Monday, November 30, 2015

Mom's medical review.

We'd got up at 5. It's my sa'arthi, George's, idea to leave home by a half past 6 to be in time at the "Brainwaves" clinic at Kochi for the appointment at 0915h. We'd taken the NH 17 route which was comparatively quieter and were there on the dot.

The doctor was pleased, as usual, on seeing my mom and she was equally excited and her opening statement to him was that her medicines needed reduction. He was indulgent and told her that she was on the bare minimum numbers that was essential for her. I think his statement, "Amma, you're looking beautiful and five years younger", swept her off her feet. Meanwhile, we caught up with various things within the short span of time that was available.

George's off to Tirur tomorrow to carry out a court's sentence awarded to him for a mishap that happened 24 yrs back, when he was with the state road transport corporation as one of its drivers.
He was proceeding to Kozhikode and the bus had passengers that filled up its seating capacity viz. a little above 50. The speed that he was maintaining was about 85 kmph, when all of a sudden, the steering wheel had got unstuck and with great difficulty, he was able to bring the vehicle to a halt by impacting hard against a wayside tree, injuring almost all the passengers. After the tortuous 24 yrs of legal proceedings, he's been fined a sum of Rs.2,500/- along with a day's stay in the court till its proceedings got over! He looked tired yet happy that the ordeal was coming to an end!!

We're back home by lunchtime, at 1. There were rains enroute but the result was that the day was gummy and miserable, the airconditioned innards of the car was a great boon though George had a tough time driving through the rains as the wipers got stuck! Rubbing the windshield with tobacco helped him get a clear view, reducing his driving difficulty.

A short, neat trip and mom's parameters are within normal limits.


The evening walk was relaxed and enjoyable. The month of November is over and we're on to the last month of the year!


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Caught unawares

1. It was an early morning and my train, the "Garib Rath', left Kochuveli 10' past the scheduled departure time. The sloth and the inefficiency of the railways was in full view with the train having many unscheduled halts enroute. The height of it was a 15' wait at the outer of Chengannur station, followed by another 15' within the station and mind you there were no trains that we crossed nor were there any to overtake.

2. Apologists might say that there was the track doubling work that was going on in full swing. Even that statement had no locus standi because the work was going on at an odd place, with much reduced workforce and that too with the main line being untouched and free for traffic.

3. I'd told mom and Lekha that I'd be reaching home by lunchtime but could fetch up, finally, over an hour late! One has been hearing a lot about the changes for the better and the far reaching initiatives of the rail minister, Suresh Prabhu, but much more needs to be done for the consequent benefits to be felt by the average rail commuter. There were a number of guests who'd dropped by at our place during the period and I did not get a chance to meet most of them, thanks to my late arrival.

4. The evening walk was done at a brisk pace. I must say that by doing so, I was punishing myself to release the pent up frustration of having wasted away time for no rhyme or reason!


* Tomorrow's gonna be an early one as I'm taking mom to her doctor, at Ernakulam, for the review.
* And a lot of personal work to catch up with.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

New responsibilities.

1. The day had started off on a good note. I was at the Foundation, alongwith my Maman by a half  past 9. It was great meeting the staff who, as usual, welcomed me with a warm smile. Till now many of them did wonder as to why I wasn't involving myself with the organisations day-to-day activities. Though the core group was aware of my intentions, today's activity would confirm my involvement on a daily basis.

2. There was a string of visitors beginning with the director of a television channel. Though the proprietor of the channel was a family friend, I was meeting the gentleman for the first time. After understanding the purpose of my visit, he volunteered to prepare an acceptance speech which he insisted that I must make when I told him that I didn't want to be formal - damn sweet of him and it turned out to be a valuable input as I realised in the course of the day.

3. Meanwhile, Maman and the staff, were busy with the groundwork regarding the activities connected with the Justice Krishna Iyer lecture on his first remembrance day on 04 Dec. A year has swiftly passed since that noble soul had left us!

4. We, finally took off for Kollam by a half past 12 and could reach the venue of the meeting by a 10 minutes to 1500h. The officials and the new incumbents of the district panchayat headquarters had fetched up and the meeting took off as planned. The agenda was quickly and efficiently gone through and towards the end, I made my short acceptance speech after which a few of the participants came and befriended me, took down my contact numbers. Someone said that I'd spoken well....but what I could gather was that I'd passed the initial test.


It's nice to have high sounding designations but one has to work hard to set and achieve targets. Only then does one's true value gets passed on to the organisation's growth!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Off to Thiruvananthapuram.

1. It was time to go to Thiruvananthapuram for the inaugural ceremony as the newly elected panchayat members had assumed their responsibilities. After tying up things to the minutest detail - like apportioning mom's medicines for different times. The Syndopa tablet has to be divided into three quarters per dose, a task that was seemingly impossible for both mom and Lekha - I'd caught the bus for Thrissur from the bus stand thanks to the auto rickshaw driver's deft moves.

2. The bus, however, took many a detour thanks to the ongoing road repairs enroute and dropped me at a spot from where I'd misjudged the distance to the railway station which saw me trudging through the afternoon sun with my overnighter. Due to an utter bankruptcy of thought, I'd ducked into the refreshment stall on the platform for a hot cup of tea and snack. And I was sweating through all my pores, a condition that I hate when slated to spend time in an airconditioned environment subsequently!

3. The usually punctual Jan Shatabdi fetched up twenty minutes later. And as though it was doing with a vengeance, it began to run late. Unscheduled halts at two stations and a half an hour wait at the outer of the Ernakulam Junction railway station ensured that the delay was
increasing. When I reached Thiruvananthapuram, it was a quarter to 10 with threatening rains.

4. By the time I reached my maman's house, it was a half past 10 and that too, thanks to my sa'arthi, Omanakuttan's driving skills.


A train that usually sticks to its scheduled timings was late by one hour this evening. Was I the ominous cause of this delay?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Preparing for the long haul.

The next month is gonna see us travelling quite a bit and hence, in preparation, there were a lot of things to be done. The first is my mom's quarterly medical review by her doctor at Kochi. As a prelude to it, I'd tied up for the nursing staff from the nearby hospital to collect her blood samples this morning. The sample collection team had arrived half an hour earlier than the appointed time but mom seemed to be ready for such an eventuality! And unlike last time, she could give her sample of urine also.

          *                                  *                                    *

The results were mailed to me by about 12 o'clock. Thankfully, the readings were within acceptable limits and the one result on the 'peripheral smear' will be delivered tomorrow. It's a big load off my head especially after her recent illness and the antibiotic course seems to have done the needful.

          *                                  *                                    *

Ramesh, the gardener, had also arrived by morning to do up the small patch of the lawn and the potted plants in the courtyard. The grass looks nicely trimmed now after the removal of the unwieldy weeds that have been begging for removal for quite a while now. He attributed his long absence to a spate of new work that he's taken on.

          *                                  *                                     *

Meanwhile, a quick trip to the nearby hairdresser was undertaken. The ever smiling Ejaz hadn't arrived because of a problem in his eye and my hair was cut by another guy named Ajith. The end result was not much to my satisfaction but the sad input was that Ejaz was moving away shortly to another outfit, about 20 kms from here. He's got a better offer, it seems!

Hair cutting saloons of old have come a long way. These days, they call themselves, 'Hairdressers' and carry out massages of various kinds, pedicure etc, in other words 'grooming' in addition to hair cutting - in fact, the gentlemen of today do not mind splurging on themselves to sport good, neat looks! I must say that it's a good and welcome trend. 'Amigos', where I frequent, is swanky, fully air conditioned with an array of about eight cubicles for the various activities. Its owner, the shy Kunjumon, has begun this business after a short stint in west Asia.

           *                                  *                                      *

My onward reservation to Thiruvananthapuram by the Jana Shatabdi, the day after, was confirmed a trifle before 12. The return on Sunday, by the Garib Rath, will be confirmed by tomorrow says Paulson, my man, Friday. He's been of a great help. I'll have to leave Maman's house comparatively early on Sunday morning, as I see it. Meanwhile, there's homework to catch up with, in preparation of my inaugural ceremony at Kollam on Saturday!


There seems to be at least three sets of guests arriving here at 'The Quarterdeck' during my absence, over the weekend. Well, they'll keep mom and Lekha busy besides giving them company!  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

When utterances can cause ridicule and contempt.....

Much has been said about Aamir Khan's recent apprehensions about the rising intolerance(?) in this country. I shan't add anything more to it except for the fact that people who enjoy celebrity status must think before they speak out on anything. It's not that the society follows them blindly but when they speak, the common man pauses and asks, "Why has he/she said so? Is there something more to it than meets the eye?"

And that's where there's an ample scope for mischief mongers to twist facts and interpretations, create confusion. Just let's take a fact check. Sakshi Maharaj, Yogi Adityanand and their ilk used to pass vituperative statements in the past too as these motor mouths have nothing else to say. They're ignored then. The government is ignoring them now, but 'intolerance' says its opponents. Why the double standards, I ask. It just doesn't add up.

Is the systematically orchestrated pantomime of intolerance raised to higher decibels to negate the Prime Minister's carefully nurtured investor friendly conditions prevalent within the country overtures during his foreign trips?

          *                                       *                                              *

Rahul Gandhi made a mess of himself during his interaction with the student audience - mostly young women - at the Mount Carmel College, Bangalore today. To my mind, he made the following gaffes:-

    (a) He's neither an orator nor a good communicator. An interaction of this nature is not his cup of
         tea. If his well wishers(?) had egged him on to do this, they've done a disservice to him.
    (b) He was on a continuous anti-Modi tirade. Negativity cannot sustain over long periods
          especially when he didn't have anything to substantiate his claims. Why doesn't he tell us
          about his vision for India? .......Does he have a vision at all?
    (c) The biggest mistake was that he questioned the wisdom of having 'Swachch Bharath'
          drive as a strategic programme. The simple, innocent children countered his argument.
          Many students - across the country - have come out openly that the drive can only be a
          success if it began from each household and have been teaching their elders a lesson or
          two regarding cleanliness! So, does it mean that cleanliness of the surroundings is not
          important for him?

Repeated gaffes and misplaced utterances can bring about nothing but ridicule and contempt.


What appalls me is that the breakdown of law and order in the prelude to the Dadri lynching - a serious lapse on the part of the UP government - is not even being discussed. Isn't security a state subject?

It's the day of the "Karthik Purnima". The oil lamps were lit all over, outside the house and it had an electrifying effect.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

On becoming a senior citizen.

It's my 60th birthday today. I'd tried to keep the celebrations low key but my mom, Lekha and her assistant would hear nothing from me. They'd, accordingly, planned a get together and had invited a small knot of people from the near vicinity, for lunch.

Lekha was the first to wish, followed by mom. The gifts, the calls and the messages followed in a continuous trickle, all through the day. Maman and his son fetched up at a half past 6, from Thiruvananthapuram, as their train was an hour late. Meanwhile, I'd set off for my customary walk. The day was bright and sunny with no hint of a rain. After a wash and change, the three of us - maman, Manu and me - had gone to the Guruvayur temple. Since we're ushered in through the short cut, we could return after the 'darshan' within about an hour.

It's nice to spend time with the small bunch of friends who'd come by. Much to my thrill, more gifts had followed and meanwhile, the phone did keep me busy. The Narayanans brought me the Upanishads, which I thought was imaginative and would be of a great help in my quest about life, though if anyone gets the impression that I was giving up worldly pleasures in search of spirituality, that would be far from the reality.

      *                                         *                                              *

I did a quiet audit of my life, thus far, but must admit that I could not reach any definitive conclusions. I suppose it's for the people who know me to say more on it. As far as I know, I've lived a life without compromising on my principles which I hold dear.

      *                                         *                                              *

Does being a senior citizen thrill me? No, if one is looking at the privileges and the financial perks, say like buying tickets for a journey at half the rate for example. Those are trivia and one can't afford to dwell upon them. The respect and love that must come from the others will be based on my behaviour, the manner in which I put across to the others - I've no doubts on that score!

       *                                        *                                              *

So, what's my over riding wish on the occasion? To be happy and to enjoy every moment of life. I hope that I'll have the companionship of all that I treasure having as relatives and friends! Their longevity is an important aspect which sadly, one hasn't any control upon!!


I shall pursue the work in hand vigorously to achieve the goals set. To stay healthy without having to be dependent on another is the transition through life at various stages, the aches and the pains notwithstanding!!  


Monday, November 23, 2015

The first yield of bananas.

The first bunch of bananas from our backyard is ready for consumption. Portions of it were passed on to Pushpaakaran, the farm hand who'd planted the sapling about five months back, Preetha, Lekha's assistant, who'd nurtured it all along and to the three houses in the neighbourhood. Luckily for us, it was a large bunch making the wide distribution, that we'd thought of, possible.

The second bunch is getting ready and should be ready for consumption by the end of this month. It sure gives a thrill to have fruits and vegetables that are home grown and totally free of pesticides.

     *                                *                                  *

Though mom has recovered from her recent discomfort, her appetite is not as what I'd like it to be. Though people have been trying to comfort me by saying that lesser intake means lesser problems, I'm not convinced. The review with her doctor is due within the next fortnight and I hope that things would get back to normal without much ado.

     *                                *                                  *

It's also been six months after Lekha's surgery. The next review with her doctor is also to be done within this week. There shall be a lot many visits to the hospital for tests and collation of the comprehensive set of results for both mom and Lekha. The medical reviews need to be put behind us before we embark on our two journeys - to Thiruvananthapuram and to Pune - slated for next month.

     *                               *                                  *

This evening's rains were heavy and long drawn. My customary walk was the consequent casualty. The electricity supply was erratic and we'd to opt for an early pipe down because the television wasn't available. Lekha and her assistant had been working hard and tying up loose ends for the past so many days to put up a good show tomorrow. Mom has also been monitoring the activities and I could see the thrill in her. The result was that it did give me a great high.


Before wishing mom a good night, she beckons me and tells, "You must wake me up at 5 tomorrow so that I can wish you a happy birthday and be the first one to do so." What more does one want in life?


Sunday, November 22, 2015

A bit from here and there.

I'm putting forth my views on certain recent happenings. The way the acts are being played out one can easily understand as to why things are happening this-a-way. Without much ado, here I go:-

  (a) Justice, at last.

        Sheikh Mujibhur Rehman, the founding father of Bangladesh and the country's first Prime
        Minister was brutally assassinated on 15 Aug '75 along with his entire family, who were with
        him then. The present PM, Sheikh Hasina, his daughter, escaped the carnage since she was
        abroad. Subsequently, there weren't any serious attempts to round up the culprits and provide
        justice. Perhaps, Sheikh Hasina took her time and this time around, she seems to have got her
        act right. One can imagine the tremendous pressure upon her as she went about it, as many of
        the accused belonged to her rival political parties.

        As the initial step towards any meaningful action, those guilty of war crimes of '71 had to be
        punished. As of last week, the fallowing have been sent to the gallows and there hasn't been
        much of a public backlash - that could've been whipped up by the friends of the guilty - on
        the executions of the following:-
             (i) Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, the leader of the Islamist opposition.
            (ii) Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a former legislator of the opposition leader, Khalida Zia's
         * Two other leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami were executed earlier.

    (b) Why the Government's Initiative has Received a Lukewarm Response?

          The government's gold bond scheme, launched with much fanfare recently, has failed to
          take off. Three ambitious schemes viz. Sovereign gold bond, Gold monetization and the 
          Indian gold coin scheme were launched with the following in mind:-
               (i) to reduce the physical demand for gold and
              (ii) to fish out 20,000 tons of gold lying idle in households all over the country.

          The official reasons for the tepid response are:-
               (i) The high issue price. The RBI had set it at Rs.2,684/- a gram, whereas the market
                    price was much lower.
              (ii) Too many market holidays during the interim period and
             (iii) The affinity of the public towards holding physical gold against the gold bond scheme.

           I feel that over and above the reasons cited above, there is a sustained misinformation
           campaign to scare the general public about losing their gold once they joined the scheme.
           Wonder why the government hasn't countered the vicious stories in circulation?


Was reminded about our visit to the orchid garden at Singapore, a couple of years back. The curator had told us then as to how new strains of orchids were nurtured at the nursery to name them after important guests who visit the island nation. Narendra Modi is the latest leader who's gonna be felicitated in this manner during his visit, commencing tomorrow.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Everyone wants to gang up.

The Bihar elections have triggered the political parties, sitting in the opposition benches in Parliament, to come together to fight Modi and cow him down. What makes them get into such desperate attempts to gang up?

Let me attempt a few answers:-

    (a) They know that Modi can deliver and if he were to be allowed to do that, they'd never get a
          chance to rule as they'd be rendered irrelevant.
    (b) The development that he plans to usher in will make the average Indian gravitate towards him,
          a situation that needs to be blocked at any cost, the national interests be damned.

So, what needs to be done? Stall Parliament to the extent feasible and do not allow any legislation. This is what the winter session of Parliament is headed for.

What a tragedy? Seeing the various political leaders hobnobbing with bitter enemies, during the swearing in of the Nitish Kumar government, made me laugh. Why're they so desperate?

I'm sure the people of India are watching the 'tamasha' and will voice their opinion at the appropriate time.  


Narendra Modi has the mandate to rule this country for five years. Give him a chance.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Providence? Luck? That was the only script.....

1. Providence? Luck? That was her life's script......

In the recent Paris terror attacks, the story about a woman who escaped sure death is doing the rounds. A cctv footage captures a gunman, wielding an AK 47, opening fire on a pizzeria. Starting off shooting from across the road, he's seen to suddenly approach the door of the restaurant and raise his rifle at a woman to shoot her at point blank range. His gun appears to jam at that point and he flees into a waiting vehicle.......

For the woman, what was it? Providence, Luck or God's direct intervention?.....The arguments can be a plenty. But the fact is that it was her life's script and her end was not scheduled to take place then. Period!

2. The Helplessness of Democracy.....

Nitish Kumar has been sworn in as the CM of Bihar for the third time. His electoral victory scripted along with Laloo Prasad Yadav has, however, lost much of its sheen because of the following:-

      (a) It gives the impression that Laloo is ruling the state through two of his sons, inducted into
           the cabinet. Isn't merit required?
      (b) Both are fist time MLAs and usually, they bide for time to gain experience in statecraft and
            are then made ministers. For Laloo's children, that essential prerequisite has been thrown to
            the wind. Tejaswi Yadav has been made the Deputy CM along with the portfolios of Road
            and Building Construction while Tej Pratap Yadav has been given the portfolio of Health.
      (c) Do these people have the common man's interests in mind? How can a family rule so
      (d) The entire set of political parties seem to endorse this arrangement in the name of 'the
            combination to thwart the divisive agenda of the BJP' and call themselves the
      (e) Can only laugh at what Nitish Kumar has brought upon himself and feel pity on the people
            of Bihar!


Interesting happenings. Terrorism seems to be spreading. The ability in tackling it effectively should be the concerted aim of every government.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Some things are like that, it needs a drastic change in mindset!

We, Indians, have a penchant for trying to outsmart another and feel very nice about it, even considering it as a big achievement. How has this attitude come about? Has it been brought by the long British colonisation when they put one against the other to feel secure in this country and to consolidate their position? ......One has every reason to believe it to be true.

Another aspect is the games that the bureaucracy play in any democracy. Fuelling the perennial nightmare in every politician of a military takeover leading to dictatorship, the bureaucrats get through with the most outrageous rules to ascertain their supremacy. It's in their scheme of things to keep the armed forces under their thumb, take far reaching decisions regarding acquisitions and personnel policies without ever being accountable/responsible for their actions.

Just to cite an example, why did the then Defence Secretary go unscathed after the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962 when the then Defence Minister and the Army Chief had to bear the brunt of the colossal failure on all fronts? He, too, was definitely answerable for the ill equipped state of the armed forces at that point of time. How do we let these guys get away time and again? All of us, collectively are to blame. And when these guys go on visits to defence assets they insist on being pampered which is readily conceded to by the ever so malleable top management!........

Yet another Pay Commission has submitted its report which will be implemented forthwith. At the outset, it seems to satisfy every section of the affected. And yes, the pay supremacy of the IAS will be maintained! This assures them of their undisputed position in the pecking order, a factor that they cling on to while systematically diluting that of the Armed Forces! 

A couple of weeks ago, the government had issued the notification on the OROP issue, causing heartburn to the veterans. Why did they've to do that? Or was it another orchestrated move by the bureaucrats to cause discomfort to the Armed Forces and their veterans?

Their attitude seems to be, "You continue to die, fighting for your country and you're being paid for it but don't ever ask for izzat. It's foolish sentimentality."


1. This is about an incident that happened years back, when I was a young Lieutenant and Liaison Officer to a bureaucrat who was on a visit to our establishment at Bombay. I was at the airport to receive him and no sooner had his luggage been collected, he'd the gall to hand over his briefcase for me to carry. I put it immediately on the luggage trolley and when queried, answered that I never did such things even for my parents and grandparents, whom I respected and was thoroughly fond of.

2. The crossed bureaucrat reported my arrogance to my Commanding Officer expecting me to be hauled on coal for my misdemeanour(?). What he didn't know was that my CO neither took any action against me nor did he broach the topic ever. What I was told by his personal staff was that he'd a hearty laugh when he heard the story and that he was quite fond of me!    

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I've randomly selected a few of the news bytes from here and there, to show as to how crazy things can be. The political alignments, the connected flip flops, the outrageous utterances etc are all part of this madness. An impassive observer can have a hearty laugh because, the people who indulge in such behaviour seem to be under three fundamentally wrong assumptions about the public at large viz.:-

    (a) Aren't intelligent, do not have a mind of their own and display a mob mentality that can be
         easily confused/brought around to a thinking of one's choice by smart maneuvers.
    (b) Have a very shallow memory and
    (c) Have too many problems themselves that they aren't bothered about other aspects even if they
          were to impinge upon their own lives.

With that as the preamble, let me put across my observations:-

 (a) Rubbishing One's Own Leader.

       There's no rationale for Manishankar Iyer or Salman Khurshid to bad mouth their government
       and the Prime Minister, while enjoying the hospitality of the Pakistanis. The former's call to
       throw out the government to ease the problems in the relations between the two countries and
       the latter certifying Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharief as a far sighted statesman, who continuously
       worked for peace between the two countries can only be viewed with scepticism.

       Are their personal animosities with Modi so overwhelming that they do not mind badmouthing
       him while on a visit outside the country?

       To my mind, it's tantamount to treason and they must be taken to task on return. Their party
       could begin the process by asking them to give explanations for their obnoxious behaviour or
       else face expulsion!

  (b) The 'Kiss of Love' Organisers in Bad Deeds. 

        Rahul Pasupalan, the key organiser of the 'Kiss of Love' and his model wife were among the
        six arrested in connection with an online prostitution racket. A few other members of the gang
        were arrested from various parts of the state for uploading photographs of minor girls and
        posting obscene comments on a Facebook page promising escort service.

        A simple case about bad guys into bad deeds. Their targeting unsuspecting minors can never be

   (c) The LDF Takes Control of Most Corporations.

         Post panchayat elections, the newly elected members and their leadership have taken over
         the reins of the corporations/municipalities/panchayats. The LDF, now, controls 5 of the 6
         corporations and 46 of the 87 municipalities. The Palakkad municipality became the first
         to be taken over by the BJP. The zilla panchayats have been shared equally by the two
         fronts(7 each). The details of the gram panchayats are as follows:-
                   * Total                                            941 
                   * Elections held in                          889 
                                         LDF                           550
                                         UDF                           318
                                         BJP                              12
                           Independents                               9
                    * Yet to be held in                            52

         At many places it's the infighting within the Congress that has cost the UDF very dear. Will
         they be able to get their act together before the Assembly elections six months from now? And
         with the confirmation from the CPM's secretary that VS Achuthanandan will lead the party in
         the Assembly polls, what happens to the truce within the state's leadership who'd wanted him


Just last month it was all about intolerance within the country based on a few unfortunate and stray incidents. Where has it disappeared?


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Honesty and us.

I happened to come across a thought provoking study by a group of researchers of the Norfolk-based University of East Anglia(UEA). The following were the highlights of the study:-

     * The countries studied were Brazil, China, Greece, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, US,
        Argentina, Denmark, UK, India, Portugal, South Africa and South Korea.
     * They're so chosen to provide a mix of regions, levels of development and levels of social trust.

     * The number of participants were 1,500 each from the 15 countries cited above.

     * They took part in an online survey involving two incentivised  experiments, designed to measure
        honest behaviour viz.
        (a) A coin flip test. They're asked to flip a coin and state whether it landed on "heads" or "tails".
             They knew that if they reported that it landed on heads, they'd be rewarded with $3 or $5.
             If the proportion reporting heads was more than 50% in a given country, this indicated that
             the people were being dishonest!
        (b) The Quiz. The same participants were then asked to complete a quiz where they're again
              rewarded financially if they answered all questions correctly.

      * Data from the tests was compared to estimate whether people from particular countries were
         more inclined to tell the truth!

The Findings.

 (a) The estimated dishonesty in the coin flip test ranged between 3.4% in UK to 70% in China.
 (b) In the quiz, the respondents from Japan were the most honest, followed by that of UK while
       those from Turkey were the least truthful.
 (c) People were more pessimistic about the honesty of people within their own country than of
       people of other countries, the explanation being, "people were more exposed to the news 
       stories of dishonesty taking place in their own country than in others."
 (d) Honesty of countries related to their economic growth, meaning poor countries were less
       honest than rich ones, this aspect being stronger for growth that took place before 1950.
 (e) In the coin flip test, the four least honest countries were found to be China, Japan, South Korea
      and India. Perhaps, the cultural views specific to this type of test, such as attitudes to gambling,
      rather than differences in honesty characterised the responses of the Asian countries from that
      of the rest!

Are we, Indians, among the least honest? A point that needs to be pondered upon!!


How much importance do we give to honesty in our day-to-day lives? Our backgrounds and the environment that we grew up in, have an important role to play!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Finally, mom is normal again.

After a tough week behind her, mom was back to her normal self. The results of the culture done on her urine sample suggested continuation of the same antibiotic for the coming three weeks. "It's a mild antibiotic that can be administered over long periods. There's no cause for worry as this episode was that of an indigestion," said the doctor. I'd gone to meet him around a half past 12 as per his advice on Friday.

Parking was a difficult proposition at that time with a heavy influx of vehicles in the hospital premises. The normally unflappable, Padmanabhan, who regulates the 'in' and 'out' traffic looked harried and gave me an apologetic smile as he guided me out of the hospital for parking the vehicle outside.

Shiji, my LO, took me through the maze of procedures in a jiffy and I was able to get off from there within half an hour.

     *                               *                                  *

Tomorrow is the first of the Malayalam month of Vrishchikom. It marks the beginning of the Sabarimala pilgrimage that will stretch to the 14th of January, next year. The high decibel 'saranam calls' of the devotees, a continuous stream of vehicles - big and small - carrying millions of pilgrims will pass through this temple town as each of them makes a quick 'darshan' of the god here before fetching up at the shrine at Sabarimala and after, as dictated by custom. The black/saffron dhoti clad pilgrims will out populate the local population during the period.

It's my fond hope that a high standard of cleanliness is maintained all around and the waste management system works like clock work. The newly constituted office bearers of the municipality - post elections - would be looking forward to grab the chance of showing their efficiency.

I, too, will be a strict vegetarian for the next couple of months, no, not out of any religious fervor but to satisfy myself that I can abstain from the good things of life. I shall, however, not be doing the actual trip to Sabarimala.

       *                                *                                    *

Saeed Jaffrey, one of the first Indian actors who proved his worth in both the Hindi movies and the international movies passed into the mist of time, yesterday. He was 86 and his end had come in London. I can never forget his 'Lallan paanwala' of Chushme Buddoor.

RIP, sir! They don't make them actors like you anymore! My prayers and tears.


The presence of the north east monsoon was felt all through the day by the overcast sky but it never rained at all! Perhaps, it will, at night.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The terrorists are still at it.

The ghastly attacks on the people of France by the members of the IS has been roundly condemned by all across the world. While the governments the world over look upon terrorism as the biggest scourge of the time, a concerted action plan to deal with further acts is awaiting formulation. It's still mind boggling to accept the fact that there are human beings who've no qualms of conscience to kill their unsuspecting and innocent brethren.

The momentary feeling of unlimited power while mowing down unarmed and soft targets, the lure of the promised life of extravagance in the heavens upon embracing death or the feeling of tremendous achievement, through such dastardly acts, in an otherwise unsuccessful life could be a few of the motivating factors for a hard core terrorist. But don't they undergo pangs of guilt after their crimes, I wonder?

Is wanton destruction of the entire lot, the only solution? Can't they be indoctrinated to become normal human beings or are they simply beyond redemption?

Meanwhile, I say my prayers for those innocent victims of the carnage in Paris last week. RIP. May your near and dear ones have the strength to tide over these trying times.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The antidote has arrived!

My sister had called up in the morning to say that she was coming to Guruvayur and had already boarded the bus but asked me not to tell mom so that she could give her a surprise, on arrival. So, I kept stock of the time and waited for her to fetch up at our door which she eventually did, around lunchtime. The driver of the bus took his own time to cover the distance, it seems.

The moment my mom sighted her, the expression that was writ large on her face was definitely, the Kodak moment of the day and I knew that her medical discomfort of the past week was receding. Well, it's an antidote that was more than welcome.

        *                                        *                                              *

Much earlier in the day, around a quarter past 2 in the night, I'd gone to drop our friend at the railway station. The roads were quiet and the traffic few and far between. The drive up and down didn't take more than a half hour and I'd quickly resumed my sleep.

At the station, I met Lekha's previous assistant, Sathi Amma, who was bound for the Shri Chithira Thirunal hospital at Thiruvananthapuram where she was scheduled to undergo extensive medical investigations to ascertain the reasons for her getting anaemic. She definitely looked weak from the long period of hospitalisation and was accompanied by her daughter and son-in-law.

Was she following her husband, the late Dharmettan, by contracting the same deadly ailment? Hope not, anyways we'll come to know about it by next week. I'd promised her that I'd be monitoring the entire range of proceedings while supplementing with our prayers for her early recovery. In return, she gave me a dazzling smile before she'd turned towards the platform for boarding the train.

       *                                           *                                              *

The elderly couple of our neighbourhood, dropped by after sighting my sister in the courtyard, trying to lap up the latest issue of a popular magazine while I was walking my mom in the evening. Their light hearted banter saw my mom getting excited and participating in the conversation!


A quiet day on the whole! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Mom is, still, not all right.

Mom's continuing indisposition baffles me. A friend of ours had fetched up and though she chatted with him for a short while, she'd gone back to lie down on her bed soon after. Usually, she'd have talked with him for quite a while. The morning schedule of medicines was administered and I'd talked to her doctor, at Ernakulam.

It was he who'd advised me to show her to a local physician to get an overall picture and accordingly, we literally dashed to the nearby hospital to catch up with the consultant physician who was winding up for the day, around lunch time. The funniest thing was that my neighbours have all along been insisting on my meeting up with this doctor but it hadn't fructified till now.

He'd a thorough check of my mom, advised that the medicines being administered, thus far, be continued and had added a tablet and a capsule, in addition. He'd also called for a urine culture, so that, based on its results he'd review her case on Monday. He has given me an assurance that there was no cause for undue worry.

By evening, my mom was better but her intake of food continued to be frugal. Hope the improvement comes by over the weekend!

      *                                       *                                        *

I had done something unwise this morning. A cheque carrying the premium for renewal of our car's insurance was put in an envelope and stapled to be handed over to the manager of a local branch. The insurance company's rep would pick it up from him, thereafter.

Combining it with our movie going, I'd taken it along. Two things happened one after the other viz. the movie that we wanted to see had changed and consequently, Lekha had stopped by to shop for vegetables/fruits. Meanwhile, I'd taken a detour and fetched up at the bank manager's office. After a brief introduction and having explained the reason for my visit, I handed over the envelope to him which he reluctantly accepted. I realised my folly and had the staple quickly removed so that he could see the contents.

It was then the bank manager's turn to be apologetic about his reaction!

       *                                       *                                        *

Our friend from Dubai had dropped by for a daylong visit and was bang on time for the morning cuppa. He makes it a point to look us up during his annual visits to the country.


The sky was overcast throughout the day and the resultant humidity was oppressive!       

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Adieu, George Joseph sir!

George Joseph sir, in his mid 80s and stricken with the Alzheimer's illness, passed into the mist of time this afternoon. He was the head of the Department of Biology, at school, in the late '60s and early '70s.

Sir and Springthorpe were considered synonymous with each other by the class of '72 of the Sainik School, Kazhakootam. A composite treatise on Biology written by Springthorpe, was the gospel on the subject for both, the student and the teacher, during those days!

I used to be in awe of the short, stocky and bespectacled George Joseph sir who was always dressed immaculately well and on many a day, he used to sport an off white terrylene half sleeve shirt with, his steel strapped watch running loosely over his right wrist. When he removed the watch onto the other hand, it signalled his preparation to go in for a slap on the errant child's cheek which was, albeit, a rare sight as he was seldom seen to be angry! He used to take classes for the seniors while Saraswathy Amma teacher, his deputy and an equally fine instructor, used to engage the junior classes.......We used to wait for our time with him as that also signalled our final years of being in school!

I used to be quite enthusiastic about the Biology practical classes. The dissections, the drawings of those dissections and the botanical specimens needed attention and care. He nurtured each one of us to give off our best. His affinity to music was another quality that endeared him to me and for most of us there was no better all rounder other than him at school!

If my memory serves me right, he was ambidextrous. I remember his short run up to the crease to bowl left arm around the wicket at the batsman at the nets and he was an accomplished cricketer, who padded up for the staff team on occasions and displayed his cricketing prowess.

.......Years later, during my interaction with him at the golden jubilee celebrations of the school, he'd given me a standing invite to his house at Kozhencherry, setting a condition that I must give him a call before dropping by. Alas that meeting could never take place, perhaps I wasn't destined to be with him again...

RIP, George Joseph sir! My prayers and tears. Here's wishing that your family has the strength to tide over these trying times. And sir, they don't make them teachers like you any more!


Yet another important link to those halcyon days at school has snapped!    

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The fracas over the OROP implementation.

Right from the beginning, when the agitations(?) for the implementation of OROP had spilled into the streets - the clarion call coming from the haloed Jantar Mantar itself - I was wondering whether it was right for us to be demanding our rights, like any other set of government employees, however just and deserving they were. I mean, if an ungrateful nation decides to give the short shrift to its armed forces and forget the sacrificing of their today for their tomorrow, so be it.

That sort of finer feeling must come from within, willingly and should not be demanded! Perhaps, it will evolve over a period of time.

I've a couple of queries in the manner that we're going about the OROP agitation and they are:-

     (a) Why can't all the ex-servicemen come under a single outfit and have a set of office bearers
           - elected periodically - who'll take up the cause of their brethren with those in the corridors
           of power?

     (b) What's this gimmick of returning the medals? The shiny little things depicted the milestones
           of one's service career, remind one of having been part of important operations/expeditions
           and significant acts of gallantry during operations and quite a few of them entitled us to
           monetary allowances. So, returning them to the government doesn't make sense! And as
           I'd said in an earlier context, if one's hell bent on returning them, then the monetary 
           allowances received, thus far, also need to be returned!! And if and when someone were to
           come to me and ask me for my medals, I'm gonna refuse for this very reason. My Naosena
           Medal(Gallantry) that I got during Operation Pawan(The Sri Lanka operations) is
           something that I cherish. Period.

Where are all the nice traditions and customs that we've inherited during our long service career - from the NDA days to the service life, thereafter? We've cribbed about a lot of things, from being excused to proceed on shore leave immediately after a hectic period at sea to an obnoxious senior to a senior, who was a hard taskmaster. At the end of it all, we'd end up at the Mess/Gun Room/Ward Room, have a good drink, laughed the whole stuff off as being a part of life and was up and about the next day, all excited, to meet it head on. There were neither grudges nor ill feelings, life was to be enjoyed to the fullest - the essential ethos of every man in uniform!


Quite a while back, I was Liaison Officer to the late Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw. His words, "Never take yourself seriously", echo in my ears even now!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A long day.

I'd gone to the nearby hospital to undergo a routine test and had carried mom's urine for analysis to ascertain as to what actually was her medical condition because she continued to complain about heaviness in her abdomen and a total lack of appetite. Her condition has been wobbling since last Friday. It was when I was handing over the specimen that the sister at the lab told me that the sample could not exceed a half hour after collection - another lesson learnt.....lending credence to the saying that 'learning is a continuous process till one's last breath!

Since I'd to pay another visit, a new sample was handed over which indicated that my mom had an infected urinary tract. Her doctor had immediately put her on a week's antibiotic course and it could begin, soon after lunch. He then told me about his 95 year old dad being in the hospital after two successive falls and was being readied for the surgical removal of a blood clot in his brain, consequent to the impact. Meanwhile, mom was beginning to feel a bit better by evening, thanks to the tablets.

             *                                  *                                   *

I'd begun the process of renewing my driving licence which is actually due next month but due to a few journeys planned in December, I'd initiated it yesterday itself. Getting past the MVD Inspector was easy as the lady at the nearby internet cafe could pull out the details of my existing one with ease from the Delhi Transport Department's site. Did the ease with which I could have that retrieved irritate the officer because he'd talked of a 45 day wait for obtaining an NOC from my previous licencing authority? He took an inordinately long time to rewrite his earlier directive, even questioning the authenticity of the print out initially!

The attendant medical and the ophthalmologist's certificates were obtained in the course of the day without hassles of waiting for long.

It was at the latter's clinic that I saw an 84 year old, handsome gentleman with a white French beard and in smart clothes but could hardly walk, inquiring with the doctor as to how he could overcome his inability to read the texts that came along with the visuals on television programmes. The doctor had nothing much to offer since his nerve had deteriorated to such an extent that a remedy was bleak, though she put him on multivitamins whose effects were not gonna be discernible, she emphasised.......the old man still seemed to be unconvinced about his sight's irretrievability. As he moved on, I spoke to the doctor about the 'tipping point' that comes to everyone of us which finally flips the will to live and I'd this strange feeling that in this man's case, perhaps, his inability to enjoy his television programmes would eventually fetch him to that point of no return. The doctor was apologetic about having put across her inferences rather bluntly and I'd to assure her that what she did was required to be done because it was better than giving him false hopes and further, bleed him off his savings!

I praised the old gentleman for his zest for living when we met outside the clinic; his grandson was taking him to the car. He gave me a nice smile in return and gripped my hand, firm.

             *                                     *                                         *

It's Diwali and as is our tradition, Preetha and her two children were with us for the celebration. The exuberance and the thrill of the children as they burst the crackers and lit the sparklers was infectious. Their father stayed away as he's still not gotten over the BJP candidate's defeat in the recent panchayat elections since he was one of the party's agents during the polls!


Was relieved to see mom relaxed and on the road to recovery because it was a tough weekend for her.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A doubt has crept in.

A fortnight back, a classmate of mine and a close friend had lost his mother. She was in her late 80s, had age related problems and was staying with one of her daughters at Lonavala when the end had come about. She has seven children, all doing well for themselves. The intrigue was as follows:-

   * my friend never made it to Lonavala for partaking in his mom's last rites and connected
   * he'd instead taken off for a week's holiday in the north east to be with his friends, instead.
   * he's quite active on our class' What'sApp' group sending us snaps of them having a nice time out
      there and forwarding us jokes and other matter as though nothing was amiss.

I found it to be rather strange with the background that I come from. I could, however, understand the following:-

    - usually one buys air tickets on low fare well in advance and cancellation entails loss of money.
      And economics plays a very important part in our lives while taking decisions.
    - all the arrangements one has made go for a bunt and to redo them is one hell of a bother.
    - a postponement would have been in order except for the fact that all the arrangements would
      have to be redone. But that was nothing compared to the enormous personal loss to him.

I haven't had the courage to ask my friend about his actions but will ask him once I get the right opportunity. I know that I sound gossipy over a serious personal issue of another - and that, too, whom I term as my close friend - but there in lies my doubt. To my mind it's every individual's duty to do the last rites of his parents and thereby, go through the related ceremony consequent to it. It's as per the customs and traditions passed on to us by our parents and grandparents and it can't be taken lightly because it's yet another reason for 'one's coming into this life'.

But there's an opposite viewpoint which says that one must be good to one's parents during their life time and the 'tamasha' after death is all a show and only to impress others because it doesn't indicate true love! I tend to find merit in this argument but cannot endorse it in the true sense. My friend, perhaps, loved his mom and was only going about things in a practical way. For him, the sight of his dead mom wasn't conceivable as he'd like to remember her as she was during the pleasant times!......

RIP aunty! Thanks for the way you'd looked after me as a kid. I can never forget the lovely sweetmeats that you used to make during occasions. My prayers and tears!


About ten years ago, another friend of mine had done something similar when he refused to do the last rites of his mother eventually forcing one of his younger brothers to go through the entire ceremony. His argument was that all the 'after death activities' that people indulge in were meaningless and usually meant for the others. He was then practising meditation under a 'guru' and all discussions on the subject were in vain. I remember my being very angry with him for his opinion and didn't speak to him for a while, till I realised that I was being mulish.

But all the same........the doubt still persists!


Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Bihar Results.

(a)This is what democracy is all about. The electorate teaches a lesson or two to erring political leaders! The BJP is reduced to a poor 3rd, way behind Laloo's RJD and Nitish's JD(U).
(b)This is a thoroughbred mallu's cynical thinking, you might say, but a thought all the same.

Let me recap the chronology of events leading to the electoral results:-

1. Threatened by the increasing popularity of the Prime Minister, everyone had ganged up against him - to form the formidable 'maha gathbandhan' - in the run up to the elections.
2. A series of events - were they impromptu actions or was there a deep rooted conspiracy? - that took place in the course of the five phases of election in the state, crystallised the anger against the BJP among the general public that was gonna impinge on the election outcome. Let me go through them quickly:-

     (a) The long drawn strike by the students of Pune's FTII, against Gajendra Chauhan's appointment
           as its head, showing the union government's mulishness and its eagerness to position people
           of its choice, irrespective of merit.
     (b) The government had angered the military veterans on the OROP issue.
     (c) The lynching of Mohammed Iqlakh in Dadri (Normally quick on the draw on the twitter, the 
           PM's silence was deafening). Safety and security of the people is a state subject but the
           Akhilesh government was not even questioned for its inaction!
     (d) Two dalit children burnt alive in Faridabad. Minister VK Singh's obnoxious retort on the
           incident was inexcusable!
     (e) Blackening of Sudheendra Kulkarni's face on the Kasuri book launch issue, though
           orchestrated by the Shiv Sena, impacted the BJP.
     (f) The Kerala House beef check up by the Delhi Police added insult to the injury. Intolerance
           of speech/action and food habits became raging subjects of discussion almost everywhere.
     (g)  Return of the Sahitya Akademy awards by writers and artistes - phase I.
     (h)  Moody's - the institution that classifies countries according to the prevalent business climate
           within them - questions India's intolerance factor, as whipped up by the media.
     (j)   BJP's seniors like Arun Shourie, Ram Jethmalani and Shatrughan Sinha speak against Modi
            and his team. Not to be left behind, their motormouth MPs, Sangeet Som, Yogi Adityanath,
            Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhvi Praachi etc went shrill with their vituperative statements.
     (k) The RSS leader's statement regarding a relook at the existing reservations came around this
     (l)  Return of awards by writers and artistes - phase II.

3. To add to it, the BJP's election rhetoric was negative and vacillating from development, to anti-cow slaughter, to reservations, etc, etc.

What the results mean for the PM?

     (a) His efforts at reforms are gonna get stalled in Parliament with the result that he'll end up
           with being 'all talk and no action', with no credit for his good work. The opposition seems
           to be clear about him not getting another term in the centre!
     (b) Seeing the electoral results of the Panchayat Elections in Kerala and the Assembly Elections
           in Bihar, the BJP will have to face the combined onslaught of the opposition which has
           turned out to be a winning option.
     (c) And despite all his good work, he has let down the people on two counts:-
                   (i) Not putting Rs.15 lakhs into everyone's personal account after getting back all the
                        black money stashed abroad.
                  (ii) No concrete action against the UPA government's numerous misdemeanour and
                        misappropriations heaped on Sonia Gandhi and her children.


Have the people of Bihar done the right thing for themselves knowing that Laloo and Nitish can't function together ever? The fissures will soon start to show. Or is it that the people of Bihar will be the ones that will laugh last and best when Nitish's JDU(U) and the BJP get back to sharing power ultimately?....In politics, anything is possible!


I'm still of the firm opinion that Modi can deliver and lead us to prosperity as he's a tireless worker and has seemingly, no personal requirement. All he needs to do is to crack the whip on the motormouths of his party and kick out the deadwood from his team. And he'd better do that fast. We don't want to be divided into beef eaters and non beef eaters and we don't support anyone's narrow interpretation of Hindutva! 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

What a day?

The day had begun on a good note with mom having recouped considerably from her condition last evening. Her intake of food, however, left much to be desired.

I'd quite a few things to do and had left home by 11. Much against my wishes I'd to leave my car as Lekha insisted that I take an auto rickshaw due to the vagaries of behaviour by people on the day when election results were being declared. The LDF has made headway and the BJP has scored impressive wins for the first time in Kerala, despite the fact that its alliance with the SNDP wasn't formalised to the extent that it would have liked.  

I'd returned after completing all the work and then began a feeling of weakness. It was a bad scene but I decided to do two things viz. avoid intake of food and take adequate rest. Things had gotten much better by evening!

        *                                   *                                     *

The One Rank One Pension for the defence forces has been notified by the government. The differences in perceptions will be known after the document has been thoroughly vetted by all concerned.

        *                                   *                                      *

KP Vinod of the LDF is the winner in our ward. He'd come with his core group to thank us for his success and his daughter offered us chocolates. Such acts will definitely give him support from everyone despite differing party ideologies. We wished him success in all his endeavour.

        *                                   *                                      *

Today was Santhan kochachhan's 4th remembrance day. How time has flown? We're also preparing ourselves for Diwali.......last year, the late Dharmettan was amidst us. I remember having thrust an active sparkler into his hands much to his consternation and his wife and daughter were quick to observe that it was for the first time that he'd done so because he's mortally scared of them.....and without our knowledge then, for the last time too!


A day that I'd like to forget because I was ungodly sick!

Friday, November 6, 2015

What's he trying to hide his face for?

1. MK Nazar, the alleged mastermind behind the savage attack on Prof. TJ Joseph, when his palm was chopped off for asking a question, in the examination question paper, about the Prophet in Jul '10, surrendered before the NIA court today. As he was being taken away by the police, he tried desperately a lot many avoiding tactics, like looking away from the camera and trying to cover his face with his hands etc.


2. He's been absconding for the past five years. He's the third accused in the case on the following counts:-
    (a) Deputed two other accused to prepare the sketch to the professor's house.
    (b) Provided weapons, explosives and mobile phones to the assailants.
    (c) Co-ordinated the attack and
    (d) Harboured several of the accused after the attack.

3. He has asked for bail on the grounds that he has been falsely implicated and the NIA has still not been able to prove his involvement.
4. I can never forget the smiling faces on the 13 convicted by the NIA Special Court, where 10 were awarded 8 years' imprisonment while the remaining got two years' imprisonment for helping them.

5. The questions that I'd like to ask Nazar are:-
    (a) If you're innocent why did you abscond after the crime?
    (b) If you're innocent why did you've to obscure your face while under police custody, all through

6. It's my firm opinion that the practice of taking the accused, with their faces covered, by the police should cease unless and until the case requires a future identification parade in the course of the investigation! Their mugshots in full view of the general public, through the media, should be their first bitter taste against their wrongdoing.


And why did the authors, the film fraternity, the social activists etc keep mum on the issue? Why're you so selective in giving back your awards? Or shorn of all the niceties, are you shamelessly showing off your political leanings?


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Exercising my franchise and mom's sudden discomfort.

The day had begun with pouring rain and we'd decided earlier to go and cast our votes in the nearby polling booth, at the Little Flower College, by 7 AM. Accordingly, Lekha's assistant was requested to get the vehicle along with her so that she could accompany them, help my mom disembark/embark from the vehicle and cast her vote too. I'd walked across and cast my vote, the second time in my life, as they waited for their conveyance. Mom and Lekha had gone on my return and came back soon after, as the people in the queue were less and the queue was just beginning to lengthen.

I must admit that all the three of us were excited but mom had an extra edge and she was up around 5, though we'd agreed to get up at a half past 5. The voting arrangements at the booth were excellent and the electronic voting machine worked bang on. I'm saying this because a few of the machines of the booths in the neighbourhood had glitches and are going for repoll tomorrow.

It was a holiday and though the voting process continued all through the day, it was peaceful and quiet. As people have been saying, this is the semi-final, the final is coming in shortly....six months later, Kerala will go to polls for the Assembly elections!

The afternoon was quiet and in the evening, I'd taken mom out for her customary walk in the courtyard. We'd our usual conversation and after the walk, she'd settled on her favourite chair to recite her prayers. As I was going for my walk, I found that she was missing from her seat as she was lying on bed complaining of a heavy stomach and weakness. After my walk, I'd got a bottle of the ayurvedic 'chooran' which she used on such occasions and gave her a spoonful. Minutes later, she'd begun to throw up and it seemed to be never ending. Lekha and me were required to do quite a few rounds of cleaning and changing of mom's clothes. She refused dinner and had gone to sleep in the bedroom at the ground floor. To cater for her requirements at night, I too am preparing to sleep on a sofa in the adjacent sitting room.


Baby chechi and her daughter had called up to thank me, yet again, for the hospital vigil before they caught the night train, back to Thiruvananthapuram.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A quiet Wednesday.

It was a quiet Wednesday. The day had begun with an overcast sky but the rains came by, much later, around 9 o'clock at night only to nix my viewing of the prime time news. It was relentless though at a reduced intensity.

Lekha and I went for the movie, 'Ennu, ninte Moideen', for the morning show in the theatre at the western entrance of the temple. We'd wanted to see it but time and space did not permit us to see it thus far. This time, mom had egged us to go as she'd Lekha's assistant, Preetha, for company. It's based on the true story of Kaanchanamaala and Moideen whose union was paradoxically, opposed by the two families despite the fact that the patriarchs participated in each other's annual religious festivals with great fanfare to show their religious tolerance.

The film has scored in every department of film making, as I understand. Rains form the backdrop during the entire duration of the film, so much so, that I was expecting a pouring rain outside while exiting the cinema hall, on completion. However much I tried I couldn't attribute the real reason for the director's use of the rains while finely weaving a sensitive story. One also felt bad that the couple, despite their deep love for each other and having formed a resolve to live together as man and wife, come what may, couldn't do so as fate seemed to come in their way, time and again, in the form of her maternal uncle's(Mind you, the power of the maternal uncle was much, much greater than the dad's in old nair families!) death, followed by Moideen's dad's death and so on till his own watery end while trying to save a toppled country boat's passengers in which he, himself, was a fellow traveller, armed with their passports towards plans of settling abroad!

Truly an immortal love story! Prithviraj(Moideen), Parvathi Nair(Kaanchanamaala), Lena(Moideen's mom), Bala(Her brother) and Sai kumar(His dad) are good with the others ably supporting.

The protagonist in the reel story, incidentally, has a connection with our family. In the mid-80s, a still grieving Kaanchanamaala had joined as an active worker in the KANFED(Kerala Association for Non Formal Education) under the persuasion of my grandfather, PN Panicker. Whenever she used to come to Thiruvananthapuram to attend the organisation's sessions and anniversary meetings, Muthachan used to get her to our home and through those times spent, she'd befriended the huge joint family! I must confess that I didn't have the privilege to interact with her then as I was away on my professional pursuits. 


All of 74 years, she lives at Mukkam in Kozhikode and is financially not well off. Dilip, the Malayalam actor, has pitched in to build her a new dwelling place with a library and computer based education for the needy, which is her passion........

...........She was accepted as the daughter-in-law by Moideen's mom and brought into the huge Moideen mansion. But on the mother's death the relatives of Moideen had gone to court, pointing out the absence of any document connecting Kaanchanamaala to the family and hence, she lost the case. The relatives, however, had given her a small plot of land where she lives in quietude.

Must visit her and see as to what the Foundation can do to support her noble efforts.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The lull......finally.

Today was the last day of the campaigning for the panchayat/municipality/corporation polls for the remaining seven districts of the state. The last month had seen hectic activity from dawn to dusk with political parties outdoing each other in the manner of campaigning from around 8 AM to dusk. Numerous party temporary stop over offices, while campaigning, had mushroomed within a few hundred meters of each other with party men, along with their candidates, making fervent appeals for votes personally.

The usually silent streets and feeder roads were active till about 2100h almost everyday. The lyrical and colourful parodies gave the people the gist of the parties' manifestos without ambiguity - though I must hasten to add - that almost every party had similar targets, their order of priority being different. I shall miss the light, sound nay, the din of the campaigning but console myself to say that the lull is gonna be short lived because the elections for the state's Assembly is gonna take place, six months from now!

I was elevated to the ranks of a patriarch as the candidates came and touched my feet, seeking blessings. May the best man win, I muttered, while I wished each one of them success - a paradox, if you're to ask me but, then, life is full of paradoxes, huh!? ..........And do I look that old and wise, I wondered, prompting me to have a thorough look at myself on the mirror!

Tomorrow, the following seven districts are going to polls viz:-
Note. South to north, these are,

          * Pathanamthitta.
          * Alappuzha
          * Kottayam
          * Ernakulam
          * Thrissur
          * Palakkad and
          * Malappuram.

Kerala is gonna be the first state in the country to use the EVMs - electronic voting machines - for panchayat elections. The type of polling will differ from that of the municipality/corporation and the panchayat, the notable aspects being:-

           - While it will be a single vote/voter for the former, the latter will have three votes/voter viz.                   panchayat, block panchayat and district panchayat. The three votes will be registered on
              three separate voting machines kept for the purpose and if, for example, the voter doesn't
              subscribe to a particular candidate out of the three, he/she has the option to terminate the
              exercise of franchise by pressing the 'end' button!

           - There's no NOTA - none of the above - on the ballot.

           - There will be no photos of the candidates on the ballot.


My mom, Lekha and I are excited as we're gonna exercise our franchise, for the first time, after receiving our colour voter identity cards. We plan to go to the polling booth - at the Little Flower College, opposite 'The Quarterdeck' - at 7 itself. Our candidate?.....Ah, that's our secret!!

Monday, November 2, 2015

The father of Boolean Algebra @ 200.

1. George Boole was an English mathematician, educator, philosopher and logician.

2. Born 200 years ago, on this date, George Boole's algebraic approach to logic in which all values are reduced to either "true" or "false", is still used today. His pivotal advances in mathematics, logic and probability provided the essential groundwork for modern mathematics, micro electric engineering and computer science. He also devised a type of linguistic algebra, now known as Boolean Algebra, which incorporates the three most basic operations of "and", "or" and "not".

3. Fact file.

    * He was a self taught child prodigy.
    * He never finished school and had never attended university. He was forced to leave school
       after his father's shoe business collapsed.
    * He became a teacher. At 19, he established his own school at Lincoln. While being a teacher,
       he began to learn mathematics and took several years to master Calculus since he'd no tutor.
       He also taught himself French, German and Latin.
    * He married Mary Everest, the daughter of George Everest - after whom the world's highest
       mountain peak has been named - in 1850. They'd sired five children.

4. Boole died of pneumonia in 1864, at 49 years, after he walked two miles through cold, pouring rain and delivered a lecture wearing his wet clothes.

5. Continue to RIP, Mr. George Boole. You still influence the entire world with your creation!


Google celebrated George Boole's 200th birthday by dedicating an interactive doodle on its home page because his legacy of Boolean Algebra laid the foundation of the digital age.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A delightful hour!

I normally hook on to the programme, 'Director's Music' on Amritha TV every Sunday. It's an hour long programme from 2000h to 2100h that brings out the stories behind the songs, its protagonists especially from the Directors' angle and the intricacies of the song like its lyrics, its music with a brief about the playback singers, involved in the rendition. A truly complete entertainment programme!

This evening it was M Kunchacko, the proprietor of the famous 'Udaya Studios' perched beside the NH 47 at Alappuzha, who was being covered. He was a wholesome entertainer and had made 55 Malayalam films in his lifetime, most of which had gone on to be super hits! His 'Valluvanaadan films' covering the brave and heroic lives of Thacholi Othenan (Immortalised by the inimitable Sathyan), Unniyaarcha, Aaromalunni etc are magnum opuses that can never lose their charm despite the passage of time.

Today's episode covered the following songs, everyone of which continues to be my favourite:-

 (a) Kadalivaazha kayyilirunnu kaakka innu virunnu vilichu.....
       - from the movie, 'Umma'.
       - sung by Jikki.
 (b) Paattupaadi urakkaam njaan thaamarappoom paithale.....
       - from the movie, 'Sita'.
       - sung by P Susheela and it was her first effort with Kunchacko!
       - this was the lullaby my mom used to sing for me while rocking me in the cradle.
 (c) Annu ninne kandathil pinne.........
       - from the movie, 'Unniyaarcha'.
       - sung by AM Raja.
 (d) Periyaare, Periyaare parvatha nirayude panineere........
       - from the movie, 'Bhaarya'.
       - sung by Yesudas and P Susheela. This was also the first venture by the poet, 'Vayalar
         Rama Varma' in a Kunchacko movie!
 (e) Kaakka thampuraatti, karutha manavatti koodevide........
       - from the movie, 'Inapraavukal'.
       - sung by AM Raja. Actress Sarada's debut film in Malayalam films along with Sathyan.
         Her name was announced as 'Raahel' both in real and reel life!
 (f) Swarna thaamara ithalilurangum kanvathapovana kanyake........
       - from the movie, 'Sakunthala'.
       - sung by Yesudas.
       - the script for the movie was written by Lalithambika Antharjanam.
 (g) Priyathamaa, priyathamaa pranaya lekhanam engane ezhuthanam........
       - again from the movie, 'Sakunthala'.
       - sung by P Susheela.
 (h) Sankhupushpam kannezhuthumbol Sakunthale ninne ormavarum.......
       - yet again from the movie, 'Sakunthala'.
       - sung by Yesudas.
 (j) Nadikalil sundari Yamuna..........
       - still from the movie, 'Sakunthala'.
       - sung by Yesudas and B Vasantha.
 (k) Paalkaari, paalkari kaattiladine meychu nadakkum kasavuthattakkari.......
       - from the movie, 'Kasavuthattam'.
       - sung by Yesudas.
 (l) Indulekhe, indulekhe Indrasadassile nrithalole...........
       - from the movie, 'Thirichadi'.
       - sung by Yesudas and P Susheela.
 (m) Manjubhaashini, maniyara vediyil mayangi ozhukunnathethoru gaanam........
       - from the movie, 'Kodungallooramma'.
       - sung by Yesudas.
 (n) Yavansundari, nee enikkoru pavizha munthiri......
       - from the movie, 'Pearl View'.
       - sung by Yesudas and B Vasantha.
       - the camera was wielded for the first time by cinematographer, M Vincent in a Kunchacko
 (p) Sakhaakkale munnottu.........
       - from the movie, 'Punnapra Vayalar'.
       - sung by Yesudas and chorus.


A blissful one hour!

Today's 'Keralapiravi' dinam. On the occasion, the documentary on Shri PN Panicker was screened
for a special audience at the Kerala House in New Delhi.