Friday, October 31, 2014

I'm confused!

What I see on the electronic media and what I read in the print media has confused me about ongoing activities. I'm one of the many ordinary, law abiding citizens of this country going through this dilemma and all I want is that my country should do well and be looked upon by the other countries as a place that they'd like to be in. For that to happen, we need to achieve greatness and greater accomplishments and hence, this doubt that has crept in. I'm gonna discuss a couple of specific cases - one at the national level and the other at the state level - below:-

  (a) The black money issue.

  During the last elections from what was being bandied about, a lot of unaccounted money has
  been stashed away in foreign banks, over the years, that had the following characteristics:-

        (i) it amounted to a few lakh crores
       (ii) it was stashed away mainly by the wheeler dealers and the fixers from almost all walks of
      (iii) some of it belongs to the high and the mighty who've done it to avoid paying taxes and to
             maintain their 'lily white reputation'.
   If this money were to be retrieved and brought back to the country, poverty would be a thing of the
   past and the guilty, however 'mighty' they were, would be taken to task to set an example to the rest
   and prevent further wrongdoings on this front!

   Now they talk of the confidentiality clause regarding the account holders signed between various
   countries and other strictures that are in place towards avoidance of double taxation etc.

   My doubt.
   Weren't the protagonists who talked of getting back the black money aware of these blocks
   when they're promising us during the elections? Or were they just election rhetoric? Or is it
   that there're a lot many, who owes allegiance to the ruling front, that figure in the list? And
   don't tell me there are only 627 defaulters - the number of people who figure in the list in the
   sealed envelope handed over to the court by the government!

   A definite action is expected and without delay!  

    (b) The barring of bars in Kerala.

    Towards bringing about complete prohibition in the state over the next ten years, a phased
    closure of bars has been undertaken by the government. Judging by the numerous errors(?) in
    implementation of the government's directives coupled with the frequent interventions by the
    judiciary, it's amply clear that the political class is divided over the vexed issue. It's definitely
    a winner among the women voters of Kerala, but prohibition is fraught with attendant problems.
    It will bring about a mushrooming of illicit bootlegging and 'drinking havens' close to the borders
    with the other states that would require strict monitoring and effective dealing.

    Anyways, as per the latest orders of the High Court of Kerala, only 62 bars - 21 in five star
    hotels, 33 in four star hotels and 8 in heritage hotels - are allowed to function in the state. This
    will come into force, after a month, when 250 bars of the  two star, three star and unclassified
    varieties will shut down after the disposal of pending appeal petitions connected to the case.

    Consequentially, the district of Wyanad will have no bars as there are no star hotels there! The
    outlets of the Beverages Corporation, an undertaking of the state government will, however,
    continue to operate!!

    My doubt.

    Is the government serious in bringing about a total ban? If it's affirmative, then why're there
    so many errors creeping in when the directive should have been clear cut and unambiguous? 


I suppose, the deviousness inherent in political decisions is something that I'll never be able to comprehend, being a layman!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

The 'Kiss of love'.

The organisers of the 'Kiss of Love' have invited couples at the Marine Drive in Kochi, PM 02 Nov, to protest against moral policing. They'll express(?) love and draw people's attention to the fact that no one has the right to interfere in one's personal life. The LGBT(Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders) community has rallied behind this drive.


The 'Jai Hind' TV had aired a show, last week, alleging immoral activities at the cafe, 'Downtown' in Kozhikode city. The owner, however, had explained that he's only facilitated young boys and girls to meet up and spend time over a beverage. He has been making good business, all right. (One can never know as to whether there's a business rivalry angle to the whole thing which might have prodded some other, in the field, to feed discriminatory information).

Within hours of the airing of the show, the activists of the student wing of the BJP had attacked the cafe, causing damages. Incidentally, the channel is owned by the Congress Party!

It's this act of moral policing that has prompted the organisers to come up with this sort of a counter!


There seems to be two active groups in the country which are:-

      (a) the first, that supports democracy, thereby welcoming the evolution of society which, in
            effect, embraces change.
      (b) the second that are conservative and support rigid cultures and ethos, that have come through
            the ages and thereby, resistant to change.

My take.

India is a land of tolerance. Everyone has space and therefore, every point of view needs to be heard, debated and then disposed off ensuring that the final outcome is a majority decision. To arrive at it, violence in any form, has to be shunned.

In this case, the vandalism of the cafe was wrong and unwarranted!

Let the 'Kiss of Love' take place with the rider that the organisers must ensure that the 'love' that's gonna be depicted will be strictly within the realm of propriety and never get out of hand!! The law enforcers are gonna have a tough time, indeed!!!


Am reminded of the outcry of the '60s and the '70s, in the western world, with the rise of the 'Hippie trend'. Is this our 'desi' version of the same, I wonder?  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The fickleness of relationships!

I've spoken on this topic earlier too. The story that I'm gonna narrate only accentuates what I'd said earlier.

I know of an elderly couple who're doing very well in their heydays and these days, live in a secluded retired life, rarely mixing with people around. They've a daughter, currently living abroad, as per the diktats of the professional requirements of the son-in-law. That daughter has a cute and lovable daughter and she's in the family way for the second time.

In one of my many interactions with the elderly couple, the lady did tell me that her husband was not keen on having a child which he'd harped upon during the heady days of their marriage. But fate did have other plans and the couple was blessed with a beautiful baby girl. She soon became the apple of her father's eye who went out of his way to provide the very best for her. The little girl grew up to be a confident young lady, did well in her studies and engaged herself in many extra-curricular activities making her a live wire in all the social dos that the family frequented. The small family of three enjoyed every minute of their being together.

But, alas, this idyllic situation did not last long when Cupid struck and the young lady fell in love with a guy, from outside their community, giving heart burns to the father, who tried to dissuade her from getting into the relationship but his little girl was as defiant as he was, when it came to making her choices! The sad fact is that the father has never been able to get over the incident as he's taken it as an act of betrayal by someone on whom he'd showered all his love, all his attention.

The irony is that he's not been able to love his li'l grand daughter, who considers her 'nana' as the last in her list of people whom she loves - after the paternal grandparents and the 'nani'!


In one of those unguarded moments, he'd opened up to me on the topic. "There's no use of loving somebody unselfishly. Each one has his/her priorities in life and in their pursuit, tends to be very, very selfish without even bothering as to how much hurt they're causing to those who'd given him/her, everything!"

And he'd that far away look in his eyes, revealing the deep pain within.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dangerous fallacies.

What motivates people to become terrorists and jihadists? Many a time, youth from well-to-do families are found to embrace this dirty task, dispelling the myth that only the uneducated and the poor are attracted to this dangerous and unacceptable way of life. Probably it's in the waywardness in living and the strange feeling of having abundant power to dispose off lives - with the squeeze of the trigger of the firearm that they possess, flouting existing civilised laws - that attract them to it.

Their initiation is rigorous when they're fed with the craziest of inputs so as to be brain washed completely. All traces of humanness are removed as they're taught to inflict the worst forms of torture on their prisoners, completing the transformation of a human being to a beast! And the worst form of violence has come out of the ISIS repertoire - decapitation!!

The guy who inflicts the maximum damage and kills, becomes a 'Ghazi'. He gets the highest number of the most beautiful virgins in heaven. In other words, for a jihadi to become a Ghazi, he needs to celebrate the killing of a non-believer! 

My take.

The perpetrators of terror misrepresent religious thoughts and provide their own interpretations which are swallowed hook, line and sinker by their misguided followers.


Kasab, who was nabbed by the Indian security forces during 26/11, must have realised it all during his time in jail and when the court proceedings were progressing against him.  


Monday, October 27, 2014

It seems to have happened only yesterday......

After being in Afghanistan for the past 13 years, fighting the Taliban, the US and British forces began their final and phased withdrawal from that country. Towards that end, their biggest camps viz. 'Camp Leatherneck' of the US and 'Camp Bastion' of the British forces were handed over to the Afghan National Army last Sunday.

Camp Leatherneck, by itself, is sprawled over an area of 6,500 acres and during the height of the operations, both the camps together housed about 1,40,000 troops which is now going to move out of the country. However, about 12,500 US and British troops will continue to remain in Afghanistan for a few more years as trainers and advisers.

Having said the above, let me go through the diary of events of the last 13 years in a quick recap:-

  (a) 07 Oct 2001                                      Consequent to the 9/11 terror attack on New York, US
                                                                 and British forces launch 'Operation Enduring Freedom'
                                                                 thereby, dislodging the Taliban out of power.
  (b)      Dec 2001                                     The UN establishes an international security force to
                                                                 oversee the entire operation. And after two years, in 2003,
                                                                 the International Security forces come under the ambit of
                                                                 the NATO and had 43 countries contribute to the detail. The
                                                                 interesting part was that a part of the US forces came under
                                                                 the NATO control while the remaining continued to operate
  (c) 02 May 2011                                    US forces pin point Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan's
                                                                 Abottabad and destroy him.
  (d) 13 Jul 2011                                       First batch of 650 US troops leave Afghanistan in a phased
  (e) 18 Apr 2012                                      US and NATO work out the sequence of the phased
                                                                 withdrawal and the latter comes out with its blueprint
                                                                 in May.
  (f) 04 Jul 2012                                       The US-Afghanistan diplomatic treaty comes into being.
  (g) 18 Jun 2013                                      NATO hands over its security responsibility to the Afghan
                                                                 National Army.

The apprehension in everybody's mind is as to whether the Afghan National Army can stand their own against the wily Taliban. It's my sincere hope that they do.


In these times of the deadly ISIS, the Taliban seems to be a 'not-so-devious' terrorist group if one were to do a comparison of the horrors committed by the outfits. But it's for the well being of the civilised world to have all such extremists annihilated without compunction.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The sad case of Reyhaneh Jabbari.

Reyhaneh Jabbari, 27, was hanged to death in the wee hours of yesterday despite international appeals, by Iran after its Supreme Court had cleared the lower court's punishment of death.

An Interior Designer by profession, she was hired by Murtaza Abdul Ali Sarbandi, a former Intelligence Agent, to spruce up his office. Sometime in the course of getting through with the contract, he'd tried to rape her and acting in self defence, she'd stabbed him to death as per her statement in court in Jul '07. The defence had, however, insisted upon the fact that the knife had entered from behind, thereby demolishing the theory of self defence and she has been in jail since '09.

The victim's family could have saved her life by accepting blood money but they insisted on their legal rights under the Islamic principle of an 'eye for an eye' probably because she'd accused him to be a rapist in a much publicised media coverage!

Was the prosecution flawed as the international human agencies including the Amnesty International have been crying hoarse? Or was it a clear open and shut case of a premeditated murder? Doubts will linger as the incident has taken place in Iran where over 250 people have lost their lives on the gallows on various charges, thus far, in 2014!

RIP Reyhaneh Jabbari!


Is it the steep price one has to pay for being in a closed society?


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Recalling the past.

I'm dwelling on a subject that has asked more questions to myself and for which answers are yet to be forthcoming and there's a turbulence in my mind. Am I getting a clearer idea of the flaws in my personality? Are those connected thoughts the reason for the turbulence?

I presume them to be so. Let me take the case of the 'water diviner' and my classmate, Ramanujan with whom I'd a wonderful evening a couple of days back. A simple soul and a thorough gentleman, who'd admitted sometime in the course of that evening that he was thrilled to be at my house and even though I was in good spirits by then(?), I was humbled by the earnestness in his voice. I mean what was in me that called for such unbridled emotions?

The perspective would be set right when I say that Ramanujan and I weren't the best of friends in school, simply because each of us moved in a different circle of friends. We must have hardly exchanged a few sentences - as conversation - during our five and a half years of stay at school(He'd actually joined the school a year ahead of me). The difference between us - as I see it now with a remarkable clarity - was that while I was brash and reckoned that everything around was happening because of me, he was calm and quiet, who went about his stuff in a dignified manner. And since I came from a family, known to the school authorities was a factor that helped, I must hasten to add that I never ever took advantage of it.

Probably, yet another opportunity has come our way to interact more closely after having frittered it away while at school!


I'm reminded of an incident that had happened quite a while back. Subbu Iyer, another class mate of mine and I'd spent an afternoon together on board my ship. Sometime in the course of that afternoon, Subbu said and I quote, "Hey, Rajeev I'd always thought of you to be a different guy" and went on to narrate an incident that had happened when we're in class VIII. The Maths teacher had all of us standing for not having done the homework that he'd given us the previous day and he moved around the class with his offensive looking cane, trying to find out the reasons as to why we'd done the unthinkable. As he reached me, he'd asked me, "Rajeev, what happened? Don't repeat it or I'll tell your grandfather" and let me off. Subbu Iyer, was among the others who were devastated by sir's cane that day. To his impressionable mind, it was blasphemous that I was let off for the same crime that he'd committed simply because of the accident of my birth. And he was validating my persona years later!?

Subbu is no more amid us and must be reading this yarn as I punch them in.


Friday, October 24, 2014


There are quite a few common and routine things that one comes across in the course of a day's happenings. Like for example, this being a temple town of repute there's a massive influx of pilgrims everyday and the police say that their woes get compounded by the transiting population - who tend to lower their guard by a notch or two during their religious pursuit.

For a motorist, the most annoying thing is when people headed for the temple, stick their hands out and cut the thoroughfare without waiting to see as to whether he/she has slowed down or stopped, to permit the movement. The pilgrims, to my mind, exhibit this strange behaviour to establish their right of movement in the abode of their most preferred god and consequently, all other things become secondary in their scheme of things! They seem to expect us commoners to wait for them to achieve their accomplishments, on priority.

And the animal, most associated with and popular in every temple ritual is the elephant. Fresh pachyderm dumping is a common sight on the roads reiterating the presence of a sizeable population of the graceful animal in and around Guruvayur.

And now for some unusual sights/happenings:-

  (a) Homework on the road.

        As I was on my customary morning walk, I saw a youngster waiting for his school bus, furiously
        scribbling in his folded notebook. Was it a homework that the youngster had forgotten? Or was
        he jotting down the things that required his attention during the day? Or was it a young lover
        in action, putting down serious thoughts for his girl friend?

  (b) An off the cuff offer of shelter.

       The sky was overcast and it had begun to drizzle and had I continued in the same vein, I'd have
       been drenched. A young lady on her way to catch the bus that would take her to her workplace,
       30 km from here, offered me shelter under her umbrella. We often see each other every morning
       and that was the sole criterion for her prompt offer of help. Have a great day, Janaki, it's people
       like you who make this world worth living! And as I'd told you, you've a winning smile, keep


Ramanujan had made an early exit at 5 in the morning whereas, Jojy and Saly had kicked off for Kochi a trifle after 2, in the afternoon, after attending the marriage of their friend's son at a nearby hall. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A rare gift and Dharmettan's travails!

A rare gift.

Two of my classmates, Jojy and Ramanujan had dropped by this evening. It was a wonderful occasion to catch up and to exchange the stories of our school days. Thankfully, mom, Lekha and Saly - Jojy's wife - were very much part of the conversation and did not feel left out.

Ramanujan has a unique quality. He can pin point the presence of ground water and is constantly in demand by people from across the country because of this factor. A banker by profession, this is an inherent quality that he possesses. To show us the phenomenon, he'd walked on a particular axis with a partly husked coconut - its eyes remaining covered with the husk - laid sideways on his open palm. The coconut slowly stood erect with its 'eye side' pointing skyward indicating the presence of ground water!

Wonder what the scientific reasoning is behind the phenomenon? Ramanujan was honest enough to admit that he wasn't quite aware of it but explained it as a natural gift to him.       

          *                                                         *                                                             *

Dharmettan's travails.

Early this morning while Sathiamma was at work, she received a telephone call saying that her husband had gone unconscious in their house. She'd rushed back and had her husband admitted in the hospital where he was administered a revival drip intravenously. He was supposed to be discharged by evening if there weren't any complications but he continues to be on the hospital bed even as I punch in this story.

God, please take care of this simple, decent man and do not put him through too many ordeals. It's taxing the family, financially and emotionally.


The remaining half of the Diwali crackers was burst during the course of the evening. An unexplainable anxiety prevailed deep within, on Dharmettan's condition.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An unforgettable evening.

Because of the latitudinal differences, most of the religious festivals are celebrated a day earlier in Kerala because the Malayalam calendar is lunar based. And hence, we celebrated Diwali today.

As we've been doing in the past, we'd invited Lekha's understudy, Sathiamma, her husband, Dharmarajan and their daughter, Archana to celebrate Diwali with us - our first at 'The Quarterdeck'. Lekha and Sathiamma had done all the related purchases over the last few days and had worked hard to put up a short but wonderful evening.

A brief description about Dharmarajan is necessary at this point. The only son to his wealthy parents, among four children, he was a sickly child and was not given any responsibility throughout his life. He's 65 and suffers from the same ailment that Rajesh Khanna suffers in the movie 'Anand', though more complicated than the 'Lympho sarcoma of the intestine' and needs to undergo frequent blood transfusions - of late, the frequencies have gotten to be higher and it's done at the hospital nearby, whose proprietor happens to be my immediate neighbour and together, we've been monitoring the case closely, without the protagonist being aware of it.

He has been given only a few months by the affable doctor looking after him who's advised that Dharmarajan needed to be shifted to the Medical College Hospital at Thrissur, as early as possible. I thought that this aspect was playing in his mind when he spoke to me this evening and I quote, "Sir, that hospital is huge and has very many new buildings that have come up, since I'd been there last. And don't worry, Sathiamma will be there always with you even after I go".

I'd to chide him for his negativity and said that one couldn't be sure as to whose turn it would be to pass into the mist of time. But his trepidation was understandable as he'd lost his sister a couple of years back to the same ailment, in that hospital and he feels that his turn has now arrived. He wants to survive till 30 Jan '15 which is the date of his daughter's marriage.

And, then, in a hushed tone he asked me for Rs.500/- pleading that his wife and daughter mustn't come to know about it. I was set to go for my evening walk and had promised to hand it over to him on return. At the goddess' temple enroute, I'd stopped to say a small prayer as is my usual custom and asked the deity to let Dharmettan - that's what he's affectionately known among us as - live till next Diwali(One has to be incremental in asking for a help from god, you see!)

I felt light as I slipped the folded crisp note into his hand much later. We'd then lit the 'diyas', burst the crackers and sat down to a simple 'Diwali' dinner. Sathiamma and her daughter reiterated the fact that Dharmettan had eaten more than usual as he seemed to be very happy.

As they're leaving - their would-be-son-in-law, Suraj, had come in his autorickshaw to pick them up -
my mom told Dharmettan to be with us for the next Diwali too(How did she know that I too had asked God for it just a while back?). We saw their waving hands, thrust out of the vehicle, as they disappeared behind the compound wall and on to the street beyond, through the heavy downpour.


I go back to an old point that I keep harping upon. Dharmettan and I must have crisscrossed each other's paths in the past too!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

All in the name of education!

The education system in Kerala has been in a continuous turmoil all the while. The political dispensations that take up governance once in five years have no commitment towards making the system dynamically vibrant and progressive. Instead, they use the students to achieve their narrow political ends and as a result, campus politics have touched an all time nadir.

The recent closure of the Maharaja's College at Ernakulam for over a week is the latest example of callousness. Thankfully, the parents and the teachers had got the various political factions of the students on to the negotiating table to work out a compromise formula, which was arrived at after giving very many anxious moments to the hapless students, the majority of whom want to study, get good marks and do well in life.

While having said that a positive 'Parents, Teachers Association' helps in defusing many tricky situations, its over indulgence in the running of the educational institution, however, forms the flip side of the spectrum. The authorities of a school that I know of was lamenting about the interference of the PTA even on matters of self study, in which some of them wanted to be present to ensure that their children/wards were really studying. To enhance their children's retentive powers, they'd brought in beverages like Horlicks, Bournvita etc.

Imagine the havoc it causes to the other not-so-lucky students - especially in a boarding school - whose parents do not have either the time or the wherewithal to do similar stuff!

The recent tug-of-war over the appointment of the Vice Chancellors of the Universities speaks of the general lack of commitment among the people entrusted with ensuring the smooth running of the Higher Education system of the state.


Let the powers that be not tinker with the system by knee jerk measures. Much thought has to be given to improve the education system and progressive ideas need to be incorporated to absorb the constant changes which is only possible by using the best talent. And keep narrow minded thinking strictly out of bounds!    

Monday, October 20, 2014

Role reversals!

I was watching a documentary, on one of the news channels, featuring the valiant Kurdish rebels somewhere in north east Syria, this evening. Among the fighters of the ISIS was an ex-US Army Major, who has taken upon himself to join forces to eliminate the cruel militants who've been spreading a virulent kind of terror on helpless people and have no compunctions in snuffing out human lives.

The ex-Army Major looked highly motivated in his current pursuit and when specifically asked about the time frames that he hopes to achieve what he's set out for, the answers that he gave lingered in my mind long after the programme was over. Let me recap:-
     (a) He said that his death might be the nearest thing to happen. But when asked as to why he'd
          embarked upon this seemingly hopeless situation, he said that he'd seen their meanness
          during the Iraq war and felt that he'd to put in his bit to straighten them out(Reminded
          me of Marlon Brando's character in the Francis Ford Coppola movie of 'Apocalypse Now'
          against the backdrop of Vietnam).
     (b) He was certain that the 'boots' will eventually have to be deployed on ground for taking on
          and eliminating the deadly virus of the 'ISIS'.

             *                                               *                                                 *

Nigeria has been officially declared 'Ebola-free' by the World Health Organisation. The first case in Nigeria was brought in from Liberia when a Liberian-American diplomat had collapsed at the main international airport in Lagos in July, this year. The country was ill prepared and had no screening procedures/protection equipment in place, resulting in the infection of several people including health workers of the hospital where he was taken! Nigeria has had 20 cases out of which eight had died.

Ebola has killed over 4,500 people across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone - the three worst affected countries - thus far and it's feared that potential carriers might have already entered other countries too.

The epidemic of the deadly hemorrhagic fever that had begun in west Africa was not given its due importance by the powers that be, who presumed it to be a local phenomenon and did not give it their attention.

Or was it because of a general callousness towards anything connected with Africa?

             *                                               *                                                 *

In the book, 'The Forgotten Brothers', its author Gary Knight has accused Christopher Columbus of Genoa, Spain of having stolen the credit of discovering America from the Pinzon brothers - Vincente and Martin - who'd not only skippered the sister ships on the expedition but also saved the entire mission!

The brothers had helped him to return to Europe after his original fleet was destroyed by the people of Palos in Andalucia. But somewhere in between the voyage, Columbus and the brothers fell out to become bitter rivals.

The world had given a hero's welcome to Columbus because it was only he, who'd kept a journal jotting down the events!

(a) I'm reminded of the award winning Malayalam movie, 'Oru Vadakkan Veeragaatha' in which the story was as seen by the legendary villain in the stories of the famed 'Vadakkanpaatukal', 'Chandu', the cousin of the valiant brother-sister duo of 'Aaromal chekavar and Unniyaarcha'- immortalised by the late Sathyan and Ragini, on screen, in the '60s. The resultant story was equally mesmerising, convincing the Malayalee audiences that Chandu was the real hero, all along! Mammooty's role as Chandu had fetched him the national award for the best actor, that year. 

(b) Similarly, MT Vasudevan Nair's book, 'Randaam Oozham', is about revisiting the story of the Mahabharatha from Bheema's viewpoint and the effect is interesting! 


History has reiterated that it was the Italian, Amerigo Vespucci, who'd discovered the new continent and its name, 'America', is derived from his name while Columbus had actually set foot on the shores of the present day West Indies!   

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The 'X - 37B'.

I was fascinated by the news bytes on this mystery US spacecraft that were splashed all across the media today. Let me do a recap.

Vital Statistics.

      (a) Length                   8.8 m
      (b) Wing span             4.5 m
      (c) Height                   3.0 m
      (d) Weight                  5.0 tons
      (e) Uses solar panels to charge its batteries once in orbit.
      (f) Was ready in 1999 and had changed several agencies
           like NASA and is now under the USAF's rapid
           capabilities office.
      (g) This is one of the two spacecraft built by Boeing.

Why has it suddenly shot into prominence?

      *  The top secret space plane had landed at the Vandenberg Air Force base on the southern
          coast of California last Friday.
      *  It had spent nearly two years(674 days) circling Earth on a classified mission.
      *  It resembles a mini space shuttle.
      *  There has been spectacular speculations on the nature of its mission:-
                   -  carried a payload of spy gear in its cargo bay to carry out extensive snooping.
                   -  it has the capability to capture the satellites of other nations.
                   -  it shadowed the Chinese space lab.

And the US Air Force put out this comment on completion of the mission,
'It was conducting on-orbit experiments'. 


While on the subject of space activities, today's also the day when the comet Sliding Spring passed close to the planet Mars, at a distance of 1,40,000 km, the secrets of which were observed by our own Mangalyaan along with four other satellites.

Its vital statistics.

        *  Discovered on 03 Jan 2013 by the Sliding Spring space observatory of Australia.
        *  The head is 1.6 m in diameter and the tail, containing debris, trails by about 2,00,000 km.
        *  Its speed while passing by Mars - 56 km/sec.
        *  The other four satellites that were observing the comet:-
                       - Mars Odyssey, Maven and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (US).
                       - Mars Express (European Space Agency)
                       - And not to forget the two US probes on the surface of Mars!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Guruvayur has to be nothing but 'top class'.

Today is the first of the Malayalam month, 'Thulaam'. Going as per the past hundreds of years of weather pattern, it also marks the beginning of the famed 'Thulaavarsham' - the advent of the north east monsoon. The rains during the following three month period have the under mentioned characteristics:-

   (a) Marked by heavy showers.
   (b) The rains fall from late afternoon and into the middle of the night and
   (c) Are generally accompanied by lightning and thunder!

True to traditions, the rains did come this afternoon a trifle after 4 PM and boy, what a deluge it was! The immediate area, surrounding the temple, was heavily waterlogged within the period that lasted for about an hour and a half. The arterial road and the side alleys had shipped in waist deep water and the heavy traffic was brought to a standstill. The uncouth behaviour of the motorists only helped to worsen the situation.

Lekha, along with her understudy and her daughter, had to do auto rickshaw hopping and were privy to the chaos as they'd gone out to make sundry purchases for the upcoming Diwali celebration. Since 'The Quarterdeck' is perched on relatively higher ground, we're spared of the unwieldy accumulation of rain water coupled with the dirty drainage flow!

In this context, I'd like to narrate a related story. It has been announced that the last month's earnings of the Guruvayur temple, by way of the pilgrims' offerings was Rs. 3.86 crores, gold amounting to 3kg, 71gm, 855mg and silver amounting to 500mg. This does not take into account a certain amount of money that was destroyed by water seepage and rust of the receptacles, mind you - the loss is being ascertained, say the temple authorities.

My take.

I've said this earlier too. The following need to be done and it should be the standard government policy to cover all important places of pilgrimage, tourist spots and symbols of heritage:-

    (a) Ingress and egress to the sites should be easy. World class highways with adequate support
         systems, enroute, must be ensured. Adequate parking space for vehicles and living space
         for the transiting population are necessary.
    (b) The infrastructure in and around the complexes must be of a high standard. Setting up of
          'no vendor zones' within the immediate vicinity is an essential requisite.
    (d) A zero tolerance to lack of cleanliness.
    (e) The money received as offerings/entry fees can be utilised for meeting the expenses to
          avoid burdening the state exchequer.


The sad state of affairs have been pointed out time and again, but the vested interests smother any form of development. The ordinary citizens must collectively fight the menace to bring about the badly needed change so that their Guruvayur becomes a world class pilgrimage spot!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The flip flop is unacceptable!

Too many things are happening, the news bytes come out with alarming speed on various issues and one's left wondering as to whether this blistering pace has any overtones! So, without much ado, let me go through a few that have made me curious.

  (a) The question of black money.

  One of the promises that Narendra Modi had made to the Indian people, during the parliamentary
  elections, was that he'd get back all the black money stashed away in 'safe havens' abroad and bring
  out the list of all those who hold accounts in foreign banks...... Cut....Ram Jethmalani, soon after the   new government had taken over, was the first to voice his displeasure of Jaitley having been made
  the finance minister and thereby, questioned his ability to transfer the election rhetoric into solid
  action.......Cut....The government tells the Supreme Court that the names of all Indians holding
  foreign accounts cannot be divulged because of the 'double taxation treaties' that exist with the
  other countries. The consequential queries to the BJP that I've, as a layman, are:-

        (i) Weren't you aware of the double taxation treaty with its attendant consequences? If
             affirmative, why did you give us a false promise?
        (ii) Is it because the list has many of your partymen along with the others? Or do the business
              houses loyal to you figure in that list?
       (iii) What's the role of the SIT that has been formed to look into the entire ambit of black

  The flip flop, therefore, is simply not acceptable. There needs to be solid action!

  (b) The bail for Jayalalitha.

  The judiciary of this country has a unique place and standing by virtue of its numerous landmark
  judgements and its independent outlook. It's taken for granted, as gospel, that everyone in the
  society is treated equally. So, what was the tearing hurry to bring the bail plea for Jayalalitha
  up for consideration?

  She has done a mistake and must go through the same process of law that an ordinary citizen has to     undergo. Period!

  (c) The election brouhaha.

  The story about the violence meted out to the 65 year old, Zelubai Jagannath Wable, a resident
  of Babhulgaon Khurd of Yeola, for having voted for the NCP, is not only reprehensible but also
  condemnable. She was set ablaze by the Shiv Sena goons for exercising her free will.

  It's my fervent hope that she comes out of the trauma with minimum damage to herself. The
  goons have to be punished at the earliest.


The story about money being used to buy votes nullifies the great process of free and fair elections held in this country, time and again!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

This man needs to be tried for inciting sedition!

To stay in relevance and to show that they're essential, people can tie themselves up in knots and get into very, very embarrassing situations and privately must have bitten their tongues, many times over, for having landed themselves in a soup of their own making.

I'm talking about Pervez Musharraf, the former dictator of Pakistan - forced to flee his country - because of his complicity in the murders of Bugti and Benazir Bhutto.

See how gloriously he'd put his foot into his mouth and conceded what we've been accusing him and his country all this while. I'm quoting him from an interview he gave to a television channel recently,
"We've source in Kashmir besides the Pakistan Army....People in Kashmir are fighting against India. We just need to incite them. In Kashmir, we can fight with the Indian Army from both the front and the back....We're Muslims. We'll not show the other cheek when we're slapped. We can respond tit for tat", in response to a question on the recent firing between the two forces on the LoC and the International Border. 

In one stroke, he's not only exposed himself, but also the successive Pakistani governments' Kashmir policy, the Hurriyat separatists who're their stooges and the numerous terrorists that they'd inducted into the state of Jammu & Kashmir over the years, perpetuating a 'living hell' to the Kashmiri people and in the process, killed many, many innocent men, women and children, not to forget the valiant men of the Indian armed forces, who'd laid down their lives while fighting for their country and their countrymen!

The blighter, based on his admission, must now be tried for inciting sedition in a sovereign country in an international court and punished, at the earliest.


He needs to pay for the deaths of innocent people that were caused by his ill conceived adventurism when he was the President and the chief martial law administrator of Pakistan.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

An unusual, yet endearing story of love!

This touching story is about Lieutenant Hubert Rochereau and the tremendous love his parents had for him.

On 26 Apr 1918, when the I World War was raging with all its ferocity, young Hubert was killed in action on the Belgian front. His parents were devastated at the loss of their 'little boy', who was snatched away from them, by destiny, and they considered it as the unkindest cut. It was unfair, they said, because he'd not even begun to live his life!

The grieving parents firmly believed that their son had 'come back' and would vouch for his presence around them. His room in the house at his hometown, Belabre in France, has been maintained in an 'as is state', even to this day about 96 years after his martyrdom. The bed, in his room, has the sheet and the covers that were spread by his mom on that fateful day, when he'd passed into the mist of time!

Rochereau's fencing helmet, a military jacket, his other personal effects like the spurs of a cavalry officer, sword, pistol, pipe, a French flag, books covered with dust and his writing chair have been stowed in the room in the same manner that he'd left them.

His parents had to shift from the house, in 1935, due to exigencies. Their request - though it had no legal validity, whatsoever - to the new owners of the house was to maintain their son's room in the condition that they're leaving it for the next 500 years!

The beauty is that the new owners kept their word given to the heartbroken parents of the young soldier and the room has been maintained in that condition, even to this date. The covenant has been faithfully followed by their grandchildren who live in that house today!


A true mausoleum of pure love!    

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

And now, 'bio cremations'.

In this world of shrinking spaces for burial grounds and problems of disposal of the dead, here's a news item that holds great promise and contributes to the well being of the environment!

Bio cremations is all set to be legalised in parts of Europe. Belgium and the Netherlands are planning to legalise the process while the US and Canada have already done it. So, what's a bio cremation?

It's a process where the human body is turned into a liquid and not ashes which is also known as chemical hydrolysis. The technology replaces the use of flame with the utilisation of water, blended with an alkali solution of Potassium Hydroxide(KOH) - 95% water and 5% alkali, instead of direct flame and fossil fuels!

The body is placed in a stainless steel cremation chamber where water, an alkali additive, heat and pressure are applied, reducing the body to bone fragments and a sterile solution that is recycled to the earth. The average adult body takes about two to three hours to complete a bio cremation and upon completion of the cremation cycle, the bones are dried and processed to a powdery substance which is then placed in an urn and given to the family.

Bio cremation is environment friendly as it uses less energy and releases less Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. It uses only one eighth of the energy used up by the traditional flame based cremation!

A great problem solver, indeed!!


We're woken up quite early in the morning by my cousin, awaiting to board his flight, from the Kochi airport. Such calls usually bring in trepidation as they, usually, are bearers of bad news but this one was different. He's off to Jeddah to take up a new assignment.   

Monday, October 13, 2014

Eyesight by artificial means!

The scientists at the Duke Eye Center, Durham, North Carolina, US have accomplished this feat yet again. Larry Hester is the seventh US citizen to have acquired eyesight by the use of wireless coupled with related technical support.

The artificial eye consists of a special camera-assisted pair of spectacles that channelises the light signals received into a sensor fixed in the eye which, in turn, transfers them into the brain making vision possible.

66 year old Larry had lost his sight, due to a degenerative retinal condition about three decades back. The doctors had then opined that there was no more treatment possible and he was resigned to living in a dark world and it's that bleak life that has been transformed into a life, filled with happiness and hope all over again, thanks to technology!

He's in the thrill of being able to see the white swans swimming in the lake, the moonlit nights over the long stretch of harvested field and the yellow Chrysanthemums of his garden yet again. He pinches himself, quite often, to confirm that he's not going through a dream!

Though the sight, achieved through the artificial optical contraption, lacks cent percent clarity, the wearer is able to discern where the entrance/exit exists in a room and the zebra lines are, on the thoroughfare!


Imagine the thrill Larry Hester is undergoing for having regained his eyesight! For light having come back into his life!!     

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The programmes that I liked on television.

Since it was a wet Sunday, I could catch up on some reading and had also watched the television a bit more than usual. And ended up liking two programmes that had a lot to entertain.

 (a) Director's Music.

 The channel    -     Amrita TV(Malayalam)
 Time               -     2000 to 2100h.

 The programme was a recall of Malayalam film music over the years and the episode was dedicated
 to the brilliant 'P Bhaskaran Master' who'd excelled in every department of film making - be it lyrics
 writing, music direction, script writing or making a film! The numbers chosen were apt with
 knowledgeable people in the field giving technical details of the 'ragas', the orchestral 
 accompaniments and the connected anecdotes while producing the numbers as well as their
 picturisation. A fine journey through those times!

 My only crib is that the numbers weren't played completely but with the information packed in
 each, it was just not possible.

 (b) Comedy nights with Kapil.

 The channel        -         Colors.
 Time                   -          2130 to 2330h.

 I watch this programme off and on but tonight's episode featuring Rekha was simply good. Her
 conduct, the numbers that she sang and the way she was appreciative of the cast of the show
 reiterated as to why Indians have placed her on the pedestal of an enduring, endearing diva!
 I'd enjoyed every bit of the programme.


The fury of Hudhud on the coastal city of Visakhapatnam is a grim reminder of the havoc that nature can cause despite man's successful forays in the field of science and the best of technology in hand. It's gonna take a while to get back to normalcy. The all pervasive media has not been able to can the enormity of the devastation perhaps because of inaccessibility due to a widespread disruption in communications.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Waiting for 'Hudhud'.

This weekend's gonna be a wet one as the cyclone, 'Hudhud' is expected to make landfall on the eastern coast of the country. Orissa and Andhra Pradesh are going to be the most affected states. What has been heartening is that the people have been shifted to safer havens and logistics have been streamlined much before the cyclone has arrived and that's what a responsive administration must do.

The met people have forecast wind speeds of over 195 kmph and one can foresee the destruction and loss to property that it's gonna bring about in its wake. Hope the level of destruction is at a much lower level than what it's been in the previous years.

I'm reminded of my forays as the leader of the Indian Navy's cyclone relief team way back in '89. The appalling living conditions, the tremendous amount of filth and inaccessible areas of the Ganjam district made our tasks difficult, yet interesting. The one thing that I've always cherished of that operation was the spontaneous gladness that the distressed people displayed on sighting us. So overwhelming was their belief in the team that our own discomfort melted into nothing and we could muster energy from within to work almost round the clock.

Since the relief team was fully equipped with food, water, clothing donated by the naval community of INS Chilka from where we all were, transportation vehicles - both terrestrial and amphibious - along with the medical support team, it was fully capable of handling any situation! We're touched by the love and affection that the people showered on us - for a duty that we're supposed to do - and they even wanted us to stay on much after the situation had returned to normalcy!!

Here's wishing the relief teams the very best.


This weekend will also see the commencement of the India Super League Football matches. It's a move towards professionalising and popularising football in India. It's my fond hope that we'd soon have a national team that would write its script on world football, within a decade! The teams are:-

    (a) Chennaiyin FC
    (b) Delhi Dynamos
    (c) FC Pune City
    (d) FC Goa
    (e) Kerala Blasters
    (f) Mumbai City FC
    (g) Atletico De Kolkata and
    (h) Northeast United FC.   

Friday, October 10, 2014

Yet another occasion for all Indians to feel proud!

Indian child rights activist, Kailash Satyarthi, shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani teenager, Malala Yousufzai, who stood up to the Taliban and survived a near fatal shooting.

All of 60 years, Satyarthi was born and brought up in Vidisha of Madhya Pradesh. An electrical engineer by profession, it's interesting to go through the important milestones of his life:-

      -  He was a good debater and had always stood against the misuse of government machinery.
      -  His organisation is called the 'Bachpan Bachao Andolan' - the save childhood movement.
      -  He has been at it since 1980, when he gave up his job as an electrical engineer to begin the
         crusade against exploitation of children.
      -  He founded a group, 'Good weave' which certifies child-labour-free rugs and provides
         assistance to rescued and 'at risk' children.
      -  He'd survived numerous attacks on his life during his crusade to end child labour, the most
         recent being the attack on him and his colleagues while rescuing child slaves from the garment
         sweatshops of Delhi on 17 Mar 2011.
      -  He has been honoured with the Nobel Prize on the day of his wedding anniversary!

There were a record 278 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 and of these, 47 were organisations. The Prize has been awarded to 124 laureates, thus far, their breakdown being 100 individuals and 24 organisations.

A great day, indeed, for all of us. Yet another occasion to be proud being an Indian!

My salutes to Satyarthi and Malala!!


Satyarthi was in the running for the Prize for the last decade. His brother, Jagmohan's words on the occasion point to a stark fact - though it doesn't take the sheen out of Satyarthi's achievement in any way - "He's been trying for the Nobel for three years. On one occasion, his name was short listed but later the prize went to someone else. This time he's made it big".

Only a crying baby gets milk! Sad!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Indian response to the Pakistani shenanigans!

Pakistan must be wondering as to whether it was worth the trouble of having initiated the border skirmishes which have been going on for the past ten days.

What must have provoked them? The factors are abundantly clear, which are:-

    (a) Winter will be setting in shortly and it's important that they smuggle in as many terrorists
          into Jammu and Kashmir to foment trouble. They're running short of time and the pressure
          from the terrorists within Pakistan must be overwhelming with the assembly elections in
          J&K due anytime.
    (b) The Indian Prime Minister had completely eclipsed their's, both at the UN General Assembly
          and in the subsequent parleys in the US.
    (c) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barrack Obama seem to have struck a common
         chord as gleaned from the joint statement made at the end of their discussions(The President
         going out of his official programme and having accompanied the Indian PM to the monument
         of Rev Martin Luther King Jr, is a case in point that must have caused a lot of heartburns!)
    (d) In the joint statement, a case has been made to exchange information about terrorist camps
          that work from foreign soil, detrimental to each other's interests, for annihilation.
    (e) The wide endorsement of the Indian PM both by the Indian Americans and
         a large cross section of the American politicians has again been the cause for bruised egos.
    (f) The Pakistani Army, towards putting Nawaz Sharif into a tight corner for the points above
         and continuing with its stooges Imran Khan-Qadri combination's shenanigans, opened up
         the provocation on the borders with the fond thought that it would only encounter the usual 
         half hearted gestures and knee jerk reactions from the Indian side.

They're in for a rude shock at the fierce retaliation from the Indian armed forces and the fact that their High Commissioner has been rendered persona non grata with his earlier interaction with the Kashmiri separatists made matters worse. Otherwise, it would have been the efforts of an Ambassador/High Commissioner to connect up with the government, both at the formal and informal levels, to reduce tensions between the countries and bring them to the negotiating table for breaking the logjam.

Their defence minister playing the nuclear card, shows his immaturity and the confusion that prevails in the ranks of their armed forces. Hopefully, the security meet called for on Friday will help their PM, Nawaz Sharif, to gain the upper hand ultimately and bring about steps to descale tensions between the two countries!


Was saddened yet amused to hear a media specialist of their's saying on Times Now, earlier this week, that she'd be able to provide video clippings and photographs of damages caused to their civilian property by Indian shelling by Friday. An endorsement of three things:-

     (a) She'd no clue as to what was happening on the borders and the manner in which the Pakistani
          Army was being plastered. Stories about a media blackout enforced by their armed forces have
          been in circulation and this statement sort of confirms it.
     (b) Their ISI needs time to cook up stories and 'make evidences'.
     (c) Their armed forces expect the civilian government to bail them out of the mess of their
           own creation and are looking forward to the Security Meet called for by Nawaz Sharif
           on Friday.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Is it the 'mallu' effect?

Consider these:-

   (a) The West Indian cricket team arrives at Kochi, last Monday, to play their first ODI of the
         forthcoming series.
   (b) They skip the traditional practice on the eve of the match and remain closeted in the hotel.
   (c) Their skipper does not bother to attend the customary press conference on the eve of the
   (d) They give the trophy unveiling ceremony the go by.
   (d) And above all, they convey to their 'bosses' that they'd boycott the match.

It was the outcome of a pay dispute that the players had, as per a new contract enforced last month, between the WIPA(West Indian Players Association) and the WICB(West Indian Cricket Board). To quote the skipper regarding the disagreement, "We're being treated like schoolboys and are asked to perform as professionals". The remuneration was indeed the vexed issue.

Following behind-the-scene actions ensured that the match went as per schedule on Wednesday that resulted in a thumping win for the visitors:-

    (a) The warning from the ICC.
    (b) The BCCI's intervention and
    (c)  Dhoni's peace talks.

There's talk that it was the BCCI's intervention that carried the clout because many of the West Indian players play in the IPL and the Champions League T 20 and therefore, did not want to embarrass its bigwigs!

Was it the 'mallu' effect that gave the idea of embarking on a 'hartal' to the West Indian players on landing at Kochi? Perhaps, there's no escape from the militant thoughts that get whipped up on inhaling the air of 'God's own country'!


The West Indians won the match by 124 runs, the scores being West Indies 321 for 6 and
India 197! Just showed that whatever be their grievances, when it came to their country's interests, there was no ambiguity. My salute to the team!!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

He's lost the plot at the beginning itself!

A few days back, I was horrified to see young Bilawal Bhutto's rant that he'd get the whole of Kashmir for Pakistan which is his primary aim in life.

My immediate reaction was an immense sadness for the young man. He'd scripted his own destruction and does not seem to have learnt from the lessons of history, so essential for aspiring young leaders who want to play a role in shaping the destinies of their countries.

He reminded me of his mother, the fiery Benazir Bhutto, who'd ranted in a similar fashion to outsmart a suave and calm Rajiv Gandhi, her counterpart on this side of the Line of Control, not quite a long while ago. Had she, then, embarked on a different path and really worked for the betterment of her country, it would not have reached the abysmal depths that it finds itself today where the Army, now to a limited extent and the terrorists, to a greater extent exert authority. What saddens me further is that none has learnt a lesson from her tragic end!

The Pakistani armed forces continue to hark on a foreign policy that's on an anti-India plank. It refuses to alter its vision and work towards a strong and unified Pakistan, encourage democracy in the real sense and towards this end, go back to the barracks, lose power and shun politics which is a tall order. Only then can it strive to be a professional force, their piggybacking the terrorists and the jihadists cannot be of any help - the earlier they realise this the better it's for them. Don't they've any guy who thinks rationally, take immediate corrective action to put them on the right path?

Coming back to Bilawal, he's a youngster who should not carry the baggage of the past. He should have begun on a clean slate and brought millions of Pakistanis to think on a positive note to script a glorious future for his country because it's my firm belief that there are many right thinking people out there who crave for change, a new vision. Sadly, he seems to have let them down.


What the Pakistanis don't realise is that every Indian wants a strong and vibrant Pakistan to coexist so that there's stability and lasting peace in the region. But I suppose there are external factors, also, that play a crucial role to prevent it from happening! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Do the Chinese have anything against us?

I've always wondered as to whether the Chinese, as a people, have something against us just like the Pakistanis, because the latter's armed forces can only exist on an 'anti India plank' and they decide that country's foreign policy.

Although one's aware of the fact that the dragon lays claim to Aksai Chin, certain parts of Ladakh and the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, it was thought of as mere posturing so as to arrive at a 'give and take' at the time of a negotiated settlement. But there seems to be a sinister design after all! The PLA's frequent cross border incursions on the LAC is aimed at keeping the problem alive. Similarly, the dragon's propping up of a successor to the Dalai Lama despite the fact that the one endorsed by the apostle of peace, has widespread acceptance among the Tibetans, is basically to keep them on a tight leash as China understands that they're positively oriented towards India.

The communist rulers of China are aware of the fact that India has a great potential to assume the leadership mantle of Asia and if such a situation were to happen, being a huge country with the world's largest population coupled with a systematically modernised military complex, over two decades, would essentially come to a nought. It would be a tremendous blow to its pride as it continuously strives to be the region's leader and would do anything and everything to get India out of its way, which it knows has a greater potential.

It's also aware of the fact that most of the Asian countries are positively oriented towards India and hence its irritation over our closer ties with Japan, Vietnam and the others.

The Chinese media and their mainstream news agency - all government controlled, of course - have kept themselves aloof over anything Indian, except to report mishaps or natural calamities. This attitude gives credence to the fact that by showing India and her achievements, on a positive note, would be tantamount in accepting us as her main adversary which is best avoided!

Instead, China makes India out to be a meddlesome neighbour, unnecessarily(?) squabbling over border areas that are rightfully(?) their's!


The dragon only appreciates strength and it's, therefore, incumbent on us to stand by our policies with resoluteness. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Yesudas' diatribe against jeans.

Yesudas, during a function, had lashed out against jeans being worn by women much to the consternation of thousands of his admirers, especially women. They're stunned, saddened and angered by his observations on a piece of their clothing that had become a comfortable and necessary accessory in their wardrobe, over the years.

Women's groups and the society, in general, are angry with his orthodox views for the following reasons:-

     (a) A person, who has an iconic position in society, must be careful while making statements.
          He's to realise that a 'curbing of freedom of expression' is a necessity however much strongly,
          he feels about an issue, failing which he can swing the mood of the people towards
          uncontrolled behaviour.
     (b) Jeans is a respectable casual wear that's neat, comfortable and reduces travel baggage by a
           considerable amount as it's wearable anytime, anywhere except for formal occasions.
     (c) A few bitter critics of the singer's outburst had gone a step further asking him as to why he
          he permits his daughters-in-law to wear them and wasn't it, then, a classic case of following
          double standards?

My take.

 (a) Icons of the society are prisoners of sorts, by virtue of the exalted positions that they've been
      placed at and therefore, the very same society expects to hear only that stuff that's music to
      their ears.

 (b) It requires guts for him to have said that because I'm sure he was fully aware of the
      repercussions/reactions over his utterances. He's entitled to his views, doesn't he, however
      unpalatable they're for the rest of us?

 (c) And the paradox about his daughters-in-law wearing jeans? Perhaps, he hasn't voiced them in the
      confines of his family for the fear of a backlash from the daughters-in-law or even the sons,

Jeans are a neat, comfortable and convenient wear for the wearers as well as for the beholders! But the deliberately torn ones - especially at the knees and elsewhere - are jarring and must be avoided. Wonder what's being conveyed by such wanton destruction of a good pair?


Many of us have a different set of rules within the family and outside it. This is the set of double standards we live with, in our normal lives. A huge paradox, indeed!


Saturday, October 4, 2014

They've rediscovered their dad!

I'm gonna tell another story that's happened in my immediate vicinity. I shall keep the names of the protagonists a secret, for the time being, but the narration is basically to understand the the real villain of the piece!

The couple who stayed in our neighbourhood had three children, a girl and two boys. Though the father was from a well to do family, he was ousted from his home by his dad because of his closeness to his maternal grandparents. His dad harboured a great amount of animosity towards them because he thought that his wife did not get her rightful share of the family property! The family, therefore, led a very harsh life with the mother even having to go about doing menial jobs, at times.

After the birth of the third child and the second son, the father had undergone a vasectomy operation. A couple of years later the lady had sired another child - a baby boy - which had become the talk of the hamlet, with a whole lot of insinuations heaped upon the mother. The result of a botched up surgery, perhaps but the three children prior to the surgery never accepted the fourth into their fold. Since they're young, the simmering anger remained at that but the animosity among them just refused to end.

The children's marriages brought in newer players in the story and the differences were out in the open, resulting in the father and the mother shifting into a rented house with the fourth child. The father had become too weak by this time because of a host of medical problems and had passed into the mist of time this day, last year. The funeral was conducted by the last son and his mother, with the three elderly children taking on the role of being mere spectators to the entire sequence of events!

However, on the first remembrance day, they've 'turned the tables' and taken on the conduct of the ceremony.

The mother and the last son have gone on a day's pilgrimage to a nearby temple.


So, who's the villain of the piece? To my mind, it's the parents. They should have explained the things to the children, removed misconceptions and ensured that their children stayed united!

Friday, October 3, 2014

You're in queue!

Whenever we come to Kottarakkara to my parents' house, Lekha makes it a point to go to the nearby 'Ganapathy kshetram'. I end up being the chauffeur as there would be others who'd join her. Today, she'd a query that needed an answer.

It was about the 'Udayaasthamana puja' - the dawn to dusk prayers, when the normal routine of the temple comes to a standstill and is, therefore, carried out only once a week - and the specific queries were:-

     (a) When was the next available slot to book, as Lekha's kid sister was keen about it?
     (b) What's the rate of the puja?

And the answers were, as follows, ad seriatim:-

     (a) 2034!
     (b) Rs.50,000/- (Down payment, at the time of booking).

The frenzy with which people head for this particular temple and do penance(holding their ears with crossed hands and dipping their torsos at the god, many times over - the frequency, I suppose, depends upon the gravity of the devotee's crimes and his/her haste in trying to distance himself/herself away from that despicable act!

God acts as the Damocles' sword as every man is scared about possible retribution, for his misdeeds!!


I've the following queries on the information given by the temple authorities:-

     (a) How sure are the people who book for the puja - that has a fairly long lead time - that they'd
          be alive to live through to see it? ........Must definitely appreciate their positive outlook.

     (b) And what's the rationale in collecting money at the time of the booking? Probably, it's to
           ensure that the devotee doesn't chicken out and I suppose, the aspect of inflation is sorted
           out by collecting the actuals - the difference that is - at the conduct of the puja!

     (c) But why don't the temple authorities find out alternate measures that would make it more
           meaningful, more realistic?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mom's thrill!

We'd kicked off for dad's house by 10 o'clock. The heavy traffic on the road belied the fact that it was a holiday. The drive was okay and I'd planned something later about which the others were unaware of and for that to happen, we'd to reach Ambalapuzha at a reasonable time.

Since it had to happen, we did reach the place at the desired time of a half past 3. We'd a drive around the temple with mom giving us a running commentary of her childhood days and favourite haunts. I could show the school, newly named after my grandfather. And then pressed the doorbell of Maachamma chechi's house and mom had erupted in ecstasy - if I were to use an expression to express the prevalent mood and expression.

The next one hour or so shall be one of the finest moments of my life as an equally excited Maachmma chechi and mom exchanged their thoughts and feelings for each other. Anecdote after anecdote was revisited regarding their good old days at Ambalapuzha.

Their collective excitement and happiness in each other's company was the finest hour.


A day of many, many Kodak moments! And soon it was time for the farewells when they kissed each other ardently. It took us another two hours to reach our house where my kid sister and family were waiting. And it was yakkitiyak yet again!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Was it a coincidence?........Retracing history.

Both maman and I were at Ambalapuzha when the news had come that the government had passed an order to rename the Government Boys' LP School as 'PN Panicker LP School' taking into account his services as a teacher in that school years back - in 1931 to be precise, soon after his marriage with Chempakakutty Amma and on shifting his base of operations to her turf. It was also in appreciation of his contributions towards the growth - in stature - of that town!

We'd made an early morning visit to the famous Sri Krishna temple, with my maman regaling me with his childhood stories. He was specifically recalling his visits to the temple every morning with his mom and mine, his eldest sister. And as we went about the temple's premises. I'd the feeling that our elders were there, somewhere, watching us very intently.

We, then, had the pleasant task of calling on 'Maachamma chechi'(The late RSP leader, R Sreekantan Nair's wife and whose actual name is Maheswari Amma). All of 87 years, she now, moves about slowly because of the crippling stroke that had debilitated her a couple of years back and so thrilled was she that she gave us an autographed copy of her memoirs. Her daughter, the affable Naja, was constantly monitoring her requirements as well as her movements and incidentally, she's currently the guiding force of the 'PK Memorial Library' - that had set off the 'Kerala Library Movement' - at the western entrance of the temple.

Our itinerary for the rest of the day was to explain the nuances of the e-literacy campaign to the people of the Purakkad, Mararikulam(West) and Aroor panchayats. The crowds had the same qualities that I'd listed in my thoughts yesterday. By the time I'd boarded the private bus to Guruvayur, it was well past sunset and was at home before 9. Maman had, by then, reached Thiruvananthapuram.


(a) The driver of the bus drove like a madcap squeezing his vehicle through impossible widths and rush hour traffic. But all the same, he'd got us in within a matter of an hour and a half.

(b) Rema and Padmakumar had reached earlier this evening to join us for the trip to my dad's house tomorrow where we'll also be joined by Mini and family. So, it's gonna be a family reunion of sorts when my nephew too joins up!