Sunday, January 31, 2016

Guruvayur to Kottarakkara via Kidangoor.

The day had started at 5, called up mom and we all got ready by 7. By a quarter past 7, we're off to my dad's place. Everything went like clockwork and I couldn't believe my luck in such a flawless get away, topping up my Chevy and checking her tyre pressure enroute. Then came two setbacks - the newspaper boy failed to deliver the day's papers as he'd promised yesterday and 25' into our run, my Chevy had a scrape with another car because of three reasons:-

    (a) I hadn't dusted my Chevy for the past couple of days and a combination of that film of dust
         and my sunglasses, reduced my vision. I'd accepted that reduction in my sight's efficiency
         because the early morning sun was beaming in through the windshield and the goggles were
         a must!
    (b) There was a private bus parked to the left and this car had indicated that it's turning to the right
          but at the last moment, the driver had swerved to his left scraping the right side of my car.
          Tinkering will be required for both the doors and the quarter as I sadly surveyed the damages!
    (c) I would put the overall blame squarely on my shoulders and many of you might say, "Hey here
         goes this guy again after getting into trouble because of his bad driving".

The car had five teenagers and I gave them my name, cell number and the address to contact me after I returned to Guruvayur on Wednesday. Were they surprised? I don't think so because this is normal behaviour expected of an elder and especially from a guy with a defence background!

I must admit that the rest of the journey was something that had dampened my spirits and I shall only get all right after I admit my Chevy at the service station on Thursday. 

We did reach my younger uncle's house at Kidangoor after a bit of route chasing towards the end. Actually, I was clueless as to which side of the town that the shortcut brought us! Seeing my cousin, glowing in her eighth month of pregnancy was nice and her parents went into a tizzy to look after us. Mom, too, was enjoying every bit of her stay!

We left at 2 and were at Lekha's ancestral house, in time, for tea. After interacting with her elder sister and family - the new grandparents  and the great grandmother from the child's paternal side who'd come from Rajapalayam - Lekha's dad and her uncle and aunt, we'd set off for Raj Nivas to reach there just before sunset. I'd my conversation with dad at his cremation site, as usual.

Seeing the house thrum with action, we'd a few visitors late into the evening, wanting to see mom and wasn't she thrilled?


It's been three and a half months since we're here. The excitement to be back was palpable. Tomorrow is a long day as I take off to Chathannoor, to see my domain, early in the morning while Lekha and mom have their own work at home. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A quiet day.

Adieu TN Gopakumar!

Early this morning at 0350h, the media personality who'd carved a niche for himself with his weekly news programme, 'Kannadi', passed away. The programme has given succor to very many poor and the under privileged people in society. TNG, as he was popularly known, believed that it was his responsibility to the society as a media man!  At 58 yrs, his passing into the mist of time, has been untimely. RIP, Gopakumar! My prayers and tears. May God give the strength to his near and dear ones during these difficult times.

           *                                           *                                                   *

A day when things were slowly wound up in preparation of our three day trip to my dad's place beginning tomorrow.

Friday, January 29, 2016

This is unacceptable because it's just not right!

The unfortunate incident, that I'm gonna narrate, had crystallised from the CPM's angst towards the Global Education Meet that had begun at Kovalam today. Therefore, it's necessary to understand what the 'Meet' was all about.

What's Global Education Meet(GEM)?

The GEM is expected to help the government to give an impetus to set up a proposed Academic City and Academic Zones where leading institutions from across the world would offer high-end courses to students. Higher education centers, with a minimum of 200 acres of land and proven track record in the field, will be eligible for setting up the zones. The FICCI is one of the active participants of the Meet. More than 20 educational experts from Australia, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Oman, the UAE, the UK and the US are participating. About 50 national delegates and 75 scholars from the state are participating in the brain storming sessions at the Meet, taking place today and tomorrow.

And the cons.

The CPM and several left leaning student-teacher organisations have voiced dissent about the Meet. Their opinion is that the GEM's agenda will erode all the positive values in the sector. Moreover, they charge that it's a sinister plan to hand over the education sector to the foreign corporates, likening the proposed Academic Zones to the Special Export Processing Zones!

The Fracas.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and the Education Minister, stayed away from the Meet due to the turbulent political situation prevalent in the state. Mr. TP Srinivasan, a former Ambassador and the Vice Chairman of the State Higher Education Council was manhandled by the SFI goons outside the venue of the Meet. He was badly mauled with the police, under DCP Sanjay Kumar Gurudin, becoming mute spectators without lending a helping hand. And then came the unkindest cut - the SFI's district vice president, JS Sarath approached him from behind and slapped him, the force of which threw the former diplomat to the ground.

Pinarayi Vijayan, a CPM Leader, who's currently involved in the 'Nava Kerala March' from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram tells the media, "TP Srinivasan is a foreign agent and not an educationist", justifying the fracas.

As a Malayalee and a common man, I feel sad at today's happenings and have the following questions/statements to the perpetrators of this mindless fracas:-

   (a) How does a leader, aspiring to be the state's chief minister, justify brutal suppression of a
        view that is different from that of his party's?
   (b) He's giving himself an image makeover but such statements, belittling the others, can only
         go against him as has happened in the past.
   (c) When you don't like people to say that you're corrupt or say anything against you, how do
         you make bizarre and baseless charges on a government functionary? Is it because you're
         sure about the fact that he doesn't have goons around him, euphemistically termed by you and
         all other political leaders as 'committed party workers'? This is what cowardice is all about!
   (d) And Sarath, here are two questions and a statement for you:-
         (i) Do you beat up your elders at home when they don't subscribe to your point of view?
        (ii) Who's taught you this cowardly act of beating people from behind?
       (iii) You're a blot to the Malayalee youth!

And the police picket that was there, shame on you for letting such a thing happen and more shame for not helping a helpless gentleman who was the victim of an assault! DCP Sanjay Kumar Gurudin, you need to search deep within yourself as to whether you're worthy of wearing that uniform.


Apologies, Srinivasan sir. I hang my head in shame for today's treatment meted out to you.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Gender equality and the right to pray.

Just going through three recent happenings that have started a debate on gender equality and the right to pray, because women have been barred from these three places of worship since times immemorial. To recap, here we go:-

 (a) The Sabarimala Temple.
       It's located amid the seven hills of the district of Pathanamthitta. The temple is open during the
       first five days of every month of the Malayalam calendar and is kept continuously opened from
       the first of the Vrushchika month(Mid Nov), through Dhanu to the first five days of the month of
       Makaram(Mid Jan).

       Men(Irrespective of caste, creed or religion) and women(Except for girls after attaining puberty          and women before the menopause stage) visit the shrine, every year in large numbers. The bar on
       menstruating women is because the deity is a 'celibate'!

       Women's groups have gone to court seeking its intervention on the discrimination!

   (b) The Shani Shingnapur Temple.

        It's located in the Nevasa taluk of Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. The following are
        unique about the temple and its deity:-

            (i) Believed to be a 'jaagrut devasthan' meaning the deity resides in the idol.
           (ii) It's a 'swayambhu' or self evolved deity and is
          (iii) Is believed to have been existent since the beginning of the Kaliyug.

         Does not allow women entry and worship. It's a 400 year old tradition on account of the
        'harmful vibrations' emanating from the deity.

         Incidentally, all houses within a kilometer radius from the temple have only door frames
         and no doors. Valuables are never kept locked by the people as instant retribution from
         Lord Shani, on the defaulters, is believed to take place! However, thefts have been reported
         since Oct '10.

    (c) The Haji Ali Dargah.

          It's a mosque and tomb located on an islet off the coast of Worli in south Bombay. The
          key factors are:-

             (i) It was constructed in 1431 in the memory of a wealthy Muslim merchant
            (ii) The dargah encompasses the tomb of Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Bukhari, who gave up all his                       worldly possessions before making a pilgrimage to Mecca.
           (iii) The dargah is accessible only on low tide.

          Thousands of people, irrespective of faith and religion, visit the dargah everyday, especially
          on Thursdays and Fridays.

          Women are not allowed entry into the tomb.

There has been a persistent demand by women's groups to remove the gender discrimination and it's likely that more such cases might crop up in the coming days, based on the trends. It's sensitive issue that needs careful handling.

My take.

It's my belief that the prevalent traditions and customs have been put in place by the priestly class from their wisdom and prevalent beliefs. That singular fact could be the reason that quite a few of the traditions seem to be devoid of any scientific reasoning and look quaint from the viewpoint of an outsider. Any clamour for a different outlook from the existent practices calls for change which is liable to be resisted by the parties concerned as they feel that their right is being questioned.

Shunning confrontation, it's my sincere appeal to everyone concerned to sit down together and have a meaningful dialogue to arrive at a decision that would be acceptable to all.


It's a trend of the times that people question anything and everything that defies logic or can't provide meaningful answers.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The solar scam is hogging the headlines all over again!

Close on the heels of Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy's deposition before the Solar Commission, it was the turn of Saritha Nair to say her piece after repeated dodges, in the recent past, incurring the wrath of the Commission. Her revelations have stunned the people of the state and her main accusations have been that:-

      (a) She'd given a bribe of Rs.1.90 crores to the chief minister through his close friend.
      (b) She'd unlimited access to him through a sort of 'hotline' and
      (c) She'd bribed the Power Minister by paying him Rs.40 lakhs, in two instalments.

This is an absolutely new revelation, as I understand, from the news that I've read/heard about the scam thus far. Anyways, the final conclusion would be that of the Commission which is due to submit its findings within the next couple of months and I ain't crystal ball gazing about the outcome because it would be pompous as well as being premature on my part!

But what brings me to open up on the subject are the following queries that are playing in my mind:-

   (a) Oommen Chandy took a great risk by appointing the Commission and agreeing to depose before
         it, thereby, becoming the first sitting chief minister to do so.
   (b) Allegations were bound to fly, thick and fast, that could make him vulnerable and distract him
         from his official duties. Can't believe that he and his men didn't anticipate this!
   (c) Or is it that he's quite clear in his conscience that he's done nothing wrong despite circumstantial
         evidence being piled on by the accused?
   (d) Because till the final conclusion of the Commission, giving him a clean chit, he'll be viewed
         by his people as a man who has done something, not by the books! It requires tremendous will
         power to face the public who's viewing him through coloured eyes and for a political leader
         like him, known to be clean and a good administrator!!

No wonder, then, that political leaders of the yesteryears tendered their resignations immediately when an irregularity was pointed out!

The opposition has already been crying for his resignation but since most of them are busy being part of all Kerala marches - from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram(Basically, a show of strength and the flexing of muscles prior to the forthcoming Assembly elections) - we've been spared of their vicious bytes on the media.


Sad! What a rough time for a chief minister who'd worked towards the betterment of the state through his mass contact programmes with the people, following a punishing work schedule which notched up achievements that seemed impossible to attain, because of the unhelpful stand taken by the opposition viz.:-

        (a) The Smart City project at Kochi
        (b) The Kochi Metro, with the dynamic Mr. E Sreedharan as its head and
        (c) The Vizhinjam International Seaport, to name just a few.

Why have certain wings of the opposition like the DYFI and the Yuva Morcha taken to the streets, creating a ruckus and provoking the police? Does the opposition believe that by doing so, they can send Oommen Chandy packing, thoroughly disgraced? Why don't they give time for the investigations to reach its logical end? If he's guilty he'll, anyways, be shown the door and face repercussions at the hustings.

Makes one believe that there's a conspiracy hatched to oust him by the combined group of disgruntled politicians ejected out of his ministry earlier and the liquor lobby that he's been mentioning of late!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The 67th Republic day and the Arunachal story.

1. The 67th Republic day.

It had the usual pomp and gaiety overlooked by heightened security considering the threats lurking around. Consider the following happenings during the run up to the d-day:-

    (a) A car with a blue beam light went missing and is still ain't traceable.
    (b) Hordes of potential trouble makers rounded and picked up to be taken under police custody.
    (c) The warning about teenagers approaching the PM to harm him and so on.....

The precision of the columns passing the dais, the colourful cultural fair that was available and the aerial shots of the marching contingents showed the levels of practice undertaken to achieve that sort of precision!

Felt proud to be an Indian!

2. Drama in Arunachal Pradesh! What the future portends?

What has happened in Arunachal Pradesh for the imposition of the President's Rule which has since been approved by the Rashtrapatiji? Let's look through the diary of events:-

   (a) In Nov '15, a section of the Congress rebels and BJP MLAs moved a motion of 'no confidence'
         against the Speaker.
   (b) Since the Speaker was unyielding in convening the session, the MLAs petitioned the Governor.
        * The established norm is that a 'no confidence motion' against the Speaker will override all
           other motions and will have to be taken up at the earliest opportunity!
   (c) The ruling Congress dispensation, then, locked up the Assembly premises.
   (d) Consequently, 21 rebel Congress MLAs along with 11 BJP and 2 Independent MLAs met
         at a private place and declared that the incumbent Speaker and the CM were ousted.
         * The petition regarding the validity of this meeting will be taken by the Supreme Court
    (e) The Governor convenes the Assembly on 16 Dec with the following diktat:-
                 (i) Resolution seeking the removal of the Speaker should be the first agenda and
                (ii) The Deputy Speaker shall preside over the House from the first moment of the first
     The following factors are also relevant:-

      (a) The Congress doesn't want a no confidence motion against the Speaker!
      (b) Art 174(1) of the Constitution stipulates that the time period between the sessions of the
            House shall not exceed 6 months. In this case, the last session was held on 21 Jul '15 and
            the next was due on 21 Jan.

Half truths are being bandied about and the actual picture is being distorted. The Congress has called it the 'murder of The Constitution' and has threatened to fight against the central government during the forthcoming Budget Session of Parliament, along with the entire opposition!

It's abundantly clear that the next Parliament Session is gonna be a washout! The GST Bill and other legislation will remain stuck. The good of the country be damned!


(a) I'd raised my national flag at the balcony of The Quarterdeck and hauled it down at sunset to celebrate the Republic Day in my own little way!
(b) Chinnu and Rajesh were invited home for lunch. That they fetched up almost an hour late was another matter altogether!!

Monday, January 25, 2016

A day that was fully booked!

It was a sort of crisscrossing, through a part of Palakkad district, touching four panchayats accomplished within a day, exclusive of the ingress to and egress from the district!

We're to start from here by a half past 7 but by the time, we'd boarded a private bus to Vadakkencherry, about 30 km north of Thrissur, it was past 8. The morning's heat was oppressive and to top it all, the connecting bus to Nemmara that had fetched up soon after our arrival, went off without us as I'd gone to empty my bladder! But time wasn't lost because we could get the next bus and we're at the campsite of 'Anvita 2016' - a rural community interaction programme for the young MSW students of the Amrita University, Coimbatore. It was organised by their dynamic professor, Dr. Priya, who's a good friend of ours. The short meeting and the interaction was invigorating and as I'd told the students, I was indeed jealous of them for they seemed to have seen it all - from eye care to organic farming to interaction with the senior citizens - within a short span of one week!

The next stop was at the Kannadi Grama panchayat. One of the organisers of the Anvita - a Sanskrit word meaning, 'Bridges the gap between you and me' - Ramanand sir, a committed social worker, had chauffeured us. The panchayat hierarchy, along with those who were involved in the e-literacy programme, were assembled at their conference hall for interaction with us to clarify all their doubts. The interaction had taken a little over an hour.

A quick bite at a wayside eatery - a traditional Malayalee lunch for a paltry Rs.70/-! - along with, George, a dynamic Ward Member of the Thachampara Grama panchayat who'd gracefully agreed to be our chauffeur for the rest of the day! Our next stop was at the Kadamba Grama panchayat. Its president, a dynamic young lady had initiated the meeting, by reminiscing about the setting up of the village's first library, by my grandfather, during her childhood days. The salient aspects of the e-literacy programme was put across to the keen audience, by Maman.

And the last interaction was at the P Balan Memorial Library at the Thachampara Grama panchayat, where Maman had inaugurated the first informal meeting of the people nomenclatured as 'grama kootaayma'! George had got the idea from the Saturday interactions that we've at the PN Panicker Foundation. The 'kootaayma' would be every month for starters


A quick snatch of dinner and it was a two hour bus ride back to Guruvayur. A hectic, yet, satisfying day! A pleased as Punch, George was insistent that he saw us off!! Damn sweet of him!!!     

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A family commitment.

Had gotten up early, around a quarter to 6, so that my little Maman could have his early morning starter, a cuppa black tea!

Chinnu, a niece of mine married Rajesh, from Guruvayur, at Thiruvananthapuram on the 20th. Actually it was the culmination of a love affair, spread over four years. It was their reception out here, today, in one of the auditoriums.

Towards attending it a contingent of twenty people had arrived this morning and out of them, Maman, Ammayi and Chambu had fetched up at 'The Quarterdeck' by 6. My younger Maman, had reached here yesterday afternoon. By a half past 11, we'd dorned our Sunday best and proceeded to the auditorium. Meeting people, especially relatives, has always been looked forward to and I was seeing my Ammayi's folks for the first time, together! Chinnu is her younger sister's daughter.

The ceremony and the lunch got over by a half past 2 and we returned for a short siesta. The walk in the evening was nice and then, Ammayi and Chambu were, dropped at the railway station. The entire team that had arrived to attend the reception were there except for Maman. He'd, instead, come along with me to see them off to Thiruvananthapuram.


Except for the interaction with a section of the family, there was nothing fruitful that was accomplished!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The recurring defect.....

Our second 'direct to home' connection has been having a lot of problems lately. The technicians have been coming regularly to look into the defect, immediately on lodging the complaint. But what I'd noticed was that each of them seemed to hesitate to actually pin point the defect till the penultimate gentleman, established that the set top box required to be changed! And hence, the complaint was lodged on the distributor.

The distributor who has all the connections of this area, under his purview, sits at Kechery, about 12 km away. This afternoon, around 12, the gentleman had finally knocked on our door. He went about systematically trying to lay the problem to rest and started from the top, with the dish itself. After about two hours of work, he'd got the system started, convincing me that the problem had been licked once for all!

But the repercussions of what he did next was something that was going to be felt a few hours later, much to my discomfort. He'd called up his immediate higher ups to say that the fault was sorted out and that a change of set top box was unnecessary. He spent some more time with me, talking about other things and finally, handed over his visiting card saying that I could call him direct if and when problems recurred. And he took away the piece that he'd brought to replace.

Pleased that the problem had been licked, I'd switched on the television this evening to hear the Malayalam news. It had started off well but disaster struck after about half an hour. The warning, "Set top box not receiving signal" was seen on the screen.

Despite repeated calls, the company's rep played hard to get. Perhaps, he was busy with work, I must hasten to add to give him the benefit of the doubt. And what he said subsequently, made me realise that I'd to go through the tedious procedure of calling up the company through its toll free number, for the final disposal of the problem!


How I wish that one of the following had taken place while the technician was still at our place:-

    (a) The defect had recurred soon after his 'trouble shooting' action was over.
    (b) He'd replaced the set top box, to begin with, based on the inputs that he'd received.

Friday, January 22, 2016

My take.....

There has been a number of happenings over the recent past that makes one wonder as to whether we, as a people are genuine and nice or are we narrow minded with our prejudices and vindictive to fellow human beings, in other words, one's own countrymen? Let me go through just two of them......

 (a) The Interview that could have been more decent.

       I happened to watch a recent interview of Sunny Leonne by the CNN-IBN's Bhupendra
       Choubey. Not only was it offending, but it was also crass. Here are a couple of questions that
       were hurled at the actress just to highlight the pettiness:-

           (i) Do you believe your body will take you everywhere?
          (ii) Is there any correlation between the rise of porn in India and Sunny?

        Okay, the lady has been a porn movie artist in the past but what's the harm in her - an NRI -
        aspiring to be an actress in the Hindi movies? She has a good body that's one of the requisites
        to be an actress besides the ability to act. Do the present set of leading ladies feel threatened by
        her and do the lead actors have any qualm acting with her? And why are we obsessed with her

        I feel that she should be given a fair chance. If she can't act, she'll face the consequences of
        being another failed actor. Period. But, for heaven's sake, don't prejudge her!

        Incidentally, I must say that the lady came up trumps in the interview. She was dignified and
        sporting to the hostile set of questions posed to her. And that brings me to another query as to
        whether Bhupendra Choubey would have been similarly crass, mean or petty with another
        actress on the hot seat? No!.....Hey, then why the double standards?

  (b) The Aftermath to Mrinalini Sarabhai's passing away.

        Globally acclaimed dancer, Mrinalini Sarabhai, passed away at the age of 97. Her contributions
        to the cultural world have been enormous and the establishment of the 'Darpana Academy of
        Performing Arts' by her at Ahmedabad, in 1948, that has overseen the graduation of over 18,000
        students in Bharathanatyam and Kathakali, shows her dedication and perseverance in promoting
        dance which was her passion.

        I must confess that, on a very personal level, I'm glad that she's another Malayalee who has
        proved her mettle in the field that she chose for herself. I've had the privilege of seeing her
        performances on a couple of occasions in Thiruvananthapuram organised by the Soorya
        Cultural Society, I think. RIP, ma'am! My prayers and tears.

        Her daughter, Mallika, has come out against PM Narendra Modi in not condoling her at her
        passing away. I found it a bit incongruent for two reasons viz.:-

            (a) She hates his style of politics and blames him for the 2002 riots of Gujarat. Consequently,
                  she has taken him on and continues to be a virulent critic of his.
            (b) Offering of condolences is a purely personal choice left to each person.

        Isn't it, therefore, a paradox that she should get perturbed over the PM's silence on the issue? I
        mean, if I were in her place, I wouldn't have been perturbed at all and ignored the no-show as
        yet another of those things in life!


On the other hand, taking the role of the Devil's Advocate mulling over the issue, I've a few questions for the PM which are:-

    (a) Being the PM of the entire nation, shouldn't you be condoling the death of a person who
          has contributed so much during her lifetime?
    (b) Or are you taking it out on her daughter for her stand against you when she's the freedom of
          expressing her viewpoint?
    (c) You abide by the Bhagwad Gita and doesn't it tell us to be forgiving?


Thursday, January 21, 2016

An act of kindness that needs to be told.

I'm extracting a story that had come on the ToI about an act of kindness that had received an equally magnanimous response. The venue happens to be the Sabrina Hotel on the Pattambi Road in Perinthalmanna of the Malappuram district of Kerala.

For Technical Engineer, Akhilesh Kumar, it had been a long day in Perinthalmanna after an official meeting - 'mechanical and tiring', to put it in his own words. He'd returned to the hotel where he was put up, took a table in its restaurant and ordered a plate of 'Malabar parathas' and chicken curry. It was then that he caught a pair of eyes, looking through the window, at the food being served.

He gestured the other - a lad of 10 - to join him. The undernourished lad reluctantly walked into the restaurant, holding the hand of a little girl, his kid sister. Kumar had asked him as to what they'd eat and the boy pointed at the fair that he'd ordered for himself. Kumar ordered food for his little guests. The girl, till then silent, nudged her brother and gestured towards the wash basin. Both had marched hand in hand to wash their hands and rejoined Kumar.

He watched them eat and during the meal he learnt that the boy was a rag picker and his six year old sister accompanied him. The children left the restaurant soon after having their food. Kumar had felt thoroughly refreshed seeing the children, leave contended. He finished his supper and the waiter brought the bill folder and on opening it, the bill had caught him off guard!

Instead of the amount, it had two sentences in Malayalam viz. "We don't have a machine to bill a humane act. All the very best!"


(a) Akhilesh Kumar, recently, had chanced upon a mobile phone photograph of the restaurant bill that he'd clicked almost three years ago. He works in Dubai these days.
(b) He, then, posted it on the Facebook's 'Right Thinkers' site and ever since, it's been abuzz having notched more than thousands of 'shares'!
(c) The cashier - the author of the bill - is yet to be identified!


Mallus can be nice and charming too!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Happenings, happenings!

1. The noose tightens!

Eight days short of a year, serial offender, Mohammed Nisham has been found guilty by the Thrissur Additional and Sessions Court in the case of the murder of Chandrabose, a security guard. He'd mowed down Chandrabose with his Hummer at the Shobha City residential colony, 5 kms from the town, on 29 Jan '15.

In the course of the investigations, the then Commissioner of Police of Thrissur and four policemen were suspended for allowing the accused to have his way. Despite being behind bars, he wielded his enormous financial and political clout to sabotage the investigation.

Tomorrow the verdict will be announced and I'm sure the Malayalees, like me, are eagerly waiting to see as to what punishment the 'beast' gets!

2. Inciting students!

Following the sad suicide of Rohith Vemula in the Hyderabad University, it's disgusting to see politicians playing dirty tricks to further their narrow ends. Rahul Gandhi of the Congress, followed by Sitaram Yechury of the CPM have already fetched up at the campus and given their bytes. Arvind Kejriwal, from Delhi, is fetching up tomorrow to contribute to the wretched pantomime, aimed at making political mileage and if one were to go through each of these political leaders' statements, not a single guy has really mourned the dead student but has, instead, called for the resignations of the Vice Chancellor of the University - Incidentally, why has he been silent till now? Why doesn't he come up with the actual version of events to avoid distortion of facts in the media? - and the union ministers viz. Smriti Irani and Bhandaru Dattatreya! That Bhandaru Dattatreya, the MoS for Labour, is from a minority community, has paradoxically, blunted their argument of 'unfair dealing of a dalit', in this case!! 

And the reason?......The authorities seemingly had driven a 'dalit' student to despair leading to suicide. Consequently, the students of many parts of the country have been incited by these political parties to agitate and they'll watch the 'tamasha' when the violent students are tackled by the police forces! Reminds me of the 'Rajeev Goswami' incident when he'd immolated himself, in Delhi, during the agitations that followed the implementation of the Mandal Commission report by the then VP Singh government!

Or is it yet another sinister ploy of the combined opposition for the following:-

       (a) Stop PM Modi from functioning, at all costs, to discredit him among the people or
       (b) Make it the next point of confrontation in the forthcoming Budget Session of Parliament
             for another washout? The GST Bill must not be allowed to pass, you see because if it does,
             the PM is gonna get the credit..........the country's good be damned!


1. The Indian cricket team is taking a beating from the Australians and has lost the 4th ODI too despite centuries from its players and respectable scores. Nothing seems to be going right for it. Dhoni is gonna face the music because his winning ways seem to have eluded him!

2. The ISRO has done the country proud by successfully launching IRNSS-1E, the fifth navigation satellite. Seven such satellites are to be positioned in space to complete the constellation so as to provide valuable navigational data for the users.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It's not out of devotion or piety!

It's plain fear of a mighty being - the omnipresent - perceived to be capable of handing over a swift retribution to any human being that commits an error! In other words, it's self preservation!! 

My kid sister, Minni, at Bangalore is one who visits temples and places of worship if and when she gets an opportunity. She's arriving at Guruvayur in the wee hours of 10 Feb, along with her friend, for accomplishing two things:-

     (a) Dedicate the Krishnanaattom dance of the day - will begin at 2230h and end somewhere
           soon after the clock strikes the midnight hour. The story that's being played that night is
           the 'Baana yuddham'. The dedication is for her daughter to acquire a good job(She already has
           because Ammu is currently training to be a deputy manager for the ICICI Bank) and a
           good boy as her husband! Her friend is also dedicating the dance in the name of her
     (b) Visit the 'Thirumaandhaamkunnu Devi' temple to wind up the third and last pooja done
           annually so that her daughter gets a good guy as her husband. The offering is actually for
           the powerful 'Ganesha' who dwells in the Devi's premises and the temple is about 50 kms
           from here.

She has, therefore, been ringing me up over the past few days to ascertain as to whether I'd done the bookings for the Krishnanaattom. This morning I'd decided to finish that pending job and found myself in the not so long queue at the counter no.1 for the purpose. There were two queues, one each for the men and the women - converging onto the same window. The guy sitting at the counter punches the information that's given into a desktop and in the end, gives a printout on receiving payment, which has all the details. And standing in the queue, just couldn't help observing my immediate colleagues.......

The first was the 70 year old, Prasad who was born on the 'Chothi' star of the Malayalam calendar.
His offerings - all for his and his daughter's(Mallika of Aayilyam star) well being - were:-
      (a) Lighting of ghee lamps for the next 30 days, beginning tomorrow.
      (b) Offering of the 'thrimadhuram' - a triple whammy of sugar, jaggery and plantains.
      (c) Offering of a bag of rice for the community kitchen.

The second was the tall, 67 year old Kalyani of the 'Atham' star - she did give me a complex with her height. You see, I hate being looked down upon by the fairer sex! - who'd a long list of offerings, so much so, that I lost count on the number! But rest assured, the list consisted of at least seven to eight serials and mind you, they're all meant for her own well being! The paradox was that she was previously cribbing about a lady, who'd belted out a similarly long list as part of her offerings, for taking up so much of time at the counter!

What amazes me is that individuals pray for their own definite requirements when one has been brought up in the school of thought that one should pray for the well being of the others - one's close ones, naturally and that God, always looked after you and your needs without you asking for them, ever.

When my turn came, I'd quickly rattled out the data by hearted by me by now, paid Rs.4 grand before leaving the queue, a much relieved man.


On 10 Feb, we'll be assembling at the northern entrance of the sanctum sanctorum at 2230h to take in the story of the 'Baana yudham' through the medium of Krishnanaattom. And here's wishing that Greeshma, Uthram and Shamily, Punartham find good jobs and good husbands!


Monday, January 18, 2016

News snippets and observations.

1. Ignorance about Parliamentary etiquette. 

When asked by the media as to why the Congress party was not letting the GST Bill, which would bring about a common tax regime throughout the country and be beneficial overall, pass in the Rajya Sabha, Rahul Gandhi's reply was, "Let them incorporate all our suggestions and we'll pass the bill in 15' flat."

In other words, what he's trying to put across is:-

      (a) Any bill that has to be passed will require the Congress party's - read, his - clearance. The
           overall good that it will bring to the country be damned!
      (b) Yet another obstacle for the Modi government so that it doesn't succeed and can be shown in 
            poor light at not having complied with the poll promise of 'achche din'!!
      (c) In Parliamentary democracy, differing viewpoints would exist which are then discussed to
            narrow down differences so that an amicable resolution is achieved.  

Note. His latest advice to the Prime Minister that he must visit 'Dharavi' just because he'd done a 'padayatra' to that place smacks of immaturity and a lack of understanding of politics and is a joke!

2. Iran's freedom from global Isolation. 

Thanks to some smart diplomatic moves on the part of Iran and after protracted negotiations, the country has been saved from the sanctions imposed by the US and the European community. The resulting economic boom that's gonna take place should make it a strong player in the west Asian affairs in the coming days.

Perhaps, with Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria coming to terms with the present situation in the region, a strong and vibrant Iran should be able to withstand the ISIS onslaught though a not-so-happy Saudi Arabia might not likely to warm up to the idea!

3. Lasting marriages.

According to an interesting survey on the subject, lasting marriages are prevalent in north India like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra just to name the ones on top of the list. The reasons:-

     (a) The survey covered those who're married for 40 years and above.
     (b) It has less to do with fidelity and love and more with customs and health, meaning:-
           (i) The age at which the couple get married and
          (ii) How long they live.
           In other words, early marriage and longer life means long lasting marriages! And in Haryana
           there's another interesting twist viz. a good percentage of men tie the knot before attaining
           21 years of age and similarly, girls before attaining 18 years!

And on the other side of the spectrum, the shortest span in married life is that of the people of the north east!  

Well, things are set to change because of demographic migrations necessitated by job requirements and the relaxation in the custom of marrying from the same caste/creed and even, religion!


The latest game to be tainted with the 'match fixing' scandal is tennis. The purity of sports and games where one played one's heart out with the least concern for monetary gratification seems to have gone forever. Sad!

Lekha'd returned from Kottarakkara by a half past 5.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Lekha off to Kottarakkara.

Lekha 's sister from Tirur had come in by 11 o'clock and they'd driven off to Kottarakkara, soon after. They're going to look up the newly born grandchild of their eldest sister! That left mom and me, to take care of ourselves till tomorrow morning when Lekha's assistant would come by to tend the kitchen affairs. She has the Sundays off, you see. Lunch and dinner had been made and stacked up in the refrigerator, the breakfast for the morrow was my responsibility!

The day passed off without a hitch with the only outdoor, as permitted by mom - the walk with her in the courtyard in the evening. Without batting an eyelid, I decided to give my walks and exercising a holiday! But with all the inaction, I'd caught up on a bit of reading and television viewing to hit the sack late.

Lekha will be back by tomorrow evening!

     *                                          *                                            *

The news about an unknown, middle aged gypsy gentleman, who died in a road accident in Thiruvananthapuram during the day was appalling. He was hit by a bus while crossing the road whose rear wheel ran over his legs. Howling with pain for the first few minutes, though people and the traffic policeman saw him, none came forward to give him first aid and shift him to the hospital. And let me list you the subsequent happenings:-

      (a) The traffic policeman continued to regulate the traffic as though nothing had happened.
      (b) Motorists, in their vehicles, passed by without offering their services. Their vehicles would
            have got dirty(?) or they feared a police case that was cumbersome to be involved in. They,
            aren't aware of the new rules on the subject and even if they did, chose to ignore it.
      (c) The cop on duty had called for the police ambulance and felt that he'd done his duty and
      (d) The ambulance fetched up 45' later.

The injured was taken to the hospital where he passed away, soon after, thanks to the heavy loss of blood during the long wait!

Would this have happened had the injured person been a VIP or from the glitterati? 

Was reminded of a similar incident that happened some years earlier, a few hundred metres from the accident spot, when a person was killed by a man of unsound mind on the banks of the Padmanabhaswamy temple water tank in broad daylight - around 1015h, the same time as this one - watched by a few hundreds of spectators! 

And we, Malayalees, claim to be literate, educated(?) and with the times! Sad!!


The Pakistani ghazal maestro, Ghulam Ali, enthralled the Kozhikode audience with his rendition that lasted over three hours, this evening. The protesting Shiv Sena could just twiddle their thumbs!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

My parents' wedding anniversary.

Today's 16 Jan that happens to be my parents' wedding anniversary. After my dad's passing into the mist of time, the date actually has been reduced to a figure to many of us in the family but I realised as to how much my mom missed him, especially, on this day as she narrated quite a few events of that great day of her's, that happened 62 years ago!

Two huge cars brought my dad's and mom's families from Kottarakkara and Thiruvananthapuram respectively. My mom's family had come in a Ford that had accommodated the entire family - consisting of my grandparents and their five children, along with a few close friends! The passengers - the juniors that is - found space on the car's deck since the seats were used up by the elders. They'd arrived at Guruvayur the previous evening and were accommodated in the Devaswom's 'satram' with food coming from a nearby, lone eatery on order.

Mom was wearing a saree for the first time because she used to wear the long skirt-blouse combination and the half saree(A short piece, made out of saree material, worn like the free edge of the saree along with the long skirt-blouse combination) to the school and college till that time. To her meagre repertoire of jewellery that my grandparents could afford, an impressive set of ornaments was added thanks to the ones received from their friends as gifts. She has since given away all her jewellery to her daughters and the daughter-in-law. The wedding ring that she wears, with dad's initial 'K' engraved on it, is the only ornament of that vintage left with her which, incidentally, was gifted by the late Vaayanasaala Kesava Pillai sir, a close friend of my grandfather!

.........After the wedding ceremony and the accompanying lunch, it was around 4 when the group had dispersed from Guruvayur. Mom remembers having reached dad's place sometime late in the night. After spending a couple of days there, mom and dad had gone off to Thiruvananthapuram from where dad had gone off to Bombay, after about a fortnight, on completion of his leave.


Mom was remembering her days with dad - beginning with the day of their wedding - which shows as to how much she misses him! She tells me with a sly smile and I quote, "Your dad's a handsome guy, you know. The only thing that I didn't like about him was his thick, bushy eyebrows which, of course, I got him to trim soon after marriage."


Suresh Laxman and his family drove off around 8, soon after breakfast, promising to visit us soon!


Friday, January 15, 2016

Guests from Thiruvananthapuram.

I'd fetched up 45' late, at 0015h, at the Guruvayur Railway Station. Though I'd, earlier in the course of my journey, instructed Anto to be there to pick me up, better sense had prevailed and I hired one of the auto rickshaws available at the entrance. Surprisingly, I didn't see any reluctance on their part to take in the passengers! By a quarter to 1, much after I'd reached home, I hit the sack and sleep was almost instantaneous!!

Though I'd got up when the alarm had gone off, the usual enthusiasm to go for the walk was lacking and hence, decided against it. Eventually, I was up half an hour later to get things ready as my classmate, Suresh Laxman, his wife, Sindhu and their daughter, Gopika, who's on a break from Frankfurt where she works, were coming home on a day's visit. They'd, eventually, fetched up by lunchtime.

It's, therefore, a crowded dining table and the young lady kept us enthralled with her stories. One of the stories that she told us did tickle me no end, I must add. The German ladies come for work to the office on the dot and when they went for the breakfast break - yes, from 9 to 10! - they would furiously get down to knitting!! And I thought that it was a unique phenomenon among the Indian ladies who go to work in the government offices, especially at Delhi!!! .........So, people are the same anywhere on the globe insofar as practices go.

The three of them had gone to the temple around 4 and during their absence, I'd gone for my walk and run errands for the house. They'd returned by a half past 7 and then onward, it was catch up time which had gone on and on. Mom was an active member among the crowd and she kept insisting that Suresh had better dye his salt and pepper moustache during his next visit!


We're meeting up exactly a month after leaving the Waterscapes at Kumarakom.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Workshop.

We're at the Foundation, on the dot, at 9. And after collecting the staff and the essential stuff, we'd made a beeline to the Hilton Garden Inn, where the Intel was sponsoring the event. The ballroom that we'd seen the last evening in a club format, with numerous round tables with clusters of four chairs around each, had been converted into an auditorium format for seating a little over 200 people.

To my query that PN Panicker was known to lead a spartan life and as to how the public would view an activity of the Foundation being conducted in the environs of a five star hotel, my Maman's answer was interesting and had two salient points which were:-

   (a) The panchayat leadership drawn from every layer of the society must also get a taste of the
         luxuries affordable by the rich and
   (b) The Intel who was a partner in our e-literacy campaign was providing us with the venue.

The workshop's theme was, "Empowering Graam Panchayats Through Total Digital Literacy." We wanted to have a brainstorming of the targets achieved by each of the 100 panchayats, the problems that had cropped up that prevented the smooth roll of the project with respect to the panchayats and the difficulties that were faced by the other stakeholders while dealing with the panchayats.

The public meeting had begun at 11, with Dr. MK Muneer, the minister of Panchayats, and the other distinguished guests, on the podium, lighting the traditional lamp in front of a large photograph of PN Panicker. It was very sporting of the minister and showed his liberal thinking, to light the lamp despite a loose diktat of his party that its members must refrain from such activity consequent to the controversy on the last Vaayana Dinam of 19 Jun 2015! After the meeting, the deliberations had begun in right earnest with Maman taking on the queries and problems with elan, ably supported by the reps of Keltron and Intel(Regarding the glitches on the tabs, which seemed to be a one-too-many) and the Deputy Director of Panchayats who'd taken on the financial queries regarding objections from the local auditors in the manner they'd spent the money allotted for the project. And finally, the gathering came to the unanimous agreement that the date for the attainment of cent percent e-literacy in all the 100 panchayats would be 31 Mar.   

My job, as one of the backroom boys, was over and I left for Guruvayur by the Intercity Express to at 1730h.


(a) A short nice trip and I was glad that I could contribute my mite towards the smooth conduct of the event. This will be followed by a yatra, connecting the 100 panchayats - to ensure the smooth transition on the ground of the decisions reached thus far - which we hope to do sometime in early Feb.

(b) Did I see the media reps leaving the venue, soon after the meeting? Perhaps, Muneer lighting the lamp would be the photograph that will accompany the news item in the newspapers tomorrow! As John Britas, the CEO of the Kairali channel, had accepted in the last 'weekend discussions' at the Foundation that the media hankered for TRPs and only controversies could fetch them that. Period!   

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

At the Foundation.

The train was 15' behind time and I'd got up by 3 thanks to the alarm which was set. It was quite earlier than what was required and had to while away time by alternately peeping out of the door at the stations that whizzed past or by simply standing vacantly, glancing at the watch time and again. Omanakuttan was given a shake up appropriately so that he could be at the station on time.

I'd woken up my fellow passengers as we got closer to the station. And soon we'd reached Thiruvananthapuram and Omanakuttan got me at my Maman's place before 0430h. I'd ducked off to sleep all over again but was ready at my usual time and we're at the Foundation by a half past 9. Vignesh, the gentleman from Delhi assisting us with the fine tuning of our e-literacy efforts, is currently staying at my Maman's place and his suggestions for improvement were the important inputs for the day as we sped towards the office.

The day was spent in monitoring the activities thus far, keeping a track of the 200 odd delegates attending the workshop along with the other normal work. Actually, it amounted to nothing insofar as I was concerned as there were enough people assigned to do the jobs! So, if one were to ask me as to whether I was really occupied, my answer would be a simple, straight forward 'no'!

Yet at the end of the day, paradoxically, I was tired. In between, my classmates out here had invited me for a quick get together but I'd to decline the tempting offer as my presence at the Foundation was a necessity, as it did pep up Maman and the rest of the team!

It was a fairly early evening after a lovely dinner at one of the restaurants courtesy, Vignesh. Damn sweet of him!


Hope everything goes like clockwork tomorrow. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The return to Thiruvananthapuram.

I'd taken on an out-of-the-way-task for myself today. Actually, Jaison, an ex-Headmaster of the Sainik School, and a very nice youngster had asked me to facilitate his friend and a school mate of mine, Suresh Kumar and his family to have a special 'darshan' at the Guruvayur temple. The latter is currently posted at Delhi and was on a short leave and visiting the temple was one of his annual rituals.

Cosying up to the temple authorities for personal favours is something that I detest and studiously avoid. In fact, I join the normal queue for my trysts with the Lord! Anyways, a request was made and I made sure that Suresh and his family were escorted into the sanctum sanctorum. The Administrator who'd granted us the largesse was surprised that I was not availing of the opportunity and queried me about it but I gave him a smile instead and walked away!

Kannan, at the drycleaners has an elephantine memory. I'd collected two sets of clothes from the shop yesterday and on reaching home, realised that a 'T' shirt that wasn't mine had been given to me. The horror was that I couldn't place exactly as to what my missing item was. But Kannan surprised me by his opening statement, "Sir, it's your inner that has been substituted" and promptly gave me the piece!

The evening walk was nice with me picking up essentials that would cater to mom and Lekha's needs during my two day absence.

Anto had come on the dot but met with a traffic snarl - courtesy the last batch of the Sabarimala pilgrims - just short of the railway station. Consequently, it was his deft maneuvers, through the side roads, that fetched me up at the station in time and have already told him about picking me up on my return on the 14th night.

I'd three interesting co-passengers who're overawed by the fact that I was an ex-NDA! Actually, a piece of conversation had brought me to the Academy and I got into the limelight much to my discomfort and without hankering for it!!


Tomorrow's gonna be a long day after I get down at Thiruvananthapuram in the early morning at a half past 3!   

Monday, January 11, 2016

Entry for women at the Sabarimala shrine.

Taking up a 10 year old petition filed by women lawyers questioning the existing practice of banning women - in menstruating age - into the shrine, a bench of the Supreme Court has asked the Travancore Devaswom Board which administers the temple as to whether the Constitution permitted such discriminatory practices. The court has underscored its query based on "Constitutional legitimacy superseding all religious beliefs or practices."

Moreover, Articles 25 and 26(Right to practice and profess any religion) provide a protective umbrella to all the citizens, in this regard. 

The background to the differing opinions.

The previous LDF government, in 2008, had filed an affidavit supporting the PIL filed by the women lawyers highlighting the following points:-

    (a) Banning entry of women of menstruating age was discriminatory and should be discontinued.
    (b) Everyone is entitled to freedom of conscience and the Constitution gives right to worship 
          equally to one and all.
    (c) Those who're physically able to come to Sabarimala should be permitted to worship at the
    (d) The deity is not anti-woman and therefore,
    (e) An appropriate commission consisting of eminent scholars with authentic knowledge in
         Hinduism and reputed and incorrupt social reformers to submit views and suggestions on the
Note. The suggestion at sl(e) is so full of riders that the petition is assured of a long and tortuous path before it finds a logical conclusion.

It's reported that the present UDF government has decided to oppose the entry of women of all ages for the following reasons:-

      (a) It would upset the age old rituals and customs of the temple.
      (b) The temple and the deity are unique in every sense. Lord Ayyappa is known to be a celibate
            and consequently, only youthful women are denied entry.
      (c) The site of the temple on a secluded hill top, whose access is through partially cleared forest
            land, also needs to be taken into consideration on account of the safety and security of 

My take.

The customs and traditions revolving Sabarimala or for that matter, any religious place of worship have been handed over the ages by the word of mouth. It may be surmised that the worshippers and the priests might have added rituals to suit their own personal agenda, though I must hasten to add that this a very personal conjecture. The fundamental question is as to whether we need to upset the apple cart and create confusion among the devotees.

Talking about the rituals connected with the Sabarimala pilgrimage, these are the things that I've been told by my elders - with the reasons in italics - as I grew up:-

       (a) Abstinence from the daily indulgences from the 1st of the Malayalam month of 'Vrishchikom'
            (Roughly around the middle of Nov) to the 1st of 'Makaram'(The middle of Jan). Therefore,
            intoxicants of any variety, non vegetarian food and physical relationship with the fairer sex
            are taboo. Intoxicants and non vegetarian food tend to enhance carnal desires.
       (b) Must have bath twice daily, once in the morning and the second in the evening. A clean 
             mind in a clean body accentuated with visits to the temple.
       (c) Black dhoti, along with the chain of beads around the neck, are a must. In the days of old, 
             when the joint family system was in vogue, the adornment of these symbols warned everyone
             else, especially the menstruating women, to stay out of the vicinity.
       (d) No haircuts, no shaves. The unruly, dishevelled hair as well as the unshaven facial hair
             was to put the fairer sex off, thanks to the uncouth sight that they presented!
And following them - to the extent feasible and when somewhere in time, the joint family system had become a thing of the past and the 'flat living culture' had come into vogue - I'd visited the shrine 18 times, on the trot!


These days I follow the 'abstinence bit' during the period without the pilgrimage to the shrine but I must confess that this time, I'd broken my vows twice - during the get togethers of the classmates, followed by that of the course mates.

Flexibility in my religious practices, eh?



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Wonder whether it's true? If affirmative, it's really sad!

Had seen an interesting news item in the social media that a distinguished judge of the Gujarat High Court, Justice JB Pardiwala faces impeachment by the Parliament, for his remarks in his recent judgement in the Hardik Patel case on the matter of Reservations.

And I quote the Honourable Judge, "If I'm asked by anyone to name two things which have destroyed this country or rather hasn't allowed the country to progress in the right direction, then they are (a) Reservation and (b) Corruption. It's shameful for any citizen to ask for reservation after 65 years of independence especially, when our Constitution had stipulated that the reservation would remain for a period of 10 years. The importance of merit cannot be understated. The paradox of the situation is that India must be the only country where some of the citizens crave to be called backward! 

The biggest threat, today, for the country is corruption. All Indians should rise and fight corruption at all levels."

He's being recommended for impeachment for uttering the truth and which must be the dominant opinion of all the right thinking and well meaning people of this country.

Can only laugh at the ignorance and the blatant misuse of power by the perpetrators of this move but I'm sure that Justice Pardiwala will come out of it, unscathed!

My take.

Every Indian is aware of the fact that the reservations are not meant for the upliftment of the needy but is meant to be a tool to extract maximum leverage in 'vote bank politics'. And every political party is guilty of the act!


We'd returned from Palakkad by teatime. It took us about 21/2 hrs to reach Guruvayur thanks to sparse traffic.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Celebrating my brother-in-law's birthday.

The day had begun in the usual manner with my walk in the morning. It was cool and refreshing after the long break affected by my trip to Thiruvananthapuram. The Quarterdeck's shut down was achieved after breakfast and we set off for Palakkad soon after. Mom was excited about the trip, in fact, she'd got up earlier than usual and was ready to move, egging us to make it faster.

The drive was nice with erratic drivers almost non-existent on the roads, making driving a pleasure. We reached my sister's place in time for lunch and she'd provided a scrumptious spread. And the result, I ate myself silly, as usual!

Since Padmakumar was away at work, the celebrations were in the evening and it was a cute affair.

       *                                         *                                          *

Saw a crazy story about how Lt Col Niranjan, the hero of Pathankot, had made the supreme sacrifice while battling the terrorists. He seems to have been struck while trying to lift and chuck the body of a terrorist whose strapped bombs had been activated.

No professional would ever do that! In the fog of war and in the immediate aftermath of extreme heroics, stories evolve around the incident, that could be far away from the truth without ever diminishing the efforts of the fallen hero. However, it's hoped that the country begins to respect its men in uniform

       *                                         *                                          *

Have been following the serialised documentary on the pathetic situation of the government medical colleges in the state. It's evident that there's a concerted move to reduce the efficiency of these institutions - from within the organisation, sadly - to give an upper hand to the private hospitals!

What I can't stomach is that the government is often reduced to being a mute spectator!


A quiet day but could meet up with the many friends of my sister and brother-in-law!


Friday, January 8, 2016

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

The day had begun at 4. By the time I was ready, Omanakuttan had arrived and got the vehicle ready and within 15', he'd got me at the railway station. There was already a glitch in that I'd left my spectacles at home. Actually my aunt had informed me about it after we'd covered some distance, but I'd decided to press on as I'd a spare one at home. I managed with my reading glasses during the journey.

Mohammed Sajjad - my cadet at school - and his family and Ramjith, the submariner who was with me in my previous office, were in the same coach with me. The world's small, really!

My train had reached Thrissur, half an hour late. Got a private bus to Guruvayur almost immediately and on arrival, I'd headed straight for the RTO after hiring an auto rickshaw and stowing my bag in it for getting my newly issued driving licence redone. With the backing of a senior at Thiruvananthapuram, who'd directed me to the senior superintendent, the formalities got over quickly and I'd a brand new licence - completely error free this time! The lamination was done well this time by the usually serious faced young lady who'd obliged me with her smile today Despite my efforts to avoid using my friendship with the top leadership, I finally did resort to just that!! They play ping pong with the common man at their will and pleasure, otherwise. Sad!

The auto rickshaw guy, Bineesh, was peeved that he'd to wait for about half an hour. Somehow, these guys don't consider waiting as part of their service towards their passengers and it goes without saying that they get paid for it. Perhaps, the waiting charge is considered a pittance by the ilk!

Lunch was with mom and Lekha at the usual time with a debrief about what had happened out here during my absence!

The evening walk was nice and I really enjoyed it as it was after a break of almost a week. As I've said earlier, it gives me time to reflect.


Must make it to the evaluation meet of the e-literacy programme, thus far, being held on the 14th at Thiruvananthapuram. The presence of the panchayat presidents and the secretaries would give it the necessary flavour and boost for the remaining activities. The sense of urgency to attain the target needs to percolate down.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Out of a tricky situation.

We'd set off from the house by 9 and headed straight to Madhavettan at Vattiyoorkavu - Maman's classmate from school - where his mom's fifth day after death ceremony was being conducted. The last I'd seen him was at my house in Nanakpura, New Delhi in Jun '95. He'd walked off in a huff due to a misunderstanding! It was nice to meet him after a long lapse and I heard him tell Maman that he'd done it right to get me along. His mother was 93 yrs of age and was ailing for a while, when the end had come.

I could also meet his other classmates and it was fun to hear their conversation which brought about lovely glimpses of the past! We're at the office by a trifle past 10 and the queries regarding the 'green jobs course' continued - the calls were routed to me to answer them suitably. The seventh call was a baritone and the caller had asked me a couple of questions before revealing his identity - it was Warrier sir, popularly known as the 'career guru', who gives a well researched coverage on career options for potential job seekers through the media. After his write up about the certificate course on green jobs, he'd advised Maman to put a reliable and informed person on the telephone to attend to all queries. A suitable member was accordingly deputed but towards the closing hours of yesterday, I found that I could do it as I wasn't that busy and had substituted the much harried young lady!

By 12, we're off to Chathannoor. After lunch, we'd hired a JCB and a pick up truck to shift the machinery connected with the manufacture of hollow bricks to a nearby shop for servicing, when a few guys came and blocked us from doing so. Some of them were drunk and it was evident that they're under a misunderstanding that we're planning to shift the unit elsewhere. No amount of our explanation could retrieve the situation and we'd to beat a retreat. The JCB and the pick up truck were sent back with a token payment because they'd been hired.

A little earlier, Omanakuttan and two others of our group who'd accompanied us from Thiruvananthapuram had loaded a soap making machine into our Quawalis which went unnoticed by the rampaging guys. It's being taken for servicing at our site in Thiruvananthapuram to be reinstalled next week. Had the dissenters noticed it, there could have been problems. We've decided to put in a requisition for a couple of police pickets to enable us to activate the unit by the end of this month.

It was a half past 8 by the time we'd returned to the city and by the time things were secured and we'd reached home, it was 10.

Tomorrow's gonna be an early day as I return to Guruvayoor!


Had called on Vilasini kunjamma and wasn't she thrilled? The flashes of consciousness through her Alzheimer's were priceless moments!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

With the toothy.

It's a normal day to begin with. Maman and I had set off from home by a trifle after 9. The morning session at the Foundation saw us meeting visitors, discussing and putting down the action plan for the forthcoming meet of the panchayat officials under the aegis of the concerned minister and his bureaucrats on the 14th. Siva Priya, the lone lady engineer, was a great help in contacting each of the 100 panchayats to confirm the participation of the officials.

This morning's newspapers had carried the details about a certificate course that's gonna commence shortly enabling the participants in acquiring 'green jobs' on completion. The queries regarding the course, its contents and the job opportunities were the thrust of the numerous phone calls - that kept us busy - all through the day.

Lunch was bought from the nearby canteen and Valsala, who looks after the logistics, ensured that we ate well and in the process, I ended up eating myself silly! And no, I ain't blaming her for my laxity.

I'd an appointment with my sister and toothy after 5 and had reported to her clinic after meeting up with Baby chechi, her mom and Aadya, her daughter at their house within the same compound. Then, we'd a fairly long chat about everything under the sun - sort of - before she got active with her drill. The cleaning was completed within no time and this time she seemed to be have no adverse comments about my dental hygiene, compared to last time which was almost a year ago.

I'd returned to the Foundation and Maman, too, had returned from an errand and soon after. we secured from the office, comparatively earlier than the two previous evenings!


Lekha'd called up around lunch time to say that Indu, her nephew's wife, had been admitted in the hospital because she'd complained of labour pains. The family is keeping its fingers crossed, hoping like mad that she gives birth today as it happens to be the Malayalam star of your's truly! Really crazy, I must say!!     

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Can PN Panicker be wished away?

It's business as usual. Had got up at the usual time and was at the Foundation by 10 as Omanakuttan took time to reach us. Vignesh, poor guy, had not even had his morning tea as the Yathri Nivas guys doesn't serve that these days, hiding under the garb of renovation!

The audit had begun in right earnest and the young engineers who do the fieldwork were asked to narrate their practical experiences and difficulties while carrying out the e-literacy programme. Maman had, then, given his observations and the little irritations that the organisation has been going through. The discussions and the brain storming have identified key result areas and tasks have been assigned for incorporation over the next few days.

My deputy had come from Chathannoor to collect the pay/allowances, clear and publish the minutes of our last meeting. Between the two of us, we've evolved our action plan and the way ahead in certain areas where extra efforts on our part were needed. Lekha, our efficient treasurer, got me to complete certain other pending issues.

And then came the sad story. Maman, showed me an invitation card put out by the 'State Library Council' on the occasion of its 70th anniversary that concluded last September. What I'm gonna narrate will move even the toughest guy with a strong heart at the vindictive manner - for what, why and if at all there's something at all, carry it this far? - the organisers had gone about in trying to obliterate the name of PN Panicker.

The State Library Council is the avatar of the erstwhile 'Kerala Grandhasala Sanghom' conceived, nurtured and brought up by PN Panicker. I've narrated, in detail earlier in this forum, as to how he'd brought the then dewan of  Travancore, Sir CP Ramaswamy Aiyar, to Ambalapuzha to inaugurate the formulation of the 'Travancore Library Association' which grew from strength to strength thanks to the tireless and one man effort of PN Panicker, ably assisted by his followers and volunteers, who're fired by his zeal, perseverance and sense of purpose and had become a vibrant people's movement popularly known as the 'Kerala Grandhasala Sanghom'.

By the 70s, he, wanted the government to take over the organisation for its sustained growth and financial assistance which ultimately took place in 1978. He'd, in the meanwhile, incurred the wrath of a coterie within the organisation when he stoutly resisted their efforts at giving the organisation a political hue. Consequently, a few of them and their followers have been making every effort to obliterate the efforts of PN Panicker!

This, then, is the story of the celebrations(?) and the thoroughly skewed invitation card ensuring that PN Panicker wasn't mentioned at all anywhere. I can only compare it to the celebration of a child's birthday, keeping its father away from it all.


And the paradox is that the very same people complain that the Modi government and its supporters are distorting history! The satisfying bit is that the people of Kerala has seen through this diabolical game because they're aware of their history!!  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Paravoor and back.

The day had begun at 6 for me. After the morning chores, my Maman and I'd left for the Foundation by 9. There was a flurry of activity at the office and I took the opportunity to befriend the newcomers among the staff. There's a great amount of excitement in the progress of the e-literacy movement thus far but much more needs to be done to complete the first phase and begin the spadework for the second phase!

A rep of the central government arrived around 2300h to review the conduct of the project, which he begins from tomorrow. This is basically to ensure that we've done our job correctly and we thought that the best way was to have our work audited by an outside agency!

Earlier, we'd left for Paravoor, about 60 kms from here, soon after lunch. The road was comparatively less dense with traffic and we could reach our destination about an hour and a half  later. The new lady accountant-cum-computer programmer and the driver were explained their charter of duties and their place within the office complex. And as I'd said yesterday, I'd to give a 'moral lecture' to my deputy, emphasising the need to work in a sustained manner to achieve the targets of the organisation. He tends to pass on the buck to his subordinates and gets busy in two pet projects of his viz. a resort by the watershed, nearby and a private bank. I'd to tell him very categorically that if he felt that he didn't have the time for our organisation, he should gracefully depart so that someone else could be handed over the responsibility!

I think it did sober him because I'd made it clear that I expected everyone who collected his pay to work sincerely for the organisation! We're gonna have more activities/inspections over the next three days but I don't intend to put impediments in his style of functioning after having given him the concepts and the way ahead. It's his imagination and efforts that would play a crucial role in delivering the results.

We, then, went to my late ma'asi, Leela kunjamma's house just to be with Kurup kochachhan for a while. The house looked forlorn and quiet despite the presence of my kochachhan and his male nurse, Vijayan Kurup, who takes good care of him. Kochachhan was excited seeing us and yes, he was surprised because we hadn't given any prior announcement! Paid homage at my ma'asi's cremation site before leaving.


A few steps in the right direction, I presume. The results will be there for everyone to see pretty soon!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The blast in the kitchen.

For the last four days my walks have been interrupted because of an injured right, small toe. It so happened that a few evenings ago, I'd tried to rush to hit the water motor switch off when I'd a bad brush with the wall. The forenoon was spent in tying up small things before my journey to Thiruvananthapuram, on work.

Around 10, while I was on the computer at the first floor, there was a loud blast in the kitchen. I knew that Lekha was there but didn't hear anything from her. I'd rushed down to the site to see an open pressure cooker on the gas stove, its lid and certain broken pieces of the handle on the floor and partially cooked rice literally sticking on everywhere from the ceiling to the floor. Lekha'd gone into the adjacent work area to put a tumbler into the sink when the explosion had taken place. We thanked god for the reprieve and I went about clearing up the mess. Phew, I'd only heard about pressure cookers bursting but this was the first experience!

The cause seemed to be a weakened non metallic part of the pressure cooker!

I'd set off for the Thrissur Railway Station by 2, after lunch. A combination of auto rickshaw-bus-and auto rickshaw saw me reach the station an hour later. Paulson, my colleague from the MCO days had come to see me off and so, the time spent on the platform ticked away without my knowledge - the 'super fast' train from Kozhikode was only half an hour late! Luckily, it had a normal chair car which quite often came in the form of a III tier a/c coach working as a substitute but housed only chair car ticket holders(Due to a shortage of coaches I suppose!).

The journey was uneventful and dull. I read through portions of the 'Thaithireeyopanishad' - it was gifted to me by my friend, Narayanan on my birthday! - through the journey. Did the passengers, sitting immediately near me, think that I was attaining 'sanyasi-hood'? They looked at me rather reverentially or was it all my imagination? Everyone surrounding me, incidentally, seemed to suffer from cough and cold and the lady, across the aisle, found it convenient to turn towards me and cough every now and then! I could throttle her then if my inner senses had prevailed. However, when she asked me as to whether we'd arrived at our destination, I could only smile and nod in the affirmative. Even Omanakuttan, who'd come to pick me up, had a bad cold and to me the whole set up looked to be conspiratorial!!

There was a briefing/debriefing session followed by the run down of the activities for the morrow by Maman. We'd be off to Chathannoor, about sixty kms from here, by 9 tomorrow and it's gonna be a long day.


And there will be the unpleasant job of telling my 'number two' certain harsh truths but also retaining him in the fold with the same degree of motivation if not greater. Now, that's a tricky one!     

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The conspirators have done it again.

It's with the same regularity that has been in view, every time a peace overture is made by India a terrorist attack takes place spoiling the atmospherics and setting back the enthusiasm, with the hawks saying, "See, we told you so". The attack on the IAF's forward air base at Pathankot has set the clock back again after PM Modi's impromptu stopover at Lahore, raising expectations of a new thrust at friendly relations between the adversaries.

So, who's against the idea of India and Pakistan being friendly because this could be the brainwave from such a quarter? The following could be the list of suspects:-

      (a) The terrorist outfits that thrive on fear and confusion.
      (b) The Pakistani military establishment
      (c) The hawks on either side of the LoC who do not want peaceful coexistence between the
            two countries.
      (d) The quarters that do not want Modi to succeed in any way and its supporters on the other
            side of the divide.
      (e) The ones that hate to see India progressing on all fronts and not to miss
      (f)  The ISI.

The aim of the terrorists seems to be loud and clear - to destroy fighter jets and attack helicopters. But the grit, determination and patriotism of the Indian soldier were again on display when they took on their adversaries, unmindful of their own personal safety! Three commandos made the supreme sacrifice while six others have been seriously injured.

RIP Gurusewak Singh, Fateh Singh and Kulwant Singh. India salutes your valour and offers tears and prayers. Here's every Indian wishing that god gives the strength to your near and dear ones to tide over these difficult times.


I wonder as to what thrill the sacked Airman KK Ranjith - the sad fact is that he's a mallu! - got when he heard of the news. Yes, of course, only if he's guilty of having passed on vital information to the honey trap that was laid for him!    

Friday, January 1, 2016

The star has been tucked away.

The new year has started in right earnest. The star - along with its accessories - that was slung at the corner of the balcony all through the previous fortnight was removed and safely tucked away, for use, during the next season. Connected up with people for wishing the new year and the day continued with the receipt and replying of smses, What'sApp messages and phone calls.

      *                                     *                                       *

To my mind, this new year will be remembered for the Rs.50/- hike on LPG cylinders and it's gonna have a cascading effect on prices. It's left me wondering about the following:-

      (a) Why should the price of a commodity rise when the subsidy on it is removed?
      (b) Is there something called 'timing' on enactment of an action on the part of the government?
            And was the price hike the handiwork of an unimaginative bureaucrat or a scheming one to let
            down the government? If the latter was the case, why wasn't the concerned minister applying
            his mind?

      *                                       *                                       *

The government has finally got its act right by appointing Shyam Benegal to revamp the Central Board of Film Censors and by assigning Pehlaj Nihalani a diminished role. Hope creativity makes headway without unnecessary impediments.

And it's hoped that the Film Institute imbroglio will also be sorted out amicably without egos coming in the way.

       *                                      *                                       *

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has got a shot in the arm with the recent Sonia Gandhi visit and her call to the party that factionalism was to be shunned and that it should prepare to fight the forthcoming Assembly elections, without infighting, under his leadership. This was achieved by the advice given to her by the UDF's constituents who'd met her during the visit. Consequently, Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and Sudheeran gave a joint press conference to reiterate their new found bonhomie!

Just goes to show that all the charges of corruption directed at the chief minister, thus far, do not have authenticity.

       *                                      *                                        *

The Kochi Metro is gonna do its trial run next month on the Kalamasserry-Aluva stretch. Well, it's yet another feather on the chief minister's cap in that he'd steered the project through grave problems and stalling tactics by a few of the stake holders.

Almost simultaneously, the CPM has declared that it will not annul the Vizhinjam Seaport agreement with Adani as it believes that such an action can only be regressive and against the interests of the state. There was an apprehension on this score, among the general public, as the party had stayed away from the inaugural ceremony of the project. It's the chief minister's tireless efforts that had brought about the project's take off despite stiff opposition from the vested interests and he must be having the last laugh!


New Delhi has begun its action to reduce atmospheric pollution by introducing the odd-numbered-vehicles-for- odd-days and even-numbered-vehicles-for-even-days from today. But this cannot be the only remedial measure, perhaps it's a step to steel the people for more drastic measures in the future.....only then, can there be some hope for the better.

And yes, I join the others with the question as to why exempt VIPs, women driven vehicles and two wheelers from this rule? It just doesn't make sense because they also pollute!