Thursday, June 30, 2016

A script that went wrong.

The day had begun at 4, as I got ready for the trip to my dad's place. Anto came promptly at 20' past 5. The queue for purchasing the tickets was thankfully short and by 6, I was off. As has been the case in the past, getting a newspaper was out, as the train that  brought the papers in was late by more than an hour. We saw it running into its designated platform at Thrissur!

Since it was raining, the crowd in the train was less but I could have the sandwiches, packed by Lekha, only after reaching Ernakulam. The journey was uneventful and I reached the school at the appointed hour. I was shown the books bought by the committee consisting of the Head Mistress, reps of the parent-teacher's association and the children. There seemed to be a wide spread of subjects that were covered and I lauded the team for its good work and choice.

At the meeting I told the children about what I'd learnt from my grandfather and my father by narrating a few episodes of my life peppered with a fair number of anecdotes. There were four other speakers but the entire meeting was over within 11/2 hrs.

I was dropped at Raj Nivas soon after and between the caretaker and me, the weeding - the new saplings have a great amount of weeds around them and they need to be removed but the break in the monsoons just doesn't seem to come around - schedule was worked out and I handed over the cheque to him . He also took me around his son's new venture on coconut processing. He has given me a formal invite - in fact, the three of us - for the inaugural function in the second week of July. Unni, the auto rickshaw driver who'd taken me from the station to the venue also facilitated my return. The train came on time and we raced towards Kollam.

But one station short of the destination, the train was kept waiting for want of platform clearance, ahead at Kollam. Yet another tantalizing situation of 'so near yet so far'. I dunno why I nursed a positive outcome but in the process missed the connection train from Thiruvananthapuram on which I was booked. I could have easily caught a bus, an auto rickshaw or a cab to reach the station and boarded the train. The sheer inaction baffled me as I recounted the moment again and again, subsequently. But my long wait at Kollam, that followed, enabled my man Vishnu to collect my signatures on the official papers prepared, earlier in the day, at the Foundation in Thiruvananthapuram. The comprehensive report could now be sent to New Delhi tomorrow itself!

My hopes of reaching 'The Quarterdeck' by midnight, however, were dashed.


A night being spent in the train!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A day that didn't see me do much.

The day had begun as usual. Since the maid had fallen ill, the work has fallen on Lekha. The only consolation is that she would be back tomorrow. I tried to put in my bit wherever I could but it didn't seem to be adequate. We, however, went about the major chores without difficulty.

Just before 12 I'd made a beeline to the town for two main reasons. The first was to collect my Form 16, from the bank, to file the IT return and to collect the telephone instrument that was given for repairs a couple of days ago. I could return within 45 mts without keeping mom and Lekha waiting for me at lunch.

By 4 Pravin had come to collect the requisite papers and I was glad that it was yet another work that could be ticked off my slop chit. My neighbour had also followed me on controls on the IT return issue. Earlier, while at the bank, came to know the details of the accident undergone by the members of the manager's close family at Palakkad.

I could complete my customary walk because of the break in the rains and just as I'd turned in, down came the rains with a strong gust of wind. Wonder whether there were any damages because a few trees getting uprooted and falling on the electric cables is a common phenomenon, these days. There was nothing in the immediate vicinity but the power interruptions were galore.

The news from Thiruvananthapuram, regarding Indira kunjamma, was encouraging with the infusion of antibiotics into her system. Leela chittamma has been discharged after the knee surgery and they've gone back to Kochi; she comes for review on 12th.

Meanwhile, I'd got the things ready for my move to Kottarakkara in connection with the handing over of the books to the school's library. Only wish that the rains don't play spoilsport! I'm not gonna carry anything with me lest I forget and make a mess of things!!


It's gonna be a long day tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


I'm gonna speak about certain happenings that have happened around us over the past few weeks. The difference between the thoughts and the actual actions are to be seen to be believed. Why we take this difficult option - we're all quite sure that a lie has to be supported by so many others for its sustainability and it's a difficult proposition as the perpetrator/s have to be on guard always lest a misstep lets the cat out of the bag! - is difficult to analyse but I suppose it's another facet of human behaviour that defies logic.

Without much ado, let me go into the subject matter and here I go:-

 (a) Grandhalokam - The June Issue.

       I'm a subscriber to this magazine, brought out by the Kerala Library Council every month,
       though I must keep everyone informed as to how I got to become one. The points are listed
          (i) I was an invitee to the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Ambamapuzha conclave,
               where PN Panicker, had the then Diwan of Travancore, Sir CP Ramaswamy Iyer,
               inaugurate the Travancore Grandhasala Sangham on 14 Sep '45. I was invited by the
               secretary and the office bearers of the local 'Sanmarga Sandayani Library' - that was
               conceived by my paternal grandfather, NK Panicker.
         (ii) I considered it a great honour and had actively participated in all the connected activities.
               Somewhere, in between, the secretary had inquired as to whether he could make me a
               subscriber to the council's mouthpiece, the Grandhalokam and I'd agreed to it and the annual
               subscription was handed over after I'd gotten over my initial hesitation because the Library
               Council has always pretended to 'forget' PN Panicker and righted its 'forgetfulness' when
               someone pointed out the discrepancy.
        (iii) In fact, it had brought out brochures about the programme which was conspicuous by
               the absence of any mention of PN Panicker, which I came to know about subsequently.
        (iv) I was keen to know of the present quality of the magazine which was a PN Panicker
               initiative to facilitate the public to know about the activities of the Sangham.
         (v) I was also inquisitive to know about the initiatives and the key result areas of the Kerala
               Library Council, today.

       It did not take much time for my doubts to get answered. The June issue of the magazine
       had reached my house during my absence at Thiruvananthapuram in connection with the
       Vaayana Dinam and Vaaram from the 19th to the 25th. On my return, it was with a great
       amount of curiosity that I leafed through the pages of the magazine. The absence of any
       mention of PN Panicker and the Vaayana Dinam and Vaaram was conspicuous!

       I've a few queries to the editorial board of the Grandhalokam which are:-
         (i) Isn't it laughable that you've imposed a blanket ban on PN Panicker when the whole
              state is remembering him through the Vaayana Vaaram?
        (ii) What's your grouse on him that's being pursued 21 years after he's passed into the
               mist of time?
       (iii) Isn't your eagerness to "celebrate Vaayana Vaaram because PN Panicker is ours" all
              but phoney with ulterior motives?
       (iv) And lastly, how long are you going to stifle the contributions of the founder editor of
              the Grandhalokam who'd done his work sincerely for 33 years?
   (b) The Modi Interview on Times Now.

          I think Arnab Goswami's interview of the Prime Minister on Times Now, over the
          last weekend, has taken many by surprise judging by the reactions. Sample a couple:-

           (i) Why didn't the PM meet more pressmen from across the media?........The Congress.
          (ii) Why was he asked only soft questions?                                       .........The AAP.
         (iii) Why was he addressed as, "Mr Prime Minister"?                       ..........The Samajwadi Party.
    My take.

          The Prime Minister had addressed a wide range of issues and his answers clearly indicate
          his stand on each one of then unambiguously and clearly. What was refreshing was that here
          was a PM who knew the details of each and every subject that was being talked about. 

          My queries to his detractors are:-
            (i) Why don't you accept his achievements as much as you pooh pooh his failures?
           (ii) Allow him to rule for the five years that we, the people of India, have given him the
                 mandate for. Shouldn't the castigation wait till the final report on his governance?


We're passing through exciting times!


Monday, June 27, 2016

Plugged to hospitals!

Was literally plugged to three hospitals and a patient-at-home. I wouldn't say that I was busy but the necessity of updating myself about each one of them did take up my time and energy.

 (a) Indira kunjamma at KIMS, Thiruvananthapuram.

       74 year old Indira kunjamma has been having a problem of almost no appetite for quite a
       while. A fortnight back, she was caught up with a nasty viral fever and over a period she'd
       gotten weak. In fact, last week during my stay at Thiruvananthapuram, I'd gone to look her
       up and found her weak and bed ridden. She'd started having food, her daughter said, but that 
       wasn't enough! This afternoon, she was admitted at the KIMS as she was too weak with an acute 
       congestion of the chest. The doctor has put her on drips and once her health steadies up, the
       antibiotics to tackle the infection will be pushed in. She has, however, been creating a ruckus
       about wanting to get back home.........I'd spoken to all our relatives out there about the situation
       and all of them had made a beeline to the hospital. By evening, her condition had stabled and
       the infusion of antibiotics had begun. Phew!

 (b) Leela chittamma at Daya Hospital, Thrissur.

       My dad's youngest sister-in-law had both her knee joints replaced this morning at Thrissur. 
       Her son is keeping us updated about the details. As I understand, she'll come out of the post
       operative care tomorrow and will be made to walk. The results will determine the date of her
       discharge. Incidentally, she's all of 67 yrs.

 (c) Jayakumar's sister and family at the Medical College, Coimbatore.

       Had come to know of the accident involving Jayakumar's sister's car and a lorry off Palakkad
       from his assistant, when I'd gone to the bank this morning. The car had the lady's husband, who
       was driving and their two children besides her. She's the worst hit with broken limbs while the
       others have narrowly missed major injuries. 

 (d) Sathi chechi and Radhan chettan had dropped by this morning to collect the Rs.10 grand that
       they'd asked me last week to tide over their financial difficulties. She'd slipped and fallen in 
       their bathroom resulting in a broken ankle.


Woke up to the sad news about the signing off of Lionel Messi from international football after
his team, Argentina, lost to Chile in the finals of the Copa America centenary. Fate has been cruel to him!

........For me you shall continue to be the greatest footballer of the times!!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A quiet Sunday.

Had reached home about half an hour after midnight. The first thing that I did notice was that the temple town looked dry after the last few days of heavy rains as I took an auto rickshaw for going home. Incidentally, the ricks are readily available, for hire, as passengers alight late into the night. I'd spoken about the reluctance on the part of the drivers to take passengers over short distances and the reluctant 'thuggery' that was prevalent in the past.

Well, that ugly situation has become a thing of the past. How the turn around was brought about is another story but suffice to understand that all's well that ends well!

I can never forget the happy look on my mom's face, on seeing me, when I'd gone across to wish her in the morning, giving an outsider who'd have seen the exchange to think that I'd been away for a long, long time. After breakfast, I gave a debrief of the entire set of activities during the Vaayana vaaram at Thiruvananthapuram, to mom and Lekha including a few noteworthy interactions with people that included my relatives.

The three men who'd worked on our septic tank during my absence had come by immediately after, for collecting their remaining wages. After I'd handed over their dues, one of them had asked for liquor - he looked addicted to it as he'd those tremors as a result of years of drinking, the emaciated looks, a sunken face and eyes, both red and filmy! And he was reeking of liquor, the after effects of the night's consumption, perhaps!! - to which I'd to give a firm 'nyet', despite the fact that my liquor cabinet was adequately stocked. I was also quite angry with our maid's husband who must have prodded him on but couldn't vent my feelings in the presence of his friends and coworkers.

As the day wore off, I was given a minute-by-minute input on the happenings on the dais, during the evening of the concluding session of the Vaayana vaaram, by my maman, aunts and cousins. Well, we've been able to hold our ground but a lot needs to be done but I'm happy that between me and maman, we've put down a strategy to ensure that the roadblocks are removed/prevented in the days to come. And no, it's not our idea to antagonise anyone in the process!


The evening sky was clear and I'd gone for my customary walk. Well it was nice exercising and sweating it out after over a week!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Vaayana vaaram - Day 7.

Rains seem to be going through another lull as we're up and about early in the day and had taken off for the Foundation to tie up the last bit by 0830 hrs. It was Mr. VS Achuthanandan who was the chief guest for the first meeting on "Senior citizens and society". On an information provided by his son, Comrade Pannian Raveendran sir, Maman and I had gone to his house - where he's shifted recently - to ensure that he came to grace the occasion. However, he sent a felicitation message later wishing the programme all success! The OB vans and the battery of news persons just melted away, as quickly as they'd arrived, on hearing about the comrade's no show!!

At the end of the programme, I and Sudha ma'am - a member of the staff and a retired banker - were entrusted with a pleasant job of helping Afroze Ahmed saab with his shopping for spices and kurtas! Well, such interludes help break the monotony and the tension that build up in the run up to organising events and also avoids last minute lapses!

The concluding function began on the dot at 5 with the arrival of the chief minister. He reiterated the fact that EMS and PN Panicker were the greatest social reformers of Kerala in the 20th century. Well, the Kerala State Library Council must have reasons to hold back their intentions on wanting to rewrite history, pushing PN Panicker into oblivion at least for now! His order for the oath taking by the entire staff of the government secretariat on the occasion of the Vaayana vaaram was the first shocker for a few of them, at least!

 As the meeting progressed, I made my quiet role in the organising of the Vaayana vaaram had come to an end. There was nothing further left for me to do. Omanakuttan dropped me at the railway station with about 20 mts to spare for my train to leave for Guruvayur. The journey was fine with no major glitches and a good set of co-passengers. For me, a bit of reading and the writing of the blog kept me involved.


After a quiet Sunday, I'd be off early morning on Monday to my dad's place for two things viz.:-

    (a) Handing over of the books@Rs.5 grand to the Head Mistress of the Thalavoor UPS as an
          endowment on my dad's name on the occasion of the Vaayana vaaram at a function, organised
          by the school that evening.
    (b) The initiation of the removal of weeds from the rubber, teak and coconut beds that were 
          prepared just a month ago. I believe the growth has been at an amazing rate and left as it is,
          will stifle the saplings.  



Friday, June 24, 2016

Vaayana vaaram - Day 6.

Maman had woken me up earlier than usual as we'd to hand over the publicity material to the jail authorities and a copy of the meeting notice had to be handed over to the MLA. Accordingly, we'd set off from home by a half past 7 and after taking a few copies of the material from Omanakuttan at Vazhuthacaud, set off for the MLA's house.

The watchman at the housing complex told us that he'd been given strict orders not to send up any visitors to his tenth floor flat till 9, as he wanted to make it in time for his first day in the Assembly. The lifts were consequently kept switched off and I didn't hesitate trudging up the long flight of stairs, pressed the doorbell; the door was opened by the house keeper who told me that the MLA was having his breakfast, shut the door after asking me as to who I was and to wait outside. Perhaps, he didn't hear me well but something in me told me that the wait was gonna get long and I decided to go down and send Maman along to do the other pending work, while I'd follow in a rick later after meeting the old man, since I wasn't carrying my cellphone.

Thankfully, one of the lifts had begun functioning by then and I'd reached the 10th floor all over again and was allowed to enter the house. The old man was pleased as Punch when I wished him the very best on his first day at the Assembly. He inquired about my mother and recalled the time when we'd met at the Kochi airport's lounge while I was the LO to the late Field Marshal SHFJ Maneckshaw and I felt nice!

Babu, a kind auto rickshaw man, who brought me to the Kanakakkunnu Palace from there, didn't throw tantrums and asked me a measly Rs.30/- as the fare, while he could have easily fleeced me on the issue by saying that the route into the palace was long and that he'd have to return without passengers, till the gate, incurring a loss. Good men are there after all!

The programme, today, went off fine with the minister for agriculture in chair, though he'd come late because the Governor was announcing the new government's policies and priorities that lasted around 21/2 hours. By 20' to 1, we're on the road through mad traffic to reach the Central Jail at Poojappura to meet the deadline of 1300 hrs for 'reading out the pledge' on the occasion of the Vaayana Vaaram.
The programme went off well with the minister of ports in chair with Rajettan and comrade Pannian being present. About 200 of the jail inmates formed the audience in a massive hall and the whole ceremony was conducted over a period of slightly over an hour, followed by a scrumptious lunch - prepared by the inmates.

It was back again at the Foundation, for debrief and preparations for the final day tomorrow! And a fairly late night at that!!


1. Today's theme, "Agriculture and environment".
2. Dr Kamalasanan Pillai, an agricultural scientist and  Dr Afroze Ahmed, Advisor, Narmada Control Authority, Dr. Subhash Chandra Bose of Jalanidhi, Dr. Thampan of the 'Bhasha Institute' and Ramakrishna Pillai kept the tempo of the discussions lively.    

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Vaayana vaaram - Day 5.

It was another day that saw us out of the house by 9. The morning's programme with the Speaker of the Kerala Assembly in chair was informative regarding the intricacies of ayurveda treatment and how easy it was for an individual to earn his/her livelihood with the knowledge of that branch of medicine. In fact, all over India, it's the 'Kerala' ayurveda system that's more popular because there's a popular feeling among the general public that the practices are genuine and foreign tourists - these days, even Indians - are sold!

I'd to make a quick visit to the central jail at Poojappura, to meet with the police officials regarding the conduct of a ceremony of taking the 'Reading Day pledge' by the inmates, on the occasion of the Vaayana Vaaram, tomorrow. The minister of ports will read out the pledge while the MLA of the Assembly segment will preside over the function. I couldn't help but observe the marked similarities of the hierarchical structure prevalent in the police force with that of the defence forces, that I was so familiar.

Today also happens to be the 125th birth anniversary of the late C Kesavan, the chief minister of the erstwhile Travancore-Kochi state, who's known for his integrity and no nonsense approach. What I like best among the anecdotes attributed to him was his remark when told about the massive fire that had gutted the Sabarimala shrine, "I'm glad that a temple has been destroyed; it will at least reduce superstitions to some extent". He was fond of my grandfather and had provided the much needed governmental support during the time. It was, thus, befitting on the part of the Foundation to allow the C Kesavan Foundation to conduct its celebrations at the Kanakakkunnu Palace during the afternoon!

The evening also saw me seeing off our guests of the last two days and receiving a guest who flew in today for the programme tomorrow.

I shall be returning to Guruvayur by the Intercity Express at 1700 hrs on Saturday. The last function of the Vaayana Vaaram would have begun by then.


1. Today's theme, "Ayurveda in a global context".
2. Sekhar, a member of the staff opens up. He did give me a lot of information!
3. Binu and Rajesh, two electricians from the KSEB, had come to set right the defects in our office. While being busy at work, Binu had got a call from someone and he'd reacted very strongly to it. Once he'd quietened down and got back to work, I'd advised him against raising his blood pressure which I was pretty sure if he continued that way. His reply was thought provoking, "Sir, everyone feels that we're being paid heavily, disproportionate to our job. The guy who'd called and I'd joined our respective departments on the same day but today, he's in a managerial slot while I haven't got a corresponding position in my organisation. He knows it and is therefore, taking pot shots at me regarding the defect in his house and I'm gonna delay it. Do you know sir, that if I were to die today while doing my duty, my family would be rendered helpless and without money". I was left wondering, no insurance?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vaayana Vaaram - Day 4.

                                                 THE GLOVES ARE OFF


1. The Kerala State Library Council(Metamorphosed from the erstwhile Kerala Grandhasala Sangham founded by the late PN Panicker) had come into being in '94 and the late IV Das sir was its head. Its leadership has always had a generous sprinkling of CPM sympathisers. And they, at every opportunity, try to deride PN Panicker. 

Why do they do this?

2. In the early '70s, the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham was on a high with the following activities:-
    (a) It had celebrated its silver jubilee in '70 with a network of over 5,300 libraries.
    (b) PN Panicker had personally conducted a 'padayatra' from the northern tip to the southern tip
          of Kerala and gifted the Malayalees the imaginative slogan, "Vaayichu valaruka, Chinthichu             vivekam neduka"  
    (c) The Kerala Grandhasala Sangham was awarded the prestigious, "Nadezhda Krupskaya
          Award"- named after Lenin's wife - by the UNESCO in recognition of the stupendous and
          spectacular Library Movement!

3. Political parties, across the spectrum, vied with each other to share a platform with PN Panicker and the Sangham became the toast of the state. Meanwhile, as per bylaws set up in its nascent stages, the office bearers were elected at each level - the taluk, the district and the state committees - democratically and PN Panicker was its unanimous General Secretary for 33 years! There used to be a President and two Vice Presidents, who're nominal figureheads, but very much part of a tight knit organisation. 

4. In the mid '70s the late Thayattu Sankaran became President, who was a man of letters as well as a CPM sympathiser. Whenever he went on tours, be it for meetings or for the inspection of the libraries, he became jealous over the unrestrained love and affection the grass roots library workers gave to PN Panicker, so much so, that after one such tour he penned an article about a 'day in the life of a social worker' in the then monthly, the Kalakaumudi. In it he'd made insinuations and personal attacks on PN Panicker. What infuriated him further were the following:-

     (a) There was no dent in PN Panicker's popularity and instead, he went up in their esteem by
           a few notches because his followers knew him well.

     (b)  PN Panicker had shot down his proposal of naming the top floor conference hall of the Kerala
           Grandhasala Sangham, as the 'Desabhimani Study Centre' as he wanted the organisation to be

5. In '78, the government had bowed to the long standing wish of PN Panicker and had taken over the organisation to be headed by a Library Council with PN Panicker as its Secretary and it was then that the new chief minister, AK Antony, had reformulated the body without PN Panicker in it. By the time he'd realised his mistake and apologised, PN Panicker had begun a new organisation named 'KANFED(Kerala Association for Non-Formal Education and Development) which embarked upon making Kerala cent percent literate and it was achieved on 21 Apr '91.

6. After his passing away on 19 Jun '95, through the untiring efforts of his son, N Balagopal, his remembrance day was declared the 'Vaayana Dinam' and the week that followed as the 'Vaayana Vaaram' by the then EK Nayanar's LDF government. This has been going on for the past 21 years and today the Malayalees, the world over have accepted PN Panicker as one of the modernisers of Kerala.

7. The Kerala State Library Council, now packed with CPM men and inimical to PN Panicker, had all along wanted to hijack the Vaayana Vaaram celebrations. Towards this end, yesterday, the government sponsored 'Pakshaacharanam'(Fortnight's Celebration of Reading) was kick started on similar lines of the Vaayana Vaaram. Towards this end the following have been initiated:-

   (a) The governmental support for the conduct of the Vaayana Vaaram were tapered off.  
   (b)  In their 'Fortnight Celebration of Reading', inaugurated by the chief minister at the Cotton Hill
         Girls' High School, Thiruvananthapuram, he'd said that the library movement was first
         conceived by King Swati Thirunal, taken up by the Malabar Library Movement in '34, EMS and
         IV Das, who made it the robust Kerala State Library Council in '94. PN Panicker is given a one
         line mention, that he'd begun the Travancore Library Movement.

My Take.

1. Since when have the comrades started attributing good initiatives in governance to the kings?
2. How have they forgotten the formation of the Travancore Grandhasala Sangham at the Ambalappuzha Conference of 14 Sep '45, organised by PN Panicker and inaugurated by the then Diwan of Travancore, Sir CP Ramaswamy Iyer which went on to become Thiru-Kochi Grandhasala Sangham in '49 and finally, the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham in '56?
3. PN Panicker had all along maintained that his movement was not the first but the ones that had begun before were all short lived and it was only the Travancore Grandhasala Sangham that had grown into the massive organisation of the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham, now known as the Kerala State Library Council.  

And the CPM blames the BJP saying that it distorts history! Isn't that a laugh?


Maman and I'd left home this morning at 9 o'clock. Our first job was to arrange the seating in the smaller hall of the palace where we usually have focused discussions and the crowd is at a manageable 100 or below! Today's was one such exercise and Oommen Chandy, the former chief minister, had called in to bless us as he was away at Kannur, on an assignment.

There were two panel discussions which centred on the theme of 'Digital Libraries Towards the Spread of Knowledge' and 'Digital Libraries as Training Hubs'. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Vaayana Vaaram - Day 3.

Maman and I headed for the venue by 9 and pitched in with the others in setting up the stage in accordance with the theme for the day. The minister of panchayats was the chief guest and the meeting had started off 10 minutes behind schedule and since most of the speakers were expansive in their expressions, it wound up almost half an hour late.

I could see Vignesh, our trainer, getting impatient and he'd asked me to tell the gentleman proposing the vote of thanks to wind up quickly keeping his speech short and I'd to do so, taking care that I didn't dampen his enthusiasm! The training session, then, took off without much ado and the students were only too happy to begin from where they'd left last evening. They seemed to be happy at the place of their overnight stay within the campus of the Mar Ivanios College and we're only too happy to hear that.

Lunch was just sufficient for everyone who're at the Kanakakkunnu Palace, including the regular staff of the sprawling establishment. The in charge of the logistics arrangements for the entire show was, however, sad that Maman and I had to have an early tea and vadas for lunch. It took a lot to convince the old lady - a retired Head Mistress - that food was our least priority and the very successful conduct of the programme gave us the biggest high and the energy!

The afternoon session saw our team giving the final set of instructions to the participants regarding training and getting a million people e-literate by 31 Dec. Before winding up, there was a photographic session where a few of the students got unashamedly sentimental regarding their experience. Rajat of the Vishwa Yuvak Kendra was effusive in his appreciation of the Foundation for giving his team this opportunity.

It was then that I made a quick dash to the Mar Ivanios College to clear the dues and thank the organisation for taking good care of our students. And on return, while passing through Pattom, saw the Sree Uthradom Thirunal Hospital and I'd a lump in my throat. It was there that my Ammachi, Mrs. PN Panicker, had breathed her last, almost 25 years ago.


1. Our ex-sa'arthi, a youngster in the Army and currently posted at Bangalore dropped by seeing the lights burning in the Foundation. And boy, weren't we also thrilled to see him? He has promised to be with us from tomorrow onward for the Vaayana Vaaram as he's here on a few days' leave.
2. The theme for today, "Empowering Gram Sabhas through Skill Development".   

Monday, June 20, 2016

Vaayana Vaaram - Day 2.

Today's proceedings had begun at 1000 hrs and the power minister had come well in time and we just made it in time to begin the first session. The team from the Vishwa Yuvak Kendra and our own technical team headed by Vignesh had kick started the session on Digital Literacy to about 150 students drawn from the districts of Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam.

The idea is to empower each of these children, studying in the senior classes of the high schools, to help another 100 individuals - drawn from all ages and willing to be part of the scheme - to become totally e-literate. After the one hour inaugural, the interactive session had started with enthusiastic participation on the part of the students that continued till 1700 hrs with two breaks for lunch and tea.

It was in the course of the session, that I befriended a teacher - all of 72 yrs - whom we'd felicitated yesterday. He used to teach Biology but was now deep into spirituality, spreading the message of educating youngsters to be good human beings. His sessions are drawn from the salient points drawn from the Bhagwad Gita, the Bible and the Quran. He learnt the hard lessons from life, to quote him, because he'd led a wayward life in the initial stages when he was jolted by two events:-

   (a) He got into a spot of trouble and was ostracised in professional circles because he'd come down          heavily on girls wearing leg-ins. This was due to his conviction that men got provoked by the
         way the fairer sex dressed up!
   (b) He lost his wife, after being married for four years. His wife had undergone an abortion after
         conceiving for the first time only to die, along with still born twins, during the second!

These had turned his small world topsy turvy but he rose like the proverbial phoenix and is now a calm individual, that has understood the game of life.

Another person whom I'd the privilege to meet was Veeramani - all of 62 yrs - who was in charge of the electrical and electronic system at the venue. He recalled his younger days when he used to provide the same arrangements - at a lesser scale, though - for my grandfather while he was active with the Library and Literacy Movements. As he recalled his experiences was there a hint of a tear in his eyes? He makes it a point to provide support for the Vaayana Vaaram celebrations every year!

I'd initially called him by name when he said that he'd prefer my addressing him as 'Swami' because that was how my Muthachan used to call him. I was floored by his request!


1. The second day went off without glitches and the student participants seem to benefit from the programme. They've the second and final session tomorrow.
2. Today's theme, "Empowerment through e-literacy".

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The 21st Vaayana Dinam.

Today's the 21st Vaayana Dinam and the beginning of the Vaayana Vaaram. Maman, his son, Manu and I left home by 8 and hit straight for the Kanakakkunnu Palace, the venue. The premises were dotted with Muthachan's huge smiling cut outs at vantage points and I really felt proud. There was good coverage on the media - both print and electronic - since morning and the local FM was also covering it well.

The first programme was the All Kerala Quiz and the second was the Painting Competition for all categories of children, against a theme. It was inaugurated by the state's DGP, Loknath Behra who was glad to see such a fantastic crowd on a Sunday morning, so much so, that he gave us company for almost the entire duration of the quiz comp! A sight that I loved was to see my pre-KG niece, Naina, sprawled on the drawing sheet as she freaked out with the colours.

Meanwhile, I was sent on an errand to the Milma plant to augment the refreshments by getting an additional crates of flavoured milk. The journey, up and down, was horrible with bad traffic snarls at two places. But we could still make it within acceptable time limits thanks to some real daredevil driving by Omanakuttan!

After a hurried lunch - we'd it at 3 PM! - the inauguration of the 'Vaayana Vaaram' was done by the honourable Governor, Justice P Sathasivam in a colourful yet simple cereminy. He was thrilled to see politicians across the spectrum at the ceremony and suggested that we should conduct the next Vaayana Vaaram on a much larger scale in a stadium and he'd like to be involved in it! It's gracious of him!! Finally, I'd proposed the vote of thanks which went off okay without glitches.

Then by a half past 6, we're back at the Foundation for a debrief and briefing for day 2 of the Vaayana Vaaram tomorrow.


It was a comparatively early evening. Earlier, at the Foundation, thought of Muthachan at 1923 hrs. That was the time he'd passed into the mist of time, 21 yrs ago. Memories are still afresh.......     

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Off to Thiruvananthapuram.

The day had begun on a dry note as the lull in the rain seems to be getting longer. I'd skipped my morning walk as there were a few things that needed tying up before I left for Thiruvananthapuram in the afternoon. The PCI representative had given a call that he'd make a visit by lunch time to tackle the recent sighting of ants in a corner of the kitchen and outside the house in a corner of the kitchen garden despite the last visit for the quarter. My cousin, who's returned from abroad on two months' leave, had also called up Lekha that he was in Thrissur with his mom, visiting a doctor and would be dropping by sometime later on in the day, on their return to Kochi.

A quick lunch and as I was getting ready to move, the priest who'd conducted the puja had come by to hand over the charm that's to be worn by Lekha. Rajan, the auto rickshaw guy, was on the dot at 1230h to take me to the railway station but when I reached there my heart sank seeing the long queue of people waiting to buy the tickets and the scheduled departure of the afternoon shuttle was at 1255h! Ultimately, when it was just a few minutes left for the train to depart, I'd got it and in the hurry to get into a compartment had entered a 'ladies only' compartment. In fact, I was quite thrilled to see the compartment almost empty when a lady pointed out the obvious. Profusely apologetic, I'd quickly hopped off and trudged along to find a seat in a comparatively less crowded carriage!

The twenty minute journey to Thrissur was uneventful. The wait at the railway station was tedious to say the least but I was into my favourite pastime of watching and trying to understand people. There were two people who'd come into my critical view. The first was a serving army officer who was being seen off by four smart soldiers in smart fatigues. Sadly, the officer was not taking care of his looks; he'd an unwieldy paunch and my only doubt was as to whether he was exercising at all for his health's sake. To make matters worse, he insisted on speaking in Malayalam-tinged Hindi and Punjabi loudly over the telephone and tapering the conversations in chaste Malayalam towards the end, all through the journey. Why the hell couldn't he speak in Malayalam in the first place?

The second was a guy who switched on the fan, at intervals, watching the discomfort that it was causing to some of his fellow passengers. He had to be told to stop his nonsense after which he was well behaved for the rest of the journey! Was he psychic, I wonder?

The train reached Thiruvananthapuram smack on time. It was Gopee Krishna, my cousin who'd come to pick me up in his car and it was nice to see him after a long while.


After working out the strategy for the conduct of the 'Vaayana Vaaram' at the Foundation, Maman and I reached his place around 2230 hrs, my home for the coming five days!    

Friday, June 17, 2016

A case for looking after migrant labour.

In God's own country, there's no dearth of jobs but it's the attitude of the Malayalees towards menial jobs that has contributed greatly towards unemployment among the youth. An average Malayalee dreams of a white collar job in some government office and that, unfortunately, is in short supply. A few of the enterprising migrate to the gulf countries willing to do any job and thus, a majority of them work as labourers in the construction field out there. An irony, in the sense, that if they're willing to do the same in their own backyard, the state would have been quite ahead in many fields.

The belligerence of the trade unions was once a bugbear but they've realised that their attitudes need a makeover in the present times and because of the simple factor that the multinational IT companies have discouraged trade unionism among its workforce!

And it's into this vacuum of manual labour that the migrants, from the north eastern region of the country, have made a surge over the last ten years or so and by now, theirs is a sizeable population. It's said that for them, migration to Kerala is akin to what migrating to the gulf regions is for a Malayalee!

It seems to be a win win situation for all concerned. I shall jot down the most noticeable phenomenon as a result of this vibrant migrant population:-

      (a) Migrant labour is cheaper than local labour. But the rates for the migrants are unimaginable
           compared to what they get back home for the same work!
      (b) They're less militant like and adhere to a reasonable time schedule of work. The local labour
            requires a tot in the afternoon to tackle 'strenuous' jobs like working in open fields under the
            scorching heat of the sun/the harsh downpour!
      (c) The small grocery shops/vegetable vendors have adequate stocks to satisfy this clientele and
            many of the vendors have acquired mastery over a smattering of Hindi.
      (d) Hindi movies have drifted into the rural landscape of Kerala.

The flip side of the situation could be classified into:-

       (a) Inhuman conditions of staying - sanitation and waste disposal have reached alarmingly
             pitiable conditions.
       (b) Law and order problems involving the migrants - the ongoing investigations on the Jisha
             murder is a case in point.
       (c) Faultless documentation and necessary security clearances are slowly being put into place.
       (d) Their acceptability among the local populace, as human beings with equal dignity, has been
             slow in coming.


The complete documentation of migrant labour is very, very imporatant. While getting work out of them, it's equally important to look after their welfare. If they live in unhygienic conditions, it won't take much time for the resultant health issues to be affecting the local populace too. In other words, they need to be cared for and given due dignity. Of course, there's no question of laxity in the application of the law and mistakes must be dealt with an iron hand!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

From here and there.

1. Towards the Run up to the 'Vaayana Dinam' and 'Vaaram'.

Today, I'd participated in a phone-in-interview with the press towards the run up to the Vaayana Dinam and Vaaram, commencing 19 Jun, being Muthachan's remembrance day. Since mom has a problem talking over the telephone, I'd fielded the questions on her behalf as well as mine and recalled the little things that we have in our mental warehouse about the legendary PN Panicker. The interviewer told me that he'd be calling up further, for additional information, to formulate the feature on the 'Man of letters' and had done so to clear a few of his doubts.

I'd be going to Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday to be part of the proceedings on Sunday, at the Kanakakkunnu Palace, where the Governor is gonna be the chief guest. On the 20th, there's an event under the auspices of the Jana Sikshan Sansthan at Kollam and a day after, at the Thalavoor UPS where my dad had his primary schooling whose library will be presented with another set of books@Rs.5 grand, as part of the family's ongoing annual commitment in my dad's name.

We're to drive all the way to Thiruvananthapuram but owing to the rains and bad roads, mom and Lekha will be staying back at Guruvayur while I flit up and down for partaking in the activities.

2. The 'Puja'.

Finally, the puja was conducted this forenoon after a few hiccups like the priest falling sick and him, consequently having to readjust his schedule. The materials, for the ceremony, were collected and kept ready over the last few days. Satyanarayanan, the priest in his 40s who had picked up the nuances from his father - also a priest and astrologer - arrived at 10 and went about the preparations in right earnest. The sitting room had to be emptied off the furniture for the 'Sudarshan chakra' to be prepared on the floor with rice powder and other colourful vegetable based powders.

I've always been impressed with the intricate preparations that go towards the run up to a puja and the bright colours and tasteful designs that go to make up the ultimate aura! Today's was no different and the puja began in right earnest around 12 and lasted about 11/2 hrs with the sacred fire - homam - emitting smoke, at times, irritating the eyes.

At the end of it all, he'd hit hard on a coconut that was kept in vermilion mixed water all through the puja. It had broken into two unequal halves - and the inference that the puja has been successful was reached because the part with the eyes was larger than the other portion!

Well, all's well that ends well and it's our fond hope that the misplaced valuables are retrieved at the earliest!


There has been widespread enthusiasm in the state when the newly constituted Special Investigation Team had announced today, the nabbing of an Assamese labourer in connection with the 'Jisha murder case', from neighbouring Tamilnadu. Further investigations are continuing to enable the filing of the chargesheet. What was deplorable was the political class, fighting with each other, claiming success over the breakthrough! Sad!!

No one should forget that the second SIT had its task made easy by the previous one in collecting evidence and examining witnesses. Its efforts didn't bear fruits because of the tremendous pressure exerted by the election rhetoric and a prying media. Having said that, my question to that team is, "Why did you lose your cool?"     

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Unnecessary controversies.

There has been something or the other that keeps taking place. While a few are genuine, it's my sneaky feeling that many are perpetuated for the perpetrators to be in the limelight and the remainder have a smack of politics! The outcome......more often than not, counts to nothing. Let's visit a few that have been in the limelight in the last few weeks.

   (a) Udta Punjab.

         A movie on the growing dependence on drugs and that too, by the youth of Punjab. It has a
         social relevance. It's common knowledge that unscrupulous politicians are into the business
         of drugs. What makes it more stinging is that it's rumoured that a few Akali Dal leaders are
         involved and come next year, it's Assembly elections in the state. To my mind, all parties are
         to be blamed because no one has made a strong case against the malaise, till now, which goes
         to prove that almost everyone is in the know of it, if not fully involved and that the business
         is lucrative.

         Pehlaj Nihalani, the CBFC chief, had passed the certification process with a number of cuts
         against which the entire Bombay film industry had raised voice and subsequently, the Bombay
         High Court had removed all except one cut and permitted the release of the movie. It should
         have been released all over by this Friday but I suppose the battle has not yet finished as it has
         entered the Supreme Court, thanks to a Punjab based NGO.

         The film has gained so much of attention that rest assured it's gonna be a money grosser as
         potential viewers would like to know as to what the hue and cry was all about! Would they get
         to see them is the moot point!!

   (b) The Spectators at War.

          Hooliganism among the soccer fans isn't a new phenomenon and it had raised its ugly
          head in the Euro Cup series when the English and the Russian spectators went after each
          other at the Velodrome ground in Marseilles. While a detailed probe is on, it seems that the
          hooligans from both the sides had attacked the local populace too.

          A situation that wasn't required at all.

    (c) Shut Schools being taken over by the Government.

          As per court orders, a few schools have been ordered to be shut down by the court as they
          didn't have the requisite number of students or adequate teaching staff or even, lacked basic
          amenities. The government, on the rebound, have decided to take over the schools - there
          might be about 15 of them - and run them and the managements on the other hand have said
          they'd strongly resist the move. What are the dynamics? It will be interesting to note what
          the stake holders are looking at:-

               (i) The government is trying to score brownie points by showing that it's concerned about
                    the schools where poor students study. Can low student strength or inadequate teaching
                    staff ever justify this move as also the move being financially unviable, in the long run,
                    for the government?
              (ii) The managements might be thinking in terms of converting prime land into business
                    hubs like shopping malls, gigantic office space etc.
             (iii) The parents in stoking their personal egos that they prevented shut down of their
                    children's schools!

         An interesting aspect is that the children of the ministers have had their education in reputed
         schools augmented with higher studies abroad. So their bleeding sentiments towards normal
         schools is pure hogwash!


Now don't you understand that all these controversies are man made? Was there any reason to rake them up at all?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

On the way to be a doctor-in-the-making!

There was a call early morning from one of my aunts, Indira kunjamma. I was apprehensive, as I've told earlier on in this forum that telephone calls beyond waking hours are dreaded because, usually, they are the harbingers of bad news. There was this added fact that my cousin had called up only last evening to say that her mom wasn't keeping good health due to a lack of appetite and consequently, no ingress of food which saw her getting weak and sleeping through the day. Now you get a fair idea as to why I was apprehensive!

Well, it turned out to be an anticlimax with Indira kunjamma on the line, wanting to convey the happy news that her granddaughter, Manikutty, had got selected for a course in medicine at the prestigious JIPMER in Pondicherry. It was the culmination of hard work on the part of the young lady, for almost two years, when she decided to drop a year and go for intense coaching for the entrance test when she'd missed the bus, the first time! She could have joined by paying the capitation fee but took a principled stand that she wouldn't have her father pay such a huge amount for her sake and also because she wanted to make it on her own!

It was just last week that she and her parents had been on a four day prayer at Guruvayur, at the end of which she was weighed against coins - of the denominations of Rs.10/-, Rs.5/-, Rs. 2/- and Re.1/- which amounted to Rs.50,000/- matching her 70 kgs - that was offered to the deity! Her father is an ardent believer of Guruvayoorappan and visits the temple every month to pray and does the 'sayanapradikshanam' each time!!

And now, comes the paradox! The young lady is very good at studies, had scored over 93% marks in her class XII Board exams, she was 15th in the merit list for the entrance exam and therefore, the prime mover for her ultimate selection. But it didn't take much time for some of her close relatives to attribute her success to the offerings for Guruvayoorappan!


I'm sure Guruvayoorappan must be having the last laugh! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

To Kochi and back.

Last Saturday while the quiz was on I'd got a call from Sivasankaran, a friend of mine, after what seemed to be a long time. Since he could hear the background noises, he'd volunteered to call me up an hour later and was very apologetic because he was inviting me for his daughter's wedding that was scheduled for Monday and seemed miserable, wondering as to how he'd missed us in the guest list.

He'd put an enormous pressure on me because my not attending the function - even with valid reasons - would have been tantamount to the fact that I was being churlish about being invited at the last moment and though there were a couple of things to tie up, I'd made up my mind to go. Lekha and mom would give each other company and a few more things had to be tied up for the forthcoming puja.

I'd cast off by the 0645h shuttle to Ernakulam and boy, two things literally threw me off balance viz.:-  
    (a) the two serpentine queues at the counters consisting of commuters waiting to buy the tickets
         for the train. I'd joined one of them and saw that the clock said it was 35 past 6. I'd got my
         ticket at two minutes before departure!
    (b) the massive crowd within the compartment. People - mostly the office going crowd - were
          packed in the berth like sardines. Going to the toilet was a Herculean task and thankfully, my
          bladders had behaved, for a change!

The crowd remained the same in intensity till Ernakulam North, the penultimate station. It was there that I'd wolfed down Lekha's packed breakfast. Disembarking at the Ernakulam Junction, I was exposed to another nonsensical situation - auto rickshaws weren't available and the prepaid ticket
issuing cubicle was closed. I, then, decided to go to the other side of the station thinking maybe I'd be more lucky to get a vehicle out there and as I was on my way, came across my nephew who'd come by the Jana Shatabdi from Thiruvananthapuram - his wife is expecting and the 'D'-date is supposed to be in the first week of July.

It was he who told me that the auto rickshaw guys were up in arms about the fact that the Olay and Uber taxi services have gained acceptance among the public for their promptness and comparatively low fares! The rick guys were, consequently, out of their depth and hence, their unacceptable behaviour!!

The Uber dropped me at my friend, Ajit's, place from where we'd left for the venue of the wedding by about 1030 hrs after a quick wash and change. The way Sivasankaran received me told it all and wasn't he thrilled? The wedding was a grand affair and I was able to meet up with a good amount of my course mates and friends. It's a day well spent!


1. Satish and Santhi, who were off to Thiruvananthapuram had dropped me at the transport hub enroute to help me board my bus to Guruvayur. It's nice catching up with them.
2. At the wedding, thanks to the close circuit television, I'd noticed that Lekha's cousin and his wife were present in the audience and came to know that they're representing the boy's side. Was meeting them after a long while!
3. Was back home by a half past 5 for a late cup of tea and in time for my evening walk. There's a lull in the rains, phew!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Adieu Krishnankutty Nair sir.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The kick off.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The story.

I was aghast at the the 'Breaking Story' on the Times Now channel regarding the overstay of an Indian delegation, consisting of the then top Home Ministry officials, ostensibly as apart of a sinister plot cooked up by the ISI and the Pakistani Army, as the terrorist attack 26/11 on Bombay was being unleashed. The delegation was shifted to Murree, a hill station, in the neighbourhood of Islamabad which had a communication problem. What made me feel worse was the 'we-made-you-absolute-fools type of a smile' on one of the Pakistani panelists on the show, throughout.

I've a lot of queries on the subject. And here I go,

    (a) Can official delegations alter their programme, just like that, while on deputations abroad?
    (b) How did the delegation decide to go to a place that had a communication black out?
    (c) Why was this incident kept under wraps all these years?
    (d) Why do we've to hear the same old story of how the Pakistanis made fools of us?
    (e) What's the necessity of extending a hand of friendship to a country that has never been serious
          in being genuinely friendly with us and does not believe in peaceful coexistence?
    (f) What have we achieved through Track II diplomacy except facilitating a small bunch of people
          to carry out periodic visits to the country with no substantial benefits/returns?
    (g) Why were the other television channels silent about it? Or was it the overwhelming feeling
          that the story would hurt the Congress party which they want to avoid? If affirmative, where's
          objective journalism?
    (h) And by doing so, hadn't Pakistan waged a war with us?

This brings me to my fundamental argument. Are we, as a people, truly nationalistic? Do we really love our nation? I mean, we should have any interest other than the well being of our country. Its unity and security should be our prime concern, always and every time. No amount of distractions should derail that thought.


I'm sorry for being condescending but I hate those who do not have the national spirit....a genuine feeling for the country.

Thursday, June 9, 2016!

Glued to the television set every evening to the news channels, one can't help but follow the intricacies and the making of a news story. The starkness, the hollowness, the melodrama, the questionable actions based on falsehoods, the protagonists defending the indefensible, the 'hot' news of today fading into oblivion before one can say 'Jack Robinson', no follow through on the allegations raised, etc are all part of the plot. We, as viewers, seem to go along with it without problems.

I wonder whether many of us watch news in the same manner as we watch a 'sitcom' or a reality show and hence don't give the seriousness that quite a few of them deserve!

Let me go through a few that's trending today.

 1. Should be deported and handed over to England.

     Vijesh Kooriyil, an Oxford educated Malayalee from Parappanangadi of Malappuram district,
     who fled London three days before a UK court convicted him for child rape and punished with
     23 years in jail, on 31 May, was hiding in his house and has since gone missing with his parents
     strutting - as always, since they refuse to accept their child's dark side - that their son can't do such
     things and that he's being falsely framed!

     And what's the story? Kooriyil was staying at Oxford, as paying guest, with a family from
     Kottayam in 2010-'11 when the crime had occurred. He'd repeatedly raped a six year old boy
     after gaining the child's trust. The blighter had got married a year ago.

     What I can't understand is that the child's parents did not notice their child's agony when the
     murky activities were going on for almost a year.

     It's my opinion that Vijesh Kooriyil be nabbed and deported forthwith when the govt of UK
     asks us to do so. He deserves to rot in jail for his heinous crime and should not be spared!

 2. Udta Punjab and the muck that it has raised.

     The chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification, Pehlaj Nihalani, has done it again.
     In the movie, Udta Punjab, the Board has suggested deletion of words like 'election', 'MP',
     'MLA', 'party', 'Parliament', references to Punjab and and places in Punjab among many other.
     Rightly so, the entire Bollywood has got up in arms against the Board's actions!

     What I can't understand is as to how guys like him get appointed to such 'haloed' places? 
     Shouldn't a guy have some knowledge about the scope of work that he's being entrusted with?

     In my opinion, what should be done is to educate the chairman about the rightful charter of
     duties of the CBFC. Its primary objective is to harp on a vibrant cultural development. If
     he still doesn't understand that, he should be sacked. The govt must not take an egoistic stand!

 3. Some pseudo intellectuals want the rape accused, Tarun Tejpal to be set free.

     Without giving even the slightest thought about disgracing the rape victim, a bunch of pseudo
      intellectuals, as termed rightly by Arnab Goswami, has found fault in the 'so called' persecution
      of Tarun Tejpal in the rape case that he's muddled in. What saddens me is that many of these
      worthies(?) are women, don't they've any respect for the dignity of another among them who's
      undergone the ignominy? It's amply evident that the accused is drumming up support for
      delaying/obfuscating the process of investigation.

      What I can't understand is that a rape case has taken so much of time to reach a logical
      conclusion? Is it because we're woefully short of judges?

      In my opinion, the following need to be done:-

          (a) The case against Tarun Tejpal should be fast tracked and the blighter brought to book.
          (b) The pseudo intellectuals be sidelined and ignored. Pray who's given them the title
                of 'intellectuals', I wonder?


Is any redemption possible among the 4,000 odd employees of the Kerala government's secretariat?
The unions and the associations of the workers must work towards the organisation's good, failing which everything will remain the same!



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

News snippets.

Back to my analysis of the news in circulation and are grabbing the headlines these days:-

      The Chief Minister's Advice.

       Pinarayi Vijayan had addressed the government secretariat staff at the Central Stadium
       yesterday and told them a few harsh truths like it's common knowledge to one and all about:-

              (a) the staff's unauthorised absence during working hours.
              (b) the apathy of the staff experienced by the common man who visit to know the
                    status of his case.
              (c) the mysterious disappearance of files and their subsequent 'retrieval' once pressure
                   from the top is applied.
              (d) the secretariat is a cesspool of corruption where money is required to push files.
              (e) the late coming was sorted out to a certain extent with the 'punching system' but
                    early secure continues unabated on silly excuses like train/bus timings, sudden 
                    illnesses etc.
              (f) the increasing tendency to indulge in extra-curricular activities not related to work!

         It's good that chief minister has taken the bull by its horns. What he must, also, do is to effect
         transfers of all individuals who've spent more than three years in the secretariat because this
         'mafia' is the one that decides as to how the offices must work, the ministers and their
         bureaucrats not withstanding! They seem to have no control, whatsoever!!

         We'd a bad experience about three months back and I'd made a mention of it earlier, too. The
          Foundation had received a letter - that conveyed a general reluctance towards the government's
          conduct of the 'Vaayana Vaaram' and therefore, questioned the requirement of a preliminary
          meeting headed by the concerned secretary - from the secretariat by a guy, who's gonna be a
          'Section Officer' soon and has the propensity to shoot down anything concerning PN Panicker!
          His designs were neutralised, in time, by meeting the then minister and the secretary and
          corrective action taken.


The sports minister, EP Jayarajan, has come into the limelight, yet again, for the most unlikely reason - him taunting Anju Bobby George, the President of the Kerala Sports Council, for her flying down to Thiruvananthapuram from Bangalore at government expense that was granted by the previous LDF dispensation while in power, but not known to him or obviously, not briefed by his staff. She'd finally met the chief minister who put her at ease by saying that the matter would be looked into and sorted out! The minister is supposed to have given a veiled warning to those who aren't LDF's supporters and are seated at important posts, as per the reports!! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Back at Palakkad.

The day began at 6 and we're at Shenoy Care by a half past 9. The registration formalities were gone through, the junior doctor went through Lekha's lab reports and queried as to whether she'd had any problems. The recurring abdominal pain that she'd experienced over the last month was reported and after a wait for almost an hour, we could meet Dr. Shenoy. He has advised a visit to a surgeon as she has a history of gall bladder stones that have been asymptomatic to discount the fact they'd gotten active and to, then, ascertain the true cause!

Meanwhile, the driver of our organisation at Chathannoor, had fetched up at the Ernakulam North railway station and got in touch, as per my directives last evening. He was directed to a spot where we eventually met and I'd affixed my signatures on a few important mail/cheques as my next visit there will be only by the third week in connection with the 'Vaayana Dinam' and 'Vaaram'.

A lovely lunch with Saly and we're off to the naval base for purchasing grocery for the month. The drive was through heavy rains and crawling traffic but since we'd taken the seaport-airport road, we could reach Kalamasserry fairly easily and proceed on the NH 47 only to come across this 'bad' driver of an Indica taxi. He overtook me twice, stopped his vehicle just ahead of mine both the times at the red lights, cruised very, very slowly once the green light came on and zipped off as the red light returned, ensuring that I missed the light!

At the third instance, I put on a bit of extra power and had gunned the Chevy past the blighter and while passing him, saw the quizzical look on his face and after that he'd  steadily fallen back, probably looking for another unsuspecting driver! The Kuthiran hill, enroute, was passed with ease and I could drop my offering of a 5 rupee coin, at the temple's and the retriever's vicinity(The deity at Kuthiran is Lord Ayyappa and motorists passing by, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, believe that an offering would ensure their safe deliverance at the destinations and without emergencies!).

We'd reached my sister's place by a quarter to 7 to settle down for a boisterous evening!


Seeing mom's thrill and Rema-Padmakumar's hospitality, pushed away every trace of tiredness, brought about by the drive.          

Monday, June 6, 2016

At Kochi.

The day had begun, yet again, at 4 and we're out of the house before 6. Breakfast, enroute, at our favourite place and by a half past 9, we're with Lekha's dentist. It was he who told us that there was a crack in her dental furniture and the whole thing could be fixed up within an hour if we could travel to Muvattupuzha, a town about 45 km from here. The other option was to leave it here and return after three days for its return from the place, after repairs and I chose the first.

I was disinclined to drive in the prevalent bad weather and hence, took the services of a taxi. Joel, the driver, took us there within an hour, the bad traffic notwithstanding. The technicians quickly took on the job and using laser, the error was corrected within about 15 minutes. We could leave the massive and elaborate dental care by 2 PM. A quick bite of lunch and we're back in Ernakulam by a half past 3 and so, decided to make a couple of social calls.

Met my cousin at her chamber and it was nice to hear her experiences on the legal front. She was gracious enough to provide us tea and snacks. Thanks to her cortisone intakes to correct her allergy, she has put on a lot of weight. She seems to be desperately trying to reduce her girth but from the manner she gorged on sweets, I knew that it was a failing proposition. Poor thing! And I didn't want to alarm her though I'd playfully pulled her leg so that she got the right message!!

The next call was on my 102 year old grand aunt. She hardly registers anything these days and is a far cry from her cheerful, majestic looks of the past. Ramakrishnan, finally, seems to have started realising this hard fact but continues to watch her medical bulletins like a hawk. She didn't even acknowledge me when I touched her feet but was enjoying the music, though.

We reached my classmate's flat at Kadavanthra around sunset time. Wasn't Shanaya, his granddaughter, thrilled to see us? She kept us enthralled, with her antics, throughout the evening.


(a) Tomorrow is gonna be a leisurely day. Lekha's appointment with the rheumatologist is at 10 unless and until they advance it at the last moment!
(b) It was great to hear my friend say that he'd deliberately avoided calling a mutual friend over for the evening because he and his family wanted to have an exclusive time with us!   

Sunday, June 5, 2016

An unexpected trip.

We'd picked a comfortable time to go to my sister's place at Palakkad and had set off by about a half past 9. Enroute I'd stopped to take in fuel and check tyre pressure and by 10, we'd hit the now familiar highway. Being a Sunday, the roads were comparatively empty and driving was a pleasure as the weather was good.

We reached my sister's place by a quarter to 12. Mom and Lekha did not find the journey tiring and as per programme, we're supposed to spend the evening and head straight for Ernakulam early morning tomorrow to keep that appointment with Lekha's dentist. After a scrumptious lunch, mom and I'd gone for our siesta while the others sat and talked. It was as I got up from my slumber that I realised that there was a faux pas - I'd forgotten Lekha's medical file at home.

A quick amendment to our schedule was worked out and we kicked off back to Guruvayur by 1700h. Though the option to drive to Ernakulam via Guruvayur tomorrow morning was available, it was dropped for the simple fact that driving through on a Monday morning with the school children and the office goers trying to get to their respective destinations would have been a nightmare. The drive of about 21/2 hours went off peacefully and we got back to 'The Quarterdeck' by a half past 7. Mom was unhappy that we'd to leave so soon. Rema and Padmakumar felt bad that we'd to leave so early and we've promised them that we'd make up for it by staying overnight, on our return trip, on Tuesday.

The evening was a quiet affair and we went about our chores as usual. Tomorrow is gonna be a long day.


The take off is gonna be at 6, tomorrow!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Adieu Mohammad Ali.

The world's greatest boxer has passed into the mist of time. My tribute to him is by revisiting that old chart buster that sums up every aspect of his personality.

          "Muhammad, Muhammad Ali
            He floats like a butterfly 
            And stings like a bee
            He moves like the black superman
            And calls to the other guy Aaaaliiii
            .......Catch me if you can!"

He was suffering from the dreaded Parkinson's Syndrome for 35 yrs. I can imagine the helplessness that he must have gone through as I'd seen my dad going through the agony for eight years. RIP Cassius Clay! We'd begun to know you by that name and so, let me use it one last time. My prayers and tears to a great sportsman.

            *                             *                               *

Pushpakaran, the farmhand, had come to do some spring cleaning in the house. Actually, we go through this rigmarole once in six months. The muck that gets accumulated on the fans and the mosquito proofing of the windows/ventilators had to be seen to be believed. It took him a whole day to complete his work and he has really done it well and the result, the fans have begun to throw more air, seem to be spinning faster!

            *                             *                               *

I'd also gone to the town to get a few pending work done. We'd be taking off to Palakkad tomorrow after breakfast, drop mom with my sister and push off to Ernakulam for Lekha's review by the dentist and the rheumatologist. Will return by Tuesday.


It was a rainy day and I'd taken an auto rickshaw, as usual, for my errands. The driver was a highly talented youngster and a stage artiste. Ramesh is his name and I'm sure he'll make it big one day, he has the fire in his belly! 

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Mathura conundrum.

1. Consider these:-

(a) A little known sect, going by the name of 'Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi' and claiming allegiance to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had encroached upon a 260 acre plot at Jawahar Bagh in Mathura.

(b) The strength of the sect is around 3,000 people.

(c) A few of the crazy demands of the shady outfit are:-
        (a) Removal of the President and the Prime Minister.
        (b) Discontinuation of Indian currency.
        (c) 40 litres of petrol for Re.1/- and 60 litres of diesel for Re.1/-
(c) The outfit had a large cache of arms and ammunition.

(d) The leaders are Ram Vraksha Yadav, Chandan Gaur, Rakesh Gupta. They've fled from the scene of violence and are absconding.

2. Background.

(a) The group had started occupying the area since 2014, when as part of a rally from Madhya Pradesh that was supposed to terminate at New Delhi were denied permission to move on to the capital but were allowed to hold the demonstration at the venue, for two days.

(b) The demonstrators continued to stay on, felling quite a lot of fruit bearing trees during their stay to facilitate people of their ideology from eastern UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and MP to migrate and set up a shanty town.

(c) Little known Swadheen Bharat Subhas Sena and Jai Gurudev, two ragtag groups led by Ram Vraksha Yadav and Tulsidas Maharaj had ganged up to form the sect.

(d) Claiming that it wants to change the political and economic landscape of India, the outfit had actually boiled down to grabbing government owned prime real estate and set up its empire on the edifice of politics and spirituality.

(e) It had managed illegal electricity and water connections and the squatters picked up quarrels with any outsider who entered the park.

(f) The paradox was that all these illegal activities were going on right under the nose of the district magistrate's office and the police line complex!

3. The Violence.

 The eviction, by the police, was initiated at the behest of the Allahabad High Court. The sect initiated violence by carrying out indiscriminate firing at the police which culminated in the death of 24 people, including that of the Superintendent of Police. Many more people have been injured.

4. My queries.

    (a) How were these illegal squatters allowed to grow in strength?
    (b) Did they've political patronage?
    (c) Don't the law and order procedures permit the local administration to prevent illegal activities?
    (d) Or was it simply a lack of will?


(a) I was aghast to hear the CM of UP and his DGP say that they'd no clue that the squatters had
     so much of arms and ammunition and that they were not aware of the sect's overall intentions.
     What was the state's intelligence doing?

(b) Hema Malini, as the local MP, has not measured up. She makes a claim that she's an artist and             therefore, her priority lies there! Then why is she continuing as MP?