Saturday, October 31, 2015

The reluctant messiah.

For a change, I was earlier than usual and was ready for taking on the day. Earlier, the crisp morning air gulped in during the customar ywalk had invigorated me as I went about doing the morning chores. We're expecting my cousin, Malu and Rajish to drop by as it was their wedding anniversary because they made it a point to visit the temple and then look us up as a part of the celebrations(?)

And then the calls came. Omana chechi, all of 69 years and the late Santhan kochachan's sister currently on a prayer visit at Guruvayur, had suddenly fallen ill and was admitted at the hospital nearby. Could I make it to the the earliest........please? Actually, my cellphone was erratic - it has this way of misbehaving at the most inappropriate time - and it was Lekha who'd given me the frantic message from my 'toothy' and cousin from Thiruvananthapuram.

I was at the hospital within no time as the traffic wasn't obtrusive. I'd met the people at the front desk and told them about my close relative at their Trauma Ward/Casualty, directing them to provide every possible help and the best cover possible. I could take the freedom on two counts viz.:-

      (a) the proprietor of the hospital was my neighbour and a good friend.
      (b) Most of the nursing staff were familiar because they've visited my house many a time to draw
            and collect blood samples of Lekha and my mom. Their smiling visage lightened the tension

I saw Baby chechi beside Omana chechi who was being given infusions intravenously and saw their worried looks metamorphose to relief with voltaic smiles, on sighting me. After gleaning the sequence of events from them, I understood from the doctor-in-attendance that Omana chechi's sugar levels had dipped dangerously low which had resulted in her blackout. She was diabetic and has had similar episodes earlier too, it transpired. The doctor had assured us that she'd be discharged after the second bottle of saline was safely inside her.

Once things were ascertained to be under control, it was time to call up the toothy, Lekha and the others to give them a debrief. All except for Lekha were profusely thankful for what I'd done but I still maintain that I hadn't done, out of the way. Upon discharge, I'd dropped the two ladies at the western entrance of the temple for their subsequent schedule of routine. The doctor has referred Omana chechi to her doctor for further investigations.

Calls started pouring in and my cellphone had suddenly become active. It was relief and gratitude at the other end and I'd to don the mantle of the messiah, albeit reluctantly..


1. Malu, Rajish and his mom dropped in by teatime. Her baby bump is visible, the d-day being sometime in the third week of March.

2. And a nice quote that I'd come by,
       "If your views are positive, you'll love the world
         But if your words are positive, the world will love you."


Friday, October 30, 2015

An old lady's angst.

Lekha's friend was having her art gallery inaugurated by none other than the popular cine actor, Suresh Gopi, this evening. Padmavathy Amma, all of 78 yrs, had come by and I'd the privilege of giving company for her and my mom while her daughter-in-law attended the ceremony, along with Lekha.

I've always seen this elderly lady with a pleasant and smiling face who laughs at my PJs without reservations! But this evening, it was a different story altogether when she broke down narrating her harrowing existence in her son's house - she has two daughters older than the son. All are doing extremely well and the son is into business, built up on his dad's efforts. She'd lost her husband about 15 years back and the assets are on her and her son's names. Her statement, "He makes me sign a lot of papers and cheques without bothering to explain the purpose and I affix my signatures without any query because I'm yet to get over the trauma when he and his wife had made life hell for me for asking that question initially," was the one with which she began about her sorry plight.

She talked about her life as a complete stranger in her own house. Though they've domestic helps, she's expected to do the heavy jobs of grinding and preparation of dishes that suit the son's palette. There's no communication between the three of them and food is never served to her nor do all of them sit and break bread together. She's supposed to fend for herself and having played out her role as the lady of the house of a nair family, with all the attendant responsibility and authority during her husband's time, she's still used to being served rather than serve herself!

She's kept in the dark about all the activities and many a time, left overs of food is served to her. She visits her daughters - one lives at Coimbatore and the other at Palakkad - during the summer vacations who give her clothes, token money(As she and their brother have enough through family inheritance!) and articles of personal effect. The son and the daughter-in-law, therefore, do not give her any money and to put it in her own words, "They're under the impression that my daughters have loaded me with money and because of this all round misplaced conclusion, I don't have money even to give an offering at the nearby temple! The latest is that they do not like me to step out of the house to go to the temples because I can get into bad(?) company and shoot my mouth off about what was happening within the household!!"

The two grandchildren - both boys - were indifferent towards her and the younger one studying in class I who's a complete brat - he's been spared the rod as he'd problems at birth - bullies her and she showed us the welt mark from the kick that he gave her a couple of days before, affecting her gait. The parents didn't even bother to admonish the child! Her medical treatment has not been reviewed for a long time as the son and his wife do not find the necessity to do so. "I don't bother them any more after my repeated pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Let my system collapse," she says with a faraway look on her face.

"Their bed sheets, spreads and pillow covers are washed in the washing machine regularly but it's been ages since mine have undergone a wash!" Her pathetic tale continued......

Her narration shocked me and as she cried, my mom and I felt sad, not knowing as to what we could do to reduce her anguish. The contempt that she has for her son and his family had come to the fore during the narration. She'd then gone for a wash and regained her composure, but I was seething within me at the son's misdeeds.

Soon after, her daughter-in-law had returned from the function and the three of them were off for home in their hired car giving a rosy picture of a happy, contended family, the truth about which we now knew!

I'd increased the pace of my evening walk to shake off the melancholia.......


Their frequent visits to the temples, fasting on different days of the week to please different gods were all meaningless exercises when the mother was being tormented on a daily basis at their home.

And after the old lady passes on, a godman will tell them that nothing is going right for them because the parents' souls were very, very angry with them and to nullify it, offerings have to be made. Money will be dumped because of the 'scare' without realising that if they'd only invested a bit of love and care to the mother, during her lifetime, the situation could have been avoided.

.........Oh, how farcical life can be? We've time for the dead but not for the living!!  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Some among us can't digest the fact that Modi is our Prime Minister.

1. I'm fairly convinced that there are quite a few among us who've not got over the following facts:-

    (a) Modi, a chaiwalla's son and whose mother did household chores for others to eke out a living,
         has dared to dream and become the PM of this country with a convincing mandate.
    (b) The Congress, who're their benefactors, have been bundled out of power and the party still
          doesn't seem to learn, surmised by the machinations they seem to be working on to get back
          to relevance. Its comeback seems to be highly improbable from the way things stand now.
    (c)  The naysayers who'd predicted mayhem and hate killings between different religions with the
           present government's ascension to power have been witnessing things on the contrary.

2. Since they own and control a sizable section of the press, they've been quick to highlight incidents,
    distort them to unimaginable proportions and in the process, vitiate the atmosphere. Thankfully,
    none of their carefully crafted scripts have had a successful run thus far. Consider these:-

     (a) Initially, the Congress had lamented that the country's foreign policy was headed nowhere,
           since the new PM had no idea about the subject. With Modi conducting a vigorous and hands
           on foreign policy through his personal approach and achieving good, robust relations with
           many countries together with establishing a personal rapport with some of the leaders as well
           as making their industrial/cultural/economic giants to look at India with renewed interest - the            Indians staying in foreign lands continue to endorse the boost that the country's prestige has                acquired due to his visits and interactions - the very same people have come out with the barb
           that the PM has been spending more time abroad!

      (b) The attacks on churches were tom tommed as having been orchestrated by the party in power
            until the investigating agency that had gone through each case found it to be cases that were
            due to local issues and sub sect rivalries that have been long standing.

      (c) The rejection of the National Judicial Appointments Commission by the Supreme Court was
            celebrated by the entire opposition even though each of them, in private, do not agree with the
            existing practice of a Collegium of judges selecting the judges!

      (d) Since they'd the majority in the Rajya Sabha, they blocked two crucial bills which would
            have helped Modi to embark on the long needed reforms the country has been begging for:-
              (i) The GST bill and
             (ii) The Land Acquisition Bill.

      (e) A section of the intellectuals, film makers, historians, artists etc have returned their awards
            to protest the 'climate of intolerance' making one wonder as to why they're silent over earlier
            atrocities. The aspects of political patronage and buying one's awards, strangely, pass 
            through one's mind at this juncture and such awards can be conveniently chucked to gain a 
            moral high point!

      (f) The killing of two dalit children, in Faridabad, has been caused by a fire from within the
           house as per the latest findings of the police investigation, knocking the bottom of the 'Rajputs
           having torched the house' story. The disinformation has played havoc and some politician is
           gonna benefit in the Bihar elections from it! Can people be so dirty and self serving?

3. To be fair to Modi and his party, give them the chance to rule for the five years for which they've been given the mandate by the people of India. If they don't deliver, the electorate will give them their answer but the opposition can also be taken to task for not allowing them to govern!


(a) We, Indians, are class conscious and have a weakness for position and power. Remember the hue and cry raised over the monogrammed suit worn by Modi when he met President Obama(The collective psyche was, "Hey how did a chaiwalla's son have the temerity to wear such a smart suit?")........ Imagine for a minute that it was Rahul Gandhi who'd done it and all of us would have endorsed it with a "He's looking smart in that, after all he can afford it and don't forget the fact that he belongs to the Nehru family."

(b) The fringe Hindu groups and the disgruntled sections of the BJP have given numerous problems by virtue of their actions and utterances. Modi needs to rein them in and crack the whip.

(c) The unfortunate Dadri incident(Wonder whether one has heard the real truth about the incident?) and the continuing fracas over beef are attempts at influencing the results of the Bihar Assembly polls........... It's my fond hope that the culprits are brought to book at the earliest.

And long ago, Chanakya had said, "If there is unrest among intellectuals and criminals, assume that the king is doing right."   ...............something for all of us to ponder!


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A hotchpotch of activities.

The morning walk was pleasant and the air had a fresh, crisp feel after the light rains at night. I was back in time to help Lekha with her 'aarathi' of Ganesh and Guruvayurappan, after which the lamp was carried into each and every room of the house - a ritual that's followed every Wednesday to invoke the Gods' blessings!

          *                                *                                 *

Lekha's dentist had given her an appointment at 1500h but advanced it soon after, to 1330h. I'd called up our customary 'saarthi', George who was on another task and suggested an alternate viz. Sankaran. It was when we're going towards the dental care that it dawned upon me that it was Sankaran, who'd initially directed me to George because he happened to be busy, then. There was no looking back from then on and George has been the preferred guy all this while. After our interaction, why did I get the impression that Sankaran was eager to take us for the drive and make up for the lost opportunities? .........We're at the dentist's at the appointed hour.

          *                                *                                 *

We'd sought the appointment with a particular dentist who'd worked on Lekha's dentures in the fall of '11, who usually visited the Thrissur chapter every Tuesday. Due to some unavoidable reasons, he could not make it yesterday and had retained his planned schedule, taking on a few additional cases for today which led to a total bunt of the aspect of time. As we entered the main foyer, a patient's attendant was chaffing at the receptionist about them having waited from 1130h onward and instructing her that the appointments must be adhered to both in letter and spirit! It definitely did dampen our enthusiasm!!

Lekha could finally get on the dentist's chair by 1530h with the good doctor apologising profusely. As he worked on her dentures, he talked to me(I sat on an adjacent chair with the Superintendent of the clinic hanging on to every word of ours! He has become my friend, too, in the bargain!!) about his movement from Chertalla - his base - to Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram to Thrissur every week and about some of the very interesting developments in the field of dentistry where new responsibilities have been added on, that earlier came under different specialists! A dedicated and simple man, we saw him take off in an auto rickshaw to board a train bound for Kochi, where a patient of his had come all the way from Canada to be reviewed by him!

           *                                 *                                    *

Sankaran, after dropping me at the service station, had returned to drop Lekha at home. Earlier in the day, an electricity board rep had come and told me that we'd to pay arrears of Rs.73/- over and above the bimonthly bill that I'd paid online just the other day. Neither he nor the lady sitting at the billing section of the board office could give a satisfactory explanation for the difference. Lekha had also paid out our neighbour's owing, on her return.

           *                                 *                                     *

I got our Chevy - after its 5th year service - by about 1730h  and it was a crazy return drive through pouring rain. The car was smoother still and a treat to drive with the change of oils and filters!

The evening walk had to be called off because of the rains and it was a quiet evening thereafter!


Spent a delightful hour and a half - 'happy hours' - at my neighbour's during which we exchanged notes and laughed our guts out over trivia.     

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

These things anger me.

For the last few days, many of the news bytes drawn from different parts of the country make me seethe with anger. When things seem to be coasting well in the overall sense, something or the other - deeply disturbing and perhaps, distorted - screams at you from the headlines making you wonder as to whether there was any sinister design behind the incident. I, suppose, it will get clearer as I go further.

  (a) A Key Witness Changes His Statement in Court and then, Backtracks.

        Chandrabose, the security guard on duty at the entrance of the 'Shobha City' of Thrissur, was
        assaulted by Muhammed Nisham and then run over with his Hummer on 29 Jan, this year. He
        succumbed to his injuries on 16 Feb. The accused has powerful connections. The sensational 
        case is currently on before the Thrissur district additional sessions judge's court.

        The key witness, Anoop, a colleague of the late Chandrabose and part of the same security
        detail who'd seen it all and given a statement accordingly to the police during investigations,
        gave a different version in court, provoking instant outrage, tears from the deceased's mother
        and a sound thrashing - within the court's premises, presumably by Chandrabose's relations.
        Probably, a victim of financial inducements from the accused or even threats. It was disgusting
        and one felt very, very angry about the guy who lacked principles!

        Thankfully, he's come back to endorse his initial statement after an 'agonising night' to quote
        him. Wonder what other surprises are in store during the course of the court's proceedings?

   (b) Police Raid at Kerala House in New Delhi for Beef.

         The Delhi police officials had raided the kitchen of the Kerala House over a complaint that
         cow meat was being served in the canteen based on a complaint from a Vishwa Hindu Parishad
         activist. Naturally, there were immediate reactions from the Malayalees against the trespass.
         The questions that arise are:-

            (a) When complaints of this nature are received, doesn't the police check with the concerned
                  authorities because, rightfully, the government of Kerala is answerable to whatever that
                  happens within the premises.
            (b) Doesn't such raids have a government order backing it? If yes, who gave it?
            (c) The Prime Minister had recently made it quite clear that this country's greatest asset
                  was its 'unity in diversity' making it clear that everyone - irrespective of caste, creed
                  or religion - have the right to live in the country on their own terms.

          And therefore, here comes my queries:-

             (a) Was the raid given the go ahead by a pro-opposition bureaucrat - there is a sizable
                   number of them hell bent on showing the Modi government in poor light - who's
                   no qualms of conscience in bringing about disrepute to this country?
             (b) A highly partisan media, mostly owned by those with leanings towards the opposition,
                   has been highlighting local, at times trivial issues and distorting them out of proportion
                   to paint the government in bad light. Why can't it give Modi the mandatory five years
                   to rule? Or are they scared of his would be achievements in the days to come?
             (c) That disgruntled parties want to rake up issues to influence the outcome of the Bihar
                   Assembly elections has become abundantly clear. This lot even consists of politicians
                   from within the BJP. Can personal animosities take queer, selfish turns at the cost of
                   national interests?

     (c) And it's now the turn of the Artists' Community.

           About 400 members of the community that includes painters, gallerists and curators have
           issued a strongly worded statement against 'growing intolerance' in the country. Thankfully,
           the trend of chucking awards has come to a stop. To the worthies of the artists' community
           the layman's question is, "Why didn't you resort to such symbolisms earlier when grave
           mistakes were committed?" Or is it that you feel orphaned because your benefactors are out
           of power?


Happened to read a nice quote which goes, "You're free to choose but you're not free from the consequences of your choice!"



Monday, October 26, 2015

Adieu, Kasturi Bhaskar Rao sir.

 I'm reproducing below the copy of a mail (with an addendum) that I'd sent to my classmates - the class of '72 of the Sainik School Kazhakootam - on learning about the passing away of Mr. K Bhaskar Rao, our Arts teacher. He was all of 83 years and was residing with his son - also an SSKZM alumnus - at Kochi, when the end came in stealthily in the middle of the night of 21/22 Oct. Simple and straight forward, he brooked no nonsense from his cadets whom he loved tremendously. 

Dear folks,
1. I got this sad news about Bhaskar Rao sir's demise while travelling 
and hence, had not responded then.
2. Another of that set of committed teachers that we're privileged to
be with, during our childhood, has passed into the mist of time. 
3. I was trying to recollect as to what was the aspect about life that I'd 
learnt from him. I was no 'art' man and drew the absurd triangles that stood
for mountains with an apology of a sun peeping through a couple.
A boat, loaded with a few guys sitting with oars and a guy standing at one of its
ends with the pole - acting as the rudder - was a must on the blue colour that 
apologised for a river! I don't think I could ever graduate from that template and
if I did, I do not remember!! 
4. What I remember about him was that he never ridiculed nor made fun of
my substandard and idiotic 'creations' in colours. For that matter, I don't
think he ridiculed anyone of us at all and left us to ourselves! Probably,
a  single stroke from a young boy's brush could help him identify a potential
artist that required further concentrated efforts on his part in shaping his future
and he was fairly convinced that I didn't require it at all!
5. I remember him in his starched white half sleeves shirt and trousers moving
around the classroom and during study periods. The aroma of the 'supari' that he 
chewed is faintly remembered and he was definitely kind hearted and reasonable.
6. So, he actually was a mentor but if that be so, why did I laugh with the others
when a few seniors passing by our class cried out fairly audibly, the word 'Choops'?
(A nickname that he got tagged with because he pronounced the word, "tubes"
that-a-way). I, still, don't have the answer after so many years! Probably, it's my 
childishness that had prodded me then to behave in that manner.
7. He also instilled the aspect of cleanliness in us. Before the end of each class, he
insisted that we kept the porcelain palettes - into which we squeezed out the colours - 
clean so that the succeeding class started afresh!
8. RIP Bhaskar Rao sir! May your family have the fortitude to bear with the pain. And
sir, they don't make them teachers like you anymore. My prayers and tears.
9. There's a tremendous feeling of sadness that is felt when anyone of that era passes
away, wonder whether it's a phenomenon localised in me?
10. Take care all of you. Affly, Rajeev.


Despite my not-so-encouraging artistic proficiency, he used to depute me on painting competitions at Thiruvananthapuram whenever I'd volunteered, which I must confess I did more in the hope of meeting my folks after the proceedings! And his action was purely because he didn't have the heart to break a small boy's heart!! 


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Simply late.......

The day had begun at 4 as my plan was to kick off from home by 6. But there was a rider to it that Rema would collect mom by that time because we'd a wedding to attend and though mom, too, was invited she'd expressed her reluctance to 'exhibit her infirmity to an unknown crowd!' But things had begun to go's raining heavily since a half past 3 and the driver, Appu, was late to fetch up. After the completion of the activity, we'd gone to Lekha's house where the morning pooja was in progress and therefore, a quick farewell was accomplished.

The highway was clogged with vehicles as people were returning after a long, holiday filled week and the rains made it more cumbersome. Thankfully, the roads were okay as patching up had been done over the potholes. Breakfast was at our usual haunt where I'd a change of dhoti that had got soiled during my numerous outings at the places of visit earlier, through the pitter patter.

We're to reach the Dhanya Resorts, 18 km short of Guruvayur, before 1146h and 1206h which was the muhurtham of my friend's daughter's wedding. But achieving it was even super humanly impossible! To make matters worse, a friend of mine though with the noble intention of helping us, gave us wrong directions to the resort, sending me on a leather hunt. So, we managed to reach the venue of the wedding, about 50 minutes late and that too with the timely intervention of my friend, Sasi and he had instructed the caterers about his late guests and ensured that we'd lunch.

We, thus, got a fairly long time to interact with and bless the newly married couple. Arjun is a Naval officer who's expecting to do Long 'C' next May while Revathy was working, for a firm at Kochi, as a management executive after finishing her MBA. My friends Parameswaran and Ajit, with their wives and Ajit's son were waiting to meet us and it was great interacting with them after a long time. The Parameswarans also took the occasion to invite us for their son's wedding and reception on 13 Dec.

Meanwhile, my sister and gang had already fetched up at 'The Quarterdeck' with mom and we cruised in about half an hour later. They left, after tea, for Palakkad and had reached there around sunset.

The walk was nice and we'd a quiet evening thereafter.

This time I'd clocked 530 km in all and my Chevy is due for its fifth year service on Tuesday.The distance clocked, thus far......56,000 km! By the Geeyem Motors calculations, I should have done 75,000 km by now......a tall order indeed!!


Truly, a hectic week where quite a few pending work could be accomplished. We could also meet almost the entire family and I shan't forget the - albeit early - birthday bash organised by my niece and my nephew.       

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A pilgrimage, driving lessons and the break up.

It was a relaxed morning trip to the snake temple of Mannarasala, at Haripad about 70 km from our place. The late night movie show and the driving lessons for Achu had taken their toll and I could wake up only when it was a quarter past 6. By the time we're out of the house, it was 8. The drive to Mannarasala was nice and by the time we'd finished the visit, it was 10. Finding a suitable place for breakfast was tending to be tedious - if the place looked nice, the rest room would be filthy or the parking space inadequate - and we could barely manage to find one by about a half past 10 when we'd traversed the first 10 km of the KP Road!

The breakfast was nice and the coffee, superb!

      *                                *                                  *

Rema got behind the wheel for our onward journey. Wonder why she got flummoxed? Soon I was bawling at her when she made simple mistakes that she called off her efforts after about 10 minutes. Probably, I was too harsh with her because I wanted to see a flawless driving from her. Her mood was off and she said that I was a 'tyrant' as an instructor!

It was Achu's turn thereafter and he was more relaxed requiring less of coaxing. Rema and Lekha had said later that they weren't very comfortable viewing Achu going into close quarter situations with other speeding vehicles/pedestrians! And I let him drive us till home.

Wondered later as to why I was so harsh with my sister! Probably, it's because I want to see her being the best in everything that she did!! She's too cautious while driving and must shed her inhibitions..............sorry sis for being a boor!!!

       *                                *                                 *

Soon, it was tea time followed by break up. Padmakumar, Rema and Achu were the first to leave as they're spending the evening with his family. Sanil and Ammu left a while after to be with his mom and Mini had followed them after hitching a ride in Lekha's auto rickshaw, who was off to the Mahaganapathy kshetram! The house suddenly became quiet after the boisterousness of the past week.


The caretaker had come to give us a rundown about his activities with my mom giving him a patient hearing and handed over the money accrued from the agricultural activity around the house. As he took leave, promising to come in by 6 tomorrow, when we'd planned our departure, he asked wistfully, "Sir, when will you be back next like this?"

And surprisingly, I, was left groping for an answer. With both Achu and Ammu embarking on their professional careers, they'd be getting scarce to the eyes! We can only look forward to their visits when they get their leave!!

Friday, October 23, 2015


As the members of the PN Panicker family started trickling in, the riddle about the hush hush activities, telephonic conversations on the quiet and the short, clipped instructions from Lekha to her team over the last couple of months was beginning to get solved. But thebig surprise was yet to come.

It's Lekha's idea to celebrate my 60th birthday with the family. However, my nephew, Achu and my niece, Ammu, had taken up their professional jobs because of which they'd not be able to be with me on the actual date - which is exactly a month away - and hence fixed the celebrations during the dussehra hols when the family was ganging up at dad's place.

They'd painstakingly made a collage of my activities, thus far - though meagre, to be truthful - through the collection of photographs from the family album. The camera, the net, the what'sapp and surreptitious phone conversations helped pass the information and the data to Ammu, taking minute instructions from Lekha.

Once the entire family had arrived, I was taken blindfolded to the barn which was tastefully decorated with balloons, festoons and pictures. And after the cake was cut, I saw the collage of the photographs beginning with my 90th day snap - the first, after having turned over my tummy! It's clearly a nostalgic walk down memory lane. And here are a few messages handwritten by each member on cards, that bore their mugshots making them personal:-

   Janmadina aasamsakal - amma.
   Happy birthday, early though - Mini
   Undoubtedly, a distinct personality among us.
   I'm proud of him who's the strongest pillar of the
   family. Bests - Rema.
   Lots of love, Raji - Lekha.
   May you remain young at heart always - Achu.
   Happy birthday, mama. Bests - Ammu.

Truly humbling!


1. How do I thank everyone for the kindness?
2. Took the folks for a late night Malayalam movie, which all of them liked, though I wasn't impressed but their happiness was the aim. The car was parked in a precarious position that was crammed. To Achu's delight, I'd let him drive on the return leg.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A call and Mohanan's tears.

During our visit last month to my dad's place, we're informed about the demise of the elderly and avuncular Kuttan Pillai sir, due to old age related ailments. Since there were prior commitments we couldn't make it to the funeral but had promised ourselves to pay a visit to the family at the next available opportunity. And it came by today.

I remembered my last visit to the traditional nair household when I was in class IX. The house was spruced up for their inhouse temple's annual festival.... His three sons and their wives, along with their children, were available and we'd an interaction of over an hour or so before taking leave of them.

       *               *                *

Our second visit was to Mohanan's house. He used to be with us to do his schooling, help mom with running of errands and was the lone male member of the house while dad and I were away. His mom, the 70 year old Nani ammoomma, helped mom with the household chores. He'd taken farm work on marriage and has a son and a daughter. They're leading a peaceful life when tragedy struck as his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, resulting in the surgical removal of her left breast. The fourth chemotherapy is scheduled for next week.

The poor lady is suffering. Her eyes had lit up seeing me and my sisters. She didn't expect us, perhaps. We spent about half an hour with them. Time and alcohol have taken a toll of Mohanan. His hall mark innocent looks with a shy smile is now a distant memory. As we walked out of the house, I'd slipped in a small token of our love and affection into his pocket. He clung on to my hand and wept uncontrollably. I just stood there, lost as to how I could console him and as to what I must say.

God why've you done this?


An emotionally draining day!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Getting things started all over again.

Raj Nivas is slowly thrumming back to activity. This time the kitchen has been activated from the evening we'd arrived. The water tank, atop the chimney has sprung a leak that is yet to be sorted since it hasn't become a major  problem as yet but the plumber has been assigned the task of relocation with a new tank.

The geyser, in my mom's bathroom has a faulty power socket which needs to be replaced. However, Shaji, the electrician though good - hardworking during working hours is generally pissed out of his mind during non-working hours! He's yet to find time for us. Probably, for him, the work is inadequate or he's too goddamn busy. Similarly, I'd gone to the nearby telephone exchange and lodged a complained regarding the faulty landline but nothing had happened till about 10, this morning, when the lineman had come by and rectified the defect.

The cable TV was another bugbear. Last time, we'd got a tree chopped off whose roots had begun to crack up the ornamental boundary wall. In the process of its felling, the cable TV line was snapped requiring the visit of its technicians. Manoj, the proprietor, despite his assurances has not come by till now. I'd this feeling that he felt at odds to make us shell out three grand for a new set-top box for its revival, backed up with a monthly fee of Rs.200/- for the services was being fair! Hence he took the next easy step - stay away from me! Anyways, today that problem was licked after we took a DTH connection instead much to the thrill of my niece!!

Pramod, an advocate who's into building three bedroom houses @ Rs.20 lakhs, using locally available resources, had dropped by. I've an idea to start up a cottage industry to provide employment to a few people. The outline of a smallish factory that will house the machinery with amenities for the workers, a storehouse and office space has been handed over to him for estimating the costs.

A coconut sapling has been bought for planting tomorrow in dad's memory, beside the mango and jackfruit saplings planted recently.

Durga Prasad-Deepti and a few others dropped by in the course of the day.


Yet another quiet and uneventful day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A quiet day.

It was a busy morning as we'd to go to Chathannoor, about 40 km from here. By 0840 hrs, Maman and I'd set off with Omanakuttan at the wheel. The left rear tyre had a puncture as we negotiated a turn and drove for another three km to reach the tyre repair shop and at the end of it the tyre was written off for good. It took about half an hour for the entire exercise of mounting the spare one.

This was my first trip, after the endorsement from the MHRD of the central government as the outfit's chairman. Though the official ceremony is scheduled on 16 Nov, after the panchayat elections, today's visit was more of an acquaintance visit and to clear up certain unsolved issues. Accordingly, the following activities were put into place:-

      (a) Sasi, the Secretary, was given the go ahead for providing training for 25 women in stitching,
           and dress making. Sales and marketing of the products will be streamlined.
      (c) Two women workers were empowered to be the leaders of the group. They along with, Anita,
            the teacher, will begin the training on the 3rd of November.
      (d) The hollow brick making unit was to be revived by 15 Dec. My ultimate aim is to have the
            production unit of the highly popular 'inter locking tiles' unit going by the first quarter of the
            new year.
      (e) The modest target is to provide employment to 250 people, predominantly from the rural

The return to Kottarakkara was around lunch time. The elderly Gopalakrishna Pillai sir had also joined us by then. I'm really impressed with his agility and enthusiasm despite his age. I'd the privilege of interacting with him during the Kerala Yatra, that we'd undertaken during early March this year. I'd peeled off for home from Kottarakkara on a timely, Saranya bus while maman proceeded back to Thiruvananthapuram.

Ammu, Mini and Sanil fetched up by tea time and it was yakkitiyak yet again.


Raj Nivas is back to being a busy hub all over again! Great!!     

Monday, October 19, 2015

A trip down memory lane.

The day was bright, warm and gummy. I'd washed down the Chevy as part of my morning chores. My sister, Rema and Padmakumar who're at Pidavoor yesterday dropped by at 8. Mom was ready and excited about meeting dad's family, many of whom we'd not met for quite a while. While the ladies went in a car, earmarked for them, Padmakumar and I clambered on to a bus and were entertained by the highly watchable Malayalam movie, Bhaskar, the rascal - the first half that is!

The venue was full of relatives from my dad's side. Let me recall the relations that I'd the privilege of meeting:-

  (a) Varadamma appachi - dad's youngest sister and younger to mom by two years. At 78, she looked
                                            more fragile than what I'd seen of her last, about six months back. But
                                            more agile than mom.
  (b) Rukmini appachi      - related through Unni chettan's dad. She used to come home during the
                                            hols and always made it a point to interact with us. She's in her early
                                            70s, continues to smile and has promised to visit us at Guruvayur!
  (c) Leela chittamma       - again related through Unnichettan's dad and possesses a winsome grace.
                                            In her mid 70s, she did express her angst that we do not call on her
                                            whenever I drive past her house!
  (d) Thankappan Pillai
        chettan                      - was the station master of the Kuri Halt Railway Station when mom was
                                            the post mistress of the Kuri PO. Despite being in his 70s, he's sharp
                                            and agile. Possesses that easy smile without reservations even to this day!
                                            His name is prefixed with 'Poovakkaatte', which is the name of his house.
  (e) Indira chechi             - my elder cousin who cups her mouth while she speaks - to quote her -
                                            "My unwieldy dentures, you see." Her son, Arun and she made a popular
  (f) Sasi Pillai                  - he used to be my dad's understudy and looked after the entire range of the
                                           farming activities of the family. Now looks after all the ceremonies on
                                           behalf of the Nair Service Society.

Durga Prasad and Deepti looked radiant and happy. Here's me wishing you a long and happy married life, once again. May you get whatever you wish for.


1. Rema and Padmakumar had peeled off soon after the wedding, for Palakkad. By the time we're back at home it was a half past 2. Mom was pleased, meeting very many people after a long time.

2. Maman had come by about 2030h and we dropped on the newlyweds. He was the last of the family to fetch up but timely and appropriate!


Sunday, October 18, 2015

At my dad's place.

I'd called up mom and Lekha at 5. The morning chores were gone through and we could finally leave 'The Quarterdeck' by about 0730h. The Sunday morning traffic was sparse and we reached our first stop for breakfast by a half past 8. Resuming the journey, we could pass through the usual choke points of Aluva, Idappalli and Vyttila without much of a wait.

The stop at our usual lunch joint was slightly earlier than normal but Mathew was there at the porch with a welcome smile. As I drove into the porch, I could see him literally shooing away a guest from parking his vehicle at the porch so that I could slot in! Damn sweet of him!! In the course of the lunch, I could see the 'shooed guest' inquire as to who I was.

Mathew must have given an inflated account because while I was helping my mom back into the car, the gentleman and his wife gave us their best smile! We reciprocated to that in equal measure and my mom gave them a high five before we drove off from the spacious compound of the restaurant. We passed through the point, where I was literally waylaid last time because I happened to touch the rear view mirror of a parked car on the roadside. I could only push those harsh thoughts away and wearily whiz past through that point.

We reached Lekha's ancestral house and met her dad, uncle and aunt, her elder sister and Murukesan. It was a pleasure to meet up with Murukesan's mom and interact with her. She's a positively oriented lady despite her numerous medical problems.

We're finally at Raj Nivas much before sunset. Settling down didn't take much time and as is my custom, spoke to dad at his cremation spot. I'd kept him informed of my programme for the week and I could feel a gentle breeze blow past me. I reckon that it's my dad's way of telling me that he was glad to see me again!

A few guests had trickled by to see mom and I'd made the customary visit to my cousin's to see the progress of the wedding preparations.


1. Drove a total distance of over 300 kms but the drive was nice and hassle free.
2. I'd gone across to Unni chettan's house for the customary call on the eve of the wedding. Came across a sizeable crowd and it was a pleasure meeting up with people. Quite a sentimental journey, it was!         

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A surprise visit!

Radhan chettan and Sathi chechi were the surprise visitors this evening.

I'd returned from outside and finished shutting down the windows of the house in preparation to our week long sojourn at my dad's place. We're taking off tomorrow by 0730h after the newspaper boy delivers ours - he's promised to come by that time.

I'd begun to walk my mom out in the courtyard, which is the usual evening routine. It was then that their auto rickshaw had fetched up and I watched my mom. Her face had lit up on seeing them. Chechi's opening statement, "Now I understand as to why everyone is saying that you're the one spoiling your mom. She can walk by herself, don't hold her hand!" Saying that, she'd taken over my mom's charge and sure enough, my mom really required no help.

Chettan had the urge to meet mom and they'd dropped by. Their chemistry is fantastic. After sitting with us for about half an hour, they'd taken leave.

      *                                    *                                         *

The walk was businesslike as usual. Lekha was busy with the packing, ticking off the points on her slop chit systematically. Meanwhile, my sister had called up to say that they'd boarded the train. They'd also join up with us for the wedding on the 19th. Rajamma appachi - dad's sister immediately younger to him and who was extremely fond of him - would be happy, wherever she is that we're making it to her grandson's wedding.


The evening was comparatively an early one because tomorrow's gonna be a long day!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Those who live in glass houses............

"Those who live in glass houses must not throw stones", so goes the saying. Similarly, people holding high positions in society have the responsibility of showing decorum and be correct in all their dealings while being at public places and functions. But unfortunately, of late, many such worthies tend to forget the limits and the propriety expected of them. I'm just touching upon a few incidents that happened in recent days which highlight the sad phenomena:-

 1. The Speaker's Faux Pas.

      Mr. Sakthan, the Speaker of the Kerala Assembly, got into an unnecessary controversy when his
      driver was caught on camera putting on the straps of his sandals after he'd come out of a paddy
      field, where he'd joined the others in the inauguration of a harvest programme. As the media
      spread the misdemeanour, the Speaker had explained at a hastily called press conference that
      he's grievously ill and has been medically advised not to bend. His driver, who's his own relative,
      had taken upon himself to help him out at similar occasions!

      Rightfully, he should have piped down after that because he didn't have the guts to accept his
      mistake. But what he did after that was even crazier! He shows everyone at another public
      function, an archival photograph of a minister of the previous LDF government being helped
      with his footwear.

      What was he trying to convey? Was he justifying his unjustifiable action?

 2. The Uplokayukta's Cup of Woes.

     The incident, being narrated, is from the proceedings of the infamous 'Bar Case' before the Lok
     Ayukta. The Uplokayukta was reacting to many of the records not being presented to him and
     in a fit of anguish had queried as to whether such a treatment was being meted out to him because
     they thought him to be from the SC/ST?

     Realising that he'd stirred a hornet's nest, he was quick to clarify that he did not mean to hurt
     the sentiments of the SC/ST and had never meant to insult them.

     Another case of uttering things without realising the complications that can arise! The friction
     between the Lokayukta and the Uplokayukta has been an ongoing one and has been the cause
     of this avoidable incident!

 3. The Haryana Chief Minister's Opinion that was Avoidable.

     The Haryana Chief Minister's statement, "Muslims can continue to live in this country but they
     will have to give up eating beef because cow is an article of faith here", has not only landed him
     in a controversy but also put the BJP into a tight spot.

     Why can't this guy concentrate on providing good governance to his people and the state rather
     than wasting time on non issues?


Most of today's leaders are small men with big egos!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Foundation on its way to UP.

Three topics that are current being discussed.

1. PN Panicker Foundation to UP.

After initiating the drive for bringing about 100% e-literacy in Kerala, the PN Panicker Foundation has been sought by the government of Uttar Pradesh to provide leadership to a similar drive in that state. A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the concerned parties at Lucknow, towards the beginning of this week.

As part of the first phase of the project, 100 panchayats will be short listed where the e-literacy training will be imparted. The Foundation's expertise - gained from its experience in implementing the programme in Kerala - would be an added advantage for the speedy execution of the project. This is for the first time that the Foundation would be extending its footprint outside Kerala.

       *                                        *                                          *

2. Pachayat Elections in Kerala.

With the withdrawal of nomination papers to be completed by tomorrow, the fight for the panchayats, municipalities and corporations between the political parties is gonna get into top gear by the beginning of next week. It's gonna be a hard campaign, especially with the three fronts trying to show their prowess at the hustings.

The amusing part towards the run up was the government - state election commission mismatch regarding the conduct of the elections within the 01 Dec deadline on account of the delineation/revamping of the panchayats/municipalities/corporations and the LDF was quick to announce that it would go in for a state wide agitation in case of a delay. There was even a rumour being pushed that the state's election commissioner had left leanings! Well, as we see now, all those slanging matches were of no consequence as the elections are being conducted on schedule. Oommen Chandy and his government have the last laugh on this too!

        *                                        *                                           *

3. China's Activities on the River Brahmaputra.

China has operationalised the Zangmu dam - a gravity dam - on the middle reaches of the River Brahmaputra in the Tibet Autonomous Region. It will generate 510 MW of electricity. Three more dams have been cleared for construction viz. :-

             (a) At Dagu, 18 km upstream of the Zangmu that will generate 640 MW of electricity.
             (b) At Jiacha and
             (c) At Jiexu. The two latter ones are of smaller capacities.

India, has been concerned because the damming of the waters of the river will affect the people living on its banks in the downstream. China has, however, all along been maintaining that the dams are 'run of the river' projects for generating power and it will not divert the river waters!


It's said that the future wars will be fought between nations for water and in that context, China building a series of dams on the Brahmaputra has to be viewed with all seriousness regarding the ramifications!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Having covered a wide range of topics over the last few days, it is my responsibility to update you with the latest on each. The transitions have been very, very interesting and here, I go:-

  (a) The Plantation Crisis in Kerala.
        The striking plantation workers, the trade unions, the plantation management and the 
        government have finally reached an agreement at the Plantation Labour Committee 
        meeting held today which encompasses the following:-

              (i) Wages as against the demand for Rs.500/-                              
                   * Coffee plantation workers                                      Rs. 301/- (Rs.232/-)
                   * Cardamom workers                                                Rs. 330/- (Rs.267/-)
                   * Rubber plantation workers                                     Rs. 381/- (Rs.317/-)
                   * Note. The figures given in brackets are the existing rates.

             (ii) 25 kgs of tea/coffe leaves will be plucked daily against the existing 21 kgs.
            (iii) Free medical aid.
            (iv) Family residential areas will be set up.
             (v) Primary schools will be set up for the workers' children close to the plantation centres.
            (vi) Special schools for differently abled children.

            * It's a big victory for the Oommen Chandy government on the eve of the Panchayat elections.
              The LDF, was meanwhile, clamouring for a special session of the state Assembly to thrash
              out the issue!

    (b) The Declassification of the Netaji Files.

          At a meeting between the Prime Minister and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's kin, the former
          has announced that while the initial process is on, the Netaji files in the custody of the union
          government will be declassified from 23 Jan '16, the birth anniversary of the great man.

    (c) The Prime Minister's Condemnation.

         The Prime Minister has condemned the following incidents after what seemed to be a long
             (i) The Dadri incident.
            (ii) The cancellation of the Ghulam Ali concert.
           (iii) The blackening of Mr. Sudheendra Kulkarni's face at Kasuri's book launch.


Meanwhile, the following snatched the headlines today:-

 (a) Over 800,000 chemists shut shops across the country in protest against the online sale of drugs.
 (b) Many more writers have returned their Sahitya Academy awards in protest against the so-called
       growing intolerance in the country.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The act of returning awards..........

One continues to read about the returning of their awards by the literati and during the last ten days, it has been in droves. They seem to be outraged by the silence of the Sahitya Academy over the assassinations of writers like Kalburgi, Pansare etc for their stand on societal issues. While trying to decipher the sphinx like attitude of the Academy and appreciating the stand of the literati on behalf of their fellow writers, a doubt creeps into a complete outsider - like me, for instance - as to whether there's something more to it. I mean the timing and the reasons that many espouse, just don't seem to tally.

The fundamental question is that if they've been anguished - for genuine reasons - then what were they doing when things had gone wrong earlier? Why didn't their conscience prick them then? Or is it because they have an aversion towards the new leader and his government? And the protest has been fuelled by their political affiliations?

And now coming to the specific act of returning an award. I suppose everyone of them has returned the attendant prize money, too, along with the statuette/certificate or whatever. And since the awards are that of the government's, as per law, the accrued interest on the prize money is also returnable. If this salient aspect has been missed out, for whatever reasons, the return of the prize by all the worthies has no meaning except for the momentary exposure under the spotlight. Shorn of all the niceties, the morality of their act comes under scrutiny.

And I'm waiting for that extraordinary meeting of the Sahitya Academy, scheduled during the last week of this month, where something meaningful will emerge!

         *                                 *                                     *

And today, we come to witness the ignominy of the four ruffian Shiv Sainiks - who'd blackened Mr. Sudheendra Kulkarni's face yesterday - being felicitated by the Sena leadership. What's the message that they're trying to convey? That their writ runs - notwithstanding the unlawfulness - with the entire state machinery standing to impotent inaction?

And it's day 2.....there has still not been any condemnation of the unfortunate incident from any quarter. What a shame?


The rains, in the evening, were harsh accompanied by lightning and thunder. The power interruption was for about 21/2 hours which was mercifully restored!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Deplorable and sad!

The Shiv Sainiks have done it again, they blackened the face of Mr. Sudheendra Kulkarni, the President of the India-Pakistan think tank, Observer Research Foundation which had organised the launch of the book, "Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider's Account of Pakistan's Foreign Policy", authored by the former Pakistani Foreign Minister, Mr. Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.

The Shiv Sena, since its inception, has been on such violent and unacceptable means of agitation unchecked by law. This made the ordinary man wonder as to how this outfit could get away with murder only to sadly, realise that even the law seemed to be a silent spectator of its antics since it was safeguarding(?) the interests of the 'Maratha manoos'! What a flimsy argument?

This latest spectacle should be condemned all round so that it doesn't repeat its hooliganism ever again. Why can't it concentrate on providing good governance to its people, for a change? But the story is the same all over again, no one has condemned the incident - a bunch of pathetically scared people - be it the politicians, the cultural and social bigwigs and the whole lot of folks ever jostling to remain under the spotlight!

After having said that, my only question to Mr. Sudheendra Kulkarni is, "What was the great need to organise the launch of a book written by a guy who had not contributed any meaningful idea to improve the relations between the two countries during his reign as that country's Foreign Minister?" I'm sure that when you search your soul you'll get an answer that will awaken you. 

But no, this doesn't mean that I endorse the Shiv Sena's deed.....the least they could do is to tender an unconditional apology to you for having caused you discomfort.

And finally, Chief Minister Fadnavis, why didn't you provide a fool proof security when you're aware of possible disruptions and foul play?

          *                                     *                                      *

The Ongoing Beef - Fests in Kerala.

I can't find a suitable answer to the ongoing string of beef fests being organised all over the state that had started off within the premises of a college campus. My doubts are being reproduced in a conversational form, as sent to me on WhatsApp, by a friend of mine. It's not only hilarious but leaves you without answering your fundamental doubt! So, here I go:-

 (a) Why're beef fests being organised?
       Because beef has been banned.
 (b) Where has it been banned?
       In many places.
 (c) When was it banned? has been there from times immemorial. It's there in many states.
 (d) Has beef been banned or cow slaughter?
       Cow slaughter.
 (e) Then why do you say that beef has been banned when buffalo meat and goat's meat can be had?
       Oh,'s for effect....a time pass!
 (f)  Okay, coming back to reality, who'd brought about the ban?
       The Congress.
 (g) Then why is your angst directed at the Sangh Parivaar?
       Er....why don't you ask another question?
 (h) When the Congress had brought about the ban, comrades, did you organise beef fests?
       (It's the students' wing of the communist parties that are the prime movers of the beef fests)
 (j)  Is there a ban on beef in Kerala?
 (k) Has anyone told that beef should not be had?
 (l)  Then, why is it that beef fests are being organised everywhere?
       Er.....that's because
 (m) Er....then, what's your real problem? 's, it's, it', I'm stuck...


* I'd spoken about a misinformation campaign that has been orchestrated, earlier. Its real purpose is        yet to be ascertained.

* The communists have a mortal fear of erosion of their vote banks when the Ezhava community votes enmasse for a BJP-SNDP alliance. Perhaps, the cycle of beef fests is one manifestation of that fear! 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A youngster brought up with the right values.

The other day, it was the turn of the rep from the pest control to pay his usual quarterly visit. The office had informed that their service engineer would report by 1100 hrs on the appointed day. Accordingly, we'd got our act together earlier so that he did not have any impediments while he got on with his work.

It was pouring around that time, but at a 5 to 11 he'd given me a call announcing his arrival at our gate. Without much ado, I'd taken him around the house so that he got an idea of the layout and the scope of his work. The spraying can was filled with the medicine and he went about his task almost immediately thereafter. I'd accompanied him on his trail helping clear the draperies so that he could spray the medicine into each and every conceivable space and the corners. The kitchen was deliberately left for the last as lunch was being prepared.

The outer side of the house was given a protective spray with another variety of medicine - a bit stronger on potency, than the earlier one, and it had a faint, pungent smell. The spray catered for the ants in particular because that's the area that  needed maximum attention. Then he went about applying a gel at several vantage points to cater for the roaches. Having finished that round, he went on to tackle the kitchen and its adjunct, the work area.

By the time he'd finished with his work, it was lunchtime and after an elaborate wash, he quietly sat at a corner of the entrance to have his food. Our offer to have his lunch at the dining table or augmentation with what the kitchen had to offer were politely declined by him but he'd accepted a banana that I thrust into his hands along with a couple of toffees, much to our relief!

Prabeesh, all of 31 yrs, possesses a cheerful countenance and is dedicated and methodical in his work. There was an overall genuineness about his personality. As he was leaving, he insisted on bidding farewell to my mom and Lekha, which was actually not incumbent on him in the course of his work.
As he closed the gate and moved away, I was convinced that he'd be yet another member of my core team involved in the e-literacy programme of the Foundation. I'd broached the topic - while he was doing his work - with him and he'd expressed his inclination to join me.

Do well Prabeesh and may God be with you in all your endeavour. Here's wishing that you get whatever you wish for! Take care!!


He lives with his wife and mother towards the outskirts of Thrissur town. His wife has had a miscarriage on the 6th month and is now, a month pregnant. I congratulate his parents for having brought up a wonderful son. He has two sisters, both older than him and married.    

Saturday, October 10, 2015


1. Deterrent a must and that too, quickly.

The Mainpuri incident shows that there's some group out to foment trouble. Is it to show that life's gonna be difficult in this country if beef is consumed? What adds strength to this doubt is the revelation by the police that certain texts and WhatsApp messages were in circulation prior to the violence.

The incident was provoked by a rumour that a cow was killed and the skin was being removed whereas, in actuality, the cow was dead long before and the carcass was handed over to the scavengers who're skinning it as was normal practice. Thankfully, an alert police had ensured that the violence didn't get out of hand.

The rumour mongers and the hate spreaders need to be tackled forthwith and it needs to be ensured that the punishment meted out should act as a deterrent to future mischief makers!

         *                                              *                                                  *

2. Aren't these people entitled to something better?

I'd heard about this story from the media.

26 year old Sanjay Waghela offers a gutter cruise for Re.1 in his shaky thermocol ferry from Juhu to Koliwada. With a bladeless oar, he rows from 6 AM to 8 PM, every day, to end up with blisters on his palms but, in the process, is able to earn between Rs.200 and Rs.300 for the stretch that's a mere 20 second ride.

Some ingenuity this!


My cousin and his wife had fetched up a trifle late in the evening to spend time with us. He's a banker based in Coimbatore and is busy with his work thanks to him being a 'Cluster Head'. The whole of Tamilnadu comes under his jurisdiction and therefore, he has a lot of travel to do.

It's great to catch up with the couple!


Friday, October 9, 2015

Acquainting myself with this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The Nobel Peace Prize of '15 has been awarded to the "National Dialogue Quartet" of Tunisia.

1. It would be in the fitness of things to understand the contributions of this unusual organisation to win the most coveted prize in the world.


2. To understand the evolution of the dynamic quartet one must go back to the Jasmine Revolution
- Jasmine, incidentally, is the national flower of Tunisia - which began, in Tunisia, on 18 Dec '10. On the previous day, 26 year old Mohammed Bouazi, an unemployed street vendor lit himself on fire, sparking off the political earthquake. High unemployment, corruption, social inequalities and political repression precipitated an intensive campaign of civil resistance - a combination of demonstrations, general strikes, self immolation and spontaneous uprisings. It eventually led to the ouster of its longtime President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali in Jan '11 when he fled to Saudi Arabia.

3. This transition led to a thorough democratisation of Tunisia which saw the holding of a free and democratic elections. The coalition of the 'Islamist Ennahda Movement' with the centre-left 'Congress for the Republic' and the left backing 'Ettakatol' as junior partners, won the elections.

4. During the summer of '13 when the democratisation process looked to be in jeopardy and falling, the National Dialogue Quartet came into being, comprising the following:-

        (a) Tunisian General Labour Union
        (b) Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts
        (c) Tunisian Human Rights League and
        (d) Tunisian Order of Lawyers.

5. Tunisia, now, has a democratic government and the contribution of the National Dialogue Quartet has become folklore. It had brought all the political parties on to the negotiating table to find a peaceful solution.

My take.

Heartiest congratulations, National Dialogue Quartet of Tunisia, for your well deserved recognition!


The Jasmine Revolution had triggered off the famous Arab Spring, that saw regime changes in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and the ongoing strife in Syria.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Where's the logic?

Am reacting to a couple of the latest news bytes that do not seem to have any logic behind them. Or is it that I'm missing out on the larger picture? Or am I old fashioned in my thoughts? Let me, however, put across my points of view.

 (a) Women Fighter Pilots in the IAF.

       The Chief of the Air Staff has announced that we're soon gonna have women flying the fighter
        jets. What was the sudden requirement of such an induction?

        There's a lot of sense in the argument that there's no problem in women being inducted into the
        armed forces but the feeling is strong, among the majority, that they should not be inducted for
        combat. To explain this argument, let me cite a scenario, "within the start of the hostilities 
        between the two countries, six IAF jets had taken off from one of our forward bases on a 
        mission, deep within the enemy's airspace. While they were successful in carrying out their 
        aim, one of the aircraft commanded by a woman pilot was shot down by the enemy. Stories
        about the inhuman treatment meted out to her and the final arrival in India of her badly                       mutilated body, were all over the media."
        If the IAF inducts women into its fighter stream, then, both the Army and the Navy will have to
        follow suit in inducting women into their combat arms. Post induction and in times of war, there
        would be images of badly wounded women, with parts of their anatomy on display that would 
        not only be disgusting but also painful to view.

       To my mind, therefore, these steps must only be attempted when the unlikely situation is
        reached where fresh volunteers are hard to come by from their male counterparts.  

  (b) No Ghulam Ali in Bombay.

        Strong reactions against having a concert by the famed Pakistani ghazal singer in Bombay by
        the Shiv Sena has brought about the cancellation of the show. The youth wing of the Shiv Sena
        has made a paradoxical statement to the effect, "we're admirers of Pakistani ghazal maestro
        Ghulam Ali and listen to his music, but we cannot permit his concert here because of the 
        killings sponsored by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists on our borders."

        The youth telling this? Sad! The West Bengal and the Delhi governments have, meanwhile,
        expressed their willingness to host the maestro. Thank God for minor mercies!


Michel Platini, one of the greatest footballers of all times, was my favourite. His name, linked to the sleaze in FIFA, has been a real jolt. I'd this romantic idea that a good sportsman can never, ever be corrupt and it's that concept that has taken the hit. And I suppose that question has become frighteningly voluble, "Everyone has a price..........what's yours?"

I never knew that Platini's was so low! Sad!! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


It will be two years, by next month, since we'd shifted to 'The Quarterdeck'. A lot has been achieved, more are in the process of evolution, but much more needs to be done. A peep into the kitchen garden - thanks to an enthusiastic green thumb in Lekha's assistant - gives me great satisfaction. The trees and plants that are nurtured are as follows:-

    * two of the three banana trees are in the process of bearing the fruit. Should be ready for
       consumption after about a month.
    * of the two mango trees gifted by my staff, one is growing well while the other has long
       withered away. Wonder why it went away, but felt sad on that score.
    * a papaya tree at the south eastern corner of the compound has borne fruits that are comparatively
       large in size.
    * the lemon tree is shaping up well.
    * a guava tree is again shaping up well, perhaps as an alternate to the one in our courtyard that
       had to be cut to get the extended canopy of the car porch in place.
    * in addition, thanks to Lekha and her assistant, there are a host of vegetable plants in various
       stages of growth. The 'curry patta' tree is getting rejuvenated after an initial hesitation due to
       extensive usage.
    * the drumstick tree has grown tall despite frequent trimmings - its leaves have been used many a
    * the three tapioca plants are growing healthily.
    * then there's an assorted set of the 'sitaphal', 'chikkoo', a couple of stalks of grapes and two
       pineapple plants.
    * in the courtyard, the coconut tree planted in place of the cut one is growing up satisfactorily.
    * the Laburnum, replanted from the kitchen garden, is growing up well.
    * Lekha has also got a set of potted plants that covers roses of different hues, bougainvillea, again,
       of differing hues and two varieties of palms.
    * the patch of Mexican grass, laid around the well, gives the entire north western corner of the
       compound, a greenish hue.

What gives great satisfaction to us is that neither pesticides nor commercial manure have been used. The normal kitchen waste and home made hormonal solutions - courtesy inputs from an agricultural student - have been put to extensive use. As a result, a shade of sorts from the blistering sun, have now enveloped the house!


Waste management has thus been effectively pursued. The dry waste is carried away by the 'kudumbasree group' - deployed by the Corporation - thrice every week.     

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

To eat or not to eat beef.

I've been alarmed by the following happenings over the week that has just passed:-

  (a) A gentleman was lynched to death on the presumption that the family had slaughtered a cow
        and the meat was stored in his house. The son, who happened to be in the house with him was             badly mauled and is slowly recouping in a hospital nearby. The women were disrespected                   and threatened by the angry mob. He has, incidentally, two other characteristics viz.
          (i) he's a Muslim and
         (ii) another son of his serves in the Indian Air Force.

  (b) A lot many politicians have since been descending on the hapless family with a view to publicise
        the issue, in a warped manner, to gain political mileage! The hate speeches by the guys have
        gone beyond decency and propriety.

  (c) In neighbourhood Bihar, where election rallies are on, certain politicians have even demarcated
        people as beefeaters and non beefeaters!

  (d) We export beef(Buffalo and goat's meat only. Cow's meat is a strict no, no!) to foreign countries          to earn the much needed foreign exchange!

I must make myself very clear on this issue. Since childhood, in our joint family household, we're never served beef and mind you, no particular reason was given as to why it was avoided. I, my sisters and my cousins thought it to be one of those things and never questioned my grandparents, parents or other elders as to why some of our neighbours ate beef, the underlying sentiment being that each and everyone of us had the freedom to choose what we ate! 

And extrapolating on the issue, as I grew up and participated in a number of debates and elocution competitions in school and the Academy, I was a strong votary for disposing off uncared and underfed cattle, meandering through busy thoroughfares, posing a threat to themselves and the whizzing motorists. I, however, continued to be the non beef consumer, a covenant that I've preserved of my upbringing!

To the question as to whether I've consumed beef, thus far, I'd be lying if I were to say that I haven't because I've had it on occasions like:-

    (a) at clubs, outside eateries along with my friends.
    (b) at many of my friends' houses.

And I must admit two things, the first that it tastes good and second, I'd no qualms of conscience after the consumption of having strayed away from my covenant.

However, beef continues to be avoided within my house but I've no opposition to anyone having it because it's that individual's choice and I respect that!  

My take.

The purpose of my dwelling on the topic at length is to emphasise that we're wasting our time and energy on a non-issue, resulting in bringing about unnecessary fissures in society. Our aim is to see our country develop and become one of the major players in the world, in which every individual has freedom in every sense of the term, as assured by our Constitution! A few narrow minded people, with a distorted and their own view of Hindutva cannot upset the apple cart!!


There are so many things that need to be fixed/corrected in our environment before we embark on the sure path to prosperity. Let's concentrate on those issues, please!