Monday, February 29, 2016

Limbering up.

It was a normal morning and after the usual chores we'd set off for the Foundation. The main activity was the groundwork for PN Panicker's 107th birth anniversary celebrations at the Kanakakkunnu Palace tomorrow.

The final groundwork involving personal interactions, a few visits to the government secretariat and other agencies, directly involved with the programme, for tying up minor details and ensuring that the guests were spoken to and reminded of the timings really did keep all of us on our toes, throughout the day. The activities on the ever swelling slop chits were ticked away after ensuring each activity's completion!

It was a pleasant meeting with the co-ordinator of the Melinda Gates Foundation's activities in India, during our trip from the airport. A thoroughly grounded man who carried no airs about him! Vignesh, the rep from the ministry of HRD, who's with us for the past one month was also with me at that time. In fact, he'd volunteered to be the chauffeur for the ferry!

Before winding up, we'd two visits that were a must. The first was a visit to one of the key members of the Foundation and then to the Kanakkunnu Palace to see whether the stage settings were as per our requirements. Realising that everything was under control, we headed back home.

However, after reaching home, we realised much to our horror that we'd not filled up fuel in the car. It was a long drive of over 10 km before we got a functioning petrol pump and could do the filling up. Though I've listed quite a lot of activities, frankly, there was nothing that was taxing but I was exhausted by the end of the day!


And tomorrow there are two hartals viz:-
    (a) the traders' strike regarding grievances on sales tax. All shops will be closed and
    (b) the petrol pumps are gonna be closed.    

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Off to Thiruvananthapuram.

The day had begun on a quiet note and the essential Sunday morning chores were gone through like passing the bed linen, followed by our clothes, through two cycles of the washing machine. Packing for the two day sojourn didn't take much time. I was a bit apprehensive about getting an auto rickshaw around noon because I'd gone through the jitters last time!

This time, without taking a chance, I'd rung up Anto and thankfully, he was available. He, however, fetched up a trifle late giving me a few anxious moments! Two counters were live at the railway station because of the rush of passengers to buy the tickets but the guy at the window that I'd made a beeline for had taken off, perhaps for the rest room. The wait was making me, as well as the people who'd joined behind me, uneasy when our hero returned chewing a paan and was back to business as though nothing had happened! The ticket for Rs.10/- catered for my short trip to Thrissur from where I'd get my connecting train.

I'd got into the coach immediately behind the engine which was full of passengers, so much so, that I
travelled standing till Thrissur. More surprises were in store for me in that the train from Lokamanya Tilak station was late only by an hour and 35'. After the train had chugged in, I found an old lady sitting on my seat and the TTE gave me another.

The train kept adding on minutes to the delay it had already clocked which disheartened me coupled with the factors cited below(these might be my perceptions, though the railways may have plausible answers):-

   (a) it had the least priority as it waited at stations for the other trains to pass and all of them,
        without exception, seemed to be in a tearing hurry.
   (b) no vendor visited the coaches, again, because of the dwindling numbers of the passengers.
   (c) the a/c in the coach was pretty harsh and it took a couple of reminders to the conductor to
         bring it to acceptable levels.

The only saving grace was Omanakuttan, with the vehicle at Kochuveli, and we made the long stretch home with him giving me a rundown of what was happening and about the programme on 01 Mar, on account of Muthachan's 107th birth anniversary celebrations.


It was nice being with Maman and his family but the journey was one that I wanted to forget but couldn't!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Man's quest to remain young forever.

Researchers of the Newcastle University in UK have identified that the activity of a key metabolic enzyme found in the 'batteries' of human skin cells decline with advancing age. The 'mitochondrial complex II' significantly decreases in older skin.

The findings may lead to a greater knowledge about how the other organs in the body age, which could, in turn, pave the way for drug developments in a number of age related diseases including, cancer.

To quote the scientific bulletin, "As our bodies age, we see that the batteries in our cells run down and the phenomenon is known as decreased bio-energy, resulting in the increase of harmful free radicals. We now have a specific bio-marker - a target - for developing and screening anti-ageing treatments and cosmetic creams that may counter the decline in bio-energy."

The wonder drug to arrest ageing cannot be far away!

My take.

Is it worth living forever? Can man really change the laws of nature? Or is it that the very same laws are meant to be changed as mankind acquires knowledge about the secrets of life?

I'd asked this question earlier on this forum. Does one like to live when all those, with whom one started life, have passed into the mist of time and the younger generations start getting bored of seeing one a bit too long?  


But death cannot be avoided or be asked to slow down. Aged in countenance or youthful in looks at the time of death is inconsequential!

Friday, February 26, 2016

People are basically nice....

I go by my firm belief that everyone is basically nice, it's the circumstances that get the beasts out of individuals. So, the best way to get a work done is to appeal to that niceness!

This morning, I'd gotten ready, earlier than usual as I'd to run an errand - the follow up to yesterday's faux pas at the newspaper vendor at the railway station. I'd also clubbed the collection of the clothes from the dry cleaners which was due today. Since the auto rickshaw driver anticipated the closing of the railway level cross due to an imminent train, I'd asked him to head for the cleaners first only to be told by the lady, at the counter, that the clothes would fetch up by afternoon and that she'd inform me on arrival!

And then, it was the turn at the newspaper vendor's. It was the lady who was tending the vend and I narrated the story to her. My need was only to get the magazine and I'd suggested that she could keep the newspapers' cost as a punishment for my error(?). She'd immediately called up her husband who confirmed the story and told her to handover the magazine along with the day's newspapers! However much I insisted upon her to keep the newspapers, she was insistent that I took them and that was that! Vidyadharan and Valsala, you've been kind. Thanks!

          *                                       *                                       *

Since the Rashtrapatiji was having a 'darshan' at Guruvayur at 1600h, the traffic had been regulated since morning and consequently, the busy highway passing close by, was deserted most of the day. The 'Krishnanaattom' has become very popular and he and his group were entertained by the troupe soon after their visit to the sanctum sanctorum.

          *                                       *                                        *

Maman had called up to say that the public meeting scheduled for the 28th, at Thiruvananthapuram, had been cancelled and therefore, I could delay my trip by a day if I wanted and I happily chose that option! Poor Paulson had to juggle my train reservations accordingly.

          *                                       *                                        *

Manikandan, my Customer Service Adviser, rang up to tell me that the total bill for the repairs on my Chevy was Rs.56,818/- and that it had been sent to my insurance company for clearance and release. Sadly, I realised as to what a colossally bad driver I was to have brought in such serious damages to my car. The only saving grace was that no damage was inflicted upon the passengers! I vowed to myself that I'd be a patient driver from now on.

           *                                      *                                        *

Jayakrishnan, my point man at New Delhi, had reported that he'd gone to the concerned desk at the MoD armed with my letter, to sort out an issue regarding a 'No Demand Certificate', from the accommodation cell, to clear a pending audit of my personal accounts. The concerned officer had initially said that it was a misinterpretation at the 'Navpay' in Bombay that had caused the two year delay. He has, finally, agreed to send a letter to the Navpay on Monday. Phew! Thanks, Jayakrishnan, for the running around that you did for my sake.


Bernie had rung up this evening to tell me as to how his boorish neighbour was going out of his way to placate him, who seems to be intrigued and unsettled by Bernie's silence/social boycott! First was a series of forwards on his e-mail address followed by a telephone call asking for the 'TataSky' man's number and Bernie was sure, "He didn't need the number, he was just trying to reestablish communications."


Thursday, February 25, 2016

A long and interesting day.

The day had begun at 5 and after going through my chores, Anto's auto rickshaw fetched me up at the railway station, in time, for the quarter to 7 local but not before Lekha'd packed my breakfast, which I had at the Thrissur railway station's waiting room during my hour long wait for the onward train.

Meanwhile, I'd fallen a victim to my absentmindedness. I'd bought the day's newspapers and an India Today but while paying the vendor, had kept them at the counter and forgot about them as I clambered onto the train. That the train continued to be at the platform for more than 5' and I'd taken a seat just opposite the vendor's stall didn't ring the requisite bell in my mind. But soon after the train had started moving, everything came in a flashback leaving a helpless me, as nothing could be done for retrieving the reading material!

I'd, meanwhile, altered my plans on the advice of my Director, whereby, I'd got down at Chengannur where Binoy and Vishnu, with the Qawalis, were waiting. It was a half an hour's journey to the venue of the meeting and I made my first tryst with history for the day. The 'Desasevini Library', perched on the highway at Kulakada was set up by my grandfather in 1948 and as I was being taken into the hall, I saw him smiling from a photograph of his, displayed prominently! Ravindran Pillai sir, the President of the Library, held me in a tight embrace on hearing about my ancestry as he was closely associated with my grandfather in the 'Library Movement'. He gave me an anecdote...

"Since the library was on the highway, Panicker sir used to visit whenever he passed by and on one such visit, seeing the muck of smoked cigarette and beedi butts, he'd grabbed a broom and started cleaning up the area when I and another took over the cleanship! "

The meeting with about 60 odd women trainees was winding up because I was late and I'd begun my short interaction, apologising for the same. There was no looking back and I'd the audience interacting freely with me, thereafter. The next unit was about 12 km further south, where the septuagenarian, Babykutty sir, the prime mover of the organisation, broke down recalling his association with Panicker sir and made a moving statement that he felt my grandfather's presence through me! I held him because I'd no words in return! He's asked me for a truss work on the building, to prevent leaks in the building's roof and a well, within the premises, for potable water. His needs have been put in my scribble pad for early disposal.

And, then, we're off to Kollam - but not before a fleeting visit and interaction with our people at another of our units at Neduvathur - for the two meetings to chalk out our activities for the next financial year and to streamline business rules. A quick bite of lunch and the deliberations at the Sopanam Auditorium took us till about a half past 5, after which we'd gone to the beach to beat the oppressive heat and while away time till my train chugged in from Thiruvananthapuram at 1835 hrs.


1. Hectic, but I enjoyed every minute!
2. While at the beach, I met Mr. Shukoor, my director's friend and to my surprise, who also happened to be a colleague of my dad's youngest brother, Narendran kochachan, at the Indian Rare Earths.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hey I, too, use Johnson's Baby Powder!

A Missouri state jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million, as damages,  to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her use of the company's talc based Baby Powder and Shower to Showe for several decades.

Jacqueline Fox, who lived in Birmingham, Alabama died in Oct '15 after being diagnosed with the dreaded illness three years ago. She was 62.

The company seems to have been in the know, since the '80s about the risk and yet resorted to "lying to the public, lying to the regulatory agencies".

I, too, have been using Johnson's Baby Powder since my childhood. My thinking was that since it was meant for children, the makers would ensure strict quality control. But....


Calls for a change of brand? O, come on, not at this stage? Come what may!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Learning from mistakes doesn't seem to be in our DNA.

My observations of the current happenings tell me that many of us do not learn from our mistakes. Without much ado, here I go:-

 (a) The LDF Boycott of the Chief Minister.

       The LDF is at it again. They're hell bent on boycotting the chief minister for his 'corrupt' ways.
       Today's violent incidents - involving the LDF workers and the police, leaving many injured - at
       Irinjalakuda and Kodungalloor of Thrissur district couldn't deter the CM from taking part in the

       Over the coming days, the push and shove are only going to get worse and the mob could do
       worse if not checked. Wonder why the leadership doesn't take a note of the happenings
       and persuade the cadre to execute their dissatisfaction peacefully? Otherwise, the upper hand
       they seem to have, by virtue of a recently conducted poll, to form the next government, will be
       frittered away giving way to a sympathy wave for the UDF!

       Violence and negative actions can never win friends that translate into votes!

  (b) The Ongoing Drama at the JNU.

        Consider the activities that are currently under way:-
              (i) The Delhi High Court has asked the five students, who've been absconding for over a                           week, to surrender to the police to facilitate speedy investigation.
             (ii) The five have refused to appear before the university probe panel saying that they've
                   no faith in the varsity. Since when have the accused - that too for anti-national
                   posturing - started getting such options?
            (iii) The issue is being taken up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling members
                   are in a minority.
            (iv) Rahul Gandhi and gang want a legislation that will safeguard the 'right to dissent in

         The truth is the casualty by the hurling of half truths and innuendos. But what's being achieved
         is that yet another Parliament session seems to be headed for a logjam.

         Come on, Rahul Gandhi and the so called youth brigade, you need to set an example to the
         rest that your brand of politics is different from that of your predecessors in that you strive
         for the nation's good, always and every time.

         The people of India would like to know what your USP is other than your genetic inheritance!

   (c) The Jats are backing off?

         Realising that their efforts to get themselves notified as OBCs are not gonna bear fruit
         simply because of its flaw, the Jats have decided to call off their agitation. They've said that
         they'd resume it at a later date after taking all aspects into account.

         And now, how about making good the damages caused even though you can't bring back
         the dead to life?


With everyone taking up cudgels against the establishment, I'm beginning to wonder as to whether there's a concerted effort to run the country down in the eyes of the outside world.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The JNU fracas - a layman's point of view!

I've been watching and following the JNU fracas for a while. I'd even followed the 'anti national' vs 'stifling of dissent' debate - lest I miss out on the nuances. I wanted to know whether there was any fundamental difference between the 'jhola' carrying college goer of today from that of the '70s - my generation!

Idealism is the watchword in every college campus. For the average college goer, a lost cause becomes a passion because the college days become the crucible, where everyone tries to carve a niche for himself/herself. The process undergoes repeated changes as an individual sheds many images and is constantly on the lookout for the 'right' one and it attains closure when he/she finally takes up a professional career. I'd seen my friends at the University College campus in Thiruvananthapuram who'd taken up anti establishment stands - only because it had a mass appeal and there was enhanced mystique when they fell foul of the police and retrieved themselves - change their opinions to merge with the professions they were in......the biggest turn around being when some of them, due to a twist of fate, adorned the uniform themselves! And not to forget, the political parties were ever eager to patronise them to achieve their ends!! 

In other words, the college going youth was looked at by their elders from that point of view....a combination of studies and 'acceptable' mischief!

Coming to the JNU fracas, I'd like to believe that the students seem to have been taken for a ride by a caucus who loathe India. Otherwise after raising anti-India slogans and when confronted by the police, why did they chose to give them the slip and go absconding? They're, now, seeking a safe haven within the campus. What made them shout slogans honouring the hanged, Afzal Guru, the architect of the Parliament attack? What was honourable in Yakub Memon, who was involved in the Bombay blasts?

There's absolutely no doubt that the guilty students who'd dabbled with the misplaced caucus should face the law and undergo appropriate punishment. For starters, Umar Khalid and the four others must hand themselves over to the police for interrogation to get at the truth. There's no escaping that! And the college authorities must ensure to allot the hostel for genuine, bonafide students of the institution please.


The visit of the political leaders into the university campus - without understanding the ground situation - was blasphemous and mischievous. They do not even have the gumption to apologise to the nation after realising the goof up they've made! Sad!!

I feel I, too, have a stake in the prestige and the good name of the Jawaharlal Nehru University because I'm a science graduate, affiliated to that institution, after having done my training at the National Defence Academy during 1973 - '75!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

The anatomy of an agitation.

The state of Haryana has been in a turmoil for the past few days because the Jat community has taken to the streets to force the government to include it in the ever increasing list of 'reservations' in the OBC category! Normal life has gone haywire in the state and its cascading effect is taking its toll on the neighbourhood states like Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. It would be worthwhile to take stock of all that has happened in the name of the agitation and I'm gonna highlight the damages to show what we Indians do in the name of freedom of expression and the 'right to strike' to put across grievances(?) to the government and wake it up from administrative stupor:-

    (a) Two police stations torched
    (b) A railway station set afire
    (c) Several ATMs damaged
    (d) A co-operative bank torched
    (e) Several public transportation buses and vehicles torched and destroyed
    (f) One of the feeder canals supplying fresh water, blocked

And see what the results have been:-

    (a) Movement of essential goods comes to a grinding halt
    (b) Acute shortage of petroleum products, milk, vegetables and groceries
    (c) No money in ATMs
    (d) Fresh water distribution in Delhi has been severely affected
    (e) 737 trains cancelled, 105 re-routed causing undue delays and indescribable hardship
         to passengers
    (f) Highway traffic is non existent (Army to take over to ensure early resumption of traffic)
    (g) Night curfew clamped in the worst affected districts like Rohtak, Jind, Bhiwani, Jajjar,
         Sonepat and Hissar
    (h) And not to forget the exploitation in times of crises. Since rail and road communications
         have been disrupted in the neighbouring states, a rush for air travel has ensued and what 
         do the airlines do? Hike airfares!  
    (j) The loss has been estimated at Rs.20,000 crores by the Assocham! But what about the
          incalculable misery and difficulty that were inflicted upon the public? 

And finally, if the Jats were to achieve what they're asking for who pays for the tremendous havoc and destruction caused by them all these days?

My take.

It's my firm opinion that the perpetrators of such agitations must be booked for anti-national activity, for causing willful damage to public property. They must pay for the losses that they've inflicted upon the nation!


1. Remember, the Patel community of Gujarat is also seeking OBC status. Its prime mover, Hardik Patel, is on an indefinite strike in jail. It remains to be seen as to how the mischief mongers convert this to incite passions among the people.

2. If reservations are to be doled out to each and every backward(?) community, what's left for the remaining category? Why should I and people like me suffer simply because we've been born in a forward community? I think it makes the suggestion of reservation on economic basis sound sensible!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A train of guests.

Indira Kunjamma and gang had left, after breakfast, by 9. They'd lined up visits to three temples in the vicinity and by the time they finally shaped course for Thiruvananthapuram it was a half past 12. A call from her, as they were leaving the temple town, was evident that they're completely satisfied with their short trip.

And then trooped in my cousin, Kala and her family. She'd told us of a whirlwind trip a few days ago but had called us this morning to say that they'd have lunch with us! Accordingly, they're at our door by a half past 12 and the first thing that she did was to invite us for her son, Abhilash's wedding on 21 Mar. After an hour or so of post lunch interaction, they left for Palakkad by a half past 2.

We're barely into our siesta when my toothy, Dr. Chary, had called up to say that the new dentures had arrived and would I make it to the clinic for its fitment? So, after a quick cup of tea, I'd made a dash. He has a new assistant in Louis, a pleasant youngster, who's marking time for his post graduation in dental surgery/'paedo' after a couple of months.

The toothy went about his work of fitting the bridge with a lot of care, grinding a tooth here and grinding another there so that the exact 'bite' could be achieved. It was a painstaking job and he made it a point to give me a running commentary on what he was doing and why. Damn sweet of him! He's known to be a quiet person but with me he's shown a propensity to converse, that too on a wide range of issues.

He'd told me after seeing the previous bridge that the 'spaces' between the denture/normal teeth and the small openings at its extremities could have been avoided, hinting at the comparative inexperience of my cousin - she was three years into her practice, then. Nothing more! But the fact's that both the bridges have been in situ for over seven years and the left one continues, without giving me problems! I'd still visit her for my dental checks while I'm at Thiruvananthapuram!!


1. Kala reached my sister's at Palakkad by a half past 6 while Indira kunjamma reached her place only by a half past 8. The latter's drive was halted at various places thanks to a series of temple processions in connection with their annual festivals.

2. The annual festival of Guruvayur had begun today with the interesting elephant race ('Aanayottam'). 24 pachyderms had participated, 5 were in the final race and Gopi Kannan (Actor Suresh Gopi's elephant) is the winner.

Friday, February 19, 2016

A busy day.

When 'The Quarterdeck' was being readied for our stay, we'd made up our minds to go as green as possible while choosing our power requirements. So, even though we'd my friend help us get the state electricity board's supply with a new set of posts and lines, exclusively for the building, the option to use solar energy was kept open.

Though it was available at acceptable costs, we weren't enthused by the 'refractive' model that used a maze of hollowed glass tubes because the preference was for the swanky array of photo voltaic cells that looked neat and elegant. The problem was that there weren't many vendors, in the vicinity, dealing with it and the costs, prohibitive! Hence, the project was shelved at that point of time.

A small solar panel, however, provides dusk-to-dawn light at our courtyard. Since hot water wasn't a serious requirement for us, for bathing purposes, that system was also left unattended except for an online water heater for mom's washroom because hot water was a must for her. Over a period of time, many of our guests had pointed out to us this deficiency and therefore, today, I'd a geyser installed that catered to the requirements of the remaining two washrooms.

The show room that we'd gone to pick up the small water storage heater from, didn't welcome plastic money and to avoid an embarrassing situation, my electrician bought the item on his surety - he picks up his requirements regularly from the vendor and hence, has this cosy arrangement picking up a commission in the process, perhaps!

The installation was timely because my aunt, along with her daughter and family had fetched up in the evening. My cousin was coming in for the first time and for her, the hot water was a must! My mom was damn cross with them for fetching up late but it was nice hosting them.

Lekha and her assistant, Preetha, had worked hard to get a swanky supper on the table.


Suresh, my cousin's husband and a chief engineer in the merchant marine, has to get back to Thiruvananthapuram tomorrow as he goes for another deployment at sea, on Sunday. They gave us a lovely Raja Ravi Varma painting on arrival! Damn cute of them!! They go back after a morning 'darshan' of the good Lord.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

My friend's angst.

I was pleasantly surprised when Bernard, my classmate from the University College, had called up in the morning inviting us for lunch, saying that he wanted to discuss something personal that was agonising him for the past couple of days. The short lead time as well as my mom's presence, made me to alter the programme to all of us having a quiet lunch at our place.

I was meeting Bernard after a few months but we've been in constant touch over the telephone, What'sApp and what-have-you almost continuously, sharing news about mutual friends, jokes and our opinions on the news, that hit the headlines from time to time. So, I was very eager to know about what was gnawing him because he definitely looked sad and unsure.

For the initial hour or so, he interacted with mom as is his wont and mom, too, likes him tremendously. He'd bought her a small gift as usual! It was after lunch and when we were at the balcony on a one-to-one that he unburdened his woes. He has a neighbour, quite senior and a retired government servant with whom there existed a cordial relationship. Frequent visits to each other's houses, exchanges of special dishes and attending get togethers when friends and relatives dropped by were a few of the activities that were existent between the two families. Bernie, always used to talk about his neighbour with tremendous love and respect.

Two days back, while Bernie was on an errand, he happened to overhear a telephonic conversation in which his neighbour referred to him as, "A good for nothing idiot who's a lost case......" Ever since, he has been studiously avoiding his neighbour! The angst was getting the better of him because he was at a loss as to how he should react to it.

I could sense my own anger rising within me, wonder why. For Bernie, my answer was simple, "If I were in your place, I'd have knocked on the guy's door at that instant and announced the arrival of the 'good-for-nothing-idiot' and asked him to keep clear of me from then on", and forget the guy as a bad joke! I wouldn't lose my sleep over the incident, for sure.

Bernie and Laila, stayed on a trifle beyond teatime and I think, I could smooth his ruffled feathers to some extent. Laila was upset that her husband was trivialised - she thinks the world about him. He has decided to give the creep a wide berth but with no precipitate action, like the one suggested by me, being the thorough gentleman that he was.

As I saw his car moving away, with him throwing a wave of his hand, I really was angry with the guy who'd caused so much of agony to poor Bernie!


Bernie's words, "Yaar Rajeev, how can I stop all communication with the guy because he's the only person in the vicinity that I could share my thoughts", kept ringing in my ears...How can somebody be so mean to a guy like Bernie?

And sorry Bernie for putting your nasty experience into public domain. People must understand the duplicity in the people that surround them and be on guard.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Today's significance.

It was on this day, 200 years ago, that the stethoscope was invented!

Rene Laennec(1781 - 1826), a French physician, invented the by-now-universal medical equipment and pioneered its use in diagnosing various chest conditions. Interestingly, before this invention, a doctor used to place his ear on the chest of his patients! The invention was initially called the 'chest examiner' and with it, the doctor was able to study the different sounds of the heart, classifying them as healthy or unhealthy. Dr. Rene Laennec was criticised, initially, for his invention!

Google has honoured him with a doodle.

      *                                    *                                     *

2. Nawaz Sharif's admission.

    While addressing a rally in Muzaffarabad, the Pakistani PM had made a candid admission that
     the then Indian PM Vajpayee felt that he'd been stabbed in the back with the Kargil misadventure
     because it had come about soon after the Lahore declaration. The author of the misadventure,
     then General Pervez Musharraf, had sent army regulars in the garb of militants to occupy the
     Kargil heights so as to cut off the Srinagar - Leh highway in May '99.

     The funniest thing is that the blighter has not been taken to task by the people for having let the
     country down! And can its army ever forget their bosses' refusal to accept the corpses of the
     slained personnel insisting that they're terrorists, lest their game plan got known to the entire

     It was left to the magnanimous Indian Army to give the departed, a decent and dignified farewell!

3. The Lionisation of Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon.

    I'm baffled by the students - or are they outside elements? - of the JNU, New Delhi and the
    Jadavpur University, Calcutta lionising Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon. They continue to do
    so with impunity fully aware of the fact that the duo had worked against the Indian state. I've
    this strong feeling that the fifth columnists are inciting the students without the latter realising
    that they're mere puppets to a sinister design!

    The earlier the students realise it, the better.


The action of a section of lawyers, taking law into their own hands, at the Patiala House Court in New Delhi is condemnable and despicable.                                           

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

And now, it's all about the former Pope's love story.

A BBC documentary has revealed the story of an intense relationship between Pope John Paul II and a married, Polish born American philosopher for more than 30 years. The former Pope's letters to Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka were kept away from the public, for years. The letters do not indicate as to whether the Pope broke his vow of celibacy but the tone of some of them point to an intense feeling that existed between them.

The Pope had passed into the mist of time in 2005 while Anna-Teresa passed away in 2014. Copies of her side of the correspondence were included in the archives of of the Polish national Library when they're sold by her in 2008. They were, however, not shown to the BBC along with that of the Pope's.

The letters show that the friendship had begun in 1973 when Anna-Teresa contacted the future Pope, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, then Archbishop of Krakow, about a book on philosophy written by him. The, then 50 year old, had travelled all the way from the US to Poland to discuss the work. Shortly afterwards, they began to correspond and as their friendship grew, they became more intimate and went together for camping, skiing holidays and country walks!

My take.

I've always been an admirer of Pope John Paul II in the manner in which he'd conducted himself during his papacy by travelling far and wide across the world, making Vatican more accessible to the believers all around the globe. His trade mark kissing of the ground on stepping onto a new land, from his aircraft, was unique that conveyed his disarming simplicity.

This revelation has only increased my admiration for him. After all, he was just like any one of us.....a normal human being!


Wonder what happens to his sainthood? That has been bestowed on him - his detractors have gone on record to say that it was bestowed on him a bit too hastily - based on the pure life that he'd lived all through. I only hope that it remains!   

Monday, February 15, 2016

A historic mission.

Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church met with Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in Havana, Cuba on Friday, 12 Feb. Their meeting was the first between the leaders of their respective churches - the two biggest denominations - since the schism of 1054.

What's the schism of 1054?

Let me try to sequence the diary of events of the long standing differences between Western and Eastern Christianities that finally caused a definitive break and Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox(Greek, Russian and other) still remain separate. And so, here I go:-

   1043    The rigid and ambitious Michael Cerularius was named the Patriarch of Constantinople.
   1048    A French bishop was elected Pope Leo IX. He and the clerics who accompanied him to
               Rome were intent on reforming the papacy and the entire church.

   In the 1040s, problems arose in southern Italy(Then, under Byzantine rule) when Norman warriors
   conquered the region and replaced Greek(Eastern) bishops with Latin(Western) ones. 
   Consequently, the people were confused about the following:-
       (a) Proper forms of liturgy and other external matters.
       (b) Clerical marriages.
       (c) The bread used for Eucharist.
       (d) Dates of fasting and
       (e) Other usages.

   1052    When Cerularius heard that the Normans were forbidding Greek customs in southern Italy, 
               he retaliated by closing the Latin churches in Constantinople. He, then, induced bishop Leo
               to compose an attack on the Latin use of unleavened bread and other practices.

               In response to the provocative treatises, Pope Leo IX sent his chief adviser, Humbert, a
               rigid and narrow minded man with a strong sense of papal authority to Constantinople.

Saturday, 16 Jul 1054

As afternoon prayers were about to begin, Cardinal Humbert, strode into the Cathedral of Hagia
Sophia right up to the main altar and placed on it a parchment that declared the ex-communication
of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius. He, then, marched out of the church, shook its dust from his feet and left the city.

A week later, the Patriarch solemnly condemned the cardinal.

My take.

It's my fond hope that the churches are united for the good of the world. The statesmanship and the spirit of reconciliation exhibited by Pope Francis are indeed laudable!


It would also be worthwhile to touch upon the Crusades that had begun around that period.

Pope Urban II launched the first Crusade in 1095. As a prelude to it, he'd delivered a soul stirring sermon at Clermont, the gist of which is reproduced below,

    "A horrible tale has gone forth. An accursed race utterly alienated from God has invaded the
      lands of the Christians and depopulated them by the sword, plundering and fire......Tear that            land from the wicked race and subject it to yourselves".

The people were riled and shouted, 'Deus vult! Deus vult!'(God wills it) - It went on to become the battle cry of the Crusades to liberate the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The events of the day.

It's a quiet Sunday and the day progressed at a snail's pace. The normal household chores were gone through as part of the day's work and more over, they're exercises for the body as I give myself a rest on Sundays insofar as the morning walk's concerned.

 1. Mohanachandran is at Mannuthy.

     My classmate and his wife, Manju were at the Agricultural and Veterinary College at Mannuthy
     in connection with the 60th year celebrations along with their college alumni. They'd
     initially planned to spend a day, after that, with us which they changed at the last moment as
     something had cropped up and consequently, they had driven back to Thiruvananthapuram with
     a promise that they'd be dropping by next month.

 2. At the chemist's.

     My customary evening walk was towards town as I'd to replenish mom's and Lekha's medicines
     for the coming month. The chemist that I frequent is open all days, including Sundays. Moreover,
     it gives me the opportunity to visit the Guruvayur temple on the return leg. It did take some time
     but with the medicines in hand I was headed home when the proprietor of the shop intersected me
     as I was negotiating the last 700 mts to my house. Profusely apologetic, he said that he'd erred on
     the addition of figures in the bill and had charged less and would I allow him to rectify the mistake
     on the road side itself as he'd to get back to the shop without anyone knowing as to what had
     happened. I'd obliged him without a second thought because I didn't want to be the cause for his
     financial agony!

 3. The interesting aspect of the Municipality's water connection.

     As I'd said earlier, 'The Quarterdeck' is now buttoned up to the municipality's water distribution
     system. But there's a strange twist to it! The water distribution, currently, is erratic and therefore,
     the supply is restricted to a few days of the week. It's gonna take another six months for the
     augmentation of the existing facilities, from the southern grid, for the consumers of Guruvayur
     to be benefited with round-the-clock water supply. In view of the foregoing, a new customer
     is supposed to certify that he/she will not complain about the non availability of water once the
     system is buttoned up! They're only responsible for the laying of the system. Period! Kerala
     Water Authority ki jai ho!!

     Then, why did I go for the connection you might ask. The reasons are:-

         (a) Once the system starts distributing water, continuously, on a regular basis six months
               from now, getting a new connection would entail a long waiting period!
         (b) The connected documents become yet another 'proof of one's residence' and
         (c) I'd not engaged any middlemen/touts.


The next task is to convert the Haryana registration of my Chevy to that of Kerala's. I'm
already in possession of the NOC from the RTO of Gurgaon and have registered my request through the local 'Akshaya' kendra. Hope it isn't gonna take too much of time but in one's life, out here, there never is a dull moment! 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Adieu ONV sir.

Ottaplakkal Neelakandan Velu Kurup sir, popularly known among Malayalees all over the world as ONV, passed into the mist of time this evening around 1635 hrs. Renowned poet and lyricist, he breathed his last due to age related illness. He was 84.

I remember my last meeting with him quite a few years back, at his residence when my Maman and I had gone to invite him for a function related to the 'Vaayana Dinam'. I remember him wanting to have a good look at PN Panicker's grandson, then and had held my hand for a while. I shall never forget an anecdote of his that he'd passed on about my grandfather during that meeting and I quote.....

"I used to be invited by Panicker sir for all the meetings concerning the Grandhasala Sangham and initially, I used to love attending them because I got a chance to speak to a large gathering of people and could share my poetic creations. Gradually, I got a bit tired of it all and would find excuses to skip Panicker sir's invitations to similar programmes. After a while, Panicker sir had called me aside and asked me that if youngsters like me kept away from such interactions how could he spread the slogan of 'Vaayichu valaruka, Chinthichu vivekom neduka' to the people. He didn't scold me or give me sermons - which he could have - but instead made me understand the purport of my presence. That put me in my right senses and from then on, I never ever missed any of his invites. People like PN Panicker are born once in a lifetime and I feel that I'd the fortune to be associated with him."

RIP, ONV sir. My tears and prayers for a great poet and a wonderful human being. Here's wishing that God gives the strength to his near and dear ones to pass through these stressful times.

       *                                         *                                           *

2. Dangerous!

What's happening in the JNU campus at New Delhi? The descending into the campus of the likes of Rahul Gandhi, Seetaram Yechuri, D Raja and others point to dangerous portends. Politicising student agitations can have ramifications because all the political parties know fully well that it has the potential to snowball into catastrophic dimensions that will defy logic and rationale.

The actual ground realities say something and had they studied them, they wouldn't have rushed in to end up looking like a bunch of misguided kids! And so, here I go into the sequence of events of the last week at the JNU campus:-

   - A group of students held an event, "The Country without a Post Office", at the campus on
     09 Feb attended by most of JNU's political outfits, to support the democratic right to self
     determination of the people of Kashmir and to protest the judicial killing(?) of Afzal Guru. 
   - It soon turned out to be a scuffle between the ABVP and the Left organisations. Here are
     the samples of slogans shouted:-
         - Bharat ke tukde honge hazaar.
         - Bharat ki barbadi tak jung zaari rahegi.
   - The varsity says that it was mislead by the organisers who'd asked for permission for a 
      "cultural programme". The ABVP had pressed for cancellation and termed it as anti-
   - JNU Students' Union president, Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on 12 Feb in connection 
     with a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy.The police also wants to identify the other
     accused, through his interrogation.
   - The Left inclined SFI have distanced themselves from the protests against the arrests!

There has been a widespread debate to term the incident 'Anti national' vs. 'Stifling of dissent'.

I, now, leave the final deductions to all of you.


The same crowd of opposition leaders had rushed in to offer their 'support'(?) to Rohit Vemula's family on the latter's death at the University of Hyderabad, a couple of weeks ago. They don't seem to have been chastened by the closure of that agitation once the truth was out in the open.

Why doesn't somebody matured enough in the Congress put some sense into their VP's head?  

Friday, February 12, 2016

Thiruvananthapuram and back.

I'd missed out on the alarm timed for 0145 hrs and when my sister had woken me up, it was a half past 2. Anto was supposed to come by a quarter to 3 to drop us at the railway station. I zipped through the morning chores that reminded me about my Academy days! Anyways, we could board the train well in time but the railways had again done something that they resort to quite often these days - substitute an a/c three tier coach for a chair car, the refrain being that there's an enormous shortage of coaches! And for some unknown reason, the vestibule connection wasn't available!!

The result was that none of the vendors cared to drop by and we got down at Pettah, before the Thiruvananthapuram Central station, at 9, to make a quick dash to Indira kunjamma's house nearby, because we hadn't even had the morning cuppa! After a hurried breakfast, we'd set off for the venue of the wedding.

It's a great occasion to be with most of our close relations especially, those from Paravoor and as usual, I'd gone around meeting each and everyone lest that none was missed out as such occasions come rare and far between. We made a quick get away after wishing Nisha and Dipu a long, happy and prosperous married life. Nisha's parents were thankful because we'd travelled the farthest to attend their daughter's special day. Indira kunjamma had us dropped at Thampanoor from where I saw Rema off, on the bus to Kottarakkara before I clambered onto my train, which left at 1430 hrs.

Coming via Kottayam, the train was unduly delayed because of extensive work in connection with the doubling of the track and I reached Thrissur only by a half past 8 where Mini and Geetha, along with our sa'arthi, George were on the platform, waiting for their train to Bangalore which fetched up eventually, late by an hour and a half. I could, thus, see them off too before heading for Guruvayur.


1. Earlier, George had taken Lekha, Mini and Geetha to the 'Thirumaandhaamkunnu temple' about 60 km north from here, around 0800 hrs, so that Mini could wind up the third and final pooja, in connection with Ammu's marital prospects! They'd returned a trifle after lunch!!

2. Today, for the first time, I'd refused to part with my window side seat for a lady. Actually, between the lady, her infant child and her husband, they had two aisle seats. I'd plugged my laptop into the socket on the bulkhead and was in no mood to relent, as I was sorting out the backlog of mail. Nevertheless, it was boorish on my part! Wonder why I was so?

3. The municipality water supply system was being buttoned up and Binesh, the contractor, had called up to say that our neighbour's son wasn't permitting him to burrow the pipes into the shallow trenches dug on the ground that would pass in front of his parents' - they were away - house. An alternate route had to be identified, subsequently.

4. For all the running around that Maman and I'd done on the 8th, the CM has allocated a seed money of Rs.10 lakhs for the PN Panicker National School for Social Development in the state's budget, presented by him, in the Assembly today.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Adieu Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad!

To be buried under layers of ice and snow for many days, then to come out of it battling for survival shows the sheer grit and determination of this valiant soldier. Unfortunately, the harsh environment had taken its toll before he was wheeled into the Army Research and Referral Hospital at New Delhi for medical management. He passed into the mist of time this morning, around 1145 hrs, plunging his family and the entire nation to grief. I don't think that there's anyone in this country, after hearing about his serious condition despite the miraculous escape, who wouldn't have prayed for him to come out of the trauma, hale and hearty.

But God seemed to have other plans and took him away from us. RIP, Hanumanthappa and your nine other colleagues who fell to the harsh climactic conditions of the Siachen Glacier. My salute to your fighting spirit along with my tears and prayers. May the almighty give strength to your family to tide over these stressful times!

It's people like you who enable us to sleep peacefully every night!!

     *                                  *                                        *

Both my sisters are here.

Rema had fetched up a trifle after tea time, from Palakkad. The two of us are off to Thiruvananthapuram by the 0315 train to attend a wedding in the family after which she goes off to Pidavoor to her mother-in-law and I, return to Guruvayur. Meanwhile, Mini and Geetha had another round of visits to the temples close by.

Mom was thrilled to see the three of us together after what seemed to be a long time.


Binesh and his team have begun the work to bring the municipality water into 'The Quarterdeck'. The system will be buttoned up by the weekend.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

And finally, the 'Baana yudham'!

I'd gotten up at my usual time and set off for my customary walk but with a difference....I'd armed myself with my cellphone! Mini, my sister, had reached Thrissur from Bangalore along with her friend at 6, by the morning train and I was tracking her movements since I couldn't receive them, because my Chevy was at the service station.

Eventually, they were with us for the morning cuppa. They'd gone to the temple, later in the morning, for the 'darshan' of the good Lord while I'd gone to the town for doing my personal jobs. It was also Vichani kunjamma's birthday and all of us had a chat with her while wishing her many happy returns. Mom was really thrilled talking to her kid sister and I heard her beckoning her to Guruvayur.!

Mini, her friend, Geetha and Lekha had planned to go to the temple by a half past 8 - after an early supper - for witnessing the last pooja, 'the Seeveli' and the krishnanaattom, 'Baanayudham', thereafter, which was scheduled at 2230h. Finding an auto rickshaw was the most difficult part of the exercise! Usually, no auto rickshaws are sighted after 2000h in the stand near our place - so, if there was an urgency, one needed to have their contact numbers. While I was waiting for one, a guy had come to say that he'd a prior booking and continued on his way and it was after about 15' of wait, that I was able to get hold of one.

The three ladies, then, made a quick exit. I and mom stayed back because it would have been difficult for mom to attend the krishnanaattom - though, she was keen - for the following reasons:-

      - to maintain a sustained interest in anything for a prolonged period is difficult for her, these days.
      - she has to be in bed, latest by 2215h.
      - her requirement to go to the rest room periodically and
      - the seating arrangement or lack of it makes it difficult for her!

For Mini and Geetha, it was after many months of planning that the event had materialised!


* Am impressed by the way the two 'mothers' were going about doing things so that their daughters got the best in their lives!

* Caught up with my reading!   

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

The day had begun on a leisurely note compared to the previous couple of days. But we're at the Foundation, by 9, for the day's activities. The important activity was to short list candidates for the first course on 'green jobs' at the ''PN Panicker School for Social Development'', which will come into existence on 01 Mar, the 107th birth anniversary of the legend.

There were thirty candidates - both young men and women with the parents, accompanying a few of them - in the first batch and there will be a total of three such batches from among whom the final class of 30 will be short listed. The session started off with a seminar in which the concept of green jobs was explained, amplifying the various disciplines under the course and three points were emphasised:-

     - the concept of green jobs, though prevalent in developed nations, is new in our country.
     - consequently, government jobs are less but is being widely popularised by companies and
       private institutions in a big way(The Vizhinjam International Seaport is gonna be a green port,
       giving emphasis to the use of solar energy for power generation, innovative means of waste
       management, production of potable water through Reverse Osmosis plants etc).
     - the 6 month(Spread over 240 hrs and scheduled during weekends) course will be imparted by
       guest lecturers who're specialists in the field and the course certificate that would be awarded
       on completion, will be a requisite for attainment of jobs in the field.
     - we do not assure job attainment but it will help individuals attain confidence in taking up                     projects on their own and
     - anyone who felt that it sounded Utopian and wishy washy could leave without having to go
       through the interview.

Out of the thirty, seven had walked away without waiting for further deliberations after hearing us out at the seminar. The interview began soon after and it lasted for a trifle over two hours.

Meanwhile, Sasi, the director of my organisation had arrived. After deliberating over certain issues, decisions were given and the pay cheques, signed. Our efficient accountant, Lekha, was at hand with all the necessary information. We'll now be meeting at a function at Kollam on the 25th, followed by my acquaintance visit to all the units under our organisation, spread over two days which will entail days of travel and the requirement of staying away from home!

Valsala gave me lunch, ordered from the nearby canteen of the Gandhi Smaarak Bhavan, after which it was a dash to the railway station and Omanakuttan did it in his inimitable manner through the busy traffic. Thanks, Lekha, Sasi, Valsala and Omanakuttan for looking after me. You've been kind and I'm indebted to you.


The Superfast to Nizamuddin did falter at the Alappuzha, Chertalla and Ernakulam stations for trains that took time to cross over. Just prior to getting down at Thrissur, I'd wished my fellow travellers a happy journey and to a group of four 'a safe umrah' and posted myself at the waiting point near the exit. Soon after I'd alighted, one of my fellow travellers, Shawn, a 30 yr old young man working in a hospital at New Delhi, came frantically to me reporting the loss of his mobile phone that he'd kept for charging at the plug point near my seat. Without hesitation, I showed him mine and offered my bag for his search, to remove even an iota of doubt, which he refused. Then I'd asked the guy who accompanied him to ring on his number so that if at all the phone was on my person - I could be a rogue, you know! - it could be retrieved!! I could see him go through the agony of having lost his prized possession and as far as he's concerned, I'm sure, that the rest of the  journey was gonna be a nightmare.

Hope he could get his cellphone on return to the coach. If not, one of us is definitely a thief and the culprit!?............ I shudder to think of that young man's predicament!!  

Monday, February 8, 2016

A wide range of activities.

I'd got up fairly early in the morning as Maman had packed in a lot of activities. We're off from home by a half past 7 because our meeting with the chief minister had to take place before 0830h, when he'd leave for the Assembly to attend the day's session. The Qawalis refused to start and we'd to push it for a while to start it in gear and I'd started perspiring with my day's clothes on - a situation that I detested. Breakfast had to be shunned to keep the appointment.

Despite the initial hiccups, we reached 'Cliff House', the residence of the chief minister in time. Padmakumar, a member of our staff at the Foundation and a person well versed with the goings on at such occasions told us to edge into the inner chamber after getting clearance from the security guys. We could, thus, meet the CM and hand over the papers about the 'PN Panicker Institute for Social Workers and Development', for which, the students for the first two batches of courses were being interviewed tomorrow. We're the last ones who could meet him and what was heartening to see was the old man's pleasant demeanour despite his hectic schedule. There was a sizeable crowd who had to be satisfied in meeting his private secretary and hand over their requests to him! We sure had short cut the system and no cheers for that!

The Qawalis was pushed, yet again, and brought back to life by a couple of off duty policemen, who're part of the CM's security detail, damn sweet of them! Our next stop was at the Foundation to collect a few more relevant papers and we met the Deputy Speaker and the Education Minister in that order. Breakfast was wolfed in between the two visits, phew! It almost turned out to be a ritual that had to be completed! Meanwhile, my new 'saarthi', Binoy had fetched up from Paravoor.

Around 12, I and Binoy had set off for Paravoor for my interaction at the organisation that I'd taken charge recently. After about two hours and a quick lunch, I could set about my work without of course, the Director who was away at Kollam, on an errand. Listening to the feedback and after taking stock of the activities, I'd gone to meet my uncle and be with him for a while. He and the male nurse tending him are the occupants of the huge house which was once filled with people and laughter, My uncle looks nice and is in good spirits. After taking his consent it was decided that Binoy would park the vehicle in his premises because of three reasons viz.:-

     - the security of the vehicle was assured and it could be washed down everyday
     - the office premises were just within a circle of 5 kms and
     - the boy's house was pretty close too!

Binoy had dropped me at the railway station and gone back to park at my uncle's place and secure from there. My train was about an hour and twenty minutes late and therefore, I'd plenty of time to sit at the platform and contemplate........

      - remembered my childhood days when I and my cousins used to spend our vacations at Paravoor
      - the eagerness with which the late Leela kunjamma used to host us
      - the abundance of the mangoes and other fruits to indulge upon.

Sadly, I'd forgotten to pray at Leela kunjamma's cremation site while leaving, wonder why? Perhaps, my long wait at the station was the consequence!

Had reached Thiruvananthapuram before 8 and Omanakuttan was there at the exit as pre-arranged. We'd, then, gone to meet Mukundettan - a BJP leader and a good friend - and the discussions went on till about 10 with him insisting that I must involve myself in spiritual activities connected to the Guruvayur temple. He was quite thrilled to know that we stayed there and has promised to visit us when he came in next!


It's hectic, but was happy that I could finish the backlog of work  


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Off to Thiruvananthapuram.

The day had begun on a quiet note with me tying up all the loose ends so that mom and Lekha did not have anything to worry about during my two day absence. The trip had become a necessity as I'd to make the customary trip to Chathannoor and Paravoor to oversee the activities out there. I'd set off after lunch but being a Sunday, auto rickshaws were hard to get and so, it was after a wait for a while that I could get onto one.

The buses to Thrissur were a plenty and I clambered on to the first one in the line which was choc-a-bloc with people. I was a standing passenger throughout the entire 25 km drive and was a little clumsy holding on to the railing, twice 'mounting' the guys in front when the driver was magnanimous in the use of the brakes!

The wait at the railway station was a comparatively short one with the Jana Shatabdi arriving just about 5' late. Maman had already boarded the train from Shoranur but the coach that we're reserved in was the last, the 22nd behind the engine! The number of my seat was 1 which was incidentally, the last in the rows, and it was the coach's rear bulkhead that separated me and my co-passengers from the environment!! Cracking a PJ, I'd ended up being the last guy to enter Thiruvananthapuram!!!

The train had chugged into the station about 15' behind schedule and Omanakuttan, along with the vehicle was a welcome sight, as usual. A quick drop at the Foundation to collect the requisite papers for our morning meet with the chief minister was a detour before we headed for maman's home. Conversation and dinner followed. It's yet another day that was nearing its end.

Did I do anything worthwhile for the day? No, not really. Hope I'm able to say something different when I board my return train, the day after tomorrow.


The heat's getting to be miserable. I could finish reading the latest 'The Week' magazine, from cover to cover, during the journey as maman and me had to sit separately.     

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The news round up, continued.....

1. The Never Ending Yatras!

    Kerala is being subjected to a spate of 'yatras' by every political party as a pre-cursor to the
    forthcoming Assembly elections. What each party expects to derive out of this tamasha is left
    to individual imaginations but what has been clear is that the circus has caused despair to the
    motorists and passengers on the highways and roads because of roadblocks and traffic snarls!
    We'd lost over an hour, recently, on our return trip from Kottarakkara.

    The Congress was the first to take off from the starting blocks with their 'Jana Raksha Yatra'
    that will conclude on 09 Feb. The CPM with its 'Nava Kerala Yatra', the BJP with its 'Vimochana
    Yatra', the CPI with its 'Janakeeya Yatra' and the Muslim League with its 'Kerala Yatra' are
    closely following the grand old party for the finale at Thiruvananthapuram on staggered dates.
    Have the Malayalees been impressed? Can't say. But the major parties seem to have plenty
    of resources in their war chest for facing the elections!

2. The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple's back in the news!

    The expert committee, appointed by the Supreme Court, has been compiling the treasures in the
    temple vaults since 2011. The decision to open 'Vault B' was left for a later date because of stiff
    opposition from the temple administrators, the Travancore royal family and quite a few devotees.
    It has been said that suffering of an alarming nature and catastrophe would befall the state if the
    vault were to be opened. The inventoried valuables, thus far, have been divided into the following

         - Valuables, gold utensils and wares for pooja and customary rituals
         - Treasures of monetary value
         - Antiques which could be displayed in a museum and
         - Antique jewels for adorning the temple deity.

    All eyes are, now, on the Supreme Court for its directives!

3. The Loss of Innocent Lives Continue in Syria.

    With the slug fest between the major stake holders continuing in Syria, there doesn't seem to
     be any respite for the common man. Devastation is a daily affair with its attendant loss to lives
     and limbs of innocent civilians while the annihilation of the ISIS - which, incidentally, is the
     stated aim - continues to remain a pipe dream!

     Saudi Arabia has offered to embark on a land battle provided it has other takers too!

     When will the Syrians get their peace? How long does Basher Assad plan to hold on to his
     dwindling power? Doesn't the larger interest of his country come to mind?


It's a rather quiet day with me doing nothing worthwhile.


Friday, February 5, 2016

The news round up.

It's exciting times when many things seem to be happening all together. Keeping track of each one of them is a Herculean task but interesting, all the same. Let's, therefore, have a brief overview of the news that have hit the headlines in recent days.

 (a) The 13th Kerala Assembly begins its 16th and Final Session.

       The budget session of the 13th Kerala Assembly got off to a start this morning with the
       speech by the Governor of Kerala. The achievements of the Oommen Chandy government
       have been highlighted and despite the opposition's clamour for its ouster because of the 'Bar'
       and 'Solar' scams, the government has been able to get many things going insofar as the state's
       development is concerned!

       The Bar and the Solar scams seem to be running out of steam because they continue to throw up
       charges without any concrete proof of impropriety. What I'd been asking from day one is that
       why did Oommen Chandy require the likes of Salim Raj, Jikkumon and Teddy Joppen - all
       shady personalities - in his personal staff? I'm sure that 'the truth will out' ultimately and the
       guilty will be brought to book! And people like Biju Ramesh(Bar owner), Saritha and Biju
       Radhakrishnan(Both of the solar case) are the stars on all the media channels!!

 (b) The Sad spectacle of Official Apathy.

       After the unfortunate incident of the stripping and beating up of a female Tanzanian student, in a
       case of mistaken identity in the city of Bangalore, the authorities' attitude is appalling. The state
       government should have proceeded with the investigations immediately after rounding up the
       culprits and briefed the media in a matured manner rather than throw muck at the foreign
       personnel for their conduct. If they'd been unruly and were found wanting in decent behaviour,
       why was action not initiated at the appropriate time and action to deport them taken, if they're
       guilty? And I can't understand as to why people resort to such unacceptable behaviour because
       what they don't realise is that they've put their brethren, in that country, vulnerable to similar
       behaviour as a measure of 'tit for tat'!

       To Arnab Goswami's question, my answer is simple and direct, "Of course, we're racist! We
       continue to have a weakness for white skin but detest the dark skinned and let's not be in

       And the 'Fair and Lovely' commercial only reiterates this weakness for 'fair' skin of ours!

 (c) Success for the downtrodden!

      Vatsalya Chauhan - a Khagaria welder's son - has bagged a Rs. 1.02 cr per annum job at the IT
      giant, Microsoft. He's a final year computer science student at IIT, Kharagpur and was picked
      up during a campus placement drive in Dec '15. His brother is studying engineering while his
      sister is preparing for the medical entrance examination.

      I congratulate his parents for allowing their children to think big and work hard!


The insurance rep has, since, seen my Chevy and has given the go ahead for the repairs under the insurance cover which is definitely gonna ease the pressure on my pocket!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My Chevy has been admitted!

I was anxious to hand over my Chevy to the service station to initiate the repairs and had gotten up at 5. Realising that it was too early, I'd gone back to sleep which turned out to be my undoing. When I woke up next, it was beyond a quarter past 6 and I went around my morning chores without wasting time. My walk had to be given the go by. I could kick off for the service station, 25 km from my place, before 10.

Manikandan - who'd left the company about three months back had returned - was assigned to be my 'Customer Adviser' and had smilingly come towards me to take stock of the situation. I couldn't recall his name, then, but was happy to have him, assist me. The formalities were gone through and I'd instructed that the insurance cover be used for making up the damages. So, there goes my 'no claim bonus'. Well. one can't have everything you see!

In the meanwhile, the aggrieved party - consisting of a threesome that had an elderly gentleman, the father of the kid who was behind the wheel at the time of the accident, a middle aged, khadi-clad gentleman who, obviously seemed to have a political hue(Was he there to talk a few tough words to me in case I turned out to be difficult to handle?) and a youngster - had arrived at the premises, at my beckoning. They wanted Rs.6 grand as damages and I'd handed over the cheque without any haggling. They left soon after and I was glad that the episode had become a closed chapter!

Manikandan had dropped me at the bus stop from where I got my return bus. After a few domestic chores like handing over the clothes to the dry cleaners, buying fruits, dropping the credit card cheque at the drop box and collecting the receptacle from the hospital to hand over my mom's urine sample, for tests, tomorrow I was back home for a delayed lunch.

It's only this afternoon that I'd begun to breathe easy as the sight of the badly mauled Chevy brought me the guilt feeling of having brought it upon myself, through my bad driving and my impatience....... all the while, since 31 Jan.


Justice KS Paripoornan had passed into the mist of time yesterday. He was 94. He was a great admirer of my grandfather. I remember our visit to his house at New Delhi in the evening of 12 Dec '94 where my grandfather and he had a long chat over various issues with Maman and me being the silent listeners.

RIP sir. My prayers and tears.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

From Raj Nivas to The Quarterdeck.

We'd got up at 4, went about our chores and could leave Raj Nivas by a half past 6. The keys were handed over to the caretaker and since I was keen to hit the highway, without any further delay, didn't wait to meet my cousin, Unnichettan, who was coming by for his usual morning sojourn at the tea shop on the main road. And it proved to be costly!

About 45' later, while on the Kayankulam-Punalur road as I was overtaking a tipper lorry, its tail touched my Chevy's rear end making another ghastly gash. By not meeting Unnichettan earlier I was actually keeping my tryst with the tipper, which had to happen! Lekha had observed correctly that I tended to get a bit impatient while doing such maneuvers and in the process, made errors. But something at the back of my mind said that I'd given adequate clearance for my car while overtaking, but the irritated driver(?) had given the final swing of the lorry's rear into my vehicle to 'teach' me a lesson or was it all my imagination?

But the 'teaching of a lesson' happened later on, too, while we're on the Alappuzha-Kochi stretch when an Innova taxi had overtaken my Chevy and slammed the brakes in front of me. I'd asked him, through my rear view mirror as to why he was continuously blaring his horn away when there was no space for overtaking! He was, thus, teaching me to behave!! Another example of road rage, perhaps?

The traffic through Kochi seemed to be going along fine, after we'd paused for a spot of shopping at the canteen and I thanked my stars for the absence of clutter because two 'yatras' - the CPM's Nava Kerala Yatra and the BJP's Vimochana Yatra - were crisscrossing the district today. But my joy was short lived as we hit the road block at Kalamasserry, thanks to the CPM's yatra. And the strange thing that I'd noticed was that it was in total violation of the existing Kerala High Court directives banning street side meetings! Combined with the Metro work, taking place beside it, it was chaos despite a posse of policemen trying to keep the traffic going. We lost more than hour in that madness! I was mainly bothered about mom who'd expressed a desire to release her bladder, earlier.

After two breaks for breakfast and lunch, besides the shopping interlude followed by the traffic snarl, we reached 'The Quarterdeck' before 4, in time for tea.

The evening walk was relaxing and was a necessity. Seeing my Chevy standing at the porch, badly mauled because of my poor driving, made me feel guilty.


The youngster, whose car I'd damaged, was asked to collect his Rs. 6 grand from me tomorrow.         

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Strictly with the family.

It was a day that started a trifle earlier than usual. We'd set off for Lekha's house by a quarter past 8. The normal school going traffic had gathered momentum but could traverse the 9 km under 20'. Breakfast was on and we joined the crowd without wasting even a minute and in the process, mingled with the relatives. We set off for Kallada to the house where the little one, whose 28th day celebrations were on.

The traffic on the Kollam-Chenkotta highway wasn't as crazy as I thought it would be and our vehicles reached the destination under an hour. Soon after, the simple ceremony was on. Mom slipped our gold bangle onto the right hand of the sleeping child and the little one was named, Pran(Official name, decided by his parents) and Ganesh(Pet name due to the family's undying loyalty to the deity of the Kottarakkara Ganapati kshetram). After the traditional lunch and after waiting for every guest to finish his/her lunch, we'd shaped course to my brother-in-law's house.

Pidavoor amma, all of 88 yrs, was in bad shape because of a bad fever and cough. She was all by herself and would continue to be so till late evening, when her youngest son gets back from work. He's, incidentally, a diehard bachelor in his mid 40s. As we took leave of her with her neighbour by her side, I took in the familiar sight of her with folded hands wishing us a safe journey from my rear view mirror.

A quick snooze and about a half an hour later, Sheela, had come by to finish up the cleanship that she'd begun yesterday. Meanwhile, mom's well wishers kept dropping by in a sort of continuous trickle.

By about a half past 8, Anil had come by with the remainder of the cash as he'd promised yesterday. The deal is finally on!


The next time we come here, Raj Nivas will not have any shade bearing trees, immediately around it. The new coconut saplings and the teak trees will take their time to provide respite from the weather.

Monday, February 1, 2016

At Raj Nivas.

It's pretty nippy out here, early in the morning and the fan had to be kept at the minimum speed. I'd gotten up a few minutes later than my usual time. Mom's warm water was got ready on the gas stove, monitored by Lekha. The soiled bedcovers had been soaked in soap water last night itself and they're ready for a scrub. The Chathannoor trip had to be dropped as Maman was not able to join me and his presence was required.

The Chevy was given a wash and then came in the guy who was buying away the old rubber trees of our compound. Tapping of the trees have long since been stopped as it's nomore economical and they were of the '80s vintage! The deal didn't take much time to be reached as I made it clear that I wasn't into haggling. The buyer gave me an advance of Rs. 10 grand with the promise of giving me the remaining 95 grand by 1700h tomorrow.

The sales proceeds will be equally shared between my sisters and me. I was reminded of the careful nurturing of the trees when they're saplings. We used to wish away strong monsoon winds because it could break the plants - the staywires, notwithstsnding! The trees had been an assured input to the family's coffers.

Mom has agreed to my plan to plant coconut trees and teak wood as the next set of crops.

The washing of clothes and finer cleanship was the responsibility of your's truly with a helper to assist while Lekha had gone to the Kottarakkara Ganapati kshetram. And visitors continued to drop by, keeping my mom in a perpetual state of thrill! Meanwhile, Vijayan, the caretaker, had got a team of three to pluck the coconuts and consequently, tender coconuts could be had to one's fill. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

Was it coincidental? I do not know but 85 year old Gopala Panicker - who used to pluck coconuts for us during his heydays, had dropped by seeing activity in the house. He was apprehensive about his age as he firmly believes that it's the usual age when people pass away! Assuring him that he'd many years to go, he was given his usual 'fair' and he clutched my hand for a long while before leaving us.

Just before sunset, Sheela had come to fine tune the cleanship done by yours truly.


My cousin, Soman, was the last visitor of the day.