Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Much ado about nothing over beef!

The last few days had witnessed a lot of protests all over the country - so, say the media. As a common man, I've begun to disbelieve a lot many news channels as there's a general tendency to distort the truth based on the channel's loyalty to a political dispensation, which is sad, but what can be done, when the owners calls the shots! - over the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017, notified on 23 May.

Among the forms of protests, the all too familiar, "Beef Fest" was carried out within the the campus of the Madras IIT, a gang of Youth Congress volunteers hacked a calf at Kannur and distributed the portions to all and sundry and there were even cases when raw meat was chopped and eaten(?) by the protesters, somewhere in Tamilnadu.

On the promulgation of the government order, a news spread across the country that a ban on beef eating had been brought about, with expert(?) panels on prime time, discussing the pros and cons of the ban on all channels. Frankly, two doubts sprung to my mind on account of this story, which were:-

    (a) Why did the central government have to bring about such a dumb rule banning beef eating?
    (b) It's the right of every individual to eat what he/she wants and no government can regulate that
          except in the exceptional case of a national famine! Regulation of any nature becomes an
          infringement of an individual's Fundamental Rights. Period!!

Kerala's Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan's voice was the shrillest among the critics and I'd gone the whole hog on his announcements:-

     (a) What people should eat cannot be decided at Delhi(Meaning the Narendra Modi government)
           or at Nagpur(Meaning the RSS Headquarters).
     (b) A meeting of all the chief ministers will be called by the state government to discuss this
           grave issue.
     (c) An all party meeting will be convened to discuss the combined action to be taken.
     (d) A special session of the state Assembly will be convened to pass a resolution on the issue.

Meanwhile, a division bench led by the chief justice of the Kerala High Court, while considering a public interest litigation challenging the central government's new rule, wondered as to how the petitioner was aggrieved, saying:-

      (a)There was no ban on slaughtering of cattle in the new rules.
      (b)The rules only restricted selling cattle, for slaughter, in animal markets.
      (c)The rules do not prohibit selling cattle from home or other places.

In the absence of the cause for the petitioner to be aggrieved, there's no cause to file a petition and the petitioner's counsel sought permission for withdrawing the petition and the court dismissed the petition as withdrawn! The court's additional observations are enlightening viz.:-

      (a) A tense situation was prevailing as people have not read the new rules.
      (b) Expressed surprise at the Madras High Court's decision to stay the rules (A Madurai
            bench of the Madras High Court has stayed the implementation of the central notification
            by four weeks).

The hoodwinking of the nation by a few political parties and the section of the media, that supports them was complete and had almost acquired its sinister design but for the timely observations of the Kerala High Court!

My take.

1. There are many within the country who cater to their narrow political gains. National pride be damned, according to them.
2. Imagine the plight of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who's on a foreign tour encompassing Germany, Spain, Russia and France making major gains on the diplomatic level. It seems clear that his political opponents were out to embarrass him in front of his hosts by whipping up chaos in the country!
3. An advice to our chief minister. Do not chip away your credibility by resorting to falsehoods, innuendos and speculations. Incidentally, everyone is watching the harassment being meted out to TP Senkumar, the DGP, by your department. Does he have to be fingered just because he'd won his case against you in the court?


The monsoon seems to have set in, finally. Phew!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'!

We kicked off from 'Raj Niavas' by a half past 6 and was seen off by the caretaker, only to return from Parankimaamukal to retrieve the remainder of the gifts that Ammu had received during her wedding. We'd, also, dropped in to meet Pidavoor Amma and I felt comfortable as I saw her with hands folded in prayer for our safe journey, on my rear view mirror as I cast off!

An hour later, we're at the Mannarassala Snake Temple to pay obeisance that was long overdue. I remembered our last visit, more than a year back, with mom and I'd stayed back with her as she didn't want to climb up the stairs and enter the premises. The breakfast that we had - post 'darshan' - was simply 'tasteless and odourless'! Wonder how these guys have the audacity to do such an outrageous thing! Simply put, it's the outright cheating of the pilgrims!!

While continuing on our journey, we gleaned from the FM Radio that there was a 'hartal' on in Ernakulam and that an unruly crowd was creating nuisance at Aluva, that we'd to pass through. A quick confirmation with my cousin made me opt for the comparatively narrow route of NH 17, through Kodungalloor. However, by doing so, we'd unwittingly got into another problem. Since the Ramzan fasting was on, every wayside eatery had downed its shutter only to open in the evenings, when the fast would be broken! So, having a snack was simply out of the question!!

Luckily, we found a decent eatery at Vaadaanappilli - a bit late into our usual lunchtime - where we gorged on the 'chicken biriyani' and 'faluda'! Half an hour later, we're at Guruvayur where I made a beeline to get the 'pollution under control' certificate for our Chevy! The sequence of events narrated below will confirm the criticality of collecting the certificate:-

       * 13 May                          Met with the accident at Vandaanam at Alappuzha. Handed over the
                                                Chevy to the service station at Kollam.
       * 15 May                          The validity of the PUC certificate that I had, had expired.
       * 29 May                          Got my car back from the workshop. Drove from Kollam to my home.
       * 30 May                          Reached Guruvayur and made a beeline to the testing center that I
                                                frequent and had the calibration done. Phew! The pollution level is
                                                within acceptable limits.

We're at 'The Quarterdeck' by a half past 2. Lekha and I had a short nap as we felt too tired to unpack forthwith and it was after tea that we did the unpacking and put the soiled clothes for wash, marking the end of yet another trip. The evening walk was a short one, thankfully I could get a good card and order a cake for Lekha as it's her birthday, tomorrow and the day after - the first, as per the English calendar while the second was as per the Malayalam calendar.


A satisfying experience! I've carried out my duties as the patriarch. How it went off and how well it was conducted are left for the participants and the viewers to comment upon......I'd not taken any shortcuts and neither did I scrounge! In the process, 'Raj Nivas' was spruced up and it's looking nice.  

Monday, May 29, 2017

A day of collection and retrieval.

Had gotten up earlier than usual and gone through the morning chores. Power interruptions were galore and it dampened my enthusiasm, albeit, for a short while! The first task was to collect the new ration card. It wasn't the crowd but the mismanagement that appalled me. A motley crowd, the officials fetching up late and finally, one's arrival and joining up in the queue had no relevance to the issue of the new cards because they used another set of serial numbers, presumably, as per their printed roll!

I was third in the line to get the card, after two ladies and on receipt of the 'sacred' document, I observed to my utter disgust that my name in it was "Rajeevson"! Some idiot among the enumerators had not applied his/her mind and combined two columns - 'Rajeev Nair' and 'son'(The card is in my mom's name!) - to give a composite name of 'Rajeevson'! Why can't the concerned office ensure that the enumerators are trained properly prior to sending them on the task to make sure that they applied their minds and were sincere in their efforts? They've been paid for their work, you see. Or am I asking for too much?

On my return, I made a detour to the Kosappilli temple - it was closed though - and did see the 'Sarpakkavu' dedicated by the family, earlier, during its renovation. I, then dropped at Vijayan's house to look up the new arrival who was awake and active. It's a rainy day and I was sure that my afternoon trip to the Chevrolet Motors at Kollam was gonna be a wet one.

The shutting down of the 'Raj Nivas' was begun by Lekha. I left the house by a quarter to 3 and got the two buses without much of a wait and reached the service station by a half past 4. After going through the formalities, meeting up with Justin, the manager and posting of mail on the net, I'd driven off from the premises, into the rain, by a half past 5 and realised as to how close it was to the bus station - we'd gone around in circles thanks to a puzzled Thomaskutty on the first day! Incidentally, I've reached a funny situation where I've his address - written ineligibly under those circumstances - but do not have his cellphone number!

The drive through the Kollam-Chengottah highway was crazy as the traffic was heavy and mismanaged thanks to the intermittent rain and I'd a task of buying two sets of padlocks at Kottarakkara. On arrival at home, I'd called up Prasanna, the Headmistress of the school, to whom I'd promised to begin an endowment in my mom's name, to gift books worth Rs.5 grand during muthachhan's remembrance day on 19 Jun.

She, Soman and Chippy, their daughter had fetched up soon after to collect the money on their return from her mom's house. I did feel nice after handing over the amount.


The winding up of the house was systematically carried out though we found time to view our favourite programmes, on the television, during the evening.

A quiet Sunday.

Dateline 28 May.

The house was agog with activity since a half past 4 this morning. Mini and the others were getting ready for their journey. They’d purposely delayed their departure to a half past 7, since Ammu and Mithun had to be dropped enroute at Thenmala where their videographer wanted to have an outdoor shoot to complete their wedding photo album and the video.

Accordingly, Mini and gang left home by a quarter past 7. They’d gone via Pidavoor to meet up with Padmakumar’s mom and Ammu-Mithun were dropped at Thenmala. Mini and Sanil had, then, continued on their long journey to Bangalore. Soon after, Padmakumar, his brother, Aji and Achu had fetched up and picked up Rema for attending a family wedding at Paravoor.

Ammu-Mithun, after the shoot, had proceeded to Jayan’s house for the family get together over lunch. By a half past 2, Rema and gang had picked them up on their journey to Palakkad.

Raj Nivas had become quiet with just Lekha and me after being the hub of activity, a place of fun and frolic for almost the entire month! It was a quiet lunch and evening tea.

Mini and Sanil had reached Bangalore before 8 while Rema and gang had reached Palakkad by about a quarter past 10. Ammu and Mini will be leaving for Payyannur tomorrow morning after spending the night.

Tomorrow our new ration card has to be collected by 9. Hopefully, our Chevy should be ready by evening and it will have to be collected. Only then can our trip to Guruvayur can be finalised for Tuesday morning!


Rs.5 grand will be handed over to Prasanna - the Headmistress of the school in Kura, near the post office where my mom had been the Post Mistress for almost 40 years - to begin an endowment on my mom’s name in her school which will replenish the books of the school’s library. The first set of books – to be purchased by a committee comprising the Headmistress, staff members, students and a member of the parents-teachers’ association – will be formally handed over to the school during the ‘Vaayana Dinam’ on 19 Jun.   

A day of differing experiences!

Dateline 27 May.

Mini woke me up at 5 to inform that Ammu and Mithun had passed Haripad – they should be getting down at Kollam within an hour. Since Sanil was in no position to make it Rema had volunteered to come along with me but not before she took a tumble on the uneven ground in front of our gate due to a misstep.

We’re late by about ten minutes and Mithun-Ammu were waiting in front of the bus station. It took about 45’ to reach home thanks to the road being virtually empty thanks to the sparse traffic at that point of time. After a boisterous breakfast, the conversation continued with the newly wedded couple – their outlook towards life seemed to be disarmingly simple and charmingly optimistic!

Today happens to be Sanil-Mini’s 25th wedding anniversary. The anniversary cake was cut just before lunchtime – didn’t it look farcical after my thoughts of yesterday, you might ask. But a couple of hours earlier, I’d talked it out with Sanil and made it clear to him about two aspects:-

(a)  Him starting up another life, without divorce, was unacceptable and there was
no question of it being initiated from our side.
(b)  He required to undergo a de-addiction regime forthwith(The discussions had
taken place in a cordial manner in front of everyone, including his daughter
and son-in-law). 

The cake cutting ceremony was cute and short with the cell phones taking in the scenes. The ceremonial lunch followed soon after and by 2, the four of us – Ammu-Mithun, Rema and I proceeded to Indira kunjamma’s house at Thiruvananthapuram. It was to fulfil my promise to Suresh and Reshmi that I’d ensure that the newly wedded couple would come to seek their blessings when they’d sadly declared that they wouldn’t be able to attend the wedding due to Suresh’s health and the consequent medical management! It was a poignant moment!!

We’re on our return journey by about a half past 4. The route that I’d chosen skirted my alma mater and I was only too proud to show Mithun the Sainik School as we passed by. And we’re back home before sunset when saw the others were ready to go to Jayan’s – Sanil’s youngest brother – house for looking up Ayoor amma, who is all of 81 yrs and wasn’t keeping well of late and for having dinner.

I didn’t want to deflate the prevalent mood of enthusiasm and embarked on the next journey to Kollam after a quick wash and was glad that I’d agreed to the idea. The way Ayoor amma’s face had lit up on seeing me did make my day! The interaction with the others and the scrumptious dinner that followed made it a great evening. Jayan’s wife, Ponni had really given her best!


The return drive with a continuous and lively conversation was nice and we’d ended up rounding off a late night that, incidentally, has been the trend all through this month.   

A hectic Friday.

Dateline 26 May.

It was a leisurely morning and by 10, we - Lekha, Mini and I – were off to Kottarakkara. Mini had to collect a few clothes she’d given last week for stitching, a few purchases and the fuelling of the car. We did everything, except that it was in the reverse order of sequence and finally, had settled down at Letha’s place. It was also to help me complete my blogging and other pending work on my laptop!

Sanil, meanwhile, had taken our caretaker’s car to go to nearby Pattazhi to get his quota of Bacchus’ bubbly for the day. It was simply audacious!

We returned half an hour before lunchtime after a visit to the department store for grocery for tomorrow’s party when Ammu and Mithun call on us! They’ll have to be fetched up from Kollam, early in the morning.

Rema had returned from Paravoor, after lunch and all of us, together, tried to put up a strategy to tackle Sanil’s announcement yesterday. Our first decision was to wait for him to get sober so that we could tell him a few harsh truths beginning with our objection to him living separately from Mini and opting for a live in relationship with someone else without seeking a divorce! And Mini was pretty clear that she would not ask for it to avoid legal hassles.

Mini’s friend, Sindhu and her husband, Radhakrishna Pillai were our guests for the evening. The former has been reinstated by the MGM School - which had ousted her three years back - on the basis of an order from the High Court. It was a case vigorously pursued by her husband who’d decided to go hammer and tongs at the management, that had played a dirty game. They’re pretty sure that Mini would easily win the case against her ouster on pure technical reasons! I’ve decided to prod Mini into taking up the case and tackle the management’s high handedness!

Meanwhile, the ‘legal heirship certificate’ that me and my sisters had applied for at the Village office, last week, has reached the Taluk office – Rema had checked it at Pathanapuram and instructed the ‘deputy tahsildar’, who, in turn, had sent it to the Government Press which will eventually publish the gazette notification that will publicise our relationship with mom! The whole exercise is gonna take two months from now.

After our strategy to tackle Sanil’s suggestion had been finalised by late evening, it was a boisterous supper though, Sanil lay inebriated and dead to the world thanks to a heavy dose of the bubbly.


I’ll have to convey it in a no-nonsense manner to the protagonist, tomorrow, when he’s totally sober and am anticipating a whiplash. Or will it be tame? It will depend on the effectiveness and tone of my conversation! 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A devastating evening!

Lekha and I’d gone on an errand this morning to the tailor and to purchase a few medicines for the both of us. We, then, dropped in at Lekha’s elder sister’s place and I was able to check my mail and answer the ones that needed them. The internet coverage at my house and around have been erratic. Remember? 

*                   *                     *

The afternoon was dull, the sky, grey with a threatening rain and by sunset, it had begun to pour just as I was waiting to hear the evening edition of the Malayalam news. I’ve always found that there’s something or the other to play spoilsport when one waits for anything anxiously. This evening it was the rain that made the dish antenna erratic and the electricity, too, played truant!

     *                    *                     *

The evening turned out to be eventful, sad and devastating. Sanil announced that he was gonna live separately from Mini. A fine Maths teacher with a fairly all round knowledge of things, he has a problem of ‘alcohol dependency’. I’d actually waited for his daughter’s wedding to get over to tackle this menace by putting him through the paces of a de-addiction centre. Through the day, he’d polished off a 750 ml bottle and had begun to slur. There was no point in crossing swords with him at that juncture and I just listened to his input that he was repeating.

Actually, years back, it was my dad who said that it would be up to me to take certain harsh decisions on behalf of the family and such an eventuality had fetched up now. I’d gone into a huddle with my sisters and Lekha to help me arrive at a decision. Sanil has to be left alone - at least, for a while – but my inner self says that he’d be hurtling towards his destruction once he leaves his wife of 25 years. To my specific question as to why he’d arrived at this decision, he said that he craved for physical relationship that was lacking while my sister was equally vehement about the impossible aspect of maintaining such fine relations with a person who was alcohol dependent!

The irony is that Ammu and Mithun are arriving tomorrow to be with us for a couple of days and we’ve planned to cut their wedding anniversary cake during that occasion. Would it be a farce?........No, because all of us including the daughter and son-in-law are aware of his waywardness in this regard.

*                   *                       *

As I can see, Sanil drives off to Bangalore on Sunday morning along with Mini. After winding up her personal effects, Mini will return to us at Guruvayur after a few days and will also stay at Palakkad, with Rema, Padmakumar and Achu, in between. Meanwhile, Ammu and Mithun will set up their home at Coimbatore and after a lapse of a year or at an opportune moment, she’ll shift along with them. That’s the crystal ball gazing that I shall venture for the time being.


As the brother, the disintegration of my kid sister's marriage will happen during my watch, a situation that I have no control of and that pains me immensely.......and I hate it but there's no point in prolonging the agony for both the parties among whom, finer feelings and love and respect for each other have long, since, disappeared.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Adieu Roger Moore!

Dateline 24 May.

Sir Roger  Moore, KBE, the star who’d donned the role of James Bond - after the first protagonist, Sean Connery - passed into the mist of time yesterday. He was 89 and undergoing treatment for cancer. He’d begun his ‘life’ as James Bond in ’73, through the movie, “Live and let die” and signed off with, “A view to a kill” in ’85. He, then, spent his life towards the betterment of destitute children as the brand ambassador of the UNICEF.

Here’s an excerpt of Marc Haynes’ endearing story about him, passed on to me by a friend of mine, on What’sApp:-

  “As a seven year old in ’83, in the days before First Class Lounges at airports’ I was with my granddad in Nice Airport and saw Roger Moore sitting at the departure gate, reading a paper. I told my granddad I’d just seen James Bond and asked if we could go over so I could get his autograph. My granddad had no idea who James Bond or Roger Moore were, so we walked over he popped me in front of Roger Moore with the words, “My grandson says you’re famous. Can you sign this?

As charming as you’d expect, Roger asks my name and duly signs the back of my plane ticket, a fulsome note full of best wishes. I’m ecstatic, but it definitely doesn’t say ‘James Bond’. My granddad looks at it, half figures out, it says ‘Roger Moore’ – I’ve absolutely no idea who that is and my heart sinks. I tell my granddad he’s signed it wrong, that he’s put someone else’s name – so my granddad heads back to Roger Moore, holding the ticket which he’s only just signed.

I remember staying by our seats and my granddad saying, “He says you’ve signed the wrong name. He says your name is James Bond”. Roger Moore’s face crinkled up with the realisation and he beckoned me over. When I was by his knee, he leaned over, looked from side to side, raised an eyebrow and in a hushed voice said to me, “I’ve to sign my name as Roger Moore because otherwise.....Blofeld might find out  I was here”. He asked me to not to tell anyone that I’d just seen James Bond and thanked me for keeping his secret. I went back to our seats, my nerves absolutely  jangling with delight. My granddad asked me if he’d signed ‘James Bond’. No, I said. I’d got it wrong. I was working with James Bond now.

Many, many years later, I was working as a script writer on a recording that involved UNICEF and Roger Moore was doing a piece to camera as an ambassador.. He was completely lovely and while the cameramen were setting up, I told him the story of when I met him in Nice airport. He was happy to hear it and he’d a chuckle and said, “Well, I don’t remember but I’m glad you got to meet James Bond”. So that was lovely.

And then he did something so brilliant. After filming, he walked past me in the corridor,, heading out to his car – but as he got level, he paused, looked both ways, raised an eyebrow and in a hushed voice said, “Of course, I remember our meeting in Nice but I didn’t say anything there because those cameramen – any one of them could be working could be working for Blofeld”.

I was as delighted at 30 as I’d been at 7. What a man! What a tremendous man!!

RIP Roger Moore. My salute to a great actor and a wonderful human being!


Having quoted it, I must confess that my all time favourite James Bond has been Sean Connery.


Back at Raj Nivas.

Dateline 23 May.

There was a quick change of plans in the morning when we decided to disembark at Chengannur though we’d reservations upto Kollam. The others wanted us to continue along with them as previously planned but I’d to cut short the sentiments and be practical. The autorickshaw guys at the stand were a bad lot, in that, none of them was willing to do the short route. We found the good Samaritan among them without much ado.

It was a short trip by a rick to the bus stand from where could board a low floor bus to Kottarakkara by 7 and we, then, got down at an intermediate stop from where our house was not very far away. We’re at Raj Nivas much before 8 and came to know that the train that we’d travelled was yet to reach Kollam!

The decision to disembark at Chengannur was indeed a good one! There was a humorous incident too. As we took our bags out, I’d unwittingly taken out another person’s bag out of the bus. Since he was vigilant, he did retrieve his bag just before the bus resumed its journey.

After a wash and change followed by breakfast, rustled up by Mini, Sanil and I’d gone to Kottarakkara for clearing up the hotel bills where the guests for the wedding had been put up. We’d also seen off a few of our guests who’d come down from New Delhi. They seemed to be quite thrilled at having attended a ‘Nair wedding’ from the start to the finish; they’d arrived a day before and were on a conducted tour during our absence.
Sanil left for his house at Ayoor by sunset. The remaining four of us spent the rest of the evening doing a debrief of the events of the last week.

         Had to speak to the senior manager of the Geeyem Motors to buck up as nothing seems to have moved forward regarding the repairs as one of the spares is yet to arrive from their Pune depot. Our return to Guruvayur will correspondingly be delayed!

2.       The pandal man was clearly told to rectify the electrical defect left by them while erectimg the pandal at the courtyard.

P       Post Script.
               A wonderful piece of news.
       The Indian Army’s surgical strikes deep within Pakistani territory at the Naushera sector was heart warming to hear. The short video clips authenticating them were assuring and a good tit for tat for the Pakistani Army’s continuing pushing in of terrorists into our territory. Indarmy, the whole of India loves you.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

At Payyannur.

Our train, the Maveli Express, fetched up at Payyannur  at a quarter to 7. Mithun’s younger brother and a vehicle were standing by for us and we’re taken to the hotel where we’re gonna spend our time. A quick wash, breakfast and catching up on some sleep were achieved without much ado. By 10, the first batch of the Foundation’s co-ordinators from Kasaragod had come for the meeting to discuss the activities to be conducted during the ‘Reading Day’(Vaayana Dinam) and the ‘Reading Week’(Vaayana Vaaram). They’re followed by the co-ordinators from Kannur and by the time the discussions were over, it was time to go to Mithun’s home for lunch.

A short drive, meeting up with Mithun’s  relatives, who’d not attended the wedding, a scrumptious lunch and after further interaction, we’re back at the hotel. A short siesta, wash and after changing into our Sunday best, we’re off for the reception at the Kairali auditorium hosted by Mithun’s family. After interaction and catching up with their friends and relatives, an endless round of photographic/videographic sessions and a lovely dinner – the famous ‘Malabar Biriyani’ was one among the delicious spread - it was time for us to leave. What I’d noticed during the day’s deliberations was that our little one had struck the right chord in Mithun’s family and she seemed to be happy and radiant in her new environment. She’d entered their house at a half past 6, this morning after a whole night’s journey!

It was 7 when we had left the auditorium for the hotel, a quick change for the journey and we’re at the railway station by a quarter to 8 only to be told that our train was an hour late because of a snag in the overhead electrical traction cable a couple of stations before Payyannur.
Our group of 15, was divided into three – based on the destinations – but within the same compartment. The return journey had commenced in right earnest! Padmakumar and Achu had boarded a train, soon after ours, as they’re headed for Palakkad.

It was the end of a short, sweet and productive trip executed after detailed planning notwithstanding the five, who’d dropped out of the journey for their own reasons.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ammu weds Mithun.

Had ducked off to sleep much past midnight and was up with the lark. It was a quick trip to Kottarakkara to pick up Seena and Digna for decking up Ammu. The house was lit up through the night to ward off untoward incidents and I'd switched off as the first light had started peeping through. Our relations from Neelamperoor, Ettumanoor and Kidangoor arrived in quick succession and in the meanwhile, Stalin's photographic/videographic team had arrived and commenced their work.

The ceremonial giving of the 'dakshina' began without much ado and by about a quarter past 9, we'd shut down the house and proceeded to the venue of the wedding. My friends, Jojy-Saly and Mohanachandran along with my cousin, Prabha and Ramakrishnan arrived well within time to be with us as we went through the marriage ceremonies. As I was making rounds of the auditorium ensuring that everything was in place, to my surprise I found Varadamma appachi - my dad's youngest sister - sitting at the ground floor on a chair, saying that she was unable to climb up the stairs. It was then that I asked three other cousins of mine to help me pick her up, along with the chair and carried her upstairs. As I made her sit in the front row along with my aunts, Vichani kunjamma and Indira kunjamma, they're thrilled to be back together after a long lapse of time!

The wedding ceremony went off quickly and efficiently and it was soon time for the ceremonial lunch. I'd made it a point to meet up with each and everyone of the guests to exchange pleasantries and to bring myself up with their actual concerns, difficulties that were worrying them. We'd catered for about 700 guests while the actual footfalls turned out to be much less @ 500! The lunch was good and I'd congratulated Aneesh and his team for their good work but food was again wasted that did pain me on a very personal note.

Lekha as the 'first aunt'(Ammayi) had the privilege of leading the train of girls, along with the special lamp(Called 'ammayi vilakku') and looked good in her role of escorting at first, the bridegroom, then, the bride to the stage and finally, the newly wedded couple, off the stage. though she found the lamp a bit heavy!

Mithun, Ammu and the folks from Payyannur were seen off on their long journey back at 1430 hrs after winding up everything at the venue like affixing the signatures, by the couple, on the official wedding register at the 'karayogam office'. Paying up the remaining sums after the initial signing up amounts was taken up with vigour - under the various heads - now that the event was over and we're headed for Payyannur to attend the reception from the boy's side.


We're at the Kollam railway junction well in time but not before encountering an unexpected fiasco, in the train, while trying to convert a few of the upper berths to lower berths for Lekha and a few senior citizens, among us. It ended up with me and Padmakumar not having berths, for ourselves, throughout the journey.


The final push.

Dateline 20 May.

It was a leisurely morning. News came from all over. Mithun’s folks had started from Payyannur after 8 and the entourage consisted of a bus carrying 50 people along with Mithun, his younger brother and a cousin in an Innova, ahead of it.

Meanwhile, Seena, the beautician and her elder sister, Digna had missed the morning train and had to change three buses before being picked up at Kottarakkara in our car. Kala and Kannan with his family had reached by lunchtime and they were followed by Suma kunjamma and family. However, the crowd realised the scarcity of water and had decided to stay in one of the hotels at Kottarakkara and that decision of theirs saw me breathing easy!

The pandals were completed and the electricians had rigged up the lighting along with additional fans and circulators put in place. Seena and her sister had, meanwhile, arrived and begun earnestly to enhance the beauty of the bride-to-be!

And soon, it was past sunset and the evening reception had begun in right earnest. Though we’d expected a small local crowd of around 300, the final tally was just about 200. Consequently, there was wastage of food and I’d be kidding if I said that it didn’t bother me. Mithun’s maternal uncle and his family had fetched up at Kollam, by train and they’re picked up by Sanil and me. The drive through blinding rain was at high speeds Sanil had a tendency to go off the road, that saw me clutch on my  bucket seat quite often!

We didn’t know the exact strength of the passengers but the six of them were fully packed like sardines on the rear seat and it was almost a 45 minute drive! The hotel where they’re put up for the night had served them their dinner, on arrival. The Innova had already fetched up by then and we could brief them about the timings tomorrow, the plethora of traditional rituals right down to the sequence of the activities prior to the wedding, during the wedding and after the wedding!


It was a real late night! We did make a trip to the wedding hall to see the progress of work. The food makers were at it and the aroma was pleasing. The stage was set and it looked nice


Friday, May 19, 2017

The run up.

It was a crazy day when there was one shortfall after another. Water was at a premium and the motor was being operated sparingly – and must admit, expertly by Mini. The electric power supply had quite a few interruptions and the sweltering heat made life difficult. The house was taking too much time to get back to its right looks with everything in the right place.

There were guests who trickled all through the day and Anil, along with his chittappan, had come down from Ayoor. In fact, I’d taken Sanil’s car and had driven to the place near mom’s old post office area so that my dongle could get the network cover. It’s at such times, that the system has a tendency to buck and that’s exactly what happened this morning.

Extra lunch was procured and the entire lot of guests was catered for in no time. Anil and company had come to see as to what was the progress in the preparation of the wedding.

Today also saw the tying up of all the loose ends and the house was ready in all respects and it looked bright and as we used to say in service parlance, “It was ready for Cabin Cupboard!” From tomorrow onward, the guests would be arriving.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What a fine victory!

Ultimately, the International Court of Justice has stayed Pakistan’s death verdict on Cdr Kulbhushan Jadhav announced by a kangaroo court of its Army. That the whole incident smacked of a wily mindset on the part of that country was known to the entire world right from the beginning. A whole range of questions need to be answered by the Pakistan government as well as its army, right from the manner in which the Indian Commander was nabbed and put into prison.

But being the rogue state that Pakistan is known to be, would it accept the Hague’s judgement with grace?
                    *              *              *   

 Raj Nivas is slowly getting to look like a house where a function is going to be held. Vijayan and his team had arrived around 10 and without much ado, went about their task of setting up the pandals, one in the front and the other at the rear. The rain had, meanwhile, caught on and the idea of keeping the ground dry was partially successful as the left half of the pandal, in the front, was put in place while it was raining. Consequently:-

(a)    The house has become dark as the natural lighting has been obscured.
(b)   One doesn’t get the feel of the rain because of the temporary shelter.

Calls came from far and wide offering help and generally to update themselves about the preparations connected with Ammu's wedding.

                       *                   *                   *

Today has been a comparatively quiet day but the visitors continued to pour in without any let up. We're meeting up with quite a few of them after a long while. It's good that Rema and Mini - my sisters - are here because they know most of them. I've always been an outsider as my schooling and subsequent professional requirements saw me only in short stints every year and hence the tag!


The rain has seen a small raise in the water level in the well at our backyard. Hope it improves over the next couple of days to accommodate our relations who want to arrive the previous day. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

An institution mired in corruption and red tapism.

The first call was from the tentwallah, Vijayan, who said that he was erecting the pandal in front and at the rear of the house for the pre-wedding reception on the 20th. It had rained last night and he was apprehensive that the ground around would get waterlogged and soggy that would spoil the mat that he planned to lay on the ground, beneath the roof, that he was gonna erect. The job should be over before sunset, he said.

Ramadasan kochachhan, my dad’s younger brother, had called up from Nasik to say that he would not be attending the wedding as he was indisposed. I’d miss him but such drop outs are inevitable at certain times. Moreover, he and chittamma had attended the engagement ceremony. It was around a half past 10 and the three of us – my sisters and I – had set off for the village office to hand over our application for legal heirship certificate, with regard to mom, endorsed by the taluk office. I’d asked Sasi, our next-door-neighbour and Vijayan, the caretaker to be our witnesses with their ID proof.

The Village Officer did show his importance by asking me to wait out but all that he did was to speak on his cellphone which was the usual routine ones to his acquaintances, judging by the thread of conversation that was audible. After making/attending those calls, he entertained a few people before Sasi beckoned me to barge into the office. He was angered in the manner that the village officer was making me wait. Sasi announced loudly my erstwhile professional standing and as to who I was and had raised his voice in the bargain. He clearly asked him as to whether he wanted to help us or as to whether he was trying to make things difficult for us but the guy wouldn’t budge.

Instead, he was openly deriding the bank who’d asked for the certificate because to his knowledge, it was the bank that was acting funny by insisting upon the document. I’d then quietly narrated the process that we’d gone through and he didn’t seem to have any more questions. He promised to issue his certificate within the next week which he was willing to hand over to us so that we could progress it at the taluk office and subsequently, hand it over to the government press at Thiruvananthapuram where the gazette is published. It’s the copy of that notification that the bank ultimately needs! The time that is required for the entire process to be over will be about two months!.......Is this the progress that we’re making? Power has been decentralised and given to the lowest rung of the government. Yet, the roadblocks and corruption exist. Sad!

I’d to put Sasi at ease and convinced him that there wasn’t any point in showing off our capabilities at the initial stages. He’d be dealt with sternly at the appropriate moment I assured him if he was lackadaisical about it. On the return leg, we’d gone to the upper primary school to hand over the Rs.5 grand to the school’s headmistress for the purchase of books in the ongoing process of building up the section in the school library in dad’s name.

It was a boisterous lunch on return and soon after, the entire lot had gone for their tying up of things while I was only too happy to be left alone, so that I could catch up on my siesta.
The rest of the day was spent in putting things into their respective places and getting the house back in shape. Ammu wanted to hear anecdotes from me about her grandparents and great grandparents and I did just that much to the amusement of the others and in turn, richly complemented by their contribution. The evening turned out to be long, eventually but it was worth every moment! 


Vijayan was a no show after his morning’s announcement. He came in his swanky sedan half an hour before sunset getting his assistant to acquaint himself with the place! Yesterday’s tentwallah has metamorphosed into the suave ‘event manager’ of today – a change of nomenclature and a foreign touch, in outlook, to boot!


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The preparations to a wedding.....

Preparatory work in connection with Ammu’s wedding is going on in full swing. The attendant confusions, frayed tempers and forgetfulness have been an ongoing saga. Just letting you on to a few........

Fifty year old Ammini has been helping us over the past few days in clearing up things in the newly painted house. She’s a tireless worker, does any work assigned to her and needs no supervision. This morning, I chose to remain at home while the others went shopping. After finishing her work indoors, she took up the job of clearing the surrounding areas without instructions! I suppose this is what one’s dedication to one’s job is all about.

She had a sad story to recount. Her 15 year old son had attempted suicide, about a couple of months back because he was upset with his dad’s taunts. The road to recovery has been long but the youngster has started moving around. The only problem is that he has bouts of anger of enormous proportions – to quote her – and that bothers her! She would be the mainstay of the house for the next few days till the marriage function.

*          *             *
Today, Ammu’s wedding trousseau was shown to me and the bride’s father. Lekha and my sisters have done a commendable job and now I can understand the hectic behind-the- scenes activity undertaken by Lekha after the engagement ceremony. The technicalities, the choice of fashions, mating them with the bride’s requirements and the nitty gritties have been gone through with plenty of ground work and I applaud the ladies’ endeavours! They’ve done a neat job.

*        *               *

Meanwhile, the rest of the family had gone for collecting the clothes that were given for stitching, buying certain pieces of furniture in replacement of the old ones and tying up a few things that had cropped up over discussions last night.            

A searing pain.

Dateline 15 May.

Suresh, from  Olathaanni near Neyyattinkara, is married to my cousin, Reshmi who’s the second daughter of Indira kunjamma (My third ma’asi). After doing her MSW, she’s been working at the SAT hospital and has been a source of many interesting, yet complicated medical case studies that she comes across. Suresh is a chief engineer in the merchant marine and has many nautical miles and engine hours to his credit. Quiet and unassuming, he’s simple, empathic to others’ difficulties and ever ready to help people in difficulty.

I’ve always looked forward to spend time with him. He’s to be drawn into a conversation because he’s basically shy and interacts freely with people once he gets friendly with them. We both have a common passion of seeing movies and therefore, together, we’ve visited a lot many cinemas together.

Suresh is extremely close to his family. His respect, affinity and love towards his parents were endearing qualities that I’ve admired in him. When his mom had passed away, a few years back, owing to cancer on her tongue, it had shaken him because he’s always maintained that it was her untiring efforts that made him what he is today. His dad was almost like a friend to him and his professional preoccupations had brought him back only after his 41st day ceremony and for that, he still nurses a grudge on those circumstances!  I remember the manner in which his parents eagerly looked forward to his return from an engagement at sea. The doting parents and their son complemented each other beautifully!

His attachment to his siblings is worth emulation. He’s ensured that all of them have attained good positions in the society and has personally overseen the progression of his nephews and nieces, helping them find their placements and funding them adequately, to achieve their milestones. To cite an example, he’d spent about Rs.10 lakhs towards the run up to his niece’s wedding about a few months back! An uncle providing such a help is rare in today’s world but Suresh is a unique personality!!

He was gearing up to go to sea last September when he’d a bothersome premolar on his lower jaw. While carrying out his medicals, he decided to get a detailed investigation done and it was during that examination that he was diagnosed for cancer. He was put under the care of Dr. Subramonia Iyer, a plastic surgeon who has made spectacular contributions in that field. Consequently, an 11 hour long surgery was conducted on Suresh towards the end of last Nov with the fond hope that he’d resume his professional activity after a lapse of four months. Things seemed to be headed the right way when around the fourth month, Suresh started having frequent bouts of severe pain emanating from the premolar – where it had all started – traversing toward the ear, ending up in blackouts.

It was decided to go in for a second surgery when it was found that he’d contracted a ‘vigorous’ strain of cancer and he’s, now, on a high dosage of pain killers with liquid food being provided through a tube into the abdomen, presumably to rest the area that has undergone two surgeries. The sad part is that Suresh is fond of good food! He’s lost a lot of weight - post surgery – and lies on the sofa in the sitting room of his house, meeting up with people who call on him.

Reshmi and their son - he dotes on him – keep a perpetual watch on Suresh and his needs but that’s taking a toll on them, too. My aunt goes through the agony silently. Savio, my friend and doctor in Chicago, Subbu and I have interactions, flummoxed by the ongoing trends of Suresh’s ailment. Last evening, both the sisters, Lekshmi and Reshmi, had rung me up to help them find a medical facility anywhere on the globe that would cure Suresh. I’ve told them that I’d get back within the next 48 hrs with a definite answer but as I inch closer to the deadline, I find that I’m yet to get an optimistic and definite answer.

O god, why are you putting him through pain especially when he’s been a nice guy all through his life? Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed his niceness?
Meanwhile, the searing pain deep within continues without any let up!


The sprucing up of Raj Nivas is nearly complete. Everything needs to be, carefully, put back in place! The house is agog with activity and my sisters say that they can feel my parents within the house.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A day of travel and attending weddings.

I'd got up a trifle past 6, making everyone wonder as to why I was taking it so easy. I'd distances to cover and appointments to keep - attend the weddings of the sons of two dear friends, Satish Kumar and Mathew George. Sumesh, a youngster from here and a professional tipper driver, was gonna be my chauffeur for the day. He'd arrived on the dot at a quarter past 8, cleaned up my sister's car and by a quarter to 9 we're off to Thiruvananthapuram to attend the first wedding.

We reached the convention center within the Mar Ivanios College premises a trifle after 10. On entering the glittering marriage hall it was the bridegroom's father, Satish, who was there at hand to receive yours truly with a bear hug. There was a smattering of my friends from the University College, a few of whom I was meeting after those heady days of the early '70s. Time had done its act and some of them had changed considerably. It was wonderful to rekindle the relationships and meet up with the families. The one lingering shot of the wedding that shall remain etched in my mind is the confused look on Sanjay's face as he tried to put the 'thaali' on the bride's neck because of the manner in which his dad had handed over the ornament to him! Trust Satish to confuse a simple and straightforward situation - for a good laugh for the entire gathering!!

After the ceremonial wedding lunch, we'd set off on our way to Ernakulam, the venue of the second wedding followed by the reception. We're coasting at a comfortable speed when an emergency cropped up, all of a sudden. The vehicle was low on fuel and due to a snap strike by the petrol pump dealers, all the bunks enroute were closed. We made it into Alappuzha town with the fuel gauge blinking dangerous fuel levels and the humid heat wafting into the car because of the shutting down of the air conditioner, to squeeze more mileage out of the remaining fuel. On checking with the first cluster of auto rick drivers, understood that the only government owned pump was open and we rushed to that bunk to join the queue which was, thankfully, short!

I reached my cousin's place soon after 6 after a couple of deviations from the national highway, thanks to the repairs on the road being carried out! It was a humbling effect to spend a few quiet moments with my grand aunt, who of course, didn't register a thing. After a short interaction with the others, I set off for the venue after 7.

The next two and a half hours were a nostalgic trip down memory lane! The interaction with my classmates, friends and the newly wedded couple was simply great . After conversations, an almost continuous photo and video coverage session  and a spectacular dinner, I'd made a quick retreat with Sumesh behind the wheel.


It was a smooth and speedy return home with me punching in the day's experiences on my laptop! But a very satisfying day, altogether! ..........The total distance traveled was an impressive 425 kms!!     

Saturday, May 13, 2017

An awful day.

The day had begun at 4. We'd gone through our chores and had set off for my parents' place by about 10' past 6. Enroute we'd a truck carrying an elephant that branched off at Kecherry, ahead of us. It was a nice omen, we said. The day was sunny but there were numerous puddles of water from last night's rains. The first irritation was the deviation in the heart of Thrissur town and I really did get confused thanks to the unfamiliar roads but finally, made it out of town.

The breakfast at the Saravana Bhavan near the Paliyekkara toll was not something to write home about especially because the buffet did not have all the serials like the 'potato mash' for the puries! But I'd behaved like a good boy and didn't complain, as is my wont! Lekha was surprised!! And soon after, there was a massive traffic jam beyond Kalady. A massive truck, carrying vegetables had overturned and one side of the central median - our side of the road - was choc-a-bloc with traffic. I'd given up on reaching home at a reasonable time and slowly inched, crawled my way till we finally found a way out. Time lost, 28 minutes!

We passed through Kochi uneventfully and stopped at Mithila for a mere rest room break! The restaurant was swarming with two busloads of tourists and firstly, we weren't hungry and secondly, we didn't want to waste time. Cherthala was okay in so far as traffic was concerned but my moment of reckoning was lying in wait off the Vandaanam Medical Alappuzha.

I was overtaking an auto rickshaw pick up when a red Maruti Ritz tried to overtake my Chevy and looped in sharply to the left to avoid an oncoming vehicle. In the process, my car's bumper was badly dented and consequently looked grotesque. I'd flagged him to a stop, took down his details and asked him to follow me to the Kollam service station of the Geeyem Motors for damage assessment. In between, we'd entered the Kayankulam service station of their's but to no avail as it was a fledgling office and they didn't have the wherewithal!

Since Lekha's lunchtime was being extended and to avoid complications, I'd bought her two big bananas to tide over the problem, following Thomaskutty - that was his name - to Kollam, all the time. Finding the Geeyem Motors at Kollam was a Herculean task but we did it eventually, after making a lot of inquiries enroute!

Samad was assigned as my Customer Service Adviser. It was when Thomaskutty tried to explain his story that I forcefully put him down an, "You'd no business to overtake me while I was doing so. Not only is it dangerous for everyone but it's also suicidal if an oncoming vehicle were to come because there's no central median! You've to answer for that mistake of yours." The damage was assessed and it was ascertained that the car's insurance will look after 50% of the expenses and Thomaskutty, would foot the remaining!

My Chevy was admitted, we parted ways with Thomaskutty amicably and Samad had fetched a cab for dropping us home. It was a quiet evening with plenty of yakkitiyak!


1. Samad was ticked off for perusing the innards of my passbook and had advised him not to do that ever again as it was bad manners. His reply, "Sir, you're very straightforward."
2. Raj Nivas looks neat and is slowly coming up to my standards!