledge. Plain empty words
  and what a laugh?

  (c) The sad end.

  The death of Nido Tania, a student from Arunachal Pradesh, in the nation's capital is another sad
  testimony that human lives have ceased to have any value. How can a bunch of people take law into
  their own hands and get away with murder? It's my fond hope that justice is provided without delay.

  Dear Nido, we've collectively let you down. My apologies and prayers. May your near and dear ones
  have the strength to deal with their tremendous loss!

  (d) The political trapeze.

  Can't help but laugh at the manner in which Sharad Pawar and his party are making moves to back
  Narendra Modi's BJP. He's already got himself elected into the Rajya Sabha and will look for propping
  up his daughter into the new dispensation. I really marvel in the manner guys like him stick on to power
  despite changing political dispensations.

  Some survival this! His supporters say that it's his eagerness to serve his countrymen that's making him
  take on power. What a joke?


Apologies for being a cynic. But my blood boils when I see the hangers on, the sycophants, the fixers
and the frauds get into positions of power only to loot this country time and again.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Li'l Sanath's discomfiture and other mini stories.

This morning we're off to Aluva to attend the wedding of a cousin of Lekha. Her younger sister and son, Sanath - all of four years and very sharp - had come in their car to take us along.

 (a) Li'l Sanath's discomfiture.

 We've displayed two collages of photographs selected after great thought - so we'd presumed - from the
 treasure trove of the albums that we've accumulated over a period. Much to my dismay, I've seen a few
 of my friends and even a relative turn away disappointed after perusing them, simply because they did not
 figure in any of them. How can I ever convince them that their not figuring in the selection did not in any way
 diminish our feelings for them?

 Sanath happens to be yet another who doesn't figure in them and he's pretty peeved about it. This afternoon
 - I'd heard him plead to his mom that they should enter Lekha aunty's house for just six minutes. I'd like to
 believe that he's endowed with the ability to appreciate the duration of six minutes - therefore, on their return  leg they'd a quick snack and it was then that I heard him tell Vinu, their 'saarthi', that he didn't figure in any
 of the photographs while the former was viewing them!

 (b) The pain of using a credit card.

 While those of you staying abroad would find this strange, the extensive use of the plastic money is yet to
 gain popularity in this country. Today, I'd a rather long wait for my card to get processed at the department
 store - each time the cashier shakes his head at a failed attempt, the others waiting in the queue look at you
 as a villain and even, perhaps as a fraudster using faulty credit cards! One's in the limelight for no rhyme or
 reason and for all the wrong reasons!! - and finally, when it was successful after the nth time, I'd lost count
 by then and was sort of getting desperate to get through with it, the cashier says apologetically, "Sorry sir,
 the line has been too busy".

 (c) Vinu's driving tactics.

 Our 'saarthi' of the day who's quiet by nature but has the bad habit of literally 'sitting on the horn' - he,
 honks aggressively and the prolonged ones did irritate me - to drive off the guy ahead from out of his way.
 And god forbid the errant ones. He overtakes them and deliberately slows down soon after to break their
 momentum, simply to 'teach them a lesson'!

 I'd admonished him at the end of it and tried to tell him the importance of being nice to the other motorists.
 Wonder whether it would make him change but I was reminded about many such boors that I've come  across during my driving outings.

 I did try to analyse his behaviour. From his family background I reckon that he's a spoilt brat, having being
 given everything that he's wanted and asked for.


Another one of those hectic days but at the end of the day, 'it's mission accomplished'!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Getting to be accepted.....slowly.

It's been exactly a couple of months that I've been here. My regular walks, both in the morning and in the evening, have made me visible to a lot of people that I come across. As I'd said earlier, a knowing look, a smile with a nod of the head or a faint hint of a smile and finally, the unfurling of the half masted dhoti/lungi accompanied with folded hands have been the different types of responses that I've been privileged to receive thus far. I must admit that I get a heady feeling whenever I'm acknowledged!

This evening, Ashwin, a young boy studying in class IX, dismounted from his bicycle and had invited me to his home to meet up with his parents. Much as I hate interruptions of any sort while I'm on my walks, I didn't have the heart to pour water on the youngster's enthusiasm and it was from his parents that I came to know that the boy has been talking about my interaction with his group of friends and him during my last public outing. And it was then that the lad had confessed to having cycled up to my gate twice but had got funked at the last moment and pedalled away. I've invited the family to my house this Sunday.

    *                                         *                                       *

I'd driven into the closest petrol bunk for filling up my Chevy but was told very sweetly(?) by the female attendant that credit cards were unacceptable. Since I had an appointment soon after, I'd decided to let it go at that but come back at a later stage to sort out the matter once for all. As I was winding up my walk, I'd walked up to the bunk's manager to find out as to why plastic money was not entertained despite the fact that it's a common happening elsewhere.

He was profusely apologetic on behalf of the attendant saying that she was ignorant of the fact that I stayed in the vicinity - the proprietor is my neighbour and a good friend, who's a successful businessman but a humble man. Since the bunk is on the state highway, it has a lot of customers on transit from faraway places and they've had problems, in the past, created by the use of credit cards by quite a few of the passing motorists. Therefore, there was an understanding among the team of attendants to discourage the use of the credit cards except for 'known' customers.

He's offered to have my car filled up, first thing tomorrow morning before I kick off on a long trip.


I suppose everything has a time of its bidding! There's no point in worrying about things not happening the way one wants!!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We shall overcome.

Pete Seeger, singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who'd spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career giving impetus to folk music as an important heritage and a catalyst for social change, passed into the mist of time today at the New York - Presbyterian hospital. He was all of 94 yrs and had died of natural causes.

He'd sung for the labour movement in the '40s and the '50s, for civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam war rallies in the '60s and for environmental and antiwar causes during the '70s and beyond.

"We shall overcome..." which he'd adopted from the old spirituals went on to become a civil rights anthem. We, Indians, are familiar with its desi version, "Hum honge kaamyaab....."

I've been mesmerised with the lyrics and not to forget the peppy energy that I've - always and without fail - derived from hearing this number. As of now, while I punch in these thoughts of mine, the number's playing in the background!

RIP, Pete Seeger. My prayers. You shall continue to live through your music for the years to come.


It's an unusually hectic day but I was satisfied that everything, that was planned, could be achieved in the end though at one time I'd almost given up on one serial as the wait was inordinate and any further delay would have upset the subsequent schedules. Well!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cash strapped!

I was on my evening walk and had not taken the torch despite mom's insistence simply because I'd planned my return in such a manner so that I could pick up some items from the department store, the laundry and the chemist. I'd decided to hire an auto rickshaw from the department store for my return trip.

It was a blistering pace as usual and had finally fetched up at the department store and thankfully, all the items that I'd wanted were available on the shelves. There wasn't much of a crowd and one of the boys, in attendance, helped me pick up the items of grocery. I'd also got my favourite flavour of ice cream in a family pack - that of the strawberry!

At the counter I'd offered my credit card for payment when the billing clerk reported that the machine had gone awry ever since the afternoon as the telephone lines had got erratic. Since I didn't have enough cash in my pocket, I'd then expressed my inability to pick up the items and apologised to the billing clerk for inconveniencing him. I'd walked out of the store after yet another 'unplanned mishap' that happens in plenty during one's life but had the satisfaction that none of the items that I'd picked up was urgently required.

I was aware that I'd a one grand rupee note to get a few essential medicines for mom and Lekha from the chemist and had begun the long trudge back home. Hiring a rick was unnecessary and I'd already put off collection of the clothes from the laundry for tomorrow.

The medicines collected, I could reach home about 20' later than usual. All well laid plans can go awry or if anything has to go wrong, it will! It's just a part of the game!!


No sooner had I reached home did Lekha emphasise the need for a loaf of bread and so, I'd gone to the bakery nearby only to be told that the last piece was sold about 10 minutes earlier and the girl at the counter felt genuinely sorry for having to let me go empty handed.

Doesn't it look all too conspiratorial?    

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The 65th Republic day.

The poignant moment that shall ever remain etched in my memory of the 65th Republic day celebrations was the tears rolling down the cheeks of the mother of the late Sub Inspector K Prasad Babu, as his dad received the Ashok Chakra from the President of India.

Sub Inspector K Prasad Babu was a member of the Andhra Pradesh counter - naxalite force called the 'Greyhounds', who'd laid down his life while fighting the Maoists valiantly in the Andhra Pradesh - Chhattisgarh border region of Sukma on 16 Apr '13. Thirty three year old Babu played a key role in eliminating nine top cadre Maoists and held many others at bay in two successive encounters until he was overpowered by the brute majority of the attackers.

RIP, Prasad Babu. You've done the country proud and I salute a true braveheart. Your life's story shall be the inspiration for the generations to come, I'm sure.

The march past down the Rajpath was impressive, colourful and elegant as always. The way the marching columns kicked their foot that extra bit, while saluting the dais, with their faces full of hope and confidence reassured the viewers that India was in safe hands and that they'd never let our enemies get away with their evil designs, ever!

In the evening I was rooted in front of my television set to see the programme, 'Rediscovered : National Defence Academy' on the Discovery channel. Actually, the alert had been given to me by friends and course mates, well in advance, to keep the Sunday free for uninterrupted viewing, through telephone calls and by e-mail. So, two potential visitors were politely told to reschedule their visits. Wicked of me you might say but this is the reaction that can be expected of me, anytime anywhere - such is the pull of the Alma mater, even to this day.


1.The one hour programme was a nostalgic trip down memory lane. I was transported in time and went through my first to sixth terms recalling quite a few of the incidents during my stay at the Academy. Truly, time well spent!

2. I was also reminded of the shooting of 'A Cradle for Leadership' by Khurshid Ahmed - the second documentary to be made on the Academy - during my first and second terms in '73. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Guruvayur darshan.

Years back, soon after joining the NDA, I remember all of us, first termers, being taken around the sprawling campus on an organised visit. The idea was to familiarise each one of us with the important landmarks that would require frequent visits by a cadet - as part of the training - during his stay. I would be kidding that everything had fallen smartly into memory but a rough idea of the general directions along with the approximate distances was quite clearly etched, deep within.

The exercise was termed as the 'Academy darshan' and it was the front runner to the numerous visits on one's cycle issued by the quartermaster to make the cadets' movements crisp, without any time lag between classroom sessions. Many a time, the roles were reversed with the bicycle lifted over one's head simply because the 'cadet appointment' that one'd crossed enroute felt that one's discipline was - to quote him - piss poor! And imagine a sweaty cadet trying to imbibe the nuances of 'Integral Mathematics' soon after!!

This evening, as if to remind me about such an exercise, my neighbour and schoolmate took me around in his car to familiarise me with the landmarks of Guruvayur for getting my work done and to achieve immediate objectives. It was a taut, one hour trip resulting in getting a few things done by the two of us.

And then, it was time to exchange notes and usher in the weekend while charting out our future course of action as much needs to be done.


One of the arterial roads has been dug up for relaying water pipes. The already crazy traffic has gone crazier!


Friday, January 24, 2014

The news around.

Can't help but feel surprised at the way things are going from the news grabs of the day. So, without much ado, let me go through a few:-

   (a) The Africans in New Delhi.

    Being an Indian, one can't resist from feeling bad about the manner in which the common man behaves
    with the foreigners. They're normal human beings with emotions, a fact that most people seem to forget.
    Otherwise how does one account for the boorish behaviour meted out to them? One of the Congolese
    lady has told the police, during the filing of the FIR, that when men walk past them they shamelessly ask,
    'kitna paisa'?

    It's incumbent on the government and the law enforcing agencies to ensure that the foreigners are assured
    of their safety, within the country, at all times. Any negative move can whip up agitations in their
    homeland and no one can afford to forget about the thousands of Indians eking out their living in that part
    of the world. Their lives would be at stake for our stupid actions!

    (b) The state's budget.

    Today happened to be the day when the state's budget was announced by the finance minister in the
    State Assembly, that's currently in session. The 'pantomime' is not different from the past, but this time the
    emphasis has been on agriculture which accounts for the minister's predominant vote bank. How blatant
    can one get, especially because this is an election year - he's to play up to the gallery and the people
    simply seem to lap it up!

    The prices of essential items are gonna shoot up for sure, pinching the public where it hurts the most -
    balancing the family budget.

    But forget about all these, one can justify them to say that the income into the state's coffers needs to be
    reinforced with budgetary measures, albeit, bittersweet. But there's no single suggestion that has been put
    forth to curb government expenditure. And for heaven's sake why can't the state's badly run 'road
    transport corporation' be handed over to a consortium of its own workers to sort out the mess and make
    it a profit oriented organisation without pumping the tax payer's money into it, presumably to rejuvenate it?

    (c) Indian cricket in New Zealand.

    It's sad to note the consistency in which the Indians are performing in New Zealand - the batsmen are
    perturbed by the short ball, meekly succumbing to pace and the bowlers lack the sting. Their 'numero
    uno' position has thankfully become a thing of the past, thanks to their back-to-back losses.

    Let's hope that they get their act together for the sake of the country.


The television, these days, is full of discussions and possible post election scenarios of May '14. The environment is, therefore, very noisy and rhetoric driven. And for us, it's entertainment unlimited!  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The accident of one's birth.

A few days back the congressman, Manishankar Aiyar, had made fun of Narendra Modi by saying that since he was a tea vendor he was welcome to put up a stall at the congress party's headquarters to provide tea to everyone and that he should stop nursing ambitions of becoming the Prime Minister of the country. How many votes have been weaned away from the congress party, in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, by this callous and insensitive statement is an answer that only time will tell. What he seems to have forgotten is that there's this huge population of 'tea vendors' and the constitution they pander to, on a daily basis, all over the country - who'd, during election after election voted for his party just because of their 'brand loyalty' - whom he's sullied with one single stroke. And, by the way, who gives him the right to ask an individual not to dream?

Much has been written and voiced about Aiyar's statement in the media who has mulishly refused to tender an apology and Modi has wasted no time in using it to underscore his humble beginnings!

What appalls me is that Aiyar - I'm told - comes from a well-to-do family, has been privileged to get educated in reputed institutions, has had his innings in the civil service before plunging into politics. With this envious(?) background, the question that comes to my mind is as to what makes him and his ilk - of course, there are many like him - say despicable things like this. Let me try to put down a few possibilities:-

      (a) Completely ignorant about the fundamentals of life. Haven't they heard about the 'accident of birth'?
      (b) Are trying to curry favour with the influential family of the congress. But won't they read him
            through? One need not be more loyal than the king to prove one's allegiance!
      (c) Are totally dumb and daft. They utter inanities just to be in the limelight.
      (d) Are the 'fifth columnists' in the party who work from within to bring about its destruction, which is
            their ulterior motive.
      (e) Are simply arrogant and do not care a damn about the others, especially those who've not been
           as well placed as they are, in society. Then, doesn't their championing the 'Panchayati Raj' system
           sound hollow? I mean, whom are they trying to fool?

The statement that 'truth is stranger than fiction' rings true in this case.


1. What use is education if the upbringing or the fundamental education at home has been flawed?
2. One has been brought up drilled by the fact that one must never lose one's dignity or poise while facing an adversary even if he were to use unfair/questionable means.
3. And in a political battle, one's expected to fight the policies of a party and not the individuals.


I was reminded of a steward who'd asked me a question a long while back and I quote, "Sir, many of the people who come here in costly limousines and display airs use such bad language that I really can't find a difference between them and me. And I was always under the impression that good education meant good manners at all times".

I remember having taken a long time to respond to that observation of his.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A collage of thoughts.

It's an ordinary day. My boys had come all the way from Kochi to hand over the last installment of my personal effects by afternoon. Mom's ayurvedic treatment entered the sixth day and she'd to be gently chided for bucking instructions when the massages had caused her discomfort. The rest of the activities had a repetitive hue but here are a couple that had indeed caught my imagination:-

  (a) Contact re-established.

   I'd been often wondering as to why my senior and friend, Captain Matloob Khan had become
   incommunicado. My calls had gone unanswered and he has generally been quiet on the net too. This
   evening I'd got a call from his son, who's presently based at Singapore and came to know that the Khans,
   too, were there with him. He updated me on his dad's condition - badly asthmatic, coupled with the
   Parkinson's Syndrome with periodic bouts of depression. He said that he'd wanted to contact me
   for the past few months because the family thinks that interactions with me would rejuvenate him!

   The two of us had a long chat and updated ourselves of each other. I've taken on the task to get him an
   ayurvedic treatment package during the first half of April, this year. It's my fond hope that the wholesome
   medical management would improve his health drastically and in the process, I would also get to have his

   (b) In bad taste.

   Today was the judgement day of the 'TP Chandrasekharan murder case'. The CPM had a high stake on
   the outcome as many of its top rung leaders had been implicated and the needle of suspicion was pointing
   at the probability of orders having been given from the top to eliminate the rebel who was attaining
   popularity and acceptance among the cadres at their expense! All eyes were, therefore, on the court's
   observations on P Mohanan, a member of the party's Kozhikode district secretariat!! He's been acquitted
   and the party seems to have gone overboard with its reactions. Sample these:-

       (i) laddoos distributed to one and all with a television grab showing a few savouring the sweet with
            an arrogant defiance at the camera.
       (ii) the party leaders have claimed victory(?) and say that the verdict, underlines their clean image.

    Wasn't the merry making a bit in haste? And what's the victory being claimed? Don't they've any feelings
    about the misery that TP's family is going through?

     There would be appeals and counters and hence, it's not a closed issue. What's to be awaited is to know      as to who among the players has the last laugh.


There's soon gonna be a 'Dreamliner' service between New Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram, if reports are to be believed. It would help the pilots of Air India to clock in their flights, they say! Well!!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Small things, great happiness!

Since I'm choosy about my personal effects, it takes a long time to set things right and get them as I want them to be. So has been the case in our nest, 'The Quarterdeck'. Today, however, I've been able to get two things fixed after what seemed to be an inordinately long wait and they did bring me a lot of happiness and therefore, please allow me to blabber about them:-

  (a) The home theater.

   Firstly, I must begin by saying that it's neither elaborate nor expensive. The idea was to have the house
   reverberating with music all the time. The tuner had to be tuned to receive the FM radio frequencies and
   the exercise of putting up its antenna for flawless reception took a great amount of time and effort but the
   guys, Vimal and Vipin did a marvellous job as they knew my requirement. The triad - tuner, CD/DVD
   decks and the television had to to be integrated and laid out in a compact, eye pleasing manner - was
   made operational a trifle after sunset.

   I must confess, being the non-technical guy that I am, I did have problems in handling the 'remote controls'    - there are too many of them, for comfort - while switching over from one system to the other. But being
   able to listen to the evergreen numbers was tremendous and brought me the happiness of having achieved
   it, albeit, a trifle late!

  (b) Clean surroundings.

   There's a small patch of land adjacent to my house that has been lying vacant and which had a lot of dry
   grass and muck - partially of my making, while unpacking in the process of settling down - that had
   been begging of a decent disposal all these days. But my lethargy and concentration on other things were
   the reasons for putting off the essential job, time and again.

   What galvanised me into action was when I found two bags of waste - thankfully, not crap as one reads
   in the newspapers - dumped at the site by outsiders. I'd have surely bashed up the culprits had I seen
   them and it seems to have been done sometime during silent hours!

   Yudhishtir, a migrant labourer from Brahmapur in Orissa, was the knight in shining armour who did a
   marvellous job in cleaning up and making a bonfire of the entire waste. The plot, now looks clean and neat.
   And I'm gonna watch for anyone trying to dump waste there from now on.


Was watching the absolute mess - through television grabs - the Delhi Chief Minister was making by holding the 'dharna' against the central government for swift action on the recalcitrant policemen. Thankfully, it's all over by the end of the day. Hope his government now gets down to brass tacks and takes decisions to set the rotten things right!      

Monday, January 20, 2014

What's SLE? Is it dangerous?

Of late, after the sad and untimely death of Mrs. Tharoor, I've got a lot many calls from friends and relatives about Lekha's ailment saying that they didn't know it to be that serious. The brief mention in the media that it's a dangerous ailment doesn't make matters easier. And therefore, I thought that I must clear the cobwebs, at least, in a few minds about the ailment from whatever little knowledge that I've acquired over a period of time as Lekha's doctors and me took her through the various stages of treatment.

  (a) So, what's SLE?

  It's an acronym for 'Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus' wherein the antibodies of the patient loses the power
  to differentiate the disease germs from the good cells in the body, thereby, destroying the white blood
  corpuscles resulting in a drastic reduction in immunity. Its causal factors are hereditary and here's where
  that one needs to understand that anything 'hereditary' covers a period of the previous seven generations.
  Understand, then, the difficulty to keep a track of such information when there are many among us who're
  not even aware of the names of our great grandparents! The drastic fluctuations in the 'platelet count'
  of the blood is an indicator!

  (b) The other aspects of SLE.

  These are the additional aspects of the ailment:-

       (i) the ratio of the occurrence of the illness is about 1: 20,000.
       (ii) it usually manifests more in girls than in boys - 8 out of every 10 cases have been observed to
            be girls.
       (iii) the illness is very vigorous between 20 and 30 years of age.
       (iv) it's very difficult to diagnose and hence dangerous, as the finding would tend to be too little too
       (vi) as the ailment gets into full bloom, the patient gets a perceptible 'butterfly' patterned rash around
            the nose.
       (vii) the illness is managed by the administration of cortisone/steroids along with others.
       (viii) the illness cannot be cured totally and there are two schools of thought among the medical fraternity
              regarding its management which are:-

              (aa) put the patient on a low, sustained dosage of steroids for life.
              (ab) take the patient off all medicines, carry out periodic checks of the parameters and tackle
                     any perking up with a corresponding dosage of steroids!
    Incidentally, the patient has a sustained low fever during the period with almost no appetite!

Lekha's story.

She's been fortunate in having an excellent group of doctors who'd seen her through tough times and I must mention them for their acumen in pinpointing the ailment so that timely medical interventions could be provided. We'd like to place on record our deep gratitude to the following wonderful doctors:-

        (a) Lt Col Bhatta              - he was the first to cast a doubt about the ailment at the MH, Wellington
                                                  in autumn '91.
        (b) Dr Joseph Kurien        - he brought her out of her tough times at Lisie hospital in Aug '93.
        (c) Late Lt Col Achuthan
             Kannampilly                - he helped her recoup with his encouraging conversations every Saturday
                                                  at the Army Hospital, New Delhi in '93-'94.
        (d) Surg Cdr Ashok
             Bhagra                        - his effective management brought about further improvement and she
                                                  was taken off all medicines in '00 at the R&R hospital, New Delhi.
        (e) Dr B Ramachandran    - he'd put her back on medicines, no steroids, when the ailment had perked
                                                   up in Sep '09.
        (f) Dr Padmanabha
            Shenoy                         - currently manages her at the Amritha hospital in Kochi.

So much about SLE - dangerous if not diagnosed but controllable with drugs if detected on time.


RIP Mrs Tharoor. My prayers and here's wishing that god gives the immediate family adequate strength to tide over these difficult times.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

My first public outing!

After an impassioned request from Jayarajan, the ACP and my friend, Narayanan I'd decided to attend this evening's function that was held on account of two reasons viz. :-

     (a) to felicitate, KS Ananthu, who'd shattered the high jump record in the recently concluded national
          meet. The lad hails from a very poor family and he's studying in class VIII of a local school.
     (b) to convey the heartfelt gratitude of the people to the 100 young volunteers - recruited as 'special
          police' - who'd done an excellent job of crowd management due to the increased influx of the
          pilgrims visiting Sabarimala.

The function was organised by the Guruvayur police force and it would be appropriate to mention that the organisation has indeed lived up to its role of the 'Jan Maitree' police!

Though the audience consisted of a little over 100 people from all walks of life, it had cohesion and a general feeling of togetherness. I was invited on to the stage to provide young Ananthu, the tips for his onward progress because I'd told earlier that he could be prepared for joining the armed forces to be able to pursue his passion on the athletic field while fulfilling his professional requirements!

I shan't opine about the speech that I'd delivered on the occasion but I must report that there were fiery and impassioned speeches before and after mine - which was bland - that received more noisy accolades from the audience compared to mine. However, at the end of it all, I'd quite a few coming up to take down my telephone number with the promise of visiting me at my residence subsequently.


1. What did I utter that fetched me instant friends? While thanking the 'special police', I'd touched upon the dilemma that I invariably went through, while short cutting the serpentine queues at the Guruvayur temple -  with the help of my contacts - and the two specific ones that I'd be left grappling with after every such episode were:-
   (a) the feeling that Guruvayurappan never took it kindly about my having taken the short cut.
   (b) the way I avoided looking into the eyes of those standing in the queue and with whom I'd acted
        smart(?), by illegally overtaking them.

2. And of course, I'd also said that the doors of my house shall remain open for anyone who's a problem. Did I sound like a seasoned politician, huh?


I've since decided that I'll stand in the queue even if the wait's gonna be a long one!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

A trip to the past....

It was late into the evening and we're watching our favourite musical programme, 'Raag Rang', on a Malayalam channel that covers songs from the Hindi movies - with anecdotes coupled with history - during its half an hour duration. And it's aired on Saturdays.......

.....Mom had already turned in for the night and with the commencement of the ayurvedic treatment, she finds sleep forthcoming and has even given up viewing her favourite after supper 'soaps'........

.....And then came the hauntingly beautiful number from the movie, 'Taj Mahal' picturised on Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai, " Jo waada kiya wo nibhaana padega....." We're enjoying the lyrical beauty when we saw mom come out of her bedroom - as though in a trance - and sit down on her favourite chair. It was as though an unseen and irresistible pull had shaken her up from her slumber and brought her to listen to the number.....

....Dad was fond of this number and me and my sisters have always felt nice about our parents' affinity for this number and I remember their narration of having gone to see the movie only a day after visiting the monument at Agra! And I've seen them enjoying the number so many times - I'd lost count!


Was dad also around us in an invisible avatar, enjoying the number? Otherwise, how does one explain mom getting up from her deep slumber? I would like to believe that dad must have prompted her to listen to their favourite number.......yet again!


Friday, January 17, 2014

It amazes me!

I watch the television grabs and follow the news regularly. Of late, the news about the new  government at Delhi has been of interest because, here's a bunch of well meaning people who has promised their people, at the hustings, to provide a corruption free government and not to repeat the mistakes of the earlier governments drawn from the hard core political parties. Here are my observations and on another story too:-

  (a) The leader of the masses.

  It's a tradition that once elected, one ceases to be the member of one's party especially, if one were
  to become a member of the cabinet. The thought beneath such a noble idea is that a minister is
  meant to look after the interests of the entire lot of people irrespective of their political affiliations.
  When one's entrusted with such a huge responsibility, one's expected to shun narrow thoughts and
  strive for the welfare of the people.

  So, it was kind of sad to see one of the new ministers insisting upon the police to search a particular
  house. He might have hard evidence against the house owner, but why can't he do what a normal
  citizen is expected to do in the circumstances - report the matter to the police, have an FIR made and
  ensure that the case is dealt with speedily so that justice is delivered. A 'Rhambo' act should be
  shunned at all costs and a modicum of propriety is expected, however evil the protagonist is!

  The Aam Aadmi Party needs to get its act together and should not let vendetta or quick fix solutions
  make them commit error after error. Maturity and statesmanship are the need of the hour before the
  people who'd elected it write its epitaph in disillusionment! The party needs to get educated about
  the term, 'the leader of the masses'. And do not pick on the police, that's an important organ of the
  government which would help it to govern.

  (b) Suchitra Sen.

  The beautiful Suchitra Sen has passed into the mist of time. I can never forget her character in the
  Hindi movie, 'Andhi'. A graceful actress who's an epitome of beauty.

  Her shying away from the limelight and the scrupulous manner in which she hid herself from the
  public accentuates that famous saying, "Time erodes gratitude just as it does beauty".

  She wanted her audience to remember her in her beautiful visage.......always!

  RIP, Suchitra Sen. My humble prayers and may you find peace in eternity. Here's wishing that your
  near and dear ones are able to cope with their loss.


1. Madhu, a friend of mine along with his family had dropped by after their little child's 'anna prashna' or the first meal at Guruvayur. The li'l one's just following this uncle of his without his knowledge!

2. My mom's first day on the treatment table. Sobhina and Sheena, the mother-daughter combination, have been able to make an impression on her by their efforts. Good show! And 27 more days to go!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The traditional ayurveda medical system.

Ever since I've begun to live out here, I've been on the lookout for a system where the ayurveda medical practices were followed in the traditional manner. I'd heard of families that practiced this genre of medicine in its pristine form and stories abound as to how the knowledge and the manner in which treatment were to be conducted for differing ailments, were passed on orally from one generation to the other. And if by misfortune, the family had no rightful heir, then the knowledge disappeared from this world with the passing away of the last practitioner!

What a colossal waste of knowledge which could have been a great help to mankind? I'm of the opinion that there has been no meaningful governmental efforts to nurture this form of medicine and to retrieve the abundant knowledge that's around. And on the flip side, there has been a mushrooming of numerous 'spas' that promise genuine ayurvedic massages but do not even possess the fundamental knowledge about the viscosity, temperature and the type of oils that are to be used. Nor do they've the foggiest idea as to what the right occasion is in a day - by virtue of time - to carry out the process of treatment to ensure successful results. And mind you, an inappropriate ayurveda treatment can be detrimental with disastrous results.

My mom has been having severe problems in locomotion and it was for her benefit that I was looking for a genuine practitioner of traditional ayurvedic medicine - that too, a lady - and my long wait, finally, proved fruitful when my friend, Narayanan had put me on to Sobhini. Businesslike and with an inquisitive mind, she didn't waste any time to assess my mom's condition before coming up with what she proposed to do. Earlier, she'd chucked her practice of 'no house calls' to come along with me to have a look see at mom.

The treatment cycle is gonna be for 28 days at the end of which she's promised to make mom free of all her pains. And for starters, she's put my mom on 'Kashaayams,' 'arishtams' and 'lehyams'.

Yet, another serial is on!


1. The final approaches to the clinic are very narrow and I managed to get a scrape on my Chevy much to my chagrin. But for mom's movements, to and from the clinic, from tomorrow onward I've sought the services of Anto and his auto rickshaw!

2. It also happened to be my parents' wedding anniversary. Mom, as usual, was expansive about the events on her wedding day, many eons back!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Nurturing the plants.

I go for my long morning walks and I think I've become a sort of fixture for the few people who are up and about at that time. Quizzical looks, exchanging of smiles and an occasional wave of hands have become common stuff. Probably my rig, complete, with my dad's walking stick swung like a cane in the horizontal position - basically for shooing away errant dogs that seem to be in fairly large numbers - and differing caps for the different days of the week add to the overall persona!

The bulk of my walk is through the bylanes that are devoid of traffic save for an occasional two-wheeler and I often notice households slowly stirring into morning activity as I move past. As I'd said earlier, the countryside is dotted with temples and quite a few of the early risers trudge along to visit their gods around the same time.

Today, a gentleman had overtaken me only to slacken later which was a phenomenon that I've been observing for the past few days. As I caught up with him and headed for my home run, I casually queried him as to whether he was competing with me. And told him that he must maintain the same pace all through the distance that he actually covers because getting past me wasn't adequate enough if he really cared about his own fitness! He's a rotund figure with a distasteful paunch!!

And then, on an analysis within, I'd asked myself as to whether my observation was prodded on by my irritation of him overtaking me. And not surprisingly, the answer was an overwhelming 'yes'! I haven't shed that competitive spirit in me!!

On return, it was time to water the newly laid patch of grass and the plants. And I'd completed uttering my prayers for the day. And no, I hadn't fumbled on the 'Vishnu sahasranama sthothram' today.


Life has indeed slowed down and activities like nurturing the plants give a soothing effect. Sanity needs to be maintained during the transition as there's a bigger assignment just waiting around ! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

'Makaram onnu' - The first of the Malayalam month, Makaram.

Today's an auspicious day. It was the confluence of the 'Makar Sankranti', Bihu, Pongal and Milad-un-Nabi.
And today also happens to be a Tuesday which makes it all the more auspicious!

The Sabarimala pilgrimage for the season had peaked this evening with the sighting of the 'Makara Jyothi' at the Ponnambalamedu by the large gathering of devotees at the 'sannidhaanam'. The entire activity was being telecast live for the benefit of the devotees who could witness it within the safe environs of their homes. It's a powerful and charged atmosphere at that point of time that even a pragmatic person like my dad used to stand up, with folded hands, in front of the television set when the 'jyothi' flickered thrice.

It has now been universally accepted that the 'jyothi' is a man made phenomenon. And if that be so, do we require the theatrics? That's a debatable point and I shan't be drawn into any form of discussion on the issue. But it's my firm belief that Lord Ayyappa will continue to have his followers for the years to come, with or without the Makara Jyothi. Period!

This year's unprecedented number of pilgrims reiterate my earlier statement.

Today was also an occasion to catch up with a few of my friends with whom I'm not in regular touch. And Guruvayur, once again, witnessed the great religious amity prevalent out here by the two communities celebrating their sacred day beside one another.


There's an ophthalmologist next door and we've been wanting to interact with her beyond announcing our arrival. It was finally possible this afternoon when I'd gone to show my mom who's down with conjunctivitis!

Monday, January 13, 2014

An intolerant India?

I was under the impression that the more educated one is, the more absorbent one becomes to other's taunts and criticisms. This quality is essential in everyone that aspires to be a leader and  especially, a political leader. But today's happenings cast a long shadow on our ability to handle negative opinions.

 (a) Blanking TV channels.

  It was with sadness that I let the news of the blanking of the Times Now channel, all across the state of
  of Uttar Pradesh, sink in. The reason for such an atrocious action? The channel has been covering the      
  extravaganza at Mulayam's hometown and the foreign junket being undertaken by the Samajwadi
  legislators! And who's done this? Akhilesh Yadav, one of the comparatively young chief ministers ruling the
  states of the country.

  It's understood that verbal instructions have been passed on to the cable operators not to beam the news
  channel to 'teach them a lesson'! Let's give the benefit of the doubt to Akhilesh that such an atrocious order
  might have been given by his minions, wanting to curry favour with him but where the fellow gets thoroughly
  exposed is that he should have ensured that it was rescinded forthwith. In a democratic environment there's
  no place for dictatorial tendencies and I hope he's taught his lesson by the people! If he wants to
  be a credible leader, he needs to listen to criticism and take corrective measures to rectify them.

  (b) Erring judges.

   The stories of retired judges involved in sexual harassment cases have been the staple diet of the media
   over the past month or so. Since the individuals have been in exalted positions, the scrutiny into their
   private lives has evoked a great amount of interest among the general public. I'm not going into the merits
   and demerits of the case, because the guilty will be brought to book eventually.

   My angst is, however, on whether such negative trends are restricted only to the legal profession. Since
   we all come from the same society, I've a strong reason to believe that this malaise is universal and many
   more juicy and colourful stories are waiting to tumble out featuring 'the high and the mighty' from other
   professions! The affected juniors are, perhaps, in the process of steeling themselves to blurt out the truth!

  (c) A belated gold medal!

  Anju Bobby George has finally got herself and India, the first world athletics title in 'Long Jump', nine years   after the event was held in Monte Carlo, Monaco. She, who'd won the silver medal at the World Athletics
  Final in 2005, was elevated to the top spot by the Athletics Federation(IAAF) after the gold medal winner,
  Russia's Tatyana Kotova had failed to clear the dope test!

  Better late than never. Congratulations, Anju! You deserve it!!


Sad to note that Arvind Kejriwal, the CM of Delhi, has decided to scrap his much tom-tommed 'janta durbar' because of the stampede and chaos that prevented it from getting off last time. Once he'd announced his intention to hold such meetings, he should have ensured its smooth conduct with the judicious use of the government machinery at hand. By failing to carry out his promises, he's becoming a prey to the opposition's taunts of, 'See, we told you so. You can't run an effective government on sentiments alone'.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Oxygen therapy and other stories!

It's a lazy Sunday when I went about my chores in a deliberately slow manner and still found that I'd plenty of time to play around. My cousin had given me the latest update on her mom's condition; the proceedings give us hope:-

  (a) The Oxygen therapy.

  This sort of medication, wherein a patient is put in a chamber and provided with a sustained input of pure
  Oxygen, over a certain period - in my aunt's case, it's gonna be for seven days and each session extends
  to about 11/2 hrs - is available only at 14 centers in India and the only one in Kerala is at the Jubilee
  Mission hospital at Thrissur. The treatment, as I understand, focuses on total rejuvenation of the body
  and to tackle those organs that need attention through administration of appropriate medicines/

  In my aunt's case, since she's badly diabetic and her left toe has been affected - initial tests had revealed
  that her blood in that part of the body had a paltry 20% Oxygen content - any substantial rejuvenation has
  been ruled out by the doctor. A part of her toe will have to be removed, to what extent it's gonna be will be
  known by the end of this week.

  (b) A day of no walks.

  As I'd said earlier in the forum, I go for my regular brisk walks in the morning and in the evening. I follow
  a few circuits, avoiding the main road ever since a pick up lorry had passed by uncomfortably close one
  morning. I'd decided to give myself an 'off' on Sunday mornings to have that extra hour in bed assuring that
  the inaction would be neutralised by a more gruelling pace in the evening. But it was not to be as there were
  guests who'd dropped by.

  Wonder what the guests had thought? My mom says that the misery of not being able to go for the walk
  was writ large on my face. Hope she was only pulling my leg!

  (c) A pleasant interaction.

  It was when I was sitting glum with thoughts about my inactivity when my classmate and friend, Babu had
  called up to have a chat. He and his family reside at Toronto, Canada. We'd a fairly long interaction and
  could catch up from where we'd left last.

  The grouse about the lack of inactivity was finally busted. Thanks, Babu for the well timed(?) intervention!


The episodes of my forgetfulness are on the rise. Sample a few:-

     (a) misplacing my spectacles.
     (b) missing out on lines when I recite my prayers, especially the 'Vishnu sahasranama sthothram'.
     (c) derailment of thoughts while on a conversation.

Am I tending to Alzheimer's, I wonder?            

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Farewell Ariel Sharon!

Former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon passed into the mist of time after being in coma for eight years. It was in Mar '05, while he was the PM, that he'd slipped into a coma from a severe stroke, never to regain consciousness till his end, today, at a hospital in Tel Aviv.

What a tragic end for a brilliant military commander and a fiery political leader? He believed that reliance on others had brought his people unmitigated disaster and was of the opinion that the Jews should assert and defend their collective needs without embarrassment or fear of censure! 'Arik' to his friends and countrymen shall always be a knight in shining armour for the tremendous feeling of security that he'd provided them during his tenure as their military commander.

The media will cover his life in detail over the next couple of days and I shall desist from writing anything more about him as I must confess that my knowledge about him is too little. Then, what makes me write this piece, you might wonder.

In autumn '92, I was among a team of seven student trainees doing the 'staff course' at the DSSC, Wellington which carried out a 'minor research project' on the 'Yom Kippur' war of '73 between the Arabs and the Israelis - the then Israeli military commander was none other than Major General Ariel Sharon. At the end of the study, we'd to make a presentation to the entire college. The presentation was divided into the various battles of the campaign and I was to cover the action on the Golan Heights. For this, I'd donned the role of Gen Ariel Sharon while Nirmala, a fellow student, took on the role of a journalist interviewing me about my exploits at the battlefront and as I went through the intricate moves and maneuvers, another fellow student and team mate was following my narration on a sand model for the comprehension of the audience!

I remember the lavish praise and appreciation that we got from the audience for our narration and I'd earned the sobriquet of 'General Sharon', subsequently! And I almost began to behave like him for many days after!!

RIP, Ariel Sharon. My salute to a great military leader and condolences to his family. Can't imagine the trauma that they must have gone through, over the past eight years!


His quality of holding the initiative to drive the action at all times on the battlefield, made him a military leader par excellence!


Friday, January 10, 2014

It's been two years!

Two years back, on this day, my dad had passed into the mist of time. As I went about my morning walk, I recalled my happy moments with him.

A quiet, simple man with a vast knowledge of any subject that one could think of - thanks to the voracious reader that he was - and a gentleman to the core, would be my single line description of him. Actually, it's unfair on my part to write a one-line epitaph on him as he was a multifaceted personality.

His admirers, friends and many of our relatives called up through the day to tell me that they remembered him and prayed for him on his remembrance day. My sister had presented our contribution for this year, to the Headmistress of the school, towards stocking up with books at a wing of its library, dedicated to his memory. The books, in turn, will be purchased by a committee consisting of the teachers, the parents and the students of the school and presented for issuing to the library on 'vayana dinam' viz. 19 Jun.

The battery operated toy fish that he'd gifted me when I was young and which is still in working condition, continues to adorn the show case of our ancestral house as a testimony to the fact that he'd insisted upon giving us the best and also accentuates the fact that there's a sort of 'permanence' in this otherwise fast moving life of ours.

Mom had recounted her days with him and told a few of our guests, who'd come by, that their wedding anniversary was fast approaching - 16 Jan - and that she tried to concentrate on the good memories of that day while living down the bad ones of this day!

We miss you dad, at every waking moment of ours.


1. The landscaping exercise has been completed. I know that I've taken on additional responsibilities by agreeing to water the plants and the freshly laid patch of Mexican grass, every day. Phew!

2. My aunt has been admitted into the 'Jubilee Mission Hospital' about 30 kms from here. She's badly diabetic and risks the surgical removal of her left toe. But prior to that she's being subjected to an hourly Oxygen therapy, everyday, for a week, to rejuvenate her system before taking the final decision. Just hope like mad that the surgery is avoided!

3. Achu was seen off at the bus stand as he's on to the next serial of his itinerary - a visit to his paternal aunt. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The frenzy to have a glimpse.

Achu, my nephew, had arrived at my place around noon. Just after completing a course at Hyderabad, he's back and on a visit to his near and dear relatives. He gave us a rundown of his days at the 'cyberabad' and from his account, he seems to have enjoyed every bit of his stay out there and has picked up a lot many new friends in the process! His visit was a short one that would barely cover 24 hours because he did not want to miss out on anyone by the time he returned to his home by the 12th.

One of his requirements was to pay obeisance at the sanctum of Guruvayurappan and based on inputs gathered from the more knowledgeable people around, we'd gone to the temple by about 2000h. There was a serpentine queue but I'd still say that the crowd wasn't much, the last spurt of the 'Sabarimala pilgrims' notwithstanding - in fact, they stand in a separate queue for their tryst with the Lord.

Within half an hour, we're able to get into the ambit of the sanctum sanctorum and had our tryst with Him. A short prayer uttered, thanked Him for everything that has been on offer till now and we made an equally hasty exit. What has always struck me are the unsatisfied looks on the faces of many pilgrims after they come out of the sanctum and what could be the reasons? Let me try to figure out:-

      (a) Do they require more time to spend near their god? Probably, they couldn't complete the
            conversation that they'd begun.
      (b) Their list of woes is a fairly long one and they have not been able to let off their god for not having
            provided relief for their long standing problems.
      (c) In the audit by their conscience, the mistakes are so many and probably blurting out the reasons for
           their misdemeanour requires more time.

Whatever be the reason, the frenzy to have a glimpse of their favourite god never seems to lose intensity.


1. Was glad that I could let Achu have his 'darshan' by joining the queue. I must concede that on occasions when I've had a special darshan through people who mattered, I've always felt uneasy to look at the people - whom I'd overtaken rather unjustly. I like it this way.

2. Achu's a greenhorn insofar as wearing a dhoti - mandatory for entering the innards of the temple - is concerned. It'd come off, thankfully, at a place that was devoid of any crowd. And wasn't the youngster so very embarrassed even though I tried to laugh it off as trivia.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Announcing my arrival!

I'd visited the police top brass this evening to announce my arrival. The tradition is that once one takes up a new assignment or has shifted berth to a new place, one's expected to let the local authorities know about one's arrival. The formal call on serves the following purposes:-

    (a) as I'd said at the beginning, it announces the arrival of the new incumbent.
    (b) lets the authorities know about one's background and other particulars.
    (c) it's a covenant reiterating each one's solemn commitment to support the other's professional
    (d) and lastly, shorn of all the niceties, it helps render support or help if and when needed by any of the
          concerned parties.

A requirement of placing a convex mirror on the opposite wall, as we get out of our short lane onto the busy state highway, was projected and he's agreed to visit the spot, this Saturday, to confirm the necessity and subsequent installation. It's a sharp curve lurking with danger as quite a few motorists, especially the two wheelers, whiz past at prohibitive speeds often resulting in screeching tyres due to hard braking and showering of invectives at one another, in the aftermath!

The meeting took place thanks to the efforts of Narayanan, my friend from the Delhi days, who's been living here at Guruvayur since 2009. I must take partial credit for his settling down at the temple town, because his decision was arrived at after he'd come to know that I was migrating here! Our relationship had cemented when I'd helped him take decisions that he was confused about at that given point of time.

What I admire about him are his disarmingly simple views about life, clean habits and his professional acumen. And I can never forget the fact that he'd taken it upon himself to teach me the nuances of a 'contract' on my joining the directorate!


Mom and Lekha are slowly limping back to normalcy and things seem to be going on as before! Phew!!   

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Landscaping in right earnest!

The Malayalee's weakness for coconut palms is an age old story and so, being a thoroughbred 'mallu', I can't be an exception.

To my mind it's the coconut that gives the classic flavour to the exotic local cuisine that has had every guest, who's experienced it, asking for more. Sometime back, there were serious discussions as to whether it enhanced one's cholesterol readings but I'd this sneaky feeling that it was a tactic by some vested interests to promote and justify importing 'Palmolien' or palm oil at higher rates to make a killing.

And mind you, the doubts about the health angle has been trashed and the coconut oil has slowly gained its supremacy back in Kerala's households, though I must hasten to add that the die hard Malayalee user was never carried away by the false propaganda, in that, he didn't mind dying of high cholesterol levels by patronising the coconut oil. Period!

But coming back to my story, there was a lone coconut tree in the courtyard of my house that used to give a fairly good yield. It, unfortunately, had to be cut to put trusses in place at the balcony and the porch, with the promise that a sapling - a grafted, quick yielding variety - would be planted in lieu. I must admit that the land around my house for agricultural/gardening pursuits is quite less but I still had Ramesh, an expert in the field, sitting with me to draw up the landscaping exercise, today.

Together, we've drawn up a plan to have two mango trees(presented by my boys), about nine plants that would be a combination of palms and certain flowering plants in earthenware receptacles. And yes, there would be a small kitchen garden as well with another small grassy patch around the well to give the immediate surroundings, the right rural touch!


My limited knowledge on farming has to be recalled and put to good use to bring in the right effect.       

Monday, January 6, 2014

Under pressure!

It was a day of extreme pressure.

Mom was down with severe pain around her girdle. She'd fallen down at the courtyard a day prior to our recent trip to Thiruvananthapuram. It's confirmed that there were no damages to her bones as she'd moved extensively during our trip. Probably, it's the morning nip and the daily massages should do the trick! And Lekha was down with sustained cramps in the lower abdomen which she insisted on attributing to the food had outside, yesterday, in the course of our journey.

But my apprehensions were due to another factor which I kept to myself to avoid creating a panic for no rhyme or reason. Thanks to her prolonged medication, she's stones in her gall bladder and between her doctor and me, we'd decided to leave them alone as they're, in medical parlance, asymptomatic! Have they perked up? If the answer was affirmative it would entail nothing short of a surgery.

With medical advice through the telephone, the situation was brought under control by late afternoon. But their physical condition had brought about extreme pressure at least for some time, I must admit.


1. It's a 'heads-I-win, tails-you-lose' sort of a situation. Consider these:-

      (a) At first, the banks had discouraged customers from using the cheque book facility, because:-
              (i) they wanted to encourage(?) paperless transactions thereby reducing the customer's waiting time
               at the counters and the clutter they caused in the banks - especially within the first five days, every
               month, when the pensioners visited from far and wide.
              (ii) every cheque book issued was charged for.
              (iii) and they'd permitted the use of the 'ATM' cards on any bank's machine with the offer of the
                    first five transactions to be free of service charges.

       (b) The people had warmed up to this changed state of affairs and the arrangement seemed to have
             been working fine for all concerned.
       (c) But now comes the coup-de-tat. It's been announced that all ATM transactions are gonna be
            charged, effectively knocking off the free transactions that were permissible, even on one's own

2. My crib is only on one count. If the ATM transactions were gonna be charged, why didn't they've the guts to spill the beans right at the start when they'd begun discouraging the use of the cheque book facility? The public would have accepted it anyway because it's the question of handling their own hard earned savings! This is, what I'd term, professional dishonesty!!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Thiruvananthapuram to Guruvayur via Kochi.

Most of the day, today, I'd spent behind the wheel and I must admit that I enjoyed every minute of it. We'd set off from my maman's house by a 5' to 7. They'd tried to prevail upon us to postpone our journey by a day so that we could be with them during the off day but we'd to say 'nyet' so that we could keep a date - nay, not one but two! Being a Sunday, the highway was comparatively quiet and we could have our first stop after Thiruvalla for stretching ourselves and to have a good cup of coffee/snacks. The Chevy was refuelled and the tyres checked for pressure.

And by a quarter to 11, we're at the Manarcaud church as li'l Neil's baptism was about to begin. Since the parking bay was a trifle distant from the altar and since mom had problems of walking, she'd opted to sit in the car while we'd gone in to attend the ceremony. We couldn't sit through the complete proceedings as I'd another work to do at Kochi before 1 o'clock and after taking the hosts' permission we'd taken off, politely declining the lunch on offer at a hotel at Kottayam.

I must add here that the overall ambiance of the Manarcaud church - one of the oldest in the south - has never failed to excite me whenever I've visited the place and today was no exception!

We're on the dot for the second appointment and I could put my signatures on the documents that required urgent processing. And after a quick bite, we'd resumed our journey to Guruvayur and managed to steer clear of the traffic regulations being brought about for the PM's programme at 3, in the city. It's about 10' past five and after clocking a distance of about 919 kms spread over eight days that we'd finally reached our house. And yes, all the milestones had been met!

And without much ado, I was off for my evening walk. O, it's nice to be back and refreshing to breathe the healthy air of the temple town as I kept a gruelling pace for having missed out on my exercises for the last complete week. My neighbour was kind enough to fill in with the events and the non-events during our absence and concluded by saying, "Nice to have you back. It's a great relief to see your windows open and the lights burning". And I knew that he was neither fibbing nor being politically correct! Well!!


After my exercises, we'd gone to the market for some essential purchases and by the time I'd turned in for the night it was close to midnight.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

An unforgivable slip!

The day had begun early for all of us as today was the big day. The PM was gonna inaugurate the PN Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra's ambitious programme of achieving 100% or Total E-literacy in the state within 33 months. The programme takes into account the following:-

     (a) Everyone would be the owner of a smart phone by the year 2015.
     (b) If each and everyone is able to send an e-mail, he or she'd be able to get into the vast world of
          the ethernet and be the recipient of unlimited knowledge.
     (c) Ensuring the availability of the hardware at affordable costs to the poorest of the poor.

We'd kicked off from home soon after 8 o'clock and reached the venue about 20' later. The SPG and the police had by then created an impregnable fortress around the Kanakakkunnu palace for the programme rescheduled at 1020h. Though we'd the passes for ourselves and for the car, I was asked to disembark the passengers at the entrance before being directed into the car park about three tiers below.

And it was at that juncture that I'd committed the unforgivable error. The sequence of events went something like this:-

      (a) My mom was getting off from the right rear of my Chevy, with my aunt in attendance.
      (b) Aniyan, my younger uncle, calls up on my cellphone to inquire about his entrance pass and
            I tell him about its whereabouts.
      (c) After the conversation, I start the car without confirming as to whether my mom was safely
           out and away from the car.
      (d) Seeing the forward movement of the car, my aunt caught hold of my mom and bodily lifted
            her to safety.
      (e) The policeman on the spot was angry with me for my irresponsible act because had it not
            been for my aunt's alacrity, my car's rear wheel would have run over my mom. But seeing
            me he gave me a knowing grin and showed by sign language that everything was okay.
      (f) A fellow motorist coming up at that instant from the opposite direction and sensing the
           dangerous situation that I was in blocked my passage angering me then. But weren't I so
           obliged to him for his thoughtful act, later?

I was angry with myself and wondered as to why I make such unmindful errors time and again.

The PM's programme went off without a hitch like clockwork.

Later, I'd taken the entire family to lunch at a popular joint as a quid pro quo for not having celebrated my housewarming at Guruvayur on a large scale!


1. I couldn't shake myself off the serious lapse on my part earlier in the day, however much I tried to channelise my thoughts elsewhere. Apologies mom, for having let you down.

2. And her comment sometime after the event, " Son today I'd have gone under your car", without even the slightest hint of anger........ I'd a lump in my throat.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

In preparation!

A day of running around!

The frequency was getting high pitched as the preparations had gathered momentum and reached its crescendo. But what I felt bad was there was a slip up in the spelling of a word on the invitation card despite my proof reading. The faux pas was entirely mine though there were others who'd gone through it as it was my responsibility to ensure that no mistake, whatsoever, crept in. The word 'presence' was wrongly spelt with an 's' in place of the letter 'c'. What made matters worse was that another error was earlier corrected and the cards had been reprinted!

The scripts for my maman's speech and the 'vote of thanks' were prepared and a couple of visits to the venue were also made. And by the time we'd turned in to bed, it was well past into tomorrow at a half past one!


1. Hope there would be no more errors and slip ups.

2. And the Kanakakkunnu palace, the venue, was looking all spruced up and elegant!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why is it recurring?

It's a collage of thoughts for the day as I'm deeply anguished by the sad news from West Bengal.

(a) Why is it recurring?

What's happening in this country? Shouldn't we hang our heads in shame? A young girl is raped twice by the same gang and set on fire because she'd dared to report the matter to the police. From the news grabs that I've been following, this report sounds authentic though there has been the police version that the girl had committed suicide. If that be the case, why was the cremation done hastily? Was it to avoid showing the government, in power, in poor light?

The barbarians, responsible for the heinous crime, need to be taken to task without any delay. Justice has to be meted out without fear or favour. How about invoking the ancient law of ' an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth'?

Apologies, l'il one, I hang my head in shame. We, your countrymen, have collectively let you done in that we've neither been able to protect your honour nor could we assure you your safety. RIP and may god give your near and dear ones the strength to tide over this horrible moment.

(b) To the 'Toothie'.

I'd been wanting to present myself to my favourite toothy - dentist, in naval parlance - over the last six months or so but the pace of life just didn't let that happen until this evening. Jaljaaaa..., as I call her(because she used to pronounce it so when she's a kid), has the artistic touch and is good at her profession, beyond compare.

I feel quite safe on her chair and have even undergone a couple of sessions without the use of anesthesia simply because I know that she undergoes the trauma more than the patient!

She's my cousin and had reinforced my belief in her this evening, yet again.

(c) At the Cardinal's birthday celebrations.

I'd the privilege of wishing Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Cathlicos many happy returns this evening. A simple and extremely popular cardinal who has friends and well wishers cutting across caste, creed or religion. I could also meet up with many friends among the star-studded crowd.

It's possible only because of my maman. Thanks, mama for the wonderful evening!


The preparations for the event of 04 Jan is going on in full swing. There's a well oiled mechanism in the Foundation that can cater for such stupendous exercises to be taken on without panic. I feel too insignificant because my contribution is very little.


On return from the Cardinal's residence, I'd dropped Thampi sir at his place. Was it in return for having got back my car keys from the resort yesterday? 


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What a beginning!

After the family's get together, a few of us had gone to attend a formal invite to the nearby resort to ring in the new year. The madness had begun in that all the people seemed to be headed in the same direction.

The settings were nice, the crowd was good and orderly with a variety of ethnic food on offer. To top it all, the entertainment programme was good and well edited, with people - young and old - eager to shake a leg to the lovely music wafting from the powerful music system. It was against this backdrop coupled with a superb firework display that we'd welcomed the new year. There was a generous sprinkling of foreigners, some of them decked up in Indian attire and looking splendid too, among the crowd.

Mom, who was with us, also seemed to enjoy the ambiance. And after an hour or so past the midnight hour, we'd set off back for home. Enroute, I realised to my utter horror that my car keys had gone missing from my pocket. I'd parked my Chevy in front of the Foundation's office and we'd got into my uncle's vehicle to proceed for the function.

........The resort was contacted, the loss reported and one of the organisers had gotten back, a while later, to confirm the retrieval of the key. Meanwhile, we'd traversed quite a distance on the return leg and turning back would have meant unwanted delay in getting back to bed, for the others, especially for mom. Luckily for me, a friend of ours was still at the venue enjoying the variety entertainment. The organiser was asked to hand over the key to this friend so that it could be collected from his house which was a stone's throw away from my maman's house.

The Chevy had to be left, where it was parked, for the night.


1. What a way to begin a year? Hope it isn't a preview of what's in store ahead......a recurring lost and found theme!

2. The traffic was madder on our return. 'Nice and high' motorists were zipping past on their vehicles with a gay abandon!!

3. The evening's get together of the family with li'l Naina was a nice affair and more interactions could be carried out. My mom and her sisters seem to be aging fast....that's the thing that struck me most.