Saturday, February 28, 2015

On my toes!

The day had begun at a half past 4. There were plenty of things to do, right from receiving the guests from New Delhi at the airport to checking on the arrangements on the side table that was going to be on the dais at tomorrow's ceremony at the Kanakakkunnu Palace commencing at 1100h. The minute-to-minute was played a couple of times to be satisfied with how the things would go by as we did not want the famous Murphy's law to kick in!

A quick rush to our favourite memento shop in Chalai Market was the highlight of the day. The entry and exit to the market was really tricky, as ever, and it took all the driving skills of the new lad to get us out of the madness in fairly quick time! The six pieces, that we'd picked up, were to be awarded to the social workers who're being honoured during the occasion - no difference between pieces was acceptable, in fact, zero tolerance for errors, I was told,

The guests were briefed on arrival at their designated staying places regarding their itinerary with special reference to tomorrow's programme where the Governor of Kerala was the chief guest. And in the evening, they were brought in to attend our weekly discussions - 'Aazhchakkoottam' - on topics of current relevance. The lecture followed by the question and answer session that followed was lively and Sadiya Ahmed's poem towards the end of the programme was the perfect icing on the cake!

An evening trip to the venue was made by my Maman and me. A few course corrections were given by the end of which we seemed to be ready for the finals. The efforts put in by one and all, on a shoestring budget, is noteworthy. There were frayed tempers, fiery arguments, teary responses, pats on the backs but the overall atmosphere was marked by a robust teamwork with a tendency among many to deny personal laxity with regard to rest or food.

My Muthachan must be proud of each one.


I was able to scribble the first draft of my 'Vote of thanks' an hour before pipe down. Not at all satisfied with my efforts but the refinement will be brought about by the time it's gonna be delivered!  

Friday, February 27, 2015

An unusual yet alluring sight!

I was on my way to Thiruvananthapuram to be in time for the 'yatra' and had to take an early train from Guruvayur to be at Thrissur, in time for the Jana Shatabdi super fast train. Since I didn't want to disturb any of my friends at Thrissur, I'd decided to spend the over two hours spare time at the waiting room on the platform, which I must say was spic and span with the conservancy staff making their rounds periodically! And thank god, that I'd decided so, because, for me it was an education on life!!

As I was browsing my mail, I couldn't help but notice an elderly gentleman, with his three grandchildren - they addressed him as 'thaatha', which brought me to this conclusion! - passing terse instructions, never having to raise his voice even once. They're well behaved children, I should say.

He'd come with food packets, took his time to divide it equally before handing over the food to the children. The names of the children, depending upon their seniority age wise, were Shankar, Rahul and Nithya. Rahul seemed to be a bit disinterested in having his food when the old man, in no uncertain terms, told him that he'd to have it and the child never had any further doubts. After meals he'd ensured that they washed themselves, offering a towel for drying before they went playing.

It was only then that he'd sat down to have his lunch adding on to the left overs of the young girl. And as he savoured every morsel of his lunch, the kids used to complain about the other who was harassing or tormenting which used to get a patient hearing from the old man who used to summon the 'culprit', roll his eyes threateningly and give a scolding as appropriate which the child accepted without doubt and without rancour! In between, he'd combed the hair of the little girl with his hands - and mind you, it was a neat job!!

He was loved, respected and feared by the children. And the reason was quite easy to find. He led from the front, all the way. His child or children are fortunate to have his/their father being an ideal grandfather to their children. As I left the hall to catch my train, I gave him a farewell smile which he returned. But where was the grandmother?


Reached Thiruvananthapuram by 2100h and I got an opportunity to interact with the DGP, who happened to be the co-passenger to my left.

There was a pall of gloom at my Maman's house in the aftermath of Blackie's qruesome end yesterday. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Adieu, Blackie!

It's fruit time and the three of us were at the table having our share for the day. The time was about a half past 7 in the evening and I'd finished my exercises after returning from my walk. My cellphone began ringing with an ever insistent tone and it's my nephew from Thiruvananthapuram.

He sounded tearful and could barely manage to say that their black mongrel, Blackie was no more and had handed over the phone to his mother who then filled me on the details. The end of the canine was pathetic from the story etched out. A few minutes before sunset, she'd ventured out of the house, went past the feeder road on to the main road only to be fatally hit by a speeding motor cycle, who sped away from the scene of the accident, obviously fearing serious repercussions!

My aunt says that when she'd reached the scene of the accident, Blackie's tail was quivering while the body was comparatively still. She was on the throes of her final moments. She was buried in their courtyard by the mother and son, after informing the father whose Kochi bound flight from Delhi was within minutes of take off!

Blackie had arrived at their house one fine morning, about 9 years ago and my aunt had taken an immediate liking to the shiny black coated animal who was very, very docile and looked a twad underfed! The father-son duo initially didn't quite take to the pet positively but accepted her as a new member of the family, eventually. They'd seen as to how we'd tended Bruno, our Dobermann and used to ask me about the dos and the don'ts, towards tips for its grooming, from time to time.

In fact, when she's suffering from a difficult skin ailment, it's my classmate and vet, Mohanachandran who'd treated her! Over a period of time she was able to acquire the love of everybody at home and when I'd met her last, about three months back, she looked healthy and I remember the manner in which she'd stood beside me with both her paws on my tummy.

She used to like me as I'd always made it a point to spend some time with her!

Will miss you Blackie when I reach your home tomorrow evening. I'd be able to absorb the pain of your loss as I take off for the 'yatra' on Sunday morning but shall have you in my thoughts, definitely.

RIP, dear. You'll be missed and here's my tearful prayer for being the wonderful pet that you were!


A quiet day after dropping my friends at their home in Thrissur, this morning!   

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Does it pay to be good?

We were returning from a short drive to Thrissur. The road was fairly comfortable insofar as the traffic was concerned and I was cruising at a comfortable 70 kmph.

A comfortable slope was looming large and while I was almost uphill, a private bus swerved right soon after taking off from a stop where it had picked up a few passengers. I slowed down because my Chevy's bumper would have come in its wake, had I pressed on at the same speed. However, a black Santro that was immediately behind me couldn't quite control its speed and touched me hard behind. A sickening feeling overtook me.

The Chevy was just back from the service station and a handsome amount had been spent on rectifying the previous dents after the hard tryst with a lorry and so, I'd pulled to the side to assess the extent of damage. I saw the Santro, too, pulling by ahead. I'd gingerly walked towards the rear to inspect and much to my pleasant surprise, saw that my car was unscratched.

And then, I'd gone to inspect the black Santro whose front bumper was broken and hanging. The owner, a young Muslim lady, along with her brother and the maid servant were the other occupants. The car was being driven by a driver on hire! I'd advised them to take the vehicle to its servicing station to apprise them of the situation when he blurted out the following:-

  (a) the owner's husband was abroad, working in West Asia.
  (b) the car had a mere third party insurance that covered only the metallic parts.
  (c) the driver was scared at the prospect of having to foot the bill for his mistake, which it was

And yes, I did give him my cell number for necessary help/possible advice. He seems to have been trilled at the prospect of seeing me eager to 'help', though I was quite clear that I'd do nothing of the sort as the blame was completely his.

I'd received a couple of calls more when I'd to tell him that he needed to sort out the mess himself and that, I'd look into the matter after my period of absence, during the 'yatra'.


A wonderful evening with my classmates and their wives - Anil and Radha, Ramanujan and Prema. The singing session went along fine with everybody chipping in, including my mom, with the lullaby that she used to lull me to sleep with!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

All about loudmouths and kingsized egos!

A small digression to the recent past.

Modi wins a landslide victory for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections on 16 May '14. And the factors that contributed to the spectacular win were:-

   (a) Modi looked like a decisive leader based on his performance as the chief minister of Gujarat.
   (b) The whole of India was fed up with the indecisive ten year rule of the UPA.
   (c) Revelations of all important files being perused and decisions thrust on the PM by 10, Janpath.
   (d) No coherent policy both internally and externally.
   (e) Large scale incursions on both the Chinese and Pakistani borders with no worthwhile checks or
         retaliatory measures from the Indian side.
   (f) Large scale corruption like the coal block allocations and the 2G spectrum auctions.
   (g) Regional parties were pressurising the Congress with their atrocious requirements!
   (h) Modi's interviews and interactions with the media that conveyed a hope that 'good days' were to
         come if he were elected.
   (j) He was, therefore, backed by all the Indians cutting across caste, creed and religion.

The RSS and the Hindu fringe groups rejoiced that their party had come to power and that they'd the licence now, to carry out their Hindutva agenda. All sorts of crazy statements were made that must have shamed Modi and his government, who'd harped on good governance!

Followed by attacks on churches and hate speeches. Still the party managed to win a few of the state assemblies on the strength of the 'Modi wave. But finally, got checkmated in Delhi where it had to be satisfied with a mere three seats conceding the remaining 67 seats to the Aam Admi Party!

The RSS and the fringe Hindu groups have not learnt their lesson that this country doesn't accept their version of 'Hindutva. What the average Indian wants is a trouble free life that gives him access to the things of life that he's entitled to - in other words, a definite improvement in the standard of living!

The PM had made an unequivocal statement that his government stood for every Indian's freedom to practice the religion of his choice. The religious heads while appreciating Modi's sincerity were sceptical as to how he'd be able to implement his idea, effectively.

And it's this statement that the RSS chief wanted to trash by making his unwarranted comments on Mother Theresa. 

The organisation must have realised that their ideas do not have a pan Indian appeal. If it continues to hamper and embarrass the Modi government from delivering good governance and the much needed reforms all around, it will only rue the people's decision during the next electoral battle.

As a Hindu, it's my firm belief that every Indian wants an 'all inclusive growth'. It's the minority appeasement, for establishing vote banks, that is detested by one and all.


I'm eagerly awaiting Suresh Prabhu's railway budget and Arun Jaitley's union budget. Hope they're able to sustain the average Indian's hopes of the 'acche din' that have been promised!!   

Monday, February 23, 2015

The group that's flexible with their time!

Lekha's nephew, his wife, her brother and his had set off in the morning from their home at Kottarakkara. They'd fixed up the programme almost a week ago, saying that they'd reach 'The Quarterdeck' to be in time for breakfast.

The youngsters have been logging long hours travelling, meeting people and getting things done, in fact, trying to satisfy most of their relations within the short duration that they're gonna be here. The couple flies off to Bahrein on 01 Mar, the younger brother goes off to Dubai on 02 Mar to take up his new job and the brother-in-law is gonna go off to Badgam in J&K during the second week of Mar to rejoin his unit. Since their itinerary has been loosely formulated to accommodate as many events as possible, the hosts had to make adjustments!

After a tiring trip to Rajapalayam and Thiruvananthapuram yesterday, their waking time had gone for a toss and consequently, they'd set off from their home much after 6 AM. The traffic regulations at Alappuzha, thanks to the CPM state meeting and the morning school/office traffic at Ernakulam, enroute, made sure that they fetched up at lunchtime!

True to their promise, they'd subsisted on a light snack, during the journey, to do justice to the breakfast made by their 'maasi'. And no we did not delay our's, waiting for them, as it would not have been practical.

It was tactfully converted to a 'brunch' and while they're going through their meal, the ma'asi at Tirur, had rung up inquiring as to when they'd be arriving for lunch, there. For us it was definitely a hilarious situation but the group didn't find it worrying. Instead, they seemed to accept the inordinate delay because, by then they'd attained that 'take it as it comes' attitude!


They make their long trip back after a couple of days' stay at Tirur!  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

All in the name of Land Acquisition Ordinance!

One has been hearing about the ordinance on 'land acquisition' brought about by the Modi government, when it failed to get the Rajya Sabha to clear the changes it wanted to append on the existing bill on the issue, during the last session of the Parliament. It's one of the pre-requisites of attracting businesses and industry into this country.

The original bill had stressed upon the 'owner's consent' before the acquisition of any land for whatever purposes. It's this clause that has been removed through the ordinance, as I understand. It's tricky and can be exploited by unscrupulous politicians in future!

The opposition parties have been quick to term the entire exercise as anti-people with the Congress spearheading the attack. In addition, the following factors make the government's task very, very difficult:-

 (a) Any ordinance must be converted to a bill that has the sanctity of the Parliament's consent within
      six months of its promulgation.
 (b) Anna Hazare, the crusader against corruption, has said that he'll undertake a countrywide tour,
       inciting farmers, to put their mite against the proposed bill.
 (c) The President of India had already advised the government against the ordinance route for
       bringing about reforms.
 (d) For the Modi government, time is running out in showing the country its promise of deliverance          in effective governance.
 (e) The opposition is clear that it will not allow Modi to get the accolades for the changes that he
       intends to bring for which he's gonna get political mileage!

Thus it's fairly clear that there's gonna be a tough fight over the bill and as a well wisher citizen of this country, it's my fond hope that a remedy is quickly found without wasting the valuable legislation time of the Parliament through frequent disruptions!

It's the national interest that should be uppermost in every lawmaker's mind to bring about an acceptable formula all round. By asking for it am I, as a patriotic citizen, asking for anything extraordinary?


It would be worthwhile to see as to what's achieved overall during this Budget Session of the Parliament, beginning tomorrow!  

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A clash of personalities!

1. The state committee of the CPM is currently in session at Alappuzha. They're supposed to take stock of the existing political situation in the state, carry out a comprehensive SWOT analysis and put into place, the way forward for the party highlighting its 'key result areas'. The duration is gonna be for four days but by the second day, unusual things have been taking place with VS Achuthanandan walking out of the session, putting the leadership on tenterhooks. It wasn't altogether unexpected because the personality clash between VS Achuthanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan has been smouldering over the last many years!


2. Pinarayi Vijayan has been the party's state committee secretary for the past 16 years. VS Achuthanandan, meanwhile, went on to become the chief minister and then, the leader of the opposition during the same period. Somewhere, after the initial years of Pinarayi's secretaryship, differences started cropping up between the two.

3. It started turning bitter when Achuthanandan began questioning Pinarayi's role in the infamous SNC Lavalin case - Pinarayi was the state's power minister in the late EK Nayanar's cabinet when an agreement was signed with the Canadian power company, SNC Lavalin, towards refurbishing the state's power generation units. An important clause in the agreement was that the company would donate Rs.100 crores in the Cancer Research Center at Kannur as a quid pro quo arrangement. It's the whereabouts of this amount that has been contentious!

4. To make matters worse, TP Chandrasekharan - a CPM man, who was chucked out of the party when he'd questioned its autocratic way of functioning - formed the RMP and was successfully taking on the CPM in many of the state's northern hamlets centered around his hometown of Onchiyam. He was brutally murdered by contract killers supposedly hired by the CPM's top leadership! TP was known to be Achuthanandan's man and hence, the latter condemned the gruesome incident in no uncertain terms demanding the culprits' expulsion from the party followed by legal action.

The present state of the party.

5. Pinarayi Vijayan has, over a period of time, come harsh on Achuthanandan's followers in the party with disciplinary action, so much so, that the party's state committee is now packed with his men which has come out with its damning report on Achuthanandan's 'anti-party activities'!

The 'last' fight!

6. It was in protest against the harsh criticism against him that Achuthanandan had walked out of the meeting demanding the following:-

    (a) The immediate withdrawal of the state committee's report.
    (b) Expulsion of two more party workers - involved in the TP murder case - from the party so that
          legal action is initiated against them forthwith.
    (c) Pinarayi Vijayan be brought to book for his lapses.

My take.

CPM, without Achuthanandan, will be rendered ineffective to a considerable extent. The ideal thing would be to have a thorough change in the state's top leadership but the sad fact is that there's no second rung leader that has the mass support of the party workers.


Just because a man is 93 years old, he cannot be chucked away citing vintage as the reason and 'to pave the way for young blood'. Imagine his angst of seeing the party he help form - yes, he's the only living member of the group that set up the party in its present form after the famous party split in '64 with the walking away of the late SA Dange - doing things that he doesn't quite agree with!

Friday, February 20, 2015

The terror boat episode.

Recent media reactions, statements by 'knowledgeable people on the subject', editorial opinion and all sorts of analyses over the terror boat issue made me wonder as to whether at least, a few of the voices, really batted for national causes. The Congress looked a pitiable sight, with its spokesmen almost towing the Pakistani line! How can a political party, that was in governance till a few months back, make such audacious, nonsensical statements?

Its hatred towards Modi is understandable because of the political drubbing that he gave the party but the venom being spewed on the man and his policies - it's all too clear that they don't have any issue with the BJP, as a party - will ultimately backfire on the party, rendering it totally irrelevant. Hope better sense prevails so that they re-energise to become a credible opposition in the near future.

It's only in India that 'intelligence-driven' operations are discussed openly in the name of 'freedom of speech'. By doing so, what's forgotten is that they're exposing our intelligence operatives to the enemy and making their future tasks much more difficult. We must never ever forget that intelligence gathering - I haven't used the dirty(?) word snooping, purposely - is a must for the well being of any country to enable it to protect itself from external/internal threats.

In the din of the arguments, the age old and unwritten maritime traditions went unheard. It needs to be understood that "in the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, no one from the shore ever gives an order to fire at sea, the tradition being that the man at the scene knows best"! That's why it's folklore that the 'command at sea' is a lonely job because the commander cannot look to any other man for advice and is solely responsible for the outcome of his decision!

What, then, made DIG Loshali utter nonsense in public, needs introspection. He's, in military parlance, the best example of a 'loose cannon'! A man of his seniority especially - to my mind, anyone in uniform for that matter - must conduct himself with dignity and measure his words that he utters! It makes me wonder as to how such a shallow man made it to the higher ranks. Godfathers, I'm sure, who must be wringing their hands seeing their protege making an ass of himself!!


A couple of points:-

 (a) It makes a perfect case for specialised 'defence correspondents'.
 (b) A national daily didn't glorify itself on the coverage of the issue and it seemed to be on the same lines as it had blared about 'the VK Singh initiated coup' in the recent past! Sad!!    

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Chinese New Year.

1. The Chinese New Year day is being celebrated by the Chinese, all over the world today, 19 Feb. Actually it's the longest national holiday spanning a total of 15 days, with the new year day being the most important date of the Chinese calendar. Family reunions take place with families partaking food together and there's fun and frolic prevalent everywhere. To meet up with the families back in the villages, the large population of professionals and government employees traverse great distances making it a huge transportation blitz!

2. It would, therefore, be worthwhile to understand the characteristics of the Chinese Calendar, which are:-
        (a) Is 'lunisolar' meaning that it's based on exact astronomical observations of the sun's
             longitude and moon's phases.
        (b) Its years, to a great extent, coincides with the tropical years and it shares similarities with
             the Jewish calendar. In both, an ordinary year has 12 months(353 - 355 days) while a leap
             year has 13 months(383 - 385 days).
        (c) Originated in China, the calendar is followed by the Chinese communities all over the world
              to determine festival dates(like the Chinese New Year) or auspicious dates(for eg. wedding
        (d) Does not count years in an infinite sequence. Each year is assigned a name consisting of two
              components within a 60 year cycle. The first component is a celestial stem and the 
              second component is a terrestrial branch which features the names of animals in a Zodiac
              cycle of 12 months. The details are appended:-
             (i) The first component - the celestial stem.
                  * Jia     (growing wood)
                  * Yi      (cut timber)
                  * Bing  (natural fire)
                  * Ding  (artificial fire)
                  * Wu    (earth)
                  * Ji      (earthenware)
                  * Geng(metal)
                  * Xiu   (wrought metal)
                  * Ren  (running water)
                  * Gui  (standing water).

             (ii) The second component - the terrestrial branch.
                   * Zi       (rat)
                   * Chou  (ox)
                   * Yin     (tiger)
                   * Mao   (rabbit)
                   * Chen  (dragon)
                   * Si       (snake)
                   * Wu     (horse)
                   * Wei    (sheep)
                   * Shai   (monkey)
                   * You    (rooster)
                   * Xu      (dog)
                   * Hai    (pig).

3. Each of the two components is used sequentially. Therefore, the first year of the cycle becomes, 'Jia-Zi', the second year 'Yi-Chou' and so on. The 10th year would be 'Gui-You', the 11th year ' Jia-Xu'(restarting the celestial stem) , the 12th year ' Yi-Hai' and the 13th year 'Bing-Zi'(restarting the terrestrial branch) and the 60th year would be 'Gui-Hai'.

4. This custom of numbering the 60 year cycle dates back to the 14th century BCE(2637 BCE), when the calendar was invented!

And Finally, Calculating the Chinese New Year.

It has two thumb rules viz. :-

    (a) The new year should be the new moon closest to the beginning of spring(in the northern
          hemisphere). In other words, the Chinese New Year will always fall between 21 Jan and 21

    (b) Most of the time, the Chinese New Year will fall 11(sometimes 10 or 12) days earlier than the
         previous year! But if that means that the date would be outside the 21 Jan - 21 Feb range, a
         leap month is added so that the Chinese New Year jumps 18(or 19) days later.


(a) It's interesting to note that China had resisted the use of the Gregorian calendar till 1912. It was Mao Tse Dong who'd ordered, on 01 Oct 1949, the use of the same.   

(b) Here's wishing the Chinese, all over the world, a very happy new year!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The strange case of Teesta Setalvad.

Social activist Teesta Setalvad has been in the news ever since the Gujarat riots of '02 with her emphasizing the point that the then chief minister, Narendra Modi, had to be brought to book for his complicity. That the case has gone on for so many years, with more than enthusiastic moral support from the Congress along with other parties and has not been able to prove anything against the man is a different matter altogether! As a layman, my only question to her is as to why has she not brought out the evidence that would nail the man and clear the case once for all.

It's this inordinate delay that raises doubts about her sincerity to bring about an early closure of the case while having the guilty punished. Or was it all a ploy to keep Narendra Modi down as his political opponents felt that he was a formidable adversary? If that's affirmative who're the players behind the scene, making her play out this pantomime?

The latest charge against her is that she and her husband have misappropriated donations meant for the riot victims.

To evade arrest by the Gujarat Police, she and her husband had gone underground. They'd given the slip to the police. And here's my doubt on the episode, "If she was squeaky clean on the issue, why did she take the furtive step of giving the slip to the law?" Since she's a highly respectable figure and is known to almost everyone in the country by virtue of her relentless crusade, the Gujarat Police wouldn't have dared to do anything wrong while she was in custody.

Or was she scared that whatever she'd tell the police during the interrogations would have blown the lid off her story thus far?


If one's on the side of the truth, nothing can affect him or her despite extremely inimical conditions because the truth will out, ultimately. That's the cosmic truth!       

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

We've a new moral policeman in the Censor Board chief!

Pahlaj Nihalani, the chairman of the Central Board of Film Censors, is the new moral policeman in town. He has waded into an unwanted controversy by passing an order, down the line, which encompasses the following:-

      (a) Banned the usage of 36 Hindi and English cuss words in films (What about those that aren't
           covered in the list? I'm sure he, himself wouldn't have catered to such an eventuality!)
      (b) Deletion of violence against women.
      (c) Ban on words that have double meanings.
      (d) Ban on describing India's commercial capital as 'Bombay'.
      (e) Ban on glorifying bloodshed.

What a colossal idiocy? Whom is he trying to pander to? The saffron party, which has put him on this elevated post because he feels that he owes it an obligation and thankfulness in having chosen him to grace that seat?

It's immensely sad that a film maker like him has passed an order that would gag the freedom and creativity of the film maker. Thankfully, the government has already come up saying that it doesn't support the idea.

I was trying to visualise 'Gabbar Singh of Sholay' in the Pahlaj Nihalani brought about situation. He would straight away lose his status as a villain thanks to the gag on him! And you can use your imagination to visualise many other villains who'd carved a niche for themselves by their unique brand of villainy!!

Can people, elevated to responsible positions be so crass that they forget to apply themselves sensibly on the job entrusted upon them?


I think even the people who've put the present dispensation in place have begun to realise the virtue of the previous one! Will we ever learn?

Monday, February 16, 2015

A few interesting happenings - a news analysis.

We're passing through interesting times. A lot many things are happening around us - a few on expected lines and many others on the unexpected! Let's go through a few:-

 (a) India, Sri Lanka and the nuclear deal.

      Every government in Sri Lanka has, in the past, played their China vs India card in their foreign
      policy initiatives and got the best deals from both. Sirisena, by visiting India, on his first trip
      abroad after being elected has struck the right note but do not be surprised when he follows it by
      one to China in the near future!

      The highlight of the visit has been the signing of the nuclear deal for purely civilian uses. Let's
      hope that there's an upswing in the relations between the two countries and irritants no more mar
      the status.

 (b) The coal block auctions.

        After having cancelled all the previous coal block allotments made under Manmohan Singh's
        government, one was under the impression that the new allocations would be transparent. While
        the transparency factor has been established, one is at a loss to evaluate the permission given to
        blacklisted companies to take part in the new process.

        Probably, having burnt their fingers, those companies are expected to follow the correct norms
        without resorting to underhand dealings, this time!

 (c)  Egypt gets after the ISIS.

       Egypt, in a dawn strike, has targeted the ISIS in neighbouring Libya. This was carried out in
       retaliation to the terror outfit's beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians - who'd gone to that
       country in search of work. They're paraded to a beach, made to kneel and beheaded.

       The terror outfit needs to be eliminated without compunction. The more Islamic nations join
       the fight against terror, the better it is for the world as a whole!


The story about the murder of 20 year old Ozgecan Aslan for resisting rape has angered the average
Turkish citizen. She'd used pepper spray to keep her detractors away - a minibus driver, his father and a friend - but was then stabbed and beaten on the head with an iron pipe to death. Her charred body was found in a riverbed in Mersin, a city of southern Turkey. Sad!

RIP, young lady. That was no way for you to go. We join your family in these difficult times with prayers and tears! 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Too much hype.

Today's one day match between India and Pakistan, at Adelaide, in the Cricket World Cup had been given too much of a hype. It's an accepted fact that whenever we've lost to Pakistan, there's been a tremendous pall of gloom and the feeling is as though we've lost everything. Why should it be so? Why can't we think of any sporting encounter with that country just like one among the others where the best team won?

The visual media had begun pumping up the hype for the last couple of days. The laughable fact is that we've always been critical of Pakistan's India-centric foreign policy and the way that country goes by to attain what they call 'a parity in status' with us! But by hyping sporting events to a 'do or die' level, the devastation that it causes to the mind - if the result is negative - is tremendous!!

The programme organisers and their sponsors don't care because they rake in the moolah, whatever be the outcome! To add to the woes, a few of the players give their - at times - crass and vitriolic comments about their opponents, crossing all levels of propriety! We need to mature and take sport in the right spirit - sportingly. Sounding condescending? Apologies, but I'd to say my piece seeing the unnecessary hype that has been whipped up.

Having said all that, I must admit that the win against Pakistan by 76 runs was heartwarming. It gives us the reason to keep watching the World Cup matches as India is in the reckoning to win the trophy and the professionals have already put the team as one of the sure shot semi-finalists!


Yes, a loss definitely brings about tremendous sadness to our men in uniform at the border. The dynamics prevalent there is totally different and justifiable, perhaps!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

And finally, it's curtains down!

The 35th National Games came to its grand finale this evening. There has been applause from all around regarding the fine conduct of the games and for the excellent facilities that were provided for its conduct. The government has gone a step further by announcing the following:-

     (a) provide immediate jobs for the sportspersons who'd won medals for the state.
     (b) a plan to look after the newly set up infrastructure by involving sports personalities, including
           that of setting up a sports school.
     (c) auditing of the games' accounts within the next 45 days.

The closing ceremony had the right amount of pomp and grandeur! The cultural programme that was put up, subsequently, was appropriate and good.

Having said so, there are two things that I haven't been able to fit in this jigsaw puzzle:-

      (a) One of the Malayalam TV channels was highly critical of anything and everything regarding
            the games, often pointing out the flip side which, incidentally, was good to ensure that
            nothing went wrong. From that point of view, it did a good job but being the cynical 'mallu'
            that I am, why do I get this feeling that its actions reeked of 'a sour grapes' syndrome? Did
            it bid for the organising pie of the games and fail to get it? And all the subsequent negative
            coverage was in retaliation? If affirmative, it's sad!
      (b) Consider the following sequence of events:-
            (i) the new chief secretary takes over before the beginning of the National Games.
           (ii) in his first press conference, he comes out heavily at the extravagant expenses related to
                 the opening ceremony and directs that the closing ceremony should be short and devoid
                 of big ticket expenditure. The sports minister is peeved and has the matter discussed at
                 the cabinet meeting where the chief secretary seems to have been censured!
          (iii) the CM, at the post cabinet meeting press conference, agrees that there were avoidable
          (iv) and a couple of days later, he announces that there's no question of scaling down the
                 grandeur of the closing ceremony as it was a decision taken beforehand!

            What was the need for the pantomime? The chief secretary is involved in the infamous
            'Palmolein case' and the opposition had opposed his elevation. By his actions, what was he
             trying to convey? Isn't it a loss of face for him to be ignored regarding his directives, by his
             own government, regarding the conduct of the closing ceremony?

             Or is it that, these days, self respect and standing firm on one's principles have no more
             relevance? Seems to be so from what one gets to see!


Kerala's excellent showing at the Games was remarkable. What has been brought to the fore is that it has talent all round by its great performances in Rowing, Fencing, Canoeing, Kayaking and even shooting while the thinking, thus far, was that it had stars only in the track and field events!            

Friday, February 13, 2015

A short, sweet trip.

The day had begun at a quarter to 3 as we went about our morning chores and helped mom to get ready but despite all the efforts, we could set course towards Palakkad only by a quarter past 5. George with his Tata Indigo was called for as my car was still with the service station. The roads were not too heavy with traffic and we could reach my sister, Rema's place by about 10 minutes to 7.

After a quick breakfast, Lekha, my sister, Minni and her daughter, Ammu left for the 'Thirumaandhaam kunnu' temple, 74 kms away, along with George. The temple is popular among young ladies as it's believed that by praying before Lord Ganesha - yes, his is the important deity in the otherwise ancient temple of the Goddess, Laxmi - for three successive years, marriage was sure to happen! And from the experiences of the many, the third visit is usually made by the husband and wife, post marriage!! The rates of the puja, as of now, are Rs.500/- for the first visit, Rs.750/- for the second and Rs.1,250/- for the third.

It was Ammu's second visit and they'd come all the way from Bangalore to keep their tryst with the Lord. The array of their share of the offerings at the puja was impressive as they brought back the 'prasadam' around lunch time. The fee for the next year's puja was also paid on the occasion.

Under the pretext of the puja, the family could have an impromptu get together of sorts which gave my mother a high. We're on the return leg by a half past 3 and could reach 'The Quarterdeck', comfortably, by tea time. A comfortable trip which also gave us adequate time to go about our evening chores with gusto!


A trip that rejuvenated my mom to a considerable extent! And of course, we got an opportunity to meet everybody yet again!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

First set your house in order then preach, Mr. Obama.

I was horrified (and I'm sure many Indians felt the same) to see Sureshbhai, an Indian and was visiting his son in Alabama, badly mauled by a local policeman which is yet another instance of racial profiling, quite rampant in the US these days. He remembers having gone for a morning walk but woke up on a hospital bed, temporarily paralysed, hours later!

His fault?

      - He was brown skinned.
      - He didn't know English!

And the ignominy:-

      - The media didn't find it necessary to report the case extensively.
      - The police department refused to divulge the name/(s)(was he roughed up by more than one?)          of the culprit/(s) to the family which is but a prime requirement in a legal scenario making
         one wonder as to whether this was happening in a country ruled by a tinpot dictator!
      - There were furious attempts to cover up the whole incident.

It's just not done, Mr. Obama especially when, just a fortnight ago, you'd given us a lesson on 'religious intolerance' and pointed out as to how dangerous a tendency it was. We did accept them as sane advice then, against the backdrop of attacks on churches in the buildup to the Delhi elections and a string of 'ghar waapasis' - the latter, thanks to the Hindu fringe groups.

But what's this, Mr. Obama? What's happening in your country in the name of racial profiling? And your law seems to be lopsided and skewed! What has happened to the fundamental rights of an individual?

We were under the impression that the US was a free country where everyone enjoyed freedom. But this incident says otherwise and is the proverbial last straw on the camel's back! You'd better get your house in order, apologise to the family and bring the culprits to book, forthwith!!


On the Times Now news channel, tonight, an Indian American lawyer by the name of Batra tried to put across his views from a legal angle giving the human angle, the short shrift. I'd be keen to hear your reactions if a near and dear one of yours was subjected to a similar horror and lay wired in the hospital. It's people like you who let your country down and that's why they treat you like muck. Make no mistake about it! And take this parting shot, "Don't ever try to be more American than the Yanks themselves. You'll have reasons to look down upon your own self!"


Had plans to visit the US sometime, this fall, to meet my classmates but after this incident I'm having second thoughts. Perhaps, I might just dump the idea!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What a fall?

The Governor of the state of Louisiana, US is 'Indian-American' Piyush "Bobby" Jindal. His steady climb to dizzy heights in American politics is the stuff for every migrant's ultimate American dream! The boy - conceived in India and born in the US after his parents had migrated - had made it big through his sustained efforts, chasing a dream and has been quoted in this country as a success story, worthy of emulation!

Last week, his carefully crafted image suffered a dent and a serious one at that wherein the Governor became the butt of jokes and derisive tweets. And the reason.........

Bobby Jindal had been painted in lighter tones to make him appear white Caucasian, in an official portrait, bringing the struggle with his ethnicity to the fore(When I read the report for the first time, I was reminded of a pathetic looking Michael Jackson, who'd gone through a similar image makeover years back!). Why did Jindal have to do this in a country that had convincingly elected a mixed race African American, Barack Hussein Obama, as its President?

Actually, as the stories suggest, 'the whitewashing' would not have grabbed headlines had it not been for Jindal disdaining the term 'Indian American' in the recent past. Combined with his conservative record, arising from converting to Christianity while in high school and changing his name to Bobby has been viewed as a political game plan in pursuit of higher office to make himself more acceptable to the voting public!

My take.

I feel sorry for the poor man. A shameless eagerness to shed one's own identity, grab the other's to gain acceptability speaks poorly of the man and points a finger at his ethics. I wish I wasn't this harsh but, unfortunately, that's the over-riding emotion that comes by - a sinking feeling that he wouldn't mind dumping anything to achieve his aim! Is this what 'searing ambition' is all about?


Sad! Why doesn't his family give him the right advice?  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Musings on the Delhi elections.

Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party has swept the Delhi elections sparing just three seats for the BJP and nothing for the Congress, out of a total of 70 seats. One of the numerous messages that came out consequent to the elections that I found to be the cutest was and I quote, "My Tata Nano has more seats than the BJP".

Many reasons have been cited and discussed threadbare on the media by now and hence, I shan't dwell upon it. But it's my firm belief that the following factors had a decisive bearing:-

 (a) Modi's expensive, monogrammed suit.

 Even Modi might not have realised as to how costly the suit that he wore, during the meeting with
 Obama, would prove to be at the Delhi hustings. And no, I wouldn't go by the argument that he, by
 doing so, had alienated the poor. In fact the poorest of the poor would aspire to wear good clothes
 if economics permit, but here, the reason was far more sinister. The high heeled society and the
 middle class could not accept the fact that a mere 'chaaiwala' was wearing such flashy clothes when
 the very same people would have justified it if, say, Rahul Gandhi had worn it. A typical Indian
 mindset that cannot be wished away. (Incidentally, Tavleen Singh, the noted journalist has set the
 record straight by saying that Modi was gifted the suit by some textile friend of his).

 (b) The government office goers' changed loyalties.

 It's but a sad fact that the government office goers of our country are a miserably corrupt lot. They'd
 do anything under the sun to get a job and once having got it, think that they've the liberty to do
 anything that suits them on a personal level. Coming late, spending long hours on worthless
 discussions over endless cups of tea, skipping office hours to do personal work, accepting bribes to
 move files and leaving office much earlier are a few of the shenanigans that they indulge in. These
 have been restricted thanks to Modi's diktat and they're chaffing against the leash. The entire block,
 including the bureaucrats, voted to teach the BJP a lesson. A similar phenomenon had taken place
 soon after the 'emergency'. Remember?

 (c) Modi's deafening silence on the incidents that threatened the minorities.

 Be it the 'ghar waapasis' or the attacks on the churches, the silence on the part of the PM has not
 gone well with the people. He needs to assure every Indian that no harm would befall them under
 his watch. The entire minority vote went to the AAP, consequentially, as they're an untried entity!

All the other factors cited by the media and the political pundits definitely contributed to the electoral success of the AAP but as I'd said in my opening remarks, it's these three that were the most critical of them all.

And why's it good in the nation's overall interest?

I'm glad that the Delhi results have turned out this way because:-

  (a) Modi will work towards making his poll promises with renewed vigour, failing which, he
        knows that the people will lose faith in his leadership.

  (b) The RSS and the Hindu fringe groups would rein in themselves and allow Modi to deliver upon
         his promises. They must have realised that the ordinary Indian didn't care a damn, if his
         neighbour was a Christian or a Muslim or for that matter, from any minority so long as they
         were staunch Indians!


On the flip side, it would be suicidal for the AAP to forge electoral alliances with the other political parties in the name of edging out the BJP in the forthcoming assembly elections of Bihar, UP or West Bengal. I'd underline that as a sure recipe for disaster!


Monday, February 9, 2015

A return that was boring and irksome.

I'd wished Rajesh the very best on his wedding day. We'd gone through the mandatory ceremonies, before the wedding, at their house prior to leaving for the venue. Met many people who're quite surprised that I'd made the trip back, yet again, after a gap of just a couple of days. From the looks that I'd received from many, the reactions could be categorised into three and they're:-

       - Isn't he crazy to make the long trip twice and that too in quick succession?
       - He belongs to a dying tribe who attaches great importance to the family and relationships.
       - He's acceptable to everyone and his absence would have set tongues wagging like for example,
          he maintains good relationship with only the people that matter (if I'd skipped this and had only
          been there for Priyanka's!).

Whatever said and done, though I enjoyed every minute of my participation at both the weddings, there were difficulties that I did undergo like today's return journey. I'd set off back, soon after the wedding, without waiting to have the traditional feast soon after. A combination of car and bus journeys brought me tantalisingly close to the Kerala Express, at the Chengannur railway station, whose rolling out siren greeted me as I reached the ticket counter! Even the person at the counter felt bad which was no consolation though!!

The train that I finally boarded was more than half an hour late and boy, didn't it stop at almost all the stations enroute despite the fact that it was an express train going to Bangalore from Kanyakumari? The coup de grace was when it was overtaken by a super fast train just prior to my getting off at Thrissur! And to make matters worse, the train was crowded all through with quite a few of the passengers coming out with their negative qualities especially, regarding accommodating fellow travellers. I shall expand on this, in that, there's a general reluctance to accommodate the others by offering space to sit down and when people resort to such negativity, it's funny to see them avoiding eye contact - reiterates the fact that they're fully aware that what they're doing is wrong!

Speaking about uncouth behaviour, a college going youth incurred my wrath in the final stages of the journey. We're sitting opposite each other on the single seats and when I'd returned from the washroom, I saw him sitting with his socks clad feet on my seat which he didn't bother to remove even after sighting me. That was the time that an angry me let go at him for not exhibiting civic sense to which his audacious answer was that 'everyone does it and anyways, you don't own the seat!'

I, then, took it upon myself to educate the youngster that during the 'pendency of my reservation', I enjoyed its temporary ownership and therefore, it's incumbent on the others to respect my consequential right over it. Nobody could trespass in anyway possible unless they'd my express permission. He got meek after that and remained quiet subsequently! The others were supportive of my 'words of wisdom'.


One more social event on my calendar has been ticked off with the satisfaction that the commitment could be met despite the constraints!


Sunday, February 8, 2015

A longish day.

For me, the day had begun at 4 and I was ready well in time when Anto had fetched up by 0530 hrs. The poor guy drove through in slumber as he didn't want to say 'nyet' to me! Usually he avoids a morning run on Sundays.

The young lady at the counter had never heard of the destination that I was seeking a ticket for. I didn't want to educate her as the line was swelling and therefore, took a ticket for the next big station. The ignorance was despite the knowledge being readily available on her fingertips, literally! I wasn't bothered about paying extra but what I was really bothered about was of not educating her because she's gonna repeat her mistake with many others.

The journey, as such, was tedious and boring. I'd spent the six hours in reading the day's newspapers and a book that I'd brought along. I was at home by 1500 hrs. Being a Sunday, the passersby were almost a trickle and hence, the calls were just a few.

Had my customary chat with dad at his cremation point. And the trickle of guests continued till I decided to call it a day so that I could concentrate on a few pending work. The caretaker had catered to my gastronomical needs.


A longish day indeed!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Limbering up!

The day had begun in a businesslike manner with me going out earlier than usual for my customary walk. The tending of the garden followed after which I'd accompanied Achu to see him off at the bus stop nearby as he was off for his attempt at GATE. The exam was being conducted in an Engineering college, about 25 kms from here.

Later on I'd gone to town running essential errands before my trip to Kottarakkara to attend the wedding of a cousin's son. The entire family from my dad's side will be keenly watching as to whether I'd make it or give it a miss. This cousin has not done too well for himself, you see and the poor man had passed away over a year back!

By evening, as I wound up my walk, I'd tied up all the loose ends. Mom was wondering as to whether I really needed to go - these days she hates me going away - and that she'd speak to the boy and his mother and invite the newlyweds to Guruvayur!

I'd to patiently convince her that that was not right in the circumstances!


Tomorrow's gonna be another long day.

Friday, February 6, 2015

How vested interests affect your and my thinking!

It's my endeavour to show you as to how our thought processes are channelised by vested interests. What saddens me is that the perpetrators of this process take us to be a bunch of fools with low IQ and bad memory! And we, the people, swallow it hook, line and sinker, time and again!! With an ever active media, the distribution of information gets fast - usually, tending to be an information overkill - and we tend to accept it as the ultimate truth because there's no fool proof method to verify or validate!!!

Let me take two incidents that are fresh in our minds and are currently, very much in the news - the inaugural ceremony of the National Games and the run up to the Delhi elections.

      1. The inaugural ceremony of the National Games.

      The inaugural ceremony of the National games had the glitter that it deserved. I don't remember
      the event having got so much publicity in the previous years and from the looks of it, the state has
      infrastructurally benefited by getting quite a few swanky sports facilities. How they're
      maintained subsequently needs to be seen.

      Coming back to the inaugural ceremony, the political leaders, the Games organisers and the
      sportspersons played their roles well and the torch was lit (the political leaders and the Games
      organisers kept their speeches short and to the point!). And then, came the entertainment
      programme of three and a half hour duration which was an out and out Mohanlal show! The
      inauguration of a band by the name of 'Lalisom' was also on the cards.

      The programme had begun with a documentary on the legendary mariner, Kunhali Marikkar,
      enacted by none other than the superstar himself spewing long dialogues in Malayalam without
      subtitles or a voice over in English/Hindi that would have benefited the audience that were drawn
      from other states too.

      And then came 'Lalisom'. Though accomplished playback singers came and delivered a number
      each, the rest of the programme saw Mohanlal singing(?) evergreen hits much to the regret of his         fans and followers! Achu, my nephew, observes that there was an occasion when his lip sync
      didn't match which confirms that he'd taped his 'singing efforts' earlier. That's taking all of us
      for granted, Mohanlal, which is simply unacceptable!!

 Let me, now, try to state as to what might have happened.  And here I go, from the 
 information that has been made available thus far:-

             The organising committee wanted an AR Rehman night but since it was not cost effective,
             it plumped for Mohanlal, in the last minute with the expectation that it would be of a high
             value in entertainment quotient! Rs.2 crores were earmarked for the purpose!!

 Now, these are the questions and certain facts that Mohanlal needs to answer and understand:-

            (a) What was the relevance of Kunhali Marikkar with respect to the National Games?
            (b) We've accepted a few of your songs sung in the movies without reservation. But that
                  doesn't mean that you've our endorsement as a singer. You continue to remain our
                  favourite actor. Period!
            (c) Your returning the expended amount to the government is the right decision. Pse stick 
                  to it despite pressures.
            (d) And since we hold you in such esteem, it's but natural that we expect only the best from
                 you, always and every time! No mediocrity please and don't take us for granted!! 

       2. The run up to the Delhi elections.

       I'd tend to agree with Arnab Goswami when he says that the Delhi elections has been petty,
       viciously personal and issueless. But see what had happened towards the run up to the elections?

       (a) Attacks on churches that took place in a continuous spree.
       (b) AAP's tendency to highlight wrongdoings without substantiating the charges. The charge
            about EVMs giving votes to the BJP candidate, irrespective of the button pressed, is a serious
            charge neither corroborated with evidence nor disputed convincingly by the Election
       (c) The Imam's overnight support for the AAP, the party's quick refusal to accept the offer and
             the Imam's disappearance from the screens thereafter.
       (d) Kiran Bedi's gaffes and her refusal to participate in an open debate with her opponents 
             brought down her overall acceptance among the masses by considerable notches!

    Who benefited from these 'strategies' and 'counter strategies' is very easy to read. I shall not go
     naming a specific party but suffice to understand that all parties have indulged in playing very
     petty and dubious games.


(a) So, who'll win the Delhi elections? May the party, who delivers good governance, win!
(b) Isn't it amply clear that our thought processes are being moulded by external forces to suit their ways?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Meeting people.

Priyanka's wedding day!

I'd packed my overnighter after the morning chores and also after ensuring that the towel was reasonably dry. With the laptop slung on the left shoulder, I'd locked up the series of doors of the house before venturing out. Earlier, the caretaker of our house, had brought me a light breakfast of dosas and tea. I'd walked the short road to my cousin's house where my belongings were put into a car chauffeured by one of my nephews, Vishnuprasad on the pretext that he'd a lot to catch up with me!

The car for the bride that was tastefully decorated with flowers and five others left for the venue, on the dot at 9 AM. They'd a tryst, enroute, with a powerful goddess of the nearby temple. There were three buses that were to carry the rest of the guests and we stayed back till a quarter to 10 to ensure that all the guests had embarked on board.

The venue was about a half an hour's drive from the start point. Once the venue was reached, it's a steady stream of guests that kept trickling in and I was able to meet up with a lot of my relations after what has been a long time. The trysts were interesting and quite a few of them said things that shall remain evergreen for the times to come. Age seems to have caught up with a few but meeting them did give me a high!

Soon after the wedding, I'd taken off for the Adoor bus stand for my return journey. Appukuttan kochachan's sons and my nephews, Unni, Balu and li'l Unni took me in their car and as we sped, I'd quickly changed my dhoti and sandals with a trouser and keds, for the journey, within the cramped space of the pillion seat! The connection bus came in soon after and I'd pressed on with a change over to the weekly super fast train, 'Kochuveli - Hubli' at Chengannur which enabled me to reach Thrissur at 1815 hrs. And an hour later, I was at home narrating each and every frame of the trip to my mom who was very keen to know about "all those who'd missed her"...... and indeed, there were very many!

                *              *              *

Varughese, headed for Hubli!

I'd an interesting tryst with a gentleman named Varughese during my journey. After boarding the train, I'd bought a snack of crispy vadas and chutney which were devoured in no time. He, who was seated opposite to me, had also gone for the same snack and at the end of it, offered me water to wash it down. He carries boiled water during journeys that catered to the requirements of his ultra sensitive throat!

He's all of 70, a native of Pathanapuram - a hamlet, near to mine - and was a permanent resident at Hubli till last year when his 97 year old father-in-law required looking after and consequently, he and his wife had shifted bag and baggage to his wife's place because six other children of the elderly gentleman were staying far, far away - two within the country and four, abroad!

Varughese was off on a day's assignment to Hubli to cater to his daughter's urgent requirement! The train, incidentally, had no pantry car and hence its passengers depended on the vendors at the stations where it halted, which were few and far between, because of it being a super fast! And therefore, I did feel touched by Varughese's generosity in offering me water that was at a premium for him and had to last the whole journey which would end tomorrow by lunch time!

Soon after, a coffee vendor came by and I'd ordered one for myself since he said that he preferred tea which I promised to fetch him when I got off at Thrissur.

And I'd got off, bought a cup of tea from the platform vendor and handed it over to the kind gentleman who'd a ten rupee note folded in his hand and insisted upon my taking it as he accepted the cup of tea with trembling hands!

I'd refused it saying that 'the glass of water that he'd offered me was much dearer than the cup of tea' and walked away........ I must admit that I felt nice!


A similar trip needs to be made on 08 Feb to attend the wedding of another nephew. Wonder how much I need to walk, to put back my tummy in, with all the rich food that I've been indulging in?      

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Why did I do it?

It was travel time yet again. I was to represent the entire family to attend Priyanka's - my cousin's daughter - wedding. My sisters couldn't make it because one's school was being inspected by their bosses from Bangalore while the other was tied up with her daughter's interview. My mom was not quite ready to travel and therefore, Lekha needed to be with her.

Anto dropped me at the railway station at the appointed hour. After buying my ticket, while I was buying the day's newspapers, two guys had selected their choice of the day's newspapers but had hit a roadblock, in that, they didn't have a rupee which the vendor was insisting upon. Their attitude seemed to be - must confess that it was my conclusion - "Aw come on, don't bother about a silly rupee". The shopkeeper was made of sterner stuff, he continued to insist upon his coin.

That was the time that I was handing over my dues. Quite uncharacteristically, I paid up their one rupee too. Why did I do it? I don't know. It just happened on the spur of the moment! They accepted the help as though it's the most natural thing and mind you, I never knew them from Adam. But what surprised me the most was the reaction of the vendor - he was very, very cross with me. Wonder why?


I never saw the duo during the entire journey. And no, I wasn't expecting them to be ever-so-obliged to me. The question as to why I'd behaved like that kept coming back at me. Reached my dad's place by 1500h. It was while travelling on the Kollam - Kuri Halt segment that I realised that I'd gone on the same route to join the flying training school at Mohammedabad Bidar, 39 years back!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

An afternoon dawn!

Ramesh, the garden man, came in at an irritable time. He has this way of dropping by when I'd have just begun my siesta but since there was work that needed his attention, his arrival was good, nay appropriate!

The courtyard's grassy patch was clipped and the trees and plants were attended to that required a lot of pruning. An offensive plant trying to grow through a drainage pipe was removed using a medicine that he'd promised during his previous visit. The different varieties of Bougainvillas, that had begun to flower - he'd vouched that all of them would flower provided we didn't water them unnecessarily - were also attended to.

It was at this time that I'd broached the topic of a young lady - claiming to be a salesgirl for the nursery under the aegis of the Agricultural College nearby - who'd visited us about a fortnight back and had collected Rs.850/- towards providing us a few potted plants of our choice. She'd promised to deliver them within the next 48 hrs and it was now over a fortnight since that promise was given!

I remember Ramesh warning us about impostors on an earlier visit but Lekha, who'd initiated the transaction didn't have reasons to doubt the visitor's integrity. She'd provided a receipt for the amount on the nursery's letterhead which accentuated her authenticity! Ramesh's explanation blew the last shred of hope that we'd nurtured. According to him, there were quite a few of such impostors who chose the houses of people who're actually outsiders - not belonging to Guruvayur, that is - to work their charms and dupe the unsuspecting host!

The afternoon was hot but Ramesh's explanation was explicit and it dawned on me that I'd been nicely duped!


My ego had suffered a serious bruise at the thought of having been duped at this stage of my life even though I claimed to have a tremendous amount of experience from life, in general. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Double standards!

China has warned the US that it was opposed to any country meeting the Dalai Lama, in any manner. In the same vein, it goes on to say that it is opposed to any nation or government using the 'Tibet issue to interfere in China's internal affairs! In fact, China is stated to have denounced the spiritual leader as "a dangerous splittist", seeking to establish an independent Tibet.

This was in response to the White House's announcement, last week, that the US President would deliver an address on 'Religious Freedom' on 05 Feb, at a prayer breakfast, in Washington which will be attended by the Dalai Lama.

Against this backdrop, why does it hobnob with Pakistan to create infrastructure both, in the overrun Aksai Chin area and the disputed, Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. It's, by far, the most blatant example of fishing in troubled waters! And to keep the border issue live between China and India, it keeps claiming Arunachal Pradesh to be its!!

If all these don't smack of double standards, what does?

                  *               *                *

India had successfully test-fired the 6,000 km ICBM, Agni, from the canister making it very user friendly and allowing the user to fire it from anywhere - as they said even from the roadside with minimum loss of time - last week.

One was only waiting for the news from Pakistan as to how it had test fired some rocket close on its heels and here, it is! It seems to have successfully test-fired a new, indigenously developed(?) cruise missile capable of delivering nuclear as well as conventional warheads up to 350 kms! This is the way that it tries to create a false feeling of 'having attained parity with India'!

And mind you, the country is in a very bad economic state! Why can't they stop being India-centric and worry about their own well being, for a change?

Will they learn, ever?


An Indian restaurant, 'Dishoom', in Covent Garden that's modelled on a typical Irani cafe of Bombay, has become the best restaurant in UK. Its 'bun maska' and 'kaal khatta' are the most sought after dishes, often attracting serpentine queues of people! It was founded in 2010!!

The other dishes that are served regularly are 'bhel', 'paao bhaaji'(my favourite) and 'Bare Miya' style grills!     

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How I got caught with wrong Math!

Last week we'd been to my dad's place. A number of things that we'd long wanted to do there were accomplished. And while in the process of ticking off the completed jobs, that were on my slop chit, a group of three had dropped by.

They're professional 'straighteners' of trees that people invariably got done because of the precarious angles that a few trees take to, owing to a variety of reasons. There's a coconut tree in our courtyard that is angled dangerously towards the house but since it gives good yield, I didn't have the heart to cut it off. Any storm can bring it down to disastrous results and I'd been wanting to get it straightened out with stay wires but to get these guys, it's very difficult as they're much in demand and therefore, always on the move and never available when one needs them!

We'd planned our departure to Guruvayur immediately after lunchtime. Therefore, the team's arrival around 11 was not acceptable but on their insistence that their job would take only about 10 minutes, I'd to give in and let them go about their work.

And they went about their job with clinical precision. The exact length of the stay wire, that was required, was estimated through visual survey and the portion cut from the large loop of cable that they're lugging along for the purpose. They went about their work efficiently and after about fifteen minutes, the tree was pulled back - albeit by a few degrees - with the stay wire holding it in its new position, firmly secured to another tree at the corner of the courtyard! It looked neat and they said that they would return a year later for review and further tighten the wire to get the tree into an almost normal position!

Then came the calculations for the amount to be paid. About ten equal lengths of a rope was used up, with each length corresponding to 15 meters. The amount, thus, worked out to be a little over Rs.12 grand as the wire cost Rs.70/- per meter! I must confess that in my rough calculations, somewhere I'd missed out on a zero and had not anticipated such an amount. I'd to sheepishly tell the guys that I didn't have the amount in cash but could give a cheque instead!

But they're magnanimous enough in that they said that they'd collect the balance amount from me later, from Guruvayur, after collecting an advance of Rs.2 grand. The job was accomplished, thus, the following constraints notwithstanding:-

  (a) the sudden arrival of the professional straighteners.
  (b) the goof up in working out the real estimates and
  (c) the time constraints that we had!

Had I known that it would work out to this amount, I'd not have allowed them to embark on the job!


Yet another occasion when my 'Math' played truant!


Another thing that I'd observed....... there was not a length of the steel wire that was wasted or overly drawn!