Monday, July 31, 2017

The essence of life?

Sophia Loren, the popular actress of yesteryear has penned these thoughts based on her experiences. They're profound...... 

     "When I got enough confidence, the stage was gone......
       When I was sure of losing, I won......
       When I needed people the most, they left me......
       When I learnt to dry my tears, I found a shoulder to cry on.....
       When I mastered the skill of hating, someone started loving me
              from the core of the heart.......
       And while waiting for light for hours when I fell asleep
              the sun came out.......
       That's life!

       No matter what you plan, you never know what life has planned for you.....
       Success introduces you to the world but failure introduces the world to you.....
       Always be happy!

       Often when we lose hope and think this is the end......
       God smiles from above and says, "Relax sweetheart, it's just a bend,
               not the end"........


       Eventually all the pieces
       fall into place.
       Until then,
       laugh at the confusion
       live for the moment
       and know that everything
       happens for a reason.......

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Suresh's last 48 hours.

Mankind believes that an individual comes to know of his/her impending end. The love to retain one's life and clutch on to the present are overarching desires that have been fabled...a recap of Suresh's last 48 hours seems to accentuate this. The events that I'm gonna narrate are verbatim from what I've heard from Resmi and Kripa-shankar and so without much ado, here I go:-

   * On Wednesday, Suresh had gone around the entire house lying down on every bed - albeit, for a
      fraction of a minute - started up his electric walker in his modified mini gym on the first floor
      and ended up sitting next to the inverter, that he'd switched on/off during power interruptions, so
      many times earlier.

   * Resmi and Kripa-shankar had a tough time retrieving him from the spot and getting him back to
      his favourite sofa.

   * Again, sometime later that day, he was seen charging towards the main entrance saying that his
      mom had come but turned deafeningly silent when Resmi had inquired of him about it,

   * He was very keen to go for the next chemo and was slated to go to the hospital the next day. The
      chemo was a maintenance dose to bring down the severe pain that wasn't being subdued despite a
      rather high dose of Morphine.

   * The next day, when the time came to go for the chemo, he was found to be lying down on his
      part of the bed and refused to budge. He'd to be literally coaxed into going for it. That the doctor
      refused to put him through another chemo was another fact altogether!

   * He kept glancing at every part of the house before he got into the car, making one feel that he
      then realised that he would never return to the same house, in person, ever! It was his final
      adieu to the house that he'd carefully built with his hard earned money!!

   * The next morning he seemed to be eager to wave his son off to school. Probably, he didn't want
      the little one to see the unpleasantness that was yet to play out.

   * At the palliative care, about half an hour prior to his eternal journey, he'd coughed and blood
      started trickling through the nostrils and the mouth. Resmi had run to the nearby nurse station to
      fetch some cotton and beckon the nurse and returned to see the dumbfounding sight of blood
      gushing out of the burst right side soft swelling of the neck, mouth and even the surgical wound
      below the chin.

   * She saw Suresh watching the blood gushing into his hands that he'd cupped below his
      chin and the sight must have panicked him. From that position he kept falling back gently...his
      carotid artery had snapped - this was something that the doctors had dreaded because of his
      rapidly spreading ailment - and he suffered a massive cardiac arrest..... He'd begun his journey to


Resmi says that his face and the upper torso had become white as the blood gushed out which could not be stopped with bundle and bundle of cotton.

Suresh, all of 51 years and a chief engineer in the merchant marine had become memory at 1730 hrs on Friday, the 28th of July '17.


I'd returned by the Thiruvananthapuram - Guruvayur Intercity Express that left at 1730 hrs. It was an uneventful journey and I'd company in Kannan, Madhavan and Ramu till Ernakulam.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Did you know this?

Someone rightly said that the Indians know more about the US than about North Eastern India. Therefore, here are a few interesting as well as surprising facts about the region.

    (a) There are eight states in the north east viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, 
          Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.

    (b) There are nearly 220 languages spoken in the region. They're a mix of Tibetan, south east Asian           and east Indian cultures.

    (c) The north eastern region is the only part of India that the Mughal emperors did not conquer.

    (d) The Ahom dynasty which ruled the north east for 600 years is the longest, unbroken dynasty
          in history.

     (e) The world's largest river island, the Majuli and the world's smallest river island, Umananda
           both are in the north east.

     (f)  Seven prominent national parks of India are located in the north east.

     (g) Shillong is considered as the rock capital of India.

     (h) Mawsynram in Meghalaya holds the Guinness World Record for being the wettest place on 

     (j)  Sualkuchi in Assam is one of the world's largest weaving villages where the entire population
           is engaged in weaving silk fabrics.

     (k) Muga, the golden silk of Assam is not produced anywhere else in the world.

     (l) It is the cleanest region in India. Mawlynnong in Meghalaya is the cleanest village in entire

    (m) 70% of the country's orchids are found in the north east.

    (n) Mizoram and Tripura are among the states with the highest literacy rate in India.

    (p) There is no dowry culture in the entire north east.


Started from home by about 9 and through a combination of private bus-road transport corporation bus-train I reached Indira kunjamma's house. Listening to Reshmi about the last few days of Suresh was heart rending. Was touched by Kripu's insistence of me being one of the pall bearers of his father!    

Friday, July 28, 2017

Adieu Maachamma chechi, Suresh.

Two farewells of our dear ones within a span of 48 hours!

 (a) Maachamma chechi.

       Maheswari Amma, the wife of the veteran RSP leader late Srikantan Nair, passed into the
       mist of time yesterday. All of 89 yrs, her end took place at Ambalappuzha and she'd been
       ailing with minor, old age related diseases for a while. She used to be fondly called 'Maachamma'
       by everyone who knew her and were close to her.

       Two years back, on our way to my dad's place, we'd dropped in at her place and the fantastic
       chemistry between my mom and her was on display for all of us. The frequent hugs, the tumbling
       out of numerous anecdotes and the genuine concern for each other were natural and spontaneous.
       About eight years senior to mom, she used to look after her while going to school and as mom
       said, then, she always felt comfortable while being with her. Their houses were a stone's throw
       away from each other at Ambalappuzha and the families were close to each other. I remember
       mom inviting her to Guruvayur while we took leave of her that time. She'd said that she'd make it
       but sadly, it never materialised.

       RIP Maachamma chechi. My tears and prayers for a simple, beautiful and nice person who took
       care of my mom during her formative years!

  (b) Suresh.

        Suresh is married to Reshmi, my cousin who's the second daughter of Indirakutty, my third
        aunt - mom's third sister. I've already told you that he's a chief engineer in the merchant marine
        and has been a successful one at that. He never flaunted his wealth, was extremely humble and
        liked to do everything to the best of his ability. He was fond of his son, Kripashankar, for whom
        he used to get anything and everything that he wanted when he returned from a sortie. He made
        it a point to tell him the right things and avoided the rod, despite the fact that Kripu's pranks
        as a kid did get out of hand, at times. But I've never seen him get angry with him or for that
        matter, anyone.

        He enjoyed his food and would insist on a generous spread. It was a treat to see him tackle the
        spread. And another thing that he was extremely fond of was watching movies. My first movie
        with him was a Mammootty starrer, 'Bus Conductor' that we saw at a late night show in
        Thiruvananthapuram and he insisted on taking all of us along and did not allow me to reach for
        my wallet.

        His regret in life was that he wasn't able to carry out the last rites of his mom and dad because
        his ships weren't able to spare him! The fact was that he was very attached to his mother.

        His house at Paalkulangara was constructed, with a lot of his ideas put in after discussions with
        the architect. Kripu's room, that he was supposed to use as a kid, beats the best that I've seen of
        that genre, the fact that the kid liked to sleep along with his parents was another matter

        A vigorous strain of cancer had taken charge of him despite the best efforts my friend, Subbu
        and he was under constant pain for so many months. A high dosage of pain killers was
        unable to keep the pain away. He used to complain that his wife wasn't available to look after
        him all the time - the listing of her requirement to go to work, collect his medicines and looking
        after their son's schooling and running of the house was something that he wasn't willing to hear.
        When I saw him on the 9th, he stared at me with his left eye as the right was closed because of
        the hideous swelling of the face but did not utter a word.

        He must have given up on all of us because we couldn't do anything to bring down the acute
        pain that he was going through.

        RIP Suresh. My tears and prayers. May Reshmi and Kripashankar have the strength to tide over
        these stressful times.......What beats me is as to why god was harsh on a nice guy like him and
        had made him go through so much of pain! Seems very, very unfair.


The 4th of September marks one year of my mom passing into the mist of time. Maachamma chechi and Suresh have joined her.....they're the ones that she was especially fond of. Is there a cosmic design in all these happenings?



Thursday, July 27, 2017

To Kochi and back.

We, finally, drove off from 'The Quarterdeck' by a quarter to 8. As we reached the outer gate of the common drive, a labourer who was coming in for work - our neighbour is getting a tank in his property rejuvenated and has been having a workforce over the last many weeks - opened up the gate for our vehicle to pass through. He, actually, didn't have to do it but it was his decency that was on display. Both Lekha and I thanked Gunasekharan - I'd asked him his name - for his assistance and he offered his 'namasthe' in return.

The day had begun, as usual, at 6 and we'd gone through our chores with the idea of leaving by about a half past 7 as Lekha's appointment with her dentist, at Kochi, was at a half past 11. Passing through Thrissur town was tricky because the traffic had picked up and a few roads, enroute, were badly potholed. We reached our favourite joint at the Paliyekkara toll an hour later and went through a quick breakfast. Our idea was to make a quick exit but there were hurdles:-

       * the buffet had quite a few of its dishes empty that awaited refill.
       * though two to three bearers were on the beat between the tables and the kitchen, nothing
          seemed to move and the compliance factor was far from satisfactory. This was, further,
          accentuated by the exasperated reactions of our fellow customers.
       * Lekha's call to the guy sitting at the billing table elicited no response.

We'd a quick breakfast out of the available dishes on the buffet table and I'd gone across to the counter to pay the bill and inquired of the young man as to whether there was a loss of life in the vicinity because of the general waywardness in reactions, which made him to stand up and listen to me. When he complained about a shortage of staff, I'd to tell him that he should have joined the others and ensured that the customers were looked after. I was in no mood to let him go off simply because of his arrogance and gave him a parting shot, "If you feel that things aren't under control, you must tell the customers that they'd better find another eatery at the time they enter but prior to taking their seats".

As we got out I couldn't help but feel bad for the proprietor who hadn't any idea regarding the damage that is being afflicted to his business by an insensitive and couldn't-care-less staff that he has hired!

We reached the dental center and was there for about an hour and a half. Interacting with Sreekant Mallan has always been a pleasure and today was no different. Following that, Lekha had a few sundry purchases and we wolfed down a couple of vegetable sandwiches bought from Hotbreads. They're lovely and appropriate enough to delay our hunger because we'd decided to have lunch at Angamaly, far from the mad traffic and lack of parking space in the innards of Kochi.

The return drive was good and we reached 'The Quarterdeck' by a quarter past 3.


Was reluctant to go for my customary walk in the evening and must concede that it was Lekha's prod that did the trick and felt glad, at the end of it, that I'd done it!


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A painful life of just 45 days?

I'd complained to the 'direct-to-home' service agency about our dish television that was misbehaving for the past few days. There was something that was wrong with the reception and I'd pinpointed it to some loose connections on the dish itself, thanks to the fairly extensive monsoon winds that we'd experienced. Joshi, after confirming our presence in the house, arrived by a quarter past 3 and had begun trouble shooting without much ado.

Now, what happened next was invariably one of those false starters that I've frequently faced on similar occasions and today was no different.. The system about which I'd lodged the complaint began functioning properly, without glitches. He connected up a gauge and showed me that all the parameters of the system was absolutely normal and I deliberately ignored his look which seemed to say, "Sir, why are you wasting my time? I suggest that you better be tech savvy". Probably scared by the dirtiest looks that I gave the system, its problem started getting to be visible, a while later, much to my relief!

Joshi realised the problem and had gone up on the  terrace to tackle it and it was nothing but a problem of loose contacts. After rectifying the error, he was on his way out to his next assignment when Lekha had got a piping hot cup of tea for him and it was over that cup of tea that he broke down and shared his anguish with me. Last September, he and his wife were blessed with a daughter and they were quite happy about the arrival of a baby girl and that too, after two boys. But the baby was born with multiple medical problems and since her mother was a nurse, the delivery had taken place at the same hospital where she worked. Within a few days, the hospital had recommended the shifting of the mother and the baby to a bigger and better equipped hospital at Thrissur. After 25 days of agony, the baby and her mother were shifted to yet a bigger hospital at Kochi.

It was there that the doctor had taken them into confidence and told them the following:-

     (a) The child had a multiple array of medical problems like a hole in the heart to a cleft upper lip
           to many other minor irritants.
     (b) The heart's problem needed an early resolution but the success was assured at a paltry 28%
           after surgery.
     (c)  Blood was being drawn from the baby from day 1 for various tests and the poor thing was
           undergoing a lot of pain which it was unable to convey either to its parents or to the medical
           people due to its infancy.

The baby passed into the mist of time on day 45! What was the purpose of its birth? To undergo pain for just 45 days and to return to the creator? Or was it its last birth prior to attaining the universal soul - God - and the suffering was its unfinished share of agonies from its past birth?

I could make out that Joshi was yet to get out of the trauma and he says that his wife was in a worse condition and she has become a total vegetarian, that's not helping her health. He's going to Kannur to try his luck at the 16 to 42 yrs' recruitment rally, next week and had cleared many of his doubts on the subject with me. Probably, this is the safety valve that he's seeking for himself after the massive tragedy! God, please look after him and trouble him no further!! He has had more than his share of agony in this life!!!


He remembered my mom who was having her siesta in the ground floor bedroom while he'd come to work, last time. I realised that he was yet another person who was floored by her charm....I saw him with folded hands before my mom's photograph on the mantelpiece....... And for no particular reason, I felt happy.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My queries.

These are events that have taken place in recent days. Do they have a pattern, a design, that has ramifications for the country?

   1. At the beginning of July, China picks up a fight with India at the Doklam region.
   2. The Chinese ambassador to India meets the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
   3. Rahul Gandhi meets Chinese ambassador secretly. At first, the Congress denies such a meeting
       but when the media brings out the details, the Congress accepts that the meeting was held. The
       shocking part was that Robert Vadra, a person who holds no official position in the party and is
       a private citizen, was also present at the meeting.
       Within a few days after the meeting, there were articles in the Chinese press saying that the 
       Sino-Indian border issues have been complicated by the Modi government's pro-Hindutva stand!
   4. The protocol is that when you've a meeting like this, it's mandatory to keep the central
       government in the loop regarding the discussions!
   5. Meanwhile, the Pakistan High Commissioner meets the Bhutanese and the Chinese ambassadors
       over Doklam - a matter that shouldn't be in his brief.
And a few internal shenanigans, in the meanwhile, that need serious pondering over:-

   1. The Karnataka state government writes to the central government for permission to introduce
       visas to enter that state.
   2. The Karnataka state government asks central government's clearance to have its own state flag.
       Note that the state is ruled by the Congress party!
   3. The biggest conman of them all, Farooq Abdullah, stuns the nation by saying that third parties
       like China should mediate on the Kashmir issue.

The cynic in me, feels that these are not isolated incidents but have some connection with each other. Are the anti-national forces at work or are the fifth columnists working overtime?

My take.

The opposition parties have the following problems bothering them:-

     * The PM has been able to have both his candidates as the President and the Vice President.
     * The 'mahagathbandhan' stitched by the entire lot of opposition parties during the run up to
        the Bihar Assembly elections is straining at its seams thanks to the corrupt ways of Lalu                       Prasad Yadav's son and deputy chief minister, Tejaswi Yadav who has been asked to put
        in his papers by chief minister, Nitish Kumar.
     * The stunning revelations about the Bofors bribes is taking its toll of the Congress party.

And I'm yet to decipher the CPI(M)'s and the JNU's vehement opposition to the installation of an army tank in the latter's premises as a showpiece. I'm sure there would be many institutions that would be proud to have such a memento in its premises. 

The fortnight long monsoon session of the Parliament is headed for another no-show with no business being transacted thanks to the daily ruckus.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government need to exercise caution and thwart the disruptive forces from achieving their nefarious designs!


1. Meanwhile, the custody interrogation of the actor, Dileep continues. His accomplice, Sunil Kumar,     claims that there are bigger fish to fall in the net and it will happen in due course.
2. Vincent, the Kovalam MLA, who's in custody for forcing himself upon a lady, has been stripped          off all his party posts but his party and the UDF are against his relinquishing the post of MLA.
     A paradox, for sure!

Monday, July 24, 2017

A couple of my innumerable beliefs and queries.

Arnab Goswamy's Republic channel has come up with the latest revelations about the Bofors pay offs. The Congress party has already countered it with a lot of laughable comments. I represent the common man and from his point of view, the following points are relevant and need to be understood by all concerned:-

  (a) There is no doubt that the pay offs to certain Indians, in the higher echelons of power during
        those days, have been given.
  (b) The 'honeymoon' between the Indians and the comparatively, young, handsome and smart(?)
        Rajiv Gandhi, their Prime Minister, was on so much so that the common man could not perceive
        that he could do anything wrong like the older politicians who'd been in power before him.
  (c) The common man seriously began to have doubts when the investigations went on and on
        without results. The investigating agency making stupid mistakes like not wording the Letter
        Rogatory correctly - I'm just citing one example out of the many to be dumped into the dustbin
        by the Swedish government of those days.
  (d) My only doubt is as to why things didn't speed up during Vajpayee's time as PM. Did he lose
        interest because he needed the Congress' covert support to run the government as his party's
        strength in Parliament was inadequate?
  (e) And perhaps, a look into the details as to why the then Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme got
       assassinated and by whom, will give a fair idea about the Bofors deal, in toto.

So, let's not kid ourselves and get down to the brass tacks regarding the Bofors controversy!

      *                              *                               *

The surging popularity of Baba Ramdev-promoted Patanjali products has taken the FMCG sector by storm. There are increasing numbers of customers who are opting for the company's 'natural' and 'pure' products.

Perceptions matter a lot in the share market and numbers dictate ratings. Consider these:-

    (a) The leading global financial service company, Credit Suisse - the Zurich based brokerage -
          has downgraded the decade old Colgate Palmolive brand to 'neutral'.
    (b) Consequently, it led to a fall of 2% in the shares of the company.
    (c) According to Credit Suisse, Patanjali's share will cross double digits in the tooth paste category
          over the next few years.

My queries are:-

    (a) How come this company - unknown before the last few years - has suddenly stomped the
          market with a wide range of products?
    (b) Was it not allowed to develop because of its mentor's political ideology or because of the
          pressures from the other FMCG companies?

Having gained a large slice of customers in the FMCG and ayurveda products sectors, the latest field that the 'Patanjali' company is going to try its luck is in the 'security' business. Well! It's my fond hope that the company doesn't ever compromise on quality


The rains seem to have reduced but the after effects continue - fever and related illnesses, water logging and frequent uprooting of trees claiming precious lives!


Sunday, July 23, 2017

When nothing went my way.

We'd got up on the dot at 6, went through our chores and as decided, we'd placed the offering of rice for the departed at the courtyard. Wonder why, neither the crows nor the birds touched the offering. And no, there's no excuse that the birds were scarce. In fact, there were plenty of them that flew past without touching even a morsel!

To avoid the cats or dogs - though hardly, any in the vicinity except for a cat family consisting of the dad, mom and their three kittens - I'd subsequently, kept the offering on one of our gate posts.

Why did it happen? Were the departed unhappy? I guess I'll never forget this episode that has plenty of questions for which answers ain't seem to be available.

       *                        *                         *

The Women's Cricket finals was another event that did not end up the way I'd predicted. What I felt bad was not that my prediction had gone awry - that, incidentally, was the least of my worries - but that the Indian Women's Cricket team is yet to lift this trophy unlike the others and this was the second time that the team had a disastrous end at the final!

Everything seemed to be going smoothly at first. It was a modest total to chase, the body language of the British cricketers, at the initial stages of the Indian innings seemed to show that things were slipping out of their grasp but the horrible run outs and when each one of the Indian girls returned from the crease - the entire team was sitting out, including the coach - there were no attempts to put them at ease, instead each had joined the rest having that look of having lost everything much, much before the actual end!

This is no way for a world beating team to behave. While the player, returning after getting out, needs to be pepped up and put at ease, it's equally essential to give a pep up to the one going in, to continue with the proceedings. This was sadly missing or did I miss out on something?

To miss the cup by just nine runs is heart rending......Well played girls, I'm sure there will be another time and congratulations, England!


Got caught in the rain towards the final stages of my evening walk. Consequently, had taken an auto rickshaw to cover the last lap. There was too much of wait at the shop where I'd stopped to buy bananas. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

India will win. And other stories....

1. The Women's Cricket Final.

Mithali Raj and her team seem to be fired up about their tryst with the hosts, this Sunday, when the Women's Cricket's One Day International finals would be played at the much haloed Lord's, in England. The team's advance to the finals has been steady with each member coming up with her best when the situation had demanded, an essential trait of a winning combination. Harmanpreet Kaur's swashbuckling 171 against Australia, during the semi finals, was one such feat of the many memorable occasions of this interesting tournament...........Reminded me of the movie, 'Chak de India'.

Here's wishing that Mithali Raj and her gritty girls will lift the trophy on Sunday. All the best, girls!

2. A Sex Hungry MLA. 

M Vincent, the Congress MLA from Kovalam, has been remanded to 14 days' judicial custody for
alleged rape and intimidation of a 51 year old woman, his neighbour. Though evidence seemed to be stacked against him, he claims that it's a political conspiracy, hatched by the CPM, to destroy his clean(?) image.

Time will tell, Mr. MLA. Hats off to the courage of the victim to stand by her charge and only hope that she's able to fight off the tremendous pressure that will be brought to bear upon her, to withdraw the case in the coming days.

3. Detention in Classes to be Back.

Am glad to hear Prakash Javadekar's - the union HRD Minister - announcement that detention will be reintroduced in classes V and VIII. The existing 'all pass' scenario will only bring up a generation which will not be aware of 'failure' and the consequent rebound - an essential ingredient to formulate strong minds and a healthy outlook to take in the the victories and the failures of life in one's stride.

Wonder whose hare brained scheme was the 'all pass system'?


Tomorrow is the 'Karkkidaka Vaavu' when people pay homage to the departed. It happens to be the first 'new moon' day of the 'Dakshinaayanam' - the movement of the sun towards the southern hemisphere. It would be very crowded in all the places and for Lekha, it would be a tough proposition. So, we shall give our offerings at our courtyard, early in the morning. I'm sure our relations who've passed into the mist of time will understand!

Friday, July 21, 2017

A few thoughts that whiz past.

There was a twenty hour traffic snarl on the Palakkad-Thrissur highway, at Kuthiraan, thanks to the massive potholes that have sprung up on the thoroughfare. Imagine getting stranded in such a situation - food and drinking water at a premium, the necessity to ease oneself from time to time becoming a problem, especially, for the fairer sex and god forbid, if someone is ill, the problem becomes huge, to unfathomable proportions. To make matters worse, the ongoing rains must have made matters worse.

I've still not forgotten the four hours of getting caught in a traffic snarl at New Delhi, about eight years back. One feels totally helpless under such circumstances! I pity those passengers who must have lost valuable time - some might have been headed to their destinations and had a constraint of time, some others who must have missed deadlines or missed important appointments.

    *                                        *                                            *

The BJP's state unit has been rocked by the scam regarding the receipt of Rs.5.6 cr by one of its functionaries. This was the gratification amount for getting the Medical Council of India's(MCI) clearance for a medical college at Varkala. The party is in a turmoil as it is embroiled in corruption charges which tarnishes its image considerably. And the cadre is obviously dreading the punitive actions that would be meted out by its central leadership.

I'm reminded about an appeal from a cousin of mine who wanted to know as to whether I knew anyone from the team that issued the technical clearances. I remember cutting a sorry figure(?) with him that I didn't 'know' people in high places but I did ask him as to how he'd forgotten the fact that I never asked or received favours from anybody.

     *                                       *                                            *

It was only recently that I've come to know that I'm exempted from paying income tax as I'm a gallantry award winner. And I've been dutifully filing my income tax return all these years. The manager of the bank which looks after my financial activities has said that he'd be writing an appropriate mail to the authorities.

The income tax authorities will definitely be wondering on two counts viz.:-

      (a) Why has this guy woken up so late?
      (b) Can anyone be so dumb, not to be aware of personal rights and privileges?

I must concede that I, myself, am feeling too sheepish!


The Viral fever is getting off slowly, taking its own time. The congestion in the chest has reduced considerably.  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The man who saw tomorrow.

Today is Marshall Mc Luhan's 106th birthday. He was born in Canada in 1911. After his education, he'd become a lecturer in the University of Toronto. He rose to prominence in the '60s for his work as a media theorist and for coining the term 'global village', which was a prophetic vision of the internet age.

His theories were met with controversy in academic circles throughout the '70s and after his death in '80. Then in '89, the internet was born and Mc Luhan was looked upon with renewed interest.

 * Mc Luhan said that human history could be divided into four eras viz. the acoustic age, the literary
    age, the print age and the electronic age.

 * He outlined the concept in a '62 book called, "The Gutenberg Galaxy" and it was released just as
    the television was getting to be popular.

 * He predicted that the world was entering the fourth - electronic age - which would be characterised
    by a community of people brought together by technology.

 * He called it the global village and said it would be an age when everyone had access to the same
    information through technology. The global village could be understood to be the internet.

 * In his follow up book, "Understanding Media", he expanded the theory to show the method of
    communication rather than the information itself would come to be the most influential fact of the
    electronic age.

In the 21st century, people have a world of information at their fingertips on smartphones, tablets and laptops. The internet has facilitated a breaking down of global barriers and the democratisation of knowledge.


I find that Marshall Mc Luhan was born just two years after my grandfather. It can be safely said that that generation had contributed quite a few outstanding personalities who'd contributed towards the good of the world.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A non-technical techie.

This afternoon, the service rep of the washing machine had come knocking on our door consequent to the lodging of the complaint, a couple of days back . Yesterday, the service agency of the brand had called me up to say that the mere visit of its service rep would entail payment of Rs.500/- + GST. My idea was to have the malfunction of the 'spin' stage sorted out once and for all and readily agreed to the payment.

The rep, Nyjo, easily zeroed in on to the problem which was a combination of the following:-

     (a) A bit of the textile strands, of washed clothes, bunched up at the outlet pipe's free end.
     (b) I'd put that end into a carefully laid pvc pipe to carry the wash water out of the terrace to
           the ground below to give it a neat appearance. However, by doing so, the outlet pipe had an
           upward curl that prevented a smooth discharge and therefore, was to be avoided!

He, further, stated that our machine was in great shape even after six years of use and gave us a bill of Rs.590/- as the service charges. Looking back at it, the error could have been fixed by me had I taken a thorough look at the machine and applied common sense........lack of patience and no it's not a lament over the money spent or an after thought!

To use an Academy terminology, I've become a 'non-technical techie'!

         *                                 *                                     *

Will have to dump in half a truckload of mud in our backyard as the ground there, has shown signs of sinking. Wonder why? It never was so till our kitchen garden had taken shape. Perhaps, with the roots of the various trees and plants criss-crossing the area, more mud has become necessary and mandatory. Pushpaakaran, the farmhand will be back after next week and then, once the rains subside, the plan will be executed.

         *                                  *                                     *

Ramakrishnan had given me a rundown about the fifteenth and sixteenth day ceremonies after his Amma's passing away that took place on the 15th and the 16th. All of them had gone to Chelamattam, near Perumbavoor, for the purpose. Lali, after being Amma's nurse for nine long years, will leave for her home and take up another assignment after staying with her mother for a week. His sister, Rajamma chechi, will continue to be with them.....she has no plans of moving with either her daughter, at Coimbatore or with her son, at Madras!

He has agreed to come to Guruvayur to spend a weekend with us, a proposal that he used to put away all this while, saying that he could not be away from Amma even for a moment


Guess I've been chatty over trivia.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The ongoing strike of the nurses.


* Even when the private health sector grew as the biggest industry in Kerala, no government paid
   attention to the pay and service conditions of the nurses.
* The nurses formed independent unions because the trade unions representing the hospital
   employees were not protecting their interests.
* The pitiable pay and service conditions of nurses in the private hospitals grabbed public attention
   in 2011-12 during the first major strike they organised.
* Minimum wages were declared, for the first time, in May '13 when the salary was fixed at
   Rs.12,500/- and Rs.13,000/-.
* But during Nov '16, the Supreme Court, when hearing a PIL filed by the Indian Professional
   Nurses' Association, directed the Health Ministry to set up a committee to fix the minimum wages
   and service conditions of nurses in the private sector.
* Both the INA and the UNA have been fighting to secure the nursing community the wages
   prescribed by the SC-appointed Jagdish Prasad Committee which recommended minimum basic
   pay of Rs.20,000/- for nurses, even in hospitals with less than 50 beds.

The Result.

(a) Thousands of patients are getting a raw deal in hospitals due to the absence of the nursing staff. A few patients have succumbed to their illnesses for want of first aid/hospital care. The High Court has asked the government to clamp in the ESMA(Essential Service maintenance Act).
(b) The government is playing footsie, ESMA hasn't been slapped and the chief minister has called for a meeting, to settle issues, on the 20th.
(c) The nurses have, further, hardened their stand.
(d) The hospitals are in a total disarray with more and more fever cases reporting for admission.
many of the casualty wards resemble a disorderly marketplace.
(e) As a shortcut, some Collector of Kannur has passed orders to the nursing schools
to provide their trainees in the northern districts to take on the roles of nurses in hospitals. This harebrained scheme has since been thwarted by the trainees themselves, the hospitals and the government.

My queries.

* What prevents the government from taking immediate action to solve the problem? I mean, the
   frittering away of so many days shows callousness and insensitivity to the gigantic problem in
* Why can't the hospital managements - who're aware of the actual problem - get their act together
   provide succour to the needy patients by arriving at an acceptable pay package and service
   conditions for the nurses?


To the nurses, I have this one thing to say, "Your fight for the right wages is justifiable but many of you need to reaffirm your faith in your profession by your dedication to the job at hand, perseverance in your duty and the ever needed love towards your patients". 

Sadly, the nurses' high traditions of love and care towards the patients is on the verge of a slow erosion! Business mindedness has set in and I speak from personal observations and the bitter experiences of a few close ones!!

And where's my friend, Rajeev Sadanandan, the Health Secretary who should have been visible with proactive ideas and preventive actions? He's conspicuously absent by his deafening silence! I hope he's in the background, actively fighting the fire!!

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Ramayana 'Maasam'.

Today's the 1st of the Malayalam month of Karkkidakom - also called the 'Ramayana maasam' - because in many households, the epic will be read by the lady of the house from the start to the finish over the next thirty one days. Lekha has begun the recital, beginning from last evening, as is the custom, she says! She recites it, both in the morning and in the evening.

Last year, this time, mom used to read a few lines again, both in the morning and in the evening as a symbolic gesture. She used to read it during her heydays and as kids, I and my sisters have listened to her recitals. Towards her final years, she found reading the small print a bit tiring to her eyes and hence, restricted to reading only a few lines!

On Wednesday, the day's recital at the family temple in my dad's place is being sponsored by our family and Rs.3 grand has been assured to the temple priest, who'd spoken to me along with our caretaker, this evening.

       *                                     *                                        *

The cough and cold don't seem to be getting off me and the improvement in health is taking its own time. Of course, I ain't on medicines now. The antibiotic cycle and its after effects are wearing off but my effort is to keep Lekha away from contact and yes, the self imposed quarantine is still in force. I haven't stepped out of the house for the last four days and thankfully, there have been no visitors asking for advice/support!

       *                                     *                                         *

The closing ceremony of the month long celebration of the 'Vaayana dinam' is gonna take place at New Delhi, tomorrow evening and political leaders, cutting across party affiliations are attending the function. Arun Jaitley is the chief guest with the minister Mahesh Sharma, PJ Kurien, Shashi Tharoor, Sitaram Yechury and the likes slated to attend.

PN Panicker and his catchy slogan, "Vaayichu Valaruka, Chinthichu Vivekam Neduka" (Read and Grow, Think and be Enlightened) are now gonna be a fixture to be reckoned with, all across the country. It took some time to come about but it has come, for sure, at last!......Wish I wasn't laden up with fever.

The rounding off, within the state, wasn't feasible against the backdrop of the stand taken by the chief minister during our last visit!


It has been pouring over the last few days and same is the case in most parts of the state. The Meteorological department is gonna report that it has been a very successful monsoon, this year. What, however, worries me is the report that most of the catchment areas/dam sites haven't received the requisite rainfall and the water levels are yet to attain normalcy! Consequently, the power situation is gonna get affected!


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Where do birds go to die?


An interesting article by Naresh Sadhwani that I came across and it is knowledge that I wasn't hitherto aware and had taken it for granted. Thought I must share it with all of you.

Are the flying free birds the crown creation of nature? Where do birds go to die? Strange questions but the answers are stranger or probably there is no answer at all. One fine morning, seated at my favourite tea spot, overlooking the evergreen banyan tree against the background of the pleasantly warm early morning sun, watching my avian friends, a mix of parakeets, sparrows and Mark Twain's favourite friends, the Indian crows. All of them permanent occupants of this peaceful tree colony, the following thought just popped into my head. I have been watching my feathered friends, chirping, cooing and quarreling o' so sweetly ever so often but I have never seen any one of them ever lying dead either under that tree or anywhere in the vicinity or our residential colony or surprisingly, even all over the world.

The world is populated with flocks of birds, but strangely, one never sees bodies of dead birds lying around. Rarely does one see bird remains left behind by a careless cat or a pigeon killed in flight by the sharp kite string during the 'Makar Sankranti' kite festival. But lying around dead from a natural cause? Never! So do birds live forever? When no answer comes to mind, what does one do? Well for many unanswered questions one does ask Guru Google!

That's exactly what I did. Guess what? Google had no logical answer! To find the answer to my question, I browsed bird watching sites skimmed through ornithology resources but with no luck; just vague and funny answers. Then I came across a very interesting article on "Dying Pattern of Birds" and cited below was a controversial theory by Late Cork Bishop Cornelius Lucey that begins with the question: "Where do birds go to die?" The Bishop challenged anyone to produce evidence of a bird that had died from a natural cause. Bishop Lucey distinguished death from natural causes and death by predator or death through car accident. Death through accidental or deliberate means resulted in mangled bodies we all have seen, but it is a fact, dead birds are so difficult to locate that scientists used birders to help track population in order to estimate number of annual avian deaths.

The Bishop, who had an in-depth knowledge of the life patterns of bees, conducted the study of birds, with the same gusto. In the case of bees, the Bishop explained that bees died by rising, into the 'upper air' and there they literally were destroyed through a natural disintegration process. After the study of birds he concluded that they too had an inner sensory device like the bees which told them when it was time to die or when their life cycle was complete. On the premonition of death, they too like the bees rise up higher and higher till they disintegrate in the upper air. This unpublished theory is the closest answer to my query.

This triggers the following thought: If we go by the Bishop's hypothesis on the dying pattern of the birds for which as of date there is no counter solid scientific theory, then it would not be out of place to conclude that birds are at a higher plane than humans since the birds actually KNOW when they are going to die, something that even the so-called evolved, aware and intelligent human race does not know! That when a bird knows that it has lived enough, seen enough, it can happily leave its body at will by flying high-up and just disintegrating; no age related aches, pains of suffering. Wow! Our feathered friends seem to be more evolved than humans.

They live that freedom we all would die for; freedom to go where they want, when they want, cross all borders sans passport, the power to detach themselves from the young ones as soon as they are ready to take their own course and now it seems they know when they will die and where to die. Real cool. They can attain 'moksha' at will.

Thereby lingers the thought: Is Man, the self proclaimed most evolved living being really at the apex of the evolution pyramid? Or please tell me where the birds go to die.


Achu, Rema and Padmakumar drove in by lunchtime and it was exciting conversation on all subjects, under the sun. It has been decided to go to Rameswaram during end Sep - early Oct to immerse a handful of mud from mom's cremation site. This should help the working lot among us to adjust their leave requirement accordingly. They left by 5 and reached back at their place at 8.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The rambling continues.........

I must say that the news about cine actor, Dileep not getting bail and consequently, will be in police custody till the 25th made me happy. It isn't surprising because an aversion about the actor has been building up steadily, thanks to the continuous stream of news bytes on his ongoing antics viz.:-

    (a) He has not been co-operating with the investigations wherein he counters the questions
         asked of him with humorous counters.
    (b) A section of the social media, supporting him, has been highlighting his good deeds and
          is making an earnest bid for his early return. The cheekiness in this regard shows the actor's
          hopes of making a comeback despite the skeletons tumbling out!
    (c) His manager and hatchet man, Appunni, has suddenly gone missing!
    (d) The much touted 'D Cinemas' at Chalakudi is on government land acquired by dubious means.
          Rumours are that he and the late Kalabhavan Mani had jointly worked towards its acquisition
          but somewhere towards the end, the latter's name had disappeared from the original name of
          'DM Cinemas'!

Let more truths get uncovered during the interim!

      *                                     *                                        *

Mr. George had come by to collect the annual subscriptions for the 'Guruvayur Vaartha' that I subscribe. To rejig your memories, let me quote the extracts of a blog that I'd written about him almost a year back when he'd knocked at our door for the first time for the same purpose and here I go:-

     "All of 78 years, George has been a Councillor in the Guruvayur Municipality, was prosperous 
       owning a fleet of buses, plying in the nearby areas. He married off his two daughters, in quick
       succession, which greatly affected his financial wellness. Today, he and his wife stay in a small
       ramshackle house at Kottappadi and are finding it difficult to make both ends meet. Subsisting
       on the meagre senior citizen's dole, he says that the pensionary benefits of having been a
       Councillor is yet to bear fruition despite assurances from the concerned and the small 
       remuneration that he gets for the maintenance and collection of subscriptions for the fortnightly
       news weekly is hardly able to sustain his and his wife's monthly medicinal requirements. Despite
       that he has no cribs against anyone! His daughters and their families, live nearby but have no
       connection with their parents!!

Lekha had served tea which he was reluctant to have initially, wanting to collect my dues at the doorstep itself and move off. I'd insisted on him entering my house and sitting down while I brought my the money from inside. From the way he'd gulped down the piping hot tea, I realised that he was indeed wanting to have it desperately but his pride had prevented him from saying yes at the beginning.

Reminded me about the meaningful stanza from Poonthaanam's 'Njanappaana',

    "Randu naalu dinam kondoruthane
      Thandiletti nadathunnathum bhavaan.
      Maalika mukaleriya mannante
      Tholil maaraappu kettunnathum bhavaan".
(Roughly translated, it's God who raises a person to dizzying heights from humble beginnings and it's again, Him, who converts a rich man to a pauper within no time!)

I watched him walk, with halting steps, out of the gate and beyond. Will I see him again, next year, on the same beat I wondered? How I wish I did!


The antibiotics have done the job and my cough has subsided to a great extent....but the side effects are already in place... my tongue has developed a painful ulcer on its forward edge!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Some more rambling thoughts.

I'm following the news concerning film actor Dileep these days, very closely. A fair sketch of his overall personality is now discernible. Two queries come into my mind viz.:-

    (a) How did this guy reach this position when he was known to interfere in all aspects of film
    (b) Why didn't the so called leadership of the film organisations like 'Amma', 'Macta' etc rally
          around and warn him adequately and condemn his actions, quoting specifics?

His brother has gone on record to say, "There's a conspiracy by a group to finish off Dileep's career.
Anyway, he hasn't confessed to the crimes during the police investigation, thus far. We'll come out victorious in court and prove that he's innocent".

Does he think that his brother can retain his past glory after such a lot of muck has come out about him? Or is he confident that his brother will win in court, the incriminating evidence, notwithstanding?

       *                                    *                                        *

Biju, my civilian bearer on board the landing craft LCU 36 and whom I'd sponsored into the Navy's domestic branch called up to give the heartening news about his daughter having been cleared for admission in a dental college in Madras.

What gladdens me is that it was my mom who'd initiated the young lady into the three 'R's viz. reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmetic during a 'Vidya aarambham' ceremony. She would have been proud of the her academic progress!

His name has been shortlisted for the next promotion, he informs. May lady Luck be with you, Biju.

       *                                    *                                        *

After three days of antibiotics, my cough is yet to subside. Lekha and her assistant, gave me a combination of ground pepper and sugar crystals. Things had begun to ease by evening! It, really, has been a tough one week. Meanwhile, my self imposed quarantine to keep Lekha out of the cough and cold syndrome, continues.


1. A restful day when I didn't move out of the house at all.
2. Nandu Suresh, a lad whom I'd come across during my 'yatra' in Thiruvananthapuram, two months back and whom I'd encouraged to join the Indian Navy, called up to say that he had cleared the recruitment process for the Musicians' branch and thanked me profusely. He plays the violin beautifully.

He wouldn't believe that he'd passed on his own accord and that I'd nothing to do with it!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A thoroughly wet day

Monsoon has picked up once again, it rained continuously today. Such a situation is not welcome, at least, as far as I'm concerned. And to make matters worse, the cough and cold were unbearable - the cough, especially, was on an apogee! Lekha had wanted to go to the temple and also buy grocery but had put the activities off because of the weather.

        *                      *                      *

The Dileep case is churning up some very murky stories concerning the Malayalam film industry. There are actors who need drugs and other stimulants to help them emote. The drug barons and the underworld, consequently, rule the roost while the musclemen and the goondas have become essential fixtures of a filmy guy's entourage!

The requirement of drugs to enhance an individual's acting prowess should not be encouraged because it simply means that the person lacks talent and therefore, be dumped without a second thought. I'd feel damn sorry if such an actor goes on to win accolades for his performances!

        *                       *                      *

The nurses agitation for increased pay and perks has been going on for a while without any let up. Does it show the Indian - nay, Kerala's skewed thinking about the profession? What should shame us is the standing that the profession has or the respect that the profession is given abroad in comparison. Why do we tend to treat them like dirt and why hasn't there been a change in our attitude?

Having said that, I must also recount my cousin's experiences with the nursing staff when her husband had undergone surgery in a reputed hospital, at Kochi, recently. They're indifferent, to say the least, with my cousin having to literally beg of them to do timely change of bandages or administer medicines as detailed in the doctor's instructions. Is it that they expect money to be paid to them, as extra, for their services? Why should the patient do so when he's already shelling out a huge amount for his stay at the hospital?

I've no doubt in my mind that the nursing profession needs a badly needed overhaul.


The customary evening walk was out of question due to the downpour. Have, incidentally, quarantined myself from Lekha lest that she ends up contracting my cough and cold!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Some interesting facts.

1. A Tip of the Iceberg.

    A trillion ton iceberg has broken off the west Antarctic ice shelf. The crack has been widening
    over the years and the huge chunk, eventually, broke of between the 10th and 12th, earlier this
    week. The ice shelf - named Larsen C ice shelf - lost more than 12% of its entire surface area.
    Iceberg 'calving' is a frequent occurrence but given its enormous size, how it affects shipping
    traffic, would be keenly watched.

    Ice shelves float on the sea, extending from the coast and are fed by slow moving glaciers from
    the land. In the process they act as giant brakes, preventing glaciers from flowing directly into the

 2. News from Juno, the NASA's Probe.

     Last Wednesday, the NASA's Juno probe flew close to the planet Jupiter and gave us an insight
     into the Great Red Spot.

     It's a storm that has been raging on for nearly four centuries. It's a 16,000 km-wide-storm that
     has been monitored since 1830. In modern times, the Great Red Spot has appeared to be

 3. The Decline of the Himalayan Glaciers.

     The Himalayas are considered to be the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar
     regions. Snow and melt-water from the glaciers are the major source of of water for the large
     river basins like the Indus and the Ganges. Scientists have reported about an alarming recession
     of the Bhilangna basin of the Garhwal Himalayas. The recession has been to the tune of 4,340
     mts since 1965. The basin supports 33 glaciers, of which the Khatling is the largest.

     South-facing glaciers in the Indian Himalayas show more melting as they receive more solar
     radiations than those facing north due to their orientation.   


The bug seems to have caught up with me, finally. Am on a round of antibiotics to take care of the sore throat and the consequent cough. Have got myself quarantined from Lekha, in mom's room!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The news views.

It has been brimming with news over the last 48 hours. The sensational involvement of the actor, Dileep, in the sexual assault of an actress has ended up in his arrest and lock up in jail. The Amarnath pilgrims have been attacked by militants in Kashmir killing 7 and injuring 19. The general confusion in the aftermath of the introduction of the GST prevails with the traders making a fast buck on the occasion. And so goes the news listings.

 1. Dileep in Jail.

     The Malayalam film actor, Dileep, finally found himself behind bars at the Aluva sub jail as a
     result of the 81 day investigation that received publicity from all quarters. It was the long and
     systematic investigation by the police team that facilitated the result. Really wonder as to why
     he'd resorted to such devious actions when he'd everything going good for him. He could marry
     the girl whom he loved, his position as a lead actor had become unassailable thanks to the hit
     making movies that he'd acted in and he'd amassed assets with his wealth.

     Then, why did he stoop so low? Well, success converts people in many ways. Dileep is the
     quintessential example as to how a person becomes a monster in the process and begins to think
     that he can do nothing wrong. To seek a three minute video clip of the actress undergoing the
     ignominy only shows his perverted mind.

     It's the fond hope of every Malayalee that justice is swift and the actor is made to pay for his sins

     The subsequent thought that comes to mind is as to whether the Malayalam film industry is so
     rotten? If yes, the corrective surgery needs to be initiated without delay so that the rot is removed.

 2. Attack on the Amarnath Pilgrims.

     The bus had left Srinagar at a half past 4 in the evening and its tyre had got punctured soon after.
     Consequently, it missed the convoy that it was part of which was guarded by the security forces.
     The terrorists, lying in wait, hit the soft target causing seven deaths and injuring 19. Investigations
     are under way.

     The real hero of the incident was the bus driver, Sheik Salim Gafoor who continued to drive the
     vehicle despite heavy gunfire and a tyre burst. He'd driven on for another kilometer. My salute to

 3. The GST Confusion.

      From my conversations with a cross section of the people, I've got the following inputs:-

          * The big guns - the branded names and the high turnover manufacturers - are taking
             advantage of the GST and which, if implemented correctly, will benefit the entire country
             and the common man in particular.
          * The shopkeepers do not want the checking by the GST monitors who are to ensure the
             efficacy of the system. Hence they've kept their shops closed today.
          * The petrol pumps have stopped unloading new stock. And no, it's not because of the GST
             because the government has smartly moved it out of its purview or else, we would have got
             fuel @ Rs. 30/- in accordance with the prevalent global rates! They want the government's
             instructions of the fuel values to be updated on a daily basis to be quashed.
          * Chicken @ Rs.87/- is impossible say the farmers. The government has permitted the big
             timers to sell it at Rs.158/- being the sum total of (chicken@87 + killing the bird and
             cleaning it + disposing off the waste! So, now it's clearly discernible as to how the   middle
             men exploit the farmers and make money!

       What the government must ensure is that the small scale farmers' are protected from exploitation.


The day had begun at 4, with pouring rain. We're finally on the road by a 20' past 6 and the traffic was comparatively sparse because of multiple close downs - the petrol pumps, shops etc on account of the GST. Breakfast of Appams and egg fry, was at the Kalpakavadi Inn where Reji had looked after us. There were rains all through the route and it was only at Alappuzha that it had subsided but the traffic had halts frequently, thanks to the erratic drivers.

I'd taken the Aluva route with suitable stops so that the travel was smooth and not a drag. We're back at 'The Quarterdeck' for a nice lunch prepared by Preetha.   

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tributes to Mom and Dad.

We were up at 5 to the stroke of the alarm, went about our chores and could get on the road by a 20’ past 7. The traffic had not picked up as the school buses and the IT professionals were yet to throng the roads and within 40’ we’re on the road, skirting the Santhigiri ashram, joining the highway passing through Kollam and the one passing through Kottarakkara. Had dropped Lekha at her sister’s place, wolfed down a hasty breakfast, fueled the Chevy and checked its tyre pressure before heading for the government lower primary school at Kura.

The programme began at a half past 10 and it was a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Prasanna, the School's Headmistress and my sister-in-law was expansive in her speech about me which had quite a few luminaries from the local Panchayat. As I handed over the books - it seemed to be a substantial number as the school had received books for an additional 30% of the Rs.5 grand as commission - there was a standing ovation! The people on the dais had a lot of good things to talk about my mom and it was great to hear them, to know as to how deep she'd feelings for each one of them. 

The buildings that housed her post office have given way to newer constructions but I was sure that the trees and many of the buildings - like that of the school for example - must have remembered that gritty, friendly and outgoing lady who worked among them for 38 years! It gave me great satisfaction that I could rekindle my mom's memories and have decided to make it a recurring event, every year.

Had driven straight to Raj Nivas for a bit of rest but there was a flow of visitors and I didn't have the heart to send them away disappointed, despite the fact that I needed to have my 40 winks. The caretaker, Vijayan and his wife, Syamala fed me a scrumptious lunch. I shall remain obliged to them for this act of kindness.

By 2, I was at the UPS, Thalavoor in time for the second programme where my dad was remembered. Whenever I stand up to speak and face the audience, I invariably try to ascertain as to which of those seats was occupied by my dad when he had studied there. Did he sit towards the front row or was he a perpetual back seater? His father, N Krishna Panicker, had confirmed that his son was a good student and was first in his class but that doesn't reflect his seating preferences!

The dais had a mix of the Panchayat's luminaries and the nearby library's officials. The 'Sanmarga Sandayani Library' was thanks to the combined efforts of NK Panicker and PN Panicker, my paternal and maternal grandfathers, respectively, resulting in my parents' wedding. Great words were spoken by Ms. Lissy Varghese, the Head Mistress, followed by the draping of a shawl around my shoulders by our Ward Member, Ms. Vijayalekshmi Amma for my philanthropic efforts(?) in gifting books to the school's library @ Rs.5 grand since '13, a year after my dad had passed into the mist of time. I was shown the books, bought this year, at the library. 

The inaugural of the 'Junior Red Cross' wing of the school as well as honouring li'l Arya, who'd got through the entrance examination of the Navodaya School were also part of the itinerary. It was an afternoon well spent!

On return, Lekha and I'd called on Pidavoor Amma, who'd a fall a couple of days ago. Thankfully, there has been no injuries except for a superficial concussion around the left hand. She was thrilled to see us and was eager to give something to eat, as usual. We'd waited till her youngest son, Ajith, was back home. And as always, as we drove off into the night, I saw her standing at her doorstep - with folded hands, praying for a safe journey for us - through my rear view mirror! Did I've to worry about anything, then? 


Dinner was what Lekha's sister had prepared for us and it was nice. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A day of calls.

I was up early as is the trend these days, recited my prayers and had turned of to sleep yet again. It was a leisurely grooming and at about 11, we'd set off for our calls for the day. The first was to Lekha's uncle, Ramachandran chittappan's house at Vattiyoorkaavu.

His wife, Jayalakshmi kunjamma, was very ill last month and had spent about 11 days in the ICU of a hospital because of fever and the resultant lowering of Sodium level within her system. She looked much better and in fact, came to see us off at the door. We headed straight to Lekha's aunt, Ammini Appachi, who resides in PTP Nagar from there.

Her husband has been confined to the house, shunning travel due to the infirmities of age - he's in the late 80s. Weren't they thrilled to see us? She'd rustled up a scrumptious lunch for us and made a quick sweet meat which she insisted that we ate, the heavy lunch notwithstanding! It was nice talking to the old man and he asked many questions pertaining to my activities in the Foundation. The next stop was at my aunt, Vichaani kunjamma's place.

As I entered the house she gave me a broad smile and my day was made! She was simply elated and kept holding my hand and wouldn't let it go. The Alzheimer's has taken its toll and she has been erratic in her toilet behaviour because of the ailment. Her daughter has a tough time on that score and she has, now, got a new nurse, who looked eager to look after the old lady. Had tasty 'chakka appam' made by my cousin. After spending about an hour out there, we'd headed for the last house that we'd marked for the day - Indira kunjamma's house, to look up Suresh who'd recently returned from the hospital after a schedule of chemo.

He was in discomfort with pain and seeing him miserable, one felt bad that he has to go through this medical condition that doesn't seem to subside. This time he didn't make any conversation and gave us a vacant look! By the time we returned to Vijayakumar's house, it was past 5. The calls did exhaust me on a mental plane and so was it a difficult experience for Lekha.


The evening get together at Mohanachandran's place at Kazhakkottam was a nice and short one. Mohan and Manju are preparing for their younger son's wedding next month.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

The 48th Old Boys' Day.

Had got up at a 10' past 4, recited my prayers and turned off to sleep all over again to get up around a half past 6. The Vijayakumars had gone on to sleep for another hour or so and meanwhile, we'd got ready. After a quick breakfast, we'd headed for the school only to miss Josekutty Thomas' award acceptance ceremony. Met a whole lot of our seniors, contemporaries and juniors during the occasion of the Old Boys' day.

Lieutenant General Cherish Mathson was the chief guest. I remembered him as a cadet, studying in class VII, in my dormitory where I was his House Captain. A sensitive kid who used to get bullied by his class fellas and be in perpetual tears and I'd to pacify him many a time! Wished him and his good lady a great time and satisfying professional experience. His speech had a nostalgic touch of the past, pertaining to the stay at school.

The five great takeaways from this year's old boys' day were:-

     (a) The pathetic sight of Col Balasubramaniam - from the first batch of our school - immobile on a            chair in the Abdul Kalam auditorium.
     (b) Meeting up with my old friend, Commander Nandakumar Parrat, after what seemed to be a
           long, long time. He'd come as Louis' guest.
     (c) My interactions with our old masters Madhavan Nair sir and Vishwanathan sir. They're
           thrilled, as usual.
     (d) Meeting up with my first House Captain, Lt Gen GM Nair, after passing out from school.
     (e) The plan to make OBA rich. Didn't want to put a spoke into the idea because there might be
           merit in the suggestion. Perhaps, an appropriate reaction in the next old boys' day would be
           in order.
Met Praveen and Asha, again, after quite a while. He has been transferred back to Kochi and should be in his new appointment by the month end. KS Venugopal(413), B Mohanachandran(428), Jojy Kunchattil(430), K Vipinachandran(432), self(519), Josekutty Thomas(525), BR Vijayakumar(526) and Louis George(642) were in attendance. The business meeting was followed by lunch and we'd set off back to Vijayakumar's house soon after, dropping Josekutty Thomas at his hotel.

The evening get together at the Vijayakumars' was a nostalgic reunion of our classmates. Except for VJ Binu and KS Venugopal, everyone was there which had lots of Kodak moments!


Another Old Boys' day has come and gone with renewal of contacts and many moments to cherish. It was great to have made it for the event. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Guruvayur to Thiruvananthapuram.

Our day had begun at 4 while it pitter pattered outside. We're off by a 20' past 6 and thankfully, it didn't rain while we're getting into the car and also while passing through the two gates. Our first break was at the Saravana Bhavan for breakfast. Subramaniam, at the gate, had a warm smile and welcomed and saw us off with great humility and courtesy. The drive was smooth as the traffic was okay and we passed through Ernakulam by a quarter to 9.

Passing through Alappuzha, Kayamkulam and Kollam was okay though the traffic within the town of Kollam was bad, as usual. It was lunchtime and looking for a good place - meaning a decent one where the food was good, with adequate and easily accessible parking space - we entered an Aryas, towards the southern end of the town but were horrified by the standard of its toilets. As I cleared the bill, I told the proprietor - another Subramaniam - that if he didn't worry about the cleanliness of the toilets, he'd have to shut shop fairly soon as people looked for these basic amenities.

Taking me to be an official looking into such aspects, he told me that he'd acquired the eatery about 11/2 months back and the work was being undertaken shortly. Suffice to understand, though the lunch was good, the standard of the rest rooms did dampen our overall satisfaction! We, Indians, still need to go a long way on this department.

We'd reached Thiruvananthapurum city by a quarter to 3 and headed straight to Indira kunjamma's house as Suresh was expected back from the hospital. But the wait for the 'discharge summary' delayed them and hence, we went to my classmate, Vijayakumar's house - which was a stone's throw away from my aunt's - where we're to spend the next two days. It was great meeting him and Anitha and soon, the conversation just flowed.

We're at the Army Officers' Institute for the get together of our classmates and the evening was simply great with a sing song session and great interaction. The batches for whom I was the Prefect and the House Captain, while at school, were also having their get togethers and it was a matter of pride when they came, pumped my hands and displayed their warmth!


With PM Modi and the Chinese President Xi Jin Ping exchanging warmth at the BRICS summit, we can expect a thaw on the Sino-Indian border and the easing of the longish stand off. What was the theatrics on the border all these days, for, I wonder?   

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Readying for the long haul.

The day had begun on a rainy note. I'd to make a trip to top up the Chevy and check tyre pressure and there were a few things that needed to be bought. I decided to take off by about 10, firstly, to avoid the crowd of vehicles at Rani Menon's clinic by lunch time and secondly, to finish my errand before the next downpour that was already threatening to fall.

The intended purpose of the errand was completed except that the tyre pressure could not be checked because the compressor was out of action at the bunk. Maybe, I'll have it checked enroute tomorrow.

Yedukumar, my classmate, had accompanied his son, daughter-in-law and her parents for invoking the blessings of Guruvayoorappan, post wedding. He couldn't drop by, as promised, because of the tight schedule! Consequently, a visit by another classmate, Anil and Radha did not take place. We wouldn't be meeting them this time as they return to Nakon Phanom in Thailand on the 10th.

Ramakrishnan did give me a detailed account of the 'sanchayanam' ceremony of his mother at the Ivar Madhom and subsequent activities at Chelamattam, near Perumbavoor.

I'd a conversation with Ikka about our trip to Thiruvananthapuram and Thalavoor and he seemed to be fascinated about the action packed itinerary. The old boys' day in school, looking up Suresh and Lekha's kunjamma along with the tribute to my mom and dad in two schools on the 10th, at my dad's place, were the reasons that had necessitated  this long trip despite the scare of viral fever on the rampage everywhere!

He did cite a happy tiding about his grand niece's wedding at Koratty earlier in the day but punctuated the conversation with two grave concerns:-

        (a) His grand daughter had delivered in the 71/2th month and the under developed child was
             in an incubator, in a hospital at Kodungalloor.
        (b) His sister-in-law, all of 50 years, was in a ventilator at the Baby Hospital in Kozhikode
              because her fever had developed into Pneumonia.

I promised him that I, too, shall pray for their well being. Such is life and we, go around, thinking that we've everything under control!


Tomorrow's gonna be a long haul as we hope to kick off by 6 in the morning. Hope the elements will be in our favour!  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

And they call it 'promotion'.

Yet another byte on the news of the day and without much ado, here I go.

  1. The shunting out of Sriram Venkitaraman.

       Finally, the state government has done it. The Devikulam Sub Collector, has now been shunted
       into the post of Director, Employment and Training. The government, then, has the temerity to
       call it a 'promotion'. Reminded me of an 'over keen' boxer kicking his opponent already lying in
       the ring under the impact of his earlier punch - an act that's taboo and unsportsmanlike!

       And what's Sriram's 'crime'? There are many:-

           (a) He has been on a relentless hunt to evict the encroachers of government land in Munnar.
           (b) Earlier, he'd identified and begun the process of reclaiming encroached land in and around
                 Munnar inviting the ire of the CPM.
           (c) He'd earned the admiration of the people by his stern action against illegal constructions
                and land encroachment.
           (d) He used to have frequent run ins with the resort mafia and the CPM leaders.
           (e) Towards safeguarding the revenue land, he took hard decisions and has issued about 110
                 'stop memos' against illegal constructions.
           (f) The removal of a huge cross on encroached land at Pappathichola invited the CM's ire.
           (g) In January, he'd submitted a landmark report to the Collector pointing out the
                 encroachment of over 30 acres of KSEB land by private resort owners.
           (h) His latest action was to reclaim 22 cents of land owned by Love Dale Homestay at Munnar.

       The unkindest cut is that the Revenue Minister belonging to the CPI - the party that supports the
       anti encroachment drive and who should have backed the youngster to the hilt - now terms his
       transfer as an administrative affair!

       A sad day for honest officials!!

  2. The aftermath of the introduction of GST.

      There seems to be a widespread confusion post-introduction of the GST. As a layman, I find
      it a bit perplexing and wonder why the dichotomy should come in the first place. In fact, my
      classmate and friend, Mohan who runs an outfit with a turnover of over Rs.600 crores, at
      Bangalore, had told me just the other day that the new system is simple and easy to follow.

      I believe the hoteliers have hiked the rates of their commodities, including chicken which is
      supposed to have no tax on it. Important medicines aren't available in the market. Movie tickets
      have been subjected to taxes over and above the GST, which is foul and no wonder, the entire
      Tamil film industry have shut down the cinemas and begun its protest.

      Why does this happen only in this country? Everyone wants to make a fast buck, the benefits
      for the common man be damned!


Saw Anita Moorjani's story on her book, "Dying to be me" on the YouTube. She had cancer, the doctors had written her off, she'd gone into coma for about 36 hrs and then, come back to life with no trace of the illness. Call it a miracle but this is the sort of miracle that I expect for Suresh in the coming weeks.

Sent my cousin, Reshmi the link insisting that she must view it along with Suresh who's currently at the RCC, Thuruvananthapuram for another round of chemo.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Why is China on such a posture now?

Why has the longest and continuing stand off come to being in the first place? Let me hazard a guess. The changing factors that need to be remembered are:-

   (a) Earlier, our responses to China's border incursions were mild.
   (b) We've now made our presence on the LAC more proactive by systematically building up
         the infrastructure and the logistics, for our troops, at the border.
   (c) There's media coverage of the happenings on the border and hence, the public is aware, a
         factor that the Chinese are weary because its offensive postures are now in public domain.
         On our side, the public sentiments are in support of our armed forces and their actions.
   (d) The Indian economy is looking up and the growth rate is faster than that of China's, in fact,
         there has been a downward trend there.
   (e) PM Narendra Modi's leadership has been inspiring to his people and there's hope and
         eagerness in the systemic changes that he's bringing about.
   (f) His acceptability among the world leaders and the enhanced relationships with each of the
        countries, that he has visited thus far have been impressive, making our foreign policy, both
        dynamic and pragmatic.

So, would it be wrong to say that the Chinese President Xi Jin Ping is plain jealous of India, taking great strides, under PM Narendra Modi? Does China consider a strong, vibrant and economically stable India as its enemy? Its utterances and postures seem to say so.

      *                                    *                                        *

The Power of Words.

It's confirmed that a Hindu teenage boy's Facebook post about a Muslim shrine had sparked off the clashes between the two communities in Baduria at Basirhat sub division of the 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. The young man has, since, been arrested but the local Muslim hardliners want the boy to be handed over to them so that they could try the boy under the Sharia, for blasphemy.

It shows their utter disregard for the laws of the land and is unacceptable. It's said that the demography of the area had changed considerably, over the years, thanks to the infiltration of Muslim hardliners from Bangladesh, across the border between the two countries.

Here's wishing that the additional troop reinforcements will bring the situation under control, swiftly and without any loss of life!

But what needs to be noted is the power of words. People using the social medium through their blogs and posts on the Facebook need to understand the tremendous responsibility vested upon their shoulders and must, therefore, choose words carefully and through a matured outlook, while showing off their literary abilities.

       *                                    *                                       *

What a waste?

As the pantomime on the abduction and ill treatment of a Malayalam film actress plays out to its logical conclusion, skeletons are tumbling out from the closet by a dime a dozen, each day. What must be painful for the protagonists is the crumbling of their carefully crafted images over the years and I'm sure that they realise that it can never be the same among the public which goes by the simple logic, "There can't be smoke without a fire".

Perhaps, there were too many contradictions in this case viz.:-

      (a) The CM saying that there was no conspiracy with regard to the case, while his police had
            just begun the investigation!
      (b) The cine artistes' organisation AMMA not voicing its angst over the goings on during its
      (c) The latest information that a few of the film personalities involved are looking for seeking
            anticipatory bail.

Ex-DGP TP Senkumar's parting shot that the investigating team was not keeping its head and the DGP informed about the investigations also gave the necessary course correction.

What saddens me on a very personal note is that the tallest personalities in the Malayalam film field viz. Mammootty and Mohanlal - whom I believed to be above board and true to the numerous characters that they've played on the screen and impressed us, over the years - chose to remain mum till date! Sad!!


Am increasingly getting worried about the health of my cousins, Sindhu and Reshmi, who've been looking after their wards, Vichani kunjamma and Suresh, respectively, with scant regard to their own health. I suppose that's the covenant that they've with the protagonists and therefore, are able to carry out their duty with elan.

God, do please look after them and give them the strength to carry out their duties to retrieve their wards from the difficult situations they're currently in!