Friday, March 31, 2017

A citizen's angst.

We've heard the oft repeated saying, "Justice delayed is justice denied". I'm gonna recount two happenings that had taken place in two different courts quite recently. Without much ado, here I go:-

 1. A citizen's Angst - Suicide at the Kerala High Court.

     KL Johnson, a 77 year old from Mulavana in Kollam, jumped to his death from the top of the
     High Court on Thursday. His last words. "I don't have any hope now that I would get justice....
     ....I'm going. Those responsible should be punished. He'd scribbled these words on the back of
     the complaints that he'd filed to the President of India, the Chief Justice of India and the Chief
     Justice of Kerala.

     As per a 'Mercy Petition', the land adjacent to his land was at a lower level and his house was on
     the verge of collapse because of work being carried out by the Chittumala block panchayat. The
     Kollam munsiff's court, based on his complaint, had directed the panchayat to construct a
     boundary wall at a length of 7 mts, the implementation of which was being delayed by the
     panchayat purposely.

     The poor gentleman must have been bewildered at being given the cold shoulder and the 
     apathy of the organisations that could have ensured him justice. Sad!   

 2. Justice After 24 years.

     In '93, Suresh Babu, an RSS worker who was employed in a workshop had got down at the
     Ottapilavu junction, near Kunnamkulam, from a road transport corporation bus after his day's
     work, to be brutally hacked to death by certain CPM workers. There were delays and stalling
     tactics resorted to by the accused and the father - he's no more, he'd passed into the mist of
     time in the course of the case - had filed 'denial of justice' petition. It was this complaint and the
     case that was heard by the Supreme Court which delivered the final verdict.

     Kalyani, Suresh Babu's mother, said that she was glad that her son has finally got justice,
     albeit, after a long wait!


A Supreme Court bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India, has ruled that it cannot stop 'hartals' because it is every individual's fundamental right to protest.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Suresh's travails.

Suresh, my cousin Reshmi's husband, has been at the Amritha Institute of Medical Sciences since last Saturday. As I'd said earlier he has been complaining of a pain around the spot surrounding the surgery which graduates to a blackout and in the process, he had fallen down many a time. Thankfully, there has been no injuries. Subbu, had called him over and had put him through a PET scan, last Monday.

Its result showed a 'whitishness' on the nerve, at the spot where the surgery was performed, through which he used to complain about pain permeating towards the brain, resulting in the blackouts. The doctor, then, had decided to have a biopsy done on the 'whitishness' and since it was going to be painful, it was done in the operation theatre, under general anesthesia, today.

By evening, the results had come but to reconfirm the findings and I suppose to clear a few more lingering doubts, the doctor will put Suresh through an ultrasonic scan and SMAC, tomorrow.

Let me go a bit technical on this.

* SMAC is the trademark for a system that uses a computer to perform a multiple of different blood chemical tests from a single blood sample. A sequential multiple analysis, sort of!
* An SMAC blood test is more often known as a CMP(Complete Metabolic Panel)) or a chemistry panel. It's a panel of 14 separate measurements of chemicals in the blood that helps the doctor to diagnose a patient's overall health.
* The 14 chemicals that are measured in an SMAC can be separated into these categories:-
   - Electrolyte levels such as Na, K, Ca and Carbon Dioxide.
   - Kidney functions such as BUN and Creatinine.
   - Liver functions such as Proteins and Glucose.
* It may indicate that a patient is at risk for disorders such as diabetes, kidney or liver insufficiency 
   or he may have an electrolyte imbalance that needs to be corrected.
  Normal range of BUN(blood-urea nitrogen)-to-Creatinine ratio blood test? A typical adult range is
  1 unit of Creatinine for every 10 to 20 units of Blood-urea.

The sample is gonna be taken from the small hole on Suresh's cheek and it'll be painful.

So, god please:-

    * give Suresh the strength to absorb the pain and
  ** help Subbu to reach a conclusion so that the way out can be initiated at the earliest. 


1. Lekha and I had wished Indira kunjamma many happy returns, right in the morning. Remembered mom wishing her, along with us, last year. Mom used to be excited and made it a point to convey the greetings early in the morning itself because she wanted to be the first, always and kept a track of everyone's birthday as per the Malayalam calendar! 
2. I must end this on a sad note from what I'd observed of a nephew of mine, today. He wished his cousin - yes, there's a niece of mine who'd also celebrated her birthday as her Malayalam star spilled over to the first 7 hours of today - many happy returns on the family's What'sApp group while ignoring his grand aunt. He has a problem of wanting to be with people who're rich, famous and influential....guess he'll understand in due course that they don't have any meaning when life teaches him harsh lessons. I'd, however, attribute his behaviour to bad upbringing because he was a fine boy when he was young!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I, quite, like these trends(2).

1. The Court Takes Notice.

    A group of journalists, agitated over the court's observations over casual attire sported by some
    among them, boycotted the proceedings.

    The Bombay High Court voiced its displeasure over journalists covering court proceedings
    attired in jeans and T-shirts asking if it was 'Bombay culture'. The observation was made by
    Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice GS Kulkarni when they were hearing a petition
    challenging doctors abstaining from work. On seeing a journalist from a national newspaper
    wearing the attire, the court inquired as to whether there was any dress code for them.

    An interesting observation during these days when there's an increasing tendency to question
    traditions and customs in the name of practicality and 'changing' with the times! Decorum
    and dress etiquette must be followed at all times, there can't be a dilution or an exception.

2. A Minor Shows The Way.

    Resisting parental pressure to get married, a minor tribal girl walked 12 km from her remote
    village in Purulia to the local police station to prevent the wedding decided by her parents.

    For a month and a half, Namitha(16) had pleaded with her father, Dinesh and mother, Kangsha
    to allow her to continue studying in class IX at Gopalnagar High School near Nirbhaipur village.
    Dinesh is a poor farmer with a small plot, who supports his family by tilling other farmers' lands
    and Kangsha is a housewife. They weren't willing to listen to their daughter's pleas, chose Kenda,
    a youth from Punuru village, as the groom and had invited him and his parents to see the girl
    to fix the wedding date, when Namitha had fled to the police station. The Officer-in-charge and the
    BDO, then, summoned the girl's parents and prevented the 'wedding preparations' through timely

    Well done Namitha. May there be many more like you to cast away wrong social practices
    taking place in the country!

3. Remission Plan for Prisoners Put on Hold.

    The Kerala government had recommended remissions in the sentences of about 1,850 odd
    prisoners languishing in the state's prisons under the garb of the 'Kerala Piravi' celebrations. 

    Though granting remissions to prisoners - on the basis of their good conduct in jail - during
    occasions is a practice that's being followed since times immemorial, this time's list has a twist.
    The list includes the men involved in TP Chandrasekharan's murder, the boorish Mohammed
    Nisham and a few others who aren't simply qualified because of the crimes they'd committed
    and the consequent sentences they've to serve within the confines of the jail. It must also be
    remembered that the Governor had sent back the list to the government, with queries earlier
    and refused to grant assent.

    Kudos to PD Joseph of Thrissur for his timely action and guts to file the petition questioning
    the government's move! 


Is this the resurgent India that the Prime Minister was talking about over and above the quiet transformation that's taking place towards a digital India?  


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I, quite, like these trends!

1. In Kashmir.

    The army chief had warned last month that the civilians trying to disrupt combat operations
    against militants will be treated as overground workers of terrorists and dealt with harshly.

    Protests began soon after a joint force of the army, the CRPF and the J&K police surrounded a
    house in which a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist was hiding in Zuin village of Badgam district in
    central Kashmir. The encounter had begun around 0530 hrs, but civilian protesters gathered and
    began pelting the forces with stones injuring more than 60 security personnel. The army, then,
    fired at the protesters killing three of them, even as the combat operation ended killing the terrorist.
    After the end of the eight hour encounter, the house in which the terrorist was hiding was razed to
    the ground with explosives.

    Way to go! Tough decisions are the need of the hour so that the terrorists, their sympathisers in
    Kashmir and Pakistan are given an unequivocal message, "Don't mess with us!"

2. The Air India's Stand.

    An FIR has been registered against Ravindra Gaikwad, a Shiv Sena MP, on the basis of a 
    complaint lodged by the Air India, for hitting its duty manager, R Sukumar, with sandals on a
    Pune-Delhi flight after it had landed. The MP was angry at not being given a business class seat
    though he'd boarded an all economy flight!

    The shameless MP, then, went on national television boasting about the way he'd manhandled
    the Air India employee. A day after the incident, the national carrier had cancelled his return ticket
    and even, Indigo followed suit, forcing him to take a train to Maharashtra. A travel ban by all the
    airlines on him exists as of now.

    Way to go! The Shiv Sena, instead of condemning the incident, has tabled a privilege motion
    in Parliament. The guy doesn't even have the decency to apologise for his boorish behaviour!
    What sort of a picture is he projecting to his own children, family? Disgusting! He'd to return
    to New Delhi by train, consequently about which I'm extremely glad.

3. Virat Kohli's Stand After Winning the Test Series.

    Before the series began, Kohli had said in Pune, "I'm really good friends with all these guys off
    field. When you step on to the field, I could be playing my big brother it wouldn't matter. I know
    the Aussies really well. I know where to draw the line". 

    Though India has won the test series, retained the number one position and clinched the Border-
    Gavaskar trophy, the series will be known for its foul mouthed verbal jousting and ill tempered
    Yesterday, asked if he still held that notion, he shook his head and said, "No, it has changed. I
     thought that was the case, but it has changed for sure. I've been proven wrong. The thing I said
     before the first test, that has certainly changed and you won't hear me say that ever again". The
     Australian captain, Steve Smith's on field behaviour with stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane at
     Dharamshala was unpardonable.

     Way to go! No other skipper has told the Aussies in such unequivocal terms that their attitude
     needs a change. Perhaps, it will give the ICC the reason to come down heavily on sledging!


By afternoon the news had come in that there's a white spot on Suresh's facial nerve, near the spot of the surgery, after studying the PET scan. Its biopsy is slated for Thursday and since it's painful, it's gonna be done in the operation theatre, under anesthesia.

Monday, March 27, 2017

News bytes........

1. The Munnar Encroachments.

     Munnar has again come into the limelight on the question of encroachments brought to light
     by the sustained efforts of the dynamic Sub Collector of Devikulam, Sreeram Venkitaraman.
     Many resorts are being constructed - and that too 10 and even 15 storeyed flats, when the cap
     on the floors is three - despite the slapping of 'stop building memos' by the revenue department!
     So, it's evident that there is a nexus between the government officials, the builders and wealthy            businessmen who wield considerable political clout.

     To top it all, the CPM MLA, Rajendran has built his house on encroached property that's actually
     the land of the state's electricity board!

     Why can't the government come clean on all the encroached land of Munnar? Or is it that it's
      a fertile area for future encroachments, whichever dispensation is in power? This is what is meant
      by 'open loot'. To have a farm in the hills and especially, at Munnar, is a status symbol, you see!

2. The Judicial Probe.

    The government has announced a 'judicial probe' into the phone sex charges against the former
    minister, AK Saseendran. This is against the police having ruled out a probe into the affair unless
    the woman involved lodged a complaint. It's yet another ploy by the government to tide over this
    messy situation, especially, when the Malappuram parliamentary election is due shortly. In other
    words, it's a quick decision to delay the inquiry!

    The terms of reference of the probe and as to who'll conduct it, will be decided tomorrow.


The heat is getting to be unbearable. The air conditioners are no more a luxury!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A quiet Sunday.

The heat was getting to be unbearable but we'd nothing to worry as there was no reason to make a foray outside and therefore, we're within the house roughing out the weather. I'd my second fortnightly appointment at the 'Amigos' and felt much lighter. The hair that had curled over the earlobes and the growth in the nostrils had begun to cause irritation.

My aunt from Thiruvananthapuram had called up to know as to what Subbu had told me about her son-in-law's present medical status. She was anxious about his health and extremely fearful as the astrological information predicts a difficult time for him though that period has already been transited by the end of last month. She was in tears and said that she'd called me to get over her melancholy because whatever I said, soothed her always. I didn't know as to whether it was appropriate to accept the compliment and therefore, chose to listen through it without offering a reaction.

Meanwhile there were queries from the other members of the family consequent to my announcing Suresh's admission at the Amritha hospital, in the family's What'sApp group. I'd mulled over it before putting the information for the group because it's my firm opinion that every member of the family must be aware of their relatives' difficulties as well as the successes because those are the essential factors that bond every member with one another within the family. Right now, Reshmi and Suresh need our attention and prayers to tide over a tricky milestone and if the others, as the members of the family, cannot provide that help, then what's so great about calling ourselves as family?

Kumar, the press man, eventually came by about 3 o'clock after a lapse of a fortnight though he did say that he'd come by last Thursday only to find the house locked. The stack of clothes kept on the ironing board did not take much time to be neatly tucked away into the wardrobes as Kumar went about his work in an efficient manner.

The walk, after sunset, was nice and I felt good having sweated it out with exercises!


AK Saseendran, the transport minister, tendered his resignation on account of an audio clip that was being transmitted by a news channel. In it, his conversation with a lady, that had sexual overtones, was being aired and without battling it out with the media, he'd made his exit out of the ministry Wonder whether a case can be filed under the circumstances viz.:-

      (a) No complaint has been lodged by the 'affected' person?
      (b) The taping of telephonic conversations has a twist, in that, it could have been done to trap
            the caller. The argument gathers strength as the clip was passed on to the media.

On a personal note, I'd interacted with him on the occasion of Muthachhan's birth anniversary on 01 Mar as he was one of the guests for our programme and found him to be a dignified minister. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A quick, short trip.

It was a promise that had to be kept. I keep telling people that I might not be in continuous touch with them but I'm definitely bothered about what happens to them and at the appropriate time, they shall find me by their side!

The day had begun at 5 and after going through the chores I was out of the house before 6. The brisk walk and the recital of the prayers saw the thirty five minutes pass by in no time. There were a few household work like putting the bed linen into the washing machine and other small things that had to be done as they were my jobs. Eventually, by 9, I was out of the house.

Ashraf dropped me at the private bus stand and I could board the bus to Ernakulam just in time to see the conductor ring the double bell. The journey took a bit longer than usual because of the uncouth traffic enroute. I was on the rear most seat all through and didn't quite mind getting up each time to let in a passenger to take the inner, window side street.

I reached the Amritha Institute of Medical Sciences before 12 and came to know that Suresh had been admitted after meeting up with Subbu. I waited on for a while and could meet him after a meeting that he was attending. His smiling visage and 'We'll see what we've to do after the PET scan on Monday', put my cousin at ease. I shall keep my fingers crossed till the option of having to redo the surgery and replacing the 'piece in the mandible' is ruled out.

I'd a chance meeting of Bindu, my friend's wife, who'd come to collect the medicines for him undergoing the maintenance chemo. She needed a contact at Bangalore, who could get the medicines faster, cutting through red tapism and bureaucratic apathy! Had the number of a classmate of ours that was passed on. My cousin, Kannan was also there and it was nice to meet up with him, though beside a hospital bed!!

Suresh was, by then, allotted Room 2318 and we'd settled down to answer probing calls from relatives about Suresh's hospitalisation. He's a bit apprehensive, there's no doubt about that and I hope that it doesn't affect a speedy recovery. Lekshmi, meanwhile, had got us lunch and we broke bread together, without much ado. Soon after, around 4, Lekshmi and I left for our destinations in an auto rickshaw. At the main junction, on seeing a private bus bound for Guruvayur, I'd slipped out of the rick and made a dash to clamber on to the crowded bus. It was a tough bargain to hold on to my balance as the driver was very generous with the application of the brakes!


I'd got down at the Mammiyoor junction by a half past 6 and walked it to my house, from there, to compensate for my evening walk.     

Friday, March 24, 2017

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

It was a leisurely waking up and the chores were gone through. We left around a half past 8 as Rema and Achu had to go to collect her ayurvedic medicines by about a quarter past 9. The drive was nice except when, still in town, I'd to hit the emergency break when an errant guy on mobike wanted to cut across my way. When I asked him to be more careful and attentive, he vent his ire on me and I left it at that.....I'd no time to stop my vehicle to give him a tight slap for his impertinence and Lekha didn't want me to create a scene!

We reached our house by about a quarter past 10. The settling down was easier as the maid was available and going through the paces of her work. The soiled clothes, accumulated during the outing, was put into the washing machine and the bed linen changed and the old ones were put into the clothes basket - a task that was strictly mine. They'll be sorted out tomorrow.

My cousin had called from Thiruvananthapuram to give me the depressing news that her husband, Suresh, has had another blackout - the third within 48 hrs! The doctor, there, had confirmed that the metallic piece that has been inserted in the place of the cut portion of the mandible is causing an infection that was the cause of the blackouts. That part of the wound was taking longer to heal and hence, he was undergoing the 'hyperbaric oxygen therapy'(HBOT) as advised by Subbu. Moreover, the couple didn't want to move to Kochi, immediately, because their son's class X board exams were on.

All that had become inconsequential and they'd commenced their journey to Kochi by teatime. Actually, she'd given me the call to update me and I could make out her helplessness and anxiety as she talked to me. I told her that I'd fetch up at the Amritha hospital by the time they met up with Subbu. In fact, I'd talked to him too, soon after. Suresh might have to stay at the hospital for a few days or even, perhaps, undergo a corrective surgery which might enhance the duration.


Tomorrow's gonna be a hectic day, as I see it, but I need to rough it up for their sake!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The follow through.

The 'Nehru Villa', the first of the guest house suites of the Nehru College was our address for the night. Indira ma'am and Nayana were the occupants of the adjacent suite while, Manu, our sa'arthi occupied the sofa set of the sitting room.

It was a leisurely wake up call. Maman had switched off the fan before we turned off to sleep and the air conditioner, some time through the course of the night. The upshot of the whole thing was that I got up around a half past 6, sweating through all my pores!

We're in time for the morning session of the second day of the workshop and it was I who kicked off the proceedings with my 'personality essentials' to communicate with the people in the villages. It struck a chord from the feedback, post lecture, from everyone. Maman had taken the next session, explaining the 'Digi Gaon' exercise coupled with the step-by-step process of implementation.
The class of 150 students were, then, divided into seven groups and asked to spell out as to how they'd go about implementing what they'd learnt.

I'd the interesting task of going through the effort and pick the winner. The results were declared, followed by the prize and certificate distribution to the participants. The feedback from the students were recorded and the group photographs were taken. Many of the participants took turns to take selfies with Maman and me on their cellphones and I was quite amused but thrilled, to be frank!

We left the Nehru College by 4 o'clock and I was dropped at my sister's place, half an hour later. Maman and gang, then, proceeded for Thiruvananthapuram without coming up to my sister's place to avoid unnecessary delay.

Palakkad was exceptionally hot but it was nice yakkitiyakking with everyone. Achu came back from work at about 2300 hrs.


Maman and I have been asked to keep our last week of May for engaging the students with our lecture sessions. Moreover, the NGOs from Karur, Cuddalore and Udhagamandalam were quite eager to replicate our efforts at Coimbatore, in their districts, at the earliest. It will envisage a lot of travel but would definitely be interesting and we'd achieve our aim of letting the people of Tamilnadu know about the legendary PN Panicker!      

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The 'Digi Gaon' workshop.

As per an earlier understanding between my Maman and me, I was to meet up with the Foundation's representatives at the Nehru Group of Institutions at Thirumalaipalayam near Madukkarai. Accordingly, I'd got up at my usual time, gone through my chores and Achu had dropped me at the bus stand to see me off by the road transport corporation's bus to Coimbatore.

I reached my destination by a half past 9 and after taking directions from Maman and realising the electrifying atmosphere prior to an event like this, I'd my final traversing of the remaining three kms done in an auto rickshaw, to be in time for the workshop. The chief guest was Madhuvantika, the young sub collector and additional district magistrate of Coimbatore, who's dynamic and positive minded.

The 'Digi Gaon' is nothing but bringing about e-literacy and thereby, a cashless economy encompassing the rural landscape within every district to the ultimate target of covering each of the 652 districts that exist in the country. The Foundation has been entrusted with bringing about this epoch making change in the southern region, consisting of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana and of course, Kerala too. It has already begun this initiative in the state of Uttar Pradesh and hopes to cover about as many districts as possible within each state and we hope to be joined by other organisations in this mammoth yet noble endeavour.

The day passed off with a series of interactive sessions beginning with the inaugural meeting. The 150 students, selected by the institution, will be made instructors for imparting the nuances of e-literacy when they interact with the masses. They'll be the harbingers of change! Through this initiative, the Foundation is also trying to make them socially sensitive to the needs of the not-so-lucky- people around them.


In the evening, our team had gone to the city of Coimbatore to get a few things done for the valedictory function and to have our dinner. My earlier impression of the city from what I'd seen of it during the mid '80s, while I was posted at the naval establishment, Agrani, was turned upside down by today's traversing through a few of those familiar places like Gandhipuram, Oppanakkara street, the Railway station area etc. Time has moved through thirty years.........

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

To Palakkad.

My sleep was broken at about 3 AM and I took the opportunity to recite my daily prayers. Sleep was quick to come by, consequently, but it was in fits and starts till I woke up Lekha at 5 AM. The chores were swiftly gone through, the shutting down of 'The Quarterdeck' accomplished with the minimum disruption and though I'd planned for a half past 7 get away, we could kick off 18 minutes later!

The journey was fine with no hiccups at all and thanks to the smooth traffic, we're at the deed writer's place before the appointed hour of 10 AM. We'd stopped in front of a small house where the lady-of-the-house permitted us to use their rest room, on my request, without any compunction. Damn sweet of Usha - yet another stranger who'd made my day with her magnanimous act! A cup of tea along with a snack from the road side vendor was simply delicious and he made us know that he was thrilled to have us as his customers.

The work at the deed writer's extended to more than an hour and a half as passport size photographs of the concerned had to be duplicated from the nearby studio. It's so natural to see the deed writer, the photographer and the photostat guy coexisting within the same premises because each is heavily dependent on the other! The younger sister and her husband had come in without delay and the formalities were gone through. The conversation was mainly between the deed writer, her assistant, Latha, Preetha and Asokan. Lekha and I uttered nothing throughout the duration of our stay despite the fact that it did concern Lekha!

Once the papers were ready, we'd headed for the Registrar's office where the registration formalities were gone through. Communicating through the deed writer, the following were accomplished:-

     (a) Assurance to Latha that the title deed for her house at Kottarakkara would be completed
          within a fortnight by Asokan.
     (b) The duplicate key of the Palakkad house - 'Krishnarchana' - was handed over to Lekha by
The fair copy of Lekha's title deed would fetch up within ten days, said the deed writer.

Soon after, we'd all gone to my sister, Rema's place. We cut her birthday cake and wasn't she thrilled? Latha and her family set off on their return to Kottarakkara without much ado. Rema hitched a hike with them to get dropped at her teaching center and returned at 6 PM.

Achu had organised a dinner for his mom at a nice restaurant to celebrate her birthday and the evening did get to be late! It was a nice evening!!


Hope Asokan keeps his word that he gave Latha towards the end. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

The unexpected!

I'd seen off Sudharma by a half past 9 in an auto rickshaw. She was scheduled to visit the temple after which she'd proceed to Thiruvananthapuram. And within an hour, Lekha's elder sister, Latha and family had arrived. They'd come by for two reasons viz.:-

    (a) Their younger son, Anand, who's back from Tanzania was to visit the Thirumaandhaam Kunnu
          temple for a special puja to expedite his matrimony.
    (b) For her to sign the deed papers to transfer the Palakkad house and property of their dad to
          Lekha and her younger sister, Preetha.

Anticipating a foul play - consequent to the father's remembrance day advertisement without a mention of their names - by their younger brother-in-law, they'd proceeded to Palakkad to visit the bank where their dad had his pension account and had some money in the fixed deposit which was to mature shortly. They were shocked by the manager's report that the entire amount was withdrawn six months earlier, paying a tidy penalty for early withdrawal, prior to maturity!

They'd also visited the deed writer to inquire about tomorrow's proceedings. Latha had also expressed her misgivings about her younger sister not having signed the title deed of the house that she was currently living in, inherited from her dad. We'd supported her misgivings fully well knowing that it could delay the transfer of the Palakkad property to Lekha and her younger sister, Preetha.

I feel ashamed writing this because it shows as to how greedy and selfish one's own kith and kin become when it comes to sharing their rightful inheritances!

         *                           *                             *

They'd returned before sunset and I'd taken off for my customary walk. I'd planned to shut down 'The Quarterdeck' in the morning, though it was gonna be hectic. There were a lot of discussions as everyone reminisced these days of last year, soon after the passing away of Lekha's dad. The texture of the relationship between the sisters and the brother in Lekha's family had changed beyond repairs, all over a dispute in the right to their family property!


1. Yet another lesson learnt from life, the great teacher!
2. The bank manager had suggested sending a letter to the bank to get the details of the withdrawal of the Fixed Deposit based on the RTI. Armed with that information, he'd advised the sisters to take their younger sister to court by filing a case about the fraud. I cautioned them against the idea as it would become a long drawn out case, seemingly without an end.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Vigorous marketing.

There's a couple - a lady and her first cousin - who are ardent fans of a food supplement made by a certain company. They try to palm off expensive stuff with their glib talk and marketing overkill. The lady had befriended me during the recent celebrations of my grandfather's 108th birthday and after coming to know that I was residing at Guruvayur, had promised to visit us here.

Meanwhile, her cousin had called me up and spoken for almost an hour regarding the company and its products, guaranteeing that the intake of the food supplement would enhance my vigour and vitality(Wonder who told him that these aspects were flagging in me?) And yes, this could be had along with the medicines, if any, that I was having! I heard him out patiently and gave him my cell phone number - on his persistence - which I was gonna regret soon after because within no time, he'd pumped in a host of brochures and other related information about the company and its products, on my What'sApp address, which I must confess I'd deleted without even reading any of them!

In the evening, I'd spoken to the two that I wouldn't be taking the supplements from them, immediately, till my doctor friend from Chicago gave me the clearance. Despite my telling so, the lady had fetched up with a pack of the supplement @ Rs.3,200/- I'd to use all my persuasive powers, diplomacy and tact to avoid buying it. She, then, said that she was expecting to get its remuneration from me to buy her return ticket to Thiruvananthapuram. I, then, gave her Rs.500/- to facilitate her return journey and that was that, hoping that it was the last that I was gonna hear about the food supplement!

The difficulty to say 'nyet' in this case were the following reasons:-

     (a) Her assertion that she was one of the volunteers of the Kerala Library Movement and was
           liked by my grandfather for her work.
     (b) She contributes her mite to the Foundation and its activities.

*Note. The recommended dosage is for 90 days, which means one will have to buy four such packets
            as each packet contains 25 portions(Two portions daily). The total expenses would be
            Rs.12,000/-! It's not the money really but one would end up spending on something that one
            didn't require at all, perhaps!! 


Reminded me about the 'Amway' and its marketing, that I'd heard about earlier. My uncle and aunt - at Paravur - were the scapegoats but I'd intervened in time to make sure that they weren't taken for a ride! Be wary of such people!!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Yogi Adityanath, who is known for his strong pro-Hindutva image is the chief minister designate of Uttar Pradesh. He's, currently, an MP from Gorakhpur and is also the head priest of the Gorakhnath temple.

By making a strident leader, whose controversial statements about how to deal with the people of other religions have got him into trouble earlier, as the state's chief minister, has Prime Minister Modi and the BJP made an error towards the run up to the parliamentary elections of 2019? Or is it a calculated move to get the Hindus into their fold? Only time will tell.

For being an effective chief minister, he needs to adapt himself to being an acceptable leader to everyone and will have to incorporate the following forthwith:-

      (a) Must endeavour and prove that whatever is attributed to him was poll time rhetoric(Though
           I, on a personal level, don't quite agree with that argument).
      (b) He needs to impress upon every section of the society that he requires each and everyone to
            help him work on his development agenda.
      (c) The notoriety and the lawlessness, that UP is known for, need to be put down with an iron
            hand in a free and fair manner.
      (d) He needs to send a clear message, right at the start, that 'Development for everyone' is his
           one and only agenda.
      (e) He must carry everyone along. Wonder how the sceptics will react to his overtures because
           they're only familiar with his strident Hindutva posturing?

Interesting possibilities there. Only hope that the state gets a reprieve and is set on the road to development, on the fast track!


Yet another new chapter in the political arena of this country. It's said that the RSS has been solidly behind this move.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The SNC Lavalin case - a few disturbing facts!

What is the SNC Lavalin case all about?

* Pinarayi Vijayan was the state's electricity minister in Chief Minister EK Nayanar's cabinet from
   May '96 to Oct '98.
* He hatched a criminal conspiracy, along with six others, to award a contract for the renovation and
   modernisation of the Pallivasal, Chengulam and Panniar hydroelectric projects to the Canadian
   company, SNC Lavalin, at an exhorbitant cost.
* The Kerala State Electricity Board had entered into an MoU with the company without inviting
   tenders and violating rules and regulations.
* As part of the MoU, the company had committed a grant of Rs.100 crores for the development of
   the Malabar Cancer Center.
* A few other related facts:-
       - In '96, Pinarayi Vijayan visited Canada and held discussions with the SNC Lavalin without a
         technical member in his delegation which decided the details of the equipment to be purchased
         from India and Canada.
       - He wanted a Cancer Center at Thalasserry in his native district, Kannur.
       - He'd signed the supply contract on a fixed rate basis with the company, which was not even
         the OEM, without verifying the reasonableness of the cost of the equipment.
       - His successor as the electricity minister in the UDF cabinet was the late G Karthikeyan.

   The facts.
           * The Malabar cancer Center never got the money. 
           * The company has reiterated that it has fulfilled all its commitments as per the MoU.
           * So, who pocketed the the money?
           * The scam had allegedly resulted in a loss of Rs.374.50 crores to the exchequer.
   The government says that the SNC Lavalin had wriggled out of its obligations!

A few disturbing facts brought out by the opposition.

  * When Pinarayi Vijayan had questioned the Governor's order to prosecute him in the Lavalin
     case in '09, it was Harish Salve who'd represented the then government against him. Now, he
     is his lawyer! 
  * The case was investigated by Lokanath Behra, a Deputy Director then in the CBI, who's now the
     DGP of the state. He'd met Harish Salve in recent days!
  * One of Salve's arguments that both the then chief minister and the chief secretary would also come
     under the ambit of the case, indicates the direction his legal brain is headed


Pinarayi Vijayan needs to clear his name from this ignominy at all costs. The judgement in this case, thus, becomes all the more important.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

14 years without Bruno.......

14 years back, on this day a few minutes before a quarter past 6, Bruno, our beloved Dobermann passed away as I carried him up the stairs to our fifth floor flat, 9/97 at Arjan Vihar, Delhi Cantt. Sometime during our upward trudge up the stairs, he tilted his head upward to look at me and then, all of a sudden, I felt a tug as his soul left the body and his head dangled lifeless.

He was quite weak and had a restless night; I'd carried him for his customary morning walk, removed his chain and told him that he could run around wherever he wanted and pranced around to initiate him into action. Instead he sat motionless, gave me a long gaze fully knowing that his end was near and was perhaps, pitying me for my ignorance of the impending catastrophe!

Lekha's and my world came crashing that morning, never to recover from the shock even to this day. There's a photograph of his in our bedroom and today in front of it, I spent a minute thinking about the good times that we had together. I can never forget:-

    * His delightful capers and whenever we used to wrestle with each other, never once did he like
       me having an upper hand!
    * The happiness that he showed always on my return, by the vigorous shaking of his hind, a warm
       lick and at times, standing on his hind legs with his paws on my chest and literally breathing
       down my neck rather excitedly.
    * The way he used to pull me from one edge of the road to the other while on walks.
    * The extremely careful manner in which he used to behave when Lekha used to take him out for
       the walks! If going by the stairs, he used to traverse a step or two, look back every now and
       then to confirm that she had negotiated them.
    * During our mock fights, he used to join sides with her and made it clear as to where his ultimate
       loyalty lay and no, I'd no cribs on that!
    * Any stranger who was in trousers and dressed neatly, passed his muster. The dhoti/lungi clad
       variety, invariably, incurred his wrath as he howled at them.
    * Initially, he wasn't inclined favourably towards our maid, Babli but was fond of her husband,
       Bunty, who used to take him out for his walks during my absence! However, during his last days,
       he took an affinity for her....
    * When we used to pack our bags to proceed home on long leave during the winters, he used to
       watch and brood over it.
    * It was a thrill to watch his excitement when his bag - an apothecary's companion - was being
       filled with his stuff.
    * His proprietorial attitude while travelling in the I A/C coupe of the Rajdhani Express. He just
       hated travelling by the dog box in the guard's cabin which we'd to resort to once! The attendants,
       too, had got used to him and gifted him an extra piece of meat during meals.
    * During the last week, I still remember the way he used to look at me through the rear view
       mirror during the up and down journey to the vet at the Presidential Estate. Was he sad at the
       prospect of leaving us, I wonder? He used sit at the center of the rear seat so that he could see
    * The helpless look that he gave us on urinating on the carpet during his last night and the quick,
       deep and noisy breathing all through that wretched night.

At the end of it all, I'd like to believe that he was happy with us and sad to leave us.

RIP Bruno. Miss you every minute, my dear. Our prayers and tears.


Our maid, Babli, gave birth to a healthy baby girl the very next day and I'd like to believe that it's Bruno, in his present avatar. The li'l one's name is Renu and she's now in class IX!   

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lekha's dad's first remembrance day.

Exactly a year back, Lekha's dad had passed into the mist of time on this day. Lekha had gone to Kottarakkara with her younger sister that day itself while mom and I had gone the next day to attend his funeral. The events come back with distinct clarity as I recollect our times with him.

He was a disciplinarian and rarely showed his emotions. His children didn't take any liberty with him and it was only Lekha who spoke out her mind with him. He accepted her suggestions and opinions, most of the times and it was fun watching them exchange their thoughts. It was a regular exercise in the eve of our trips to Kottarakkara, when she used to pick and choose eatables for him - since he was diabetic, there were things that were a strict no no - from the shops that she frequented out here.

Our first stop, always, on reaching Kottarakkara was a visit to him and within the short while, he'd inquire about our programme and the duration of our stay. The last time that we'd met him, he'd asked us to find out as to why we're travelling most of the time with very little time spent at 'The Quarterdeck'. Lekha used to tell me that he used to be fascinated about our trips - incidentally, they're quite usual and ordinary if you're to ask me - and would insist on her to give a detailed account of the event, right to the minutest details.

       *                            *                                *

Years back, in Aug '93, when Lekha was in the CCU of the Lisie hospital and the doctor had told me to call our near and dear ones, as he stood by her bedside, he'd broken down and cried. I'd told him then that there was nothing to worry as she was gonna be with us and I remember the look that he gave me - that was loaded with hope and surprise - wanting every word of mine to be true!

       *                            *                                *

Much later, when his wife had passed away, Lekha had caught the early morning flight from New Delhi to attend the funeral. I wasn't able to accompany her as there was an official negotiation that was going on. After seeing her off in the flight, I'd called him up to say that the funeral should be carried out only after Lekha's arrival as she wanted to see her for one last time. Despite the clamour for going ahead with the funeral activities at the appointed hour before sunset, he'd issued a diktat, "Nothing will happen till Lekha reaches here and pays her tribute." And that was that....the two of us had monitored her movement, all the way from New Delhi to Kochi and from the Kochi airport to their house, 'Krishnarchana', at Palakkad.

       *                             *                                *

Again, when his leg was amputated, everyone wondered as to how he would restrict himself to being static and sure enough, he'd come out with a solution which he went about putting in place like this:-

       * Had the Kovai Medical Center fit him up with a prosthetic limb(Later, through my friend and
          doctor, we'd got him a lighter one at Kochi).
       * Locked up his house at Palakkad and shifted to one of his houses at Kottarakkara, within the
          ambit of his dad's house and asked his eldest daughter, along with her family, to shift into
          the second house within the compound so that she took care of his everyday needs like food,
       * Bought himself a sedan and would choose his drivers as per their availability. A monthly trip
          to Palakkad was a must to collect his pension and also to have a look at his house!
       * He used to buy eatables and clothes - during festivals - from his favourite shops and distribute
          them on his return. A call at our place in the morning to have a cup of tea and meet up with his
          daughter, on his return leg, was an important serial of his itinerary.

That serial was carried out two days prior to his passing away! My mom had come out to talk to him while he remained seated in the car, next to the driver, as always. Little, then, did we realise that we're having our last glimpse of him, alive!

RIP dad! Our tears and prayers.


'Raja part Rangadurai' has done it again. He'd put out a remembrance column in the Palakkad edition of the Mathrubhoomi newspaper with dad's photograph and captioned it as inserted by his wife, children and her brother and his family, leaving out Lekha and her older sister, Letha. The small and petty minded guy that he is, he seems to be still upset about having been thwarted from his crooked attempts to carry out his devious plans, during the division of the family property.  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Where a generation has lost its childhood....

It has been six years since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria. Thousands of innocent lives have been lost, many thousands have been grievously injured and the end doesn't seem to be in sight. The players in this game are many but what they're fighting for remains to be a mystery, at least for a curious outsider, like me, who is witnessing it. Bashar al Assad, is this the country that you want to rule when you've contributed to its dismemberment, turmoil and anguish? Will the souls of the many who've perished over the last six years let you rule peacefully, ever?

Let's try to make out from the mess, the genesis of this sordid saga of human suffering. Here we go:-

 * The demonstrations began on 15 Mar '11, when the protesters marched in Damascus, demanding
          - democratic reforms
          - the release of political prisoners
          - an increase in freedom
          - abolition of emergency law and
          - an end to corruption.

 * After 08 Apr, the slogan shifted slowly towards a call to overthrow the Assad government when
    the forces fired at the demonstrators and they realised that Bashar al Assad would never bring in
    the much needed reforms. .
 * The forces involved in the civil war, over these six years, are:-

          - Bashar al Assad's government forces
          - Free Syrian Army(FSA), who're the defected Syrian military officers, men with the united
            opposition forces.
          - Syrian National Council, based in Turkey, that oganised the opposition which included
             fractious collection of political groups, longtime exiles, grassroots organisers and armed
             militants divided along ethnic, sectarian lines.
          - Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units(YPG).
          - Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(ISIS).
     03 Jun '14 A farcical presidential election was conducted which was won by Bashar al Assad.                            There was no voting in roughly 60% of the country due to rebel, Kurdish and ISIS
                       control of Syrian territories.

  * American jets began bombing ISIL positions in Syria on 23 Sep '14.
  * The Russian aerospace forces began a sustained  campaign of air strikes on ISIL and anti-Assad
     forces on 30 Sep '15.
    30 Oct '15 Syrian peace talks were held in Vienna initiated by the US, Russia, Turkey and 
                      Saudi Arabia. The participants disagreed on the future of Bashar al Assad! Can
                      you beat that?

  * By the end of Mar '16 the Syrian forces, with the support of the Russian and the Iranian 
     forces, captured Palmyra from the ISIL.
  * The Turkish armed forces invaded from northern Syria, supposedly against the IS and the
     Kurdish units because 'they threatened its sovereignty'.

And the civil war rages on with no end in sight.


The cities of Aleppo and many others - once beautiful and orderly - have been reduced to rubble where ordinary men, women and children try to go though their daily lives under the constant threat of artillery shelling and air bombardments. What they've lost thus far cannot ever be quantified in terms of mental fear, lack of safety with death lurking around all the time.

Can't we do something?            

Monday, March 13, 2017

There we go again....

Going through the news bytes that grabbed the headlines today. It's interesting to note as to how opinions change, attitudes take a detour but so long as it is for the common good, it's welcome:-

  (a) Now we'll have six lane highway.

        The government has taken the decision of having a six lane national highway all through the
        state. The connected land acquisition becomes very messy and it mustn't be forgotten that the
        present dispensation, while in the opposition, had obstructed the process by saying that the
        'interests' of the land owners were being sacrificed!

        There's no doubt that the state needs wide roads of international class to make driving a
        pleasure and with the central median in place, many of the accidents will be avoided. However,
        the toughest part viz. the land acquisition has to be done swiftly, without fear or favour,
        following the laws of the land. Anyone who plays spoilsport must be dealt with harshly, without
        worrying about his political affiliation.

  (b) Many enemies?

        The state's vigilance chief, Jacob Thomas, seems to be having a lot many enemies. By his non
         relenting methods of searching for corruption, he seems to have rubbed many powerful
         shoulders of the IAS lobby the wrong way and that he has the chief minister's backing, bugs
         them. A whispering campaign against his decisions as the Director of Ports, has been going on
         for a while.

         Now, the media has brought up the fact that he has an undisclosed 50 acres of property in the
         Rajapalayam taluk of Virudhunagar in Tamilnadu.

         Will the latest allegation stymie his efforts as a crusader against corruption? Or is it yet
          another red herring thrown in by his detractors?

  (c) Kochi Metro, finally!
        The people of Kochi will have the 'Komet' for travelling from Aluva to Palarivattom - a
        stretch of 13 kms - by next month. After a lot of hassles, initially, over land acquisition and
        the tussle between the KMRL and the civic bodies, our metroman, Sri. E Sreedharan has
        pulled off the impossible by sticking to the schedule at a comparatively reduced cost.

        It's everyone's fond hope that Kochi's famed traffic congestion would become a thing of the
        past as the 'Komet' expands its footprint in the city in due course of time.


Meanwhile, the roadwork at the Kuthiraan is proceeding at a frenetic pace. Looking forward to a blemishless and carefree drive over the Kochi-Palakkad stretch without further delay!



Sunday, March 12, 2017

At the 'Puthuvayil House'.

I'd missed out on the alarm at 4 and had got up at a half past 4, instead. The chores were gone through and Anto was a trifle early and he ferried me to the railway station within no time. The queue was slowly beginning to build up by the time I'd collected my ticket. The short journey to Thrissur got over soon after and I trudged the short distance to the road corporation bus stand for the connecting bus.

There were no low floor air conditioned buses for my destination and therefore, I'd clambered on to a super fast bus and had reached Muvattupuzha by a 10' past 9. Maman, then, was at my li'l maman's place, at Kidangoor, having his breakfast and it took them another hour to fetch up. Meanwhile, I'd my breakfast and settled down at the bus stand.

After the rendezvous at a quarter to 11, we'd gone to the brassiere making unit run by Santosh and Rajesh, who're brothers. Providing employment for 50 women, the enterprise is doing a fine job. Our visit, today, was to negotiate a partnership with them and to set up a similar unit at Chathannoor in Kollam district. The discussions proved fruitful and we've agreed to begin training about 15 ladies of our unit on Vishu, the 14th of next month. New machinery @ Rs.4.4 lakhs will have to be installed in our premises after disposing off the obsolete ones. Our existing 'Pretty Poly' unit - which is into the same activity - should be able to enhance its capacity and expand further with this tie up.

A quick bite on the way towards Kottayam and we reached Sri. CG Vasudevan Nair's house a trifle after 3. The 83 year old gentleman - my grandfather's close associate during the library movement - is sprightly and active and is the secretary of the Kottayam Public Library. He has been advised rest by his doctor because the haemoglobin count of his blood is low at 7.6, which has been a worrying factor. The reason for this reduction is yet to be ascertained and he has been made to go through a battery of tests! After wishing him a speedy recovery, with his wife going through the memories of her frequent visits to my grandparents' place at Thiruvananthapuram, the fruit juice that she served us enlivened us for our journey onward!

Our next stop was at the Puthuvayil House - my grandfather's house at Neelamperoor, a hamlet near Changanasserry - which is in the process of being converted into a national monument and the connected paper work is going on. We've, in the interim, initiated the process of strengthening the existing structure and placing Muthachhan's personal effects in a more streamlined fashion, with an accompanying sound and light show, so that it presents a pleasant facade when children and visitors are brought there during PN Panicker's birthday on 01 Mar and the remembrance day of 19 Jun, every year. Meeting with Gomathi peramma, Santha Kunjamma, Kunjomana chechi and the children was a great moment. Dementia has taken its toll of the 89 year old Gomathi peramma, who wouldn't leave my hand as we were leaving!

On a personal level, it gives me a thrill whenever I'm there. I keep looking for some clue - I dunno what to be honest - about my grandparents' stay in that small, compact house. I look around the courtyard and the backyard where my mom would have played around during her childhood........How one wishes that the house and the old trees around could speak......


It was a dash to the Changanasserry railway station, where the Madras bound Chennai mail was already at the platform. It was a scramble to the train after buying the tickets and my coach was the last but one of the long train! Therefore, I walked on and on through the vestibule connections!!

Reached 'The Quarterdeck' by 2200 hrs. Earlier, Lekha'd fetched up from Palakkad and she was ferried by Rema and family, who also made it a point to visit the temple where the annual festivities are on. They're mighty thrilled that they'd a nice 'darshan' of the good Lord!!!      

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A quiet Saturday.

The day had begun at 6 with us going around our chores, as usual. The plants and the lawn could be watered thanks to the spurt of water from the municipality's water connection that's yet to go on full stream. The electrician was called to replace the faulty power switch for the air conditioner.

Lekha was dropped at the road transport corporation's bus stand and helped to embark the low floor bus bound for Palakkad at 1215 hrs. She got a nice seat and I left soon after, not waiting for the departure of the bus. The television was all about the election results of the five states where the Assembly elections were held. The BJP has expanded its footprint across the country but PM Narendra Modi was, clearly, the star. My personal opinion about it is as follows:-

   (a) Uttar Pradesh       Definitely a spectacular win. Couldn't believe the local leaders who said
                                     that their party would win more than 300 seats against the backdrop of the
                                     exit polls. Probably, they're aware of the ground realities! The BJP seems to
                                     have done its homework correctly. .
   (b) Punjab                 The Congress win was needed against the attitude of the Shiromani Akali
                                     Dal. The BJP has suffered as a coalition partner but where-o-where is
                                     Kejriwal? The AAP deserved to lose because of its contradictions and the
                                     people's fear that he might shift into their state as chief minister.
   (c) Goa                      Looks like it's a ding dong affair. AAP has not been able to make any dent
                                     despite the hype!
   (d) Uttarakhand         Another spectacular BJP win. Didn't Harish Rawat, the outgoing CM, deliver
                                     as one had heard or was it all a hype?
   (e) Manipur               BJP making inroads for the first time. Here, I feel sad for Irom Sharmila as
                                     she seems to have made no impact. Was her principled fight all these
                                     years in vain?

Akhilesh Yadav had committed the gravest error by dumping his dad and the electorate didn't spare him. The Indians, still, uphold values and the respect for one's parents is not negotiable!

I was just going through a lot of rhetoric by the opposition like Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury, Arvind Kejriwal and the others in the run up to the UP elections like:-

      (a) The Mohammed Aklakh fiasco when the poor gentleman was brutally killed for having
            beef in his house. (It was a false charge and it was a pure law and order problem that the
            state government had to act upon, instead the Akhilesh government blamed the Hindutva
            brigade and thereby the PM, which didn't stick).
      (b) The demonetisation drive was capitalised by the opposition as it shed copious tears at the
            poor being harassed and it even went to the extent of keeping track of the deaths that
            occurred due to it. (However, the common man realised that the difficulty was faced even
            by the rich and the mighty and he didn't mind his difficulties, instead lauded the PM in
            having taken a bold decision).
      (c) The Ramjas College fiasco was another front that it had opened to show the PM and his
            government in bad light just like the Kanhaiya Kumar and the Rohit Vemula incidents
            before the Bihar Assrmbly elections but this time, the game was out! That it didn't make
            a dent in these Assembly elections is clear.
      (d) Within the BJP, suddenly Rajnath Singh, Uma Bharti and the likes felt sorry for the party for
            not having fielded any Muslim candidates in the UP elections. Strange feelings, I must say,
            because the Prime Minister did overwhelm them with his blitzkreig!


Narendra Modi, has literally fought all sorts of adverse factors to spring this spectacular victory. He deserves the kudos for his hard work and perseverance towards brokering an enduring attachment with his people. Let's hope that he's galvanised enough to bring forth path breaking reforms to ensure that he becomes the Prime Minister, yet again, in 2019!  

Friday, March 10, 2017

Random thoughts.

A few things that have been happening around shows that time has passed on, bringing about changes to suit with the trends. Trivia, but interesting:-

 1. The Warriath House has got lively.

     Ever since the death of the patriarch, during the third week of last September, the house has been
     frequently kept locked as the old lady was first, staying with her son further ahead of 'The
     Quarterdeck' followed by a short trip to Dubai to spend time with her granddaughter and generally,      spent very little time in the house. The unlit house gave a brooding outlook during the nights. All
     that has become a thing of the past because her eldest daughter seems to have shifted from Aluva
     to this place for good, post retirement. The house is now agog with activity, thank god!

 2. The trip to Goa is on.

      During the third week of next month our naval course mates are getting together at Goa for old
      times' sake. I'd intimated the organisers about our participation and had sent the initial amount for
      the get together. Today, I'd spoken about my journey requirements to Paulson, who got our
      reservations done in a jiffy. It was then that the thought of walking long distances - on the
      railway platform, to begin with, to board one's coach - struck my mind. Lekha cannot afford to
      do that much of walking. Perhaps, the wheelchair has to be taken along to offset this difficulty!

 3. A weekend full of travel.

     Mini, my younger sister, and family are arriving at Palakkad by Saturday afternoon. Lekha has
     been asked to join up for certain purchases connected with my niece, Ammu's marriage while
     they're all there. Accordingly, she'll be boarding the 1215 hrs low floor bus to Palakkad tomorrow.
     On Sunday, I'd be off to Neelamperoor for achieving yet another milestone with respect to
     Muthachhan's 'Puthuvayil House' becoming a national monument!

 4. A quick remedy.

     I'd called the customer care of the Whirlpool to service the air conditioners and to repair the
     microwave oven. Mujib, the service rep, had dropped by soon after lunch and finished the work
     that was pending for a while. In the process, the power switch has become faulty which will be
     replaced tomorrow itself!


A quiet day, otherwise!    

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Back at Guruvayur.

It was a leisurely morning and we'd got up by 7. Spent some time with Jojy and folks before each one of them left for their offices leaving Saly and us to ourselves. There was a faux pas on my part, in that, I couldn't reciprocate li'l Shanaya's 'good bye' before she left for her school as I was under the shower! Soon after breakfast, Saly, Lekha and I'd left for the naval canteen for purchases and on completion, dropped Saly back at her place.

We. then. had a luncheon date with my cousin, Prabha, Siddharth and Meera. The venue was the good 'ole Ceylon Bake House, now revamped and I must concede that I missed the old, busy facade and to my surprise, the bearer told me that my favourite dish of 'Idiappam and egg masala' was only served during the mornings and in the evenings! We set off for Guruvayur on the NH17 and the journey was going fine, when short of the Chettuva bridge we're diverted through a narrower deviation as repair work was being undertaken on the bridge, necessitated by the collision of two buses yesterday!

Therefore, by the time we reached 'The Quarterdeck', it was past 5 and consequently, had our tea correspondingly late! The unpacking and the opening up of the house took the usual time but despite that I was in time for the evening news on the Asianet News channel. The evening walk was nice and I could pay up the remaining Rs.12/- at the medical shop that I owed.

The heat is oppressive, the water level in the well at our courtyard had dipped down to the 7th ring. There're another three to go! It's our fond hope that there are more convectional rains in the days to come.


1. Lekha and I were happy that we could do all that we'd thought about during this trip of ours but it did turn out to be hectic!
2. The moral policing resorted to by a few cranky Shiv Sena loyalists the other day at the Marine Drive, Kochi was bad. The lack of the police's initiative with suitable counter action was worse!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Condolences for Vasu.

It was a leisurely morning. Over tea and then, breakfast Ramesh and I continued with our conversation over anything and everything. By 10 o'clock we're back on the road, Lekha did a few more sundry purchases, while I sat in our Chevy and browsed my mail. By 1 we'd fetched up at Jojy's house where Saly and the li'l Shanaya were awaiting us. A brief conversation, a quick lunch and Josekutty Thomas, my classmate, had fetched up to take us on our trip to Palakkad.

Enroute we'd picked up Jojy, who'd come off from his work at the Nautical College at Kakkanad, from Palarivattom, where he was waiting for us. The drive to Palakkad was full of conversation about Vasu as we tried to fill in each other's knowledge about him with our own. The traffic was okay but the Kuthiran stretch had become narrower, thanks to the ongoing road widening work, because of which our progress was delayed to a considerable extent and we'd made a mental note that we'd take the Guruvayur route on our return! Earlier, we'd made a stop at Mannuthi's nursery for coffee.

We reached Vasu's uncle's place at Palakkad without much difficulty though I'd muffed it up towards the end. Anandakrishnan, Sandhya and Venugopal were waiting to meet us before they went their way. The time was around a quarter past 5.

Sujatha was a picture of serene dignity and calm composure. We sat with her and her uncle, Dr. KPS Menon and went through Vasu's last days. He'd passed away peacefully. She saw us off at the gate and returned our farewell wave and that shot will always remain frozen in my mind.

We'd started on our return by 6 and the Guruvayur route was lot more comfortable, the narrowness of the NH17, notwithstanding. We'd a short break at 'The Village' in Kunnamkulam for a light dinner. Josekutty drove extremely well and the decent guy that he was, laughed away our suggestion off switching on the hi-beam at errant drivers.

He dropped us at Kaloor and from there, we'd gone in Jojy's car that he'd parked in the morning before going for work. Our chat continued at his place and we hit the sack after a light dinner that Saly had served us.


A satisfying day. Not that we could share Sujatha's grief but we could show her that Vasu's loss had affected us, too, deeply.    

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lekha's medical review.

I'd got up before 4 and found that my sleep was gone for good. A quick wash and prayers were my answer for the early wake up so that when I woke up Lekha at 0430 hrs, I'd gone through most of my chores. Despite our best efforts we could leave 'The Quarterdeck' only at about 10' past 6. The roads were comparatively free and we're at our favourite haunt for breakfast by about a half past 7 but, though we'd our favourite breakfast of idlis, chutmey and sambar it lacked the usual zing! Perhaps, the slow manner in which the breakfast materialised had a cause for the mismatch

The onward drive was smooth and we reached 'Shenoy Care' by about a quarter past 9. The registration formalities, Lekha being seen by the junior doctor to take stock of her overall state of health, the wait till their morning classes were over and finally meeting Dr. Padmanabha Shenoy took about three hours. The doctor was glad about the progress that she's making which was very satisfying.

Lunch at 'Oottupura' was nice and Lekha left for her work soon after. During the two hours that she was at it, I'd parked the Chevy at Panampilli Nagar and browsed my mail. After a quick cup of coffee and vada, we'd finished the last bit of purchase and were, finally, off to Ramesh's place.

It was rewind time and we talked and talked about a host of things. It was Bindu's birthday and we'd come to know about it only after stepping into the house. Our efforts to take them out for the evening proved futile as she'd already made a scrumptious dinner.


My continuing efforts to rope in more of my classmates to join me in going to Palakkad and offer our condolences to Vinod Kumar Vasudev's wife didn't fructify as everyone had something or the other keeping them busy! Finally, it would be Josekutty Thomas, Jojy Kunchattil, Lekha and me that will set off northward soon after Jojy returns from his engagement at the nautical college. I reckon it will be about 1400 hrs when we'll, finally, be on our way.

Monday, March 6, 2017

India must go ahead.

China has been making all sorts of noises in the media against the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama in Arunachal Pradesh in the coming weeks. Its press is feverishly churning out stories and some have even gone to the extent of calling him a 'separatist' and not a spiritual leader! It's my earnest wish that India doesn't buckle under pressure and instead, rolls out the red carpet to the spiritual leader.

I've reasons for my argument. China has never bothered about nurturing its ties with our country and it has carried on with its agenda, which can be seen from the following transgressions despite Prime Minister Modi's proactive foreign policy initiative with the dragon country like:-

     (a) It has consistently blocked the revamping of the United Nations thereby, prevented India
          from getting her rightful status as a permanent member, despite the support from the other
          permanent members and influential nations.
     (b) It has time and again blocked the branding of Masood Azhar as a terrorist who is cooling it
          in the 'safe haven' of Pakistan.
     (c) It has continuously disrupted our efforts at building up infrastructure on our side of the Line
          of Actual Control(LAC).
     (d) It has carried out border incursions with scant regard to our sensitivity.
     (e) It has been working on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor with scant regard to our
          growing concerns.
     (f) It has been blocking India's entry into the NSG(Nuclear Suppliers' Group) just to ensure
          that we do not benefit from the consequent nuclear commerce.

It's, therefore, time to call China's bluff and go through with the Dalai Lama's visit in Arunachal Pradesh. One has not forgotten the bitterness of China's economic blockade of Mongolia, which had shown an inclination to host the Dalai Lama, post PM Modi's visit to that country. It had buckled because it had no other choice as a Chinese economic blockade would have spelt doom for the country.!


Similarly, China has been poking its nose in our economic ties with Vietnam by opposing co-operation between the two countries in offshore oil exploration off that country's coast. Its muscle flexing in the South China Sea is all part of its hideous foreign policy to put down India. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

"Go back to your country".

Recent attacks on Indians in the United States.

Ever since the ascension of Donald Trump as the President of the United States, Indians have been targeted and the clear signal that the attackers have given to their victims is, "Go back to your country". 

     *22 Feb.     Srinivas Kuchibotla was killed and his colleague, Ashok Madasani injured after a
                        xenophobe US navy veteran fires at them in a Kansas bar.
     *02 Mar     Harnish Patel, an Indian origin store owner in South Carolina, shot dead outside
                        his house.
     *05 Mar     Deep Rai, is shot by an abusive man with half his face covered, while cleaning his
                        car in the driveway outside his house in Kent, near Seattle.

I've long heard about the following practices/beliefs in the United States from quite a few of the Indians who're working there:-

     * The brown coloured(Indians, in particular) come lower in the pecking order after the whites
        and the blacks. After the terrorist attacks, the Muslims would be the only lot behind us who are
        widely hated.
     * The police have subjected some of the Indians to brutality and investigations just on the basis
        of mere doubts.
     * The resident Indians are, therefore, very careful in their behaviour in public and always
        endeavour to put their best foot forward to stay away from trouble. 
     * The Indians, however great their position in society due to professional excellence, cannot
        think of membership in certain 'exclusive' clubs/organisations!

My take.

I've tried to analyse this virulent hatred - although I'd like to assure myself that it's confined to an extremely small percentage of the white population - towards the Indians.

      *Do they feel that the Indians have hijacked their jobs?
      *If yes, what about the other immigrants like the Chinese, the Hispanics etc? (No, I ain't
        hinting at them also to be attacked! But are they safe?)
      *Does the colour of our skin bother them?

Our government must initiate talks with the Trump administration and bring about a solution at the earliest, that the second and third hate crimes took place while our foreign secretary was there, notwithstanding!

And finally, the country might be the land of milk, honey and opportunities but do we have to eke out a living with our safety always in doubt?


Sign of rains in the temple town is a welcome change after days of heat. Hope the rain sustains and brings up the level of the ground water table!


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Why do things happen this way?

There has been a spate of news bytes that put serious questions on the ethics factor insofar as the 'sting' operations conducted by the media. While it's the duty of every journalist to be on the look out for the wrong happenings in society, it needs to be ethical during the conduct of such investigations, failing which, things can go horribly wrong.

 (a) The sad end of Lance Naik Roy Mathew.

       Lance Naik Roy Mathew, hailing from Ezhukone of Kollam district, was carrying out the duties
       of 'Sahayak'(Buddy) at the Artillery Center at Deolali. Poonam Agarwal, of the news portal,
       'Quint' managed to carry out a sting operation and videograph - without his knowledge - his
       duties. The video showed 'Sahayaks' taking the dogs of their senior officers for walks, taking
       their children to school.

       He had been missing since 25 Feb and his decomposed body was found hanging in a dilapidated
       barrack, a few days later. The Army has established that the cause of death of the soldier was due        to suicide from an internal inquiry and his body was sent to his hometown and laid to rest.

       A few questions remain viz.:-
             * How did Poonam Agarwal carry out a sting operation in a high security area?
             * Isn't she responsible for the soldier's untimely demise in that the video put enormous
                pressure on the young man for having let down his superior?
             * The duties of a 'Sahayak' have been laid down clearly. This needs to be promulgated so
                that journos and news portals do not get carried away by half baked information! In the
                process, what has been missed out is the excellent 'officer-Sahayak' relationship. Under
                whose instigation was this sting ops carried out?

  (b) Kalabhavan Mani's protesting family.

        The family of Kalabhavan Mani is not satisfied with the Kerala Police's probe on the actor's
        death. There are politicians who've asked for a CBI probe into the incident. If there's a case to
        answer, why delay the matter?

  (c) The separatists have the best of both worlds.

        When many Kashmiri mothers were receiving bodies of their sons, covered in shrouds, every
        day on calls of strike by Pro-Pakistan separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani throughout the latter
        half of last year, his grandson was appointed research officer in Sher-e-Kashmir International
        Conference Centre, a subsidiary of the state's tourism department and that, too, without
        following the existing procedures of recruitment.

        How has this happened? Corrective action needs to be taken forthwith!


Misuse of power and corruption go hand in hand throughout our country. There's no respite to that! Sad!!


Friday, March 3, 2017

Interesting tidbits!

A few interesting facts.

 1. How Big Ben sounds its 'Bong'.

     Scientists have used lasers to analyse how the Big Ben produces its harmonious sounds. The
     'bong' is produced when its 200 kg hammer hits the side of the bell, setting off vibrations in the
     metal and causing the entire bell to pulsate. Big Ben, incidentally, is the largest of five bells that
     hang in the belfry of the Elizabeth Tower at the Westminster palace. It's thicker than other bells of
     a similar size, weighing more and as a result having a bigger pitch than expected. Though the
     'bong' was perceived as a single sound, it's actually made up of a series of distinct frequencies!

     The scientists employed a technique called, "Doppler vibrometry" which involved creating a 3D
     computer model of Big Ben, used two lasers to map the vibrations as it chimed 9, 10, 11 and 12
     o' clock.
     Note. The Big Ben was cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1858. It weighs 13.7 tons and is
               one of the largest bells in the UK.

 2. A 'Magic' Computer that grows.

     Scientists have designed a new, super fast form of a 'magic' computer made of DNA molecules
     that grows as it computes and can outperform all standard systems in solving practical problems.
     The researchers from the University of Manchester continue, "Imagine a computer is searching a
     maze and comes to a choice point - one path leading left, the other right. Electronic computers
     need to choose which path to follow first but the new computer doesn't need to choose for it can
     replicate itself and follow both paths at the same time, thus finding the answer faster!" This
     magical property is possible because the computer's processors are made of DNA rather than
     silicon chips.

     In DNA computing, information is represented using the four character genetic alphabets viz.
     A(Adenine), G(Guanine), C(Cytosine) and T(Thymine) rather than the binary digits which is a 
     series of '1's and '0's used by the traditional computers!


And the pachyderms sleep just for two hours! This is either at night or in the wee hours of the morning. The findings are based on the observations, by researchers, on two female African elephants, who appear to sleep least among the mammals. Researchers fitted the elephants' trunks - the most active appendage of the animal - with movement trackers and their necks with GPS collars, complete with gyroscopes and monitored their activities for 35 days.

It was a delightful day because the Laburnum in our courtyard has bloomed for the first time. It took almost three years for this event to take place. I remember the small sapling that was planted by the gardener, Ramesh and Pushpaakaran, the farmhand, had replanted it in the courtyard saying that that was the right place for the Laburnum because it had to be viewed, first thing in the day, when it bloomed!........ Just a bunch, but it did make our day!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Adieu Vasu!

It's a sad day. My classmate, NDA course mate and a lovable friend, Wing Commander Vinod Kumar Vasudev(Roll No. 415 at school) has passed into the mist of time.

The morning had begun with the deliberations on the'National Mission for Reading' at the smaller hall of the Kanakakkunnu Palace and it had gone on till lunch time. There were guests who'd to be received and seen off, after their contribution towards the venture, in terms of suggestions and ideas from their vast reserves of experience and it was a busy forenoon session. 

It was then that I got to see the message in our What'sApp group regarding Vasu's travails. He'd an asthma like attack, following which he was taken to a hospital at Palakkad. On being administered fresh oxygen, his condition had improved and both he and Sujatha, his wife were contemplating to return home for lunch when he suffered a massive cardiac arrest and had, consequently, gone away from our midst. Initially, the news wasn't registering and I was expecting a correction for the faux pas but it didn't and the harsh truth had to be accepted. The happy-go-lucky Vasu wasn't gonna be there to regale us with his quips and jokes ever again.

He'd joined a year earlier than me in school and since we were in different sections, we interacted on occasions when the entire class was together. At the Academy, he was in the Golf Squadron while I was in the neighbouring Hunter and we used to bump into each other very often and exchange notes. In the service examinations prior to the passing out, I was sure that he'd be the first in 'Navigation' as the trophy was in the name of his late father, Squadron Leader Vasudev and it would have been a great occasion if the son had got the award that commemorated his dad! But things don't happen the way we want them to, many a time.

After passing out as Air Force cadets, we got into a close knit group at the Elementary Flying School at Mohammedabad Bidar. It was here that we got together in a skit in one of the entertainment programmes put up by the course. It was all about the shooting of a movie and a director, who makes us go through three takes and ultimately fires us, unsatisfied with our performance because the first sequence was 'too' fast, the second was 'too' slow and the last had 'too much of humour'. With the call of 'Action', the shot begins with me showing a lot of discomfort and a doctor - Vasu enacted the part - is summoned who comes in asking, "What's the Prablam" - an accent that he'd brought in to bring authenticity to the character -  examines me, checks the pulse and shaking his head says that the undertaker had to be called for. The undertaker comes in, takes my 'measurements' for the coffin and the 'Cut' is called, marking the end of the skit. The Kodak moment of the skit was in the third take that was supposed to be 'full of humour' when, Vasu went berserk laughing his guts out while holding my pulse, shaking his head and asked for the undertaker! I remember having a tough time to lay still and suppress my chuckle, being a corpse, because Vasu was 'living' his role........ How I wish that the roles could be reversed today?..........

Vasu went on to become a Canberra pilot in the IAF while I'd gone back to the NDA to become a navyman but we used to keep in touch during class get togethers and other occasions. He, then, graduated into the Hunters and then, the Jaguars and was known in the service for his exceptional flying skills! Certain medical problems forced him to quit the IAF and he'd taken up a second career with no cribs, no heartaches. That was Vasu and boy, wasn't he a chain smoker?

We met the both of them at the course get together at the NDA, two years back and were thrilled about being allotted adjacent cabins but the happiness was short lived and they had to shift elsewhere as their bed had bugs because of which they couldn't sleep the whole night. That meeting was close on the heels of our interaction at the Waterscapes, in Kumarakom, to celebrate our GTG@60 in '15. Never knew that it would turn out to be our last meeting!

And oh yes, we're at Yedu's daughter's wedding at Kozhikode last year on 15/16 May. It was again a short and sweet tryst!

RIP Vasu! My tears, prayers and salute to a worthy friend and a thorough gentleman. Here's wishing that god gives Sujatha, Raghunath and Sree Parvathi the strength to tide over their irreparable loss!


1. Returned by the Thiruvananthapuram-Guruvayur Intercity and was back at 'The Quarterdeck' quite late at night. Lekha had returned, earlier in the day, from Palakkad.
2. In the morning, before 7, Maman and I'd gone to look up Annasahibji as he was preparing to go to the airport. We could show him the 'Mobile Science Exploratory' that he'd missed out yesterday. I clicked quite a few snaps on my mobile phone but to no avail as the frames turned out to be hazy.....much to my angst! He left soon after!