Sunday, August 31, 2014

A couple of hours with Nina's mom.

Minni, Lekha and me had kicked off for Thiruvananthapuram by a half past 7, this morning. My endeavour was to be with Nina's mom to the extent feasible. That was my way of telling her 'sorry' for not keeping my promise of visiting her.

I was beside her by about a trifle after 0930h. She was lying in state in the ornate sitting room looking elegant in an embroidered saree with appropriate border - her trademark style that's so very familiar to me and many of my folks. As I stood beside her with folded hands, almost every frame of my interaction with her came into focus with tremendous ease. Her easy laughter, the genuine interest in my academic performance, her outright disapproval of my mom's method of teaching me Maths - blood used to trickle down my arms from the pinchmarks - and an extra helping of my favourite sweets came in quick succession like frozen snapshots of a favourite photo album.

Her daughters and the lone son took turns to be near me to give me the details of her final days, upon my insistence. One of them showed me my letter that was dog eared and torn at a few of the folds, due to repetitive reading and a glance at it brought a lump to my throat. The children were unanimous in their observation that I was her favourite and she talked about me whenever my family was remembered! And I still wonder as to what was so special about me.

The two hours with her had come to a hasty end when she was transferred into the carriage for her final journey. I'd braced up to salute her as the cortege moved away and let go my tears that couldn't be controlled any longer.

Mrs Thangam Balaguru Soman or Nina's mamma, as I knew her, had become memory a trifle after 1, this afternoon.


The melancholy persists, even as I punch in these private thoughts!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Getting things accomplished, albeit slowly!

A lot many jobs have been lined up during the ten days out here, while fulfilling social commitments. It would have been difficult for me but for the smart moves by the caretaker of our ancestral house. Vijayan has tremendous patience, enormous goodwill among the people and a disarming persistence in his endeavour.

He was touched by the new clothes, handed over to him and his wife by mom this morning, on the occasion of onam due next week. He'd got along a worker to clean up the facade of the house despite pouring rain. I'd also pitched in by passing buckets of water up the gangplank to reduce their workload - and weren't they thankful? It's onam, mind you and we, Malayalees, stop working towards the run up.

The overgrown grass and the wild brushes, within the immediate vicinity of the house had to be clipped and removed. Sivan, another resourceful worker, was co opted for the job and within no time, he'd beautified and made the surroundings tidy. What saddened me was that no sooner had he got the wages for his efforts, he'd headed for the nearest toddy shop to have his tots and I saw him sprawled on a bench in front of a closed shop in a drunken haze. I was on my walk, a trifle past sunset. Vijayan was instructed to ensure that he got back to his house though he said something to the effect that the wife would give him a rough time as she brooked no nonsense and he'd eventually incur his wrath for reaching him safely(?) home!


The leaking faucet is yet to be fixed. And what about the cleaning of the overhead fresh water tank?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Adieu, Ninayude Mamme!

She's Mrs Thangam Balaguru Soman but was familiar to all of us, including my grandparents, by the title, 'Nina's mom', Nina being her eldest daughter. She was all of 80 years and was under medications for a long time. She'd passed into the mist of time this morning, around 8 AM.

They used to be our neighbours when I was school going and staying with my grandparents. Nina, her brother and sisters were our playmates as we grew up together. Nina's dad used to go on frequent tours and it was incumbent on me and my junior uncle
to be their 'night watchmen'! Nina's mamma used to feed us with delicacies and her mom - we used to call her 'Paatti' - used to regale us with stories.

I'd spoken to her a couple of months back, when she'd expressed her desire to meet me and I'd promised her that I would. The news about her demise saddened me, rudely reminding me about my unfulfilled promise and I hate myself for not finding time for the tryst because I wasn't busy at all.

RIP, Nina's mom! My tears and prayers. I shall ever remain indebted to you for the kindness showered on me.


Nina had told me that, a letter that I'd sent the family during my days at the NDA, was among her favourite reading material by her bedside! Emotions choke me. I shall make up for it, in a minutely small way, by offering my last salute at the church tomorrow.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lord Ganesha is watching and other stories.

It's a change from the last 'Vinayaka Chathurthi' celebrations, in that, this time there's a proliferation of the god's idols. He benevolently looks at the crowd from almost all vantage positions on the street and is of varying dimensions. I'm surprised to see the scale of celebration this time. Does it have anything to do with the BJP having assumed power in Delhi?

*                   *                   *

The wedding of my friend's daughter was a grand affair. The well organised function had an  impressively large audience. Everything went by with clockwork precision. There was a sprinkling of the SSKZM's class of '72 but it could have been better. Why don't people endeavour to grace similar occasions with their presence? To my mind it's the surest way to show one's stress on nurturing relationships!

*                    *                  *

There's an increasing difficulty to effect repairs of a routine nature like fixing a leaking faucet, replacing a broken tile or repairing a light fixture. And no, it's not because they aren't paid adequately for their efforts - in fact, their rates are not negotiable. The lure of easy money and irresponsible living seem to be the preferred path. Of course, there's an inherent weakness for white collar jobs, knowing fully well that they're oversubscribed!


Swami Vivekananda's observation that 'the malluland' was a madhouse continues to be very, very apt and relevant!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Off to Thiruvananthapuram!

My sister and niece had fetched up from Bangalore by 11 o'clock. After briefing her about the activities that were on, the caretaker was briefed as to how I'd wanted him to go about his work. Mom had to be all by herself for a couple of hours tomorrow, when none of us would be indoors but people have already promised her company.

We're off to Thiruvananthapuram and had reached my friend's house much before sunset despite two errands enroute.

And soon after, we're off for an official function. Meeting up with people, whom we've not met for long, was a great experience!


A tremendous journey down memory lane, yet again!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Adieu, Richard Attenborough!

Indians came to understand Mahatma Gandhi better after seeing Richard Attenborough's movie on the Mahatma. And for that singular reason, we shall always remain indebted to him. Each frame of that movie underscored the intensity and the spontaneity of the people who fought for their freedom from the British rule while capturing the essence of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

I've watched that movie so many times that I've lost count now. Even now when I see it, it invokes the same amount of intensity that it had generated when I saw it first time. The credit has to go to the director who'd understood the Mahatma much better than any Indian could!

His contribution to the world of cinema has been well documented, the media has been covering every aspect and I shan't make the mistake of repeating them here.

RIP, Sir Richard Attenborough! My salute to a legend and a master story teller!!


The night saw continuous rain and I wondered as to how my long drive would turn out to be. Thankfully, there were no glitches. Mom was seen by her doctor who was mighty pleased to see her progress. We caught up from where we'd left last, so much so, that the patients waiting had begun to curse me for keeping them away from the doctor!

Reached my dad's house a trifle before sunset. Enroute, we'd a pleasant meeting with Lekha's classmate whom she was meeting after two decades. Their thrill and genuine happiness contributed to the Kodak moment of the day! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Caste still seems to garner votes.

After the way the recent Parliamentary elections had passed one was beginning to feel smug about the fact that the way the majority looked at politics had undergone a sea change, a metamorphosis. It was assumed that deliverance was the ultimate trump card, the reason for a rank outsider like Narendra Modi, who went on to be anointed Prime Minister.

The other side of the argument would be that the Congress-led dispensations, over ten years, had crossed all limits of decency and morality and had got sucked into a quagmire of scams from the CWG to the spectrum to the coal block allocations! The proverbial nail on the coffin was the revelation that while Manmohan Singh sat on the Prime Minister's chair, all important files went to Sonia Gandhi for scrutiny and decisions. The disillusionment towards her and her unimpressive son, the heir-in-waiting was total and devastating, all the tricks that they pulled out during the elections, notwithstanding.

They'd to bite dust and they did, Modi looked the 'knight in shining armour' and assumed the mantle of leadership with consummate ease. His party won a great victory and his staunch critic, Nitish Kumar of Bihar even went on to resign the post of chief minister!

But barely three months later, a coalition cobbled up between bitter enemies, Nitish Kumar and Laloo Prasad Yadav on the basis of caste has won six out of the ten seats in the Assembly bypolls. How could it happen? Is it any of these or a combination? Let me try to list them out:-

     (a) Disillusionment - so soon, that too - about the BJP's performance at the centre, thus far?
     (b) Assembly polls have differing dynamics, it has nothing to do with the performance of the central      
     (c) Caste and regional politics cannot be wished away.
     (d) The people of Bihar acknowledges the good done during Nitish Kumar's tenure as the chief

Baffling? Who'll have the last laugh, then, in the forthcoming Assembly polls?


Consequent to Kerala heading for prohibition - tomorrow will see the shutdown of all bars, except for the ones in the 5 star hotels, for starters - a lot many jokes/smses have sprung. Sample just a couple:-

       (a) Trivandrum is being renamed 'Trivand'!
       (b) A matrimonial ad - Bride required. Caste, creed, religion no bar. Should be daughter of 
             ex-military person with adequate liquor quota!     

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The deluge and the aftermath.

It was a week of incessant rains thanks to a trough of low off the west coast, over the Arabian Sea. Rains lashed furiously all through without respite, so much so, that a couple of car owners came and requested of me to permit the parking of their cars in our courtyard. It was late in the night on Saturday and I didn't have the heart to say 'nyet' to any of them.

Did my house resemble a motor mechanic's garage, I wonder!?

The power supply had got interrupted for about fourteen hours. Water was used sparingly as the motor could not be operated consequent to the power interruption. Thankfully, the land line telephone worked without problems probably because of the comparative newness of the line! Many of the roads had knee deep water bringing the traffic to a disgusting crawl and there were places where sections of the road had simply caved in!!

Even the gods weren't spared. The Guruvayur temple had water welling up within the perimeters of the sanctum sanctorum. Luckily for us, we've had no problems of water logging since 'The Quarterdeck' is on high ground and therefore, the excess waters drain away even before it has time to collect!

The schools have been shut and a few of them have been converted to be makeshift homes for the thousands, whose houses have got damaged/submerged, partially or otherwise. The government agencies ensure timely food and essential medical aid to the needy.

I've a long drive, two days from now and it's my fond hope that I do not come across any major traffic snarls enroute. Mom's medical review, calling on a couple of families that have been long pending, attending two weddings and a wedding reception along with the overseeing of the upkeep of my dad's house are all part of the agenda, which will have to be squeezed in along with the official audits and the Foundation's work. In other words, it's about living out of suitcases over the next ten days!


Why are we so callous about maintaining the roadside drains and the pavements? Accidents are caused by a dime a dozen and no one seems to care. The overstretched police force continues to do a good job notwithstanding the tremendous strain that's brought to bear upon them!     

Saturday, August 23, 2014

'Doctored : The Disillusionment of an American Physician'.

Indian American cardiologist, Dr Sandeep Jauhar's book by this name is currently making waves in the United States because it exposes all the wrongdoings of the American medical profession.

From what's said in it, there's nothing new in the revelations as there's always a feeling that going to a hospital and getting medical attention has its own pitfalls. Consider the following:-

      (a) You report to a doctor for an ailment that's been nagging you.
      (b) The doctor, seizing the operative(?) word from your narration puts you through a battery of tests
            and after perusing the results, refers to a specialist or even a super specialist. The cycle continues
            with tests, results, perusals and referrals.
      (c) Medicines are prescribed and their consumption/usage over a period of time makes you doctor-
           dependent for life with side effects like high blood pressure or prohibitive sugar levels in your
           blood that are sure to lead you to organ failures in due course.

It was surmised that like in every profession there would be a sprinkling of unscrupulous guys in the field of medicine too. But their magnitude, by the sheer numbers, seems to have bewildered the outsider. The biggest casualty has been the doctor's feelings for his fellow beings as money making, at all costs, have become the 'sine qua non' of the medical profession. And what frightens one is that the greed trends are sort of irreversible - no one from the system dares to rebel because it can have an adverse impact on his/her career or even the ultimate threat of annihilation!

What, then, is the way out? Reverting to the not so ancient practice, in our country, of going to an 'Apothecary' or a legal medical practitioner? At least, knowing the limitations, he/she would not push the patients to risks! Or is that, too, a fond hope?

To be off medicines, to the extent feasible, by leading a healthy life style is the best bet!


Am reminded of a similar doctor, in the not so distant past, who'd informed the world about the fallibility of the medical profession. Ivan Ilyich through his book, 'Nemesis' for which he was stripped off his medical degree together with the right to practice!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Playing politics brings about unthinkable decisions!

The Chief Minister of Kerala has come out with a comprehensive plan to bring about total prohibition in Kerala, phased over a 10 year period. This was an unthinkable decision up till a few days ago. And by arriving at the decision, the chief minister has won over the detractors in his Congress party, a section of which had even branded him as the spokesman for the liquor lobby! Even the ever critical opposition, led by the CPM, has been left gasping to come up with a suitable counter and have ended up supporting the move! How was Oommen Chandy able to achieve the seemingly impossible?

Let's recall the run up to the current situation. A rough diary of events goes something like this:-

       (a) 418 bars were asked to be shut down by the court for being run in unhygienic conditions.
             These were essentially hosted by hotels below the '5 star' category.

       (b) Earlier, about 312 bars were shut down for similar reasons.

       (c) Considering the fact that excise duty that pours into the state's coffers, by virtue of the
             annual sale of liquor, is to the tune of over Rs.8,000 crores, the chief minister and his
             excise minister had called up several rounds of meetings with all the stakeholders to find
             a solution to the vexed issue.

       (d) Meanwhile, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee chief, VM Sudheeran, brings in the
             moral angle and vows not to let the closed bars open.

       (e) The church openly backs Sudheeran's call. The main constituents of the UDF viz. the Kerala
             Congress, led by KM Mani and the Muslim League also support this call almost bringing
             about a crisis to Oommen Chandy's leadership.
       (f) The chief minister calls for a 'practical' approach to the problem for which he's branded as
             the liquor lobby's man. A decision was consequently to be arrived at during the UDF
             meeting last Wednesday.

       (g) At the meeting, the chief minister unveils his total prohibition plan getting all round support from the
             womenfolk of Kerala, the church and his supporters. The opposition and his detractors
             are but forced to laud his masterstroke.

My take.

Apologies for sounding a cynic but I've the following factors to back my point of view:-

        (a) Though Malayalees are 'statistically' established to be good imbibers of the bubbly, complete
              prohibition is not the answer. It's only gonna rake up illicit brewing, rampant cross border
              indulgences and sale of spurious liquor, manufactured by unscrupulous guys.

        (b) What is needed is to bring about 'a restraint' in consumption through novel educative means.
        (c) The income for the state's coffers will be very difficult to be made up through alternate

        (d) The thousands of workers involved in the tapping of toddy, distribution at the bars etc need
              to be compensated with alternate employment which is a difficult proposition.


Whatever said and done, playing politics can bring about unthinkable decisions!



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Simply mischievous!

Consider these.

  (a) Almost a week back, Rakesh Kumar - a bureaucrat from the railways - who was the CEO of the  
       Central Board of Film Censors(CBFC) was arrested on charges of corruption. He used to accept
       bribes for clearing movies for release, out of turn and for other extraneous considerations!

  (b) The Punjabi movie 'Kaum de heere', glorifying the assassins of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was
        slated for this Friday(22 Aug) release saying that it has been cleared by the Censor Board. The
        film, to quote sources, 'has highly objectionable content, that may create enmity between communities
        and lead to communal tension'.
  (c) There was a resultant hue and cry - naturally so - against the screening of the movie citing far
        reaching ramifications. Strangely, Punjab's Badal government was deafeningly silent about the issue.

  (d) The Ministry of Home Affairs had intervened and a decision to ban its screening was taken after the
        film was watched by the representatives of the MHA, the Intelligence Bureau(IB), the CBFC along
        with its producer, Pradeep Bansal in Bombay. Consequently, the CBFC withdrew its certificate.

My take.

A sad state of affairs, indeed. The chairperson of the CBFC had talked about the rampant corruption in the
censor board, thanks to its functioning under the ambit of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. Government control over providing funds and making appointments can only kill the independence of the autonomous body despite having a clear headed and no nonsense head like Leela Samson who's known for her impeccable integrity and dedication to work.

Thankfully, a major snafu has been avoided on time!


1. After having said that, the cynic in me cannot but see a mischief being played out. A couple of factors are the reasons that fuel my doubt viz. the change in the central government and the term of the censor board's chairperson is nearing its end. Wasn't the unwanted imbroglio brought about by those who are itching to adorn that chair lest she be given another term?

2. Though I might sound paradoxical in this argument of mine, I must reiterate that the censor board should not be a cushy posting for any bureaucrat. But anyone who appreciates and understands meaningful films and the nuances of film making must be considered eligible along with the artistes in the field. His professional tag must in no way come as a hurdle.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Isn't it a question of egos? The India-Pakistan relationship.

The relationship between India and Pakistan are essentially ego based without the latter realising that they aren't considered equal to this country, either by India or by the rest of the world.

After attaining independence, both the countries have progressed - I would frankly say that Pakistan has regressed, instead - to their present positions. Democratic India has made great strides in all fields though we'd have liked the achievements to be greater while Pakistan, a theocratic state, does not have many achievements to boast of. Moreover, the following policies have skewed their development further:-

      (a) The armed forces have a say in the policies of the government, which has an India-centric agenda
            and they can go to absurd lengths - consider the detonation of their nuclear bombs on the heels of
            the highly successful Indian experiment! It was followed by their pitiable request to the US to sign
            a nuclear deal on the lines of the Indo-US agreement!

       (b) There has been many occasions when they've expelled/deported Indian diplomats as a tit for tat
             for the Indian expulsions, based on proven misdemeanour of their personnel.

       (c) Zia-ul-Haq's strategy of avoiding direct confrontation and bleeding India through a thousand cuts
             brought them to hobnobbing with terrorists outfits like the Taliban, which now threatens the survival                of their own society! 

       (d) The economy is in a shambles and they have got the tag of being a 'rogue nation' and even that of a
             'failed state'. The irony of it all is that the nation, dangerously careening into anarchy, is seeking to 
             get the prosperous Kashmir into their fold! Isn't it a big joke?

The Pakistani High Commissioner's misdemeanour, in calling the Hurriyat separatists for talks, prior to the official talks scheduled between the two countries had to be roundly condemned. I was amazed to hear an ex-Indian diplomat bemoaning that the calling of of talks has been a twad too abrupt and he went on to say that the Foreign Secretaries had already worked out the modality and minor irritants should have been glossed over. For a moment I even had serious doubts about his loyalty, pardon me for my ignorance on foreign policy niceties!

Ever since, I've been trying to conjure up the scenario and here's one that I could think of, that, always took place before major talks viz.:-

         (a) The governments of India and Pakistan agree to have a dialogue between, say, the two Foreign
               Secretaries, a month from now.

         (b) Heavy shelling all across the LoC and a series of ceasefire violations become the order of the
               day during the run up to the talks.

         (c) Meanwhile, the Paki High Commissioner in India, contributes his mite to add to the vitriolic
              confusion by calling the separatists for talks.

         (d) The Foreign Secretaries meet, mouth platitudes amid diplomatic luncheon and useless photo 

         (e) There's an abrupt cessation of all hostilities at the LoC so that both the parties claim success of the 

Whom are we trying to kid? Why do we put wool into our own eyes? Aren't we interested in a lasting solution so that we can concentrate our energies on other developmental activities?


It would be in the interest of Pakistan that all the well meaning people of that country got together and revamped their outlook, to begin with. And for starters, their armed forces should shed their India-centric stance, get back to the barracks in toto and nurture true democracy, for a change!    

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Is there a need to revisit the AFSPA?

There has been a lot of criticism about the AFSPA(Armed Forces Special Powers Act). What is so objectionable about the act? Let's first see as to what the act is all about.

The AFSPA provides unlimited powers to the security forces to shoot at sight, arrest anybody without a warrant or carry out searches without hindrances. It also insulates the security forces from legal processes for any action undertaken under the act.

Who opposes this act tooth and nail and for what reasons? And why do the security forces vehemently oppose its withdrawal? The answers would give a fair idea in our balanced thinking about the enforcement of the act.

      (a) Against.

           (i) The law was formulated by the then British government to tackle the 'Quit India Movement' and
                was incorporated into the Indian scheme of things, without changes, after independence.
           (ii) The state governments have no powers to intervene or put pressure on the implementation
                because the final word rests with the security forces.
          (iii) There have been instances of excesses on the part of the security forces while performing their

      (b) For.

            (i) The security forces  can take quick action against the terrorists and their silent backers. This
                 power greatly enhances their influence upon the local civilian population who are willing to
                 provide them with vital information that is a necessity while carrying out combing operations.
            (ii) Unnecessary meddling by corrupt politicians and the state government - at times, sympathetic
                 to the terrorists' cause - has been strictly ruled out.

My take.

Such stringent laws are a must to tackle terrorism and other acts that are a threat to the nation's sovereignty and integrity. In addition, the following must be ensured:-

    (a) The 'security forces-local population-state government' interface must meet regularly to review
          actions taken, the lessons learnt and incorporate fresh inputs to fine tune the implementation.
    (b) The armed forces has a fool proof system to tackle 'deviations' but prefer to carry out corrective
          measures without giving publicity. This needs a rethink, so that the public comes to know that
          the security forces deal with their defaulters equally, if not more strongly, when compared with the
          terrorists/law breakers because it's a question of the institution's honour!
    (c) Periodic review of the act to add/delete clauses taking into consideration the ground realities.


In this connection, I consider the Imphal sessions court order to release human rights activist, Irom Chanu Sharmila as timely and a step in the right direction.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The unkindest cut and other stories.

My first narration is not to put down anyone but to show the vagaries of life, in general and the frailty of relationships, in particular. What's perceived from what one sees could, at times, end up being far from the truth! So, without much ado, let me bash on ahead.

                                      *                                                *                                                  *

Sasi chettan's mortal remains were consigned to flames and the ashes immersed in the river not far from his house. Before the family - his wife, the two daughters and their families - left for Bangalore, his will was made known to everyone. The house and the property, along with the bank accounts, have been divided equally to the daughters, the surmise being that his pension would cater for his wife's onward requirements. It was his elder brother, who'd returned yesterday - he stays in my neighbourhood - who gave me the juicy(?) details.

His mother wasn't anywhere in the scheme of things. Mind you, she was staying with him all the while till their going away to Bangalore and she'd, then, shifted to her younger sister's house. The family's answer to the query raised about the mother's needs was that her pension was more than adequate to look after her requirements. This aunt of mine has two sons, through two marriages as her first husband had passed away while she was quite young. The eldest son had led a colourful life, in that, he'd dumped his first wife and three sons to marry another and his mother had banished him from her life, taking over the responsibility of looking after them. And that action of her's has come round a full circle. The will's texture and content are based on the apprehension that the mother, if given ownership, would hand it over to the elder son in a fit of misplaced(?) affection.

It, further, needs to be said that the mother doesn't find anything wrong with the arrangement saying that the pension that she gets is more than adequate for taking care of her needs. But, as I see it, the people around her are going to remind her otherwise, over the coming days and weeks, making her wonder as to whether her younger son really did love her, after all!

The questions that arise are:-

     (a) Wasn't Sasi chettan fond of his mother or with the advent of his family, her position in his life
           had become secondary? It's a progression of life, really!
     (b) Did his actions veer around the perceived motives of his elder brother?
     (c) Was the elder brother peeved at what has been put down? Was he expecting wealth to come from his

One would never know. To my mind, the honourable thing would have been to give joint ownership to the mother and the wife which would automatically get passed on to the two daughters after their passing away.

            *                                                 *                                                    *

Today happens to be 'Janamashtami' celebrated with gusto in the northern part of the country. In Kerala, 'Ashtami Rohini' will be celebrated on 15 Sep as usual, which is why I insist that we, Malayalees, celebrate the 28th day of Lord Krishna's birth! Probably, this is the cultural divide(?) between the north and the south!

            *                                                  *                                                    *

It was a befitting response that the Indian government had given to Pakistan for its High Commissioner's invite to the Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders for talks on the eve of the meeting of the two Foreign Secretaries. Felt that the country has taken an appropriate stand after what seemed to be a long time and hope that Pakistan tells its High Commissioner to call off his intended interaction with the separatists!


A cousin of mine had dropped by after what seemed to be a very long time. She'd come to Guruvayur in connection with the 'thaalikettu' of her husband's niece. Catching up with her was nice.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The significance of the number 108.

The significance and the importance of 108 as a number.

     * The diameter of the sun is 108 times that of the earth
     * The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun.
     * The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.
     * In Ayurveda, there are 108 'Marma' points that are vital to give life to human beings.
     * In Indian astrology there are 12 houses and 9 planets. And 12 times 9 is 108.
     * There are 54 letters in Sanskrit, each can be mentioned as masculine(Shiva) and female(Shakti)
        aspects, totalling 108.
     * There are 108 Puranas and 108 Upanishads.
     * The famous saint Bharatha wrote the 'Natya Shastra' which has 108 'karanas'(Movement of hands
        and feet).
     * There are said to be 108 earthly desires in mortals.
     * There are said to be 108 lies that humans tell.
     * There are said to be 108 human delusions or forms of ignorance.
     * Pranayama - if one is able to be so calm in meditation as to have only 108 breaths in a day,
        enlightenment will come.
     * The angle formed by the two adjacent sides of a pentagon equals 108 degrees.
     * Time - there are 108 feelings, with 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present and 36 related
        to the future.
     * The sacred River Ganges spans a longitude of 12 degrees(79 to 91) and latitude of 9 degrees.
        And 12 times 9 is 108.
     * In 108,
            1 stands for God or higher truth
            0 stands for emptiness or completeness and
            8 stands for infinity or eternity.


108 signifies the wholeness of the divinity, perfect totality!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The last day of 'Karkkidakam'.

The day had begun, as usual, with an air of festivity hanging all around. Today happens to be the last day of the month of 'Karkkidakam' on the Malayalam calendar.

The recital of the Ramayana has been going on over the month in two sessions everyday viz. in the morning around 7 and in the evening, again around 7. It's believed that it was during these times that Lord Rama's most favourite disciple, Hanuman recited the sacred book and it's considered appropriate that the same timings are adhered to for maximum effect! The lady of the house, usually, or any elder lady performs this deed. Mom used to read a line symbolically every time before Lekha went about the recital.

The evening walk was invigorating and as I entered the house, Lekha was winding up the last few verses and followed it up with the customary 'arathi'. The 'thirumadhuram'(a mix of roundly cut plantains, jaggery and sugar) that was on offer to the deities was distributed towards the end, marking the culmination of the month long efforts.

Soon after, my sister, Rema and Padmakumar had fetched up from Palakkad and their son, Achu followed them from his workplace at Kochi making it a noisy and boisterous evening. Mom was thoroughly excited and it was a pleasure seeing her in that state! We'd talked and talked to catch up from where we'd left last.

The late evening was wound up by placing all the waste material, neatly stacked into two portions, at the garbage spot because the saying has it that all the 'year long refuse' has to be ejected out of the house by the end of the day to herald the month of 'Chingam' tomorrow!


The Kodak moment of the day was the lighting up of mom's face on seeing my sister! Simply priceless!!


Friday, August 15, 2014

The 68th Independence Day.

Never before, I reckon, had people been so keen about what the Prime Minister was going to say from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the occasion of the Independence day than it was at this time. Perhaps, it was because of the enormous expectations that he'd promised during his poll campaign. And Narendra Modi did not disappoint the people through his free flowing speech that did announce quite a few new initiatives. But I, too, would like to join the chorus to ask as to why he's asked for 'a moratorium of only ten years on religious, caste fracases' to herald development. Why didn't he ask for shunning it altogether?

The doing away with the 'Planning Commission' and bringing about a new organisation instead, taking into consideration the ground realities and the future requirements, seems to be a fine idea. Am I being a cynic when I say that the people have been muted in their reactions to his call for a clean India with good, clean toilet facilities at every nook and corner of the country? Do we consider it as a not so important aspect?

Pakistan, on the other hand, seems to have had a troublesome Independence Day celebration with Nawaz Sharif parroting the Kashmir issue to please his military brass and the anti-government march, led by the cricketer-turned-politician, Imran Khan and the Canada based cleric, Tahir-ul-Qadri, which has been making its way from Lahore to Islamabad! Why don't these guys, shun cheap and narrow minded rhetoric, get together around a negotiating table and come to a common solution to deal with terrorism and the different 'jihadi groups' that are eating away the innards of their nation?

May India attain prosperity and all inclusive development!


(a) I'd hoisted the national flag that I own at 'The Quarterdeck' at 8, in the morning, and hauled it down at sunset. Felt a thrill deep within me when I saw it flutter in the breeze all through the day!

(b) The legislation on the 'National Judicial Appointments Commission' has got the nod of the Parliament. Now it requires the endorsement of over half of the states' legislatures(15 of them) before it becomes law which is gonna take time. Hope it would nullify the drawbacks of the 'Collegiate System of selection of judges by the judges themselves'! It's also fairly sure that the next Chief Justice of India will be selected as per the existing criterion!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This beast needs to be taught a lesson!

I was aghast watching a video clip that was being telecast on the television channels this evening about a crime that took place in broad daylight, in Chandigarh, earlier this week. My first question, of course, was as to what the hell the guy, capturing the entire episode in his cellphone was doing, instead of putting an end to the traffic cop's agony.

Oops, let me give details about the incident first. A 30 year old gentleman, driving a sedan, was talking into his cellphone while driving on the main road in the outskirts of Chandigarh, when a traffic cop on duty flagged him to stop. The driver, instead, drove on and soon was driving at breakneck speed, with the injured cop clinging atop his bonnet, urging him to stop his vehicle by repeatedly bashing the windscreen with his helmet.

The tactic was very clear. The traffic offender, realising that he was in the wrong, was trying to throw the cop off his scent at any cost and could have inflicted serious injuries even culminating in death had he not been apprehended by a PCR van on patrol! Preliminary reports suggest that the guy drove on like that for over a kilometer. That, definitely, must have been an agonisingly long kilometer for the diligent cop.

And the aftermath? I believe that the offender had managed a bail soon after and is a free man, when he should have been put behind bars, without bail, for his heinous crime.

My take.

This man should be tried in a fast track court for his misdemeanour and punished forthwith. He was very much aware of the tragic consequences of his action and therefore, be tried for attempted murder. A beast like him has no right to live, if one were to ask me!


It's people like the diligent traffic cop who gives the common man the much needed faith in the system which, otherwise, seems to be uncaring and officious for all the wrong reasons.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The growing calls for 'Hindutva'.

There has been an increase in the number of people clambering on to the bandwagon of Hindutva, of late. Whether these are isolated attempts at having the limelight on them or are concerted attempts at reviving the 'majority community must have it say and the rest will follow' ideology, time will soon tell us. But any attempt at stoking divide on the basis of religion will have dire consequences and any society that stifles equality of religions, castes and cultures is ultimately headed for doom, forget the blandness they perpetuate!

Our country is vibrant with its rich cultures, completely different from the other yet fully complementing each other. It's this all embracing attitude that has been the hall mark of India and a matter of envy to the other nations that wonder as to how the country moves forward, as one, despite the seeming contradictions between its regions. How has it come about? Simple, the country - though it did not exist as it is in its present form - saw a whole lot of external invaders who plundered and looted the riches, ruled and tried to impose their cultures finally succumbing to the flexible, all embracing charm of the Indian ethos.

The 'Hindus' or the people inhabiting the banks of the Indus had always mesmerised the marauders with their 'Hindutva' or their way of life. It has a deep meaning but suffice it to understand as an all encompassing concept. Unfortunately, at times, when people parrot the 'Hindutva' cause these days, the cynic in me can't help wonder as to whether these upstarts - yes, because they don't quite understand the meaning of the term as they tend to view it through a very narrow outlook - aren't trying to foment trouble. On the other hand, the apologists of secularism - who'd again, used that word in a very narrow sense of the term reducing it to just minority appeasement for vote bank politics - use this as a convenient stick to beat the government with!

Prime Minister Modi and his government do not require these props in their agenda of good governance. They need to deliver without hesitation or any delay. People are waiting for the much heralded reforms that would improve the quality of their life, make it an all inclusive society where corruption and cronyism have no place, where merit is the sole criterion and thereby, build up a strong India that would have a significant place among the pantheon of nations.


Can't resist quoting Iqbal, "Saare jahaan se achha, Hindustan hamaara....."     

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Extreme tragedy triggers comedy.

I've come to this conclusion after hearing about the sad end of the immensely gifted entertainer, Robin Williams. Can any one among us who've viewed the smash Hollywood hit of '93, ever forget the redoubtable Mrs. Doubtfire enacted effortlessly and brilliantly by the gifted actor?

Adieu, Robin Williams! May you find peace in eternity because you deserve it as you made us laugh constantly, hiding back your own tears. My salute to an entertainer par excellence.

Much has been written about the multifaceted personality and any attempt by me to supplement it with my words would be like carrying coal to Newcastle and hence I desist. But I'd like to explain the title that I've given for this thought of mine. Why do people - seemingly happy on all counts because they're experts at making the others laugh - often show that they have deep melancholy behind their mirthful masks? Let me hazard a few guesses:-

     (a) The melancholy is so overwhelming and ever present in their lives, that they crave for that moment of
           happiness that comes their way. And when it comes, they clutch on to that proverbial straw to the
           extent feasible to derive the maximum mileage - makes them forget their miseries, albeit, for a very
           short while - and what better way to achieve it but by making the others laugh?

     (b) Or is it because the melancholia gets to be so overbearing that they yearn for a break and when it
           comes, they clutch on to those 'moments of happiness' to take a temporary shelter from their
           discomfort? The energy to sustain in that illusive world comes from the others' unbridled laughter,
           nay happiness that they've been able to unleash!

     (c) Or is it a mere psychological condition peculiar to certain people?

The complexities of life, huh!


And can anyone forget those immortal lines,

   "Laugh and the whole world laughs with you
    Weep and you weep alone".........?


Monday, August 11, 2014

Awards given posthumously and in retrospect - a joke!

These are my very personal thoughts on awards. What I mean are the civilian awards like the Bharat Ratna, the Padma awards and similar ones.

The gallantry awards given to the men in uniform for their heroics in battle and many of them, for the supreme sacrifice while laying down their lives defending their motherland, are a different matter altogether and do not come under the purview of this discussion. Period!

Over the past few days there have been heated discussions, in the media, on the likely Bharat Ratna awardees. Hearing the political class go about strutting their views on the subject, berating and poo-pooing some of the earlier recipients and making a case for fresh ones, makes one feel sad. That the criterion for picking on the likely recipients has been based on political expediency is a matter that has been established beyond doubt.

What amuses me further is that, as per existing norms, the final list is prepared by the Prime Minister for approval by the President of India and that being so, there have been instances when serving Prime Ministers have received the award! One can only rue the fact that such an important subject of selecting national icons has been reduced to a farce!!

So what should be the criterion? Should it be given posthumously and that too in retrospect? There was this panelist, on one of the television channels, making a serious case for Shaheed Bhagat Singh to be awarded the Bharat Ratna. I could only have a laugh at the gentleman's expense because:-

     (a) How many icons - say, for example, from the aspect of India's freedom struggle only - will we select?
     Similarly, there are so many other fields in which Indians have brought glory to the country. By awarding
     everyone - the assumption being that no one would be left out on the basis of narrow considerations -
     there would be a proliferation of the award, lowering its prestige.

     (b) To my mind, it should be given when the worthy is alive or latest, within a year of his or her passing
     away. Further delays, definitely reduces it to a laughing matter because it brings political expediency into

Let's not demean the value of a coveted award and here's wishing that all the recipients are indeed 'Bharat Ratnas', that we can be proud of!


In a similar vein, even apologising for a past event by the government of the day does not erase the painful memories or the bitterness of the times. The rightful thing would be to reiterate that the past mistake will never be repeated which is seldom done!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Sunday outing.

Anto was dot on to ferry me across to the railway station for the 6 AM passenger. This time I'd allowed no glitches - reading glasses, cellphone and other necessary accessories were put together lest that any of them would be forgotten. The train, however, had taken off late by about ten minutes because an incoming train was delayed by that corresponding time.

Dunno whether because it was a Sunday, there were neither any long stoppages nor overtakings and the crossings were accomplished within a reasonable amount of wait. I was able to get down at Kottayam - my destination, as I'd to be at Sasi chettan's seventh day after death ceremony, at Puthupally - by 10 o'clock. The ceremony was winding up as I reached his residence and after going through the initial paces, I'd settled down to meet and interact with each and everyone present. I've found that it's on occasions like these that one comes to know and renew one's own close relationships, which in the normal course of leading one's life, are rarely pursued. And boy, wasn't it informative and the enduring feeling that I've carried back is the tremendous pleasure displayed by each in meeting me - definitely, a very humbling experience!

His wife and their two daughters were more communicative as they're out of their initial grief and shock. In graphic detail, they narrated his last few days and from the recount it was clear that he was aware of his impending departure. But what beats me is that he took it easy on his heart's condition that should have been sorted out with a bypass surgery or an angioplasty, at least, to take care of the three blocks that had formed in his blood stream......... I suppose the lethargy on his part to take remedial action was as per the script of his life and it was time for him to go!

I'd spent about two and a half hours with the family and was glad about my interaction. Further, I've made a mental note about calling on a few among them over the next few weeks.

The return journey was fine and devoid of glitches as I was reserved on the Delhi bound super fast train which fetched me at my place much before sunset and I could go for my customary walk as the rain seemed to have taken a long break.


Another one of those days when travel was hassle free sans delays and mishaps! 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Gaza offensive.

There has been a flurry of mail regarding the ongoing Gaza offensive and the almost continuous bombardment of the Palestinian vital points by the Israeli defence forces. The world was stunned in the initial stages and urged Israel to call off their offensive, a message that had the blessings of the United Nations Organisation too. But Israel had bashed on regardless till the 72 hour truce that had come in place a couple of days ago.

One had always wondered as to why Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel was risking an isolation by the world community, at large, on his relentless aggression on the Hamas and its strongholds.

And then comes the details of an offensive tunnel network on the Palestinian side of the Gaza, built over the years, by the Hamas group to carry out terrorist attacks on Israel. The visuals shown in some of the mail show that the tunnels are big enough to facilitate vehicular movements - an aspect that would help the terror squads to get in and out of their target points with impunity.

A frightening situation, sadly! Can people harbour so much of hatred towards the other so as to incite passions to annihilate the people they hate? Don't these people know that the only one who has the right to take life away is none other than but God, himself? The laughable part about the terrorist's thinking is that they've to do the killings to placate their God and attain heaven after death, by doing so. What the people being initiated into this deadly game don't realise - until perhaps, it's too late - is that their gullibility is being exploited by a deadly mix of religious zealots, guys who've been utter failures in their lives and who thrive on other's woes and miseries.


(a) My tears and prayers for the innocent people who've lost their lives in the crossfire.
(b) And not to forget, this is the 69th anniversary of the Nagasaki destruction, during the II World War, by the second atomic bomb! Spare a thought for the thousands who'd perished and many more who continue to suffer from genetic disorders, consequent to the blast!!


Friday, August 8, 2014

At Thiruvallam, for Ammachi.

I'd got up at 4 and after the morning chores, my maman and me had left for Thiruvallam. We're under the impression that we're very early but found that we'd missed out on the first round of the ceremony. Consequently, we'd to wait for another hour and a half and it gave me an opportunity to dwell upon my ammachi and the kindness that she'd showered upon me.

           *                                     *                                     *

Had she been alive, she'd have been all of 97 years. Would she have been healthy and independent, free of old age inadequacies? She wasn't bedridden even for a single day when death had snatched her away from us. Perhaps, the single way of getting over her absence is to be happy that she didn't suffer at all when the end had come about.

           *                                      *                                    *

I would like to believe that she was fond of having me around her. I can never forget the manner in which she had cried when I was being taken away to the Sainik School for admission. As she'd told me in one of our conversations, she fancied me to be a good doctor when I grew up. Probably, by not choosing that profession I'd forsaken an opportunity to look after her medical problems!......... Her tears were back when I'd boarded my first train for the National Defence Academy. I think she never wanted me to go away from her watchful eyes. Her words at my wedding was apocryphal to say the least and I quote, "I can now go after having witnessed your marriage and I was waiting for it all this while".

A little over a month later, she'd passed into the mist of time!

            *                                     *                                     *

Quite earlier on, she used to make sweets and other 'Malayali delicacies when I came home from school during Onam. She'd told me that she was stopping that practice when I'd joined the Academy because I could not be at home during that particular period. And that was that! No one else in the house ever dared to complain about that decision.


(a) My grandmother nay, Ammachi bestest!
(b) It's been twenty three years since she'd passed into the mist of time. But I can feel her near me even now!
(c) As my mom and her sisters had quipped, "Today, amma must be very happy. Her yearly ceremony was attended by the two whom she liked most!"

Ammachi, will I get another chance to be your grandson all over again?

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Onward to Thiruvananthapuram to partake in the ceremony at Thiruvallam, on the occasion of my Ammachi's remembrance day as per the Malayalam calendar. Anto had dropped me at the station by a half past 5 in the morning. On inquiry, the gentleman at the counter had advised me to disembark at Thrissur to board the south bound Kerala express, from New Delhi and gave me the super fast train's base ticket. I was to convert it at the first available opportunity.

At Thrissur, I was told at the information desk that the 'conversion' could be done only by the TTE on board the train. Accordingly, I was seated in one of the reserved coaches and waited for the TTE to fetch up...and waited and waited. Somewhere mid way through the journey and my wait, a 'surprise check squad' had swooped in and on perusal of my ticket advised me to have it converted through the only TTE available on board, sitting in one of the foremost coaches, failing which I should be ready to pay up the penalty. And as I was moving away, he sort of assured(?) me that I might find it difficult to convert my ticket at that point of time!

I met up with the TTE, apprised him about the situation that I was in and he wasted no time in converting my ticket with the necessary endorsement. Armed with it I'd returned to my coach and much to my surprise the 'surprise checkers' didn't even want to see the endorsement after hearing that I'd got it done.

But what happened subsequently, really did stump me. The TTE had followed me to tell the checkers my story and I quote, "This sir is quite an unusual man. A few weeks back he was in a similar situation and had reached Thiruvananthapuram without the conversion. Rather than taking advantage of the situation and going off without paying the additional amount, he'd come to our cabin to state his dilemma and insisted on paying the due sum. A friend of mine had advised him then to drop the idea but he insisted on making the payment".


I was thoroughly flustered and embarrassed. For an impartial observer this might have seemed to be a 'contrived attempt' at painting me good because, as a natural fallout, my co-passengers had begun to eye me as a sneaky guy flouting the rules and marauding as a gentleman!

Thank you, Vivek, for endorsing my character! You really didn't have to do it but you did, humbling me in the process and I shall ever remain indebted to you for your kindness!! May only good things happen to you and may you get all that you wish for!!!  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hiroshima day.

Sixty nine years back, on this day, the world had witnessed devastation of an unimaginable magnitude at Japan's premier city of Hiroshima when the first atom bomb was dropped. Since then man has made nuclear weapons of much greater magnitude, in terms of destruction, that they're indeed weapons of mass destruction. This day, therefore, must be used to reiterate universal brotherhood and an affirmation to avoid using force of any kind to harm mankind.

Elected governments, along with the United nations, try to maintain a working harmony among nations. The fear of annihilation is a deterrent by itself and it can be safely surmised that no country would venture into foolhardy bravado. The world over, people have gathered on this day to reiterate that the mistake of Hiroshima will never be repeated.

Having said that, what about the looming threat of terrorism that has invaded into every aspect of life? Public transportation, crowded areas, residential premises, name anything and they come as soft targets to a bunch of hard core terrorists, who don't seem to understand the meaning of love and compassion - a few of them could have been brought to that state by the harsh realities of life or even through insults or contempt bestowed upon them by fellow citizens though they don't give them the right to kill others.

Terrorism must not be allowed to flourish and the perpetrators, along with the prime movers, must be apprehended and subjected to swift and the harshest legal scrutiny for the appropriate punishment. No one has the right to take another's life, this is in essence our prayer as we bow in memory of the thousands of people who'd perished, 69 years back, at Hiroshima.


Another day of ceaseless rain. The meteorologist says that it's a double whammy caused by depressions over the Arabian Sea as well as over the Bay of Bengal. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Finally, at the service station!

My Chevy had required repairs for quite a while but I could not take it to the service station because of tours planned earlier and journeys that had to be undertaken at short notice. I'd actually scheduled for its admission yesterday but delayed it because of my dash to Puthupally. It seemed conspiratorial, in that, it had begun to pour rather heavily this morning and I was wondering as to whether the body work and painting were advisable during such weather.

But shedding all my doubts, I'd driven to the servicing station, through the rains, for carrying out the necessary repairs. The Customer Adviser's opening question, pointing at the dent on the port tailboard, highlighted the delay in offering my vehicle and I quote, "Sir, when did that happen? It has  begun to rust". It almost seemed that he was castigating me for my negligence and I meekly accepted my mistake and did not offer an alibi. In fact, I did feel guilty for sure!

The Chevy would be delivered on Saturday. Meanwhile, the porch looks empty and desolate.

         *                                *                                 *

The forenoon outing was packed with a lot of small jobs and I'd gone around doing each, after getting off the return bus at the east gate of the temple. The places that I'd to visit were almost equally spaced and therefore, walking through was the option out, avoiding traffic and sporadic rain. By the time I was back home, it was a trifle past our usual lunch time and mom had just finished her's, saying that she'd have waited had she known that I'd return then.

         *                                 *                                 *

Mistaking the break in the rain to be a prolonged one, I'd ventured out for my evening walk, without an umbrella, but armed with my customary walking stick to shoo away any misguided dog that came my way. It was as I turned round the fourth bend that I saw the thick, dark, ominous clouds in the south western sky threatening to release its contents and I'd called for an auto rickshaw to get back home. Enroute, I'd collected a few medicines for mom.

Mom's cryptic comment, "Why don't you carry an umbrella with you in this sort of weather? You never know as to when you'll require it". I didn't have an answer yet again!


Today's newspapers had a bit more interesting things to read, what with a host of people writing their memoirs and experiences. The underlying factor that emerges from all these 'rewinds' is that most of the heroes turn out to be awfully flawed!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The final bye and other tidbits.

I'd set off for Puthupally, at 6 in the morning to pay my last respects to Sasi chettan whose mortal remains were flown in from Bangalore last night. The train that I'd chosen was the same 'fast passenger' that had let me down last time simply because the departure time suited me. This time it didn't fail to disappoint(?) me in that it was late by two hours - the train should have reached Kottayam, my destination of the day, at 0930h - what with two overtakings and four crossings that had to be gone through!

I paid my final respects and met his wife, daughters and the 90 year old mother, who was extremely angry with god for having played foul by taking away her son instead of her (She's P Kesava Panicker's - PN Panicker's elder brother - eldest daughter and that explains my relationship with the family). By the time I was back home, it was a bit past sunset but I could go for my evening walk, dodging the rain!

     *                                  *                                   *

I was delighted to see a family consisting of the father, the mother and their three sons on my return journey. They're on vacation from Abu Dhabi and were Delhi bound for a week's sight seeing. What was particularly gladdening was the manner in which the three children looked after each other, especially by swapping the window side seats to each other's requirements - no fights, no calling the parents for arbitration. Before leaving them, I did congratulate the parents for the good upbringing of their children and the children, for their punctilious manners that was natural and not a put on act!

     *                                  *                                    *

The evening news was all about the hypocrisy of the political parties towards the run up to the UP Assembly elections. The English questions in the Civil services examination will now carry no weightage. These politicians while trying to project an 'anti-English stand' have ensured that their children were educated in English medium schools. Whom are they trying to kid, I wonder!

I'm sure that the people of UP cannot be swayed by such gimmickry. What amazes me is that the young politicians have also joined the hypocrisy. Why can't they take a realistic stand for a change and get their elders see the light of reason?


Rains seem to have subsided, at least, for the moment. Hope tomorrow is a sunny day for a change!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

'Pal, pal dil ke paas.....'

This is a number that never fails to impress me and it has a way of taking me into a feel good mood every time I hear it. This evening, on the musical programme, 'Raag Rang' on the Indiavision channel it was aired much to my delight.

The number, whose lyrics were penned by Rajendra Krishan and music scored by Kalyanji Anandji, has been sung by Kishore Kumar in the Hindi movie, 'Blackmail'. It has been picturised on a petite and cute Rakhee with Dharmender moving in and out of the frames, in the dream sequence. I've always felt that it has all the necessary ingredients in it to capture the mood of a viewer. I ain't contesting the fact that there are many numbers in various languages that arrest the senses of the audience for their lyrics, music, texture, quality and the sequence of the visual frames that go with the score.

This one's special and you'd appreciate it when I narrate my initial acquaintance with it.

I had seen the movie at the National Defence Academy, as a cadet. There was something else that happened that evening which I remember vividly, even to this day. The Academy Cadet Adjutant wasn't very happy with the standard of discipline of the cadets and had chosen the post-movie transit from the cinema to the Cadets' Mess to 'straighten' us out and towards that end, everything conceivable was brought to bear from his repertoire of front rolls, frog jumps, side rolls and other physical exercises.

The 'Walking out' rig that we're wearing was drenched in sweat by the time the 'straightening out session' was over. I remember having wolfed down the scrumptious supper on order, with an additional helping of the 'cream of diplomat' pudding saved for me by the ever indulgent, ever smiling Baalam, our Hunter Squadron's head waiter who was fond of me!

As we walked back to our Squadron, post supper, happy and contended, I'd requested Chandu Sharma - a course mate with a great voice - to recount the opening stanza of the song all over again..... and hearing him, it was pure ecstasy!


No amount of fagging could demoralise the indomitable spirit of a cadet whose needs in life were paltry and downright simple! So, sing with me, 'Pal, pal dil ke paas.....' 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The wet weather continues!

It has been pouring over the last week making good the deficit in the monsoon, many times over. The encouraging news is that many of the hydel power projects' reservoirs have filled up to near capacity, shedding the fear of power shortage for the year! Thank God for minor mercies!!

There's another persisting trend along with the incessant rains. Winds, gusting up to prohibitive speeds, take a cyclonic hue and hit limited areas creating tremendous havoc and destruction. Consequently, many people have been rendered homeless and are at the mercy of the various governmental agencies for sustenance. The already potholed roads are getting distorted further, making one want to shun possession of personal vehicles. The rain water filled pot holes put the motorists in doubt about their real size, in terms of depth, causing accidents by a dime a dozen.

It's the same old story, yet again. The greedy nexus of the politician-bureaucrat-contractor are waiting to reap the benefits of making a fast buck in the name of road repairs, additions and alterations! Why can't this nonsense be stopped once for all?

I could have my evening outing during the break in the rains and sweat it out after what seemed to be a long time. As I turned in for the night, close to midnight, there was a call - this time, from a cousin at Bangalore reporting another death in the family. Sasi chettan, all of 65 years, had passed into the mist of time owing to a massive heart attack around 2130h! A quiet and dignified individual who was the trouble shooter in his family. Wonder how his mom, Maheswari peramma in her late 80s, is gonna take this loss?


RIP, Sasi chetta! Will miss your dignified demeanour, easy laughter and simple outlook towards life. It would take a while to tide over this situation that you've put us in.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Disturbing trends!

I'm gonna narrate a couple of instances that I'd come across lately and leave the inferences to you with my comments, of course. I'd love to be wrong on this score because what I see does not augur well for the future. And so, here I go:-

A few days back, at a function attended by film personalities, there was a divergence of thought regarding the trends in movie making in the Malayalam film industry. Kamal, the veteran director with many hits to his credit, was critical about a few of the new generation movies that have story lines aimed at the younger generation but incomprehensible for the older generations. He was making a case for movies that would be lapped up by any audience, old or young. The retort from Rajeev Ravi, a young director, who has had a couple of hits in the new generation genre did not quite match with the elder film maker's idea.

While one understands that movie making, for many, is a pure business proposition (to cite an example, 'Bangalore days' is an all time hit, running to packed houses even to this day and the audience has predominantly been from the younger generation, viewing it repeatedly, as the story line reflects their angst and aspirations. Many from the older generation frankly admits to having missed the punch line) and any film that sets the cash registers ringing furthers opportunities for its director, it would be prudent to take the entire audience along and for that to happen a story line - liked by everyone - should be the sine qua non!    

The second instance is something entirely different and prevalent in another environment altogether. I'd noticed it during my drive to and from Kochi, the other day.

There are plenty of automobiles - swanky and high definition ones - plying on the roads these days. These cars are usually driven by young people who drive at good speeds, use the horn to intimidate fellow motorists to have their way and end up, in many cases, in edging out the not so 'high definition' vehicles. Initially, I'd taken this phenomenon to be an aberration but found, much to my chagrin, that it was a menace that was very much in play. The problem becomes all the more pronounced when the roads are broken and bad!  

Is consideration for one's elders or in this specific case, the disadvantaged lot taken to be unfashionable and a pure waste of time? If affirmative, then these are disturbing trends!


Anyone who forgets history is liable to be dumped into the dustbin of old relevant saying!