Saturday, December 31, 2016

The year that was.......

Up till now, when the entire world was poised to bid good bye to a year and ring in the new year, I used to be excited, connect up with my friends and relatives to exchange messages and wishes but this time, it was different. There was an inherent sadness at the year slipping past, as mom was with us for 248 days of 2016!

I shan't forget the ill fated date of 04 Sep '16 when my mom passed into the mist of time around 1158 hrs and it will remain a bitter truth till my very end. I was left an orphan, with an overwhelming feeling of guilt that I could have done more, conversed with her much more, spent more time with her........why did I fritter away those golden chances? Was she happy being my mom? Will I get a chance to be her son in my next life? More aptly, would she like to have me as her son, all over again if that possibility existed?

She watches us from the photograph on the mantelpiece with that knowledgeable, naughty smile of her's.

When we used to walk in our courtyard every evening around a half past 5, she used to tell me, "I'm getting you to myself after all these years and after all, I've gone through pain to give birth to you and it's but natural that you look after me. And I look forward to these walks with you". I always used to reply that there was nothing great about my accompanying her! Her innocence was a striking part of her personality!!

Why did you've to go so suddenly mom? The year shall always be remembered with her memories! RIP mom! My tears and prayers. You're being missed at every waking hour!

.......Maman had called around dinnertime, from Somatheeram, recalling the 2014 new year's celebration at the same place with mom. She'd thoroughly enjoyed it and was a picture of great dignity, interacting with each and everyone who'd come to meet and spend time with her. The nip in the air, by the seaside didn't dampen her enthusiasm!

        *                                     *                                        *

Heard the Prime Minister on television, telling all of us about his actions post 50 days of demonetisation. The country is poised to do well on the economic front, in the days to come, after the initial slowing down.


15 Mar of this year is another unforgettable day because it was on this day that Lekha's dad had passed into the mist of time. Never expected him to go off so soon.....he'd lived life on his terms and did not let his medical problems cramp his style! RIP dad. My tears and prayers.

Unlike me, Lekha has not talked much about it but I know that she misses him. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Taking stock after 50 days of demonetisation.

It's been 50 days of demonetisation and it has impacted the Indian economy!

Demonetisation is a cleaning exercise that will provide several good things to the economy. At the same time, it has created unavoidable income and welfare losses to the poor sections of the society who get income based on their daily work and to those who do not have the digital transaction culture.

    * Short term     - Overall economic activity will be dampened.
    * Long term      - Unmeasurable benefits of having more transparency and reduced volume of
                                  black money activities.

Let's see its impact on the Indian economy:-

   (a) It acts as a liquidity shock that disturbs economic activities.
   (b) People are still not able to get sufficient volume of popular denomination, especially Rs.500/-
         which formed 49% of the previous currency supply in terms of value. Higher the time required
         to supply Rs.500/- notes, higher will be the duration of the liquidity crunch. This situation
         is likely to prevail till the requirement of notes is met, probably, till Mar '17.
   (c) The daily wage earners, other labourers and small traders lose income in the absence of liquid
         cash and cash stringency will compel firms to reduce labour costs thereby reducing income to
         the poor working class. There will also be a 'trickle up' effect of the liquidity crunch to the
         higher income people, with time.
   (d) Consumption has been hit and the cascading effects could be:-
          low consumption - low production - low employment - low growth - low tax revenue!
   (e) There is a loss of growth momentum which will reduce India's GDP growth, albeit, temporarily.
   (f)  It has impacted upon bank deposits and interest rates.
   (g) Only a small portion of black money is actually stored in cash. Usually, it's stored in the form
         of gold, land and buildings. However, it has had a propaganda effect. People are now convinced
         that the menace must be fought.
   (h) The biggest impact has been on counterfeit currency whose circulation has been brought under


Let's wait for the PM's new year's eve announcements and I'm sure there would be enough reasons to cheer.    

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Do female doctors increase a patient's longevity?

I was under the impression that any doctor - male or female - with whom the patient is comfortable goes a long way towards his/her recovery and longevity. At this juncture, I'm reminded of the gentle Dr K Narayana Pai who used to look after the family as my grandfather was a good friend of his and his elder son and my maman were classmates, friends and did all things - mischievous and non mischievous - together! A word from him - the soft spoken doctor that he was - was enough to send one's medical worries away.

And then, of course, was the then Aryavaidyan of the Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala. Another 'medical god' to whom we'd easy access - the time used to be told and he used to meet us at the appointed hour despite a waiting crowd - thanks to his friendship with my grandfather! I used to be fond of the 'arishtam' because it was palatable and sweet....the 'kashaayam', I abhorred!

Then, of course, I'd come across a number of doctors like Vijayashankar with an infectious sense of humour, Castro look alike and 'big turkey' Firdausi Mehta(I was the 'li'l turkey' in our group!), the ever happy Sasindranath, the happy-go-lucky Guruswamy Vishwanath, the all rounder sportsman yet superb Chandrasekhar Joshi, the quietly efficient and someone whom I miss, the late Sanjay(Granny) Goil, the bindass Pawan Sarin, my classmate, Savio George who's an embodiment of fitness  and his friend, the quiet yet superb Subramonia Iyer and of course, the razor sharp homeopath, Maheenkutty...........the list is endless! I've also come across some very fine doctors thanks to the ongoing treatment of Lekha's ailment of SLE beginning with the medical specialist, the diminutive Bhattacharya(Who'd actually expressed the doubt about the lupus phenomenon changing my outlook towards military doctors, overnight),  the widely respected and elderly Jacob Kurien, the late Achuthan Kannampilly who also was a dear friend, the quiet yet intense immunologist, Ashok Kumar, the brilliant Ramachandran, the ever-focused-despite-logging-long-working hours Padmanabha Shenoy and the friendly, boy-next-door-imaged yet cool Jyoshid.....again, the list is endless. And how can I forget the well read Mathew Abraham, my mom's doctor, whom she was quite fond off? The common thread is their single minded dedication to the profession, perseverance and their genuine feelings for their patients.

Did I wander away from the subject of discussion? No, I was under the firm belief that gender had nothing to do with a patient's well being or longevity after such a varied experience and am trying to validate this new input against that backdrop! So this new input, from a team of Harvard University researchers, is indeed an eye opener. According to their report, "Elderly patients treated by female physicians are less likely to die within 30 days of admission or to be readmitted within 30 days of discharge, than those cared for by male physicians. The gender of the physician was particularly significant for the sickest patients".

For the study, the team had analysed data from more than a million medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years or older and hospitalised with a medical condition.

The team goes on to say that the reasons were that the female doctors were more likely to:-

      * Adhere to clinical guidelines.
      * Provide preventive care more often.
      * Use more patient-centred communication.
      * Perform standardised examinations and
      * Provide more psychosocial counseling.

And I'd like to add that the female doctor took on the role of the 'mother', albeit, for that short while!


Really interesting piece of information! And I dedicate this post to all the lady doctors that are my close friends!      

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

....After 29 yrs!

My senior and friend, Ravi Ponapa had told me all about Harpreet and Jeetinder. Harpreet was the harbour master at Bombay and is known among us for his fantastic sense of humour. To quote an example from way back in time when we're shipmates at Coimbatore, we're having the 'Husband's Nite' and sometime during the festivities, there was a call for a group photograph with the 'ladies and the bachelors'. Harpreet quietly pipes up to say that the photograph after that would be with the 'bachelors and the husbands!' And all hell broke loose!!

He's like that and I hope that he continues to be so, even now, as it's my firm belief that the fundamentals never change. Jeetinder, on the other hand, was quiet but active with the Navy Wives' Welfare activities. After I'd moved out of Coimbatore for my command in '87, we'd never come across each other during our service careers.

I'd tried the residential number twice last week but to no avail as it was continuously engaged. This morning I'd made another try after the nudge from Ravi sir, last evening and phew, I got through to Jeetinder.

.......More than 29 yrs later! As luck would have it, there was something wrong with either of our phones. I could hear her clearly while she could hear me faintly but we managed to establish communication. After hearing that I was settled at Guruvayur, her request was that I should pray for her......she'd met with an accident following which she has been bedridden but is recuperating, slowly but steadily. She has said that she'd visit us once she gets well.

It, definitely, did give me a nice feeling and I was reminded of the numerous times that I'd spent with the gracious couple.

        *                                     *                                       *

After three days of antibiotics, Lekha is on a sure path to recovery from the wretched cold but mine is gonna take some time as it's only the second day but the cough is less harsh! The cold seems to be catching on as the weather is tricky with warm days and nippy nights!


We wished Padmakumar many happy returns, right in the morning before he left for the office. Actually, we're prompted to it by the numerous messages in our family group on What'sApp. Had mom been there, she'd have told us well in advance about the date and would insist on being the first to wish him! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

This is what the Indian bureaucrat thinks about himself!

Listen to what P Rama Mohana Rao, the sacked Chief Secretary of Tamilnadu, has to say regarding the income tax raids carried out in his premises, to understand the general psyche of the bureaucrats in this country:-

     * Calls the recent income tax raids on his house and official chamber in the Secretariat a
        "constitutional assault"!
     * Questions as to whether the raids would have taken place had Jayalalitha been alive.
     * Criticised the state government for not standing up for him.
     * Denied any link with Sekhar Reddy, a businessman and public works contractor arrested by
        the CBI for disproportionate assets.

The Income Tax department conducted extensive searches at the houses and offices of Rao and his family members on 21 Dec, simultaneously in Madras, Bangalore and Andhra Pradesh from where they seized Rs.30 lakhs cash and 5 kg gold.

Three days later, he complained of chest pain and was admitted in a hospital only to be discharged on Monday.

He has already been replaced by Girija Vaidyanathan as the chief secretary but he refuses to accept that he has ceased to be the chief secretary.

My take.

In my official capacity during my tenure at the Naval Headquarters, I'd come across a large number of bureaucrats in the course of my work at meetings, discussions on important issues. Many of them were thoroughly professional and down-to-earth in their interactions while there were a few who thought no end to themselves, as though they're invincible! The experiences have been similar within the state while interacting with them on account of the Foundation's activities!

A doubt that I'd carried with me always is that these guys are fully involved in the decision making process and have the minister's ears but are never made accountable when things go wrong! The minister and the concerned service headquarters are held responsible and ultimately accountable. Perhaps, many of them think that they've a constitutional immunity - on what account, they themselves can't say! Hence, the arrogance and what they forget is that they're equal, in front of the law, to the common man!  


Lekha is a few notches better than what she was yesterday but I seem to have caught the bug in the bargain! It's better this way because it would have been difficult if I'd first contracted it and passed on!!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Interesting happenings!

A Departure from the Past

1. In a significant departure from US policy of blocking measures, critical of Israel, President Barack Obama refused to veto such a resolution at the Security Council in the UN. The resolution called the Israeli constructions in the Palestinian territories captured from Jordan during the '67 war, a "flagrant violation of international law". A stunned Israel was quick to react, when its PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that his country will not abide by the UNSC's demands!

The Run Up to the Resolution

2. It's interesting to go through the run up to this resolution:-

    * Egypt had tabled the resolution originally but withdrew it following pressure from both
       Israel and the US President-elect, Donald Trump.
    * The resolution was, then, tabled by New Zealand, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela.
    * The 15 member Security Council voted 14-0 with the US Ambassador, Samantha Power
       raising her hand as the lone abstention!

The Import

3. So, what does the passage of the resolution imply?

    "The new resolution demands that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement
      activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem".

   Many feel that it's a significant step towards the UN's hopes for a two-state solution to the
   Israeli-Palestinian conflict!

My take.

4. It's gonna be a long haul, especially, because the incoming President Donald Trump and his Republican party do not endorse the stand taken by the lame duck President which brings me to an aspect that I wanted to highlight against this backdrop.

Obama vs Donald Trump

5. Despite changing leaderships, the foreign policy of a country never deviates and a continuity is maintained as it is dictated by the understanding of the dynamics of international relationships and hardcore national interests. While Trump and Obama have avoided any personal attacks during the transition period, thus far, they seem to be working to undermine each other by this abstention from the voting at the Security Council and the recent announcement of a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along wide areas of the Arctic and the eastern seaboard, with the White House officials claiming that Trump had no power to reverse them!

6. Are Obama's actions out of churlishness because of the Democratic party's poor showing in the recent elections? But what use is it to make a statement when, deep within, he's fully aware that his successor does not endorse the same views and will reverse them, for sure?


I was up with the lark and went about the usual morning chores and saw Suma kunjamma off to the temple. We delayed our breakfast till 9 hoping that she'd return by then and had begun, when she returned. She said that she'd enjoyed her stay and I put her into an auto rickshaw which dropped her at the road transport corporation bus stand, at the west gate of the temple, to get on to the bus for Thrissur, where she had an official engagement before her return to Thiruvananthapuram.

The day was okay with nothing much happening. Lekha seemed better and she insisted on going to the Mammiyoor Siva kshetram to partake in the 'Mriyunjaya homam' being done for yours truly as today is 'Anizham' - my birth star....... Suma kunjamma had given me a call by a quarter to 8, in the evening, after reaching her house at Thiruvananthapuram.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Off on their return!

The day had begun on a quiet note as I'd got up at 6, as usual, to light the lamp and get the morning hymns going on the home theatre. The volume was so adjusted that it didn't disturb the ones who were asleep. Soon, Lekha, Rema and Mini were active in the kitchen with their chores. Suma kunjamma left home by a quarter past 7 to the temple to join up in the 'senior citizen's queue', to have an early tete-a-tete with god.

It was a noisy breakfast and we'd thrashed out all the details regarding the engagement ceremony - the number of guests, the broad room allocation for the various groups, the sequence of events, the pooling and allocation of the resources and finally, the departure of the guests. While we were at it, Suma kunjamma had returned and joined us pronto to devour the delicious steam cooked 'puttu' with home grown bananas. Sanil, Mini and Ammu left on the dot, at 10, for Bangalore. They're going through the Mudhumalai - Bandipur stretch as planned earlier - they'd come by that route - being the shortest and the road was nice. They were told to update me with their progress, on reaching every important point, which they did.

Then, it was conversation time followed by a boisterous lunch at 1, despite the fact that our strength was down by 3. A short snooze and it was time, yet again, for the next set of guests to leave. Padmakumar, Rema and Achu left for Palakkad at 5. Suma kunjamma was dropped at the temple - for the evening tryst - before they shaped their course to Palakkad!

My evening walk was towards town, to buy medicines, as Lekha's cough was getting to be mean and she needed to be put on a course of antibiotics, forthwith. In the process, I, too had a meeting with god before I bought up the sundries/m and was finally on my home stretch. On return, I realised that Suma kunjamma had returned about ten minutes earlier than me and calls from Sanil, saying that they'd reached their destination at Bangalore by a quarter to 7 and Padmakumar, at Palakkad by a 10' to 8, came in soon after!

It was a quiet evening, thereafter, with just the three of us - Suma kunjamma, Lekha and I.


Must call up Nandakumar tomorrow to do up some of the pending repairs around the house, though trivial but can get to be a nuisance if not attended to immediately.  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Hectic activity.

Lekha'd gifted her treasured golden anklets to Ammu. It's a wonderful gesture because, I'm aware of the following:-

       * She used to wear the anklets on a continuous basis till about two years back and I must say
          that they looked good on her..
       * During Sep '10, when the SLE in her had perked up - a wound that was inflicted upon her, on
          the right foot by the duty medical staff of the ICU while trying to pass infusions intravenously,
          as she lay comatose in a reputed hospital at Kochi during Aug '93 - had flared up.
       * Despite the wound, she'd sported the anklets as she loved wearing them.
       * It was Dr. Padmanabha Shenoy, her doctor from '11, who'd advised her from wearing them and
          since then, they were kept safely in the cupboard.
       * Two grafts later, she'd realised that to wear them would unnecessarily exacerbate the by now
          safely healed wound.
And today, she'd parted with her prized possession to my niece in view of the latter's forthcoming engagement and marriage! A good show, Lekha!! Not very many people can do such selfless acts and I'm proud of you.

Note. What saddened me most was that she'd willingly surrendered a dear wish, once for all, in this life of her's!

          *                                      *                                          *

After passing on necessary instructions to her assistant, the entire gang had gone off to the Guruvayur temple, paid their obeisance to the good Lord and Lekha and Rema had shown the hall and the hotel rooms that we'd reserved for the engagement ceremony to Ammu and her parents. Soon after, they'd gone off to Kunnamkulam - about 9 kms north from our place - to complete the remainder of the shopping serial!

On return and after a quick lunch, they'd gone to see the movie, "Kattappanayile Hritwik Roshan" and had returned minutes before Suma Kunjamma, arrived from Thiruvananthapuram. Conversation flowed freely and after a boisterous dinner we'd a short rest to receive Padmakumar and Achu, who'd fetched up from Palakkad by about a half past 11.

The conversation continued.......Lekha seems to be down with a bad throat and that's been a nagging worry.


After seeing a decline in the WBC count during her last blood analysis and even though her doctor had said that there was nothing to worry,  I've decided to go through her blood/urine analyses now and must call up the nearby path lab people to come and draw the samples on Monday. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

A house, full of guests!

Sanil, Mini and Ammu had set off from Bangalore around a half past 6 and a trifle past lunch time, they'd reached Tirur to meet up with Lekha and Rema, who'd departed Guruvayur by a private bus, earlier, around 1130 hrs.

Meanwhile, Subi had come along with a help, to clean up the overhead fresh water tank and fix a new lid in place of the earlier one that had obviously been blown off by the strong winds! Earlier, Rema had fetched up from Palakkad by about 10 o'clock. I'd made a quick dash to my bank to replenish the liquid cash in hand before Lekha and Rema left for their assignment.

They'd got together at the jewellers at Tirur from where Ammu's personal effects were bought. On completion, they'd returned to Guruvayur doing another round of shopping, here, before fetching up at home. Some people have an amazing appetite for shopping but I get bored easily as I do not have the patience!

All my personal effects are courtesy Lekha as she has that fine eye and tastes! And I've had no reason to complain.

We got down to discussing the details of the execution of the serials in connection with Ammu's engagement on the 29th of Jan. The idea was to update the bride and her parents about the groundwork done by us thus far, corrections, if any, to be applied and for anything specific that Ammu wanted to add. There were hardly any and we, now, have a fair idea as to what we could expect and what we're going to do!

For me, life went off as usual as it meanders during a normal day while the others were out on work. The Quarterdeck was suddenly agog with voices and activity compared to the quiet activity prevalent when Lekha and I are all by ourselves. Suma kunjamma, my youngest aunt from my mom's family, Padmakumar and Achu will be joining us tomorrow evening!


1. Am glad that things are being streamlined for the big day. The idea is to avoid any confusion during the event!
2. The cute preview about Aamir Khan's 'Dangal' says volumes about the movie.
 "This film will rank not only as one of the best of the year, but among the best Hindi films on sports, ever. ‘Dangal’ is the kind of film that manages to invoke nationalistic fervor without descending into jingoism. I found tears trickling down as I spontaneously stood up when the national anthem is played towards the end, as the Tricolour flutters in the stadium on screen".
Lekha and I shall surely see the film!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Winter Solstice.

Today's the Winter Solstice (Hibernal Solstice) and is also known as Midwinter!

So, what's it all about?

    * Is an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the
       longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere while the reverse is true in the southern

    * More evident at the higher latitudes where the Sun's maximum elevation in the sky is at its

    * Most people count the whole day as the December Solstice. However, the Solstice is at a
       specific moment - when the Sun is exactly overhead the Tropic of Capricorn.

    * The December Solstice can happen on the 20th, the 21st, the 22nd or the 23rd of December.
       For example, the last 23 Dec Solstice was in 1903 and will occur next, only in 2303!

    * The term, 'Solstice' comes from the Latin word, 'Solstitium' meaning 'the Sun stands                  still'. This is because on this day, the Sun reaches its southern most position as seen from the              Earth. It seems to stand still at the Tropic of Capricorn and then, reverses its direction.

    * The Earth is on its Perihelion - the point on the Earth's orbit closest to the Sun, two weeks
       after the December Solstice and farthest at its Aphelion, about two weeks after the June Solstice!


Subi, the boy who comes periodically to wash down the overhead fresh water tanks, dropped by without prior notice. Was he in need of money? Since he'd arrived, I gave him the clearance to go ahead. After the cleaning of the filter tank, he reported that the lid of the final receptacle tank was missing and that it required cleaning. The lid must have been blown off by the strong winds, sometime, in between. He'll come with a new lid tomorrow and I've given him an advance of Rs.500/- for the purpose!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A bragging friend.

There's a course mate of mine from the Academy who doesn't seem to have graduated much in life, even now. The problem is that he's a simple soul but gets himself tied up in knots when he tries to be someone he actually isn't. He's a sardar who has cut his hair, wears swanky headgear and sports, goggles. My explanations, further, will make this statement of mine clearer:-

       - He's an avid golf player and spends a good part of his day on the greens.
       - He's a lover of the good things of life and maintains a style of his own.
       - He imbibes only the best of wines and exhorts the others also to do so.
       - He's fairly well read and is aware of the goings on in the Army thanks to his earlier
          appointments, while in service. With that same input, he has a poor opinion of those who've
          reached the higher ranks as he feels that everyone has compromised on principles while
          playing up to their bosses, which incidentally, he concedes is a necessity.
       - He also carries out an in depth study of a problem and gives his opinion that's usually right.
       - He claims to be having fun in life and tells us, his course mates, to follow his example.
       - He smokes cigars from Havana......this is his latest fad.
He can be obnoxious to the point of being irritable and today, he'd got onto needling a friend of mine and course mate, to which I'd to react and what follows are a couple of messages that I'd sent to him(Mind you, I'd chastised him earlier too, in a similar situation!):-

   "You seem to be at it all over again at denigrating others. What you seem to forget is that a person
     resorts to using bad language when deep within him he's realised that he's lost the argument. You
     keep saying that you're smart, you play golf, you've all the fun, you've the best of wines etc, etc.
     So what? It doesn't make any difference to me and I'm least impressed. If you're enjoying life, it's
     good for you. And friend, rather than you claiming to be smart, it's the others who have to say so.
     So, take your vitriol off and put across your points and gracefully agree to disagree or you'll
     soon have to worry about your health with so much pent up ill feelings and anger towards the
    others. And you need to take care of yourself".

    "I'm not in your league of scoring points. When you say reasonable things, I've lapped them up like
     a good listener. I've nothing to offer as a counterpoint. I've just told you that I detest the way
     you're going around trying to prove your point".


He's replied that he loves and respects Malayalees for their intellect and wit(?).


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Small things....yet important!

Today, I'm gonna touch upon trivia but that are important during our everyday life. After reading through, it would be appreciated as to how each of them have acquired importance, at least, for the time being! Without much ado, here I go:-

     (a) The morning walk.

           The last time I'd gone for my morning walk was on 19 Aug to take care of mom's needs in
           the morning. After the tragic events subsequently, I'd stopped the morning exercises as I was
           in a mood to defy and rebel over mom's passing away. Last night before turning to bed, I'd
           told Lekha that I was recommencing my morning walk as I'd started putting on weight for no
           rhyme or reason......It was, therefore, nice to hit the trail this morning. The nip in the air, the
           near darkness at 6 AM and the stillness of the environment that was broken by the blaring
           loud speakers of the already active temples, enroute, made it enjoyable. While on passage, I'd
           recited my prayers as is my wont!

     (b) Into the habit of having green tea.

           Lekha and I have started having green tea, once in the morning. A popular brand, the tea has
           honey-lemon hue in its taste but my observation is that one has to develop a taste for it! We've
           done it, within a short span. Actually, it was a friend of ours who'd come on leave from abroad
           that had gifted us with a huge pack of 100 teabags.

           Ever since, the morning cuppa has gone green though the evening one is the normal one!

     (c) Lekha to the market.

           I purposely let Lekha do the purchases for the kitchen and otherwise, too, as I must confess
           that my tastes aren't as good as her's. Moreover, a bit of activity is good for her as per her
           doctor's advice. She complains of a nagging knee pain, the doctor has asked her to avoid
           climbing up stairs but as luck would have it, the master bedroom is on top as well as the
           balcony that we frequent! Today, she and her assistant went to the market to stock up the
           the kitchen as both my sisters and their families, along with one of my aunts from
           Thiruvananthapuram, are gonna be with us for the weekend. A bit of fine tuning the activites
           connected with Ammu's betrothal needs to be done.

           I did the unloading of the heavy bags from the auto rickshaw into the house as carrying
           weights is a big no-no for both. The rick driver seemed to be amused by the sight!

    (d) Lekha to the ophthalmologist.

          Lekha has been complaining about difficulty in reading over the past fortnight and after much
          coaxing, she did visit Rani Menon's eye clinic, being the third building from our house. Yearly,
          check ups of her eyesight is mandatory because quinine is a medicine that she consumes,
          twice daily, as it keeps her SLE under remission. Well, thankfully, there's no reduction of
          her visual parameters and the doctor's given her 'drops' for the dryness of her eyes - a problem,
          that is increasingly becoming rampant in people, wonder why. Must find out from an eye
          specialist for my knowledge!


A quiet day, otherwise. My uncle, whom we'd met last week at Paravoor has been brought to Ernakulam to be with his youngest son and family because he's fed up with staying all by himself - with the attendant, of course - at the ancestral house! Another cousin rang up to say that Vilasini kunjamma wasn't keeping well. God, pse take care of them as I'd like to have them with us for more time!


Monday, December 19, 2016

The crisis in Manipur.


1. Manipur is a small state in north east India with a population of over 25 lakhs but the differences between the people living in the valley and the hills is so huge that not a year passes without 'bandhs' and other protests over several disagreements. The Imphal valley is predominantly inhabited by the Meiteis and the hills are predominantly inhabited by the Nagas and the Kukis!

The Run up to the Present Wave of Protests.

2. The violence or the wave of protests is actually the culmination of many events, disagreements and displeasure between the Government of Manipur(Dominated by the majority community, Meiteis) and the Nagas(Minority).

3. It unfolded with the decision of the Manipur Government to create two new districts Sadar Hills and Jiribam, without consulting all the stakeholders. The United Naga Council(UNC), the apex civil organisation of the Nagas in Manipur, objected to it and called for an indefinite economic blockade along two national highways, that are the lifelines of the state, from 01 Nov and continues to this date!

The Current Situation.

4. The state continues to be in turmoil with the latest set of provocations from either side:-

    (a) Meitei protesters waylaid and attacked hundreds of Naga civilians travelling to their villages
         for Christmas celebrations, on Sunday, injuring dozens of innocent commuters and setting
         ablaze several vehicles.
    (b) It was held against the killing of three policemen by unknown people, last Thursday.
    (c) The Manipur Government holds the NSCN-IM(Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim-
          Isak Muivah) insurgent group responsible which had concluded a peace pact with the Narendra
          Modi government, last year).
    (d) But no group has claimed responsibility, thus far.


Another instance of brothers fighting brothers. Can't the bitterness be removed?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

It would have been mom's 82nd birthday!

Had mom been with us, today would have been her 82nd birthday. 

The day was crowded with thoughts about mom. She was omnipresent despite her absence. Lekha had made a sweet dish, that she was fond of, for lunch. The snaps that I took last time were in circulation on our family's 'What'sApp' site, with everyone being voluble with his/her eulogy on her.

          *                                  *                                       *

1. Controversy being whipped up.

    An unnecessary controversy has picked up between the central government and the Congress
    party, along with the CPI, over the deep selection of the new army chief. The media, has gone
    overboard, by painting Lt Generals Praveen Bakshi and PM Hariz as not being suitable for the top
    job, an insinuation that holds no water. What seems to be forgotten is that it's their competence
    and perseverance that have brought them to their present professional appointments. Wonder
    who's guilty of spreading these canards - the government, to justify their anointment of the new
    incumbent, the opposition, to show that there's something fishy about the deep selection, the
    media that covers news bytes without adequate spadework, the bureaucrats, who always find
    pleasure to put the defence forces down or the protagonists, themselves, who feel bad that they've
    been wronged?

    What saddens me is that Gen Rawat starts his innings on the backfoot with all the discussions
     everywhere. Would he be able to look into the eyes of those whom he leads because of the
     nagging thought as to what they think of him? Sad! A prisoner of circumstances!!

 2. The poison that infests most of the food articles that we eat.

     Over the last few days, Asianet News channel has been broadcasting the details about poisonous
     stuff that infests the food that we eat. The green vegetables and the fruits, coming from the
     neighbouring Tamilnadu have been sprayed with toxic substances/pesticides like the Endosulphan
     to ensure their longevity and to give them those 'good' looks. The fish - to remain fresh looking for
     days - is mixed with the deadly Sodium Benzoate for preservation.

     It's common knowledge that the government neither has the wherewithal to ensure its ban nor
     does it have the resources to initiate a sustained campaign for its prevention. It's yet another
     investigation that will see several 'initiatives' being announced to tide over the media focus only
     to be dumped, soon after the spotlight moves elsewhere. What bothers me is that as a common
     man, my doubt is as to whether there is anything left that could be considered safe for human
     consumption? I mean, is there anything safe left, for us to eat?

     Why can't the vendors involved with food material practise ethics in their business?


One has always wondered as to why new ailments have started affecting us over the past few years. Isn't it becoming crystal clear that it has got a lot to do with the toxic materials that go into our system through our food intake and that too, in a sustained manner?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dad's 5th remembrance day and other stories.

I'd got up at a half past 5, gone through my chores and was ready by the time Anto, with his auto rickshaw had arrived at the gate and pressed the doorbell. The trip to the Thiruvenkitachalapati temple took under 10' and there was a short wait as Ramachandran Ilayathu(The 'ilayathu' group are the experts in the field that conducts such ceremonies) was preparing the venue for the conduct of the ceremony. There were about twenty five of us - both men and women - who'd arrived at the temple premises to partake in the ceremony and the spot was adjacent to the temple tank!

I'd changed my rig(One has to be topless, the gents only, mind you!) and taken my place. Sitting down cross legged for, even a short while, has become a Herculean task and the ceremony lasted for about 20'. I heard the gentleman sitting next to me asking for forgiveness from his dad as he went through the paces - did he ill treat his dad or did not look after him, I wonder? I mean why was he asking for forgiveness if he'd loved, respected and cared for his dad?

Once the ceremony was over, there was another round of sprinkling water on myself - the symbolism of having a bath - visited the temple to offer prayers, changed clothes and handed over my 'dakshina' to Ramakrishnan Ilayathu.

I'd returned, satisfied that I could concentrate and spend time for my dad during those 20'!

          *                               *                             *

The appointment of the new Army chief has raised a lot of heat, The new incumbent has superseded two of his seniors and hence, the debate. What's really sad is that the media has gone to town saying that the superseded officers lacked the requisite experience to become the chief which is wrong, biased and an unfair judgement of those officers! It must put a stop to such rumour mongering, forthwith. There doesn't seem to be any controversy regarding the Air Chief's appointment, thankfully!

When discussions veer down to seniority vs. merit, a whole lot of meanings are churned out much to the detriment of the organisation. In the process, the guy who's emerged the winner ends up looking the loser having acquired his new status through gratis! Sad!!

Had I been in that place, I'd have felt very conscious, wouldn't have been able to look into the eyes of my men, wondering as to what they thought of me after having heard of all the muck! What the people in the civvy street can never understand is the sacred bond that exists between a military leader and his men. He motivates them by setting an example in whatever he does and exhorts them to give the supreme sacrifice when the 'izzat' of the nation or the 'paltan' is under threat. Conversely, every man under his command is constantly looking up at him to understand as to what's in his leader that he doesn't have! 


Saw the reality show, 'The little super dancer' on Sony TV. The little ones - five of them - are powerhouses of talent. Congratulations, Ditya for having won the top spot! The remaining four were equally good and their progression is gonna begin.

Friday, December 16, 2016

A total washout!

Curtains have come down on the winter session of Parliament that saw no business being transacted! What a sad state of affairs? They could have:-

     (a) Legislated pending and new bills, towards tautening the governance.
     (b) Cleared the GST bill.
     (c) Discussed demonetisation threadbare - the government stating as to what has been achieved
           thus far, the pitfalls noticed during the drive and the necessary corrective actions to make it
           100% successful. The opposition could have given valuable inputs to streamline the
           implementation and thus, become part of a well intended move.

But these are the things done by responsible lawmakers, whose sole interest is the country's good and the well being of its people!

Do any of our parliamentarians care? It's an emphatic 'No'! To add to that, what do we see? Let's take a look:-

       (a) Sickening amounts of the new Rs.2,000/- notes retrieved from quite a few people, across the
            country and what's evident is that the culprits did get the support of the banking officials!
            Now, are these officials the frauds within that system or were they - at least a few of them -
            playing out the drama because of their political affiliations?
       (b) Congressmen demonstrate before the Governor of the RBI at Calcutta.
       (c) The co-operative banking sector has taken its grievances - at not being allowed to accept
             the old demonetised notes of Rs.1,000/- and Rs.500/- - to the Supreme Court. Thankfully,
             all the petitions filed on demonetisation at various courts of the country will now be dealt
             with by a Constitution Bench of the apex court.
       (d) Meanwhile, the media has been reporting about the tremendous(?) hardships suffered by the
            poor and the common man because of the erratic ATMs and the non availability of cash.
            During the recent trip to my village, after speaking to a cross section of the people, these
            were the inputs that I could get:-
                    (i) In such governmental drives, there will be difficulties but we must overcome it by
                         co-operating with the government agencies that are trying to implement a noble
                   (ii) It's good to see a PM who's decisive and takes bold decisions!
        (e) So, are the actions taken by the opposition the result of being rattled by the tremendous
              support the PM is getting for his actions?
        (f)  The Congress' unsubstantiated claims of Modi's corrupt dealings during his stint as the CM
              of Gujarat. They neither tabled the details on the floor of the Parliament nor have they come
              public about the insinuations, denting Rahul Gandhi's credibility which is sad!

Almost simultaneously, following have also happened:-

        (a) More details are emerging about the corruption-mired Agusta Westland Helicopter deal.
             Former defence minister, AK Antony's statement that only the IAF has to answer about
             the deal shows a degree of panic and gross ignorance(Simulated, to be precise) because
             how does that service initiate a project like buying choppers for civilian VVIPs, not at all
             connected to the IAF and hence, become answerable?
        (b) Adv Prashant Bhushan's caveat in the Supreme Court that the chief justice-designate should
              recuse himself from the cases related to demonetisation was unnecessary.
        (c) The sudden breakup of the opposition unity on the last day of the winter session of
              parliament is unfortunate because it has taken the pressure off the government to
              remove the glitches on the implementation of the demonetisation drive.


Sadly, not even one channel of the media mentioned the importance of this day, the Vijay Diwas(It was mentioned as a one line news in a couple!) It marks the end of the spectacular Indo-Pakistan conflict of '71 when our armed forces ensured the emergence of a new country, Bangladesh! It has became an event celebrated withing the confines of the defence establishments only!! Sad, shame on us, Indians for having let down our armed forces, yet again!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

The day had begun at 4 and Lekha was quick to make the morning cup of tea for the both of us. I'd actually, got up at 3 and finding that sleep was difficult to come by, said my prayers. We're ready by 6 but the caretaker wasn't available and hence were delayed by about 15'. As we passed the 'Sarpakkaavu' at Randalummoodu junction, I'd got down to deposit our offering at the receptacle kept there for the purpose - a habit that we've picked up from mom.

Our first halt was at the Ganapati kshetram at Kottarakkara where while Lekha had an elaborate 'darshan', I'd a short one. Half an hour later we'd resumed our journey and since it was comparatively early, the crowd was manageable to maneuver the car through! We, then, had the car topped up with fuel and the tyres' pressure checked at the petrol bunk that we frequent. The journey through the Punalur-Kayankulam road was smooth as the crowd was just picking up.

We're at the Kalpakavadi Inn by 8 and Bhadran was ready with his customary smile and pleasantness. Wolfed down 'appams and egg masala', washed it down with a cup of tea and resumed our journey. There was a scare about piling of traffic at the Kundannoor junction at Ernakulam - owing to the doctors' meet at the convention hall at the junction - that was passed on by the RJ on the FM channel, Radio Mango, Salini and I'd made a mental note to detour via the Thoppumpady route, through the Willingdon Island and had informed Lekha about it, when the same RJ went on to announce that the Thevara Junction - that came by soon after the Island - was also clogged! I decided to press on, on the Kundannoor route and to our relief, found that the clutter had dissipated by then!

A brief stop to ease ourselves at the swanky wayside stopover, ten kms after Angamaly and we're on time for lunch at the Saravana Bhavan short off the Paliyekkara toll! Nair, who'd come on the afternoon duty, had a strange request - my contribution for his house building as his grant from the panchayat was taking its own sweet time! I told him that I'd contribute my mite by the first week of next month! And later, for the nth time, Lekha tried to impress upon me to say an emphatic 'no' to such requests. It's my weakness, perhaps, of not being able to say 'nyet', especially, to Nair, who smilingly receives us whenever we visit the place, opens the car doors, sees us safely through the rains with his umbrella and he was always at hand to help mom, during our numerous visits with her! 

We're at 'The Quarterdeck' by a half past 2 and I went about opening up the house while Lekha did the unpacking! A quick snooze for an hour after which we went about our usual chores and the soiled clothes were put into the washing machine. The walk was nice and met many of the usual people that I come across and it was a quiet evening, thereafter!


We'd clocked a distance of 580 kms this time and were able to do all that we'd wanted. Great!    

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The evening at Raj Nivas.

We're up with the lark and got ready leisurely as we'd to be at the venue of the wedding only by a half past 10. After a sumptuous breakfast of 'appam and stew', we're off for the venue by 10. Vishnu, from my office, had come to collect a few papers and my personal effects.

The wedding was well organised and I must compliment Lekshmi and Aniyan for the meticulous manner that they had put in to pull off a glitch less event. Here's us wishing Gayathri and Anoop everything that they wish for. The couple is off to Switzerland on Anoop's professional jaunt which will be combined as their honeymoon outing!

We're, then, off to Paravoor to look up Kurup Kochachhan and bought the red bananas that he's fond of, from a shop at the outskirts of Kollam. Boy, didn't we surprise them - kochachhan and Vijayan Kurup, his nurse. Prayed at Leela kunjamma's cremation site. We'd spent about an hour before we set off for Kottarakkara. He looks good and was responding well during the process of our conversation. He's the senior most member of the PN Panicker family at 89 yrs. He has been advised to avoid sweet foods as his blood sugar has gone up and from that viewpoint, our pack of bananas was misplaced. Seeing our discomfiture, he said, "Don't you worry, the doctor has only told me to be careful and these would not upset the readings".

The drive to Kottarakkara via Chathannoor was nice and we fetched up at Letha's (Lekha's elder sister) place about half an hour later. After a bit of conversation with Murukesan and while the sisters were exchanging notes I caught up with my 40 winks! Soon after tea we set off for Raj Nivas and as I'd said earlier, I was very excited to reach there. After opening up the house, I'd gone to talk to my mom and dad at their resting place. I'd told them about why we're here and also our subsequent programme. It did give me a nice feeling. Grass and weeds have once again sprouted all over the area and the caretaker has been to have them removed shortly, after the rains cease..

Sasi, the president of the local unit of the Nair Service Society, had dropped by about 8 o'clock and I handed over Rs.2 grand as advance towards the booking of the Thrikkonnamarkodu Devi Temple's auditorium for the conduct of Ammu's wedding on 21 May '17. By doing so, the major milestones towards Ammu's betrothal ceremony and the wedding are now, firmly in place.

The evening was quiet but we did have a stream of visitors and most of them were keen to know as to when we'd return to stay there permanently. The sitting room is crowded with the photographs of my paternal and maternal grandparents, mom and dad and by just looking at them, I got the feeling that they're all there, watching us!


21 May also happens to be Rema and Padmakumar's 27th wedding anniversary. A cake needs to be cut and their great day remembered in a fitting manner!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

At Kollam.

The day had begun at a quarter past 4 for us and our plan was to take off by a half past 6, but rains had delayed it by another 10'. I didn't want to get out of the car, into the rain, to close and lock up the two gates behind us and get wet, in the bargain. Further, there was a wait of about ten minutes at the level cross for the quarter to 7 passenger, to Ernakulam, to pass by.

It was rains all the way and we reached the Saravana Bhavan, near the Paliyekkara toll just in time for breakfast. Nair was on security duty who saw us through the rain into the restaurant under his umbrella. The rains persisted till Ernakulam and after that there was no trace of it and it was sunny all the way - the result of cyclone, Vardah's dance in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh.

There was a thrill, this time, at going to Raj Nivas as both, mom and dad were there! We should be there by about 3 in the afternoon tomorrow, after attending Gayathri's (Daughter of Lekha's friend, Lekshmi of Kollam) wedding.

The evening's reception was a grand affair and we could meet many of our friends after a long time. Lekha was thrilled as many of her friends had fetched up and it was nice to see them interacting with each other with no holds barred and with a gay abandon! The food was nice with a wide variety of choices. I tucked in and must confess that I ate myself silly!!

The drive back to the hotel wasn't a problem at all as, thankfully, I'd got all the traffic lights and the turns right, for a change. Of course, I'd taken the help of two people enroute to ensure that I was headed the right way.

Earlier, my director had got in touch with me to ascertain the place of stay and the duration that I was gonna be here at Kollam. He'll be sending Vishnu tomorrow morning.


Must look up Kurup Kochachhan tomorrow, before heading for Raj Nivas. It'll be a detour alright but needs to be done as I'd promised him.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

What the foreigners carry with them after their India visit.

I'd come across an interesting article about what many foreigners invariably carry with them after their visit to this great country of ours. It shows that we can definitely be proud of our culture and the traditions that we follow appeal to the others too. So, without much ado, I'm gonna run through those aspects:-

    * Cooling tea in a saucer.
       The hottest of beverages can be downed within no time!
    * Using hands to dig into that sumptuous meal.
       Nothing like enjoying a scrumptious meal with the ultimate licking of the palm and the fingers
       because the taste lingers!
    * Taking footwear off before entering someone's house.
       Deep within your heart, you know that your footwear has trod on filth or trash. Removing them
       shows good habits and your insistence on not soiling your host's house!
    * Using toilets the 'Indian way'.
        People have long realised that the prostate gland is greatly trouble free if one squatted on Indian
        toilets however difficult it's to use, during advancing age and when one has arthritic related
        problems! The one with a paunch will find it very difficult to squat. 
        People have, even, got used to perching on a western toilet in the same manner and
        the faucet that provides water at high pressure will make people think twice before using the 
        toilet paper! 
    * Answering people by moving head from side to side instead of nodding.
       Now, this one confuses even me! In Kerala, this is rampant and can catch your goat!! Well!!!
    * Wearing bright colours with elan.
       And why not? But these could be a strict no-no if one were to look up a patient in the hospital or
       even while attending an interview!
    * 'Jugaad', because India has got talent.
       Well, nothing more needs to be said on this issue!
    * Using words like 'Aiyo' and 'Achha'.
       Well, since we use them, we know as to how effective these words are to convey our point of view!


Pushpaakaran had come home by 9, to do spring cleaning, six months after he'd done it last. He's done a good job and by the end of it, 'The Quarterdeck' was sparkling. However, he too missed mom and said that he missed seeing mom walking with me in the evenings and said a lot of nice things about the way I'd looked after her. What he doesn't realise is that the pain lingers deep within me for not having given my all for mom!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A knowledge that I acquired today.

My senior in the Academy(He was in the 5th term while I was a first termer. We never came across each other till our appointment at INS Chilka, together, during 1989-'90. He's a person who can handle snakes and cook its meat with elan!). He's soft spoken and a great guy to be with who's happy with the simple things of life - like say, going for a long drive or trekking up a difficult hill.

One late evening, after a comparatively early dinner, we'd gone hunting for wild boars and somewhere through the drive, I managed to drive my Standard Herald(Cleopatra) into a shallow ditch - the retrieval was easy, thankfully and the only resultant damage was that the brake fluid had bled with the result that the return drive was without the luxury of the brakes - a fact that I'd hidden from my co-passengers in the excitement, lest I scared them!

MJ Paul sir is currently the Master of an Offshore Supply Vessel(OSV) equipped with a dynamic positioning system(DPS) and is operating off the Krishna-Godavari Basin, off the eastern coast, somewhere near Kakinada. The cyclone 'Vardah' necessitated the clearing away of personnel from the ship as she had come in the way of the cyclone. To avoid missing on any of the details, I shall quote him verbatim from the chat that we'd on the What'sApp regarding the connected operations,
            "The vessel has been made watertight. Mooring wires adjusted to prevent anchors from
             dragging and all stability adjustments carried out to ensure maximum reserve of buoyancy
             at all times. She'll ride out the storm without her crew. We shall drink to her luck and good
             health. We'd shut down the power supply and locked up all compartments and are currently 
             lodged in a decent hotel at Rajahmundry - the land known for the 'Devadasi' system that it
             follows, as a tradition!

             Once the cyclone passes over, the first lot of personnel - the Master plus seven - will be
             disembarked back on board the ship by chopper who, go on to start the emergency generator,
             open up the hoods of all mushrooms and the closed flaps. Then all the external doors and
             hatches are opened up, so as to ventilate the ship. The engine room is then accessed, the 
             ventilation blowers are started and finally, the air conditioning system is started. The whole
             sequence of events will take more than half a day before normalcy is restored.

             The rest of the crew - 42 along with the ONGC personnel totaling 120 - will, then, arrive at
             the OSV. Then, starts the seamanship evolution of adjusting the mooring wires to reposition
             the ship exactly over the well so as to enable the re-entry of personnel to work in the oil rig". 

Interesting, but tough life this! Paul sir takes it all in his stride and is quite happy with the situation!
His wife, Jaya, who'd recently undergone an angioplasty and now, has a stent within her system is at Kochi while their son, Ajay and his family are at Visakhapatnam.


1. A quiet Sunday when further aspects were put in place in connection with Ammu's engagement ceremony and her wedding!
2. I'd headlined this thought of mine as 'new knowledge' simply because I was always under the impression that ships deliberately steered clear off the path of a cyclone by following Buys Ballot's Law in meteorology which says, "In the northern hemisphere, if a person stands with his back to the wind, the atmospheric pressure is low to the left and high to the right. This is because wind travels counter clockwise around low pressure zones in the northern hemisphere. It's approximately true in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere and is reversed in the southern hemisphere. In layman's terms, if a mariner were to be to the right of a cyclone/tropical storm making landfall, he's in the dangerous quadrant in the northern hemisphere and vice versa, while in the southern hemisphere!" 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My queries.

There are a lot of queries that I have in connection with the happenings these days. I've heard about wheels within wheels and the shadowy, yet vicious presence of the fifth columnists who do not want this country to become great and consequently, try to sabotage the good things that the government in power is trying to initiate/set in motion! Furthermore, there are discussions on important matters that need the opinions of a wide range of the society to arrive at meaningful legislation of the laws that would ultimately govern them.

(a) The Arrest of ex-Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi.

        Ex-Air Chief marshal SP Tyagi has been remanded to CBI custody in connection with the
        Agusta Westland chopper acquisition scam. It's an ignominous thing to happen for the chair of
        the highest IAF officer because the incumbents so chosen are from a bunch of people that follow
        a strict honour code, whose underlying motto is "Service Before Self".

        Now, whom are you trying to kid when the whole world knows that in a democracy, important
        military decisions are taken at the highest levels comprising the defence minister and the
        bureaucrats under him, based on the recommendations of the individual service? In that sense,
        the then defence minister, the defence secretary and the DG Acquisition must share the blame
        equally and must be brought to book. The former Air Chief marshal is accused of having                     received bribes for having changed the qualifying requirements(QRs) of the chopper which,
        essentially, is a collective decision. And what about the rep of the MoD(Finance) who has an
        important role when costs get affected due to changing QRs?

        He's already revealed the involvement of the then PMO. It's hoped that he speaks out the names
        of all those who're guilty so they can be brought to book at the earliest! And no, by saying this
        he's not absolved of the accusations because he should have put his foot down and put in his
        papers, then, when moves were afoot to change the QRs, because that was the honourable thing
        to do.

(b) The Recovery of Illegal Collection of the New Currency Notes.

      The continuing news of recovering illegal collection of the new currency notes (That of
      of Rs.2,000/-) shows a deeper malaise. While these are on short supply to the general public,
      the difficulty in using the high denomination note by a common man notwithstanding, how
      do such huge amounts find their way into the wrong hands? And if some news reports were to be
      believed, its counterfeit has also been impounded. So, how does this happen? Let me hazard a

              (i) There are enough people who'd like the government's initiative on demonetisation
                   to fail. They could be the dealers/fixers/manipulators sucking up to their political
                   ideologies that include the black marketeers and the hoarders whose very existence
                   has been threatened under the circumstances.
             (ii) The banks themselves or more rightly, the people who serve in them who, again, go
                   by their political leanings.

        Is it, then, the handiwork of the above categories, egged on by the fifth columnists?

       A thorough and hard crackdown on the defaulters, by the government, is a must as things attain
       normalcy by the 50 day mark, as assured by the PM.


Read an interesting article about assumptions that influence rape verdicts, universally which are:-

        (a) A virgin suffers more than a married woman.
              It's my opinion that the suffering caused is the same for both the virgin and the married.
              The mental turmoil and the feeling of having been 'dirtied', along with the soul is all
              pervading and devastating.

         (b) If the victim is not injured, it could imply consent.
               A statement that doesn't hold water. Somewhere in the course of the assault, the victim
               responds, however much the individual wants to resist thanks to the physical attributes
               of a human body and it's that aspect that makes the victim to feel 'dirty'.
         (c) Acquaintance rape considered less traumatic than by a stranger.
               I'd again contest it by virtue of my answer given against sl(b). 




Friday, December 9, 2016

When the elders of the family descended without notice.

The day had begun on a quiet note. Lekha and her assistant had gone to town to get a few things done and a cheque that I'd filled to be handed over to the manager of the hotel, in which rooms have been booked for Ammu's engagement ceremony, turned out to be wrongly done....the date was written as 09 Dec 2012! Why and how I made that mistake was out of my comprehension. A quick dash to replace the cheque and in the process, told Vrinda, my cousin who'd called me then, that I'd call her later.

Later on, around lunchtime when I'd called her up did I realise that they're already at Guruvayur and felt a pang of regret that I should have taken that call and invited them to my house. They'd arrived by a half past 2 at night and had taken rooms in a hotel, close to the temple. Unni kochachhan(83), Santha kunjamma(81) and Sarala kunjamma(79) along with Sarala kunjamma's children - Vrinda and Veena. They're a group of eight and had come to pay their obeisance to Guruvayurappan. As Vrinda put it, it was the ongoing part of a religious journey to pass through the bad phase of her life.

They'd gone - minus Unni kochachhan - to look up Radhan chettan, who's recuperating at his home. He is on a slow road to recovery with the dressing on his foot being changed, every three days! They'd fetched up at our place, after that, by teatime. On a personal level, I'm invariably taken back to my childhood days whenever I see the two sisters - Santha kunjamma used to carry me around when I was in diapers, often to my mom's displeasure who felt that her child had to be left to himself and enjoyed from far. She relived those days, went around 'The Quarterdeck' as she was visiting us for the first time, reminisced her ill fated marriage to Pandey chettan - who'd his roots in Maharashtra - that was short lived (Precisely for ten months) leaving her with a son, Unni. She's extremely beautiful and Pandey chettan was quite possessive about her and abhorred her interaction with any guy and at Muthachan's place there was no dearth of guests. In fact, she currently stays with Unni, his wife and a daughter in the house adjacent to their ancestral house, 'Puthuvayil Veedu' - which is a national monument in the making, being the house in which the legendary, PN Panicker was born and had spent his childhood!

Sarala kunjamma, had joined us later and spent time at the Raj Nivas at Kottarakkara to help mom, during her days as the Kura Post Mistress. We children were bathed and given food while mom carried out her professional commitments. She had left for Neelamperoor short of her marriage to Unni kochachhan who was a film representative. He used to visit us quite often, at Raj Nivas, as to quote him, "It was always like coming to my home!"  

I'd gone to drop them at the hotel and to meet up with Unni kochachhan. He looked healthy, has put on weight, is hard of hearing with occasional bouts of dementia but what really touched me was the manner in which he'd got up to sit bolt upright on the bed that he was lying down, on seeing me.

It's the love of these elders that makes life really worth living.


They'll be leaving by the afternoon train tomorrow, for Puthupally, after seeing Guruvayurappan on the 'Ekadasi' day.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Putting things in place.

The countdown for my niece, Ammu's engagement ceremony scheduled on 29 Jan '17, is on. Rema had fetched up from Palakkad by 10 AM for the purpose. She and Lekha were to go to each of the proposed sites, look into various details to match them with our requirements before zeroing in on the most acceptable and to pay up the advances, accordingly. They've done a neat job and we've selected our choices. The following factors were taken into consideration:-

     (a) The hall and the rooms, where the guests stay, have to be in the vicinity so that minimum
           distances were to be traversed.
     (b) The decoration of the hall has to be tasteful not loud or garish.
     (c)  Food was to be traditional and reasonable in rates.
     (d) The dining area had sufficient water points for wash and rest rooms, good looking and clean.
     (e)  The trickle of guests were expected from PM 28 and they'd depart by PM 29. The hotel had
            to cater for the evening tea with a light snack, supper and the morning tea/coffee.
     (f)  Minimum number of steps to traverse and a few ground floor rooms had to be earmarked for
           the elders from both sides.
     (g) The overall budget would be controlled as we did not have money to splurge or waste on
           ostentatious celebrations.
     (h) The elegance and the simplicity of the event were to be on focus.
     (j)  Every guest will get personal attention from us, the hosts, as the numbers would be under 100.

Rema returned to Palakkad by 1420 hrs after setting up things. I'd seen her off from the nearest bus stop.

     *                                *                                 *

Today was the beginning of the Kerala Government's 'Haritha Keralam' initiative. Towards this drive, a group of bright, young girls from the nearby Little Flower College had come by to enlighten us about managing our waste with specific reference to plastic left overs. I was glad that the team was well briefed by their college from the way they spoke. I was struck by two things:-

      * Most of the college going girls looked quite small as against their age and many of them
         would have been mistaken for school going kids. Is it the trend of the times? Or has it got
         anything to do with the junk food that kids have and thereby, missing on the essential
         nutrients for a fair growth?
      * There was a sizeable crowd of kids in the group. Was it to give them enough courage to
         tackle the people that they'd come across? The trend of burning plastic is resorted to by most.

Since Lekha was out, I'd done the interaction with the team. They thanked me in unison for being co-operative and attentive to their explanation.


Thrust in agriculture seems to be the aim of the 'Haritha Keralam' exercise. Let's hope that the programme doesn't lose steam, midway, as many government schemes have shown before.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Today's an interesting day.

Ole (Olaus) Roemer, a Danish astronomer, had calculated the speed of light this day (07 Dec 1676), 340 years ago! He did so by observing the eclipses of Jupiter's moon, Io, during the years 1668 to 1674.

     * By timing the eclipses of the Jupiter moon, Roemer estimated that light would take 22 minutes
        to travel a distance equal to the diameter of the Earth's orbit around the sun.

     * The speed of light in a vacuum is 1,86,282 miles/second (2,99,792 kms/sec).

     * In theory, nothing can travel faster than light.

     * If one could travel at the speed of light, one can go around the earth 7.5 times in one second.

Roemer's measurement is based on the following assumptions:-

     * Io orbits around around Jupiter and the time it takes is 42.5 hrs.
     * If an observer stays at a constant distance from Jupiter, he will see that it comes out of the
        eclipse at the same interval of 42.5 hrs.
     * The Earth revolves around the Sun once a year.
     * Because the distance between Earth and Jupiter is changing, Io eclipse interval will change.

     *                           *                           *

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

Our day had commenced at 5 AM. Since Saly had gone for her yoga classes, it was Lekha who'd made the morning cuppa for the three of us. We were on our return journey by a 20' to 7. The road was comparatively free, with sparse traffic and passing through Kadavanthra, Vyttila and Idapalli junctions hardly took any time. Breakfast was at the Saravana Bhavan, short of the Paliyekkara toll plaza. Viswambharan, the security guy at the hotel was anguished and surprised when I'd told him about mom.

We're at Guruvayur, half an hour later and we'd made two stops - one at the chemist's to buy a medicine for Lekha and the other at the ICICI Bank to drop my credit card cheque in the drop box. Immediately on reaching home, I'd gone to the nearby internet cafe to scan my voter's ID card and send it to my office at Kollam as I'd promised, Vishnu, yesterday.


Why do Hindus cremate their dead?

Hindus believe that burning the body to destroy it, helps the departed soul to get over any residual attachment it may have developed for the deceased person! Burial, among the Hindus, are only for holy men, saints and children < three years, the belief being that the former two would have attained a level of detachment!!

Something that I'd come across recently.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lekha's review.

And finally, it was the day of the reckoning and Lekha's review by her doctor after two months. There was a slight change in our programme, in that, Vishnu from my office at Kollam had come by the Venad express to collect my personal particulars and signatures on two forms, which when submitted to the bank at Chathannoor will get our bank accounts transferred from Thiruvananthapuram. After handing over two passport size photographs, a copy of my PAN card and a copy of my identity card to Vishnu, we'd dropped him at Kadavanthra on our way to Shenoy's Care.

Lekha's appointment was at 12 but by the time we'd met the doctor and were off to our next serial, it was a quarter to 3. I've never understood the sequence in which the patients were presented to the doctor but I've reasons to believe that a haphazardness/vagueness exists whereby the minions, in between, have a way of pushing their favourites towards the front of the queue!

I'd three queries to ask of the doctor based on Lekha's recent blood and urine analyses:-
      (a) Why has her white blood corpuscles' count reduced from 8,300 two months back to 5,600
            this time, though it's well within acceptable limits?
      (b) There has been a persistent 2 to 4/HPF pus cells in her urine over the last three reports which
            means she has a mild urinary tract infection. Isn't it harmful to the kidneys?
      (c) There has been an on-off pain around her left knee which has been a worrying factor.

The doctor had allayed our fears on all the three but has suggested a biopsy of her liver within the next six months to a year.

We'd then gone across to the canteen to buy grocery, a delayed lunch of hamburgers and cold coffee after which we're off to the Seematti showroom to pick up a gift for Gayatri, whose wedding we'll be attending, at Kollam, next Wednesday. We'd visited my grand aunt, soon after, though she was fast asleep - we touched her feet and interacted with Ramakrishnan and the others.

We're back at Jojy's place a trifle after sunset and wasn't li'l Shanaya thrilled to see us with her for another evening? It was a nice way to unwind after a hectic day.


It's gonna be an early morning tomorrow as we prepare to return to Guruvayur at 6 AM.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Off to Kochi.

It's a leisurely morning as our kicking off for Kochi was delayed till after lunch. Did my morning bit of exercises by walking Padmakumar up to the gate and by using the stairs. After that it was a long chat with my sister and Achu, who'd returned after the night shift. There were a few more things tied up for the ensuing days towards the preparation for Ammu's betrothal ceremony!

After a quick lunch of lemon rice and assorted stuff, rustled up by Rema, we'd set off for Kochi via the Marico plant to drop Achu for his shift, commencing at 1400 hrs. It was about 12 kms on the reciprocal to our intended course and by a quarter past 2, we're headed for our destination. Enroute, we'd tea and a snack at a wayside eatery, short of the Paliyekkara toll booth. Its proprietor, Eldo, gave us his personal attention that made the experience memorable and we spent almost a three quarter of an hour because of it - a long duration compared to the normal time that we apportion for such breaks!

It's a nice evening with Jojy, Saly, Mily, their daughter-in-law and Shanaya, their powerhouse, full-of-chatter and adorable grand daughter. Meanwhile, the news about the death of Jayalalitha, the chief minister of Tamilnadu, had come about at 1700 hrs only to be retracted a few minutes later. The eventual announcement came around 2330 hrs!

      *                            *                               *

The news about the tipping over of INS Betwa at the naval dockyard at Bombay is a sad one. Another naval mishap during peacetime! I'm sure the inquiry will come out with the facts leading to the mishap so that the IN takes corrective actions to prevent recurrence of a similar tragedy! The ship was docked along with two other vessels and it was during the undocking operation when tragedy had struck. I pity the Commander-in-Chief to have a tipped ship in his backyard while the entire crowd is visiting his base, for a look see, on the occasion of the navy week!

A painful spot of news for people like me, a veteran! My opinion is that it's a teamwork that has gone awry!! Sad!!!


It's sad that Ms. Jayalalitha, the chief minister of Tamilnadu, has passed into the mist of time and it's understandable that holiday is declared within the state to enforce the mourning formalities. It's, however, not understood as to why the schools and government offices have been shut down in neighbouring Kerala and why it should be a national holiday. A day's mourning, to my mind, would have been adequate. A case of going overboard on emotions and protocol!

But it's worthwhile to run through what she has done for her people:-
     (a) Every child that has passed class X gets a free bicycle.
     (b) Every child that passes 10 plus 2 gets a laptop.
     (c) A child that's born in a government hospital gets a kit containing soap, talcum powder, child
          wear, diapers, towel, oil, shampoo called the 'Amma born baby kit'!
     (d) Free natal care.
     (e) A government servant on childbirth can be on leave for a year to tend her child and her pay
          is put into her bank account.
     (f) If the newborn is a girl child, the government provides Rs.50 grand for her wedding expenses
          along with the wedding pendant(Thaali).
     (g) The poor gets a television set, wet grinder, mixer and other appliances, necessary in any
           household, from the government.
     (h) The poorest of the poor gets food from the 'Amma canteens', dotting every nook and corner
           of the state, for Re.1/-!

I've two questions connected to this, which are:-
     (a) A welfare state breeds inefficient and lazy people. Is this the reason for the stoppage of the
          migration of the Tamilians into neighbouring Kerala, in search of work? The migrant workers
          from east and north east India have substituted them though!
     (b) The contractors supplying the wide range of items to the people must be making hay while
           the sun shines. Do they plough back a share of the profits accrued from the massive sale to
           the politicians or the party that have landed them the contract?

Something to ponder.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

My first assignment as the family patriarch!

The day had begun at 3, this morning when we'd gone through our chores and the four of us - Padmakumar, Rema, Lekha and I - had set off for Payyannur. We'd young Appu behind the wheel to ensure our arrival at the destination, by 1100 hrs, to avoid embarrassment for the boy, Midhun's folks. A word about Midhun - he and Ammu had first met at Manipal within the premises of the banking training center and Cupid had done the needful.

We left Palakkad at 20' past 4 and had hit the highway that had sparse traffic at that time of the day. After a sumptuous breakfast at an eatery on the bypass to the town of Kozhikode at a half past 7, we'd resumed our onward journey and reached Payyannur by 7' past 11. Ammu's dad and her uncle had already fetched up in the morning - the former, from Bangalore and the latter, from Ayoor! Without much ado, a vehicle had taken us straight to Midhun's mother's uncle's place to discuss and finalise the details of the forthcoming events.

Accordingly, we'd arrived at a common decision for the engagement ceremony to take place at 29 Jan '17 at Guruvayur (Midhun's mom had expressed a desire to have one ceremony at Guruvayur while Ammu's mom wanted to have the other at the Thrikkonnamarkodu devi's temple at my parents' place) and the wedding to be solemnised at the temple near my parents' house! The exact date of the wedding shall be decided at the engagement ceremony from the window of 16 Apr to 15 May after taking everyone's point of view and their availability. After having decided on the essentials, we'd joined Midhun's family, for breaking the ice, over a high tea. The entire sequence of events had not taken more than an hour.

We'd lunch at a hotel nearby and by a half past 2, embarked on our return trip.The traffic was less, compared to that of a working day but tragedy struck while negotiating the early stretch of the Kozhikode bypass when Appu had gathered sufficient speed to overtake a vehicle, that was caught by the 'Doppler' of a mobile Police Control Room. The circle inspector, at the spot, showed 'benevolence' to Appu - seeing his demeanour but refused to accept the simple fact that a bit of acceleration was required for overtaking and therefore, the burst of speed justified - by fining him Rs.300/- instead of the customary Rs.1,000/-, wonder why? I refused to reason it out with him because the policeman's explanation had failed to satisfy me.

The return journey took more time, in that, we reached back at my sister's place by about 2130 hrs. After settling down at home we'd worked out a rough calculation on the expenses in connection with Ammu's impending marriage.

........A day well spent. I think I can be happy on my first assignment as the patriarch of the family because everyone said so.


(a) There were calls, messages and What'sApp initiatives from friends and relatives with wishes on the occasion of the Navy Day.
(b) Will be staying with Jojy and Saly for the first day of our stay at Kochi.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Off to Palakkad.

Was up with the lark as usual and after lighting the lamp, went about shutting down 'The Quarterdeck' as a prelude to our long journey. Saw a missed call from Jayettan, whose daughter had got married here, the day before yesterday, but connecting up with him seemed to be impossible because there was a continuous engaged tone emanating from his telephone. It was only when my cousin had called up from Kochi, that the fog had lifted, because he'd wanted to confirm as to whether I could make myself available at the Hotel Devaragam to be one of the witnesses for the marriage certificate of Sreevidya and Pradeep, that was to be issued by the Municipality.

I found the environment in the office quite stifling. Many of the overhead lights were not switched on, neither were the fans(Perhaps, it was to prevent the documents from flying off) nor were the air conditioners. Wonder how the staff can work in such stuffy conditions? We'd reached the place by a half past 11 and could leave with the certificate only by a quarter to two! Despite a proliferation of computers, the delay in transactions was mysterious to my restless mind. The reason was actually quite simple, it's an average Indian's - especially, a Malayalee's - attitude of keeping people waiting because he derives a strange 'sense of power' out of it! Sad!!

After a quick lunch, we'd set off for Palakkad. This was for the first time that we're doing this route after mom's passing away and that thought was hanging heavy. I'd even glanced behind at the rear seat to have a glimpse of mom by some sort of miracle!.......What's that old saying, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride". Mom, I really missed you!

The traffic was quite easy despite the fact that it was a weekend and we reached my sister's house before 4. Madhavan, the security man and my sister were at hand to receive us. It was nice to interact with Achu after what has been a long time. He seems to be enjoying his new job at Marico and is proud of the responsibilities that the company has assigned to him! The gawky lad is slowly transforming to a confident man, who laughs easily!!

Padmakumar had come from his office by a quarter to 7. Over another hot cup of tea with him, we discussed the details, threadbare, of what we'd talk with Ammu's fiance's folks. It was comparatively an early evening to cater for the long day ahead, tomorrow!


Ikka, next door, is quite impressed with our travel itinerary. What I realised was that he misses us when we go out on our short forays! I've given him a rundown of our journey this time.