Monday, March 31, 2014

This isn't the way!

The Mercury has been rising steadily, the heat has gotten to be oppressive and the water table is tending to shrink at an alarming rate. I really feel bad to see workers, braving the heat, to work on the agricultural fields, on the constructional sites and on the railway tracks! They've to go through the hardship for earning their daily bread and butter and have no other choice.

Meanwhile, the electioneering has also attained fever pitch. Politicians throw no-holds-barred-punches, trade invective that border on the bizarre and pour out statistics that are not verifiable. In fact, at times, while viewing them on debates, beamed in by the television, their viciousness seems to be so lethal, so dirty. Neither civility nor propriety seem to be in their minds because I've this sneaky feeling that many of the lower minions follow this track to impress their 'leaders', who've anyways shed them a long while back.

Winning an election is important but it's fighting on issues rather than taking it on to personal levels that's the sine qua non of an election well fought. It should never be forgotten that the treasury benches, along with a responsible opposition, that is needed to work together in Parliament - post elections - to bring about fruition of good policies and meaningful legislation in providing efficient governance to the people who've voted them in.

But from what one sees is going on, the mudslinging has reached such a nadir that one wonders whether they can ever work together, after having made the allegations and counter allegations.

To all the participants, this is an earnest request by a patriotic citizen. "Shun personal slang matches, tell us your USP and your ideas to make this country strong and prosperous. We know where each one of you stand and leave the decision making to us - rest, assured our vote will be for the best man".


The BJP, which was till not very long back a political untouchable to many, seems to have come a long way in eager supporters wanting to clamber onto their juggernaut and they've managed seemingly impossible coalition partnerships in say, Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh. So much in glee at the changed fortunes, they seem to have made quite a few wrong moves in getting people like Muthalik and Sabir Ali in, only to dump them like hot potatoes the moment the backlash had acquired tremendous proportions!           

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My follies of the day!

I'm prone to making a number of errors these days and what embarrasses me most is that many of them are due to sheer forgetfulness. Is Alzheimer's approaching? Or is it that most of us go through this process on a regular basis? But suffice to note that many of my missteps bring mirthful laughter when I go through them, later at leisure and especially, when I try to justify them. Without much ado, let me go through my follies of the day:-

  (a) The missed morning walk.

   I'd got up around a half past three to go round the corner and after satisfying myself that I'd a good couple
   of hours to wake up for my morning work out, I'd knocked off in deep slumber. And when I woke up
   much after 6, it's daylight and had to rush to switch off the external lights which looked really out of place!
   It also meant shoddiness on my part apart from the fact that it would inflate the month's electricity bill. I'd
   also come to the conclusion that it would be too late for my walk as the heat was beginning to be felt and
   consequently, decided to skip it satisfying myself that it was a Sunday, after all!! I could afford to go easy
   on the exercising bit.

          *                                            *                                           *

  (b) Reciting the morning prayers like a stuck record.

   I'd earlier said on this forum that I recite my prayers - the Vishnu sahasranama sthothram' - without fail
   every morning. The verses are deeply embedded in a part of my brain but they turn out to be blank when
   my concentration gets affected by some other(?) thoughts or even due to an innocuous distraction like a
   phone call or a query of a passerby. This morning I'd the privilege of repeating the prayers about four
   times and was damn angry with myself!

          *                                             *                                           *

   (c) My games with the water motor to fill up the overhead tank.

    In fact, this invariably has two parts and they take place with a remarkable regularity which are:-
        (i) Washing down the house. After switching on the motor, I've this funny habit of latching on to yet
             another job which I'm sure could be juggled well, but end up with being unable to keep tab on
             either resulting in overflow - my weak alibi being that I was trying to wash down the terrace which
             was dirty! ......Washing down every third day?

        (ii) Flooding the lawn. Mexican grass has been laid on a small patch of land around the well in the
             courtyard. After watering the patch, by turning a couple of valves, the water from the well can be
             diverted into the overhead tank. Quite often, the turning of the valves gets conveniently forgotten
             resulting in the flooding of the patch which begins to resemble the submerged paddy fields of  
             Kuttanad during monsoons!

           *                                            *                                           *

     (d) The parking of the car.

      I'd to make a visit to the nearby department store to buy grocery as well as some fruits from a
      frequented vendor. The car has to be parked a bit far away from the shops and I'd forgotten to lock
      the vehicle. Worried about the unlocked car, I end up leaving a pack of grapes at the shop which,
      to my misfortune, I realise only after I park my car on the porch and had switched off the ignition!


There, I suppose, you now understand my predicament. ..........And I end up getting angry with myself!


I seem to have missed the real one....the actual reason for this story. A few weeks back, Lekha's dad had come to visit her at the hospital. During the interaction, I'd registered that his 'saarthi', Maari's seventh wedding anniversary was on the 30th and as is my won't, I'd noted it in my diary so that I didn't miss out on the date at any cost. And therefore, I'd prompted Lekha in giving him an early morning call so that we could surprise him and got surprised instead!

His WA was on the 07th of Mar. How I'd registered the date as 30th is something that even I can't understand! Is it an ENT specialist's problem?     

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A day of many hues.

It's a long day that was a mixed bag of routine stuff coupled with the unsuspecting tugs and by the end of the day I felt that I'd been through a roller coaster of emotions.

It's the turn of Lekha's review by her doctor and we'd set off for the hospital, 25 km from our house, a trifle after 9 and since the traffic was smooth, we'd reached our destination within 45'. Our stay had taken over two hours, but the nursing staff went out of their way to look after us and even gave one of the rooms that had been vacated around that time to tide over the monotony of waiting on account of the doctor's morning schedule. And he's indicated that the healing process is on the lines that he'd expected it to be, outlining further steps towards attaining normalcy and has given 12 Apr as the date when he'd see her next.

It's late in the afternoon when I'd called up my cousin to inquire about her mom's progress at the ayurvedic clinic, when she broke the news of AP Chandrasekharan, an advocate in his early 80s, being buttoned on to a ventillator for life support after a massive cardiac arrest and brain hemorrhage. His liver had just given way and the doctor had said that there was nothing more that could be done but wait for the inevitable end. I couldn't believe that the affable and likeable 'Chandrettan' was vegetating in an ICU. The last time we'd met was at a wedding reception at Kochi when he'd expressed a desire to spend an evening with me as he always felt invigorated(?) after an interaction. This was in November last and the last piece of conversation that I'd with him was during last month, when he'd chosen a 'grandfather clock' for us with a promise that he'd visit 'The Quarterdeck' pretty soon. I never realised then that he'd made a promise that he'd never keep!

By a quarter to 7, I was told that it was all over. RIP, Chandretta. I shall always cherish my times with you and may chechi and Anand have the strength to tide over their loss. And my humble prayers.

At 2030h, it was time for the simulated 'black out' on account of the 'earth hour'. I felt a bit of satisfaction towards doing my bit towards the cause of saving energy! And it's during the black out that Sabu and li'l Madhav had dropped by, to spend the night with us, to visit the temple. And by the time they'd returned, we'd just about time to exchange notes because I'd wanted them to have a good night's sleep as they're driving off at the crack of the dawn.


It was also a day when my friend, at Delhi, had to be talked to who was celebrating his birthday after having done his last official tenure! And wasn't he thrilled?     

Friday, March 28, 2014

Has good parenting been thrown out of the window?

I've been watching a reality show on the Surya channel - not regularly, though - where tiny tots are the stars on stage. I must say that the hostess does her job pretty well as she manages to get the best out of the little children with the parents and the relatives - hogging their fifteen minutes of fame - in attendance, as the audience for the show!

And mind you, such shows are, indeed, getting to be popular because many channels churn out these reality shows! I've scratched my head to find out as to what could be the real purpose of the show and am yet to get a definitive answer. Let's try to hazard a guess, once again, as to what is being achieved through this type of entertainment(what's given in italics is the counterpoint):-

      (a) to nurture 'self confidence' in the young ones as it's  a very, very competitive world.
           Then, what about the majority of the children who don't have access into the world of 
           television? Aren't the schools doing this anyways?
      (b) is a platform to rub shoulders with power and glitz which can catapult the performers to better
           life, mediocrity be damned!
           A false notion and just by being around with known personalities cannot wipe off the 
           deficit of talent and the lack of wherewithal for sustained performance of an acceptable
And may I ask as to how're the kids selected? I suppose by their singular ability to chatter.Many of the answers given by the little ones show the following:-

       (a) they've been tutored because they don't seem to know what they're uttering.
       (b) almost within the same breath, I must say that many others among them are sharp and observant
            about the things happening at their homes.
       (c) the parents give enormous freedom to their children where guidance and corrective action should
            have been provided.
       (d) a few of the conversational pieces that come out of the children's mouths are so 'heavy' and
            totally out of place!

My take.

Let the children enjoy their 'childhood'. Do not convert them into mechanised robots lest they lose their childhood innocence and charm. What's the tearing hurry to advance their maturity? Are you, the parents, trying to regain your lost opportunities by putting your children through a pace that would ultimately bring about his/her early downfall? Sad!


I'm reminded of an incident of my childhood though I don't remember as to when exactly it had taken place. My parents had been invited for a dinner and I was also taken along. On return, my mom seemed to be rather amused by the fact that the aunty - who'd invited - had put raddish in the 'sambar', a fact which she'd shared with my dad leading to a bit of mirth between the two of them.

When the uncle and aunt had come home visiting, a day later, somewhere in the course of their conversation I'd interjected to tell them about my mom's amused demeanour about the 'raddish in the sambar'. I was too dumb to register the tremendous embarrassment caused to the elders by my unwarranted, uncalled for inputs.

Later on, after the guests had left, I'd received the worst drubbing from my parents with the final statement, "You, as a child, have no business to listen in to your elders' conversations. You study, play and do the right things that you're meant to do and from now on, you shall not be visible when guests are visiting until you're specifically called for".

I learnt my lesson!  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The 'thick hide' brigade.

I'm amazed at the manner corrupt and tainted people strut around with their heads held high so as to indicate that they're 'clean' and all the brouhaha in the form of hard evidence, pointing to their proclivity, is just nothing but cooked up stories dished out by their haters! Must concede that their hides are too damn thick. But what amazes me more is as to why we can't have laws that speedily close in on these thugs and hand over justice for the sake of setting an example to the younger generation and also act as a deterrent for probable crime doers. Here are four of the kingpins, among the many, that continue to have their names pop up every now and then on today's media:-

  (a) N Srinivasan.

  His shapeless figure, coupled with the red vermilion mark on his forehead, epitomises all the ills that are
  known to be plaguing Indian cricket. That he has been sitting at the helm of the treasure chest that's the
  BCCI despite wrong doings, show his clout and the 'not-so-clean' state of the other members of the board!
  He's seen to be haggling for a safe way for himself, despite the Supreme Court's harsh observations and
  I'm sure he still harbours the thought of being the boss of cricket's apex body, the ICC, in June this year.

  (b) Subrata Roy.

  The disgraced chairman of the tainted Sahara empire has expressed inability to pay Rs. 10,000 crores as
  repayment money to the lakhs of investors that he's looted to set up 'the mirage of his glittering empire'
  which would have seen him come out of jail on bail. It's but common knowledge that without that money
  that he'd acquired through dubious means, he'd be like any other man trying to eke out his living! He
  deserves to languish in jail till he liquidates the debt that he owes to his customers, many of whom, who'd
  entrusted him with their hard earned savings!!

  (c) Suresh Kalmadi.

   One of the ignominious faces that quickly come to mind whenever the Commonwealth Games organisation
   and the corruption surrounding it is thought of. He'd harboured delusions of fighting the forthcoming
   elections. What can one say about his cheek to even dream of such a thing?

  (d) Ashok Chavan.

  The less said the better about the prime mover of the infamous 'Adarsh scam'. I'm sure he'll be taught
  the lesson of his lifetime at the hustings. If the verdict were to go in his favour, I shall be very, very sad
  as a sincere and simple citizen of this country! The Congress party seems to be saying that what could a
  'clean' guy like him do when he'd been prompted to do wrong things by a bunch of corrupt professionals?


The first dish, out of the bunch of 'Ladys' Fingers' from our kitchen garden, was served on the lunch table today. Felt proud about the results and mind you, no pesticides have been used! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

At what price, gallantry?

This forenoon, I'd received a missive from Thiruvananthapuram that the Kerala Government has sanctioned me a sum of Rs. 55,790/- on account of my being a gallantry award winner! I was thankful that the prize money was not further, accurately broken into decimals like say, Rs. 55,790/57 only!!

But couldn't they have rounded it off to Rs.55,800/-? Probably not, because of a possible 'audit objection' in future!? On further queries as to how the magical number had been arrived at, I was given the breakdown as follows:-

                  (a) Cash award                                                                Rs. 3,790/-
                  (b) Cash in lieu of land                                                      Rs.22,000/-
                  (c) Lumpsum annuity                                                        Rs. 30,000/-
                                        Grand total                                                 Rs. 55,790/-


I'm one of the recipients of the Naosena Medal(Gallantry) for my exploits during the Sri Lanka Operations(Code named 'Aman' initially and as 'Operation Pawan' subsequently) during the late '80s. I was the captain of the 'Indian Naval Landing Craft Utility L36 and my ship's operational achievements in the Palk Bay/Sri Lankan waters had fetched me the coveted medal, which was announced by our government of the day during the Republic Day honours of 1988.

I can't blow my trumpet or sing the ballad highlighting my achievements, can I? It's the purview of the others who'd the ringside view or the historians to do so and I would like to leave it at that! There were very many difficult situations during the course of the lengthy deployments but I'd let three factors decide upon my actions, which were:-

     (i) to the extent feasible, try to apprehend the boats/suspicious craft by stunning them with my
         superior fire power.
     (ii) avoid any sort of danger/damage to my men or my ship and
    (iii) my conscience had to be clear that I wasn't doing anything for my personal glory. 

Back to the present.

I wasn't elated! I wasn't sad either!! But I definitely felt dirty for having my difficult times and complex decisions taken, during the time, at having been pegged at a mere Rs. 55 grand!!!


What the civilians, the landlubbers or the bureaucrats can never understand are the three sayings that a serviceman is always bound by and I list them all over again:-

  (a) "The safety, honour and welfare of your country
           come first, always and every time.
        The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command
           come next
        Your own ease, comfort and safety
           come last, always and every time".
                                                              - Brigadier Chetwode.

   (b) "Service before self".
                                                               - the NDA credo.

   (c) If you're a gentleman, nothing else matters
        If you're not a gentleman, still nothing matters!
                                                               - author unknown.

And finally, the guiding factor in my life has always been an old Quaker saying and I quote,

     "I expect to pass through this world but once.
      Any good work, therefore, any kindness or any
      help that I can render let me do it now. Let me 
      not neglect or defer it, for, I'll not pass this way

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Et tu Brutus?

Every generation is expected to usher in a freshness of thought and ideas for the betterment of the people. It, therefore, becomes incumbent on the freshers entering the political arena to dump the past that everyone's been crying about. To achieve that, it's very important that they do not carry the baggage of their forefathers'.

'Reservation' on government jobs for the dalits was a noble thought on the part of our forefathers to bring up the 'not-so-fortunate', downtrodden population which had long suffered from the oppression and the exploitation of the privileged classes simply because of the accident of their births in lower castes. And it was supposed to have been tapered off after a decade of independence when it was estimated that the dalits would have had the necessary impetus to gain an advantageous position in society.

Unfortunately, that was not to be. The compulsions of vote bank politics saw successive governments hang on to the 'reservation' policy and ridiculously increase the 'quota' system, so much so that the forward castes have been left with very less vacancies for themselves. Many of the castes clubbed under the heading of the Other Backward Communities(OBCs) also have been done without careful thought; just to suit the interests of the political party, in power, seems to have been the raison de' tre!

The Congress party's latest gimmick that it will ensure 'job reservations' in the private sector, should it be voted back to power, announced by none other than Rahul Gandhi is worthy of condemnation outright. It's to be nipped in the bud and it's my opinion that the existing reservations on the basis of caste be dumped and perhaps, reservations based on the economic status of an individual be considered in lieu. Otherwise, the beneficiaries could be the real privileged ones for example, the children of Ram Vlilas Paswan, a dalit but economically well off and his wife, a brahmin! It just isn't fair!!


1. Film actress Nanda, who'd given many memorable performances on the Hindi movie silver screen, had passed into the mist of time this morning after a massive heart attack. RIP, Nanda. You shall continue to live on in our hearts for the years to come, through the characters that you'd portrayed!

2. Finally, after an agonising wait, it has been officially announced by the Malaysian authorities that the flight MH 370 had ended somewhere in the inhospitable seas of the southern corridor of the Indian Ocean, roughly about 2,500 km from Perth, Australia.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Lekha's first steps!

After over a month since Lekha was admitted at the hospital and an almost three weeks' stint on a wheelchair, today was the day of the reckoning as per the doctor. She'd to begin using her left leg! The first few steps were unsteady and to put it in her words, "It was pins and needles all over the sole with a hesitation on the part of the leg to take the weight".

To me, it was like teaching her to walk all over again! And I'd again devised an easy form of an exercise for her leg to get accustomed to its primary duty without putting too much of pressure on the newly grafted skin. After drawing away the chairs towards the wall, she was made to go round and round the dining table to familiarise with the art of locomotion to fine tune the accompanying smoothness of gait.

I guess it's gonna take some time but I sincerely hope that she'd be able to walk up to her doctor when we meet him this Saturday, for review.

A few of the scenes took me back in time when she'd come out of the 'lateral foot drop' stage, consequent to a debilitating attack of the SLE. She'd to go through an intense regimen of physiotherapy - for almost six months - to regain her locomotive ability. She was taught to walk and use her hands yet again. The limbs had undergone atrophy because of their non usage for a prolonged period. They'd to regain strength before being put to use and the doctors, along with the physiotherapists, did a marvelous job.

We shall eternally remain thankful to all of them!


Certain events, in life, have a way of coming back again and again, huh!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Can't understand the silence!

I've a close relation of mine staying nearby. On settling down at 'The Quarterdeck', I'd contacted him and invited him over which he did. He's fond of my mom and they'd hit it off well during that visit, picking up the thread from where they'd left years back.

He'd retired from the state road transport corporation about 15 years back. Due to his over indulgence on the good things of life, he's all sorts of ailment from hypertension to an erratic heart to an enlarged liver. Whenever we meet, I take the liberty of telling him to lead a more healthy life and his standard answer is that there's nothing much to be gained out of it at this late(?) stage of his life.

Early last month, mom was dropped at their place because we'd to attend a function at a place that was quite far away and she'd wanted to avoid the travel. She was overwhelmed by their hospitality and on the rebound had promised to prevail upon me to part with the stock, in my wine cellar, for his consumption. I remember being angry with her for it because neither did I want to spoil his health nor did I want to resort to such practices because it's a way of getting to be a habit, that's best avoided. I did tell him to that effect and I'm sure that though he'd have felt bad at my 'nyet' he'd have understood the spirit(No, no pun intended please) behind my decision!

Subsequently, came my attachment with the hospital on account of Lekha's medical requirement and events had overtaken the daily humdrum of life. Mom's also away with my sister and will join us once Lekha returns to her normal activities!

I'm yet to hear anything from this relation of mine after my negative answer. Does he feel put off by the fact that I dared to refuse his request? If that be so, is that the only reason for him to want to communicate with me or be in touch with me? I must hastily add that I do not insist upon people looking us up in times of difficulty because everyone has his/her own life to live and attendant things to worry about. But his silence, ever since our last meeting, has been deafening!

If he's cross with me, I shall try to mollify him because there's no need to be 'enemies' at this stage of one's life - one'd played out that act many a time during the good 'ole school days!


Actually, he's been a sort of a rebel all through his life and has cocked a snook at the system, even in his professional career. In his personal life too, he's had complications - he'd left his wife and two sons to marry another lady with whom he'd fallen in love during his treatment at an ayurvedic spa. The net result is that his sons do not keep in touch with him because of his shoddy treatment of their mother and he's no children from the second marriage.       

Saturday, March 22, 2014

News round up.

Another hectic week has passed by. Poll rhetoric has reached shriller decibels with absurdity in content. Negative canvasing is on in full swing - more about that later. So, without much ado, here I go:-

 (a) Another find.

  A Chinese satellite has registered a fairly huge floating object(about 22m x 13m), believed to be a part
  of the wreckage of the Malaysian flight MH 370, in the southern Indian Ocean area pinpointed around
  2,500 km south west off the Australian city of Perth. The ships of the various navies are making a beeline
  for the spot in an effort to intensify the search.

  Hope this time there's some solid evidence! Meanwhile, joining the relatives of the passengers in their
  relentless vigil with prayers!!

  (b) Poll rhetoric.

   The news channels are busy covering the run-up-to-the-polls scenario which borders on the absurd, at
   times, with almost every third person becoming a turncoat trying to latch on to the winning(Are they so
   sure, already?) juggernaut of the Modi band wagon. I've a couple of questions for these people - a la
   Arnab Goswami - to answer:-

      (i) Why did you, till yesterday, subscribe to the view that his hands were tainted by the Gujarat riots
           of 2002? Weren't you, then, part of a well orchestrated move to keep an able administrator down?
     (ii) By your jumping the bandwagon, does the common man take it that the charges were trumped up
          by the Congress and its allies for sticking on to power?

    And the latest from Salman Khurshid is that the RSS workers had distributed sweets on Gandhiji's
    assassination. If that be so, since your party was in power the longest after India had attained
    independence why didn't you ban the outfit and obliterate it by now? For heaven's sake, do not twist
    history for scoring brownie points. Does the common man again take it that you've no achievements
    to tom tom about and that's why you're on to negative campaigning? And also understand the simple
    fact that the first time voters of these elections do not get side tracked by history because what they need
    is new jobs and the connected opportunities!

   (c) A welcome decision, but at what cost?

    The Catholic church's Kothamangalam diocese has prevailed upon the management of the Newman
    College in Thodupuzha to reinduct Prof TJ Joseph, with immediate effect, so that the gentleman would
    be entitled to pension benefits when he retires by the end of the month. A welcome action, I must say,
    by the guilt ridden church.

    But at what cost? The unfortunate suicide of the professor's wife? I thought that the religious outfits were
    the repositories of compassion!


The word 'Okay' is 175 years old. As per the Oxford Dictionary, OK is an abbreviated form of "Orl Korrekt" - a derivative of 'all correct' from the 1830s when jocular misspellings were the order of the day
and the 'in thing'.

Well, whatever be its evolution, I shudder to think as to what I'd have done without this easily usable word that seems to fit every occasion.

Friday, March 21, 2014

VS Achuthanandan's volte face!

Come election time and one's witness to all sorts of flip-flops. But the  Kerala Assembly's opposition leader's latest volte face takes the cake. Let's just go through his 'sudden enlightenment':-

 - the RSP's exit from the LDF, alignment with the Congress led UDF, to field its own candidate from the
   Kollam Parliamentary constituency. VS had then asked the CPM's state leadership and the other LDF 
   constituents to talk with the RSP to get them back into the fold.

   And today, he says that the RSP is but an appendage of the Congress!

 - he'd defied the CPM leadership when he visited the wife of the slain TP Chandrasekharan and had
    become the face of public revulsion against the CPM's violent politics. He'd then said that it was a
   political murder hinting at the involvement of the party's state leadership in the murder!

   And today, he says that he's fully satisfied with the party's internal investigation by which a scapegoat has
   been identified and promptly expelled from the party. He's asked the slain leaders's family to accept the
   party line. He's also alleged that Mrs Chandrasekharan calling off her proposed 'Kerala March' was at
   the insistence of certain UDF leaders.

  - he's given a clean chit to Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin case based on a recent court order which,
    by itself, is incomplete. He'd then said that there was a loss incurred by the state's exchequer due
    to corruption at high places, including the then electricity minister!

    And today, he says that Pinarayi Vijayan has been exonerated.

From the reactions cutting across all sections of Kerala, the following doubts are palpable:-

   (a) why has the over 90 yr old veteran changed his stance now?
   (b) why does he not follow his heart and get the party to change in consonance with the times where
         truth is never a casualty so that it becomes the 'principled' party that it was once known to be?

The fact, on the ground, is that the LDF's election campaign has got a fillip by his active campaign as its primary leader because he continues to be a crowd puller.

But his latest volte face is at a tremendous cost to his personal standing. What are his compulsions, one wonders? His son's shenanigans? Sad!


1. I'm reminded of an incident that had greatly affected my family and my grandfather, in particular. It's about an article written by Thayattu Sankaran in the Kalakaumudi on my grandfather which was nothing but a character assassination. He was then the President of the Kerala Grandhasala Sanghom while my grandfather was its General Secretary and was genuinely liked by the library workers for his sagacity, simplicity and hardwork. Perhaps, Thayattu Sankaran was simply jealous!

2. My grandfather, who was greatly upset had visited EMS Namboodiripad - I'd accompanied him because I was fond of my grandfather's friend who used to give me chocolates whenever he'd visited our home during my younger days. His reaction to my grandfather's plea was something that I've never been able to comprehend and I quote, "Panicker, I know that what you say is the absolute truth. But I can't say anything against the party line".

What's the use if one can't speak out one's mind and stand for the truth? And that too, at such a late stage in life? Can't the 'party line' be changed to encompass the truth?       

Thursday, March 20, 2014

RIP, Mr Khushwant Singh.

One of the most well known Indians, Mr Khushwant Singh passed into the mist of time today. He was all of 99 yrs and had succumbed to old age related medical problems. The entire media is covering the life and works of the great author and satirist and if I were to write anything, it would amount to carrying coal to Newcastle! And hence, I desist.

But I must tell you as to how and why he'd touched me deep within. I was an avid reader of the Illustrated Weekly of India, during his reign as its editor. The magazine was interesting and readable without a bar on age. It had a variety of articles that were always taut and very, very contemporary. And somewhere in the late '70s, when he was given the unceremonious boot, the magazine had begun its downward slide but my fervour to read it had diminished simply because it did not have the 'bums and tits' touch - that was what his critics used to say - of the maestro.

The other was the witty column, 'With Malice Towards One And All' that I used to love for its crisp narratives that were well peppered anecdotes, laced with an easygoing humour.

And his book, 'Delhi' where the first page itself had taken on the typical twang of the 'desi' service provider with his 'hotel-wotel', 'taxi-waxi' and other usages, made it a lovable read and had his brand of humour all over.

RIP, Mr Khushwant Singh. My prayers and salute to a gentleman with a fantastic sense of humour.


The void left by his passing away can never be filled. Ever!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014


The Mercury is soaring beyond 38 degrees Celsius and the heat is getting to be unbearable. In addition, the election campaign has picked up. Graffiti on the walls, posters of the political parties with their candidates smiling out of them and makeshift offices of the candidates dot the landscape. And Guruvayur goes along at its pace. Here are some musings that pass through my cluttered mind:-

  (a) Commercialisation of Guruvayurappan!

   Guvayurappan is revered by the Malayalees, the world over. The believers would do anything to have a
   'darshan' of their god. These days, the annual festivities are on in full swing, increasing the density of the
    pilgrims coming into the temple town and considering the god's popularity, his commercialisation has been     at an all time high. Memorabilia, in the form of statuettes, photographs and lockets of varying hues and
    sizes are selling like hot cakes. Impromptu exhibition stalls on the road side make the already narrow
    thoroughfares difficult to negotiate.

   Driving through the immediate vicinity of the temple, especially during the evening hours, is a nightmare
   with the pilgrims on foot taking up the entire road as if to say that motorists be damned, you need to
   cater for our requirement. I must hasten to add that the police, along with volunteers, have been doing a
   good job of crowd control.

   (b) His cup of woes is overflowing!

   I'd touched upon the plight of TJ Joseph, a Malayalam professor at Newman College in Thodupuzha
   whose hand was chopped off by religious fundamentalists because their 'sentiments' were hurt by the
   question paper set by the professor that touched upon the prophet, in an earlier jotting. The gruesome
   act was carried out in front of the entire family while they're returning from church. The reactions of the
   political parties, the religious establishments, the government and the college management had left much
   to be desired. The professor was suspended and he's to retire this month end. He and his wife had
   knocked on all possible doors for succour but to no avail, especially, because if his reinstatement doesn't
   take place within the next ten days, he'd not be entitled to pension privileges!

   The family has been subsisting on meagre resources. Probably, the sustained hardship has taken its toll,
   in that, his wife, Salomi, had committed suicide by hanging.

   A sad case of ostracisation by the society because of the fear that anyone supporting the family would
   be taken 'care of' by the religious extremists. And a very lackadaisical attitude by the authorities who
   could have speedily dispensed with the case.

   What's so great in living if one has to be in constant fear of uttering the truth?

   (c) The Crimean imbroglio.

    I'm no Nostradamus. But the Crimean Sunday referendum results of merging with Russia, the Russian
    annexation of the port of Sevastopol and the Ukrainian protest is fast turning the place into a volatile
    area. When will things ever change? The forces that indulge in achieving short term gains seem to have
    forgotten history.

    My sympathies for the Crimean people as they seem to have lost their voice and seem to be overtaken
    by events!


My culinary abilities have come under sharp focus as Sathi Amma, Lekha's understudy, has to attend to her husband admitted in the hospital because of a serious ailment. Day two has gone off in a satisfactory manner, phew!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

It's heartening!

This evening one was witness to heated discussions, during prime time, on news channels about the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962 that many of us would like to give a quiet burial. One never expected it to happen so soon - I suppose, the run up to an election has its advantages! But wait a minute, it was not brought about by the government changing its long standing view of 'classified material whose declassification meant a serious threat to the national security' to tell all to the public but was triggered off by the release of parts of the report, online, by the Australian journalist Neville Maxwell.

There's nothing new in the report from what is common knowledge of the worst debacle, the gist of which are:-

  (a) the 'Forward Policy' of the then Prime Minister, Nehru according to which disputed territory along
       the boundary was treated to be as our's from where the Chinese troops had to be 'thrown out'.
  (b) the woefully unprepared operational state of the armed forces in terms of men, material and logistics.
  (c) the curious reluctance to operate the Air Force even, in support of the Army let alone offensive
  (d) a dictatorial defence minister in the form of the egotist, VK Krishna Menon and who'd the PM's ear.
  (e) spineless senior officers of the armed forces who accepted whatever their political masters wanted them
       to do despite the knowledge of the actual ground realities.
  (f) a lack of professional agency to gather, collate, interpret and disseminate intelligence.
  (g) in fact, it was a failure on all fronts!

The report was authored by Lt General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier PS Bhagat and is commonly referred to as the "Henderson Brooks Report".

It'd be in order that the report be declassified at the earliest so that valuable lessons can be learnt to correct the existing preparedness of the defence forces that has come into focus with the series of mishaps in the Indian Navy culminating in the resignation of the Chief of the Naval Staff.


What makes me infinitely sad is that while the politicians and the professionals would be hauled on coals, the biggest culprits - the bureaucrats, who've equal responsibility if not more for all their advice to the politicians overriding professional inputs - will go absolutely scot free!    

Monday, March 17, 2014

The different colours of Holi.

I'm at a place where Holi is never played and perhaps, unheard of or is considered by many as a quaint festival that's followed in the north! For me, it was business as usual to wish my close friends a happy celebration with colours and replying to the numerous calls and messages that kept pouring in. And as I went about it, I couldn't help but remember some unforgettable moments of Holi in my life. So let me share those times with you:-

 (a) Holi at the NDA.

 I was a first termer when I was exposed to this festival for the first time. While I'd watched the
 tomfoolery from a distance initially, I was sucked into it by my exuberant course mates. The Kapoors
 (Mr Kapoor ran the cafe which was a haven for the cadets) were the initial guests who're wished Holi
 in the inimitable way of the cadets, after which we're all by ourselves.

 The lasting impression of that first Holi of mine was that the colours smeared on my body took days
 to go off!

 (b) At the Elementary Flying School.

 It was another frenzied but balanced play with colours. I remember my course mates Salaria and
 Soman who're at the forefront to get me wet under the fire main. I guess I'd never got drenched ever
 again, to that extent ever, after the episode.

 Sadly, I lost both of them soon after - the former in a silly road accident at Bombay and the latter in
 a tragic flying accident. But their spirit live on every Holi, deep within me.

 (c) At Hamla, while doing my long course.

 It was here that I'd the privilege of playing Holi at the beach and I was also initiated into having
 lots of 'bhang(crushed poppy, if I ain't mistaken) laced milk'. The upshot was that I remember
 having laughed my gut out especially, when I saw the 'ole man' returning from the rest room with
 his fly open! And I remember having laughed my way to tell him about his faux pas and his reaction
 was almost instantaneous - laughingly zipped his fly shut and called for a refill for the both of

 And mind you, one never corrects one's seniors ever and I'd gone ahead and done just that!

 (d) At Coimbatore.

 It was here that I'd lost Sampath Kumar, a course mate, again in a tragic road accident soon after
 the revelry of the Holi celebrations while he was returning home. He was in coma for almost a week
 before he breathed his last and the saddest part was that he'd left behind his young wife and an
 infant child.

 (e) At Haldia.

 I was with my friends, the Banerjees and it was here that I learnt the art of playing Holi especially,
 with one's elders. The large and boisterous crowd was spread over with respect to age but I must
 confess that it has been one of the best experiences ever.

I think I can go on and on forever but must desist lest that I might bore you.


The festival of colours is indeed unique and is an indicator of the purity and fun loving nature of every Indian!    


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Eleven years of life without Bruno.

Exactly 11 years back, Bruno, our pet Dobermann aged 10 had passed into the mist of time snapping something deep within. It's a wound that's still not healed nor does it show any sign of healing. Bruno was our world and he lit up our lives with his delightful capers and quaint habits.

He was a frequent traveller on the New Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram Rajdhani Express train and would make his presence felt throughout the period of the journey. The caterers used to give him his extra bone as they curiously followed him, especially during his outings at the stations where the train stopped a wee bit longer. So Kotah, Panvel, Marmagao, Kankannadi and Ernakulam were the stations that saw him darting out for doing his job only to return in the nick of time as the train got ready to chug along onward. We used to take him along with us wherever we could and when we couldn't, we'd leave him invariably with our friends who were 'rabid dog lovers'(An expression appropriated from a very dear friend of mine) - a situation that he wasn't very fond of but had accepted in his stride as a necessity. And invariably, on our return, he used to display his displeasure in his own cute manner!

I still remember his last week with us when he used to be taken to the vet at the Presidential estate. During those days I used to own a Maruti Omni and he used to rest in the rear seat with his eyes focused on me as I watched him through the rear-view mirror. And whenever our eyes met, he used to look away embarrassed at having betrayed his emotions.

Did he know that his end was coming? I can never forget two things that happened the night before which, in hindsight, makes me feel that he did:-

     (a) he'd urinated on the carpet and he looked really sorry at having soiled the place. Our assurances
          that we didn't mind it didn't seem to console him.
     (b) and sometime during the wee hours of the morning, when I'd suddenly woken up from an uneasy
           sleep, I saw him facing away from us staring on at the wall breathing heavily in quick, short gasps.

He died in my arms, the next morning and everyone said that it was what he'd have loved most. But that's one happiness that I'd continue to grudge him till my very end!


1. Bunty and Babli, who were our helps during our stay at Delhi, had called up this morning to say that they'd placed a glass of milk and a piece of cake at Bruno's grave site - a thing that Lekha used to do every year on this day! Damn sweet of them and we feel thankful to them for their kindness!!

2. RIP, little one! We miss you every waking hour!!  


Saturday, March 15, 2014

'Nothing known as yet' and other stories!

A week that had passed off pretty fast for me. After spending a sizeable amount of the week in the hospital, for Lekha's sake, we're back home after three weeks. Lot many things seem to be happening almost simultaneously. It's less than a month to the parliamentary elections and we see the political parties getting into a tizzy while trying to stitch up alliances or while trashing their opponents - the only difference, this time, is that the verbal battles are getting to be more acrimonious, completely devoid of propriety or civility, giving me the impression that the cordiality in relationships between parties have got damaged beyond repair which does not augur well for the country in the long run. Anyways, let me take a round up of the news that are making the headlines:-

 (a) Nothing known as yet.

  Eight days after the mysterious disappearance of the Malaysian flight MH 370 and after extensive search of
  the South China Sea by an armada of international ships and aircraft, there has been no trace of the aircraft,
  spawning new stories of sabotage. That the ill fated aircraft had altered course after take off seems to be
  established by now and the Malaysian Prime Minister has touched upon a new angle of in-flight conspiracy.
  Strange as it may sound and no, I ain't willing to hazard any guess on what might have happened to the flight
  my heart goes out to those near and dear ones of the passengers who've been keeping a vigil all through the
  week to hear some positive news.

  May their prayers don't go in vain!

 (b) The menace called personal security.

  Was amused to hear about a dentist being roughed up by Akshay Kumar's bodyguards - his fault, trying to
   have a glimpse of the actor at close quarters. There are pros and cons for personal security for the

       (i) they keep them away from prying photographers and exuberant fans, who want to have a 'feel' of
           their beloved star.
       (ii) film shooting is carried out smoothly and
       (iii) the flip side is that the star feels important despite the fact that he's out of work.

   Restraint on both sides would be prudent. The rich and the famous are normal human beings, with their
   warts and the moles and it's better to see them from far. Do grant them their privacy. But the security
   guys might be well advised to be more humane while dealing with the general public!

  (c) The Khobragade affair doesn't seem to be over.

   Are the Americans trying to tell us that there is much more to the infamous Khobragade affair than the
   weak alibi and stories peddled out by our MEA? If that be so, why can't they come out with the truth
   once and for all. And what's so great about the individual for whom the MEA is even ready to foresake
   cordial relations with the USA?

   I'd like to believe that it's purely an ego hassle and the earliest it's sorted out the better it is for the smooth
   relations between the two countries!


The annual festivities of the Guruvayur temple is reaching its crescendo over the weekend. Consequently, we've been having a fair share of guests and well wishers!   

Friday, March 14, 2014

What's happening to the party that I thought was different?

The Aam Aadmi Party was a whiff of freshness in the political firmament soon after its inception. Here's a party that seems to know what the common man wants and would work towards his betterment, one thought. The run up to the Delhi elections, the elections and the results were a watershed in Indian politics. In fact, I was very angry with the Delhiites for giving such a fractured verdict in the end.

My first disillusionment was when they decided to rule Delhi with outside support from the Congress - a step against their initial stand on the issue. But then I accepted it thinking that the AAP was doing the right thing by not burdening the Delhiites with another back-to-back election! The party's rule for that short while was but a disaster. A government doesn't function on an individual's whims and fancies, it has to respect and take along with it the entire state machinery towards governance of its people and ensure fair treatment of all its citizens notwithstanding their differing political ideology.

And a government doesn't take to the streets when it has differences with the central government as per the federal structure that has been laid down in our Constitution. Citing difficulties in governance and a biased opinion towards them, the party's government had resigned to plunge into the proceedings of the parliamentary elections, headlong. Going by their showing at the Delhi hustings, some of them at least, seem to be nurturing national ambitions. Nothing wrong with it, if I were to be asked, but what makes the AAP think that I'll vote for it in the coming elections because I need answers for the following:-

  (a) throwing normal life out of gear seems to be your trump card. Why should I support that when I'm
       against bandhs, hartals and other destructive means of lodging protests that has been fine tuned by the
       other political parties.
  (b) using private jets for your personal use seems to be okay by you. Then, why did you criticise the
       others for doing so? Isn't it hypocrisy?
  (c) the stunt of your leader travelling by a Bombay local which was abhorred by you just a while back.
       And that too by causing widespread destruction to public property?

So, what's different about the party? I just fail to understand!


In hindsight, I think, the Delhiites were right after all. They're sceptical about the 'party-with-a-difference' right from the start. Can one blame them for their sane behaviour?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Back at the Quarterdeck!

After three weeks of stay at the hospital, Lekha was discharged today. We'd got up early in the morning to see off my aunt who was being taken to Ernakulam for further management with ayurvedic medicines. Her doctor had reported that the Oxygen treatment for her had reached a plateau, with diminishing returns! In other words, there was nothing more that he could do.

It was then that Lekha's discharge formalities were started in right earnest. Completed official records had to be obtained from the doctor, along with the discharge summary and the resume of the drawing of medicines from the in house dispensary for the consolidated bill that was cleared. Since the doctor had dropped a last minute bombshell that she was to keep her leg immobile for another fortnight to a month, while at home, a wheelchair had to be acquired. With a couple of telephone calls, the shop was identified and I'd made a dash for the purchase and finally, by about 1 o'clock, we're ready to cast off from the hospital with a gleaming wheelchair folded and secured in the boot.

There were a few sentimental scenes with Selvam saying that he'd miss us and the nursing staff along with the conservancy staff, who'd attended on Lekha, giving their farewell hugs wishing her a speedy recovery. A few of them even took solace of the fact that she'd be visiting the hospital on Tuesdays and Fridays for the next couple of weeks for the dressing of the wound by the doctor!

Nice to know that one's liked by the others but one would never like to go back to a hospital and be tied down to one of its beds because of an ailment - to the extent feasible, of course!

It took me an hour to drive home and we're back at 'The Quarterdeck' by 2. And it was a wonderful feeling to be back.


There was, however, a faux pas. After working out all possible permutations and combinations, Lekha had to finally drag herself from the verandah at the entrance to the inner staircase, before she could be put back on the wheelchair - a lack of home work and planning on my part. Bad!         

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A hint of sadness?

The stitches have been removed from the spot where the skin graft was done on Lekha's left foot. The last of the Oxygen therapy is gonna be carried out tomorrow and the doctor has hinted that we could go back home after that. We have been looking forward to that moment when we could leave the hospital premises for good.

One should be happy in the normal course but isn't there a hint of hardness deep within me? Probably the prospect of change - even though it's tending to normalcy - is the factor that's the cause for the melancholy.

It has been three weeks and I haven't left the premises over the last fortnight ever since the surgery was carried out. In other words, our existence has been confined to a small room of the hospital completely insulated from the outside world, the combined effect of the television, the cellphones and the internet notwithstanding.

The daily routine was bland but life began at a half past 5 when I went about my chores during which the nursing staff on duty would slip in to record Lekha's temperature and blood pressure. After a morning cup of tea - fetched from the canteen extension counter on the same floor of the building - Lekha had to be got ready before the doctor's customary morning rounds. Since the orders were that she shouldn't use her left foot, a combination of the usage of a wheelchair and a steel stool was devised by yours truly to overcome the immobility factor.

And at some point of time, during the day time, Lekha used to be taken for the Oxygen therapy for a period of an hour and a half. The rest of the time was taken up to run errands for fetching the medicines from the dispensary or for completing the paper work towards official formalities.

We used to watch our favourite programmes on television and the lights of our room used to be the last to go off at about a half past 11. And yes, I did catch up on a bit of reading too.

It's this interlude of three weeks - when I did nothing worthwhile - that I'm feeling sad about going away from. Dear me!


It's been a whale of an experience, I must admit. I've made friends with a lot of patients and their bystanders in the course of my interaction. The doctor and the nursing staff explain things to me, without losing their cool, for all the silly queries that I have.    

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What a shame?

The second installment of the highly popular show 'Satyameva Jayathe' has been aired on the previous two Sundays. From the TRP feedback, it's amply evident that it continues to attract a wide viewership. Aamir Khan, as its host, has been highly successful in bringing to fore issues that have a social relevance. But by doing so he seems to have made a lot of enemies.

After the second episode that was telecast last Sunday, he has been savaged on the social media, Facebook. The charge against him, that's doing the rounds, is that he gets a high fee as remuneration for hosting this show which he uses for his narrow needs - as donations to an NGO, based at Calcutta, for the construction of a mosque! A story that doesn't stand scrutiny because he's not that dumb to do an outrageous thing like that. But using half truths and innuendos has become the order of the wily few to sow the seeds of confusion in people's minds!!And that aim seems to have been achieved!!!

Sad! When a person is doing something commendable and especially, towards the larger good of the people, his/her efforts must be lauded. If one doesn't want to do it, so be it. Keep away from it. But to hit below the belt and to throw muck around is cowardice.

Who's behind all this? An individual or a syndicate? And why? Is it out of pure jealousy at the stupendous success of the programme? Or is it because of the fact that the general public has been able to validate the persistent ills of the society that they have always doubted? And hence, the affected section is hitting back!?

To the perpetrators of the smear campaign, I've a question. If the details are available, why aren't the facts being laid bare so that the law can take its rightful course? Since that's not forthcoming, the veracity of the allegations will be hard to digest.


Reminds me of the story of the Indian crab! One can rest, assured, that it will never come out of captivity and even if there's an enterprising one who almost manages to crab its way to freedom, it's pulled back into captivity, by its own brethren!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

My cousin's mom.

I'm gonna talk about my cousin's mom who's completed over two months' stay at the hospital. She's, as I'd said earlier, all of 78 yrs, badly diabetic - the last two small toes of her left foot were removed during her stay - and still suffers from severe pain on that leg. There were a few factors that have contributed to the present impasse:-

  (a) my cousin had told the doctor that only the barest minimum affected parts should be removed
       because her mom wouldn't be able to come to terms with the loss which would bring
       unnecessary psychological complications .
  (b) the doctor - as he'd confessed to me later - had gone against his professional inkling and gone
        by my cousin's inputs as he too had observed my aunt to be quite a difficult patient.
  (c) there are blocks in her veins that prevent a free blood flow to her limbs.

And after the Oxygen therapy for almost two months, the Oxygen levels in her leg have gone up from 10% to a mere 17% which is worrisome. A decision has now been reached to take a break from the present medical management. Accordingly, she's being taken back to Kochi this Wednesday and an attempt at management by ayurvedic treatment with a doctor - who's known to have cured similar cases in the past - is gonna be made.

Today, while I was spending my late afternoon hours with her - which has become my routine after having come into the hospital - she did open up to me, the gist of which are as follows:-

   (a) it's premature to leave this place without the pain having been brought under control.
   (b) she admits that she's dithering and wavering on issues but somehow, feels that she no more has 
        the confidence as to whether she'd last out.
   (c) they take decisions for and about her without even keeping her informed and
   (d) she feels comfortable now that I'm around with her!

I'd told her then that going back to Kochi was just for a break and that she could always return if things didn't work out well at that end. I've also apprised my cousin of this development but I tend to agree with her counterpoint that there's no harm in trying out the new course since the present one seems to have hit a roadblock!


At times, in one's life, one comes across occasions when one's totally at a loss regarding the choice of the right option out of the many that would be available. I hope that we're doing the right thing!


Though I've chosen the heading for this piece as 'My cousin's mom', she's my aunt after all, though a step removed as she's related through marriage of an aunt of mine into her family.   



Sunday, March 9, 2014

An uneasy Sunday!

A Sunday that had a fair share of bad news. A nightmarish weekend for many! Or a trend of the times? Without much ado, let me run through a few shocking incidents that caught our attention during prime time television.

 (a) Flight MH 370.

 The ill-fated flight of the Malaysian Airlines - a Boeing 777-200 ER aircraft - with 239 people on
 board had taken off from Kuala Lumpur at 1621h(GMT Friday) and was slated to land at Beijing
 at 2230h(GMT Friday) is feared to have crashed into the South China Sea. No further information
 has been forthcoming, except for the fact that two of the passengers have been travelling on fake
 EU passports, which have prompted the investigators to look into the terror angle.

 My heart goes out to the families of the passengers who must be going through a horrid weekend 
 for no fault of theirs.

 (b) Depravity.

 An English teacher, Brittni Colleps, 28 from Texas accused of having group sex with four of her
 students - all aged 18 - has been found guilty of the charges and sentenced to five years
 imprisonment. An example of depravity and the unfortunate part was that the romp was carried out
 at her home when her husband, an Armyman and her children were away.

 The ways of the Kaliyug, what else can such acts be classified under?

 (c) Our smug defence minister.

 It's ironic that AK Antony, the defence minister, has patted himself on the back for his excellent
 record and cited quite a few examples. How does one tell him that his performance must be judged
 by the others? Doesn't he know this basic fact or is he trying to assure himself of the fact that all that
 has happened thus far - during his long tenure of seven years - till the recent resignation of the naval
 chief has no bearing on the way he and his bureaucrats had run the country's defence apparatus? 

 He can be 'personally' clean but his integrity is in doubt because he has benefited from the corrupt
 system that has placed him on that pedestal and don't tell me that he's not aware of the systemic rot.
 And he's to take responsibility for the state of defence preparedness - the delay in the submarine
 acquisition programme being just one among the many factors!


A day that many would like to forget!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The twist.

Two weeks back, Lekha was admitted into the hospital to tackle an unhealing ulcer on her left foot. The doctor had suggested a combination of Hyper Baric Oxygen Therapy and a skin graft of the wound, the source being her own self.

Just going back in time regarding the ulcer that refused to heal. It's as old as late Aug '93! When she was seriously ill with SLE - she'd suffered a series of epileptic episodes that had occurred at a frequency of 11/2 to 2 hrs and consequently, had slipped into a coma - while trying to get an intravenous infusion, some junior doctor or the nursing staff must have made the puncture which turned out to be unsuccessful because finally, they'd to resort to cutting open the jugular risking infection. Luck was on Lekha's side - she's a fighter - and everything turned out well in the end. 

It's been nine days after the graft and today, the doctor had cut open the dressing and the cast that were put in place to ensure complete immobility of the leg. The wound is healing satisfactorily thanks to the antibiotic support and the Oxygen therapy. He'd then put a fresh dressing along with the cast for another four days and announced that she could go home by Thursday next.

And then came the sucker punch. I was quite happy that one of the long standing problems of Lekha had been licked and was gonna be history. Just then, the doctor had called me aside and said that we should pray that her SLE never perked up again because if such a thing happened, there was a chance that her body would reject the newly grafted skin despite the fact that it was her own. What struck me immediately and which I'd communicated to the doctor was that she'd end up with nursing a larger ulcer!

In response, he'd held my shoulder and said that he was sure that such a situation will never happen but sounded unconvincing. For me, it's gonna be a new worry that I can't share with many. 


Well, my life has never had a dull moment. I'm sure that everything's gonna be fine if I didn't look too much into the future! And that's what I'm gonna do.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The crisis in Ukraine.

1. The second largest state in Europe is in an existential crisis. A break up of the country along
 political, linguistic and ethnic lines has become a frightening possibility and what it seems to be
 sadly lacking is imaginative leadership. The background to the crisis can be traced back
 to the three month public occupation of the Euromaidan in Kiev which gathered momentum thanks
 to the then President Yanukovich's decision to postpone the signing of an Association Agreement
 with the European Union.

2. Its southern province of Crimea is slowly 'hotting up' as a potentially dangerous place as the big
 powers of the world want to stake their claim in the region. The fact is that the region with its
 complex ethnic mix and historical past has traditionally been close to Russia. Ukraine and Russia
 have a treaty, since the break up of the Soviet Union, that allows the latter to station its Black Sea
 Fleet in Sevastopol.

3. The plans of the United States, the European Union and Russia to bring the country under their 
'area of influence' will make matters worse. And for starters there are two activities that are slated in  
the next few months which will cause great agony to the Ukrainians:-

    (a) the interim government in Kiev has announced elections for a new government on 25 May,
          an exercise that's being boycotted by Crimea.
    (b) a referendum in Crimea on 15 Mar as to whether to stay within Ukraine or to join up with

4. Is Ukraine going the same way as Syria? What about respecting the genuine aspirations of the people of Ukraine?


My cousin's mom was going through a bout of excruciating pain. I, as an onlooker, could just watch on helplessly.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Selvam's largesse and another story.

I'm back to panning the hospital environment that I've been in for the past fortnight. It has been a quiet but educative stay and I've yet again observed as to how simple things elicit overwhelming responses from the others. I must, but, hasten to add that it does not mean that there's a complete absence of spoilsports because they too are part of the melee and need to be accepted as a matter of course! So, without much ado let me get on with my stories:-

 (a) Selvam's largesse.

 Selvam is one of the boys who's part of the canteen team and as per my observation, the most
 energetic among the lot. And there's an earnestness of purpose that's reflected in everything that
 he does. Always cheerful, he makes it a point to converse with everyone that he comes across.
 This evening, around 8, he was on his usual round of collecting the day's owing from his customers
 and had knocked on our door. Since I'd done a mental calculation, I knew what I'd to give but was
 surprised with the figures that he was quoting.

 And when I'd pointed out the anomaly, he cutely said, "I cannot do anything to the figures that the
 guys at the counter write but I can always reduce the price of a couple of cups of tea or coffee or a
 snack that I've served for the people whom I like!"

 What about the losses that his canteen might incur? What happens to his job if his contractor were
 to come to know about his largesse? His answer was a shrug with the words, "I can assure you that
 there will be no loss" and walked away.

 I only hope that Selvam doesn't lose out for being nice to his customers!

 (b) An arrogance out of ignorance or lack of application?

 I'm touching yet another episode on the security issue. While I was waiting for a visitor at the
 reception counter, loud voices were heard. A gentleman, with an artificial limb, was trying to
 convince the young lady at the counter that his assistant should also be let in as he needed him
 but the person on duty just kept parroting the rule, "Sir, only one person is allowed to enter".

I'd to finally take the gentleman to the higher authority for succour. The personnel manning the front desks of any institution must be patient, possess empathy and be customer friendly, must be able to interpret rules correctly to take practical decisions, be pleasant always and must have punctilious manners. Are we asking for too much?


From today's news grab. A few Kashmiri students of the Subhasri University in Meerut who celebrated the Pakistani team's win over the Indian team in the recent Asia Cup cricket match were initially charged for sedition which were dropped later, when a controversy had erupted.

Another example of how narrow minded people can make a mountain out of a molehill! Sad!!   

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What the hell's happening?

Around 1730h, this evening, the workers of the BJP and the AAP clashed on the streets of New Delhi, Lucknow, Allahabad and Ahmedabad - and maybe more? The provocation was when AAP's Arvind Kejriwal was detained by the police at Pattan, in Gujarat, for cross-checking on the clearance for his road show.

Ironically, it was the same day when the election commission had announced the details of the conduct of the forthcoming elections for Parliament.

Hope better sense prevails among people and we witness a free, fair and glitch-free elections this time. The Election Commission must ensure that the model code of conduct is followed always and every time till the completion of the elections.


And may the best party win!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On the psycology of advertisements.

The Indian advertisements/commercials have come of age and they can give a run for the money to their counterparts on any international platform. One feels proud about the fact that there's abundant talent in house that's creatively brimming with ideas.

But what worries me is that somewhere, on certain occasions, we seem to lose sight of our cultural inheritance that's steeped in noble traditions and values.

Let me try to explain what's in my mind. A commercial or an advertisement, as I understand, must have the following qualities viz:-

    (a) should be able to convey the desired stuff within the shortest possible time.
    (b) should be aesthetic without letting crassness to set in.
    (c) should have the ability to appeal to the sensibility and the sensitivity of the viewer.
    (d) should keep the cultural background in mind and
    (e) should never be an adaptation of another culture, ever.

To amplify my statement above, I shall talk about the latest commercial on 'Airtel money' that's being aired these days. The ad pans a family consisting of the father, the mother, the son and the daughter where the father has a poor opinion of his son's slouchy, carefree attitude coupled with his excessive obsession on his cellphone and he's shown exasperated about the fact that the electricity bill has not been paid - a job that he'd entrusted his son - and it was the last day. Caught on the back foot, the son punches a few buttons of his cellphone and pays the bill through 'Airtel money'.

After doing so, he announces it by deriding his dad's unnecessary concern - and perhaps, even his lack of familiarity with technology - and the sad part is that his mom also seems to endorse his smartness(?). The daughter doesn't care and she walks away from the scene earlier to avoid her dad's negative observations about her, maybe!

My take.

In our culture, we don't become smart by deriding our parents, whatever be their shortcomings! There are certain things that are taboo and for heaven's sake, do not pass such wrong thoughts to the coming generations. Please! 


My dad used to be quite angry with any advertisement that highlighted the virtue of 'fair skin'. He was of the opinion that it was retrograde and racist in content! How very true and this is why I consider him as a man well ahead of his time!!   

Monday, March 3, 2014

Our wrong notions on security and crowd control!

I've often wondered as to whether we, as a people, are in consonance with the actual meaning and the extent to which 'security' must be practised. I've touched upon this aspect earlier too, when all security considerations are thrown to the wind to accommodate 'VVIPs' and people use their 'connections' to get past difficult(?) situations.

I've been in a hospital's environment for the past ten days. The hospital has a good reputation and what I'm particularly impressed is the overall standard of cleanliness and hygiene that's maintained all over. There's a reason to it too - the number of visitors, the number of attendants per patient and the hangers on are restricted to a bare minimum. The visiting hours are between 10 and 11 AM and 4 to 5 PM, restricted to one visitor per patient. To my mind, it's a very sensible rule and it should be followed in letter and spirit!

Today, we're informed that we're gonna have a couple visiting Lekha tomorrow and since, I was aware of the restriction in the numbers, I'd approached the security staff about giving us special permission to let them in. And I was aghast when, much to my surprise, the person very matter-of-factly told me to use my pass for one of our guests!

Perhaps, the young lady at the reception counter was being nice and trying to help me out. But she seemed to lack the understanding of security and the connected restrictions and I couldn't take advantage of her ignorance. Obviously, the people down the line have not been educated about the related ethos which beats the very purpose of security. I'd put my foot down, raised the level and met the Public Relations Officer, to settle the issue once for all by getting the additional passes.

Our perception of security can never change, so it seems!


It was with shock and sadness that I'd absorbed the news about the sudden passing away of Dr Mayooranathan, the Surgical Specialist, who had given valuable medical advice and Lekha's still undergoing a course of medicines prescribed by him. He was away on a conference in Hyderabad where he'd suffered a massive cardiac arrest. His body has been flown in and the last rites is scheduled for tomorrow.

A thorough gentleman, without the usual airs, who was ready to offer help on the couple of occasions that we'd met him and when I'd offered him his consultation fees, he'd told me that he'd compensate for it when he'd visit us socially. That has been his unfinished promise! And what we remember is that he'd opened up on his life's story when we'd met him last on 11 Feb and he'd particularly warmed up to the fact that Lekha's first doctor was the late Lt Col Achuthan Kannampilly because they'd joined the Army Medical Corps together on the same date and were course mates!!

RIP, Dr Mayooranathan sir! Our tears, prayers and salutes to a thorough professional and a fine human being. We shall miss you. May your family have the strength to tide over these difficult times.     

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Life's but a matter of timing!

It was like any other Sunday morning except that we're away from the comfortable confines of our home and housed in a single room of a hospital, that reminds me of the Captain's cabin of the last ship that I'd commanded, of course, sans the majesty and the attendant trappings, but comfortable! We'd gone through the morning chores, even finishing our breakfast, to be ready for the customary morning rounds of the doctor.

And in the meanwhile the conservancy staff had cleaned up the room, emptied the waste basket and changed the linen. Everything goes like clockwork without much fuss and the nurse on duty had placed the set of morning medicines in the small crucible, placed in the room for the purpose.

The doctor and his team came and went, with him announcing that he'd remove the dressing on the wound from where the skin was taken for the graft, tomorrow. And the dressing at the point of graft would be removed only by the end of the week!

And it was then that I went to have a look see at my Chevy, at the parking and to pick up an English newspaper as I'd already got my copy of the Malayala Manorama. The first vendor drew a blank and the good man that he was, he'd directed me to another behind the main block.

As I finally reached him, a gentleman who was just a step ahead of  me bought a copy of the English newspaper. And when it was my turn, the vendor had a helpless look as he told me that it was the last copy.

My timing was just not right.......and as I made my trudge back to our room, I saw the owner walk away with his copy of the newspaper into an adjacent block.

An aspect of life that gets reinforced by events, time and again, during one's lifetime!


That I got a copy of the newspaper later through my cousin, who was visiting her mom, was incidental and did not alter the situation that I'd mentioned earlier!  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

These guys have real thick skin!

I was watching prime time television this evening and almost all the news channels were covering the manner in which Sahara's Subrata Roy was being taken into custody by the Uttar Pradesh police after much dithering and their initial report about the guy being untraceable!

There were references about a general lack of enthusiasm in the establishment which has shown an impotent weariness even to touch(?) the Sahara owner. What clout of his was being alluded to? Or is it that he has so much influence across the entire political spectrum that they've been reduced to being his puppets?

What needs to be understood is that his wrongdoings have been taken note of by the highest court of the land and has directed that further legal proceedings be initiated against him for duping lakhs of small time investors to the tune of Rs. 24,000 crores! In other words, despite his 'connections' and all his shenanigans, the law has finally caught up with him!!

But what amused me was the way he courted arrest - he'd come chauffeur driven in an Audi and was dressed in a three piece suit. What was he trying to convey? That he's lily-white clean and all these accusations of fraud - which the courts have confirmed - against him are baseless?

What makes people like him defy the laws of the land, strut around as though they're beyond all these - which are basically meant for us, commoners - and literally cock a snook at the system?


It's disgusting to see people like him mock the system and get away with murder, literally! He, indeed, has a thick hide!! And doesn't he have anything known as conscience to which only he alone is answerable?