Sunday, December 31, 2017

The year that was.

As we've reached the end of yet another calendar year, I thought that it would be worthwhile to look back at what had unfolded over the last 365 days that made it eventful. It had definitely traversed at a hectic pace that saw me gasping for breath, literally, at times. I'm going strictly on a very personal note....

Firstly, the momentous happenings that had taken place within the family. Midhun and Ritu were added to the PN Panicker family as partners, for life, for Ammu and Akhil, respectively. The Prime Minister's tryst with us on 17 Jun, at the auditorium of the St Theresa's College, was another feather to the Foundation's cap. His mention of the Foundation's tradition of receiving guests at functions, with a book, in his 'Mann ki Baat' radio programme of June showed as to how impressed he was with the custom begun by the great PN Panicker, years ago.

And then, there were the painful transitions. Vinod Kumar Vasudev, my classmate from school due to a massive cardiac arrest, Ramakrishnan's mom who was 104 years old, Resmi's husband, Suresh due to cancer of the gum, Sasi Pillai, our caretaker of old due to a massive heart attack and Ikka, our friendly neighbour due to complications of the lungs had passed into the mist of time. The void that they've caused in our lives has caused us immense pain but each one of them has left behind wonderful memories that shall be treasured for the years to come.

We had a vibrant get together of our classmates at Kochi. Though we'd have loved the quorum to be larger, it was an unforgettable three days at an elegant hotel, near the airport and a nostalgic journey down memory lane. The Muziris' trail, that was part of the itinerary, gave us plenty of time to interact with each other and in the process, understand an important aspect of Kerala's history.

And it was also the year that taught me many lessons. They were hard and painful which shook me out of my stupor of thinking too big about myself. By insisting on putting across my point of view, I'd trampled the sensitivities of many, making 'enemies-of-them-for-life' in the bargain. I realise that it's good that it has happened because such churning makes one mature and more responsive to others' feelings. I hope to be a better person....


Drove to my sister's place at Palakkad to ring in the new year. Was in time for lunch and a scrumptious one at that! Achu was off to Kochi with his friends to watch the ISL match between the Kerala Blasters and Bangalore FC, which the former lost 3-1. Disappointing, said the youngster, on return.

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"No change since last sitrep". From K Vipinachandran.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Finally, the much awaited 'Roll Call'.

In military parlance, it's during the 'Roll Call' that a headcount is taken of a group to ascertain that everybody is in and accounted for at the start and the end of every exercise that's undertaken.

Such a roll call is taking place in Assam today when the Registrar General of India publishes the "part draft" of the National Register of Citizens to identify migrants who have illegally entered Assam from Bangladesh after 25 Mar '71. It's a very delicate matter that has to be dealt with sensitively and quick, remedial measures taken to ensure that those who do not figure in the roll are provided with security and safe passage to their motherland. The correct handling will enhance the prestige of the country among the other nations which are grappling with similar issues.

I hope that the 'vote bank politics' will be brought under check in due course!

2. Padmavati is now Padmavat.

A panel has sat through the movie and suggested a change in the name, 5 modifications and an initial notice that the movie doesn't claim historical accuracy and doesn't glorify the practice of 'Sati'. The    fringe group 'Karni Sena' is yet to announce its stand, subsequent to the new developments.

It's a sad thing that a film maker's artistic freedom has been diluted! But thankfully, we'd be able to view the much awaited film soon.

3. Yet Another Judge Retires.

The special court looking into the Naroda Patya case of Gujarat's infamous riots of '02 is left without a judge because of the retirement of Justice PB Desai. Before him, the first judge to take on the case was Justice SH Vohra who'd handed over to Ms. Jyotsna Yagnik in May '08 on being appointed a judge in the Gujarat High Court. She'd retired in '13 which saw the ascension of Justice Desai. 


A day that taught me many lessons. It was hard and painful but I realise that it was good that it happened because such churning makes one mature and responsive to others' feelings. What I liked best was that both the young and the old fired from their hips without frills - the only way that it's done.

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Under observation in the ICU. No change". From K Vipinachandran,     

Friday, December 29, 2017

Adieu Joseph Pulikunnel sir.

Joseph Pulikunnel - all of 85 years - passed into the mist of time today. He was  cremated at his residence in Hosanna Mount in Edamattom, near Pala and his funeral pyre was lit by his grandchildren as per his will.

A social reformer and a critic of the church, his main concerns were on contemporary religious and social problems, including the plight of the poor and the minorities. He was known for his independent and scholarly views on the state of the established church in India.

He used to address issues related to marriages and funerals that were entangled in the rules of the church. When his wife had passed away in '08, her body was cremated in his residential premises. There were no pretenses as he lived by his ideals and beliefs.

RIP sir. My tears and prayers. May your principled path be the guideline for the future generations in taking on the wrongs of the society.

      *                       *                        *

Some Worrying Aspects of the Recent Violence.

The spate of violence, between the CPM and the RSS in Kannur, have shown certain disturbing trends as per media reports. Listing them out, the following are worth pondering upon by the well meaning people in society to bring about an end to the mindless attitude of hate and crime:- 

     (a) The peace meetings are held frequently but the decisions arrived at such discussions are never
           followed by the concerned parties.
     (b) 'Do not kill but leave the person maimed for the rest of his life' seems to be the new tactic.
     (c)  People without any criminal background and not active in party activities are being targeted.

Is it because the leaders of the higher rung of every political party do not educate their grass roots level workers to prevent such mishaps by asking them to avoid violence at any cost? By being mum on the issue they seem to endorse the cycle of violence, which is serious.

      *                        *                           *

Sports sans Sportsmanship.

The ugly brawl at the wrestling trials for next year's Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast between the Sushil Kumar and Parveen Rana groups is a bad show. It's petty politics among the players and the management that has been a bane in Indian Sports all this while. The result has been the lack of results in the form of wins and medals in the international arena. Why can't these people think about the country's name and honour?


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin. 

"The CT scan had shown pus formation in the brain where the surgery was done and the doctor has surmised that this could be the reason for the frequent fevers. This afternoon, that pus was removed by another surgery and consequently, Mohan has been put on ventilator support at the neuro ICU, for observation, over the next 48 hrs". From K Vipinachandran.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Promotion of Digital Payments.

The day had begun at a quarter past 4, had gone through the chores and I was ready when Antony had come at the gate with his auto rickshaw. There wasn't much of a queue at the ticket counter but the newspaper vendor was missing. Hence, I'd nothing to read except for the What'sApp messages - a very poor substitute! The train was 33' late as the early morning train from Madras was late. Probably it was because of this late start of the train, that we didn't have to wait enroute for crossings and overtaking!

I was the first to reach the venue followed by Aniyan and we were kept engaged by CG Vasudevan Nair chettan. He's still sprightly at 83 years but is now grappling with a medical problem of reduced Hb at 7.3 and is under treatment. He makes it a point to attend any programme of the Foundation because of his loyalty and love towards PN Panicker.

Maman and the others were caught up in a series of traffic snarls on the MC Road and eventually fetched up at 1200 hrs. The meeting got off to a start soon after. It was to chalk out the programme for the promotion of digital payments by enabling small scale merchants - including the regular 'chanawala' - on BHIM application covering the town of Kottayam, for starters! The objectives were clearly worked out viz.:-

   (a) To enable about 2,000 merchants, of Kottayam town, on BHIM App.
   (b) To inform urban and suburban merchants about government policies and digital financial
         options available to them.
   (c) To enable merchants to access and use electronic payment system(EPS) such as BHIM.
   (d) To sensitise and enable merchants at all levels to use BHIM App for making transactions.
   (e) Create awareness in rural India through workshops and awareness drives.

The target group covered under the programme would be:-

      * Shopkeepers
      * Distributors.
      * Grocery shop owners
      * Hawkers
      * Small traders and
      * Artisans.

The basic fear in every small time trader is that by resorting to digital payments, they'd get into the ambit of the taxman's eye has to be removed - this was endorsed by the organising committee and shall be done! The steps and necessary action, along with milestones to be followed, for conducting the ten day workshop commencing 15 Jan '18 were drawn out and the duties were entrusted to individuals/groups.

After a delayed lunch, some more of discussions and a cup of tea, I took off for the railway station to board the Kanyakumari-Bangalore Express at 1700 hrs. The reservation coaches were jam packed with people. Had disembarked at Thrissur, caught a bus to Guruvayur and reached home by 2130 hrs. Lekha had, in the meanwhile, gone to Palakkad to get her dad's house cleaned and secured and had returned only an hour earlier.


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"In fever now........on antibiotics.   

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

An election that could bring about a change.

1. The Russian Presidential Election.

The Russian Presidential election of Mar '18 could be a harbinger for change. Alexei Navalny, the      candidate who'd put his hat in the ring to stand against Vladimir Putin, has been declared unfit to fight the polls because of his suspended jail sentence. He has, however, called it a pack of lies to get him out of the fray which Putin seems to desperately want to win. It will be interesting to see how the government, loyal to Putin, manages to stave off a 'real' election if Navalny were to overcome the hiccups.

2. Jerusalem as Israel's Capital.

Israel seems to be gingerly taking steps towards making Jerusalem its capital after President Trump's endorsement while the rest of the members of the Security Council of the United Nations have given a thumbs down. The anger among the Palestinians is understandable because they consider that piece of land as theirs! It would be a tough proposition for Israel to bring the idea to fruition but it's capable of achieving the objective through its people, who're nationalistic and steadfast in their beliefs, their ideals! I only hope that there's no bloodshed in the bargain!!

3. Terror Has No Religion, No colour.

Terror has no religion and no colour. To classify it as Hindu and Muslim is blasphemy, if you're to ask me. To my mind, terrorism is carried out by those warped minds who're the permanent losers in society. Otherwise, how does one explain the convoluted belief among most of them that there is a life of fun and frolic in the life beyond?

    *                          *                            *

I'd got up about 10' late, in the morning and was trying to rush through the chores when disaster struck in the form of water gushing out off a tap in the work area, adjacent to the kitchen. It took a while to bring the gushing water to a stop and by that time, the daylight had come by. Sajeev, the plumber, had come by around 11 o'clock when I was off to meet the Chairperson of the Municipality. She was warm and accommodating, agreeing to our requirements and did spend a lot of time with us.

The surprise of surprises was when Surg RAdm Guruswamy Vishwanath, the Command Medical Officer at SNC, Kochi had made a connect. He'd taken great pains to track me down, damn sweet of him! He has a son and a daughter, the former working in Baltimore in the US and his daughter, doing Honours in Economics in Paris under an exchange programme. His wife had passed away last year due to protracted illness. We're together at INS Agrani during '84-'86 and had great times. Another doctor friend, Sujit Vasudevan, had called up yesterday and we'd caught up from where we'd left last. While parting, at Agrani, he'd presented me with a copy of Richard Bach's 'A Gift of Wings' in which he'd scribbled, "To, Dear Rajeev, For all the castles in the air we've built, Vishy". It's been damn sweet of you to make the connect, Vishy. Thanks! 

If all goes well, we'll soon have a convex mirror opposite our road, joining the highway, to help us to drive off safely. And also, perhaps, the lane in front of our houses, will also get tarred!


Have not been able to get the scan results of Mohanachandran.    

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

An unnecessary spat and other stories.

1. An Unnecessary Spat.

    It all started after a recently concluded Film Festival, when actress Parvathi commented that
    Mammootty should have avoided acting in the movie 'Kasaba'. The movie has the actor in the
    role of a policeman who mouths the choicest of abuses and filthy, guttural language. The particular
    conversational piece is derogatory against women! Mammootty obviously has got into the skin
    of the character that he portrays because he seems to have offended many of the womenfolk.

    What the young lady forgot was that an actor is a tool in the hands of his/her director  and is
    moulded into the character that the latter has in mind and for that singular reason, an actor has no
    right to interfere with the script or the director's creative freedom, however great he/she is!

    Being an actress herself, how did she forget this aspect? Consequently, she was trolled on the
    social media with the choicest of expletives perhaps, by the superstar's fan following which was
    unwarranted and in bad taste! The lady has reported the matter to the police who've filed a case
    on their cyber crime file.

    The spat should not be allowed to fester and a speedy end to the unnecessary controversy has to be
    brought about. A word from Mammootty, himself, should soothe ruffled feathers.

          *                             *                                 *

2. A Shocker From My Course Mate.

    "I lost my wife this morning. I'd taken her to INHS Aswini for a scheduled CT scan. After the
     scan she collapsed in the change room. We immediately took her to the emergency but the
     doctors could not revive her. 

     My son, a Major at Kupwara and daughter, a Squadron Leader is in Dinjan. Both are joining
     me in Mumbai today".  

     Sorry to hear about the sad news, Pradeep Aggarwal. Our heartfelt condolences. May God give
     you and the children the strength to tide over the irreparable loss.

           *                              *                                *

3. The RSS-CPI(M) Intimidation Continues.

     Lethal attacks on two CPI(M) activists in Mattannoor, Kannur by the RSS activists and an
     open call for avenging the attacks have brought the intimidation tactics by the two parties out
     in the open despite the truce called by the chief minister some time back. Why does this continue?
     Is there no value for human lives?

     It's easy to understand that the bloody fights are to hold on to their political constituencies. What
     if the Hindus in the CPI(M) turn over into the RSS fold, in large numbers?


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"The CT scan results are awaited". 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Tit for tat and other stories.

1. Tit for Tat.

The Indian army hit back at Pakistan, killing three of their soldiers. In retaliation for a ceasefire violation on Saturday, the Indarmy had crossed over to Rakhchikri in the Rawalkot sector of the PoK and killed 3 Pakistani troops and wounded 1.The unprovoked and indiscriminate shelling and firing, by the Pakis in the Keri sector, on Saturday, led to the deaths of:-

     * Major Prafulla Moharkar
     * Lance Naik Gurmail Singh
     * Lance Naik Kuldeep Singh and 
     * Sepoy Pargat Singh.

RIP, brave sons of India. My salutes, tears and prayers on your supreme sacrifice. Here's wishing that your near and dear ones have the strength to bear the terrible loss. 

2. Finally,......

Finally, the Pakistanis had arranged for the meeting(?) between Cdr Kulbhushan Jadhav and his mother and wife. But being the spoilsports that they are, Jadhav was made to stand behind a glass partition. You, Pakis, why can't you be magnanimous? You'd agreed to allow their meeting so, why did you have to dampen the atmosphere by bringing about this restriction?

      *                   *                     *

Our Return.

We'd set off from Raj Nivas by a half past 8. Earlier, the caretaker had provided us with a nice breakfast of 'dosas and chutney' from his house, refusing to buy it from the hotel as I'd asked him to do. Had shut down the house, spent a while at my parents' resting place and set off for Paravur. Since it was Christmas day, the traffic was less and I'd opted for the Shencottah - Kollam highway and we reached Paravoor by 10. We were the first as the others were slowly beginning to arrive. Kurup kochachhan was nattily dressed and the birthday cake was cut at a half past 11 after the arrival of the gang from Thiruvananthapuram. It was followed by a fairly lengthy photographic session and lunch.

Kurup kochachhan looked serene and quiet, replied to all questions put specifically across to him but used to withdraw into his cocoon at times. He stood around for a long time obliging the photographer and smiled whenever I'd asked him to, while posing for a snap.

We'd left around 2 o'clock and Achu was closely behind us. We kept interchanging positions and by 8, we'd turned off from the highway for Guruvayur and reached 'The Quarterdeck' by 9. Lekha'd rustled up a quick dinner and we hit the sack by 11 after watching the television for a while.

A short trip that was nicely spent! The total distance covered was 573.8 km!!


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Mohan is back in the neuro ICU........due fever. Another scan taken. From Suresh Laxman.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

At 'Raj Nivas'.

The day had begun at a half past 4, when I'd woken up Lekha. Actually, I was up much earlier around a quarter to 3 and sleep refused to return. I, then, chose my usual way of reciting the day's prayers...wonder whether God is cross with me for disturbing Him so early? Soon after, I'd drifted off to sleep yet again only to be woken up by the alarm. Sleep was, indeed, less and hoped that it didn't affect my efficiency as it was a long drive....hope the traffic's okay since the Christmas break had begun.

We could leave 'The Quarterdeck' only by a half past 6 and today, Lekha could understand as to what a 'nasty driver' was all about because there were three instances involving three different guys:-

     * The first was a WagonR, which overtook through the left while another was overtaking my                    Chevy from the right, hemming me into a close quarter situation. He doesn't know the basic
        rule that one doesn't overtake from the left while driving on the highways where the center 
        median doesn't exist and where lanes aren't demarcated!

     * The second was an ambulance that was carrying a patient judging by the lights and the siren
        that were on. I took a fraction of a minute to pull off towards the left and after overtaking, he 
        comes ahead of me and brakes hard. I, narrowly, missed hitting him. My doubt was as to how 
        dependable was the driver, who's supposed to save the life of the patient that he was ferrying,  
        if he could be so very nasty to the others!

     * The third was a glorified auto rickshaw which blocked me as I tried to ease my vehicle from
         being swamped by a vehicle, awaiting a right turn at a light, where I'd to go straight. This guy
         comes from behind with its horn blaring and in high speed, which, it couldn't sustain for long! I
         almost rammed into him!!

Despite the hiccups, we reached Lekha's sister's place where I could catch my 40 winks while the
sisters were engaged in deep conversation. By a half past 3, after tea and a snack, we're off to Raj Nivas. The surrounding rubber plantation looked neat with the JCB formed ridges converted to platforms that made the area look chiselled and well manicured. I went around the entire compound to take in the details and to appreciate the amount of work done over the past three weeks.

I'd also paused at my parents' cremation sites, prayed for them and had informed them about our programme.

Dinner was nice and adequate, thanks to Letha, Lekha's sister. It turned out to be a late night as we engaged in conversation because the one month charge of the dish tv services had ended yesterday and we'd decided not to recharge for another month when we're leaving in the morning tomorrow.


The place was all agog with excitement as the road was full of people headed for the Midnight Mass. Pleasant and soothing hymns flowed out of the church's loudspeakers. The festive mood was infectious and we're only too glad to be here to take in the lovely ambiance!

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"No significant change from last sitrep". From K Vipinachandran.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

It's been six years...

Laila Samson, the elegant wife of the late Admiral BA Samson, had passed into the mist of time this date, six years ago. Her poise, grace and charm made her unique and adorable. I've had some very interesting times with the couple while they lived at Bandra.

Our friendship goes back to my days at INS Agrani, Coimbatore during the mid '80s. They used to go to Bombay, quite often, from Coonoor where they stayed and drop by at our Mess for an overnight stay and it was during those visits that we'd got close. In fact, Chhotu, their lovable Dachshund, was another frequent visitor!

In '11, during my tenure as the Movement Control Officer, Kochi, I'd to make quarterly visits to Madras, on official duty, which I looked forward to very eagerly because it gave me an opportunity to meet up with the old lady. Those were great times and I used to enjoy every moment of my being with her. I would like to believe that our togetherness has a cosmic link!

I miss you ma'am!

     *                               *                                *

2. Radhan Chettan and Sathi Chechi Drop By.

Radhan chettan and Sathi chechi had dropped by around 11 AM. They'd bought us a packet of home made banana chips because they know that I'm fond of the snack. I've told them many a time not to get things for me in return for the little that I do for them but it seems that my pleas have fallen on deaf ears! They'd come by today because they know of our movement to Paravoor in Kollam, to celebrate Kurup kochachhan's 90th birthday on Christmas day. We leave for my parents' place tomorrow morning by 6 AM.

It will also help me see the work that has been completed earlier this week in the field around the house. Till now the rubber trees have been growing on the ridges prepared by the JCB about a year and a half back. 47 people over a period of ten days had pulled mud across each tree to have a long platform for each row of trees which will help the tappers, later at their work.

We shall be staying at my parents' place tomorrow night and head for Paravoor, early morning on Christmas day, to partake in the birthday celebrations. The last time that we all had conglomerated there was during Leela kunjamma's funeral and the connected ceremonies, six years ago........ How time flies? We'd be returning that afternoon itself.


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"No change since the last sitrep". From K Vipinachandran.

Friday, December 22, 2017

A double whammy!

It was yet another early morning get away as we drove off at a quarter past 6. Had topped up the Chevy with fuel and checked tyre pressure at the IOC petrol pump, adjacent to the Purva Bluemont's entrance. What caught my eye about the pump were the following:-

     (a) A spacious pump site, located on the highway to Trichy whose entry/exit points were clearly
          demarcated and there was no cluttering up.
     (b) Attended by courteous workers who were helpful and moved around with a smile.
     (c) The air/Nitrogen filling, in the adjacent enclosure, was for free and the vehicles were directed
           in an orderly manner.

There might be many pumps, like this, all over the country but I wanted to tell you about the first one that had caught my fancy!   

Except for an initial error of turning towards Ooty, instead of Palakkad, soon after coming out of Coimbatore, the drive was good and enjoyable. We reached Rema's house an hour later and were in time for a sumptuous breakfast. Since Madhavan and his son, Vinod told Lekha that the workers would be available tomorrow to clean up her house at Ayodhya Nagar, we'd set off for Guruvayur by a trifle after 10. The drive was okay though I must confess that there was a close quarter situation, at the junction before the ECHS, Kunnamkulam, with a two wheeler whose pillion was holding a huge wooden frame and it was trying to turn to the right! I must say that he was lucky.

We reached 'The Quarterdeck' by a quarter past 12 and after the unpacking, settled down to a nice lunch prepared by Preetha. It was while sitting at my computer that I realised that our landline was out of order but I wasn't perturbed because I'd the Jio dongle. Alas, it also misbehaved and I found myself in an unenviable situation of not being able to access the internet. A sure case of a double whammy! Without hesitating a wee bit, I'd gone out to town and had the problem sorted out, picking up our dry cleaned clothes also, during the outing.

The complaint about the faulty landline was registered at 1600 hrs, let me see as to how fast the BSNL does the defect rectification!

A blast into the past.

I loved the two days spent in Coimbatore. Last evening, we're at the Gandhipuram bus stand to pick up my sister, Mini, coming from Bangalore. The roads, the important landmarks and the drive through Puliyakulam, subsequently - I'd only heard about its messiness and not seen it during my stay, then - brought in a great amount of nostalgia!

The walk, in the evening, was nice.


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"No change since last sitrep". From K Vipinachandran. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Was the CAG wrong?

Was Vinod Rai, the ex-Comptroller and Auditor General, wrong in his estimate that the state's exchequer had suffered a notional loss of over Rs.1.75 lakh crores in the auction of the 2G Spectrum allocation during the UPA II regime of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh? The, then, communications minister, D Raja of the DMK had overseen the transaction that's now no more murky after today's judgement.

Today, all 23 involved in the case - including DMK's Kanimozhi and D Raja - have been acquitted by the CBI Trial court citing that the prosecution has been unable to establish the guilt of the accused, beyond doubt. A number of questions rise, consequent to the judgement viz.:-

   (a) Can the office of the CAG make wild allegations?
   (b) Will Vinod Rai, a straight forward and no nonsense officer, cock a snook at the government
         with unsubstantiated evidence?
   (c) Aren't the CAG's observations arrived at after a careful study of the material available on the
   (d) Did the prosecution do a shoddy job and if affirmative, under whose instigation?
   (e) Coincidentally, the verdict was out during the forenoon of the RK Nagar bypoll and wouldn't
         it give an advantage to the DMK, contesting the election?
   (f)  What about the Supreme Court's initial indictment of the manner in which the distribution of
         the spectrum was done?
   (g) And what about the Narendra Modi government, subsequently, collecting:-

           (i) Rs.1.10 lakh crores in 2015 after the cancellation of the allocations made by the UPA
          (ii) Rs.66,000 crores in 2016?
   (h) Or is it all a gimmick to pave the way for a BJP-DMK tie up in the next general elections?

          *                            *                             *

The Logjam in Parliament.

The winter session of the Parliament is once again locked in a logjam, this time, over the PM's accusation that the former PM, Manmohan Singh, had participated in that party in Mani Shankar Aiyar's house which had Pakistan's ex-foreign minister, Kasuri in attendance and the subject discussed therein was his ouster! The accusation was made in the course of electioneering during the recently concluded Assembly elections in Gujarat The Congress party has demanded an apology from the PM for it but there's no sign that it will take place.

The concerned parties have to discuss and remove the irritants because many important bills have been lined up for legislation and it will be damn sad if work doesn't take place in Parliament. It will be yet another  instance of waste of public money.


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"It's still no change from the last sitrep". From Suresh Laxman.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

At Coimbatore.

It was literally an early morning get away from Palakkad. Lekha had set the trend as she'd gone through her chores earlier than usual. Ammu and Midhun, though groggy, were thrilled to have us with them after a series of our previous false starts and last minute cancellations. We set off by a 10' past 6, were at Coimbatore and in their flat at the Purva Bluemont, on the Trichy road, by about a half past 7. The drive was smooth and the density of the early morning traffic was conveniently low.

Ammu and Midhun had gone for work immediately after having breakfast, rustled up by them and Lekha. I'd called up my friend, Vaidy and fixed up a lunch meeting and accordingly, fetched up at the quiet, yet elegant Rathna Residency. We'd met up at the Mess of my old establishment, INS Agrani and proceeded from there for the luncheon. It was nice meeting up with Vaidy and Geetha, who insisted upon taking us to their house at Tatabad. After an hour's stay out there, coupled with a hot cup of tea, we returned to Singanallur, based on directions from the Google Maps. I did commit errors and had to do three 'U' turns before fetching up at the destination!

A word about Coimbatore's traffic - it's mad, with the traffic policemen reduced to being mere spectators! One gets unsettled a bit too often with the guys - as well as the gals - overtaking either from your left or right with a gay abandon and mind you, lane traffic is fiction out here....

Ammu and Midhun had returned from work by about a half past 7 in the evening and after a half hour or so, we're off to my niece, Chinnu's house for dinner. Chinnu and Veera have a cute 9 month old daughter, Aaradya who's friendly and ever smiling. It was a nice interaction and the fact was that we're meeting up with Chinnu after her wedding in mid-2015! She seemed to be quite thrilled seeing us and we got to understand Veera better. His outfit recruits candidates for national and international IT companies and it's keeping him busy.

Seeing Agrani and its premises brought wonderful memories of my past association with the establishment. Nothing much has changed which made me feel that there's a time warp in existence. I did drive around on the Race Course road for old times' sake!


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"His condition is the same since the last sitrep. The cause of the infection that brings about the frequent bouts of fever is yet to be identified. It could be 'HAI, meaning 'Hospital Acquired Infection', a distinct possibility in the most sterile of hospitals! Manju and her sons, daughters-in-law are anxiously awaiting the steadying up of Mohan's condition to shift him to Vellore for intense physiotherapy". From Suresh Laxman.    

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Why do things get controversial?

I'm still very sad at the news that keep getting distorted. Is there a section of the media that's hell bent on propagating negativity? If affirmative, what's the reason? Good news or bad, it must be delivered truthfully without fear or favour. Period! The recent trends show that pessimism is being orchestrated for no rhyme or reason. Let me explain.

 (a) PM's Visit to the Ockhi Affected Areas.

       In yesterday's newspapers came a news byte that the Prime Minister will head for the Raj
       Bhavan - straight from the airport - to meet the chief minister and his ministers with a few
       from the distress affected areas. It was emphasised that he wouldn't be visiting any of the
       affected areas as his visit was of an extremely short duration. My queries and a few comments

         (i) Why was the PM so late in visiting the distressed people, that he'd sent his defence minister
              earlier, not withstanding?
        (ii) He was busy electioneering in Gujarat which saw to it that his party could save the blushes!
       (iii) Why was his itinerary contorted? His visits to the Lakshadweep, Poonthura and
              Kanyakumari must have been passed on to the concerned officials, who in turn, would have
              told their respective bosses. Then, why the distortion, under whose instigation and what was
              the ultimate aim?

       Playing politics through a calamity! Sad!!

  (b) They're Spoiling Rahul Gandhi.

         Again, the press and the Congress party along with BJP's disgruntled Shatrughan Sinha have
         been talking about Rahul Gandhi's achievement in reducing its lead in the Gujarat Assembly
         polls. We saw yesterday as to what all antics were tried out there to snub Narendra Modi's
         winning juggernaut.

         The Congress scion has to work hard if he were to succeed. He's yet to tell us as to what his
         vision is, for the country. He's not gonna reach anywhere by criticising Narendra Modi
         constantly. Why doesn't his spin masters understand this? Otherwise, it will be they who'll
         be actually letting him down.

         Hope that the media gives him an unadulterated feedback. To tackle a hard worker like the
         PM, the Congress leader cannot afford to resort to gimmickry!


1. Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"The frequent fevers seem to be the problem that seem to bug the doctors who're endeavouring to find a way out. What it indicates is an infection that is yet to be identified". From K Vipinachandran.

2. It was Padmakumar's birthday and we began the day by wishing him many happy returns before he left for office. The traditional cake cutting was performed in the evening. My nephew, Achu took us on a conducted tour of the famous Kalpathy temples and the 'agrahaarams'. It was followed by an elegant dinner at the Annalakshmi Hotel, the surprise being the arrival of my niece, Ammu and Midhun, from Coimbatore by about a half past 9. It was a late night, with each one of us remembering our get togethers of the past as the evening began to grow late! We begin tomorrow early morning at 6, when we drive off to Coimbatore along with Midhun and Ammu to spend a couple of days with them.


Monday, December 18, 2017

Despite the ganging up.......

The results of the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are out. The BJP is set to form governments in both the states - it has beaten the anti incumbency factor of ruling Gujarat for 22 years and has won Himachal Pradesh with a handsome majority! The defeat for the Congress comes after a whole load of factors that were orchestrated to pull off a win that the party desperately needed. Let's see as to what these were:-

   (a) Rahul Gandhi's visits to numerous temples, even claiming that he was a Brahmin.
   (b) Towards the latter phase of the electoral battle, his party took on a view that Babri Masjid
         would be avenged by the building of a mosque at the site, in the Muslim majority areas of the
         state. The 'two timing' was clearly visible and hence the party couldn't muster their support
         in toto.
   (c) Alpesh Thakor, the leader of the Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena and OBCs, SC, ST Ekta
         Manch, Jignesh Mevani, a Dalit activist and Hardik Patel were added on to the party's
         electoral team to bring a wide swathe of these leaders' followers under their influence.
   (d) BJP's disgruntled guys like Yashwant Sinha, Shathrughan Sinha and sadly, even Arun Shourie
         were brought in to air their bitter differences with Narendra Modi as a part of another sinister
         plan. The extent of the hoodwinking was clear in that the Congress party was a bitter critic of
         Yashwant Sinha as Finance Minister!
   (e) Hardik Patel was 'satisfied' by being promised a special reservation policy for the Patels
        which, I'm sure, even the signatories were sure that it had no chance of being brought in as
   (f) There were also concerted efforts to exploit the so called disgruntlement of the small time
        traders of Saurashtra, consequent to demonetisation and the introduction of GST. The BJP was
        able to make a sweep in the region instead!
   (g) The Shiv Sena - though insignificant in Gujarat - had talked about walking away from the
         alliance with the BJP at the Centre, at the beginning of the campaign. This party is gonna get
         the stick during the next elections for its two had better get off from its alliance
         with the BJP and avoid travelling in two boats simultaneously, if it's unhappy of being treated
         like any other regional party by the 'big brother'.
   (h) Narendra Modi's vigorous campaigning in 34 constituencies.
    (j) Motor-mouth Mani Shankar Aiyar's uncalled for comments on the Prime Miister.
   (k) The Congress never condemned the occasions of upper class' misbehaviour with the dalits.
   (l)  A Christian cleric's open call to the faithful to vote for the Congress.

What has come out clearly, consequent to the election results, are the following factors:-

    (a) Hardik Patel and gang didn't matter.
    (b) The majority of the people are solidly behind Narendra Modi. 
    (c) The BJP has a vote share close to 50% in the state thanks to their organisational strength at
          the grassroots level and Amit Shah's leadership skills.
    (d) A clear support to difficult yet structural reforms like demonetisation and the introduction of


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Mohan developed fever this morning which was okay by evening. However, there is swelling once physiotherapy today. Hope he's better tomorrow".

"Fever off and on is a cause for worry. And let's pray the swelling subsides without any further complications". From Suresh Laxman.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A hectic yet interesting day.

The day had begun quite early and by 7, Padmakumar, Rema, Achu, Lekha and I were off to the Olavakode railway station to board the Coimbatore-Mangalore Intercity Express for our journey to Payyannur. We're on our way to offer our belated condolences to Midhun's eldest aunt's children on the passing away of their mother, twenty nine days ago. The sad fact was that we could find time for this moment - only now - thanks to the busy official schedules of Padmakumar and Achu, coupled with a few of our activities that could not be missed!

Thanks to the newly installed elevator, Lekha did not have much to walk and the train had fetched up on the dot and it maintained its schedule to the dot till 10' past 12, when we got off at Payyannur. Midhun's brother, Appu was at hand to receive us with a vehicle that was hired for our move for the day. He took us straight to their home where his mom had prepared a scrumptious lunch for us and we'd a very interesting conversation with his dad.

There were two adorable kids of a handsome couple - Farhad, studying in class I and Riya - travelling along with us. The kids got to be friendly with us and Farhad was bought a key chain with a gun as per his requirement. They're travelling from Ottapalam to attend a wedding at Kannur and returning by the evening train, earlier than ours, as the little one had his Christmas examination tomorrow. They entertained us with their songs and said "Salam Alaikum" as they were disembarking.....well brought up kids!

Soon after, we headed for Kanayi to spend time with the bereaved family. The children, Mridula, studying in class IX(She wants to become a bank officer) and Abhinav in class V had shed their shyness and interacted with us much more freely than during the previous occasions. Their grandmother - all of 67 years - was their friend and she doted on them. The family is relieved that their mother/grandmother had a peaceful end, though early!

Also, came across small betel nuts, for the first time, which is cultivated in northern Kerala along with the ones that we come across, usually, all over the state. Soon it was time to leave for Poduval Mashu's house at Kaithapram where a high tea was awaiting us. I think I must have disappointed young Sree Parvathy by asking her as to what her name was. I did try to soften the faux pas but to what results I can't venture to predict!

During our fairly long run to Kannur, we did not come across any traffic snarl, predicted by many. We reached one hour in advance to the departure of the Kannur-Yeshwantpur Superfast train that we're reserved on. There was a doubt as to whether the hired car guy had fleeced me off more money but the fact of the matter was that we'd a smooth movement all through the day. The train had started 10' late and kept on getting delayed as we progressed to our destination and enroute at Kozhikode, I got duped.

We'd got down to buy packed dinner, a box of 'tender coconut halwa' and bottles of drinking water. The shopkeeper had palmed off another flavoured delicacy, much to my annoyance, as we're all looking forward to the tender coconut one. He did the hoodwinking, fully well knowing that I wouldn't return to question him. I was really disappointed with myself for not spotting out his wiliness!

We arrived at Palakkad an hour late and by the time we reached home it was a half past 11. All in all, it was a day well spent!


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Condition stable........sat up for 21/2 hours.......with both eyes open........watched photos of his dog with keen interest........showing some response to physiotherapy. Still in 'Dangerously Ill List'.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

How things have changed!

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, escorted by his ministerial colleague, Kadakampalli Surendran recently visited the 'Vivekananda Udyanam' in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram and garlanded the statue of Swami Vivekananda. The person who'd conceived the idea of installing the life-like bronze statue in the garden at Kowdiar was the RSS idealogue, late P Parameswaran. Wherever he is, he must have been amused when the chief minister chose it as the venue of the inauguration of the 'Vivekanandasparsam' - the 125th anniversary of the patriot saint's visit to Kerala. The same day, his culture minister had paid a literary tribute to Swami Vivekananda through the edit page of the party organ.

The interesting bit is that the anniversary of the patron saint's Kerala visit coincides with the 200th birth anniversary of Karl Marx, the 150th anniversary of the publication of Das Kapital and the centenary of the October revolution. A left government officially celebrating epochs related to a Hindu reformer is interesting and to understand this, one needs to go back in history!

The party's late leader, EMS Namboodiripad found Swami Vivekananda unacceptable from a secular perspective. Many still remember that the Kerala government was the only one which refused to cooperate with the historic efforts to put up the rock memorial at Kanyakumari. The late Eknath Ranade and the visionary behind the Vivekananda Kendra, has recorded his bitter experiences on meeting with the then chief minister, EMS Namboodiripad with regard to the cooperation and donation by the state government. It never ever cooperated with the rock memorial project.

And another interesting fact was when Ranade approached Jyoti Basu, the then chief minister of West Bengal the latter had questioned, "How dare you come to a communist government for Vivekananda memorial?" However, he was directed to meet Mrs. Basu by the chief minister himself who saw to it that the government gave the donation!

The CPM, belatedly, has come to the conclusion that Swami Vivekananda was indeed a revolutionary and not a reactionary! But will this change of heart help it in its ideological battle with the BJP?

*Adapted from an article on the subject.


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"His condition is steadily improving. The movement in his right limb has picked up and is an encouraging sign". From K Vipinachandran.


Friday, December 15, 2017

A sad spectacle and other stories.

Continuing with the news analysis, that're grabbing the headlines.....

1. The Debacle in the Aftermath of Cyclone Ockhi.

     Bodies of deceased fishermen are being fished out on a daily basis by the rescue operators. The
     numbers are increasing and it's disgusting that the government machinery seems to be totally at a
     loss regarding the actual tally. The archdiocese seems to be more surefooted on the issue as it had
     painstakingly undertaken an exercise to determine the count by taking a census of the people
     dwelling by the coast. Why doesn't the government undertake the exercise even at this late stage?

     The blame game has begun and I was stunned to hear a minister justifying the state government's
     inaction by saying that the central government had passed on the cyclone warning and connected
     information to the bureaucrats instead of calling up the chief minister. The opposition has been
     making feeble noises and has refrained from raising the issues so as to bring about a coordinated
     action in bringing about relief to the hapless, the suffering and the needy.

2. Deferment of Arrest.

     Actor Suresh Gopi has got caught for getting the registration of his new vehicle done in
     Pondicherry since the road tax to be paid there is comparatively low, being a union territory.
     Actors Amala Paul and Fahad Fazil have also been caught for the same but the latter seems to
     have got away after paying the penalty. The High Court has restrained the actor's arrest for the
     time being.

     I've a query on this thing. Is action being contemplated against all those who've Pondicherry
     registration numbers on their vehicles because there are plenty of them plying on the state's
     roads? It should be carried out without fail, otherwise it will give the impression that he's being
     harassed because he's a celebrity and no, I ain't advocating that he should be let off! Everyone,
     who has cheated, must be brought to book without fear or favour.

3. Sonia Gandhi Retires.

    At a time when the Congress party looked weak in the '90s, with many leaders staking claim for
    the party's leadership, Sonia Gandhi - a grieving widow, then and a total novice in politics - was
    accepted enthusiastically by the party's rank and file. (A typical Indian situation! In the US, many 
    years ago after the brutal assassination of President Kennedy, none asked Jacqueline Kennedy
    to take over the Democratic party or accept the Presidency. The Americans are clear about their
    priorities than us, I guess! And mind you, the Americans loved Jackie).

    Sonia Gandhi will go down in history as the person who did not allow Manmohan Singh to
    function independently as the Prime Minister because all important decisions taken by his cabinet
    were her initiatives and they flowed from her 'feelings' for the people of India!   


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Sitrep........Infection under control..........However, Hb count still not increasing and another bottle of blood given. Presently stable but in 'Dangerously Ill List".

Thursday, December 14, 2017

That's wrong!

Shambulal Raiger had hacked 45 year old Mohammed Afrajul - a migrant labourer from West Bengal - to death, set his body on fire and got his 18 year old nephew to record the entire sequence on video, all in the name of 'love jihad'.

Mobile internet services have been stopped and prohibitory orders, preventing the gathering of large groups have been imposed. Updesh Rana, the leader of a fringe group has been spewing venom online and has given a call for 'Udaipur chalo' on Facebook. He's trying to mobilise support for the killer, Shambulal.

I've been stunned to see such warped minds, in action, in this country. I've a series of queries regarding this unfortunate incident which are:-

      (a) Who's Shambulal to dispense justice on fellowmen?
      (b) I'm sure his 18 year old nephew is educated and mature to have a mind of his own. How could
            he go along with his uncle's heinous ways? Isn't he progressive for his age?
      (c) The police should have been quick to impose shoot-at-sight orders.

It just isn't right. The government of Rajasthan must take immediate action to sort this issue out.

        *                               *                                  *

The Supreme Court's decision of setting up 12 fast track courts - all across the country - to try 1,581 politicians for the cases registered against them and to embark on a speed trial is a step in the right direction. Hope it heralds a step further to have clean guys coming into politics to participate in the general elections of '19.

        *                                *                                  *

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Mohan is now back in the neuro ICU and without complications. His temperature is back to normal. The pus formation in the skull has been removed with a syringe and the results of its culture is sterile and so, he's said to be out of danger. The movements of his eyes and limbs are improving. He's reluctant to open his eyes in front of his family, however, when called by the doctors and nurses, he's responding more freely". Our prayers may help him to regain his health. From Vipinachandran.


There were three weddings during the day for which we're invited viz. my friend, Thulasi's son's(Rakesh and Vidya) wedding at the Saarkara kshetram, Chirayankeezhu, Warriathu chechi's granddaughter's(Vidya and Vivek) wedding at Guruvayur and my classmate, Charlie Mike's son's(Anish and Chandini) wedding at Tirur. We'd attended the second.

Rakesh-Vidya, Vivek-Vidya and Anish-Chandini, here's us wishing all of you a very long and happy married life. May you get whatever you wish for!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Two personalities, behavioural patterns.

Today was yet another day when I realised that I could be absolutely out of my depth, despite adequate preparation, towards getting a job done. I'd decided to do the linking up of our Aadhaar cards with the mutual fund accounts and the insurance policies. I'd spoken with the manager at the insurance yesterday who'd told me that a copy of the Aadhaar card was all that was enough for doing the linking.

I'd embarked on it because the coming days were gonna be busy for us and I'd to beat the deadline given by the government to link up one's Aadhaar with all the assets before 31 Dec.

Accordingly, armed with the necessary papers I'd made a visit to the insurance office first. Unfortunately, the manager was absent on leave as he'd suddenly taken ill. The lady - her name's Raji - after hearing out my requirement, said that a copy of Lekha's Aadhaar card which I'd offered was to be self attested and her PAN card was also necessary. My visit, next, to the bank necessitated my having to return home to get Lekha's letter requesting for the merger of her two savings bank accounts into one.

I was angry with myself for having missed out on such details - I should have spoken to the bank manager before making it out there but had not considered it necessary, as we'd already spoken about it during my last visit! It was getting to be lunch time and I made a dash home, got the letter made, the attestation done by Lekha and went in Vipin's auto rickshaw. All of 26 years, he was an epitome of good behaviour and he took me to the insurance center. There was a glitch again as the lady said that a xerox copy of the PAN card was required. Vipin, who'd agreed to wait on me took me, to a place nearby for the same, through the rains that had begun to pour and I'd left the umbrella back at home after my first, unsuccessful errand!

Raji sounded apologetic and said that the two insurance policies would be linked up with the Aadhaar within 48 hrs. She, then, asked me to replicate 'Lekha's signature' on the freshly xeroxed copy of the PAN card. I quietly refused saying that I'd never done such a thing in my life, thus far. She, then, changed tack almost immediately, saying that I could certify that Lekha was my wife instead, which I did! Her sheepishness was evident as I took leave of her on completion of all the formalities!!

Then, I went through the work at the bank without further glitches. The rains had stopped and on reaching home, when I asked Vipin about the fare I'd to pay, he'd asked for a modest amount which I knew was low taking into consideration the errand that he'd undertaken and the total period of wait. I'd made amends and paid him more than what he'd asked for, going by my previous experiences. His cryptic answer was, "Sir, you're kind to me". I could only tell him that he must take the right fare from the customers because that was his right......Did I have a lump in my throat?

Raji's request to me was funny but what I could make out was that she was accustomed to doing it earlier and customers were willing to go by her diktat, though it was incorrect! And thanks Vipin for the valuable lesson that you taught me today.

And the evening news headlines screamed, "Deadline to link Aadhaar with bank a/cs and others extended to 31 Mar '18!"


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Daytime fever has caused an infection in the area of surgery around the skull and a swelling has developed. The doctors have said that if the swelling does not subside within 24 hrs, they'd go in for another surgery to ease the pressure. His Hb count has stabilised after the infusion of the blood". From Suresh Laxman.    

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Election rhetoric and other stories.

An analysis of the news that are making the headlines today.

1. Election Rhetoric.

     In the run up to the Gujarat elections, the various political dispensations have hurled serious
     charges at each other. The most serious is what the PM has said about a 'secret' meeting between
     a few Congress leaders including the former PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Pakistani High
     Commissioner at Mani Shankar Aiyar's residence to dislodge him and his government. This
     charge is unlike the usual ones that are mainly 'shots-in-the-dark' to break the momentum of the
     opponent's electoral juggernaut. Granted that the Gujarat Assembly election results are a make or
     break situation for the Congress and the BJP, it would do well to tone down the bitterness between
     the two as such hatred doesn't augur well for the country's polity.

     My serious doubt on such parleys. Aren't the protagonists supposed to report to the government's
     foreign ministry about the contents of such meetings? Earlier, there was an occasion when Rahul
     Gandhi and Robert Vadra had met the Chinese Ambassador without giving the details of their
     discussions to the Indian Government, subsequently. These lapses are unpardonable and should
     be investigated.

2. The Long Arm of the Law Finally Catches Up.

    It's a known fact that many Keralites have been registering their new vehicles in Pondicherry to
    take advantage of the low tax regime because of its status as a union territory. The latest set of
    individuals to get caught in the web are actor and MP, Suresh Gopi, Amala Paul and Fahad Fazil.
    It's good that the rules are being enforced which was long overdue.

    My doubt was as to how a few people were allowed to act 'smart' while the majority of us
    followed the rules and the right procedures!

3. The Sad Incident of an Elephant Going Berserk.

     There was a recent incident of an elephant that had run amok in the innards of the Guruvayur
     temple, killing the third 'mahout' and an old lady who was in the crowd. Though the use of the
     pachyderms in temple activities increases the glamour quotient, it's often seen that the people
     who're supposed to take care of the animals ill treat them and a few warped people in the crowd
     irritate the animals as they pass by.

     On occasions like these, the animals must be respected and admired from far. If it can't be ensured,
     then the authorities must avoid parading them!


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"His condition continues to be the same since the last sitrep".


Monday, December 11, 2017

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

Had got up a trifle late and consequently, reached the restaurant at a half past 8 when a couple of the classmates had left. It was a loss that we weren't at hand to see them off. Bad show, Rajeev! We'd a cake cutting ceremony - the cake used for the purpose was a small cup cake, which was Saly's idea - on the occasion of Anil and Radha's wedding anniversary and the gesture did floor the couple. We bade good bye to the crowd and kicked off for home by 1000 hrs.

Enroute, we'd dropped in at Radha's cousin's place in Thrissur to drop her suitcase which was a welcome break. We're at 'The Quarterdeck' by lunchtime and Preetha had laid out a scrumptious lunch for us, bringing down the curtains on another nostalgic edition of a classmates' get together. The intensity of the melancholia, caused by the parting, was reduced to an extent by my sister's call from Palakkad to say that she and Achu would be fetching up this evening and spend the night here.

During the drive from Thrissur to Guruvayur, there was this closed auto rickshaw carrier which was following my Chevy uncomfortably close. Any harsh braking on my part, in case of an emergency, would entail his ramming into the rear of my vehicle for sure as I was doing good speeds, over 70 kmph, on certain stretches. It was an uncomfortable situation and I realised that the vehicle's driver either wasn't aware of the potential danger that could befall upon him or he was doing it rashly, deliberately. I stopped at a particular point and walked over to impress upon him about maintaining a vehicle's length of space from the forward vehicle as a safety factor. He seemed to be confused as to whether I was cautioning or threatening him. Anyways, from then on, he stayed a respectable distance away from my Chevy! Do I look mean, I wonder?

The evening walk was nice and we're watching the serial, 'Sree Ganesh' on the Sony Television channel when there was a power interruption and at that precise moment, Achu had driven into our porch through the temporary darkness! Rema expressed her shock at the passing away of Ikka despite the fact that she'd only heard quite a lot from us but had never seen!!


I must make a determined effort to reduce the flab that has crept in, without diet's not a tall order.    

Sunday, December 10, 2017

On the Muziris trail.

The day had begun at 5 AM and we'd hurried through the morning chores so that we could have the maximum time with the others. today's programme was centered on our excursion on the Muziris trail. The bus had arrived well in time and by about 9, we'd set off on our course to Kodungalloor, the start point of our journey by boat in the backwaters.

The synagogue, built in the 16th century(Now in a state of neglect), is the oldest in India. The cruise that followed was along the Paravur backwaters, which is a part of the state's Kollam - Kottappuram waterway. Sahodaran Ayyappan museum where he'd organised the famous combined feast for the Ezhavas and the lower castes on the basis of his argument, "You complain about being demeaned by the upper castes but you behave in a similar fashion with the people of the castes lower to yours which should be shunned". The guide, Shibu, himself a renowned musician was very enthusiastic in conducting us through the tour and had given me a brochure that spoke of his personal achievements but I'd forgotten it in the boat which was an irreverent act on my part. Apologies, young man, will make up for it.

Incidentally, Pandit Karuppan and KP Vallon were contemporary social reformers. Chattambi Swamikal and Sree Narayana Guru were the trail blazers.

We, then, visited the Manju Matha church at Kottappuram. The name was given based on the belief that in 1791, when Tippu Sultan attacked this place, this church and the adjoining places were saved by a miraculously formed fog due to which he was forced to abandon his plans and set off in a different direction. The next in the itinerary was the Marthoma church at Azhikode. This church has a bone, believed to be from the hand of St Thomas, the disciple of Christ who'd come to Kodungalloor in the year 92 AD.

After a lip smacking lunch, we also visited the Paliyam palace where the Paliyathu Achhan resided. He and his followers were traditionally the prime ministers to the Kochi kings. We went through their 'naalukettu' and certain other buildings which are of gigantic proportions and dimensions! The buildings' interiors. the beams that held the roof, staircases, furniture, cooking utensils, implements, weapons and such rare artefacts on display were awe inspiring and a rare sight to behold. Considering the period of their construction, it was an educative trip for me who got a fleeting glimpse of Kerala's history which I'd, unfortunately, missed during my school days as the focus was on world history.

We'd returned to our hotel by about 5 and after a quick wash and change, we're back in room 222 for a great meeting. The interaction was superb as it was the last evening together and I, even, sang the 'Pakalkinaavin sundaramaakum' on the karaoke during the impromptu entertainment put up by us! It was a great interaction.


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin. 

"Sitrep......''In ICCU and in 'Dangerously ill list'.......his Hb had dropped to 7.8 and was given a bottle of blood. Opened eyes in the morning for a short duration. For the first time his right leg twitched and reacted to pain. Needs to be more stable to be moved out of the ICCU to the stroke ICU". From Suresh Laxman. 

Our get together is slowly coming to an end. A few of us are leaving by the early morning flight! Thanks Vipin, for the flawless arrangements.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Off to a great start.

The morning weather was nice and nippy as I went on my walk. The familiar cluster of walkers was missing today - was it because of the weekend? The shutting down of 'The Quarterdeck' was done progressively. Couldn't meet the newspaper boy today too; I'd wanted to tell him about the calendars and Lekha's copy of the 'Vanitha' magazine.

We're out of the house by 10, our first stop being the petrol bunk nearby. Krevka, as usual, filled up the tank and checked the tyre pressure with her trademark efficiency, coupled with a smile. Our drive to Radha's cousin's place near Patturaickal took about an hour through directions given by her over the cellphone. Met up her Parkinson's Syndrome ridden cousin, Usha and her 89 year old mother. The house had an array of dogs because Usha's daughter runs an NGO that provides shelter for the stray dogs!

We're off to Kochi soon after. Lunch was at Ananda Bhavan, a new eatery on the NH with adequate parking space, a nice ambience and I shall never forget the soft chappathies that they'd served us. Thankachan, the person on security duties, was an eager attendant who guided the guests adequately well, giving tips regarding the choice of parking slots and consequently, I managed a naturally shaded one. The trip onward was a short one with us fetching up at the Hotel Golf View by about a half past 2. There were already a few of my classmates who'd fetched up and slowly, over the next couple of hours, the quorum was complete. Savio's - from Chicago - conversation with each one of us was nice that had a personal touch!

As I'd said earlier, the numbers could have been more but it didn't dampen the conglomeration's enthusiasm. The beginning of our get together began with the 'breaking-the-ice step' where we prayed for Mohanachandran's early recovery and the participants were briefed about his latest medical position. The interaction from then on was enriching and helped us to update ourselves about each other. The first decision taken was to have the get together once every year instead of the existing 'once-in-two-years' frequency. Lekha gave us her memorable, 'Chandrakalaabham chaarthividarum theeram....' and I'd everyone sing, "Periyare, periyare.....' along with me! Jojy and Josekutty had us in splits with their skit.

Our room is 204 which has a west end view from the hotel of the traffic and we could see the continuous, fast moving, incoming traffic to the airport which seemed to be more voluminous compared to the outgoing one. Or was it an illusion?


A great start to a reunion that was eagerly looked forward to!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Thoroughly excited!

Had got up with the lark, gone through my chores and was out for the walk by 6. It was still dark and there was a nip in the air! Met my course mate, KR Nair, on his walk. He has had both his knees replaced recently and walks about 5 kms every morning. But for an exaggerated swagger in his walk, his gait is almost normal. Our walking circuits meet for a short stretch on the main road that leads to the elephant resort. We waved at each other, exchanged information and continued our walks in the opposite directions!

Am thoroughly excited about this weekend's get together of our classmates at Kochi. We'd decided at our get together in '15 - when we'd celebrated our 60th birthday together - to meet up once every two years and this is the first of the series. Lekha and I leave for Kochi by 10, tomorrow morning and Radha, my classmate, Anil's wife will be joining us from Thrissur. The stay would be at the Hotel Golf View near the airport and a trip on the Muziris trail from Kodungalloor, along with a boat trip in the backwaters, will be the highlight apart from the non stop interaction with the ones that one had grown up with during those halcyon days at the Sainik School, during the late '60s and early '70s!

There's a sad tinge to it, in that, one of our friends is lying seriously ill at the KIMS, Hospital at Thiruvananthapuram. The numbers attending could have been better - lesser than the quorum of '15 - but I suppose that all those who aren't able to attend have valid reasons to stay away! We shall pray for Mohanachandran, connecting up with everyone as we'd done twice, by now. We believe that our collective prayers will get Mohanachandran, hale and hearty and back in our fold very soon.

I've touched upon this aspect earlier. The wives of the gentlemen of the class of '72 also enjoy these occasions and on our part, we restrict the conversations about our school days, the masters and many of the incidents - some humorous and others, not so humorous - to ourselves when the ladies aren't around! But I believe that even they are keen to know as to  how their spouses were, at school!!


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Mohan has been shifted back to the ICCU because a surgery was performed to stop the bleeding observed from the tracheotomy tube. He is stable presently". From Suresh Laxman.  

Thursday, December 7, 2017

All about 'Oonch neech' and other stories.

Rounding up of the news bytes as usual.

 (a) Aiyar Can't Hold It, As Usual.

       Mani Shankar Aiyar has done it again. He could be seen to be spewing venom at Narendra
       Modi. O, what hatred does he have towards the Prime Minister is to be seen to be believed. This
       was in response to Modi's taunt that the "Congress was seeking votes in BR Ambedkar's name
       but trying to erase his contribution to nation building".

       Aiyar was quick to respond, "Modi is a 'neech kism ka aadmi'(a vile man) who has no 'sabhyata'
       (civility). Since he's originally from the civil services, his deep disdain for the poor and the
       backward is very much real! But I heard several news channels saying that the Congress has lost
       its quest for recapturing the Gujarat Assembly by this singular remark.

       That, I suppose, is an exaggerated statement. Even after the opposition, despite major differences
       among themselves, having cobbled together a rainbow alliance, the guys on the ground say that
       Gujarat is gonna go the BJP way, the only thing to be ascertained is the margin of victory! No
       anti-incumbency fatigue? The governance has been goal oriented?

 (b) Was Recognising Jerusalem as Israel's Capital Necessary?

        All these years, we have been in the know how of all that are mentioned below:-

            (a) The US was always pro-Israel. The strong Jewish lobby in every aspect of life which
                  covered all the departments of its administration ensured such an unambiguous stance.

            (b) The US has been covertly at it, thus far, lest it antagonised the Arabs, especially the 

            (c)  Donald Trump had included it as one of his priority actions on becoming President. He'd
                   very less achievements to show as he completes his first year in office. He seems to be
                   determined to erase that 'no score' issue and he's buoyed up with the successes of the
                   travel ban that he'd clamped on slowly breaking out of its judicial restrictions and the 
                   tax legislation going through!

          Perhaps, it's just as well that the move has been made public because it removes the
          tremendous strain on the US foreign policy that provides a no-holds-barred-support to Israel
          without antagonising the Palestinians or the Arabs! The initial reactions from the Muslim
          world might lose steam as they're a badly divided lot!

          India, considering its delicate position, has taken a neutral stand for the time being which is
          sound thinking.

  (c) The Numbers Just Don't Seem to Tally.

        The dance of the cyclone 'Ockhi' has long since been played out but the dichotomy about the
        actual number of the fisher folk who're still to return persists. There are two lists now in
        circulation, the government's and that of the archdiocese:-

          Type of boat         Government       Archdiocese

           Small boats                  96                      103
           Big boats                    301                      156

          The government has now put out that a total of 397 fisher folk are missing while the
           Archdiocese is pretty sure that only 259 are left to return. There have been reports that quite
           a few boats from Kerala's coast have drifted onto the shores of Maharashtra and Gujarat! But
           the harsh fact is that the government does not have an accurate registry of the entire lot of its
           people living in the state's coastal belt.

           The state government has been criticised for its slow reaction upon the receipt of the cyclone
           warnings. The retort was comical:-

                (i) Reiterates that the government did not receive any warning despite the fact that the
                     media was reporting it minute-to-minute. It was a feeble attempt to put the blame on the
                     central government.
               (ii) The chief minister went up a step further, saying that Tamilnadu's press had said things
                     in praise of his government's 'timely' action!

            If affirmative, why does the dichotomy in numbers persist? And the initial reaction was there
            for all to see. Sad!


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"There isn't much of a change in his condition. Meanwhile, the family's reps have met the concerned doctors at the CMC, Vellore and an action plan has been made out to shift him and commence the PMR at the earliest".


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Adieu Ikka.

It was in the morning, when our maid told us, that we'd come to know that Abdul Rahim Rajah - our immediate neighbour, all of 77 years - had passed into the mist of time, last Sunday. I still can't believe it! He was fond of us and that too, immensely!!

I'd spoken to him on 24 Nov but since the coverage was patchy, he'd said that he'd call back which he did the next day. I was surprised to know that he was in Madras and I told him briefly about my itinerary for the following 10 days. I never knew, in the wildest of my dreams, that I was speaking to him for the last time, then. This evening, I gathered that he'd gone to Madras, by road, for a medical check up regarding a swelling of his hand and on the return trip, had expressed a desire to see his factory - an 'activated Carbon' producing unit - at Madurai. In the evening while at his guest house, he'd developed respiratory difficulties and the doctor, in attendance, had asked him to avoid travel. On Sunday morning, by about a half past 6, he'd developed complications from which he never recovered!

Our friendship had begun sometime in 2010, when Lekha and I had gone to visit our prospective neighbours, after buying our house at Guruvayur in end 2009. There was a cattle shed - which housed a combination of over 10 cows and buffaloes - just across our boundary wall within his compound and the associated smells along with a few typical insects that were overwhelming and I'd silently told myself that I'd request him to do something about it once we shifted into our house - lock, stock and barrel!

By 2013, once we'd the date of shifting fixed, we'd paid yet another visit to the Rajahs. After a conversation that lasted for almost an hour on various subjects and over an exquisite 'sherbet', he'd said all of a sudden even before I could broach the topic, "I'll have the cattle shed along with the livestock removed to my elder son's house where a dairy is being set up. You can also order fresh milk for use". His visit to our house during the housewarming made ripples because he rarely made social calls and we realised that, for us, he'd made an exception!

Mr. Rajah was a renowned industrialist and philanthropist who had a massive empire consisting of diverse activities. Beginning with tile factories, ayurvedic spa, a hospital - my mom had spent her last few hours at the Rajah hospital - a vineyard at Kolhapur, the list is endless. But the key industry was the famous 'Kajah Beedi', started by his father, which provides employment to thousands. He'd been wanting to take us to the spa at Chettuva, a few kilometers from here, for a weekend!

He has left for his eternal life leaving behind a host of memories which I'd like to share with you to show his kindness towards us:-

    * He used to address me as Captain sir. And I used to call him 'Ikka'(Elder brother) after taking
       his permission. Respecting his age, addressing him as 'sir' would have been right but my take
       was that it would sound too formal and distant!
    * One day he'd called up to ask whether we'd mind having food prepared by them. I'd told him
       in no uncertain terms that in my house we're never taught religion and I simply loved their
       cuisine. From then on food used to be sent across on every festival and bananas from the
       organic farm, grapes from the vineyard etc became a continuous trickle.
    * I'd called him up when mom was unwell and it happened to be a Sunday. The ambulance was
       arranged, the Medical specialist and the Cardiologist were standing by when mom was wheeled
       in. When it was all over, he'd insisted that no bill would be given, sent his wife, sister-in-law
       and daughter to pay the last respects as he was indisposed and arranged for an ambulance to
       take mom's body home.
    * He'd called up once while I was away at my parents' place, asking as to where we were and the
       duration for which we'd be absent. I remember him saying that he hated the sight of
       our closed, silent house. It was then that we'd established a covenant that I'd keep him informed           about my whereabouts from then on.
    * He, even, kept a track of my walks everyday and was fascinated with our frequent forays out of
       Guruvayur for meeting up with friends and family. He used to pass on this information to his
    * After hearing about my throat congestion, he'd a vial of 'Dasamoola Rasayanam' sent across to
       me and wouldn't take money for it. Further, he'd told me that I should ask him for replenishment
       because the ones that are sold have a commercial twang!"

RIP Ikka. My tears, prayers and salute to a fine gentleman and a fantastic human being who gave me kindness and love, in abundance. I'm sure there must have been a connection between us in our previous birth. Here's wishing that god gives strength to your family to tide over these stressful times.

Lekha and I had gone across, in the evening, to offer our condolences to the family and it was then that his daughters told her about every snatch of conversation between the two of us having been meticulously passed on to them! I felt humbled as I was too small a person to be covered so extensively. I did make a faux pas when I asked his son as to whether I could meet his mom and speak to her personally when he reminded me that the custom demanded that she didn't meet any man, outside the family, for thirty days!.......And I shall do so after those thirty days are over. Meanwhile, his daughters have requested Lekha to visit their mom more often, once they leave for their respective destinations after the mourning period was over.


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"There's not much of a change from the last sitrep. The family is planning to shift him to CMC, Vellore for PMR(Physical Medical Rehabilitation) after discharge.....not as a referral". From Suresh Laxman,

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Adieu Shashi Kapoor.

Yesterday evening Shashi Kapoor, the handsomest actor of the Hindi movies, passed into the mist of time. He was 79 years of age. A versatile actor who had stood his ground while acting with the other lead actors of his time. I can never forget Shashi Kapoor as a young, dashing Captain of the Indian Army in the movie, 'Sharmilee' opposite Rakhee. I don't think that I'd be wrong if I were to say that all the songs picturised on him and his heroine were immortalised just because of his personal charm in that movie.

I was sad and didn't really recover from it after hearing the news. It was as though I'd lost someone from the family! I shan't be listing his accomplishments as there are enough competent people who knew him personally and would be doing the needful.

RIP Shashi Kapoor. You'd enthralled an entire generation with your versatile acting and striking good looks. You shall always remain in the hearts of the people and I shall carry my personal grief along with me till my end!

        *                                         *                                       *

The day had begun, for us, at a quarter past 4. Packing had to be done, every item that had been taken out for use, had to be put back into its place and furniture and beds had to be covered to beat the dust. Finally, we could start off by by a half past 6. Passing through Adoor, I'd taken a wrong turn and was headed southward when Lekha had pointed out the error and I, too, belatedly noticed that the morning sun was to my left! Made the course correction quickly to avoid further loss of time and ground lost.

Breakfast was at our haunt, the Kalpakavadi Inn and the steaming 'appam and egg masala' were good. Praveen had looked after us and in my usual style, had asked him about himself. He's from the orphanage at Koonammaavu in Ernakulam. All of 25 years, he had a perceptible limp that he'd got while doing his earlier job of sales representative of a company. By his brisk service, he'd ensured that we spent the minimal time at the restaurant! Damn sweet of him.

At Alappuzha, there was a lot of time wasted in getting clearance at the 'Savakkotta Palam' as there was a long line of vehicles, waiting in queue. We reached 'Shenoy Care' by a half past 10 and after the initial administrative requirements of registering Lekha's name, paying up the consulting fees, meeting up with the junior doctor who'd inquired if she'd any difficulty and punched in the lab results into the computer, we could meet up with Dr. Padmanabha Shenoy who was pleased with Lekha's progress. We've decided to continue with the existing dosage of Folitrax. He wished us an advance 'happy new year' and we've taken up her next appointment on the 5th of March.

Since it was lunchtime, we'd gone to 'Sarovaram'. A nice place with plenty of parking space...and of course, it had a good ambiance! Our next stop was at the Naval canteen to buy our monthly requirement of grocery. We'd to wait for about half an hour before it opened its shutters for the afternoon session and in the course of our stay there, we met a few people whom we knew. And after about half an hour we made an exit through the rising number of vehicles that had come to pick up the children who were coming out of the Kendriya Vidyalaya at Katari Bagh.

The air conditioning system of the Chevy seems to be having a problem and I'd called up the customer adviser to tell him that I would be getting the vehicle tomorrow for the defect rectification. The journey was fine and we'd a tea break at the wayside facility, 10 kms north of Angamali. The Paliyekkara toll seemed to have the same problem that we'd encountered on our onward journey. They'd canceled a lane, creating confusion among the vehicles, in that lane, trying to scamper and squeeze into the nearby lanes!

We reached 'The Quarterdeck' by about a half past 6 and went about the unpacking process without delay. Meanwhile, my colleague at the Naval Headquarters, Narayanan and two other organisers of the '16 Dec - Vijay Diwas celebrations had called on to confirm my participation in the event. Thereafter, it was a quiet evening, as usual.


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Mohananchandran continues to be in the same condition as he was after the last sitrep. To begin physiotherapy, at the earliest, seems to be what everyone wants".

Was able to accomplish most of the things that I'd planned to undertake and we could meet up with all the elders while accomplishing other social necessities. We'd covered a total distance of 1,178.6 kms during the period!