Thursday, July 31, 2014

When people wear masks.

Though we'd kicked off from Guruvayur for Kochi by a quarter to 10, a deadly combination of rains, potholed roads and lousy traffic saw us crawling through a distance of roughly 100 kms, for over three and a half hours, to make it just in time for the last rites of Kamalamma Pillai. Everyone of her immediate family had mustered finally and her wait for four days at a morgue close by had gotten over when the body was brought into the house by about 9 AM. Her son and the youngest daughter had fetched up from London by the early morning flight.

As we entered the hall where she lay in state, most of the ceremony was over and we're being awaited to say our prayers so that they could cover the face with the shroud, blanking her mortal form that we're so familiar with, forever before consigning to the flames. It was as though my cousin's mom was waiting for us........ She seemed to be as though in deep slumber tired, after a long journey.

The son and the two younger daughters, along with their children showed a lot of emotions and helplessness at the goings on. To me, since I knew the background, it was mere playacting and I wondered at people's ability to fib and hoodwink the others. Whom were they trying to impress? I was seething with rage deep within because there were so many times when the old lady had imagined that her son would come down to see her during the seven month long period of her hospitalisation. She doted on him and blamed the daughter-in-law for his erratic behaviour! Was his materialistic world greater than his mother's love?

What irritates me further is the inordinate levels, people like him go through during the after death ceremonies and do absurd things like spending a fortune to deposit figurines, in gold, at some sacred place to please(?) the departed soul, if you please. Had he and his family taken some time off and visited the old lady at her hospital bed, she'd have been blissfully happy!

Hypocrisy at its best or worst? .....Will he be able to satisfy his conscience, ever?


We bid farewell to Prabha, the eldest of the cousins. The poor girl had tried her best to avoid amputation of her mom's problem leg because she knew that she'd never be able to accept it - she was successful in warding it off for seven months and then, the events had overtaken her.

The return drive was equally bad with rains and the same miserable roads, with a generous sprinkling of ill mannered motorists!  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

When the wish to live dies........

I've noticed a discernible pattern in the manner in which two of the people close to us - Kamalamma Pillai and Usha Sasidharan - had gone through their final moments of their lives. I must admit that my deductions are based on the recounts from the bystanders and attendants who're with the two ladies in those times. Both of them had lost the wish to live......

Let me dwell a bit more upon it without sounding morbid.

Kamalamma Pillai's medical condition had started improving and the doctor had said that she could be shifted out of the Coronary Care Unit, once she was out of her stupor caused by the powerful medicines being pumped into her. Tragedy struck at the moment - while she was out of her medicinal haze - when she realised that her leg had been amputated and as my cousin says, "there was a look of utter helplessness and despair on her face". After that, her parameters had started misbehaving and it did not take much time for the end.

In a similar vein, Usha Sasidharan had been admitted to the hospital a fortnight back because her lungs were unable to cope with the supply of fresh air for her system. Similar conditions had been successfully overcome by her earlier and she hoped that it would be only a matter of time before she regained her rhythm. But sometime in between, her grandson was brought in to be with her and it was then that she realised that she'd lost her power of speech. Realising that this time it was graver - never to recover - she started slipping....the end wasn't far.

There's another interpretation. When the script of one's life comes to its final stages, the wish to live goes off....perhaps!


1. The return journey from Chengannur by train took longer than usual thanks to the many crossings and overtakings. By the time I'd reached home, it was well beyond half past 9!

2. Tomorrow is another long day when we've to be at Kochi to bid adieu to Kamalamma Pillai on her final journey. Her son is fetching up from abroad by the early morning flight.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Adieu Mrs. Usha Sasidharan!

Lekha and me were a bit late in befriending this fantastic lady. In fact, Commodore GN Sasidharan and his wife made an elegant couple and moved in as our neighbours in '99 when he'd taken over the command of INS Venduruthy.

Professional necessities saw us interacting almost on a daily basis and every meeting enriched my knowledge. But it was on the social front that our relationship had gathered impetus. It all began like this when one evening the telephone had rung and the Commodore was on the line, "Rajeev, what are you both doing this evening? If you're free, please join us for dinner. Sorry for the short notice". And that was that!

We'd the privilege of interacting with and getting to know Usha Sasidharan well and from then on there was no looking back. We used to be permanent invitees at the special occasions that they hosted and she used to make sure that we got a share of every interesting dish that came out of her kitchen. I think she and Lekha had a very special relationship where they shared their innermost thoughts!

We'd visited them at their home a few months back and subsequently, had seen them at an official function a couple of months back and she seemed to have come out of her medical problems. She was curious to know about our life at Guruvayur and had promised to visit us. But her promise seems to have been in vain.

She passed into the mist of time early in the morning today.

RIP ma'am! They don't make 'em people like you any more!! We shall miss you till our very end and here's wishing that the family is able to tide over these difficult times.


The funeral is gonna be at Chengannur tomorrow and we shall be there to give her our salute on her final journey. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back home at Guruvayur!

Despite the diktat that we'd be leaving the guesthouse by 9, by the time the group of thirteen had finished their morning act it was a half past 10. No sooner had we bid farewell to Dorai and Aiyappan who'd tended the kitchen so well, Kartik, our shy but knowledgeable guide and the forest officials, our cellphones had gotten active and much to my astonishment, there were many callers who seemed to have missed me.

We're in Thrissur by 1 o'clock and it was nice seeing Vijayakumar trying to find a suitable eatery so that they could see me off after lunch despite my insistence that I could have it after reaching home. Anyways, ultimately it turned out the way I'd wanted it to be while the rest of the group continued their journey towards Thiruvananthapuram.

The walk in the evening was nice and I'd made it a point to do a gruelling pace to make up for the comparative inactivity over the last couple of days.

My aunt's funeral will take place on Friday, when her two remaining children arrive from London.

Vijayan, the caretaker of my father's house, had called up to say that the Ramayana recital at the family temple had gone off fine and that he'd overseen the overall arrangements. He'd also reported that he'd given a piece of my mind to the organisers of the event for switching dates without keeping me informed, which should have been done as a matter of principle.


Lekha's recital of the Ramayana is going on without hiccups. She tells me that though she doesn't comprehend the meaning of certain words, the recital gives her a tremendous thrill and enjoyment. Reminds me of the way I feel on my rendition of the Vishnu sahasranamasthothram everyday!


At the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve.

Dateline 27 Jul.

The day had begun on a rainy note and hence, the trek that was planned for the few enthusiasts among us had to be called off. Instead, we're taken on a long and informative safari where we could see almost all the animals but for the tiger - they, obviously, had better things to do rather than oblige us with a glimpse of themselves!

The thrill of the day was when we went rafting in the catchment area, infested with alligators! The sheer excitement of such interesting activity must have banished even a hint of a negative thought - on a probable misadventure - that might have crept into anyone's mind! The clean water of the lake is used for drinking and therefore, motor boats are banned from use.

We could substitute the intended trek with a walk over a stretch of over a couple of kilometers after teatime, dodging the rains. Anita and Sindhu are ardent bird-watchers and they took it upon themselves to educate the rest of us to identify the birds by virtue of the sounds and calls that they made!

And as we turned in for the night, on the second day of our stay out here, there was a flashback that was being played out - Laxman(293), Mohanachandran(428), Rajeev(519) and Vijayakumar(526) of the SSKZM's class of '72, the numbers within brackets denote the roll numbers - were sprawled on the floor of the guesthouse's main hall, reliving their dormitory days at school!


My cousin, Prabha's mom passed away this evening around 6. It was the culmination of a seven month long stay in four hospitals. The only comforting thought is that it has spared her the agony of living with an amputated leg, which she could never, ever have reconciled with!

RIP, Kamalamma Pillai aunty! I can never forget the love that you'd showered upon me and the deep concern that you had when Lekha was in the hospital. Our prayers and tears.


Would she've lived on had I met her last week at the ICU, I wonder?


Sunday, July 27, 2014

A day when things moved awfully fast!

Dateline 26 Jul.

My sister, from Bangalore, had called up last evening and suggested that I made an offering to our departed relations on the day of the 'Karkidaku Vaavu'. Accordingly, this morning, I'd gone as per instructions and placed the offering on one of the posts of our boundary wall. For some inexplicable reason the crows were nowhere in sight to swoop down on the food on offer. Sceptics interpret such a situation as the souls, who're being remembered during the occasion, being displeased with the process of offering and if that be the case, I must take the blame!

But seeing it through a practical angle, doesn't it show the reduction in the population of the crows, in general? And the ones, that are available, are busy elsewhere as similar offerings were being made all over!

I'd driven off to Thrissur by a half past 9 to join up with my friends who're on a pre-planned trip to the 'Parambikulam Tiger Reserve', about 150 kms away on the Tamilnadu - Kerala border beyond 'Top Slip' - another beautiful hill station on the Tamilnadu side. The journey, through intermittent rains, was nice with many sights as feast to the eyes. We'd reached the sanctuary before 3, in the afternoon and were taken around on a conducted tour, the highlight of which was a cultural programme put up by the local people - the population consists of four tribes viz. the Malasars, the Kaadars, the Muduvas and the Malamalasars. The group dance played by the girls, making shrill noises in the course of their rhythmic movements - based on a ritual performed to keep the animals away from the settlements - was a real stunner and a visual treat!

By the time we'd settled in our beds, it was close to midnight. The premises of the guest house that we're put up is frequented by elephants, they said. But never had I felt so safe!


Despite the rains, one could notice that the reservoir was not yet filled to capacity, foreboding a severe power crunch in the days to come. But who's bothered about the distant future when there was so much to enjoy around, here and now!    

Friday, July 25, 2014

Remembering my ammachi, Mrs PN Panicker.

Exactly 23 years back on this very same wretched day, my grandmother had passed into the mist of time. The sad fact was that I was doing a course at Ooty and my folks considered it prudent not to inform me lest it would affect my performance! Little did they realise that a significant part, deep within me, had died that day. I could never think of a single day without her because she'd meant so much to me.

I mean, how can I ever forget all that she'd done for me like:-

    (a) She'd taken the role of my mom as she'd gone on to take up the job of a post mistress in my dad's
    (b) She used to help me with my uniform, watch me go along with the teacher till we turned around the
          bend and would be in that same position when we returned from school in the evening.
    (c) The way she'd cried when I left home to join the boarding school in class VII.
    (d) The food - my favourites - that were prepared everyday from day one of my vacation.
    (e) The movies - usually, the matinee shows - that we used to go and watch. We'd the same favourites,
          in terms of actors and actresses, you see!
    (f)  She'd wait for my return, on vacation, to see the family doctor for her ailments. But sadly, she didn't
          tell me about her problematic heart at all.

What's more remarkable was that she'd showered her unrestrained love and affection on me when she'd a son - my second uncle, who's six months younger to me! And the beauty about it is that he has never grudged it even to this day, which is a testimony of his greatness!!

RIP, Ammachi! I'll continue to miss you till my very end because I've learnt what love is, from you.


Twenty three years have not weathered my deep bonds for her. I can feel her around me every time I think about her and probably, she's around me as I punch in these thoughts!  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Another collage of thoughts.

It was a day that was packed with activities that had outrageously silly moments too. I shall, therefore, try to spin my way through to make it a coherent discourse.

I was getting ready in the morning and was toweling, standing under the fan, after coming out of the bath. The door was closed but not bolted from inside as I didn't anticipate anyone to come in at that point of time. But lo and behold, the maid was sweeping the adjacent room and opened the door in the course of her cleaning. I heard a shriek and the door being slam shut. It was when I tried to open the door, after getting ready, that I realised that the door was locked from outside. Why was the maid's reaction so? Out of embarrassment, perhaps!  

    *                                          *                                            *

The institution that was to be audited was towards the south of the city. We reached there on the dot and had begun our work without much ado. All through, we could sense a palpable apprehension among the members of the staff as they went about displaying the facilities for training and showed us the functional properties of each of the associated equipment.

It was at the time of debrief at the 'closing meeting' that the Principal, finally, came out with the truth. Usually, the auditors are a despised lot, in that, most of them behave grumpily all through trying to find faults in everything they see. We seemed to be different because we're pleasant, it seems. We'd made it very clear that there were no frills required.

At the end of it all when we're taking leave, the director and the principal of the organisation were insistent that they did something(?) for us as they said and I quote, "We'd done nothing for you". We smiled and simply made a quick retreat as I was to make it in time for the evening train!

     *                                          *                                             *

In the meanwhile, I'd firmed up my return trip and requested my previous organisation to have my reservation confirmed by the evening express that would reach me at Guruvayur, a trifle past midnight. As I stepped on to the platform of the Thiruvananthapuram Railway station, Sepoy Joachim Topo gave me a smart salute, handed over my ticket, slipped my overnighter onto his shoulder and escorted me into the train.

It was like old times.........the frills and the trappings of office. Was I wistful? Nyet, for sure!


The journey was comfortable and uneventful. My immediate neighbour was a young gentleman who was continuously calling up people to talk something or the other.........most of them being irrelevant. Sorry, couldn't help it because I simply couldn't shut off my ears!      

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Kripashankar is another nephew of mine and all of 13 years. Gifted with an extraordinary intelligence, he handles technology with ease. But born out of these qualities is his superiority complex and he simply can't suffer fools! Let me dwell upon his personality further.

His father, a chief engineer in the merchant marine, indulges on his requirements. In fact, he's returning after a six month stint tomorrow and has already informed him that he's bought a play station port(PS3) from his last port of call, Antwerp along with loads of other things. The little one is adept in pressure testing(?) and validating the various applications of his grandmother's and mom's cellphones! He studies only on the days prior to his exams with much prodding of his parents and comes out with flying colours.

Some of his teachers in school feel that he's too smart and think that his parents should be stricter while dealing with him. Unlike most other children, he doesn't fear his superiors and finds it quite normal to talk to his Principal to have his way. For example, he wanted to take Hindi as his second language while dropping Malayalam and found that his parents weren't relenting upon this insistence of his. So, he quietly walks up to his Principal, puts across his difficulty and convinces him, who in turn, has given his approval for the change over.

His mom wanted me to talk to him and impress upon the need to adhere to his parents' wishes. They've been soft on him due to his medical condition viz.

     (a) He's badly allergic to dust and at times, gets into a sneezing bout so much so, that his class
           fellows have complained about the possibility of contracting the ailment. A few of them
           even keep taunting about this problem of his!
     (b) He's a skin allergy wherein, both his lower legs develop a rash of a type of eczema that
           looks unhealthy and revolting to sight.

He silences his detractors in school by saying that they're only allergies that cannot spread and if they're really contagious, then his mom would have had all sorts of problems by now! A neat counter argument by a boy of his age, I must say!!

This evening he'd come and shown me his NCC(Air Force wing) uniform with pride. I'd shown him as to how he should wear the web belt, adjusted it to his waist size and he gave me a smart salute in


Quite a while back, while his family were at prayers, his grandmother had insisted that he prayed for the small knit family, by emphasising upon the names."But why aren't you including Rajeev maman", was his sudden retort!

I don't have to say as to what I feel for the young man!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Off to Thiruvananthapuram.

Anto, with his vehicle, was at the door about ten minutes earlier than the time I'd given him. Probably he was assuring himself that I'd gotten up for sure so that, after dropping me at the station he could drop another customer too, to catch the same train! The guy at the counter was nice enough to tell me that my train stood on the third platform. I did not know as to why I was in a tearing hurry to clamber on to the train when there was a full half an hour to while away and in the process, missed getting a copy of the day's newspaper.

I'd selected a seat, in the first coach immediately after the engine, facing the direction of the movement - I always do this because I hate reaching my destination, stern ward, you see! The train, a fast passenger, was indeed good in the sense that it kept to its time schedule to the minute and it was the other trains that it had to cross that were late! Due to the proximity to the engine, I got this feeling that the train was too fast whenever it halted.

My first destination was Chathannoor, where my maman and I were to take stock of the situation on the ground regarding the ongoing projects of the PN Panicker Foundation. Corrective measures, where necessary, were discussed with the concerned people and finalised for ratification by the apex body. We'd made the rounds of all the five units to facilitate a thorough assessment even though the rains did try to play spoilsport.

On completion, we'd the privilege of attending an 'Iftar' evening at a rescue shelter for the destitute and the homeless, run by Mr. Francis Xavier. Home for about 350 men, women and children - some of them, mentally challenged and cast away by their close relations - I can never forget the way, two of them, 45 year old Santosh and 18 year old Mohan, who'd clung on to my hand much after the mandatory duration of a usual handshake! In fact, the former was a strapping, well built gentleman. For the benefit of a sprinkling of the non-Malayali speaking inmates I'd given a speech in my broken Hindi as egged on by the organisers.

It was about a half past 9, when I finally reached my aunt's place at Thiruvananthapuram where I was gonna be for the next couple of days as I went about my audits of training institutions. After catching up with them and by the time I'd turned in for the night, it was close to midnight.

But it was a satisfying day, all right!


In the morning, as I was headed for boarding the train, after buying the ticket, I heard a track from the Malayalam movie, 'Oru Indian Pranayakatha' - 'Omanappoove........' that I'm fond of - and something in me told me that the day was gonna be good.

And so, it was!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Achu's decision.

 Achu, my nephew, was slated to go back to his parents at Palakkad and he was set to take the 9 o'clock passenger which would connect him to a north bound, super fast train from Thrissur on the main line. Accordingly, we'd set off to the railway station at half past 8. But after purchasing the ticket, he realised that he wanted to delay his departure to travel by the passenger at 1320h which would enable him to get a similar connect.

He seemed to be doubtful about my reaction and was very keen to know about it when I expressed happiness at his delaying his move so that he could spend more time with us!

And then for the second time, we'd left for the station after an early lunch and to utilise the available time, I'd taken him along with me to complete my bank job and soon after, saw him off on the train that rolled out of the station at its appointed hour.

The normal duration of the entire journey would have been around three hours and as per the estimates, I'd called him up to ascertain about his whereabouts when he told me that his train was delayed because of a faulty engine and that he was still far from his destination!

Finally, he did call up around 7 o'clock to say that he'd reached his home - six hours after I'd seen him off! I could only sympathise with him for his tough luck!!


A good amount of my time today was spent in reminiscing the lovely days at Agrani, Coimbatore. It was a 'happy ship' and all of us were very attached to each other, with the late Commander AC Jose being an effective and lovable second-in-command! When I'd rung up his residence to offer my condolences, his children, Reshma and Ramit spoke to me and they seemed to remember me as the uncle whose car had only two doors - I used to own a Standard Herald(Cleopatra) those days!!  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's raining guests!

It was a hectic Sunday. My classmate and his wife had come along with us yesterday. Actually, when they'd expressed the desire to tag along, we didn't have the heart to say no to their request, seeing their enthusiasm. Their presence required a juggling of sorts as we're expecting Baby chechi and family early in the morning, as had been planned earlier.

And they're with us on the dot. The house was full of people, for a change and it gave us an indescribable thrill. Lekha and her able assistant were efficient in laying out an elegant breakfast, soon after which my classmate and his wife left for Kochi while the others went to the temple. It took them four hours to return as the queue was fairly long thanks to it being Sunday!

Baby chechi's birthday cake was cut and then, they'd their belated lunch - we'd finished our's earlier as we couldn't fight the pangs of hunger. And then, it was time for the farewell with a promise of returning later with a lot more time at hand to spend with us. Easier said than done, as the business of living one's life brings about other things into focus and a trip away from one's familiar surroundings is contemplated and executed only if it turns out to be inescapable......... an inescapable fact of life!

Since Achu, my nephew, was with us the sudden vacuum after the departure of all the guests wasn't felt. The evening walk followed by the usual evening activities did keep us busy.


1. I must doff my hat to the tremendous patience that Baby chechi and her family had exhibited by being part of a queue for over four hours.

2. The Kodak moment of the day - Baby chechi cutting her birthday cake!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Adieu, sir!

Commander Ambalathingal Chacko Jose was the Executive Officer of the good 'ole Krishna, when I was posted on board for my 'Watchkeeping Ticket'. A gentleman to the core, he was soft spoken and kind, the quintessential senior that nurtures his juniors. He could also be tough and demanding in the work that he expected his shipmates to deliver.

The 'XO' can make or break a ship by his conduct and sets the business rules on board the ship, as required by the Commanding Officer. Krishna was a taut ship that fulfilled every operational task assigned to her while carrying out the primary role of training the future - the six monthly training schedule of the Midshipmen. Your's truly was the 'Sub of the Gun', being the junior most officer in charge of the general conduct of these young men. While going through the paces of training, Cdr Jose was a mentor par excellence.

And I've had many occasions to interact with the family on a social level and have always enjoyed every tryst of mine with them - the Joses (Mrs. Gladys Jose and the children, Reshma and Ramith) were a charming family.

I was singularly lucky for getting a second opportunity to be with them at Agrani in Coimbatore. For us, it was a continuation of a lovely relationship when they showered their love and affection on me.

It was that association that passed through my mind in a quick flashback, when I was informed about his passing into the mist of time, this morning.

RIP, sir! My prayers, tears and salute to a wonderful officer and a thorough gentleman. I shall ever remain indebted to you for your kindness and for taking me under your tutelage. May Mrs. Jose and the children have the strength to tide over these difficult times.


Two years back, I'd met the Joses at an official function and the genuine thrill on seeing me, writ large on his face, had humbled me. We'd exchanged our contact numbers and I'd promised to meet them but, as usual, the eagerness of living my own life has robbed me of that opportunity. A tremendous loss indeed!  


Friday, July 18, 2014

Could do everything but........

We'd kicked off from 'The Quarterdeck' half an hour later than the time I'd decided around 0730h. Barring the occasional rain, the weather was nice and the drive, uneventful. I'd reached my first stop at Kalamasserri, trifle after 10 and soon got to the business of audit of an educational institution of a technical intent.

Around 2, I'd disengaged from the event to be in time for the two hospital visits. The first was to my aunt who was in a serious medical condition but alas, they did not permit us entry into the ICU and gave a brief idea of her medical condition instead. I'd told god a small prayer and am sure that she'll come out of it unscathed for me to see her again.

It was teatime and pouring, the road to Lekha's doctor and his hospital was full of potholes and bad traffic. It was Nixon's expertise that saw us at our destination within reasonable time as he avoided one traffic snarl after the other by opting for side lanes, that I never knew did exist. The meeting with the doctor was pleasant as usual but he has advised her from climbing steps to protect her knees.

We could spend some time with my cousin who, naturally, is shaken with her mom's condition. I felt bad for her for the fact that despite all her efforts to save her mom's leg, it was amputated to save her from the precarious condition she was brought in to the hospital last week. And of course, I'd to give her a piece of my mind for being erratic on her cellphone despite Lekha's pleas to avoid a nasty scene. Well, given the circumstances, she took my jabber in the right spirit!

The quite evening at my friend's house was nice and the highlight was the dress that Lekha'd picked up for li'l Shanaya..... she really looked like a princess in that cute outfit much to everyone's delight!


As I'd said, could achieve everything that I'd set out to do except meet my aunt. I take it as a positive sign as she's gonna overcome it all.   

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Ramayana month.

The month of 'Karkidakom' of the Malayalam calendar has begun today. It's the time many homes, all across Kerala, carry out the recital of the entire Ramayana which will end on the 16th of August as the next day is the 1st of the new month, Chingam. The recital of the epic, it's believed, removes the darkness in the minds! Lekha's begun its recital at 'The Quarterdeck'!!

Achu, my nephew, had fetched up in the afternoon to give mom company as we make a short trip to Kochi tomorrow for Lekha's medical review. My cousin's mom, who's not very good and is still in the ICU needs to be looked up - my cousin says that she'd be all right if she were to see me. Such expectations are scary and I do not know as to what to say or how to react about my 'superhuman/mystical curing ability'!

                *                                  *                                  *

Another Malaysian aircraft, with 295 people on board, has crashed over Ukraine. Doubts have been expressed about the ill fated aircraft having been hit by a missile. Whatever be the case, the Malays must be having a tough time reconciling to another tragedy when the shock of the first has not even worn off.

I join the people of Malaysia in praying for the lives that have been struck off so violently, so suddenly. It's my fervent hope that their near and dear ones gather sufficient strength to tide over their difficult times.

                *                                   *                                  *

It would be my first foray into the field of the audit of services tomorrow. The briefings and the inputs have been thorough. I only hope that I don't make any faux pas! I've gone through the procedures for the nth time and hope to carve a niche of my own.


The rains seem to have petered out as soon as it had gained momentum. The heat, thankfully, is taking time to pick up!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Do we've to fake emotions?

I've never been able to follow the others on this aspect. My emotions are my own and it has to be spontaneous according to the situation. One doesn't have to impress the others or prepare for photo op while expressing one's genuine feelings. Period!

I'd called up an elderly gentleman to convey my condolences on the death of his older brother, who was in his late 70s. He was quite enthusiastic on hearing me and was exuberant in his conversation. After querying about our stay in the new surroundings and inquiring about my mom, there was a brief pause in the conversational chain when I'd broached the topic and offered my condolences. There was an instant transformation in his conversational twang, he became absolutely serious and gave me the feeling that he   regretted his earlier exuberance!

As I inquired about his brother's last days, his medical condition etc he answered in monosyllables almost choking on his words. Was his reaction because of my raking up the painful event all over again when he'd already put it behind him? Or was it because he'd to 'feel sad' whenever someone revisited the unfortunate incident to be 'propah'?

There could be so many reasons when the death of a sibling doesn't evoke deep emotions in people. Perhaps, the relationship between them might not have been there at all due to some reasons, personal. Fine, let it be so and one does not expect anyone to display misplaced feelings. Reality of life, that's all to it and one doesn't take it as amiss on the person exhibiting appropriate emotions!


The gentleman spoke for another couple of minutes before he handed over the telephone receiver to his wife. I could sense his tremendous relief while handing me over to her! ......Or was it all my imagination?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A self styled diplomat?

The media has been agog with excitement - and rightly so - over yoga guru, Ramdev's close aide, Pratap Vaidik's meeting with Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 Bombay blasts. The government has distanced itself from the meeting and has gone a step further by seeking a report on it from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. Parliament, as expected, has been in a shambles over the issue.

As an Indian citizen, certain basic doubts have crept into my mind and as 'Arnab Goswami of Times Now' says, I need answers. The first few are to the new journalist, Vaidik:-

    (a) Don't you consider Hafiz Saeed as your enemy for the nasty things that he has done, he's been
         exhorting his fellow terrorists to do against your country? If the answer is affirmative, how
         could you think of having tea with him?
    (b) Was your trip paid for by you?
    (c) What's your locus standi for working out a deal with the terrorist that would presumably be
          welcomed in your country? None of us - the citizens of this country - know you and so, take
          you as our representative.

The government has to answer these questions convincingly:-

     (a) How did this gentleman get his diplomatic clearance without his itinerary being known?
     (b) Do we've an agenda of talking to a wanted criminal and convert him to a pious being through
           Track 2 diplomacy? And even if we're to consider such an atrocious thing to be possible,
           how does he pay for his sins?
     (c)  Do we have a coherent policy to deal with Pakistan other than plain rhetoric?


And having asked my queries to the man himself and the government, why do I've this doubt that the media has given the issue more importance than its due because of the fact that the Prime Minister had not included many of you into his entourage? I mean, is it a reaction out of pique?

Monday, July 14, 2014

The powerhouse that's Kausalya!

Around lunch time, Lekha'd got a call from Kausalya asking for clarifications to the route to our house. In her early 50s, she stays near the coastal hamlet of Ponnani, about twenty kilometers from here. I'd met her for the first time at Lekha's younger sister's place at Tirur, years back and was impressed by her alacrity at work and her ever smiling face. She'd decided to visit us on her trip to the Guruvayur temple, after what has been a long while for her and had informed Lekha about it yesterday.

It would be interesting to know about her background and let me take this opportunity to delve into it. Her husband has been ill for quite a while and he's been lately diagnosed with cancer of the prostate. Since she has been standing in as an understudy with nurses - who're her friends - for many patients, she's adept in palliative care and it has helped her tremendously in taking care of her husband!

She has three sons of which two are living near her with their families. Both of them are farm labourers and earn sufficient enough to look after their own families. The youngest - all of 35 years - is generally unwell being allergic to a host of things and needs constant nurturing. He, therefore, lives with his father and mother and doesn't have a family of his own. To add to her woes, the house on the small plot of land that she bought from its previous owner has been identified as government land and consequently, she's been on a legal tussle over it for the past five years.

And to increase her woes, a couple of years back she was diagnosed with a damaged kidney. The problem has been contained but the doctor has told her to be very careful to prevent it from further escalation. I've heard of the saying that when ill luck comes, it comes in legions. In Kausalya's case it has been apparent but the ultimate clincher is that she continues to carry that winning smile, despite her huge bundle of woes.

On arrival and after a quick lunch, she'd gone around our house and had taken it up on herself to clean up the windowsills, the cleanliness of which was not up to the mark. That sums up the essence of that gutsy lady - a powerhouse! After being at our place for a trifle over a couple of hours, she was off to the temple and further, onward to her house.

Lekha'd got a call from her, a trifle before sunset, reporting her safe arrival back at her place!


Kausalya is the example of indomitable spirit and undying optimism. Her infectious smile takes her through one crisis after the other, without ever affecting its intensity! God, please take care of her.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A wet Sunday!

The day was simply wet in that it rained almost all through the day. In fact, it has been so for the last three days and I suppose the deficit in the monsoons has been reduced considerably or am I being unrealistic, without seeing the whole picture?

I'd spent a sizeable part of the day watching the rain and had settled down cosily with Colin Forbes' 'Tramp in armour', on my rocking chair. But the idyllic setting was not to last long with Lekha's help having to make a quick exit because of another death - the third in the last week - in her family. Then there was this uneasy input from my cousin that her mom had suddenly taken for the worse - a sudden lowering of her haemoglobin count with a bad urinary tract infection - necessitating her immediate shift into a hospital within Kochi. Her condition has steadied to some extent thanks to the immediate medical management, after almost four months of ayurvedic treatment, but at a terrible cost - her left leg has been amputated immediately below the knee, a condition that my cousin was trying to avoid all this while knowing fully well that it's gonna devastate her mom! She seemed to be inconsolable as I tried to speak to her over the telephone!

Meanwhile the fever of the 'World Cup' has reached a crescendo and from the information that I could tap from the people whom I'd come across during the day, I realised as a supporter routing for Germany, I was in a horrible minority. Argentina seems to be the hot favourites for most of the Keralites!

And it was young Nandu, the autorickshaw guy - who'd dropped me back home in the evening - who gave me the most plausible answer as to why he wanted Argentina to win and I quote, "This is Lionel Messi's last chance and the poor guy must lift the cup. Sir, I'm sure Argentina will". And I decided to remain silent.

I rejig my rigid stance and say, may the best team win! No, I ain't being fickle, I rooted for Brazil, you see!! But one of the most endearing scenes of this World Cup was the compassion shown by the German team to the broken Brazilian team, post match.


I didn't enjoy the evening walk as the pair of sports shoes - bought from one of the malls of Kuala Lumpur. Why not do a bit of name dropping, huh? - that I was wearing seemed to be porous below and my socks were wet half way through my walk. And mind you, the soles have no tear at all! An unwanted osmosis?!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mom is, well......... mom!

Ever since mom has been with us my age has shrunk.....virtually. Much to Lekha's annoyance, she gets concerned about even the slightest delay in my return from an errand and the list is endless. Perhaps, advancing age is a contributory factor with her father and husband having passed into the mist of time. A thing that she's insistent upon is that she must get to talk to both my sisters and their families, after her breakfast, every Sunday.

Her use of the telephone is restricted to very personal and urgent calls since she's hard of hearing. The moment the connection is established she tells out her piece....their replies have to be conveyed to her subsequently after any one of us takes the call. I pull her leg saying that in her telephonic activity there's room only for outgoing calls and she laughs it away saying that I'm crazy!

Her day with me begins a trifle after 7 - when she's ready after her bath and sprucing up - to be escorted down the stairs to the ground floor where she says a prayer at the 'puja room', completes her final sprucing up and has her cup of tea. Browse the day's newspapers she must and then it's breakfast time with us, when she tells me about the things that she needs or about matters that need to be looked into and she brooks no delay! Whenever, I go out of the house she keeps a watch through her window till my return and at times, gets hyper if she perceives a delay.

She's regular on her walk in the evenings in the courtyard, for about half an hour under our watchful eyes and it's during those walks that she speaks out about the general cleanliness - pathetic, on most days pointing a finger at Lekha's understudy and gives an account of the activities in the immediate surroundings while greeting the occasional passersby with a snatch of conversation thrown in, where necessary.

The greatest fuss is when I go for my evening walk, when she expects me to return within an hour, latch the gate and slip on the internal bolts of the front door which she has to personally verify after my doing so. It gives me a feeling that she's ensuring that I wouldn't move out without her knowledge because the sliding of the bolts and the other attendant activities would give her the necessary warning(?). I've always wondered as to whether her concerns have stemmed from the fact that she'd seen me leave home quite young to a boarding school and then, beyond.

We break bread together, as I'd said earlier, at breakfast, lunch and the evening teatime while she has an early supper by 9. Her needs are frugal but the temperatures and the quantity of food, that she has, are constants! She watches the television for a while and then is escorted up the stairs to her bedroom and by around 10, she's fast asleep.

.....It's very comforting to have her with us!


I remember a doctor friend's advice and I quote, 'Elderly people must have their food and medicines at the appropriate times. More importantly, they should also feel that they're active members of the family'. Hope my mom does feel so at 'The Quarterdeck'!   

Friday, July 11, 2014

The thin dividing line...

It's a thin dividing line between sanity and insanity. It hit me with all its attendant ferocity, yet again this morning, on a visit to a hospital nearby.

Actually, Lekha is due to meet her doctor on the 18th for a review after her last visit, 45 days ago. Since she's been on the tablet 'HCQS' among her other medicines for over four years, this time he'd advised an eye check up and it was during that examination that the neighbourhood ophthalmologist had asked for an 'Optical Coherence Tomography'(OCT) of the retina. And it was for this scan that the two of us had gone to the Amala Hospital, a few kilometers from our house.

It was while waiting for her turn, that this young couple had come and sat beside us. The gentleman was slated for a detail eye check up and the nurse had poured a few drops into his eyes for dilation of the pupils, prior to examination. It was mandatory for him to keep his eyes shut during the period but he refused to do so, not quite convinced that he should be doing so! Or was it that while closing his eyes some bad images of the accident, perhaps, were bothering him? One never knows. The nurse repeated her instructions, his wife did the same - at times pleading, at times cajoling - but he continued to have his way.

It was then that I overheard the wife telling the nurse that her husband had undergone a massive accident on the road and suffered a serious brain injury, that has resulted in his erratic behaviour. The young lady seems to have reached the end of the tether of her patience and might snap anytime, so I thought. Her husband, otherwise, looked normal but for his unkempt hair and beard. Hope he gets back to normalcy soon.


The 'OCT' confirms that Lekh's right retina has an inflammation and the doctor was quick to prescribe the antidote saying that the condition has been brought about by her illness viz. the SLE. Thankfully, there's no side effect courtesy the tablet! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The union budget.

I'd earlier, on this forum, touched upon the 'Arthakranti proposals' that seemed to me to be the foundation of Prime Minister Modi's economic thinking. The first budget of this government has been tabled in the Parliament today and the common reaction is that it's a fine balancing act that the Finance Minister has done under the prevailing circumstances. Perhaps, the actions, fine tuned by the salient points of the Arthakranti proposal would be forthcoming when the high level team looking into the aspects of 'black money' would submit their recommendations!

What are my impressions on the budget, the little that I know of economics and the nuances that go with it, notwithstanding? I'm gonna list them as follows as they come into my mind:-

  (a) Reviving economic growth without wasting hard earned fiscal gains of last year.
  (b) Putting more money into the hands of the tax payers.
  (c) Incentives for the manufacturing sector.
  (d) Enhanced infrastructure spending with an emphasis on the road network of the country.
  (e) The Ganga action plan.
  (f) Setting up of more quality institutions like AIIMS, IIMs and IITs in more parts of the country.
  (g) Towards the care for women, senior citizens.

But I'd heard a few of the economists who'd come on the television for panel discussions state that the budget does not touch upon the entire gamut of reforms that are badly needed to kick start the economy and spur a vigorous growth. And what's more daunting is the fact that out of every rupee that flows into the central government tax coffers, 44 paise goes into the payment of interest on past debt! To this, while adding the committed expenses on salaries and pension which are due to be increased in 2016, on account of the VII Pay Commission, the money that would be left for development would be paltry!!

And it's that that worries me as a tax payer! Can we, as a country, continue to deny ourselves 'state of the art systems' and the latest technology products, saying that we're developing - a euphemism for being poor?


The success of the implementation of the budget will depend on the way the FM is able to stick to the current year's fiscal deficit target of 4.1% of the GDP by getting RBI to contribute and using unspent money from different government accounts!    

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A magnanimous Germany.

Germany's spectacular 7-1 victory over Brazil in the first semi final of the FIFA World Cup was a crippling blow to the host country. To be out of the reckoning in the quest for the championship on home ground can be devastating for the team as well as the countrymen and the pain will remain for a long time till perhaps, the cup is won and brought back at a future moment!

Neymar's injury was unfortunate. Did that singular aspect demoralise the Brazilians? Or having come under harsh criticism for the rough game that they'd played throughout the tournament make them alter their style that cost them the match? Or was it a combination of both these factors that led to the unbelievable rout? Not to forget the tremendous pressure on the team that's destined to play in front of their home crowd! ........Let's leave that to the 'pundits' to deliver their judgement so that the Brazilian football learns from the lessons and regain their past glory!

The Brazilians, as a nation, will find it really tough to shake off the devastation caused by the defeat. Every Brazilian will take it as a personal loss, that's the psychology! And they'd be 'right now' willing to give anything to have a replay of the match to see their team, the winners and back in the reckoning!!

And Germany did show their class. Despite the win, they didn't exult and to put it in their words, there was no 'schadenfreude', meaning 'delighting in the other's pain'. Their sportsmen spirit was evident as each of them and their coach hugged and tried to console the weeping Brazilian team. The coach, Joachim Loew, even went on to say sorry for their win! The ultimate sportsmanship is to be magnanimous to the vanquished at the pinnacle of victory!!


(a) The FIFA World Cup '14 is playing out its final laps!

(b) A totally unconnected-yet-connected fallout. The German Chancellor might not meet the Indian Prime Minister during his transit halt in her country enroute to Brazil for the BRICS summit. Japan must be happy on that score!   

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A railway budget with a difference!

Before I begin, I must reiterate that I'm no blind Modi loyalist or a rabid anti-Congressman. I'm just reacting to the Railway Budget '14 that Mr Sadananda Gowda had presented in Parliament. I say that it's a budget with a difference because, for the first time after many, many years here's one that doesn't cater for the minister's home state with new trains or facilities.

Let's recapitulate a few of the salient aspects that support my opening statement:-

     (a) A national outlook has been given to the budget. To cite an example, seven new trains have been
          announced for the strategically crucial North-eastern region and an allocation of over Rs.5,000
          crores for speeding up ongoing projects. Railways is the property of every Indian and it's a
          public utility service that needs careful nurturing!

     (b) Populist measures have been given the go by. Passenger fares and freight rates have been raised -
           tho' done during the run up to the budget and hence, doesn't find a mention in it - which were
           inescapable as they'd not been revised over the past decade or more. Good services do come
           with a price and generally, one doesn't mind it!

     (c) Safety and cleanliness have been highlighted. Simply because it's public property these aspects
          cannot be wished away!

     (d) A thrust has been given to infrastructure development and modernisation. Towards this end,
          PPP(Public Private Partnership) and FDI(Foreign Direct Investment) except in 'Operations'
          have been invited. The only way out to circumvent the cash crunch but one shouldn't
          forget that the PPP did not have many takers in the past!

     (e) The Railway Stations to have similar facilities as those found in airports. A fact that has been
          overlooked in the past!

It's my fond hope that the Indian Railways becomes world class with state of the art operational system and a sure ticket to a ride of endless joy for every Indian.


I was particularly happy to read about the introduction of coaches that would have doors which would automatically shut down once the train has started moving. That singular point would prevent accidents of being thrown off running trains and put an end to such bizarre deaths! And also avoid foot board travel!!  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Genuine help gets disgusting returns....

I'd gone to meet a classmate of mine, who's the Senior Manager of a bank, this morning. I must admit that I'd passed by a number of times before but had neither willed myself nor found the time to call on him. But today, it's a determined me who'd walked in and it turned out to be an experience!

As we caught up with each other, there was a stream of his clients who'd walked in seeking his advice, help or just to say a hello and he dealt with each and everyone with humility, providing the requisite assistance or returning the salute with equal verve! The values that he'd imbibed while at school seem to be on a natural flow and that's the reason for him to have become quite sought after and popular among his customers!!

Somewhere in between our conversation, Thomas, a small scale farmer, had come by based on the bank's intimation about an attractive financial assistance for people like him. He'd a coconut farm and he also indulged in paddy cultivation. Growing used to our company, he did tell us a strange tale. Years back, he'd got a pathway made that provided a shortcut for the local villagers and had considerably reduced the distance to the market. The mud road skirted his property that boasted of a clean water tank, within his compound, whose water was potable and used for drinking purpose. He'd also emphasised upon the fact that he'd not taken any compensation for giving up his land for the now motorable pathway.

But he bemoans the fact that today, the water tank stands polluted with the passersby dumping waste, without compunction, as they pass by through the pathway. He's now patiently waiting for the tank to be filled up with muck to cover it with earth, once for all. As the elderly gentleman told his story, he seemed to harbour neither anger nor any ill will towards his neighbours but cites it as yet another example of gratitude having a very momentary shelf life.

I salute your spirit, Mr. Thomas! People of your breed are becoming a rarity in today's dog-eats-dog world!!


I'd intended to give a handshake to my classmate, while taking leave, keeping in mind the formal occasion. But he'd come around his table to give me a hug which threw me off balance, albeit, temporarily. It, indeed, showed the class spirit!      

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Crying about the weather!

The day had started off with heavy rains and the overcast sky promised a continuous downpour. The wet environment had continued till lunch time when the sun decided to come out of the clouds to smile upon the earth benevolently, drying up the clothes on the hanging lines and the surroundings with surprising haste!

The monsoon, this time, has been patchy and the reason, as per the weather pundits, is the presence of two cyclonic systems over the north eastern Pacific Ocean that're drawing the moisture away from the Arabian Sea - Indian Ocean - Bay of Bengal area weather systems! The latest prediction has it that the monsoon would revive during this week and most of India will get its normal quota of rainfall and it's our fond hope that it turns out to be true!

Otherwise, it's gonna be tough on the agriculture sector with the farmers taking a thorough beating and it will have a cascading effect on the prices and the availability of essential foodstuff. The lackadaisical economic growth over the last few years - brought about by various factors including the volatility of Iraq's oil thanks to its internal strife - needs to be reversed and it's the fond hope of every Indian that the Modi government would initiate things to bring about a robust economy. As a pragmatist, I'd go a step further in saying that the powers that be do not resort to populist measures eyeing vote bank politics - and I'm optimistic on this score by a statement made by Narendra Modi, not long ago, and I quote, "The elections are over and politics need to be set aside. The priority now would be to provide good governance". His actions, thus far, are definitely steps in the right direction!

The Railway and the Union budgets are gonna roll out this week. The people's expectations are high and one can hope that the government is able to satisfy everyone with its policies!

And, for starters, let's hope that the monsoon picks up this week as predicted!


I must admit that, on a very personal level, the revival of the monsoon is gonna restrict my morning and evening exercise outings. I'd have to depend more on my walker and forego the daily sights!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

It just ain't football!

As I'd said at the beginning, I'm an ardent supporter of Brazil and, like all Brazilians do, want the team to lift the FIFA World Cup '14 - their sixth shot at the crown and that too, on their home soil. But after its last game against Colombia, I've begun to have a rethink! The reason is simple......they seem to want the cup at any cost and consequently, look at the mess that they've ended up with.

Let me recapitulate the events and the causative factors leading to the disaster:-

      (a) Brazil had committed 31 fouls, thereby, stretching the laws of the game to the limits.
      (b) Their coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, is the villain responsible for killing Brazil's naturally
            beautiful game, because of his thought process that fouls are a tactical resource to ultimate
      (c) The Spaniard match referee, Carlos Velasco, waited for 41 fouls to pull out his first yellow
            card and this leniency(?) saw both the teams indulging in the free use of tactical fouling.
            He's the other villain of the piece!
      (d) In the dying minutes of the game, the Colombian defender, Juan Zuniga, went airborne and
           drove his knee into the lower back of the Brazilian hero, Neymar, resulting in a cracked third
           vertebra for the latter that would keep him off from the rest of the proceedings!

What a shame? Is this what we get from the country that gave us Pele, Garrincha and Jairzinho and their fabulous mastery of the game?


I alter my earlier stand and say......may the best team win!


Friday, July 4, 2014

The chirpy young lady!

It was siesta time and each of us were engaged within our personal space. Mom was browsing the newspapers for the nth time, Lekha was watching her favourite soap on the television and I was looking into the Foundation's mail that needed urgent attention. And each of us would eventually drift to sleep, albeit, for a short while.

Suddenly, the doorbell had chimed and with irritation, I'd trudged down the stairs with every intention of giving the short shrift to the unwanted intruder. But it was a young lady, in the garb of a salesgirl, with useful household articles and I did not have the heart to shoo her off and instead, handed her over to Lekha to buy items for which she did not have to make a foray into the market, later. I'd gone back to my work soon after.

Almost a half an hour later, I found that the young lady had both mom and Lekha in rapt attention, listening to her life story. Her parents are quarry workers and with their meagre earnings, had ensured that both their daughters got a good education. The young lady has just completed her engineering, specialising in electronics and was awaiting her results. She'd taken on the door-to-door marketing of household ware, promoted by a company that offered volunteers, like her, a tidy sum for their efforts. Her reason for taking up this job was to meet people from a wide cross section and she, definitely has the gift of the gab. In fact, by this time, she'd admirers in both my mom and Lekha and I, too, couldn't resist her charms!

Her sister is into the second year of engineering. And as she took leave of us, she'd ensured that Lekha had bought a couple of articles worth Rs.500/-, walked mom in the courtyard for a while regaling her with her yarn and promised to visit us yet again.


An enterprising youngster who has a great future ahead. May god be with her in her endeavour!    

Thursday, July 3, 2014

It gets to be more murky!

The death of Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of Shashi Tharoor, is all abuzz in the media since its unfortunate occurrence on the 17th of January, this year. I've a couple of queries to begin with, which are:-

  (a) Why has the spotlight got on the case now? Are there any fresh leads, that should help the case to
        be solved earliest and which were suppressed till now? Was there an indication of the case being
        dragged on to alter the course of the investigation?
  (b) Would this case have gained so much prominence had the Congress come back to power?

What is unusual in this case are the following factors:-

  (a) There seems to be no sense of urgency to get to the bottom of this unfortunate story.
  (b) The unusual hurry shown by Sunanda's dad and son to give statements to the effect that they did not
        consider any sort of foul play in the events that led to her mysterious death. Moreover, they seemed
        to be eager to give a clean chit to Shashi Tharoor! (I still can't fathom the stand taken by the closest
        relatives - in this case, the father who's a retired Army officer and the son - not wanting to get to the
        bottom of the case. Can 'pressures' be so great that one takes the leeway to disrespect the dead? I'm
        old fashioned in my thoughts and I'm sure that her soul will not rest till the truth about her tragic end is
        finally, known to the entire world and the guilty brought to book).
  (c) I've been following the news channels on the case and what struck me as very, very odd is that the
        people who've come on the panel discussions and are known supporters of Shashi Tharoor -
        I, too, am one I must confess as his involvement in the activities of my grandfather's Foundation has
        been total - have been trying to put across that the case has to be handled sensitively! Wonder what
        that means, is it that the law must take a different course just because he was a former minister?

With the revelations of Dr Sudhir Gupta, the head of the forensic department of the AIIMS, and Dr Subramaniam Swamy's explosive allegations, the case now needs to be resolved at the earliest. That's the only way for the cloud to lift off from the persona of Shashi Tharoor, who comes under the needle of suspicion and thereby, save his fledgling political career.


What amazes me is that there are many among us who're quite willing to be treated differently by the law. It's this blind subservience that we need to dump at the earliest!     

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How people make a mess of themselves!

Soon after lunch I was off to Thrissur on an errand and instead of taking my Chevy, I'd boarded one of the private buses for a quick outing. The bus was thankfully not over stacked and did not have extended halts at stops to take in more commuters, which is a usual phenomenon! And the whole journey was performed in just over forty minutes.

I shall give you my observations on two of my fellow passengers. The first was a guy, seemingly in his mid 40s, who was occupying a two seater, close to the rear door, which I'd decided to share with him as I clambered on to the bus. He didn't seem to be quite enthused with my decision and began to 'spread' himself on the seat resulting in the need for great acrobatic movements on my part to avoid being edged out when the vehicle negotiated sharp bends and turns. He was oblivious(?) of my discomfort and I'd to tell him that I wouldn't tolerate his insensitivity any further and perhaps, we could even swap our seats to avoid further unpleasantness. Did I have a menace in my tone, I dunno, but it definitely had the desired effect and I realised that he could shrink himself remarkably well, given the circumstances!

While I was chastising my neighbour, I'd raised my voice for the sake of clarity which triggered an unwarranted, angry reaction from a passenger behind us who was in an extremely inebriated state and reeked of country liquor. In such cases, silence is the best reaction because he knew not what he was doing though the conductor and the other passengers asked him to be quiet, with the former going even a step further to apologise to me for the his misconduct.

I must say that it tested my patience to its limits as his vocabulary of 'the choicest in Malayalam' seemed to be an endless script! He'd got off the bus, a stop before me and as he gave me a parting look, I realised that he was scared. In his 30s, with an unkempt and tousled hair draped in crumpled and dirty clothes, he seemed to have a sob story, but will his unbridled drinking bring about an end to all that? And what was he scared of? Retribution from my side? Now, that's a laugh!


Social drinking is an acceptable thing and no one minds that so long as propriety and decorum are maintained. But when limits are exceeded, one's asking for trouble. I've often observed people imbibing the bubbly with the intention of getting drunk. What purpose it serves - the subsequent headaches and the awful feeling, notwithstanding - cannot be deciphered but it could be at the expense of one's health, that could at best be avoided! Not to talk of the harassment and possible exploitation later, by unscrupulous people!!

Am I sounding condescending? Hope not...  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

In search of your's truly....

I'd put everyone in a quandary during the course of my evening walk today. All because of my stubbornness in not carrying the cellphone while on my exercise outing because the calls that come in decelerate the momentum. And despite well meaning advice from friends and relatives, I've refrained from carrying it. Perhaps, the time has come for a rethink. Or not really?

It all began like this. Our neighbour, the Rajah family, sent us a basket of fruits and even though I'd decided to thank them over the telephone, it was Lekha who'd insisted that I must pay a visit to thank them for their gesture. And so, on the last lap of my walk, giving sufficient time for their evening prayers and meals, I'd rung the bell.

My interactions with the elderly gentleman - all of 73 yrs, badly diabetic in his own words and I'm fond of him - are something that I look forward to always. He's concerned about Lekha's health and at the outset, said that the entire family missed us during the past 11 days when our house had remained locked! There's no dearth of topics to discuss between us but I was keeping a track of time to ensure that I did not eat into his prayer time at a quarter past 8. The cue was when the entire family had trooped out to the nearby mosque for prayers after a brief exchange of pleasantries with me. The patriarch would say his prayers within the confines of his house.

As I'd entered the private road leading to my house I saw my second neighbour, the Air Marshal, coming out with his car. He seemed to be very, very agitated and did I see a look of relief on his face? And then he put across the story. Lekha and mom were worried when they didn't sight me back at my normal time of return. Panic button was pressed and the poor Air Marshal had come looking for me to assuage their distress.

In his usual style, using expletives, he'd told me in no uncertain terms that I must carry my cellphone on such occasions! And I was still unsure as to whether I was in the wrong!!


The reactions from the folks around just show their concern for me. It gave me a nice feeling and a sense of being wanted. But will I carry my cell phone from now on? Maybe no......I can be as stubborn as a mule, you see?!