Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The questions post-Nagrota.

Terrorists, disguised in police uniforms, barged into an army field regiment camp at Balian Pul, near the HQs of the 16 Corps in Nagrota of Jammu and Kashmir, on 29 Nov. The terrorists had forced their way into the officers' mess - killing an officer and three soldiers - before proceeding to two buildings occupied by officers and their families, creating a hostage-like situation. Thankfully, all 14 people including women and children, were rescued but another officer and two more soldiers died in the operation.

Yet another terrorist attack! The reasons:-

      (a) It was Gen Raheel Sharif's last day in office. He'd to inflict pain upon India because the
            blighter will never get another chance to spew venom in any official capacity in his life!
      (b) Lt Gen Hooda, the northern army commander and my course mate from Foxtrot Squadron
            of the NDA was to hang his uniform the next day.

Was the security around the 166 Field Regiment slack, as people are making it out to be? I can't swallow that angle completely. In this context, I remember a poser from one of the terrorist outfits to the standing armies/security forces and I quote, "How long can you remain on continuous alert? 24 hrs, 48 hrs or even 72 hrs? But a time will come when a chink would appear and we look for that opening to send in our ammunition. Period!" This is the stark fact and no, I ain't justifying any letdown in security on the part of the armed forces because they're fully aware of the alarming consequences of such a situation.

I've also been hearing explanations about how the terror tap was brought under control during the times of the previous regime. One heard about terror attacks rarely, giving a false sense of 'everything being fine on the borders'. But was it so, I wonder? With most of the media being in support of that political dispensation for the simple fact that every media house was owned by the loyalists of the regime, why can't we now look back in retrospect and see that the news was doctored to suit those in power?

I'm also alarmed by the increasing number of apologists of the recent surgical strikes carried out on terror camps in Pakistani territory, by our army. I shudder to hear their argument, "We shouldn't have fingered the issue. Now they'll retaliate in revenge". In other words we should have continued to maintain the status quo and let the Pakis do whatever they wanted as and when they liked. What a preposterous argument? We need to take the Pakistani bluff because it's clear that they're shaken by the strikes and will adopt all sorts of cowardly means to inflict damage upon us and we need to safeguard ourselves.

And maybe, in the process, carry out another surgical strike to inflict further damage to prevent it from doing anything silly!


The coconuts were being plucked from the trees in the Warriath compound across and around our house over the last three days, for the first time, after Chettan's passing away. Missed the patriarch's presence, when he used to stand under the shade and make an account of all the fruits, being brought down, on his scrapbook till the buyer came and took away the entire share in a few pick up trucks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Adieu, NBN sir!

I never thought that I'd ever have to sit down to pen my thoughts on sir's passing away. To me, he was immortal all along.!

Our dear Chemistry teacher, N Balakrishnan Nair(NBN sir) passed into the mist of time early this morning around 4 AM, in his sleep. He was all of 87 yrs.

He was born on 22 Oct 1929. He did his post graduation in Chemistry and worked as a Quality Control Chemist at FACT for two years, as a lecturer in the NSS College, Changanassery for eight years and then, as an Asst Scientific Officer in the Ministry of Scientific Research and Cultural Affairs for another three years before he joined the Sainik School, on 14 Feb '62, at its inception when it was housed in the temporary barracks of the Pangode Military Cantonment and guided many generations - I happen to be one among them - as the Head of the Chemistry department, till his retirement on 22 Oct '89. Somewhere, in between, he used to stay near my grandparents' house on the Eswara Vilasom Road in Thiruvananthapuram and during those days, it was a treat to meet him from time to time. He married Ms. Madhavi on 16 Jun '57 who'd passed into the mist of time a couple of years back. He'd settled down at Anuroop, Fort Road, North Paravur soon after retirement. He'd later moved over to Bangalore to stay with his son, Pradeep - also an ex-SSKZM of the '82 batch - along with his wife and younger brother, all of 70 yrs, a widower who'd medical problems.   

It's a real sad day for all of us who're lucky enough to be brought up under his tutelage. He was a true mentor, for whom, teaching was a passion, played no favourites as he worked hard for the betterment of every child and was a thorough gentleman. He was fond of me and used to provide feedback about my performance to my grandfather. I'd him all to myself at the St Antony's church, Madivala at Bangalore on 22 May '11 at a friend's daughter's(Tommie Tharian's daughter, Sonia) wedding. Somewhere in the course of our conversation, I'd thanked him and his contemporaries for all that we were today and his reply had the stamp of NBN wit and I quote, "Just like the newspaper boy delivers the newspapers without fail or the milkman delivers the milk, we, all, had done our duty that was expected of us and did nothing out of the way but your love and affection never fail to overwhelm me!" It was humility at its best!!  As he was being seen off and as is my wont, I'd touched his feet. In return, he'd showered me with kisses. I consider those kisses as much more valuable than the gallantry medal that I possess.

His passion for Chemistry was well known and the fact that quite a majority in our class of '72 had bagged distinction in the subject, during the Higher Secondary Examination bore testimony to that fact coupled with his teaching ability.

He'd nurtured the school's Old Boys' Association(OBA) since inception and is solely responsible for the lustre it has attained today. The relationship between the old boys and NBN sir was an ongoing saga. His childlike excitement while conducting the OB days and the thrill that he used to get while interacting with each one of them, showed his genuineness and love. He'd touched upon every cadet's lives, during his progression in school.

I must touch upon three anecdotes that should bring out more about the multifaceted personality that was 'Balettan', for many.

If my memory serves me right, it was in '68 that 'Chemical balances' found their way into our Chemistry lab and quantitative analysis became a part and parcel of our curriculum. These were the new showpieces and we, cadets viewed them from far - while not doing practicals - with awe and wonder. MC Aboosala, a classmate of ours, one day, did the unthinkable - fiddled with one and to his bad luck, got caught in the act by NBN sir. I can still not forget that sight of sir, shielding his eyes from the sight of Aboosala, asking him to go out of the class and to continue his studies at the then Laccadives Island. Aboosala had to stay out of his class for almost a month for his misdemeanour! Just showed that he could be a hard taskmaster, too, for errant behaviour!

During one of my leave breaks Lekha and I, along with two other classmates and their families, had visited the Nairs at his ancestral house in North Paravoor. While serving us tea, he'd made sure that the amount of tea was same in each of the glasses by holding them high to compare the contents, as one held the test tubes in the practical classes of the Chemistry lab! "I don't want to be partial to anyone by giving differing quantities of tea and so on like that", was his explanation.

The last time I'd the privilege of being with the great man was during the Guruvandanam, hosted in connection with the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Sainik School, Kazhakootam during the 23rd and the 24th of Sep '11. I and Lekha had the privilege of being together with him, most of the time, as we're staying at my friend, Mohanachandran's house. He was very keen to know about Lekha's medical difficulties and told her that he'd pray for her from then on, as he'd accepted her as a favourite daughter!

RIP, NBN sir! I humbly bow in your remembrance and to the host of wonderful memories that you've given me, with my tears and prayers! They don't make them teachers like you anymore. Here's us wishing that Pradeep and his family along with your near and dear ones, have the strength to tide over these stressful times.


1. Today is also my birthday as per my star, 'Anizham' on the Malayalam calendar. Greetings and messages kept coming in, through the day. Lekha had gone to the Mammiyoor Siva kshetram for another session of the 'Mrityunjaya homam' and the connected pujas. Between her and her assistant, they'd made a high lunch of sorts with 'parippum pappadavum'. Damn sweet of them. But mom's absence was felt right from the morning because she used to insist on being the first to wish me and I used to go across to her bedroom for her blessings! Till '11, it was mom and dad who used to wish me first wherever I was and from '12, mom had taken over that facet as her sole right!! And here I'm, now, with out their 'raksha kavach'(Protective armour)!!!

2. Sir's remembrance day happens to be my birthday. Is there a cosmic connection?  

Monday, November 28, 2016

RIP, 28 Nov '16.

It was a day that died before it had grown up thanks to an unwanted 'Bharat Bandh' from 0600 to 1800 hrs. The opposition sponsored-disruption of our daily life claims to have been successful in upsetting the entire lot of Indians and I'd like to know as to what has been the end-result. I can only term it as "a day of missed opportunities, untold suffering and a total loss of productivity!" And they claim to be patriotic!!

Why doesn't the combined opposition - no, they weren't united - realise that the average Indian is with the Prime Minister in his demonetisation act and have willingly gone through the tough times of the last three weeks of standing in serpentine queues at the banks/ATMs? Otherwise, how does one explain the calm demeanour of the people against the shameless incitement/provoking statements of people like Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Sitaram Yechuri, Mamta Banerjee and the likes, urging them to revolt?

The Kerala chief minister's call to exempt the foreign tourists from the ambit of the 'bandh' boils down to two tacit admissions:-

      (a) the bandhs cause disruption all around and
      (b) the average Indian must go through the difficulty because they've the audacity to lend their
            support to something that he and his party do not approve of. This is what 'two timing' is all

I'd like to touch upon a few incidents that affected the people in a significant manner and had thrown normal life off gear:-

      (a) Schools and offices were closed, so much so, that even the chief minister and his ministers
            did not attend office!
      (b) Banks were open but people couldn't go there because transport wasn't available.
      (c) The road transport corporation's buses were off the roads.
      (d) Kalesh of Pulinkunnu decided to swim across the River Pamba as there was no ferry and
            met with a fatal end. The 32 year old had to get to the mainland for some urgent reason!
      (e) The key of the key room of the state Assembly building was with the staff member, assigned
            with the closing duties, who was untraceable - naturally, a sympathiser of the bandh. The
            rest of the staff, that had fetched up for work, had a long wait before it was opened!

The same sordid stories that are features of any bandh/hartal keep getting churned out after every such tamasha! Only names and places change!!

Why can't political parties decide, once for all, to do away with bandhs and hartals? There are so many ways of registering one's protest without hindering normal life and connected activities.


Baby chechi and Shyam had come to Guruvayur yesterday. They wanted to come and meet us but the situation wasn't conducive and hence, they left for Palakkad soon after the bandh, to be in time to attend another programme!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

And finally, a quiet Sunday.

It was a lazy Sunday with Jojy, Saly and I talking about various things over the morning cuppa. After a quick wash and change followed by a sumptuous breakfast rustled up by Saly, I was off to the Vyttila hub for resuming my onward journey to Guruvayur. For my transportation, I'd used the services of the Uber Taxi Service and young Abin - a graduate, marking his time for a good job with a tremendous passion for driving - had got me to my destination in no time, whatsoever.

And it's this fine service that the regular taxiwallas and the auto rickshawwallas, with the connivance of certain unscrupulous trade union leaders, have been hounding to destroy it, since its introduction! The sad part is that the government has been a silent spectator in this pantomime making the common man believe that they, too, are with the taxi/rickshawwallas - a formidable vote bank, you see!! 

The seating arrangement of the private bus left much to be desired. I mean, it was too crammed because of a non-existent aisle, with the result that the standing passengers almost fell over their sitting counterparts whenever the driver jammed on the brakes which happened every now and then! The young lady, standing on the aisle close to me, fell many a time on to my person and was apologetic about it. Earlier, I'd offered my seat to her but the guy who was occupying the window side seat simply refused to vacate it for the lady and for reasons known to her, she showed a reluctance to sit next to him!

The driver, Sreekumar, a youngster in his early 30s seemed to drive like a man possessed! He negotiated the vehicle through narrow stretches and crowded junctions like a 'Formula one' race car driver! Any passenger with a weak heart would have had a tough time and no, I ain't exaggerating! Eventually, we reached Guruvayur by lunch time. Lekha'd made my favourite vegetable pulao with mixed salad.

The customary walk in the evening was enough to shake my lethargy of the lack of exercises over the previous three days. I'd increased the pace of my walk to a punishing level to refresh myself.

And then, it was down to a quiet dinner of noodles with vegetable garnishing and watching of the Comedy Stars on Asianet as well as the Kapil Sharma show on Sony, on television.


The end of another short trip to achieve certain milestones.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

An unscheduled halt!

The day had begun, as usual, at 6 o'clock and I'd got ready, packing my stuff. We're off for the Foundation by 9 and at the office, there were a few important letters that Maman had to send. Since the computer expert, Sekhar, had fetched up late around a half past 10, we could leave for Kollam only by 12. Lekha, the office assistant, was accompanying us.

We could reach the office of the Jan Shikshan Sansthan at Paravoor by a half past 1. After a quick briefing, we're off to the government guest house at Kollam, the venue of our meeting and reached there by a half past 2. The director was at hand and had organised lunch for all of us. The meeting began on the dot at 1500 hrs but what I noticed was that a few of the members of the committee had expressed regrets for being unable to attend.

With a silent prayer the meeting was begun and my short speech followed, where the following points were highlighted:-

    (a) Apology, on behalf of my organisation, for not increasing the frequency of the meetings
         because such interactions helped in 'self audit' and to make necessary mid-course corrections. 
    (b) It was exactly a year back that I'd taken over the reins of the organisation from my Maman
          and had purposely taken on the role of a 'hands off chairman' to facilitate the under mentioned:-
               (i) full freedom to the director to take decisions and run the show as per the action plan.
              (ii) the organisation was capable and doing a lot of training programmes for women
                    empowerment and it had been moulded by my illustrious predecessors viz. PN Panicker
                    and N Balagopal.
             (iii) intervene only when things needed my personal attention.
     (c) I was still not able to revive our unit at Chathannoor due to certain local misconception but the
           light was in sight, finally, at the proverbial end of the tunnel. Its revival, I was sure, would
           greatly enhance the image and the output of the JSS.
     (d) While normal training programmes were being imparted, we needed to take on additional
           innovative work because I wasn't satisfied being the head of an organisation, doing ordinary
     (e) The committee meetings should have full attendance because that indicated the attitude of
           the other organisations' towards mine.

We, then, after discussions wound up by laying down our activities and the targets for the next quarter. Maman dropped me at the railway station so that I could board the Guruvayur Intercity Express, departing at 1840 hrs. My reservation was since confirmed when the chart was prepared but there was a change in my programme. Lekha was unable to return from Palakkad because of a 'lightning hartal' in Thrissur district and she would now return only on Sunday and I decided to stay put at my friend, Jojy Kunchattil's house at Ernakulam(Her going to Palakkad was decided after I'd taken off for Thiruvananthapuram in the wake of her assistant's medical requirements and I did not have the house key). He'd picked me up from the station and it was a lovely evening spent, with him and Saly.


An unscheduled halt and another day away from Lekha and 'The Quarterdeck'!


Friday, November 25, 2016

Catching up.

We'd got out of the house by 9, visited the Kartikeya temple enroute and was at the Foundation well in time. The preparations were on in full swing for the 'aazhchakootam'('The Weekly Gathering'. A guest speaker's talk, followed by interaction with the audience) on the Co-operative Banking sector, consequent to the demonetisation and today's guests were Koliakode Krishnan Nair - for the sector and Padmakumar - for the central government.

Met a host of people during the course of the day and was lucky to get different viewpoints on contemporary issues. Of the people that I'd the fortune of interacting with, today, were the advocates Shiva Mohan and his father, whom I'd met quite a few years back at Nagercoil, during a visit. They were very warm and effusive, it was nice to catch up with them.

The talk that began at 4 PM and the subsequent interaction were so very interesting that one didn't know as to how time had passed. But the take homes were that the co-operative banking sector needed to come under the RBI guidelines for more transparency and the organisation in Kerala has a massive following! Learnt quite a few things from the interaction!! And no, there were no raucus notes.

It's maman's concept to have a weekly forum to discuss contemporary issues and it's worthwhile to note that the 'aazhchakootam' has had an unbroken record of 299 interactions, thus far. The chief minister has agreed to be part of the milestone of the 300th episode, next week!

And then, it was time to call on our near and dear ones. After witnessing the evening 'aarathi' at the Kochaar Road Ganapathy kshetram, we'd dropped in at Indira kunjamma's house. Met Suresh for the first time after the surgery, which was performed by Subbu exactly a month back. His face is swollen a wee bit and the leg from where the skin for the graft was harvested is also swollen, in fact, I understand that there's a bit of inflammation out there too. He looked serene and we urged him not to come out of his room, his eagerness to interact with us notwithstanding......he has really gone through hell, poor chap. Indira kunjamma looks better and was happy about her recent visit to Guruvayur!

After a quick bite of supper from a wayside restaurant, we'd dropped on Vichani kunjamma. Again, her million volt smile on seeing us made my day. After spending about half an hour with the family, we're home bound.

A day, well spent.


Thrissur is on hartal tomorrow because of police tardiness in arresting the accused - a CPM local leader - over the Wadakkancherry molestation case. Lekha was supposed to return by the low floor road transport corporation bus, tomorrow morning, so that her assistant could help her at work for the day and that stands cancelled! As it stands now, I'd reach Guruvayur by midnight - my reservation is yet to be confirmed as I'm on wait list 1, notwithstanding - but won't be able to enter the house as I don't have the key! An alternative needs to be worked out.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Off to Thiruvananthapuram.

It was Lekha who'd given me a 'firm' shake up at 5 o'clock to wish me many happy returns and I'd, then, gone about my chores. She gave me a small statuette of Lord Ganesh, that had the hologram of Guruvayurappan in the backdrop, as a gift on the occasion. Yes, this was the day I was born 61 years back but there wasn't gonna be any celebration as the the architect of such a do - my mom - wasn't there anymore. Anto had come on the dot at 7 and ferried me to the bus stand. He's asked me to speak to my neighbour about his wife's employment at the Rajah Hospital. The journey was uneventful and I was at the Vyttila hub by 10. Meanwhile, my cellphone had kept me busy with the numerous good wishes from my friends and relatives! Well, it's a nice feeling to be the object of everyone's affection!! The driver, Sinu P Joseph, shyly thanked me as I gave him a handshake and told him that I liked his driving.

I did a bit of work, on my laptop, while waiting at the hub. But by the time I'd gone around the corner the bus had come into the bus bay and I couldn't get the seat of my choice. The journey was, again, uneventful and lunch was around 1330 hrs at a Motel Aram, after Kayankulam, which was nice.

I reached Thiruvananthapuram by a quarter to 5, was picked up by Sivakumar and was at the Foundation shortly after. It was always nice to meet up with the staff and I quickly went about updating myself about the various aspects that were going on. Maman, then, give me a rundown about the organisation and said that he expected me to be around with him for at least ten days every month, for the organisational activities. A mechanism needs to be worked out because, as of now, I've been coming off and on when things cropped up and it seems that my presence, to pitch in, is required more often, now.

Actually, the team needs to be expanded by adding a couple of members from the family and put in place, to reduce the load on Maman. He needs to remain at the conceptual level while the execution of his ideas would be the task for this team.


A quiet and early evening at Maman's place and it was nice interacting with Ammayi and Chambu. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Another of those quiet days.

Had got up on the dot and so, did Lekha. Being a Wednesday, we'd the customary 'aarathi' of the 'Drishti Ganapathy', Guruvayurappan and the lamp was shown in each of the rooms of the house. Lekha had, then, gone to pay obeisance at the Mammiyoor Siva kshetram and Guruvayurappan. Preetha, her assistant, had gone to meet her doctor and so she would be absent for the day. Hope her medical problems are under control after the course of antibiotics!

Paulson had called me to say that I was third on the waiting list for the train on my return trip and assured me that it would be confirmed by the time the actual date of travel would dawn! Anyway, I'm taking off tomorrow by the morning bus....many a time one takes off without being sure of how and when one would land! So is the case here!!

Meanwhile, Lekha has decided to stay put here at 'The Quarterdeck' during my absence. Her assistant, Preetha and her kids will give her company during night time. I'd actually planned to drop Lekha at my sister's place at Palakkad today which was what was changed because of the development.

The customary walk was used to buy sundries - as per Lekha's directions - to tide over the requirements during the next three days an my packing was over within half an hour.


1. Adieu, Balamuarali Krishna sir, the Carnatic Music maestro! He'd passed away yesterday evening following prolonged old age related illness. A real gem in the world of classical music who'll be missed sorely. The media has been covering every aspect of his life and anything that I might say would sound repetitive and avoidable and hence, I desist. My tears and prayers to a great artiste with tremendous talent who was humility personified.

2. I've finally decided to board the morning bus to Vyttila to catch the low floor bus to Thiruvananthapuram from there, tomorrow.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

An amusing story from the other side of the border.

I was quite amused with the story that someone in Pakistan has gone to its Supreme Court seeking the conferment of the rank of Field Marshal to its outgoing Army chief, Gen Raheel Sharif. Couldn't help but laugh at the news item because either the litigant has been propped up by the army chief, himself, to say something that he desperately wants the government to do for him or it's out of pure ignorance about the whole issue because of the following:-

      (a) the country bestows this 'honorary' rank taking into consideration the individual's outstanding
            contributions towards national security.
      (b) continuing with the same logic, how can the court award the rank?
      (c) and what has been his contribution? Are they one of these or all of them, put together:-

                (i) Mutilating fallen Indian soldiers and deliberately, defy Geneva conventions on the
               (ii) Violate ceasefire on the Indo-Pak LoC, almost continuously, to distract his countrymen
                     from raising doubts about his army's capabilities in the face of the surgical strikes,
                     carried out by the Indian Army, on terror camps, within Pakistani territory.
              (iii) The disarray in terror funding caused by the ongoing economic drive in India. I mean,
                     is he claiming success in forcing the Indian government to take tough measures in the
                     wake of pumping in counterfeit money into India's markets by the ISI, with his

The point I'm trying to make is that for whatever reasons cited above, if at all he's made a Field Marshal, it will be an unsettling thing for him because deep within his heart, he'd remember that it was for ignominy, inefficiency and sloth on his part! Not to talk of the colossal loss of value of the coveted rank when worn by a person, like him, who doesn't have the persona to carry its aura!


These are all cheap stunts being carried out by a 'small man' to remain in power knowing fully well that his prime minister is a weak man, buffeted by corruption charges. What he seems to forget is the ambition of his subordinates who covet his chair and who will not let their chances to fizzle out due to their uninspiring superior's unbridled ambition!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Changing weather patterns....

Where o' where is the north east monsoon?

Kerala, over the years, enjoyed the benefit of both, the south west monsoon during the months of May and Jun and the north east monsoon during the months of Nov and Dec, every year - the former is called the 'Edavappaathi' and the latter, the 'Thulaavarsham' as per the months on the Malayalam calendar during which the monsoons are active. The Thulaavarsham is characterised by its evening downpour, together with lightning and thunder as the accompaniment!

This year, sadly, there has been no trace of the Thulaavarsham thus far and the month of 'Thulaam' has already given way to the month of 'Vruschikam'! (Our caretaker, back home however, reports of frequent rains at my parents' place probably, because of that area's proximity to the western ghats and the spillover of rains from the neighbouring Tamilnadu!) Green house effect, carbon emissions, reduced green cover of the earth and the depletion of the Ozone layer etc. would be technical jargon that the environmentalists will use to describe the impasse. In other words, the world is paying a price for the waywardness in the manner that mankind has lived, thus far, exploiting nature for its livelihood neither caring to give back anything in return nor putting efforts to nurture it.

The vigorous planting of trees and hooking on to certain environment protection schemes have come as a shot in the arm but it's the best example of remedial measures being 'too little, too late'! And the results, to show, will have its own lead time. Many parts of the state are reeling under near drought conditions and people find it difficult to get their share of potable water!

And the meteorologists are still not talking about favourable weather patterns, indicating imminent monsoons. So, it's gonna be a long wait and I shudder to think about its cascading effects!


The winter session of the Parliament has been in deadlock. What bothers me is that the GST Bill is gonna get further delayed owing to differences between the states and the center over the administrative control, making its roll out on 01 Apr '17 look impossible, as of now. How I wish that all the political parties give up their petty games and unite for something that's for the national good!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The 'second' is gonna change soon.

With the advent of the optical clocks, that are thousand times more accurate than the atomic clocks that were used to measure time since '67, the duration of a second is gonna be redefined soon.

I've put together what I've gleaned, about the subject, from the internet. And here, I go:-

   * In 1835, the astronomer Simon Newcomb published his 'Tables of the Sun' based on the
      observations of the sun's position during the years 1750 to 1892. The calculations were
      reliable and in use till the '80s(The mean solar period was taken to be the middle of the
      period viz. 1820).

   * Before '56, the second was defined as the mean solar second or 1/86,400th of the time taken
      by the earth to rotate on its own axis and see the sun again, each day. But the moon's gravity
      and the tides slow down the earth's spin, whereby this is not a stable quantity or a constant.

   * The astronomers redefined the second to be the 'ephemeric second' based on the speed of the
      earth's orbit around the sun, in 1900, as predicted in Newcomb's tables. The earth's orbit around
      sun does not slow as the earth's spin on its own axis(The ephemeric second is measured by
      observing the moon's orbit around the earth, along with the picture of what stars the moon is

   * From '52 to '58, the astronomers measured the frequency of Cesium oscillations in terms of the
      ephemeric second. Cesium is even more stable than the orbit of the earth around the sun, giving
      results between 9,192,631,761 and 9,192,631,780. The average of 9,192,631,770 oscillations is
      the duration of a second as of now!

   * Why was Cesium chosen?

      Based on the principle of an atomic clock, the frequency of the splitting of energy levels caused
      by the magnetic field of the nucleus and for this to work, the following were required:-

                (i) an atom that can easily be vaporised.
               (ii) an atom with a magnetic field(Must contain odd number of protons/neutrons).
              (iii) an atom with just one stable isotope(So you don't have to purify it) and
              (iv) a high frequency for the transition to enable more accurate measurement in shorter
      And therefore, Cesium Cs 133 became the standard!


Indira kunjamma had come yesterday afternoon, along with her friends, Jayanthi and Bina to collect the papers concerning the booking of the 'Aadhyaathmika Hall'(The prayer hall atop the outer ring of the sanctum sanctorum) for the 'Narayaneeyam recital' from 0600 to 1300 hrs, today. They're a total of 10 ladies, all from Thiruvananthapuram and returned by the Jana Shatabdi, that left Thrissur, at 1556 hrs today.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

The doubts that creep into my mind......

Is my value system totally outmoded? Or have I been left far behind in the scheme of things existent these days because I've withdrawn into a temporary exclusion?

From what I hear and read, courtesy the media, I've reached this conclusion! Without much ado, let me blurt out my observations:-

  (a) Can an individual's integrity exist in grey?

        I've been brought up, right from my childhood, emphasising that my integrity was of paramount
        importance. It's one's integrity that gives one the confidence to look into every other man or
        woman without fear and even bordering on arrogance, many a time! One had integrity or one
        did not have it but there's no grey area. Period!

        It's the statement made by the chief secretary to the government of Kerala that there was no need
        for a vigilance inquiry on ADGP R Sreelekha on the corruption charges she seems to have
        committed while being the transport commissioner, some time ago. He has reiterated that she'd 
        only committed minor procedural violations!    

        The transport minister had ordered a vigilance inquiry on her for the following, while she was
        the transport commissioner during 2013-'15:-

             (i) Instances of transgressions in dealings
            (ii) Corruption
           (iii) Favouritism
           (iv) Misuse of official vehicles and
            (v) Misuse of funds meant for road safety!

         Had I been in her place, I'd have stepped down to face a full fledged inquiry to clear my
         name at the earliest! I'd always admired her to be a smart, non controversial police officer......
         But this muck?.......Sad!

    (b) Making a fast buck in these difficult times of demonetisation.

          While most Indians have been able to understand the good intentions behind the
          demonetisation move, there seems to be many crooked ones trying to make a fast buck. Here's
          the story of P Harris, P Nissar, M Naushad, CH Siddique and Mohammed Shefique, of the
          Kerala's northern district of Kasaragod, who're caught making a fast buck while 'helping'
          people to exchange their demonetised notes for the new Rs.2,000/- notes. The inquiry hinges
          on these aspects:-

                (i) How did they manage to possess so much of the new currency within a short period?
               (ii) Are bank professionals involved in the racket?
              (iii) Or the ATM filling security agencies?

          The group seems to have disbursed millions of rupees till being caught!

          Why do we have this tendency to exploit when the other is down? It's like an unscrupulous
          boxer who tries to put across his/her punches on an opponent whose guard is down


In terms of human behaviour, the above instances show a low self esteem in the protagonists.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Looking far......but this far?

This is an interesting case about a teenager - a girl, all of 14 yrs who wanted her body to be cryogenically preserved in the hope she could live longer after cancer cure - who'd won a landmark legal battle, shortly before she died.

  (a) The 14 year old's divorced parents had got embroiled in a dispute about whether her remains
        should be taken to a scientific facility in the US and cryogenically preserved.

  (b) The girl, who lived in London with her mother and had a rare form of cancer, had asked for the
        fulfillment of this wish of her's to Justice Peter Jackson at the Family Division of the High

  (c) The judge had given the following directives while dealing with the case and the child was too
        ill to attend the hearings:-

          (i) nothing about the case would be reported while she was alive as the 'media coverage'
               would distress her.
         (ii) no one involved should be identified, in line with the girl's wishes.

  (d) The following, also, need to be borne in mind:-

          (i) Cryopreservation is the preservation of cells by freezing which is a well known process.
         (ii) Cryonics is cryopreservation taken to its extreme.
        (iii) Scientific theory underlying 'Cryonics' is controversial and it has an 'ethical angle'!

The court has approved of the girl's wishes and accordingly, her body will be frozen in perpetuity, at an American scientific facility @ 37,000 Pounds. 


I think I can understand her father's initial misgivings about, "Even if the treatment is successful and she's brought back to life, 200 years from now, she might not find any relative and she might not remember things. She may be left in a desperate situation given that she's only 14 yrs old and will be in the US!" He'd, however, come around to accept the verdict in the end.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Rabblerousers and other stories.

1. Are they rabblerousers?

    We've been witnessing the coming together of two chief ministers - Mamta Banerjee and Arvind
    Kejriwal - against the demonetisation drive of the government. They seem to be fighting(?) for the
    cause of the poor. Their utterances at public meetings are venomous, so much so, that an impartial
    observer is left wondering as to whether their sole aim is to incite their audiences to get into a
    street fight against the government and create a law and order situation! Connected to it, Rahul
    Gandhi, the other day, had talked to the people-standing-in-queue-in-front-of-a-bank, somewhere
    in Bombay, talking about the 'pain' that he was going through at their plight and elicited no
    response from the listeners.

    Why don't these people 'fight' the government on the floor of the Parliament and bring the
    government to its knees for the 'catastrophic' decision? Judging from the all round favourable
    reactions from the international media, institutions and financial/economic experts, it's evident
    that they do not have any basis to stake their claims of the impending apocalypse!

    If that be so, are they rabblerousers? What's, indeed, frightening is that they've warned the
    Prime Minister and his team of dire consequences if the order regarding demonetisation is not
    withdrawn in the next three days!

2. Lekha's friend drops by.

    Lekha's classmate from school, Lekshmy, her husband, Aniyan, their daughter, Gayatri and the
    younger son, Kannan had fetched up at about 3, in the afternoon. They'd come to hand over the
    formal invite for Gayatri's wedding, spread over three days from 12 Dec. Their earlier visit was in
    the evening of 19 Aug when the two of them were accompanied by their eldest son, Gopu when
    Mom was amid us. She liked the youngster and had asked them his details - she told me later that
    Gopu and my niece, Ammu, would make a nice couple!

    Lekshmy and Anian recounted every piece of conversation that they'd that day with Mom and
    appeared to feel her absence!

    How I wished that Amma was there, this afternoon, with us. Or was she there amid us, all the,
    time, laughing at our follies?

3. On the Sabarimala trail....

    I'm on the Sabarimala 'trail' since yesterday which means that abstinence is the watchword. It shall
    be followed till the 14th of Jan, the end of the season. But no, I wouldn't be visiting the shrine!


Tomorrow, the chief minister and his ministers are gonna squat in front of the RBI office at Thiruvananthapuram, during working hours, because the union government has not permitted the state's co-operative banks to collect the demonetised currency notes in their transactions and so, their
operations have come to a standstill. Rumours are that most of the political leaders of the state have
their wealth deposited in one or the other of this bank network!

But what's being conveniently kept quiet by everyone concerned, is that the Co-operative banks do not follow the RBI guidelines in their operations! The union government's decision is consequent to that aspect but, as usual, it's being made out to be a political game instead!  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Swami saranam!

Today's the first of the month of Vruschikam as per the Malayam calendar, which marks the commencement of the pilgrimage season to the hill shrine of Sabarimala. For the next two months, there's gonna be a continuous flow of pilgrims, clad in their tell tale black/saffron clothes and the temple town will host this heavy, floating population that would be passing by.

The day had begun with Rema being seen off on the road transport corporation's Palakkad bus, at a half past 7, from the bus stop nearby, as she'd to get back in time for her classes at the tuition center. The forenoon was quiet and we went about our chores as usual. Caught up with my reading and replying to mail that have been pending for a while.

The news about the indelible ink marking on an individual's forefinger - on the lines of what happens in the polling booths, during elections - after cash withdrawals from banks, had drastically brought down the length of the queues in many places, as reported by the media. So, were the surge of crowds that one were witness, to all these days, a result of multiple cash transactions except for the initial week, I wonder? Meanwhile, a part of the opposition led by Bengal's chief minister, Mamta Banerjee, had met the President, asking him to prevail upon the government to revoke the order on demonetisation. It was comical to see the Shiv Sena, joining this group despite the fact that it's part of the ruling coalition! However, the rest of the opposition were debating the issue in both the houses of the Parliament.

I'd gone to the servicing station to collect our car by about 5, in the evening. The work had been completed but it took another hour for me to drive off from the premises, as the Chevy was being washed down, dried and polished! Since a 'service camp' was on, I was also the recipient of a 'Provogue travel bag' gift voucher that was given. There are a few formalities that I've to complete before I get the gift and I'm too lethargic to do that! Prasobh and Manikandan had seen me off after ensuring that everything was okay.

Driving through the road was a mad activity because I get blinded by vehicles approaching me with their hi-beams on. Why can't guys drive with their low beams, especially where there's no central median?

I'd gone for my customary walk, about 15' late, but it was invigorating!


The long pending work with respect to the Chevy was finally, over. Phew!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

To the service station.

As per bookings done earlier, I'd taken my Chevy to the servicing station this morning, my first visit out there after the passing away of mom. Enroute, I'd got the PUC(Pollution Under Control certificate) for the vehicle which was overdue for over two months as I had missed out on it completely - a mistake that was mine! I cannot be giving excuses for my tardiness, can I?

Prasobh and Manikandan, the two youngsters at the servicing station closely associated with my Chevy, were at hand and I'd listed out the points that needed checking and correction. The replacement of the brake pads missed out during the last servicing due to the absence of spares in their stock will be undertaken this time and the whole exercise is gonna cost me about Rs.10 grand. Manikandan had, later, dropped me at the nearest bus stand from where I'd hopped on to a private bus for my return.

There were many banks on the roadside and as my bus passed by, what struck me was there were no more crowds in front of them, as was the case for the whole of last week. Was it that everyone in the neighbourhood had deposited the demonetised notes in their possession and were, now, in possession of the requisite denominations to carry on with their lives? On disembarking at the eastern entrance of the temple, I'd stopped by at the chemist, that I frequent, and its friendly proprietor had this to say of the existing situation, "Sir, the people can be divided into two groups - the ones that spend their money restricting to the buying of medicines, vegetables, grocery and fish/meat and the others who splurge lavishly on purchases and expensive eateries! Obviously, the latter is trying to dump the huge collection of demonetised currency which, surprisingly, is being accepted by many vendors". It was an interesting input.

Wonder how the shops that continue to accept the old currency would dispose of their collections, which as per existing government orders, they aren't permitted? There's another phenomenon that's being followed - actually, it's an extension of the earlier point - wherein, the customer collects his requirement against the old denomination deposited with the vendor. No balance is given and the customer would be lucky if he's able to buy stuff equal to the original value of the note!

And a hearsay - it was during my evening walk that I heard a conversation in a shop where one of the customers had brandished a bundle of fresh notes @ Rs.2 lakhs, sometime earlier. How was that possible though we, Indians, are known to circumvent a system by devising means through our devious thinking? Was he able to do it with the connivance of the bank authorities or through multiple cash exchanges?

Anyway, we can expect a lot of 'tamasha' from tomorrow when the combined opposition takes on the government on the demonetisation issue!


My sister, Rema, had arrived from Palakkad a trifle after teatime. She and Lekha had gone to the temple around a quarter to 9 for praying at the 'Ekadasi vilakku'. Anto was called in to convey them to the venue.

Monday, November 14, 2016

My thoughts on Nehru's legacy on the occasion of Children's Day.

It's the 127th birth anniversary of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. A day that was marked with celebrations all over the country with children dressed up like the former premier with that trademark red rose, on the second button hole of the sherwani! He's also the architect of modern India and was a true patriot. His published works, especially the 'Discovery of India' echoes his sentiments and love for his country and I can never forget his heartfelt tribute to the River Ganga in the pages of that highly readable book. He has to be credited with the nurturing of very fine institutions, that have withstood the test of time, with respect to quality and continue to be of world class even to this day.

Nehru's legacy - a very personal opinion.

Was he a good prime minister? Of course he was, because he was a democrat at heart, willingly accepting criticism against his government's decisions and strongly believed in the sanctity of the Parliament. TT Krishnamachari, his finance minister and VK Krishna Menon, his defence minister were ousted from the cabinet when the then opposition called for their scalps when they failed the country - the former in a corruption case and the latter, post Sino-Indian debacle of '62. TTK, on being re-elected into parliament in '64, was once again inducted into Lal Bahadur Shastri's cabinet as the finance minister and remained so till '66 (Incidentally, the point about the LIC investing about Rs.1.64 crores in Haridas Mundhra's sinking companies, without consulting the Parliament Investment Committee, was raised by Feroz Gandhi, the firebrand MP and the PM's son-in-law, which led to TTK's removal during his first tenure!)

It's also well documented that his Home Minister, Sardar Vallabhai Patel's, decisive actions had seen to it that the entire lot of small princely states were annexed into the Indian Union. But where historians of the future - according to my thinking - will blame Nehru will be for two main things viz.:-

    (a) The Kashmir Issue.

          His statesmanlike approach and the thinking that the then leaders of Pakistan would be as
          magnanimous as him made India take up the Kashmir issue to the UN with the rider that the
          Kashmiris would be able to choose between India and Pakistan over a referendum after the
          the Pakistanis retracted from the PoK, which the wily Pakis never did!

          The PoK continues to languish under the Pakistani military and when that country still insists
          on the referendum, one can only laugh because conditions have changed irreparably and do
          not satisfy the original requirement!

          Perhaps, PM Nehru should have asserted the fact that the then king of Jammu and Kashmir,
          Hari Singh, had willingly ceded his country to be with India. After the initial announcement
          of the Article 370 of our Constitution giving special status for that state to amalgamate with
          India, it should have been withdrawn and the normal law that exists in the other states of the
          Indian Union should have been enforced, during his life time! This is my personal belief and
          he could have pulled it off by the sheer wait of his personality and charisma!! And the problem
          would have ceased to exist.

     (b) Reservation for the minorities and the down trodden.

           It should have been enforced for a short period of about 10 to 20 yrs when the government
           should have focused on the uplift of the group, sincerely and with a messianic streak. Sadly,
           it was not to be, because wily politicians saw it as a convenient method to play vote bank
           politics! The rest is history. Had he taken a firm and timely decision, we wouldn't have had the            ignominy of witnessing every community asking for reservations these days which is the
           ultimate fallout!


And why didn't we emphasise on being proud to be Indians, be Indian and buy Indian? Since independence, during the initial decades, we blindly followed anything that was British. We, still, have a few who speak in 'Oxbridge' accent and scorn anyone that speaks English with the native twang showing a deficiency in self esteem!

To me, this was the greatest error of our post independent leadership - PM Nehru included - for not making their countrymen, proud of their background and rich be proud of being an Indian!!

I must confess of being saddened by a lot of stories about Prime Minister Nehru's background, on the social media, where some have even gone to the extent of saying that he's not the actual son of Motilal Nehru. Be that as it may and the doubts notwithstanding, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had charisma, was the tallest of all leaders of his time and strode the world like a colossus. His currency, "The people simply loved him", was the most enduring of 'em all!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sights and sounds......

The sights and sounds, consequent to the demonetisation of the 1,000 and 500 rupee notes are interesting. Just goes to prove as to how people tide over difficult situations but each incident has a local touch ans without much ado, let me take you through a few:-

 (a) Increased taxes in Tamilnadu, decrease in Kerala.

       Kerala has been lamenting a loss in revenue, in the form of taxes, thanks to the demonetisation
       drive of the union government. The CPM led LDF, naturally, has to be critical of the drive as it's
       anti-Modi and the BJP. But see how wisely, its neighbour had converted the situation to its
       advantage! Most of the corporations, including that of Madras, have seen a steep rise in their
       earnings simply because they'd issued a circular that the public could use the 'old' notes to pay
       their taxes and bills - property, water and electricity bills! And what has Kerala done? Issued an
       order saying that this month's owing would be collected next month without penalty! What a
       difference in attitudes?

  (b) Sacks full of 1,000 and 500 rupee notes being discarded.

        It has been reported from some parts of the country that sacks full of the demonetised notes
        have been dumped in the open and the local police have picked a few of these from waste
        disposal centers! Dinajpur, a northern district of Bengal, is one such case. Interestingly, Mamta
        Banerjee, the chief minister of Bengal has been quick off the blocks, calling all opposition
        parties to unite(?) against the demonetisation drive.

  (c) Agents for the exchange of currency.

       We, Indians, are ingenuous. Middlemen had suddenly sprouted to help the general public to
       exchange their currency holdings and all they sought was a 10% commission! And mind you,
       the guys were at it at the RBI office on the Rajajisalai, in Madras. Thankfully, their activities
       were captured on the cctvs and the police did nab them soon after.

   (d) Bombay, too, notches higher taxes into its kitty.

         Compared to previous collections, there has been a 27.3% increase in revenue earnings in
         the form of service taxes!

   (e) Counterfeit Rs.2,000!

         At Chirayankizhu, in Thiruvananthapuram district, the xeroxed version of the new currency
         was in circulation, albeit, for a short period before the culprit was nabbed.


1. PM Modi has rubbed a lot many powerful forces the wrong way by calling for the demonetisation of the high value denominations. The 'war chests' of the political parties consisted of these very notes and in one master stroke, he has converted them into useless wads of paper. The forthcoming Assembly elections in UP and Punjab are poised to be interesting!

2. The 'over-two-months' agitation and stone pelting in Jammu and Kashmir has suddenly petered down because the biggest blow by the demonetisation drive has been inflicted on terror funding. The counterfeit from Pakistan used to find its way into the hands of the Kashmiri separatists like Geelani and others, who used to pay the youth on a daily basis for pelting stones at the security forces and creating unrest.

3. There are many quarters - within the country - from where people are waiting to take advantage of the common man's woes while standing in serpentine queues! Small time traders, are also finding difficulty to convert their stock of the demonetised currency. The prime minister and his team needs to take stock of the situation and provide succour, prevent rumours!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Help at the time of a resource crunch.

Since most of our transactions are done either online or through plastic money, I've not felt the need to charge to the banks and stand in queues to collect valid currency, thus far. The demonetised notes have time till 31 Dec for their disposal and hence, there was nothing to worry. However, the milkman, the vegetable vendor, the fruit vendor, the fish vendor, the dhobi etc need to be given remuneration for their services in hard cash of smaller denominations. Though each of them has said that he'd collect his dues later, we feel that they're being nice to us because they, too, are hard pressed for money to eke out their living.

We've been able to manage our resources fairly well till now. In fact, this evening, I'd bought certain items from the grocer's and the bakery in exchange of a portion of our coin collection. The shopkeepers refused to count them despite my insistence to do so, fearing mistakes in my counting of the coins! Such sort of belief puts enormous responsibility on us to be absolutely sure of zero error in counting, on our part.

Our chemist had sent us a bottle of medicine @ Rs.280/- saying that he'd collect the money from us on Monday. Damn sweet of him! One of the salesmen, Mujib, had come all the way to deliver it at home, too. Meanwhile, I'd called up the bank manager to inquire as to whether the queues had startled to dwindle and he's offered me the solution. I'll have to meet him tomorrow morning @ 9 for collecting my share of usable currency notes while depositing the demonetised ones - a total of thirty one Rs.500/-notes, amounting to Rs.15,500/-! That should give Lekha the freedom to run her monthly chores without having to scrounge and I hardly need money on a daily basis!!


Am surprised by the falsehoods and innuendos being spread on the social media about the general public being restless on requiring to stand in long queues and the ATM chain having gone kaput because of the lack of modifications to accommodate the new Rs.2,000/- notes in the existing trays where money is stored.  Why do I get  the impression that there are many quarters from where there's a mischievous anticipation of chaos and the breakdown of the common man's patience over the long waits at the ATMs/banks? The television grabs showed the people at these queues as sportingly patient! If this exercise were to fail it will be the hordes of black marketeers, fraudsters, politicos, greedy businessmen and people of that ilk who'd win and we must not let that happen

Meanwhile the government and the banks had better get their act together to reduce the public's agony!!    

Friday, November 11, 2016

And life goes on...

1. Preetha's back. 

Lekha's assistant had come to work today due to a rethink and changed outlook towards her medical condition. Her family had taken her to another nephrologist, who's against the surgical removal of the problematic kidney, as he feels that if she were to go for it, she'd be confined to her home with unwanted restrictions that can affect her psychologically in the long run. Instead, he has put her on an antibiotic course for a fortnight and has asked her to continue doing everything that she used to do except for lifting heavy weights! Her mother has come to her place to help her out with the household chores and she, in turn, has resumed work at our place. Lekha is happy and we hope the inflammation of her kidney gets under control, consequent to the current antibiotic course.

2. Suresh's medical review.

Suresh was reviewed by Subbu who's permitted him to go back to Thiruvananthapuram for continued medical management at the Regional Cancer Center, there. He'll have to undergo a spell of radiation but chemotherapy has been ruled out, at least for the time being. Earlier, I'd made a case against chemo for him keeping the psychological impact, during the aftermath, with Subbu and my friend, Savio. Was reminded of making a similar plea to a doctor friend, twenty years back, to avoid the use of steroids on Lekha for her medical woes. That she was subsequently administered steroids and that too a high dosage at that for a period of nine years is another story, but it had helped! Perhaps, Suresh and chemo could take the same course but I shall keep my fingers crossed.

3. Radhan chettan to be discharged.

Meanwhile, Radhan chettan has been improving steadily. Over the last couple of days, he's being made to walk, everyday, on the corridor, adjacent to his room. The wound on his leg is healing, though slowly. The doctor has agreed to discharge him over the weekend. It's my fond hope that he stays away from drinking once he leaves the hospital. The wedding in the family is to take place tomorrow, near Neelamperoor, after which his mom, my Maheshwari peramma, will return to Bangalore with Valsala chechi, her second daughter-in-law.


And so life goes on....

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The devil's advocate speaking....

The media is abuzz with a lot of voices and counter voices on recent happenings. I thought I should chip in with my bytes to put things in their perspective as I see them and without much ado, here I go:-

 (a) The demonetisation drive by the Modi government.

       There has been a lot of criticism, especially among Prime Minister Modi's opponents saying that
       the demonetisation drive was the unkindest cut meted out to the common man, citing long
       queues, insufficient measures to provide assistance to the general public and except for the
       common man, no wealthy businessman and other perceived wrongdoers were sighted dumping
       their ill gotten wealth.

       I'd call such opinions hare brained and the proponents, merely hoodwinking the others by their
       baseless points of view. I shall explain my way of thinking by putting across a few questions/
       facts for you to ponder, which are:-

         (i) Will a government squander away the goodwill of its people by putting them through
              enormous hardships for minimal returns?
        (ii) Won't such a drastic step negate his party's fortunes in the forthcoming Assembly elections
              in UP and Punjab if the opponents were to highlight the hardships and use them against him?
       (iii)  If anyone of us expected the known fraudsters, black marketeers and hoarders to join those
              queues on the first day itself, aren't we way off the mark? They're the same people who'd
              given the '30 Sep' deadline of the government the go by, remember?

        Can't miss the paradox here. We've the President of the World Bank, opinions in other countries
        especially, Pakistan, lauding Modi's courageous move but in India, it's been otherwise!

  (b) Protests in the US over Trump's win.

        We hear about gathering protests over Trump's win in the Presidential elections by a few of the
         Democrats and mostly, the immigrants of different backgrounds. It's, again, a foolish thing to
         do instead of accepting the verdict in the right spirit. I say this for the following reasons:-

           (i) The '16 Presidential election was all about the ethnic whites exercising their franchise in no
                uncertain terms.
          (ii) The poor, the lower and the lower middle income groups have been struggling to eke out
                a living as owning a house and enjoying a quality life had gone beyond their grasps.
         (iii) They consider that successive governments have appeased the growing immigrant
                 population who're diluting the American dream and their culture. They feel that their
                 ingress needs to be checked, especially that of the Muslims, as they do not mingle with
                 anyone while insisting on maintaining their religious ideology!

         What these protesters should bear in mind is that they should not antagonise the ethnic
          population because their backlash can be hurtful and disastrous for them and the country.

          Donald Trump has been the only person to give them the hope of reviving the 'Great American
          dream' in no uncertain terms! And hence, he won hands down!!

          And finally, a word of advice to politicians, across the world, "Do not use election rhetoric to
          defame your opponents. It might help you to garner votes and win an election but you'll never
          have his/her wholehearted support in your nation building activities which can prove to be


Spoke to Kurup kochachhan this morning on account of not calling him up on Sunday that was customary. He was cheerful and his attendant did not have any cause for complaints.       

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An inevitable change.

Today was the last day that Preetha, Lekha's assistant, had worked for us. She'd come into our household sometime in Jan '15, soon after the earlier maid Sathiamma's requirement of being continuously at the bedside of her ailing husband necessitated her leaving us. Since then, her presence and eagerness to assist Lekha and Mom, whenever it was required was a great boon. In fact, I'd gone on tours absolutely sure that she would be able to take care of situations that presented themselves out of the blue and mind you, there were quite a few that had cropped up! The credit for our kitchen garden being what it is today must go to her.

When we used to go away on tours, one of the three house keys was given to her because she could be relied upon and I've often heard Lekha pass instructions over the phone, to find a scrumptious dinner waiting for us on return! Her husband - a casual labourer who could be depended upon for doing any work - and two sons constitute her small world. Everyday, she used to fetch up by about a half past 9 after seeing her younger son off to school and leave 'The Quarterdeck' by about 3 in the afternoon.

She has two sisters and a brother who're pretty close to each other. Their mother stays with the son and it's they who'd be overseeing the prolonged treatment that she has to undergo. One of her kidneys has been damaged beyond repairs, necessitating its removal as puss has formed within. She's been under treatment all this while but from what she said to us, it has now reached a point of no return. She'll go through a week's absolute rest to reduce the inflammation and to ascertain as to whether the surgery could be averted, though the doctor has said otherwise.

As she took leave of us this afternoon, we'd asked her to keep us informed about her medical state. We saw her eyes filming and a sadness that she'd never be able to get back here because of her delicate health. We, too, were sad because she has been of a great help and Lekha and I can never forget the manner in which she had looked after my mom, especially in her last days!

May your medical woes be brought under control, Preetha. We shall pray for you!


So, Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States. From what has surmised, his victory would have been a landslide had the entire lot of Republicans stood with him and the media not been so hostile. Will he be able to tame the Washington DC's bureaucracy is the next question that seems to be on everyone's mind. Here's wishing you success in your endeavour, Mr. Trump and by the way, your victory speech was appropriate and on the right lines! Heartiest congratulations!!

Till a substitute takes her place, things are gonna be tough and yes, I'll be helping Lekha with the dishes!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A game changer, for sure!

The Prime Minister had come on television to announce the demonetisation of Rs.1,000/- and Rs.500/- rupee notes with effect from midnight tonight! A lot many measures have been announced to tide over the difficult position that people would undergo during the coming days like:-

   * Rs. 1,000/- and Rs.500/- notes will be valid for transactions related to the following till the
      midnight of 11 Nov:-
      - booking of air tickets.
      - railway bookings.
      - government bus ticket counters and
      - hospitals and pharmacies within them.

   * The demonetised notes can be deposited in bank and post office accounts from 10 Nov to
      30 Dec. Those unable to deposit within the stipulated period can do so in designated RBI offices
      till 31 Mar '17.
   * These can be exchanged at banks and post offices from 10 to 24 Nov on the production of a valid
      ID card.
   * New notes of Rs.2,000/- and 500/- to be introduced this week. However, ATM withdrawals will
      be restricted to Rs.2,000/- per day and withdrawals from bank accounts will be limited to
      Rs. 10,000/- a day and Rs.20,000/- a week.
   * ATMs and banks will not be operational on 09, 10 Nov.

A smart move to trap black money and render it persona non grata with one clean yet drastic action! One had only heard of people having bags and bags of unaccounted money stashed in their homes.... they would be the worst hit. And of course, Pakistan, who was known to be pumping in counterfeit Indian currency into the country for destabilising our economy and for funding terror!!

Another aspect of the 'Arthakranti Approach' suggested by the Pune based NGO, Arthakranti Pratishthan, has been put in place! It's a sequel to the successful forward movement of the introduction of the GST which aims at unifying the tax system in the country by reducing the number of taxes in existence.


A sleepless night for many. Political parties will cry foul because easy money will not be available for the forthcoming Assembly elections in UP and Punjab! A game changer, for sure and it takes courage to set it in motion!!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The American Presidential Election and other stories.

1. Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton.

It's elections in the US today. Will it be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton who's gonna be the next President? The long wait is going to be over soon.

Anyone of them can make it but the fundamentals won't change, can't change. The new incumbent will be bound by the traditional positions that the country has been following, be it in terms of foreign policy, fiscal and economic policies and the general attitude of the American public, the election rhetoric of the individuals notwithstanding.

Donald Trump is a rank outsider, in that he wasn't a politician till he put his hat in the ring. From that perspective, he could bring in new initiatives and formulate policies by thinking out of the box! In the process, he could turn out to be the unexpected statesman. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is the first female contender for the post and perhaps, her win can bring about a change in thinking, the world over, in providing a tempered leadership sans male chauvinism!

On a personal level, I'd like Donald Trump to win because it's gonna be a change. While saying this I must reiterate that I do not know anything more about him other than what the media has projected him to be, especially after he won his party's nomination.

2. 'Darkness at noon in New Delhi.

Delhi has been in the grips of the bad effects of pollution over the last week. The cold weather has added to the woes. It's a testimony to the fact that 'protecting the environment' is mere lip service paid by the political class and the government - which is its extension - to a serious problem. In these days of modernity and galloping technology, the protection of the environment is an important aspect and if we do not do anything we'll be letting down the younger generation by handing over a problem ridden world, unfit to live.

And mind you, let not the blame for the present state be dumped on Arvind Kejriwal and his government - no, I ain't his supporter nor am I his party loyalist. It is the result of faulty decisions over the years, made with recklessness to satisfy the vote banks, with scant respect to environment safety!

Having talked about the problem, what are the remedial measures? Let me cite a few which should be carried out forthwith, without fear or favour:-

    (a) Do not allow any vehicle, that are pollutants, to ply on the roads. Emphasise on the use of the
          public transportation system to the extent feasible and to share private vehicles.
    (b) Do not allow burning of waste/dry grass. If it's absolutely necessary, have them collected and
          burnt only, after the current phase of pollution has passed, in phases.
    (c) Lock out industrial/manufacturing units that contribute to pollution. Have them brought under
         the 'green protocol'.
    (d) And most importantly, provide as many masks as possible to the citizens along with air
          purifiers at acceptable rates without letting vendors to take advantage of the situation!

3. Putting restrictions on the media.

An inter-ministerial committee's order of a day's ban on the broadcast of NDTV India and News Time Assam - on 09 Nov - portends unhealthy trends which must be cancelled forthwith. Let there be no ego trips on that. 

If the government had felt that there has been a breach of faith by the channels in broadcasting news contents - harmful to national interests or for whatever reasons - the matter should have been referred to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority(NBSA), an independent self regulatory body of the of the National Broadcasters Association(NBA).


(a) A quiet day otherwise. Radhan chettan's reports are yet to arrive and therefore, it was another day of uneasy wait!
(b) Today's the 5th remembrance day of Santhan Kochachhan. A fantastic soul with whom I'd a good rapport and we're partners in the game of 28 in cards. He was too good and together we were formidable. Missing your presence, kochachha.



Sunday, November 6, 2016

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

The bus had stopped at Ernakulam and I'd informed the conductor that I was going out to ease my bladder. His word of caution amused me, "Sir, come fast as the bus is already running behind schedule", as though a delay on my part would have a cascading effect! The public urinal is badly kept, in fact, in most of the road transport corporation's bus terminals the cleanliness factor is found to be wanting because of a lackadaisical attitude, notwithstanding the money that they collect from the passengers for its use. Strange! I couldn't spot the urinal obscured behind parked buses and hence did it in the open, going against the spirit of the 'open defecation free' status of the state. I must hasten to add that I did feel ashamed about it, but getting back to the bus early was the need of the hour!

Back in the bus, I noticed that my laptop had fallen from the overhead rack thanks to an irresponsible fellow traveler having placed his haversack beneath it and consequently, it must have fallen off during the journey! Felt angry and hoped that there was no damage!! The bus reached Thrissur at about a 20' past 3. As I alighted and looked around the platform I realised that there was no vacant seat where I could sit and work on my laptop since the first bus to Guruvayur was only at 5! Due to an utter bankruptcy of thought and to while away time so that a vacant chair would present itself, I'd gone to the tea stall for the morning cuppa and it was while having it that a Tamilnadu transport bus, headed for Guruvayur, had come to a halt near me. Plenty of passengers had disembarked and therefore, getting a seat was easy and within another 40', I'd reached the state road transport corporation bus stand at the western entrance of the Guruvayur temple, from where I'd begun this journey, three days back!

I'd reached our house soon after, thanks to an auto rickshaw and within 15', was fast asleep. Later at 6, the morning chores of lighting the lamp and the opening up of the house were gone through. My cousin, Unni chettan from Thalavoor, had come soon after to collect his stuff and went back to attend the wedding of his friend's son. Padmakumar, Rema and Achu, along with Lekha, had arrived by lunchtime and my cousin, the advocate, along with her brother-in-law and his children, had made a quick visit so that Jayettan could formally invite us for his daughter's wedding at the Guruvayur temple, on 01 Dec.

Almost simultaneously, Mini, had called up from Bangalore to say that the boy who's marrying Ammu and his folks had visited them and have invited us for the return visit to their house at Payyannur, later this month to finalise the details! After mom's passing away, such intricate aspects have become my responsibility and I must confess that I've no clue on the finer aspects!

Padmakumar, Rema and Achu left after tea, back for Palakkad. It's damn nice of them to drop Lekha, otherwise I'd have had to make a trip up and down for the same.


The customary walk was undertaken and it's refreshing after a lapse of three days.         

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A hotchpotch of activities!

I was up with the lark and had finished my chores well in time to proceed to the Foundation along with maman. Enroute, Manu was dropped at the Hanuman temple, maman had a tete-e-tete and I paid my obeisance from the entrance itself as I was wearing my moccasins with socks and was simply lazy to remove them! We reached the Foundation by a half past 9.

My director had finally fetched up by about 12 o'clock and he blamed the heavy traffic between Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram for his delay. I'd to firmly tell him that he should have started accordingly and commenced the meeting without further ado. A slew of measures have been put in place for immediate implementation and the next board meeting has been scheduled on 26 Nov. It would also help me to appreciate the results of the present initiatives and their effectiveness!

Ammayi had given us packed lunch and we shared that with Sasi, the director and found that it was more than adequate for the three of us. The taste and the dishes had her distinct mark!

We'd the weekly exchange of thoughts called 'Aazhchakkootam' at 4 o'clock and the guest was Dr(Mrs) Vasuki, IAS(Yet another doctor-turned-bureaucrat) who is, currently, the director of the Suchithwa Mission, poised to implement major initiatives on waste management commencing 10 Nov. What I liked best about her approach to tackling the vexed problem were the following assumptions:-

      (a) Tackling the problem is possible only by bringing about an attitudinal change among people
           through continuous dialogue and education.
      (b) There aren't any short term results, it will have a long lead time!

Quite a refreshing attitude unlike the normal tendency to show quick results leading to the ultimate failure of the project! Lessons seem to have been learnt from the Vilappilsala waste disposal scheme's
fiasco, whose contributory factors were:-

      (a) Lack of imparting awareness of the disposal system's capabilities and as to why it was
            sited there - why should we take on the burden of the city folks' waste was a frequent doubt
            that was raised, for which, the powers-that-be didn't have any plausible reasons.
      (b) Non adherence to segregation of the waste according to the degradability and
      (c) Health issues that were plaguing the local villagers on account of long term waste disposal.

Many in the audience of the 'aazhchkoottam' were miffed that they couldn't ask questions as the director had to leave, soon after her lecture, due to the tight schedule!

After a quick and light dinner, I'd boarded the Kannur bound Scania volvo of the state road transport corporation for my return. Working on my laptop to finish pending work was easy before catching up on some badly needed sleep!


Suresh has been discharged with restrictions in movements but he'll have to be on fluid diet for a while. Radhan chettan's leg seems to be giving anxious moments and the results of the biopsy will fetch up only by Monday. Only then will we know about the subsequent action!       

Friday, November 4, 2016

Adieu, Bobby Bhandoola sir!

Captain Suresh 'Bobby' Bhandoola was my commanding officer on board the submarine depot ship, INS Amba where I was posted between Jun and Dec '81. I got a mail this morning saying that he'd passed into the mist of time at the naval hospital, Asvini at Bombay on account of prostate cancer, for which, he was under prolonged treatment!

......I was transported, in time and space, to the bridge top of Amba and remembered him to be a chain smoker, the '555' being his favourite brand and he'd an inimitable style of his own! The three of us viz. the Captain, then Lt Rajan George, the cool-as-a-cucumber navigator and your's truly, the N2(Navigator 2) used to be there during the entering/leaving harbour evolutions and between the three of us, had ensured that they were carried out with elan and no panic, whatsoever, while maneuvering the hulk of a ship that was Amba and she had sailed extensively during that period.

She had also become the sea training ship for the cadets, embarked from INS Mysore as that ship was awaiting her decommissioning and the ultimate move to the scrap yard!

The ship was headed for her first foreign cruise of the season to Sri Lanka and Male along with Dunagiri and enroute, we'd a camp for the cadets on the island of Anjadip, after carrying out gunfire support exercise on it at dawn. I and four of my cadets were tasked to 'attack' the camp and we could carry it out successfully by taking a never expected approach, clawing through barnacled rocks and inflicting gashes on our hands, in the bargain. And before we left the island on our southerly course, the cadets had painted 'Amba '81' with white paint on the rock face - its highest point - that was visible for miles, seaward. I must put on record in this narrative the encouragement and support given by our Executive officer, then Commander Vimal Kumar. As we cast off, on seeing the graffiti, the 'ole man had tapped my shoulder and given me a 'thumbs up' sign!

The captain was impressed by us - Shiroor, Thampi and your's truly - and did tell us in so many words as we went sight seeing in Sri Lanka in a Datsun station wagon, courtesy Shiroor's brother and made our purchases. Consequently, he used to take us along for the trips to the picturesque Maldivian islands as part of the sight seeing tours! He used to come into the bridge during night watches to hear our banter on the intercom!!  

We'd entered the beautiful harbour of the Maldives group of islands and anchored between the islands that had its airport and the other, which was its capital. It was while anchoring that we'd noticed that the other ships had their colours(flags) flying at half mast and it was followed by us as per maritime traditions and customs. On inquiry, it was revealed that it was on account of the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the then President of Egypt, while he was reviewing the republic day parade at Cairo, that morning!

I remember him hugging me twice, the first time on the last night at Male, in appreciation of the tasks achieved thus far and the second time, for pulling him out of the way of a bobbing, maritime gunfire range at the Andrea bank - somewhere in the Arabian Sea - that was in the process of being connected up to be towed back to harbour, for repairs.

I'd just spent about seven months on board when I got my marching orders to take over as a Directing Staff at the NDA. I was in a dilemma, in that, I was happy to go back to my Alma Mater but sad at having to leave the ship so soon and I'd conveyed it to the 'ole man. His reply, "Listen son, the Naval Headquarters had given me an option of sending you as the Flag Lieutenant to an admiral or to the Academy as a Directing Staff and I recommended the latter. I and my wife will visit the Academy and be your guests!" And that was that!! I bid farewell to the ship in Dec '81 to take up my new appointment.

RIP, Captain Bobby Bhandoola, sir! My farewell salute to a fine Captain and here's wishing that your family has the strength to tide over these stressful times!!


Three months later, he'd carried out his promise of visiting the Academy with Mrs. Janki Bhandoola, a gracious lady and a fine human being!

(a) Had gone to Nandiyode panchayat, this morning, to attend a function organised by Vijayakumar, who had worked with Muthachhan during the literacy movement. More than 1,500 ladies had participated in the meeting, initiating them into skill development!

(b) Looked up Indira kunjamma this evening. Though she looks cheerful and active, she has not regained her original weight. Kripu's woes are under control. Met Jishnu, Suresh's nephew, who has begun a start up venture - Medipicky - with two of his seniors. It can put you on to any doctor as per your requirement for the illness that you're ailing from.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Off to Thiruvananthapuram.

I'd got up by about a quarter past 5 to finish up my packing and to get ready for my longish trip to Thiruvananthapuram. Anto had come, on the dot, at 7 and he'd dropped me at the road transport corporation stand where the bus that I was to board was ready and the journey began in right earnest at 20' past 7. It passed by my house as it took the Kunnamkulam route to Thrissur.

I wondered whether the state of the soul, once released from a body felt something similar to what I was going through then. I was passing by pretty close to my house but was unable to communicate with Lekha or say, comprehend what's happening within 'The Quarterdeck'! Of course, the argument could be retorted by saying that communication was, indeed, possible with the cellphone that was available on my person! ........Some crazy thoughts, huh!

I'd befriended the driver whose name was Subhash, hailing from Thiruvananthapuram as I'd occupied the seat on the left side, across him and therefore, was privy to the onrush of the road and the first sights that came by as the bus headed for its destination. The sun had, however, begun to bear and I'd to shield my face to cut off its glare towards the final three quarters of the first stretch of my journey!

I'd reached the Vyttila hub by a 10' past 10, well in time for boarding the low floor a/c bus to Thiruvananthapuram which had departed pronto at 1050 hrs. I'd enjoyed this part of the journey last time, too, and hence opted to repeat it. It was comfortable and I'd the packed lunch that Lekha had given me when the bus had stopped at a motel, past Kayankulam for the purpose. Incidentally, a young couple had gone for their beer at the attached bar and it did raise many a eyebrow among the passengers! We, mallus, can never change!!

Meanwhile, Lekha had taken off for Palakkad in George's taxi and had reached Rema's house by 3. She'll be dropped by Achu on Sunday on my return to Guruvayur. Incidentally, today was his first day at Marico! Must get to know about what his experiences were in due course.

The previous bus that I was travelling in was overtaken, somewhere short of Ambalapuzha!

The traffic between Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram was rather heavy and it took about two and a half hours to negotiate that stretch. I pitied the driver who, many a time, had to encounter errant drivers enroute. Imagine the cheek of certain drivers to race with the road transportation corporation's buses! It's outright silly, churlish and immature!!

Eventually, I'd fetched up at the Foundation, courtesy Sivakumar - he's our new man behind the wheel, a quiet 'un compared to the volatile Omanakuttan, who'd quit about a month back - by a half past 5. We'd quickly gone into a huddle, so that I could take stock of the situation and prepare myself for the meeting, the day after.

After the others had left, maman and I'd gone through our ruminations. Soon after, Ammayi and Manu had returned after their trip to a temple and we'd dinner at a place with the fancy name of 'Curry Chatti', on the youngster's insistence - the fair was just about okay!


We'd dropped in at my cousin, Sindhu's place to meet up with Vilasini kunjamma. Her smile, radiant with joy on seeing me, did make my day!