Thursday, December 31, 2015

What reinforced my thinking in 2015.

It has been scientifically proven that it is not wealth or being famous that makes you happy but the strong relationships that you build with family and friends.

This is the big take home for me from this wonderful year.

There were numerous family get togethers all through the year - two occasions for weddings, one for an engagement ceremony and many other small get togethers on different occasions. The bond among us has sustained over the years and I'm sure this is what Ammachi and Muthachan had wanted. The bonding among my dad's family has picked up thanks to the 'What'sApp' group that was put in place sometime during the middle of the year.

On a personal level, I've been pursuing sustained contact with my classmates, course mates, friends and relatives through e-mail and What'sApp.

And then, in the last month of the year two heady things happened. Soon after the 'Alumni Day' at school on the 12th, we'd our classmates' get together at the 'Waterscapes' in Kumarakom. Of the total of 63 classmates, 41 had attended with their spouses and three others were stag. Three couldn't make it due to last minute hiccups. But it was a tremendous response, to begin with, especially after the tepid response when the idea was conceived almost three years ago. The interaction showed the following:-

   (a) A certain bond exists between one's classmates especially when one has been in a boarding
   (b) We'd passed out of school in Apr '72, there were a few whom I was meeting for the first time
         since then but the take off was from that point of time, without hesitation and with no holds
   (c) Our spouses too enjoyed the conglomeration and the upshot has been that they've formed a
         What'sApp group of their's which is gratifying. Many could fill in the gaps of their partners'
         personalities after observing the relationship that existed among us from school.
   (d) Our next get together would be at Wyanad, in Dec '17.

Soon after, the privileged few among us had the 49th Course get together at the NDA from the 18th to the 21st. This time there was a sizeable chunk that I was meeting after our passing out parade in Dec '75. Of the total strength of 183, 82 had attended with their spouses while six others were stag! The attendance could have been better but for starters we're thrilled to bits at interacting with each other and brought out the following to the fore:-

     (a) The pride in being an ex-NDA.
     (b) Loyalty was a mix of school, squadron and the course, in that order of intensity.
     (c) There were quite a few course mates that one never interacted with during one's cadets' days
           because of being in different squadrons for purposes of stay and in differing classes for
     (d) Being in different services actually didn't mean a thing, the bonding was there all right!
     (e) Our spouses, again enjoyed the interaction and could carry back a friendship that was
           pan Indian!
     (f) The thrill at pointing out various places in the Academy where we'd spent our cadets' days
          and had unforgettable memories. A few of them were recalled by the course mates themselves
          who were party to the incidents!
     (g) Our next get together would be at Dubai, in Dec '16.

Simply great. One couldn't have asked for anything better!


Finally, got my renewed driving licence. I was careful not to lose my shirt in the ping pong played between Sunil Kumar, the motor vehicle inspector and John, the desk clerk during the course of over an hour that I was there at the office. As a rule, I do not take a seat after entering an office until the official offers me one. Sunil Kumar had taken advantage of this and had kept me standing all this while, from 11 Nov, when I'd submitted my application. Today, he did offer me a seat and insisted on my sitting when I showed a reluctance to do so. He also 'sir-ed' me for the first time and fed my cellphone number in his, wonder why?

It took me 49 days to get my renewed driving licence, without bribes!


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

These things puzzle me.....

There are lots of things that are being told by the political leaders in the media - some of them wild and unsubstantiated but occupying prime time. Another Parliament session has gone past without any meaningful business being transacted. No one seems to be answerable yet they talk of enhancing their pay and perks with a rarely seen unity! How can the affairs of the state go on like this? Or is it that the present stalemate is brought about to cover up their overall inadequacy?

The GST Bill continues to languish even when everyone concerned knows that it's good for the country. Why couldn't the parliamentarians pass it too like they did for the 'Juvenile Bill'? Did the opposition stall it to prevent the ruling dispensation from getting credit for its clearance or to negate the inflow of foreign resources thanks to PM Modi's carefully structured foreign visits?

Can only surmise that forces inimical to the good of the country are still calling the shots. Sad!

Here are a few news clippings that puzzle me:-

 (a) Corruption in the DDCA.

       Much has been seen and read about the matter thanks to the media. As a layman, I understand
       that the allegations are that corruption was rampant in the Delhi Cricket Association when Arun
       Jaitley was its head. CM Kejriwal and his party have been demanding a CBI probe into the issue.
       What makes it uncomfortable for the BJP is that Kirti Azad, one of its MPs, has expressed a
       similar desire for which he's been suspended from the party.

       If there's a hint of corruption, why can't a CBI probe be ordered? Or is it that Kejriwal's past
       actions has shown that he throws muck at others whenever he's in trouble and therefore, his
       allegations need not be given credence?

       The more the incident gets dragged on - through punches and counter punches - the public is
       gonna get convinced that there's some wrongdoing after all. Then the matter gets irreversible
       and the case will have to end up in its logical conclusion. Now, who benefits from it all only
       time can tell.

  (b) The Skewed Sex Ratio.

        The child sex ratio has been suffering a steady setback as gleaned from the latest census data
        and it had been dwelt upon in this forum, earlier, in detail. To define the term, it's the number
        of girls aged 0-6 yrs for every 1,000 boys of the same age group. It's quite crucial for our
        country where a preference for sons and the desire for smaller families have played havoc and
        brought down the number of girls to telling effect.

        It's heartening to note that the Sikh and Jain communities have bucked this trend of late but it
        should be followed by the members of the other communities too. Wonder what's holding them
        back if they're really bothered about the good of their future generations?

  (c) An Unusual Birth, Separation and Survival.

        Pushpa Devi, a Nepali girl, was returning home from Bareilly after an eye check up on the
        52204 Tankapur - Izzat Nagar train when she went into labour and delivered a baby girl in one
        of the lavatories. The newly born slipped and fell on the tracks but has miraculously survived
        after the train was brought to a stop by the other passengers and had the mother-baby duo
        shifted into a primary health centre, nearby.

        It seems that her husband had deserted her sometime back.


Can't refrain from humming, "It happens only in India".   

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mom's day.

It's mom's 81st birthday. Calls from all over - from her brothers, sisters, daughters, granddaughter and friends - kept pouring in through the day. Taking calls on the cellphones seems to tax her because of hearing problems. We'd invited a tight knot of friends to have lunch with us on the occasion and Lekha, along with her assistant, did a marvelous job in preparing a scrumptious spread.

My sister, Rema and Achu were the first to fetch up from Palakkad and the others had trickled in. My immediate neighbours dropped by for a short while as they didn't want to spread the viral fever that both of them have contracted. Ramanujan, my classmate had delayed his departure to Nilambur, on retirement from his bank job, to this day just for being with mom. He'd come along with his wife, Prema. Narayanan, my buddy from the Naval Headquarters days and Rema, came in along with the Warriath kaaranavar and his good lady. Everything went along like clockwork with the last of the guests leaving by teatime.

       *                                       *                                        *

The Supreme Court has given its ruling on the closure of bars in Kerala, paving the way for total prohibition. While it's a victory of sorts for Oommen Chandy, the Chief Minister, to my mind it's an unwanted situation for the following factors:-

 (a) Prohibition is not a viable option because it results in the following:-
       (i) Bootlegging and consumption of spurious liquor by the masses.
      (ii) Mushrooming of liquor outlets immediately outside the state's borders in the neighbouring
 (b) The five star hotel bars will resort to unfair means to make a fast buck from the many who'll
       try for short cuts.
 (c) Loss of revenue to the state's coffers and
 (d) Loss of regular income to the workers who manned the bars.

Perhaps, this government will run its remaining term flush with the legal backing to its decision and will also win votes from the womenfolk who've borne the brunt of their husbands' misbehaviour under the influence of the bubbly and were its vociferous supporters. It will, therefore, be the responsibility of the next government to take a call to take a meaningful and practical decision on the matter. Reduction in indulgence - through structured means - is what should be aimed at instead of prohibition.


The last of the celebrations for the year 2015 has gotten over at 'The Quarterdeck'. Now all that's left is the new year's eve celebrations though ours is gonna be a quiet one at home, as we'd be watching the programmes on television!    

Monday, December 28, 2015

Dad's third remembrance day.

It's dad's third remembrance day as per the Malayalam calendar. I'd gone to the 'Thiruvenkata chalapathi temple' nearby to do the yearly ceremony under the directions of an unassuming gentleman by the name of Ramakrishnan Ilayathu. He'd conducted it for me last year too. Badly diabetic, he hasn't lost his sense of humour and has an elephant's patience.

It was of an hour's duration where we - there were thirteen of us - were made to go through the entire procedure. Sitting down has begun to be a problem for me and I got over the discomfort by alternately stretching each of my legs for the entire duration.

On my return, my mom asked me, "What did dad say?" and I'd replied that he'd told me not to send her to him anywhere in the near future as he was savouring his peace! This is a personal dialogue between the two of us on the occasion.....just goes to show that she misses him every moment!!

         *                                      *                                       *

Today was Nina's son, Sam's wedding at Thiruvananthapuram. She'd invited us for the occasion quite a while back and had promised dire action if we didn't attend. And it turned out to be just that as we couldn't make it due to certain unavoidable factors. Nina's family was our immediate neighbours during the mid 60s and the two families were quite close, so much so, that whenever her dad went on tours, I and my uncle had to spend the night at their house for security and mind you, both of us were in class IV, if you please! Nina's maternal grandmother - whom we used to address as 'Paatti' - was very fond of me as I used to listen to her stories about her life's experiences. In other words, Nina and I were childhood playmates.

My uncle, aunts and cousins who'd attended the wedding rang me up to say that Nina was quite incensed that I didn't make it and has instructed them that none of them should pass on the photographs/video of the evening to me as part of her censure!

Must mollify her next week when I'm gonna be at Thiruvananthapuram on work!!

        *                                      *                                         *

Radhan chettan, my relative who lives close by, has been diagnosed with dengue fever and has been admitted in a hospital nearby for medical management. Chechi had asked me for financial assistance last Thursday but thanks to the spate of bank holidays, money could be pulled out only today. They'd sent their regular auto rickshaw driver, named Prasad, to collect the cheque from me.

I was apprehensive about this arrangement in these days of fraud and greed. To allay my fears, I said to myself that no autorickshaw driver would simply knock on my door asking for a cheque, will they? Felt relieved only when chechi had confirmed its receipt, a couple of hours later!


Lekha, her assistant Preetha and I went about tying up the loose ends for my mom's birthday celebrations tomorrow. We've invited a small knot of friends for lunch.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Why do we waste money on unproductive ventures like this?

For the well being of the world(?), the chief minister of Telengana - Mr. K Chandrashekhar Rao - has been conducting the 'Ayuta Chandi Yagam' in the Medak district since 23 Dec. Today, on the concluding day, while the Rashtrapathi was on his way to attend the ritual, a fire broke out gutting the main pandal around 1330h, forcing him to turn back his chopper. It's understood that the fire was accentuated by the extra ghee poured by the priests into the 'yaga gundam' or the sacred fire. 

A few other interesting statistics:-

      (a) Total expenditure                   Rs. 7 crores.
      (b) No. of priests                          1,500.
      (c) The duration                           5 days wef 23 Dec.
      (d) Visitors                                   Half a million.

We're fairly aware of the fact that our land has a large percentage of superstitious people. They can neither be blamed nor ridiculed for their beliefs which are largely shaped by the circumstances that they've been brought up and the environment in which they live. Each one to his own beliefs, so the saying goes.

My take.

I hope that the 'yaagam' had been funded by private individuals, including the chief minister. I'm sure that there are so many people who are needy even of the basic necessities for their existence. I thought the expenditure of Rs. 7 crores on them would have been a much nobler thought and as everyone is aware, the new state requires a lot of infrastructure build up.

Well being of the world! Whom are they trying to impress? Can leaders be so crass? Something deep within me tells me that it could be the public money that's being wasted. If that be the case, KCR needs to answer as to who gave him that right.


Why do our political leaders forget their own people when it comes to governance?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Adieu Sadhana!

Sadhana, the glamour girl of the Hindi movies in the 60s, passed into the mist of time yesterday. Her beauty coupled with the hits that she was a part of like 'Mere Mehboob', 'Woh Kaun Thi', 'Arzoo' and 'Waqt' to name just a few, catapulted her to the pinnacle of fame. She, too, like the late Suchitra Sen, was living as a recluse and never allowed herself to be photographed in subsequent years because she wanted the general public to remember her as she was in her heydays!

RIP, Sadhana. My tears and prayers! India will always remember you as one of her glamour queens who'd scorched the silver screen with your emotive capabilities. And can anyone forget the 'Sadhana cut' that became a cult following among the girls of that decade?

    *                                      *                                            *

Had asked for trouble while watering the small patch of green in my courtyard yesterday. The plumber had advised during his previous visit that I should ensure capping of the free end of the hose, with my palm, before switching on the motor. I'd forgotten about it completely and used the motor more than once, causing an air lock in the system without realising that it had happened!

Consequently, the flow of water through the taps stopped much after sunset yesterday, causing quite a bit of discomfort. Requisite water was drawn from the well to make the situation easy for mom and Lekha. It was only after the plumber's intervention at 10 in the morning today that the problem was sorted out. Phew!

    *                                      *                                            *

Had met the local CPI leader during my evening walk and wished him a happy new year. After receiving my greetings, he broke down and told me his sob story. His 45 day old grandson was battling a peculiar medical condition whereby his intestine is not connected to the rectum and hence, excretion was not possible. The little one had undergone five corrective surgeries in a hospital, nearby, and the doctor had almost given up hopes.

As he was leaving the ICU, the kid looked up and smiled, forcing the doctor to have another look, carry out another attempt. Well, the problem has been sorted out and the li'l one had passed its stool without problems. Could see the tremendous look of relief on the gentleman's face as he narrated the incident. I told the comrade that god will take care of the li'l one and the atheist that he is took it in with a sense of disbelief!


Another quiet day!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Extraordinary diplomacy.

Prime Minister Modi took the world by surprise by his unscheduled stopover at Lahore - to wish PM Nawaz Sharif on his birthday - on his return from the Russian visit, followed by the inauguration of the new Afghan Parliament building in Kabul.

The leader of a country rarely makes such detours or visits except on exceptional circumstances because, normally, leaders meet only against the backdrop of a set agenda. 

It definitely seems to have taken the opposition by surprise. Going by their responses, only a couple though, the churlishness is palpable as reflected below,

     (a) The Congress. No amount of meetings between the two countries is going to alter the
           status quo and the animosity.  
           Note. The very same party had said that, "Dialogue in any form must be on between the two 
           countries to prevent misunderstanding so as to prevent unwanted situations from arising.

     (b) The Shiv Sena. Modi resorts to such gimmicks to find a place in the social media!

Statesmanship of leaders can bring about extraordinary results and it definitely requires guts to stray from the oft beaten path. But what prompted our Prime Minister to pull this masterstroke off? We'd heard about the following in recent days:-

      (a) Secret dialogue between key officials in Singapore.
      (b) The visit of our Foreign Minister to Pakistan and
      (c) And our PM's informal huddle with his Pakistani counterpart at the Paris Climate Meet.

Being the cynic that I am, I've the following doubts:-
      (a) The military continues to call the shots out there and the recent past has shown that Nawaz
            Sharif has been systematically weakened. Will he, therefore, be able to push for peace
            acceptable to us?
      (b) Against that backdrop would initiatives on our part really make a change of heart?


In 1999, the then PM of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee, had gone on his famous bus ride to Lahore to forge a good relationship between the two countries and there was much bonhomie between him and Nawaz Sharif, who was paradoxically, the then PM of Pakistan. Musharraf, the then Army Chief, had pompously said that he'd deliberately stayed away from the proceedings because he didn't want to salute our Prime Minister!

His misadventure was dealt with a firm hand and by the spirited defences of youngsters like Captains Vikram Batra, Saurabh Kalia and many, many others whose acts of valour have since become folklore, a crushing defeat was handed over to them at Kargil. A few years later after having usurped power, he'd come all the way to Agra for a bilateral summit and saluted the same Prime Minister for his statesmanship and largeness of heart! 

In the present circumstances, has the Pakistani military establishment realised that rather than clinging on to their anti-India posture, they need to go ahead with a development agenda for their country to prosper and let the civilian government rule, for a change?

If that be so, the Modi visit would definitely be a precursor of better things to follow!   


Thursday, December 24, 2015

A quiet day.

The early morning walk was relaxing and I'd ventured out, on the dot at 6. The news that Achu was driving from Palakkad towards us, at Guruvayur, with his grandmom and mom kept me on my toes since it was the first time that he was driving solo on the highway. Their security man, Madhavan, was also travelling just to keep their confidence at an acceptable level.

They'd reached our place by a half past 9 and I trudged back after a haircut a bit later. Achu related to me certain anxious moments that they'd encountered while passing through the religious processions, enroute - it's Milad-un-Nabi today. I was damn glad that he'd made it in good time!

Madhu, my friend from New Delhi, had dropped by with his family around lunch time, after the 'first meal' ceremony of his second grandson - Nandagopal - at the temple. It was nice meeting them because it has been almost two years since he'd come to us after a similar ceremony of his elder grandson! He's taken the possession of his new flat at Kaakkanad at Kochi.

Lekha's assistant had a whole lot of jobs to do with the number of unscheduled guests piling up but she responded to them in her inimitable, efficient style though her father-in-law was transferred to the Thrissur Medical College on account of a medical emergency. Meanwhile, she'd sent Lekha, Achu and my sister for a matinee show and wound up by 4, quite late by her usual standards! She has, indeed, been a great help!!

I took mom out for her customary walk which she said that she was glad to resume after a lapse of 20 days. My walk followed soon after and then, Achu and me had got my 49th course site sorted out, updating my personal particulars in the process. Padmakumar had come in by then.

The Quarterdeck suddenly got to be noisy and exuberant with the addition of the guests.


It's gonna be a long day for Achu, Rema and Padmakumar as they drive off to Pidavoor tomorrow morning.   

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The morning's walk at Pune and the evening's at Guruvayur.

A nippy yet fresh morning as Pune was waking up to another day, I was out in the cantonment taking in the deliciously fresh air. The half hour brisk walk was exhilarating. We went about our chores without any hint of a hurry and were off to the airport by 9.

There was no traffic clutter and after about half an hour we're on to the checking in formalities. Abhijeet, the 'sa'arthi' deputed by Iqbal as he saw that he would be getting delayed, seemed to know the psychology of the other drivers - whom he came across - because at the crossings that neither had lights nor the traffic cop, he did muzzle his way through!

Though it was announced that our flight would be delayed because of the late start of our aircraft from New Delhi due to the fog, the delay didn't exceed 15'. The flight through Bangalore to Kochi was uneventful and we'd touched down by a quarter to 2. And then was the flap of our hired car still traversing through the town of Thrissur, which meant that there would be a delay of an hour if one erred on the positive. Actually, I was to blame because for some unfathomable reason I'd told George that my flight would land at 1500h instead of the scheduled time of 1355h!

We decided to spend some time in one of the restaurants enroute while waiting for Ravi and his car. Half an hour later, a profusely apologetic Ravi had fetched up and soon we're on our way home. The roads and the highway were packed with vehicles proceeding, presumably, for their Christmas holiday destinations and by the time we reached 'The Quarterdeck' it was a half past 5.

The settling down was at a relaxed pace because the requirements were in place thanks to the elaborate instructions Lekha'd given to her assistant in the morning. I could set out for my evening walk at the appointed hour and to me it was as though we'd never been out of this place! Came across a few of the regulars whom I bump into during my walks who made a statement and I quote, "Hope there are no more trips and long absences." Were they saying that as a conversational piece? Or were they really missing me? I'm sure it's the former!


A journey that had actually begun on 06 Dec, with the highlights of the class get together at Kumarakom and the course get together at the NDA that have given us a host of memories. We could meet quite a lot of friends, well wishers and relatives in the bargain. I wouldn't trade this experience for all the wealth in the world and I'm glad that we could do it! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Meeting up with friends.

Had got up at a half past 5, gone through the chores and was out of the cabin by 6. Half an hour later, it was a refreshed and satisfied me that had returned. The morning walk really invigorates me as it also helps me to say my prayers. The city of Pune was slowly waking up to another day and the sentry on duty at the main gate had a black dog - that barked at me but was wagging his tail all the way -giving him company. The sentry group has named the dog, 'Kaalu'.

By a quarter to 12, the cab had arrived and behind the wheel was an interesting gentleman by the name of Iqbal Akhtar, who's an electrical engineer by profession engaged in a host of entrepreneurial activities. He drives the cab - he owns four of them which are registered with the cab service agency -thrice a week 'for the fun of it', according to him.

The afternoon with the Banerjees was a great one, a house that I used to frequent quite often earlier as our friendship had begun years back while I was at Coimbatore in the mid 80s. The interaction was good and it was nice catching up from where we'd left last. Had missed meeting their son, Gavvy, who'd flown out early morning today on holiday.

The return was easy because the traffic had not built up to clutter the roads - the peak hours were yet to arrive. An hour's siesta had freshened me up and I was waiting for my classmate, Allan to fetch up. It was then that Jo had called. He'd returned earlier from a conference at Delhi and informed me about Priscilla being ill. Our plans for the evening had to change and after interacting with Allan, it was executed. He was handed over his GTG@60 mementos and Iqbal, once again was called up to take us to the Ganga Satellite township.

With the change in the evening plans, we could spend time with Jo and Prisci but for the first time I couldn't befriend Samaira, their cute granddaughter all of 41/2 yrs! My charm just didn't work!!


(a) A day well spent!
(b) Met Priscilla's mom who's all of 90 years. She stays in an adjacent block and is fiercely independent.
(c) And what a coincidence? The Banerjees and the Joshis stay in Block A8 of their residential societies and are on the third floor!

Monday, December 21, 2015

The retreat!

Like all good things come to an end, our short sojourn at the NDA had only a few hours left and the heart was heavy. I'd got up at a quarter past 3 and just couldn't sleep further thinking as to when we could conglomerate here for another joyous occasion.

After going through the morning chores, I was out of the Squadron for my walk on the dot at 6 prompting a few to ask me as to whether I needed to go with only a few hours left for the departure. But I wanted to soak in the perfect solitude and the nice, cool weather while I walked up and down the Presidency drive. Hema says that she'd always associate the get together with the early morning sight of my walking out of the squadron while she sipped her morning cuppa.

The breakfast was south Indian, making a friend returning after breakfast shout out that I'd enjoy it tremendously. This sort of dark humour, taking a dig at one's regional background is an NDA staple and one didn't mind the rib! After all, one must find humour around oneself and the beauty was that this friend was well aware that I preferred the colonial breakfast of eggs and toasts to the former!

We're supposed to go in Vishwe's car to the city but found that that there was no space left in the boot to accommodate our luggage. Was he miffed about the fact that we're not staying at his place for the remaining part of our stay at Pune? Must remember to mollify him. And I'd firmed up my mind to leave the Academy by the transport leaving at 1330h. Baby Syriac and Joma were with us for company as they're leaving by the 1540h train to Bangalore. And, then, suddenly out of nowhere a car had arrived to take us to our destination and an hour later we're in the cabin, earmarked for us, in the Command Mess thanks to KS Venugopal.

Babu and Joma went for their shopping, returned an hour and a half later picked up their stuff and had proceeded to the railway station, nearby. They'd picked up the Pune specialities for us too, damn sweet of them!

It was another hectic evening with friends and as I'd said earlier Pune can never be dull for me, ever!


Another late night but could catch up with many of my friends in the bargain.  

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Day 3 at the NDA - the visit to Lavasa.

I was late by about 15' for my morning walk because of my own doing - taking more time than usual for the morning chores! But the walk was exhilarating as usual with the morning being nippy, yet fresh.

The breakfast was wolfed down and we're ready in the buses that were to take us to the latest city of Lavasa, about 60 kms from the NDA. The drive was long winding with hairpin bends towards the final approach but the planned city seems to be shaping well - as confirmed during the presentation they'd for us. Work had been held up for the want of procedural clearances, in between, which seems to have been acquired now.

We reached the city and the waterfront hotel that was hosting us, in time for lunch, which was nice. Lekha had gone on a barge cruise in the lake while my interactions with my course mates continued.

By a 10' to 4, we're on our  return journey. We passed through the, now, bustling town of Pirangut which my friend, Ranbir Singh Bhadauria, had reminded all of us as the place we'd our Camp Greenhorn during the II term and he retraced the 'Josh Run' route to the minutest detail! We're back in the cabin before 5 for a piping hot cup of tea and the famous 'Vada Paav'.

A leisurely grooming and we're at the Cadets' Mess by a quarter to 8. It was a splendid evening which culminated in a formal sit down 'Reunion Dinner'! AM PP Reddy, the senior most serving officer from our course, did announce the next reunion of our course to be on 13 Dec '16 at Dubai, which was forcefully put across by the ever sporting MS Atwal - the gold medallist and the ACA of our course who's currently, a businessman based out there.

The revelry of song and dance continued out of the mess into the central lobby of the Alpha Squadron, where we're put up.


The group photograph and the CD, covering our get together, were provided and much to our disappointment, both Lekha and me are obscured by the taller people in front of us. Can't have everything one's way, can one? My fault really, as I should have done the necessary adjustments at the time of the photography! Sorry for letting you down, Lekha!! Bad, Rajeev!!!     

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Day 2 at the NDA.

My body clock had wakened me up at 0430h, but since there was nothing much to do I stayed in bed for a while. Vasu and Sujatha, our next door neighbours, couldn't sleep through the night because of bed bugs! We could actually hear them talk all through the night and had wondered as to what the hell was happening!!

By 6, I was out of the squadron for my walk and took the route to the Ashoka pillar, down the Presidency Drive and back - a total distance of 31/2 kms through the still dark morning and a nippy air. Felt totally refreshed and seeing me - or were they the regular morning walkers? - a few others had also ventured out.

Breakfast at the Cadets' Mess was a grand affair as usual and by 0930h, we'd set off to the Hut of Remembrance for paying homage to the departed course mates. It's a solemn ceremony that was pregnant with the gravity of the situation along with the attendant pomp and grandeur. Prabal Malakar made an appropriate and short speech, sitting on his wheel chair.

We'd then proceeded to the Habibullah Hall for speeches welcoming the '49ers' - as the 49th course calls themselves now - and the 49ers thanking the Academy for hosting us. It was, then, the time for the customary group photograph against the backdrop of the iconic Sudan Block, followed by the Squadron photographs - Hunter is represented by Shekhar Murthy, Prakash Vishwe, self, CD Sharma and Daljeet Singh Chopra(Vishwe and Ceedee being stag!) The cold coffee and snacks on the lawns reminded me of the passing out parade high tea! Cheema, made an eye catching exit in a naval chopper after circling the Sudan Block dome as he'd official duties to perform, back in Bombay.

The movie, 'The Cradle for Leadership' made during our II term was screened, for our sake, recalling those days of its filming. Though badly mutilated due to vintage, it was still worth watching.

Lunch was at the Peacock bay and Lekha had gone for boating with the others while we got to tanking up chilled beer. The Academy darshan, followed by a brief foray into our respective squadrons, saw us pass the afternoon without a nap. Lekha'd, however, decided to stay back for catching her forty winks.

The evening was at the Officers' Institute, beside the swimming pool with a band in attendance and many of us did shake a leg to the music that was on offer. In the aftermath of dinner, Damien John did force me into making a short speech as I happened to be sitting on the high table by default! I'd insisted on Prabal being given a standing ovation, yet again, for directing this extravaganza from his wheel chair!


We're too exhausted by the time we returned to the squadron but the revelry did continue.  


Friday, December 18, 2015

Onward to Pune.

It's a fine sunny morning to begin with. The Quarterdeck was systematically shut down for our absence over the next five days. Praveesh came with his gleaming Innova on the dot and we cast off on our journey at 10, with a brief halt at the dry cleaners. We're at Radha's place half an hour later because traffic at the  three choke points enroute, were comparatively free.

Radha's mom was talkative and pleasant as usual but forgetfulness is increasingly becoming discernible. Met Ashima, Arjun and their li'l daughter. And soon we're off to the airport. The drive was fine and just short of the airport, we'd a snack at a wayside eatery.

The procedures at the airport were gone through without much ado, tho' the gentleman at the baggage screening point gently reminded us about the pitfalls in carrying valuables within the check in luggage and I countered it by saying that we're convinced about their workers' honesty! But that's a point that needs to be avoided on further trips. The flight was uneventful and we reached Pune half an hour later than the scheduled time because we'd started late from Kochi.

Pune and the NDA, yet again, was heady. As we drove in through the approaches, I was reminded of my first journey into the Academy on the 10th of January, 1973 as a rookie Ist termer! This is my third visit to the Academy within the last two years. A warm cup of tea and accompanying snacks was timely and the trickle of my course mates was steady and meeting each one was indeed a pleasure.

The evening began at 7 around a campfire at the Air Force Training Team(AFTT) which reminded me of my stint as an Air Force cadet and all the gliding that I'd done. The area also was the starting point for the Inter Squadron X country runs. Well, a nostalgic and momentous get together has got off to a fine start!


Catching up with the course mates just doesn't seem to end. Vishwe, Ceedee and Daljeet represented our Hunter Squadron.

The dessert at the campfire dinner was a favourite during my cadets' time, the 'Fruit Tipsy'! And I simply gorged into it, giving the calories the go by!!  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

It's Jyothi Singh!

It's been three years when 23 year old physiotherapy intern, Jyothi Singh, was brutally gang raped in a moving bus, grievously injured by the assailants and thrown out after the dastardly act. She'd succumbed to her injuries a fortnight later.

While the culprits have been sentenced to death, one among them is set to walk free at this juncture as he was a juvenile at the time of the incident and therefore, awarded three years in a remand home minus the months he has already spent in jail.

......Something not very good to hear. He was supposed to have been the most brutal among the rapist killers. But the existing provisions of the law doesn't prescribe anything else. And here's where there's a story to tell. There was outrage all over the country, politicians of all hues had shed crocodile tears and vowed to bring about a suitable legislation but to no avail!

The Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014 which permits juveniles older than 16 yrs to be tried as adults if they commit heinous crimes still hangs in a limbo thanks to the continued deadlock in Parliament. To quote legal luminaries on the proposed Act, though it would fix a major lacuna in the current law that assumes that minors do not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions, it doesn't address the specific point that such a logic can cover only minor misdemeanours and not gang rape or murder! 

But when-o-when is our Parliament going to pass this bill?

The angst of Jyothi's parents is discernible when they see one of the rapist killers of their child walking free.


Jyothi, we, your countrymen have collectively let you down and seem to continue doing so. Meanwhile, women continue to get raped and abused in various parts of the country..... RIP!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The morning cuppa from my my house!

I was up with the lark and had returned after my morning walk, when I found my friend, Babu Sahadev, up and about. I told him that the kitchen's activation would take another 10' as Lekha was into her bath and if required I would do the honours when he inquired as to whether I'd any problems if he were to make it. I replied in the negative.

The tea that he gave us was good and he was happy that he could be of some use(?) during his stay. He's, incidentally, an accomplished cook and all those who've visited him at his house in Toronto swear by his culinary abilities. Soon after breakfast, he was off for the house registration work that he'd essentially come here for and then, proceeded to Kochi from where he flies out tomorrow. To put it in his words, "By this interaction we appreciate as to why we get along well since our school days!" I was a trifle sad that he was selling out one of the two flats that he owns at Guruvayur as his earlier plans of settling down here, on return, has been shelved due to his wife, Suma's medical problems.

Narayanan gave me the good news that 'Pythrukam', an NGO, was able to felicitate the gallantry award winners, among the defence veterans of the '65 Indo-Pak war, who're residing in and around Guruvayur. An exhibition of memorabilia and information on recruitment into the armed forces, along with the posters of ships and aircraft was a great draw, especially for the kids who're active participants in their school's NCC activities. I was glad that the resources came from Kochi on time thanks to my naval friends who're ready to help and that I could contribute towards the NGO's noble efforts in a small measure!

And today, I think I've zeroed in on the cause of the rash of itches that had been felt on my forearms and torso for the last couple of weeks. I like to take my afternoon siestas on the tiled floor of the sitting room with only a pillow for support. The floor is swept clean and disinfectants mixed in water are rubbed with a floor swab and it's this that has affected my ever too sensitive(?) skin! Some discovery, eh? Come to think of it, I'd downed a fair amount of ayurvedic medicines on that score from the comely, neighbourhood doctor!


It was a quiet day with me doing absolutely nothing!


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sunrise at Kumarakom, sunset at Guruvayur!

I'd set off for my morning walk at 6 and was rewarded with a beautiful view of the rising sun. The morning air was cool and crisp.

The packing was completed after breakfast. The heart was heavy as it was time to leave my friends and the ambient environment that was a comfortable home over the last two days. To prevent a prolonged agony, we'd kept our farewells short. By around 1015h, we'd kicked off for home, from the 'Waterscapes', eliciting a promise from each and everyone that we shall endeavour to meet more often. We'd Babu Sahadev(307) for company.

The return was through Vaikom and the first halt was at Jojy's place, to collect our bags. The second was at Babu's brother's place, at Palarivattom, to leave his luggage and pick up an overnighter. The rest of the journey was quiet with a continuous conversation about a host of things and we're back home at 'The Quarterdeck' by 1530h. The windows were opened and it didn't take long for the house to be thrumming with life.

The evening walk was refreshing, with the sunset spot on at 6 o'clock. A few sundry purchases had to be made as Ramanujan(434)-Prema and Mohandas Kollodi(394)-Shylaja were joining us for the evening. It was a great evening with us reminiscing about the get together and anecdotal incidents at school.

A bit of the sadness that was prevailing after having left the Waterscapes could be reduced thanks to this mini get together!


Strange! This afternoon, while driving, I'd to persuade myself to keep awake - or did I drift, in between, I wonder? Thankfully, nothing untoward took place but was it the lunch that caused the drift?    

Monday, December 14, 2015

The class get together - day 2.

The day'd started quite early today too. I was up around 5 and went about my morning chores as usual and was out of my cottage by 0600h for my customary walk. The weather was splendid with a bright sun and a blue sky.

Jose Cherian(310) was my partner, in which, we'd walked outward for 15' and retraced the path during the remaining 15'. It was during this session that I came to know of his wife's passing away a few years back, consequent to a massive cardiac arrest, while she awaited a surgery to remove a malignant growth in her uterus. They've a son who's currently working in the US. Jose keeps himself busy, these days, by working in a reputed hospital at Kochi as its administrator. He continues to be the simple guy that I knew him to be since school and this story should abundantly illustrate it.

On our return leg, we came across a friend who seemed worried about the fact that he didn't have a maroon/black shirt to match with the others in the group photograph that was planned soon after breakfast. Jose offered his - I'd presumed that he'd two - but when I saw him wearing a totally different coloured shirt for the event, I realised that it was his way of helping the other, so what if he'd to avoid it in the bargain? Great guy!

The group photograph in the prescribed colour combination and rigs was definitely the Kodak moment of the day. The tricky job for me, before the event, was to help Lekha wear her saree because I'm too clumsy. The photograph will be another great takeaway from the event.

And soon after, it was time for the houseboat cruise which lasted for about 41/2 hours on the Vembanad lake. It was a great time for interaction with the buddies from school, as we cemented our relationships further. Two games of 'Tombola', antakshari between the gentlemen and the ladies punctuated, appropriately, with a scrumptious lunch and a high tea.

The evening entertainment session and the game, 'Queen Of Sheeba' were wholesome with enthusiastic participation all round.


My rendition of a couple of Malayalam evergreens and the Jamaican Farewell - based on popular request - was lapped up wholeheartedly. The thought about the break up tomorrow saddens many of us will make up the quorum two years from now? It gets me negative thoughts and I hate, I shall hope for the best with the participation by the ones that were absent this time, seeing the fantastic time that we had, gleaned from all the uploads of videos/photographs of the present!   

Sunday, December 13, 2015

On a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

The day'd begun at 4 to ensure that we took off at 7 in my car. Last evening I'd prevailed upon Suresh Laxman and Sindhu to travel along with us. The boot was, consequently, loaded with personal luggage and the mementos to be given away at the 'GTG@60' of our classmates. The journey was smooth with me taking the MC Road till Adoor to shift over to the NH 66(The old NH 47!) with two brief 'rest room halts' in between - during the first, we'd breakfast and the second was for fuelling the car and ascertaining the route.

We're at the 'Waterscapes', in Kumarakom, by 12 and the thrill and the excitement of meeting my classmates - I was meeting a few of them, for the first time, after passing out from school in '72! It was a boisterous lunch as people came in a slow, yet steady trickle. I made it a point to hug every classmate of mine that I came across - it was an ascertainment of the strong bond that exists amid us.

The 'Roll Call' was at 1630h at the dining hall where everyone was handed over a jute bag containing a saree, dhoti, two caps, the coffee table book that the class had prepared for the occasion and a memento that we'd meticulously filled the day before at the vet, Mohanachandran's house!

Tea, followed by a break and we returned to the same venue for the musical evening that I wished could go on......


A great moment and am glad that Lekha and I were in it. Her rendition of the 'Chandrakalabham.....' was lapped up by one and all.     

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The 47th Alumni day.

It was yet another Alumni day of the Sainik School, Kazhakootam. Sarathchandran - my cadet when he was in class VI and I was his Prefect in the No.5 Dormitory in 1970-'71, will soon be taking over as an Army Commander - was the chief guest. We'd reached the school by a half past 10. I did meet many of my juniors in the course of my five hour stay within the school premises.

We'd reached Laxman's house after lunch and had spent a quiet evening.


It was an early evening because it's gonna be a long day tomorrow as we kick off for Kumarakom at Kottayam for the 'Get together@60'. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

A flurry of calls, a farewell and the frenzy of gift wrapping!

It was a leisurely morning at Indira kunjamma's house. Had washed down the car in the drizzle and by 10, we're off from the house. The first stop was at the Foundation's office where I could wrap up some unfinished work. And then we're off to Lekha's aunt at PTP Nagar, where we came to know that her uncle was admitted in a hospital for alarmingly low sugar levels.

We'd, then, set off to another aunt of her who'd undergone a complicated surgery to solve a difficult neurological condition, a few months back. After spending an hour with her and the family, we'd set off to the hospital where her uncle was admitted and had spent about an hour again, with the elderly couple. We'd, then, returned home to a lovely lunch that my aunt had prepared.

We left my aunt's place around teatime to head for my classmate, Laxman's place, where we're scheduled to spend the next one and a half days. It was while leaving, that we're informed about the passing away of a close relative whose house happened to be in the vicinity of my friend's house. Manikuttan chettan, all of 64 yrs, was undergoing treatment for cancer of the liver. He used to consider me a brilliant student, was fond of me and followed my professional growth very minutely. I'd gone to offer my condolences to the family and pray at his body, lying in state. The funeral was slated to be around 9 at night as he'd written in his diary that he didn't expect his near and dear ones to waste unnecessary time and money on unnecessary 'after death rituals'!

My aunt, from whose house we'd come off an hour earlier, was surprised to see me there as I hadn't told her about my intentions. My maman, was also there to offer his prayers around the same time and he'd just returned from Delhi, after an official trip.

It was, then, time to gang up at my classmate's house at Kazhakootam for the get together of a few of us classmates on the eve of our school alumni day. Our first task was to pack gifts for each member, into jute bags, to be presented to ourselves at our 'Get together@60' at Kumarakom, over the weekend. It was a heady evening with a tingling anticipation of the event that was conceived over three years ago!


A great evening with a select group of my friends!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

At Thiruvananthapuram.

Exactly, at 6 AM, my mom along with my sister and brother-in-law had called up to wish me many happy returns as today's my birthday as per the Malayalam calendar.

I'd gone to drop Jojy and Mily at the embarkation point for their onward journey to their offices at 8 and returned soon after. After a quick bath and change, it was time to tuck in the scrumptious breakfast that was a Saly specialty and I think I did full justice to the task in hand!

After dropping Saly for some work at the bank, we're on the road, headed for Thiruvananthapuram. The traffic was nice - for a change - throughout the stretch of 213 km. Lunch was at 'Amma's Kitchen' near Karunagappally, an eating joint that has come to the limelight thanks to the tremendously popular television roadshow featuring highway eateries!

We're at my aunt's place by a half past 3. There was some work at the Foundation that required attention and therefore, I'd to make it there to finish the job. We, then, decided to club my little nephew, Kripashankar's birthday - which was a few days back - along with mine and went through the cake cutting and eating of the pizzas that were ordered, taking into consideration the youngster's wishes because his dad, being a merchant naval engineer, was out sailing!


It's another long day tomorrow when we begin calling on Lekha's ailing relations.    


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My grand aunt's 103rd birthday.

It's Ammini Amma's 103rd birthday.

A slightly delayed morning and had dropped Jojy and Mily at their embarkation point at Kaloor by 7 in the morning. It was a leisurely day with me catching up with my mail and getting work done over the telephone. Around a half past 11, we'd fetched up my grand aunt's place which was teeming with friends and relatives. The birthday girl was decked up but displayed rare moments of recognition with a smile here and a gurgle there. She'd give me a hard stare and broke into the briefest smile when I'd addressed her by her pet name.

She was made to sit on a chair to cut the cake and as we gave her a hint of the Black Forrest by brushing it on her tongue, she seemed to enjoy its sweet taste. The point that struck me was that she was born before World War I and had gone through her life in a dignified manner, liked by everyone. She gave and had never hankered for anything from any one! Ramakrishnan, her son, adores her and is ever on his toes catering to her minute to minute requirements and the general feeling is that she continues to plod on for his sake!

Had gone to the medical shop that I used to frequent, two years back, while we're at Kochi. I must admit that I go there because that's one of the very few shops that entertain plastic money and while being on the move, it's a great boon. The salesmen and the lone lady at the counter made inquiries about my long absence.

The evening at the Officers' Institute was a pleasant one that rekindled old memories. We did meet a few friends and wound up fairly early but waiting for the 'cab on call' was a different ball game altogether and after waiting in vain for a while had to call up Felix to get my Chevy to ferry us.


Tomorrow, we'd be taking off for Thiruvananthapuram after dropping Jojy and Mily at their vehicle embarkation point, since their car has gone for servicing!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Onward to Kochi.

We could kick off at 0540h and after a light breakfast at our favourite haunt, the Nandas could be dropped at the airport before 8. The onward passage through the metro rail construction wasn't tedious as the regular office goers were yet to spill on to the roads in droves!

We're at the doctor's clinic by 9, a full hour before the appointed hour but had to wait an hour beyond before meeting up with the doctor. He was pleased to see Lekha's progress by virtue of the lab results, retained the same dosages of most medicines and reducing that of one and has asked us to meet him, next, on the 8th of March. There was ample time to visit the dentist.

We associate three dentists - Mallan, Winston and Sandip - with the clinic that we frequent. Today, we came to know of the passing away of Sandip about a couple of months ago. 42 year old Sandip, had gone for his morning workout at the gym, close to his house, where he suffered a massive cardiac arrest minutes into his first set of exercises on an equipment. The sad part is that he's left behind a young child and his wife, who's pregnant. I still remember his smiling face, when we'd met about two years ago when he'd shyly said that he, along with Mallan and Winston, would visit our place and spend time with us. That remains unfulfilled! 

I'm impressed with the dedication to the profession, shown by these doctors. Mallan had sorted out Lekha's dental problem and showed us the working of a sophisticated gadget, he's gonna introduce in his work, with the interest of an inquisitive teacher always in the quest of new ideas towards betterment of the work.

A quick bite at another favourite haunt of ours, followed by the buying of grocery and we headed straight to our friend's house where we'd be spending the next couple of days.


It was like getting back home within familiar surroundings. A thrilled Shanaya was out to entertain us, throughout the evening, with her nursery rhymes and the new things that she's learnt.    

Monday, December 7, 2015

Getting Rakesh do what he wanted.

Had dropped Rakesh and Renu at the hotel where their friend's daughter was getting married. I'd also told them to carry out their necessary poojas during the break in the activities related to the marriage. But apart from carrying out a few, they'd returned home with the wish that his 'thulaabhaaram' - weighing against butter - should be carried out in my presence.

Therefore, by about 5 in the evening, the three of us had fetched back at the temple for the 'darshan' and the weighing which Rakesh wanted to be done at 1825h, because it marked the transition to his birth star (He's well versed with astrology, remember!) and was carried out as per his requirement. He weighs 97 kgs, the butter was @ Rs.300/- per kg and the total bill came to over Rs.29 grand.

Pretty good indulgence. On a very personal level, I wouldn't subscribe to spend so much money for such activities on myself as these are dependent on intensely personal beliefs. I believe that making the 'gods' happy by such offerings is another form of bribery! But paradoxically, I'd facilitated the activity, you might say and therefore, question my right to make light of Rakesh's beliefs. Actually, I'm not, who am I to do so? Each one to his own, on such issues.

I'm fascinated to see the people's religious beliefs. There's an unexplainable frenzy when it comes to seeking divine intervention and it takes various forms like trying to spend as much time as possible within the temple premises, conduct various types of 'pujas' and put money into the receptacles in front of the various deities with a gay abandon.

I'd also taken them to the Siva temple enroute and observed a satisfaction in my guests. as though they'd achieved the impossible.

We're back at home by 8 and then it was a free flowing conversation.


Tomorrow's gonna be a long day, we drop the Nandas at the Kochi airport for their onward journey to the Lakshadweep before meeting Lekha's appointments with her doctor and the dentist, in that order. I plan to kick off at 0530h.        

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

There was something that was smouldering deep within, ever since the day when my sister had refused to drive her car after the fireworks from me. I was pretty harsh with her, then, and it had broken her confidence. And I'd vowed to undo that wrong because it wasn't fair as she'd taken it to heart. Later, when I'd met her in an unguarded moment, she confessed that her earlier thrill to drive had vapourised and I felt sorry for being the villain!

This morning, around 10 after breakfast, I'd egged her on to show us her school and succeeded in it. She drove well, this time and after reaching school - it's 12 kms from her house - took us around the classrooms. Her excitement, as well as mom's, were the Kodak moments of the day. The school is situated in a secluded place, full of greenery, quite well suited for educational pursuits. The security guard on duty - Unnikrishnan - was from our neck of the woods and was eager to show us around.

My sister wanted me to get behind the wheel on the return drive but I was sure that she'd do the honours. She fumbled on two occasions, the first at the junction where the side road met the main road where she stalled a number of times. I just kept quiet and I could see that she was getting exasperated at every false start and overcame the impasse in the seventh happens to the best of us and the second was when she took the penultimate turn into the lane, leading to her house, a bit too fast and came to a close quarters situation with a two wheeler.

I was gratified by the look she gave me as she got off the car on parking it in its slot. And I was glad that a grave injustice, on my part, was undone!!

After a heavy and scrumptious lunch, we'd set off for Guruvayur and fetched up at 'The Quarterdeck' exactly two hours later.

Rakesh and Renu, our guests, arrived by the night train. They're here to attend their friend's daughter's wedding and are off tomorrow morning, along with us, to catch the flight to Agatti island of the Lakshadweep, from Kochi.


Rakesh dabbles in astronomy/astrology, during his free time, from his professional work in the IAF. He's, incidentally, the gentleman who's predicted that this was my last birth!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Off to drop mom.

Next week we begin our outings, first in connection with the alumni day at school followed by my classmates' get together at the 'Waterscapes' in Kumarakom and further, on to my course mates' gathering at the NDA. And before all that is Lekha's review by her doctor at Kochi, next Tuesday.

Mom had, therefore, to be relocated. By 8 in the morning, there was the visit of a mason and the carpenter to rectify the door of the bedroom at the ground floor, whose support had given way. Since I'd informed them about our programme, they'd arrived promptly at 8 and commenced work to complete it within a little over two hours. The delivery of the cooking gas gave a few anxious moments only to be told that it could be expected next week and that too, on inquiry! Such things have become reasons for anxiety in our lives these days!! I feel that the distribution practices aren't as transparent as they should be.

We'd left home by a half past 2 after lunch. The road had a fairly good amount of traffic as it was a weekend and overtaking vehicles was a difficult proposition due to the narrowness at the initial stretches. At one spot, due to the carelessness of a Quawalis' driver, I'd to get off the wrong side of the road to overtake and luckily, there was no oncoming traffic at that moment. He never came close to me subsequently and maintained a studious distance, perhaps, out of a meek acceptance of his mistake!

The traversing of the 95 odd kms took about two and a half hours. My sister wasn't back home as yet because of a 'parents-teachers' meeting on the occasion of a visit by her school's top management from Bangalore. But Madhavan, their security man, was at hand to show us the parking slot and help us with the luggage, as usual, with a beaming smile.

My sister had fetched up past 6 followed by my brother-in-law, a trifle after 7 and it was continuous conversation, thereafter.


Mom will be alone during the day when both Rema and Padmakumar would be out at work. That's a factor that needs to be addressed by my sister by having somebody reliable to keep her company....... And she's solved that riddle.

20 kms short of Palakkad, we'd fantastic tea at Unnikrishnan's wayside pushcart. The 64 year old says that he gets energised by interacting with people. He seems to be enjoying his work thoroughly. God, please take care of him.    

Friday, December 4, 2015

It's been a year!

Three facets for consideration. How time flies?

1. It's been a year.

    A year has passed since Justice VR Krishna Iyer had passed into the mist of time. For all of us
    at the PN Panicker Foundation, we've lost our guiding spirit and mentor and it's very difficult
    to cope with the void left by his passing away. He has given us lasting memories which have
    helped us go about our work as before.

    We remember you, sir, at every waking hour. Our prayers and tears.

2. Dogged insistence. 

    I've a credit card whose monthly payment I do by dropping a cheque in the drop box at the bank.         The manager and the three executives have been insistent that I open an account so that I could           avoid my visits and do the transactions over the smartphone/computer ever since they've                     befriended me. I've told them, time and again, that I didn't want to start another bank account               simply because I don't have the funds as they think me to have. And my quip that it gives me a           reason to visit and interact with them periodically hasn't cut much ice. Wonder whether I give             them the impression that I'm loaded with funds? If affirmative, that myth needs to be exploded at         the earliest.

    But why don't they understand? They've come to know of my activities with the PN Panicker               Foundation. I've also told them that every work, there, is undertaken without taking a penny for my     work. I've told them that I go by my grandfather's dictum that if anyone gets a pension every               month, then there's no reason for that person to hanker for another income. But, for some unknown     reason, they don't seem to understand!

    Today was yet another time that an executive had asked me as to when I'd start an account and I'd       to firmly tell him that I didn't intend to do so. Was he disappointed or was he exasperated? I hope       that my tone was enough to desist anyone from asking me the query again.

3. A case of sour grapes?

    The official commencement of the work connected with the 'Vizhinjam International Seaport' by         the Adani group begins tomorrow. The LDF, in opposition, has said that they'd boycott the                 ceremony citing the reason that the state minister, K Babu, is tainted and that the chief minister is       kicking off the project. Sad!

    Is it a case of sour grapes?


Lekha's blood samples were drawn this morning. Got the first results by evening and the parameters are within limits. We're, now, ready for her review on Tuesday, at Kochi.

It's Navy Day today. While exhorting the men and women-in-whites to keep aspiring for excellence, may I take this opportunity to say the following:-

    (a) Bravo Zulu for the armed forces on their continuing rescue operations in Tamilnadu and
    (b) Three cheers to the people of Madras city and the whole of Tamilnadu for their tenacity and
          the ability to smile despite adverse conditions. Our prayers are with you.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Of sex, sleaze, fraud and allegations.

The chief minister has again been targeted by the opposition. The stick that they're using is the same old, infamous 'solar scam'. Biju Radhakrishnan, Saritha's partner-in-crime, has been testifying before the Commission, probing the solar scam. Like earlier he's made a slew of allegations against the chief minister, a few ministers and an MLA. All these have been in the public domain for quite a while, as of now.

But what makes the present set of allegations different is that he's alleged physical relationship between Saritha and the chief minister. The following are, however, worth noting:-

     (a) Saritha, has been quick on the rebut, saying that she respects the chief minister like her
           father and has dared Biju Radhakrishnan to make the CD - supposed to have the intimate
           scenes between the two - public.
     (b) Biju has gone on to say that his life could be in danger as there would be attempts to retrieve
           the CD from him at any cost.
     (c) He has gone on to say that he's paid a bribe of Rs.51/2 crores to the chief minister, which
          was collected by a member of his personal staff, who has already been removed from the post.
     (d) Biju, incidentally, has been convicted of his wife's murder and has many criminal cases
           against him. Can his utterances be taken as evidence?
     (e) The Commission, probing the scam, is still in the process of examining witnesses.

The opposition has been quick to get off the blocks on the issue. Till now, in the Assembly, it has been obstructing the proceedings to have the Excise Minister removed on account of the 'Bar bribery Case', today it's asked for the CM's resignation! What they seem to forget is that they'd tried to oust the CM earlier on the same issue even boycotting his official functions which was hastily called off when one of their wings - the DYFI - had injured him during a stone throwing incident.

The present day tactics by political parties is to hurl allegations at their opponents backed by sustained media back up to raise doubts among the public. Gone are the days when the political leader resigned promptly on grounds of probity. In the melee, something happens and that becomes the justification for the actions! The paradoxical fact is that the person at whom the allegations are hurled could come out of it, unscathed!!

The chief minister has gone on record to say that he'd quit politics if there was even an iota of truth in the allegations. He's clear in his conscience that he has done no wrong and I believe him!


It was review for Lekha on two counts, first, by the Plastic Surgeon and second, by the Ophthalmologist. The Immunologist will be seeing her next Tuesday and today's efforts were the prerequisites. By the time we'd returned home, it was lunch time.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Doing my bit.

I'd received a call this evening from Vishnu Sharma at New Delhi. He was in my office years back and was an energetic soul, who was the man for all occasions. He was fond of me and used to help me in my personal jobs like pulling out money from my bank account, collecting medical reports and anything where I couldn't make it due to official commitments. And being the messenger of the office, he'd to go around for dispatch and collection of official mail besides doing other outside work.

I still remember his tearful farewell as I left my office on posting and true to his words, he has kept in touch by calling up on important dates and festivals. A true villager from western UP, he has two sons studying in classes XII and IX and his wife is a home maker.

His nephew was stuck at the Madras airport - courtesy the deluge - and they'd lost contact with him. The family was in panic and to Vishnu Sharma, it was only I who could do the needful and hence, the call. Such expectations can be scary and for a moment I didn't know as to how I should go about it because communications with the city was in a shambles. But I couldn't let him down either! So, I'd called up my cousin - who'd an official stint at the Madras airport earlier and was now transferred elsewhere - gave him the particulars of Vishnu Sharma's nephew with the rider that he should be located and made to speak with his family, back at Delhi, at the earliest.

         *                                 *                                  *

Narayanan had asked me to help out an NGO, who wanted to felicitate the local defence veterans who were gallantry award winners for their acts of bravery during the Indo-Pak war of 1965. The organisation was planning to set up an exhibition stall and required material for display. Thankfully, the naval organisation at Kochi has graciously consented to courier adequate publicity material in time for the Vijay Diwas for which it's required.


Quite a small effort for tremendous goodwill!


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A comedy of errors.

Today was a day of happenings in a frivolous sense. But can't help narrating them for the essential mirth that surrounds them and without much ado, here I go:-

   (a) The 'globe trotting' rooster.

         A black rooster, from our neighbour's house, seems to have lost his way into our surroundings
         and has been making quite a racket, easing at will much to our despair. He takes refuge under              our Chevy standing at the porch and was first noticed by mom during our customary walk in the          evening. The fact is that he's slept the last two nights under the new roof of his find and seems
         to find it comfortable!

         Must tell the neighbours so that they can retrieve it. He's heavy and is sure to be slaughtered
         once he's got back because I'm sure that none would like to have a disloyal(?) pet among his
         flock! Sad to be the harbinger of his ultimate end!! RIP, birdie!!!

    (b) The errant cyclist.

          I was on a quick errand, a trifle after teatime and had to cross the highway. So, concentrating
          to my right and after ensuring that there wasn't any traffic whizzing past, I stepped out. And
          all of a sudden there was this thin wiry man - about 40 yrs of age and a farmhand, surmised
          from the dress that he wore - on his bicycle who maneuvered his vehicle expertly to avoid                   hitting me, ended up clinging on to me with his cycle, askew at our feet.

          Normally, I must confess, that I'd have blown my top but seeing the man clinging on to me
          thanking that nothing untoward had happened, I'd tapped his back before disentangling! He,
          meanwhile, kept mumbling his apology for being on the wrong side.

     (c) My new 'saarthi'.

           After quite a few days of search, my cousin was able to find a new saarthi for the official
           vehicle allotted to me in my new avatar. The following were the requirements:-

                 (i) had to be a local man from Kollam, so that his availability was ensured all times and
                      to cater for emergencies.
                (ii) He'd to be good at his work and lend his hand to certain requirements of the office.
               (iii) He'd to take proper care of the vehicle and
               (iv) his loyalty to the organisation wasn't negotiable.

            His name is Rengan. He's a gulf returnee with many driving hours under his belt and was
            in search of a job. When we spoke over the phone, he seemed to have a lot many questions
            - and rightfully so - regarding the scope of work, leave, emoluments etc. To an outsider,
            it would have appeared that it was I who was being interviewed!


Another quiet day with me doing hardly anything.