Thursday, August 31, 2017

I've a set of queries....

Queries keep tumbling out of my mind as I glean from the media about many things that are taking place around us. Here are a couple of those.

 (a) The Real Offender.

       The rogue and ex-military ruler of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, keeps giving interviews to the
        media and comes out with something or the other to keep himself in the limelight - the latest is
        that the underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim, had been provided asylum in Pakistan by him and his
        cohorts while they're in power. Firstly, why does he do this at frequent intervals? Let me take a
        guess:-

           (i) The blighter still thinks that he was the greatest leader ever to have ruled that country. He
                still nurses hopes of making a comeback and being accepted by the Pakistani people with
                open arms.
           (ii) He wants to remain in the limelight and comes out with sensational(?) disclosures. What
                 he doesn't realise is that the entire world and especially, India and the US knew all about
                 his shenanigans but had given him a long rope.
          (iii) The biggest joke was his coming to India for the Agra summit talking peace while
                 preparing for the Kargil adventure which turned out to be a total disaster for him and his
                 armed forces. Yet he'd no qualms of conscience to blissfully extricate himself from taking                    the blame! And how can one forget the way he broke all tenets of diplomatic niceties by
                 behaving irresponsibly during the course of the summit?

          Now that he has openly acknowledged his role in working against India, can't he be deported
          to our country, made to undergo an open trial in an earmarked court and given appropriate
          punishment? The charge, "Misusing official position to commit crimes on a sovereign 
          nation".

  (b) The Scramble for Seats in the Medical Colleges.

         In Kerala, it's another scramble for admission into the Medical Colleges. The latest directive
         from the court is that Rs.11 lakhs is the course fees. Consequently, the dreams of many of the
         children from poor families have been smothered. Hiding behind the court orders, the private
         college managements have resorted to their dubious games by preventing students with merit
         from joining.

         At the beginning of every professional course each year, this sort of tamasha takes place with
         blame game being traded between the private managements of medical/engineering colleges
         and the government. The sufferers are the students and their parents.

         The doctors who finally pass out will naturally, try to make up the money that has been spent
         for the training.....professionalism be damned! They get surprised and angry when the
         dependents get at their throats on suspicion of medical negligence when patients die at their
         hands in hospitals!!

         It's a goddamned vicious circle considering the following facts:-

                 (i) The private medical/engineering colleges have not been set up for charity. The
                      managements need to rake in the moolah spent on setting up the institution. And
                      I'm not even talking about the corruption that goes on.
                (ii) There are too many professional colleges and do all the ones that pass out get
                      gainfully employed? Setting up a clinic raises the costs!
               (iii) The arbitrator that should be regulating the entire process of selection, training,
                      setting up the standards, monitoring the examinations usually remain flummoxed as
                      though they've no role to play in it.
             
          Consequently, to our utter horror we find that the sacred 'Hippocratic oath' taken by the
          medical courses is diluted! The engineering graduates are available by a dime a dozen thanks to
          a proliferation of engineering colleges!!

          It's a necessity that all the stakeholders sit across a table and work out a reasonable way
          out of this vexed issue.



Tailpiece.

The entry on my diary for this date, last year, is, " I'd fetched up at home around a half past 5 by a super fast bus from Thrissur, ending my journey to Thiruvananthapuram and had got dropped at the bus stop, just 50' from our house. My mom gave me a dazzling smile as she was getting ready for her bath........ It took a long time for her to negotiate the flight of stairs downward after she'd got ready!"           

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Points to ponder......

Over the years things have changed but you'll be surprised that in many cases, they've gone back to the roots....in a sense. So, here I go, along with my queries.

 * If poison expires, is it more poisonous or is it no longer poisonous?

 * Which letter is silent in the word "Scent", the 's' or the 'c'?

 * Do twins ever realise that one of them is unplanned?

 * Why is the letter 'W', in English, called double U? Shouldn't it be double V?

 * The word "Swims" upside down is still "Swims".

 * Intentionally losing a game of rock, paper, scissors is just as hard as trying to win.

 * 100 years ago, everyone owned a horse and only the rich had cars. Today everyone has cars and
    only the rich own horses.

 * Your future self is watching you right now through memories.

 * The doctors that told Stephen Hawking he had two years to live in '53 are probably dead.

 * If you replace "W" with "T" in "What, where and when", you get the answer to each of them.

 * Many animals probably need glasses but nobody knows it.

 * If you rip a hole in a net, there are actually fewer holes in it than there were before.

 * If 2/2/22 falls on a Tuesday, we'll just call it "2's Day".
    (It does fall on a Tuesday).


Tailpiece.

Last year, this date, I was at Thiruvananthapuram in connection with the Vice President's day with the PN Panicker Foundation. Meanwhile, didn't know that mom was progressively sinking!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

It's the same story, as usual.

Kept getting details of the miseries, owing to the deluge in Bombay, from friends. Sample a few:-

   (a) "Am stuck at my house at Antop Hill. My wife is at her office and will remain there for the 
         night. My son, who's at Dadar, has been asked walk over to my sister-in-law's house at Lower
         Parel and spend the night over there".

   (b) "My daughter's flight was at first diverted to Ahmedabad but later, had landed at Bombay. She's
         unable to move out of the airport and will stay there for the night. Better than what it was in
         '05, when she was 7 yrs old, we didn't know her whereabouts because of the breakdown in
         communications! At least now, we track her movements thanks to the internet".

    (c) "Me and Jaggu were caught in the Bombay traffic but we, somehow, managed to crawl out of it
          and reach our houses at Pune after more than eight hours!"

Have just shared the messages sent by three of my friends about the situation arising out of the ongoing rains in Bombay. I was reminded about the '05 disaster. I was on a flight from New Delhi to Bombay to attend back to back meetings at Bombay and Kochi. The flight was refused permission to land at Bombay and was diverted to Ahmedabad, finally landing back at New Delhi that very same night. Lekha was surprised to see me because I was supposed to return after five days!

What makes me feel bad is that the Bombayites are made to go through the same difficulties that they'd experienced way back in '05. Sad!

         *                                   *                                       *

It's pouring out here though it's not of the same intensity as it's in Bombay. Consequently, I'd dropped the idea of going to the bank to pull out some money for our monthly expenses. Later felt guilty about that because Jayakumar, the manager of my bank, had called up to say that it was his last day in office as he was going off to the zonal office at Ernakulam, at Menaka, on promotion and transfer. I, however, did tell him that I'd be missing his smiling face and thanked him for being the help that he was during his tenure.


Tailpiece.

These days I browse through the pages of my diary of last year to go through my mom's last few days. We're hurtling towards that fateful day without the knowledge of the impending catastrophe.    

Monday, August 28, 2017

O, these godmen.

Yet another godman has found his rightful place in the end, behind bars.

Interesting statistics of the man.

     * Name                   Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
                                     (Assumed a multi religious name to attract followers from all faiths).
     * His outfit              Dera Sacha Sauda.
     * Income                 Annual income estimated @ Rs.6 crores that's tax free.
                                     (Unofficial income may be much, much more).
     * Headquarters        Sirsa, Haryana. Over a period of time, the outfit has 46 ashrams across
                                     India with branches in the US, Canada, UAE, Australia and the UK.

Background.

     * The outfit, Dera Sacha Sauda, was founded by the ascetic, Mastana Balochistani for religious
        learning on 29 Apr '48.
     * Balochistanai died on 18 Apr '60. Shah Satnam Singh took over the reins of the organisation
        and served till '90.
     * Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh took over the Sauda on 13 Dec '91 and has been lording over it
        since then.
     * Over a period of about 30 years, he roamed the borders of Rajasthan-Punjab and Haryana
        preaching goodwill among people and finally, found a gullible set of villagers who wanted him
        to set up a place to start a much wanted social service.
     * Land was gifted to him in large chunks to start an ashram to house the orphans and to take care
        of the widows, who were left uncared by their families. Children were also picked up from the
        streets who had none to take care of them.
     * The strength of the destitutes grew and it was then that he decided to make his ashram self
        sufficient and independent. He started a farm to grow vegetables for the ashram kitchen
        and followed it up with dairy activity to provide milk for the children, ghee for the meals, cow
        dung for the agricultural fields, bulls to plough the fields and to draw water from the wells. In
        20 years, the Dera sprang into a mini city of roughly 10,000 inmates, complete with all
        amenities.
     * The villagers admired the man for his foresight and social service and started supplying him
        gifts of raw materials like wheat, rice and pulses which supplemented his stores. In fact, the
        Dera was self sufficient in all respect.
     * His followers were a mixture of poor villagers, ex-servicemen, retired policemen and
        bureaucrats. Could the politicians be far behind? They came in droves to offer their patronage
        as his followers were potential vote banks during the elections!

And as every guy eventually becomes after acquiring power and pelf, he'd become a 'God' to his followers from whom he accepted nothing but blind faith in him! And that triggered his downfall. He began exploiting his female followers, subjecting them to sexual surrender and even castrated 400 of his followers, saying that it was necessary to maintain the chastity of his female followers!

The judicial process of the land will take note of each of his crimes and punish him. Finally, the law has prevailed!

And my salute to the two sadhvis and Anshul Chatrapati(The son of the bold journalist who was murdered by the godman) for standing by their statements, despite provocations and threats, and fighting a relentless legal battle for the last 15 years.



Tailpiece.

1. Why are we, as a people, so gullible to fraudsters like Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh when we know that we can attain our gods ourselves? And we do not need ushers, either, to lead us to them.
2. Was reminded of '73 when Osho Rajnish was beginning to set up his ashram at Goregaon, in Poona of yore and how he slid into ignominy among his followers as he began accumulating wealth. I'd just joined the NDA as a first termer then. History repeating itself?  
   
 
     

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The return.

We'd planned to kick off at 0630 hrs and I'd set the alarm at 4. Sleep was instant though Lekha said that it came late for her as the right knee had shooting pain. This has been the trend for the past few weeks and it does worry me. I'd got up by about 10' to 4, to ease my bladder and seeing her sleeping peacefully, decided to delay waking her up. The decision was because of the tiredness that was observed yesterday.

My sleep had gone off and I'd quickly washed myself, recited my prayers and drifted off to sleep yet again. We woke up at a quarter to 5 - I'd rejigged the alarm, you see - went through the chores and kicked off at a half past 6. The Sunday traffic was comparatively less and consequently, the journey was smooth. We'd our breakfast of appams and egg curry at Chathannoor and refueled/checked tyre pressure at Lekshmi's - Lekha's classmate and friend though she and Aniyan were away at Thiruvananthapuram - petrol bunk at Kollam. A snack and tea break halt was made at the Kalpakavadi Inn where Savita had served us. Her cheerful countenance and the eagerness to serve us saw her getting a tip, more than the value of the bill. We'd, in parting, told her never to lose that smile of her's!

Lunch was at a place, past Aluva which was actually our second choice because the original looked crowded with people waiting to be served! It was rains all the way through Kochi and even at Thrissur. The traffic snarls on the Thrissur-Guruvayur stretch were as hopeless as ever at the Shobha city, Muthuvara - because of a very bad stretch of potholed road - and at Kecheri. The police seemed to be ineffective and weren't unduly bothered about the massive clutter of vehicles that had piled up. Why does this happen every year, soon after the monsoons? It's now money making time for a few unscrupulous contractors, the bureaucrats and the concerned minister! Can't be more sickening!!

We're at 'The Quarterdeck' by a quarter to 4. The Chevy was emptied and we decided to have an hour's siesta before tea. The tiredness persisted and hence, I'd decided to forego my customary walk. Things were put back into their original slots, the soiled clothes collected and put into the basket for their disposal, a call made to the newspaper boy to recommence putting in the papers from tomorrow morning were the few things that were gone through.

Our neighbour had called up to get the details, from us, about the trip and the activities connected with Amma's Remembrance day.


Tailpiece.

Today, for the first time, felt tired on the completion of a journey.........hope it's only an aberration.     

Saturday, August 26, 2017

To Thiruvananthapuram.

It was a leisurely grooming but I'd got up on the dot at 6. Lighting of the lamp with the devotional music playing on the television reminded me of the good 'ole days. We went through our chores and commenced the winding up of Raj Nivas. Breakfast of dosas, 'running' chutney and sambar was wolfed down by about a half past 8 and the packing was over soon after. Things were stowed away at their respective places and the luggage was put into the boot.

Had my farewell conversation with my parents at their cremation site, as usual. I'd been briefing them about our programme everyday. I must admit that it gives me great satisfaction because I'd like to believe that they're present there, all the time.

We kicked off for Letha's - Lekha's sister - house at 12. As lunch was getting ready, Vishnu and Jayakrishnan of the JSS, Kollam had come to collect my signatures on the cheques to facilitate the withdrawal of the September payroll and festival bonus for the staff. It was a scrumptious lunch and we'd a good fill. By 2 we're off to Thiruvananthapuram and since the traffic was light, we're at Suresh's place by teatime. Sindhu's dad, Madhavan Nair sir was out in his garden, plucking flowers for his evening prayers. The sight took me back in time and reminded me about my grandparents, parents.

Tea and yakkitiyak followed. We left for the Trivandrum Club by a quarter to 7 to be at the wedding reception of Vishnu and Ileana. There were a whole lot of friends, classmates and schoolmates with whom there was a wide interaction. We wound up at about a half past 9 and returned from the venue after a nice evening.

Vijayakumar and Anita had drop,ped by and we'd another round of discussions before we said our byes with a promise to meet again at Savio's daughter's wedding reception at Kochi on 07 Sep.



Tailpiece.

Earlier on fetching up at Suresh's place Sindhu had observed that Lekha looked tired and insisted that she rested prior to the evening's function. It was then that I realised that our juggernaut had been on the roll for the last eight days and I'd not bothered to find out as to whether the strain was telling on Lekha. Hope it hasn't. She hates dozing off while I drive but this afternoon, during our drive from Kottarakkara, she was flaked out for a while. The hectic schedule had worn her down? Did feel guilty.    

Mom's first Remembrance Day by the Malayalam calendar.

   

Dateline 25 Aug.

The day'd begun at 5 and we’re ready by a half past 6 and reached the thirumeni’s house  well within time. We did the ‘bali tharpanam’ under the careful guidance of the avuncular and ascetic looking thirumeni. The crows came almost immediately to peck at the offerings. The thirumeni had offered us a cup of tea and chatted with us. He’s Narendran kochachhan’s classmate. As we drove off, Sanil was handed over a brinjal sapling as he’d asked for, by the thirumeni’s wife. Damn sweet of them! And while we’re driving homeward, I was reminded about the ‘til homam’ that had to be offered in mom’s name and so, we went to the Thathamangalam temple nearby.

A homam on the occasion of ‘Ganesh chathurthi’ was on and the til homam was also carried out. Since the temple staff did not have change, a til homam on dad’s name was also offered! Thanks to my namesake, the temple administrator, we’re given the ‘prasadam’ without much wait.
Mini and Sanil left off for Vaniyamkulam by 10. They’d an appointment with the doctor fixed up by David, his colleague at school. Rema, Padmakumar, Lekha and I reached the ‘Snehatheeram’ at the appointed hour. It was a nicely conducted visit with Sisters Daya Jesus, Ansalina and Catherine along with MSW qualified Aswathi and Dilsha. We’re able to interact with a few of the inmates and the lunch that we’d sponsored seemed to be enjoyed by all.

We, then, went to mom’s bank to clarify certain doubts regarding the life time arrears that she was due and I must put it on record that the deputy manager, looking after the pensioners’ section, was more than helpful and I did tell her so before taking leave of her. We spent about an hour with Pidavoor amma after dropping Rema and Padmakumar, there.

Raj Nivas looked suddenly empty and Lekha and I’d a quiet, yet early evening. Lekha had rustled up instant noodles for dinner which was simply great and light!



Tailpiece.

Sleep was beckoning as we’d skipped the siesta!      
  

The wedding.

Dateline 24 Aug.

Mini had informed that she'd be reaching home by about 3 o'clock but when I'd got up around 5, she was still not in and hence, had given her a call. They're traversing through Thenmala and it was only after I heard her voice that my breathing had become easy. They'd, eventually, fetched up at 6. Harish, the transport fleet supervisor of Sanil's school was the chauffeur and both the gentlemen had flaked out after having a cup of tea. Mini was, however very active and chirpy and had plunged into the work in the kitchen recounting the highlights of the journey that they'd just completed.

Rema and Padmakumar had fetched up around 8 and everyone was ready by a quarter past 9. We drove in two cars as Sanil and Mini were slated to go to his house to meet his mom. The wedding was a joyous occasion and a great moment catching up with friends and relatives. The highlight, however, was meeting up with Thangamani, Appukuttan kochachhan's third daughter, after a long time - in fact, I'd seen her last in skirt and top while today, she's an accomplished mother of a son and daughter who're employed. Also, noted with pain, the increased infirmity of Varadamma appachi, my dad's youngest sister, who's all of 82 years. She also misses mom and recalled a few incidents of their's with me.

We'd fixed up an appointment with the 'Snehatheeram', a private organisation run by Sister Roselin where lonely, mentally challenged women are picked up from the street, assisted by the police. There are 175 inmates of a wide age group with a support staff of 25. We are sponsoring tomorrow's afternoon 'sadya' in mom's name for them and will be joining them.

On our return, Sanil and the ladies went to look up Unni chettan's grandson and to hand over a small token of our love and affection.

It was a boisterous evening. Raj Nivas was thrumming with activity.


Tailpiece.

The sad part is that mom's grandchildren - Achu and Ammu - are not gonna be there for tomorrow's ceremony because of their professional compulsions. 

At Raj Nivas.


Dateline 23 Aug.

The alarm chimes at 4 had got our day cracking. We went through our chores and finally, kicked off from ‘The Quarterdeck’ by a half past 6. The traffic was sparse and we reached our breakfast point by a trifle after 8. After a quick bite, we’d resumed our journey and had a brief respite at ‘The Mythila’, at Aroor.

At  Alappuzha,  we’d fuelled the Chevy and had a snack in a small, wayside restaurant. Lekha’d picked up a few knick knacks from the same stall for the next two days. The journey was uneventful and we’re at the Bailey’s bridge in lieu of the Enathu bridge, undergoing repairs. The waiting period was about 20’. And soon, we’re at Kottarakkara, where we’d our dish connection recharged so that the television was available for viewing and the entertainment factor was catered for!

We reached ‘Raj Nivas’ by about a half past 3 with Vijayan, the caretaker at the gate to receive us. As the luggage was being shifted into the house, Vishnu from the JSS, Kollam had come by. The papers were gone through without much ado, my signatures affixed and he was sent to despatch it at the earliest. Meanwhile, Raj Nivas was  soon brought up to the requisite standards and the caretaker having got it cleaned a couple of days back was of a great help.

The evening’s reception was attended by about a quarter to 8 and it was nice to meet a lot many friends and relatives. A nice and relaxed evening.  


Tailpiece.

Rema and Mini will arrive early morning tomorrow.  



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

The alarm had woken us up at 4 o'clock, sharp. We went through the chores and were ready by 6. Dhanya had booked for us an Ola cab last night which was promptly at the gate and its chauffeur, Manu stowed our luggage in the car. We left for the airport without much ado after bidding farewell to Mohan, Asha and her mom.

There were two ghastly accidents enroute to the airport. The first was where a car had hit a lorry from behind, its bonnet clearly under the tailboard of the heavier vehicle and the chances of survival of those that sat in the front looked bleak - the police had, meanwhile, cleared the area by then. The next was a tipper that had knocked down an electric pole had traversed the entire width of the highway and crashed on to other side. In this case, too, the survival of the driver seemed difficult as the mashed condition of the cabin suggested. Luckily, since it was early morning, the traffic was sparse and therefore, the delay wasn't much though the traffic was restricted to a single lane trickle as the clearing process was on.

We went through the airport procedures without much ado and had a breakfast of veg sandwiches, washing it down with a cup of coffee. The flight had taken off on the dot but I wasn't comfortable at all because one of the three young ladies sitting behind us coughed away all through the journey and she didn't bother to use her handkerchief to cover her mouth! Certain things are inevitable, ain't they and one can feel the approaching disaster on a helpless note?

We reached Kochi by 10 and after a quick appraisal of the ground realities, had hired a cab and proceeded to Guruvayur and Pathrose, the chauffeur did a neat job of it. We're at 'The Quarterdeck' by lunchtime and had a scrumptious meal, rustled up by the maid. The Chevy had sufficient diesel for tomorrow's journey, the tyre pressure was okay and hence, I'd called off my visit to the petrol bunk.

After a good siesta, the evening walk was a necessary catalyst for pepping up the body which was devoid of exercises for the past few days. Meanwhile, the soiled clothes of our Bangalore trip were washed and the suitcase put on stow, the packing for tomorrow's journey was taken on and completed.



Tailpiece.

Tomorrow is gonna be a long day as we drive off to my parents' place. Meanwhile, I've asked Vishnu, from the JSS, Kollam to fetch up by teatime, there, for finishing up the remaining paper work so that the completed papers could be couriered to New Delhi by the day's end.



   

Monday, August 21, 2017

A great day.

The day had begun leisurely with Mohan and I discussing various things over the morning cuppa which got extended with a piping hot cup of coffee. We, then, got ready and left for visiting the Resil factory at Domasandra. It was an educative visit and I found Lekha, too, enjoying the visit despite the distances that we'd to walk to see the facilities. Guys were deputed to explain to us about each of the activities and the end products. After almost two hours at the plant, we'd headed for their second facility at Malur.

In the meanwhile, I could get the printouts of the papers of the JSS, Kollam, affix my signatures and resend the scanned papers back to my outfit. I felt light after that, having accomplished the task without any hitches!

We traversed the 50 km through rural Bangalore and reached the second facility by about a half past 2. Was a bit worried about the delayed lunch as Lekha could end up with an adverse abdominal condition but thankfully, nothing of that sort took place. Lunch was served at the canteen for the three of us and it was scrumptious. Meanwhile, I'd called up my friend, Ravi Ponapa about the changed programme and rescheduled our visit after 1600 hrs, over a cup of tea(We're supposed to have met for lunch according to our earlier plans!)

The Malur facility of the Resil concentrates on the ingredients for the pharmaceutical needs along with the Silicon based polymers. The visit to the Resil was an educative experience.

The outfit produces quality products like Silver based polymers, Silicon based polymers and certain essential ingredients for the pharmaceutical field as well as for the tyre industry that are exported and passed on to the company's core customers within the country and their numbers are picking up. Felt proud that my classmate was accomplishing so many things and is poised for greater stuff and yet, he remains humility personified despite the fact that his business empire has an annual turnover of over Rs. 250 crores.....success has not spoiled him! 

We'd, then, made a dash to their corporate office at KR Puram where Mohan had got himself dropped and sent us with Asokan, the chauffeur, for our rendezvous with Ravi Ponapa. It was at the Mac Donald's on the Brigade Road  and we could, finally, make it by a 10' to 5 through the exasperating traffic. Meeting Ravi Ponapa, after so many years, was a great experience and we caught up from where we'd left last. He'd got Priyanka, his adopted daughter doing her final year BCom and the four of us chatted through the one-and-a-half hours that we could manage in the circumstances. He's grown leaner and has a prostate problem that necessitates frequent visits to the rest room and is managing it well thanks to sound medical advice! That, indeed, was the dampener of the evening.   

We broke up at a half past 6 and took about another hour and a half to reach 18, Sunny Brooks to spend a quiet yet interesting with Mohan and his family.



Tailpiece.

A day well spent and Mohan's children, Dhanya and Vivek, bade us good bye as we're scheduled to depart early in the morning. They'd soon be going off abroad to do their specialist studies and return to take on the reins of the industrial complex set up by their dad.

PS.

I would be failing in my duties if I did not mention about Asokan, the chauffeur. He'd a long day, in driving about a 150 kms, so that we could accomplish all that we'd wanted to do for the day. And mind you, the traffic was the lousiest! He has been with Mohan for the last 20 years, ever since he'd left Madras,

Sunday, August 20, 2017

At 18, Sunny Brooks.

We're staying with Mohan and Asha at their lovely place on the Sarjapur road. It was a leisurely morning as we got ready to attend the wedding at the same venue, the Radisson Blu Atria. The Sunday morning traffic was sparse and we reached the place 45' later, just in time to catch up with the ceremony which had begun. Vinay and Ann looked radiant and happy as they went through the rituals.

The offering of the traditional milk and sliced banana to the couple, by the two families, went on after the bride had returned after changing into the clothes presented to her by the groom a few minutes earlier. Met up with my classmates and course mates during the process. The traditional lunch was served and soon after, we bade good bye to everyone. My cousin had called for a cab for us - I didn't have the requisite 'app', you see - and soon, we're hurtling towards Gottigere, my sister's place.

Sanil looked pale and emaciated thanks to his excessive bouts of drinking........a sad example of a good and intelligent man going down the dumps because of his addiction to the bubbly. He has promised to come down to Thalavoor to participate in the ceremony connected with mom's remembrance day. We'd left by a cab, booked by Ammu at Coimbatore....the reach of technology yet again! Mahesh, the chauffeur, drove well and clipped through the highway, the only drawback being that he knew only Kannada while we didn't know a sausage of the language.

Anyways, thanks to the shortcuts that he'd traversed, we're exposed to the green tracts of the rural Bangalore. Certain stretches of the heavily pot holed, muddy roads made me wonder as to whether he was headed in the right direction but the language barrier between us precluded carrying out any clarification!

We're at Mohan and Asha's by about a half past 5. After a wash and change, it was a quiet evening where we reminisced our school days and saw a Malayalam movie, "Meladhikari, Byju(Oppu)" at their mini theatre. It was a slapstick comedy Biju Menon played the lead role.


Tailpiece.

A day well spent, with us, interacting with very many people. It was nice to catch up with all of them.  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A day of traffic snarls.

Our day had begun at a half past 5 and it was rains all the way. As it continued to pour we changed our initial plan of boarding the low floor bus from the road transport corporation stand at the west gate of the temple and had alerted George. He seemed to be caught up with something and had sent Murali instead along with his car.

We set off from our house by a half past 9 and got caught in three traffic snarls within Thrissur - first, at Puzhakkal, thanks to the traffic moving into Sobha city, the second on the rail over bridge at Punkunnam and the third, off the Jubilee Mission hospital! We lost about half an hour at the first and about 20' each at the second and at the third. You can imagine as to how they must have contributed to rising blood pressure and frayed nerves.

It, indeed, was a rainy day throughout and traffic was at its worst and we reached the airport with about 20' to spare. It was nice meeting up with Prabha, my cousin and our friends, Jojy and Saly. The flight was on time and we reached Bangalore by a half past 2. My cousin's friends had come to pick her up and we, too, bundled on along with them. That was yet another journey to nowhere thanks to the bad traffic snarl from Hebbal and beyond. After a nice refreshment at a wayside vegetarian stall, we continued with our harrowing journey. I'd notified our changed itinerary to Mohan with whom we're gonna stay for the next two days.

It was, incidentally, raining in the city and it seemed as though we'd brought it, all along from Kerala!

Since it was already a half past 4, we altered our plans and got dropped at the YMCA, where my cousin had her accommodation. After a quick wash and change, as we're about to leave for the venue of the wedding reception, came the biggest blow....a huge tree had broken on to the main road that skirted our building and the traffic had come to a grinding halt. The venue, just two kms away, now looked too far to reach. Finally, one of the bell boys, Basavaraj took pity on us and helped us with our luggage to a parallel street beyond the next junction and helped us to board an auto rickshaw. He came in like an angel, out of nowhere..........but poor Lekha and Prabha had to walk that distance.

We, ultimately, reached the venue late by about half an hour but it was great meeting up with class mates, course mates and their families. I was meeting Thapa, a course mate, for the first time after passing out of the Academy. The bonhomie, the back thumping, the hugs and the conversation went on and on. We wished the young couple, Vinay and Ann and had a group snap with them that had all the classmates with their families bunched up!

The drive to Mohan's house on the Sarjapur road was a long one but the traffic had melted and driving through was nice. It was a comparatively late evening.


Tailpiece.

1. Prabha was a close friend of both the mothers - the bride's and the bridegroom's. Remembered Jaya, who wasn't amid us!
2. It was great seeing Sujatha, the late Vinod Kumar Vasudev's wife and Parvathy, their daughter. Felt very nice and had a long chat.        

Friday, August 18, 2017

It's a second time.

We're all set to proceed to Bangalore tomorrow to attend my classmate's daughter's wedding. This stretch of journey is gonna be a long one, with us covering huge distances. We return from the garden city on the 22nd after meeting people whom we couldn't meet up during our last visit. The next morning we head for my dad's place to attend a niece's wedding on the 24th. My mom's first remembrance day - as per the Malayalam calendar - is on the 25th when we perform the 'shraadh' ceremony at an earmarked place, near Raj Nivas. There's another classmate's son's wedding on the 26th at Thiruvananthapuram and so, we'd be back at Guruvayur by the evening of the 27th.

        *                                      *                                          *

Today, therefore, it was a sheepish me and Lekha who'd visited Gopika's house, nearby to regret our inability to participate in the young lady's wedding on Sunday. We'd earlier not been able to attend her betrothal ceremony because of prior commitments and had assured her, then, that we'd definitely be there at the wedding but that was not to be.....hence the sheepishness! Lekha and I've promised to invite the newly wedded couple on a convenient date, for a meal, once we're back.

The young lady, along with her parents and grandparents, showed us the wedding trousseau as is the custom. They gave us dinner, too, saying that it's a substitute for the reception dinner and the wedding lunch that we're gonna miss. Their love and hospitality really did overwhelm us!

Now for some gossip......Gopika's paternal grandmother has gone off to Aluva with her eldest daughter to avoid attending the marriage because her son has issued a diktat not to! Wonder why she has to be under his control? He can be really nasty. Sad!!

         *                                     *                                          *

The packing of our personal effects for the journey and the shutting down of 'The Quarterdeck' were accomplished a trifle after tea time.



Tailpiece.

Another one of those quiet days. Tomorrow is a long day and I've a lot of work to do before participating in the gaiety of a wedding reception.





Thursday, August 17, 2017

Are the children of today, brittle?

Often people tell me that the children of today are introverts, do not open up with their elders and are utterly disorganised in handling failures. I beg to disagree with them because I find the children, generally, to be healthy in their thoughts, loaded with pranks, ask their doubts and are technology savvy. In fact, it's amazing and a treat to watch them handle the state-of-the-art-technology with ease!

During the last ten days, I was at my aunt's to be with her and the family during their stressful times consequent to the passing away of her son-in-law, Suresh. It was then that I'd the opportunity to interact with the children - my numerous nephews and nieces and it was a great eye opener. Conversing with Geethu(Doing post graduation in Economics) was an eye opener and a pleasure as I found the young lady to have a clear idea over most issues and articulated her thoughts well. I'm now gonna speak with reference to the threesome viz. Madhavan(Class XII), Kripa-shankar(Class XI) and Ramu(Class IX) who were together for over thirty six hours.

They listened to their variety of music - and I must say that I enjoyed it too - pulled each other's legs and played pranks. Together, they saw a horror movie, 'Conjuring', closeted in one of the bedrooms after lights out(I was reminded about my friends and I reading Bram Stoker's Dracula during our class XI times in the early '70s! As part of a running bet among us, a few of us even walked through an unlit stretch of handmade track, within the school campus, to prove to the others that such stories didn't scare us at all).

What I'm trying to say is that the children of today are normal in their outlook but, perhaps, more knowledgeable about things - like religion and castes - that were unknown to us during childhood. Probably, this is our contribution(?) for them as their elders. Many of us spend hours on What'sApp and Facebook chatting with our friends, forgetting the fact as to what a bad example one's setting, in the bargain.

The recent case of a teenager in Thiruvananthapuram committing suicide, supposedly instigated by the 'Blue Whale Challenge - an online game that preyed on teens with a moderator giving each participant a set of escalating challenges, eventually leading to suicide - is a sad tale. If it were to be investigated thoroughly, I'm sure the disconnect that existed between the lad and his parents would come to the fore.

Parenting in this age and time is intricate and a full time job and there are no short cuts. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the children of today! You can rest, assured on that singular aspect if you please!!


Tailpiece.

What I desist about today's education is the ''all pass'' system so that 'the children do not get disheartened by failures'. This is the most ridiculous argument that I've come across. Remember the adage, "Success introduces you to the world while failure shows the world to you". It's an essential part of growing up and it enables the child to learn from the failure to open the key to success - a must for building up a wholesome personality........ otherwise, you'll end up producing wimps!     

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Two controversies that could have been avoided.

The First.

This Independence Day will be remembered for the two unnecessary controversies that were brought to bear upon the rest of the country. Why do professionals behave without responsibility, seemingly to appease their higher ups? 

Now take the case of the Doordarshan and AIR, Agartala. The Prasar Bharati had blocked a recorded message of Chief Minister, Manik Sarkar that was to be aired at 9 AM on the morning of the Independence day. The message was recorded on 12 Aug but the Doordarshan and the AIR wanted it to be 'edited' before it could be aired which the chief minister had refused.

The offensive part was as follows:-

"Unity in diversity is India's traditional heritage. Great values of secularism have helped in keeping Indians together as a nation. Today, the spirit is under attack. Conspiracies and attempts are underway to create an undesirable complexity and divisions in our society; to invade our national consciousness in the name of religion, caste and community, by inciting passions to convert India into a particular religious country and in the name of protecting the cow."

My take.

It was a political message all right and could have been avoided. But would it have mattered if it was aired because it's Manik Sarkar's views on the subject and he's entitled to his opinions that need not, necessarily, be right? 

The Second.

The Palakkad District Collector's diktat against the RSS chief unfurling the national flag in a government school of the district on the occasion of Independence day. The school authorities had invited him and the connected programmes were published well in advance. Since he has Z-category security, his programme was informed to the district administration, the school authorities reiterate. 

Yet the Collector's order was issued quite late and had, consequently, created the flutter.

My take.

Was it the intense rivalry between the CPM and the BJP, ever since the last Assembly elections, that was a precursor to this unnecessary incident?



Tailpiece.

There are so many things that the country and its leadership need to focus. Yet we find time for indulging in such petty activities.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

India @ 70.

Today's the 70th Independence Day. We've come a long way since 1947 but is it the pace of growth that we'd like it to be? It, definitely, isn't fast enough and many people still live below the poverty line without being able to eke out a decent living, not able to have three square meals a day and nursing an elusive dream of a roof of their own!

So, where did we go wrong? We'd elected successive governments, 'Garibi hatao' had been proclaimed in the early '70s and we're still talking about eradicating poverty even today. The greedy politicians who ruled us need to take the blame but are they the only ones to be blamed? Aren't we also to blame for electing the same corrupt guys again and again, who'd made winning a habit through their money power and muscle power?

Corruption exists at every level in our society. The fixers, the crooks and the middlemen have permeated into every level of governance and have been raising the stakes to their advantage. The net result is that there's an all round cynicism, among people, about an effective government and a meaningful governance. The present dispensation under PM Narendra Modi has made the right noises and embarked on a wide ranging set of reforms but the pace has not been as rapid as what we'd have loved it to be.

The deaths of 70 odd children, due to lack of Oxygen at a hospital in Gorakhpur, UP shows as to how primitive we are in terms of infrastructure in the vital field of health.

Lack of adequate numbers, for the ruling dispensation, in the Rajya Sabha and the opposition playing disruptive politics have been the main reasons for the slow pace of reforms. But now, all those things have receded into the background, the winning numbers have been achieved and hopefully, the pace of reforms is gonna be on fast track.

A strong and prosperous India is what we aspire to be and let's not rest on our oars with what we've achieved thus far - it's too little too late, if one were to ask me. We need to be respected by every other country in the world and mindless needling by China or Pakistan need to be sorted out, forthwith, with zero tolerance about their recurrence.



Tailpiece.

Had hoisted my national flag at our balcony by 0800 hrs and hauled it down at sunset.     

Monday, August 14, 2017

A hectic day in a quaint manner.

Last year, this time around Janamashtami, my friend and classmate, Ajith, from his ashram at the Himalayan foothills, had transferred money into my account to buy the eight volumes of the 'Maha Bhagavatham' and gift them to mom, on his behalf. She was thrilled to receive the bulky gift but said that she wouldn't be able to finish reading the volumes and had said so to Ajith too.

Was that a prophetic statement as she knew about her impending flight to eternity?

The eight bulky volumes stand on the mantelpiece as a mute testimony of those days last year and the fickleness of human existence on earth. We're poised to ring in mom's first remembrance day on the 25th, as per the Malayalam calendar and the 04th Sep, the date as per the English calendar of her passing away.

Time really flies!

     *                                       *                                            *

I'd gone to the neighbourhood 'toothy', Dr. Gopalachari, the avuncular and over 70 year old gentleman who has tended my teeth over the last couple of years since he came and settled here. He speaks softly and gives me a running commentary of what he's doing. It was a sitting that lasted for about 45' and he'd confirmed that my teeth and gums were healthy and fine. His only daughter and son-in-law are dentists too and he's waiting for them to take over the clinic, before retiring, by this year end.

I'd walked back the 400 mts from the clinic because the afternoon sun wasn't that very hot.

      *                                        *                                           *

Ramesh, the gardener and his understudy, Muniyandi had fetched up to clip short the grass patch of the courtyard and remove the grass in the kitchen garden. Manure was also applied on all the potted rose plants, the lone coconut tree and the Labernum whose leaves bore a pale green hue! They'd initially agreed to do it tomorrow but had changed their minds, soon after.

Could also tell Raju, our immediate neihhbour, to have a lorry load of mud dumped into the kitchen garden as the ground had started caving in due to less quantities of the prevalent soil. A bit of revamping needs to be done in that area which will be done shortly.



Tailpiece.

Preetha, Lekha's understudy, had taken a day off today as it was the 'fifth day ceremony' after her father-in-law's passing away.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

Had got up on time as I'd told my cousins, Santhi and Sindhu to be there by a half past 8, to smoothe the rough edges. Both of them were busy with their chores but had agreed to meet up, on my suggestion, as certain clarity had to be brought about. I could, therefore, not afford to delay them, at any cost, though I'd enough time on hand.

We sat at the appointed hour and went through each of the details and every stumbling block was analysed, remedial measures worked out. Over an hour and a half, we'd arrived at a definitive plan of action to be carried out over the next three weeks and both of them left soon after.

Lekha and I were dropped at the main entrance of the railway station by Sabu and the children. It was the end of our nine day stay that we'd undertaken, to be with Indira kunjamma, Resmi and Kripa-sankar! Whether our stay was meaningful and helpful can only be told by them. Lekshmi had packed our lunch, along with a bottle of drinking water.

The train - the Kerala Express bound for New Delhi - came on to the platform 15' before its scheduled departure but, finally, left a half an hour late. Came across a Bengali babu, off to the Thirupathi temple who was telling me the quaint reservation practices of the Indian railways. He'd tried on line booking thrice for himself and his wife for the journey, only to be provided berths - all the three times - separately in two differing coaches viz. B3 and B4. The railway's logic seemed to defy normal thinking! And there was Sudarshanan Nair - running a 50 year old chit fund in Kanyakumari since 17 years of age who was our fellow traveler. He was going to his sister, at Kakkanad in Ernakulam, on a short break, for a few days. He was an RSS man and was also a district level 'kaaryakarta'. He was an extrovert and conversation with him was very interesting! He has two daughters who're married and is clear about business practices, maintaining relationships. He must be in his late 60s or early 70s.

We'd got down at Thrissur by a half past 5, caught an auto rickshaw to reach the road transport corporation's bus stand and boarded a bus for Guruvayur. The fare was Rs.64/- per individual while the private buses were allowed to charge only Rs.21/-, for the same trip! This is what I call the 'cushioning of the inefficiency'! There were no passengers who boarded the bus, all through its running!! A sheer waste of efforts.

We reached home by a half past 7 after purchasing fruits and other sundries.


Tailpiece.

It's nice to be back and it's gonna be a week's respite from our next round of journey!




Saturday, August 12, 2017

Suresh's 16th day ceremony.

The day had begun early. The day's 'karmi', Manoj was brought, from Ettumanoor, by Aravi maman who had begun his work in right earnest, on arrival. Kripa-shankar went through the paces without making any error. After the ceremony was over, we'd gone to the Sankhumugham beach to dispose off the offering into the sea. We're overseeing everything that the youngster was doing without getting wet by the lapping waves.

Wonder whether it was Suresh's soul that had got naughty but a lone, stronger wave quickly washed ashore, drenching all of us in the process!

By the time we'd returned from the beach, it was time for lunch and the entire lot assembled there went through it in turns. It was also an occasion to meet up with everyone.

      *                                 *                                  *

Sindhu, my cousin and her husband did meet me to fill in with their side of the events. Considering the vagaries in her toilet behaviour, the doctor had suggested a change of environment for a few days to retrieve her mom from the errant behaviour. It seems to have worked, in that, a change was discernible after getting into the geriatric ward of the hospital.

We've fixed up for a meeting with Santhi, her sister, tomorrow to bring further plans to clarity.

       *                                *                                   *

After taking permission from Indira kunjamma, Resmi and Kripa-shankar, we tried the rail reservation for our return to Guruvayur, tomorrow. After a lot of jugglery, Lekshmi was able to put us on the Kerala Express. Thus, that action was also put to its logical conclusion.

       *                                *                                   *

An evening drive to the beach and places around was a good balm for the mind that had gone numb over the past few days. The three children, Madhavan(Class XII), Krip-shankar(Class XI) and Ramu(Class IX) had a ball and their boisterousness kept Sabu, at the wheel and me, peppy.


Tailpiece.

It was a comparatively late night! 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Emotionally draining........

It's the saddest day in my life.

I'd visited the old lady, along with a few of my folks, at the palliative care of the hospital right in the heart of the town. We're informed that her room was 504 and so, I'd made a dash towards that end. In the process, I'd passed past her sitting by the television in the wide corridor, short of the turn towards her room. Actually, it wasn't that she was watching it, she was totally out of focus and missed us, too, as we walked past! Based on her second daughter's latest directive, her bed was being changed to a narrower one with side railings to prevent her mother's movements out of the bed!

Once the new piece of furniture was in place, the old lady was guided in and she'd flashed her million volt smile on seeing me. She'd the nurse, Rema, who seemed to take the task of looking after her ward rather seriously attending on her. Her observations:-

    * Amma doesn't speak much.
    * She's extremely sad about her present plight.
    * Though her daughters drop by everyday - to hoodwink the others, giving the impression that
       they care - the old lady seems to have given up on them. She must have realised that she has 
       been abandoned by her daughters, for whom she gave her everything! She'd that wistful, far 
       away look.

As we moved away, she walked us up to the door of her room. There was immense sadness in her eyes and she inquired as to whether I'd visit her again?

It was an emotionally draining experience. A feeling of impotent rage had taken over. What do these misguided daughters want in life? Are they smug that everything's gonna be hunky dory for them from now on? How do they manage to put up a smile in front of the others? What they haven't realised is that it's the beginning of their downfall.

And what would I do............

     * I'd break my relationship with the two daughters, their families forthwith.
     * They cease to have any place in my life anymore.
   
Having told myself the above, the rage is not showing any tendency of diminishing.


Tailpiece.

When our child passes stool and messes itself up, we pick it up and clean it and apply appropriate toiletries. Why, then, do some of us banish our elders for the same reason? Who has given them that right?


Thursday, August 10, 2017

News views.

A quick round up about the news and certain personal highlights of the day.

 1. China's Doklam Strategy.

      The Chinese press has been on the offensive ever since the Doklam stand off had begun. The
      latest poser is as to what would India do if the dragon nation were to enter Kashmir or Kalapani.
      It's offensive and just not acceptable.....is it that the Chinese government is trying to test the
      draught of our current national leadership?

      I hope that our government sends out a clear message that it cannot be messed with!

  2. Is Dileep Finally Getting bail?

      The fallen-from-grace-Malayalam-actor-Dileep has started getting favourable noises from
      certain quarters of late. The cine artistes' organisation, AMMA, has been deafeningly silent
      against its usual tendency to be in the limelight by making some statement or the other. The
      superstars usually figuring on the daily mastheads, cutting ribbons and pontificating over weighty
      issues are suddenly conspicuous by their absence.

      Are they embarrassed that the common man has understood that many of them do not deserve
      their unbridled love and adulation?

  3. Meeting with people.

      It has been great, meeting people from all walks of life while being with my cousin who's in
      mourning. This evening, a colleague of her's surprised me when she addressed me as 'chetta' and
      even inquired about Bruno! She happens to be my sister, Rema's, classmate and used to be a
      regular visitor to our house while studying at the Women's College at Vazhuthacaud. The poor
      thing is badly diabetic!

      Amazing to know that life style diseases are wreaking havoc on people at comparatively young
      ages!


Tailpiece.

Has my cough perked up again? The phlegm, definitely, has shown an increase. Wonder why? 

   

       

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A ruthless world sans ethics, feelings and sense of togetherness.

This is a sad story that highlights the fact that if you've wayward children, you'd end up cursing yourself for having brought those ungrateful wretches into this world!

It's the story of a lady, the third daughter of a legendary figure - past mid 70s in age - who has two daughters. Her husband had passed away in Nov '11 thanks to a cardiac ailment. The eldest daughter stays in the same town but is unable to look after her mom because:-

    * She never showed any inclination to do so.......an error in perception that her parents were more
       favourably inclined towards her younger sister.
    * Her husband and son do not entertain such an arrangement. Sadly, they strut around as decent(?)
       gentlemen in the society that they're familiar with!

The old lady has been staying with the younger daughter till yesterday. In fact, she cannot survive without having this daughter in her sight, even for a moment. A necessary input at this juncture is that there has been an opacity in the way the mother was being handled. A retired officer of a semi-governmental organisation, she liked to move around visiting temples and attending functions of the organisation, named after her father. It was this free movement of her's that was curtailed as she was forced to remain within the four walls of the house - for no rhyme or reason - one fine day. She used to be locked up in the house after her daughter, her husband and daughter went out for work/school. Imagine the havoc it would have caused on her mental faculty over a period of time.

What the perpetrators of this dastardly act did not anticipate was that nature would step in! The way it has is unbelievable to fathom but the active-old-lady-bound-in-captivity-of-sorts developed dementia, within no time. The resulting situations used to be narrated by the younger daughter to the immediate family with her dose of fiction and falsehoods. To sample a few:-

      * Her appetite is insatiable as she eats up anything and everything that is kept - be it in the fridge
         or within the kitchen.
      * She has lost toilet habits with the effect that she passes stool anywhere and everywhere within
         the house.
      * To the frequent demands from the larger family to have a home nurse employed to attend to the
         old lady's needs - she gets a handsome monthly pension along with that of her husband that
         goes into that daughter's kitty, naturally - the younger daughter finally had relented. Soon alibis
         had come in thick and fast that......no one stayed on for too long because:-

                - the old lady used to shower the choicest of abuses and send them packing.
                - most of them couldn't come to terms with her toilet habits!

It needs to be understood that while emphasising that the old lady suffers from the Alzheimer's disease and knowing fully well that she requires loving care, attention and constant company, she has been kept locked up in the house everyday with no one in attendance - all these days! 

If this is not cruelty, waywardness and insensitivity - all rolled into one - what is?



Tailpiece.

The twist in the tale is about the old lady's toilet habits because she's on a strict diet regimen. Then why the hell is she passing stool, all through the day? Isn't there a fiction in the narrative? 

PS.

One has no right to dump one's parents into old age shelters because of their infirmity. Looking after them is a duty that every child has to perform with perseverance, pride and satisfaction. It's my sincere hope that all concerned would rectify their errors, so that the old lady is retrieved from her present state forthwith..  
       

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Adieu Thampi chetta!

Had come to know from the obit column of the day's newspaper that Thampi chettan, all of 92 years, had passed into the mist of time. He'd passed away due to a short illness but understand that he didn't suffer at all.

RV Thampi was the owner of 'Kalpar', on the Easwara Vilasom Road, Thiruvananthapuram where PN Panicker and his large family had stayed for about 17 long years, from '63. Those halcyon days of my childhood can never be forgotten where I and my cousins, along with the children of the neighbourhood, had spent on the huge courtyard and grew up in that carefree environment. Among the frequent visitors, those days, was the immaculately dressed, cologne fragrant, dark rimmed spectacled, back strapped leather footwear wearing Thampi chettan. He seemed to prefer wearing an off white terrylene half sleeved shirt those days. He was, then, the PRO of the Western India Plywoods, Baliapatam.

A classic example of a style icon!

Years later, he had dropped in at my place at the Tarangin Apartments, Ernakulam and was quite delighted at having spent time with us, recounting to many about the wonderful time that he'd at our place. He'd promised to come and meet me again as I progressed in my career - a sincere well wisher.

RIP Thampi chetta. My tears and prayers.

       *                              *                                *

The first visitors today were Baby chechi - Santhan kochachhan's youngest sister - and her daughter, Jalaja. They're avid followers of my blogs and for that singular reason, I adore them. It was nice to meet up with them after what has been a long time.

        *                              *                               *

Lekha's continuing abdominal cramps has become a source of worry. She says that it's because of the snack that she'd last evening. The medications were continued through out the day and she seemed to be okay by the end of the day. I shall, however, keep my fingers crossed!



Tailpiece.

My cough has got muted but the phlegm continues to persist, wonder why? 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Another quiet day.

Am recuperating slowly but steadily with the harshness of my cough reducing and the feeling of illness wearing off. Though my appetite has pepped up I'd controlled the intakes and consequently, felt a lot better by the end of the day. As I said, a residual cough at longer intervals and the after taste of an immediately past fever were all that remained after the agony of the last couple of days!

         *                                      *                                          *

I can see the young man, Kripa-shankar, trying to cope with the loss of his father. This evening I'd the privilege of seeing him interact(?) with his dad after lighting up a few incense sticks at the spot where his dad's mortal remains were stowed at the courtyard of their house. "Hi, Achha, how're you up there? I miss you terribly......." the monologue had gone on. It was touching, it was his innocence at play!

I was told as to how a tearful Kripa-shankar had insisted upon the shroud to be reopened just to see his dad one last time, at the time of the funeral - he'd draped the shroud a few minutes earlier at the instructions of the 'karmi'. A reluctant 'karmi' had to bow down to the wishes of the tearful, insistent lad and had opened up the shroud! I'm pretty sure that there were no eyes that weren't moist at that point of time among the folks that were present at the site!!

          *                                       *                                          *

Rema and Mini gave us the glad tidings that Sanil wants the latter to get back to Bangalore at the earliest. That's a change from his earlier stand that she could be with their daughter and son-in-law. I wouldn't like to dwell upon much as to why the turn around has come about. Probably, the lonely existence of the last one month must have made him review his earlier decision but it's good that he'd come around to the decision himself!

           *                                      *                                          *

Suresh's nephew, Chinju, had dropped by a trifle after tea time. I could give him a list of medicines that were required. Earlier, Lekha had developed her old lower abdominal cramps and she'd to be administered the pain killer, prescribed for the purpose by the surgical specialist of the Elite Mission hospital. It was the last tablet and could be replenished thanks to Chinju running the errand for us...damn sweet of him.



Tailpiece.

The late Chandrankutty annan's - Sasi kochachhan's elder brother - son and his wife had dropped by in the evening. He'd introduced me to his wife by saying that I was the role model(?) in his younger days. And I'd to let him into the incident when his dad had become mine. I was poised to go for pilot's training during Spring '76 and my parents had got all the stuff ready except for a watch with an illuminated dial. Hearing the conversation, Chandrankutty annan, without any hesitation, had removed his watch and handed it over to me and took my 'HMT Sona', in lieu! How can I ever forget that great soul? 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A day of not feeling good!

Got up to a general feeling of illness. The medicines have been started just about 12 hrs back, therefore, to expect immediate redress was simply, misplaced hope. The cough continued with no let up and therefore, skipped breakfast - actually, was in no mood to have it and had plenty of warm water at periodic intervals! That saved the day, perhaps, as by late afternoon, I was feeling hungry and in a mood to have something to eat.

Yoghurt and pickle were a tantalising proposition and I'd a decent fill of the gruel. My folks had come by for lunch and couldn't believe that I was down in the dumps! Each one of them had come upstair bedroom - I'd established myself to a self styled quarantine to avoid contagion - to look me up while I was fast asleep.

By tea time, my face had a better hue and I'd a fairly large mug of tea along with a snack. I'd got up from the bed and even mustered up the strength to see a few of the stragglers at the gate. The intensity of the cough had come down and the taste buds had begun to be active.

        *                                *                               *

Had kept myself active by browsing and replying mail that had cluttered up and attending to calls that were continuous and ever flowing. It gave a nice feeling when people showed their concern and gave me medical advice covering all branches of medicine! It was definitely overwhelming!!

         *                                *                               *

I was wondering as to whether our stay - Lekha's and mine - at Indira kunjamma's place was obtrusive and as to whether they felt the 'burden' of catering(?) to our needs. My decision was simple - every relative stays for the first four to five days and goes back to their routine, housely chores. It's, then, that the people who've suffered the loss feel uneasy because many of the things in the house remind them about the deceased - the bigger the house, the greater would be the fear factor. In fact, I'd asked Indira kunjamma and her daughters about this dilemma that was churning within me. The answer was enlightening, "Rajeev, how do I thank you for your decision to give us company when we need it most. Your and Lekha's presence within the house has pepped up our confidence and removed the fear factor! Our only sadness is that we can't provide you with non veg foods that you, both, are fond of!



Tailpiece.

It took all my powers of reasoning, to convince them, that food was the last priority as far as we're concerned.     

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Remembering Ammachi and Muthachhan on her remembrance day

Had got up at 5 and was getting ready for our trip to Thiruvallam, along with Maman. We're there by a half past 7 and on time for the ceremony. I'd also wanted to do the ceremony for my paternal grandparents and had called up Ramadasan Kochachhan, at Nasik to find out about the date of their deaths which was 14 Feb and the Malayalam star was. But it was not to be as each individual could only take two tokens!

I was reminded of Appooppan being being very cross with me for not writing him a letter from school while I'd written to Muthachhan! Both the grandfathers used to boast of their grandson and how close he was to them. Appooppan was incensed that he did not get my letter!

This time, too, I'd to silently do the ceremonies for them and it looked very conspiratorial! We'd finished the ceremony and were off from the Parasurama temple by a half past 8. Breakfast was at Indira kunjamma's and soon after, my man, Friday from the JSS, Kollam had arrived on the dot by 10 to get my signatures on the three cheques. I'd asked him to have the accounts whetted by Lekha which was what Maman had always wanted. I suppose he was satisfied this time!

I'd returned to Indira kunjamma's house soon after and I could feel that the bug has caught on and the cough was bad. Lekshmi, my cousin, had taken me to the homeopath, nearby and was put on medicines. Rajesh was a nice doctor with excellent bedside manners and he seemed to be all full of praise for Reshmi who'd taken care of Suresh through thick and thin!

The night was bad with sleep being elusive because the sofa wasn't comfortable. I'd then shifted to our bedroom on top and sleep, thankfully, made its arrival. The cough was persistent and bad.....

I find that there's a tremendous sense of satisfaction among Indira kunjamma and her daughters that Lekha and I were with them at this point of time as they had their own fears and doubts, in the current situation.



Tailpiece.

A satisfying day! 

Friday, August 4, 2017

At Thiruvananthapuram.

The day had begun at 5 with a steady rain from about a half past 3 onward. Both of us had got up around that time to ease ourselves. Since sleep was a bit reluctant to come by, I recited my prayers and had drifted off to sleep only to be woken up by the alarm that was set for 5. We went through our chores and were ready when Anto, with his auto, was ready outside the gate. As we got into the vehicle, our neighbours had returned after their morning visit from Guruvayur and so could brief them about our trip to Thiruvavananthapuram - a thing that we do as a matter of routine!

       *                              *                               *

Thankfully, the rains had held while we're boarding the bus - the quarter to 7 super fast to Vyttila hub via Kodungalloor. Lekha'd picked up a couple of snacks to tide over the breakfast pangs as we hurtled towards Kochi. We reached the destination by about 10 after a harrowing 40' traffic snarl short off the Varappuzha bridge. A quick visit to the rest room, collection of another couple of snacks and the 1040 hrs low floor bus to Thiruvananthapuram had come into the bus bay and boy, it was jam packed. Since the seats were unable, I quickly had Lekha sit at the raised platform meant for the stowage of the luggage! The conductor, Nizam, put me at ease saying that all the seats would fall vacant by the time the bus reached Alappuzha and just short of reaching there, he nudged me to occupy the seats and seeing him do that, the passengers had cleared off to facilitate us to occupy them!

       *                               *                               *

Lunch was at the KTDC's Motel Aram past Kayankulam. We'd a traditional lunch - that was bland - and were soon hurtling towards Thiruvananthapuram. We're at my aunt's house by 5 and began interacting with people who kept dropping by. The input for me was that I could not go for my grandparents' annual ceremony staying at my aunt's house where a death had taken place! So, after a quick dinner, I'd gone off to Maman's place to spend the night in an Uber taxi, arranged by li'l Kripa-sankar! Chambu, was as usual, excited seeing me and we'd a bit of interaction before we knocked off for the night.



Tailpiece.

Earlier, had interacted with Gopu and Sathi who'd dropped by in the course of the evening. It was nice catching up with them.    

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A foray into the town.

There were a few things that had to be done before our trip to Thiruvananthapuram tomorrow. Went about each of them and finished it to my liking. On return at our enclave there was this taxi that was parked, blocking the entrance. I really get angry when professional drivers do this - except for the fact that someone does it for casualty evacuation/to facilitate geriatric movement. I found that this guy was just playing dirty and on top of that, he seemed to be in an animated conversation with someone over the telephone. My gesticulations helped and he backed his car all too slowly or was that my perception....somehow I seemed to be smarting for a fight.

Anyways, better sense had prevailed and I headed for my porch. Since the vehicle had raindrops all over it, I gave it a good wipe with the towel and got it clean all over again. It doesn't look good to have a dirty car parked in your porch, you know.

The customary walk in the evening was nice just after a good shower. It was speedily executed followed by the floor exercises and yoga. As I was finishing the serial, Ajith, my class mate, had called up from Thiruvananthapuram to ascertain as to whether his friend - who stays in the immediate neighbourhood. In fact, he'd mentioned about him during our trip for the Old Boys' Day - could call on us. Though we're in the process of shutting down the house I gave him the green signal. And about 15' later, Damuettan had fetched up at our outer gate. I'd accompanied him to 'The Quarterdeck' from there.

It was an interaction for about half an hour and we parted with a promise to meet up after my return. He wouldn't have anything and in the heat of the conversation, I'd missed out on a host's niceties! I suppose Damuettan - a trifle above 70 yrs of age - understood it!! Saw him off up to the outer gate.



Tailpiece.

It was a late evening, as usual, as we'd to view the 'Crime Patrol Dial 100' on Sony television. Another of those thrilling police diaries.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The midweek musings.

Going through some of the news bytes of the past few days, there are quite a few queries that arise. So, here I go:-

   (a) The Troops' Stand off at Doklam.

         Since the stand off began on 16 Jun, China has come out saying that the strength of the Indian
         troops at Doklam has been reduced from 400 to 40 whereas India has stated that it hasn't. Now,
         somebody is telling lies. How do we know it? Over a period of time, I suppose.

         If we've backed off it will be damn sad. Only hope that China is lying!

   (b) The Steadily Marginalised Hurriyat's Last Hurrah?

         Hurriyat separatists of Kashmir have been exposed to be piling on the moolah and wealth at
         the expense of the gullible people of Jammu and Kashmir. Caught on the back foot, they've
         given a call to the people of Kashmir to protest the killing of Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists, Abu
         Dujana and Arif Lilhaari.

         The discrediting of the Hurriyat two timers is a must to get the Kashmiris out of their slumber
         and to remove their blind faith in them.

    (c) The Congress' Sad Plight.

          Once upon a time, it was the smaller and more often, the regional political parties that used to
          take their legislators into safe havens(?) lest they be poached by the other parties. It's now the
          turn of the Congress party to safe-haven its 44 MLAs from Gujarat in a resort in Karnataka.
          Can't help but feel bad at its plight that's been a direct consequence of its shenanigans while
          the party was in power.

          What happens if it loses in the Rajya Sabha elections? A double whammy because Ahmed
          Patel is Sonia Gandhi's personal choice and hatchet man!


Tailpiece.

Ravi was the chauffeur for our afternoon trip to Lekha's ophthalmologist. He fondly remembered my mom since he'd come to us after a long lapse. His leg seems to be giving him trouble but he said that he was quite happy to ferry us which was made possible due to George being down with fever.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ignominy.

There was an interesting, yet sad bit of news all over the media as well as in the social media. It was about a course mate who'd gone against the tenet of "Service Before Self", the credo of the National Defence Academy where we're trained together from spring '73 to autumn '75.

Vice Admiral PK Chatterjee, while he was the Inspector General, Nuclear Safety (IGNS) was the Senior Reviewing Officer(SRO) of Commander SS Luthra. The admiral had manipulated not only the Annual Confidential Reports(ACRs), but also the reporting system in such a way that other officers considered in the same promotion board as his son-in-law were made to stand at a disadvantage.
 
In a historic judgement the Armed Forces Tribunal, hearing Commander SS Luthra's petition against the wrongdoing, has ordered that Vice Admiral PK Chatterjee should pay an amount of Rs.5,00,000/- (Rupees Five lakhs) as costs to the applicant Commander Luthra, which is directed to be deposited with the Principal Registrar of the tribunal within three months from today. In turn, it would be disbursed to Commander Luthra against proper receipt.”



As a follow on, there was a mail from another course mate - on our course's What'sApp group - saying that it was a matter of misinterpretation and that the tribunal had not even heard the admiral's version! He'd further advocated that the Indian Navy must take up the case and fight on the admiral's behalf. He was, actually, appealing to our sentiments to stand by a course mate who has been caught and punished for doing a wrong deed!


My take.

Actually, I've a few reminders to both the course mates - and any other who think on similar lines - which are:-

    (a) The IN is a system and a system does not take up cudgels on behalf of any
         member who's a part of that system when he's done something wrong.
    (b) On such occasions, the normal doubt that comes to the fore is that there's
         no smoke without a fire.
    (c) If Chatterjee is clear that he has done nothing wrong then he must appeal
         to the higher court and come squeaky clean. We, his course mates, will
         laud him, then, accentuating the fact that none among us of the 49th 
         course of the NDA can do anything silly, let alone tamper with a junior's 
         Annual Confidential Report(ACR).
    (d) And he'd better do it fast because his son-in-law's career progression
         is gonna go kaput! Wonder how he faces his subordinates and men that
         he leads, ever since the news has been out? 


Tailpiece.

I'm sure that Chatterjee's parents must have brought him up with the right values in life. So, where and when did he go wrong? 

PS.

Another thing that has baffled me is the compensation of Rs.5 lakhs. How does it mitigate the agony of having missed a rank?