Thursday, March 31, 2016

Off to Thirunelli.

Again, the day had started off by a half past 4. Venu, Lekha's brother, had gone to Neduvathur, about 6 km from the house to do the early morning ritual and by 6 o'clock, the 15 of us - the immediate family and the near ones of VO Nair and Ammini Amma, Radhamani - left for Thirunelli. The urn carrying dad's ashes was firmly secured within the confines of the Tempo Traveller that was hired for the purpose.

It was breakfast at Alappuzha, lunch at Ponnani and supper at Mananthavadi with stops for rest room/tea breaks in between. The traffic block - brought about by road work - at Kozhikode delayed us by about an hour and we reached Thirunelli at about 2040 hrs. The night halt was at a home stay. The kids, Anjali and Advait, were there to receive us and without much ado, we hit the sack after chalking out tomorrow's programme.

It would be appropriate to give a small write up of the Thirunelli temple at this juncture and so, here I go.

  * It's an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Maha Vishnu and is at an altitude of 900 mts in north 
     Wayanad, in a valley surrounded by mountains and forests, close to the Kerala-Karnataka border.
  * It's the only temple in the world where the devotees can perform all the rituals related to one's
     life, from birth to death and even, life after death!
  * The temple was built by Lord Brahma, who was travelling around the universe and was attracted 
     by the beauty of the area, now known as the Brahmagiri Hill. Descending on that spot on the 
     Sahya(The western ghats) valley, he noticed an idol set in an Amla(Nelli, in Tamil, Malayalam)
     tree and recognised that the idol was that of Lord Vishnu.
  * Upon Brahma's request, Maha Vishnu promised that the waters of the area would wash away all
     sins! Thus the spring and the river near the temple is called the 'Papanasini' meaning, "washes
     away all sins."


My first trip to the temple, though I'd heard about it many a time before. It's Lekha's dad who finally brought me here!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The 15th day ceremony.

It's the 15th day of Lekha's father's passing away. We're up with the sun and the entire household was ready after the morning ablutions to be in time for the ceremony that was scheduled to begin at a half past 7. But the 'conductor' was delayed at the previous venue and was apologetic as he breezed in by a quarter past 8. This guy's really busy, what with four sets of ceremonies - connected to 'departures' - in a single day!

The ceremony started off in right earnest and the simple procedure was rattled out by the 'conductor' and we kept pace with him in the ceremonious rigmarole that he put us through. The highlight was that everyone remembered the departed soul and to me, that was indicative of the effectiveness of the 'Master of Ceremonies'!

The delayed breakfast of steaming 'idlis' was wolfed down with plenty of conversation, between mouthfuls, with Lekha's folks who were in full strength.

And then came up the tricky issue of Lekha's dad's assets and the absence of a written will. He'd, however, put across his thoughts on the issue to one of his brothers, who'd assembled all of us for discussions. There are moments when one becomes the cynosure of everyone's eyes without consciously trying for it! It was such a moment for yours truly.

"The four siblings shall come to an amicable solution, I shall ensure that and we shall keep you informed about the outcome, chittappa," and suddenly everyone in the room felt relieved. I was sure that I'd be able to keep acrimony out in this crowd!


(a) There were quite a lot of people who'd dropped by, I could meet a sizeable lot but there were a few whom I couldn't because I was away from the scene for doing related things. It was a long day and tomorrow, shall begin earlier so that we're at Thirunelli before sunset, which means it would be longer.

(b) There's a change in Lekha's programme. She was to get down at Guruvayur, along with me, on the return leg but now that the final division of the assets had to be worked out with her brother and sisters, she'll return to Vazhuvelil on completion of the immersion of dad's ashes. It's gonna be difficult for me but I shan't worry about my personal difficulties!

Guruvayur to Kottarakkara.

Dateline 29 Mar.

I'd got up at a quarter to 5 and begun to get ready in all earnestness. I'd begun to shut down 'The Quarterdeck' since last evening. It was complete in all respect by 6, this morning. Asok, had called up to  say that they'd set off from Tirur around a quarter past 5. By a half past 6, they'd arrived and I gave them two piping cups of tea and by a 10 past 7 we're off.

The journey was uneventful. A quick breakfast at a small take away, short of Kodungalloor and another stop for a cuppa, around a half past 10 just off the Chertalla railway station at Susheela's tea stall - must admit that her tea was class - were the two halts that we'd permitted ourselves before fetching up at Indu's house at Kallada.

Indu's mom had spread a wonderful lunch for us and after an early tea, we were on our final leg to Lekha's ancestral house. Lekha was, meanwhile, monitoring our advance all the way. Finally, we're at Vazhuvelil House by a half past 4 where the family was slowly building up to conglomerate for tomorrow's ceremony.

Meanwhile, the oppressive heat was slowly giving way to the cool environment brought about by the sudden, but welcome, thundershowers. The evening was suddenly pleasant and the interactions with Lekha's family members turned out to be fruitful and helped us to update on each other.


Was spending an evening at Vazhuvelil House after what seemed to be a long time.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Chandradeep makes a connect after a long while.

I'd returned from my evening walk after paying up the shop that I'd bought a bunch of  bananas yesterday but didn't have the change to pay for. The young lady even made the remark that I couldn't have rested well because I owed Rs.60/- .......and it was a fact! On reaching home, my first act was to scan my cellphone for missed calls as is a usual habit and noticed that there were three calls from a particular number.

Something told me that the caller was desperate to get in touch and so, I dialled the number and felt so nice to know that it was Chandradeep, the barber who was on board the ship Sagardhwani, while I was in command. Actually his elder brother, Ramjit and he used to do the duties of the ship's barber alternatively every six months and the entire lot of us were very satisfied with the way they conducted themselves, offered their services.

They came from the rural interior of Uttar Pradesh, had cultivable land where they alternatively grew potatoes and pulses depending upon the seasonal diktats. While massaging post haircut, they used to tell me about the agricultural activities, that they undertook, in a fair amount of detail. What I remember about the disarmingly simple duo was that the two of them complemented each other to the tee and loved and toiled for their joint family without any sign of acrimony. Both of them were good at massaging and hearing their stories, their apprehensions during the process was education of a different kind!

They used to continue to be in touch with me much after I'd relinquished command of the ship and they used to come home for doing the needful, while I was at Kochi. But ever since I'd shifted to Guruvayur, the communication had dwindled and today was the first time that he'd called and hence, the excitement.

He'd left Sagardhwani soon after because he didn't feel comfortable with the new lot and he was currently freelancing in Bombay but found it difficult to make both ends meet. Ramjit was back home, restricted in movements with severe arthritis. His son had just finished class 12 with a pass class and he was seeking his professional placement in a suitable institution after which he wants to come to Guruvayur to set up shop.


His expectations are scary and I only hope that I do not let him down, I'm able to do something!    

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A 'trilogy' of emotions.

It started off as any other ordinary Sunday. Before long, my sister from Palakkad announced her plans to come over by noon with lunch for mom and me. In the meanwhile, Preetha was already in - she'd graciously cut short her Sunday off to look after our culinary requirements - and was in an advanced stage of preparing the dishes.

Padmakumar, Rema and Achu reached us around 12. Achu, on completion of his probation, was back in Perundurai, short of Salem, on a quick visit for a month to oversee the production requirements   and hence, could be at his house for the weekend. The lunch was, therefore, heavy but thoroughly enjoyable. Mom's bag was packed and though she was a bit reluctant at first, gave in and was all set as travel gives her the jitters, the aches and the pains.

They left soon after teatime and had reached their destination by a half past 7. Meanwhile, I'd returned from my customary walk that was given the go by all this while due to Lekha's absence and mom's reluctance to be all by herself at home! The whiff of air and the expending of energy rejuvenated me. The house was very quiet, indeed, except for the television that I'd switched on to see my favourite programmes.

        *                                    *                                     *
What a match it was? The 20-20 game between India and Australia proved to be absorbing till the end thanks to Virat Kohli's fireworks with the bat, Dhoni's all round show and the bowlers restricting the Aussies from notching up a mammoth total. I'd refrained from watching the game, as usual, as I consider myself a 'Jonah' for our team if I were to watch it but my friends and relatives kept updating the game every now and then.

Australia has always pulled off victories and have shown the ability to play as a cohesive team when it mattered most and I thought that the odds were in their favour to get into the semifinals. But what a match? The Indians deserved their victory and to me, it's now almost sure that we're gonna win the cup! Incidentally, both Pakistan and Sri Lanka from the subcontinent, are out of the reckoning! India, therefore, needs to get their flag flying.

Well played India. All the best for the two remaining matches!

        *                                    *                                      *
I'd called up my cousin this evening to get some information that would help me in my forthcoming presentation at a seminar. She'd by then received a call from the person whose decision to stay single is attributed to my insensitivity. Let me recap......

I'd met the sisters, at Bombay, in the early '80s and we got to be friendly and were in touch despite my movement out on transfer from the city. I'd told her father - during one of his visits to me - that I was interested in marrying his older daughter. I was told by them that the elder one was earmarked to marry her first cousin, a decision taken since their childhood - a commonly acceptable situation among us Nairs - and so, why don't I think about marrying the younger one? I remember giving my famous statement, "Love is not answering a MAT question in an examination where if (a) is not the right answer, one can tick (b) instead." 

But what I didn't realise then was that my smart Alec answer was downright insensitive - though I must confess that I didn't realise it then, the dumbo that I was! - so much so, that the younger one was 'crushed' psychologically and had taken the harsh decision.

I'd always wanted to ask a few related questions to the person, on realising the colossal damage that I'd brought to bear upon her...

        - Am I worth wasting your life?
        - Would you've ever accepted me as yours never having got over your sister? 

She'd asked my cousin to convey her condolences to Lekha on the passing away of her father! Damn sweet of her!


Fixed up with Asok regarding my journey, early morning the day after, to partake in my father-in-law's final ceremonies ending with the immersion of his ashes at Thirunelli in Wyanad.   


Saturday, March 26, 2016

The high spy drama.

Over the last couple of days, Pakistan has gone to town over the capture of an Indian 'RAW' agent who was fomenting trouble in Baluchistan. The Indian government while conceding that the captured individual was a retired officer of the Indian navy turned businessman, shuttling between Iran and other countries of west Asia, has affirmed that he had nothing to do with either the government or the RAW.

Moreover, the Pakis had broached the topic with the Iranian President, currently on tour there, who brushed it aside as 'too much being read over nothing'. He'd laughed it off yet again, later at a press conference, when the Pakistani press corps tried to extract sound bytes out of him on the issue landing that country with an egg on its face, in diplomatic parlance.

Those were diplomatic niceties and expected behaviour between two countries. But now to more human aspects, reports from Pakistan say that Commander Khulbhushan Jadhav(Retired) has been nabbed; he must be going through inhuman torture - ever since his capture - and must have been made to elicit responses, the way his interrogators want, so that they can use them against him and his country later. Note that they've still not permitted consular access to him which is mandatory.

The family of the ill fated gentleman must be passing through stressful times. It's hoped that their untold agony ends as early as possible and I'm sure that the entire country will be praying for his safe return, as early as possible, with the active indulgence of the central government.

Meanwhile, we'll continue to see the slugfest on the media.


1. One thing that has been very evident all this while......the Pakistanis go ballistic whenever they have a brush with RAW or anything that it can relate to the organisation!
2. A special prayer by virtue of the fact that you've worn the white uniform!        

Friday, March 25, 2016

Political leaders have to keep looking over their shoulders.

Political leaders, the world over, need to look over their shoulders lest they make even the slightest mistake by deed or action. It's necessary for their survival because the public image that each one builds up about himself/herself is based on a few truths, covered with myths and a perceived 'clean' image.

It'll become amply clear when I were to illustrate the Myanmarese leader, Aung San Suu Kyi's recent discomfiture while being interviewed by a BBC presenter, who was a Muslim. She lost her composure and made an anti-Muslim remark after she was grilled and posed with uncomfortable questions regarding Myanmar's violence hit Rohingya Muslims.

A digression. Who're the Rohingya Muslims?

 About 80% of the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar live in its western state of Rakhine which shares its  northern border with Bangladesh. Nearly all of them have been denied citizenship by successive 
 governments, as the government does not recognise Rohingyas as a distinct ethnic group originating  from Myanmar but rather as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Myanmar, as everyone is aware, is
 a Buddhist state.

 The UN considers the Rohingyas as the world's most persecuted group of minorities! 

Just goes to show that even Aung San Suu Kyi shares the opinion of the military regime that had incarcerated her all these years, regarding the hapless community! 

That's the reason that many leaders make off the cuff remarks, on issues, only to rue later and even claim that their responses were distorted by the media to attain its ends! This is the case the world over and owing to repeated transgressions, the general public - all over the globe - have understood as to how to take it....with dollops of salt!!


It's in this scenario that Donald Trump, who's seeking the Republican nomination for the US Presidency, seems to have no such baggage that restricts him from saying - blasphemous for those who toe the 'correct' political line - what's in his mind, which incidentally, is shared by a large majority of his countrymen.

He's able to pull it off because he's a self made man and he doesn't require any of the props that his opponents badly need. Interesting, indeed!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

It's Holi. My memories of a few.

Today's Holi, the festival of colours. I've always been fascinated with this festival as the riot of colours invariably brings out the kid in each one of the participants. So long as it remains simple with the sole aim of having clean fun, without antagonising anyone, it's fine. But there are times when limits have been crossed leading to a flow of bad blood in the aftermath.....

My memories of having participated in this festival are mostly nice and I'd like to share them with you. So, here I go:-

     Spring '73  I was initiated into this festival for the first time as a 1st termer at the NDA. What I
                       remember of the occasion was that there was a general eagerness among the cadets
                       - the seniors as well as the juniors - to play Holi with Mrs. Kapoor, the attractive wife
                       of Mr. Kapoor, the contractor. After that beginning, it got down to dunking course
                       mates in whatever water bodies that were available, the filthier, the better!                                                                                                                                                                                              Spring '76  I was at the Elementary Flying School at Bidar flying the then trainer HT2s. The
                       playing of Holi was, initially, with our instructors with 'Alpha Yadav' dumping a good
                       amount of the pink colour on me. The subsequent session with one's own course mates
                       was a subdued yet colourful one. I was to lose quite a few of those lively friends, like
                       Kashyap, Soman, Rathore in flying accidents and Salaria, in a freak road accident
                       in the succeeding years. What I remember of that occasion was when all of them egged 
                       me on with my PJs and it turned out to be a laugh riot! Did I laugh at my own jokes?
                       I think I did!! Cheap guy, huh!!!

     Spring '78 I was doing the Sub's courses at the premium naval establishment on the Malad
                      beach and with the sea around, playing of Holi became all the more interesting 
                      dunking people in the abundant waters of the Arabian Sea! Cmde Viju Shahane was  
                      our Commanding Officer and I remember it to be a happy occasion. Bhaang was 
                      served, albeit, in a controlled manner and after a generous helping, I'd begun to laugh
                      that couldn't be controlled and had subsequently, slept uninterruptedly for 24 hrs!

     Spring '86 I was at the leadership school, Agrani at Coimbatore as a member of the staff. After
                      a nice session of Holi at the Officers' Mess - I remember somebody darkening my
                      face with dark colours because I was very fair - I'd reached my cabin when I was told
                      of my course mate, Sampath Kumar's, bike accident. He was in a critical condition
                      for almost a week before he succumbed to the injuries sustained by his brain.

     Spring '87 I was in command of the landing craft LCU36 and it was a dignified Holi, at the south
                      quay of the Madras port, with sing song sessions. My Executive Officer, the Navigator
                      and the Coxswain, Master Chief Balkrishan made sure that the ship's company would 
                      be at their best behaviour, the intake of bhaang notwithstanding!

     Spring '94 Lekha's and my first exposure to the Holi at Moti Bagh in Delhi. The most colourful
                      of them all and there were more civilians than defence personnel because we're staying
                      in the DII accommodation!

     Spring '97 I was in command of the majestic, Sagardhwani and we're out sailing on the Bay of
                      Bengal. The cleanest Holi played by me as the salty fire main was directed at each and 
                      everyone, who'd ganged up at the helo deck. There was no chance of using colours
                      on board ships, you see!

     Spring '00 I was the Deputy Director of the Centre for Leadership Studies at Kochi and we -
                       my staff and me - being the mentors of the young Sub Lieutenants under training in
                       Kochi went out of our way to teach the youngsters as to how one played a dignified
                       Holi, respecting each other's sensibilities and without ever losing dignity!

     Spring '01 Back in New Delhi at the NHQ and we'd a hired accommodation at Sec 21, NOIDA.
                       It was a mad Holi with my colleagues from the directorate, course mates and friends
                       including my kid sister and her family. 

     Spring '13 My last Holi, in uniform, as the Movement Control Officer, Kochi with my boys
                       and their families first, followed with the inmates of the residential enclave of which I
                       was the President. The thing that I remember of that Holi was that it took days for
                       me to shed those colours from my body!


Here, at Guruvayur, Holi is non existent. My neighbour - my senior at school and a fellow ex-serviceman - and me had exchanged greetings right in the morning followed by wishing friends over every conceivable means of communication, from What'sApp to e-mail to telephone! It's Holi once more!!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The court steps in to correct government inaction.


1. (a) The day........ 05 Jul '15.
    (b) The ADM of Idukki, Moncy P Alexander, was trying to implement a High Court order to
          reinstate a gate blocking a pathway through a private estate.
    (c) The estate was the Travancore Rubber and Tea Company Limited, near Peruvanthanam in
    (d) The pathway was earlier 'cleared' by the local residents.

ES Bijimol, the CPI's Peermade MLA had assaulted the ADM, causing him grievous injury,
preventing him from carrying out the court's order.

The Slow Progress on the case.

2. The case has progressed slowly. The related milestones reflect the reality and are self explanatory:-

     (a) 07 Sep '15   The High Court orders a crime branch inquiry into the case.
     (b)                     The state government contends that the arrest of the MLA could be avoided
                               using the discretionary powers vested in the police under the Code of Criminal
     (c)      Mar '16  The MLA withdraws her petition, seeking anticipatory bail, that she'd filed
     (d)                      The court orders the state police to take action against the investigating officer
                                for failing to arrest her when she appeared before him for questioning.

The Court Steps In.

3. The Court had the following in retort to the government's contention:-

      (a) The discretionary power of the police, regarding an arrest, can be used only in cases where
            the punishment for the alleged offence was less than 7 yrs of imprisonment.
      (b) Whereas, the offence committed by the MLA can fetch her a punishment of up to 10 yrs.
      (c) The argument by the state government and the crime branch that the MLA need not be
            arrested, therefore, was not acceptable.
      (d) The order on the investigating officer stays.

My queries.

I've a few queries on this issue which are:-

       (a) What protection does the government provide to its employees when they carry out
             orders on its behalf? If it doesn't, as is seen in this case, what does the government
             servant do to redress his grievance?
       (b) Does a politician have unlimited powers, to the extent of manhandling and use of threats,
             on a fellow citizen just because he/she has been elected by us?
       (c) Why do many of the elected representatives feel that their theatrics, consisting of offensive
             behaviour, violent tantrums coupled with abusive language and abrasiveness on unsuspecting,
             ordinary citizens will fetch them votes and the berth in the Assembly? Why're they under
             the misguided notion that such acts fetch them popularity?
       (d) Ah and doesn't it show a bias in the application of rules on people, depending upon their


It's my firm belief that the leadership of her party needs to advise Bijimol, the MLA, on the right aspects of parliamentary behaviour so that she desists from being obnoxious from now on!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A bit of news from here and there.

Just going through some of the news that have become headlines. Can only laugh at the way people strut around and utter statements - in the context of the forthcoming Assembly elections - which are not only comical but also shows their ability to twist facts, seemingly to their advantage. What the election results will be is anybody's guess.

 1. Dastardly, yet again.

     The twin bomb attacks at the Brussels airport and the Maelbeek Metro station, nearby and within
     the vicinity of the NATO Headquarters show the audacity of the terrorists of the IS. Initial
     estimates confirm 30 deaths and hundreds injured. The final headcount could be much more.
     What have the terrorists achieved? More hatred towards them and of course, the security forces
     will nab them eventually.

     The IS is far from finished despite major military offensives against it by almost every country
     in the west. Probably, these attacks are to ease out of the stranglehold of the liberating forces and
     to divert attention.

 2. The election tamasha in Kerala.

      There seems to be many aspirants from the Malayalam film world for contesting in the elections.
      Mukesh, Jagadeesh, Rajasenan etc are a few among them. I've always wondered what the aspiring
      political lot think about these people who parachute in from nowhere and for whom they've to
      garner votes. Mukesh may still be knocked off in the final reckoning as the official faction has
      tried to prevent VS Achuthanandan's acolyte - PS Gurudasan - from contesting!

      But the most comical was the discredited cricketer, Sreesanth's statement that he was being
      pressurised by the central leadership of the BJP to contest the elections.....a fact that the state's
      leadership finds hard to believe. What amazes me is that he thinks that he can take us for a ride,
      this time, on another turf!

      'Politics being the last haven for scoundrels' seems to be very true.

  3. And now, Paswan wants reservation in private institutions.

      Paswan, has pitched in for reservation of jobs for the dalits in the private sector. This is a
      gimmick resorted to by many political parties fully knowing that the argument doesn't hold
      good. Why should a private firm compromise on quality when its own survival is at stake?

  4. Afridi's way of getting back into the good books.

      After uttering the truth about the love that the Pakistani cricketers get here, he'd got on to the
      wrong side of the establishment back home. To make matters worse his team has not fared well
      in the ongoing World T20 cup. So, he broaches Kashmir in his press conference. Perhaps, that
      singular utterance will get him back into the good books of his countrymen and maybe, he'll not
      be removed from captaincy either. What games people play for survival? His team's poor
      performance will also be overlooked. Sad!


There's too much time being wasted over the slogan, 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'. If anyone thinks that it has a religious connotation, it's his ignorance showing. But where has the compulsion for it to be chanted come from? It's yet another irrelevant issue being propped up in the run up to the elections - setting aside the importance of development and growth!

Monday, March 21, 2016

From Kayankulam to Guruvayur.

The morning had begun on a wrong note - the water motor had packed up and water was at a premium. I made a few trips to the old house before getting a slot as the whole family, including the extended, were in a feverish pitch of getting ready for the occasion. Finally, by a quarter past 9, we'd set for 'Camelot', where the wedding was to take place.

It was almost a two hour run where one was bogged down by the beginning-of-the-week throng of people and traffic. Meanwhile, we'd made contact with my maman and his family who'd come down from Thiruvananthapuram and were at the government guest house for a wash and change. It was maman's birthday, too, as per the Malayalam calendar.

Met almost the entire family at the wedding. Devadas, my class mate from school and Rajam, his wife were part of the girl's gang and much to our thrill, realised that we'd become relatives by virtue of this wedding......the world is really small! Indira kunjamma's luggage - she'd travelled with us on the onward leg - was handed over to her daughter while my sister's was put into the boot, instead.

By a half past 12, we'd set off for Guruvayur. The journey was uneventful but for a prang that my Chevy had - while I backed and touched an iron pole in the process - short of Kodungalloor. My carelessness for sure and I was beginning to feel terribly sleepy!

We reached 'The Quarterdeck' short of 5, Rema made tea for all of us and soon after tea, she and Padmakumar had set off for Palakkad by one of the private buses plying on the route. Unpacking was completed along with the opening up of the house in quick succession.

The evening was quiet and it was a comparatively early evening.


The end of another outing and now, I'm told that I will have to be back at Kottarakkara, this Friday! So, yet another journey looming large! 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The fifth day.

It was the fifth day ceremony. Mom and I had made it in time for the ceremony by reaching Lekha's ancestral house before a half past 7. It was a fairly long series of rituals by the end of which Lekha's dad's mortal remains - three pieces of charred bones from the head, the chest and the foot regions - were put into an earthenware pot, secured firmly and placed in a shallow pit under a Jack tree waiting for immersion after the ceremonies are over.

The fifth day ceremony was simple, full of symbolism and rituals.

We met quite a lot of people who'd dropped by to offer their condolences and the forenoon had passed off seemingly quickly. Mini and Ammu, had arrived by the morning train from Bangalore, spent time with Lekha before they went off to meet Sanil's mother and Ammu's friend who was getting married a few days from now.

So, it was soon after teatime that we'd met up at Kottarakkara to proceed to my cousin, Kala's place to participate in young Abhilash's wedding ceremonies. Being a Sunday, the roads were comparatively free and we reached our destination over an hour's time. The fun and frolic was beginning to take off.

Kurup kochachan looked hale and hearty but his nurse, as well as his children seemed to be exasperated about his frequent visits to the toilet without reasons! I'd a chat with him and on explaining the pros and the cons, he readily agreed to wear a diaper much to everyone's relief and I was in the limelight - much against my wishes, though - for the rest of the evening. The youngsters had wanted to spend some time with your's truly, far away from the maddening crowd and I'd taken the opportunity to educate them on Muthachan's lifetime activities.

A fantastic evening. Wished Lekha was also with us for the occasion!


From a house that was going through the throes of a departure to a house that was getting ready to accept a new inmate, it was a paradigm shift. Another aspect of life!  


Saturday, March 19, 2016

From Guruvayur to Kottarakkara.

Had got up at a half past 4 and found that my mom was up earlier than me. The morning chores were gone through without fuss and by a half past 6, Asok and his mom had fetched up. They're going to travel with us in my Chevy, all the way to Kottarakkara to be in time for the fifth day ceremony of my father-in-law.

We'd kicked off 15' behind schedule against the time that I'd set for ourselves and I'd decided to go on the narrower NH17, for a change. Since it was a Saturday, the traffic was sparse and we're at the outskirts of Ernakulam by a half past 8, in time, for breakfast - I was feeling a bit guilty that I'd delayed the timing for Asok's mother, who's diabetic, but she told me that it was absolutely fine - putting me at ease, perhaps! But she did not seem to have any difficulty, as I observed her. The appropriate eating place needed to have two QRs:-

    (a) The place had to be decent.
    (b) The rest rooms had to be clean and good and
    (c) The parking area had to be roomy with easy ingress and egress.

After a break of 40', we're on our way again. We made a brief 'rest room' break at Kayankulam and also had half a cup of tea each to cater for any delay in having lunch. Both the moms, did exclaim that the break was timely and helped them in moving their limbs after the long drive. The switch over from the NH47 to the MC Road was smooth and we're at Lekha's ancestral house a trifle before 2.

The house was agog with activity for the 'sanchayanam' tomorrow. The houses were packed with the members of the family and the immediate family. Lekha's dad's earthly body had reduced to ashes ready to be sifted and picked up tomorrow morning at a half past 7. The boot that was packed with various stuff was emptied, leaving mom's and my overnighters. Lekha's elder sister, Latha, gave us our packed dinner and we set off for Raj Nivas, half an hour before sunset.

The greenery around has been reduced to rumps after the wood of the rubber trees had been cut and carried away. Mom was a bit sad as she associated the trees with dad's efforts of 30 years. She'd to be mollified and I promised her that the new batch of coconut trees that I was going to have planted, in lieu, will look and yield better in the years to come.

It was a late evening but quite restful at that!


Enroute, short of Kayankulam, my car was stopped by people doing security duties in connection with the election duties. I'd opened the boot as required by them and I don't know what prompted their leader to apologetically tell me but he did, "Sir, I'm sorry this check is on account of the forthcoming elections. We're looking for unaccounted cash and spirits that move rampantly."

The two old moms and Asok were angry that we're checked and they'd wanted me to reveal my identity. I'd to tell them that they're only carrying out their duty and we'd to help them carry out by being co-operative, without fuss!  

Friday, March 18, 2016

A few home truths.

From here and there........

 (a) Shaktiman's plight.

       A police steed, Shaktiman, was beaten badly - that a hind leg of his had to be amputated - by a
       boor, Ganesh Joshi, a BJP MLA of Uttarakhand while participating in a protest march against
       the chief minister of the state. Despite the surgery, Shaktiman is not out of danger.

       I think what everyone must know is that anyone who ill treats animals is a bad man. So, Ganesh
       Joshi needs to be brought to book and no mercy must be shown to him. He has shown his might
       on a poor, helpless animal and therefore, qualifies for the tag, 'the meanest character'.

 (b) Goodies galore.

       I was amused by the television grabs of Bihar's MLAs carrying gifts of a microwave oven, a
       travelling suitcase and a bag. The bonanza has been picked up by even the 'crorepati' MLAs
       just proving the point that greed and want are insatiable.

       What's happening to Nitish Kumar? Is he being taken over by Laloo Prasad Yadav's way of
       looking at life and thumbing his nose at the common man of which he was a part till recently,
       before his meteoric rise?

 (c) Cine actors to the fore.

       In Kerala, both the UDF and the LDF have chosen cine actors as candidates for the coming
       elections. What amazes me is that not many of them have acquitted themselves well in their
       chosen field. The result would be that they would allow themselves to be willingly manipulated
       by the political party to whom they'd be permanently indebted!

       The ultimate losers will be the people of Kerala who'll have sub standard lawmakers in the
       Assembly! But nobody seems to care!!

       Come to power at any cost seems to be the byline.


Another day of limbering up to go to Kottarakkara to attend Lekha's father's fifth day ceremony -

Thursday, March 17, 2016


It was a quiet day as the temperature was soaring and had touched 40 degree Celsius. Caught up on my reading and that worked out to be soothing. Meanwhile, I was also updating myself about the happenings in the family. Today, was the inauguration of the 'PN Panicker National Institute of Social Development' at a simple function at Thiruvananthapuram - a function that I was to be part of and had worked on its conception but couldn't attend due to the changed circumstances.

The electricity was playing truant right from the morning and it had gone kaput soon after lunch time. Going by the pattern of the past few days, I was expecting its restoration before the 6 o'clock news on the Malayalam channels. However, it was not to be and on closer scrutiny, it was found that power was available up to the external switchboard! That was the time the 'tube light' glowed in my mind!

On crosschecking I found that our neighbour had electricity and therefore, I'd rung up our section of the state electricity board regarding the impasse and the supervisor's answer told me that it would be a long wait as both his linemen, on duty, were out on fieldwork - a euphemism for their unaccounted absence!  "So, sir could you get your electrician to do the needful?" I replied that I'd give it a try but had asked him to retain my complaint of defect till I told him otherwise. The elderly couple's house, across ours, also suffered the same fate but the problem there was more acute in that it was a single phase connection.

My man, Sajeev, came and got our system going by putting it on the only phase that was available. But he refused to go to the other house - he's had some bad experiences in the past with them! Finally, by around 8 o'clock, the two linemen - Varghese and Sunil fetched up and did a 'patchwork', promising to do the proper rectification by morning, before they handed over their duties. The former, was smelling as though he was a mobile distillery and I observed them to be 'profoundly happy' for no particular reason!

All's well that ends well and I was happy that I could have our neighbour's problem licked along with that of mine.


Two days back, when we'd gone for Lekha's dad's funeral, I'd forgotten to lock up the main door. I seem to be getting forgetful a bit too frequently these days!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lekha's father becomes memory.

The day had begun at 0130h for me as my brother-in-law, Padmakumar, had fetched up from Palakkad by bus. After a brief exchange of news, we'd hit the bed only to get up at 4 to meet the day's requirements. To my surprise, mom was up and about much earlier. I tried to make tea for the three of us, only to find that the milk was spoiled because of an erratic refrigerator - of late, its compressor cools only the freezer and doesn't bother about the other areas! Will have to get it fixed after this unsettled phase is over. So, we'd to leave without the morning cuppa......Sorry, mom, sorry, Padmakumar!

Johnson, a newcomer, came in with his spanking new Renault Lodgy at a quarter to 5 and we're on the road by a quarter past 5, fifteen minutes past the deadline that I'd set for ourselves. We carried the 'poorie-bhaji' breakfast prepared by the maid, last evening. At Ernakulam, we're joined by my cousin and Ramakrishnan, in their car. The journey was fine, there were no hitches, whatsoever, and we reached Lekha's ancestral house by a few minutes past 10......and saw Lekha's dad immaculately dressed and lying in state in the hall of the house.

Met each of Lekha's relatives as the ceremony started only at a half past 10. Lekha's brother had reached by 6 after taking a night flight. By 1055 hrs, the red and golden shrouds were pulled over achhan's face at the cremation spot and his earthly form became memory. Soon the pyre was lit and the fire raged within the temporary steel furnace, erected for the purpose! I saw his elder brother and sister crying silently...... they seemed to be wondering as to why their 'kid' brother had to leave their midst earlier. Lekha couldn't control herself and was crying aloud and I just held her convey, "Weep, because you must but I share your grief."

RIP VO Nair sir. You've left an indelible impression with the family.


His gleaming, red wine coloured Tata Indigo stood at the porch as though waiting for his next trip. His personal effects, especially the artificial limb, were at their places as he'd left them but he'll never need them again.

After a quick bite of lunch, we'd set off on our return leg. Padmakumar, got off at Ernakulam, to catch his onward bus from Vytilla and reached Palakkad by 9.

Mom and I reached 'The Quarterdeck' a trifle before 6.


Today happens to be Bruno's 13th remembrance day. I remember that wretched day, 13 years back, when he passed into the mist of time......... Sleep well, Booney, but we miss you even to this day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lekha's father passes into the mist of time.

Lekha's father passed into the mist of time this morning around 1030h. He's a retired Customs Collector and was living at Palakkad with his wife till she passed away in 2006. Though he'd shifted to his ancestral house at Kottarakkara, soon after, he retained his pension account at his favourite bank in Palakkad. Every month he used to go to Palakkad for his bank work, have the house cleaned and during those trips he used to gorge on the foods that he loved to have, but were warned against by the doctor, because he was hopelessly diabetic. It started off as a minor indigestion, resulting in renal failure, leading to a massive cardiac arrest.

In fact, as I'd said on this forum earlier, his right limb had to be amputated about eight years back on that account. Fiercely independent, he lived life on his own terms. I'd thought that he'd slow down after the amputation but it just didn't affect him as he used to move in his car and go to various places that he desired to visit - just like that!

I'd seen him for the first time on 15 May '91, a day prior to my marriage with Lekha. We exchanged a few words as far as I can remember. The engagement ceremony was conducted six months earlier in my absence because I couldn't get leave and I'd already met her during my earlier leave and given the go ahead to my parents. What impressed me was his squeaky clean professional image in the Central Excise and Customs department and though he was friendly and talkative with his friends, he was parsimonious with words while being with me! Probably, he thought that his son-in-law had to be kept at an arm's length for whatever reasons that I wasn't aware of!!

He'd divorced his first wife - Lekha's biological mother - about a couple of years before Lekha's and my wedding. There's a story behind the coming together of the two strong personalities. His father, a brilliant criminal lawyer, used to be seen in action in his future father-in-law's court where the latter was the judge and the two decided to establish a relationship between their families, through their children. They've four children among whom Lekha is the second and their only son, immediately younger to her. What went wrong between them was never discussed and the real reason has gone along with them to their graves, to use a cliched phrase! He didn't sire any children in his second marriage and it was she who had taken the place of the mother at our wedding!! A very pleasant lady indeed, unlike the usual mould of step mothers one was familiar with, in stories and novels. Lekha's biological mother had passed away in Jan '97 while her step mother passed away in '06 and I was cosy with the both of them.

He was very attached to Lekha and she was the only person who could make him reverse his decisions by her logical reasoning. When they're together, the special bond that held them was amply visible and many a time I used to feel like a complete outsider. It was she who'd told me that he was quite fond of your's truly and I shall leave it at that.

During the last few years, he's been free with words while speaking to me, shedding his initial reticence. Perhaps, times had changed him and his lonely life had forced him to come out of his shell, at least, with a few.

RIP, Achha! I've learnt a lot from you. My prayers and tears. Hope Lekha is able to come to terms with her loss as early as possible.


(a) In '93, I'd seen him break down when Lekha's doctors didn't give her a chance as she slipped into coma. I happened to overhear his conversation - being the practical man that he was - with the family about taking the body for cremation at their ancestral property at Kottarakkara. I remember giving it to him with all the ferocity that I could muster for not praying for her early recovery and for speaking trash! The family still recalls that their 'Unniyettan' was left groping for a reaction for the first and only time. Incidentally, he's going to be cremated at that spot tomorrow.
(b) He's VO Nair, for Vazhuvelil Oonnikrishnan Nair. A quaint spelling because, usually, the name is spelled as 'Unni'!
(c) He's also a dog lover like me and used to have a Pekinese by the name of Seema when we'd our Bruno. And see the irony, tomorrow's Bruno's 13th remembrance day!     

Monday, March 14, 2016

Wandering mind, random thoughts!

A few things that come to my mind here and now. Crazy, you might call but that's me!

 (a) British?

       I'd taken a quiz to determine as to what nationality's traits were predominant in me. And I was
       surprised to know that I was British. So, was I a part of the occupying British contingent that
       ruled this country? Was I malicious, completely hateful and full of detest towards the unfortunate
       'kaalu Indians'? Probably, the Master Script writer wanted to teach me a lesson as to what it was
       to be on the other side of the fence by making me a 'kaalu Indian' in this birth! Quid pro quo, eh?

       But I'm glad to be one without any hesitation!

 (b) Afridi gets walloped for speaking the truth.

       Zahid Afridi, the Pakistan cricket team's captain, at a press conference soon after landing at
       Calcutta, in a candid admission had said that he and his team gets more love in India than in
       Pakistan. A matter of fact really, for which he's being hauled on coals. The poor guy had only
       spoken the truth but hopeless guys like Miandad and gang have taken umbrage to the Paki
       skipper's statement. I won't be surprised if he were to lose his captaincy and even, his place in the
       team for saying something from his heart!

       Poor fellow!

 (c) Vijay Mallya's last hurrah?

       Vijay Mallya has been making a lot of statements through the media, in whatever form one
       can think of. Imagine an MP declaring that it's not safe for him to come back home now
       because of a non-bailable warrant against him. The ire towards him keeps getting bolstered
       exponentially when one realises that he'd used the taxpayers' money for boosting his
       'larger-than-life image'.

       The law needs to act swiftly to have the swindler behind bars for his wrongdoings. And let it
       also be the beginning for the other wrongdoers - the rightful cause of the staggering amount
       of 'non performing assets' that most of the banks have managed to pile up - to be brought to

       I only hope that the entire drama is not a pantomime to confuse and lull us to the thinking that
       the government is taking stern(?) action!


The current weather in our country is baffling! Heavy rains in Uttaranchal and nearby places in the north, my friend in Nagpur says it's damn cool out there necessitating to have a sheet over him at nights, while it's sizzling hot out here!




Sunday, March 13, 2016

The love birds come home.

Rajesh and Chinnu are into the second month of their marriage. They're very much in love and it's a treat to watch them together. They'd dropped by, this evening, at our place, determined to meet us as their last visit had proved counterproductive since we're out of town - we'd gone to drop mom at Palakkad that day.

Rajesh has bought himself a shining and well maintained Royal Enfield - Bullet. Chrome plated, with minimal additional accessories, the machine looks cute. He's spent Rs.7 grand for its sprucing up - at the time of buying - because of two reasons:-

   (a) He wanted to impress his wife and
   (b) He had always wanted to own a Bullet.

He's planning to have the silencer's muffler removed so that the machine made waves as he drove through the temple town. In fact, they're going to meet his relatives who stay 80 kms away from here at Ottapalam, tomorrow. This evening, incidentally, they'd come to our place after a visit to the nearby Chavakkad beach and also its comparatively small and quaint lighthouse. Driving through 40 degree Celsius heat, requires a lot of stamina and of course, a real good reason other than being crazy. In their case, they seem to have eyes only for each other and their genuine happiness rubs off on the others - a great motivating factor in the prevalent scorching environment!

Chinnu is poised to head for Australia in the first week of August to pick up a job that's being readied by her sister, who's already there. Rajesh follows her soon after. So, they're living up every moment of their's with each other, before they go to an alien land, with an environment that they've to get used to.

Here's wishing them happy days all through with everlasting love, in these days of fickle relationships and individual endeavour of every husband and wife to do well professionally and in the process, forget to live life!


I've also told them to enjoy their 'motorcycle rides' to the extent feasible and to avoid the haste to buy a car........ This is the age to enjoy the two wheeler rides!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The 'manthan' that's going on in the state's CPM unit.

There's a tinge of irony in the way things are going on in the CPM camp towards the run up to the Assembly elections. Consider these:-

  (a) The LDF had an impressive win during the recently conducted panchayat elections. However,
        if one were to ask me, their's should have been better because of the following factors:-
          (i) the UDF was faction ridden and there were a lot of rebel candidates. Yet its showing was
         (ii) the spate of corruption charges heaped on the UDF from the solar scam to the bar bribery
               case were good enough to have the coalition humbled but nothing of that sort happened.

   (b) Pinarayi Vijayan and his group had systematically stacked their people in the state secretariat
         of the CPM over the last decade or so. VS Achuthanandan is no more its member.

   (c) Despite that Vijayan neither has the charisma nor the LDF partners' all round acceptance as he's
        seen to be sarcastic, averse to criticism and unsparing towards political opponents that do not toe          his line!

   (d) He's positioned himself as the chief ministerial candidate because he knows that if he were to
         miss it this time, he might never be able to make it.

   (e) VS Achuthanandan, on the other hand, is charismatic and is considered a crusader against
         corruption with his clean image, his son's professional advancement seemingly without merit,
         notwithstanding! On the other hand, Pinarayi Vijayan has the blot of the 'SNC Lavalin case' as
         a millstone around his neck.

    (f) The state secretariat has been trying hard to keep Achuthanandan from contesting, citing his
         advancing age but to no avail, as Achuthanandan had clearly stated that in such a scenario, he
         wouldn't be available for the election campaign which can upset the CPM's electoral

    (g) In an unlikely scenario of him being kept in the sidelines, he can still play spoilsport by voicing
          his dissent on Pinarayi Vijayan being made the chief minister - because of his taint - after the
          elections in which the LDF, supposedly, gets the majority!

The CPM's central secretariat's caveat, at this juncture, that both the leaders should contest is a convenient side stepping tactic of the vexed issue. If Achuthanandan wins, he'll have to be made the leader of the legislature and thereby, the CM - a situation that would be horrifying for Pinarayi Vijayan and his group!


One of these two scenarios can also emerge:-

    (a) Oommen Chandy and the UDF buck the trend and get a repeat mandate to rule the state
          by virtue of their impressive development achievements, the yet to be proved scams,
    (b) The BJP-SNDP coalition, along with a couple of the splinter groups of the Kerala
          Congress - unhappy with both the UDF and the LDF - notches a few seats making it a hung
          Assembly, paving the way for an interlude of President's rule. Mind you, in case that happens
          it would be 50 years after the last such happening!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Kidney transplant from any donor!

As of now, people with malfunctioning kidneys have to wait for ages to come across a suitable donor - the recipient's system has to be compatible with that of the donor - at costs that are variable (The actual cost of the surgery hovers around Rs. 21/2 lakhs but the donor's fees, as per local rates, are anything between Rs.7 to 10 lakhs) and not affordable by the poor. Till the identification and fixing of the donor, the patients go for dialysis at a frequency dictated by the level of deterioration of their kidneys.

In fact, I must let you on to this anecdote to tell you about my first sight of a person with failed kidneys. It was during the summer hols of '67 when I was in class VII. My grandfather had taken me along with him to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital to meet a good friend of his, the freedom fighter, Chovvara Parameswaran, whose kidneys were in a bad condition. I remember the old gentleman, with a plastic bag fastened around his waist, into which his urine was being outputted. His kind words still ring in my ears - after so many years - as I write this piece, "Son, you must follow good habits and never be like me, otherwise the results could be bad", pointing to the hanging bag........ His grandson, Ajith, was my classmate in school and a good friend.

The biggest problem for a recipient is the long wait for a potential donor, even after which a suitable match remains elusive. The wretched dealings of the touts is better left unsaid but remains an impediment to an early closure, for sure.

Now, researchers have successfully altered patients' immune system to allow them to accept kidneys from any donor, in other words, from an incompatible donor!

The researchers, headed by Dr. Dorry Segev, of the National Kidney Foundation of the US headquartered at New York estimate the following:-

      (a) 100,000 people are on waiting lists for a kidney transplant.
      (b) About a half of this population have antibodies that will attack a transplanted organ.
      (c) About 20% are so sensitive that finding a compatible organ is all but impossible and hence
           'Desensitisation' was a viable option.

The method known as 'Desensitisation' involves the following:-

      (a) Filtering of the antibodies out of a patient's blood.
      (b) The patient, then, is given an infusion of other antibodies to provide some protection
            while the immune system regenerates its own antibodies.
      (c) The regenerated antibodies - for reasons unknown - are less likely to attack the new organ.
      (d) However, in the event of the regenerated antibodies opposing the new organ, the patient is
            treated with drugs to destroy white blood cells that make antibodies inimical towards the
            new organ.

The process is:-

     (a) Expensive, costing $30,000.
     (b) Uses drugs not approved for this purpose and
     (c) The entire cost of a kidney transplant works out to $100,000.


Interesting medical advancements that will benefit the common man, eventually, when the costs would become affordable.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Adieu Captain Matloob Aslam Khan sir.

This evening I received a call from Jeetender, who was with me in the same directorate at the NHQ, about his impending promotion to the managerial cadre of the bank that he was working for. And then he queried as to whether I was aware of the fact that Captain MA Khan had passed away a few months back, a fact that he'd come to know through his Facebook site. It came as a rude shock due to two reasons viz.
    (a) In these days of all pervasive communication, how come I didn't get the info?
    (b) He was to come to the Rajah Ayurvedic spa, out here, once his lungs got all right and I was
          waiting for his son's call accordingly.

I've since sent a mail to his son, Minhaj to recount the great soul's last days but I still can't believe that he isn't amidst us, any more.

I'd come across him for the first time, in Jun '00, when I joined the Directorate of Contracts and Cost Management at the Naval Headquarters, New Delhi. He was miles senior to me but before long, he'd taken a liking for me and taken me under his wings. He was very protective about me and though he rarely visited others' houses, he used to drop by at our place frequently. Between the two of us, we managed the affairs of the directorate, so much so, that everyone who'd queries on anything that concerned contracts and related issues, would approach either him or me. We knew the tremendous responsibility that was thrust upon us on that account.

He used to tell me about his concerns and apprehensions and I remember the satisfaction on his face when Lekha and I'd called on him at the Base Hospital, where he was admitted for a third surgery for Hernia. We used to go by the check off list that we'd compiled on his daughter, Safia's wedding, my character certificate for his grandson who was a mere three months old for his passport, Lekha and me being part of his son, Minhaj's wedding 'baaraat' to Aligarh, his impending retirement....the list was endless. Even after retirement, he used to come and sit with me at my office, quite eager to interact with me and his family felt happy that at least he'd remain peppy so long as he was with me!

How can I forget the numerous times that he'd provided us with scrumptious home cooked food at the directorate? Every summer, he used to get a sackful of the tastiest mangoes from his orchard at Bulandshahr and took a personal delight in cleaning, cutting the fruits and feeding each one of us.

Truly, a noble soul! RIP, Khan sir. There can never be anyone like you. My salute, prayers and tears. Here's wishing that your family gets the strength to pass through these stressful times.


The last time that I'd met him was when I'd gone in connection with a Move Conference at New Delhi in '12. He was insistent that I stayed with him at his elegantly made house at Nizamuddin. The way he and his family had looked after me during those two days cannot be described in mere words. While having dinner at the Saravana Bhavan at Connaught Place on the penultimate day, it took me a tough time to explain that the outing was on me. His words, "Rajeev, whenever you're to come to New Delhi, you'll stay with us." On my return, I realised that I'd forgotten a couple of small things at his place and when I'd told him about it, his answer was on expected lines, "At least I know that you'll come back here soon."

I never knew that that would be our last meeting!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Simply baffled!

I wonder how and why things happen in this country this a way. I mean it's preposterous. If a common man like you or me were to resort to such gimmicks/tendencies, the law would have come heavily upon us. So, are these people special that there's a different law at work for them? It seems to be so and hence, I'm crying foul. It's not fair.

Let me touch upon a few of those happenings and here I go:-

   (a) Vijay Mallya giving the slip.

         During the whole of last week, Arnab Goswami's Times Now had been highlighting the man's
         financial misdemeanour and even went on to predict that he might flee from the country.
         There's a case filed by a few prominent public sector banks that he owes them over Rs.9,000
         crores and that he should be brought to book. The Enforcement Directorate has also found
         incriminating evidence against him regarding financial irregularities and it's abundantly clear
         that we, taxpayers, have indirectly funded his vulgarly opulent lifestyle!

         Despite all these, he has gotten away. Why? Is it because he's an MP? I thought they're also
         dictated by the rules of the country and the prevalent laws. So, who's helped him? Politicians
         or the government?

         He should be brought back to the country at the earliest and criminal proceedings initiated
         against him so that he's punished for the wrongs he's committed. His MP status needs to be
         revoked by the government, forthwith, for starters!

    (b) P Jayarajan's antics.

          P Jayarajan, a CPM leader from northern Kerala, is finally under the custody of the CBI -
          on riders, though - for questioning, in connection with the Kathiroor Manoj case. Kathiroor
          Manoj, an RSS activist, was supposed to have been murdered under the connivance of
          P Jayarajan as a retaliation to an unsuccessful murder attempt on him, earlier! 

          Jayarajan had appealed for exemption from custody on medical grounds to the CBI court
          and later, the High Court, which was turned down. After that there has been a series of
          pantomimes, shifting him from the Pariyaram Medical College(Controlled by the CPM)
          to the Kozhikode Medical College to the Sree Chithira Medical College, Tvpm and back
          to the Kozhikode Medical College, after the court was convinced that Jayarajan had no
          serious medical ailment and was therefore, handed over to the CBI for being questioned. 
          Understand, from reports, that he's generally been evading questions that were uncomfortable.

          What he doesn't seem to realise is that the public, after being witness to the goings on, are
          more or less convinced that Jayarajan has something to hide and hence, his non co-operation!
          Why is nothing being done to break the impasse?

    (c) The Sri Sri Ravi Shankar extravaganza.

          The three day 'Art of Living' extravaganza, on the flood plains of the River Yamuna, from
          Friday, has finally been given the clearance by the requisite agencies viz. National Green
          Tribunal and earlier, by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.

          Even the Army engineers were engaged in deploying two floating bridges on the Yamuna
          waters for the purpose, which has been widely criticised. According to initial announcement,
          the PM was to inaugurate the function while the President was to take part in the valedictory
          function but it seems that the latter has pulled out of it in view of the controversies.

          What was the need for any controversy if the event was a simple, genuine effort at enlightening
          the people? And what was the necessity to rope in the President and the PM?


The lame duck, Kerala Government has been forced to cancel some of its decisions of the last few weeks regarding allocation of paddy and wetland at 'Methran kaayal'  for the purpose of boosting tourism. If it was for development purposes, why did it have to wait for the last moment so as to give the opposition a much needed stick to beat it with? The paradox is that the opposition, while in power previously, had cleared the project, so it seems!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A hectic day.

We'd got a call from the clinic as to whether we could be there by 9 in the morning and I said, "Why not?" Accordingly, we'd fetched up at the clinic on the dot. We went through the registration formalities and occupied two seats at the vantage point. The doctor fetched up by 10, after visits to his patients in other hospitals. After an hour long wait, when one of his juniors had a detailed check up of Lekha, we could meet the doctor.

Pleasant and happy to see us, we exchanged pleasantries and I'd pulled his leg saying that he was slowly attaining cult status because he's continuously being shown on the closed circuit television monitors, delivering speeches on lecture circuits, seminars - a la godman! Lekha's medical condition has been certified satisfactory and he made her day by saying that she's lost weight since he met her last quarter!!.......We're out of the clinic by a half past 11.

And, then, we headed for picking up our monthly stock of grocery from our canteen. It was there that we met Rita Thettayil, the wife of a colleague and senior when I was posted at the Command Headquarters as one of the staff officers in the training division. Wasn't she thrilled to see us? Came to know that she stays close to us at Angamaly, enroute to the Kochi airport. Also met Cdr Idiculla Jose sir who's fond of me.

After about an hour out there, we'd returned to Jojy's house where Saly provided us with an exquisite lunch. Their grand daughter, Shanaya, didn't want us to go. She'd returned from school around a half past 12.

The drive to Palakkad - 165 km - was nice and the traffic, manageable. The evening tea was at the wayside restaurant-cum-nursery at Mannuthy. We reached my sister's house by 5.


A quiet evening and we'd be off for Guruvayur, with mom, tomorrow after breakfast!


Monday, March 7, 2016

Off for Lekha's medical review.

It was time for yet another quick dash to Kochi to meet Lekha's doctor for the quarter. The appointment is at 10 tomorrow. My worry was the cluttering of traffic at Aluva in connection with the conglomeration of the people, to do the rites for their departed relatives, on the occasion of Mahasivaratri. I'd chosen the narrower NH17, therefore, and we'd set off for Kochi around 2 in the afternoon, after lunch. The drive was trouble free as the traffic was sparse and I found that my impatience had toned down considerably!

But wait, I ain't gonna say that with certainty until I've a few more drives, a few more hoary experiences with nasty motorists and come out of them with my altered(?) level of patience! We're in Ernakulam, a trifle past teatime, made a few quick purchases and headed for my friend, Jojy's place, where we're spending the night.

It was a cosy evening. The highlights were many but the important ones were:-
          (a) meeting three of Jojy-Saly's friends who'd made it a point to call on us.
          (b) writing a three minute speech on account of the 'Woman's Day' for their friend, a banker,
          (c) singing on the karaoke, along with Jojy, a few evergreen numbers in English, Hindi and
               Malayalam during the course of the evening.

And Saly, as usual, had spread a lovely dinner for the occasion!


I'd missed out on two narrations, in yesterday's thoughts, that ought to be told. These were my observations and I thought that I must share them with my readers and so, here, I go:-

   (a) I'd the opportunity to observe many motorists on the highway as I proceeded from Thrissur
        to Vyttila, in the low floor bus. Almost all of them looked serious and a few, even grim, while
        driving. Wonder whether the pressures of driving was encroaching their pleasure of driving?

   (b) I saw this extremely beautiful young lady at the Thrissur railway station, on my return. As we're
        negotiating the flight of stairs of the foot over bridge, I was disappointed by the sight of her
        hairy legs that were revealed from beneath the loose skirt that she was wearing. Why couldn't
        she spend some of her time on that aspect too? None of my bloody business, you'd rightly say.
        And, so, the prosecution rests!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mission accomplished despite hiccups galore!

Today's events were preceded with a great amount of hiccups and how I could overcome them to achieve the main task forms the story. Now, consider these:-

   - Missing the alarm. Had set the alarm for 4 so that I'd a comfortable time of about an hour and a
     half to go through the morning chores. However, much to my horror, had got up at 8' to 5. Again,
     my Academy training stood me in good stead and I could be ready on time but had to miss my
     morning cuppa in the process!
   - Anto's woes. Had tied up with Anto to drop me at the railway station at a half past 5, yesterday.
     He rang me up at 0525h as to whether it was okay if he could get his bike to drop me at the
     railway station as the battery of his auto rickshaw was misbehaving. I said why not and because 
     I was dhoti clad, sat ladylike as pillion and clung on to him for life! I'd to put the fare forcefully
     into his pocket as he refused to take it and I'd to tell him that it was for the trouble he took to spoil
     his Sunday morning for me!
   - The journey that was uncomfortable. I was on the dot for the Guruvayur - Punalur passenger but
     had got into a carriage where the passengers were predominantly ladies. While I sat on a seat on
     which a lady was sound asleep, she didn't seem to like it a wee bit that I'd the audacity to occupy
     the same seat. It was a Rs.30/- ride to Kottayam but I found myself disembarking at Thrissur for
     boarding a faster train going southward.
   - A change of transport. To my surprise, I found that even the earliest south bound train, via 
     Kottayam, wasn't suitable for me. So, I got out of the station to the pre-paid auto stand where the
     youngster, at the counter, told me that it was just walking distance to the bus stand. He must have
     thought me to be a thrifty old fool but how could I tell him that the short walk in the hot morning
     would see me sweat through all my pores and I detested that?
  - A comfortable trip, met a do gooder. I was in time for the low floor a/c coach headed for Vyttila,
    Kochi that was ready to move. After settling down, I tried to charge my cellphone from one of the 
    plug points on the bulkhead of the bus but couldn't get it going. Shinoob, a young IT professional
    working at Bangalore and on his weekend visit to his sister, offered to have it charged on his
    mobile charger, damn sweet of him. After graduating in Commerce, he was doing this job in a
    private firm to acquire an experience certificate as he was poised for going to Muscat in May,
    to take up a job out there and his parents were also there. As he disembarked at his destination,
    I wished him the best in his endeavour and he's promised to keep in touch...he's noted my number.
 - The change over at Vyttila. Upon disembarking, I'd rushed to the rest room to ease myself and 
    boarded a private bus headed for Kottayam. The bus did take a circuitous route and dropped me         at the auto stand from where I reached Viji chechi's ancestral home, the venue of the ceremony.
    Sat with Babu chettan, who narrated the story from the start to the finish for my benefit. Viji 
    chechi's 3rd and 4th vertebrae had disappeared completely, about 41/2 years ago, rendering her 
    spinal cord vulnerable and she was bedridden from then on. A surgery was conducted which the
    doctors said was 90% successful (This was news because to a layman like me, a surgery can be
    either successful or not successful. Yet another classic case where the doctors didn't want to
    accept their failure!). The last six months were bad, in that, the medicines being administered
    didn't have any effect and there was fungal growth everywhere, within. Despite this, she wore a           brave, cheerful front hoping that she'd be up and about one day. In fact, she'd promised almost
    a year ago that Guruvayur would be her first stop over when it happened!
    Babu chettan and Viji chechi have two daughters, the eldest is married, has two children and is an 
    accomplished actress on the small screen while the latter is working in Madras and whose 
    wedding is slated for the 5th of Guruvayur!

RIP, Viji chechi. My prayers and tears!

After being with Babu Chettan for an hour, he'd me dropped at the railway station so that I could board the Bombay Jayanti express at a half past 12 and reached Thrissur by a half past 3. And an hour later, I was at 'The Quarterdeck'.

It was well after my evening walk, that Lekha'd fetched up from Kottarakkara after attending the betrothal ceremony in her family.


A hectic day but the mission was accomplished notwithstanding the numerous hiccups!      

Saturday, March 5, 2016

All by myself.

Lekha's sister had come by early morning at 6 and they're off to Kottarakkara to be in time for the engagement function tomorrow. Preetha had come home by a half past 9 and was off by 1 after having prepared my lunch and supper.

A quick bite of lunch, a short siesta and by 3, I was off to the service station to pick up my Chevy. Much to my surprise I found that I'd no small rupee denominations in my wallet. The owner of the bakery that we frequent gave me Rs.200/- against a Rs.500/- as he'd given all the smaller denominations to someone else just a while before! Thus, for me, liquid cash was in short supply and every penny(Or should I say paisa?) mattered!! The bus that I got on was on a zipping spree and I was happy that I'd be reaching my destination early.

It was nice to interact with the guys out at the service station and I was shown the parts of my car that were removed. I must admit that I'd a pang of regret looking at the colossal havoc that I'd created. Driving back, it was an exhilarating experience to be back at the wheel. I find that I've acquired some patience but to confirm it all too soon would be a mistake and hence, I desist.

The manager of the station is on to organic farming in a big way and he keeps me informed of the strides his team has taken on that front. I've given him some tips that I was handed over by the agriculture experts with whom I interact with at the Foundation. He has invited me for a day long workshop on the subject on the 7th. Should make it a point to attend as there would be plenty of new information to imbibe.

The 'pollution under control' certificate was obtained as the previous one had elapsed last week. It's a must as we're undertaking a few long journeys from Monday.

I was back home before sunset and could go for my customary walk doing the purchases of small items that I'd put away earlier as I was woefully short of cash! On return, it was a quiet evening thereafter.


Spoke to Babu chettan, who has promised to have me picked up from the Kottayam railway station tomorrow, on arrival. Damn sweet of him! It's gonna be an early day!!

Friday, March 4, 2016

A short, quick trip.

The day had begun as usual with each of us going about our normal chores. I'd gone for a haircut to the nearby saloon, Amigos, around 9 but I must tell you about the prelude. I'd called up the saloon and asked for an appointment, to which he queried as to whether I was insistent on the guy who'd styled my hair last time and if I were, then I'd have to wait till 11 as he wasn't free. I told him that I wasn't particular and could offer my head to any of the others that was free. It was a surprise, then, that the very same guy was available and went on to cut my hair, the funniest thing being that I was the first customer of the day! Imagine guys being pricey at such early stages of their career but I kept all my doubts to myself as it wasn't much of a consequence, anyway.

Happened to read an article, by Pirappancode Murali, in the February issue of the Grandhalokam about PN Panicker and his efforts at building up the Kerala Library movement. It was a clear case of misrepresentation of facts. Sad! I believe Muthachan had given a point by point rebuttal to this article years ago, when it had first come by!!

Mom was a trifle unhappy that she was leaving us, albeit, just for four days. Our regular sa'arthi, George had a problem with his car and therefore, recruited Ravi instead, who was at our gate on the dot at 2, after lunch.

We left for Palakkad, soon after. The traffic was sparse because of two factors:-

    (a) It's Friday and the majority of the population were at prayers and
    (b) The weekend had begun for quite a few.

Half an hour into the journey, the meowing of a cat was discernible from beneath the bonnet of Ravi's car. We'd stopped at a wayside stall to have a cup of tea and with the help of a few locals, a kitten was retrieved from the forward, left bumper. We're thankful that it had not fallen off and injured itself. As we set off from the stall, we saw the kitten slurping from a bowl of milk that I'd bought for it from the vendor.

We reached my sister's house by a half past 4 and soon after, she did fetch up. After a quick cup of tea, we're on our return leg after leaving mom. This was to facilitate us to attend a betrothal, an after death ceremony and to be in time for Lekha's medical review on the 8th, at Kochi. Mom will be brought back with us on the 9th.

We reached 'The Quarterdeck' around 1930h. A short change in our programme was effected after I'd taken permission from my brother-in-law's dad to skip his son's betrothal to attend the after death ceremony of Viji chechi, at Kottayam on Sunday. Accordingly, Lekha goes to Kottarakkara tomorrow morning along with her sister from Tirur while I stay on and go to Kottayam on Sunday morning.


I should be getting my Chevy tomorrow, finally. Phew!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A case for divine intervention?

My Chevy is yet to come back from the workshop. It needs intricate work that needs effort and time; my Customer Adviser has asked me for another two days. Though my patience is wearing thin, I've agreed to the delay because even if I didn't, the guys would have taken that much of time! It's been thirty days since I'd handed over my Chevy to them!

My mom keeps asking me as to how long would it take for the car to return and I give her a blank look, indicating my ignorance.

Preetha, Lekha's understudy, has come up with a brilliant plan. She's convinced that there's an evil eye on sir's car which is the reason for a string of accidents that has necessitated frequent repairs and consequent expenditure. There's an offering in some of the temples, around here, where such aspects that are harbingers of ill luck are removed and the process is known as the 'muttu arakku'(The breaking of the bad omen). I find that she has been able to convince both Lekha and mom.

Accordingly, Lekha is accompanying her to the temple once the car is back in the porch from the repairs!

Perhaps, that's the badly needed balm for the 'grief stricken' vehicle of mine!!


Will the divine intervention cure my bad driving and impatience, I wonder?


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

Maman broke the sad news of Viji chechi's passing away early in the morning. After being bedridden for 41/2 years, her condition had worsened last week with her doctor saying that it would be better for her to pass on. And the end came about five days after her admission into a hospital at Kottayam. I was reminded of my last visit to her, in between the 'yatra' of last year, when she'd promised me that she'd visit Guruvayur once she begins to walk and that remains a dream. Her younger daughter's wedding is scheduled to take place on 05 May!

Maman and I'd kicked off from home by a half past 9. There was some work to be done enroute before we fetched up at the Foundation. The Chathannoor organisation was reviewed, certain finer directives were, consequently, issued and the pay cheques signed - my director's signatures are required for their operationalisation and I'd signed them before he'd affixed his - to avoid delay due to my non-availability!

And then I'd come across the 46 year old, tough Jayasree. She'd come to my Maman in search of a job. Two years back, she was on every newspaper because her husband, along with his brother, had thrown her out of the house along with her differently abled child. The reason? She did not offer herself to her brother-in-law! She has been doing odd jobs like that of a domestic help/ a scavenger but she couldn't remain at one place and pursue the job because the society wasn't willing to accept her. I'd helped her draft out an application, seeking the job of a salesgirl in one of the khadi garment outlets that we franchise. It's our hope that she, along with her elder sister - working as a domestic help - would be able to eke out a living and look after the medical requirements of her son.

A quick bite of lunch and I was off to Guruvayur by the Jan Shatabdi at 1430h. The journey was uneventful and for a change, the train kept its tryst with time! Meanwhile, Viji chechi's funeral took place around 1630h at Kottayam and I'd mentally noted that we'll make a visit with mom, within the weekend, to offer our condolences!

The Thrissur-Guruvayur bus could be boarded without much wait soon after I'd gotten out of the railway station and I was back at 'The Quarterdeck', in time for supper. Mom and Lekha, listened attentively to my debrief.

It's yet another task achieved!


Mom's doctor is going under the surgeon's knife for Hernia and he's slated to be back at work on the 14th. Her review will, therefore take place only thereafter. Called him up to wish a speedy recovery and wasn't he thrilled?


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

PN Panicker's 107th birth anniversary.

The day had started at 0500h for and after the morning chores, we're off for the Foundation where finer things like the mic, the recorder and many other valuable and much needed gadgets were stacked into the official vehicle. Earlier, Muthachan's photograph was put into maman's car from home. We set off for the Kanakakkunnu palace by about a half past 9 from the office.

The cleanship and the arrangement of the furniture, to suit the programme's requirements, had to be gone through. The programme consisted of three parts viz.:-

      (a) A public commemoration of Mr. PN Panicker's 107th birthday where the state's education
           minister was the chief guest.
      (b) A seminar on digital libraries and their advantages, their immense possibilities towards
            social development and
      (c) The inauguration of the 240 hour/6 month course on green jobs, which was scheduled for the
            afternoon session at 1500h.

The commemoration started late by almost an hour as guests took their time to arrive. Once it got going, however, there were hardly any glitches. As usual, there were political worthies from across the spectrum on the podium, the newcomer being the state BJP president who was eloquent in his association with Panicker sir, whom he called his mentor and the prime mover for him being in politics!

The seminar on digital libraries was an educative experience, what when experts from various departments vied with each other to give out their expertise and consequently, the session cut into the lunch recess. The lunch, incidentally, was scrumptious and everyone had something nice to say about it which made us, the organisers, proud. As the last man was made to sit for food, I'd the task of bringing the next guest from his residence and therefore, became the last in the crowd to have lunch, around 1500h!

The afternoon session was equally educative with the guest speakers being the best and the students being active by their participation asking questions, clearing doubts and augmenting the discussions were real life experiences from the members of the distinguished panel. The session wound up at 1730h when we finally, made it back to the Foundation.

Our dinner for the guests was a tame affair, where the action plan for the coming three weeks was crystallised.


Out of the 30 students that we'd shortlisted for green jobs' course, only 23 fetched up. Were the absentees short of money to pay their course fees, some of them being from very poor families? A way out for them has been identified and they'll be contacted personally, tomorrow itself.