Monday, October 31, 2016

A blast into the past.

Today was li'l Prarthana's first meal ceremony at the temple premises. She's seven months old and today, happens to be her parents' third wedding anniversary too! A double celebration!! Rajeesh and Malu had got married at Guruvayur. We'd fetched up at the venue, atop the first floor of the northern portion of the temple by 9 and were the first lot from the family.

The ceremony went off fine and we'd returned home soon after as Padmakumar, Rema and Achu were driving back to Palakkad. Their departure was unnecessarily delayed by an absent minded work of mine when, earlier, I'd put their car keys into the box where we normally stow our house keys! The frantic search till the retrieval was comical and the fact that I'd completely forgotten about what I'd done added to the faux pas!!

It was while attending the ceremony at the temple that my thoughts went back to a similar ceremony at exactly, the same venue - though not in its present grandeur - based on what my mom had told me over the years....

The year was early '56! My dad was posted at Kochi those days and the three of us were staying inside the naval base. My parents were keen to have my 'choroonu'(The first meal ceremony) at Guruvayur because they'd got married there. Accordingly, Muthachhan, Ammachi and maman had fetched up from Thiruvananthapuram, Kochu Muthachhan and Kochammachi from Ettumanoor while Appooppan and Ammoomma had fetched up from Thalavoor. After spending the night at our place, the entire group had proceeded to Guruvayur for the ceremony. The family had stayed that night at the Devaswom 'sathram' and the ceremony was held the next morning within the sanctum sanctorum because the temple was quite small in the '50s. Its appeal was yet to pick up, not very many people undertook the long journey because the staying arrangements, within the precincts of the temple, were limited and not very easily attainable!

I realise, now, that my grandparents and parents considered me very 'special' to have gone through the trouble to undertake a trip like this just for my sake! My indebtedness to them for their unconditional love shall always remain and in return, I've given them so little...


(a) Suresh is in a much better condition after the external pipe - put in place - to assist him in his breathing has been removed. Subbu had seen him today and has spoken about him being shifted out of the ICU and he will have to remain in the ward for another week.

(b) Radhan chettan is much better, the high creatinine reading notwithstanding! He has expressed a desire to see Lekha.

(c) The Quarterdeck was quiet, once again after teatime, once the last of the guests had left. Rajeesh's mom kept telling us that she missed mom....


Sunday, October 30, 2016

A strong presence despite the absence!

It was a wet Sunday to begin with. Rains - and that too, heavy showers - had begun to fall in the wee hours of the morning. The normal chores were gone through and things were done in a leisurely manner!

My younger maman and his wife came by about a half past 2 and had a delayed lunch. They had brought a lot of stuff for us and we chided them for carrying heavy luggage. But it was damn sweet of them to have taken the trouble just for our sake! They left soon after tea as their daughter and her family had fetched up from Kozhikode and settled down at the 'Paanchajanyam' in connection with the 'first meal ceremony' of their li'l daughter, tomorrow - their shifting over to the temple complex was a change from their original programme of spending the night, here, with us.

I'd gone for my customary walk under a threat of rain which never fell, of course. Padmakumar, Rema and Achu drove in by about a half past 8. They'd started off from Pidavoor, visited a friend of their's at Alappuzha who was bereaved recently and looked up Suresh at the Amritha Institute before fetching up. It was a noisy evening, thereafter and we're filled in with the details.

Earlier, had spoken to Kurup kochachhan - a mandatory call every Sunday just to hear his voice as I tell him - and Reshmi, for an update on Suresh's, lest I'd to speak to Subbu for help!


All of us missed mom because, had she been there she'd have fussed over everything! Their stay was the first after her passing away and her strong presence was felt despite her absence!    

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Biju's Diwali wishes!

This year there's no Diwali for us due to the passing away of Lekha's dad and my mom but friends have been sending their wishes through calls, by What'sApp and SMSes. I must admit that it sure does give a nice feeling! The most poignant of them all was from Biju, this morning.

I'd met him, first, as a civilian bearer on board the Landing Craft Utility, L36, whose command I'd taken over in Jun '87. He was an efficient worker ensuring that my clothes - both uniforms and civil clothes - and connected accessories were in top form, always. He used to be an enthusiastic participant in the evolutions/exercises - there wasn't any need for him to participate in his official capacity but he participated in them on his own calling - be it at sea or in harbour. It was this keenness in him that got me to sponsor him for a naval recruitment, soon after my tenure on the ship. He passed the exams and was enrolled as a sailor in early '90 and from then on, there was no looking back as he did well in his professional career.

Whenever, he went on leave, he made it a point to call on my parents who, too, took a liking for him for his pleasing manners. He and his wife had insisted upon my dad and mom to initiate their children - a girl(Now in XII) and a boy(Now in VII) - into the world of letters and in return, they used to monitor their educational achievements very minutely.

He'd called up this morning and apologetically conveyed his Diwali wishes. Then, without warning, he broke down and went into a non stop volley of words about how my parents and I constitute his world. I could do nothing but to hear him out and must confess that I was thoroughly embarrassed - he was attributing too many of his accomplishments to me which I really don't deserve!.....He's under transfer to Visakhapatnam and has promised to call on us at 'The Quarterdeck', next time!

A flashback......We'd begun our life at 'The Quarterdeck' in Nov '13, much after the Diwali, that year. In '14, Sathi Amma, her husband, Dharmettan and her daughter were in attendance for celebrating the festival. It was Dharmettan's last Diwali, in that, he'd passed away two months later succumbing to the cancer that was gnawing him! Last year, in Nov '15 it was Preetha and her two sons who'd played Diwali with us!


It gives me immense pain and incites anger in the manner the bloody Pakistanis have mutilated our soldier, Sepoy Mandeep Singh, in the Machhil sector of Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir. The martyred soldier was mutilated by terrorists under covering fire by the Pakistani Rangers. It shows their barbarism and disrespect to a corpse, who they know won't retaliate. Well, you Pakis shall pay for this, the Indian Army will punish you appropriately!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Changing with the times and changing attitudes.

1. Changing with the times.

My admiration for Pope Francis has gone up further by a few notches. He has shown a tremendous flexibility in attitude in providing effective and dignified leadership to the Catholic church ever since his ascension to the papacy. I am impressed with the news, "Vatican buries a debate: Cremate, don't scatter ashes".

The amplifying instructions from the Vatican makes it clear as to how the Church has come round to the present decision and I quote, "In  circumstances when cremation is chosen because of sanitary, economic or social considerations, this choice must never violate the explicitly stated or the reasonably inferable wishes of the deceased faithful. The Church raises no doctrinal objections to this practice since the cremation of the deceased's body does not affect his or her soul nor does it prevent God, in his omnipotence, from raising up the deceased body to new life".

Lack of space and city life has made cremation a reality and this far reaching decision of the Church shows its progressive outlook - a must for a religion to sustain itself among its followers!

       *                                      *                                          *

2. The changing attitudes.

One frequently hears news, these days, about vigilance raids on the houses of bigwigs who hold haloed positions in society. Consider the recently conducted ones by the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau(VACB) on the houses of the additional chief secretary, KM Abraham and principal labour secretary, Tom Jones. There's no smoke without a fire, so says an old proverb.

So, when a person goes through such ignominy, a good percentage of the accusations stick and the public comes to the inevitable conclusion that all these guys are rogues. To go up in life one needs to go against the rules and suck up to the superiors! 

But what makes me wonder are about three things:-

     (a) How do these people face their near and dear ones, once convicted?
     (b) How did they manage to get into ignominy when during the childhood, their parents must
           have ingrained into them about the importance of ethics and morality in one's life?
     (c) How do they manage to cling on to their chairs despite taunts and a lowering of esteem among
           their subordinates?

I suppose that the skin has thickened to such an extent that nothing matters. Who, the hell, cares about others' opinions seems to be the attitude!


Radhan chettan's left leg has to be amputated, says the surgeon. It's gonna be a blow on him, wonder how he takes it? Sad! Suresh has lesser problems after traversing 48 hrs from surgery. The stories about the lackadaisical attitude of the nursing staff, especially in the ICUs of hospitals, are appalling to say the least!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Leela kunjamma's 5th Remembrance day and other stories.

1. Remembering Leela kunjamma.

Five years ago, on this date, 74 year old Leela kunjamma had passed away, a couple of hours after an angioplasty. I would call it an untimely death because of the following factors:-

  (a) She'd this feeling that her end would be at the same age her mother left this world.
  (b) She was on medicines for an under functioning heart on the advice of the cardiologist of a
        nearby hospital. He'd specifically told her that the regular intake of the medicine was all that
        was needed but, as a rule, we human beings have less affinity towards anything that's near us
        and that's cheap! It's that factor that was unfortunately in play here, too.
  (c) There was this new medical team who'd come to her hometown, conducted a medical camp for
        luring new patients under their ambit for treatment, eventually, getting her to their premises at
  (d) Consequent to the angioplasty, with the blocks having been sorted out, her weak heart was
        unable to meet the requirement and she'd suffered a cardiac arrest.

Leela kunjamma, we miss you. Our tears and prayers!

2. Human beings vs. stray dogs.

Over the past few months, from the stories of increased belligerence of the stray dogs in Kerala -
people of all ages have been badly mauled and killed, in certain cases - and the articulations of the animal lovers strongly condemning their extermination, I'm confused as to who is more valuable, a human being or a stray dog. While I'm against cruelty towards animals, this 'love' for the stray dogs beats me and taunts my imagination, especially when it's brought to bear at the cost of valuable human lives!

The latest is the union minister, Maneka Gandhi's remark that strict action should be taken against those who kill stray dogs. An irresponsible statement made without wanting to understand the ground realities!

To my mind, the cause for the belligerence of the stray dogs - no proper waste management, animal and bird waste lie strewn all over, even in cities, which is easy food for the strays - has been conveniently overlooked by all concerned.

So, to tackle this menace the following should be resorted to:-

      (a) Remove waste regularly and dispose it off through scientific means. In other words, have an
           effective waste management system established, all through the state, on a war footing. Take
           the help of the NGOs to augment resources.
      (b) Sterilise dogs on a systematic basis.
      (c) While the above actions are being taken, kill the ones that are threatening lives.

3. Toll has been taken away.

Toll has been discontinued on the DND Flyway.

The 9.2 km long Delhi-Noida-Direct Flyway was commissioned on 07 Feb 2001 much to the relief of the 'Delhi residents' staying on the other side of the River Yamuna. We're, then, staying in a hired apartment at Sec 21, Noida and I used to commute to office and back in service buses that used to avoid the DND Flyway and use the Nizamuddin bridge, instead.

By Jul '01, we'd shifted into Arjan Vihar of Delhi Cantt but used to visit Noida, at least once a month, for Lekha's trysts with her beautician and mine, with Swarup Nandi, whose automobile garage looked after my Omni and the drive was always through the DND Flyway. Driving was sheer pleasure!

Reminded of old times!!


Radhan chettan maintains status quo and Suresh has learnt to live with the pain!


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Being the agony aunt.

The first call, this morning, was from Sathi chechi @ the Amala hospital. Radhan chettan's condition was improving and his status was as follows:-

    (a) his respiratory problem has been brought under control.
    (b) the cardiac problem is also under control.
    (c) the creatinine level has started showing a downward trend from the reading of 5.
    (d) the wound on his foot has been getting bad steadily and she says that the tarsals - the bones
          that constitute the foot, are visible at places. He's, therefore, being shifted into the surgical ward
          for further management.

The hospital bill was steadily increasing and she was at a loss as to how she'd raise the finances to clear it. Meanwhile, his two younger sons (The eldest son has washed his hands off completely because he hasn't forgiven his dad for marrying a second time!) want to shift him to the Medical College Hospital, Kottayam because it was nearer to them.

I comforted her by saying that she shouldn't worry about the finances as of now, though deep within, I was at a loss as to how I'd coax his close relations to cough up the amount. Anyways, there was no point in passing on my misgivings to her......I'm sure there will be a way out when we pool in the resources at hand!

      *                                        *                                            *

Subbu, the team leader of doctors attending on Suresh was happy in the manner the surgery had gone yesterday. It, really, was a marathon of sorts stretching over to about ten hours. On the stuff removed during surgery, extensive tests will be carried out and the results, expected within a fortnight, will determine the further course of action/treatment! Hope it hasn't spread on to any of the lymph nodes.

       *                                       *                                             *

When I'd returned from the customary evening walk, there were two return calls that I'd to make urgently - one was to Reshmi and the other, to her mother. She was all in tears saying that it was heartbreaking to see Suresh writhing in pain and through sign language, he was asking to be administered with pain killers. I'd to gently remind her about not frequently calling up the doctor - just because we know him - because he'd have already passed on instructions to the staff, on duty at the ICU, to cater for all eventualities. Since she, herself, works for the ICMR, she is privy to such scenes day in and day out in her professional life.......well!

Her mother was upset because she'd called her up earlier and passed on the agony. I'd to remind her, too, that the doctors were doing their best and that, we should not complicate their work by getting back every now and then, blurting out our apprehensions!


I hope my performance as the agony aunt was fairly okay!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The ration card woes and other stories.

1. The ration card woes.

The new ration cards will be issued shortly, it has been announced. The work on the issue of new cards was initiated by the previous UDF regime with much fanfare but lost steam, somewhere in between, thus robbing the government from projecting it as yet another achievement!

In this case, too, the people who're deployed by the government to collect the data, obviously did not do their job correctly or were ignorant of what they were supposed to do, judging from the numerous complaints that have cropped up consequent to the availability on the drafts of the new cards online. Over the last few weeks, there have been serpentine queues of people - demanding correction of their personal data - outside the panchayat and village offices, all over the state.

The main problem seems to be that everyone yearns to be in the 'BPL' or below poverty line category so that they can enjoy the benefits, earmarked by the government, for the poor. Imagine a guy driving down to a ration depot outlet in his spanking new car and collecting the rations that he's entitled to by virtue of him being in the below poverty line category!

Truth and ethics have been chucked out of the window, it seems and nobody cares a damn! Sad!!

2. Abysmally low levels of petrol and diesel in bunks.

The tanker truck owners were on strike for the last five days creating a situation when low levels of petroleum stocks were reported in the fuel outlets, all over the state. Consequently, it was a common sight to see a huge clutter of vehicles awaiting their turn at the petrol bunks every time and during peak hours, the crowd was unmanageable in the sense that the waiting vehicles spilled over onto the thoroughfare, affecting the smooth flow of traffic.

The trucks that ferry fuel to the retail outlets from the Kochi and Kozhikode depots of the IOC were on strike pressing for the modification of the tender conditions, including fare. There's a meeting scheduled, this evening, with the minister to sort out the issue.

Imagine the cascading effect it makes on the prices, putting additional burden on the common man. But does anyone care?


Suresh was taken into the operation theatre for his surgery and as per last reports it's nearing its close and should finish before midnight!

Monday, October 24, 2016

To Kochi and back.

It was a bright and sunny morning. Going through the morning chores, I was aware of the importance that was being provided for my visit by Suresh and Reshmi, my cousin. I left home by a quarter past 9, collected change from the baker's nearby, caught an auto and headed straight for the private bus stand. A bus, marked for the Vyttila hub at Ernakulam, was parked and when I queried the driver standing nearby, he said that the bus was leaving straight away. Sure enough, it had taken off, soon after, with a handful of passengers - the bus wasn't crowded at all, throughout the journey.

I was at Vyttila by about a quarter past 12, got off at the junction itself, before the bus turned into the hub. So the only thing required of me was to cross the busy thoroughfare, catch an auto and head straight for my cousin's. Ramakrishnan was generally lazing around with the mandatory dark glasses on and my grand aunt was being readied for lunch. I touched her feet, as per usual practice but there was no flicker of recognition as she continued to keep her eyes closed!

Lunch was on offer though I hadn't pre-planned or warned them and the simple fair was superb! We'd a long chat and it was, then, that I realised that Ramakrishnan was doing all the talking while he was supposed to talk least as part of the recuperation process and sure, felt guilty on that aspect! By a quarter past 2, I was off to the hospital and had joined up with Suresh, Reshmi and Sabu. Enroute, I did observe that Suresh looked worried, perhaps, about his impending surgery and the aftermath. We'd prayed at the Idappalli church, upon his insistence and lit candles on our way.

The admission formalities were gone through as we shuttled between 'windows' to collect requisite papers and the necessary bank endorsement of having received the money towards expenses connected with the surgery. It was then that we headed for meeting up with the doctor. A thorough gentleman, with humility, despite his fame and professional excellence - that's the way I'd sum up Dr. Subramonia Iyer. Savio, our mutual friend, had already told him about my visit. Subbu - I'd taken his permission to call him thus - had gone through the case, in detail and said that Suresh's surgery was to be the second, in the sequence, tomorrow morning. The duration was gonna be about eight hours and he was to remain in the ICU for five days towards post operative care!

After the details about the surgery, we'd come down to discussing personal stuff and ended up exchanging our telephone numbers. As we got out of the doctor's room I noticed that Suresh and the others were at ease because they'd begun to warm up to Subbu's friendliness. My parting shot to the doctor was, "Subbu, I'm leaving my brother-in-law in your safe hands. Wish you the best! Will talk to you after the surgery tomorrow".

We, then, went into the room assigned to Suresh and soon after, I'd taken leave of them. He gave me a tight hug, thanking me profusely and I'd to chide him saying that such things were done voluntarily, for friends and relations. It's part of one's karma.....

It was much past sunset that I'd got a return bus to Guruvayur, choc-a-bloc with passengers and could reach home only by about a half past 8. Since I couldn't visit Radhan chettan, I'd spoken to his wife who gave me the following inputs:-
      (a) he has had another bout of breathlessness which took a long time to be set right.
      (b) the wound that he has on his left foot is suspected to be getting gangrenous - a biopsy is on.
      (c) the hospital permitting, his sons were seriously thinking of shifting him to the Medical
           College at Kottayam so that one of them could be in attendance, round-the-clock.


It's a fruitful day! And I've got myself another friend!! 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Laying the ground work.

Three frantic calls from my ma'asi, Indira kunjamma, at Thiruvananthapuram were the highlights of the day. She wanted to confirm my presence at the Amritha Institute of Medical Sciences at Kochi tomorrow when Suresh, her son-in-law, goes through the pre-surgery checks by the team of doctors who're handling his case. As I'd said earlier, Iyer, the encologist is the team leader and between him and I, we've a common friend in yet another doctor, Savio George, currently making money in Chicago. Savio is my classmate from Sainik School while he and Iyer did medicine together, soon after! I'd to tell Indira kunjamma about my programme, tomorrow, much against my usual practice so that she was at ease. And her parting shot, "You're gonna be there, I don't have to worry" made me feel that I'd 'godlike' powers to set things right!!

My cousin, Prabha, the advocate, after coming to know of my programme - that's why I hate telling out my itinerary to anyone - called me up to confirm as to whether I'd be looking up her husband, Ramakrishnan, who had undergone a cataract surgery on his left eye, the day before yesterday! So, it's gonna be a tight schedule out there and I've to return to 'The Quarterdeck' before sunset as Lekha is gonna be all by herself, during the period.

On return, I'll also have to look up Radhan chettan to ascertain his recuperation.                      

      *                                      *                                            *

Earlier in the morning today, Ramadasan Kochachhan had made a connect from Nasik. It was to inform the death of his grandson's father-in-law, all of 58 yrs, in the wee hours of today. The gentleman had, about two days' back, gone to the chemist near his house to buy medicines and on return, had a black out, fallen flat on the road and in the process, hit his head on the concrete road. He was rushed to the hospital but, meanwhile, a lot of blood was lost and he was in coma for the rest of his stay in the hospital.

Kochachhan, too, said that he felt relieved whenever he spoke to me and pegged the reason to his liking for me from my childhood. He recalled the days when he used to stay with us - within the naval base at Kochi, carrying me on his shoulders while trekking it to Thevara across the Venduruthy bridge to buy milk! Mom used to be weary of me being taken out but used to restrain herself seeing his enthusiasm, it seems!!


It's gonna be a long day tomorrow and no, I ain't driving. Why do it when the government and the private operators ply numerous buses, costing lakhs of rupees, for the public?    

Saturday, October 22, 2016

'Ae dil hai mushkil'. What trash is this?

The CM of Maharashtra has brokered a truce among the concerned parties viz. Karan Johar, the film maker, Raj Thackeray of the MNS and Mukesh Bhatt of Bollywood's Producers' Guild and consequently, the movie, 'Ae dil hai mushkil' will be released on the due date with three riders for Karan Johar viz.:-

     (a) Will contribute Rs.5 crores to the Army Welfare Fund.
     (b) Along with the other producers will not sign Pakistani artistes from now on.
     (c) A slide, offering tributes to the Indian soldiers killed in the recent Uri terror attacks, will be
          screened prior to the commencement of the movie

The MNS, under that rogue, Raj Thackeray, has a habit of inciting passions by raising silly issues on the 'Maratha - son of the soil' theme to score political brownie points. The powers that be and the people of India have been watching his antics rather helplessly and have let him get away with murder every time. His latest buffoonery is on the aspect of Pakistani actors and actresses acting in Bollywood which has been misrepresented. I shall highlight on the two important flaws in this game that he has played out seemingly, to his advantage, as of now.
Let's rewind on the sequence of events resulting in the impasse:-

     (a) Pakistani actor, Fawad Khan, is playing an important role in the movie.
     (b) The whole country was incensed when none of these guys had voiced their opinions against
           the dastardly Uri terror attacks where 19 Indian soldiers had attained martyrdom on the first

The fact is that these guys get fame and wealth, in fact, get 'fattened' by Indian ventures but feel that they've nothing to say when the country is adversely affected by terrorism initiated from their country. If they're scared of the repercussions back home, then my advice to each one of them would be to dump their dreams of making it big out here, at our expense! Period.

And, reiterating it for the umpteenth time, "We are not against Pakistani artistes coming to Bollywood or for that matter in any field, what have you. But you need to voice your opinions and pass it on to your army - as the whole world knows as to who's calling the shots out there - to stop its 'India' obsession, get back to the barracks and work towards bringing about a truly democratic government to provide effective governance for all round development!" 

And to Raj Thackeray, I being an ex-serviceman myself, have this to say, "The defence forces do not want the Rs.5 crore that you've asked Karan Johar to contribute towards the Army Welfare Fund because it's 'extortion money' and we don't take such putrid incentives. It angers me that you consider the armed forces so cheap! Stop your shenanigans, forthwith, under the pretext of patriotism".


If you feel strongly for the armed forces, work with the central government towards removing the anomalies of the 7th central pay commission and the One Rank One Pension scheme. If you can't, just keep off and don't politicise the armed forces!   

Friday, October 21, 2016

The evil in me!

Valsala chechi, Radhan chettan's sister-in-law, had called up in the morning asking me to meet up with his doctor to ascertain his medical status. This was in the light of the early morning difficulty, in breathing, that he'd undergone. He'd to be resuscitated to be brought back to normal, said Sathi chechi who was beside him at that moment. There were other reasons, too, that had prompted the request which were:-

       - the rising hospital bill against meagre resources.
       - his three sons have only just begun to reconcile to their dad's remarriage. They've already
          expressed their inability to spend big money for the treatment.
       - the job of clearing the hospital expenses, therefore, has fallen on the frail shoulders of
          Maheshwari Peramma, with her meagre pension and the younger sister-in-law and of course,
          the wife.
       - both of them were slated to get back to Bangalore where the two daughters of chettan's late
          younger brother, live along with their families. The tickets for their return journey had to be
          bought and reservations done.

I've seen that such jumbles and topsy turvy priorities exist among the dependents of the patients in hospitals, engaged in life and death battles. A sad situation, but a harsh fact of life!

So, I'd gone over to the hospital to meet up with the doctor who was looking after chettan, with Sathi chechi in attendance. He was disarmingly candid about the present condition. To my question as to whether there was any reason to worry(In the light of chettan having been shifted out of the CCU), his answer was, "There's every reason to worry!" Every vital organ has problems, the creatinine level was at 5 against the normal reading around 1, the Sodium and Potassium levels were high and so on and so forth. Surgery of any sort has been ruled out as his condition was precarious and the parameters were being brought back to normal, through medicines and it was gonna take time. The family had to brace up for more expenses as the stay at the hospital is gonna extend to a week or 10 days as per my estimates.

I'd conveyed it to his sister-in-law, presently at Kottayam, with the mother. There was a wedding of one of the children - in the family - on 12 Nov and they're undecided as to how they'd return for the wedding after heading back to Bangalore now. My message was that their return trip should be planned for a date, after the wedding!


The evil in me was active. Why couldn't my mom improve while in hospital like Radhan chettan? He's doing well despite multiple problems in his system........the roles could have been reversed had god been indulgent! Sorry, Radhan chetta these are irrational thoughts that rush past and have no locus standi!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Au Revoir, Maheshwari Peramma!

It was an early morning at a half past 4, when I'd woken up Peramma and chechi to make it in time for the train departing at 6. Lekha had packed a simple breakfast of dosas and chutney, along with a few bananas, to be had on the way. We'd reached the railway station well in time and I could buy the tickets in a jiffy since the queue was yet to form up. The newspaper stall hadn't opened and therefore, couldn't get the day's newspaper for them to read enroute.

The walk to their train, on platform no.3, was a fairly long one and we trudged slowly so that Peramma didn't find it exhausting. To put me at ease, she said that the morning walks always rejuvenated her! Damn sweet of her!! I'd made them get into a compartment that would require minimum walk, on getting down at the Kottayam Railway Station, their destination. There were another 20' left for the train to depart and so, I sat with them talking, to while away the time.

Last evening, Peramma had walked through our small kitchen garden and to her delight, found newly sprouted mushrooms. She said that such a phenomenon denoted good tidings and certified that they're edible. Our supper, therefore, had a yummy dish of those mushrooms, courtesy Lekha! 

The train left the platform on the dot at 6 and she kept waving at me till the train pulled her away from my sight. Goodbye, Maheshwari Peramma for the time being, but please come again!                  

      *                                   *                                   *

It was a rather quiet day otherwise. Babish was called in to sort out a few plumbing problems. Saying that they're minor jobs, he did not charge anything and went his way, once again reiterating that he'd be available for fixing electrical/plumbing problems in future. All we needed to do was to give him a call! He's a sweetheart!!

      *                                   *                                   *

Radhan chettan has, since, been shifted out of the CCU but he's had some difficulty in breathing, early in the morning today while his mom was getting ready to leave for Kottayam......... "Needs further observation", says the doctor.

Meanwhile, Suresh, my cousin Reshmi's husband, has been slated to undergo a composite surgery of a cancerous growth around one of his lower molars on the 25th. It's gonna be performed by a team consisting of an encologist, a surgical specialist, a dental surgeon and a plastic surgeon at the Amritha Institute of Medical Sciences at Kochi. Suresh's request to his doctors, "Doctor, you can cut me up to remove the toxic cells but ensure that my appearance is retained as to what it is now because I need to work, post surgery". He's a chief engineer in the merchant marine and wants to make up for the expenses! Poor guy!!


The saying that the world is small seems to be coming true here. Dr. Iyer, who's the surgery team leader happens to have studied medicine along with my classmate and friend from school, Savio, currently practising in Chicago, US. I shall be meeting Iyer, along with Suresh and Reshmi, on the 24th, a day prior to the surgery to boost their morale and befriend him. Savio, meanwhile, says that he, too, shall monitor!

Ill luck comes in legions but help comes in from the most unexpected quarters! Why, then, worry at all?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sheer pleasure!

There were no after effects of yesterday's long journey and by 20' past 10, I was off to the Amala hospital to look up Radhan chettan and to bring in Maheshwari peramma(My mom's eldest cousin, who's all of 92 yrs!). I'd reached the reception, went through the procedure of collecting a visiting pass and after a short wait for the lift, had fetched up at the sixth floor that housed the coronary care unit a few minutes after 11, the time when one visitor per patient was permitted to enter!

Sathi chechi had given my name and so, I could get in without any wait. He looked good and I was told by the attendant on duty that his condition was much better and that he'd be shifted into the ward later, this evening, after a scan - since he has been complaining of a pain in the abdomen. That was definitely good news and armed with that, I'd proceeded for Guruvayur taking along Maheshwari peramma, Sathi chechi and Valsala chechi, her daughters-in-law with me.

From the time she'd stepped into our house, it's sheer pleasure for Lekha and me, as anecdotes came in thick and fast from her childhood days, centered around mom. She was emphatic about mom being adamant about getting what she wanted! The story about her wanting to climb up a coconut tree, sounded cute regarding the manner in which Valiya muthachchan(P Kesava Panicker, the elder brother of PN Panicker) had made a platform, close to the tree, so that mom could stand on it and touch the 'short-and-full-of-fruits' coconut tree, that stood in the courtyard of the Puthuvayil House at Neelamperoor.

Maheshwari was the eldest of four daughters of Janaki Amma and P Kesava Panicker. My mom's family was at Ambalapuzha, consequent to Muthachchan's nurturing of the nascent library movement but the children used to shuttle between Neelamperoor and Ambalapuzha, during their school breaks.  

It was during teatime that she expressed the desire to visit the temple. Without ado, we'd alighted at the 'padinjaare nada'(the western entrance) soon after, walked the short distance and I'd taken the administrator's help for a quick 'darshan' of the deity. He, even, had offered the services of a wheelchair when I'd told him her age but she didn't need it as she walked briskly! She could place her offering at the sanctum sanctorum of Guruvayoorappan and was quite happy about it, telling everyone as to how I'd made the entire visit to be a short and sweet affair!

The discussions that we had, before and after supper, were interesting and she was quite sad to hear about the last few days of mom as her tears started to pour, continuously, on hearing my narration.


How I wished that mom was here because she'd have been the happiest to host her elder sister! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Back at Guruvayur.

"Sir, are all the ceremonies connected with your mother's passing away, over? I still can't believe that she's no more amid us. To me, she's still there, right in front of my eyes," so spake Bhadran of the Kalpakavadi restaurant that we frequent on the highway. We'd just got out of the vehicle after parking it on one of the porches! His eyes had welled with tears as he said this. One of the many, awestruck by mom's pleasant countenance. We'd our lunch of 'Fish curry meals', feeling her absence all the way.

    *                              *                                   *

Earlier, Rema and I'd gone to the Village Office by a half past 8, this morning, to give our complaint about the 'missing land'. For that, we'd to pay up the two years' arrears of land tax  and armed with the receipts, their xeroxes along with a court fee stamp were appended to our official complaint! While she was getting the job done, I'd sat in the 'prayer hut' of the nearby temple and recited my prayers for the first time after my mom's passing away. Meanwhile, a lot many children came and shook hands with me, wonder why? They wanted to be friendly as I spoke to each of them, inquiring about what they felt best about their school days.......and the most interesting answer was, "It keeps me away from my home!" His parents had better mend their ways.

      *                             *                                   *

By the time we'd handed over our protest officially - the guy who wrote out the complaints in the normal course, had still not fetched up - and Jayakumar, the one who sat at the counter to accept them, helped us with the filling up of the form. In the process, could befriend Thomas, a classmate of late Appukkuttan kochachchan, who'd struck a conversation as I resembled my late kochachchan! He, also, happened to be one among the many complainants awaiting his turn. We'd returned to Raj Nivas, picked up Lekha and the luggage and were off to Padmakumar's house to drop Rema where she's gonna be for the rest of the week. Pidavoor amma gave us a tearful farewell as she remembered mom. I saw her praying for us with folded hands, through my rear view mirror - as I cast off from the place. A wonderful lady, overflowing with kindness!

Time....1130 hrs!

       *                              *                                  *

Had called up Sreekanth Mallan and told him that we'd not be able to make it by 2 and that Lekha could be given another appointment. The nice guy that he is, he'd promised to meet us at 3 and we reached his clinic, this time on the dot! Lekha's dental furniture was finally put in place and we'd resumed our journey an hour later. We couldn't meet up with Maheswari peramma as was planned earlier but I've prevailed upon her to come and stay with us for tomorrow. I'll be able to look up Radhan chettan in the hospital and pick up peramma and her daughter-in-law from there.


We're back at The Quarterdeck by 8 and did our unpacking and attendant work. A trip in which I could finish up the jobs that I'd planned.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The result of incompetence.

It was a day of great learning. There was one more problem that needed to be licked, the resurvey of our land holdings had to be verified for its correctness and we'd left it for the penultimate day of our stay out here. Rema, Mini and I had set off by about 9. Mini was dropped enroute where she could hop on to a bus towards Sanil's house but not before she'd dropped the offering at the 'Nagaraja temple' at the junction - a task that was insisted upon by mom, always!

We, then, drove off straight to the Land Records verification cell and picked up a token that gave us the date to address our grievance on the 31st. Rema had inquired at the counter as to whether people like us who stayed far away, at present, had any option to avoid a revisit within a short span of time. It was, then, that he'd asked us to visit the place around 1400 hrs and so, we returned home soon after.

Before I progress with the proceedings, it's my bounden duty to say a thing or two about the survey which was carried out almost three years back, the salient features of which were as follows:-

     (a) It was the UDF government's idea of defining existing land holdings to ascertain excess land
           that could be allotted to the landless in the state. A noble idea!
     (b) It was gonna be the first step towards digitizing the state's land records. A great step!
     (c) A lot many personnel of the government staff were recruited for the purpose but they made a
          hash of it as there have been complaints galore from the public about the resurvey, the notable
          among them being:-
              (i) The ownership has been wrongly depicted, quite a few of them exist under the previous
             (ii) The area of the holdings are grossly wrong!
            (iii) Holdings have been wrongly represented!
     (d) How did this happen? Poor training of the people tasked and a general lack of interest among

There's another interesting aspect at such conglomerations. One is brought down to ground level as no amount of contacts, among the team that's doing the corrections, can enable one to short cut the system. Secondly, one's 'status' in society carries no meaning as the aggrieved customers cover a wide range of economic sections of the society and following the simple etiquette of awaiting one's turn is the only decent way out!

Our persistence helped and by the end of the day we could get our work done. The ownership of my parents' land holdings is correct but the total area has been shown less by four cents. A letter of redressal affixed with a court fee stamp, along with the copies of the title deed and the copies of the instruments depicting the tax paid, thus far, need to be submitted at the cell, tomorrow.


1. We head for Guruvayur only after that. It's gonna be a long day tomorrow!
2. Radhan chettan has shown signs of improvement at the Amala Hospital, thank God!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Running errands.

The early morning call from Sathi chechi, at Guruvayur, was about Radhan chettan - the eldest child of P Kesava Panicker, Muthachhan's brother - having been admitted at the Amala Hospital, following a heart attack. He'd visited us a day prior to our departure from there, saying that he just wanted to sit and talk with me because it was soothing for him! He told me about old times, having carried me around, when he had become part of our joint family on the passing away of his father and studied classes IX and X in '60 at Thiruvananthapuram. And a lot more about his life.

He'd left reluctantly and that, too, on the insistence of the auto rickshaw driver who was in attendance. Over the last three years of our stay at Guruvayur, he has gotten close to us and used to look forward to his trysts with mom. I can never forget the way he cried as he clambered on to the ambulance to have a last look at mom's body insisting that he, too, was accompanying us. His frail health and the regimen of medicines that he was on and Sathi chechi's recommendation otherwise, made me use all the persuasive powers that I had, to convince him to stay put! .....Hope he's out of the hospital by the time we get back.

       *                                *                                 *

The day was quiet with the four of us in continuous conversation about a host of things. It has been firmed up to renovate Raj Nivas and spend time here, more often, now that dad and mom are resting here.

Rema and Mini had gone to the family's 'Kosappilly temple' nearby and were in time to have breakfast together. I'd my day's 'trysts with my parents' during which they're informed about the programme for today - a habit that I've been following ever since the passing away of my father when I used to be in conversation with him during our frequent visits. ................Some of you might have concluded that I'm mad, huh!

The evening saw us visiting the 'Thrikkonnamarkodu temple' nearby and the 'Ganapathy kshethram', at Kottarakkara, despite the rains, as the girls wanted it.

It was a quiet evening, thereafter, with us discussing Ammu's marriage, our parents' closeness their frequent fights towards the latter years, notwithstanding and a host of other topics!


Tomorrow, each of us go our ways - Mini, to Sanil's place, in the morning and then, off to Bangalore by the evening train and Rema, to Pidavoor, to be with Padmakumar's mom for the week. In the morning, Rema and I have a tryst with the land officials regarding the survey carried out on our parents' property.

And we'll be headed for 'The Quarterdeck' on Tuesday morning.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

The 41st day ceremony.

The Backdrop.

The 41st day after death has a great significance. It's believed that the soul of the deceased lingers around the focal point of its existence, in its 'just finished life' for 41 days before it attains its new form in the next 'avatar'. The cycle of birth continues and that's the cosmic truth!

How the day turned out to be.

The day had begun at 5 because my sleep had vapourised for no rhyme or reason. Mini was already in the kitchen, initiating the day's work, to cater for the guests that were supposed to arrive shortly. I'd browsed through the mail, replied to a few and it was sunrise, soon after. 

We're ready by 7 and I'd spent some time at my parents' cremation spots and challenged mom thus, "Mom, can you show us that your soul is, actually, around here through something spectacular?" .........And, soon after, forgot about it too!

By a half past 7, Radhakrishnan and Vijayan - an ex-army man - had arrived and got their stuff started to recite the 'Ekaadasam skandham' of the Mahabhaagavatham, that covers Lord Krishna's end till he attains heaven. Both of them are blessed with a bassy yet, melodious voice and it was a treat to hear the verses being sung clearly and loudly.

Our close relations had arrived from Thiruvananthapuram, Kayankulam and Kidangoor along with a few guests - about thirty in all - from around here. Breakfast and lunch were provided by the efficient galley managed by Lekha, Rema and Mini. The bulk of them left soon after lunch as there was a programme at the PN Panicker Foundation at 1500 hrs. The rest left in a trickle just before and after tea!

Radhakrishnan and Vijayan had finished the recital by 5, carried out the finishing puja suffixed with the 'aarathi' and at the end of it , gave us a flower petal, each and a couple of them to me. We'd offered the petals to the deity while the second that I'd, was put into a page of the Mahabhaagavatham that was opened at random. Two things happened simultaneously, in the order of sequence that I'm gonna mention:-

     (a) Electricity had tripped in the vicinity during the incessant rains that were on.
     (b) A zero watt bulb that used to be switched on for my parents, to facilitate their movements during the dark 
            hours, simply fell off from the end of its lead wire and broke into many pieces with a minor explosion.

Now, was that my mom's answer to my query in the morning? I will never know! But I'd like to believe that mom was unambiguously showing me her presence around us!! And of course, that night light was no more required!!! 

(a) My mom's soul has flown away from our precincts. Did she enjoy every moment of her's that she'd spent with us during her lifetime? Did I live up to her expectations? I'd like to believe that the answers to both the questions are on the affirmative.

Or has she attained the universal soul?

Wherever you are mom, I'll miss you every waking moment of mine and feel sad that I couldn't spend more of my time with you.

(b) Radhakrishnan, had read out the first few verses, from the page of the Mahabhaagavatham, in which, I'd placed the petal. It highlighted Lord Krishna's antics in his childhood!

    .....And Radhakrishnan's interpretation, "Sir, Amma is pleased with the day's proceedings!" He, too, was looking for an endorsement to their day's efforts


1. My friend Manoj, an advocate, passed on this beautiful verse on the occasion, though it sounds post scripted for me and I quote,

      "If you have a mother
             do take thorough care of her.
        You will realise her value
             when you see the empty chair".  

2. 41 days(From the date of cremation, otherwise today's the 42nd day after my mom's passing away) have flown very fast and they've indeed been difficult. There's only one thing that's left when compared to what I'd done for dad.......... A handful of mud from my mom's resting place needs to be immersed in the waters of Rameswaram! I shall do that soon.            

Friday, October 14, 2016

At Raj Nivas.

The day had begun at a half past 4, the chores were gone through and we could kick off on our journey only by a half past 6. The first stop was, as usual at the Saravana Bhavan, soon after the toll. The ever smiling Nair, was peering expectantly into the rear of our car for mom as he waved us into the parking slot. His face fell as I told him about her and he was quite reluctant - I'd to insist - to accept the tip from me, as I drove off the premises, after breakfast. Usually, he'd have insisted on my parking the car close to the entrance and help mom to get out of the car and later, get back into it! 

We were at the dentist's, at Kochi, by a half past 9. The dental furniture needed another correction and will, now, have to be collected on our return. Lekha, Rema and Mini had made a dash for the jewellers to explore the feasibility of changing a recently bought chain as per my niece's diktats while I worked on my laptop at the reception of the dental care, catching up on my mail.

Their trip to the jewellers wasn't productive as they found, to their horror, that the exchange wouldn't work out to be cost effective and we resumed our onward journey after about an hour or so. Lunch was light and at the Motel Aram just before we entered Alappuzha. As we passed Ambalapuzha, we saw mom's familiar haunts.......actually, she was present among us, all through, despite her absence!

We're at Kottarakkara by 4. Again, while Rema and Mini had gone to mom's bank to do the winding up formalities of her pension account, Lekha and I'd gone first to a nearby hotel to ease our 'about-to-burst-bladders' at a restaurant nearby and to pick up some fresh provisions for tomorrow's lunch for the tight knit bunch of relatives and friends attending mom's 41st day prayer meeting. The three of them had made it clear that they'd manage the breakfast and lunch - all by themselves, with a vehement no-no for assistance from the caterers!

Our next stop was at Padmakumar's house at Pidavoor. His mom was under medical care for congested lungs - she looked weak but cheerful. She made her eldest daughter provide us with tea and an assorted set of eats and recalled mom's last trip to her place in August! Rema will spend a couple of days, after the activity, here.

We're finally at the Raj Nivas, a trifle after sunset. I'd a short monologue with mom and dad, at their cremation spots, outlining our programme. The entire compound looked neat after the recent removal of weeds. The settling down was easy and the girls had rustled up an excellent supper of 'kanji and pulses'.

Sitting on the dining table, it was almost like good old times...........without the company of our elders, whom we missed terribly!


The telephone was continuously abuzz with calls ascertaining our arrival, confirmation/regret regarding the attendance for tomorrow's ceremony etc. Raj Nivas was, once again, abuzz with activity and the caretaker seemed to be a contended man! 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A day of monitoring!

Mini had left Bangalore by a quarter past 6 by the Intercity Express. Sanil, Achu and Ammu had given her a royal send off by driving down to the railway station before setting off for their individual work places. The train chugged along as usual and stuck to its schedule. Rema had hopped on to the train at Palakkad and the two of them had lunch together. Thankfully, the railways were kept out of the ambit of the 'hartal'!

They'd got off at Thrissur before 3 and had to wait at the railway station till the 'hartal' ran out of time and steam. I'd specifically asked them not to venture out as there were many places in Kerala where the 'hartal backers' had gone berserk, damaging public property and even misbehaving with the common man, who'd ventured out in dire necessity.

No political party should be allowed to get away with such nonsense. The reasons are aplenty and I'd like to spell them down:-

     (a) Public property is not a punching bag for anyone and everyone. They can neither be tampered
           with nor destroyed, it's akin to waging a war against the state. The hooligans responsible, 
           need to be taken to task and exemplary punishment meted out without delay.
     (b) The common man has the right to live his life. He pays taxes, abides by the rules and is 
           obedient. He's perplexed that guys who don't fulfill the fundamental duties of a good citizen 
           are getting away with murder.
     (c) Political parties may play their politics, religious organisations may spell out their suggestions
           to their followers but none of them have the right to cock a snook at the Constitution nor the
           power to cow down their fellow citizens.

Rema and Mini, had caught an auto rickshaw and reached 'The Quarterdeck', through pitter patter rains, a trifle before 6 and I was able to breathe easy.

I'd a short walk and on return had taken my Chevy to the petrol pump, that I frequent, to top it up with fuel and to check tyre pressure. We're now ready to take off tomorrow, early morning at 6!


Some asses needed to be told as to what they were as they'd begun to get cheeky on our What'sApp group. It has had its effect!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Murders, 'hartals' and apprehension.


Kannur has seen a spate of killings, over the years, as part of an ongoing feud between the CPM and the RSS. The leaders have been quick to lay the blame on the opposition camp and have done mere lip service in the form of laying wreaths, shedding copious tears and holding rallies to mourn the dead. They've stood in the way of an everlasting peace in the area as it would question their very existence and make them irrelevant! It's left for the families and the near and dear ones to cope with the loss.

What amazes me are the following:-

    (a) The leaders are not keen to tackle the problem once and for all. Instead, they show it as the
          effectiveness of their leadership which is directly proportional to the number of scalps they've
          to their credit.
    (b) The followers, despite being educated and fully aware of the fact that they're being used as
          fodder to satisfy the egos of their leaders, seem to be willing to be led this a way. A lure of
          compensation for the near and dear ones, once they attain martyrdom, perhaps?
    (c)  None of the children of these leaders have anything to do with such activities as they're
          undergoing schooling/higher education in the best schools abroad only to return and occupy
          plum postings as witnessed in the latest 'appointment-of-relatives' scam that the LDF
          government is buffeted with. Relations come first and merit be damned, seems to be their
          motto! And mind you, no political party is an exception to this game..... everyone's the same!!

The aftermath of a murder is followed by a 'hartal' called by the aggrieved(?) party. It becomes a nightmare for the common man due to missed schedules, loss of opportunities, in addition to the loss of time, money and energy! Who benefits from the 'hartals' and are there any positive outcomes of any such staged loss of valuable man hours and productivity are the two questions that will never be answered by the perpetrators of the 'heinous crime'!  

The pantomime.

This morning, Nimith, a BJP worker was hacked to death in broad daylight as a tit for tat for the CPM worker, K Mohanan's murder on Monday. The BJP has called for a dawn-to-dusk 'hartal' tomorrow.


The apprehension.

My younger sister, Mini, is leaving Bangalore at 6 tomorrow morning, by the Intercity Express and was supposed to meet up with Rema, at Palakkad for lunch and together, come to Guruvayur so that we all could proceed to my parents' house at Kottarakkara, the day after, for the 41st day prayers for my mom on the 15th. It's my sincere hope that the rail movement is not affected.

We've already altered the schedule. Rema will now, join Mini by boarding the train at Palakkad and they will disembark at Thrissur from where they shall be picked up and brought to 'The Quarterdeck'.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016


The events that are taking place these days, the world over, make one wonder as to whether these are the trend of the times or just a one off incident. It would be prudent to look deep into such phenomena to find out whether a pattern exists. So, without much ado, I shall delve into a few of them:-

  (a) Inebriation can help in passing off unruly behaviour!

        Last Saturday, Rajanandini, a social worker and artist was asked by Aloshius - all of 58 yrs -
        whether she could spend the night with him. Consider the fact that they'd never ever met before!
        She gave him a tight slap and had him accosted by two people among the crowd to hand him
        over to the police. Since she'd to catch the night train, she'd performed the journey and registered
        a case at the police station today. The venue was platform no.1 of the Ernakulam North railway

        The reactions of the crowd and the police have been bizarre. Here's a take:-

          (i) The Police. "Oh! He's inebriated, as usual!"  They're lethargic in carrying out necessary
               action. So, if you're inebriated, you can get off with, even, murder!

         (ii) The people.   No reaction despite the cries of the social worker and her attempt at 
                                      catching hold of the culprit who took flight. Thankfully, two guys helped
                                      nab him.

          Thankfully, the case has now been registered and let's hope that a quick action is taken! I must
           also laud the two young men, who on hearing the distraught lady's pleas, had nabbed the

   (b) Donald Trump losing support from his own party men!

         Come what may, once a man is chosen by a majority to become a party's candidate for
         being the President of the United States it's understood that the entire party ranks rally around
         to ensure his/her win. But in this case, it has been the other way around. Why is it happening?
         Let me try to put down my thoughts by asking a few questions:-

            (i) Is Trump detested by the normal/conventional politician who lies outright to project
                 himself as a righteous man not having done anything wrong and can do no wrong?
                 He has shown more or less his true colours, thus far, from an outsider's point of view.
           (ii) Are the media and the other major stake holders feeling threatened about their many
                 misdeeds being exposed and consequent retribution, in case of a Trump presidency?
          (iii) Do they consider Hillary Clinton to be a formidable opponent? She seems to be having
                 more warts and moles than Trump. If at all she wins, I'd like her to do so on her strengths
                 and not because of her gender!

         PS. And what's that old saying, "Only rats leave a sinking ship!" They might be totally wrong
               on that and Trump can come back with flying colours!! His ship ain't sinkin' as yet!!!


The politics over the surgical strikes is continuing. Our politicians can be mean, very mean and can stoop to any level!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Catering for the twilight years!

The day had begun on a quiet note and today was a holiday thanks to the ongoing Dussehra festival. Rema and Achu had kicked off for Palakkad by about a half past 9. Their car had been here since the awful day of 04 Sep when they'd come to have lunch and spend that Sunday with mom, at the helm of affairs, out here. But what turned out to be was catastrophic, that none of us had even thought of or were prepared for!

After the formalities at the hospital were over that day, my sister and I'd gone ahead with mom's body to our parents' place at Kottarakkara. Achu had followed us in the car along with Padmakumar and Lekha. The car was driven back to Guruvayur, by your's truly, a day after the immersion of mom's ashes at Varkala. Ever since that day it has been in our porch waiting to be driven away by Achu when he came back from Bangalore on short leave and today, was that day.

Achu's eye needed an ophthalmologist's attention which his parents had provided on reaching Palakkad and has been put on medicines and an antibiotic course for five days. He returns to Bangalore tomorrow and begins paving his way to take up the new job on offer, in his hometown. Rema had carried mom's personal effects - her clothes - to hand them over to an orphanage/old age home at Palakkad. I'd parted with mom's clothes - many of them still retained her aroma - with great anguish!

The evening walk was out as Babu Syriac - Joma and Anil - Radha had fetched up around 7 o'clock. It was a nostalgic trip down memory lane, with everyone missing mom all through, because had she been there, she'd have been at the center of the proceedings playing the perfect host, giving me orders if and when I made errors in looking after the guests!

It also happened to be the 34th wedding anniversary of Babu and Joma. We'd wished them the day before yesterday by e-mail but had completely forgotten about it and Anil's prodding was required to trigger the thought process! Wonder whether it was part of my increasing forgetfulness or the disarrayed state of mind after mom's passing away, I just kept quiet when Babu had playfully questioned my loss of memory! ........Nevertheless, apologies Babu and Joma, for my faux pas!!

It was during the course of the evening that a plan for setting up a 'nest' for five of us - from the SSKZM's class of '72, with like minded outlook towards life at a place in Kerala of our choosing to cater for the twilight years, for companionship - was discussed! Babu Syriac, Suresh Laxman, Anil Nair, Louis George and I would make up the tenants of the nest. After ascertaining the willingness from Suresh and Louis, the location, the financial implications towards the making of the nest - it would be by refurbishing an accommodation owned by one among us as it will reduce unnecessary expenditure and we don't have the money to splurge either - the year of commencement of our living together etc will be worked out through deliberations.


They'd returned to Thrissur to put up at Anil's place for the night!   

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

We'd got up on a leisurely note and it was back to recollecting old incidents from our days at school. Ramesh seemed to enjoy whatever I could recall judging by his loud guffaws and mirthful laughter! After a fine breakfast from Bindu, we'd set off by about a quarter past 10. Meanwhile, Ayyappan Radhakrishnan, an old friend from my flying days at Bidar, was waiting to be picked up by us at Palarivattam.

Even though, he'd told us about his exact position, I'd muffed it up and had to retrace my vehicle to get him. From then on till Thrissur, it was catching up on our course mates who're with us at Bidar during Spring '76 which was a wonderful journey down memory lane! Sadly, our strength has reduced considerably thanks to the numerous air mishaps, accidents on terra firma and health problems!! Soman, Madhu Kashyap, Mukund, Pandey, YP Singh have all passed into the mist of time. Salaria, who'd become an overnight hero after his successful bailing out from the aircraft that had gone into an irreversible spin, along with his instructor, YR Rane, had to die of a silly bike accident on the killer roads of Malad after having joined the IN, at Bombay, soon after!!!

Radhakrishnan, actually, is settled at Kunnukuzhy, in Thiruvananthapuram and was at Kochi to attend the funeral of his cousin. He did remind me about a lot of stories involving your's truly, during my short stint at the Flying Training School, because - to quote our senior flight instructor's memorable(?) debrief, in the crew room, soon after a sortie with me - "Gentleman, I've the pleasure of introducing Cadet Rajeev who believes in taking off from anywhere other than the tarmac! I'm emphasising this because his landings are better than the ones that most of you churn out, day in and day out!! And by the way, his height is 4 ft f***all inches and he wants to fly, hinting at my diminutive size!!!" 

We reached Anil and Radha's place by about 12 o'clock to a boisterous lunch. We'd set off for Guruvayur by 3 and were at 'The Quarterdeck' an hour later. By the time we'd finished our unpacking, Rema and Achu had fetched up from Palakkad. They'd stay put for the night and drive off in their car that has been here since that awful date of 04 Sep!

My evening walk was towards the 'padinjaare nada' to buy vegetables and fruits from the vendors that we frequent and the return was in an auto rickshaw! Soon after my bath, I'd dropped Rema and Achu at the temple for their 'darshan' of the good Lord.

A late but boisterous dinner but constantly, feeling Amma's absence!


(a) Another fruitful journey where we'd the privilege of meeting very many people and of course, my class mates, in particular!
(b) Achu will be switching over to Marico as he'd cleared the three stages of interview successfully. My mom's wish coming true because she'd always wanted him to take up a job closer home and he's now gonna operate from their outfit at Palakkad. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Our second day at Kochi.

It was a leisurely morning with our interactions with my cousin and Ramakrishnan taking off from where we'd left last night. I, finally, got to see my grand aunt while she was having her breakfast of finely beaten oats. Her eyes were open, she kept gazing at us without even once letting us out of her sights but apart from that there were no reactions.

Reshmi, my cousin, had called up to say that Suresh's surgery was fixed for the 24th at the Amritha Institute of Medicine. They're off to Guruvayur for a 'darshan' at the temple.

After a slightly belated breakfast, the three of us had set off to pick up Lekha's footwear. My cousin had driven us around and we could pick up a belt  for me and Lekha's footwear from the Bata and the Mochi's. In the process, my cousin was also able to finish her long pending job of getting a couple of insoles for her shoes that she wore in the court! By about 12, we'd said bye to our cousin at her office and gone off back to Gandhinagar, where our car was parked in an Uber taxi.

Our next destination was my friend, Ramesh's place at Vyttila. The drive was short and smooth and we're there within about 15'. The security guy at the gate must have surely got exasperated by the dumbo - your's truly - who took an enormously long time to identify and park his car at an earmarked parking space for visitors. His curt description/directions were simply not deciphered!

It was a nostalgic walk down memory lane with Ramesh and Bindu. We'd, finally, fetched up at their fantastically located house on the 15th floor of the Kent's group of constructions, close to the Vyttila hub and in the process, met a couple of his friends and relatives. The dinner was at the 'Lokah' nearby, a nice and cosy restaurant beside the highway.

On return, it was a rundown about all our classmates - from Babu Syriac to Louis George - that went beyond our normal sleeping time.


A great experience! The noise of the frequent trains that passed by kept reminding me about life that was moving by at a hectic pace!   

Friday, October 7, 2016

Trysts at Kochi.

We're up with the lark this morning and li'l Shanaya was sad that we're leaving after spending only an evening with them. Her drooping spirits were lifted when her school bus had arrived and on the consequent sighting of her classmates!

The dental center was in the process of opening with cleanship going in right earnest while we'd fetched up at a 10' to 9 and Mrs. Sandeep, at the reception received with a spontaneous warmth. She was shocked to hear about mom's passing away and was quick to add that she could never forget the date of 04 Sep, because it was on this date last year that her husband, Dr. Sandeep had passed into the mist of time, after a massive stroke and he was only 44 yrs! We saw her eyes welling up as she recalled that horrible day!!

Vishnu, a member of my staff from the Kollam outfit, had arrived by then with the cheque books and a few other papers. After seeing him off, I'd a word with the doctor attending Lekha who'd tried out the dental furniture on her and has asked us to visit him on the 14th when it would be finally delivered. He, too, had expressed shock on hearing about mom.

Our next stop was at Shenoy Care at Kundannoor and Lekha was seen by the doctor by about 20' past 12. Since her parameters were within limits, he did not have much in the form of advice but there's a concentrated effort at tending the liver! We're at my cousin's place at Gandhinagar, in time, for lunch. Ramakrishnan had shut shop for the day and joined us for lunch. We're off to the naval canteen to buy our monthly stock and on return, I'd dropped Lekha at my cousin's office as they'd an urgent outing that had been worked out earlier.

It was a quiet evening with Ramakrishnan, exchanging notes and catching up from where we'd left last. A boisterous dinner and a late evening were the highlights!


1. Ramesh, my classmate and friend from school, seems to be thoroughly excited by our stay at his place, tomorrow and his wife, Bindu had called us many times to ascertain even the minutest details. Damn sweet of them!
2. Driving through the maze of Kochi's traffic was yet another experience!!
3. Have not entered Ramakrishnan's mother's room to meet her as Friday is considered inauspicious and I didn't want to buck beliefs or ridicule them by doing otherwise. Will meet her tomorrow!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

To Kochi for Lekha's medical review.

There were a few things to be tied up like going to the bank, paying the chemist a pending Rs.80/- and to drop a cheque covering the credit card bill for the month. Lekha had, meanwhile gone to the nearby Mammiyoor temple to do a puja that was to take care of the bad 'phase' that I  was going through. In fact, it was the 'Mrityunjaya homam'. Very kind of her!

After an early lunch, we'd set off for Kochi around 2 o'clock. I was driving our car for the first time after mom's passing away. I was reminded of the last drive, in it, when we'd gone to attend the wedding at Ayoor and mom was with us. Her absence, yet again, underscored the fickleness of life! I kept glancing at the rear seat, expecting to see her familiar face by some sort of a miracle! The road was comparatively less clogged and we'd taken the NH17 to reach my friend's place around teatime.

Murali, another friend of our's was also there with us for the evening. His daughter, Saranya, is in the family way and we fondly remembered her childhood when she used to play with us. Time has flown and the little one was gonna be a responsible mother shortly. Spoke to her when she'd called up her dad.

              *                                  *                                      *

Tomorrow is gonna be a long day with Lekha's twin appointments with the dentist, first and Dr. Shenoy soon after. Vishnu, from my Kollam office, meanwhile, will come to collect my signatures on a few important papers.


And we would shift to my cousin's place by lunch time.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fixing up little things.

Babish, an all rounder of sorts, has become our new hatchet man to tackle all problems - be it electrical, plumbing and the works. He's also a good driver and has offered himself as a chauffeur as and when required. In the present environment, it's however, prudent to carry out a security clearance before banking on him totally.

He'd, by his visit this afternoon, sorted out certain electrical and plumbing defects. He seems to be very keen to chauffeur us in our Chevy as I could make out!

At Guruvayur,  many a time, one can get stymied by the non availability of the right skilled labourers because most of the good ones have migrated to the gulf countries in search of their pot of gold. It ends up in a situation that one has the money to get things done but without the wherewithal to zero in on suitable workers!

       *                                    *                                       *

Ramesh, the gardener, had fetched up around teatime to do his part of ship. The grassy patch in the courtyard had picked up a lot of weeds over time and so, he and his understudy, Ramesh, went about removing them systematically. Ramesh missed mom as he recalled the way she used to speak to him on arrival and to quote him, "She was so full of love and affection and would be satisfied only after seeing me have something to eat from the house!"

We've two palms in huge pots in our balcony and that variety of the plant also forms the staple diet for the elephants, so common in this temple town. One of them had sprouted its new shoot for more than two months which has not opened into a new leaf, as yet. Ramesh has an explanation for this quirky phenomenon and I quote, "Sir, the palm was giving you an advance warning about bad tidings that were about to happen".

From the numerous feedback that I've received, thus far, there were enough pointers and happenings that had taken place in the run up to mom's passing away and it seems that Dr. Jimmy and I were the only two who didn't catch on, ending up in disastrous consequences!


Why didn't I get the hint? It's this overwhelming feeling of guilt of having let her down, when she needed me most, that's gnawing away my innards! Should I've taken mom to the hospital earlier?........ But she had a consistent hate and fear of the hospitals, so much so, that her constant refrain to god was to keep her healthy enough to steer clear of them!! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

An awesome range of possibilities!

This year's Nobel prize winners have tickled my senses to no end. It underlines man's continuous quest in his thirst for knowledge and the winners of the medals in Medicine and Physics have fascinated me.

 (a) Medicine.

       Japanese scientist, Yoshinori Ohsumi, had discovered a cellular process called 'Autophagy' or
       'self eating' in which cells take unneeded/damaged material and transport them to a recycling
       compartment while working on the yeast cells. In yeast, this compartment is called the
       'lisosomes', while 'vacuoles' serve a similar purpose in human cells.

        Mutation in autophagy have been linked to diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders
        like Parkinson's Syndrome, etc.

        A sure step forward to bring about effective medical management of these incurable illnesses,
        thus far!

  (b) Physics.

        This year's Physics Nobel Prize has been shared by three British scientists viz. David Thouless,
        Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz for their work on exotic states of matter.

         It explains why some materials have unexpected electrical properties such as super conductivity
         and in future, could pave the way for quantum computers. In other words, discovery of :-

                  * totally unexpected behaviour of solid materials.
                  * a mathematical framework in the field of topology to explain the weird properties.
         Topology, explains why electrical conductivity inside thin layers changes in integer steps.
         This discovery paves the way for designing new materials with all sorts of novel properties!


Exciting times ahead!


Monday, October 3, 2016

The extent to which a country can lie.

Pakistan has gone into a tizzy, post surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army on terror launch pads within Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The disarray is palpable because of the following reasons that are considered blasphemous by an average Pakistani, let alone whatever is bothering the powers that be:-

  (a) An egg on the face of the Pakistani military establishment that its arch enemy was able to carry
       out a clean operation, deep within its territory without its knowledge.
  (b) There must have been a massive loss of 'terrorists-in-waiting' during the operations that the
        terror tap to ingest more of them into Kashmir will certainly have to be shut down, at least,
        temporarily(The Baramulla terror strike the day before has been by one of the sleeper cells
        inducted into the valley, earlier!)
  (c)  Pakistan has been found to be lying, in the eyes of the other countries of the world, regarding its
        persistent claims of not aiding and abetting terror.
  (d) The terrorist groups that are nurtured by the Pakistani military establishment and the ISI must
        be clamouring for a tit-for-tat to avenge the killings by their military masters.
  (e)  A tremendous loss of face for the Paki army chief who's poised to retire in the near future.
  (f)  Nawaz Sharif, the puppet prime minister, has to take 'tough' decisions - actually, orchestrated by
        his GHQ - to show that their democracy is alive, kicking and functional.
  (g) Diplomatically, the country has been put in a difficult position thanks to the series of right
        initiatives on the part of India.
  (h) Even the slightest indication of the lowering of the esteem of the armed forces among the people
        will weaken its hold over them and hence, the need to show that it has never erred and all of               these have been false propaganda on India's part to show it in bad light!

So, what does it go and do? It takes certain foreign correspondents on a flight, over PoK, to show the real(?) truth.

My Take.

I'm trying to make out as to what they must have shown to the predominantly American pressmen.
Let's see:-

    (a) Look, no terrorist camps.
    (b) Look no signs of an encounter/destruction of recent vintage in the area, tomtommed
          by India?(The efforts made by the Pakistani military to clear the area, prior to the flight,
          must indeed have been stupendous!)
    (c) During this while, the Pakistani military stationed at the borders begin unprovoked firing
          into Indian posts to retaliate for the Indian Army's incursions on the LoC and there's naturally,
          a volley of return fire. Look, it's the killings of the Pakistani military men during the return
          fire, that India is claiming as 'surgical strikes'.

And the results? During the evening's broadcast of the World News, the CNN's newsreader - a PIO, mind you. It can't be more authentic, if you please because even, Indians abroad can't stomach the story. Got that? - expresses doubts about the 'surgical strikes' because of the claims and the counter claims from both the sides!


In other words, what Pakistan is implying and wants the whole world to believe is that the Indian government, its Army, its National Security Agency and above all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his party men and the entire opposition are telling lies by drumming up a story about 'surgical strikes' to show Pakistan, in bad light!

Come on, Nawaz Sharif and gang, how many can swallow your cock and bull story? Give us a break and try to shun terrorism, for a change!