Sunday, November 30, 2014

The news round up.

Going by the news bytes of this week, one finds that the propensity to repeat mistakes is very much in vogue. I'd like to go by the theory that those people who resort to it, bank heavily on the saying that the public memory is short. Or is it another example of 'akrasia' - going ahead with a plan fully knowing that it's gonna be a disaster - at work? So, without much ado here, I go:-

 (a) Mamata Banerjee's failed actions at preventing the BJP rally in Calcutta.

       Whoever seems to be advising the tantrum throwing, Mamata, had got this completely wrong.
        Didn't they anticipate the court's intervention if the BJP had approached it? By taking such
        clumsy actions, didi's party has played into the hands of the BJP, viz. :-

            (a) the TMC seems to be jittery about the BJP upstaging them
            (b) it doesn't have anything concrete to show as major achievements in its three year rule!
            (c) it should permit other political parties to display their wares and outsmart them with
                 their's, well articulated.
            (d) it has forgotten that negative tactics never work.

       While talking about the political flip flops, Omar Abdulla in J&K has been upto the same tricks.
       Why can't the guy be decent, at least during the polls? And why is the BJP silent about the
        scrapping of the Art 370 of our Constitution? Worried about not getting the votes? Aren't you,
        then, hoodwinking the public?

  (b) Why's he hanging on still?

        After the stinging rebuke of the CBI chief by the Supreme Court of India, in connection
        with the 2G coal scam, why is he continuing to stick to his chair? We're, however, lucky that
        he'll pack his personal effects within a matter of a week when he retires from office. The
        manner in which his personal reputation has been maligned, his life would be in tatters. I'm
        sure that he must be groping for answers for his sucking up to the party in power.

        Is he now gonna come out with a book on his 'achievements and frustrations as the head of
        the CBI'? That sort of apology has now become boring because everyone, who has done it,
        seems to be saying that they're the 'goody good boys' with honourable intentions but weren't
        allowed the freedom to work by the 'corrupt' politicians.

        If that be so, why didn't you put in your papers at the first instance of indiscriminate interference         ? Or were the trappings of power, associated with your chair, so alluring that it's
        worthwhile to cling on to it at any cost? If the latter was the truth, you need to face the
        consequences, buddy!

   (c) Egypt back to square one?

         With the former dictator, Hosni Mubarak, being given a clean chit, the people have again
          taken to the streets against the government. They're only reacting to the lies that are being
          foisted on them. Wish the government had taken up a developmental agenda for speedy
          execution. But do governments, ever, care for genuine development at all?



All in all, an interesting year. Will the last month come out with major surprises? For that, we must wait and see!


Saturday, November 29, 2014

It's been a year!

It's been a year since 'The Quarterdeck' has become our home.

It all appears to have happened only the other day, when I'd hung my uniform, accepted a glitzy farewell where fine sentiments were expressed, bid farewell to everyone who'd played significant roles during our stay at a small get together organised by us, gone through the pangs of shifting berth and the long tedious, yet interesting manner in which we'd set up our nest, come to mind in a satisfying flashback!

Lekha's hospitalisation to tackle a non healing ulcer, mom's continuous presence amid us, the monthly trips to my dad's house and also, meeting all the social commitments without fail were the activities that have kept us occupied in the year that has flown past. The interactions brought about a new verve in existing relationships and have also helped us pick up new friends in our immediate neighbourhood.

I've often heard people wondering as to how I'd chosen a place for our nest - in a new place - far away from relations and familiar people. Many of them must have even come to the conclusion that I'd gotten mad. But our experience, thus far, has been on the contrary. We've been able to get our things done without having to worry or for want of help.

Have we missed out, in life, by staying away from the limelight or more appropriately, the madding crowd of a fast moving city that we'd gotten to be familiar with? Nyet! While accepting the fact that there are a number of options to choose from in a city, we've never felt the pinch as there never has been a dull moment out here and the biggest appeal about the present set of circumstances is that one finds time to enjoy the simple things of life!

Kerala, being comparatively small, makes it possible for us to drive to any corner within a period of not more than twelve hours. And yes, driving has become a passion and a pastime, the narrowness and the frequent potholes on the roads notwithstanding!!


And of course, there a final option that's always available. Migrate to another place of one's calling if the need arises. A rolling stone gathers no moss, they say!   

Friday, November 28, 2014

Adieu CKC sir!

Mr. CK Chandrasekharan Nair, our Malayalam master at the Sainik School, Kazhakootam passed into the mist of time this morning. To quote a dear friend, "Death is an inevitable culmination to our mortal life but still when someone, who was part of our formative years and helped shape our future and destinies, breathes his last, it brings a lump to our throat".

CKC sir - as he was popularly known to all our school fellows - was all of 83 years. I'd called up Retheesh, his son and a junior schoolmate of mine, to offer my condolences on the passing away of his father. It was through him that I came to know that sir was afflicted with the 'Parkinson's Syndrome' towards his last years. The last three weeks, presumably, were really bad, in that, he'd to be fed through tubes and he'd lost his bearings, often throwing violent tantrums that were controlled with the administration of medicines. And over the last three days, he'd even stopped talking but as his son had recounted, his faculties were intact and he was able to recognise everybody till the very end.

Sir was close to my grandfather and because of that association, he had a soft corner for me though, I must hasten to add, that he played no favourites. He used to be greatly appreciative of my handwriting and I've never ever got a marking less than 51/2 and of course, 6 out of 10, which was his maximum if my memory serves me right.

A fund of knowledge, he made us like the Malayalam language with his very interesting ways of teaching punctuated with anecdotes, historical facts and stories. He could be a hard task master if one didn't rote the poems of the Malayalam reader that he gave us as homework. I missed his classes after class 8th as I was one among the higher Hindi batch though he'd continued to monitor my progress and provide the feedback to my folks, about which I came to know much later!

His pronunciation had come under our intense scrutiny and was the butt of our jokes and what I remember vividly,
even today is, 'Saavio George, Maathew George, baank(bank), paak(the ubiquitous betel nut, added just for emphasis and to give the rhyming effect, I suppose), chaak(gunny bag, again for the same reasons cited for the betel nut), taank(tank)' among the many that came out of our mischievous minds those days.

A unparallel fund of knowledge and I don't think that they make them teachers like him  anymore.

RIP, sir. My tears and prayers for a great teacher under whose tutelage I'd the privilege to be brought up during my formative years. May god give strength to his near and dear ones to tide over these stressful times.


Suddenly the feeling, that the ones that are close to you are leaving you, makes you disoriented and sad. Every parting induces a certain amount of death deep within which, I suppose, gets to be wholesome at the time of your ultimate departure!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Can he be the same ever again?

Stunning the players and the world's population of cricket lovers, Phillip Hughes has passed into the mist of time. He was hit by a ball on the back of his head that didn't have the protective cover of his playing helmet during a domestic cricket match in Sydney, two days ago.

Left handed batsman Phillip Hughes, an Australian Test and One Day International player aged 25 years - three days short of his 26th birthday - was hit by a rising ball from Sean Abbot, all of 22 years and a right handed all rounder trying to find a place in his national eleven. The event was the 'Sheffield Shield game'.

Despite corrective surgery, Hughes never regained consciousness during his fight for life while at the hospital. When his end was announced by the hospital, the grief was overwhelming with his fellow players uncontrollable in their display of emotions.

RIP, Phillip Hughes. My prayers and tears for a fighter on the cricket field!

And imagine the plight of young Sean Abbot. Can he be the same ever again? A part of his personality will always blame him for the untimely end of a promising player and colleague. By this time, he must have cursed himself a thousand times or even more for having bowled that rising ball and would be wishing to have another chance to do otherwise so as to erase the bad dream, once and for all!

Was he in the wrong? I don't think so. This is a part of the game and the unfortunate incident was a freak accident! Period!!

He deserves care - from everyone - to be able to maintain his sanity.


While mourning the loss of a loved one, the game of cricket will continue. Short balls will be balled and the odd rising ball will continue to intimidate the batsmen. It's all part of the game!  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

His last hurrah?

I'd written in my musings of 22 Oct about Dharmettan's travails. He suffers from 'Lymphosarcoma of the intestine' - the same ailment that Rajesh Khanna suffers from in the Hindi movie, 'Anand'! He'd been taken to the Thrissur Medical College Hospital towards end October, where he was put through a battery of tests. Chiding his wife, Sathiamma, for bringing in the patient so very late, the doctor had estimated another two months of life for him(A fact that I disagree with, very strongly, as no doctor - however good he/she might be in his/her profession - can pronounce the actual time of death of his/her patient!)

Their only daughter, Archana, was scheduled to be married on 30 Jan '15 but this was advanced keeping in view of the medical report.

The wedding had taken place today in a nearby hall and we'd gone to attend the function. After wishing the newlyweds, we'd spent some time with Dharmettan who seemed to be quite detached from the entire set of proceedings and sported a worried look(Or was it all my imagination?). He seemed to have been totally exhausted after performing the fatherly duty of placing his daughter's hand in Suraj's, his son-in-law. While persuading him to join us for the feast, he declined, citing a lack of appetite as he'd a bowl of broth, made of broken wheat, prior to leaving their house.

Was his lack of enthusiasm because of the awareness of what was coming at him? Or was it the pain of a father who realises that his li'l girl would never be his from now on?

               *                                                *                                                  *

Today also happens to be the sixth anniversary of the dreaded terror attacks on Bombay. The sixty hours of fear, lurking danger and the heroic acts of both, security personnel and the ordinary citizens who'd lent their support to the needy, shall remain in our psyche for the years to come.

My prayers and salute to the victims and the heroes.


God, I hope you remember my request of wanting to have Dharmettan around us till next Diwali, at least? Suraj and Archana, here's us wishing you a long and happy married life with all that you wish for!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Back home!

We reached Ettumanoor, the start point, around a quarter past midnight. After the farewells, I'd accompanied my cousin, Kannan and his family, who're Ernakulam bound, in the same bus with the understanding that Shaji, the 'saarthi', would arrange an auto rickshaw from Chottanikkara but since there weren't any he'd extended the bus' trip to Thrippoonithura - damn sweet of him!

We reached my cousin's flat after about an hour and hit the sack, soon after, by around 0130h. Alarm was set for an early morning departure for Guruvayur and accordingly, I could board the train by a quarter past six and reached the temple town by a half past eight. And then 'terror' struck!

People who'd disembarked from the train were trying to board the first auto rickshaw that came their way and as I was getting out of the railway station, I was privy to a strange sight. Many of the ricks were refusing the passengers after being told of the intended destinations. Puzzled, I, too, had joined the queue and did not make haste as I had no deadline to meet. And then came the first, the driver of which, didn't even have the courtesy of telling me as to why he was refusing to take me along as he drove away. Then came the second and even a third, which buzzed past in the same brusque manner!

I was slowly getting irritated and angry. In fact, to the third guy, who'd driven past, I'd asked the reason for his refusal to take me along and he didn't even bother to answer - so much about people friendly utility services! And what baffles me is the abrasive arrogance exhibited by the guys who come from very poor background. Is it a show of their protest against one's ability to hire them? After a wait, finally, a rick had come to a stop in front of me. Mohan his name was and as I was getting off at my house, I asked him the reasons for my unpleasant experience.

With an apologetic smile, he said that this was a daily feature when the rick drivers vied with each other to 'ensnare' the passengers who're headed for longer distances and to my mind that was only possible if a traveller opted to go to the farthest edge or to a nearby town through Guruvayur, giving the temple town the skip! A mad thing to do in the circumstances!!

If this is not terrorism, what is?


Mohan added that he never resorted to such meanness and latched on to any trip that came his way, short or long, as his customers were important to him. Nice words, but something needs to be done to break the 'mafia behaviour' of the auto rickshaw drivers!   

Monday, November 24, 2014

At land's edge on my birthday!

The day had started at four in the morning and by 5 o'clock, we're at the bathing ghat. Dad's ashes, along with my grand aunt's and another elderly lady's of the neighbourhood were immersed in the waters of the Bay of Bengal around 10 minutes past 5. A sizeable crowd had gathered up, already, at the waterfront and with the winds being strong, the waves lapping against the shore were large and insistent. The religious ceremony - post immersions - were gone through and we're back at our hotel, much before 7 AM.

After a quick wash and change, a breakfast of steaming hot idlis washed down with filtered coffee and by a half past 7, we're off to Dhanushkodi - another 22 kms, further south - to see the much talked about remnants of a worthy past that was uprooted by the savages of the fierce cyclone of '64. We'd gone in two, four-wheel-drive smaller yet, sturdy vehicles towards the land's edge. And precisely, around a quarter past 9, we're at the land's edge with our guide showing us a greenish-brown patch, stretching towards in a south eastern direction into the sea, as the famous 'Ram sethu' - a bridge purportedly made with huge stones and boulders by the great monkey warriors of Lord Rama - which had enabled him to take his forces into Lanka, the land of the 'asura' king, Ravana and the rest, as they say, is history!

The remnants of the old railway station, the church, the post office and a small cluster of buildings were the mute and humbled spectators of nature's fury on that fateful day of 23 Dec '64. Standing at the land's edge, where once upon a time in the recent past was a township that was bustling with people and their connected activities, I was overwhelmed by the sights and had kept asking myself as to whether my presence, at Dhanushkodi, on my birthday had any significance at all?

The return.

And by about a half past 10, we're headed back home in the Volvo. A short and sweet trip, indeed!

Two kms north of Dhanushkodi, was the temple of 'Kodanda Ramar'. It was the venue of the anointment of Vibheeshana, as the king of Lanka, by Lord Rama after the slaying of Ravana. Vibheeshana was the saner of the siblings, who'd warned his brother, Ravana, that his act of kidnapping Sita was a mistake and that he should send her back forthwith, for which he was thrown into prison! We'd visited the spot before heading back home!!


My cellphone had some problem about its coverage during our entire stay at Rameshwaram and therefore, I was not contactable for quite a while during the day. However, my friends and relatives were insistent about wishing me and with that in mind, they had kept on at it till they could speak to me in person much later, during the day! Never did I feel more wanted!! Thanks guys, you really made my day!!!   

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Off to Rameswaram.

We'd kicked off from Ettumanoor at a half past 4, this morning and the route taken was the Kottayam-Kumaly highway. Traffic was really sparse(being a Sunday, I guess) and the road was superb all through. Today, also, happens to be my birthday as per the Malayalam calendar and hence, the wishes kept trickling from my family, back home.

The weather was nice and the Volvo bus that has been hired for the purpose was comfortable and roomy. We're 28 in all and the stoppages for meals and beverages were adequately timed and appropriate. But despite the flawless run, we could reach Rameswaram only by a half past 4 in the evening. As we hit the temple town while crossing the Pamban Bridge, I could wistfully remember the numerous anchorings done in the area, while commanding my ship during the Sri Lanka operations, just a nautical mile away seaward.

Our plans to hit the land's edge at Dhanushkodi, on arrival, had to be shelved for the 'morrow as we'd arrived late.

Instead, we went to pay obeisance to Lord Rama at the famous temple - an architectural treat that is famed for its over 1,200 artistic and brightly painted pillar-supported-corridor all around. The temple was built between the twelfth and nineteen centuries. Mythology states that Lord Rama had worshipped Lord Siva before embarking on his famous battle with King Ravana of Lanka, to free his wife, Sita, from captivity.

The highlight of our visit, this evening, was the ritual of 22 baths that a few among us had embarked upon before reaching the sanctum santorum. The amazing characteristics about the twenty two springs - not far from each other, within the temple's sprawling premises of 16 acres and despite their proximity to the sea - are the following:-

        (a) has no hint of salinity whatsoever
        (b) each spring maintains a distinct, yet different flavour from the other
        (c) the guide pours the water on you, drawing from each of the wells housing the springs
             with the least amount of fuss!
        (d) and finally, it's the responsibility of each individual to towel himself/herself dry and
              ensure that the clothes don't drip by wringing them well before presenting themselves
              to the deity!

A quaint, yet unique experience! After an evening snack soon after, our group had celebrated my birthday, in style, by having a cake cut. Damn sweet of them and I must say that I was humbled!!


I'd lost my pair of slippers at the temple but my aunt had a perfect justification for the mishap. To lose a personal belonging during a visit to the temple indicates that one has been blessed and is a harbinger of better things - perhaps, my having to buy a new pair is what it boils down to!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

In remembrance!

It was an early morning but there were a lot of things lined up to do for the day. After going through the morning chores, we'd set off for Ettumanoor for the morning ceremony with my grand aunt's first remembrance day. Anish was the 'saarthi' who'd ensured that we're at the venue well in time.

The 'master of the ceremony' guided us through the lengthy yet orderly procedure that lasted over two hours and we're seventeen of us in attendance. Going through the maze of rituals, the thought that struck me was the manner in which time had flown - one year had passed quietly by. The only difference was that the two seater sofa - facing the entrance of the house on which my grand aunt used to sit and receive her visitors - was empty with a fresh set of linen spread over it.

Soon it was lunchtime and dispersal. My sister, Rema, was seen off at the bus stand on the reciprocal route which quite coincidentally, left at 1400h while two of my cousins, headed for Thiruvananthapuram were seen off at the railway station. The assembly of people had dispersed no sooner than it had assembled, so it seemed!

The evening darshan of the 'Ettumanoorappan' was accomplished despite a packed crowd, enhanced these days, by the influx of the pilgrims headed for Sabarimala. A boisterous supper followed by an early night, as the departure for Rameswaram is slated tomorrow morning at 4. But sleep was hard to come by!


The family had not met for a long time and today's meeting of quite of a few of us helped us to reconnect!  

Friday, November 21, 2014

A flawless rendezvous!

I was to meet my sister coming with mud, removed from my dad's cremation point and enclosed in an earthenware jar for immersion at Rameswaram. His mortal remains have already been immersed at the Papanaasam beach of Varkala earlier, in Jan '12.

Then, why am I doing this, you might rightly ask. It was because mom had expressed a sentiment. I'm to accompany my relations at Ettumanoor for the immersion of my great aunt's ashes at Rameswaram on 23 Nov. She wanted a part of dad also to mingle in the same waters and was able to prevail upon me despite my initial hesitation. I'd tried to reason it out with her but seeing her steadfastness and the insistence, I couldn't bring myself to break her heart!

My sister, during a visit to my dad's place last weekend, had collected the same and was coming from Palakkad to hand it over to me. We'd decided to make use of the state road transport corporation for the purpose. Accordingly, two hours after she'd left Palakkad, I was able to board the same bus at Thrissur and proceed to Ettumanoor together. We reached my uncle's place by 1945 hrs.

Within an hour after our arrival, our relations from Thiruvananthapuram had also trooped in and it was time to exchange notes.


Mom and Lekha have decided to stay back at 'The Quarterdeck' as they'd recused themselves from the Rameswaram jaunt because of prohibitive distances to be covered on foot!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Came to meet the ophthalmologist but.....

The ophthalmologist who has her main clinic in Thrissur, spends every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at a house that she has built for herself, in our neighbourhood. She's indeed very popular, going by her clientele at Guruvayur. Lekha and my mom are her patients and have got to be friends, over a period of time.

The advantage is that we can walk into her clinic only when she's ready for us and the comely receptionist gives us adequate notice! The eye specialist is an affable person and indulges in conversation - outside her professional purview, of course - with my mom exceeding her brief despite my warnings that the doctor has a lot of patients to administer and that we should stick to the purpose of our call, to the extent feasible.

This afternoon, I was witness to a grotesque sight and no, neither my mom nor Lekha had any reason to visit her. I was answering a call on our land line telephone when I heard a loud thud, followed by a shriek and the slamming of a car door in our private road. Seeing the commotion, I'd dashed to the spot to provide assistance, if necessary, when I saw a young lady, in her early 30s, bleeding from her nose and mouth, standing helplessly beside her car.

She'd parked the car, got out of it but tripped on a granite stone, protruding out of the hardened pathway thanks to her unmanageable pair of stilts. I wondered as to why she chose such footwear while keeping an appointment with a doctor but kept my silly(?) doubt to myself. The ophthalmologist, meanwhile, had also come out after hearing the commotion outside her consulting chamber and without much ado said that what the young lady required urgently was a dentist's look see.

And soon, the young lady was sent to a dentist, nearby, along with a chaperon. Poor thing...had come to meet the ophthalmologist but ended up requiring a dentist!


Is this an example of that famous saying, 'Man proposes, God disposes'?


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Oh, these godmen!

Rampal, an engineer-turned-godman, has finally been arrested after a deadlock of more than a fortnight. During the uneasy period, a few of his followers lost their lives while many others were injured because he was using them as his protective shield. Hissar, in Haryana, resembled a battleground during the blighter's stand off with the police.

He faces twin charges of murder and contempt of court. What gave him the confidence to evade the law? I'm sure that he has the patronage of very powerful people. Frankly, I'm curious as to how a fraud like him has so many followers or were innocent people positioned around him by some political lumpen, who owe their allegiance to him, for favours granted?

What makes me wonder about godmen, in general, are:-

    (a) Why are their so called ashrams, invariably, impregnable fortresses if they're pious and on
          the noble path of discovering god? What's the need of the secrecy?

    (b) All ashrams are flush with enormous wealth - ostensibly received as donations from the
          gullible followers. But, are the funds subject to regular governmental scrutiny and do they pay

    (c) Godmen, without exception, have a strong contingent of foreign followers - being gullible
          to eastern mysticism - and a select(?) few among them form the 'inner circle' that ensures
          that no-one reaches the godman, uncomfortably(?) close.

    (d) Without exception, there's a continuous whisper among the people living in the vicinity of the             ashrams about the sordid goings on within but they don't voice them loudly for the fear of the
          safety of their lives!

    (e) And the godmen make it a point to surround themselves with fawning film stars and obliging
         politicians, even certain professionals, to improve their worth!

This can happen only in India!


People have to realise that they don't require an usher to converse with their god!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Getting closer to Alexander, the great?

The Amphipolis tomb.

Amphipolis is a municipality in the Serres region of northern Greece. In ancient times, it was a city once called Edonia, that falls in the present day region of central Macedonia. The tomb at the Amphipolis is now being highlighted as the probable burial ground of none other than that of Alexander, the great!

While Alexander had died in Babylon(situated in the present day Iraq), the spot where he's been buried has remained a mystery till date! And hence the years of geological research to locate it.

From the Amphipolis tomb, the following are discernible:-

          * the tomb consists of the oldest cists estimated to have been built between BC 325 and 300.
             Alexander, the great had passed away in Jun BC 323, at the young age of 32 because of

          * the skeleton that has been found under the ground surface of the third chamber is that of
             a man with the undermentioned characteristics that match Alexander's persona:-
                         -   of medium height
                         -   is white skinned
                         -   is brown/red haired!

          * but what baffles the researchers is that while the trappings of the tomb point out to the fact
             that though its inmate was an important dignitary, is the absence of weapons and personal 
             armour that used to be buried along with the body.

The scientists' explanation.

         * the personal effects could have been looted by thugs
         * the tomb is not Alexander's but that of his senior military leader.


An interesting slice of history. 50 years ago, a DNA test was carried out on King Philip II, the father of Alexander. Will another similar test provide convincing results is the moot question! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Swami saranam!

Today is the first day of the Malayalam month of 'Vrushchikam'. To usher in the new month, hectic preparations were witnessed in and around Guruvayur over the last week, as it also marks the beginning of the pilgrimage to the hill shrine of 'Sabarimala'.

The pilgrims - characterised by their black clothing(These days, quite a few have begun wearing saffron clothes too), chanting 'Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa' - arriving from the north, make it a point to add the temple town as one of their important halts before proceeding to their destination. They also visit the temple on return after the 'darshan'.

To ensure a safe and trouble free passage of the pilgrims, resting places - sponsored by philanthropists, irrespective of caste, creed or religion - where free food and toilet facilities are provided, have sprung up at vantage points. This will continue till the 14th of January '15, when the pilgrimage reaches its apogee and then begins to taper.

The early morning atmosphere has religious overtones with the pilgrims' chants, devotional music through the loudspeakers - seemingly placed almost at every nook and corner - with wayside eateries doing brisk business as quite a few of them remain open round the clock!

For a morning walker like me, the empty streets that I used to pass by have now become quite crowded and noisy, by people going to the temple for an early morning tryst with their God. The change is palpable and welcome!


I've also begun following the 'Sabarimala' routine from today and will follow it till 'Makaram onnu' coinciding with 14 Jan. But no, I shan't be going for the pilgrimage as I've already completed my 18 visits on the trot...... 'Swami saranam'!   

Sunday, November 16, 2014

From livestock to dining table delicacy in a jiffy!

I was only a few minutes into my customary, short afternoon siesta when a goat's presence at my neighbour's place brought me back to life. As I looked out of my bedroom window, a white goat came into view. I wondered as to whether my neighbour was planning to bring back livestock into his backyard, all over again.

Actually, his now empty barn had boasted of a combination of cows and buffaloes not very long ago - till a year and a half back, to be precise. As the kitting up work at my house gathered pace and after ascertaining the exact date of commencement of our stay at 'The Quarterdeck', the entire lot of livestock was shifted into the dairy that he owns, situated nearby. The nice gesture was to avoid any sort of inconvenience to us on account of the persistent animal smell that would have emanated, otherwise, as per a promise given to me by the patriarch during our acquaintance visit!

And hence, the surprise at sighting the animal though the fact that it was a solitary one should have rung a bell! Moments later, the dead animal's carcass was seen slung from one of the hanging hooks in the barn. And after a further lapse of time, we could hear the cleaver and the chopper in action as a couple of their farmhands systematically went about chop-chop-chopping the cadaver to smaller pieces towards rustling up a dining table delicacy.

Wonder whether it was the swiftness with which the animal was slaughtered that had a stunning effect - albeit momentarily - on me? Every sound of the cleaver seemed to inflict a wound deep within me and no, I ain't a prude deriding people who eat meat because I, too, relish non vegetarian dishes.

But I'm still confused about the brief melancholia that had enveloped me during that point of time.


Did I have a 'karmic' connection with the slaughtered goat?


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Trying to score brownie points uttering falsehoods.

It has become the order of the day for people - drawn from all walks of life - to utter falsehoods and score brownie points when they find themselves pushed into a corner. I'm gonna narrate just three instances to show the extent of rot and an absolute lack of imagination on the part of the protagonists:-

  (a) P Chidambaram's rant against the AFSPA.

   A guy, who's been the country's Home Minister, knows the pros and the cons of the Armed Forces
   Special Powers Act that's been in place in the terrorist infested areas of the Northeast and in Jammu
   & Kashmir. So, when he talks about it, he cannot afford to do so callously and if he does, it's
   but natural for a layman like me to be prodded to ask that if it's so obnoxious what were the actions    on his part to withdraw it while sitting on the treasury benches.

   The elections to the J&K Assembly is round the corner but that does not mean that anything and
   everything can be said in the name of election rhetoric. And it cannot be forgotten that he was a
   member of the apex body, 'the Cabinet Committee on Security'.

  (b) The water level at the Mullaperiyar Dam.

  The government of Kerala is squirming uncomfortably as the level of water at the dam has reached
  141 ft and is rising further. It must be remembered that, not long ago, the Kerala government had
  approached the Supreme Court to give directives to Tamilnadu to maintain the level at 136 ft and
  could not convince the court which had given the green signal to maintain it at 142 ft after studying
  the technical report.

  As an impartial observer, I get the feeling that Tamilnadu is trying to prove the point that Kerala's
  fears on the issue are unfounded.

  Meanwhile, on Kerala's side of the dam, Disaster Control Rooms have been established with the
  Collector being directed to evacuate the population as and when necessary. Yet another example
  of an orchestrated pantomime to save face!

  (c) Good conduct certificate without validation?

  On 30 Oct, an LKG student of Darul Huda English Medium School at Parakkadavu in Kozhikode
  was allegedly raped by two inmates of the Siraj Huda dar.

  Muneer, a bus cleaner, was arrested by the police that later reported that he'd confessed to having
  committed the crime but the following factors have blown the lid off the police findings and forced
  them to let go off the bus cleaner and arrest the culprits:-
                (i) relentless public pressure against what they allege as protecting political interests
               (ii) the victim has pinpointed the two in an identification parade and
              (iii) the bus cleaner's statement that he was tortured to accept the crime.

  The school management has come out saying that the two are innocent and they're being implicated
  to tarnish the image of the institution!


Today happens to be the 100th birthday of Justice VR Krishna Iyer. A life that has been lived graciously and who continues to be a fountain of profound wisdom! His all round contributions to the well being of the society will be remembered by the generations to come.

Here's wishing you continued good health sir and on a personal level, I'm proud to be the recipient of your love and affection.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

An interesting assignment!

As planned, I'd set off for Chaliyam which is 85 kms from here at the port of Beypore a trifle past quarter to 8 with George, at the helm. The sky was overcast and we did experience intermittent spells of showers as we sped along. The highway was okay but seemed to be uncomfortably narrow at certain stretches but George efficiently gunned the vehicle through the morning traffic and reached me at Nirdesh, the venue, 15 minutes prior to my lecture.

I was to talk on the nuances of a contract and other related issues to a batch of over 20 professionals who handled contracts at the various shipyards of our country. The interaction was heady and satisfying followed by the question and answer session. They seemed to lap up some of my personal experiences at the negotiations that I'd participated. However, I shall wait for the final feedback from the organisation as received from the participants.

A word about the organisation, 'Nirdesh', at this juncture would be in order. Sprawled in the southern edge of the Beypore harbour, it will have Research & Development facilities for the design of ships and connected training activities in due course of time and is now at its nascent stage.

After the session, I'd the opportunity to visit the traditional shipbuilding yard of Beypore and it was a mind blowing experience. It boasts of the following:-

      * 'Uru' or 'fat boat' - a generic name for dhow type ships - has been built over the past hundreds
          of years and the fine workmanship is known all around the globe
      * No design charts, no project management. The entire set of shipbuilding details are in the minds
         of a few men who pass on this wealth of information by word of mouth to a selected few of the
         succeeding generations. Was fortunate to meet the simple, unassuming Raju who was one such
         'mastermind' who'd taken me around, along with Faisal, my 'saarthi', who wanted to cram in as
          many sights within the short time at hand.

      * The wooden ships are handmade!

      * The biggest 'uru' was in the making for the Sultan of Qatar, which would go into stream,
         by next month. And its vital statistics:-
              (a) Length                         140 ft
              (b) Breadth                         42 ft
              (c) Height from keel           33 ft
         Its machinery, the propellers and the interiors will be done at Qatar, on arrival and the Sultan
         has invited Raju to oversee the outfitting work.


The return was through blinding rains. Was it an answer to my crib of yesterday that there was no sign of the Northeast monsoon?                    

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Grossly unjust!

1. The Chhattisgarh incident.

I was saddened by the incident in Chhattisgarh where botched up sterilization surgeries undertaken at a government organised sterilization camp had caused the death of 13 women while many more were in a critical state. From the media bytes one understands that rusted equipment were used for the surgery and if reports are to be believed, there's a covert cover up operations that's on.

Tubectomy is a safe birth control method and is minor in nature, if done correctly, that is. And from the reports it's clear that the women who've been affected are from the low income groups.

What made the doctor and his associates go about the surgery in such a callous manner? Would they've put their own near and dear ones through such an ordeal? Or is that a method to notch up statistics? And to top it all, the shameless politician has begun the blame game!

Thankfully, the Supreme Court has taken a suo moto cognizance of the incident and has appointed its own investigators to report back with the details within 10 days. May the culprits be brought to book at the earliest to avoid recurrence of similar incidents in the future!

2. Too safe for comfort?

To ensure total safety of the electrical system in 'The Quarterdeck', I'd insisted on the installation of a safety device in the main switch board so that a fault in the system or an errant line trips the master fuse and avoid unnecessary complications. After a fortnight's good behaviour, we find to our utter horror that the system trips frequently making it impossible to use equipment in the manner that we desire.

A thorough check by two different teams haven't been able to pin point the fault either! So, for the time being the 'safety device' has been bypassed. Another check will be carried out next Monday to finally decide on what's to be done about it.

I'm reminded of the famous Mac Murphy's law yet again!  


No sign of the monsoons after the initial show and the Met department has been deafening by their silence!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


One of the longest words in the English dictionary which simply means 'super', which is what I have to say about the 'Rosetta mission to put a probe on the Comet 67 P/ Churyumov - Gerasimenko'!


This mission is all about finding our origins, our roots. Scientists are divided into two categories viz:-

     - one believes that comets and planets are made from the same clumps of dust and ice that spewed
       from our Sun's birth
     - the other believes that they are older than that and may contain grains of inter-stellar stuff older
       than our solar system.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission was, thus, conceived and the spacecraft was to be the first to put a probe on a comet. This has the support of the NASA by virtue of on board equipment to facilitate scientific studies.

Vital Statistics.

      - Lifted off from Korou in French Guyana on 02 Mar 2004
      - The lander that would separate from Rosetta and make the touchdown is named Philae
      - The comet is a combination of rocks, ice and dust particles and Philae will land on the 'rocky'
         head of the planet
      - The total distance that the spacecraft had to cover for the mission was 600 crore km and as of
         date, it's 51 crore kms from the earth
      - The time taken by the comet 67 P to go round the sun is 6.6 years and its diameter is 4 km
      - Rosetta has 11 on board scientific instruments and weighs three tons
      - Philae has 10 on board scientific instruments and weighs 100 kgs

And what happened today?

      - at 1405h Indian Standard Time, Philae had separated from Rosetta at a distance of 22.5 km
        from the comet 67 P
      - the speed of the comet is 55,000 kmph
      - was to soft land at a point, one km in circumference, named 'Agilkiya'
      - after landing, it was to be secured with ice screws and self deployed tethering harpoons

The present picture.

After almost ten hours of a series of maneuvers, the positioning of Philae at its predetermined spot
was still not completed as the harpoons had failed to deploy due to a glitch but efforts are on.


O God, please let the tethering harpoons deploy earliest! And wow, what a scientific expedition?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In conversation with mom(6).

I think I've covered the main milestones of my mom's life and our conversations shall continue and more gems, that I've missed, will find their place in due course. And without much ado, let me go through the contents of this concluding part of our conversation:-

On their nest.

This has come late in the order of chronology but the making of their nest essentially highlights their personae. Dad was convinced that their 'dream house' should be at his village, near his ancestral house, so that he could be of assistance - as and when required, to his parents - while mom wanted it to be in a city that had all the important facilities, available within arm's reach. She was persuaded to change her mind over a period of time. When she began giving her inputs about the outlook of the house that was in the process of construction, my dad's father had a tough time getting the workers, familiar with the trends, that were in vogue in the early '60s.

And by Mar '68, their dream house, 'Raj Nivas' was ready and I remember coming back from school on summer vacation that year to the spanking new house. Every piece of furniture and the positioning of the showpieces has my mom's stamp and the rest of us have followed her instructions without opposition. Even dad had quietly dumped his choice of 'Seagulls' over mom's choice of name, saying that it sounded better! Over a period of time, many of its features have been repeated in houses built in the near surroundings but what I remember of the house is that it was never short of visitors and guests!

The house straddles the Kottarakkara - Pathanapuram road which is a busy thoroughfare though it had come into being after five years of our stay there. And that's what's remaining locked these days! A rivulet, a smallish waterway that runs into the rivulet, the local market at a raised ground and the main road form its northern, eastern, southern and western boundaries, respectively. A caretaker looks after the house and the entire property surrounding it, once again accentuating upon what time does to man's priorities in the process of living life!!

On dad.

There isn't a single day that goes by without her talking about dad. And from her stories, it's abundant that he'd given her, her space without reservations. Look what she has to say about him, "He

       - gave me full freedom to carry out what I'd wanted to do. Occasionally, he used to prod me
         with suggestions and I always realised that he was right.

       - never asked about my pay and neither had he ever asked me about how much was the balance
         in my account".

She misses him and her constant refrain these days is that, "I've seen Kerala with my father, India with your father and am now with you, understanding the nuances of life during my sunset years".

In a break, for the present, I'm bringing the curtains down on the conversations with my mom. But our chats shall continue and I promise to post more nuggets as and when they come about. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane and helped me to understand her and my own self, even further!


We continue to have our fights over trivia but I must confess that it's fun to have her around with us. I make it a point to make her bed and fluff up the pillows, in the same manner that she used to do them for us when we're kids! She's the life in the house and makes friends very easily - the fish vendor, the vegetable vendor and Lekha's beautician make it a point to talk with her even in the midst of their busy schedule and calls out to her if they don't see her on her familiar seat!


Monday, November 10, 2014

In conversation with mom(5).

The conversation with mom is poised at an interesting juncture and without much ado, I shall press on:-

On putting her professional ambitions on the back burner.

My first sight of mom working was when she was the teacher in English at my school, the Naval Primary School, Bombay. She'd a short stint of over a year before she gave birth to my kid sister. The frequency with which the students came to our home to meet her and the manner in which she was pressurised to rejoin, after her confinement, confirmed the fact that she was a good teacher!

And soon, we'd returned to Thiruvananthapuram and she was quick to be employed in the Khadi Board, albeit for a short while. It was then that my dad's father prevailed upon her to take up the job of a 'Branch Post Mistress' at the nascent post office that he'd set up. And it was here that she'd grown in stature, becoming the village's most sought after individual for taking up social causes towards upliftment of the weak and the needy. Since dad was away on his professional pursuit and because of the constant attention that was required for my sisters' education, she'd signed an undertaking to forego further professional advancement and in turn, requested her retention in the post to take care of her personal requirements which was granted without a question being asked!

Talking about it, my mom had this to say, "It was a necessity. Otherwise, frequent transfers would have marred your sisters' education and the beautiful house that your dad had built had to be tended with care. And I wasn't sitting idle, anyway. People used to interact with me, unburden their woes and expected me to solve their problems. And I must confess that it gave me a great high!"

Her superiors were impressed with her meticulousness in handling money, the efficient manner in which books were kept and the promptness with which the postal articles were distributed - there were no complaints from the people during her over thirty years of service as the 'BPM of Kura PO'!

On her brief foray into electoral politics.

It was this familiarity with the masses that saw her being pushed into electoral politics - during the panchayat elections - with both the UDF and the LDF trying to woo her desperately, as their candidate, as she was perceived a sure winner. However, my mom having friends on either front did not want to antagonise anyone among them and had consented to fight the elections as an independent, with an enthusiastic youth support of the BJP.

What she didn't reckon was the way politics was played and she lost the battle of the ballot by a mere nine votes! She wasn't ruffled, for her it was another act that she'd to play but even in defeat, her opponents were lavish in their praise and to me, it appeared that they're upset that she'd to undergo the ignominy of defeat!!


Often I wonder as to whether I've done the right thing to bring her along with us to Guruvayur. She has her quick witted reply, "This gives me a chance to be near you and it's in a way, making up for lost time", leaving a lump in my throat.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

In conversation with mom(4).

Every evening, mom waits for me to return from my walk to sit with her after a wash and change. Hearing her narration, many doubts have been cleared and am looking forward to more nuggets of information and here's another instalment:-

On her being the trouble shooter.

My mom has successfully donned the garb of the trouble shooter for both the families and I shall recount just three incidents to show how she carries out this role with an aplomb, even to this day.

  * At the initial stages, Leela kunjamma did have some problems settling down at her husband's
     place, what with her only sister-in-law just having returned from a long stint abroad and her
     distraught parents were at their tether's end to break the impasse. It was then that my mom had
     stepped in - without being asked, mind you - and trotted off a tough letter to my ma'asi's sister-in
     -law, following it up with a personal tete-e-tete. The matter was amicably resolved.

  * Varadamma appachi had fallen in love with the doctor next door. She knew that the relationship
     would not pass muster of her parents because the good doc happened to be a divorcee. She took
     help from her indulgent sister-in-law, who was convinced that the two should wed. She'd stood
     guard for my 'bua' and her beau during their trysts and prevailed upon her parents to accept the

  * Her brother, Balagopal, had gotten into a financial mess while pursuing his passion of publication
     of informative books and magazines and incurred heavy losses. It was mom again, who'd offered
     her entire collection of gold jewellery - both my sisters were yet to get married and she'd carefully
     built up the resources for the purpose, over a period of time - and seeing her, the other sisters too
     had offered their's after the initial hesitation. That he'd returned the same in due course and my
     mom had lost a bit in the transaction, the matter was resolved much to the relief of their parents!
     And she was graceful in not cribbing about the negative transaction!!

On bringing up her children.

Stories abound in our house as to how strict she was about handling me as an infant. That I'd given her tough times at the time of birth has been talked about previously in this forum. Her insistence that I should only be viewed from far and not carried around was a diktat that was broken by a very few, only to face her wrath but everyone insists that it was her efforts that got me the 'Glaxo baby' title of '56! She rues the fact that she did not get much time for me as I was sent to a boarding school quite young. And I don't think that I can ever forget the lovely lullaby that she used to sing to lull me to sleep - the best thus far of this genre, from the Malayalam movie, Sita with the lyrics, "Paattupaadi urakkaam njaan thaamarappoompaithale, kettukettu nee urangen karalinte kaathale....."

My sisters were known in my dad's village as the girls who complemented each other in everything they did - from matching dresses, hairstyles and the aluminium boxes to carry their books to school to taking part in extracurricular activities. My mom would take great care in looking into the minutest aspects of their needs and I used to be privy to it during my school holidays!

She'd chosen our names to begin with the letter 'R'. But what the three of us remember are the 'pinches' that she used to lavish upon us when we made mistakes, especially while she taught us Maths!

........Another break, another day!


Adieu, MV Raghavan sir!

The firebrand communist leader, who was expelled from the party, in '86, for having espoused coalition with the other political parties like the Muslim League and the Kerala Congress to keep the Congress out of power passed into the mist of time this morning. He was 81.

I shall never forget his love and respect for PN Panicker that I was privy to, at the Delhi airport, on the cold wintry morning of 14 Dec '94.

My alarm had let me down but we're able to make it to the airport just as they're announcing the departure of his flight to Thiruvananthapuram. As I and my maman got my grandfather to move towards the innards of the airport, MVR - who was a minister then - came by, took the baggage from me saying, "Don't you worry. He's under my charge from now on, you may go back".

RIP, MV Raghavan sir! My salute, tears and prayers to a dynamic personality and a loving gentleman. Here's praying that your near and dear ones have the strength to tide over these difficult times.  

Saturday, November 8, 2014

In conversation with mom(3)

Our conversation is on during the evenings after the 'fruit session' and before supper. And my mom has been warming up to the walk down memory lane. She continues.....

On her marriage.

Those days, marriages were conducted in the temples by those who could not afford a lavish wedding in the premises of their homes. Shri Mannathu Padmanabhan, the pioneer of the 'Nair Services Society', was the first to encourage my mom's father of his decision and his gift of Rs.101/- was handed over to my mom at the venue.

Each family - my mom's and my dad's - had organised a car, full of their close relatives for the journey from Thiruvanathapuram and Kottarakkara to Guruvayur.

To put it in mom's words, "My wedding was solemnised right in front of the sanctum santorum and the guests were many, led by Shri Paravur TK Narayana Pillai, the then Chief Minister of Travancore Cochin".

On her getting accustomed to dad's family.

Dad's family was equally large and they were eight siblings - Sarasamma, Kamalamma, Kuttappan, Rajamma, Appukuttan, Varadamma, Ramadasan and Narendran. The two sisters, older than my dad, were incommunicado with the family over differences of opinion with my dad's father regarding their shares of the family property.

All his brothers and sisters, including the estranged ones, had soon established a good rapport with  mom so much so that she became their friend, philosopher and guide and I've always observed the relationships with a lot of interest and the robustness was because of her genuine concern for each! And my dad's parents used her to get around their errant elder daughters to tide over tricky situations!!

Unfortunately, only Varadamma Appachi and Ramadasan kochachan, among them, remain as of date. Similar to what has been in her family, the grandchildren have also taken the cue from their parents and are quite connected to their 'valiya mummy'!

Since she was pursuing her studies, she stayed with her parents in Thiruvananthapuram and visited my dad's folks once a month and also when dad was on leave! 

It's time for another break and I promise to return with more! 


(a) The tryst with the past has been exhilarating with me asking for more. Many things are getting to be clearer now!

(b) On hearing the news of the passing away of Hrudayakumari teacher, this evening, my mom was very sad even bursting into tears. She was one of the lecturers at the Women's College when she'd joined and was very fond of her. RIP teacher! My mom offers you her tears and prayers.  


Friday, November 7, 2014

In conversation with mom(2)

And my conversation with mom continues.....

On her siblings.

They're nine in all - six sisters and three brothers - and they're named Chandramathykutty, Leela Kumari, Vilasinikutty, Indirakutty, Radhakrishnan, Balagopal, Sumangala, Krishna Kumar and Geetha, in their order of seniority. Radhakrishnan had passed into the mist of time when he was barely 11/2 years old, Geetha, when she was studying in class VIII and Leela kunjamma in Nov '11, at 74 - and I know that the last farewell had shaken her.

My mom has always been protective about her brothers and sisters and they accept her advice, as gospel, on personal aspects even to this day. What I've observed all these years is that she likes each one of them in equal measure and has never said anything ill about any of them because she's always pointed out mistakes, whosoever had committed them, without fear or favour. Since she's hard of hearing now, she rarely attends the telephone, and therefore, they make it a point to visit her frequently to have their share of conversation.

The grandchildren, too, have taken the cue from their parents on this score and hence, we've a continuous round of guests at our place and her thrill on seeing them is genuine, spontaneous!

On her first meeting with dad.

My dad's father had come across her father at a public meeting near Kottarakkara and was impressed with the latter's dedication and sincerity to work. He, himself, as a part of his social activities had brought about an ayurveda hospital, a post office and a market in his village by giving away his own land and their meeting spurred the idea of setting up a library. Therefore, as a follow up, he'd gone to visit my mom's father at Thiruvananthapuram.

During his wait in their sitting room, he'd noticed my mom leaving the house for her college and after discussing the details of setting up the library, he broached the topic of marriage between his son and the latter's daughter. My mom's father's reply was disarminglyly simple and direct:-

      - she's too young and has just completed 17 yrs.
      - she's studying and
      - there's nothing to offer in the form of family wealth.

My dad's father was equally candid about not wanting anything but for the girl! He'd promised to return with his son, a naval sailor, who was expected on leave shortly. This had taken place in early November and by the end of that month, the father had fetched up again, accompanied by his son, who had by then seen quite a few girls and was getting to be tired of the rigmarole.

My dad seemed to have fallen for my mom at first sight. He was permitted to ask his queries to his would-be-wife, under the watchful eyes of the two fathers - it must have been a tough proposition and I can understand the tremendous pressure that my dad must have gone through, then!

"What is your main subject?" This was the starting conversational piece of my parents so many eons ago. My mom's candid first observation about dad, accompanied by a million volt smile of her's as she recapitulated that precious moment of her life, 'He was handsome but had thick, bushy eyebrows. Later, I'd got him to clip them'. She was also able to extract dad's permission to continue with her studies after marriage!

A quick recap of the events, thus far:-

     - my dad's father sees my mom early Nov
     - he brings his son to acquaint himself with his would-be-wife end Nov
     - the date and time of the marriage is decided mid Dec
     - Kuttappan Nair and Chandramathykutty get married on 16 Jan '54.


The saga continues as my mom gets nostalgic.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In conversation with mom....

These days, the one thing that gives me a high is my daily conversations with mom though I must admit that I haven't been able to spend as much time as she wants me to spend with her. Nevertheless, it has been a continuous process of learning and I've been able to soak in a lot of minute and interesting information. Here I go:-

On her childhood.

She, being the eldest, had a very charmed childhood shuttling between her parents' house and her relatives' houses quite frequently. She distinctly remembers the long journeys by boat from Ambalappuzha, her mother's place to Neelamperoor, which is her father's place. She was her father's favourite and no journey by the young family was undertaken without her, though her younger siblings were left with their relatives on such forays!

On her education.

Her schooling till class VII was at the English medium school at Ambalapuzha and her maternal grandfather used to be very proud about the manner in which she handled the English language and would show off her prowess to his friends and relatives. When her father was transferred to Pala - he, too, was a school teacher - she'd done her class VI at Neelamperoor upon the insistence of her father's elder brother and stayed at the famed 'Puthuvayil Veedu', the ancestral house.

She'd joined class X at the Cotton Hill Girls' High School at Thiruvananthapuram, when her parents had shifted lock, stock and barrel to facilitate my grandfather's efforts at steering the 'Library Movement'. On passing school, she was admitted for the 'Intermediate Course' at the HRH College for Women at Vazhuthacaud. During her entrance interview, she'd sung the then popular song, 'Aathmavidyaalayame......', from the Malayalam film, 'Raja Harishchandran' which was appreciated by the then Principal and her teachers.

Two years into college, she decided to end her education unilaterally because she'd swooned in the Chemistry laboratory, while doing a 'titration exercise', breaking the pipette in the bargain and the reason? Your's truly, sleeping snug in her womb! She says that she was shy to meet her friends and teachers subsequent to that episode!

Her wedding had taken place, a couple of months before. More about it later. Among her friends, she was branded as the 'young mother' at 18 years!


The conversation is in flow and I promise you more of the important milestones of her life.    

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why do you end up itching for prolonged periods?

Every human being would have experienced this phenomenon many a time in his/her life.
Scratching makes you itch more!

Researchers in  the 'Center for the Study of  Itch' of the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, US have discovered the reasons for this commonly experienced phenomenon. Their experiments were conducted on genetically altered mice by which the interesting deduction has been arrived at.

The phenomenon.

Scratching an itch causes the brain to release the neurotransmitter - or chemical messenger - serotonin, which intensifies the itch sensation. Serotonin's role in controlling pain is already known but this is for the first time that it has been linked to itch, thanks to the new findings.

Scratching creates a small amount of pain in the skin which can interfere with itching - albeit, temporarily - by getting nerve cells in the spinal cord to carry pain signals to the brain instead of itch signals! And when the brain receives those signals, it responds by producing serotonin to help control that pain. But as serotonin spreads from the brain into the spinal cord, it's now been established that the chemical 'changes tracks', moving from pain-sensing neurons to nerve cells that influence itch intensity!

The researchers have also concluded that the itch and the pain signals are transmitted, within the body, through different yet, related pathways!! 


And we thought that we knew all about our 'mysterious' body! Simply amazing!!  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

And now, here's the case of Ghoncheh Ghavami!

Ghoncheh Ghavami, all of 25 years, a British-Iranian young lady and a law graduate, is undergoing a one year sentence in jail. The fact file of her case goes something like this:-

     * Arrested on 20 Jun after she tried to enter Teheran's Azadi stadium, along with male fans, to
        watch a men's volleyball match between Italy and Iran.
        Iran, incidentally, bans women from attending big sporting events with men!
     * She'd participated in a protest, in front of the stadium, wearing a white scarf and holding a
        placard for being denied entry, demanding equal access to sporting events.

     * She was taken into custody and released after a few hours but was rearrested later at a police
        station, where she'd gone to collect the items confiscated earlier from her.

     * She has been charged for spreading propaganda against the ruling system.

     * Initially, on solitary confinement in the dreaded Evin Prison for 41 days, her trial had
        commenced, consequent to international pressure.

She's now gone on a 'dry' hunger strike in jail. (I was wondering as to what the term 'dry hunger' was all about. Well, it means that the protagonist shuns both food and water! And all this while, I was under the notion that a hunger strike meant abstaining from both!! Surely, I'm learning!!!)

Her brother has said that she's protesting because the judge hasn't confirmed her sentence as yet!

Human rights organisations have been crying hoarse to get her freed but who, in Iran, is listening? And that's the moot point!!

My take.

It's only against the backdrop of this case that one can understand the tremendous freedom that one has in India. Yet we crib about a whole lot of things and there's a sizeable few who prefer to settle down abroad!


The vigilance probe of charges levelled against KM Mani, Kerala's Finance Minister, has begun the 'Quick Verification', says press reports. One always knew that the investigation of cases against people in power took its own sweet time for completion, what with the accused throwing anything and everything to derail its smooth conduct. But this is official confirmation, for the first time, that there's indeed a 'fast track mechanism' too! Cheers!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Adieu Sadashiv Amrapurkar!

The award for the 'Best Actor in a Negative Role' was first introduced in 1991 to acknowledge Sadashiv Amrapurkar's villainous performance in the Hindi movie, 'Sadak'. Who can ever forget the large 'bindi' wearing, Maharani, the transgender brothel owner of the film, immortalised by the great actor?

Born as Ganesh Kumar Narwode into an affluent Maharashtrian Brahmin family, in May '50, he'd adopted the name, 'Sadashiv Amrapurkar', in 1974 when he forayed into theatre. He'd passed into the mist of time, soon after midnight, on 03 Nov due to a persistent lung infection.

Short statured with a squeaky voice, he didn't fit into the usual concept of a villain - and ruthless, that too - prevalent in the Hindi movies till then. His portrayal in '83 of the immoral and ambitious, Rama Shetty, matched Om Puri's performance as a no-nonsense cop in their first movie, 'Ardh Satya', frame for frame. I remember having developed a pathological hatred for that character after seeing the film - it showed as to how he'd got into the skin of the character, the true hall mark of a great actor.

Another role of his, that had impressed me, was that of 'Deen Bandhu Dina Nath' in the movie 'Hukumat'. His forays into comedy was equally well received by the audiences.

His untimely end is an unbridgeable loss to the film industry.

RIP, Sadashiv Amrapurkar! My salute to a great actor!! Here's praying that his near and dear ones are able to cope with their immense loss.


Am amused by the political parties of Kerala piping up in support of the 'Kiss of Love' movement at Kochi, much after it wasn't allowed to get going, by the arrest of the protagonists by the police! If only they'd voiced their support well before, maybe the people against the movement would have sobered and stayed away from their moral policing act!!  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Why do people behave in this manner?

The media is agitated with the manner in which Robert Vadra had reacted to a young journalist of the ANI over the weekend. His reaction was to a query on the questionable land deal that has been in the headlines for a while in which he's alleged to have cut short procedures and pocketed a cool profit. The reason - he's the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi and her party's government in Haryana, then under Hooda, had granted him the favour.

That in this country, law treats people differently, is an issue that's well known. The elite(?) and the ones who've 'connections' get away with anything and everything. There are very many of this privileged class who flaunt their closeness, to anyone in power, at the drop of a hat without even a hint of embarrassment. Such obnoxious behaviour is most evident in public places like while standing in a queue for services or when the protagonist is caught in a wrong act!

In the specific case of Vadra, one always thought him to be arrogant, because he'd become one out of sheer habit, thanks to the fawning Congressmen who played up to him, ostensibly with the hope of getting into the family's good books! To be fair to him, he chose to be distant and secluded to keep the hangers on at arm's length. And because of his connections, he was entitled to a whole lot of privileges, the most audacious being his inclusion in the list of the VVIPs exempted from frisking in airports! One couldn't help but laugh at the hollowness of his wife making a very publicised appeal to remove the 'Z' category security after having enjoyed it for over a decade!! Some of the sound bytes attributed to him shows his outright disdain and contempt at anything Indian, while enjoying all official privileges. Sample these:-

      (a) Mango man for the 'aam aadmi'
      (b) Banana republic
      (c) Sure of winning the ballot from anywhere in the country - he just needed to tick one!

My take.

Such 'privileged' people make it a point to keep contacts with everyone that matters, across the political system. It would only be a matter of time for them to show up in this case too.


So, what's the remedy? If the law were to be applied uniformly on people, such a situation will never arise.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The twist in the bar story!

Commotion has broken out!

The reason? The Kerala Bar Owners' Association had alleged that KM Mani, the Finance Minister, had taken an advance of Rs. 1 crore out of the full payment of Rs. 5 crores for opening the bars closed, thus far.

The ruling front, led by the Chief Minister himself has come out against the allegation and he even chided one of his MLAs who'd demanded a thorough probe and reiterated the UDF's support for Mani. The opposition, led by the CPM, has been careful about not uttering even a word against Mani but has targeted the chief minister instead, saying that he and his faction, within the Congress, are gonna be the ultimate beneficiaries of this 'conspiracy'!

Only, VS Achuthanandan has asked for a judicial probe! This is nothing but part of the CPM's thinking of getting Mani to break the UDF's ranks with the lure of the chief ministership and install a government, supported by the LDF. Anyone, but Oommen Chandy, as chief minister seems to be their need. 

So, we have a ridiculous situation here with Mani being virtually silent and seemingly sitting pretty on the serious allegation upon himself, with everyone else vying to give him a clean chit!

My take.

No amount of thinking has given me the reason for this hilarious situation.


Why do we get paranoid about a Chines nuclear submarine having docked in Colombo? Sri Lanka, being a sovereign nation, will go by her national interest. She need not take cognizance of the Indian concerns always, as has been our experience in the past. Instead, we need to strengthen our submarine arm and flex our muscle in the South China Sea, ostensibly in support of the Vietnamese offshore oil exploration there and also have more frequent naval exercises with the Vietnamese and the Japanese forces!