Friday, June 30, 2017

Some personal observations.

AMMA's deplorable stance.

The Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes(AMMA) had their executive meeting yesterday and the organisational meeting today. The sad part was that the Bhavana kidnapping case was very much in the air but the organisation chose to look the other way and refrained from making any remark on the incident after the conclusion of the meeting. It has not been taken well by the common man.

The reason is simple. The actors and the actresses are looked upon by the rest of the population as paragons of virtue, thanks to the roles that they sashay on the screen and the ones that don negative roles are hated. It's, therefore, a natural progression that the stars are expected to take the right stand when controversies arise. In the actress's abduction case, the average Malayalee has been shocked and the rumour that there was a conspiracy, involving some others of the fraternity has, further, infuriated the common man.

Against this backdrop, it was appalling that the organisation has not taken a stand. Further, statements from within, to the effect that the assets of all actors should be audited, point out to a deep rot in the Malayalam film fraternity. And that's a cause for concern!

The dithering opposition.

The Congress, the communists and many of the opposition have ganged up to stay away from the midnight session of the Parliament when the GST will be heralded in. The Congress party's reason is the most bizarre. The parliament has been called for midnight sessions, till now, only to celebrate the freedom the country had acquired and therefore, it doesn't find it reason enough to celebrate the GST's arrival. The sad part is that the opposition did play a role in the final passing of the bill in both the houses!

Perhaps, the opposition is miffed that the BJP is grabbing all the attention despite the fact that the party had opposed it tooth and nail during the initial stages.

But as a citizen, I only hope that the opposition's charge about the tax regime being introduced with inadequate preparation is not true. The point is being bandied just to confuse the public and gain some brownie points, I presume!


1. Another day with plenty of rain!
2. TP Senkumar, the DGP who'd returned after winning a legal battle with the Kerala government, retired today. It's very clear that he'd an ongoing battle with a few guys of the force and the government during the 50 odd days he was back on the saddle. Wish you a happy retired life and I must add that you've become a hero for many of us.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What happens after death?


Death is the only thing that's permanent in this life. This post of mine is not to glorify death but a personal journey to learn more about it in the aftermath of my mom's passing away on 04 Sep, last year. Did I not pray enough for her well being? I've this strong feeling that had I done the 'sayana pradakshinam' around Guruvayurappan within the sanctum sanctorum - I'd done it previously in '15 when mom wasn't well while we're on a short visit to Bangalore and she had got all right - she 
wouldn't have gone. But why didn't that thought, the urge come to me then?

Having said that is there a cause to celebrate death? It's the release of the soul on its onward progression in the cycle of births before attaining the universal soul or God. So, however, much one is is close to the person who's passed away, it's important to understand that the departed is on an astounding journey that intrigues mankind. Hence the common refrain about maintaining a 'detached attachment' to avoid uncontrolled emotions! 

Garuda Puranam helps us to understand this phenomenon. Some of the questions that have bothered mankind about death are cited below.

What happens after death?

      * Is there life after death?
      * What is death?
      * Is death painful?
      * What happens after death?
      * How does rebirth happen after death? 

These death related questions always fill our minds, especially when any of our near or dear ones die. We feel that suddenly a relationship has broken abruptly and wish there could be a connection again. In this quest, our journey to find answers to the above questions begins.

So, what happens after death?

   *Disconnection of the earth sole chakras.

     Approximately, 4-5 hours before death, the earth sole chakras situated below the foot soles get
     detached, symbolising disconnection from the earth plane. Hence, you always notice that the feet
     of the person, approaching death, is cold.

    *Disconnection of the Astral Cord.

      The astral cord is the one that connects the soul to the body. Once this gets cut, the soul gets
      free of the body, moves up and out of it. As a soul, always, loves the body it held, it gets
      back into the body and tries very hard to move it and stay in it. That's why there's sometimes a
      subtle, slight movement of the face or hand even after the person has died. It's actually the
      soul trying to get in because it can't believe it's dead! Because the astral cord has been cut, it
      cannot stay there and is pushed out of the body. There's a magnetic pull to go up.

     *End of the physical body.

       At this stage, the soul hears many voices all at a time, which are nothing but the thoughts of
       those present in the immediate vicinity. The soul, on its part, talks to its loved ones like it used
       to do and shouts that it's not dead but, alas, it cannot be heard. Slowly and steadily, the soul
       realises that it's dead and there's no way back. Generally, it will be there around the body till its
       disposal. So, next time if you see a body being carried for cremation, understand that the soul
       is also part of the procession, seeing, hearing and witnessing everything and everyone.

     *Detachment from the body.

       Once the cremation is done, the soul realises that the main essence of its survival is lost, the body
       it held for so many years has dissolved in the five elements. The soul experiences complete
       freedom, the boundaries it had while being in the body are gone, it can reach anywhere by mere
       thought. For seven days, the soul moves about its places of interest like its favourite joint, the
       garden, office, children's homes etc. By the end of the seventh day, the soul says bye to its
       family and moves towards the periphery of the earth plane to cross over to the other side.

     *The tunnel.

       A big 'tunnel' needs to be crossed by the soul to reach the astral plane. The twelve days after
       death are crucial in that we've to carry out the rituals properly, pray and ask for forgiveness from
       the soul so that it does not carry negative emotions like hurt, hatred, anger etc, at least, from the
       near and dear ones. At the end of the tunnel, it sees a huge bright light signifying its entry into
       the astral world.

     *On the 11th and 12th days, the soul is united with its ancestors, close friends, relatives and the
       the guides. The soul is, then, taken for a thorough review of the life just completed. There is no
       judge, there is no God here. It judges itself:-

              - Asks for revenge for people who've troubled it.
              - Experiences guilt for all its wrongdoings.
              - Asks for self punishment to learn the lesson.
        Based on this, a complete life structure is prepared by the soul called the 'blueprint'(For example
        a person experienced severe headache in his present birth which had no antidote. On doing a
        past life regression, he saw that he'd killed a person by hitting and smashing his head, in his
        previous birth. In the life review, when he saw it, he became very guilty and asked for the same
        pain which the other person had suffered and ended up with the 'never ending headache!)

      *Once the review is done, the whole blueprint for the next life is ready and then, there's a
        cooling period. It becomes the Agreement.

      *The Rebirth.

        We're born depending on what we'd asked for in the 'Agreement'. The soul chooses the parents,
        enters the mother's womb either at the time of the egg formation or even at the last moment just
        before birth. The universe is so perfectly designed that the time and place of birth constitute
        the horoscope which is but the 'blueprint' or the 'agreement' that has been worked out!

        Once a soul is reborn, for around 40 days the baby remembers its past life and laughs and cries
        itself without anyone forcing it. The memory of the past life is completely cut after this and we
        experience life as though we didn't exist in the past. In other words, the soul is completely back
        in the earth plane.

"So, we don't die, we live on, death does not end it, it's just a break before we meet again".


1. Lekha and I'd gone to the Melpathur Auditorium to see the 'arangettam' of my niece, Gopika(aka as 'Thumbi' or butterfly among her friends and family) who is Sarala kunjamma's grand daughter. I find great potential in her, as an exponent of Bharathanatyam because she's nimble footed, graceful in her movements with clarity in the mudras and her expressions.  

2. From there, I'd gone to the Geeyem Motors to collect my Chevy which needed a change of its right brake calipers. It was also the last day of Prasobh, my customer care adviser of the last, almost, four years who's shifting berth to the nearby Hyundai. Wished him luck in his endeavours but will miss his disarming smile and caring attitude when I go there from now on.


My doubts on the treatise, Garuda Puranam are:-

  - On the 11th and 12th days, the soul comes across all its ancestors, friends etc.
     How's that possible when every one of them is back in the earth plane leading a new life?

  - We hold the 16th and the 41st days, after death, as auspicious.
     I, myself, have experienced the 'zero watt bulb's explosion' on mom's 41st day. Her soul was
     very much present there, I'd like to believe. If yes, how can that be explained? The cooling 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ashraf, you're in my thoughts...

I'd to go across to the town this morning and had called for an auto rickshaw. As we're going towards the eastern entrance of the temple, I'd asked the driver about Ashraf, his colleague, whom I'd not seen for quite a while. The last I'd met him was on the 28th of February, when he'd ferried me to the road transport corporation bus stand, for my onward journey to Thiruvananthapuram.

I remember his face being swollen and on my query, he'd told me that his kidneys had a problem and that he was undergoing treatment. I'd felt guilty then because I realised that he'd made the trip because of three things viz.:-

         (a) It was early in the morning and getting another auto rickshaw would have been difficult.
         (b) Secondly, I'd called him and he felt that it was his duty to fulfill my requirement and
         (c) He reiterated that he liked taking me around and enjoyed the conversations! 

His colleague's answer put me in deep anguish and I quote him, "Ashraf is in trouble. Cancer, that had begun with his left kidney, has spread across his body and he's bedridden as of now. He goes for the requisite chemos at the Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, about 15 kms from here".

Life has been cruel to Ashraf, the diminutive gentleman around 50 years of age, who was always available for me whenever I needed him.

Am praying for you and asking Him to give you the strength to tide over this crisis and being the optimist that I am, I hope a miracle would come by! Looking forward to see your smiling face all over again!!

         *                                    *                                       *

Sathi chechi had called up this morning. Radhan chettan continues to be pulling on with his aches and the pains. I'd been following the news that the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation is finding it difficult to make both ends meet and the pay and allowances of its workers was being distributed piecemeal against heavy governmental borrowings. The pensioners haven't been paid for almost three months!

She was asking for money on loan. Without much ado, I'd asked her to collect the amount anytime during the day, when she came to town, on one of her errands.

I didn't have the heart to remind her that there was already a loan that was pending repayment because:-

          (a) When a person seeks help, he's on his knees and has suppressed his pride.
          (b) If you've to help somebody, you must do so without making that someone feel small.
          (c) Hope that things will improve and that you'll receive what you're giving.


The caretaker had called up to say that there was a break in the rain and that the coconut trees - in our compound - needed clearance of the wild undergrowth around it, to be followed with the administration of a combination of rock salt, charcoal and potash. Moreover, four new saplings will have to be planted in lieu of the ones that had withered away during the harsh summer! The work will begin tomorrow and I shall park some money in his account, for the purpose. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Trying to understand the GST.

After the long and tortuous path it has taken to become a legislation, the Goods and Services Tax is finally at our doorstep. It's gonna make things easier as the rates declared are going to be the same all across India. The states and the centre had bargained hard to get the best deal during the heated negotiations that had ensued.

Many of us might ponder as to why the GST sounds complicated when many countries in the world have adopted a tax regime that's very less complicated. Probably we, Indians have a penchant for making things complicated!

Let's now try to understand the list of goods and services that come under the varying tax rates of the new regime wef 01 Jul..

    (a) Tax free.

          * Bindi - Sindoor.                                                 * Fresh meat.
          * Stamps.                                                              * Raw fish.
          * Judicial papers.                                                  * Raw chicken.
          * Printed books.                                                    * Eggs                                                                           * Newspapers.                                                       * Fruits, vegetables.
          * Glass bangles.                                                    * Salt, buttermilk.
          * Handloom.                                                          * Milk, bread.
          * Metro travel                                                        * Flour, besan.
          * Local train.                                                         * Honey, curd.
          * Economy hotels(Tariff below Rs.1,000/-).
     (b) Tax @ 5%

          * Fish millet.                                                         * Transport services.
          * Cream, milk powder.                                          * Railways.
          * Frozen vegetables.                                              * Flights.
          * Pizza bread, rusk.                                               * Taxi services - Ola, Uber.
          * Sabudana.                                                           * Small restaurants(Below Rs.50 lakhs
          * Tea, coffee, spices.                                                 turn over)
          * Medicines, stent.                                                 * Bio gas plant
          * Cane, beet sugar.                                                 * Windmills.
          * Lifeboats.
          * Kerosene, coal.

     (c) Tax @ 12%.

           * Flight ticket(Business class).
           * Non a/c hotels.
           * Fertilisers.
           * Work contracts.

     (d) Tax @ 18%.
           * Flavoured sugar.                                                 * Helmets.
           * Pasta.                                                                  * Tissues.
           * Cornflakes.                                                         * Napkins.
           * Pastries and cakes.                                             * Envelopes.
           * Preserved vegetables.                                         * Note books.
           * Jams and sauces.                                                * Steel products.
           * Soups.                                                                 * Printed circuits.
           * Instant food mixes.                                             * Camera.
           * Ice cream.                                                           * Speakers.
           * Mineral water.                                                    * Monitors.
           * LPG stoves.                                                        * Electronic toys.
           * Branded garments.                                             * IT services.
           * A/c hotels with liquor licence.                           * Financial services.
           * Telecom services.

      (e) Tax @ 28%.

           * Chewing gum.                                                    * Sunscreen.
           * Chocolate.                                                          * Wallpaper.
           * Waffles.                                                              * Tiles.
           * Wafers.                                                               * Water heater.
           * Pan masala.                                                        * Dishwasher.
           * Cold drinks.                                                       * Weighing machine.
           * Paint.                                                                  * Washing machine.
           * Shaving creams.                                                 * ATM.
           * Deodorants.                                                        * Vacuum cleaner.
           * After shaves.                                                      * Shavers hair clippers.
           * Shampoo.                                                           * Automobiles.
           * Hair dye.                                                            * Motorcycles.
           * 5 star hotels.                                                       * Movie tickets.
           * Race club betting.


Hope the country's uniform tax regime with regard to the indirect taxes is gonna get our economy moving. And don't be under the impression that the lakhs of toll booths will disappear from 01 Jul; they will go away over a period!  

Monday, June 26, 2017

China's double standards, yet again and other stories.

1. China at it again.

     "The dedicated air corridor between India and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan, is an attempt by
     New Delhi to counterbalance China's ambitious economic corridor through PoK and shows its
     stubborn geopolitical thinking", says the state run Global Times. India has been closely working
     with Kabul to create alternate and reliable access routes. It's also working with Afghanistan and
     Iran for the development of the Chabahar port. A trilateral transport and transit agreement based
     on sea access through Chabahar was signed between the three countries in May '16.

      Increased tensions prevail at the Sikkim-China border after a scuffle broke out between the Indian
      Army and the PLA troops, in the first week of June, leading to the latter damaging bunkers
      on the Indian side of the border. The exact spot is near the Lalten post in the Doka La general area
      in Sikkim.

      Another bit of news is that the Chinese have not allowed the Manasarovar pilgrims to go to
      Mt Kailash through the Nathu La pass, this year.

      It's crystal clear that China doesn't want India to take any initiative which it believes to be against
      its own interests. What double standards?

 2. The champion's shenanigans on the race course.

      Consider the following:-
            (a) The venue and the occasion. At Baku, during the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
            (b) Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari are participants.
            (c) Hamilton was leading after a clean start from the 60th pole position of his career, had
                  initially slowed down to avoid the slow moving safety car ahead of him(Perhaps, this 
                  action of his may have caused Vettel to drive into the rear of his Mercedes).
             (d) Vettel was, consequently, given a 10-second-stop-go penalty.
             (e) Hamilton says that it's "just not the correct driver conduct" and asks Vettel to, "Prove
                   you're a man".

        Sebastian Vettel has to speak out and clear the air. The earliest, the better!

  3. The "price to pay" for becoming a doctor.

       The Justice R Rajendra Babu Commission has proposed the fixing of the fees for the merit
       and management quota MBBS seats in Medical Colleges in Kerala at Rs.5.5 lakhs per annum.
       The fees for the NRI seats will be Rs.20 lakhs. This is a steep hike from the last year's fees. The
       self financing management association, however, has refused to accept the proposal.

       If these students, on becoming doctors, made money to make up their expenses while studying,
       one can understand where the real problem lies!


Rains are creating havoc out here at Guruvayur. The tiles of the house in which our maid, Preetha lives, was blown off by spiraling winds gusting to over 60 kmph on Sunday afternoon. Her mother has not recovered from the shock as yet. Earlier, a friend of mine had sent me a few snaps about a church whose roof was blown off by the same winds!

The water level in the well has come up to the ground level thanks to the rains. And it was just last month when we're hoping for rain as the level had receded to the last rung!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Rain, rain go away...

It has been raining cats and dogs out here, at Guruvayur, over the past few days with the result that normal life has been brought to a grinding halt. Water has collected in many areas and if you happen to be walking along the road then be prepared to be showered with dirty water by a few insensitive motorists who speed their way through, with scarce consideration towards their fellow citizens!

        *                      *                       *

For me, it has become a favourite pastime to sit on the swing at the balcony and watch the rain. It provides a sense of calm and relaxes the mind, perking up the creativity within. I must hasten to add that there hasn’t been much of an output on that front as yet......except for some insightful inputs for my blogs. My long morning and evening walks have, consequently, suffered though this evening, I could go across to the Medicare there, for buying an ointment for Lekha's eyes. Had also gone to the temple on the return leg and the rains were thankfully holding. Began in right earnest the exercises advised to me by Chambu.

     *                      *                        *

I pity the plight of the newspaper boy for having to come through the pouring rain to give us our morning newspapers to read. Ramakrishnan had a plastic draped around him to shield himself from the rain and managed to remain dry to the extent feasible. But his smile was in place as I thanked him for taking the trouble of servicing us under such adverse conditions. Lekha had provided him with a hot cup of tea which he’d shyly accepted and gulped it down in a jiffy.

     *                      *                        *

The water level has risen in our well and I ain’t exaggerating when I say that it stands, now, at ground level. Yes, had it not been for its concrete embankment, the water would have spread across the grass and even into the tiled courtyard. And come to think of it, it was just last month when Lekha and I were hoping like mad that rains came because the water level had receded to the last rung, thanks to the persistent summer heat.

*                   *                                *

What does one say about the state electricity board? It’s as inefficient as ever. When I’d seen the workers trimming the trees to clear the electric cables off the foliage, just before the commencement of the monsoon, I’d told myself that the board had become professional by taking precautionary measures to ensure interruption free power supply even during the severest of monsoon. But I realise now that I was very wrong in my perception because frequent power trips have become the order of the day. I should go a step further by saying that some of these guys, on duty, switch off the system before heavy rain so that they do not have any emergencies to increasing trend, as many inefficient guys get promoted to vantage positions in the organisation thanks to their ‘connections’! They do not know their job!!


A quiet Sunday when I could catch up on my reading. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The return.

After a long while, I got up this morning at 6 without any gaps in the sleep as had been happening over the past few days! I felt quite peppy at going back to Guruvayur, wonder why, because I've been immersed with work over the last fortnight and had enjoyed every bit of it. Did my packing and went through the morning chores and was ready by a half past 8.

It was then that Manu had called up, saying that his grandfather was in the ICU of the Medical College Hospital because of complications rising out of the viral fever that he'd contracted and could he be spared of coming home to pick me up? He'd report for duty, in time, to drop me at the station he said. So, I drove to the office through pitter patter rain and Chambu had accompanied me. Incidentally, this morning he'd shown me a few exercises to tone up my prostate - damn sweet of him! His advice, "Chetta, at this age you must take care of that particular part of your body or it can give you problems", like a seasoned medical expert! Damn sweet of him and I've noticed that he's fond of me!!

On reaching the office, I'd once again run through my check offs viz.:-

    (a) The oral invites for this afternoon's 'Aazhchakkoottam'. Padmakumar was already at it.
    (b) The return of Rs.500/- that I'd taken, as loan, from Lekha last evening and
    (c) A hard copy of the quiz competition question bank on Maman's table as he'd desired.

All too soon, it was time for me to leave and Aji - Manu had, still, not fetched up - drove me to the station. The train was to come on the third platform, the coach that I was reserved in was 19th from the engine and hence, I'd a long trudge which I didn't mind because there was sufficient time at hand. Had picked up a couple of magazines and the day's Indian Express for reading on passage. The Kerala Express, bound for New Delhi, left Thiruvananthapuram about 7' late but it maintained its time all through.

Since the coach I was in, had its reservation quota from Palakkad, it was comparatively empty and the journey was uneventful. Had an egg biriyani for lunch and it was nice - I think, the food standards are better, these days, in the railways!

It was rains, rains and rains all through the passage. I'd rung up George for his taxi but he talked of traffic snarls on the Thrissur-Guruvayur stretch. On getting down at the railway station, therefore, I'd hired an auto rickshaw from the traffic booth across its main entrance. Sudheesh, a lad of 20, was the driver and he was a decent soul. There were two stretches - Puzhakkal and Kecherry - where we'd to wait but the interruptions weren't that long.

I was at 'The Quarterdeck' by a quarter to 7, exactly after a fortnight I'd left it. Wonder why I got this impression that I'd been away for a long time. Probably, it was because of the numerous things that had happened and the large number of people that I'd interacted with during the period, that gave me the feeling.


Unpacking was over in a jiffy and soon, we're in front of the television set watching our favourite programmes. And yes, we did exchange notes!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Standing in for Maman.

It was the same as it has been over the last few days - got up at about 4, recited my prayers but as it had happened yesterday, sleep was hard to come by. I did a bit of exercising during the period. Since Manu, the driver, had to take his daughter to the hospital he was gonna be late. His eldest daughter suffers from cerebral palsy and is undergoing ayurvedic treatment. So, I'd driven to the office, dropping Chambu at Pulimoodu junction, enroute.

There wasn't much work at the office except for revising the work already done like:-

      (a) Informing all concerned about the 'Aazhchakkootam', tomorrow afternoon and reminding the
           guest who was gonna be the moderator.
      (b) Firming up the audience for the 'discussion forum' on Sunday.
      (c) Passing the question bank to all the district co-ordinators for the smooth conduct of their
            respective quiz comps. 
      (d) Tried to silently go through my speech for the evening's meeting in remembrance of 
            PN Panicker.

Meanwhile, Lekha and Rema had started their journey from Palakkad to Guruvayur. After seeing Lekha safely at 'The Quarterdeck', Rema had returned soon after lunch. Lekha reports that it's raining cats and dogs out there and here, at Thiruvananthapuram, there was no sign of rain making it humid and uncomfortable!

We're out of the office by a quarter past 4. I didn't want to be late for the meeting and reached the venue 10' before the start. The place had a lot of significance, in that, my Maman and Ammayi had both worked there, once upon a time! The meeting started off in right earnest and the publication of the five books - all in Malayalam - was formalised by the chairman handing over each of the first copies to me. The books were thin paperbacks but packaged well and they were:-

       (a) The translation of Tagore's Gitanjali                   Kottukaal S Vijayakumar.
       (b) Ghar Wapasi(A collection of poems)                  Dr. DK Kayyaalethu.
       (c) Daiyva vishwaasathinte charithramuthukal         Sasi Muttathara.
       (d) Chithalaricha pusthakom                                     Thonnackal Ayyappan and
       (e) Jwaralikhitham                                                     Manuel Nesan.

Thus, I've five new books added to my personal library! Simply great!!

I'd narrated a few anecdotes of my Muthachhan which was lapped up by the audience. There was a humbling moment when the elderly Dr. Augustin - he'd been with Muthachhan during the Library and Literacy Movements - insisted on my autographing his personal copy of one of the books, just published! He was dropped at his bus stand in our car and he seemed to be visibly thrilled.

Chambu and I'd picked up dinner from a restaurant near Vellayambalam. I let the youngster do the pick and choose.

And it was a, comparatively, early evening. Couldn't take the youngster for the movie, 'Tubelight'.


Maman, from New Delhi, had asked me as to how it had gone. And I told him that he must collect the feedback from the others!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A comparatively quiet day.

Had got up around 4, recited my prayers and tried to turn off to sleep but it wasn't forthcoming. There was nothing much I could do except to continue lying on bed and wait for the day to commence! Did a bit of reading during the period.

Manu and the car were sent for the IIT guys at a half past 4 so that they could get the morning 'darshan' of Lord Padmananbhaswamy and thereafter, get dropped at the airport. By the time he'd come to pick me up, it was around 10 and I'd headed straight for the office. Once there, Indira ma'am, Lekha and I sat through to compile a question bank of 75 questions for the forthcoming quiz competition.

The refreshment guy, Shihab, was given the requirement of the sweet meat packets for distribution on Sunday when we've a discussion forum on "Quran and reading". The usual Saturday group discussions will go on at 1530 hrs that day, which will be regulated by a research fellow from the 'Bhasha Institute'. These were put in place and the finer aspects were worked out through the course of the day.

Gopu, my cousin, had come around 5 o'clock and we could exchange notes over so many aspects that had taken place since we'd met last. He waited patiently, when I went across for grooming and sprucing up in the gents' saloon at Vazhuthacaud because my overall outlook needed a 'face lift', both, in the literal and the real sense! It took about almost an hour and Vinod was adept at his work.

After winding up for the day, we'd gone to Indira kunjamma's house to look up Suresh. Gopu's candid confession, "Chetta, I don't have the heart to see him in his present state and it's more than a month since I visited the house but with you along, I'll be comfortable!" With the right side of his face puffed up, Suresh looked hideous and pathetic. It could be noticed that the poor man was going through immense pain and he complained to me about, it adding that Reshmi wasn't available at his side many a time. The problem is that he sleeps through the day thanks to the four hourly dosages of morphine but remains awake at night while she has to go for work and worry about other things too.

Her retort was simple, "Chetta , I try to be with him all the times except while running errands that can only be done by me and I make sure that the medicines that are to be given, during my absence, would be given by someone else without fail". She has been indifferent about her own health, not taken those periodic medical tests and consequently, has high blood sugar readings. She'd, incidentally, just returned from the Hanuman temple nearby, looking satisfied that another vow of her's has been carried out, finally, after many hiccups. Kripu, their son, was his usual cheerful self and was voluble about his new class and the connected studies.


We returned to our respective destinations, thereafter. Both Vichaani kunjamma and her grand daughter were down with viral fever that's raging in Thiruvananthapuram these days and therefore, a visit to her place was out of question. Did speak to Sindhu, however.    

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Workshop - day 2.

We'd got up at a half past 4, quickly run through some of our chores and were out of the house by 5. Had picked up Das babu from the hotel and we dropped him at the airport well in time for his flight to Calcutta. Wasn't he thankful for our seeing him off personally?

Back home, we'd a quick wash, change and breakfast and were in the office. There were quite a few letters that were to be pumped out, arrangements for the next two days' programme had to be made and the list of activities that were to be executed during the 'Reading Month' was prepared. Meanwhile, we'd made a dash to the Barton Hill Engineering College to oversee the workshop's progress and prepare for the valedictory function for the afternoon.

The afternoon's function with the minister of forests in chair was a colourful and well attended function. The students had given a good feedback about the course which was the most satisfying thing. The debrief, soon after, was short but extremely critical about our shortcomings. Shyam, my driver and the Qawalis were sent back to Kollam as the requirement for the next couple of days was at a minimum. Alex, the driver on hire, was also sent away after handing over his payment. His revolt of yesterday was something that I haven't been able to accept even now. I felt sad. Was he going through pressure because of his increasing debt?

Maman was dropped at the airport by a quarter to 7 with Aji at the helm of the Majic! He'll return on Saturday after touching Hyderabad and New Delhi on official work. I've a task to perform in his absence which is to attend the 'Reading Month' celebrations at the Prabhath Book House in his place. Certain newly published books on PN Panicker will be handed over to me. I'd spoken to the organiser and he appeared to be thrilled about meeting the prodigal grandson!

Was in the office, quite late, as Manu and the car were taking our guests, from the IIT, for a chukker of the city. They'd be visiting the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple tomorrow morning at 5 before taking off back to Calcutta by the flight at 0830 hrs.


Calls from both the schools at Thalavoor came in, one after the other. I've given them the dates of 06 and 09 Jul for the books-handing-over ceremony. The confirmations will reach tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Workshop on National Digital Library.

I'd got up at a quarter to 4, recited my prayers and turned off to sleep all over again. Maman and I'd gone to the Foundation by a quarter to 8 and soon after, fetched up at the auditorium of the Priyadarshini Planetarium which was the venue of the first session of the workshop. It was then that a change in plan was decided.

The both of us left for the Government Girls' High School at Manacaud, to attend the Reading Day celebrations organised by the State Library Council, for which we'd been invited. On getting off from the car, I'd my first tryst with its secretary, Advocate Appukuttan who was the cause for this year's initial confusion over the celebration of the event and an anti-PN Panicker man. I'd decided, earlier, to ask him as to why he hated my grandfather so virulently even after 22 years of his passing away.

But the opportunity never came, because he spoke eloquently about the legend and his contribution to the library movement. Maman was called upon to speak, in which, he proceeded to explain the differences that had existed, threaded through the evolution of the Foundation and set the record straight without offending the organisers. We returned, after about an hour, to the planetarium where the public programme had just finished and the technical workshop on the National Digital Library was underway under the stewardship of Prof PP Das of the IIT, Kharagpur.

The afternoon session comprised of two events viz. the second part of the technical interaction with Dr. Banerjee of the IIT, Kharagpur in the IT lab of the Barton Hill Engineering College, nearby and the workshop for the users at the Priyadarshini auditorium immediately, after a short public meeting. Prof Das delivered his lecture in English while I did the transliteration, which was widely acclaimed.....Dunno whether they're boosting my ego? In the process, I got a hang of the hooking up with the National Digital Library.

Back in the Foundation, there was a sad episode concerning the drivers. Came to know that there was a misbehaviour on the part of one of the guests who smoked inside the vehicle despite the driver asking him not to do so. Syam of the JSS and Alex, the one on hire - He's a great driver, I'd always thought him to be a level headed guy and had nurtured him during the 'yatra' - refused to run an errand in taking the guests around town.......and that was a a big letdown!


I suppose disappointments are bound to happen and once again, it's been proved that one should not get too emotionally attached to anyone.      

Monday, June 19, 2017

The 22nd 'Vaayana Dinam'.

Had got up at 4, recited my prayers and drifted off to sleep all over again to wake up at 6. Today was Muthachhan's 22nd remembrance day and it's the 'Vaayana Dinam'. The Foundation's public programme was at the imposing Tagore theatre at 1400 hrs.

We'd reached the office by about a quarter to 8. My vehicle came in soon after, with Syam behind the wheel, from Kollam. There were two errands in the forenoon:-

   (a) The first was a dash to the state library council to hand over our protest because it had given
         only attendee status to Maman in their programme for tomorrow.
   (b) The second was a trip to the press at the Statue junction to get printouts of our programme
         for tomorrow.

We all reached the Tagore theatre at a half past 1 to reel in horror at the total state of unpreparedness. It was a pathetic show on the part of a government organisation. Can you believe this? You won't, I bet:-

    (a) There were no chairs on the dais.
    (b) The sound and the light systems were not connected.
    (c) The place hadn't been cleaned for ages!
    (d) There weren't any signs of the watchman or housekeeper/curator who're being paid for looking
          after the auditorium.
    (e) The air conditioner wasn't switched on and one must understand that it takes an hour to cool
          the auditorium.

And mind you, we'd paid a cool 45 grand at 10, this morning for hiring the haloed auditorium!

Naturally, Maman had gone into an overdrive and we all pitched in. Chairs were brought in from the Foundation, the tall traditional lamp was hired and Muthachhan's photograph, along with the floral accompaniments were put in place. Students from the schools nearby formed the audience along with our family, relatives and friends. The programme had begun half an hour late as the chief guest, Padma Vibhushan Adoor Gopalakrishnan had insisted upon the driver to drive slowly.

The programme was cute especially for the following:-

       (a) Little Nayana handing over the books while receiving the guests on the dais.
       (b) The programme lasted 45', short and sweet.
       (c) Ten children performing 'Guruvandanam' to Celine ma'am, the Head Mistress of the Cotton
             Hill Girls' High School who is the national awardee for being the best teacher .
       (d) Distribution of sweet meat packets to everyone who'd attended the event.


1. I'd found my solitude at the Foundation at 1913 hrs, the time at which Muthachhan had passed into the mist of time 22 years ago. I thanked god for bringing me into this world as his grandson! My grandfather bestest.

2. There were a few things to do for tomorrow's events and I'd to complete them before returning home.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The ignominy.

The whole nation was waiting with bated breath about the outcome of the India-Pakistan final of the Champions trophy.

Consider the following:-

   (a) India had beaten Pakistan during their first clash in the championship and it was a resounding
   (b) Sri Lanka thrashed us convincingly despite the fact that we'd batted first and amassed a huge
   (c) Bangladesh had been playing cohesively and well but was beaten by us.
   (d) It became another India-Pakistan final and sure enough, things had taken a hype.
   (e) Finally, in the battle of wits, they're able to beat us as usual.

And see, what they've been able to do to us. The entire country has become grief stricken! The soldiers on the border are the people who take the loss into their hearts. Matters get more difficult when the Pakistani soldiers on the other side of the Line of Control taunt them about the loss.

Wish Viraat Kohli and his team understand this. We, as their countrymen, have the right to demand that because of the following factors:-

   (a) We've given them an exalted status in society.
   (b) We - yes, the BCCI is ours too - pay them very, very well.
   (c) We do not expect them to lose any game at all!


I'm glad in one way. At least for the next few weeks, the focus on cricket by the media is gonna be less!

Or was it a rigged match after all?

The D day.

Dateline 17 Jun.

Had got up at 6 and went through the chores with gusto. Was ready well in time and after a quick breakfast, since the drivers took time to come down, there was a bit of a panic. Maman, as well as the staff, had gone off with our friends from Nenmara to set up the office because of the requirement of attending to our invitees at the venue. I, along with the cars, reached soon after. The funniest thing was that my own security clearance pass was with our staff who'd already left.

The situation was all too familiar. The police had already started adopting tough postures blaming the SPG for their strict security requirements. Getting into our 'temporary office' looked a Herculean task, albeit, for a very short while. Two members of our staff, with the entire list of invitees, were positioned at the gate to ensure that they're let in without any problems. Our family was brought in and allowed to settle in their seats as previously directed. There were a number of people who'd come by and had problems at the gate were let in with timely interventions but I'm also aware that there were a few who had to go back disappointed as they're late.

The programme went off fine and the Prime Minister seemed to have gone away pleased with his brief stay, for half an hour, with us.

The rest of the time went away without me being aware of its passage, I must admit! After spending the afternoon at our room we're off to the airport to see off Dr. Shadrach, the man who'd made the occasion possible and it was really a touch and go because we'd not got his flight's time correctly. We must have given him certain anxious moments for sure!

Our course was shaped towards Thiruvananthapuram by about a half past 7 and the route via Kottayam was taken. There were quite a few stretches where road widening/repairs were going on and since the weekend traffic was heavy, our progress was hampered initially but Alex, our 'saarthi' maneuvered expertly through the melee.


My candid observations.

 * PM Modi has a large number of followers across the population cutting across age.
 * People want to find themselves in a photograph with him, a few enthusiasts even wanted to have a
    'selfie' with him and there were yet others who kept clapping whenever his name was mentioned.
 * The way the college and the yoga institute tried to project that the programme was made possible,       thanks to their efforts, gave a comical touch.
 * The college - through their staff, in a subtle manner - was able to get quite a few concessions from
    the security apparatus set in place which acted advantageous to us. To cite a few, we're able to get
    the following items into the dais even after the final security sanitisation:-
           (i) A small lamp for being lit in front of PN Panicker's photograph.
          (ii) Camphor for speeding up the lighting of the wicks of the lamp. Despite that the lighting
                of the lamp was delayed showed that the Mac Murphy law does kick in at inopportune
         (iii) The drinking water for the PM was provided by the government's tourism department
                 in the end. They'd made us buy a particular brand of water which remained as unused
                 stock, in the end!
 * There was one thing that baffled me, however. We're clearly told as to who all will be on the dais
    and that diktat notwithstanding, a lady of the yoga group walked up to the dais and had distributed     the leaflets to the guests.  


Friday, June 16, 2017

The mad scramble.

My sleep had vanished quite early. I was, therefore, up and about and had gone through my chores. We're ready well in time and made it to the venue without any delay. The sight of the venue was truly pathetic because it was nowhere near completion. To add to our woes, a few members of the school staff played the blame game. The welcome arch at the entrance gate, the backdrop at the auditorium and the work by the electronic sections were lagging behind. And by a quarter to 10, the officials had landed and the blame game had taken a larger dimension.

Meanwhile, I'd gone across to the Town Hall for the briefing called for by the assistant commissioner of police. Firstly, it was a Herculean task to reach the place thanks to the bad traffic and on reaching, the entry was impossible as the personnel on duty had swamped the compound! After telling a subordinate officer about our arrival, we returned to the venue and I realised that all hell had broken loose out there because of:-

      (a) The PMO had objected to the cluttered backdrop and asked us to remove both PN Panicker's
            and the PM's photos.
      (b)  It also found spelling mistakes in our Hindi logo.
      (c)  Meanwhile, the yoga people were giving hell regarding their logo being smaller!

I'd taken it upon myself to get a new logo. taking off without keeping Maman in the loop. There was no point in keeping him on tenterhooks. The Hindi Prachar Sabha was my first destination - Priyesh and Anju were of a great help and of course, so was Babu. Then it was a rush to the Computer Point and from there, to Ranjith's studio for handing over the script-corrected logo. The time was 4 and both, Alex, the driver and I hadn't had lunch. Back at the venue, the achievement wasn't registered and I did feel disheartened!

The work had gathered pace and my morning inhibitions seemed to be a false alarm.

The mad dash for the 'special duty passes' took place around 8, when Indira, Lekha, Maman and I went to the studio at Broadway for being photographed and after collecting them, had rushed off to the SP's office to get the passes made. Rajesh, who'd come in the evening to clarify things, delayed me purposely while regretting the delay! It took me almost two hours to complete the job despite the fact that there was no rush.


Certain times, one comes across such characters too.        

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A day of delicate co-ordination.

The day had started at a half past 5. The chores were quickly gone through and was down at the lounge for a hearty breakfast. While going down in the lift, met Sushil Kumar after what seemed to be a long time and in the process, met his charming wife, Sudha who's a frequent Guruvayur visitor - if I were to coin a new phrase. They've settled down in Bombay but are keen to come down to Kerala. He's come for the treatment of his painful knee and might require a prolonged medical management, so he feels!

Maman fetched up at a half past 9 and was in time for his complimentary breakfast as I'd booked a room for him, thinking that he'd come in last night. Then, we'd a very interesting interaction with the yoga group of Kaithapram Vasudevan Namboodiri, Anil and Chethana. The center is gonna share space with us while being with the Prime Minister! They're going to stoke our interest in it by conducting an orientation course exclusively for us after this event gets to its logical conclusion.

From there it was the venue. A few things, that I'd agreed to undertake yesterday had to be undone, as the bill had worked out to a huge sum. With his experience in these matters, Maman was able to scale down the projected requirements by having the government agencies agree to do things for us. We're also able to convince the AIG of the special protection group to discard the installation of the 12 tower a/cs to cool the entire hall that would have burnt a huge hole in the Foundation's pockets!

Meanwhile, the final approval for the programme came in from the PMO in black and white. The major electrical, electronics and auditorium decoration could be handed over to the government agencies and the event management group had that much less on its platter! Consequently, the expenses were scaled down drastically!!

A late lunch-cum-tea in a nearby restaurant and it was back to work. The making of the security passes and the finer aspects of the beginning-to-the-end of the half hour programme were set in place. The dais plan came back snipped and the minute-to-minute, altered.


We spent our time, late into the evening within the premises of the College, to ensure that the auditorium was in a presentable state for the PM's visit and to see the various groups come by and begin their activities.   

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Off to Kochi.

Sarath and his Innova fetched up half an hour late because of delayed instructions but for me, the day had begun at 3. I'd thought against a bath in the morning but quickly banished the thought on realising the madness that I'd have to go through after reaching Kochi with the scheduling of many meetings with the special protection group, the state police, the administration, the public relations department and the college, which was gonna host the event.

Had picked up Baburaj enroute, fueled the taxi and set off on our journey. A few kilometres after Attingal, the rear, left tyre had got punctured and to my horror, came to know that the car wasn't carrying any spare tyre! Calls were made and another was brought all the way from the city ensuing a loss of one hour in the process. The driver was spoken to but what surprises me is that there were no checks carried out on the vehicle after the completion of the previous assignment - which, incidentally, had finished at midnight - and change over! Disgusted with the lack of professionalism!!

We're at the St Theresa's College by a quarter to 11 after picking up Anusha and on arrival, went about our task of briefing the college authorities of our programme, visiting the auditorium to make my notes of the minutest requirements, calling up the event management groups and firm up my points for the meeting with the concerned authorities. It, eventually, went off smoothly  and after an hour and a half, we'd a credible action plan in our hands. Priya and Leena, the teachers of the institution, deputed with us, were of a great help.

After a quick lunch at the nearby Coffee House, the event management guys were called in and given the requirements so that they could pass on the quotes by the end of the day. A quick visit to the Sarada-Krishna Iyer Foundation turned out to be a no show and so, the setting up of our office did not take place as planned. My office continues to be the Innova for now - sounds high-tech, doesn't it?

Baburaj and I, finally, settled down at the Bharath Tourist Home, a stone's throw away from the venue and went through a debrief of the day's activities, charted out our work for tomorrow and settled down for a quiet evening, thereafter. But there was a scare in between with the special protection group toying with the idea of changing the venue - to our initially suggested one but shot down by them - as the present one was not air conditioned(?). After my gentle reminder that the Foundation did not have the money to splurge and after inspecting the new venue, the SPG boss had called me up to say that the St Theresa's College was indeed the venue. Phew!

Had passed it on to Maman at Thiruvananthapuram immediately. And wasn't he relieved?


Over dinner, poor Baburaj had to listen to my yarns. He's my new follower!

Finally, the way ahead.

Dateline 13 Jun.

The trend continues.....I'd got up at 4, yet again, recited my prayers and turned off to sleep till 6. After the usual morning chores, Maman and I'd first gone to meet Kummanam Rajasekharan at his party office and KV Thomas, MP at the Congress party office in connection with the forthcoming public event. The MP had wholeheartedly agreed to delink his proposed programme to plant a lakh saplings in the presence of the Prime Minister along with our programme.

Citing that both could not be clubbed, his statement of "PN Panicker is an institution and a programme concerning him being conjoined with any other should not be resorted to! I'm withdrawing mine," showed his immense respect for my grandfather.

There were small errands to run and by the time we'd settled at the swanking new Indian Coffee House within the Thycaud Hospital's premises it was almost teatime. It's a quick bite and back to work. While having food, Maman took us 53 years back talking about Santha kunjamma's delivery and Unni's birth which had taken place in the room just across the window!

There was a short visit to the Mathrubhoomi office to hand over the press release regarding the programme on the 17th. We're back home soon after and I'd given our IT man, Shekhar, a few tasks to do while I was gonna be away. I was to go to Kochi, early morning at 4 tomorrow along with another of our organisers and an Innova was arranged for the purpose.


It was a lovely dinner and a comparatively early night as tomorrow was gonna be a long day!     

Monday, June 12, 2017

A mixed bag.

I'd got up around 4, recited my prayers and turned around for another round of sleep till 6. The first morning prank was on young Chambu, when I'd asked him as to why he spent a long time in the wash while having a bath. His answer was simple, in that, whatever the weather, he showered only in normal water and he needed time to get used to the temperature. As an after thought, he added that he refrained from having hot showers because another cousin of ours, Reshmi, had told him that his sperm count would reduce if he did that.

Now, that was a big mumbo jumbo that I was hearing and had a hearty laugh. We left for the Foundation by a half past 8. The preparation for the 'Vaayana dinam and Vaaram' celebrations were on in full swing. The first errand was to the Hindi Prachar Sabha, along with Sudha ma'am, to validate my Hindi translation of the slogan for this year's 'Vaayana dinam', We'd to go to the professor's house at Peroorkada and I realised that 'Vaayana dinam' was not 'Padhaai diwas' but 'Vaachan divas' to cite one example to show that my brief foray into the language was, but, a plain disaster ! I could, thus, brush up a bit of my Hindi - minimum Hindi from the NDA, after all - under the kind professor's tutelage, albeit, for a short while!

The next trip was to Narayana Kurup sir to collect the article that he'd penned regarding the current tussle. It was another interesting interaction that I was privy to. Both have asked me to pass on the final version of their products! Consequently, Maman and I'd lunch at a quarter to 4!!

By evening, we'd the confirmation about the Prime Minister attending our programme on the 17th, at Ernakulam. The details, on the ground, will be worked out in the coming days with a dash to Ernakulam tomorrow morning. Will return by the evening.

Our visit to the chief minister, in the evening, provided the sobering effect!


The rains seemed to have receded for good, at least, in Thiruvananthapuram. Had transferred the money, asked for by the caretaker into his account, by 9 to clear the grass around the rubber trees and to apply the requisite quantity of manure. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

It's one of those days.

There are certain days that are ordained to become a painful experience for a variety of reasons. For me, today was such a day - yet another Sunday that was wasted on a railway platform!

The day had begun at 4, I'd gone through the chores while systematically shutting down 'The Quarterdeck'. Anto was at the gate, on the dot, at 6. It was raining, almost continuously, till 4 earlier and my opening lines of the day were addressed to God as to whether my journey was going to get a wet burial thanks to the deluge. As if on cue and giving me the impression that He's begun to listen to me, the rains came to an abrupt halt and the sun had also become visible, subsequently!

The passenger train to Ernakulam at 0640 hrs had left the station on time and within 20 mts, I was at Thrissur, well in time for my onward train that was scheduled to arrive at 0837 hrs. It was when I'd gone to check about the position of the coach from the engine, that the youngster, at the counter, rather seriously told me that the train was three hours late. Well, I didn't know what to do initially but had put to good use the abundant time that was suddenly available to me at my disposal! Had replied all my pending mail and must admit that my laptop came in handy to tide over the situation.

The train, finally, fetched up at 1325 hrs when I'd almost come to the feeling that I might not leave Thrissur at all, meaning, I'd started thinking in the negative! Looking back in hindsight at the long wait, I wonder as to why I wasn't proactive......was it the thought that there was no tearing hurry to reach Thiruvananthapuram that prevented me from cancelling the ticket, collecting the full refund and buying an alternate ticket on any other south bound train - and there were four of them. (But I must concede that I'd come to know of this alternative from Maman, after reaching Kochuveli). I need to buck up on this score. 

It was 1930 hrs when the train had finally fetched up at its destination. Maman, ammayi and Manu were there to receive me. They'd come by after looking up Suresh who's in a bad shape! After a light dinner outside, we're at Maman's place before 10 and after a bit of conversation, it was a comparatively early pipe down.


My experience of the Chandigarh - Kochuveli Sampark Kranti Express has not been good. Its late coming was attributed to the delay that's caused by the requirement of slowing down of all trains on the Konkan stretch, during the monsoons. The coaches were filthy and unclean, the staff attending the passengers uncouth and the pantry car wasn't catering to the passengers' needs - for example, there was no call for evening tea which was a surprising omission. Despite the minister, Suresh Prabhu's earnest efforts, the attitude of the staff on board needs change.



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Down memory lane.

The day had begun on a wet note. It was raining as though the heavens had opened its floodgates. It was an early morning grooming to attend the silver jubilee function of the Thrissur District Retired/Released Defence Services' officers' Association's of which I'm a member. I'd gone along with my neighbour and reached the venue in time. Rear Admiral Ravi Nadkarni, the Chief of Staff, Headquarters, Southern Naval Command had presided over the function and Commodore B Anand, the NCC Group Commander had accompanied him.

They're with me at the Center for Leadership and Behavioural Studies(C-LABS), in the late '90s. It was nice meeting them, we exchanged notes with a promise to meet again! The function was crisp and nice, with two presentations - basically, addressed for the benefit of the NCC cadets - regarding the Indian Army and the Indian Navy but what definitely was the highlight was Major Ravi's - the film maker - spirited speech about his blood boiling when anyone talked ill of the services!

Since my neighbour had left early, I'd hitched my return trip with Lt Col CM George and Ms. Nalini
Sara George which was an interesting yet humbling experience. Both have past histories of cancer - his prostate was affected while it was her ovary that was affected - but have come out of it absolutely clear, thanks to their tremendous will power and positive outlook. It was, indeed, a pleasure to spend almost an hour with them in their car as we traversed from Thrissur to Kunnamkulam, through pouring rain. He's in the mid 70s while she's in the late '60s and their zest for life is infectious. They've just returned after a five day trip to Singapore along with their son and his family.

We'd taken a detour through their daughter's residence in the town because they'd to hand over some ripe jack fruit - from their estate - for their grand daughter who'd soon be graduating as an engineer and they were apologetic about the detour and did not spend much time as promised. Wonder whether my presence had cut short their plans of spending more time out there?

I'd got off at Kunnamkulam with the promise that we'd meet again and had got back in an auto rickshaw - its driver did fleece me off Rs.140/- for traversing the 9 kms to my home! He was taking advantage of the situation!


1. Lekha left for Palakkad by 1 in George's cab. The earlier understanding was that she'd go in a low floor a/c bus of the state road transport corporation and I wasn't feeling good about it but I didn't want to water down her confidence. It was, then, a great relief when she'd called up to say that that she'd called George to drop her because of the deluge and consequently, reached my sister's place by 3. She'll be there while I spend the next fortnight at Thiruvananthapuram.

It was a quiet and lonely evening thereafter!

2. I was invited to an 'Iftar' party where I got a chance to mingle with a few youngsters. It was an interesting interaction!   

Friday, June 9, 2017

It's happening!

(a) It's Happening.

      This is a take off from what I'd written on 04 Jun, under the heading, 'Politicising reading'. I was         on my walk - there was a break in the rains - and to my utter surprise saw posters on the electric
      posts, at regular intervals, that 19 Jun is gonna be 'Remembering EMS' day. The guys are at work       to be silent about PN Panicker's efforts as the founder of the Kerala Library Movement. The sad
      thing is that the State Library Council is doing this nasty thing on his Remembrance Day.

      Can they ever achieve their nefarious goal? Can they obliterate PN Panicker from the
      Malayalee's psyche? At the outset, I must tell the organisers that it's a futile endeavour! I've the
      following questions to ask of them, which are:-

               (i) PN Panicker and EMS were the best of friends in their lifetime. I, as a kid, used to look
                    forward to his visits to our home at Thycaud, Thiruvananthapuram because he used to
                    give me chocolates and I also remember our visits to his house - my grandfather used to
                    take me along with my maman, during those visits. The organisers seem to be oblivious
                    of this fact and is it their ignorance that's prompting them to do the unthinkable or is it

              (ii) Why is this sudden love for EMS? What's the reason for not having remembered him
                    all this while?

             (iii) I'm, therefore, repeating my question that I've asked earlier too. What's PN Panicker done
                    that continues to elicit the grudge in the organisers even after 22 years of his passing

             (iv) Is this what is meant by altering history? If yes, please refrain from it because the very
                    same history will ridicule you in the end!


  (b) The Trail of Violence in Madhya Pradesh.

        The death of five farmers due to police firing in Mandsaur, MP, is definitely a cause for concern
        and a quick remedial action needs to be taken by the government at the earliest. There cannot
        be false egos and tough stances coming in the way of negotiations to find a lasting solution.
        What, however, is disgusting is the shameless manner in which the opposition had taken
        advantage of the situation and incited its men to violence.

        Such an attitude can never be acceptable. Can politics stoop to such low levels?


Theresa May's poor showing at the hustings must teach her a lesson. Is the average Britisher fed up with frequent polls? Or was it her lackadaisical show as the Interior Minister, a position that she'd held for six years and which has come home to roost with the spate of the recent terror attacks? 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

News from here and there.

Going through some of the happening news!

  (a) The LDF Government's New Policy on Alcohol Consumption.

         After being in the saddle for a year, the government has redrawn the existing excise policy
         formulated by the previous, UDF government. Highlighting it's 'Vimukti' campaign for
         educating people against alcoholism, the government stressed the following points for its

             (i) The new policy will kick into effect from 01 Jul.
            (ii) Increased revenue to the government's coffers.
           (iii) The tourism sector will be benefited.
           (iv) Bar timings changed from 1100 hrs to 2300 hrs.
            (v) Minimum age for drinking raised to 23 yrs.

         It's a sensible decision, according to me, because prohibition cannot be effective and the reasons
         are only well known:-

             (i) Illicit and spurious liquor would take its toll on innocent lives.
            (ii) Already, there has been strong indications of increase in drug abuse, in lieu.

          The campaign against alcoholism must be focused and sustained. There can't be any let up!

    (b) The Justice Dhingra Report.

           The much awaited report of Robert Vadra's land holdings - Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law - is
           out and it throws a great deal of information about his shenanigans of land grabbing in
           Haryana with the connivance of the then, Hooda-led Congress government in that state. I'm
           not gonna delve on the details but what amazes me is that not one newspaper or any other
           news channel has covered it, thus far. Why the blanket ban, I wonder? Playing favourites?

     (c) The 'Two-and-a-half' Front War.

           The Army chief has talked about his men being ready for any eventuality even in the case
           of war on 'two-and-a-half-fronts'. What he means by this statement is about the probability
           of Pakistan and China being active on their respective fronts with the Kashmiri militants as
           the 'half' front. A bit of a bravado there but appreciate his outlook!


I end up with the tragic news from Balochistan. A Chinese couple, abducted by the IS last month, have been killed. They're learning Urdu and were also running a Mandarin language course. RIP and hope that your tragic end doesn't go in vain.

At least now, it's hoped that the Chinese government will vote for the long pending UN resolution branding the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief as a terrorist!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Trouble brewing for Qatar?

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have cut off ties with Qatar. Yemen and Maldives have also followed suit. The immediate provocation for the move are:-

    (a) Statements attributed to Qatar's emir supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and criticising the
         Sunni coalition against Iran.
    (b) Its position within the Gulf Cooperation Council has been different in that:-

               (i) Though it sees itself as a neutral mediator, its support for groups representing political
                    Islam like the Palestinian Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood has irked Saudi Arabia.
              (ii) It's perceived to be soft on Iran with which it shares the world's largest gas field.
             (iii) Its isolation has come about within weeks of the American President's visit to Riyadh.
             (iv) Riyadh could also be using this opportunity to curb dissent within the Sunni flock and
                    get them to toe its line!

The upshot of the whole thing is that a Shia-Sunni sectarian strife will only provide a fillip to terror groups like the Islamic State and that's the pity.

The effect of the ban will be:-

               (i) Hurt its economy which will impact the many Indians working there.
              (ii) Most of its food supplies are imported via Saudi Arabia which will be affected.
             (iii) Doha has emerged as an international aviation hub which is also bound to be affected.


Had got up around 4 in the morning with the feeling that I'd a lot of things to do. Lekha was sleeping peacefully and without disturbing her, wrote my blog, answered the mail and recited my prayers. By 5, I was back to sleep after feeling the comfort of having done what I was supposed to!

We're back at our favourite pastime of conversation, though Ramesh took his time to join us. He looked well rested and then, all too soon, it was time to leave. We'd work at the canteen and finally, kicked off on our return leg by 12. The rain was holding all through the route but experienced downpour at two stretches. The highway was okay as the traffic was manageable though at Mannuthi, there was a slowing down as the flyover was being out into place near the College of Agriculture.

We'd reached Rema's place at 4 and were surprised to see, Padmakumar at home as his office was closed due to a hartal in their industrial area, connected with the new recruitment in the nearby Coca Cola factory! Even Achu had the day off as his office was also within the the same industrial estate. A quick disembarking of Ammu's wedding gifts, a round of tea and we're off for Guruvayur by a half past 4.

The route had the usual traffic density but driving through was fine and we reached 'The Quarterdeck' by a half past 6. Unpacking and opening up of the house didn't take much of a time but there was no scope left for a walk, thereafter.     

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

At Kochi.

The day had started at 4 AM. We were out of our house by a few minutes past 6 and took the NH 17 for our journey to Kochi. The traffic wasn't difficult and we're at Panampilli Nagar, for breakfast, by about 10' past 8. The beauty was that the rain had held on all through the trip. We're at Shenoy Care by a 5' past 9. Remembered our numerous trips with mom when we used to meet up with her me today's trip seemed to be a continuation of one of those trips, sadly, without her!

The meeting with Lekha's doctor was nice as he looked pleased with her progress and the various medical lab results. The dosage of a couple of medicines has been reduced. By the time we're out of the clinic, it was about a half past 12 and I'd parked the car at my usual spot before Lekha had gone off to get a few of her jobs done, in an auto rickshaw. I'd, meanwhile, browsed my mail.

It was a fairly late lunch, therefore, at Ramesh's place and we did feel bad that we'd kept them waiting! And then, started our fairly long conversation about things that interested the both of us. Bindu was superb looking after our gastronomical interests with care while being an active participant in our conversations.

Ramesh has had a phase of chemo and looked a bit tired but that did not stop his enthusiasm in chatting up with us. This time, too, we couldn't take them to dinner out as Bindu was apprehensive about Ramesh picking up infection because of his immunity being temporarily down thanks to the recently concluded chemo phase. He's poised for the next on the Wednesday, after tomorrow!

It's a long evening and as usual, we'd gone about each of our classmates and as to what they're up to. And yes, there was a riot of laughter, recalling past events from school!


It was a day well spent!  

Monday, June 5, 2017

Mixed emotions.

Today, it was raining cats and dogs. Sometime, through the break, I'd made a dash to finish a few pending jobs. Enroute, I'd also topped up my Chevy with fuel and checked the tyre pressure. Krevka, the ever smiling attendant, was at hand to help me out. Ikka - the 76 year old Mr. Rajah and my neighbour - had advised me to use the NH 17 to go to Kochi as it has been reported by the media, in the last few days, that a portion of the other highway was extremely slippery and a few vehicles had slipped off while applying brakes. Damn sweet of him!

Lekha's appointment with her doctor is at 1030 hrs. We plan to kick off by 0600 hrs and hope to be at his clinic well in time. Hope the weather holds and the route is okay! We'd be staying with Ramesh and Bindu, as fixed with them earlier.

       *                                 *                                     *

There was this news about the NDTV proprietor, Pranoy Roy's properties being raided by the CBI. When the agency conducts such raids, I'd like to believe that it has done all the homework and has come across some concrete and startling revelations that necessitates the individual concerned to brought to book. And I really did feel sad, earlier I'd received a jolt when it was known that his family had a communist leaning. Nothing wrong with being a communist, but a news channel that's supposed to be neutral in the business of providing us - the general public - with unbiased news and views, its neutrality gets to be suspect and in hindsight, judging from some of its coverage of certain news in the recent past, its neutrality is suspect......the JNU imbroglio and Kanhaiya Kumar, for example.

So, why am I feeling sad about Pranoy Roy?

I'm gonna go very sentimental. Years back, in the late '80s, I used to be hooked on to 'The World This Week' anchored by the suave Roy, every Friday, because it was wholesome, informative, nicely packaged and Roy looked sincere, authentic and as I believed, a person of integrity. It's that credibility that's at stake, he needs to come clean about the financial shenanigans attributed to him and cannot get away with that lame excuse of 'witch hunt by the Modi government' or 'the government's clampdown on free speech'!

Go take a walk with such statements that the public have got fed up with after having realised that these are made by people who're cornered, nice and proper!

      *                                   *                                      *

It was a great moment when the ISRO launched its heaviest rocket GSLV 3, with a communications satellite, into space at 1728 hrs this evening. This is a precursor to sending manned spacecraft into space in the years to come.

The thought that came to my mind during the occasion, was that it took thirty years of efforts by our scientists to come to this milestone, because of the simple reason that the US had put impediments on our country regarding the development of the cryogenic engines!


Partha Chatterjee equates General Bipin Rawat with General Dyer of the Jalianwala Bagh massacre fame. It's for his endorsement of Major Lithul Gogoi's action of using a stone pelter, as a shield, to save stranded polling officials in Kashmir. How has he got away when he doesn't know what he's talking?