Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Off to Thiruvananthapuram.

It was an early morning, as usual, on such occasions. Was up at 5 and made sure that Lekha wasn't disturbed as I went through my chores but she was up and about, half an hour later to have the breakfast and lunch ready! Anto was on another trip and therefore, I'd called my standby, Ashraf who seemed to be unwell but the poor guy had made it just for me, damn sweet of him and I was at the state road transport corporation stand well in time.

The super fast bus left smack on time and we sped southwards. We're at the Vyttila hub by a quarter past 10, a quick freshening up followed by a snack washed down with a cup of tea. I'd then moved on to the bay no.2 where the low floor buses for Thiruvananthapuram are parked. Earlier, I'd thanked the driver, Swanand who stays at Kochi and congratulated him for his good driving. His reply, "This is the first time that someone has commended my driving. Thank you, sir, for your kind words!", surprised me and I quietly conceded that it was my style. Period!

While waiting at the second bay for the low floor bus, I'd made a quick dash to rinse my mouth and that proved to be disadvantageous, in that, the crowd had surged in and I finally managed the center seat in the last row. It was when the conductor had come around to give us the tickets and he helped me wear the seat belt that I realised that it was the same pair of driver and conductor - Anil and George - who were taking us to Thiruvananthapuram. Their thrill gave me an added dose of enthusiasm and my travel weariness had disappeared!

Lekha's lunch was had at a quarter to 2, when the bus was stopped for the lunch recess a trifle ahead of the Kayankulam bus stand. Landed at Thampanoor bus stand in Thiruvananthapuram by a quarter to 5 from where Maman had had me picked up. Once at the Foundation, it was like being with the family and I'd joined the activities with a gay abandon. The 'Science Exploratory' looks imposing and I'm sure that this project of 'getting science to the masses' is gonna be  a super hit!

It was a series of shuttles - approving the documentary at the swanky digital lab after a few edits, cleaning up the bus, taking it to the Ganapati kshetram for puja and finally, parking it at the premises of the Kanakakkunnu Palace, the venue of the functions over the next two days.


Reached Maman's place close to midnight. Had time to exchange quick niceties with Ammayi and Manu before sitting at the keyboard.     

Monday, February 27, 2017

Why have people stopped being decent?

Is decency out of form these days? Everywhere one sees people with lung power saying nasty things and getting away with it. Anyone who has his/her 15' of fame has to say something or the other, never mind that it's hurting the nation's interests! See the harshness in thoughts and the shrillness of the voices because I'm gonna cite a few instances:-

    (a) In the long drawn out UP Assembly elections, leaders of all the parties have used improper
         language. I ain't accepting that as election rhetoric. When one holds responsible position,
         the level of decency expected is much, much higher. There can't be any dilution about it.

    (b) The pantomime that's being enacted as campus students' freedom of expression is getting
          to be curioser and curioser. Is it a way to show Modi and his government in poor light? If
          yes, who're the propagators? Surely, it's those who'd benefit from a 'disgraced' Modi? They
          must realise that they can't afford to be so irresponsible, so cheap because if they're to be
          successful, it bodes ill for the nation.

    (c) A former union home minister says that Kashmir is almost lost, the former chief minister of
         Jammu and Kashmir calls the stone pelters, 'freedom fighters'. Your hatred for Modi seems
         to be so great that you've thrown all caution to the winds, P Chidambaram and Farooq Abdulla.
         It's meanness!

    (d) The ABVP has the audacity to threaten with rape on a soldier's daughter just because she has
          had the guts to criticise the outfit for its intolerance. The outfit has to apologise.

When you're angry, resist from saying anything because you're gonna regret your words spoken during the temporary instability of the mind!


Off to Thiruvananthapuram to attend the 108th birth anniversary of my grandfather. There is lot to do.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Man's Continuing Search for Distant Life.....

NASA's telescope had revealed the largest batch of Earth-size, habitable zone planets during the last fortnight.

The Highlights.

      * They've been called the TRAPPIST - 1 system.
      * They orbit around a star about 40 light-years outside our solar system. What it means is that
         it would take about 11,250 years to get to them.
      * The system consists of 7 Earth-sized planets orbiting a dwarf star, 3 of them in the habitable

The scientists went on to describe them as:-

      * Brilliant objects in a red sky.
      * Looming like larger and smaller versions of our own moon.
      * But these are no moons.
      * They are Earth-size planets in a spectacular planetary system outside our own.
      * The seven rocky worlds huddle around their small, dim, red star like a "family around a 


Yet another milestone towards man's continuing search for distant life and perhaps, a step closer to unraveling the mystery of life!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The anatomy of a pantomime.

Yesterday BJP leader, K Surendran had cried hoarse at a press conference that the Sangh Parivar will not allow the chief minister to reach Mangalore, today, to attend the 'harmony'(?) rally organised by the CPM. To give credence to his threat, he cited that the Sangh Parivar had traded blow for blow and murder with murder - all these years - with the CPM (A la MM Mani style who has been unusually quiet because his party has kept him under tight control to ensure that his verbal missiles do not fly off unnecessarily!)

Now this was a challenge that the chief minister had to take on especially after two incidents, of a similar nature, that had taken place in the recent past viz.:-

     (a) Return from Bhopal without attending a meeting organised by his sympathisers. He, however,
           had the advantage of blaming it on the BJP government out there, whom he claimed, had 
           conceded that his safety could not be assured if he decided to attend.
     (b) Return from New Delhi by the early morning flight, in another incident, when the BJP had 
           a rally against his government's policies and had wanted him to hold a meeting with them!

And so, he 'braved all odds' and took part in the meeting with the Karnataka State Government providing tight security - rightly so, as dictated by protocol - by having about 3,000 police personnel at the venue. With security being tight, the 'hartal' called by the Sangh Parivar had petered out. It's also the result of the strong sentiments of a sizeable section of the BJP leadership which felt that K Surendran had exceeded his brief for no rhyme or reason!

Having reached there, the chief minister had to thump his chest in victory and this is what he said:-

       (a) Earlier, he'd moved through their cordon of open knives and other lethal weapons without
             being affected both mentally or physically.
       (b) Had he not been the chief minister, no power on earth could stop him from doing what he

It's here that the ordinary Malayalee would like to remind you about a few factors, Mr. Chief Minister, which are:-

       (a) You've, unwittingly, played into the hands of the Sangh Parivar by saying, that, had you not
             been the chief minister, no one could prevent you from doing what you wanted. One can
             only conclude that you, too, follow the path of violence if and when it suits you.
       (b) Secondly, we, the common people of Kerala, had voted for your party because we thought
             that VS Achuthanandan would be the chief minister if the LDF came to power but had to
             helplessly watch you, usurping the Chief minister's chair through the dirty machinations
             between you, the state secretariat packed with your 'yes'men and the toothless politburo!


The games political leaders play. Ugh!

Friday, February 24, 2017

And now, the absurdity.

The Tortuous Path of the Investigations.

Now that Sunil Kumar and Vigeesh have been remanded to a 14-day judicial custody, the investigations must proceed to its logical conclusion. But the theatre of the absurd has begun to be enacted and here's a chronological tabulation of the scenes:-

    * Soon after the crime, it was told that the accused had made calls to someone, to report 'job done'.
       There were reports that calls were also made during the conduct of the crime!
    * The public meeting of everyone in the Malayalam cine field condemned the act, reiterated
       support for the victim and stressed the need for probing the conspiracy angle.
    * 'Liberty' Basheer - till recently, he headed the film exhibitors federation which went into a
       month long agitation in the apportioning of the collections between the producers and the
       exhibitors resulting in the breakup of his organisation and the formation of a new body under
       the leadership of film star, Dileep - says that nothing is gonna come out of the investigations
       because of strong loyalties!
    * Dileep files a complaint with the DGP that his name is being maligned, saying that he was the
       brain behind the incident!
    * The chief minister says that the main accused had planned everything and decried the efforts
       by a section to 'conjure up imaginary culprits'!
    * Director Lal, who'd registered the case with the police after the victim had reached his house,
       post-abduction, says in an informal chat with the press that the accused had told the actress
       about the act being a 'quotation given by a woman'.
Meanwhile, the court will decide on the police's custody plea tomorrow!

Isn't there a sure method to 'situating the appreciation' out here? It's a technical expression when an outcome is already thought out and the sequence of events is made to corroborate the thought! And I can't find what is left for the police to do except to toe the line. For convenience, the cellphone of the
accused has not been traced.......   


And the police is heaped with all the negative publicity for inefficiency, all the time. Simply, not fair on the force!



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Totally dramatic!

1. Finally, the guys have been nabbed.

    The two guys - Sunil Kumar and Vigeesh - remaining to be nabbed in the actress' molestation case     were finally in the police net by lunchtime today. Sunil Kumar is known as 'Pulsar' Suni because         that was the first vehicle he'd stolen in his life and after that he has been leading a colourful life as       a 'goonda'. And, he's all over the media these days......

    The guys had gone riding a Pulsar to the additional chief judicial magistrate's office at Ernakulam       around lunch time. Wearing white shirts and carrying black jackets - to pass off as lawyers, perhaps     - after parking the bike, the duo scaled the low wall and headed straight for the first floor                     courtroom, hoodwinking the police, to surrender to the court! Since it was the lunch recess and the     judge had retired into his chamber, the duo was nabbed by the police from the court room, dragged     into the vehicle, but not before facing resistance from a few lawyers who'd bolted the doors shut!

    Hope the case is cracked at the earliest.

2. Why politicise this?

    Soon after Narendra Modi had assumed the office of Prime Minister, one of the first steps that he'd
    taken was to replace the existing Planning Commission with an all encompassing new organisation
    called the 'Niti Ayog' and since then, it's this organisation that has been guiding the entire gamut
    of resource allocation and attendant features, looked after by the erstwhile Planning Commission.       The new system has been accepted by one and all.

    Today was the budget session of the Kerala Legislative Assembly and the Governor, in his speech
    outlining the government's policy, has announced that it will follow the Planning Commission and
    not the Niti Ayog. Firstly, the statement carries no meaning due to the scrapping of the organisation
    and secondly, it's the Niti Ayog that's involved with the apportioning of the resources. By saying
    that it doesn't recognise the new organisation, what is it that the LDF is trying to prove? Whom is
    the government trying to impress when it knows for sure that it has to do business with the new
    organisation in the interest of the state?

    Or is it a long shot effort to bring back the 'Planning Commission' in the fond hope of a political
    dispensation - acceptable to the communists - coming to power at the centre after the Lok Sabha
    elections of '19....... They sure are under estimating the Modi juggernaut!

    It's making a political statement that wouldn't pass scrutiny!


A quiet day when things went about as usual.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Absolute shamelessness.

1. The Telangana Chief Minister's Offerings!

    It was amusing to see the Telangana Chief Minister, K Chandrashekhar Roa offering ornaments
    of gold and diamond, worth Rs.5.5 crores, to Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati. It has been funded
    from the state exchequer under the label, 'Common Good Fund'. This extreme generosity with the
    tax payer's money is in keeping with his vow of doing so if a separate Telangana state was formed.
    He's already under flak for his sprawling office-cum-residential complex @ Rs.50 cr. The building
    is 'Vastu-compliant' and has bullet-proof windows in about 9 acres of prime property at Begumpet.

    And this is happening when Telangana is reeling under the threat of a third successive drought!
    How heartless can one be?

2. Yet Another Fire in 'Sweet Meat Street'.

    The cycle of fires in the 'Mithai theruvu'(Sweet Meat street) of Kozhikode continues. The fire had
    started around 1130 hrs and after a determined effort by the fire personnel, was doused by about
    1530 hrs. A three storeyed building, that housed modern handloom and textiles, was completely
    destroyed. There were no casualties and the suspected cause is - yes, you've imagined it correctly -
    an electrical short circuit!

    Whether the accident was man made, to claim insurance money to overcome losses or whether
    it was a real accident, one will never know!

    Why can't the entire place be razed to the ground and a modern shopping complex be set up in
     its place. But I suppose local politics will never let that happen because of vested interests!

3. Investigations on the Actress' Assault case.

    Separate teams have been formed for carrying out investigations and yet, the prime accused
    and his accomplice is yet to be nabbed. And yes, they're trying to get an anticipatory bail
    because 'they're innocent and have nothing to do with the case'! The media is all agog with
    extensive coverage but the sad fact is that there's nothing tangible as yet!! Heavy statements
    are being issued by all and sundry.


The Mercury is rising steadily and the water in the wells is receding. Electricity is erratic!    

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

This irks me.

What I'm gonna say is related to the ill effects brought about by the dependency and the acute involvement of the general public on the What'sApp.

It's again the time for honours and awards. Last time, a committee of five members was given the job to short list the names and they'd done a decent job of it. The same team was asked to zero in on the right candidates for this year. The right people were to be identified, their achievements listed, compared and validated before the final announcement.

However, this time, a twist has taken place. Two names, from among our classmates, have been thrown up on our What'sApp group and they're definitely deserving, by virtue of their merit and achievements, thus far. Why this was discussed on the circuit beats me because almost everyone else, other than the members of the committee, have voiced their opinion and endorsed the names!

Now, asking the committee to take a decision is unnecessarily asking for trouble for the following reasons:-

   (a) What is left for the committee to decide after throwing up names and giving a general
         endorsement, albeit, by a few?
   (b) To me, the committee's purpose has been compromised, at least for this year and it will be a
         cruel joke to insist upon it to do the selection as though the What'sApp developments on the
         issue had not taken place at all.
   (c) Let's take a hypothetical situation that the committee decides to swallow bitter bile owing to
         its magnanimity and is willing to go through with the selection process. Then:-

              (i) Will the committee be able to apply its mind on the selection of the candidates?
             (ii) What happens if the committee were to zero in on names other than the two that have
                    already been bandied about?
            (iii) Won't it, then, be a miserable experience for the two who have been 'short listed' by
                    a sort of voice vote?


1. I spoke about this 'dichotomy' on our What'sApp circuit this morning and suggested that the committee can be asked to stand down, this time. Instead, we should observe the endorsements, to the two names, that keep pouring in on the circuit!
2. An unsavoury situation brought about by the chatterati!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Did Akhilesh need this prop?

Akhilesh Yadav, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and the others of their generation have an advantage of their comparative youthfulness against the landscape of the ongoing Assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh. With their forward outlook and the achievements of the Akhilesh government over the past five years, they could have easily struck a dignified campaign during the elections and carried the voters along.

Instead, what are we witnessing? Name calling and the lowest form of exchanges! Why do the young politicians employ the same tactics as that of their seniors, which I'm sure, they'd have loathed when they entered politics and I thought, made a promise to themselves that they wouldn't indulge in them when their turn came? The sad thing is that the situation on the ground has become more vicious.

So, why're they indulging in such low level tactics? It needs to be understood:-

    (a) Are the observations of the Prime Minister, regarding the ground situation in UP after five
         years of Akhilesh's rule, the reality that it has started to singe him and his allies?
    (b) Which also means that he has nothing very much to show as achievements!
    (c) Making fun of the Prime Minister and his party, therefore, comes handy.

What he seems to have forgotten is that he's gone down in the eyes of many by upstaging his father in the run up to the elections. By ridiculing the PM's observations and calling him names, he's frittering away the remaining goodwill of the people.

What saddens me is that the youngsters who joined politics have not taken the resolve to right most of the wrong prevalent practices in politics, practised and handed over to them by their predecessors!


The investigation of the 'actress molestation' case has begun in right earnest. The prime accused, meanwhile, gave the slip to the police yesterday at Ambalappuzha! The suggestion that the mastermind of the ugly incident could be the sons of a prominent politician, along with a senior actor, could make things difficult for the investigating team. Let's hope that the truth doesn't get compromised and the guilty is brought to book, forthwith!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

News snippets.....

I've been following the news assiduously and here are some of the doubts that have crept into my mind. I shall share my misgivings with you:-

 (a) Fire in Bandipur Forest.

       It's dubbed as the fiercest forest fire over a decade. Due to a shortage of rainfall, the forest
       stretch on the Kerala - Karnataka border has gone dry and the fires rage on over an estimated
       3,000 acres. And mind you, it's a tiger reserve!

       Hope the forest guards have adequate and the latest fire fighting equipment and connected  
       safety mechanisms! Why aren't they using aerial fire fighting measures without fanning 
       the fire? I'm sure they have a valid reason not to be using that at this juncture!

 (b) No Toilets, No Nikah!

       The Moulavis  and muftis of the states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab have
       collectively decided not to solemnise 'nikahs' of those families who did not have lavatories
       in their houses!

       A good decision, I must admit. I suppose the Prime Minister's call for 'Swachh Bharat', from
       the ramparts of the Red Fort on his first Independence Day speech is finding more and more

 (c)  A Case of Sour Grapes!

       China has voiced its opinion on the stupendous performance of the Indian Space Research
       Organisation when a record number of 104 satellites were launched by its rocket into outer
       space. "What's the use of launching satellites when hunger and poverty loom large in the
       country?", was the gist of the Chinese reaction.

       China has always been a spoilsport and its anti-India stance in almost every aspect is to be
       seen to be believed. It can be asked a counter, "Why is China indulging in massive military
       modernisation programme when its rural landscape suffers from poverty and lack of 
       development?" The irony is that our CPM comrades have decided to stutter around as 
       though they haven't heard it.  


The safety of women has once again become the topic of discussion, thanks to the Bhavana case. I only hope that it does not wind up in mere lip service, as has been in the past.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Something that we ought to be ashamed about.

An incident has come to light wherein film actress, Bhavana was molested in her car while she was on her way from Thrissur to Kochi for the dubbing of a film. The incident happened on Friday night and the sequence of events - that had all the ingredients of a celluloid thriller - were as follows:-

      * The actress's car, an Audi, hit from behind by a Tempo Traveller at Athani near Angamali.
      * Martin, the driver, stops the car.
      * Three men enter her car and start abusing her and Martin gets into the Tempo Traveller.
      * She's manhandled, abused and molested in the moving car and they also shoot a video.
      * The whole 'tamasha' goes on, supposedly, for an hour or so.
      * As they reach Kochi, the goons leave her and Martin once again, gets behind the wheel.
      * Martin drives the car straight to film director, Lal's house who lodges a police complaint.

The police investigations are on.

Stories are rife in the social media that the actress had fallen foul with a Malayalam film hero, when she'd let his wife know about his shenanigans with a young actress. He'd got after her and using his clout, blocked many of her chances in the new movies that were on offer!

Was he the villain of the piece, orchestrating the cheap drama through a quotation gang? Sad!  

As someone among them had said not very long ago, "In this industry the villains were gentlemen while some of the heroes were villains in real life!"

The Reactions to the Army Chief's Call.

The recent call by the Army Chief that the stone pelters and the guys who fly the ISIS/Pakistani flags, in Jammu and Kashmir would be treated as anti-nationals have not gone well with the people who're on the opposite side. Why a few of the political leaders and a section of the press have taken it as an affront is something that beats me. Don't these people give any value to the security forces who have been losing their lives almost regularly to the terrorist attacks?

The less said about the shameless separatists, the better.


Why do such things happen in this country?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Double outdoors!

In the Academy, this was the terminology when one had two outdoors one after the other - drill, followed by PT(The cadets didn't mind it) or PT, followed by drill(Dreaded by the cadets because, there was a lot of paraphernalia associated with the rig worn for drill and occasions were aplenty when one forgot the garters or even, the hose tops forcing one to retrace their steps, back to the squadron, to retrieve them!) - within the first three sessions. 

Today, it was double outdoors for Lekha and me. George, was already alerted to chauffeur us as I wasn't familiar with the roads. At 11, Sitharama Iyer and Vincent maash had dropped by to discuss a few things that needed tying up towards the inauguration of the mobile science exhibition on 01 Mar, the 107th birth anniversary of PN Panicker.

Soon after, we're off for the first appointment with the ophthalmologist at 1300 hrs. Dr. Rani Menon's spanking new clinic has come up well with state-of-the-art technology visible in all dimensions and we congratulated her for the efforts. Since Lekha takes a derivative of 'Quinine' for her ailment, frequent checks of her eyesight is mandatory - field trials need to be conducted, every six months from now on. As the staff put Lekha through the various stages of checking vision/colour vision, administering eye drops for the conduct of the field trials and the trials itself, that lasted over 40', it was about a half past 3. Armed with the result, we met the doctor who remembered mom and said something nice while doing a detailed check up of Lekha's eyes.

We're just in time for the 4 o'clock appointment with the surgical specialist at the Elite Mission hospital. The visit was mandatory because of the frequent abdominal pains that have started bothering Lekha. Though she has stones in the gall bladder, since they're asymptomatic, we'd taken a conscious decision of leaving it untouched. The results of the recently conducted liver function test showed that all readings were within the requisite parameters. The doctor has suggested a few restrictions in diet, like reducing oily foods and avoiding bakery products, to the extent feasible, so that the results of the digestive process didn't put pressure on the gall bladder.

We'd returned home by a quarter past 6 with the satisfaction of having finished with the two serials. Getting the medicines for the eyes seems to be a tough proposition as I'd the mortal experience of seeing the last piece - of one of the two - being handed over to the person standing ahead of me in the queue!


The evening walk was a stress buster and a great relief!

Was  it a PT-Drill or a Drill-PT configuration? It didn't matter because the requisite logistics was taken along in George's car!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Stressful times!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The stone pelters of Jammu and Kashmir.

The encounters at Bandipora and Handwara, in Jammu and Kashmir, between the terrorists and the security forces had concluded and the martyred brave men were being taken to their near and dear ones for the last rites and final farewell. What was horrifying to view was the misguided Kashmiri youth, pelting stones at the security forces.

The stone pelting activity had dwindled soon after the demonetisation drive of the central government and I was seeing it, now, thanks to a video clip, sent to me by a friend of mine on the What'sApp. I'd, initially, not given it a serious thought as I figured it to be yet another bit of rumour mongering on the social media. But after the Army Chief's clear message today to the guys who rally behind ISIS and Pakistani flags, along with the stone pelters, that they'd be viewed as anti-nationals, it was clear that the menace has begun to raise its ugly head all over again.

The parents of the misguided youth have also been clearly advised to wean them away from their ill advised actions, failing which they'd be suffering from their untimely ends, at the hands of the security forces. For the first time, the message has been clearly passed on by the higher echelons of the government in unambiguous terms!

I, as an Indian, would like to ask these people as to how they avail of all the welfare activities and developmental projects initiated by India and then, carry out inimical activities towards us........like the proverbial biting of the hand that feeds! Such actions be damned!!

The Army Chief's words are significant and I quote, "There's a well crafted policy, fuelled from across the border to put pressure on our security forces by getting stone pelting civilians to give cover to terrorists during encounters. We're reviewing our standard operating procedures". 


No way can there be any laxity on this aspect.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Interesting developments.

1. Gut Bacteria and Alzheimer's Disease.

     Studies indicate that the gut bacteria may accelerate the development of the Alzheimer's disease,
     paving the way for therapies to prevent and treat the neurocognitive disorder. Since our gut
     bacteria have a major impact on how we feel through the interaction between the immune system,
     the intestinal mucous and our diet, the composition of the gut micro-organisms is of particular
     interest to the researchers in this field.

     The exact composition of the gut micro-organisms depends upon which bacteria we receive at
     birth, our genes and our diet. By studying both healthy and 'diseased' mice, the researchers of the
     Lund University of Sweden found that the mice suffering from Alzheimer's have a different
     composition of gut bacteria compared to the mice that are healthy. They also studied the disease
     in mice that completely lacked bacteria to test the relationship between intestinal bacteria and the
     ailment. Mice without bacteria had a significantly smaller amount of Beta-amyloid plaque in the
     brain. The Beta-amyloid plaques are the lumps that form at the nerve fibres in those afflicted with
     the ailment! A significant step towards the treatment of the dreaded illness!!

2. Flying Taxis.

    A model of a drone taxi was unveiled in Dubai, last Monday. The passenger-carrying drone will be
    buzzing through Dubai's skyline in July. The drone - the Chinese EHang 184 - is an egg shaped
    craft with four legs, each with two small propellers. The rider has to punch in a destination on a
    touch screen in the passenger seat following which the drone will fly there automatically.

3. Antarctica Lakes.

    Large hidden lakes beneath one of the planet's fastest moving glaciers on the edge of west
    Antarctica are draining out at an unprecedented rate. The ice mass known as the Thwaites Glacier
    is sliding unstoppably into the ocean, mainly due to warmer sea water lapping at its underside.
    The study found four interconnected lakes drained during the eight months from Jun '13 to
    Jan '14.


Tomorrow will see an Indian PSLV rocket launching 104 satellites into outer space that's gonna be an all time record. I'm waiting for that historical event!


Monday, February 13, 2017

What a terrible day!

A Hartal Exclusively for Thrissur.

It was yet another 'hartal' in the district of Thrissur. A BJP man was hacked to death last evening! So, the buses weren't plying, the private vehicles started plying earlier in the morning only to stop completely by 9 o'clock, the schools and colleges were closed, most of the shops were shuttered......the entire Thrissur district had come to a grinding halt.

The maid called up Lekha to tell her about her inability to come by because there were no buses. Some nut - perhaps, a BJP sympathiser - at the electricity board office kept interrupting the power all through the forenoon and as luck would have it, our water motor seemed to miss a beat. So, the motor man was given an 'sos' who rushed in half an hour later, waited for the interrupted power to show up only to tell me at the end of it all that the motor was okay....it was one of those odd blips!

By evening, after 6, things were limping back to normalcy. By disrupting the day, what did the proponents of the 'hartal' achieve, I wonder? By my reckoning, the frequency of hartals in the district is two, bimonthly, causing immense grief and difficulty to the general public! But who cares?

        *                      *                        *

A Serious Doubt.

There's a Supreme Court order to relocate all liquor outlets that are within 500 mts of the national and state highways. It's this judgement of 15 Dec '16 that the state, now, wants to amend by asking for exemption of toddy, beer and wine from the list of liquors! 

Interestingly, according to Section 3(10) of the Abkari Act, "Liquor includes spirits of wine, arrack, spirits, wine, toddy, beer and all liquids consisting or containing alcohol".

Who's kidding whom? The answer isn't difficult to find!


1. Finally, the Supreme Court has annulled 634 doctors' MBBS degrees in Madhya Pradesh. This is the judgement on admissions obtained through a mass fraud called the 'Vyapam Scam' in that state.

2. Met the party man, 'Sakhaav' as I call him. He and his wife are poised to take off for Dubai on the 16th and as he candidly puts it, "to baby sit" as both, his son and daughter-in-law are working for IT companies. He's gonna be there for a month while his wife will be there for three months. They're replacing their daughter-in-law's grandmother who'd returned home recently. He goes on to add that the Dubai of today is quite unlike the Dubai, about 25 years ago, when he'd done a stint as a driver.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The country's interest is important.


1. The country's interest should come first, always and every time. The logic is simple - you, as its citizen are relevant only if the country is strong and thriving. Nationalism, thus, cannot be compromised at all and this should be heeded to by political leaders despite their personal differences. The federal structure should be nurtured by the state governments - the political ideology notwithstanding - and the central government during these turbulent times so that meaningful relations, especially, with the neighbouring countries can be nurtured. The absence of such an understanding not only embarrasses the central government to do business with the countries in the neighbourhood but also sour relations if the stalemate persists over a long period, which can turn out to be detrimental to our interests.

India and Bangladesh.

2. India and Bangladesh have been cosying towards each other thanks to the excellent rapport between the Prime Ministers of the two countries. There's, but, a saying that India-Bangladesh relations run through West Bengal at the best of times! And look what the bitterness between Modi and Mamta has turned things into:-

     (a) the stalled negotiations regarding the Teesta river water sharing.
     (b) the stalled negotiations regarding the Ganga Barrage project.

The Convoluted Dynamics.

3. Mamta believes that any 'concession' from her side on the Teesta river water sharing agreement will result in her political doom and hence, her pussyfooting on the issue is understandable. But what defies comprehension is her non co-operation on the Ganga Barrage project which is advantageous to the state insofar as irrigation and water storage are concerned. To that extent, the state government's officials had initially joined the negotiations but have refrained from attending them, ever since the political differences between Modi and Mamta had picked up.

4. There's another sore point that has been simmering. The state has become a haven for hardline Islamic militants who've crossed over from Bangladesh. PM Hasina's crackdown on terror and fake Indian currency network have had an impact. Questions, however, linger as to whether they're being harboured by the state government.....the sad part being communal tensions are on the rise in the border areas, consequently.

The Silver Lining.

5. Last year, the Bangladeshis were the largest tourist group to India. To streamline the visa processes and enable greater travel opportunities, Bangladesh has appointed a deputy high commissioner in Guwahati. Another idea that is being keenly pursued by both the governments in New Delhi and Dhaka is for a work permit for the Bangladeshis who want to come to India for work.


For meaningful headway with regard to Indo-Bangladeshi relationship, Mamta Banerjee needs to play ball and has to be nationalistic!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Finding peace within themselves.

I was fascinated to listen to the TED talk of Throdis Elva from Iceland and Tom Stranger from Australia. She's the victim of rape and he was the rapist and it happened 21 years ago!


At the time of the assault:-
     * Both were 16 years old.
     * Tom Stranger was an exchange student in Throdis Elva's native Iceland for one year of
        high school.
     * He was her boyfriend.
     * One night, he forced himself on her when she was drunk and unable to fight back.
     * And how did she pass through the horror? I quote her because it's vivid and explains her
        helplessness, "In order to stay sane, I silently counted the seconds on my alarm clock and
        ever since that night, I've known that there are 7,200 seconds in two hours!" 
     * She says that the incident did not fit her ideas of rape which were and I quote:-
           - "He wasn't an armed lunatic.
           -  He was my boyfriend.
           -  It didn't happen in a seedy alleyway.
           -  It happened in my own body causing irreparable damage to the relationship".

The Healing Process.

At 25 yrs, as she was heading for a mental breakdown, she sat down, wrote and sent a letter to him as to how she felt. It was the beginning of an eight year long e-mail correspondence that culminated in a meeting between the two, 21 years later, at a neutral point - Cape Town in South Africa, the 'midpoint' between Iceland and Australia.

Throdis Elva was, then, married and the mother of a 9 year old boy.

The Achievement of Peace.

They'd talked and agonisingly gone about the "darkest moment of their lives".

The TED Talk.

At the talk, they describe their collaborative process of reckoning with Stranger's action and jointly transferring blame for the rape from Elva to Stranger! They've co-authored a book, "South of Forgiveness", which has since been published.

My take.

A matured effort to go through a very sensitive issue and come out of the trauma for the rape victim. The rapist's direct involvement in the healing process is laudable, indeed.


And that brings me to the anger that wells in me against protagonists who advocate the marriage between the rapist and the victim. To me it amounts to giving legal sanctity to the rapist to rape the victim, at will, because she has become 'his property'.


Friday, February 10, 2017

The 'finding' of the misplaced key.

Last month, Jitesh, the carpenter, had provided locking arrangements for the wardrobes in each of the three bedrooms. About a fortnight back, I'd locked the wardrobe in mom's room and placed the key at a safe place. The funny thing was that it was such a safe place that I'd forgotten as to where I'd placed it, subsequently. My mind was totally blank and as a result, every place was searched including the normal place that we usually used to keep it.

Clothes were taken out, each piece separated just in case I'd kept it in between the bunch. Occasionally, I used to get instant wisdom that I should check a particular place - like, within my jeans or within the pillow covers, used in that bedroom - and I used to rush to do that only to draw a blank, each time. Today was the last day that I'd given to myself for the retrieval of the key just after checking in the dash of our Chevy - yes, I do have these flights of imagined safety and many-a-time carry out 'seamless work' when one merges with the other and anything that I've in my hand at that point of time, would be left in the new place that I'd gone into........mind going berserk, huh?

About three months back, I'd similarly misplaced one of the three keys of the house and Lekha and I had gone around searching for it but to no avail. We'd almost given up the idea of retrieving it when the maid, while at cleanship discovered it last week, behind the eight bulky volumes of the 'Mahabhaagavatham' kept at the mantelpiece in the dining hall!

This morning while trying to take a handkerchief for use, I'd taken the neatly packed bundle from the drawer just below the locked out wardrobe - I've this habit of picking up the bottom most to ensure that every piece was used in its order and not restricting myself to using the top one only, leaving the others rarely used - and presto, found the key in between two pieces. A helluva place for safekeeping leaving the protagonist in the dark as to where he'd kept it!

It was a 'great' discovery as I was about to call up the carpenter for busting the lock to replace it with a new one.


Dementia setting in or something more vigorous like Alzheimer's?  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How the day meandered.

It was a bright sunny morning to begin with. Since I've been off from my morning walks because of a bad throat, I slept beyond my usual time and got up about half an hour late! Went through the usual morning chores and by 10 o'clock was off to town to get a few things done.

At Guruvayur, these days, the roads leading to the town are being resurfaced and hence, one has to take detours or end up wasting time in traffic blocks. In other countries, such repair work is undertaken during the silent hours to keep disruption to traffic at a minimum. Consequently, I saw a different face of the temple town that I'd never seen before, littered with garbage thrown all over by a population, immune to civic sense. What a pity?

The first stop was at the ICICI bank to drop my credit card cheque and the second was at the LIC office, to hand over the premiums of the two policies that Lekha and I have. What impressed me was the manner in which, Mr. Krishnadas, the branch's manager had conducted himself and his overall behaviour. Courteous and helpful, he's a shining example of how people working in offices must behave with the customers!

The third and final stop was at the SBI, that I frequent and both, Jayakumar and Subha had helped get my work done without delay. The crowd at the bank had dwindled down and the ATM facilities, all over, have picked up operations since the glitches have become a thing of the past! After interactions - I try to keep my forays and conversations to a minimum because they've a lot of work and keeping a customer waiting because of my banter was something that I detested - I returned home and Laazar, the autorickshaw driver had conducted me through my 'chukker'. Thankfully, I'd decided against taking my Chevy because I'd have got stuck in the traffic block while Laazar could manipulate his three wheeler through no space, even!

Kausalya, the maid who frequents our place from nearby Ponnani, finally had dropped by around teatime. She'd come to drop her niece at her parents' place out here, have a darshan of the good Lord and drop by to meet us. She was coming here for the first time after mom's passing away and remembered her last visit when mom had given a saree of her's and she'd helped mom to go round the corner. Mom was really fond of her because she was not only a hard worker but had pleasing manners! The poor lady is rebuilding her house with financial assistance from the local panchayat but to her bad luck, the stones from the quarry and the bricks are not on supply due to a technical delay! She left for her house before sunset.

The evening walk was nice and we'd settled down to a quiet evening thereafter.


My official driver, Benoy, had undergone a major surgery yesterday at the Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram where the steel rods put in place at the KIMS hospital about ten days ago @ an exhorbitant Rs.4 lakhs were removed. The flesh in the youngster's leg needs to firm up and also augmented from elsewhere in his body, before inserting the support rods.

What's so great about the KIMS hospital, I wonder? Charging high rates and still botching up in the manner they provide treatment is definitely not acceptable! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

This is what happens in a democracy.

There never is a dull moment in this country. The politicians give us plenty of reasons to laugh at with the idiotic things they do. Let's go through two such events.

 (a) The drama that's going on in Tamilnadu.

       The 130 MLAs supporting Sasikala have been shepherded, herded to an unknown destination
       and will be flown to New Delhi and paraded in front of the President of India to show that she
       has the majority support. She's already staked a claim to the post of chief ministership. Her
       calculation is that if she were to become CM, the fallout of the Supreme Court verdict on the
       'disproportionate wealth accumulation' case pronouncing her guilty could be cast aside saying
       that the people know her well and that she's done no wrong, which is script number 1 of this
       story. She can, further, earn her spurs to face the mandatory six month period within which
       she needs to win an election to the Assembly.

       Meanwhile, the Governor has delayed his return to Madras so that he doesn't have to hurriedly go
       through a swearing-in ceremony. This is based on another script being written on the same
       story with the connivance of the center. An add on script is Shri. Panneerselvam's sudden
       defiance and subsequent actions. He has also become the darling of many in displaying his
       sense of humour by his retort to Sasikala's quip that his loyalty to the party was suspect because
       he smiled at the opposition leader, Stalin, during the Assembly proceedings! "Human beings
       smile", was the gist of his retort! The ever silent man has come out of the shadows.....

       Yet another instance of real life imitating reel life, in Tamilnadu!

  (b) Shiv Sena playing the spoilsport.

        Udhav Thackeray and his party are miffed that the BJP is no more scared about their activities
        and words ever since the passing away of Balasaheb. In fact, the party has become the secondary
        partner in the alliance and their hooliganism has been seen through by the people. Udhav
        Thackeray, seemingly to regain lost ground, has done the following over the last few days:-

             (i) Announced that Hardik Patel - the votary for including Patels in the reservation quota -
                  would be the face of his party, the Shiv Sena, during the Gujarat Assembly elections
                  due, this December.
            (ii) Along with the fringe group, Hindu Yuva Vahini, his party will contest in 150 seats in
                  the UP Assembly polls to split the BJP's chances.

         Desperate games being played by a desperate guy, just to remain in the reckoning!


The beauty of democracy is that anyone can dream of being the destiny maker because it doesn't require any qualification!


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

China has done it again.

China has done it yet again. A significant bid by the US in the United Nations for designating the Pathankot attack mastermind, Masood Azhar as a global terrorist has been 'blocked' by China.

The Chinese had opposed the US move by putting a 'hold' on the proposal. Its action came just before the expiry of the 10-day deadline for any proposal to be adopted or blocked or put on hold. The hold remains for six months and can be further extended by three months. During this period, it can be anytime converted into a block, thereby, ending the life of the proposal.

In the meantime, with much 'tom tomming' last week, Pakistan had put the guy under house arrest. That it was totally farcical was proved by two points:-

       * From his place of arrest he called for 'jihad' in Jammu and Kashmir.
       * He has given a new nomenclature to his terror outfit to remove the pressure on 'Jaish-e-

My take.

It's crystal clear that with the connivance of these two countries, a dreaded terrorist outfit is being given the licence to roam freely. China is giving a lot of thrust to the 'Economic Corridor' through Pakistan, that it's busy constructing, to get a foothold into the Arabian Sea. What the two countries don't realise is that their actions are fraught with danger because, as the corridor gets commissioned, there would be many stakeholders who'll spring up to claim the share of the spoils and these terror outfits will be their biggest headache then!

Probably, it will be in the fitness of things or what one can say, will be 'natural justice' when China starts feeling the heat of the terrorist network that it's trying to nurture for short term gains. That Pakistan is already suffering from its ill designed policies need not be emphasised.

China has another problem. It doesn't want India to come up and become a strong, well developed country and so, it tries to put all sorts of silly impediments. What it doesn't realise is that the delay could only be for an extremely short while but, eventually, it will not have the wherewithal to arrest the momentum of growth that India is poised to make. India attaining the prime position among the global pantheon of nations is simply inevitable!

What it needs to understand is that it must achieve greatness by its strengths and not by putting down the others. I'm sure, history will teach China the hard lesson ultimately!


China and Pakistan are poised to learn hard lessons from the terrorist outfits they're protecting now. Period!   

Monday, February 6, 2017

The games politicians play.......

Let's go through the news in circulation and try to make out the meaning.

 (a) The Parliament is in a logjam yet again.

       As has become the trend, the current session of Parliament is gonna go for a washout. The
       reason seems to be clear, don't allow the government to transact business and get the credit.
      A few points have become crystal clear which are:-

           (i) The finance minister can pat himself on the back. His budget seems to be good because
                none of the opposition parties have any observations against it.
          (ii) Mr. E Ahamed, the MP from Kerala who'd passed away last week, must be very happy
                wherever he is now. Political parties of all hues have suddenly found a fondness for him
                while they showed scant respect to him during his entire lifetime.
         (iii) And having said that, was there any prodding from the government/bureaucrat to the RML
                Hospital management for those unnecessary sequence of events?

  (b) Tamilnadu, witness to yet another ignominy.

        Just 63 days after Jayalalitha's passing away, her maid, Sasikala has the temerity to make a bid
        for chief ministership. What are her qualifications, one wonders? Don't these guys,
        Panneerselvam and others have the spine to stand by their opinions? Thankfully, the following
        aspects might not let her get into the chair that easily:-

             (i) The rank and file of the AIADMK party are virtually split in the middle regarding their
                  loyalty for Sasikala.
            (ii) The Supreme Court is set to give the verdict on the 'disproportionate assets' case on
                  Jayalalitha and Sasikala, a week from now.
           (iii) The governor has made it clear that he wasn't administering the oath of office to
                  Sasikala and her new set of ministers, tomorrow.

   (c) CPM vs. CPI.

        Not all is well between the CPM and the CPI in Kerala. The fight has come out in the open
        in the ongoing students' strike(Barring the SFI) at the Kerala Law Academy and against its
        Principal, Lakshmi Nair. The war of words and differences in perceptions have been going
        on since the last Assembly elections. A recap:-

             (i) The CPI wanted Achuthanandan to be made the chief minister because it was he, who'd
                  garnered the votes that contributed to the ultimate success of the LDF. Post-elections,
                  the party had dumped him and gave his bete noire, the coveted post.
            (ii) Soon after the government came to power, the CPI had made it clear that it was against
                  the Athirapally Power Project because of environmental reasons.
           (iii) When two top Maoists were killed in a police encounter at Nilambur, the CPI had
                  strongly condemned the police action.
           (iv) The CPI had objected to MM Mani's criticism of the revenue and forest ministers who
                  are its representatives in the ministry.
            (v) Minister AK Balan's praise for former CPI ministers, KP Rajendran and Benoy Viswam
                 to put down the current ministers also didn't go well with the CPI.
           (vi) The ongoing tussle between the chief minister and the CPI's state secretary, Kaanam
                  Rajendran over the publication of cabinet decisions under the RTI Act.
          (vii) In the Law Academy issue, while CPI insists on tough measures, the CPM wants to
                  go soft on the management.

        It will be interesting to note as to how their differences will be amicably settled!


My throat is still not all right after a five day course of antibiotics.  


Sunday, February 5, 2017

My Sagardhwani years(5)

The next assignment came by, quicker than I'd expected. It was all about noise measurement in and around the Bombay High. My adrenaline was pumped up and soon, we were off to Bombay and berthed at the outer side of the south breakwater. As the logistics were being augmented during the interim period, I got to meet many of my friends after what had been a long time.

The eight day deployment was another great teacher. Total power shut downs used to be simulated on board the ship - at night - to allow the scientists to launch their probes into the waters and measure the prevalent sounds around, while the ship remained on a totally silent regime! As the ship drifted by the will of the tide and currents, at times the massive oil rigs seemed to approach us uncomfortably close. But setting aside my own apprehensions, pumping enough confidence into my navigator and the others through my navigation and ship handling capabilities, we're able to facilitate the scientists in getting fantastic readings that eventually resulted in a comprehensive and reliable data bank of the noises prevalent off the Bombay High.

It was, thus, a triumphant return to Kochi after touching the ports of Goa, Karwar and New Mangalore, enroute with the ops division allowing me to enter the ports, at will, to allow me to make my pilotage! The fact was that they're were thrilled at issuing sailing orders for my ship which was not conceivable even six months before! At Goa, the Flag Officer - he was the FOST earlier - advised me to get back to Kochi and tom tom my achievements, so that everyone was clear about the stupendous work that we'd done to reach this state. Little did he realise that I was a guy who firmly believed that my seniors knew what efforts I was putting in and that they'd consequently give me an annual confidential report that I deserved, keeping all the related factors in mind. In fact, two admirals who'd visited my ship soon after told me, "Rajeev, if you're in any navy, your next two promotions are assured by your hard work and dedication". The fact that eventually things did not shape up the way it was forecast was another matter altogether.

I'd, however,  achieved my aim. By having the ship carry out two differing assignments - one on the eastern seaboard and the other on the western seaboard - thousands of nautical miles apart, I was able to prove that the ship was truly operational and available for further operational exploitation!

Suddenly, I saw the attitudes changing in many. From the deeply sympathetic one of, "Why did you have to get posted on a lousy ship? Try to get a change" to "You must go through an inspection by the command. Only then will we come to know as to what you've really achieved". I did come to hear about real hostile behaviour towards my boys, from the staff ashore, while they're quite nice to me. Did they want me to fail, I wonder, when I think about it in retrospect?


1. We went through the CinC's inspection and I'll never forget his comment after inspecting the ceremonial parade on the forecastle of the ship on a thoroughly wet Kochi morning, "I'm quite happy to see the tremendous enthusiasm of your officers and men. Their turn out and drill movements have been good. Sunday routine can be followed on a time, convenient. And God bless!"

2. A week later, came my marching orders - a shift of berth, in naval parlance. I was to take up duties of Deputy Director, C-LABS, the acronym for the 'Center for Leadership and Behavioural Studies'. In the morning, after handing over command to my successor, I chose to go down the accommodation ladder, into the ship's boat and chug along to the south jetty, ceremonially saluting my ship - for the last time - that I loved unconditionally for the previous one and a half years. As I drove off in my car subsequently, I realised that my eyes were moist!

3. And that ends my Sagardhwani years.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

My Sagardhwani years(4) Contd.....

And finally, the ship was docked along with an Offshore Supply Vessel(OSV) in the building dock of the Cochin Shipyard. It was a long stay of 86 days, during which the ship had to be floated after about 45 days to undock the OSV, only to sit back on the chocks after the evolution was over. The work on the shafts was intricate wherein the piano wire method was used to verify the alignments, supplemented with the optical sighting method.

I was excited by the fact that the ship was gonna be active soon and interacted with the shipyard workers on the job and they, too, warmed up to my curiosity and took pains to explain to me the details. Often, I used to return home late because it took time for me to understand the nuances. The shipyard and the command were also closely monitoring the progress of work because the successful outcome was a must for all the stake holders.

We put out to sea for trials and though there were minor hiccups, it went off fine. There were quite a few sailings done off the coast of Kochi but I was itching for something substantial and soon, came the exercise of a composite survey of the subsurface(Geological and the immediate water layer), surface and atmospheric surveys of a large chunk of area off the port of Visakhapatnam that had strategic import and I was briefed about it by both, the command and the Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory(NPOL). I remember the Chief of Staff's, post briefing caution, "Son, don't hesitate to return if the machinery misbehaves!".......... Did I see a look of doubt in his eyes about me and my ship pulling it off?

And finally, on a bright sunny day, we set sail for Visakhapatnam and I was on cloud 9. There were a few emergencies enroute but each one of them was sorted out because prior to sailing, I'd told my boys that come what may we'd to do it. After the first day, the ship had settled down as we rounded Kanyakumari, did that stretch of ocean sailing, made landfall on the western Galle seaface of Sri Lanka, passed through the highly dense international traffic lane off its southern coast, shaped to a north eastern course to finally fetch up at the port of Madras. After a day's stay, we headed for the Sacramento point from where the final course to Visakhapatnam was fine tuned and eventually entered harbour on a Sunday morning.

By Tuesday, the entire team of scientists and their equipment, supplementing the on board ones, had embarked on board and the provisioning of logistics was completed from the base support organisations. Meanwhile, I'd completed all the ceremonial calls of the senior officers of the command before I sailed for the exercise that was to last for a fortnight.

That we finished our survey within 12 days showed the high levels of motivation prevalent within the ship and as I shaped course to return to harbour, I made that historical signal and I quote, "Maiden scientific mission successfully completed". It was an exhilarating feeling and I believe, during the command meeting at Kochi, next morning, the CinC had read out my signal aloud and the entire lot stood up and thumped the desks for the news that many of them thought they would never hear!
The poignant moment was when the Director, NPOL had flown down to personally congratulate my team and taking me to a side, said, "Congratulations Captain. I knew that you'd it in you and I'd never taken the fact that you weren't an ASW specialist seriously!" I'd also made a copy of the signal to VAdm AR Tandon, who was the CinC West by then because it was he who'd made this possible with VAdm Inderjit Bedi sitting as the Vice Chief - both closely aware of my predicament as well as my requirement!

We returned to Kochi, soon after, via the port of Madras and around Sri Lanka and once in Kochi, my officers and men moved with their chests out and heads held high. Everywhere in the command they went, the respect and admiration that they got made them feel that they'd achieved something real great. I'd also gone and met Cmde Bawa, the CMD of the Cochin Shipyard to thank him and his words still resonate in my ears, "You know young man, we'd to do it for you because you deserve it". Meanwhile, I wasn't resting on my laurels and I wanted to prove that it was no flash in the pan and was looking for the next interesting assignment!


I was told by an ex-cadet of mine, who was now in the personnel directorate at the naval headquarters in Delhi, that there was a steady trickle of requests to be posted on board INS Sagardhwani. I'd turned the tide around......         

Friday, February 3, 2017

Adieu Ms. Gauri Muthanna!

This morning, I'd spoken to Dr. KK Muthanna at Mysore, to offer my condolences on the passing away of his wife. He did take his time to place me and then, he wanted to know as to what I was doing. His outgoing nature had come to the fore but when I queried him about his wife, he'd got emotional.

From the gist of what he'd told me, she was diagnosed with a cancerous growth on the apex of her lungs. Chemotherapy was ruled out because of the inaccessibility to the malignancy and oral chemo was resorted to. Heavily under sedatives and pain killers, he only hoped that she didn't go through too much of pain and it was then that he'd choked.

Ms. Gauri Muthanna had passed into the mist of time on 02 Feb. How can I ever forget her? When I'd joined the Sainik School, Kazhakootam on 28 Jan '67 in class VII, I was assigned to the Prasad House of which Mr. KK Muthanna was the House Master. Since they stayed on the first floor of the building, many of us used to approach her for personal requirements rather than going to our matron. Slightly, on the heavier side, she was beautiful and kind hearted. I can never forget the flavoured tea that she'd given me to tide over my cold.

She and her husband are educationists in Mysore and are known and respected for their work in the field.

RIP Gauri Muthanna ma'am. You shall always have that special place in my heart. My tears and prayers!

          *                               *                               *

My Sagardhwani years(3)      Contd.......

                                                          A test of leadership

1. When I'd embarked earlier on board for 'on job training' or OJT, I'd observed the following:-
           (a) While the ship cast off to sea from the harbour, the naval complement used to be smartly
                 dressed in uniforms, deftly carrying out seamanship evolutions while the civilians from
                 the scientific community used to be sloppily moving about on the upper decks, in slippers
                 and in colourful attire.
           (b) The technical staff that assisted the scientists used to move in and out of the Officers'
                 mess(Ward Room) in casuals and used to dine out there.
           (c) The Commanding Officer had, I understand, permitted it.

This was corrected from the first sortie of my command. What gladdened me was that the civilians were only too pleased to follow my instructions and I'd introduced the early morning briefing for the day's activity and a debrief at the end of the activities. It helped everyone to understand as to why costly probes used to be streamed over the shipside and the importance of retrieving it safely on completion.

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2. On my first address to the officers and men, I'd told that I didn't consider anyone indispensable, including myself and that people could proceed on leave on genuine requirement.

A few days later as we're getting ready to sail, my navigator, Mukul Chaturvedi, put up a 10 day leave requirement and I promptly approved it though my second-in-command was of the opinion that the youngster did not really require it. I met him quite morose, the next day at the gangway and wondered as to why he was so when he should have been happy going on leave and it was then that he blurted out that he'd expected me to call him and ask him as to whether he really required to go on leave! He was even willing to forego his leave that I'd cleared but I was insistent that he went.......there were no more telegrams from home and no more flimsy requests for leave!

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3. We're out at sea for the acceptance trials of the thrusters with the OEMs and on clearing them, I'd wanted to see the reaction time of my crew to change over from the main machinery(The diesel engines) to the auxiliary machinery(The thrusters) and accordingly passed the order. The evolution required the stopping of the main engines in a deliberate manner, wash off the prevalent speed to 2 to 3 knots before connecting up the thrusters, which could give me a max speed of 7 kts! I found that the reaction time of my crew was 13 mts -  without previous experience and had mentally jotted it down for toning down through subsequent exercises.

We'd, then, reverted to steering by main engines when my Engineer Officer, BD Maheswari, had barged into the bridge, quite worked up, with the 'ship's data book'. The thick black bound book carries every information about the use of the machinery and the orders passed along with the time and all entries are made in pencil except for orders of grave importance, which were to be in ink. My 'chiefy' insisted on recording that order of mine in ink and I simply complied....was he flabbergasted? A few days later he'd apologised to me regarding his insistence and even offered to remove the page and I told him to retain it as it was because I was clear that I'd passed a right order as I was only 'pressure testing' the system!

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4. There was this sailor whom I used to sight every time during my rounds of the 'between deck spaces' of the ship and I queried my no.2 man as to whether he'd a problem. His reply was the usual, "Oh sir, SP Singh, a 26 year old sailor, was wanting to go on leave and he'd just returned from his home, at Munger in Bihar last week. Something told me that his problem was far more complicated
and sure enough, it did come out on my 'defaulters' table, where he was marched up a week later. He'd got married a couple of months before and his wife was staying with his parents. His father - quite a tyrant in the house - was forcing himself upon her and hence, his requirement for frequent leave as he felt that his presence would deter the old man from the incest. Now that he'd told me his problem it had become mine. I wrote to the Collector and the SP of the place about the problem, to advise the father of dire consequences if he continued to play truant and had asked them to ensure that the lady was sent along with the sailor when I sent him on leave, a fortnight from then.

As I write this, I still remember his grateful and smiling face when he'd reported back on duty. His wife had come along with him!

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5. As a matter of policy, I'd always shown the reports that I'd written on my officers and men without worrying about the reactions because the junior had every right to know as to what I thought of him. Accordingly, my new chiefy, JWS Kumar was shown his on the eve of his transfer. I'd given him a 7.4 pointer annual confidential report and on perusal, he blew up saying, "Sir, I'm sorry that I've served under you. All my previous commanding officers have given me 9s and this is of no consequence to me....." I'd, then, asked him to correct my observations where he thought I'd erred but refusing to do so, he continued the harangue. His outburst did sadden me but I was sure that I hadn't erred.

Two months later, he'd come to invite me for his stripe wetting party - he'd got promoted to his next rank with the strength of the sea report that I'd rendered upon him - but I expressed my regrets. He'd subsequently come home, along with his wife, to invite me yet again but I chose to raise a toast then and there at my place, but once again regretted the invitation to the party!


They were experiences of a different kind, indeed but made me a better person!