Thursday, April 30, 2015

Return to Raj Nivas.

It was a warm and sunny morning. We'd got up liesurely as we'd to fetch up at the venue of the wedding by 1030h and sure enough, we're among the first few guests to arrive, from the boy's side and parked ourselves at a vantage position! Soon the hall had filled up though my friend and the boy's father told me that the strength had dwindled because of the trade unions call to all automobiles to keep off the roads in defiance to the new motor vehicles' act that has been brought out by the union government. I was under the impression that the act was appropriate in its present form!

The wedding was a grand affair with the boy and girl making a handsome couple. My wishes to them for a long and happy married life. It was during the 'sadya' time that I came to know that the roads were free of hassles and that the private vehicles were plying on the highway with a gay abandon!

The plan was reworked and finally executed whereby we'd decided to leave for Guruvayur by early morning after spending the night at Raj Nivas. The roads were empty, consequently the drive was smooth and we reached home by tea time.

The bags were packed for the early morning departure.


(a) Had met Vijayakumar during lunch. He'd that sad look on his face as he was nearing the end of a blemishless professional life!

(b) Could meet Mathew Ipe, 607, of my class after leaving school for the first time. He was eager to talk and took down my telephone number and mail ID. It was indeed nice!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A day that had many things packed into it.

It was a day that was crowded with activities but they'd to be fitted in because we'd to be at Thiruvananthapuram by sunset to be with a classmate of mine for whom it was a very special day! We'd been invited by his son, a few weeks earlier, with a request that our presence was a must and we couldn't refuse the offer.

The trees at the courtyard of our house had long required pruning and that was undertaken in right earnest in the morning. Sivan, the coconut plucker, had been hired for the purpose who did a valiant job, the wasp's nest at the base of one of the statuettes of a goblin atop the terrace and the red ants on the tree, notwithstanding! By the time he'd begun the mopping up, we're getting ready for our journey to Thiruvananthapuram and by a half past 1, we're on our way via Ayur - about 18 km away - to pick up Sanil and my niece, Ammu.

The drive was fine and we're at Thiruvananthapuram by 1600h. Our visits had begun with Indira kunjamma's house where we could finally meet up with Suresh - her son-in-law and a merchant navy man who could reach in time for his dad's 41st day ceremony - and offer our belated condolences! We'd, then, visited Suma kunjamma's house where my uncle had recently undergone a series of interventions on his left eye to save its sight. After dropping mom, my sister and family at one of my cousins, we reached the Trivandrum Club and the cottage, that we're booked into, by about a half past 6.

The evening's programme was full of emotions and it was a crowded function in one of the banquet halls of the club. Vijayakumar, my classmate and in whose honour the function was on, is a hugely popular guy and the number of guests that crowded the hall was ample testimony to that fact. Our classmates were in fair numbers but I'd have loved to have more, especially the ones living in the city! Probably, they'd valid reasons to stay away. At one point of time, Vijayakumar had opened up to me saying that he was gonna miss the spotlight and was greatly effusive in his appreciation of our presence despite the distances that we'd to cover for fetching up for the event. I could only grin and tell him that even this moment would also pass, on a rare philosophical note.


A great day and the evening, in particular. Was glad that I could pack in a schedule that could cover all that I'd wanted to do. It's the wedding of the son of another classmate of mine tomorrow, in yet another banquet hall within the same premises. Hope to meet many friends at the function.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rajamma chechi's angst.

It was another quiet day. The weather was gummy and the sky overcast, giving a gloomy outlook. The plumber was asked to give us an estimate of replacing the overhead fresh water tank that has sprung a leak. He has been told to finish the task within the shortest possible time.

Rajamma chechi, who was my mom's help once upon a time, was the first on the line of visitors who'd come to look up mom. All of 70 yrs, she has aged gracefully and laughs more often. As kids, I and my sisters had seen her sobbing while telling my parents about her alcohol-addict husband who used to fight with her and thrash their children - five in all, two boys and three girls - every evening, for no rhyme or reason. The paradox was that he was a good farmhand, looking after all the jobs assigned by dad. So, my dad's predicament was understandable when mom wanted him to be reined in.

My parents, finally, had worked out an acceptable solution for all. The children, as per their seniority, were adopted into the family with emphasis on their education. In return, each of them had helped mom and ran errands. My parents' perseverance paid off and the kids had grown up to be capable men and women, before branching off with their own families!

But Rajamma chechi's woes seemed to never end as her husband had gone from bad to worse, fighting with the family almost everyday! And one day, alcohol had consumed him. Period! The family, however, held fast and successfully did overcome the nightmare. Her children are doing well and is contended with her brood of grandchildren - all doing well academically. She wishes that her husband was alive to see this day.

Her parting shot to mom was and I quote, "He never enjoyed his life ever. How I wish that he was with us now?" Her misty eyes told us that she has long forgiven him for his follies!


Why wasn't Manian Pillai affable with his family while he was so with us? One would never know.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Social calls.

Today is the day of the Malayalam star, 'Aayilyam' auspicious for its connections with the snake god. The family religiously conducts the connected 'puja' and related offerings of milk and turmeric powder. My sister had gone to the nearby temple - once the property of my paternal grandmother's family but handed over to the Devaswom Board. The temple was renovated about five years back with my dad contributing towards the setting up of the snake god's enclosure.

There's a personal connection to the 'Aayilyam puja' - if by any chance the puja were to be missed, I used to either see a snake at uncomfortably close quarters or dream about them breaking my sleep chain! Wonder as to what connection I have with this scary reptile?

The whole family had attended a lovely lunch, hosted by Kamalamma chechi, our pleasant neighbour', in honour of her eldest son, Rajan's 60th birthday. When I'd draped a shawl around him, many seemed to be quaintly surprised as it was an exception - no one gave gifts on such occasions. Even Rajan was bowled over by the gesture and gave me a tight hug!

Sivan, one of our enterprising farmhand had plucked coconuts from all the trees within the compound. So, we feasted on the tender coconuts collected during the efforts, during teatime.

Meeting Pidavoor amma - all of 87 yrs and my brother-in-law, Padmakumar's mom - has  always been a pleasant experience and today's was no exception. She's chirpy and cheerful, tending her house and hearth as efficiently as ever! She leads a lonely existence almost through the day as her youngest son, a chronic bachelor, returns from work quite late in the evening. He leaves for his office at 8 AM. I saw her with folded hands on my rear view mirror as I was pulling  off from her drive way - she was praying to her god to take care of me and my car!


With such exceptional care, do I need to worry ever?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Nepal's sad hour.

1. To my mind nature has been unduly harsh on Nepal as the devastating earthquake and its aftershocks have left behind a trail of devastation and unimaginable misery. The official count of the dead is over 5,000 while the actual number could be much beyond that. The Indian government has provided immediate relief like a good neighbour and the Indian Air Force has made numerous sorties on relief missions to provide succour to the suffering people.

2. It's my fervent hope that Nepal gets back to normalcy at the earliest and the quality of life raised to even better standards.

3. My humble prayers and tears to the unfortunate many who'd lost their lives. Here's wishing that their near and dear ones are able to tide over these stressful times.

Ramgopal Varma's unwanted jibe.

4. The loudmouthed director of the Hindi movies, Ramgopal Varma, has done it again. After viewing Mani Ratnam's latest movie,  'O Kaadal Kanmani', while lauding Dulquar Salman's acting prowess ridiculed his dad, Mammootty, saying that he can't act for nuts and must take acting lessons from his son! He went on to tweet a few more unsavoury things prompting the superstar's legions of followers to react angrily on the social media. The blighter quickly tweeted his apology with the rider that he'd the right to voice his opinions and that he stood by his opinion.  He continues to face the wrath of the actor's fans.

5. The man is not new to controversies but the timing of his latest jibe brings about more questions than answers like:-

  (a) why is he rattled with Mammootty?
  (b) or is it his Mohanlal loyalty prompting him to do so?


Talking about fundamental rights,  it was amusing to note the argument put forth by a Malayalee, in court, during the recent bar controversy that his fundamental right to drink was being infringed upon by the closure of the bars. The court clearly opined that there was no such right provided in the Constitution!

Real warped thinking on the part of the mallu!


We'd returned ashore by a half past 9 after a day's delightful on board experience and breakfast and reached home by lunctime. Wasn't mom thrilled to see us? Meanwhile, Sanil, Minni and Ammu had got Raj Nivas back to its original clean standards!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

On the Vembanad waters.

My elderly aunt, on hearing my name, shot her arm at me to offer a hand shake, surprising the entire family. She gave me a long hard stare while clutching my hand firmly. The dumbo that I am couldn't quite get as to what she was telling me through her actions.

We'd set off from my cousin's place by about a half past 8 in what seemed to be lovely weather after last night's heavy rains. The drive to Alappuzha was smooth and hassle free. We're at Pallathuruthy, well in time to board the house boat booked for us which was a three roomer. We'd cast off from the jetty by 11 o'clock to a sunny day and gentle breeze.

The sights from the covered weather deck were lovely and deep within, I was also reliving the numerous boat rides that I'd, as a kid, along with my grandparents and parents from Ambalapuzha to Neelamperoor and back, through some parts of the waterway. I seem to have a close bond with Kuttanad, and its abundant natural beauty.

The meals, the company and the overall ambiance were heady, the extended conversations turning out to be a wealth of information. I must concede that I'd picked up quite a few new information from the others while I'd like to believe that they too benefited from our interaction. The boat was tied up at its jetty, by sunset, as movements are disallowed during the night hours to protect the nets that have been positioned by the fishermen for their early morning catch.

An exhilarating experience indeed on the Vembanad backwaters!


(a) I was told that there were about 1,200 such boats plying on the Vembanad waters as it has become popular not only for the tourists from outside the state but for the Malayalees, too. There's one aspect that crept into my mind as we'd anchored for the night - the cultural transactions between the local populace and the outsiders, who visit the area for pure leisure and merrymaking, are being monitored by suitable agencies, channelised on a positive note while firmly nipping the negative tendencies to ensure the overall development of the area. If a system isn't in place, it needs to be established, forthwith, without loss of time.

(b) The waters need to be kept clean with zero level tolerance for pollution of any sort!

(c) Kuttanad should be a world class tourist destination. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

A short trip to Kochi.

The day had begun with a massive cleaning process. The sheets had to be washed, dried and pressed. Certain parts of the house required better scrubbing down as the cleaner's job was not satisfactory and of course, my Chevy needed a thorough wash. Sanil, my brother-in-law, was at his culinary best and had brought out an exquisite breakfast which permitted Lekha and my sister, Minni to visit the nearby temples.

Mom seemed to be thrilled to have come back to her place and she was going around every nook and cranny of her house to find out the standards of cleanship and was generally, not very pleased with what she saw!

We'd a delayed lunch and soon after, we'd set off for Kochi. The journey was nice and uneventful but we'd to pass through thundershowers which stretched across Alappuzha, all the way to my cousin's place. And we're in time for celebrating the 36th wedding anniversary of Mohan and Jaya where our friends had also joined up.

My 102 yr old aunt was alert and did register our presence with one of those smiles that have, sadly, become rarer these days. Since the house was full, we're accommodated at her neighbour's flat and consequently, could have a very educative conversation with the spirited journalist who'd his own views about the ethics prevalent among their breed. Interesting revelations indeed.

The night was getting to be late but the upshot of the whole evening's mad conglomeration was the crystallising of a programme when the group is scheduled to visit Thailand, around Onam time.


And before anyone could change his/her ideas, I'd shot out a mail to my friends, Anil and Radha about our programme and to know whether they'd the convenience to host us, chart out an exclusive sight seeing programme!  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A hectic day!

Armed with Mom's lab results, we're off to her doctor for a review. The day had begun in right earnest by 4 AM. I'd wanted to take off by 6 but eventually managed to leave 22 minutes late. After a quick breakfast at our favourite joint, Saravana Bhavan we'd proceeded to Kochi at a comfortable speed and reached 'Brainwaves' about half an hour later than the appointed time.

The doctor was at a meeting and had, therefore, not begun to see the patients. Wasn't he thrilled to see us? He quickly finished up the patients - a few of them had come after us. He'd sought my permission to dispose them off so that he could spend more time with us! At the end of almost an hour's session, we'd left for my dad's place with my mom feeling absolutely great at the doctor's farewell observation that she was looking a few years younger!

The traffic was comparatively sparse and we'd reached Lekha's ancestral house by a half past 4. Her dad was at his jovial best and after spending some time with him, we're off on the last leg of our journey. Minni and family had already fetched up before us and thereafter, it was a boisterous evening like one of the many in the past! Our neighbours were quick to drop by, saying they're thrilled to see the quiet house thrumming with activity again!

To my delightful surprise I wasn't feeling tired at all despite the early morning waking up, and almost 300 odd km on the road! What I felt nice about was that I could accomplish the tasks that I'd on my slop chit without any hitch.


Lekha'd messaged me to come out of the doctor's room without further delay as an attendant of one of his patients waiting outside was getting impatient and irritable. To her she'd said that we're old buddies showing a tendency to lose sense of time whenever we met. As I came out I'd directed all the charm that I could muster and asked of her an apology. She gave me a dazzling smile in return!.......And almost instantaneously that sense of guilt had vanished as she wheeled her ward into the doctor's room!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My friend's travails.

I'd got a call in the evening from my classmate and friend, Mohanachandran. He's an accomplished veterinary surgeon and we chat over various issues as and when time permits. Today, he was inquiring about Lekha's impending surgery and it was then that he'd opened up about a string of shocking events that had befallen him over the last few weeks. His story accentuates two things:-

      (a) when ill luck comes, it comes in legions and
      (b) if your life is in danger and you've a pet, then the pet takes in the threat so that you're safe!

It all began when he and his wife had gone to New Delhi to attend his nephew's wedding, some time early last month. The day after the celebrations, they'd taken off for a sight seeing trip to Agra. The morning fog had not lifted off completely when a school bus rammed their vehicle from behind. The person sitting closest to the point of impact was Manju, his wife. She wasn't feeling quite well and had her head on her lap, trying to catch up on her forty winks and because she was in that posture, the broken shreds of glass and mangled metal did not affect her at all! The group was thoroughly enveloped in a pall of gloom and to shake off the blues, pressed on with their mission in another vehicle provided by the company of the impacted car.

Around the same time, back in his home at Kazhakkuttam, Thiruvananthapuram a chilling event was taking place. Their six year old Labrador, Rocky, was fighting a losing battle with a cobra that had crept into the compound and succumbed to his injuries soon after. Lekha and me are familiar with Rocky, because he was a pup that Mohanachandran was keen to gift us when we're still mourning our Bruno's passing away. He'd, when we saw him for the first time, splints on his right paw because of a fracture that he'd sustained!

Mohanachandran, on return, had seen a gaping hole burrowed from under his compound wall by a bandicoot and was trying to cover it with mud when something bit him but he didn't give it much of a thought then. Towards evening, his leg had begun to grow numb and it was then that he realised that he could have been bitten by the bandicoot. With analytical thinking and his experience as a seasoned vet, he'd gone to the hospital and had undergone a course of anti-rabies vaccine and pulled himself out of possible danger!

He's yet to get out of his agony of having lost Rocky but consoles himself by saying that Manju is safe because of him! I tried to console him though I was aware that only time could heal his discomfort!!

Damn glad that both of them are safe!


RIP, Rocky. Your noble deed shall always remain evergreen within us. My tears and prayers!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Haste makes waste.

There's an increasing tendency to do things in haste, at times without scrutiny and tom tom the success as uniquely achieved! In the bargain, many safeguards are given the go by with the tendency to rely heavily on technology, forgetting the fact that human effort can never be substituted!! This is what I'd term as the 'one upmanship syndrome' and if one possesses the gift of the gab, the marketing gets to be perfect to ride roughshod over the choruses of the 'doubting Thomases'!

I'm talking about the SSLC results of the state, published in record time(?) yesterday. The results were announced by the state's education minister, accompanied by the top bureaucrats of his department within 18 days from the commencement of evaluation of the answer sheets with the following glitches and consequences:-

      (a) Mark sheets without grades were a plenty
      (b) Many 'pass' students had the note that they're unfit for higher studies in their mark sheets
      (c) Promulgation of results within 'record time' thus boomerangs because of the glitches as the                  details weren't available for hours after the promulgation of the results
      (d) The blame game begins saying that the 'uploading of marks' was faulty
      (e) Hectic efforts are on to incorporate the changes for repromulgation.

There were discrepancies galore in the 'big picture' prompting the IT@School portal to hastily remove the analysis of examination results from its special portal. They've gone a step further to blame the software issued, for the purpose, by the NIC(National Informatics Centre) who, in turn, has trashed the allegation. Ultimately, the 'Pareeksha Bhavan' stands thoroughly exposed! The final corrected version is expected tomorrow but at what cost? Just beats me!!

My take.

Following the entire imbroglio, I've the following queries to ask of the powers that be who've to be held responsible and accountable for the fiasco:-

         (a) Are you really concerned about the requirement of the students, which is to acquire
              his/her results - free of glitches - for getting on with the formalities of pursuing higher

         (b) Who's cornering for glory in bringing out results, post haste, throwing all caution to the

There might be good intentions in that the children can provide their mark lists to the schools/colleges within the state and outside, within the stipulated time - not long ago, late results were the bane of Kerala's students - in pursuit of their higher education by bringing out results in the shortest possible time. But it has to be with zero tolerance to errors! We can't mess up with our children's future!!


Mom's blood and urine samples were collected by the nursing staff from the nearby hospital, who'd fetched up by around a quarter to 7 and most of the results were available by 1600h. Gearing up to meet her doctor in the morning of 23 Apr. A scrutiny of the results shows that her parameters are normal and within limits!


Monday, April 20, 2015

True grit!

We'd to meet up with Lekha's doctor at the Elite Hospital in the city. The approaches and the parking are difficult to handle in the best of times and therefore, we'd decided to hire a car for the purpose. George, our usual 'saarthi' was off on a trip to Kozhikode and he'd sent his trustworthy friend and good driver, Ravi, to look after our needs.

And indeed, we found Ravi - all of 56 yrs - to be of a different breed altogether. He'd a slight limp on his left leg and when queried, he'd said that the doctor has told him that his hip joint was badly worn out and it needed replacement. The limp was the consequent effect! He has not given it a serious thought because he doesn't have the resources!

We'd begun our journey, on the dot, at 9 AM. He told us that we shouldn't be worried about the narrow and congested roads that he'd be traversing through - in the course of the 25 odd km journey - because that was the only sure way to reach our destination on time! I didn't bother him with my 'what if we stumbled upon a massive block'?

As he continued to tell us about his life, we realised that he had all the medical discomfort that one could think about. He'd undergone an open heart bypass surgery about three years back, sealing that one problem for good. He'd kidney stones which were treated with natural herbs and recollected the tremendous pain that he'd to undergo while the stones were ejected out of his system. Of late, he's been diagnosed with gall bladder stones and the doctor had recommended the organ's surgical removal which would cost a tidy sum and he did not have that kind of money.

On his neighbour's advice, he's taking ayurvedic medicines from a lady 'vaid' who lives and practices her craft about 60 km from here. The treatment has been on for the past four weeks and he says that it has made a drastic difference. He has been advised to have water almost round the clock and consequently, his car doors' stowages have adequate bottles of drinking water, always!

We're pleasantly amazed by the gentleman's dedication to his job, something that actually aggravates his medical problems and his alibi is faultless, "Driving is my profession and it provides me my daily bread. This car - a white Maruti D'zire - has been given to me by my friend who's not even bothered about his returns from it. What more can I ask for?"

His family consists of his wife and two sons, who haven't been very enthusiastic about their studies. They, too, have followed him in the same profession........ giving us a wistful look as he told us about that part of his life. He's disappointed with their academic proficiency and sort of passes it off by saying, "It would have been difficult for me to look after their higher studies given the requirement of massive finances to sustain that".

Despite all that, Ravi has a pleasant face and keeps smiling - the essential hallmarks of true grit! May god safeguard him!!  


Lekha's doctor has told us that she'd have to undergo another surgery to cover up the wound that has opened up. She has to report back for a review on 08 May, when the exact date of the surgery and admission will be decided. My job as her attendant has been assured and he has said that the entire process would take not more than 10 days, with the follow up of a 45 day rest on the wheel chair to ensure adequate rest for the foot and the scar!  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A wedding sans the usual thrall.

I'd attended a wedding today. It was that of the daughter of a good friend of mine who's a do gooder and a nice guy and his wife, ever smiling!

They've a son and a daughter, both professionals and doing well for themselves. The family bonds well, so much so, that the children call up their dad while they pass through unsure situations and take his advice. My friend's only weakness is that he can talk unceasingly but he's well informed about anything and everything that one can think of. His pet subject, these days, is about Ayurveda and the details of herbs and medicinal plants and the backyard of his house, in the heart of Thrissur, is full of exquisite trees and plants. He also makes it a point to give us the fruits and vegetables from his garden, periodically!

The ideal and happy family was faced with a problem about six months back. The daughter announced that she had fallen in love with a colleague of her's and that her parents should facilitate their marriage. The poor father was upset that his little girl had zeroed in on a divorcee and tried to persuade her from the relationship but to no avail. Accepting the fact that there was no other way but to give in, he went about organising the wedding and today was that great day.

A thing I noticed was that the groom looked pretty serious all through the ceremony, making me wonder as to why he looked so grim - chewing gum on such an auspicious occasion - prompting me to bitchily remark to a friend of mine that had I been in his place, I'd have been grinning from ear to ear in such circumstances! It could also be possible that he was quite self conscious because he'd gone through a similar rigmarole not very long back and that many of us could be aware of it too!!

Cupid has his own ways of fixing partners and it's my fond hope that the young lady finds everlasting happiness in wedlock, which is what I'd wished them during the customary handshake, soon after the ceremony.

The boy was represented by a very small group of his family members, who looked grim too, perhaps, because the trauma of the break up of his earlier marriage in the not too distant past was still playing in their minds!

I must also add that the bride was the happiest in the crowd and seemed to be on top of the world!!


I was observing the father all through the ceremony. His usual verve and gaiety were sadly missing, He went through the entire procedure with a far away look on his face and performed yet another duty that he'd to!   

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The desperation and other stories from the news track.

There were plenty of stories on the news hour, night after night, over the last week. Of these, I'm touching upon a few to show a pattern in the scheme of things taking place.

 (a) The desperation.

       The Congress party was in a tizzy over the whereabouts of Rahul Gandhi. And to make matters
       worse, opposition was increasing from various quarters, within the party, that Sonia must
       continue at the helm! Probably, the elders feel that Rahul is gonna bring in his cronies - in the
       name of giving the party a young look - at their expense! Why can't the party look outside the
       Gandhi family for effective and rejuvenating leadership? Or is it that the family is the only
       adhesive to keep the grand old party together? Anyways, the young man is gonna make noises
       against the land acquisition bill in the farmers' rally scheduled for Sunday. We need to wait and
       watch to hear his alibi for his long leave of absence.

       A desperate situation for a party that once had no opposition against it!

  (b) The Kashmir protests.

        The stone pelting and the street fights by the 'Pakistani separatists' have once again begun to
        grab newspaper headlines. Wonder what Mufti is up to? Why can't he concentrate on delivering
        good governance to the people that he'd promised during the elections? What are the plans of the
        BJP who's his coalition partner?

        Surely, they must have a strategy in such situations or are they waiting for the right inputs from
        the centre?

   (c) Chinese submarines for Pak navy.

         The Chinese decision to give eight conventional submarines to their 'all weather ally' Pakistan          during the Chinese President's visit to that country needs to be viewed with concern. The Pakis            will naturally make them nuclear capable, increasing the risk of engagement in the region.

         The Chinese game can only be seen as a diabolical one. It doesn't want India to be a power
         in the region and are using every trick in their book to put this great country under pressure.
         What's more intriguing is that it's just a month away when Prime Minister Narendra Modi
         makes his official visit to that country!


This time a private weather forecaster has predicted a normal monsoon much before the official one, the India Meteorological Department. Does it augur well for the official one? As customers we're fortunate!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Alzheimer's disease - a cure in sight?

1. My first encounter with the ailment was when I saw a friend's mom down with the ailment almost a decade back. I was quite sad because she used to shower me with her love and affection every time I used to visit her and her trademark smile had, by then, become memory! At present, my own Vilasini kunjamma, is grappling with the ailment....

2. Today, I'd come upon an interesting piece of news that a team of medical researchers of the Duke University, North Carolina have made an antidote, for the ailment, that was successful on lab mice. More about it later, firstly, the basics.

How did the ailment get its name?

3. In 1906, it was the physician, Dr Alois Alzheimer, who'd described a peculiar disease while attending the case of Auguste D, a patient who'd shown the following symptoms:-

    - profound memory loss
    - unfounded suspicions about her family and
    - worsening psychological changes.

4. And, by now, most of us are familiar with the early signs of the dreaded illness which are:-

    - memory loss of recent events and information
    - confusion about place and time
    - familiar tasks becoming challenging
    - trouble finding words, finishing thoughts and sentences
    - decreased reasoning ability and altered judgment
    - changes in mood and personality, frequent mood swings, disinterest or withdrawal, suspicion and
    - difficulty with complex mental tasks, planning and problem solving.

What the new studies reveal.

5. The new research is shedding light on the cause of the disease and the role, a person's immune system plays in protecting the brain from dementia. Accordingly:-

    (a) Alzheimer's develops certain immune cells called Microglia - usually protect the brain -
          that start a pattern of activity dampening the immune system, instead.
    (b) There's an increase of an enzyme called Arginase that comes out of these microglia cells
          which lowers the level of an important amino acid called Arginene, which is necessary for the
          health of the nerve cells, especially in the region of the brain associated with memory.

The way ahead.

6. Should people start taking 'arginine' dietary supplements to ward off Alzheimer's? Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Arginine, in the diet, would not get through the 'blood - brain barrier' to the cells that need it.

7. Studies in mice need not always translate into treatments that work in humans.

8. But definitely, it's a step in the right direction!


I happened to read in a medical journal recently that the people who're prone to Alzheimer's are those who're systematic in their work and who also insist on bringing about 'orderliness' in their environment. Sad! See the paradox in the scheme of things!! It's quite unfair!!!

........But let's look at it this a way. Probably, god is giving them the respite from the slogging and the heart burns that they might have gone through all their lives for getting everything orderly! No, I ain't making fun of the situation in any manner!! It's in all seriousness!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

About 'unworthy' parents.

Shibin, all of 21 yrs, wanted to kill the woman he had taken a liking to by stabbing her with a knife and a broken piece of glass because she'd spurned his love. He had these accessories in his car while he waited.

He knew that she visited the nearby temple regularly, every morning. He'd waited with his car, forced her into it as she came out and tried to kill her and it took a massive effort on her part of shoving him away before jumping off the car. In anger, he rammed the car into her, causing serious damages to her thigh and hip and rammed another five women and a guy who'd arrived at the scene to help the hapless girl. They're giving her water and tending her when tragedy struck them too!

The condition of the girl and three of the women who'd helped her, is said to be precarious as they lie in a hospital, undergoing treatment.

Last year, around this time, Shibin had hurled a crude bomb into their compound when the girl refused to even talk with him. Consequent to this act of his, the girl's mom had lodged a complaint with the police and it was this reaction that got him to the present stage.

Soon after the crime, the guy had abandoned his car and along with his father, fled - presumably on advice by their lawyer - to the temple town of Pazhani in Tamilnadu from where they're apprehended by the police, after three days, who're able to zero in on them through inputs from the 'cyber crime cell', monitoring the calls that the relatives had received from changed SIM cards and discarded cell phones!

What Shibin did is detestable and deserves harsh punishment but what about the 'shenanigans' of his father who while destroying evidence, aided and abetted his son to flee and if reports are to be believed, he was trying to send him off to Qatar where the youngster was working previously!

My take.

Many parents of today support their children blindly and have landed into trouble from the stories that abound. Consider these:-

     (a) The parents had gone to their child's school where the father had thrashed the class teacher
           for caning his son. And the reason for which the child was punished?.....for not doing his home

     (b) A mother had approached the minister, through her contacts, to have her rusticated son
           reinstated but the school stood firm in its decision. And the reason for the child's 
           rustication?............for indulging in homosexual activities and misuse of his camera aided
           cellphone! The minister beat a hasty retreat!!

I ain't being condescending when I say that many parents do not fit the bill at all. The father and mother live their separate lives - aided by the unrestricted use of their cellphones - perhaps, even indulging in forbidden relationships and to hide their guilt, pamper their children with whatever they ask for. And not long after, monsters are created!

I shan't blame the children for their faults. It's their environment that needs a thorough observation to reveal the warts and the moles!


There were many things that I'd craved for when I was a kid, seeing a few of the possessions of my friends but my parents were clear in their minds as to what I should have. They never pampered me but gave me their love and support in everything I did and always set an example in leading a simple yet elegant life! My grandparents - both maternal and paternal - used to regale me with stories from the mythology and augmented my parents' inputs in living correctly and they, too, led from the front !! ........I'm glad that I was born into this family.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Vishu - a mix of tradition and nostalgia.

I'd got up at a half past 4, lit up the lamps at the puja room and then brought Lekha down to see the 'kani'. Mom'd wanted to sleep for another hour before coming down to the ground floor. I'd to permit her that luxury(?) but quietly urged the gods to keep the lamps lit - on all the wicks - till she saw the 'kani'. Exactly an hour and a half later, she too saw the 'kani' and had handed over the 'kaineettam' of a silver rupee, each, to the both of us.

My mom comes down from her bedroom in the morning and stays on in the ground floor - throughout the day - using the bedroom down below for her television viewing, short snoozes and the afternoon naps before climbing up the stairs - by a quarter to 10 - to go back to her night cabin! I insist on this movement to keep her agility intact!!

So, what's Vishu all about?

It's the Malayalam New Year, the auspicious time when the sun transits from the month of 'Meenam' to the month of 'Medam' - coincides with Aries - on the Malayalam calendar. The name 'Vishu' is derived from the Sanskrit words, Vishuvat Rekha, known to everyone as the equator and 'Vishu' marks the beginning of the 360 degrees' path of the earth around the sun from 'the first point of Aries'!

The theme of this festival, stems from the belief that auspicious beginnings form the foundation of success. 'Kani', in Malayalam, means first sight and being the new year, Vishukkani is an arrangement of goodies like fruits, flowers, wealth etc to be sighted first on the morning of Vishu to trigger positivity and bring good fortune for the rest of the year! The 'kani vellari' or the golden coloured cucumber is an essential item among the list of the goodies.

The symbolisms.

 (a) The 'uruli' or the round container that holds the goodies, is an alloy of five metals(panchaloham)
       and denotes the elements of the universe viz. earth, fire, water, air and space.
 (b) The 'vaal kannadi' or the mirror represents the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. This follows the
       concept of 'kannadi bimbam' - the mirror into which one is supposed to look first before looking
       at the vishukkani and the reflection it offers is supposed to remind us that god resides within each
       one of us and is nothing but a reflection of one's own self!
 (c) The vishukkani is dedicated to Lord Krishna and the most recognisable symbol is the Labernum
       flower or the 'konnappoovu'. Legend has it that in a contest with the 'gopikas', Sree Krishna's
       anklets which were flung away, got caught in a tree and were transformed to the 'konna' flowers!
       The flowers bloom only once a year, around Vishu time!


And how can one ever forget the fresh currencies and coins that form part of the most exciting part of Vishu viz. the vishukkaineettam? .........Remembering those halcyon days of celebrating Vishu when we stayed in a joint family!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Another 'Vishukkani' preparation.

The day saw Achu, who'd fetched up last evening for a day's stay with us, regaling us with his stories on the work front. After months of waiting and having sent his curriculum vitae to many job offers, he was beginning to get disappointed at the 'no shows'. Moreover, the family was using him for running small errands, baby sitting and even looking after the elderly as he was readily available.

He used to unburden some of his woes and apprehensions to me and we - his parents, an uncle, a cousin and us - made it a point to assure him that his good days were about to arrive. Sure enough, he was selected as Assistant Engineer-in-charge, Quality Control in a reputed firm and is currently deployed at Perundurai near Erode since the first of last month. He is enjoying his stint as the person empowered to accept/reject storage batteries supplied by the firm's auxiliaries!

He and Lekha had gone for seeing the noon show of the Malayalam movie, 'Oru vadakkan selfie' and returned quite elated after seeing the hilarious flick. He was seen off by the 6 o'clock bus to Palakkad from where he takes off for Perundurai, early morning tomorrow. I'd, then, gone to the market for purchasing sundries for the Vishukkani.

Like last year, mom, Lekha and me got into the serious yet pleasant act of setting up the Vishukkani around 2200h, after supper. This time, thanks to our neighbour's farm hand, Pushpaakaran, all the necessary ingredients like the Labernum. the small clutch of raw mangoes, jack fruit etc were acquired without panic and well in time. As has been observed over the past decade or so, the Labernum trees bloom earlier than usual resulting in the flowers withering away by the time it's Vishu, giving every Malayalee the jitters as it's the most important ingredient of the 'kani'! Unscrupulous vendors hike the price of a small clutch of the flowers to unbelievable levels towards the run up to the great day.

Thanks, Pushpaakaran, you've been very kind.


This year's 'Vishukkani' is grander than what we'd set up last year. Experience counts, huh!     

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why the secrecy?

I've voiced my opinion on a similar issue - the Sino-Indian conflict of '62 - earlier too.

Why are the papers on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose not declassified even now? I can understand a Congress regime sticking to the 'declassification-of-the-Netaji-papers-will-be-against-India's-interests' theory because some of its leaders, especially, Jawaharlal Nehru's position, regarding the cover up of Netaji's last years and his end, might not stand scrutiny. But why is the Modi government hesitating to declassify the information?

Let me hazard a few wild guesses. It has to be presumed that the declassification process is being blocked by the parties who're gonna be cornered and may have to answer a few tough questions, consequent to a tell all. And who could they be? Are they one of these or a combination of all:-

     (a) The Congress party.

           Its government was in power and the known fact that Netaji and Nehru stood at differing
           viewpoints - within the party - regarding the position India should take towards the adversaries
           of World War II. Netaji wanted India to support the Axis powers to bring about a speedy end
           to the British Raj while Nehru was for supporting the Allied powers towards the war effort.
           Gandhiji supported the latter and the manner in which the Congress party sidelined the former
           from becoming its President has been well chronicled. The party will have to answer a few
           awkward questions regarding the positions taken by its predecessors!

     (b) Russia, Japan, Taiwan and Germany may also have to answer questions regarding the last
           days of Netaji or more importantly, the treatment that they'd meted out to him when they
           realised that the Indians seemingly supported Nehru's stand on the issue.

     (c) Netaji is still alive at a very advanced age. Even though I say this I know that it sounds
          improbable! But if that were to be true, what would be the ramifications of bringing him out
          from hiding, now?

Consider these nuggets of history:-

     (a) A man crossed into India through the Gorakhpur border in 1955. From then to '65, he lived
          in self imposed isolation at various places in UP and from '65 to '85, he lived in a room 
          behind Thakur Guru Dutt Singh's house in Faizabad.
    (b) Everyone knew him as Gumnami Baba who met people - a few Bengalies who're regular
           and others from the higher echelons of the government - covertly and during the nights! 

    (c) He died on 16 Sep '85 and was cremated at Guptaar ghat - 10 steps away from where Lord
          Sree Ram had walked into the Saryu and vanished, according to mythology! The cremation
          was witnessed by a knot of thirteen people and the body was draped in the tricolour!!


Justice Mukherjee had headed the Vajapyee appointed Commission of Inquiry to study the subject. Its report was summarily dismissed in 2006. In an unguarded moment, the judge had said that the unknown baba was none other than Netaji himself!  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Devadattan's first meal and a flashback.

Rema, Padmakumar and I had headed for the Guruvayur temple a trifle after 8, after we're informed that the 'choroonu' would be around 20 past 8. Since the temple was anticipated to be crowded with people in connection with weddings, first meal ceremonies and also being a Sunday, the parking space for cars was going to be at a premium and maneuvering my Chevy was all the more difficult, I'd decided against using my car and we went in an autorickshaw instead! Mom and Lekha had decided to stay at home as traversing through the distances and standing for long periods did not appeal to them.

On arrival and after meeting everybody, Padmakumar and me had headed for the cloak room to hand over the footwear for safe keeping. The queue was pretty long and I ain't exaggerating when I say that its length matched the one at the western entrance, consisting of devotees waiting to have their 'darshan' of the good Lord.

Why the authorities refuse to automate such services beats me and as I'd said earlier, the guys want to retain it this way to give the impression that the temple is teeming with devotees and to have a 'look see' at their God, they've to go through discomfort! The paradox is that there are many among us who feel that the more discomfort that we encounter, the better is the spiritual experience!!

Seeing the slow movement of the queue, we'd abandoned the footwear handing over because by then the others had already moved into the temple. Sending Padmakumar in, I decided to sit outside and tend the footwear, instead. The ceremony was held in a hall on the first floor of the adjacent building after which, only the child and its parents are allowed into the sanctum sanctorum. All this took more than an hour and I'd sat out the entire period listening to the lovely hymns wafting out of the loud speakers around the temple, interrupted by announcements for missing fellow travellers.

Devadattan, in his uncle's hands had given me a cute smile and I couldn't resist holding him. The little one kept watching me intently and I, for no rhyme or reason, became the cynosure of the entire group thereafter! I was holding an infant after quite a while and did not want it to feel any discomfort while being with me! We seem to have a vibrant chemistry!!

     *             *             *

We'd returned to 'The Quarterdeck' soon after. Mom recounted my first meal ceremony eons back at the temple which was held very near the sanctum - affordable those days because of the much lesser crowds that thronged the temple then. It was PN Panicker who'd given me my first morsel, followed by my grandmother, my paternal grandparents and all the others. Dad and I were weighed against 'venna(ghee)' at the scales, slung at the inner entrance of the temple, thereafter!  

It was a small knot of people that had attended the ceremony, drawn from the families of my mom and dad because coming all the way from Thiruvananthapuram to Guruvayur consisted of a long journey that covered over 300 kms.


Rema and Padmakumar went along with Devadattan and his folks to Padmakumar's mom to spend the next two days with her. The Vishu holidays have begun!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A quiet yet active day.

Rema had come from Palakkad to attend a ceremony where Padmakumar's little nephew is being given his first meal at Guruvayur. The ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow. She'd dropped in by lunch time.

The child, Devadattan, had been through very, very difficult times. He was almost lost at birth due to a delayed surgery because of which there was a deficiency of Oxygen for his intake. The doctor is a well known guy and has been the family's doctor for many years. It was this belief and sustenance on his efforts that suffered a dent thanks to the incident and the child had to be kept in the intensive care units - in two hospitals - for over a month. Even last month, he'd to undergo a surgery to release his immobile right thumb. Devadattan's first adult meal, therefore, was a very precious event for the entire family! 

It was Rema's birthday too and we'd celebrated it with the traditional cutting of the cake followed by lunch, had on banana leaves. And there was plenty to catch up with. Could see the thrill on mom's face as usual and between the two of them there's a special bond. This time they're planning on the details of things to be done when my second kid sister arrives from Bangalore, on vacation, by the third week of this month.

Padmakumar could make it only by 2200h as he could leave Palakkad after 1900h from work. Being the accounts man of his organisation, there's a lot of work that needs his personal attention after the culmination of the previous financial year and the commencement of the new. I've always been impressed with his work ethics and hard work. He slogs willingly and I'm yet to hear him whine about his superior, even when his leave - taken for a very special occasion - was cancelled at the last moment, not very long ago!

It was another round of discussions and catching up before calling it a day.


Another quiet yet active day that passed off very fast. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

How I see Saritha of the infamous solar scam!

Saritha Nair is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. The latest joke about her on the social media goes something like this, 'A young lion cub watching a sunset with his father asks, "Dad, who's this Saritha?" and his father is quick to respond, "Oh, that's the name of a theatre in Kochi, having four shows daily". Inherent in the answer is the explicit Malayalee crudeness coupled with the double meaning!

For the sake of all non-Malayalees, the 'Solar scam' that has rocked and continues to rock the ruling UDF dispensation is nothing but the travails of an entrepreneur, Saritha Nair, with its leaders - big and small(and no pun intended, please) - while she was trying to sell the idea of converting solar energy into electricity for domestic and industrial consumption, which is definitely a step in the right direction in power deficient Kerala! Interestingly, her entrepreneurship in the field does not have the backing of a well researched education on the subject or experience at work!!

To quote a national daily, "Saritha's name provokes extreme reactions from hate and contempt to voyeuristic pleasure and envy! She serves different purposes for different people - for the opposition leader, VS Achuthanandan, she's a tool to expose moral corruption and essential to boost his flagging career, for Oommen Chandy, a Damocles' sword because of her once easy access to his office and family.....". The list of the fallen contains names of well known people who give you the laughs when they pretend to have not even heard of her!

She has traversed through a charged two years, hogging the limelight, while going through the ignominy of police custody and a long winding investigation and seems to have grown in the process, to a confident young lady capable of articulating her thoughts well and sounds confused, only while going through a rehearsed script, obviously thrust upon her by the worthies(?) who desperately want to get their names cleared! Her latest interaction with the press, a couple of days back, was one such episode!!

It's common knowledge that political power carries with it the lucre of money and sex brought about by intriguing machinations. The fixers and the middlemen abound in this dirty trade! She'd become a prey in that murky world.

My take.

A couple of questions come to my mind in connection with the case which are:-

   (a) Wasn't Saritha aware of the pitfalls and the sleaziness involved in such endeavour? If yes,
         wasn't she unwittingly offering herself for manipulation and consequently, party to the
         wider conspiracy?
   (b) Are all the persons, perched in responsible positions, prone to accepting favours? Temptations
         and attractive offers are hard to resist!

And to the press, I've just one. Why do you give these people so much of importance by bringing them on during prime time? Or by doing so, are you trying to tell us - the viewers - that this is where you rate our taste?

Kudos to Saritha for having risen, literally, from the ashes. Seeing the muck around, she has realised her potential to carve a niche for herself and in the process, perhaps, beat her detractors at their own game!


Saritha, these days, anchors popular shows on television and has become a celebrity, overnight. Either the Malayalees seem to have forgiven her misdemeanour or they use the occasion to let go off their contemptuous laughter at a 'fallen' woman every time she lights up the small screen!        

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The 'yatra' has had its effect!

As a new month opens, I get into the frenetic activity of clearing up my bills during the first week. There're two principles at work here viz:-
       - One would find it unsettling if one didn't get one's paycheck on the first day and secondly,
          what's the use of holding onto someone else's share? ....A fact that I'd learnt from my parents               quite young!

       - In the navy, it was an unwritten law that gentlemen officers cleared their bills within the first
         five days of the following month. The fact has got ingrained into my system!

This morning I'd gone to the bank and had sorted out my credit card and cellphone bills for the month - the delay was because of the tight schedule of events like meeting up with Lekha's doctor and other requirements that saw me on the move, most of the time last week.

To confess, I'm still a bit chary to do things online. Again, it has a history. Years back, whenever I used to do online bookings for travel, I used to hit roadblocks because I simply couldn't remember my password used in the previous transaction! I would have actually noted it down somewhere like the last page of my personal diary - which is a library of similar scribbling that cannot be deciphered in times of need -  or on a scribble pad or even on a small piece of paper, safely tucked away into some book/drawer that I can never recall!

Anyways, today I made an attempt at paying our electricity bill online, armed with the knowledge that was driven into my system relentlessly, for a fortnight, by the young technical engineer who'd accompanied us for the 'yatra'. And came out with flying colours! The kids will laugh at this because for them, it's no big deal as they're very proficient in the use of computers and smartphones!

I must confess that I was thrilled at my meagre achievement(?)


George had driven us to Tirur, this afternoon, so that we could attend the ceremony that saw Lekha's nephew, Govind, going for his first Sabarimala pilgrimage along with his father. I told him about my first experience 27 years ago, when I'd seen the ample backside of the priest shrouding the deity as I reached the door of the sanctum sanctorum before being pushed away by the surging crowd.

When queried by Santhan kochachan, who was accompanying me, I'd told him as to what exactly had transpired. I remember him letting go off a mirthful laughter before he made sure that I did get the 'darshan' of the good Lord! He'd commended about my truthfulness to the others but what had puzzled me then was that why should anyone fib on a thing like that, at the cost of pricking one's own conscience?

And today, too, everyone at the ceremony laughed mirthfully at my story! I could only look upon them wearily, letting off a sheepish smile!!

We're back home by a trifle after sunset.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Where are the changes, Mr. Prime Minister?

Probably, I'm writing this piece in haste because a year is a short time to bring about extraordinary changes by the new government at New Delhi, however much the Prime Minister wants them to happen. It's also abundantly clear that the bills, which will bring about sweeping changes, will not pass muster in Parliament simply because his party doesn't have the numbers in the Rajya Sabha.

The Land Acquisition Bill is one such example and his detractors would not like him to score points on good governance and development while the archaic and corrupt system would not like legislation that will require it to mend its ways! So he has a tough time really, but consider the following:-

 (a) Nothing has happened regarding bringing back the black money, stashed abroad. He'd promised
      that it would be done within the first 100 days! No redefinition of time lines and the action being
      taken for the end result to happen!!

 (b) The elections to the Assemblies of Jammu & Kashmir and Delhi were fought with a relaxation
       in the BJP's ideology. For example, in J&K, the anullment of Art 370 that grants special status
       to the state was conveniently kept away during the run up to the elections. If the party had
       thought that they'd make a dent in the Muslim populated areas by keeping quiet about it, their
       poll strategists had got it all wrong and the numbers that they finally managed to muster was only
       in the Hindu dominated areas of Jammu, which they'd have anyways got otherwise also!
       There's news that the Kashmiri Pundits are going to be rehabilitated in select areas. While it's
       nice to hear that the community's woes are finally being addressed, the security of such areas
       should be assured to withstand future terror attacks and disturbances by vested interests who'd
       try to prove that the move is a retrograde step/harebrained scheme of the government!

 (c) To me, the elections to the Delhi state assembly was not contested well by the BJP. Bringing in
       Kiran Bedi was a mistake as the party men weren't fully behind her for whatever reasons they
       might have had. Moreover, she was too voluble on the non issues. The government employees
       voted enmasse for AAP as they felt that the central government's diktats 'endangered their
       freedom' from doing the wrong things that they're used to like reporting late for and and going
       early from work. And finally, the BJP was totally bowled over by the 'do or die' pitch of Kejriwal
       and gang.

 (d) The slapping of the 'anti beef eating' law by the Maharashtra government is a retrograde step.
       Why can't that government zero in on more pressing action like decongesting Bombay, take steps
       to prevent farmers' suicides and many other developmental work? By bringing about a ban on
       food preferences, the government is alienating the people who'd voted for change. The people'd
       thought that the previous governments had played the communal card while saying that they're
       'secular' and expected the BJP to be a party with a difference!

  (e) And to cap it all, ministers like Gajapati Raju, VK Singh, Giriraj Singh and a few others make
       idiotic statements and seem to be getting away with them. Maybe, Modi has given them the
       dressing down that they deserve but without any follow through, like a public apology or a
       correction to their earlier stand?

The Prime Minister has bettered the country's image by his foreign policy initiatives. His 'mann ki baat' on the national radio shows that he's a human being who understands the pulse of his countrymen and is concerned about their apprehensions. But results are a must, Mr. Prime Minister! And they'd better come fast as your detractors are fast catching up on your unfinished agenda in the form of a united(?) and charged opposition!!


A common saying these days is that Modi gives just 'bhaashans' but doesn't follow them up with concrete actions. So, do something to satisfy all those who root behind you and truly believe that you're the saviour!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A day mostly spent on the road!

The day had started fairly early in the morning as we'd a lot of work to do and lots of miles to go. We'd left my cousin's place by a quarter to 9.

Ramakrishnan was at his morning prayers and I heard him ask his God to keep his mom with him for more time. My grand aunt, at 102 yrs, looks emaciated and has become a bag of bones. Gone are her good looks and she shows a fleeting recognition, at times and generally gurgles and mumbles if she requires something. While his feelings for his mom wrenches one's heart, I'm of the opinion that he should let her go in peace but he'd have none of it. One can only offer advice and one shudders at what would happen to him when the inevitable happens! At 68, he's more like a kid on this score!!

After an hour's shopping spree at the canteen and on leaving my friend's stuff at another's place, we're off on the second last leg of this journey to Palakkad, to pick up my mom. The drive was smooth, with more trucks, tankers and lorries plying on the highway after the agreement thrashed out between the government and the truck owners, at the behest of the chief minister, yesterday. We reached my sister's place by a half past 2, had a light snack and were off for Guruvayur by a half past 3 during which time I'd managed to catch my forty winks!

The drive, again, was hassle free and we seemed to be the lone group on our way to the temple town as there was no vehicle that kept us company all through the 90 plus kilometers. As we opened up the house and unpacked, it was sunset time and a light drizzle had set in dashing my hopes of going out on my customary walk. I did a much shorter one to pick up a few sundries.

It was great to be back although it was a break of just a couple of days. Much could be accomplished but the creative work on the 'coffee table book', that we'd bring out on the occasion of our classmates' get together this December, didn't even take off thanks to the packed itinerary!


Mom didn't look as though she was affected by the journey but the hot weather has been overbearing!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Uneasy days ahead.

Today was our tryst with the two doctors. The first did say that he was ready to put Lekha through another round of HBOT. He's asked us to meet him after carrying out two tests that would give an insight into what actually had gone wrong in the rupture of the graft. In the evening, we'd met her doctor who looks after the post lupus care.

It was he who'd advised us to meet a plastic surgeon to ascertain the immediate steps to be taken and has given us an introduction to one at Thrissur. But prior to that, I need to pass him the results of the dsDNA test. What irked me no end was the delay in meeting him - we'd reached his clinic by 1630h and could get out of it only by 1958h, amid pouring rain.

But what puts me under strain is that the plastic surgeon might want more than three weeks to see the healing of the new wound that he's gonna make because he doesn't have the luxury of the HBOT to augment his efforts! But it has to be done and and it shall be!!

Had two young chauffeurs helping me to drive my car through the Kochi traffic - Vishnu, in the morning and Vipin,in the evening. I was quite happy to note that my Chevy was in safe hands because I'm chary about giving my car to anyone else to drive. My cousin was instrumental for getting them and thanks chellakkili, as your choice was bang on.

The day had passed off at a tremendous pace. In the evening, as I was browsing my personal mail on my laptop, I'd come across a beautiful one from my friend - a doctor at Chicago - which had a very interesting heading and I quote, "It was not easy to get to be 60". My friend, you're too good to be true. I wish that all the others among us were as simple as you are.

And apologies, chellakkili for not being able to spend more time with you. It's the penalty(?) to pay by those who've many friends, you see! I'm sure you'd understand!!


I see us spending more time at hospitals in the coming days. It would be worthwhile as long as it gives us a permanent solution!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A hectic day!

It was an early morning today. We'd got up at 5 and had gone through our chores to be out off the house and headed for Kochi by a quarter to 8. The drive was nice with far less traffic than usual, perhaps, because of the striking lorries! We could pay obeisance to the god at Kuthiraan - the protector of the motorists!

Navigating to the hall where the wedding was gonna take place was a fairly easy step as we got a clear picture from one of the relatives of Neethu. We did meet a whole lot of relatives from this end of the family tree and were thrilled to meet again after what has been a long time. The wedding was taking place in Narendran kochachan's daughter-in-law, Salini's family. Seeing Leela chittamma hobble around - thanks to her painful knees - made us sad and she seemed to be seriously weighing the option of replacement of her knees, when her son returns home on leave by September. I, too, agreed to the proposed surgery because I'm sure that she'd be better off than her existing state!

We'd taken care not to overeat though the pure vegetarian menu was simply great!!

We took leave of the marriage party by 2 and proceeded to our friends, Charly and Rani, who'd invited us to Easter lunch when they'd come to know that we're at Kochi today. A dash of vodka and a few spoonfuls of the exquisite menu were tucked in but the important thing was the great feeling of happiness of being with our old 'potluck gang' and our hosts had gone out of their way to look after us! Thanks, Rani, for making it possible!!

And after a delightful three hours there, we'd driven into my cousin's house. There was plenty of catching up to do and that's what we did during the 'yakkitiyak' that went on, non stop. There was a short visit to Meera's (another good friend) house, where some serious discussions of a topical nature had taken place. We've always loved being with the close knit Sidharth-Meera-Krishna-Vignesh family and after an hour and a half, were back home, discussing various things.


Tomorrow's gonna be a hectic day of appointments with two doctors. Hope Lekha's difficulties are put behind at the earliest!    

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Another short trip!

It was time to make a trip yet again to Kochi to keep the appointment with Lekha's doctor. This review is taking place after three months but has assumed significance because the ulcer on her left foot has gotten active because a part of the grafted skin has worked out loose - the reason could be either of the two:-

     (a) Excessive activity.

      The plastic surgeon had warned against too much of activity. During the time while I was away
       on the 'yatra', she'd visited the Guruvayur temple a bit too often to see the annual festivities,
       even accompanying the guests who'd fetched up then.

     (b) The perking up of the SLE.

     The dormant illness could get activated due to a number of reasons. However, this possibility
     seems to be a no no as the recent lab tests do not indicate anything out of the normal! Perhaps,
     the doctor might ask her to go through a 'ds DNA' test which should confirm it!!

On Monday, she's to meet the doctor in charge of the 'Hyper Baric Oxygen Therapy' at the Amrita Institute at Ernakulam in the forenoon and her doctor, the immunologist, in the evening. Based on their recommendations, finally it has to be the plastic surgeon who'd mend the tear, as I reckon. A hospitalisation, with another tenure of being an attendant to her, seems to be in the offing! Anyway, there's no point in fretting over things that one has no control over!!

On the first leg, we set off for Palakkad after lunch and reached our destination after two hours in time for a steaming cup of tea and snack. The drive was flawless and I must say that I enjoyed every bit of it and I'd like to believe that both mom and Lekha'd enjoyed it too. 


It shall be an early morning tomorrow as we head for Kochi, leaving my mom. A wedding with its attendant feast coupled with an Easter lunch to finally settle down at my cousin's place for the evening should keep us occupied. My grand aunt, all of 102 yrs, is awaiting our arrival very eagerly, I'm told......damn sweet of her!  

Friday, April 3, 2015

PN Panicker must have desired that!

I was, as usual, at my laptop browsing through my mail with the FM radio giving some wonderful music of old in the background. Mr. Damodaran Nair's call had come in then and I was irritated that it was intruding into my private time. And to make matters worse, he was speaking in a low voice and I could get snatches of the message that he was trying to convey as, "PN Panicker sir's loyal friend is in a bad state. Shall we go and look him up around 1, this afternoon?"

I'd promptly replied in the affirmative which did surprise me but casually, doing a rethink afterwards I realised that I'd said 'yes' because of the following:-

    (a) I'd wanted to get back to my work.
    (b) I have not been able to attend a couple of programmes, initiated by him, for reasons beyond my
          control and
    (c) Something told me that I must follow the gentleman's request!

And thank god I did! It was a must and I shan't forget the afternoon!!

Promptly, at 1, he was at our gate with a chauffeur driven car and without much ado, we'd set off on a journey whose destination was still not clear to me. Sensing the time to be odd to call on somebody, I'd queried as to why we couldn't postpone the trip to sometime around teatime when a surprised Nair told me that we're going to the residence of Mr. KSP Kartha of Varandarappilli to offer our condolences on his passing away and quickly narrated the sequence of events. For the last four and a half years, he was confined to his house at Varandarappilli - about 50 kms from here - due to a loss of memory and as in most such cases, he remembered past happenings but not the present.

I happened to read very recently, in a medical journal, that such a situation comes usually to people who've taken great care to sort out other's problems and bring about orderliness in their lives! 

Mr. Kartha - aged 83 - was visited by all his relatives frequently and they'd all returned to their respective places of stay including a grandson working in the US, last weekend since his condition was stable. But over the last couple of days, his condition had deteriorated suddenly, bringing about his end yesterday afternoon.

He was the Head of the Malayalam department of the MA College at Kothamangalam and a litterateur and was a close friend and fellow traveller with PN Panicker on his library and literacy movements. Sarada teacher, his wife, narrated quite a few anecdotes regarding my grandfather, who used to stay in that house, whenever he visited nearby areas on work. I took a good look of the surroundings that were once familiar to my grandfather within the short time available and the constraints imposed upon oneself on such visits. I shan't forget the way she clasped my hands as I took leave of her!

I felt a bit conscious when the whole family made it a point to meet and befriend me. Mr. Kartha's body has been kept in the morgue of a nearby hospital and will be cremated tomorrow morning at 11 when his grandson from the US joins up.

RIP, Kartha sir. I wasn't fortunate to interact with you but I'm glad that I'd the privilege of meeting with your family and I promise that I shall call on them from now on whenever feasible! My humble prayers and tears.


My grandfather must have wanted me to make this trip, otherwise, how does one explain the ease with which I made it to Varandarappilli this afternoon, without any prior notice! And thanks Damodaran Nair sir, for making it possible!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

The holy Thursday!

The day has many names, sample a couple - Maundy Thursday, 'Pesaha Vyaazham' in Malayalam,  the day of the 'Last Supper'.

It was on this day that Jesus Christ had played the perfect host and provided supper to his close disciples. That one of those disciples had played dirty to hand him over to his tormentors for a mere thirty pieces of silver, consequent to the supper, highlights the fickleness of human relationships in this world experienced by none other than the son of God!

To commemorate the great day, the Christian priests all over the world, headed by the Pope had washed the feet of the people and kissed them. Pope Francis had washed the feet of the inmates of a prison in nearby Vatican.

I've always been fascinated by the quaint customs and traditions practised in each and every religion of the world. Coming to the specific aspect of washing the feet of the guest, it's a common practice to wash one's face, hands and feet before sitting to dine - in fact, drilled into our system by our parents from childhood, to encourage cleanliness!

And you go a step further by showing as to how you value your guest by washing his/her feet and kissing them! It also highlights the humility, inherent in the action - only an individual without any trace of ego can get himself to do such a selfless act!!

As I was winding up my customary evening walk, I saw a long procession of men, women and children holding lighted candles, praying silently and moving towards their church.

Seeing them a strange sort of assurance befell me - so long as man believes in god, that thought would prevent him from doing anything wrong to mankind.


It's my fond hope that the sentiment for one's god is based on love and not fear!  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Do advertisements help, in the real sense?

Sunita Tomar, all of 28 years, succumbed to cancer today. She was the face of the Indian government's anti-tobacco drive. Taking the discomfort caused by the disease seriously, she'd wanted to awaken the society at large about the dangerous consequences of the use of tobacco and willingly agreed to lend her face to the governmental campaign!

Hailing from a small village near Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, she'd picked up the habit of using tobacco regularly when she was 22 years old. Four years later, she was diagnosed with cancer. Her husband is a driver by profession and they've two children. She was being treated in the Tata Memorial hospital at Bombay.

A couple of days back, when she felt an overall weakness engulfing her, she'd requested the doctors to allow her to go back home to be with her children.

Meanwhile, Dilip Gandhi, the chairman of the 'Parliamentary panel on anti-tobacco usage' had begun to hog the limelight for the following:-

    (a) He says that there's no concrete evidence to show that tobacco causes cancer.
    (b) The BJP Member of Parliament, therefore, writes to the health ministry saying that there was
          no need to enhance the size of 'the tobacco warnings' on cigarette packets.

Consequently, Sunita Tomar had appealed on line and through volunteers before sending a letter, signed by 40,000 signatories to the union health minister, against the panel's recommendations.

My take.

I don't think that the advertisements really prevent people from the usage of tobacco, considering the fact that most users open up the packs without sparing time to even give a cursory glance at what's emblazoned on the packet! And a mere warning that "smoking is injurious to health", accompanied by the 'skull and bones', do not make a difference because of the following:-

     (a) the habit is picked up by watching the others, especially, the elders and the people that
           one adores indulge in it.
     (b) the 'macho' image that surrounds the usage, supported by movies and popular fashions.
     (c) the habit getting to perform immediate necessities like answering the nature's call or pass
           through a difficult situation like say, attending an interview - these being mere psychological
           props/silly excuses, notwithstanding! 

A sustained education, backed up by highlighting the adverse effects caused by its usage, using effective audiovisual means would be a step in the right direction if we need to eradicate it, as I reckon.


RIP, Sunita Tomar! It's sad that your life had been cut short before you could experience its essence. May god give your husband and children the strength to absorb their tremendous loss!!