Monday, August 31, 2015

A month that went past a twad faster.

We've come to the last day of August. Days seem to be clipping by.

It seems to have been just the other day when we'd ushered in the month as most Malayalee ladies were half way through the recital of the Ramayana. And then, dawned the month of Chingam. The run up to the onam celebrations was hectic.

We'd a few betrothals and weddings that had to be attended and about 880 km were driven out with a quick visit to Pune, thrown in between. That was a tremendously satisfying experience and we didn't have to skip any function. In other words, we could answer the invites of every friend and relative without having to be selective about it.

And then there were the onam celebrations which was hectic. Meeting people and traveling distances had become a necessity. Mom and Lekha didn't mind the itinerary as it was ensured that they didn't go through any strain!

Today, Indira kunjamma, my aunt from Thiruvananthapuram had come by. She'd come to Guruvayur as a member of the group - they're given identical dresses by the organisers - to recite the 'Narayaneeyam' at the temple premises. She'd dropped in by lunch time and had spent a couple of hours with us. She ultimately left for Thiruvananthapuram by the 2110h, Chennai Express.

The month had begun with rains only to end up with blazing hot days which are really uncomfortable. Our Bougainvillas have sprouted tender leaves and our garden help, Ramesh has assured us that they'd be in full bloom shortly. He has advised us against watering them at this stage though, I must hasten to add that I sprinkle water when I see them wilt in the heat.

From tomorrow begins the month of September, the months from now on have the letter 'r' in their names and hence, fish eating recommences!

It's, therefore, bye for an interesting month!


The Kodak moment of the day - 'Mom's face lighting up on seeing her sister'!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Looking ahead.

A few of the news events of the past week have opened up uncertainties than can create irritation. It's my fervent hope that it does not end up so, what with other factors kicking in that can retard or neutralise the process. Yet, it would be worthwhile looking into a few of those.

(a) The Patel Agitation Going National?

      Hardik Patel seems to be encouraged by the devastation that he's brought out in Gujarat and                 enjoys his new found stardom, albeit, for all the wrong reasons. He plans to make it a national
      movement by carrying his fight(?) to New Delhi. The agenda is to gang up with the Gujjars and
      other like minded communities in the pursuit of entering the OBC list.

      And I think that it would put him in the right place. Agitation for reservation? The PM has rightly
      said that there's no substitute to development and that reservation on the basis of caste/community
      can only be detrimental.
 (b) The CPM-BJP Clashes in Kerala.

       In their eagerness to grab political space in the state, both the BJP and the CPM have taken a
       confrontational path. Political workers of each of the groups have either been attacked/killed
       at a few places like Kannur and Thrissur over the last week and doesn't augur well for the state.
       The state police has registered about 26 cases revolving around the incidents and it's my fond
       hope that innocent lives aren't wasted on the altar of hatred!

       And let not other political parties play the proverbial fiddle as Rome burnt! Sagacity and                      tolerance, coupled with maturity are required from all the sides.

 (c) The Onam Festivities are coming to an end.

       After a week of festivities, Kerala would be limping back to normalcy this week. Hopefully,
       the government offices will have full attendance and it would be business as usual.

 (d) The India-Sri Lanka Test match.

       The final cricket test match between India and Sri Lanka is poised for an exciting finish. It's
        my fond hope that India doesn't collapse as it did during the 1st test match. We should win it and
        grab the series!


It's blazing hot these days and the forecaster says that 2015 is gonna be the hottest year thus far!                         

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Timothios and Haridas.....a rare, dying breed!

Jojy, Saly and me left their house by 9. The previous evening with their son, Felix, daughter-in-law, Mili and granddaughter, Shanaya was nice and I've taken a liking for the li'l one and so has she to me, I presume.

Our journey to the Cherpunkal church, about 80 kms away, was nice with us exchanging lots of anecdotes, along with a sing song session, accompanied by the karaoke playing from the dash. There was a better sprinkling of our classmates this time and we'd a lovely time in interacting with each other. The wedding was a colourful affair and we took turns to wish Stanley and Priya, a happy married life punctuated with a group photograph of our's - her dad's classmates - with the couple!

My return journey was with another classmate, Josekutty Thomas. He'd taken prior permission from Jojy and Saly and accordingly, I'd shifted my overnighter into his Audi. The drive was nice with us updating each other about ourselves....he's a worried father as he's on the look out for an ideal groom for his daughter, who's nearing 30. His son has just joined a college in Lafayette, US to do his Masters in Computer Application.

I'd him drop me at the same Traffic Hub at Vyttila where I was in time for the 5 o'clock, low floor bus to Guruvayur. I marveled at the driver's maneuvering the huge hulk of a bus through the narrow stretches, choc-a-bloc with traffic! By the time I'd got off at the Mammiyoor junction it was getting to be a half past 8. The autorickshaw stand was empty and the few that passed did not stop. And then, I befriended Haridas, who went out of his way to flag down ricks that passed by, but to no avail. He'd secured his vehicle for the night  but seeing my plight, eventually dropped me at my house for a paltry Rs.20/-

Was reminded of Timothios, last evening at Ernakulam, who'd dropped me at my friend's place in a similar situation. So, while treachery, defiance and dishonesty are on the rise, there's a fair sprinkling of messiahs like Timothios and Haridas, who're a great help to the travel weary customers and they stand out like shining beacons of goodness.


It's people like Timothios and Haridas who reaffirm our faith in the goodness of human beings and make life worth living! God, do bless them and make sure that no harm comes to them!!  

Friday, August 28, 2015

We're celebrating onam. You better fend for yourself!

After lunch and siesta, it's time for me to kick off for Ernakulam to be in time for Priya's wedding tomorrow at a church near Pala.

Accordingly, around 1630h soon after tea, I was off to the private bus stand. Soon after, the bus for Ernakulam was brought out of the bay and parked at the take off point with the guy emphasising that its departure time was 1730h. Because of the oppressive heat, a few of the passengers kept waiting out in the bus shelter while I was one among the few who decided to clamour in despite the discomfort and thank god, I did, because at 5, a guy in civvies and who appeared to be the 'kili' or the cleaner, got into the driver's seat and drove away. He was driving crazily and was rude to many of the passengers who asked as to why he'd begun the journey much before the announced time but he didn't care even to answer. At Chavakkad, the designated driver and the conductor had replaced the guy and we continued with the journey. Was left mulling over three doubts which were:-

    (a) What gave him the freedom to drive the vehicle and play with our lives with his rash driving,
          he being an accomplished driver, notwithstanding!
    (b) How does the owner endorse the boarding of the bus by the driver and the conductor from the
    (c) What about those poor passengers stranded at the starting point who were smug with the fact
          that the vehicle would start only at 1730h?

Soon, these doubts were forgotten as the bus hurtled towards its destination and around 2000h, I'd
gotten off at the Vyttila bus stand. The situation was another strange one out there. The guy at the pre-paid autorickshaw counter advised me to catch a connecting city service private bus to go to my final destination and for it, I'd to walk across to the main road outside the 'hub', almost a km away!
The hub was created with a lot of fanfare, connecting the various RTC services along with the city bus and water transport services intended to help passengers on a long haul to choose their modes of transportation - in a harmonious, seamless mode without hassles - to help them reach their destinations!

But, today was onam and everything had gone for a toss! Most of the autorickshaws were off the road and the ones that were, chose their passengers on two counts:-

       (a) the fare they quoted had to be complied with, there was no question of complaining about
            the unrealistic figures and
       (b) your destination had to suit them or else, they just scooted off without even giving you a


I was lucky in that I was able to get a city service bus and Timothios' rick on disembarkation! Shall repeat my statement that I made exactly a year earlier, "We're Malayalees and we're celebrating onam. Everything comes to a standstill. You'd better fend for yourself!"   

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Interesting tidbits!

Am just giving you three interesting tidbits that I'd come across. The first one is a news item that just got me curious! And so, without much ado, here I go.

  (a) Did the Patel Agitation have to go up in this manner?

       The Patels of Gujarat are agitating for the inclusion of their community into the country's
       ever elastic OBC list, under the leadership of a comparatively unknown youngster by the name
       of Hardik Patel. Lakhs of people had turned up at the Maha Kranti Rally in Ahmedabad on 25
       Aug, it had lost steam and most people had left the venue disappointed with the youngster's
       decision to go on a hunger strike instead of keeping the protest at fever pitch!

       Then the following occurred. The police decided to go on the offensive. They arrested Hardik,            conducted a lathi charge on the remnants of the crowd and fired on protesters in other parts of the        state, resulting in mob fury and widespread arson and violence.

       My queries are:-

            (i) Was it a case of the police misreading the situation? I certainly don't think so. They can't
                 be dumb with the intelligence inputs, that they get thick and fast on such occasions!
           (ii) Which brings me to the second. Was there a conspiracy to flare up the situation to show
                 the government in bad light?

   (b) Shemitah.

         The Monday crash of stock markets, the world over, has left the investors counting their
         losses. Many are wondering as to what caused the meltdown and it's in this context that
         'Shemitah' is keeping them busy. Shemitah, the last year of a seven-year cycle in the Jewish
         calender, has several times in the past brought immense financial hardships to the world
         and therefore, a dreaded event to people from Wall Street to Dalal Street.

         Imagine a slice of Hebrew history being the cause for continuing jitters because 13 Sep
         is the day when another Shemitah ends! Remember, the Monday's crash had happened
         within days of the start of the last month of Shemitah!!

         Let's hope that the markets do not go through any more upheavals!

   (c) The 'Uthraadapaachil'.

         Today was the first day of Onam called 'Uthraadam' after the star of the day on the Malayalam
         calendar. Malayalees, the world over, presumably scan the markets to buy themselves all the
         ingredients that would be required in their homes for the celebrations spread over the next
         few days. Anyone who has not been able to do so is considered 'unsmart'! The literary meaning
         of the word, 'paachil' is 'a mad scramble'!

         The traditional Uthraadapaachil is over and everyone's keenly awaiting the dawn of
         'Thiruvonam', tomorrow!


Lekha goes to Tirur, about 65 kms from here tomorrow morning, to be with her dad and sisters on the occasion. Mom and I'll have a quiet one here, at 'The Quarterdeck'!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Religious Census Data 2001 - '11. Highlights that we all must know!

Finally, we've the census figures released after a long wait and there are interesting observations. But, firstly, the total picture:-

     1.  Total population                                                       121.09 crores
       Break up, religion wise                                                                  
             (a) Hindus                                                               96.63      "
             (b) Muslims                                                             17.22      "
             (c) Christians                                                            2.78      "
             (d) Sikhs                                                                    2.08      "
             (e) Buddhists                                                             0.84      "
             (f) Jains                                                                     0.45      "
             (g) Other religions                                                    0.79      "
             (h) Religion not stated                                              0.29      "
         *Note. All figures as of 2011.
     2.  Growth rate of population                                          17.7% 
     3.  Here are a few interesting highlights:-

          * More religious minorities live in urban areas than rural.
             With the exception of the Sikhs, more religious minorities live in urban areas.

          * Region, more than faith, dictates gender skew.
             (a) Sex ratios of certain communities(number of females to 1,000 males):-
                   (i) Hindus              939
                  (ii) Muslims            951
                 (iii) Christians      1,023
                 (iv) Sikhs                 903
                      * Tamilnadu has, in recent years, redressed the gender balance.
                      * Chhattisgarh has a higher sex ratio, in all communities, than its all India average.
                      * One in two Christians lives in the south. Its break up:-  

                          - Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana account
                             for 46% of the community.
                          - The seven north eastern states constitute for 28.1%.
                          - Goa has 1.3% and
                          - The rest are spread all over the remaining parts of the country.

       4. The overarching trends are:-

            (a) The fertility and mortality rates are reducing fast across all religions.
                  Within this trend it's the regional variations that will pose future challenges. This
                  will have portends on the regional demographic transition.

            (b) The working age population has risen, thereby opening a window of demographic
                  opportunity. Good governance can convert this opportunity to the country's overall


The religious minorities have always been and will continue to be safe in this country. The misunderstandings and the apprehensions are the handiwork of the politicians who need to be shown their place when they're up to mischief.



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

This is how our youth fritter away their valuable time.

An uncut story.

"Najib(aged 23) had gone to the cinema to see the new release on Friday, the 23rd. At the ticket counter, he'd an altercation with another group when he was seriously injured due to stab wounds and was admitted in the government hospital, nearby. Sometime late this evening, the group had returned to deal with Najib, yet again and wounded him grievously. 

In a precarious condition, he was shifted to a private hospital at Thrissur immediately but the doctors could not save him. He passed away, not long after.

My take.

I've the following queries to the perpetrators of the heinous crime:-

   (a) Is the value of a movie ticket equal to a human life?
   (b) What was it that angered you so much that you decided to take his life?
   (c) Do you think you'll be able to lead a normal life hereafter after being branded 'killers'?
   (d) In the process, haven't you let down your families?
   (e) And to your families, I've only one thing to ask, "Is this the value system that you've brought
        up your kids with?"

The local population says that such altercations are rampant between groups every Friday, when a new film is released. Perhaps, it stems from a sense of achievement to see a new movie on the releasing day, itself or perhaps, even the first show of the first day! This, simply, means that well meaning people have let it happen, fearing either of the two:-

     (a) Repercussions from the warring groups.
     (b) A couldn't-care-less attitude as it does not affect me or my near and dear.

The youth is precious in the process of nation building. They're the leaders of the morrow and any loss of that resource is unacceptable for the country. And above all, it should be the endeavour of every family that they bring up this important resource correctly with the nicest sense of personal values, honour and exemplary behaviour!

Is it asking for too much?


Almost simultaneously comes the news that in the garb of onam celebrations in two professional colleges of the state, the proceedings had gotten out of hand when a girl student lost her life in one and all limits of propriety were transgressed in the second, with the authorities becoming mute spectators, fearing reprisals!

Whither the youth of Kerala? We must have the guts to tell the youngsters that they're wrong when they're, without fear of backlash!  


Monday, August 24, 2015

At 'The Quarterdeck'.

It's a leisurely morning, yet again, at my friend's place. We'd to rehash our programme because, being a Monday, the place where we'd wanted to go wouldn't open. We decided to head straight for my sister's place at Palakkad. My sister had yet another day at school before it wound up for the onam recess and their brand new Swift was ready for motoring.

The journey was uneventful and pleasant, with the day being sunny and hot. Lunch was at our usual haunt and the tricky stretch of Kuthiraan, was quite okay though there was a long queue of vehicles making their way to the destinations. The place has a temple, perched on the hillock overlooking the road, where motorists pay obeisance for a trouble free journey and offer money - usually, in coins and they're thrown towards the steep steps leading to its entrance. Seeing a gleaming Duster gliding past in the opposite direction, I'd pulled back my throw and heard the coin fall immediately behind my right, rear wheel! So much about my lousy aim!! This passage is gonna change by about a year or so from now, when the highway moves through the tunnel bored into the Kuthiraan hill feature, east of the present alignment.

We reached my sister's by about 1400h and mom was all excited to see us; she'd packed her bags by then. A quick nap till my sister returned from her school, a noisy tea and we're off for Guruvayur. The roads were okay, traffic wise, and we reached 'The Quarterdeck' before 2000h. A journey that saw us covering 886 kms on terra firma with a flight to and from Pune thrown, in between!

And it was last Tuesday that we'd set off covering quite a few activities during the week that we're off from our house. I was down with a nagging cough which saw me going through a three day course of antibiotics and was now trying home remedies like chewing raw ginger to taper off the lingering cough, though of a lesser intensity!

My mom seemed to be the happiest among us and I saw that she missed her 'by now' familiar surroundings! Lekha's assistant had prepared our dinner and therefore, without much delay we could tuck into the food as we're indeed famished by then. Sat through our favourite television programme to catch up from where we'd left last. Earlier, was really happy to hear about young Jasleen, who'd grappled with her tormentor and had put his particulars on the social media, whereby the police had taken him into custody after she'd made her complaint!


A hectic week of visiting places and meeting people, Lekha and I enjoyed every bit of it.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Back at Kochi.

Instead of a leisurely Sunday morning, we're up with the lark to be ready by 9 to go to the airport. Though the traffic on Sundays was hassle free, "you never know what can happen and so don't take a chance. Better to leave your place of stay by catch your flight"....... at 1115h. Smart, young Lance Naik Gurung came in with his gleaming Gypsy to ferry us and we reached the airport by 1000h.

In the meanwhile, I'd received information from the airlines that the flight was rescheduled to 1230h, on my cellphone and therefore, a long wait at the departure lounge became inevitable! No, not that we'd have delayed our get away from the mess, simply because we didn't want to take any chances. The mess staff refused to be steamrollered by my insistence on paying up the bill for my stay and my friend said that it was being followed upon his instructions!..... The additional time was spent partly in conversation, partly in browsing the mail and replying to a few essential ones and partly, in reading the day's Deccan Chronicle! It was a fairly long wait, phew!!

The flight, however, made up for lost time and we'd touched down at Kochi by a half past 2. A hired car, took us to my friend's house within an hour, by taking the 'safe' route free off snarls - the onam shoppers were at it and the streets looked as though it's a normal working day!

It's a quick wash and change into our Sunday best to be on time at Vayalar - about 35 kms from here - to be on time for the wedding ceremony of the daughter of another classmate of mine. The function had a fairly wide cross section of his relatives and friends, which had a generous sprinkling of foreigners as he and his family live in Montreal for the last so many years! The short set of rituals associated with the wedding was lapped up by the curious foreigners and it's great to see many of them sporting sarees, bindis and the works to sort of merge with the crowd!

There was a finely edited entertainment programme that gave us the gist of the lives of the bride and the bridegroom. There were three of us classmates who're specifically invited for the evening while everyone else was attending the reception at Kochi, tomorrow afternoon. And, as usual, it's great to catch up with them.


From Pune to Vayalar, all in a space of twelve hours, was hectic. But the thrill of attending the functions was simply priceless....In the bargain, we could meet up with a large number of friends.

Unnikrishnan and Neeta make a handsome pair. Here's wishing the two of you a long and happy married life and all that you wish for! Take care!! 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Through the maze of Pune's traffic.

It's a leisurely morning and we went about our chores as usual. Then tragedy struck as the vehicle that was meant to be ferry us to the RSI wasn't available as it had been diverted for another purpose. Ultimately, the host himself had to come and fetch us.

The lunch was hurried through as the cab on hire had come on the dot. The chocobar and the gulabjamuns had to be forgotten as we couldn't get the driver to wait for us for long. We're off westwards, towards Wakad to meet my cousin, Rajasree, who'd undergone a kidney transplant last week. It was an emotional meeting as she looked frail and thin after the tormenting experience. Weeks of dialysis coupled with the surgery seem to have taken its toll. The family has rented a house in one of the housing colonies to facilitate reviews by her doctor.

But she was chirpy and went through her experience in a matter-of-fact way. I've, by now, developed a harsh cough and had no intention of passing it on to the poor thing. So, I kept myself the farthest from her so that she did not contract the infection. I thought that our visit had pepped her up or am I fishing for compliments? Meanwhile, my niece and a budding homeopath had made a good mug of ginger-laced-tea to soothe my throat - damn sweet of her!

And then, we'd kicked off eastward for the long haul to Kharadi on the Hadapsar bypass. That was where Jyothisree, the kid sister of Rajasree who'd donated her kidney, was staying. Her brother-in-law and a dentist, lives with his family there. It was yet another emotional meeting and I could only tell her that she has become my inspiration on sibling love and affection. She's in her mid thirties and had gently put pressure on the family to come around to her wish of donating the kidney!

She was the last person to whom I said my bye before leaving and I saw tears in her eyes caused by my verbal calisthenics and as I held her to kiss her forehead, she clung on to me as if for dear life. For a moment, time stood still and I wonder as to how long we'd stayed in that position and I quickly went towards the lift hiding the hint of tears in my eyes.


(a) The Wakad to Kharadi journey was undertaken through the outer highway heading towards the airport to cut in at the appropriate point so that we could avoid the persistent traffic snarl on the short route. I opted for the driver's suggestion without a second thought and realised that he was right all the way.
(b) Jyothi and family leave for New Jersey on the 27th. She's performed her duty and is returning to continue with life as though nothing has happened......I'm proud to be her brother!  


Friday, August 21, 2015

Onward to Pune.

We're on time as we got ready to move to the airport. The cabbie, Joseph, was an efficient guy and he took us through yet another route which did not have any overloading of traffic. He gave me a few tips about getting my car serviced from his personal experiences.

Earlier, I'd made it a point to go via the clinic of my mom's doctor to hand over the Rs.100/- that I owed at the counter and wasn't she floored, because she'd given me time to pay it up during my mom's next review? The fact that I'd made a detour to pay up astonished her though I must admit that I didn't find any reason for astonishment!

The airport was choc-a-bloc with people as there were five flights bunched up around that time. The wheelchair assistance provided for Lekha did ease her woes considerably and the attendant got our checking in and the security clearance in a jiffy because of it. We're assigned a seat in the last row of the aircraft because two other acute cases, on wheelchairs, were provided the forward seats earmarked for the purpose.

I shall never forget the short flight of an hour and a half because of the severe turbulence encountered enroute in air pockets, stretched across the latter half of the route. The flight attendants did a marvelous job of serving lunch till they're given clear cut orders from the cockpit to fasten their seat belts at their stations!

We're at Pune by 1530h, absolutely bang on time, to a slight drizzle. The wheelchair assistance, the vehicle earmarked for us and the arrival at the Command Mess went off like clockwork. A quick wash and change and we're off to the venue of the wedding. The traditional rites were being performed and the panditji's humorous execution of the 'saat pheras' made the atmosphere all the more lively - a Sindhi girl was marrying a mallu, Hindu boy.

We're four classmates in all and there were many course mates with whom I'd the privilege of meeting after a long while. There was a palpable excitement that we're meeting up yet again in the third week of December for the course get together at the NDA. I was the lone man in the crowd - in the traditional Malayali garb of a dhoti and shirt!


Harshavardhan and Ankita - they make a handsome pair! - here's wishing you, once again, a long and happy married life. May all your wishes come true. And thanks, Venugopal and Umah for giving us the opportunity to be with you on your special day.   

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Guruvayur to Kochi.

The day - the forenoon, that's - was spent in:-

     (a) recouping ourselves and
     (b) getting ready for an early afternoon departure!

The advantage was that there was neither any panic nor any last minute running around, trying to tie up things. The short siesta after an early lunch was refreshing and we left our house before 2 o'clock. The Chevy was fuelled and the tyre pressure checked, enroute at the pump, where I frequent. The drive was hassle free but the road was choc a bloc with traffic flowing smoothly, thankfully.

We reached our friend's house by 1700 hrs. It was a fine evening and we could exchange notes on a variety of issues. Meanwhile, another class mate of mine had wanted me to check with our hosts at Pune - we're on our way to attend their son's wedding - as to whether he could attend the function since he had undergone a bereavement, in that he'd lost his 92 yr old dad a couple of days earlier. The query had cropped up because there are quite a few among us who feel that the attendance of such people did not augur well for the couple tying the knot. 

But what worries me more is that my friend, with whom we're staying, was adamant that he'd give our get together@60, later this year, the miss because he was still smarting under the e-mail duel that he'd with another about the manner in which he'd handed over the work on the coffee table book that was to be released during the occasion. He'd indeed done a lot of work beginning with the collation of the articles from everyone, to editing them and putting them in order but had handed over midway, as he was taking over as the secretary of the rotary club of which he was a member.

Had tried to mollify him but it was to no avail and I decided to leave it at that for the time being. Gentle persuasion will have to be applied over a period, perhaps, bring in a few others to coax him out of his decision!


(a) The new what'sap group of the second generation of the PN Panicker family, that we'd initiated yesterday, has become vibrant and popular with comments and their counters coming in really thick and fast. It's heartening!

(b) Li'l Shanaya - all of two and a half years - was the toast of the evening with her winsome antics!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

If anything has to go wrong it will.

Destiny, there anything like it? Let me narrate an incident of today that can, perhaps, throw more light on the matter.

As was cited in my post of yesterday, we're the first of the relations to reach my cousin's place for the engagement ceremony. The connected activities merged seamlessly with one another but the morning's activity that gave me great satisfaction was when I went around the house's continuous verandah - something that had caught my attention at the time of the housewarming - reciting my morning prayers.

We'd kicked off from Kayamkulam to Ambalapuzha, roughly about 30 km away, around 0930h. The drive was fine and the day was sunny and bright. We reached the auditorium - a stone's throwaway from the famed Ambalapuzha Sri Krishna temple, where my mom, aunts and an uncle had made regular morning visits, years before - and were introduced to Lakshmi's folks before being taken to our seats. A few of my relations from Thiruvananthapuram had arrived by the morning train and some others, by road just before the meeting up with them was another important activity at the venue because the muhurtham was at 1140 hrs.

Minutes prior to the ceremony, my cousin who was driving down had called up asking me to receive her mom - Vilasini kunjamma, my mom's third sister suffering from Alzheimer's condition - at the gate so that she could go for a quick 'darshan' at the temple. So, precisely when the engagement ceremony was going on, I was escorting my kunjamma into the auditorium.

Lekha, my mom and even the boy - whose engagement it was - along with the others were sad that I was absent at the precise moment. But I must reiterate that I was the least bothered because at that point of time, escorting my aunt was the most important thing for me and I enjoyed doing it. Period!

......And yes, now I leave it to your conclusion as to whether it's fate or a strange off the cuff occurrence!


The Kodak moment of the day.......the lighting up of Vilasini kunjamma's face on sighting me that only I was privy to through the shaded window of her car! Priceless!!

The get away from the auditorium was at 1, soon after lunch and we're headed for Palakkad. Thanks to heavy traffic and a bit of slowing down at Kuthiraan, we reached my sister's place at a half past 6. After dropping mom there, we're off for 'The Quarterdeck' and rains, potholed roads and a religious procession at Ottapalam on the occasion of the 'Vinayaka chathurthi', ensured that our arrival was at a half past 9!

Abhilash and Lakshmi make a handsome pair!!   

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Onward to Kayamkulam.

It was a flawless exit. As I closed the gate of 'The Quarterdeck', it was 10 to 6 and when we're finally headed for Thrissur, it was 6 AM as I'd desired. I'd taken the detour to bypass the railway level cross that was down for the 6 o'clock Punalur Passenger.

Breakfast at the hotel, beside the toll gate, was timely and adequate. We reached Kochi by 9 and after dropping Lekha at the dental care, mom and me were at the clinic awaiting our turn. The review was thorough and we had a fairly long conversation, catching up from where we'd left last. He was just back from a trip to Purnea where he'd witnessed his efficient junior set up a new clinic.

We'd set off by about a half past 10 on our onward journey and felt guilty when Bindu, the chirpy receptionist reminded me about my having forgotten to pay her the remaining Rs.100/- of the consultation fee. Since I was already well past the tricky maze of the city's messy roads, returning into it would have been suicidal and she has permitted me to pay it on my next visit, damn gracious of her!

And disaster struck as we're cruising through the town of Alappuzha. A super fast of the state road transport corporation swerved a bit too close for comfort, breaking my rear view mirror in the bargain, much to my horror. I could only cruise impotently forward because of:-

      (a) choc-a-bloc traffic and my stopping would have only added to the woes of the fellow                           motorists.
      (b) the super fast didn't even care to stop!

Was sad for a little while after the accident but then came lunch at our favourite haunt. And an hour later, we're at my cousin's place. The family had slowly conglomerated from different directions and it was a full quorum, save for two cousins, by sunset.

The entertainment programme put up by the family - especially, the younger generation - was super......and  it was yesterday once more!


All misunderstandings have been sorted out and it's a new beginning from now!       

Monday, August 17, 2015

Chingam onnu.

The beginning of the onam month. Guruvayur had a huge crowd visiting it on the occasion as the wedding muhurats have begun all over again after a gap of one month. So the crowd today was vastly different from say, last month, when there was this continuous stream of pilgrims to do the 'parikrama' of the four temples that had the deities of the Ramayana heroes viz. Sri Ram, Bharath, Laxman and Shatrughnan.

            *                                   *                                      *

I'd gone to the town to tie up a few things before the early morning trip to Kochi and onward, to Kayamkulam which is a distance of about 225 km. Mom's appointment with the doctor was reconfirmed and packing was completed to avoid missing of things or last minute panic trying to locate the untraceable! Her medical file and the latest path lab reports have already been put in the Chevy.

            *                                    *                                      *

The Quarterdeck was shut down, in steps, with the windows being closed and bolted, first. The postman was, earlier, told about our short absence and to keep a registered letter of mine safe with him till I return. It's a new cheque book which would, otherwise, unnecessarily, return to the sender making a trip to the bank mandatory. The newspaper boy was also informed about our move.

            *                                     *                                     *

It's gonna be the first long distance trip for Lekha after her surgery. Her doctor has cleared it with the rider that the foot should be swathed in a crepe bandage while moving outdoors. The airlines has already obliged us by making her a wheelchair patient.....thankfully, she wouldn't have to walk distances within the terminals.

            *                                      *                                    *

Sleep is hard to come by....... and the alarm has been set to go off at 0400h!


Rest on reaching the destination seems to be the only antidote. Meanwhile, my nephew - younger to the one who's gonna get engaged - has informed that the entertainment programme for the family was shaping up well. That's the one thing that I'm looking forward to, the most! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The last day of the Ramayana month.

Today's the last day of the Malayalam month, Karkkidakom and the month of the Ramayana recital in every home. Lekha had completed the holy book a few days earlier stopping at the anointment of Lord Sri Rama as the King of Ayodhya after the vanquishing of King Ravana. The chapter after - that covers Sita being asked to confirm her purity - is never recited, according to an unwritten code. Mom used to read a page - symbolically, everyday - prior to Lekha's recital.

From tomorrow, begins the onam month of 'Chingam'. The celebrations connected to the festival will kick off and symbolically, the government of Kerala is set to sign the Vizinjam Seaport Project with the Adani group, tomorrow.

The Illam Nira. 

The 'illam nira' ritual, heralding the harvest season, was held at the Guruvayur temple this morning. Accordingly, the 'Manayathu' and 'Azhikkal' families - the two that are assigned to present the offerings - offered stacks of harvested paddy stalks to the good Lord. After the connected ceremonies, these were distributed to the devotees present which will find a prominent place in their homes for the next one month and in many cases, for the whole of the year, as a symbol of well being and prosperity!!

    *                               *                                 *

Lekha has completed the onam purchases by making three forays with her assistant, Preetha and George, our reliable 'saarthi'. Items have been picked up, with the usual care, to be handed over on the day prior to onam to all those who play important roles in our daily lives. Mom will do the honours at the appropriate time. We shall be off on three short trips before we return to 'The Quarterdeck' for onam viz.:-

       (a) to Kayamkulam to attend my cousin's son's engagement ceremony on the 19th.
       (b) to Pune to attend a coursemate/classmate's son's wedding from the 21st to 23rd. Will give us
             an opportunity to look up my cousin who's had a kidney transplant, the donor being her kid
       (c) to Vayalar to attend another classmate's daughter's wedding on the 23rd, close on the heels
            of our return from Pune.


Soon after the Kayamkulam trip, we make a dash for Palakkad to drop mom before we head for Pune. Some hectic schedule, huh!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

India @ 69.

The 69th Independence Day was celebrated all over the country with the attendant pomp and grandeur. The Prime Minister's address from the ramparts of the Red Fort had highlighted the achievements of his government over the last year and he also made a few important announcements of which I thought that the following were noteworthy:-

     (a) The remaining 18,500 odd villages to be electrified within the next 1,000 days.
     (b) The banks being told to adopt one entrepreneur from the SC/ST/economic weaker sections and
           women and
     (c) The 'start up/stand up' India initiative.

But as a man in uniform, I was disappointed that he did not provide a definitive time line towards the implementation of the 'One Rank One Pension' policy. The very fact that he hasn't been able to give a clear cut answer, points out that there are real impediments. Let me try to list a few of them:-

      (a) Bureaucratic inertia, coupled with quite a few of them who're Congress party loyalists, out to
            put impediments into the functioning of the government and ensure that Modi doesn't get the
            accolades for his good work.
      (b) Is there a nexus between the Finance Minister and the bureaucrats which is against the OROP
            implementation and thereby put in the spokes, citing technical/financial grounds?
      (c) The definition of the 'armed forces' distorted to include paramilitary forces - not that I'm                       against it - to magnify the overall financial effect.


I'm saying this because there are many among the civilian population who feel that the armed forces are a pampered lot who practically do nothing but eat and 'drink' at the expense of the taxpayer! All attempts to explain that to be battle worthy, the armed forces need to train continuously remain uncomprehended and fall on deaf ears. My only counter to this is that if it's the prevalent belief, why don't the youth join the honourable profession instead of hankering for jobs with fat pay packets?

A thing that has been promised by successive governments, since the '70s and failing to get implemented till date must be having an unnecessary undercurrent that needs to be sorted out without any further excuse!   

2. Piku.

Was finally able to see the Hindi movie, 'Piku' that was premiered on the Sony channel, this evening. Wonder whether this lovely movie was able to rake in the moolah at the box office? I ask this question because one has to have the experience of living with one's elderly grandparents/parents to understand the importance of regular bowel movements in their daily lives. The attendant irritation and the consequent pandemonium, coupled with irritability, can unnerve anyone.

I'd seen this at close quarters through my dad, who was also inflicted with the Parkinson's Syndrome, when he'd traversed through similar difficulties. I see it now in my mom and I've learnt to empathise to get her out of the episodes with suitable medicinal antidotes/peppy conversations.

Mr. Bachchan was his usual, convincing self as the irritating, yet lovable elder. His genuine surprise at the conclusion that he'd no admittable disease, from his pathological test results, had me in splits. Deepika Padukone, as his daughter does a good job showing her indulgence coupled, at times, with irritability/guilty for being irritable at her father and Irfan as the driver and co-traveler is good.


Proud to be an Indian!



Friday, August 14, 2015


Today's happenings at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi were sad. It showed clearly as to what the nation thinks about its armed forces.

The ex-servicemen, who've been staging a sit-in since 15 Jun, got a rude shock when the police along with the officials of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation tried to forcefully evict them, leading to a scuffle. The police also tried to remove the marquee and other paraphernalia of the protesters. On being questioned, the police's explanation was that the protesting ex-servicemen were a threat to the Independence Day celebrations! Can you beat that? The veterans who'd toiled to keep the country secure from external aggression and had been of substantial help while rendering service in the aid of civil power - during their heydays - have sadly become a 'threat' to the very same country that they love and would die for!!

I shall have the TV grab of a tearful veteran, helplessly watching the fracas, in my mind for a long time to come.

I was watching the 9 PM news on the Times Now channel and was aghast to see an immature guy, by the name of Jagdish Shergill of the Congress party, asking a veteran in the panel discussions - who gave a detailed account of the happenings on the ground - and I quote, "Are you the messiah of the entire lot of veterans?", simply because he was rattled by the veteran's statement that the protesters had asked Rahul Gandhi to leave the spot and not to politicise their grievances.

As criticism of the forcible eviction mounted, the team of Delhi Police and the NDMC guys made a quick 'U' turn and disappeared.

My take.

The ugly situation could have been avoided and I'm sure it's the handiwork of certain mischievous element which wants to show the government in poor light. Let me explain:-

  (a) The eviction could only have been carried out by a bureaucratic order.
  (b) Since the ex-servicemen posed no security threat by virtue of their background and their
        protest had the necessary approvals, they couldn't be evicted.
  (c) In every case of an eviction, the affected lot is warned well in advance about the proposed
       action which was not done in this case.
  (d) So, was it the case of an overzealous bureaucrat who wanted to show his masters that he was
        loyal to them, still?

The remedial measures, by the various players in the game, are listed below:-

   The Government.
         - Must expose and bring to book the bureaucrat, who's the author of this embarrassment. 
         - Must implement the OROP, getting their 'arithmetic translation' through.
         - Should be able to see through the games that the bureaucrats play.

   The Opposition.

         - Must pressurise the government in the implementation of OROP.


To Rahul Gandhi, here's some advice from a well wisher of yours:-

        (a) If you think that by using disruptive tactics, you can emerge as a key personality in the
             running of the country, you're mistaken. Parliamentary democracy is much above all these.
             It shows you as a leader with no draught.
        (b) Accept the good points of your opponents with magnanimity, it shows your strength and
              convinces the people that you really stand for their welfare.
        (c) Agree that you've quite a lot of turf to cover in gaining loyalty within your party by virtue
              of your disappearing act of almost two months but this is not the way you claw back to
              all round acceptance.
        (d) If your antics have been to acquire the mantle of leadership of the Congress party, think
              again, for, there might be many colleagues of yours who do not agree with your street
              smart tactics as it's putting the party down.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Who has given them this right?

Instances of moral policing in Bombay and Allahabad have come to light various a section of people have rounded up young couples while on their trysts in parks. In the latter case, video grabs showed even the police giving spot punishments to the 'guilty'(?).

Isn't this an instance of blatant infringement of an individual's personal freedom? 

Moral policing gets to be highhandedness when it exceeds the limits of propriety, decency and the decorum. To those people who pose as vigilantes, I'd like to remind them of what Jesus Christ had said, "Let the one who hasn't sinned cast the first stone." And I'd like to ask them the following questions:-

    (a) Who has given you the right to correct others?
    (b) Would you like to be told 'not to do this or not to do that' by anyone that doesn't warm up
          to your ideas?
    (c) Why're you taking the law into your hands, which is a punishable offence by itself?

You might, then, ask as to what should be done to those people who misbehave in public places and do things that are not supposed to be done. Well, there are clear cut laws that are enshrined, that will take care of transgressions of any kind.

After past experiences, there's an element of fear on the occasion of Valentine's Day being celebrated. Though, I'm of the personal opinion that love can't be celebrated over a single day - it has to endure, that's what true love is all about, ain't it? - if a set of people want to do so, who gives me permission to obstruct or ridicule them? And by doing so, ain't I being a spoilsport? In a similar vein, I must quote my mom when some time back I'd enthusiastically made a long distance call to wish her a 'Happy Mother's Day.' Her retort was characteristically simple but unanswerable........"Son, do you mean to say that you only remember me on this one day?" I was left mumbling for an answer then and continue to do so, even now.

It's a practice in the west, during the 1970s with the advent of the hippie cult and the associated 'free living', many youngsters used to leave their homes rupturing the fabric of family ties forever. A few years into this life of 'unrestricted freedom', many of them must have realised their folly and yearned to get back to the family where they belonged. The Mother's day and the Father's day were the mechanisms to rekindle that fond thought.

India was never confronted with such a situation and many thought and continue to think that celebrating The Valentine's Day, The Father's Day or the Mother's Day is tantamount to a blind aping of the west as our culture was totally different, deeply rooted in well meaning traditions and customs!

....But with the proliferation of the nuclear families and living together, things are changing here, too...

But everyone has his/her own outlook towards things and that freedom needs to be provided/protected. There's no other way........the moral policing, therefore, needs to stop, here and now!


And this is what is enshrined in the immortal 'Gitanjali' of Rabindranath Tagore and I quote......

    "Where the mind is without fear
        and the head is held high,
      Where knowledge is free
      Where the world has not broken up
        into fragments by narrow domestic walls
      When words come out from the depth of truth
      Where tireless striving stretches its arms 
         towards perfection
      Where the clear stream of reason
         has not lost its way
         into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
      Where the mind is led forever by thee
         into ever widening thought and action
       Into that heaven of freedom, my Father,
         let my country awake! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What the 'Yuan' devaluation means to India.

1. China's recent devaluation of its currency by nearly 2% will definitely have an impact on India's economy and I'm sure that our government would do the needful to contain the fallout. I'm no economist and shan't bore you with statistics that I do not grasp myself in the best of times! I must , further, reiterate that my analysis is that of a layman.

Fact file.

2. Before going any further, we need to understand the trade practices that exist between the two nations. Here are the details:-

 (a) Items exported by India to China.

      Cotton, Copper, Organic Chemicals, Mineral Fuels and Oils, Salt, Cement, Plastics and                       Mechanical Appliances.

 (b) Items imported by India from China.

       Machinery(electrical and electronic), Mechanical Appliances, Organic Chemicals, Fertilisers,
       Project Goods, Plastics, Iron and Steel, Imitation Jewellery.

 (c) India and China compete in the export markets in the following:-

      Man made Fibre, Garments, Steel, Gems and Jewellery, Organic Chemicals.

The Repercussions.

3. These could be the fall out:-

              * The Indian companies' realisation from their exports to that country will take a hit.
              *  Make Chinese products more competitive than the Indian items as their exports would
                  be cheaper (Remember that our largest export markets are the US and the EU).
              *  The FDI inflows into our country could get affected.
              *  A large dumping of Chinese goods into our markets is likely and
              *  Will swell the trade deficit between the two countries.


Why did China devalue its currency now? It's said that the alarming trend of market slides prompted it to take such an action. Or is it that it's getting worried about a resurgent India and the thrust in the 'Make in India' policy by the Modi government?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Some stories!

Here are some interesting news bytes that makes one wonder about the ways of the world. Let's take a few.

 (a) The copy cat.

        I pity IG TJ Jose for his sorry plight. He was caught copying in the LLM examination conducted
        by the MG University from the pieces of paper found on his person. He was caught copying by
        the invigilator at St Paul's College, Kalamasserry, half an hour into the annual examination on
        Constitutional Law, in the 'off campus mode' during May, this year. He refused to hand over the
        material, used for copying, to the invigilator.

        A syndicate sub-committee of the university has found him guilty and follow up action will be
        taken. Sad, because of the following:-

                   (a) for him continuing in uniform. He should have resigned forthwith.
                   (b) why did a man of his professional stature stoop so low? Passing in the examination is
                         no big deal, especially if one isn't prepared.

  (b) The fugitive.             
         Dayanidhi Maran, former union telecom minister, has to court arrest for allegedly installing
         a mini telephone exchange at his residence to upload data for Sun TV, owned by his brother.
         A bench of the Madras High Court had quashed his anticipatory bail and he has now, rushed to
         the Supreme Court for succour.

         The CBI had started preliminary inquiry in '11 and registered an FIR in '13. Though he                        attended the inquiry sessions, he'd evaded presenting himself before the CBI subsequently,
         armed with an anticipatory bail which has been quashed now consequent to the agency                        reporting about his misdemeanour.

         How come such guys play with legal procedures? I, for one, can never forget his arrogance
         on becoming the telecom minister. He'd the audacity to keep the late Justice Krishna Iyer
         waiting on a telephone line for more than half an hour! I'd gone to meet him on the issuing
         of the commemorative stamp of PN Panicker by the P&T.


The IS has got high hopes. It plans to take control of west Asia, north Africa, swathes of the Indian subcontinent and parts of Europe, within the next five years to complete its caliphate. It will also cover areas from Spain in the west to China in the east.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Deplorable, shameful and unacceptable!

The MPs that we've elected and sent to parliament have no right to denigrate our country and us. Their uncouth behaviour, especially in the Rajya Sabha, in front of a visiting parliamentary delegation from Bhutan was uncalled for and deplorable.

Whatever be the political differences between the treasury benches and the opposition, they could have been discussed on the floor of the house, scoring points and counterpoints on such an occasion. That would have set a worthy precedent of a mature democracy and would have been the best take away for any visitor in the gallery! Instead, the previous three weeks of hooliganism was on display as a continuing pantomime. The cackling that followed when the Chairman, Rajya Sabha hoped 'that the visiting delegation would learn the way we carry out our parliamentary affairs' - according to me, did two damaging things apart from letting the nation down and showing themselves as a bunch of unruly schoolkids viz.:-

      (a) showed disrespect towards the guests when we pride ourselves with, "Athithi devo bhava."
      (b) showed scant regard to the stature of the chairman of the house.

I happened to watch the prime time news that covered it with the right amount of seriousness and must frankly admit that the people who defended the pettiness were probably doing so, firstly, because they'd no choice as they're deputed to be their party's spokesmen and secondly, they're under the misguided notion that they would squirm their way through to their leader's good books by a spirited(?) performance on the show. What astonished me was that the protagonists were young MPs - wonder whether this is a taste of things to come, petulant and vindictive!

Consider some of the points put up in defence of their boorish behaviour (I've put my counters to each point in highlighted italics):-

    (a) The ruling party, while in opposition, had done it 19 times to a host of foreign delegations.
          Are you trying to tell us that vendetta will be the order of the day? We'd like to surpass the
          number 19 to get even with this what is being purported? Why can't you show
          some grace by differing from them on behaviour?

    (b) Keeping the current logjam in Parliament in mind, the delegation should not have been brought
          into the house.
          As an MP, you should at least be knowing that visits like these are planned well in advance
          and the detail programme prepared so that there's no cause for any embarrassment. Every
          aspect goes like clock work except for some exceptional circumstances! Invitations aren't
          exchanged overnight, please!!

    (c) The Parliamentary Affairs Minister is inefficient because he'd not reached out to the opposition.
          Let's, for argument's sake, agree to this logic and concede that the minister had goofed it
          up but why did you've to show pettiness by indulging in unparliamentary behaviour? 

My take.

(a) There's no way that the boorish behaviour in parliament can be justified. It's simply deplorable, shameful and unacceptable!
(b) The monsoon session of parliament is a washout. How'll the lawmakers justify to their countrymen about not having transacted any business? Will they draw their perks, allowances and salaries for this disruptive session?

I hang my head, in shame, for having elected representatives who aren't statesmenlike and honourable!


Asaduddin Owaisi, the MP from Hyderabad, has now come up with the meanest. According to him, the late President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was not a good Muslim because he recited the Bhagwad Gita and was a vegetarian! How low can one get? He doesn't realise as to how ignorant he is.  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Remembering Nagasaki....and other stories.

Today's thoughts are a collage. Here I go:-

 (a) Remembering Nagasaki.

       70 years back at 2' past 11 AM this day, the second atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki by a
       US aircraft. The catastrophe that unfolded was unbelievable - death, destruction and untold                  misery, that continues even to this day, is testimony to the horrors of nuclear war.

       My tears and prayers for the millions of Japanese who suffered and continue to suffer from the
       after effects.

       Mankind has still not learnt its lessons. Countries continue to stockpile deadly nuclear weapons
       in their arsenal, with Pakistan piling up their armoury on a 'hate-India' foundation that has an              ominous foreboding!

  (b) A day full of guests.

       Suresh Laxman and Sindhu were with us till afternoon. They left for Palakkad soon after lunch.
       It was nice recalling the times of old and looking forward to the prospect of meeting up yet                  again, later this month at another classmate's daughter's wedding near Pala in Kottayam.

       As we're through with the afternoon siesta, Narayanan and Rema had dropped  by. They'd visited
       us earlier, at the hospital, during Lekha's surgery and had gone abroad on a short visit to their
       folks. Their experiences of the journey were interesting and even after two hours, there seemed
       to be a lot more to be recounted! They left us, to be in time for their evening 'darshan' at the

       The farmhand, Pushpakaran, had come by after a break of about three weeks. Despite it being a
       Sunday, he went about tending the kitchen garden and completed a few jobs that were long
       pending. Damn sweet of him.

  (c) Achu at Bangalore.

       My nephew, who'd one more month of training at Perundurai near Salem, had been asked to
       join his company's new production unit at Bangalore. He's since moved there and settled down
       in an apartment with another friend of his from the office. He seems to be excited about being
       part of the production team after his tenure with the 'Quality Control' team.

       His parents are, however, sad because his weekend visits have come to an end!


A fairly interesting week, this!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Return to Guruvayur.

I'd set off from Maman's house by 0815h. There were two factors that got me at the railway station on time viz. Omanakuttan behind the wheel and being a second Saturday, most of the offices had a holiday and hence the streets weren't cluttered! But reaching the station in time didn't mean a damn because the train, coming from Kanyakumari and headed for Bombay was about 20 mts late and this delay kept on piling enroute, much to my discomfiture.

There was another interesting development. The A1 coach was supposed to be a two tier a/c compartment but the coach that was attached happened to be a 3 tier a/c coach, creating confusion and spontaneous fights among the passengers for lower berths because a few of them had specifically asked for, while doing the reservation - according to hearsay - four months earlier. Anyways, the disarray was, thankfully, short-lived with a railway man writing the berth numbers with a blue china-graph pencil according to the manner in which they're usually found in a 2 tier coach - which meant that all the central berths would be kept in the stowed position during the entire phase of this journey!

My friend and classmate, Suresh Laxman and his wife, Sindhu were spending the weekend with us and they're headed that way, having kicked off from Thiruvananthapuram early morning at 0530h, in their car. So, I dropped off the train at Ernakulam to join them for the onward journey. Something seemed to be delaying our movement almost continuously and accordingly, we'd encountered bad traffic snarls at two places, frittering away almost two hours in the bargain and reached 'The Quarterdeck' by 2000h.

Mom and Lekha seemed to be in good spirits and I was glad that I could accomplish my task without problems!


It was a delayed evening with us reminiscing about our old school days with mom being an active participant, as usual. As minutes ticked away into hours I think all of us seemed to want that the interaction went on and on and never end! But....  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Gaining acceptance.

Maman and me had set off from home on the dot at 8 AM. There was work at the office and a few important mail that were awaiting his perusal and clearance for dispatch. We could leave the place only by a half past 10 for Kollam, where an important meeting was scheduled with the officials of the government's industrial department at 12.

However, enroute, we'd another important task to do - wish an elderly gentleman many happy returns on the occasion of his 84th birthday. It was a pleasant get together with the entire family and the birthday boy was generous with his blessings!

And then it was the turn of Omanakuttan, our 'sa'arthi', to show his prowess on the busy highway. He found space where I found none, browbeat adamant motorists with his persistent honks and overtook vehicles with a flourish. The speeds that he could achieve out of the old Toyota Qawalis was simply unbelievable. Since we'd to keep the appointment, neither Maman or I said anything to him to avoid his 'blitzkrieg'! And by god, we made it in time for the meeting.

Government officials are known to be tough and impractically procedural. For a change, we'd the occasion to meet with two very positive gentlemen in Radhakrishnan and Biju, who, not only gave us a patient hearing but also put forth suggsestions worth incorporating in our proposal. Our Chathannoor unit, beset with problems, is gonna see a makeover and is poised to see hectic activity soon,

The board meeting was at 3 - post lunch - at the government guest house. After the annual report and the audited accounts had been passed by the members present, it was the turn of my introduction as the Chairman-designate. As I got to be the object of intense scrutiny, deep down within there was a momentary state of confusion.....what were these worthies thinking about me?.....any of the following, perhaps:-

       (a) a guy, born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Is it fair?
       (b) does he have the qualities of his grandfather and his uncle?
       (c) will he be able to tackle purely civilian issues having coming from a military background?

In my short acceptance speech, I solicited everyone's support and promised them that I'd do my work with sincerity and live up to the traditions set by my grandfather.

After a short detour to Paravoor to see the renovation of the new office space we'd set off on our return, a trifle after sunset . Again, Omanakuttan's dexterous efforts helped us reach home despite a bad traffic snarl!


To learn about the organisation by the time the ratification comes from New Delhi.       

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Guruvayur to Thiruvananthapuram.

After a lapse of over two months, I was venturing out of the house on my first long journey of sorts. I'd tied up all possible requirements of Lekha and mom, that, I could conceive during my absence and left for Thrissur by the passenger train from Guruvayur at 1300h.

My stay at the waiting room of the Thrissur railway station was over two hours and during the period, I could clear the backlog of mail that needed immediate attention.

The Jan Shatabdi was on the dot and I reached Thiruvananthapuram by 2100h with my Maman picking me up on arrival. During the journey, my fellow passenger who was working at the Vigilance department of the Kerala Police and a pleasant fella, got to be friendly and he told me about his activities as one of the volunteers who were part of my grandfather's literacy drive of the late '80s.

He was keen to know about my activities after my naval life and evinced a keen interest in the current thrust of the Foundation and offered himself for voluntary work - damn sweet of him. He has been added to my growing work force on the e-literacy drive.

The evening got to be a bit late as we'd got into a huddle regarding tomorrow's board meeting. The empowered committee - consisting of prominent political leaders and eminent personages from different walks of life - is gonna reorganise the feeder organisation's hierarchy. Additional responsibility coupled with accountability coming my way...hope I'm able live up to the expectations!


Life is gonna be hectic and it's my sincere hope that Lekha's coming back to normalcy takes place smoothly. In the meanwhile, there are quite a few social commitments that are to be met and skipping even one can invite a backlash.......there never is a dull moment! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

And now, a demat account for Lord Venkateswara @ Tirupathi.

In a first of its kind in the world, the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam - the administrator of the Tirupathi temple - has opened a demat account to accept donations to the good Lord in the form of shares and securities! This was based on observations, over a period of time, that devotees deposited shares and securities along with cash, gold and other precious ornaments.

To offer something to god has been a tradition since times immemorial, the most famous being that of Lord Krishna's friend Kuchela offering the former with his favourite dish made of rice called, 'aval'. Krishna had devoured the offering at one go, simply because he was fond of it.

Most devotees feel that they must offer their god and if they don't, they feel that their prayers might not be taken heed of. By such thinking aren't they insinuating that their god is susceptible to bribery and corruption? I've seen people - known to be extremely parsimonious in spending money otherwise - on a 'no-holds barred' offering at places of worship! Another sight that has never failed to amuse me is the penance offered to Lord Ganesha by many, in the form of cross-holding of the ears accompanied with repeated and rapid bowing.

To my mind, the people who offer donations to god, quite generously, could be anyone of the following categories:-

     (a) those who're heavily guilt ridden for their wrong doings.
     (b) those that have immense wealth, perhaps ill gotten and do not know how to spend it.
     (c) those who do not want to part with their wealth for the needy but do it for a 'good' cause by
           passing a part of it to their god.
     (d) those who want god to help them get through difficult times viz. passing an examination,
           getting a job or a promotion or achieving something that is desired.

My take.

While I do admit that there are many who offer genuinely with no thoughts of return, there's an urgent need to utilise the donations in a reasonable manner, for the overall good of the society rather than accumulating wealth for subsequent manipulation and corrupt ways!

I'm of the opinion that the donations received, must be used for the following in that order:-

     (a) improve the facilities in and around the place of worship along with infrastructural support
          of the surrounding areas.
     (b) provide succour to the needy.
     (c) deploy for developmental activities.


Quite a while back, I remember having read a news item that talked of four human ears with gold ornaments being found in the 'hundi' of a place of worship. Wonder what the guiding factor of that individual, a pardon from god for his misdeeds?

I seem to have missed out another important reason for offerings. It's a thanksgiving factor too!      

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Some good....some not good.

Am talking about the day's news, some of which are good while some others are not so good. I suppose one can't expect everything to be hunky dory and hope that the bad ones become good in the not too distant future. Taking cognisance of a few, here I go:-

  (a) The leadership struggle in the Taliban.

        Consequent to the one-eyed Mulla Omar's death almost two years ago, there has been a power
        vacuum at the top levels of the terrorist outfit. That Pakistan's ISI has installed their stooge,
        Akhtar Mansour doesn't augur well for India. It makes matters worse that Sirajuddin Haqqani
        - the mastermind in the bombing of the Indian embassy at Kabul in Jul '08 - has been made the
        deputy. They're pitted against Mullah Yakub, Mullah Omar's son and the struggle is only gonna
        intensify in the days to come.

        India must play a major role in Afghan affairs because we mean well for that country and have
        done a lot of work in building infrastructure in the strife torn country despite attacks on Indians
        working out there.

  (b) The Lamp Lighting Controversy.

        Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyyathul Ulema, the body of Sunni scholars, who oppose the practice
        of lighting traditional lamps at public places has established its hold on the IUML(Indian Union
        Muslim League) whereby the latter has reiterated in its working committee meeting that its
        members shall continue to refrain from the practice.

        The view of a section of the leadership that it should be left to individuals to take a call on the
        issue, based on the situation, has thus been ignored...... Sad!

   (c) Flexibility.

        The Kerala government has shown tremendous maturity and the Revenue Minister, flexibility
        by revoking a rule that was brought about recently and was opposed by various quarters. The
        rule was that all encroachments on government land, in hilly areas, prior to 01 Jun '05 would
        be legalised with the stipulation that the upper limit would be four acres!

        There was a groundswell of dissent saying that the rule would benefit the wealthy and without
        much ado, the government had backed down which is sensible and right!

        How one wishes that such a rule had never been promulgated in the first place! It would have
        saved all concerned the embarrassment!!  


Meanwhile the logjam in Parliament continues........


Monday, August 3, 2015

Correcting an error.

About a couple of months back, we'd guests visiting us. Soon after their departure - they're a couple - we, too, had embarked on an important work. It was much later that I noticed that a fixture in the room, earmarked for guests in the house was broken. It was replaced today by the quiet and mild mannered Sajeev, who's an expert on sorting out plumbing and electrical problems. More about him later because first things first.......the avalanche of questions being:-

  (a) Was the damage there much before the advent of the guests? 

        No, that has been doubly confirmed because before anyone was slated to arrive, the facilities
        have a thorough 'look-see' by me so that necessary 'corrective' action could be taken.

  (b) Why didn't they inform us about it?

        Probably, .......(i) they didn't want to upset us as we're also embarked on a journey soon
                                     after their departure or
                               (ii) they're too embarrassed about their faux pas or
                              (iii) in the thick of the happenings, they'd forgotten about it?

Anyways, Sajeev had come by about 1000h as per earlier arrangement and together, we'd picked up a new piece from the showroom, not far away. And he was clear in his mind that he wouldn't make me spend unnecessarily and to highlight that aspect I'd like to put in this bit too. Another fixture would have required a replacement because of a broken spindle and the salesman was quick to note his momentary dilemma - I'd none because I was ready to pick up a new fixture, anyways - saying that they did not sell spares but the whole and if I were to wait for another 10 days, they would courier it to me!

Sajeev, meanwhile, had quickly moved to the factory behind the showroom after taking permission from the salesman and was able to retrieve a spare without me having to pay a penny! Moreover, he'd dished out Rs.20/- from his pocket, at the counter, as did not have the requisite change.

The whole work was completed under an hour and Sajeev had gone away even refusing to take his Rs.20/-.......... There were nice people like him, too, amid us!


A good worker with integrity and above all, a nice human being!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The doubts that arise.

News comes in every form, from every which way. All of us are hungry for news and that's why most of us browse through the newspapers first thing in the morning along with the morning cuppa. As one reads or hears them, each byte makes one think as to whether it's okay, whether it has substance or even whether there could be backlashes.

Also, it's a fact that when an order is passed there would be those who're benefited while there might be the rest that aren't. Going by the adage that everyone cannot be satisfied, an order that has the maximum acceptance can be deemed to be well crafted, effective. The other important factor is that it should be implementable without hitches!

Having given a preamble to this effect, let me go through a couple:-

 (a) Ban on Pornographic Sites.

       The ban on porn sites by the Department of Telecom has kicked off outrage among internet
       users across the country just giving an inkling regarding the numbers indulging in the pastime
       of visiting such sites. There's no reason to be a prude because one can't afford to label all of                them to be bad, provided the activity ends at just that and nothing beyond.

       The government's move has good intentions in that it wants the children to be kept away from
       even accidentally visiting those sites. But it can cost it a lot of good will because many would
       view the curbs as an infringement upon their freedom.

       My take is that every individual must know the limits of propriety expected of him/her. Your
       individual choices are your own but must never give you an occasion to regret. If every citizen
       is matured enough to accept this solemn responsibility, a blanket ban might not be required at all!

 (b) Global Statesman, Kim Jong-un!

       The North Korean dictator has been awarded the 'Global Statesman' prize by the Bali-based
       Sukarno centre and the news was announced by the daughter of the founding president, after
       whom the award is named. I ain't saying that dictators do not deserve prizes provided they're
       benevolent but there seems to be a mismatch that the previous recipients are Gandhiji and Aung
       San Suu Kyi!

       From the information that trickles down from North Korea, Kim has been ruthless in eliminating
       people who question his actions and therein lies the dichotomy!


We're, indeed, passing through exciting times. The children of today are more knowledgeable and
must accept their responsibilities and to equip them for it, fine teachers, with impeccable integrity, are a must!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

News from here and there.

Having touched upon many topics earlier, connected with the news that were headlines recently, it would be prudent to take a step back and see as to what's the present status of, at least, a few of them. And so, without much ado, here I go:-

 (a) The Vizhinjam Seaport Project.

       When it was thought that all the obstacles have been overcome, in the execution of the project
       by the Adani Group, here comes a couple of impediments viz.:-

              (i) The Latin Catholic Archdiocese's objection and points that it has highlighted:-
                   (aa) Protection of the fisherfolk's rights once the project is implemented.
                   (ab) There are around 50,000 fishermen in the 32 fishing villages in the area and
                   (ac) The Archbishop has said that the government is ignoring the plight of the                                             community!

              (ii) The take over blues of the remaining land of around 34 acres with the parties taking
                    hard stands regarding the issue of compensation.

         What can be surmised is that the vested interests and lobbies are still trying to torpedo the
         project with whatever points that they can muster! Sad!!

   (b) The Mystery of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370.

         A barnacled, 2.25m long wing surface, known as a 'flaperone' and a piece of luggage
         that washed up on the shores of the Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean have been sent
         to France's military unit in the south west city of Toulouse, which specialises in analysing
         aviation wreckage. It's gonna confirm that they're indeed the debris of MH 370!

         If the results are affirmative, the seabed search of the area closer to the place of sighting
         will begin and who knows, the mystery of the missing aircraft will be solved?

    (c) The Logjam in Parliament.

         The logjam in Parliament continues with the ruling party and the opposition hardening their
         stands. It's a sad plight that no legislation has taken place when these people have been
         wasting our - the tax payers' - hard earned money for throwing their tantrums for cheap
         political gains.

         They've no right to stall the genuine aspirations of the people viz. development!

    (d) The Chinese Shenanigans continue.

          For the first time ever, the Chinese People's Liberation Army hosted an Indian Army
          delegation at Daulat Beg Oldie in the Ladakh sector of Jammu & Kashmir. This is
          despite the mounting of China's strong diplomatic offensive against India's entry into the
          UN's Security Council. The Chinese have taken up, diplomatically, with many of the
          African nations and certain Pacific Islands asking them to go slow on the issue.

          How long can China keep us away? The sad thing is that we'd worked hard for their entry
          and this is what they do to us, in return!


Interesting isn't it? The way the things play out to be seems to have an ominous pattern!