Sunday, July 31, 2016

Why did it happen?

I'm gonna give an instance to show as to how certain youngsters, entrusted with a job, take short cuts and do the bare minimum. It's a time bound tradition that a human being adds frills, to the job at hand, to give it a stamp of his own. It's that extra bit of touch that takes one to the pinnacle of success making him the most sought after!

Every month, I go to a hair saloon close by and the proprietor has always ensured that the pick among them is chosen to style my hair or whatever is left of it, to be precise! After years of wearing caps as part of the uniform, it gets to be irritating when the hair on the sides achieve a bit of length out of the normal and I time my visits accordingly.

This time, I'd timed it a bit earlier and the proprietor had entrusted the job to a newcomer. He's just joined the outfit from his home town of Nilambur where he resides with his father, mother and the paternal grandmother. His father is a barber and has his saloon back home and the remarkable thing about the youngster was that he's a science graduate. He'd started off - on my head - promisingly but finished the job within about a bit over ten minutes which included the shortening of the side growth with a comb and a pair of scissors, the redefining of the extremes with a razor and the clipping of the growth on the ears.

There was no massage, which is part of a haircut as to what I'd described, earlier, as one of the frills. It helps remove the cut hair from the head besides giving the customer a 'nice' feeling by the increased flow of blood in its aftermath!

I ain't the one who gets after a person pointing out his lapses because it's my firm belief that the individual will realise his folly some time or the other. As I paid the proprietor at the reception, I noticed that surprised look on his face on seeing me out so soon. He made polite conversation with me but as I was leaving I heard him shout at the boy who'd styled my hair, "Did you give him a massage? It's mandatory......"

By that time I was out of the saloon. Was sad at the youngster having taken a short cut. What made him do that?.......And I walked back to my house with a strange feeling of having been short changed with the question, "Why did it happen" many times over!


It's the last day of July.

Vibheeshana, the brother of Ravana, visits Rama - he's still on the mainland - who's contemplating his next move to retrieve Sita from Lanka. While Rama's followers are skeptical about his motives, it's Hanuman who puts it in the right perspective by saying that Vibheeshana was indeed Rama's devotee!

Lekha's recital of the Ramayana, over the past 16 days, has brought her to this part of the epic! She has done it despite her difficulties!! Good!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2016


I'm revisiting a couple of news round ups just to show the doublespeak involved. The common man - though I'm of the firm opinion that everyone has a stand on each issue that comes his/her way - can be pardoned for not firming up on a decision quickly enough but the evolved ones and especially, those that the nation looks up to, for showing the right path in case of a dilemma, can neither afford to dither nor dilly dally!

  (a) The Press Vs The Lawyers.

        There seems to be an ambivalence about a free and fair press. After the government's stand was
        revealed by none other than the CM himself that the freedom of the press cannot be trampled
        upon and the restoration of the access of the press into the courts' premises to the same level
        as it was before the showdown was long overdue, the Kerala High Court has clarified that there's
        no ban whatsoever on the media in reporting open court proceedings but clarification on two
        aspects were yet to be provided viz.:-

             (i) An unrestricted access to court orders and judgments because there's a rider that the
                  media access to judgments is left to the discretion of individual judges. Individual judges
                  "will be at liberty to decline access to any person" to their offices.
            (ii) The reopening of the 'media room' within the High Court's premises.

         Obviously, the stand off between a section of the lawyers and the press is continuing. The court
         has not been able to arbitrate effectively on the issue, so it seems. Sad!

  (b) A Case of The Proverbial Pot Calling The Kettle Black.

        A spokesman of the US State Department has expressed concern about "reports of rising
        intolerance and violence" after a Paki journalist lectured about human rights "violation all over
        India and reports of killing people for eating beef."

        Can't help but laugh at a Pakistani raising such an issue as his country is known for such
        transgressions everyday. And to the yanks, "What do you have to speak of the numerous crimes
        of hatred being reported from various parts of your country?"


The Pinarayi Vijayan government had taken up office after a sweeping mandate that the LDF had received, from the people of Kerala, for bringing about a change to the "corruption ridden rule of the UDF."(Ellaam sariyaakum!). Within a matter of 45 days, Pinarayi Vijayan's effigies are being burnt in various parts of the state. Though it has been the handiwork of the Congress-led opposition, has the government lost the plot? Here are some of the issues that have brought about the change in attitude:-

    (a) The continuing incarceration of VS Achuthanandan.
    (b) MK Damodaran's - supposedly close to the CM - appearance for Santiago Martin of the lottery
          case fame and for appearing for the defence in the infamous "Ice cream Parlour case".
    (c) Not having taken a firm stand on the ongoing lawyers vs press fracas.
    (d) The inconclusiveness of the Jisha murder case and
    (e) The impression that the CPI(M) doesn't care about the opinions of its constituents, especially
          that of the CPI consequent to which the LDF is not pulling, on issues, together!

The government needs to buck up, get its act together and concentrate on providing good governance.


Friday, July 29, 2016

It's the same story all over again!

The television grabs showed the pitiable sight of the motorists and the general public on the roads of Gurgaon and Bangalore, that were waterlogged due to continuous rains over the day. The civic amenities and prompt help to people in difficulty, were found wanting. I don't even want to think of the many medical emergencies that could have ended up on a sad note because of the impasse.

The general public, who pays taxes, for the upkeep of the roads must be wondering as to whether they deserve this sort of neglect year after year!

And they'd changed the names of these two cities to 'Gurugram' and 'Bengaluru' from 'Gurgaon' and 'Bangalore', respectively, with much fanfare. The paradox is that the cities have been given high sounding names like the 'millenium city' and 'maximum city'. Isn't that a joke when the infrastructure support is non existent and as is the case of most of our cities, the arterial roads are that of '60s vintage while the traffic that flows through day in and day out contains the vehicles of '16. The staggering increase in the volume of traffic demands roads that are wide with the most modern technologies that can cater to immediate emergencies, breakdowns and a system to provide immediate medical assistance to passengers/motorists when necessary.

How many of our cities can boast of a well laid sewage system, covered gutters along side the roads that ensure flow of water without permitting the water logging of the motorway in times of torrential/monsoon rains? .........If it's floods, then forget it and leave everything to the almighty hoping like mad that the things would go right!

On a visit to China, an Indian delegation was completely fascinated by the long stretches of highways that were unbelievably straight and had all the trappings of the best of assistance. So, they asked their Chinese chaperone as to how that was made possible and the reply shows why we can't ever achieve that sort of development, which was:-

     "The usual impediments to having straight highways are mountains, water bodies and dwelling 
       areas. We burrow through the mountains to make tunnels, build bridges over the water bodies
       and shift settlements to new areas so that the work can be executed. It's a national requirement"

In our country, unfortunately, we've people going to court over land acquisition for government sponsored infrastructural projects at the drop of a hat, development be damned! Vested interests with narrow vision have created havoc......let me give just two examples:-

       (a) Lata Mangeshkar, our Bharat Ratna, has prevented the building of a flyover near her house
            in Bombay because she says that it would obscure her house!
       (b) The collective lot of traders at the Jose Junction at Kochi who've been against the building
             of a flyover because they say that it would affect their outlets' frontage!!

And I'm sure that there are so many such examples all over the country and what makes it alarming is that all such grand standing have political patronage.......Is there anything else to say?


For starters, let the municipalities take immediate action to modernise the cities under their jurisdiction. There's no dearth of resources but sadly, there's a lack of will! A well connected sewage system, a round-the-clock waste disposal and management system, wide roads with central medians and covered gutters along side them to prevent water logging are a few of the things that must be set up forthwith. Shop/house owners must be provided with compensation and alternate sites and all those who try to be difficult should be firmly dealt with.      

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Another farewell.

My neighbour had called up in the morning to tell me that the body of his father-in-law would be brought in from the morgue at 1000 hrs and then, taken to the crematorium after half an hour. Accordingly, Lekha and I had gone to pay our last respects. We're seeing the old man for the first..... and also, for the last time! I'd, then, accompanied the cortege to the nearby electric crematorium, about a kilometer and a half from our place.

They weren't waiting for any more of their relatives to fetch up and anyways, the relief at seeing an end to the old man's woes for over the last fortnight was palpable. His three children - two daughters and a son, who's totally dependent on him - were in attendance. I, too, had helped in the shifting of the body from the ambulance to the stretcher and finally, on to the pyre. The mortal remains were pushed into the electric furnace and the doors were shut and Mr. Prabhakaran had become memory around a quarter past 11!

RIP, sir. My prayers and admiration for your having lived a good life without any medical problems till that Sunday's fall and the consequent complications. And as I understand you're wheeled into the hospital, brain dead, and hence didn't feel the pain.

      *                                  *                                     *

Soon after return, it's a quick wash and I was off to the service station to admit my Chevy for its starting trouble. Actually, it had begun after our recent trip to Kovalam and back, in connection with our school's alumni day. I didn't use the car for the next few days and then, the problem had cropped up. There was a pending tinkering work that I'd intended to get done this time. The change over to a new battery would be done only after ascertaining the actual fault. Moreover, the car had to undergo a servicing after having run more than 60,000 kms and it was gonna cost about Rs.34 grand. Manikandan, the technical adviser and Prasobh, the customer adviser were keen that I did not spend the entire amount at one shot and on the pretext that the spares weren't available, the routines have been postponed after my completing the Kochi trip, next week, for Lekha's medical review.

While appreciating their concern, I reiterated that for me, my car had to be absolutely trouble free as I didn't want any wayside emergency because I usually travelled with mom and Lekha all the time!

........It's a delayed lunch by a quarter to 3!


The walk was nice and it was a quiet evening, thereafter!    

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mom's medical review.

"Amma looks good, five years younger and beautiful," so said Mathew Abraham on seeing mom as we entered his consulting room. We'd set off from home by a 10 past 7, there were a few roadblocks enroute and despite George's expert driving we reached the Neurocenter(This is the new name of 'The Brainwaves') by 35 minutes past 9.

Since mom had a light breakfast before we'd set off, we didn't stop for breakfast lest we got delayed further. I'd not had mine because I knew that George wouldn't have had his.

After about three quarters of an hour with the doctor, we'd set our course back to Guruvayur, from Kochi, but only after having our breakfast and easing the bladders at the Oottupura on coming out of the doctor's clinic. But what I was reminded about was his conversation which essentially had the following:-

     (a) His dad's 98th birthday that was celebrated two days earlier with the cutting of a cake. The old
           man is bedridden after the fall he had last year.
     (b) His bad experience with one of his patients as he talked about cases of people's misbehaviour
           with their doctors and cited his own recent experience. A gentleman, in his 50s, had come to
           him for treatment and he'd prescribed the medicines, telling them to keep him informed about
           the progress. After a couple of days, he'd quite out of character, rung them up when he was
           told that the patient didn't want him to be his doctor. A medicine had caused a reaction, it was
To put him at ease, I told him that I considered my mom safe in his hands and that's why we came all the way from Guruvayur, every three months!

We're back by lunchtime. Our maid had come along today after a lapse of almost a month to help the lady who comes in her place. The house was brought back to her standards of cleanliness and she'll be back regularly from Monday onward.


Two medicines have been changed and the dosage of the lead medicine has been altered. The idea was to bring down the aches and the pains that mom complains about.


Our neighbour's father, all of 91 yrs, passed into the mist of time around 2230 hrs. His funeral has been scheduled at 1030 hrs tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Kargil Vijay Diwas..

It's the 17th anniversary of the Kargil Vijay Diwas. The Indian armed forces had shown their overall supremacy 17 years back when young men showed what individuals could do to protect their motherland against all odds. Major Vikram Batra, itching to get more Pakistani scalps, had said, "Yeh dil maange more!" and that was the battle cry. Sadly, he fell to the enemy's bullets subsequently after recapturing the Tololing Point. There were many like him who'd laid down their lives and today's the moment when all Indians must pause to acknowledge their acts of bravery to reiterate the fact that, "They gave their today for your tomorrow."

My salutes to each one of them along with my tears and prayers.

         *                                     *                                        *

The funeral of Cdr RP Katyal took place in NOIDA, today at 1030 hrs. I said a small prayer for him at that time. His daughter must be helped to secure a job at the earliest. Action has been initiated and the momentum shall pick up once the ceremonies come to an end. That's the least one can do for one's friend!

         *                                     *                                         *

Tied up all the loose ends for taking mom to her doctor for the quarterly medical review at Kochi. The doctor has been informed, George has been told to reach 'The Quarterdeck' by 5 to 7, so that we could kick off by 7 as she's gonna be Mathew Abraham's first patient for the day, at 9.

         *                                     *                                        *

The debris of the missing AN 32 aircraft has been sighted, finally. It's a long tedious work that might not fetch immediate results but I can understand the agony of the families of the missing personnel whose hopes that they'd return have slowly receded to a desperation that they should be able to get back the bodies at least - in fact, anything that connects them to their beloved ones! I'd seen similar reactions way back in '79, when I was in charge of a rescue operation and we'd searched a massive area, sweeping the sea floor with the nets of three pairs of fishing trawlers, pressed for the purpose, off Kochi. Ships of the IN and the sophisticated ocean going research vessels were also involved in the overall search.


Tomorrow is gonna be a long day!      

Monday, July 25, 2016

Adieu RP Katyal!

Commander Ravinder Pal Katyal, all of 60 yrs, had complained of breathlessness and was rushed to the Kailash Hospital at NOIDA, New Delhi. He didn't exhibit his vintage stamina and passed into the mist of time early morning today.

    *                                    *                                       *

I'd seen him first during the spring term '74 when he joined the Hunter Squadron as an eager first termer(I was a third termer, then). He was from Sainik School, Kunjpura. A few stories come readily to my mind about his initial days:-

   - He hailed from Samargopalpur which he used to pronounce as 'Summergopalpur' prompting
      the guys that he'd nowhere to go during winters and hence he was invited as a guest to everyone's
      house, irrespective of term and seniority.

   - He'd endeared himself to all of us with his simplicity and the usual pronunciations that the
     people from his neck-of-the-woods were trolled in the Academy for viz. 'Goat it or note'(Got it or
     not)', Pope Music'(Pop music).

   - Our drill instructor, a Gorkhali, Gurung saab used to call him 'Katel' and we used to say that he
      was a Patel from Karnal!

   - He was good at outdoors despite him being a chain smoker! His stick work on the hockey fields
     was a treat to watch.

   - Academics was his Waterloo and he lost a term because of his poor performance.

He got married to Alka in '83, a lovely, caring person and they sired two children - a boy and a girl. He lost Alka to cancer ten years ago and as a single parent, took on the task of seeing his children settle down in their lives! The young man, Akshit is flying Dorniers for the Coast Guard while the young lady, Divya is currently awaiting an appointment.

I'd seen him on and off while in the Indian Navy and he used to make it a point to spend time with me for 'old times' sake'......... A wonderful person, a fantastic human being and a great friend!

RIP, Ravinder Pal Katyal. My salute, tears and prayers! Here's wishing that your children have the strength to pass through these stressful times.


How can I forget those wonderful times that I've spent with you, Katyal?


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Adieu, Radha's mom!

Had got up at our usual time and gone through our chores. Attempts to contact Anil, who'd returned from Nakon Phanom late last night proved futile and therefore, I couldn't have a proper feedback about when and where the funeral was taking place. Anyways, by a quarter past 9, I was off to Thrissur by bus. Earlier, I'd caught an auto rickshaw to reach the private bus stand - getting an auto on Sundays from the stand near our house can be exasperating, after a long wait.

The bus had dropped me pretty close to their house and another auto rickshaw fetched me up at their place only to be told that the cortege had just left for the crematorium! There was a taxi that was taking in some of the friends/perhaps, relatives and I took it for granted that they're headed for the crematorium. Accordingly, I'd hired a third auto rickshaw for the day and my instructions to the driver was, "Follow that car." A stupid action as I was gonna find later and I hadn't even checked out on the exact location of my destination.

After a while, my sixth sense said that I was headed in the wrong direction as the cab was leaving the town and it was then that we decided to overtake the vehicle to ascertain the information. Sure enough, we're headed on the reciprocal! We, then, turned back and headed towards Poonkunnam where the cremation ground was - a place that I'd passed a while back on my journey to Anil's place, from Guruvayur. I could have simply got down there in the first instance.

By the time I'd reached the spot, everything was over and the body had already started burning in the enclosed pyre. The advantage was that I could meet the entire family and offer my condolences! Anil was quite thrilled to find me there because for him, at least a class mate of his was in attendance against a host of classmates/friends of Radha, at the funeral. I must admit that I felt a bit sheepish for fetching up after the event!!


Had returned to my place a trifle before lunch time. The rest of the day was quiet which found me doing the routine stuff.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Was she waiting for us?

Radha's mom passed into the mist of time around 8 AM, this morning. Was she waiting to see us, all these days, because she left barely 12 hrs after we'd gone down to meet her? I'd like to believe that she was. RIP, Amma. My tears and prayers.

      *                              *                                  *

Rema had planned to leave by 0830 hrs and accordingly, I'd accompanied her to the nearest stop to see her board the bus. But two things happened viz. two buses didn't stop and she was guilty about the fact that she hadn't trimmed mom's toe nails that was asked for. So we retraced our steps back to 'The Quarterdeck'. Mom and Lekha were surprised but after helping out mom with her work, we once again presented ourselves at the bus stop and this time, she could board a low floor a/c bus. The time was a few minutes past 10!

I'd a brief chat with my neighbour whose father-in-law's condition remained unchanged. I told him about Radha's mom and he'd wanted me to convey their condolences when I attended the old lady's funeral tomorrow.

Pushpakaran, the farmhand, had come by around a half past 5, after finishing his work. He'd the banana trees - that were leaning towards the house/compound wall - bunched up together and neatly secured them with a couple of supports. The kitchen garden suddenly appeared to have regained a lot of space!

The walk was nice. I'd taken my walking stick along, instead of an umbrella, though it threatened to rain. Luckily, it started to drizzle by the time I'd almost completed my walk and was to pick up a loaf of bread from the bakers.

It had begun to pour as I'd got into the house to a quiet evening thereafter. I'd multi tasked myself by giving Lekha her medicines, switching on the motor for pumping up water onto the overhead tank and sending a stern message to the 'PN Panicker family' on its what'sapp site for displaying a tardiness in wishing one of my nieces on her birthday!


And the upshot? The water being pumped had overflown, its noise merging with the rains that had steadily picked up over the evening. Also felt guilty for chiding my mom for washing after meals into her plate.

Friday, July 22, 2016

This is the essence of life.

Finally, certain long standing work could be accomplished. My sister had come by soon after breakfast time to be with mom while we ran a few errands that could wait no more, like:-

    (a) Look up Radha's(My class mate, Anil's wife) mom who has been unwell for quite a while.
    (b) Meet the surgeon regarding Lekha's recurring abdominal pains.
    (c) Pick up the DVD player that has long since been repaired and
    (d) Pick up a pair of sports shoes for myself.

Since all the work had to be done at Thrissur, I'd asked George to be our chauffeur but because he was held up with work, he'd sent Sajeesh instead and we weren't complaining! I wanted to save myself from the drive through crazy traffic during peak time and the parking blues. Before leaving at about a quarter to 1, I'd called up the nearby hospital for their sample collection team to arrive tomorrow morning at 7, to collect mom's blood and urine samples as she meets her doctor next week, at Kochi.

Our first stop was at Radha's place. All of 84 yrs, her mom has neither had food nor water for the last nine days, lies motionless on her back in bed, breathing long and heavily with mouth open and eyes open with the irises darting from one side to the other continuously. She isn't registering a darned thing! She had a fall about a couple of months back, was nursed back to near normalcy when, all of a sudden, her condition had taken a flip and this has been the result.

Among us, mallus, two things are often spoken about which are:-
     (a) It's during the month of Karkkidakom on the Malayalam calendar that god makes the finally
          tally of the number of people he's to recall and it's a fact that the maximum number of deaths
          occur during this last month of the year!
     (b) One has to answer for all the sins of this life before one passes into the mist of time and death
           embraces one at the appointed hour!!

Lekha and I recalled our past visits at their place when the old lady used to look after us with exotic eats and continuous conversation....she's very fond of us! Seeing her in this pitiable state, we could only pray to the almighty for her early release from this horrible state! Come to think of it, two more people, intimately known to us, are in similar situation - our neighbour's 92 yr old father-in-law who's been comatose for the entire week with multiple blood clots in his brain and Indira kunjamma, who's still on a pediatric dosage of medicines for her intestinal TB, as she's too frail to accept the full dosage.........

The stop at the Bata showroom was a short one as we'd to help Sajeesh in juggling with his parking. We're at the surgeon's inspection room at the appointed hour. Lekha's problem was put across and he'd called for a USG scan of the abdomen along with the liver function test. The conclusion from the results was that her abdominal pain wasn't due to the gall bladder stones that continue to remain asymptomatic. Phew! She'll be reviewed again, after two months but the thinking is that the recurring pain could have been due to plain indigestion!!

We couldn't meet her plastic surgeon as was decided earlier and returned through blinding rain, all the way, from Thrissur to Guruvayur. The repaired DVD player was retrieved and installed on arrival, a trifle after sunset.


It's a quiet evening thereafter and a boisterous dinner!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

These amaze me.

The intense media coverage on trivia continues to amaze me. Let me touch upon a couple that should have been left alone to the agencies, who're meant to tackle them or even make the individuals to respond - they've a reason to explain their stance!

  1. The Rahul Gandhi Snooze.

      Rahul Gandhi was caught having a snooze in Parliament when the atrocities committed on
      a few dalits by certain 'cow vigilantes', in Gujarat, was being heatedly discussed. What made
      me laugh uncontrollably was the elaborate explanations given by the Congress MPs, like Renuka
      Chowdhary for example, about their leader having 'light adjustment problem' since he'd come
      from outside to contemplating deeply on the issue. Can sycophancy go to such lengths? The
      following aspects are worth remembering, which are:-

         (a) Rahul Gandhi does not have the leadership qualities that his sister seems to have. Many
              of his own party men openly endorse this factor. But his mom wants him to be this country's               PM and so be it even at the cost of the disintegration of the party.
         (b) Why can't he accept that he did doze in Parliament? Or is it that his party is gonna face the
               flak and for the rest to believe that its leader is not serious about the issue as made out to be?
         (c) And then he makes it to the spot and visits one of the affected dalit's house to sip tea. His
              body language, as he sips tea, clearly shows that he's not very enthusiastic but has to go
              through a necessary ritual forced upon him.

   2. The 'Kabaali' Fever.

       Rajnikanth's latest Tamil movie, Kabaali, is releasing, tomorrow, all across the country. Here are            some more interesting information:-

          (a) In Tamilnadu, it's gonna be shown on more than 2,000 screens.
          (b) The first show will start at 0400 hrs.
          (c) The rate of tickets ranges between Rs.500/- and Rs.1,000/- officially, for the first day.
          (d) Since Rajani fans have asked for leave en masse for Friday, IT firms will be shut down.
          (e) What remains to be seen is whether the Rajnikanth-Sonakshi Sinha starrer will have
                the cash registers ringing!

        What I admire of the actor is that he's the only Indian actor who doesn't mind being his age
         in real life. People are fond of his mannerisms though his histrionic talent has its limitations.
         And he's a thorough gentleman!

Having talked about the trivia that has hogged headlines, these realities have stunned me which are:-

    3. The Agitation Over the Dalits.

        In Parliament, there has been a lot of chest thumping and the usual political drama enacted by
        political parties, cutting across ideology, over the last couple of days because of their sizeable
        vote bank. Agitation in Gujarat has been whipped up to cover more areas. A crass remark by
        a BJP guy, about Mayavati, has given her partymen to raise the banner of revolt in UP. And
        what's the result? The passage of the GST Bill is again gonna be delayed, if not dumped, in this
        session of Parliament too. National interests be goddamned, seems to be the fine print! Sad.

   4. The Advocates vs The Fourth Estate.

       The ongoing violent skirmishes between the Press and the advocates that have been raging at
       Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram have brought certain pertinent issues out in the open. That
       the assault on the press has been planned and systematically executed by the advocates has been
       exposed because the police has been mute spectators and the government has been deafeningly
       silent.  Consider these:-

            (a) An advocate molests a lady and when the lady files a case with the police, the father
                 and son reach an agreement. Consequently, the lady withdraws the complaint.
            (b) On withdrawal of her complaint, the advocate tries to malign her saying that he was
                  innocent because of which the lady files the complaint all over again, while handing over
                  the agreement arrived at by the father-son duo with her, to the police. The news gets
                  wide coverage in the press.
            (c) The press is attacked by the advocates within the premises of the High Court at Kochi.
                  The police remain mute spectators.
            (d) The attack on the press takes place, this time, in the court premises at Vanchiyoor in
                  Thiruvananthapuram. Police, again, remains a mute witness.

         Also consider these incidents:-

            (a) The police had come across a lot of flak during the ongoing investigation of the Jisha
                  murder case thanks to the detailed coverage by the media.
            (b) The government had come under flak for the chief minister's legal adviser presenting
                  himself in two cases against the government. VS Achuthanandan had pointed out this
                  anomaly and the person has since been removed from the post.

         The question, therefore, is, "Was it a concerted attack on a free and vibrant press by the
         aggrieved advocates, with the police and the government being mute spectators in the whole
         sordid drama?" If affirmative, it's a serious matter!


A couple of observations of the day:-

   (a) Mom's right leg has swollen up. There seems to be a perceptible sluggishness of the limb
         movements of her right side coupled with pain in the joints. Next week, we need to visit her
   (b) My Chevy's battery had gone dead. Had taken her out of the porch to wash it down near the
         well and on completion, when I tried to start her up, the battery didn't play ball. The GM guys
         were informed and their emergency team had come calling, jump started the car with a new
         one so that I could park it at its original place. Next week, she's to be admitted for body work
         and change of battery!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Another page from a day's life.

The early morning rain put paid my plans to go out for a walk. As I went about the morning chores, there was a crow on a nearby tree's branch cawing away and was reminded of my childhood days, when we used to believe that it indicated the arrival of guests in the house that day. The soiled clothes were put into the washing machine and the waste cleared off the bins. The dishes were cleared from the kitchen sink and put in appropriate racks.

       *                                 *                                  *

Meanwhile, mom and Lekha were up and about, going about their morning chores. Just as I finished saying my prayers, my cousin had called up from Kochi saying that he and his family were dropping by and no, they would reach only by teatime meaning lunch wasn't required. They're aware of her discomfort yesterday! He's running out of leave as he needs to be back at work in Saudi, by 05 Aug and we seem to be on the roam almost continuously, according to him!....... So, the crow was right after all!!

        *                                 *                                  *

They arrived by about a half past 3, after lunch at a hotel that we used to frequent with him during the setting up of 'The Quarterdeck'. His mom, mom-in-law, wife and two children accompanied him and the house was all agog with conversation, shrieks of the children and laughter for the next five hours during which they'd also gone to visit the temple leaving his mom - who's had both her knees replaced recently - with us.

         *                                 *                                  *

His mom and my aunt - my dad's youngest brother's wife - looks cheerful and walks more confidently after the surgery. I can never forget that sight of her, almost a couple of years ago, when she hobbled miserably on bent legs with a troublesome varicose vein to boot. It was she who was firm about undergoing the surgery despite the comparatively high costs. And sure enough it was the correct decision!

I remember seeing her for the first time in the summer of '68, during my summer holidays from school while the newly married couple was spending a few days at our place. How time has flown and the way it has made changes in her?...........Tomorrow happen's to be her husband's - Narendran kochachhan's - 17th remembrance day. They'll be going to the River Periyar's banks at Aluva, in the morning, to offer a puja for the departed soul.

         *                                   *                                  *

Meanwhile, Lekha had sent me on a short errand and it was when I'd come across my neighbour after what seemed to be a long time. His father-in-law was in deep coma in a nearby hospital with multiple blood clots in his brain, suffered from a fall in the bathroom last Sunday. The old man is all of 92 yrs, fiercely independent not wanting to stay with his daughter and was staying in a flat near the western entrance of the Guruvayur temple, along with a male nurse all along. His wife had passed away about three years back! The lady's Sunday afternoon trysts for lunch with her dad lay in tatters!!

          *                                  *                                   *

I'd kept my walk short, the temple goers had returned soon after and by then, Lekha'd rustled up supper for them before they returned for Kochi and weren't they bowled over? My nephew, meanwhile, had helped her to update a few more functions on her new cellphone!


Another of those quiet days when I did nothing........almost!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A day when I was all at sea!

Last night the sleep was interrupted many a time as Lekha wasn't well. She'd cramps in her abdomen and was writhing in pain. The intake of Naftal Spas, Eno etc didn't have the desired effect. I'd gotten up in the morning feeling groggy for the lack of sleep. But the day had to be kicked forward and essential chores done, the maid's continued absence adding to the quantum of work. The silver lining was the information that she's out of the hospital and recouping at home. She will only come to work in early August, though!

       *                                  *                                   *

The overnight soiled dishes were washed down and put into their allotted slots. Saw mom going in for her bath and helped her with a few things in her preparation. She was chirpy, inquiring as to how Lekha was. The morning cuppa was made and Lekha's was served at her bedside as she continued to be in bad shape. Her intake of the 'Omez D', against' acidity, on an empty stomach should do the needful, I thought, while planning as to what I should do for breakfast......

       *                                   *                                   *

Cornflakes, toasts along with butter/jam and bananas were on offer and mom said that it was a damn good breakfast. Lekha had decided to forego it because of her continuing, miserable state. Visiting a doctor was ruled out as she was quite sure that her discomfort was because of an indigestion. The undigested ingredients had to come out of her system and that was taking its own, sweet time. It finally happened in the afternoon, just before lunch time, rendering her system back to normalcy.

         *                                  *                                    *

The option for lunch was two - either to make something at home or to order from the nearby hotel. I decided for the former and after acquiring mom's permission, decided to make a rice gruel, which I thought was simple but it was not to be with the mistakes that I was making. The error that I made in between was to run an errand to the nearby 'cellphone' shop to get Lekha's new phone commissioned and by the time I'd returned with partial success, that too, it was a quarter to 12.

          *                                  *                                    *

Before going out, I'd washed down the necessary amount of rice and kept it in a bowl of water to facilitate its softening down. On return, it was put into a pressure cooker and then on to the stove. Time just kept ticking off until I saw a lot of steam coming out from everywhere except the valve. The lid was opened and replaced and this time I'd got it right but in the bargain, delayed our lunch by about 45'. Poor mom was sporting enough and I kept giving her snacks to control her hunger. Meanwhile, Lekha was also back to normal and we'd a lunch - made by me for the first time - that was frugal, yet nice. No, I ain't saying this, how can I pass judgement about my own efforts? This was the feedback from mom and Lekha.

           *                                  *                                    *

The evening tea was also my effort but Lekha was ready and recited the Ramayana, for the day, extending her evening rendition to cover the morning lapse. The walk was invigorating and it was a quiet evening thereafter, with Lekha back in charge of the kitchen, as usual.


All's well that ends well. Phew! Lekha will be meeting the surgeon, at Thrissur, on Friday when my sister will come down from Palakkad to give company to my mom.     

Monday, July 18, 2016

Nothing short of the gallows!

A 20 year old dalit girl was brutally gang raped in Rohtak, Haryana. A video grab of the young lady, lying on a government hospital bed, moving her legs in pain showed the horror that she'd gone through and the pain that she was undergoing. I felt sad seeing her sorry plight.

She was gang raped by the same five men who had raped her in '13 while the family was staying in Bhiwani. She and her mother had pursued the case and seen to it that the men - all from upper castes and in their 20s - were punished. The family had, then, migrated to Rohtak to avoid the stigma. The offenders were in jail and had come out on bail.

They were waiting in a vehicle and as the young lady came out of her college, forced her into a vehicle, drugged her and brutally gang raped her for taking her complaint to the court! The young lady was found, in a pathetic condition, among the bushes of Rohtak's Sukhpura Chowk and was admitted in the government hospital.

Those five 'beasts' - can't call them anything but that - have to be taken to task. It's a repeated offence, their jail term has not made any change in their attitudes and instead, they wanted to 'teach' the young lady for having put them up for their wrongs.

It simply calls for capital punishment for the five of them and it's my opinion that they shouldn't be shown any mercy in this matter. They've actually cocked a snook at the law by their dastardly act!

        *                                     *                                       *

A 14 year old girl was brutally gang raped and murdered, presumably by three men, in Ahmednagar of Maharashtra. What men are these who after raping the minor, smashed her teeth, pulled out her hair and inflicted pain on the hapless girl before snuffing out her life? Hope the police rounds up these guys at the earliest and their case taken on a fast track court so that justice is delivered with the least lapse of time.

Don't these guys have mothers and sisters of their own?

These guys have the gallows waiting for them for the murder they've committed. If they get it after the legal follow through, how're they gonna be punished for the violation of the young lady, prior to murder?

Beasts, yet again!


What worries me is that these are just two cases of atrocities committed on women that have come into the public domain, thanks to the media. What about the many that never get reported?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The fall out is gonna be unfortunate if not checked in time.

Every event once begun will have its logical conclusion. That's the law of nature. Having said that, it goes without saying that negative actions will have a backlash. It's, therefore, essential that steps must be initiated, without fear or favour, to contain a negative event and right it at the earliest. Populism or half-hearted corrective actions with the thought of not offending the people cannot help and will have disastrous fall out in future.

 (a) Yet another Salafi preacher.

       Shamsudheen Palath recently changed his name to Shamsudheen Fareed, as he thought his
       father's name was more Islamic than Palath, the name of his native village in Kozhikode. To
       quote news reports about him, "he's an erstwhile worker of Kerala Nadavthul Mujahideen 
       (KNM) who refuses to be photographed, believes that watching movies is 'haram', never trims
       his beard and asks Muslims not to participate in festivals of non-Muslims like Onam and 
       Christmas because they have the elements of 'shirk' or polytheism!"

       A school teacher in Malappuram, he represents the transformation that has happened to the
       Salafi movement in Kerala, once the driving force of reformation in the Muslim community in
       the state. He's the unofficial spokesman for the 'extreme Salafis' which came into existence after
       numerous splits in the KNM and is suspected to be a prime mover in radicalising the Muslim
       youth in Kerala. The sad part is that many Muslim organisations are scared from presenting the
       correct Islam fearing repercussions from such hardcore elements!

       And the biggest paradox is that for these people it's the 'after-life' that's important!! He needs to
       be checked here and now.

  (b) Turkey - Post Failed Coup Attempt.

        From news that's filtering out of Turkey about 6,000 people consisting of judges, military
        officers and others from the society have been rounded off, put in jail/killed etc. It would be
        tempting for Thayyip Erdogan, the President, to round up his political opponents and silence
        their criticism. Such high handedness is a natural fallout of the perceived feeling that he's been
        stabbed in the back and would not invite a public criticism and objectivity since the people
        seem to be with him, as of now.

        Hope that the power of reasoning, a level of magnanimity and forgiveness come about. The fear
        of the country slipping to being Islamic from a secular state - built up by its statesman, Kemal
        Ataturk - would be like the proverbial putting back of the clock! Sad!!

  (c) Unrest in Kashmir.

        Ever since the militant, Burhan Wani, had been killed by the security forces, Kashmir has
        seen demonstrations where the stone pelters have been seen in action. With the Pakistani
        government's decision to celebrate 20 Jul as his martyrdom day and the Pakistani-sponsored
        separatists playing along, it's high time that the Indian government took some tough action.

        For starters, India gave it nice and proper, at the United nations, to Pakistan calling it as a
        nation that has terrorism as its state policy and that it covets other's territory. The foreign
        ministry had issued a tough message thereafter.

        One wonders as to why the Mehbooba Mufti government had released the stone pelters
        as part of an amnesty on the eve of Eid, last month.


From the way things seem to be going, the Rio Olympics will not have many of the stars thanks to the fear of the Zika virus. The authorities need to convince the fence-sitters that effective steps have been taken or further exodus can be expected.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Ramayana 'Maasam'(Month) is here!

Last night before turning into bed, there were a few things that were done. Emptied the waste bins and the house was earlier swept and swabbed by Lekha - in the absence of the maid who's down with jaundice - her discomfort, notwithstanding.  The 'starting-with-a-clean-slate' at every 'Karkkidakom' month of the Malayalam calendar is nothing new as I've seen such activity since childhood in my house and so has Lekha, in her's. The Ramayana was taken out of the bookshelf for it to be perused everyday over the next 32 days - yes, Karkkidakom has 32 days!

We'd got up a trifle late, at 10 past 6 but went about our chores as usual. Lekha was 'aarthied' with a one rupee coin and the same was put into a container for a purpose - a practice on the 1st of every month on the Malayalam calendar. When the number of coins becomes 12, the collection is offered to the main deity of the Mannarassala Snake temple at Kayankulam. This ritual has been going on since late '93 after her brush with near death, as advised by the family astrologer-cum-priest.

Lekha has begun the recital of the Ramayana from the first chapter onward and she'll go on to read the entire book within the month, a task undertaken by most ladies in this part of the world. Mom also reads a few lines from the book at random and the recitation is done twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. Well, with the ladies taking on such a noble task, why should a guy like me worry about anything?

Again, the ritual of visiting the temples having the main protagonists of the Ramayana as their deities, is undertaken by devotees, within the forenoon of any day, during the month. Such temples exist in four districts of the state and they are:-

    (a) Thrissur        -           Thriprayar(Rama), Moozhikkulam(Lakshmana), Irinjalakuda(Bharatha)
                                            and Payammal(Shathrughna).
    (b) Kottayam      -           Ramapuram(Rama), Kudappulam(Lakshmana), Amanakara(Bharatha)
                                            and Medil(Shathrughna).
    (c) Ernakulam    -           Mamalasserry(Rama), Mulakulam(Lakshmana), Memuri(Bharatha)
                                           and Nedungadu(Shathrughna).
    (d) Malappuram -           Ramapuram(Rama), Ayodhya Nagar(Lakshmana), Karinjappadi
                                           (Bharatha) and Naranathu(Shathrughna).

Though the sky was overcast throughout the day, it didn't rain at all at Guruvayur.


Altogether, a holy month for the devout Hindus. And the rush of the pilgrims to Guruvayur has begun.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Terror strikes in the Mediterranean waterfront of Nice, France.

31 year old Mohammed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drives a large truck into crowds celebrating the Bastille   Day in the French city of Nice. He drove through at a speed of 50 kmph for over two kms killing       84 people and injuring over 200 people, out of which 50 are critical. Police shot him dead once the     vehicle had come to a halt.

The perpetrator hailed from the Tunisian town Msaken, is married and has three children. He was a
delivery truck driver.

RIP, the fallen ones. My tears and prayers. May your near and dear ones have the strength to tide over
these stressful times.

         *                                      *                                         *

Liquor sales have fallen drastically, in Kerala, thanks to the liquor policy followed in the state. There's, however, no cause for complacency as the rise in the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances has been phenomenal. I was personally aghast to hear a police admission that many drivers of private buses drive under the influence of drugs as it's not easily detectable compared to the breath analyser test for alcoholics!

The fallout is that school going children can be easily influenced/coerced into using drugs by unscrupulous elements whose only aim in life is to make a fast buck!

          *                                      *                                         *

Kerala is crying itself foul that the central government has cleared the construction of the Colachel seaport, just 35 kms south of the Vizhinjam seaport. I can't understand the fear in this regard. What it will bring about is intense competition between the two ports which will ensure efficiency resulting in excellent services. In the process, Kerala's port workers must evolve a drastic change in their working attitudes and equip themselves to compete with the modern world while shunning militant trade unionism.

The Vallarpadam Container Trans Shipment Terminal is functioning at a much less efficiency level than its capacity thanks to the negative practices in vogue. Same is the case about the Cochin Port Trust. The fear that Colachel will overtake Vizhinjam within no time, making it an acceptable port for shipping compared with the latter is what is worrying the state.


Dangerous trends that require fitting and spontaneous responses with the aim of 'prevention better than cure'! 


Thursday, July 14, 2016

The aftermath is worth pondering upon.

There are certain happenings that will definitely have far reaching ramifications. I'm just considering two recent events, one international and the other, that had taken place in our state of Kerala. Here I go:-

 (a) The Verdict of the Permanent International Court of Arbitration, The Hague.

       Based on Philippines' complaint about China meddling in its exclusive economic zone, the
       court had declared China's claims illegal and concluded that there was no legal basis for it to
       claim historic rights to the resources within the sea areas under dispute. To understand the
       verdict, it's important to know the basis of the Chinese claim.

       Xi Jinping, on taking over the mantle of leadership, had put across the 'China Dream' as the
       cornerstone of his foreign policy. The following were carried out/initiated:-

            (i) China Dream was all about "the great revival of the Chinese nation."
           (ii) To symbolically underline the importance of the South China Sea to this initiative, his
                 first visit outside Beijing as the new party boss was to meet the sailors on board the
                 guided missile destroyer Haikou that was, then, patrolling the disputed waters.
          (iii) Large scale land reclamation was on and artificial islands were being made by employing
                 a huge workforce causing irreparable damage to the coral reef and the environment. That
                 the construction was going on non stop despite the progress of proceedings in court amply
                 showed China's belligerence and a couldn't-care-less-attitude to such niceties!
          (iv) It interfered with the Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration as it staked claim of the
                 sea areas within the "nine - dash line."

         What could be Xi's Options?

          Now that the verdict is against China, his options could be either of the two:-

             (i) Defy the world court, risk regional conflicts and give it a 'rogue nation' status among
                  the countries of the world by giving impetus to the following activities:-

                      (aa) Increased military presence.
                      (ab) Step up construction of the artificial islands.
                      (ac) Engage in drilling.

            (ii) Calm tensions through measured diplomatic efforts. A bilateral understanding with
                  Philippines could be reached provided the latter is willing to play ball.

           But whatever be the case, Xi has been weakened with his 'China Dream' collapsing much
           against his wishes! And therein, lies the danger!!

 (b) Kerala Government's 'Nyet' to Cabinet Decisions Being Brought Under the RTI Ambit.

       The Pinarayi Vijayan government's no to bringing cabinet decisions and the minutes under the
       purview of the RTI is a retrograde step. It will go to court against the RTI Commissioner's
       diktat in this regard. The paradox is that the last few decisions of the previous UDF government
       were being asked for by the Commissioner that has been denied by this government. The
       government is of the opinion that all cabinet decisions are 'secret' till their execution is

       Both the LDF and the UDF seem to be on the same grid when it comes to matters of


The next Parliament session is around the corner. Will we've the GST Bill cleared this time?


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Oh, it's here again.

The Supreme Court's indictment and the consequential reinstatement of the previous Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh should be a lesson to all the political parties that would desist them from making such faux pas in future. Just because a party has the majority in the center doesn't mean that it should unseat the governments of the states that aren't under its rule. Actually, the blame must go to all parties concerned viz.:-

     (a) The party in power at the center.
     (b) The state government that make noises and puts up a show that whatever the center does has
            to be opposed just because it belongs to a different political dispensation.
     (c) Greedy politicians within the state - with plenty of support from its reps in the center - who
           want to grab power at any cost.
     (d) The Governor who has been appointed by the center feels that he must show his loyalty by
           doing things that would supposedly win him/her their praise!
     (e) And lastly, the so called advisers, the wheeler dealers and the fixers who give reasons for the

When the Prime Minister had talked about a Congress-mukt-Bharat, one expected his party to win at the hustings and overpower the Congress in a systematic manner and not through unconstitutional means. No amount of argument that even the Congress had done it in the past or that the actions are based on past trends cut much ice. By putting up a government through the backdoor, the people get disillusioned and show their anger at the subsequent elections bringing back the same government that was dumped!

And yes, if bad governance or a serious law and order problem exists, then the center has all the right to dismiss the state government for its inefficiency - there's no doubt on that! For the center, Uttarakhand followed by Arunachal Pradesh are vital lessons that calls for attitudinal corrections.


Unfortunate! The Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan's statement in the Kerala Assembly that the hatred caused by the killing of a CPM member at Kannur led to the killing of a BJP member! He seems to have forgotten that:-

      (a) He cannot afford to make loose statements especially in his case where he happens to be
            the state's home minister too.
      (b) He's the chief minister of the entire state and not to his party!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'!

The day had begun on a leisurely note. It looked to be a wet day but Madhavan had washed down the Chevy and she looked great! The forenoon passed in light hearted banter with mom and my sister. Since the weather threatened to look ugly, we set off towards Guruvayur by 2 PM. The traffic was quite less comparatively and we could reach 'The Quarterdeck' by a half past 4.

The process of opening up the house and getting things down to the usual level did take time but was achieved so that I could go out for my customary walk, armed with my favourite umbrella. Lekha had given me a list of grocery to buy and on return, I was carrying a fairly heavy load! Thankfully, the rains held and it was a dry run, so to say.

Back at home, after the customary walk, I'd positioned myself in front of the television set to hear Arnab Goswami at 9. I'd like to share a few things that passed through my mind while watching the news programme:-

    (a) The continuing violence in Kashmir over the killing of the Hizbul militant, Burhan Wani, last
          Friday by the security forces has to be contained forthwith by the government. The guy should
          not be allowed to be made an iconised martyr since he has been responsible for the deaths of
          so many innocent civilians. On the premise that his friends and followers might exploit the
          sentiments of the youth by misusing the social media, it has been rightfully switched off. The
          use of the cellphones is also being kept under vigil. His body must be given the quiet burial
          that it deserves. My prayers and salute to the security forces for their sacrifices.

    (b) Controversial Islamic preacher and televangelist, Zakir Naik, had earlier cancelled his return
          to India once he realised that the heat was on him for motivating the perpetrators of the Dhaka
          massacre of 01 Jul. His political contacts have been exposed by now, who have formed a
          forum asking the government to leave him as he's harmless(?). Video grabs show him to be a
          virulent hate guy.

    (c) An arbitration court of the Hague had ruled that China has no historic title over the waters of
         the South China Sea and therefore, concluded that it has breached the Philipines' sovereign
         rights by carrying out calibration of its civilian aircraft on two new airports in the disputed
         Spratly Islands. China has decided to pooh pooh it, for the time being but is definitely bothered
         about the fallout.

    (d) Recruitment of young people into the dreaded IS outfit from the Muslim population of Kerala
          is definitely a cause for concern. They're lured into the trap by false propaganda and once
          having got into the organisation realise their folly but by then, it's too late for retrieval! This
          trend needs to be arrested forthwith, with ruthlessness.


A great weekend of interaction! From Guruvayur to Palakkad to Kovalam and return, I'd clocked a distance of 874.7 kms in all. And it was nice to come across a wide cross section of people!!

Monday, July 11, 2016

On the return leg - at Palakkad.

I'd got up pretty early in the morning and had woken up Lekha around a half past 5 so that we could make our exit by a half past 7. But breakfast and bidding bye to my classmates - though not everyone, because a majority of them had sat through the wee hours, watching the finals of the Euro Cup  - and it did not  matter as we'd said our piece last night itself. Moreover, the parting is always melancholic and I, to the extent feasible, try to keep it as short as possible!

Josekutty had set off earlier, with Louis and Daisy and had dropped them at the airport with just a minute left for the security check to be over for their flight! Louis had confessed that his blood pressure had gone up many a time and he was almost close to being a mental wreck. Anyways, all's well that ends well because they'd reached their house at Bombay before sunset.

Earlier, I'd overtaken him short of Kochi but before entering Kollam town, he'd gone up the fly over near the SN College, prompting me to wonder as to what the short cut was but did not dwell long on it as we're heading for Lekha's friend's petrol pump to top up the Chevy and check the tyre pressure. The primary urge, however, was to ease the bladder!

Lunch was at Alappuzha and the evening tea, at the new coffee parlour, about 15 kms after the main junction at Angamali. Kuthiraan was free of traffic and I could negotiate the stretch without hassles! Finally, we're at my sister's place a half an hour before sunset!

The journey was flawless.


Wasn't mom thrilled to see us back? She's set herself for the take off for Guruvayur tomorrow.     

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Fun time with one's childhood friends!

Did not want to miss out on the time available with my classmates and therefore, we'd got ready well ahead of our usual time and were at the breakfast lounge. After breakfast, the ladies were taken for a visit to the Padmanabhapuram palace, about 60 kms south from here. We continued with our discussions on the new ventures our course would embark upon to enhance the quality of training, by augmenting the existing resources and zeroed in on two ventures viz.:-

    (a) An HR lab to help in the personality development of the cadets.
    (b) A covered multi-activity center by enclosing/enlarging the existing basketball court.

The details will, now, be worked out and cleared with our classmates.

The ladies had returned for a delayed lunch and they're soon getting ready to have a darshan at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple as Anitha had a pass that would give them a special entry! Lekha, however, had decided not to join them as there were enormous distances to walk and many steps to climb.

And further, it was interaction with one's friends.......

      - time didn't matter.
      - the presence and the whole hearted attention of one's classmates was all that mattered.


Had passed on the plan of action to my cousin regarding Indira kunjamma's treatment based on the the discussions that I'd with my friend, Savio last night.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Alumni Day at the Sainik School, Kazhakootam.

The day had begun leisurely and Vijay, John V and I had set off for the school to be in time for the awards ceremony where MS Mohan Nair, our classmate, was awarded the Flg Offr MP Anil Kumar trophy for his outfit's achievements in the field of nano technology. It was a proud moment for all of us! The ceremony, itself, was impressive and colourful and the school looked prim and proper with its grass clipped and the plants trimmed. There was a poignant moment during the forenoon when I met Saraswathi Amma teacher during the break.

She was our Biology teacher and ours was the first class that she'd taken charge of on joining the staff. I came first in class with 72 marks during the quarterly exams and became her favourite student. It's that affection that I saw on her face as she came near me asking, "Aren't you, Rajeev?" and held my hand. To be remembered by one's teacher after such a long lapse of time was a defining moment of my personality." I was humbled by her love.   

The event, after all, was the 47th Alumni Day of the Sainik School, Kazhakootam.

After Mohan's lunch for us at a nearby hotel, we'd proceeded back to Vijay's place for a short snooze and freshening up. We're off to the Hotel Seaface at Kovalam for the gathering of our classmates and after putting our personal effects into the rooms allotted, we'd assembled at the open banquet hall where the proceedings had begun.

Just before that, Savio and I'd a detailed discussion on Indira kunjamma's ailment and he outlined the steps to proceed further to ascertain the cause of her discomfort. It gave me an idea as to what we'd to do to remove the ambiguity and administering treatment for the causal ailment because as of now it's based on assumptions of the test results that have not thrown up a clear picture!

The evening was fun with the talent of the class as well as that of the spouses were in display. Exchange of anecdotes, fond memories of personalities and happenings and heated conversations regarding certain situations, culled from our school days(I was getting to be aware of interpretations now after such a long lapse of time!).

It was quite late when we turned in for the night but the greatest happiness was that we could once again be boys amid our classmates! Babu Syriac-Joma, Mohan-Asha, John V-Manisha, Jose Cherian, Mohandas Kollody-Shylaja, Deric-Meera, AN Ramesh-Bindu, Mohanachandran-Manju, Vipinachandran-Leena, Ramanujan-Prema, Arun,  Anandakrishnan-Sandhya, self-Lekha, Josekutty Thomas, BR Vijayakumar-Anitha and Louis George-Daisy were the ones that constituted the august gathering!


Nice to be boys, yet again!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Palakkad to Thiruvananthapuram - Leg 2.

We'd set off by a quarter to 7 from my sister's place through a slight, yet persistent drizzle. Passing through the Kuthiraan stretch and the dropping of the coin at the shrine went off without a hitch and we're in time for breakfast at our favourite haunt near the Paliyekara toll. The traffic was at a comfortable volume despite it being the beginning of the weekend!

We passed through Kochi and before entering Alappuzha, had a simple lunch of 'fish curry and meals' at the Motel Araam. There was a traffic diversion in the town but we could continue without any hitch after topping up the Chevy and checking its tyre pressure and were more than half way through our journey. The road was pretty bad at the Alappuzha - Kayankulam stretch and one had to duck potholes with a remarkable regularity. But we we're not so lucky at Kottiyam, where bursting bladders had forced us to enter a roadside eatery whose rest room had seen better days! There was a downpour and we'd our footwear wet - much to our discomfort - as there was water everywhere thanks to the heavy rains.

The stretch between Kollam and the first thirty forty kms through Attingal was bad with real difficult traffic but after that, it was fairly okay. My plan of hitting the city before sunset had fructified but the rains did welcome us. We drove straight to Indira kunjamma's house and seeing her with the nose tube on, to facilitate infusions as she didn't have an appetite, was sad. But her face has really perked up since I'd seen her last, about a fortnight ago, as the medicines have started to take effect. Suresh is back from sea and therefore, Reshmi looked more at ease and less tense but I'd to tell her that I wouldn't brook any let up on being informed about the goings on regarding kunjamma's medical management.

Pepped her up with our conversation and with the message that we'd like her to visit us at Guruvayur once she was fit to travel. Meanwhile I'd taken a copy of her case diary and the discharge summary to cross check with Savio, my classmate and doctor who would be with us for tomorrow's get together - he and Annie have flown all the way from Chicago to be part of the function and that's what the spirit of the Sainik School's class of '72 is all about!

We're at Vijayakumar's place - our night halt - by a half past 7 and a few of us had assembled to spend the evening together. John V-Manisha had fetched up earlier and were staying along with us. Anitha played the perfect hostess. Vipinachandran-Leena, Mohanachandran-Manju, Louis George-Daisy and Josekutty Thomas were the others and it was back to reminiscing anecdotes from school with a sing song session, as always. Really didn't notice how time flew!


A long drive through incessant rains and bad roads but it was worth the trouble for being with the ones that one loved being with because you'd broken bread with and grown up together, during the halcyon childhood days. And the best part was that our spouses also had formed a camaraderie!   

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Off to Thiruvananthapuram - Leg 1.

Tossing in bed, half an hour before final wake up seems to have become a repeat phenomenon. The sky was clear and I could have gone for a walk but today's programme precluded that! The morning chores were gone through but there was an unnecessary waste of time waiting for the newspaper boy as it was a holiday yesterday which was realised much later. I suppose he'll put today's ToI along with the newspaper on Monday!

          *                                 *                                  *

It's a quick dash to town to tie up a few things. Ashwin had sent me a copy of the newspaper that had the article on mom - based on the phone interview that I had with him - by courier. The work at both the banks didn't take much time but the manager was not able to give me a satisfying answer as to how my cell number had returned to the previous one at Delhi, much before the number portability had kicked in, resulting in the alerts not reaching me. Another of those quirks of the computers!

          *                                 *                                  *

By the time we'd set off for Palakkad, it was a quarter past 11. Mom was restless as it was a long wait for her but was happy about the article in the newspaper. A quick visit to the nearby petrol pump for checking tyre pressure and we're on our way without much ado. The journey was nice, error free and pleasant without encountering rain throughout and we'd reached my sister's place at a half past 1 for a delayed lunch for mom and Lekha. It was then that I regretted at not having stopped enroute for a tea break which would have avoided the pangs of hunger! I can be shorn of all such nicer aspects when I concentrate on reaching the destination!

          *                                 *                                   *

It was nice being at my sister's place and her lunch was the typical organic stuff that she and my brother-in-law are quite fond of. It was scrumptious all right though I keep reminding them that over indulgence in a particular variety of food could work out detrimental because of the erratic supply and demand in the market. Probably, I'm being pessimistic but I believe that the safest bet is to be flexible in food habits so that one can fit into any sort of situation!

          *                                 *                                   *

Wasn't Madhavan, the security in charge, glad to see us? On his insistence, I'd parked my Chevy at a parking slot within the stilted parking area whose owner, working abroad, has been away for more than a month. And all of a sudden, he was back around tea time looking very unhappy that I'd the audacity to park in his fiefdom, taking on poor Madhavan for having allowed me and I'd to intervene saying that it was at my insistence that he'd done so and apologised, all the same. But alas, it ended up in a disaster by the time I'd parked at the new slot offered outside when I'd my Chevy 'kiss' one of the numerous stilts during the penultimate maneuver! A new dimple has been added!!

........When will I ever improve?


Tomorrow's stretch is a long one, literally from the north to the south.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A real wet day.

Had got up after a quarter past 5 and found that my sleep had gone for a toss. After going through the morning chores, I was ready to step out for the walk when Sreekuttan was on television, belting out my favourite religious hymn, 'Krishna, nee vegame baro......'. I stepped back to hear the beautiful bhajan completely and felt very nice. The walk was refreshing as always and thankfully, though it threatened to rain, it just held but I was taking no chances and had carried my umbrella instead of the walking stick.

        *                                   *                                      *

Preetha, Lekha's assistant, has been down with a virulent strain of jaundice - that has the propensity to spread - for the last ten days. Lekha has been managing the show and I, too, join in where possible. Doing the dishes - not adequate enough for the dishwasher to be brought into service - clearing the dry and the wet wastes, putting the soiled clothes into the washing machine prior to breakfast are a few of the things that have become my responsibility! No, I don't have any problems about these additional serials as they've to be performed but these household chores have shown the importance of the maid which one tends to take for granted!!

         *                                   *                                      *

After elaborate homework, I'd stepped out of the house to go to the town and there were quite a few places to visit to get the jobs done. Difficulty in parking, getting out and getting back into the car during rains without anyone to help - one gets wet for no rhyme or reason in that short interlude of opening the umbrella - made me opt for taking an auto rickshaw for running the errands. But what a blow to my carefully laid out plans for ticking off the jobs on my slop chit? Three of my intended destinations were closed on the occasion of Id-ul-Fitr! I'd completely forgotten to factor in this important aspect and no, I was fully aware of it because I'd wished my friends, including my neighbour earlier on! Anyways, I could get mom's and Lekha's medicines.

          *                                  *                                       *

Mom has been put on the new cycle of medicines for the problem of watering of her eyes. The neighbourhood doctor, whom we'd met, has also advised hot water fomentation thrice a day. If these steps do not diminish the problem, probably, she might require to go for the forced opening of the ducts that connect the eyes to the nose according to the ophthalmologist. It's my fervent hope that the problem would be brought under control by the suggested antidotes.

           *                                  *                                       *

The first round of the shutting down of 'The Quarterdeck' was completed before I took off for my evening walk. We set off for Palakkad tomorrow morning to drop mom with my sister and proceed to Thiruvananthapuram to attend the Alumni Day of our school on the 9th, followed by the class of '72 get together at Kovalam that evening. Will look up Indira kunjamma and help the family to decide on the further course of action.

The long drive through the wet weather and negotiating certain stretches of the highway that are bad are going to test my patience and driving skills!


It was a real wet day!  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Strange sights.

"It takes all sorts of people to make the world", so goes a saying. My observations here will bolster the saying, further.

 (a) Dog thrown off the building.

       From a balcony of a three storey flat in Madras, a medical student threw his dog and had the
       entire act shot by his friend in his camera. This has gone viral on the social media and the police
       has now confirmed that the hapless animal has suffered a fracture and is being nursed in a vet
       clinic. The culprits are absconding. An animal activists' group has filed a case on the issue.

       My take.

       The culprits must be brought to book forthwith and should be dismissed from the course. The
       guys have a psychological flaw and should be prevented from becoming doctors.

 (b) The Modi cabinet reshuffle/expansion.

       The induction of 19 relatively new faces into the union cabinet and the dumping of five non
       performing ones, along with changes at the senior cabinet level posts have once again shown
       that the Prime Minister is his own man while taking decisions. Both politics and performance
       have been factored in. How it influences the outcome of the imminent polls in Uttar Pradesh
       and Punjab will have to be seen.

       My take.

       What has happened to the Prime Minister's minimum government, maximum governance? I
       suppose the experience of the last two years have brought him to this decision. The Shiv Sena
       has been shown that their anti-BJP capers in Maharashtra despite being a partner in governance
       is not acceptable. Interesting!

 (c) Cellphones banned for girls under 18 years.<18 b="" nbsp="" years.="">

       A Lodhi Rajput community khap panchayat of the Etah district in Uttar Pradesh has issued a
       diktat to this effect in a gathering of about 4,000 people in Bhilaipur village. This was
       consequential to a widely circulated video, on What'sApp, showing a 15 year old girl
       being forced to strip by the director of her school.

       My take.

       Though I'm of the firm opinion that the 'khap panchayats' cannot usurp the role of the judiciary
       this is one decision that I support. I'd go a step further and say that cellphones must be banned
       from use in all schools up to the Plus 2 level. Not only is it a distraction but it's also the
       perpetrators of crimes. Only a collective drive on the part of the children, the parents and the
       teachers can bring about an effective ban!


The night was noisy with the bursting of the crackers on the eve of Id ul Fitr. The month long schedule of prayer and fasting has come to an end!



Monday, July 4, 2016

Juno, the space probe at Jupiter.

1. Juno has entered the big planet, Jupiter's atmosphere. With a series of complicated maneuvers triggered by the ground control, commencing with the firing of the main engine, the spacecraft will settle into a working orbit around the planet and begin its observations. It must have already settled in its orbit because it takes 48' for signals to travel from Juno back to earth!

How did the mission get its name?

2. Goddess Juno is the wife and sister of the Roman God, Jupiter.

Info - Jupiter.

3. It's a planet where Hydrogen and Helium are in abundance. Other interesting statistics are as

        (a) Diameter                                            142,984 km.
        (b) Size                                                    317 times the size of the earth.
        (c) Satellites                                             67.
        (d) Distance from the Sun                        5 times that of the Earth-Sun distance.
        (e) Core                                                    Thought to be made up of rocks but yet to be
        (f) The Red Spot on its face                     Called "Great Spot".

Vital Statistics of Juno, the Space Probe.

4. It's a part of the NASA's New Frontier Mission. Other info include:-

        (a) Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on 05 Aug '11 and was to reach its
             'mission post' by 04 Jul '16.
        (b) Max Speed                   38,000 kmph.
        (c) Distance covered          290 crore kms.
        (d) Made by Lockheed Martin @ 1.1 Billion US $.


5. As the largest planet orbiting the sun, Jupiter has had a profound influence on the solar system but its origin remains a mystery. To learn how Jupiter formed and how it was evolved, Juno will study the gas giant's gravitational and magnetic fields and explore the swirling clouds that form the planet's colourful, trademark atmosphere. The spacecraft will also reveal what Jupiter is made of and how much of it is water.


Just another example of the wonder that science is!