Saturday, April 30, 2016

My little maman.

Krishna Kumar, my junior maman, had come in from Kidangoor last night. Ever since we've shifted to Guruvayur, he has made it a point to visit the shrine every month. I also have this smug feeling that he likes being with us. So leaving his wife, daughter and granddaughter, he'd reached here a trifle after 9 last night thanks to a Kochi-Guruvayur bus that took more time than usual! He'd started at 3 in the afternoon.

As per his requirements, I'd got up at 5, prepared a cup of black coffee and had given him a shake up. He left for the temple at a half past 6 soon after I'd returned from my walk. It was from our family What'sApp group's first message of the day that told me it was Anian's - my small maman, as he's popularly known among everyone in the family - birthday. Lekha and I decided to do the needful.

A cake was rustled up from a bakery that we frequent. So, by the time he was back from the temple, the cake cutting ceremony could be organised and wasn't he pleasantly surprised? Lekha and her assistant, Preetha, meanwhile, had prepared the traditional lunch and served it on banana leaves. Anian, usually not emotionally expressive, was so for a change and expressed his gratitude to mom and Lekha. Soon after, I'd dropped him at the private bus stand for his return trip. Lately, he's had problems of drifting off to deep slumber and missing deadlines. Hence, I'd seen him off with a bit of trepidation and said a small prayer to god to safeguard him from difficulties.

The unease lifted off only after I'd got a call from him around 7 saying that he'd reached home.


A simple, straight forward man!  

Friday, April 29, 2016

A news round up!

The news network has hotted up thanks to the Agusta Westland Chopper deal and charges /counter charges are flying thick and fast. Owing to the space that it takes on most of the channels, other news headlines do get sidelined without getting the coverage that they deserve. My endeavour is to go through a few of them and carry out a snap analysis. Here I go:-

 (a) NEET Causing Heartburns.

       The Supreme Court has cleared the implementation of NEET(National Eligibility Entrance
       Test) as a single examination for admission to medical courses while scrapping the existent
       tests, conducted by the states and private medical colleges. I must say that it's a welcome step
       and was long overdue. The order, though, has caused considerable anguish to many.

       My niece, Kirtana Krishna, had written the medical entrance examination just a couple of days
       back and was happy that she'd done well. Her wish is to join the JIPMER, Pondicherry. And then
       comes this shocker of a news, for her, which means that the exam that she'd attempted on the
       27th is null and void! We've assured her that she'll do equally well, if not better, in NEET 1,
       scheduled on 01 May.

 (b) Corrupt, you too?

       A special court has said that the industrialist, Navin Jindal, was the central figure in the entire
       criminal conspiracy behind the Jharkhand Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block allocation scam
       case and has ordered framing of charges against him along with 14 others.

       On a personal level, I was impressed with this youngster who'd proudly announced a few years
       back that he owns a national flag and exhorted everyone to own one. I'd, then, thought him to be
       a true nationalist who could do no harm to his country as he seemed to have been brought up in
       the finest of values and traditions! And then comes this piece of news which is an anti-climax!  

 (c) A Decision that I love.

       The Bombay High Court has directed the union ministry of environment and forests to demolish
       the 31-storeyed Adarsh apartments in Bombay's Colaba area as it's an illegal construction. The
       demolition is to be carried out at the expense of the members constituting the Adarsh Society. It
       has also directed the government to initiate criminal proceedings against bureaucrats, ministers
       and politicians involved in the misuse and abuse of powers.

       People like Ashok Chavan, Adm Madhvendra Singh(Retd) and many others who figure in the
       list of the tainted should be brought to book at the earliest for this shameful scam.


With the Parliament going through upheavals owing to the revelations about the Agusta chopper deal, the chances of getting the GST Bill cleared, during this session, has receded. Sad! 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Adieu NRC!

N Ramachandran Nair, popularly referred to as NRC among his colleagues, was my grandfather's personal assistant in KANFED(Kerala Association for Non Formal Education and Development) - an organisation founded by PN Panicker, in 1978, after leaving the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham. What I remember about NRC is his ever smiling face which always sported soda bottle-thick-glasses in a black frame!

He used to accompany my grandfather during his tours towards the latter years and the family felt assured that NRC was there, at hand with the old man, all the time. Between them, they'd forged a very understanding relationship with NRC jotting down everything that PN Panicker observed, in his scrap book which were duly followed up to their logical conclusion.

My grandfather had asked me to see as to whether his son could be recruited into the IN and NRC used to update me about his son's educational achievements when I came on leave/short breaks. It was another matter that the youngster could not make it for the entrance test that he'd attended. Sometime in late '94, NRC - for reasons unknown, even to this day - distanced himself from my grandfather and he used to cite personal problems to keep away from accompanying him on his tours. What really had surprised me was that he used to tell me earlier that for him and I quote, "Accompanying Panicker sir on tours and being with him is a great experience, a great education. I sincerely hope that it continues forever."

KANFED, itself began to see the machinations of two groups - the one led by Thengamom Balakrishnan and the other led by Dr. Sivadasan Pillai - within the organisation which imploded after my grandfather's passing away in Jun '95. What made NRC to behave in the manner that he did was a mystery and continues to be so especially because my grandfather was his true mentor.

We met a couple of times after my grandfather's passing away and he used to remind me about my grandfather's directives about his son. It was not that I could give him a job outright but something in me had snapped that severed the comfortable relationship that existed between us after I'd learnt about his duplicity. After that we had hardly met all these years.

Yesterday morning I was told by one of my cousins in Thiruvananthapuram - three of my cousins had attended NRC's funeral as a mark of respect for the departed soul and for his association with my grandfather - that he'd passed into the mist of time. He'd intestinal cancer which was detected quite late and I understand that his last few weeks were very, very painful. He was over 70 yrs.

Adieu Ramachandran Nair sir! Thanks for looking after my Muthachan and the family shall always remain indebted to you for your kindness. My tears and prayers. Here's us wishing that your family has the strength to cope with their irreplaceable loss.


My first reaction on knowing about his passing away was one of guilt at not having been of help for his son's professional progression. It was more of not having fulfilled the covenant that I'd given to my grandfather on the issue. On discreet inquiry, I was relieved to hear that he's doing extremely well in the state's Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity department and that he'd got the job on his own steam. Phew!


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Adieu Toms! Adieu Risty John!

The well known cartoonist, VT Thomas - familiar to Malayalees as Toms - passed into the mist of time at 2245 hrs in a hospital at Kottayam. He was all of 86 yrs. His cartoon story on the two naughty children, 'Bobanum Moliyum' on the last page of the Malayala Manorama weekly was much sought after, by both the children and the elders, during the '60s, '70s and the '80s.

Toms had joined the Malayala Manorama in '57 and retired in '87. Subsequently, there was a legal fight for the copyrights of 'Bobanum Moliyum' between him and the Malayala Manorama, which the latter had won. After winning the rights over the cartoon characters - Boban and Molly - in court, fought on behalf of all the newspapers in the country, the Malayala Manorama handed it over to Toms, the very next day.

RIP, Toms sir. You shall continue to live in the hearts of the Malayalees for the years to come through your 'Bobanum Moliyum'. My tears and prayers. May your family have the strength to pass through these difficult times.

    *                                      *                                          *

Ten year old Risty John succumbed to the 17 stab wounds inflicted upon him by Aji Devasya(40), a drug addict. Risty was returning home from an errand, yesterday morning, when he was waylaid by his neighbour and assaulted. The sad incident took place in the heart of Ernakulam town.

Risty and Aji are the two sides of the same coin - addiction to drugs! An innocent victim to brutality, bought about by drugs! Aji, you need to undergo immediate therapy and once you return to your senses, you'll weep for the young life that you'd brutally snatched away which will be your ultimate punishment till death.

RIP Risty. How does one convey one's pain to you? My tears and prayers. May your family have the strength to tide over these stressful times.


In 1993, the villagers of Latur in Maharashtra had witnessed the death of over 10,000 of their brethren in a devastating earthquake that had also destroyed their hard earned savings built up over the years. Despite the enormity of the tragedy, the villagers never left the place and instead, picked up their lives from whatever was left of it.

And 23 years later, because of the harsh drought conditions prevalent there, about two lakh inhabitants have migrated towards Bombay and other places in search of water and food. Hope they get succour!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What are we waiting for?

The list of scams that had taken place during the UPA 1 and 2 regimes is extensive and the BJP had promised to take up each of them to its logical conclusion, once it came to power. Two years have elapsed since Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister of the country. Great strides have been made in various fields and momentous changes have been made/are being initiated.

Perhaps the size of the country, the bureaucratic apathy, the existing work ethics and above all, the political games being played have slowed down the Prime Minister's efforts at ushering in the changes that he'd like to put in place, a classic example being the combined opposition's efforts in the Rajya Sabha to stall the GST Bill.

As an ardent Indian, who wants Narendra Modi to succeed in ushering in the change so desperately needed by the country, I've a few questions for him and they are:-

   (a) What's the status of the Commonwealth Games scam? Has Suresh Kalmadi and the others,
         responsible for letting the country down, been brought to book?
   (b) What about the massive 2G scam? Has Raja and his cronies been brought to book?
   (c) What is the game being played with respect to the Aircel Maxis scam? Why are Dayanidhi
         Maran and his cronies moving around freely despite their serious lapses and misuse of
         government machinery, like setting up a private telephone exchange to further their family's
         business interests?
   (d) What about Robert Vadra's numerous 'shady' land dealings in Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan?
   (e) What about the Railway Recruitment scam in which the then minister of railways, Ashwani
         Kumar had to resign from the cabinet?
   (f) What's happening to the case involving Shashi Tharoor, in connection with the death of his
        wife, Sunanda Pushkar which seems to have an IPL connection?
   (g) What's the progress of the Ishrat Jahan case in which the then Home Minister's complicity
         has been brought out clearly?
   (h) What has come of the infamous 'Vyapam Recruitment' scam in Madhya Pradesh?
   (j)  What about getting back Lalit Modi and bringing the IPL case to its logical end?
   (k) How about an early follow through on the Agusta Helicopter acquisition scam, now that an
         Italian court has given valuable insights?

The tempo also needs to be maintained on the following:-

   (a) The National Herald case.
   (b) The Panama Papers and
   (c) The Vijay Mallya hoodwinking.


Towards the end of the previous regime, the common man had come to the sad conclusion that:-

    (a) The wheelers, the dealers and the brokers could breach through any 'fortified system' as they
          cosied up with the powers that be and pulled out the impossible.
    (b)  The law seemed to be different for different people - 'show me the face and I shall cite the 
           law' seemed to be the way.
    (c)  Cases that have political overtones are slowed down deliberately only to be dusted and noises
           made at the time of the elections to score tactical, brownie points.

You do not have any past baggage, Mr. Prime Minister and hence, the common man is sure that you'll
deliver. Do not let down our hopes and here's wishing you success in your endeavours.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The US Viewpoint.

News bytes from the US election scene have been coming thick and fast. I've always wondered as to what the yanks - shorn of all the niceties - think about us, Indians.

While I venture into the subject I must hasten to add that I've a few very good yank friends that I've picked up over the years and have found them to be genuine.

Let me quote the news bytes verbatim,

 Le Page, the Republican Governor of Maine says that "the Indian workers are the worst and the          hardest ones to understand" and went on to stress the need for an interpreter to talk to an Indian! This  was a day after the Republican presidential front runner, Donald Trump had mocked the Indian call  centers. Both of them, though, were quick to describe the Indians as lovely people and India as a
 great place respectively, soon after.

It could be election rhetoric and a sore point among the yanks is that much of their jobs have been taken away by the Indians. Hence, such speeches may get them votes but is it really only rhetoric, that too, pursued by a very few? It has to be admitted that the main stream politicians have never touched upon these aspects as they nurture the Indian American voters.

I've friends of mine who're green carders and naturalised citizens out there, who've on the quiet admitted that the brown skinned come only after the blacks in the pecking order and there are many clubs/restaurants that are out of bounds for an Indian. I've always, therefore, wondered as to what keeps them there - Money? A permissive society? State-of-the-art technology? Or a combination of all which continues to remain a dream, back home, though the difference is narrowing?


I feel pity on people like Madhuri Dixit Nene and many others like her, who return after a few years/months stay in the US, only to talk in that nasal drawl trying to imitate the yanks' conversational style often ending up sounding comical! However much you try to imitate them, now you've a fair idea as to what they think about you and your pronunciation. So why don't you be just yourself. Please?  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Controversies, controversies!

As we scan the news bytes of the last 48 hrs, controversies seem to be sprouting with a remarkable regularity. Some people create news to be in the spotlight while some others are dragged into it not entirely due to their doing. Let's visit a few of the controversies and try to make some sense out of them.

  (a) Kanhaiya Kumar, again!

       It was Kanhaiya Kumar vs. Manas Jyoti Deka, an employee of the TCS at Pune. While boarding
       a Pune bound flight from Bombay, the latter's hand brushed him on his neck and the former was
       quick to tweet that a BJP acolyte had tried to strangulate him. The cctv footage doesn't support 
       his allegation and it clearly shows Manas telling Kanhaiya that he should not use him for cheap

       Kanhaiya Kumar seems to be enjoying his new found celebrity status and rumours have it that
       his girl friend is a top leader's daughter. Being the young guy that he is with a lack of maturity,
       his case is an example of 'making hay while the sun shines'. But what he doesn't understand is
       the old adage that, "You can fool some people all the time but not all people all the time".

       I congratulate the Jet Airways crew for disembarking them.

  (b) Salman Khan, the IOA's Brand Ambassador!

        The Indian Olympic Association has made cine actor, Salman Khan as its brand ambassador
        for the forthcoming Olympics at Rio de Janeiro. On what basis one might ask and you'll find
        the IOA officials, themselves, fumbling for an answer! Many sports persons have openly
        questioned the wisdom of his anointment because they feel strongly, that it should be a sports
        personality of repute who should be given such an honour!

        I, too, go by the opinions of the sports persons. 

   (c) Stoking controversy!

         Since his statement terming VS Achuthanandan as a comrade with an anti-party mindset
         stoked a controversy, Pinarayi Vijayan has maintained silence and avoided speaking to the
         media. The social media sparring, however, continues! Imagine the LDF getting a majority 
         with the two haggling for the CM's chair. 

         The social media is being used, without restraint, to tarnish one's opponents! 


We, Indians, like to surround ourselves with controversies! Wonder what the big deal is except that people will end up being in the limelight for all the wrong reasons




Saturday, April 23, 2016

Breakthrough Starshot.

Can you imagine the following?

   * A spacecraft taking just half an hour to reach the red planet, Mars, as against the 8 to 9
      months it takes now.
   * A spacecraft reaching the farthest planet, Pluto in 72 hrs, as against the 10 yrs it takes now.
   * A possible fly by mission reaching the ALPHA CENTAURI, our nearest star system
      which is about 25 trillion miles away, within 20 yrs of its launch.

The milestones mentioned above will become realities if the mission 'Breakthrough Starshot' were to achieve success. It's a research and engineering programme which will seek proof of concept for using light beam to propel gram scale, ultralight 'nano craft' to speed up to 100 million miles an hour. In other words, it involves a ground based light beamer pushing miniature space probes attached to the light sails!

The project was announced a week ago on 12 Apr, in New York by Russian internet billionaire, Yuri Milner and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking. Mark Zuckerberg of the Facebook fame and other key personalities in the field of space exploration are part of the project.

Well, it will turn sci-fi to reality!

      *                                *                                   *

India, along with 174 nations, signed the Paris Climate Agreement last Friday. It was signed in the UN General Assembly hall at a high level ceremony and the country was represented by Prakash Javadekar, the environment minister. The ceremony also set the record for the most countries to sign an international agreement previously set in 1982, when 119 countries signed the UNCLOS(United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea).      


Wish there were many more such agreements that can ultimately herald world peace.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A man who needs to be ostracised!

I was always aware of the fact that 'Politics was the last haven for scoundrels' but there were many politicians who went about their work honestly for the betterment of the country, leaving landmark achievements to their credit and I'd refused to believe the saying because every field has exceptions.

Coming specifically to P Chidambaram, he could articulate well, spoke the right things and one was under the smug impression that the portfolios of Home and later, Finance were in safe hands. I mean, if a person who was sharp and could get under the skin of any problem, to install corrective measures was like child's play. Since he was senior enough to be on the top of the pecking order, he'd the eyes and the ears of Sonia Gandhi which is what matters in the Congress party!

And see what a sorry figure he makes out these days. Shunned by the Gandhis - which isn't a new phenomenon, they always dump their minions when the embarrassing truth seems to engulf them - and with no one, from his party, to back him he looks lost and lacking in purpose. The shenanigans that he had resorted to in the Ishrat Jahan case followed by the Malegaon blasts and the Samjhauta Express blasts do not paint a kind picture of the ex-Home Minister.

In the case of the Malegaon and the Samjhauta Express blasts, the Anti Terror Squad under Raghuvanshi, had clearly identified the Pakistani hand for fomenting ill will between the Hindu and Muslim communities by virtue of the violence. Yet, the two Pakistani suspects under custody were returned to Pakistan even before the investigations had come to its logical conclusion. The terror attacks were labelled 'Saffron Terror' by the then Home Minister and a new twist was introduced.

As a layman, I consider his actions anti-national because he needs to answer the following questions and if his answers are not satisfying, he should be tried for treason in a fast track court and punished forthwith:-

    (a) On the one hand we complain that the Pakistanis haven't done enough on the 26/11
          investigations. Here, the masterminds behind the terror attacks have been sent back to
          Pakistan without completing investigation. Are you part of the 'fifth columnists' out
          to destroy this country?
    (b) By altering the course of investigations, the then Home Minister was trying to mislead
          the country about top secret information that could harm our national security.
    (c) Another interesting information that can be clubbed along was his famous diatribe against
          Nandan Nilekani's endeavour to collect data for the 'Aadhaar card', saying that the Home
          Ministry must rightly(?) be the custodian of such data. For manipulation? And named it
          the 'National Population Registry' for collecting the same data all over again! Nothing seems
          to be heard on that front, any more.


Can't understand why the Congress party had stooped so low to prevent Narendra Modi from being the Prime Minister of this country because it's obvious from Chidambaram's actions that it had political overtones! One really feels sad for the Grand Old Party which has reached its nadir thanks to a lacklustre leadership!! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Kerala Assembly Election Results - A Likely Scenario!

I'm no politician and must admit that it doesn't interest me either but being a normal 'mallu', I too am keen to know as to what the outcome's gonna be. So, let me begin with an analysis of the overall scenario.

  (a) Selection of candidates.

        The LDF has opted to field popular faces like film actors, as independents, provoking the
        question into everyone's mind - aren't its cadre members, who've come up the hard way, not
        good enough to contest elections? The constituent parties' bid for increasing their share of seats
        was brusquely brushed aside by the CPM and by itself, it's contesting in over 90 seats, implying
        that if it were to win more than 70, the others will not matter and its decisions will be forced
        through - a dangerous situation! What's the promise given to the veteran, Gauri Amma, that
        she and her party has opted not to contest?

        The UDF has had revolts within the constituents till the last moment over 'safe' seats. The
        selection of candidates was tough going between the old timers and the youth, within the
        Congress. Of the three factional heads viz. Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and
        VM Sudheeran, Chandy seems to have got what he wanted....well almost, except for Benny

        The BJP's candidate list had the mortifying sight of being slashed by its central leadership
        with guys like Sreesanth being inserted, making an average voter wonder as to whether the
        party was mocking at his/her intelligence! Has the party already conceded that constituency
        of Thiruvananthapuram to its opponents or is it under the illusion that the youth would plonk
        for the discredited cricketer? And it's one's sincere wish that Sri O Rajagopal wins from the
        Nemom constituency!

   (b) The Manifestos. 

         One wishes that the LDF had clearly stated its liquor policy, in that, it would strive for
         reduction in consumption through novel means of education and scrap the 'prohibition'
         route which is impractical and will lead to illegal manufacture of booze.

         The UDF manifesto has proclaimed ambitious plans to provide additional jobs which viewed
         against the backdrop of the many projects that it had got going towards its tenure, seems to
         be an achievable target. But why are controversies being whipped up by the government, even
         now, by a few of its decisions?

         The BJP-SNDP's manifesto is yet to be released at the time of writing this piece. Hope there're
         unique suggestions that have been overlooked by its opponents.

The Likely Scenario.

My prediction is that both the LDF and the UDF will be tied in the number of seats that they garner around 65 each with the BJP-SNDP combine snatching away about 10 - the most optimistic prediction at that in addition to weaning away crucial votes from the two fronts. It means a hung Assembly and for the first time since '65, the state is poised for a President's Rule.


Electioneering is yet to pick up heat. Probably, it will over the next week after the nomination papers are submitted by the candidates! The scorching heat is gonna give them a run for their money!!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

The morning was a relaxed affair. By 9, everyone was ready and soon the guests started coming in. Aniyan had arranged a taut, well conducted '28th day celebration' for his granddaughter. In lighter vein, I think I now know as to why the fairer sex has a penchant for gold - the gold that the little girl has received as gifts on the occasion had put this thought into my mind, I must confess - its seed is sown on every child's 28th day!

As per quaint traditions, the child's dad whispered her name into each of her ears, one after the other and then it was announced aloud for everybody's benefit - accordingly, she's Prarthana, officially and Paru, unofficially. Soon after, the traditional lunch was served and we had it in the first round so that we could take off for Guruvayur immediately after. Suma kunjamma, my mom's youngest sister, had to be dropped enroute at the 'Sreesankareeyam' Ayurveda Eye Hospital at Koothattukulam where my uncle was admitted for an 18 day therapy to get his right eye's vision corrected by ayurvedic treatment.

I must confess that I was ignorant about ayurveda curing serious ophthalmology cases and the place resembles a five star resort with the most modern facilities. There were many foreign patients as well, confirming the fact that it had an international appeal too.

We'd left the place by 1430 hrs and were at 'The Quarterdeck' half an hour before sunset. The usual rigmarole, post outing, was carried out and I'd even gone for a short walk.


Yet another short trip - a distance of 330 kms - and was able to fulfill all the tasks that we'd thought off.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What a scrounge?

The day had begun at 4, when I'd woken up Lekha and mom. We got ready and left 'The Quarterdeck' by about a 7 past 6 and took the NH17 to Ernakulam. By a quarter past 8, we're at our favourite joint for breakfast and reported at the reception desk of the clinic by a 5' to 9. The doctor was already in and mom and me walked in soon after to meet him.

The doctor had shed weight after his surgery for Hernia and he told us the story about the serious turn his condition had taken thanks to the infections in his lung and the urinary tract. He was at the hospital for about a week and was in the ICU for four days out of them! As he cutely said, "This is what happens when doctors become patients!"

He was quite glad at the concern shown by mom regarding his health. After reviewing my mom's lab test results, he's reduced dosages significantly and after our usual interaction, we'd moved out paving the way for the next patient. We'd gone for a blood test for mom, as recommended by the doctor which turned out to be expensive considering the money that was available on our person. It was to have repercussions later on in the day.

We're at Kidangoor, at Anian's - my mom's younger brother - by lunchtime. A scrumptious lunch, siesta, tea and we're off to the house of another uncle of mine, to see his granddaughter. Meanwhile, mom had handed over our gift of a pair of gold ear studs to li'l Prarthana.

We had to search around for a shop that accepted plastic money but to no avail. Finally, we'd to scrounge with the remaining money with us to buy an appropriate gift for the kid that we're calling on. And it turned out to be a pleasant meeting.


It's a fairly long evening with many people dropping by. Towards the end, we took a temporary loan of Rs.1 grand from my younger uncle to tide over the emergency requirements, if any, till we're back at 'The Quarterdeck'.    

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ishrat Jahan has begun to haunt the Congress.

The truth about Ishrat Jahan was being debated on the Times Now, this evening. Everyone is aware of this case since it was bandied about as a fake encounter that had the then Gujarat's chief minister indulgence. The Congress had used it to the hilt during the last Assembly elections in Gujarat and subsequently, in the general elections!

I'm not gonna go through the details because the entire story is now out in the public domain but there are a few questions that need to be answered by the concerned parties, which are:-

   (a) The first question is to the parents of Ishrat Jahan. Why did she become a terrorist?
   (b) The second is to the parents of her boy friend, a mallu, by the name of Pranesh. Don't tell me
         that you weren't aware of his suspicious movements?
   (c) Then, of course, it's to the Congress - Sonia and Rahul. How come you forgot the simple fact
         that the truth will come out no matter how much you try to suppress it?
   (d) And to all the minions of the Congress - the so called media spokes persons of the party. A
        colleague of yours is getting whipped for his misdeeds when he was the country's Home
        Minister and you don't have anything to say to support him? By your deafening silence, the
        story is clear that his bosses are clearly the script writers and its admission would sink them

Collective conspiracy. The filth in politics is nauseating. Period!

          *                                   *                                   *

A couple that was in an extramarital relationship had, about two years ago, killed the lady's young daughter and her mother-in-law. The court gave its judgement on the case today.

   - The man is to be hanged and the woman is to undergo two life imprisonments, that can be done

The poignant part of the case was that the man's father, a college professor, had given evidence against his own son, despite pressures. The son had taken a telephone sim card in the name of his father and used it to commit the crime.

Hats off to you sir! I can understand your agony as you took the brave step.


Got this on What'sApp and thought that I must pass it on.

                                           Miss Me - But Let Me Go!
                                When I come to the end of the road
                                    And the sun has set for me,
                             I want no rites in a gloom-filled room;
                                    Why cry for a soul set free?
                                Miss me a little - but not too long
                               And not with your head bowed low.
                            Remember the love that we once shared.
                                   Miss me - but let me go.
                           For this is a journey that we all must take
                                   And each must go alone.
                                It's all a part of the Master's plan,
                                  A step on the road to home.
                             When you are lonely and sick of heart,
                                    Go to friends we know
                           And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds
                                    Miss me - but let me go.    

                                                             - Author Unknown.            


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Is it a gimmick or a sincere effort at safeguarding people's health?

On the footsteps of Kerala, Bihar has plonked for complete prohibition followed by a promise from Jayalalithaa to bring in total prohibition, in Tamilnadu, if voted back to power. Is it a gimmick or is it a sincere effort on the politicians' part taking the interest of the people into consideration? I've my doubts about the latter and am of the opinion that it's nothing but a gimmick considering the large vote bank of women that's at stake!

Firstly, it's bad economics in that a steady source of income into the government coffers is being stopped. Crores of rupees that flow into the treasury in the form of excise duty levied on liquor is much needed income for governance, to provide amenities for the people. Secondly, it goes by the presumption that drinking is bad. But drinking in moderation isn't bad and is all right for the health as vouched by the medical department. It's the bane of over indulgence that needs to be tackled through education and by enforcing clear cut penalties for defaulters as per the law!

The aftermath of prohibition has two avoidable situations:-

    (a) Mushrooming of liquor vends in the immediate vicinity of the borders between the states
         which, sadly, will have the patronage of the Excise and the Police departments.
    (b) Illicit liquor will be made and distributed, on the quiet, leading to tragedies. The list of such
         past happenings is endless.

Then why is the tearing hurry in enforcing prohibition? It's a tool used by the crafty politician to get that solid vote bank that consists of women - and a formidable one at that!


1. Liquor being served only in five star hotels, in Kerala, is something that cannot be understood. The rich can drink but not the poor, huh?........What a discrimination, sirji?
2. The argument given is that it's to support tourism. If that be so, what about the travellers that come into India on a 'low cost travel budget'?


Do women loathe people who drink, I wonder? As far as I can recall, it's a 'nay'. Yes, but everyone detests a guy who can't hold his drinks.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Thrissur Pooram.

The Thrissur Pooram is here, yet again and it will begin from tomorrow morning and last for 72 hrs. The confusion behind the fireworks display in the aftermath of the Paravoor Puttingal temple tragedy has been put behind, with the organisers of the Pooram being given the green signal by the High Court to conduct the event with the usual pomp and grandeur!

But the sights that one witnesses during the 72 hrs involve hard work at every level and it's my endeavour to bring out the salient aspects and the level of homework that's goes into the making of the show:-

   (a) The efforts start with the acquisition process of the cloth for the numerous parasols, on display
         and it begins about six months from D-day! Care is taken to ensure that the colour and texture
         are not repeated. The design of the special parasols is a secret and is known only to a very few,
         so much so, that they're completed only towards the final run up to the pooram.
   (b) The fireworks team is selected from the contenders after a detailed analysis of their
         performances in the recent past. Teams from the organisers are sent to witness the fireworks
         displays at various centers.
   (c) Similarly, the participating elephants are carefully picked, based on their track record. The
         importance is given not to an elephant's height but its beauty with a preference to local animals.
         As you must have noticed, the tallest stands in the centre with the heights reducing towards the
         extremes. The elephants on either side of the middle one should have the same height!
   (d) The pandals and the lighting are similarly keenly studied before selecting the contractor for
         setting them up. Their design always turn out to be unique and never-seen-before!
   (e) The troupe that performs the traditional music is also finalised after an extensive selection
   (f) The meals for the participants of the categories mentioned above, the mahouts, the clothes
        worn by the people who man the elephants are some of the few other serials that are carefully
        mulled over before the execution.
   (g) At the end of the pooram, even the details about who'll hold what ceremonial lamp are
         scripted so that no error creeps in.

Here's wishing the Thrissur Pooram of '16 a grand success!


Outsiders, who plan to drive through this region would do well if they educated themselves with the timings to avoid getting bogged down in traffic snarls on account of the famed festival.            

Friday, April 15, 2016

A rather quiet day.

I got up a trifle later than usual and decided to skip the walk and suddenly it felt that I'd quite a lot of time at my disposal to do things. Meanwhile, I'd jotted down all the pending jobs that had piled on, over the last few days, on my scribble pad and was keen to strike each one off, after completion. So, around a quarter to 11, I'd stepped out of the house to kill the first demon. I'd to send my car's papers to my guy at New Delhi for change of registration.

For that purpose, I'd to buy a suitable envelop and also xerox my driving licence before going to the post office. But alas, today being the second day of Vishu most of the shops remained shut. In the meantime, sighted Venu, who'd come to me the other day seeking a contribution for a poor gentleman who'd undergone kidney transplant. I handed over my cheque to him before driving out to town.

The first stop was the medical shop from where I buy medicines for the family, ordered a month's requirement of Lekha's medicines as they would take time to collect and pack them. It was my bank that was the next stop, where a few instructions had to be given regarding an existing investment and two money transfers had to be made. Since the entire area around the temple was undergoing a power outage, the xeroxing was simply out of the question and I'd mentally put it off for tomorrow.

By the time I'd returned, it was lunchtime and Lekha's assistant, Preetha, had sent our portion of the high lunch that she'd made at her house and it was nice. The non veg dishes - yes, here it's a tradition to make non veg dishes on the second day of Vishu - were simply out of the world in terms of taste and aroma.

The walk was nice and it gave me ample scope to unwind and exercise, so much so, that at the end of it I was sweating through all my pores and felt nice and light. Later, while sitting in front of the television, watching the news about the Pakistani PM having been sent away to London by his army, obviously, as a consequence to his name figuring in the infamous 'Panama Papers', a glass had slipped out of my hand, broken into a number of pieces on the upper landing and I'd heard one chunk falling on to the dining table at the ground floor. Search for it proved futile.

Subsequently, after supper when mom had gotten up from her chair I felt horrified to see that rogue piece on her chair. Thank god, she hadn't sat on it which could have had catastrophic consequences!


1. Got a semblance of order to the list of activities over the weekend and beyond viz.:-
      (a) tied up with the nearby hospital's lab for the collection of mom's blood and urine samples
           early morning, tomorrow.
      (b) fixed up mom's medical review with her doctor, at Kochi, for Tuesday after which we
            proceed to Kidangoor to attend Aniyan's grand daughter's 28th day celebrations.

2. Tomorrow we look up our friend, Radha's, mom who's in the hospital with a fractured leg and
    put on traction. And yes, the new fridge will be bought.

3. Our neighbours had come around sunset to offer their condolences on Lekha's father's passing
    away. Damn thoughtful of them!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Vishu '16.

It was Vishu all over again. Had got up at a half past 3, lit the lamps and led Lekha to see the Vishukkani. Mom finds it difficult to trudge the stairs time and again and hence, she'd come in by a quarter past 5, after her bath, to see the 'kani'. We, then, received our kaineetam - a shining Re.1/- coin each - from her. The customary breakfast, followed by the traditional feast at lunch were the highlights - simple and quiet! And no, this time there weren't any visitors at The Quarterdeck; there were calls, smses, messages on What'sApp, instead.  

       *                                   *                                      *

And now, certain aspects that are unique to Vishu, which is a celebration of kanikonna, kani and kaineetam! It's also celebrated as a harvest festival, marks the beginning of summer and the start of yet another agricultural year - with the shrinkage that has taken place to the extent of cultivable land,
this particular aspect seems to be more of theory though! Kanikonna(The Laburnum) blooms during the months of January and February these days due to the vagaries of the weather, so much so, that people find themselves running around in the dying hours of the previous evening to collect a clutch of the flower, at prohibitive costs, from makeshift vendors out to make a fast buck!

I got this gem from a friend of mine today.....why's the Laburnum tree called the Konna maram?
According to mythology, towards the run up to the battle between Rama and Ravana in Lanka, there was a fierce battle between the monkey chieftains, Sugreev and Bali back on the mainland. Rama had shot the fatal arrow, at Bali, from behind a Laburnum tree and since then, derived its name the 'konna' maram!


This Vishu will go down as the first one in which we did not have the 'kanikonna' in our 'kani'. It was a glaring omission but the 'Konna maram' in our courtyard looks green and healthy, with a fresh crop of leaves. Hopefully, we'll have the 'kanikonna' from the next year onward, not only for us but also for the others who're in search of a stalk at the last moment.......and no payment please!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

'Pusthaka Vishukkaineettam'.


A novel event, conceived by the PN Panicker Foundation on the eve of Vishu. Accordingly, Sri VS Achuthanandan, the leader of the opposition was to release an abridged biography of the late PN Panicker, titled, "PN Panicker - Grandhappurayude Perunthachhan" authored by Sri KP Vijayan, at the PN Panicker National Institute for Social Development at 1015 hrs, this morning. Following the book release, the entire lot of people attending the function was to be given the 'Vishukkaineettam', consisting of the book and Rs.10/- by the chief guest. 

Accordingly, we'd left home by a quarter past 8 and reached the office to take small, yet important stuff for the smooth conduct of the function. VS Achuthanandan, however, did not make it due to a sudden development and his place was substituted by Sri. M Vijayakumar, the former speaker and minister and above all, a key member of the Executive Committee of the Foundation and the function was presided over by Adv. Cherunniyoor Sasidharan Nair.

I'd a lump in my throat when the Headmistress of a reputed school sought my blessings, offer my thoughts on her school's achievements with an invite to visit the school's library, soon after the event if I'd the time! Unfortunately, I was bound for Guruvayur by the Bangalore Express leaving Thiruvananthapuram at 1245 hrs and therefore, had to postpone the visit to another time, another day - I'd have loved to interact with her students to find out as to what motivated them and give them some of the lessons that I'd learnt from my life. Clearly, an example of a lost opportunity!

The train journey happened to be a prolonged one - an express train that went through the motions of a passenger train stopping at almost all the stations! It's good, in the sense, that it helps the public to avail of its services. But the flip side is that I'd got my reservation done through 'tatkal' by paying about Rs.1,150/- for an a/c 3 tier berth and it took me about 8 hrs to reach Thrissur, which is simply ludicrous and no, there wasn't much of a delay due to the track doubling work - a reason that's usually bandied about by the railways!!

Lekha had, meanwhile, rung me up about not having got the 'Laburnum' flowers, an essential ingredient of the 'Vishukkani' and whether I could pick up a bunch on my return leg? But alas, since I'd fetched up at Guruvayur a trifle past 10 and despite going to all the likely places, around the temple where the flowers were available till a while earlier, I couldn't manage even a clutch of it!

Mom, meanwhile, had given me a flurry of calls to find out as to why I hadn't fetched up till then and the way her face lit up as I'd entered the house, was more than adequate to make my day.


A quick wash and change followed by dinner. It was, then, time to set the Vishukkani and Lekha and I went about doing it without much ado.....the absence of the Laburnum notwithstanding!         

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

An uninvited guest!

I'd got up as usual, went through my chores and we're out of the house by a quarter to 8. Small things were undertaken - like pulling out money from the ATM, 'matha thekoing' at the Kali ma temple which is having its annual festivities today - enroute to pick up one of our executive members. We'd an appointment with the Leader of the Opposition, Sri VS Achuthanandan who was the chief guest for tomorrow's function being organised by the Foundation called, "Pusthaka Vishukkaineettam".

VS will be carrying out two activities viz:-

     (a) Release Sri. KP Vijayan's book in Malayalam, "PN Panicker - Grandhappurayude
     (b) He'll distribute 'vishukkaineetam' that will consist of a copy of the book and Rs.10/- to
           the people attending the meeting.

Actually, the need for a shorter version of PN Panicker's biography was projected to us by various educational institutions thanks to the Vaayana Dinam and Vaayana Vaaram celebrations every year.

I was an uninvited guest to a wedding thanks to my Maman. The bride's dad is known to us and when we met I did tell him about my 'special' status but he gave me 'celebrity status', congratulating me for my well researched speech at a function in the recent past that he'd seen on the television. I was taken aback and reiterated that I hadn't taken part in any such official function but he didn't seem to be convinced! Actually, a case of a mistaken identity in that he must have seen somebody that resembled me - there are nine look alikes for each one of us! Remember? We congratulated the young couple, had lunch and returned to the Foundation to meet an extraordinary gentleman, a classic case of a riches-to-rags story!

S Pillai was a chartered accountant and the top financial man of a reputed firm in northern Kerala. He used to wear only branded clothes, wear the best of deodorants and perfumes, stayed only in five star hotels while travelling and used to hire a taxi for traversing even short distances! All of 74 years, he'd come to the Foundation to meet Maman to borrow Rs.200/- He wore clothes that were frayed at the seams, faded at places and reeking of sweat. Wondered as to what had brought about this sad transformation? He was parsimonious with his responses and displayed a disarming smile when he felt that the questions hurled at him were pointed. Ultimately, he didn't reveal much and I saw his hunched form receding down the stairs after he bade us good bye......... God, why're you playing this 'tamasha' on the poor man?


Also visited the young lady as desired by Rachayita. She'd good news to serve along with the lovely cup of tea and snacks....she'd gone through an interview, earlier in the day, at the international school where she'd worked earlier. Her mom was sure that she'd get selected! At least, we could see the smile back on the young lady's face and I'd connected her to Rachayita, at Pune and they'd a long chat.......... Yet another task accomplished!  

Monday, April 11, 2016

At the Foundation.

I'd got up earlier than usual, went through my chores and recited my prayers. Was ready well in time as Maman had said that we'd to go early, before hitting the sack last night. By the time we left home, it was 9. After meeting a couple of people we'd gone to the newly opened 'PN Panicker National Institute for Social Development' and I felt proud of the latest facility that we've set up.

Not only does it look neat and elegant but it also has the latest tools for imparting instructions! The And the beauty is that state-of-the-art-technology is available to the poorest of the poor. The 'green jobs' course' has been going on smoothly and two new courses have commenced since there's a lot of enthusiasm among the participating students. What I was particularly delighted was to see girls in superior numbers compared to their male counterparts!

The staff seemed to be a committed lot and I was reminded of the saying, "If you were to provide the right environment, the participation will be automatic coupled with enthusiasm". Had a few more people to meet at the Government Secretariat and saw the 'lame duck' government in action. While the bureaucrats and their staff were at their tables browsing through files, the ministers were away in their constituencies on electoral pursuit. The entire atmosphere had a soporific hue with even the sentries, on duty, looking absolutely relaxed and not restricting the ingress of visitors!

We made our way to a friendly bureaucrat's house to offer our condolences on the passing away of his mother due to age related problems. We rounded off our day's activities with a debrief of the day's activities while having a quick run through the morrow's activities.


(a) Tomorrow's gonna be another hectic day with a dash to Paravoor, scheduled before lunch.
(b) Was in two minds about meeting up with the young lady who'd lost her husband because her mom       didn't give me the time to visit her despite the fact that she told me that she was aware of the
      conversation that I'd with her daughter, the other day! The old lady is currently looking after the
(c) Was touched by my Academy course mate, Shivajee's call during the day to find out as to
      whether my family was affected by yesterday's mishap at Paravoor. Damn sweet and thoughtful           of him!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Off to Thiruvananthapuram.

Had got up on time to go through the morning chores but took care not to disturb Rema and family! Padmakumar did complain of a lingering headache which receded only after he'd finished his breakfast. Interacting with them - Padmakumar, Rema and Achu, - was good as usual. Lekha had called up her assistant who came at the appropriate time to give us a lovely poori-bhaji-egg masala breakfast only to return soon after as Sundays are off days for her!

I was watching mom's excitement at seeing so many people at home after what seemed to be a while and as I'd said umpteen number of times before, she shares a special bond with Rema. Achu being at Perundurai, short of Salem on a short stint, has the freedom to fetch up at his home on most weekends and this trip itself was structured yesterday, soon after his arrival from work at Palakkad, at sunset. Next week, he's tied up with his uncle to visit Sabarimala on the occasion of Vishu.

We left in Padmakumar's car, with Achu behind the wheel, soon after an early lunch. They're supposed to have dropped me at the railway station so that I could board the 1 o'clock local to Thrissur to board the Jana Shatabdi express to Thiruvananthapuram, while they peeled off to Palakkad. Did Achu deliberately slow his lunch? The upshot was that they dropped me at the Thrissur railway station and we'd an animated round of discussions on various subjects as Achu drove through those 25 kms!

The wait of over an hour passed off smoothly, with me spending the final half hour having a cup of tea and vadas at the vegetarian refreshment stall on the platform. And the train was on the dot...
But what do I say about the journey? It was miserably hot and the five hours spent on transit gave me an impression that it was unusually longer than usual but had used the time to clear my doubts on the Upanishad that I'd with me.

Omanakuttan took sometime to pick me up and he'd consumed alcohol, a thing that I don't encourage. But the paradox was that he'd had that swig from the bottle of rum that I'd given him when he'd come to Guruvayur last week! I did convey my disapproval!! Enroute to maman's house, he'd a close quarter situation with a couple on a mobike and he wanted to fight with them which I prevented with a curt and no nonsense 'nyet'!!


(a) Yet another Thiruvananthapuram trip is on and I've a lot of things to do.
(b) The fireworks tragedy at the Puttingal temple's annual festivities is gruesome with 112 dead                 and counting. I remember the temple and its precincts vividly because when we're young, we
      used to spend our vacation at Leela kunjamma's house, just a stone's throw away from there.
      Those were halcyon days!...............Tears and prayers to the departed.

Saturday, April 9, 2016


Lekha returned after a 25 day absence, this evening, around 4. She was chauffeured by Manikuttan, an old family faithful. Unfortunately, for them there were traffic snarls galore on the way and hence, despite the fact that they'd left Kottarakkara by 7, could only reach around teatime. For mom and me, her return was simply great because it was getting to be tough going through the daily chores without her directions, the presence of an efficient assistant in Preetha, notwithstanding! But we went through the grind, without cribs, as we wanted her to go about her mourning phase without any pressure from us for her return.

     *                                   *                                       *

The world is really small, we've already spoken about it many a time. This evening, Rachayita, my friend at Pune, had called up asking me to talk to a friend of her's at Thiruvananthapuram, who was going through extreme depression because her husband had passed away a couple of months back, owing to a massive heart attack. All of 44 years, he'd not come to terms with him not having made it on the Captains' promotion list - he was a Commander and an engineer of the Indian Navy!

They've a son studying in class X and she has been staying with her mom ever since her husband's death. And her mom was working for an NGO.

I spoke to the distraught lady and came to know that the NGO that her mom worked for was none other than the PN Panicker Foundation. And it all came back to me with a remarkable clarity. The old lady used to speak proudly about her son-in-law since she knew that I, too, was from that fraternity. It was during my previous visit that Maman had told me that she was on leave to be with her daughter who'd suffered the tragic loss. The curd that she used to get from her home was a favourite for Maman and me during lunch and she used to be genuinely pleased as we relished her 'brand'.

Have told her that I'd look her up on my visit to Thiruvananthapuram, beginning tomorrow.

      *                                    *                                      *

My sister had called up, soon after I returned from my walk, to say that Achu had come on weekend and that they were setting off from Palakkad to be with us. Didn't tell mom about their programme and so when they met ultimately, wasn't she thrilled?


My cellphone was in a bad shape thanks to a depleted battery. In fact, communication had come to a standstill last night itself and as it happens on such occasions, there were a few who were trying to get in touch. Well, I got the battery changed this morning and presto, all the erratic functioning that had become a frequent phenomenon all this while, immediately became a thing of the past. Wish I hadn't procrastinated for so long!  

Friday, April 8, 2016

A significant victory!

A 400 year tradition of not allowing women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Shani Shingnapur temple in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra came to an end today when Pushpak Kewadkar and Priyanka Jagtap performed a puja on the deity around 1700h!

And the flip side......

As the duo offered milk and oil to the idol a few women, mostly villagers, wept over seeing the end of "a tradition that they were proud of". 

The Run up.

Trupti Desai-led Bhumata Mahila Brigade has been spearheading the campaign for entry of female devotees in Shani Shingnapur temple and the other shrines of the state for the last six months. The Bombay High Court's ruling of 30 Mar was the follow through as it had removed all restrictions.

My take.

I was always under the impression that similar restrictions that were in place in many shrines had strong reasons backed with sound logic. I must hasten to add that my upbringing also made me believe that one had to have implicit faith in religious beliefs and questioning them was neither desirable nor warranted.

But questioning the 'why, what and how' of every aspect that we come across in life is a healthy way to understand its meaning so that corrective measures/additions/alterations can be inculcated to make it free of any loophole!


Celebration at having brought justice to the women devotees is fine but care needs to be taken not to celebrate it as a victory over the 'traditionalists' because that can foment trouble for no rhyme or reason.   

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Very many visitors.

It was a day of hectic activity but could not achieve the work that I'd embarked upon at the beginning. The annual well washing activity was slated soon after our neighbour had got his well cleaned. Actually, they're the same guys who'd done it last year too and they wanted to begin with our work. "Hey, Rajeev do you want to clean your well or shall I get mine done, first?", asked my neighbour and I knew what answer he was expecting from me and told him to go ahead.

Meanwhile, I'd to get out of my self imposed exile at home to get a lot of pending jobs done, like getting a new frame for my lens because the present one was distorted as yours truly had slept on it - yes, can you believe that? And I ain't kidding! - sometime back!

Asokan and Venu, had in the meanwhile come to collect Lekha's identity card, a few passport size photographs and the Aadhaar card that were essential while her dad's assets were being apportioned among the four siblings. I'm the lone guy in that group who's not partaking in the activities related to it due to the following:-

  (a) Lekha is capable of handling such matters and since it concerns her, her brother and her
       sisters, I was pretty clear that I'd no business to be part of it.
  (b) I'd to be with mom all through.
  (c) I'd made it clear to Lekha that after all the deliberations, it was important that between the
        siblings they maintained the same bonhomie that existed before. She's, in fact a staunch votary
        of the idea that I really didn't have to broach it, in the first place!
  (d) Despite all such precautions, I've seen and learnt from practical experience, that couples without
        children, invariably, end up getting a harsh deal in such transactions.
  (e) So, for the first time, I'd conveyed my opinion, on the matter, to Asokan to ensure that he could
        hold Lekha's hand when the crunch came!

Meanwhile, the well washers had a tough time at my neighbour's as the motor, they'd brought to pump out the water from the well, failed twice and by the time they're through with the job, it was sunset! So our well washing will begin tomorrow, at first light.

Maman, ammayi and Chambu arrived around that time to be in time for their first visit to the temple with Omanakuttan at the wheel. They returned to have dinner and were off to watch the 'krishnanaattom' of 'Baanayudham', yet again around 10, that I'd arranged for them to brighten up Chambu's 'job prospects', which was headed nowhere at present!

I think, I managed the whole show despite Lekha's absence, being prodded by mom on a few occasions! She was mightily thrilled that her favourite brother had fetched up!


Hope everything goes off fine tomorrow!     

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


I shall spend time on the news that are in the limelight. What I feel surprised is that small things at times irk us while larger, distinct ones do not even create a ripple. Why's this? Are we insensitive as a nation? Or is it that we're afraid to take a stand lest we offend somebody? Let's go through these interesting bit of the state of affairs and then you'll understand the point that I'm trying to make. Here, I go.

 (a) The Quality of our Doctors.

       It came as a shock to me to understand that the loopholes that exist in our professional education
       system help kids, who fail in the Common Entrance Test, enter government medical colleges.
       Here's how it happens:-

          (i) Didn't you get admission in the government medical colleges in your state? You need
               not worry that you're also nowhere in the merit list.
         (ii) Buy a seat in any of the private medical colleges - the ones that have the least of the
               facilities would be the ideal. Also pray that it doesn't get permission to admit students
               in the coming years! (As per statistics, there are about 42 such medical colleges, across
               the country, that were barred from admitting students since the intake of the first batch).
        (iii) If that happens, the student can go to court and the state government may be ordered to
               accommodate the student in the very same colleges that the student couldn't enter!

       You might ask as to how this ridiculous situation is possible. The loophole is that "The
       MCI allows any trust, society or company to start a medical college even if it doesn't have 
       the requisite infrastructure and faculty. All it needs to show is that it has enough 
       infrastructure for the first year MBBS students and an undertaking that the rest will be
       put in place."

       Is any more discussion required regarding the quality of the doctors that come out of these

   (b) The Bloody Drought!

         Consider the following:-

            (i) The IPL Cricket matches are scheduled to begin on 09 Apr.
           (ii) About 60 lakh litres of water is required for wetting and maintaining the pitches
                 on a daily basis. Insensitive suggestions like fetching water from neighbouring states
                 with the help of the railways, the water that's being used is not potable etc are being
                 bandied about by the 'well healed' whose sole requirement is to witness the glitz of the
          (iii) And mind you, all this when the situation is grim:-

                 * 23 districts of Maharashtra are reeling under severe drought conditions.
                 * It's not a rural phenomenon only, in that, in places like Thane, people get restricted water
                    through bowsers once in three to four days! There are places that do not have water
                    even for sanitation and hygiene purposes!

           The Bombay High Court has come into the picture thanks to a public interest litigation.
           My question is, "What's the government of Maharashtra doing? Why can't it ask the
           organisers of the IPL to shift it out of the state because of the drought conditions? Or
           is it that it's scared that it would run afoul of the moneybags and the powerful if takes 
           such a decision?"


    (c) The Unrest in the NIT, Srinagar.

          The unrest had erupted when a batch of students had celebrated the Indian T20 Cricket
          team's loss to West Indies in the semi finals while the rest had taken umbrage to such
          'anti-national activities'. This is not the first time that similar news have emanated from the
          state but this time it has got highlighted because BJP is in power with the PDP.

          See the timing, just after a day on Ms. Mehbooba Mufti becoming the chief minister!

          The matter needs to be sorted out at the earliest with a clear warning that anti-India
          activities will not be tolerated.


1. We, as a nation, while being sensitive to every aspect that obstructs our living together as one should also be willing to correct inflexible attitudes.
2. Rules, that have loopholes, must be corrected. Let's have only merit as the criterion!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Such ill feelings and at this age?

I'm reproducing a newspaper article verbatim below.

 Palakkad(North) police have registered a case in connection with the incident of a group of students
 preparing a 'grave' as a 'retirement gift' for the principal of the Government Victoria College.

 On 31 Mar, the retirement day of principal Ms. TN Sarasu, a few students prepared a grave inside
 the college campus and placed a wreath and flowers on it.

The ex-principal has named eight students in her complaint and has also alleged the involvement of a few of her colleagues who were angered by some of her actions! 

My take.

Am really pained to hear about the happenings in the campuses of educational institutions in various parts of the country and this incident, in particular. Why are they happening? Is there anything wrong with the student community at large? Or is it that there's an acute shortage of teachers who inspire confidence and thereby command instant loyalty by their words, actions and lifestyle?

 (a) Students.

       (i) There's an abundance of information thanks to technology and several layers of 
            communication. The needs have increased manifold and their non attainment leads
            many to despair and disgust at an early age. The idea of being contended with what they
            have is alien to most.
      (ii) The parents are also in the same rut, at times pursuing unwanted behavioural patterns
            that are disgusting and which put off the kids. Pampering of the children is a usual recourse
            to mask their deficiencies!
     (iii) Consequently, the value system has taken a beating.

  (b) Teachers.

         (i) There are many teachers who do not make the cut. Can't help but recall the famous
              saying that 'peanuts fetch monkeys'. The teaching profession is a noble one and to 
              attract the best talent, attractive incentives are a must. 
        (ii) It's not a 9-to-5 job. You're entrusted with the shaping of the country's future citizens
              and the process cannot be put down into a rigid time frame.
       (iii) Perseverance, dedication and love for the children are the hallmarks of a good teacher.
       (iv) They should not only obey the rules but must ensure that the others also do so.   
        (v) They must be well disciplined at all times and the epitome of all the right things.

It's my fond hope that the case attains a quick closure and the wrongdoers are punished appropriately.


Was tremendously happy to hear about the high speed 'Gatimaan Express' between New Delhi and Agra and its interesting features are:-

    * It's the fastest train in India @ 160 kph.
    * The 188 km will be covered in 100'.
    * Has 12 ultra modern coaches and each coach costs Rs. 2.5cr!
    * The coaches have auto fire alarm, emergency braking systems, passenger information system,
       sliding doors and a lot of technology.
    * 8" LCDs stuck to the back of every seat provide on board entertainment. Will get satellite feed
       in due course!
    * Certain tracks have been fenced off and the signalling apparatus have been upgraded.
    * The coaches are hauled by a 5,400 Horse power engine.
    * The fares.
          Executive         Rs.1,500/-
          A/c chair car     Rs. 750/-
    * And finally, hostesses to look after the gastronomical needs of the passengers!

The Flip side.

 (a) We're getting happy over a technology that was already available in many of the developed 
       countries, decades earlier.
 (b) As it is , in India, we see a whole lot of villages/towns mushrooming dangerously close to the
       railway tracks despite the existing rule that 100 mts either side of the tracks is railway land
       and should not be encroached.
 (c) With the fencing off of the tracks for the future 'Gatimaans' and the 'bullet trains', we might
      come across villages and towns mushrooming overnight, adjacent to these fences!


Monday, April 4, 2016

Heroes end up with feet of clay. Always!


Why is it that our heroes - it's generic and includes both men and women - always end up with feet of clay? You idolise them, support them to the hilt and even pick up fights and arguments with friends if you perceive your hero is being slighted. And then comes the unbelievable blow, leaving you numb with a feeling of having been let down when the actual persona of your hero comes out in the open. It sort of devastates you because you're left wondering as to whom you should believe and come to the sad realisation that no one is really a hero.....the selfless and the ideal are few and far between or should I say non existent?

I'm in such a situation after today's revelations of what's termed the 'Panama Papers'. So, what's the Panama Papers all about?

The Panama Papers.

  * It exposes a global web of corruption.
  * Extensive investigations into offshore financial dealings of the rich and the famous. Incidentally,
     investments made outside one's country, in this manner, are termed 'offshore dealings'.
  * The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism - ICIJ - a non profit organisation
     based in Washington, says that 500 Indians are linked to offshore firms.
  * A team from The Indian Express undertook an 8 month long investigation into the data leak.
  * The offshore entities were set up through Mossack Fonseca, a law firm based in tax haven
     Panama and they're floated at a time when they weren't permitted by the RBI laws - the Indian
     side of the wrongdoing!

And see the list of fallen heroes from across the globe.

   * Chinese President Xi Jin Ping
   * Russian President Vladimir Putin
   * Footballer Lionel Messi
   * Cine star Amitabh Bachchan and his daughter-in-law,
   * Ms A Rai........and many, many more!

The list is explosive and a veritable shortlisting of the who's who of the world.

My take.

Amitabh Bachchan's carefully crafted image has been shattered. He has been the icon and a person, widely respected in the country, perceived for being the embodiment of all the right things in life. For all you know, he could have even been a strong contender, in 2017, to be the next President of India!

Et tu Brutus........then fall Caesar!


(a) Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, this country has given you everything viz. name, fame and iconic status and you didn't want to give back a the form of taxes?

(b) The least you can do is to apologise to the nation as a beginning in undoing the wrong!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Why has it come now?

Saritha Nair of the Solar Scam fame has alleged sexual misdemeanour on her by none other than the chief minister himself. A letter, written by her while she was under police custody was bandied about in the media, this evening. Frankly, I didn't find it to be explosive but the sudden focus is reprehensible and whosoever is the author of this drama is ungentlemanly and deserves to be ostracised because civility has been thrown into the winds by this singular, wretched act.

Politicians are known to stoop low but this present act points out to the following scenario:-

  (a) Its timing, since it's just under 50 days to the Assembly elections.
  (b) This letter is supposed to be of a three year vintage which, if released then, might perhaps,
        have affected the standing of the government and brought it down.
  (c) Selective leaks of its contents have been resorted to, all this while, with no effect.
  (d) In fact, the overall opinion of the people of Kerala regarding Oommen Chandy has not been
        affected by all these allegations and the UDF still seems to be poised to give a stiff fight to
        their opponents under his leadership in the forthcoming elections!
  (e) One mustn't also forget the numerous agitations let loose by the LDF to dislodge the Oommen
        Chandy government, each one of which failed miserably and the opposition ended up with an
        egg on its face with a remarkable regularity!
  (f) And why didn't Saritha disclose it to the Commission during her testimony? Come on, the
       argument that it's a government appointed outfit and therefore, it wouldn't have been wise to
       to disclose all the facts doesn't hold water. In fact, she has lied under oath and wouldn't she
       attract legal retribution for doing so?

It's, therefore, clearly evident that it's a last ditch attempt to finish off Oommen Chandy, the politician and his achievements. The immediate reactions, consequent to the letter being made public, should send the right message to the authors of this condemnable act. Malayalees are known for their political somersaults and dirty politics but never has it reached the nadir like this one issue.  

I'm no great supporter of Oommen Chandy, the Chief Minister, but I'm of the firm opinion that he's achieved a lot during his tenure that no other would have achieved, given the forces at work against him right from the start. I never tire saying this because he's done the seemingly impossible by getting the Vizhinjam International Seaport project going, to cite just one instance, which was initially rejected by his own party's high command!


Points to ponder:-

   (a) The LDF might have won the elections without having to use this unwanted prop. This
         brings the common man to wonder as to whether it's hell bent on achieving power at any cost?
         Would the slip turn out to be costly, for it, in the end?
   (b) Just imagine the unenviable position that Saritha Nair has put herself into. She'll be despised
         by one and all, despite the fact that she has been wronged by many, exploited by many! What
         she should have done was to come clean about the entire episode at the first instance when the
         scam came to light. Sadly, she'd allowed herself to be manipulated by the dirty backstage
         operators who're busy authoring script after script hoping to pull down the government! In the
         process, she has lost her credibility! Sad!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mom's back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

The day had begun as usual and I was getting ready to leave by 10, after Ravi's arrival. I was about to get under the shower when Radhan chettan knocked on the door. He seemed to be in a pensive mood and gave me the impression that he wanted to have a long chat. He, usually, comes in an auto rickshaw, makes him wait for a while as he spends time with us but today, he'd let it go away.

He must have had a tiff with his wife as he kept repeating that women were selfish and that they're only bothered about their own selves. I didn't have the heart to send him away abruptly but he must have sensed the general haste that was prevalent and left, soon after. He'd to walk a hundred steps to the highway to board an auto rickshaw. Frail and stumbling, he walked away in the hot sun and I saw him recede into the bend at the far end of the cobbled pathway.

Ravi came soon after and we pushed off for Palakkad, at a quarter past 10. The journey was nice and Ravi, pulled the car into a secluded stretch of the road when I'd asked him to stop at a tea shop, for tea and easing of the bladder, his explanation being that the tea shop that he'd take me to didn't have a toilet! It was then that I'd to tell him that urinating in public is something that I abhorred and especially, these days when someone passing by could capture you in his cellphone and pass it around on the social media!! One doesn't quite cherish the idea of attaining fame for the wrong reasons!!!

The tea was had from the same bunk where we'd left a kitten on our previous trip. The kitten is being looked after well by a nearby family, looks grown a bit and seems to have accepted its new home. They're gracious enough to allow me to use their rest room.

We reached my sister's place at a quarter to 1. A quick lunch and we were on our return leg, with mom, by a half past 2. We're back at 'The Quarterdeck' by 4.


Must check out on as to what's bothering Radhan chettan, one of these days.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The final ceremony and the return.

The day began at 5 and by 6, we're out of our rooms. There were a series of steps, leading to the 'disposal area of the ashes', the place - again, accessible only after negotiating another flight of stairs -  beside the spring for the post disposal rituals and the temple, where the connected 'puja' is performed. Lekha'd said that she wanted to go through the entire sequence and I didn't discourage her because I knew that it would be futile and no amount of persuasion could get her out of the decision she'd arrived at!

And off we set. After the first set of about 50 odd deep steps we reached the 'ashes disposal point' which was dry and full of knee high foliage. Venu, with the urn, had gone down a further flight of steps to dispose off dad's ashes and then the entire lot left for the next destination leaving the four of us - Lekha, Letha's daughter-in-law with her three month old child and Murukesan at the point.

Lekha, by now, had realised that it wouldn't be advisable for her to do the entire rigmarole and we sat down at the embankment for a while after which, we'd returned to a hotel at the foot of the temple to have our breakfast. She found it difficult to climb up the stairs having had to literally cling on to the side wall at every step! I was carrying the little child - rather clumsily and must have presented a grotesque/laughable sight to the passers by!

Despite an initial hiccup, I could recite the 'Vishnu sahasranaama sthothram', in between, as is my regular morning practice.

The others returned after the entire set of ceremonies by about 11 o'clock and soon after, we'd set off on our return leg. Lunch was at Adivaram and the first to drop off was Asok, at Tirur and before he got off, I'd made the announcement - to everyone's delight, as I noticed - that the group would meet once a year, from now on, taking into account the convenience of everyone and make a similar journey to places of interest, which was greeted with a boisterous shout and the thumping of the seats!

About 60 kms later and around 2000 hrs, it's my turn to disembark at Chavakkad from where I could get an autorickshaw to reach 'The Quarterdeck'. Opening up the house, putting the soiled clothes in the appropriate bin, putting back the things into their original places, bath and dinner did take a bit of time.


(a) Fixed up with Ravi regarding tomorrow's trip to Palakkad and back, to fetch my mom.
(b) Lekha should be back before next weekend. I'm skipping the wedding that I was to attend, the             day after tomorrow, at Adoor. Rema and Padmakumar are attending it; I shall call them up to
      convey our wishes.