Thursday, November 30, 2017

One of those wet days.

Mini had got up at 5 AM and was going about her chores when she heard a loud noise in the center hall. Startled momentarily, when she went across to identify the source of the noise, she found that it was caused by dad's quadruple-footed walking stick that had fallen down! She narrated this story to Lekha and me, saying that she was sure about dad and mom being present in the house! Well!!

I'd decided to go to KIMS, at Thiruvananthapuram, to look up Mohanachandran this morning. I'd got ready and had asked my sister to escort me to the bus stand with her umbrella because I'd no intention to carry an appendage despite the fact that it was very evident that it was gonna be a very wet day. Before I could saunter out, I'd rung up my friend, Suresh Laxman, about helping me find my way to the ICU in which Mohanachandran was and he had this to say:-

    (a) Only the family members - Manju, the sons, their wives and the grand daughter - were allowed
          into the ICU.
    (b) It was pouring in Thiruvananthapuram and moving around in the city could end up being
          tricky.
    (c) Advised me against making a trip today.

Meanwhile, cyclone 'Ockhi' was wreaking havoc on the east coast especially, in Madras, Tuticorin, Kanyakumari and southern Kerala, upto Kochi! Wonder how the cyclone got its name, by jumbling 'Kochi', I wonder? Therefore, I quickly changed plans and decided to stay indoors.

Rema, had fetched up from Pidavoor soon after Mini had returned after making a quick trip to Kottarakkara for sundry purchases. There were quite a few people who'd, in the meanwhile, dropped by to call on. It gave us a nice feeling and the moist poignant remark was, "I was passing by when I saw the house agog with activity and the front door open. Couldn't resist my temptation to come in like the good old times".

Our caretaker had come by and spent about an hour talking about many things. He looked embarrassed about the noise pollution caused by the coconut processing machines of his son's factory, nearby. My advice to him was to 'sound proof' the factory with the initial profits that were accruing. But I suppose that's a tall order because of the usual human tendency of putting it in into the personal bank account!

But whatever one might say, I've realised what 'noise pollution' is all about! There are many of my friends and relatives who'd offered to get the unit shut down for having falsified information that we had no objection because we weren't living here! I've told them to be patient because, honestly, I didn't want to snuff a budding entrepreneur from a low income family and he happens to be my caretaker's younger son!!


Tailpiece.

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

Mohan continues to be in 'dangerously ill list'. No change since last sitrep. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Action packed.

The day had begun at 4 AM for me. Without disturbing Lekha and Rema, I'd gone about my chores and recited my prayers. We were all ready within reasonable time to cast off around 0640 hrs. At Kottarakkara, Lekha's blood and urine samples were taken at the lab and we're, soon, off for the Kollam Railway station to pick up my sister, Mini, who'd disembarked from the morning train from Bangalore - she hardly, had a wait out there.

We'd breakfast of dosas and tomato chutney from a wayside stall. It was yummy to say the least.

And then we headed straight for Paravoor to look up Kurup kochachhan, who was hospitalised last week and discharged on the third day. He was responding to our conversation and gave us quite a few great quips. If he has a memory problem, at least, there wasn't even a hint of it today. Vijayan kurup, the male nurse, is doing a wonderful job insofar as the cleanliness and hygiene of the patient and the surroundings. Mind you, we'd arrived there, unannounced! After spending over an hour, we'd taken leave of him and the return drive to Kottarakkara was smooth with comparatively less traffic. Lekha's results were ready and we could collect its hard copy. Her ESR continues to be high at 60 but the other parameters seem to be under control!

This time we're headed for Pidavoor to look up Padmakumar's mom and drop Rema out there. It was nice talking to the old lady who'd complained about the recurring pain on her left elbow. It's obvious that she has met a lot of doctors.  By the time we're back at 'Raj Nivas' it was a quarter past 1. After a quick lunch, I was off with Sasi for a short programme - the distribution of the course certificates on completion of the 'dress making course' that was of a duration of three months. The venue was Aanayada of the Sooranadu panchayat. Had exhorted them to use the mastery acquired during the course to become a quality entrepreneur.

I was back at home by a quarter to 6. Suresh, my old Man Friday had dropped by to meet us. He has become a mature person.


Tailpiece.

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Our prayers have done wonders I guess.......the fever has vanished......his right eye opened many times today and his left eye, too, opened partially and he even shed a tear from his left eye.....there is still some swelling around his left eye. The fluid culture has been temporarily postponed". From Suresh Laxman.

"Mohan continues as in the morning sitrep. The medical parameters are showing improvement to the positive side. Our prayers and support to the family are a must and unavoidable". From Vipinachandran.   

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A memorable afternoon.

The day had begun on a quiet note because the Airtel dish services had gone for a toss since last evening during the heavy rains. The morning was dull and gray which made things look gloomy. Lekha and I went through our chores and I was ready by a half past 10. Sasi had got caught in a traffic snarl but he'd brought Jayachandran, the Vice President of the JSS along with him and had the timing delayed by an hour.

The Gandhi Bhavan is a geriatric shelter for the many elders who've been dumped by their children for a variety of reasons. Its inmates provide numbing stories about the total break up of the family ever since the gradual disappearance of the joint family system, during the late '70s and the early '80s, in Kerala. One wonders as to how people can forget their parents' contribution towards their progression in life! The shelter has about 1,200 inmates.

Somaraj sir, his wife and son have taken pains to bring up the organisation to the present standards. He remembered his association with my grandfather during the Library Movement as well as in the activities of the KANFED very fondly. He held my hand as he saw us off. TP Madhavan, the film personality and the son of the late Dr. NP Pillai sir - who was another fellow traveler along with PN Panicker - was very thrilled and he recounted the numerous times my grandfather had visited their house. I felt very honoured when he draped a ceremonial shawl around my shoulders. I must confess that I wasn't very happy with the speech that I'd delivered - it was passable - but I thoroughly enjoyed the distribution of the course certificates thereafter.

We'd the ceremonial lunch soon after and I felt nice that I could finally visit the institution which is doing a great service to the society. Here's wishing that it grows from strength to strength!

            *                                   *                                  *
On our return, I found that action was on to get our landline operational. The overhead line had snapped which was replaced. Soman, the supervisor, has said that he would send his son to me for advice. Mom had given him an assurance that his son's job attainment would be looked after by me!

            *                                    *                                  *
Soon after Pramod from the Star Dish TV, had set right the problem - the signal received from the dish antenna was weak. Initially, as he switched on our television set, the reception seemed to be okay which made me look silly. But as we explained the problem, he'd looked up the antenna, spotted the error and corrected it. It was then that he opened up about his elder brother, Pradeep who wanted to rejoin the Army that he'd left on his own volition and was dismissed from service for being AWOL(Absent Without Leave) for over three years.

I'd spoken to him upon Pramod's insistence and was curious to know as to why he'd committed such a blunder. He'd fallen in love with a girl, married her and when he had come on emergency leave to see their first child, he didn't feel like returning - just like that! A costly mistake and he's now repenting about it. He does odd jobs but I could understand that he, having had a ten year stint in the Army, considered himself a failure in life! I've asked him to send me his particulars to see as to what I can do for him.

I'm impressed by the love between the siblings!


Tailpiece.

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"He continues to be in the 'dangerously list......a term used in defence hospitals. Fever persists....opened his right eye just once. Spinal fluid culture not yet done. We continue with prayers".
From Suresh Laxman.


      

Monday, November 27, 2017

Donning the role of Chairman.

It was morning as usual and I'd woken up a trifle after 6, while Lekha and Rema were up and about much earlier. The light conversation, over tea and rusks, pepped up the morning's proceedings while old Malayalam film songs were playing in the background. Was reminded about the good 'ole times when mom used to have the radio switched on for the 'Udayageetham' and dad going out for his early morning walks.

Yesterday evening's rains had left enough moisture on the Chevy and I could do a satisfactory clean up of the car. After a sumptuous breakfast, the three of us headed into different directions - Lekha to pay obeisance at the Kottarakkara Ganapati kshetram along with her sister, Rema to Pidavoor to give company to Amma and Aji for the next three days and me, to visit two of the training units of the Jan Sikshan Sansthan, Kollam. Sasi, the director with Benoy at the wheel had fetched up by about a half past 9. It was great seeing Benoy after months of convalescence, consequent to a horrific road accident. A car had knocked down his mobike and run away.....with a few deft moves we're able to help the police to hunt down the offender. I'd promised the youngster that I'd deliver justice because, according to me the defaulter was guilty on two grave counts:-

      (a) He did a cowardly act in leaving the victim to his misery, on the road, without providing help.
      (b) By doing so, he showed that he'd no respect for fellow human beings, showing that he's an
            animal(Wonder whether the animal kingdom would be cut up with me for comparing the
            scumbag with them?)

Benoy, now sports a belt around his knee and calf for support and confirmed that much of his woes have become a thing of the past. However, he's undergoing physiotherapy even now. He sports a French beard and seems to be serene, confident and smiles a lot more than he used to!

Our first stop was at Karavaloor, between Punalur and Anchal, where the JSS was initiating a week's course on paper/cloth bag manufacture for the special people. When my turn came to speak, I just said that I'd a problem and I quote - "I've a problem with the usage,'differently abled'. To my mind you're going about your daily chores unmindful of your discomfort and are now poised to take on opportunities that came your way. You're, therefore, absolutely normal. Probably, the phrase has been coined to satisfy certain administrative requirements. Otherwise, I am convinced that it's those people, despite being able bodied, who fritter away their time doing wrong and frivolous things who're actually differently abled".

It had come straight from deep within, without briefing or preparation. I knew that I'd the twenty five of them with me when I saw them nodding to someone saying that "he's after all the grandson of a legend"! Well!!

Our next stop was at Anchal where there were 44 women trainees undergoing our three month training course on dress making. It was nice interacting with them and I found that they're positively oriented, looking forward to doing well. My only advice to them was to dream big and that the organisation would help them to market their finished textile wares, sans middlemen, so that they got the right price for their products.

By a half past 3, I was back home. There was the farming activity of deweeding that was going on since morning and I could take in the nuances by spending time with them. The evening rains were severe and over a long duration but thankfully, without lightning or thunder.


Tailpiece.

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Mohan's condition remains the same without any improvement. In a lab test it is said that his infection count has reduced from 20,000 to 14,000. But the doctors say that they suspect infection of the vital organs and so a fluid test is to be conducted, for which consent has been signed today. Hope for the best. Prayers from all is a must". From Vipinachandran.  

"Also, the stitches have been removed this morning". From Suresh Laxman. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Attending the first of the three.

The caretaker had told us to be ready by about a half past 7 as Achankunju, the auto rickshaw driver had to attend his Sunday church immediately after. Meanwhile, the linen that was draped over the beds and the furniture had been soaked in soap water over the night, every piece had to be sorted out before the final rinse and it did take a bit of time! Our day had begun at 5, with Rema and Lekha going about the chores without any delay and at full clip.

We'd reached Usha's house and interacted with the family and even posed for the photo/video sessions. Soon after, we'd got into the second of the five luxury coaches and took off for the auditorium near the Attukal temple at Thiruvananthapuram. Usha's son, Rajeev and Devika got married within the 'muhurtham window'of 1130 and 1200 hrs. A well conducted wedding though we'd to go through the ignominy of missing out on the actual ceremony of the 'thaalikettu' as the photographers and the videographers had made a ring around the couple, blanking out the sight. Why can't the auditoriums have a well for these people who are, one agrees, sweating it out to put in the best sights into their cameras?

Incidentally, the auditorium was that of the Avittam Thirunal Grandhasala, a library that my grandfather had nurtured during its infancy.

The Attukal temple - known as the women's Sabarimala - looked as grand as ever and we could have a good 'darshan' of the goddess in all her finery. We're at its portals after what seemed to be a long time! We were also called in for a photography session - post marriage - which made us miss the buses that had headed for home then. There was a last one parked which was scheduled to leave by 2 and therefore, we'd an almost two hours' wait before we could return.

Achankunju was waiting for us and we're back home by a half past 3. The rains fell soon after causing frequent power interruptions. These can upset anyone and today, we bore the brunt. Thankfully, the clothes left for drying on the line were dry.

So, the first of the three weddings have gone past. Rajeev and Devika, here's us wishing you a long and happy married life.....and may you get whatever you wish for.


Tailpiece.

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"A CT scan was taken. Nothing significant noticed. The family is planning to shift him to CMC Hospital, Vellore when fit to travel. If anybody has any contact there, please let me or the children know the details". From Suresh Laxman. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

At Raj Nivas.

The day had begun at 5 AM for us. I'd planned a get away at 7 but by the time we'd finally driven off it was 20' past 7. Meanwhile, Madhavan, the security man of the housing complex and a man for all seasons, had washed down my Chevy and Padmakumar had left for the office by a quarter past 7. Achu saw us off, he'd earlier returned from the night shift by 6.

Though the drive through Kuthiraan was smooth, the Wadakkancherry and Mannuthi stretches had bogged us for a while because of bunched up traffic. There was a bit of a confusion at the Paliyekkara toll because they'd blocked one of the lanes all of a sudden! The tea break at about 10 was at a wayside cafe, opposite the Geeyem Motors' service station at Nettur.

The wait in the queue at the Savakkotta Paalam at Alappuzha was for almost a half an hour. What angered me is the manner in which motorists creep past you and go ahead, without bothering to stay in the queue. They give one the impression that being disciplined and waiting for one's turn is outright stupid and unwanted! Lunch was at our favourite haunt, the Kalpakavadi Inn off Thottappalli and the meals, fish curry combination was just too yummy. Shihab had looked after us well!

There was a long queue at the Kottarakkara junction and the guys jumped the line there too. What bugs me is that these guys get away, with the cops not even being bothered about taking penal action! We drove straight to Lekha's sister, Letha's place, in time for a cup of piping hot tea and snack.Thereafter, I'd got our dish TV activated by telling Lalu, at the kiosk and drove the last stretch home. There was that thrill within me of being with my parents for the next ten days!

The work around the house hasn't been completed and the caretaker says that it will be done by Monday. The house was clean and was ready as though for a 'cabin cupboard', as we say in the navy for a superior's inspection. I'd spent some time at my parents' resting place and briefed them about our programme for the next ten days. The caretaker had come and sat with us to give a short situation report, woven around this sleepy village. The gruesome death of a 10+1 student, Vinayakan, son of Manoj, the cable television guy, consequent to being run over by Saranya, the private bus that plies on our arterial road, was a heart rending story. The villagers damaged the bus in anger and the result is that the company has stopped running its services ever since the accident; the face saving grace is that the road transport corporation's services have increased manifold and hence, the villagers and the regular commuters are happy.

A simple dinner of idlis and chutney, laced with a lot of conversation between the three of us was the highlight of the first evening out here. Guests have started coming by just to say hello.


Tailpiece.

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin. 

"Mohan has been shifted from the critical ICU to the neuro ICU. His condition remains the same as has been reported earlier".         

Friday, November 24, 2017

At Rema's place in Palakkad.

The day had begun on a quiet note. Had got up around 3 AM on hearing Lekha's call and realised that it was my mind playing games. Sleep just did not come by and finally, must have drifted off to sleep some time later but because of that, missed the alarm and consequently, missed the walk in the morning!

Had gone to the Jio stall in the morning to clarify certain doubts on the operating of the new dongle and found to my horror that I'd missed some of the information that were slapped on the sticker, stuck on the packing case!

Meanwhile calls and messages came by as today was my birthday. It was nice to hear classmates, course mates and friends after what has been a long time! Felt nice to be wanted by so many!!

It was an early lunch and by a half past 1, we're off to Palakkad on the first leg of our long trip that we'd planned. But disaster struck right in front of the gate, when I scraped the new rear bumper on the dwarf boundary wall across our house. I guess I ain't a good driver....what else can I say? The drive was nice as the traffic was comparatively sparse and the motorists that were active on this stretch of the highway, this afternoon, were decent and nice.

We reached my sister's place before 4 with my nephew, Achu, waiting anxiously for us. It was a wonderful evening with another full round of birthday celebrations! Well, nothing like being in the limelight all over again!!

My visit to our training units, spread all over Kollam district, has been planned over the next week while I'm at my dad's place. Looking forward to cover a wide canvas and address problem areas with the endeavour to hand out remedial measures.

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"No significant change in his condition. He was seated in a chair for physiotherapy. He was holding his head up but eyes were closed. He does open his right eye once in a while but not in response to a call". Courtesy Suresh Laxman.





Thursday, November 23, 2017

A hectic day.

During my morning walk, li'l Sana - with hijab and all - was struggling with the lock of her cycle and on seeing me asked for my help. As I helped her lock the cycle, she asked me as to where I stayed, who I was and other things. She must have been watching this guy going on his walks with a stick and headgear that changed everyday! She studies in class VI. So, it was a good start for the day.

The forenoon saw me tying up small things like bank work, acquiring a new dongle and paying up the water bill. The acquisition of the dongle had to go through the 'aadhaar' way, with biometrics and all and I must say that the system has become pretty efficient and strict. No more of the easy acquisition of the days gone by; the spate of terrorist activities have made us learn an important security lesson. The paying of the water bill was a cakewalk as there wasn't even a hint of a queue which goes to show the small population of Guruvayur that's blessed with the municipality's water connection - erratic and plenty of muddy water! One has been hearing that the system was gonna get streamlined within six months but the first installment has already crossed the deadline!

The afternoon saw me go to the Geeyem Motors to collect my Chevy. It has been thirty five days since its admission and I saw her parked at their main porch, looking great with all work completed. After a quick recap of all the work done, along with ascertaining the next service cycle, I was able to leave the service station before 5. Manikandan and Sreejith had really worked behind the scenes, especially the former - he has always been like that from the start.

Enroute, I'd got the renewal of the 'pollution under control certificate' done. The lady at the counter insisted that she was carrying out the new procedure six times and I was in a damn awkward position with me on the driving seat and she pressing the accelerator with her foot. There was no other way to do it as my vehicle was perched on a steep slope in front of the shop and since the hand brake wasn't effective, I'd to keep the brakes on! The renewal was, actually, due only on the 30th.

Then it was the turn to get the car topped up with fuel and for checking the tyre pressure. By the time I was at home, it was about half an hour left to light the lamp in the puja room. The customary walk, subsequently, was nice.

Had a long chat with Suresh Laxman regarding Mohanachandran after supper. It was enlightening.


Tailpiece.

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"He opened his right eye for a short while. His left eye has some swelling still, so maybe it will take more time to open. Manju noticed a tear roll down his closed right eye when she spoke to him". 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Why do these things keep happening?

Why do these things keep happening in India? Must touch upon two incidents that have taken place in the last 48 hrs. I've always abhorred the VIP culture that's rampant within our country. The sad part is that we, ordinary citizens, accept it as 'one of those things' and laugh it off. A sort of 'conditioning' over the years.....

1. A Minister Confronted.

Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam had to face the ire of a distraught lady doctor at the Imphal airport. She was booked on the Indigo flight to Calcutta and had a connection flight to Patna to board, so that she could attend the funeral of a close relative. But it was not to be. Flights were put on hold/delayed as the President's aircraft was scheduled to land at the airport and the minister was there to receive him. The minister expressed his inability to do anything as he was abiding by the protocol expected of a Presidential visit.

But do we require to give special privileges to the VIPs? Why can't they continue to be 'important' while going about the formalities at the airport/railway station/bus stands along with the ordinary citizens? It would give them a fantastic opportunity to interact with the common man to understand his difficulties, to initiate remedial measures so as to improve things on the ground resulting in good governance!

It's high time we did away with the 'VIP' culture just as we did with the red beacons!!

2. For 'Kolhapur' read 'Chambal'.

About 1,500 farmers had paid Rs.35 lakhs to hire the Swabhiman Express from New Delhi to Kolhapur. They'd gone to New Delhi on 20 Nov to participate in the 'Kisan Mukti Sansad' protests held at Parliament Street to seek one-time waiver of their total farm debt. 1,494 farmers, including 200 women, had boarded the train that left New Delhi at 2200 hrs on Tuesday, passed Mathura around 2 AM and thereafter ended up on a wrong track and ran for three hours, ending up at Banmor station which is 20 kms from Gwalior!

The train was scheduled to reach Kolhapur at 6 AM and one can imagine the shock among the farmers on waking up to see that they're in the Chambal valley! Was it wrongly diverted or did the motorman miss a signal? The jury is still out on that.

One doesn't expect this from Piyush Goyal's railways!


Tailpiece.

Mohanachandran's Medical Bullettin.

AM.  Music in his ears........eyes still closed........has slight fever which is being treated. Shifting to the ICU maybe tomorrow. Off ventilator for the last 48 hrs. Hope and pray.....from Laxman.
PM.   Continues to be in the same stage as in the morning. Eyes not yet opened but eyeballs are being moved....prayers, prayers and more prayers.........from Vipin.

PS.
Had completely missed out on this bit of news that makes all Indians proud. Manushi Chillar is Miss World '17. She was crowned the 'queen' out of 170 participants at Sanya, China on the 18th of this month. Miss Mexico is the first runner up while Miss England is the second runner up. Manushi, incidentally, is a medical student.

Heartiest congratulations Manushi, it has come to you thanks to hard work and I liked your answer about motherhood being made eligible for the highest remuneration and respect! India is proud of you!! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Trending...

1. Poetic Licence.

There has been a hue and cry over the movies, 'S Durga' and 'Padmavati' - the former directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan and the latter by Sanjay Leela Bansali' - regarding their screening. The film, Sexy Durga has been denied inclusion, by the Information and Broadcasting ministry, in the 48th International Film Festival of India that has kicked off in Goa on the 20th of Nov. The ministry had informed the court that there were complaints that the film offended religious sentiments as 'Durga' is a principal Hindu goddess. The Kerala High Court has allowed the screening of the movie with the CBFC certificate.

Padmavati is being challenged under the pretext that the Rajput queen's image has been sullied by her fondness for Allauddin Khilji, depicted in a dream sequence. It was initially targeted by a fringe group called 'Karni Sena' but has gathered the support of the state governments of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. A pure political 'tamasha' has been able to stall the movie's release, slated for 01 Dec.

The creativity of an artiste is under the lens here and it will set a dangerous precedent. Wonder what the opposing groups really want? To nip off creativity in this country? Needs to be dealt with harshly.
The political parties need to show courage and oppose the fringe group.

I'd like to see both the movies without cuts.

2. First Launch of Private Rockets.

The ISRO is planning a joint venture with a consortium of companies where a rocket will be completely built by the private industry. Its launch will be sometime during '20-'21. Till now the space organisation was the only manufacturer of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV) and has launched 39 successful missions. The organisation is working on making it cost effective and also increase the number of satellites in orbit. Towards this end, it aims to increase the frequency from the present 8-10 launches per annum to about 20 from '18 onward.

Currently, India has 42 satellites in orbit that are being used for earth observation, navigation and communication purposes.

3. Indian Railways being Electrified.

The railway minister has announced that the diesel locomotive will be phased out in five years, thus paving the way for complete electrification of the world's largest government enterprise. May safety, quality and modernisation be the priority of the railways!


Tailpiece.

Medical bulletin of Mohanachandran.

"No change in his condition.......eyes closed.......off ventilator........off sedation.........monitors ticking away. Shifting to step down ICU/neuro ICU maybe tomorrow. MP3 player plugged in. Hope and prayers continue".

       

Monday, November 20, 2017

Off the ventilator.

1. All about Mohanachandran.

Today's good news was that Mohanachandran has finally been unplugged from the ventilator. His parameters are under control and his medical bulletins were as under:-

    "Today happiness seems to be written on everybody's face. He has been taken off the ventilator
      for the first time and his vitals are normal for now. Eyes are still closed. The family has been
      asked to bring a pen drive with the voices of his granddaughter and other members along with
      his favourite songs etc to make him listen. If all is okay, he may be shifted out of the ICCU
      tomorrow".

     "The evening outlook continues to be the same. Within a couple of days he will be shifted to
       either the neuro ICU or the medical ICU".

Meanwhile, the medical bills are rising @ Rs.1 lakh per day. We, classmates, have taken a resolve to chip in and help the family as and when the situation demands, without hurting their pride.

Note. Can now understand as to how lucky we guys from the defence forces are in having the ECHS(Ex-servicemen Central Health Scheme) backing for life!

          *                                       *                                         *

2. Unsolved Mysteries of the Jagannath Temple, Puri.

Were you aware of the following mysteries associated with the Jagannath Temple at Puri in Orissa?

      * The flag, atop the temple, flaps in the opposite direction of the wind.
      * The Neel Chakra will always face you, no matter where you stand in Puri.
      * The temple's main dome never casts a shadow at any time of the day.
      * No birds fly above the temple.
      * The 'mahaprasad' is cooked in seven earthenware pots placed on top of the other. The prasad
         in the top most pot gets cooked first.
      * The 'Avada'(Food) cooked in the temple will never be in shortage or surplus despite varying
         number of pilgrims.
      * The sound of the sea stops as soon as you enter the temple.

Note. These mysteries have, however, been contested too!



Tailpiece.

Kurup kochachhan is better and will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow. Thankfully, the medical problem could be brought under control thanks to the timely admission.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A quiet birthday celebration.

Today's my birthday as per the Malayalam calendar. Calls from my relatives came pouring in since morning. It was my sister, Mini and Sanil from Bangalore, who were the first callers followed by Ammu and Midhun from Coimbatore. Padmakumar, Rema and Achu had driven down from Palakkad to be present for the traditional cake cutting ceremony followed by lunch which Lekha had organised with the able assistance of Preetha.

Actually, Lekha was planning to have the celebration at Ammu's place. We're supposed to go across to Palakkad and then further onward to Coimbatore, along with Rema, Achu and Padmakumar. But since Debu and Suni had announced their arrival, she'd dumped that idea.

Rema and gang had arrived by a half past 12 and Appu, who'd returned after attending the wedding, had a piece of cake and was off on his return trip to Kollam. Midhun and Ammu had called off their participation at the last minute.

Meanwhile, Suresh had announced Mohanachandran's morning medical bulletin which was, "He continues to be on ventilator support and is sedated, with eyes closed. The swelling around the eyes has reduced slightly. He has a slight fever which is being tackled with antibiotics.....but the doctor says that there's nothing to worry. The specialists will only see him tomorrow".

My cousin, Gopu, gave me another piece of disturbing news. Kurup kochachhan has been admitted in the Medicity Hospital at Kollam. His feet have become painful because of the skin peeling away and numerous cracks having formed around both the heels. The sad part is that he doesn't seem to register the discomfort and that was why the doctor had insisted upon his admission. The situation has been brought about by a lack of care shown by the nurse-in-attendance. Sad! And to top it all, the astrologer says that he's passing through a bad phase of his life (What's bad after having overseen the passing away of Leela kunjamma, I wonder? His 91st birthday will be celebrated on 28 Dec).

Vipinachandran, another classmate, gave us Mohanachandran's evening medical bulletin which conformed to that of the morning. "Mohana continues in the ventilator. The swelling in the face has reduced considerably and returning to normal shape. The external support has been reduced and may be removed tomorrow".


Tailpiece.

By 9, in the evening, both Rema and Appu had given their 'destination reached' reports.  It was supper time and a quiet evening thereafter!    

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Adieu Ashraf!

I'd gone to the bank on work and had boarded the bespectacled Ashraf's autorickshaw for the purpose. Enroute, in conversation, I'd inquired about the other Ashraf's - a quiet and genial guy - health. He was suffering from cancer of his kidneys. Eight months back, I'd called him up to give me an early morning drop at the railway station. He'd fetched up promptly and I'd noticed that his face was puffed up and he'd a yellow hue about his face. On querying, he'd told me about his illness. I was angry that he'd not told me about his illness and his reply was, "Sir, I'm okay and I didn't have the heart to say no to you. I undertake only very few trips and I like ferrying you!" What could I say in retort to such a disarming answer? I never knew, then, that that was my last glimpse of him!

I was shocked to hear that Ashraf had passed into the mist of time about a month back. He was only 47 and has left behind his wife and three children. I can't get over it. 

RIP, Ashraf. You've been kind to me and I shall remain indebted to you for life. May your near and dear ones have the strength to pass through these stressful times.

I'd got up by a quarter past 5, was ready for the walk but, alas, a slight drizzle played spoilsport and I  ended up walking within our courtyard, reciting my prayers! The caretaker had called up to say that the work of clearing up the weeds immediately around Raj Nivas had been started and it would take five women workers to do the job. They, actually, pull out the weeds, roots-et-all and do a damn good job!

Incidentally, in communist ruled Kerala, the woman worker is not paid the wages at par with their male counterparts! The man gets Rs.700/- per day while the woman is paid Rs.600/-

Debashish Chakraborty, Suni - Lekha's classmate and friend - and Shreya came in by lunch time. They'd come to our house last, in '07, while we're at Delhi. They're currently at Ranipet in Tamilnadu and Debu is into the leather business. A typical and lovable Bengali who is passionate about his work and is knowledgeable about a lot many things. They plan to settle down at Hosur where they've a two bedroom house. Their daughter, Shreya, studying in class XII is sharp, inquisitive and an adorable kid; we'd seen her in a frock then and her parents remembered the occasion when I wasn't satisfied with the frocks that the shop owner and our friend, Sarabjit was showing us in his shop at the Gopinath Market of Delhi Cantt...... They left, after dinner, back to the hotel near the temple where their group was putting up and will return to Ranipet only by afternoon, tomorrow. It was nice catching up with them!

Soon after their departure, by about a half past 9, Appu - the youngest son of Lekshmi, another friend of Lekha's, based at Kollam - had fetched up. The two classmates had tied up regarding Appu's stay at our place since getting a room in any of the hotels in Guruvayur for single men is out of the question. This has been enforced by the local police when stories about illicit affairs taking place in hotels had been reported. Appu is doing CA and he gave in the details of the course that's supposed to have the minimum pass percentage - under 10% - in the country! The youngster's information that north Indians were being favoured, during the compilation of the overall results, was saddening!! He, however, gave us the good news of his sister, Gayathri, being in the family way and of his dad going to have a shot at the Governorship of the Lions Club of the district (It includes Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kayankulam and has a total of about 115 clubs) in May '18.

It was a comparatively early evening despite the busy yet interesting day.

Suresh Laxman's medical bulletin on Mohanachandran, for the day, said, "Those who saw him this morning say that the swelling on his face has reduced. He is being weaned out of the ventilator and sedation slowly. Let's hope for the best". 


Tailpiece.

Did you know that in the early 20th century, horses - drawing carriages and carts - were causing so much pollution with their poop that cars/buses were seen as the "green" solution? And more than a hundred years later, we're talking about their replacement with vehicles, propelled by electricity!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Another of those quiet days!

Had got up around a quarter past 5 and had got into my walking garb. The walk was nice after a fairly long break! Mohanachandran's morning medical bulletin had come from Suresh Laxman, saying the following,

   "They are planning to do tracheotomy before taking him off the ventilator. He continues to be
     sedated because of BP variations. I saw him moving his left hand and leg in a motion as though 
     he was singing a song in his mind. There is a slight swelling on both the eyes and they were 
     closed. His doctor had, earlier, explained the reality of the situation that the left side of the brain
     has been affected and that, in turn, has affected his speech and the right limbs.....and that
     recognition may also be affected......but these can be treated with physiotherapy and in due course
     he could get better. The exact condition would be known once he is off sedation after the 
     tracheotomy today".

Our maid was down with a bad and persistent cough and Lekha had asked her to take rest for the day. She'd gone to the market to buy certain essential stuff as Debashish, Suni and their daughter - she has a dance performance at the Melpathoor Auditorium at the eastern entrance of the temple on Saturday - are dropping by tomorrow and my sister, Padmakumar and Achu, along with Ammu and Midhun, are expected for Sunday lunch. Meanwhile, Aravind of the Bajaj Allianz had come and collected the cheque covering our car's insurance for '18. That job has been completed.

Meanwhile, our car is still at the Geeyem Motors for the servicing and repairs. It's now almost a month since its admission! The rear bumper has, finally, arrived from their base at Bangalaore and I hope to get the vehicle back latest by Wednesday. This is based on a personal request by Manikandan - my Customer Adviser - that he wanted to personally supervise the work. He had gone on the Sabarimala pilgrimage on the 17th and will return this Sunday. I didn't have the heart to negate his wish because he sounded earnest as always!

Mohanachandran's evening medical bulletin went something like this, "He was wheeled into the operation theatre at about 2030 hrs for the tracheotomy and brought back to the ICCU around 2230 hrs". 

The highway skirting our compound has been dug up at various places for laying the cables underground. The road is narrow and the dug up situation has shrunk its width further and pedestrians, often, find the vehicles passing pretty close to them and that too, at fantastic speeds! I've experienced it myself during the walks. Meanwhile, accidents happen by a dime a dozen everyday. No one seems to be bothered, either. Educating the people about traffic regulations, along with strict penalties in case of lapses will get the motorists on track. I've felt like stopping vehicles that err and slap the drivers trying to negotiate at exorbitant speeds.

But that would be taking the law into my own hands, isn't it? And hence, I desist.


Tailpiece.

In Gujarat, the opposition has combined to form a 'grand alliance' against Narendra Modi and the BJP. Moody's upgrading India's sovereign rating after 13 years has taken the wind out of the sails of the naysayers of our economic health, post demonetisation and the introduction of the GST.

   

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Swami saranam!

The Guruvayur Intercity was bang on time all through. Perhaps, it was poetic justice for all the delay faced during the onward travel in the Edamon Fast passenger. The train had stopped at the second platform and poor Lekha had to brave through the reciprocal of yesterday morning's trudge to the train. By the time we reached 'The Quarterdeck' and had hit the sack, it was a quarter to 1. So, the Vrishchikom Onnu had already begun.

We're up at our usual time of 6 and had gone through the chores. Rema was seen off in a Palakkad bus of the road transport corporation from the bus stop nearby. Preetha was down with a viral fever and was asked to take rest when she'd expressed her inability to come for work today. So, it was Lekha's show insofar as the meals were concerned. The long trudges at the railway station and from Sasi Pillai's house to ours had not affected her, thankfully.

From today onward till 14 Jan, it's gonna be complete abstinence from the good(?) things of life - which means, no non veg, no drinking and meals only after bath! It basically is to convince myself that none of the so called good things is really necessary for leading a meaningful life.

Meanwhile, Suresh Laxman had sent us Mohanachandran's morning medical bulletin which was, "He is still sedated. They've reduced the sedation and will soon stop it. No CT scan was required today. Tomorrow morning a scan will be taken followed by reflex and command tests. No bleeding, no swelling. All monitors ticking and he was sleeping peacefully".

The evening medical bulletin went like this, "Understand he moved his left hand and leg slightly when he was called 'Achha".......though his eyes remained closed. Another 12 hours left for the sedation to go completely". He's recouping slowly, yet steadily. Our prayers continue.

I shan't be doing the pilgrimage to Sabarimala because as I'd told earlier that I've been there 18 times and my 'Periya swamy', Santhan kochachhan, had overseen each of those 'yatras' from the start to the finish. With him passing into the mist of time, the urge is no more there and hence, the decision! I'm sure Lord Ayyappa understands it!!

The customary walk in the evening was a tame affair. And it was a quiet evening thereafter.



Tailpiece.

The stir by the fringe against the screening of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmavati' is touching idiotic proportions. Can people be so mad and out of their minds? 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tributes to Sasi Pillai and Mohanachandran's medical updates.

Rema, my sister, had fetched up from Palakkad last evening. We set off by the morning Fast Passenger to Edamon at 0555 hrs and yes, the lady at the counter gave us tickets to 'Kuri Halt', our destination, this time and didn't look surprised! Earlier, Anto had done the honours by picking us up at 0515 hrs in his auto rickshaw and dropping us at the railway station. Breakfast of packed idlis and chutney was at Ernakulam as the crowd eased within the train and lunch was at Kollam at a half past 1. The train was late by more than an hour because it was kept stopped at stations to let two overtaking and three crossing trains to pass through. I'd begun to wonder as to whether I could pull off this visit within the time available!

Finally, we got off at Kuri Halt and our caretaker, Vijayan, was at hand with Achankunju's auto rickshaw. Achankunju's a familiar guy as it was he who took Lekha everyday for her ayurveda treatment, many years ago. I'd asked him to take us directly to Sasi Pillai's house so that no time was wasted. Met Leela, Sasi Pillai's wife, and their children along with a host of their relatives. They're struck by three things:-

      (a) That we'd come all the way from Guruvayur just to spend an hour or so with them.
      (b) Our feelings for Sasi Pillai were genuine and as strong as they used to be when was
            closely associated with our household and
      (c) Many of the anecdotes that Rema and I narrated were new and exciting for them as they
           brought out the details of the persona of Sasi Pillai, before marriage.

We entered Raj Nivas for a short while to have a cup of tea that Vijayan had bought for us. I'd my conversation with mom and dad, as usual. Were they surprised? Can't be, firstly because souls that lead eternal lives never get surprised and secondly, because their power must have propelled us into visiting Sasi Pillai's place! An auto rickshaw to Kottarakkara and a low floor RTC bus to Kollam saw us at the Kollam railway station half an hour prior to our train's arrival.

On embarking, there was a humorous incident. While we'd made a beeline for the 40, 41 and 42 seats, we found a gentleman insisting that his seat was 41 too. The TTE's trained eyes were quick to spot the discrepancy, his reservation was for the 16th and not for today - an error that was missed out at the time of getting the electronic ticket! I felt bad for him and asked the TTE to help him out which he did, luckily because there was a vacant seat!!

The train was ahead of time thankfully!

       *                                 *                                 *

Mohanachandran's Medical Updates.

Sitreps through the day..

         "Doctor had examined and said that the swelling had decreased slightly. His BP is normal
           which means that the stoppage of a medicine has not affected the functioning of the heart.
           The CT scan is awaited".

         " The scan says there is no bleeding(Internal or peripheral) and the status continues".

         " The swelling of the eye has reduced. Continues to be under sedation, however, there was a
            twitch of his hand when an injection was given....a good sign! They plan to reduce the
            sedation after tomorrow morning's CT scan".

The improvement is there and we hope that he'll come out of the woods, eventually. Meanwhile, our prayers continue.



Tailpiece.

Met Rakhee, a teacher at the Women's ITI near Kollam. She was seated next to us and we heard her co-ordinating a 'job fest' scheduled for the 5th of Dec. This is for the first time that an event of this nature is being organised and 200 companies/industrial units from all over the country are coming in to grab their potential staff from the campus placement! We congratulated her on her untiring efforts and she told us all about herself. She's a resourceful individual. Seeing her resolve and clarity of thought, I've promised her help on behalf of the Foundation.

All the best Rakhee for your endeavours! 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mohanachandran is battling it out.....

Sitrep after the doctor's visit at the ICCU and on seeing Mohanachandran in the morning.....

      "There's a very slight bleeding at the operated part of the skull and to stop it, one of the two
        medicines required for the heart will have to be stopped. The doctor hopes that this will not 
        affect the heart immediately because the medicine's effect should remain for 24 - 36 hours by
        which time the bleeding should stop in the normal course and they hope to recommence the 
        stopped medicine. They plan to take him off sedation tomorrow and see the response of the 
        of the brain. They expect him to return to the condition he was before he went in for the neuro
        surgery. His left eye is swollen which is the after effect of the surgery yesterday and will subside 
        in due course of time".

        His condition in the evening (Around 2000 hrs) continues to be the same as it was in the 
        forenoon!

My prayers for Mohanachandran, along with my classmates', for his early recovery so that he's able to get back to us hale and hearty. And be part of our get together between 09 and 11 Dec! Am I asking for too much?

        *                                     *                                         *

The mortal remains of Sasi Pillai was consigned to the flames this afternoon around 1 o'clock. Thalavoor was represented in full strength at the sad occasion. The cremation had taken place within the compound around his house. His family seems to be in a state of shock completely in disbelief of what they're seeing though he's been having a host of medical problems.

He'd spent the whole of Sunday complaining about gastric problems completely oblivious of the fact that his heart was straining against the leash.

There was also a complaint that the hospital authorities delayed the announcement of his passing away to clock more hours on the ventilator - a common happening in many hospitals. An unethical medical practice that's a global phenomenon! Sad!!


Tailpiece.

1. Completed a few pending jobs, phew!

2. The Geeyem Motors, finally, gave me the good news today. The rear bumper is gonna be on its way tomorrow and should be here by Thursday!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Adieu Sasi Pillai!

This morning our caretaker, Vijayan had called me up to say that Sasi Pillai was admitted at the Vijaya's Hospital at Kottarakkara after he suffered a massive heart attack around a half past 2, early in the morning. By afternoon, he passed into the mist of time. He's survived by his wife and two children who're married and have their own families. He was 69.

Sasi Pillai's tryst with our family had begun in end '68. Raj Nivas - my mom and dad's nest - was commissioned in Feb '68. His mother, Naani ammoomma of the Thottadiyil Veedu, smack opposite to our house and the youngest brother, Mohanan looked after the household chores and running the errands, respectively. Mohanan's education was taken over by my parents and though he began in the same class as my kid sister, Rema, since he was unenthusiastic about studies, finally ended up with Mini, my younger sister!

My paternal grandfather had handed over a paddy field from the family's holdings to my dad to conduct farming activities. Meanwhile, Sasidharan Pillai, the sixth child and the fifth son of Nani ammoomma had befriended my parents and taken on the job of doing work in the field immediately around the house and the lonely paddy field. On confirming that he'd a hardworking hand to work in his farm, my dad had bought a 40 cent paddy field adjacent to Meeran George's - he was notorious for his drinking habits and the quarrels that he'd pick up under its influence made sure that were no takers for that bit of wet land - house and together had harvested a record output, which became a talk in the village those days!

Dad used to call him 'Sasi Pillai' and he became that to all of us, irrespective of age! He used to affectionately call me, 'Rajaavu' and treated me and my sisters with a lot of love and affection. When I used to be back from Sainik School, on vacation, he used to be my chaperone and thus, I was able to observe the intricate farming activities at close quarters. His efficiency at work made my parents acquire more land holdings, fill up the brand new cattle shelter - embedded to the rear of the barn - with a cow and its calf, a couple of goats and a pair of bullocks. The thinking was that our farming activity should begin on time and did not have to wait for the availability of bullocks or implements that were available on hire - it was Sasi Pillai's idea! The brood of chicken was tended by Nani ammoomma and I and my sisters had a great time collecting the newly laid eggs from the shelter, everyday.

Dad was able to convert all of us - essentially from an urban background - into an agrarian family within no time and Sasi Pillai was the real reason for that great change. The house used to have scores of people during harvesting time and the seed sowing time. Mom had to go to office and it was Nani ammoomma, who used to make food for everyone, on her directions. People came and went after meeting up with my parents - dad was available only during his leave as he was still at work, at Alibag - for advice, help and many a time to just see us, the children.

The Thalavoor village had begun to take note of our family that had got used to the ways of village life within a short span of time, much to the delight of my paternal grandparents. There used to be a continuous stream of guests and for all my cousins from mom's side, Raj Nivas and Thalavoor had become their 'native place' that they boasted about to their friends at school. The swing would be put on the mango tree behind the house before any house in the vicinity, during the time of Onam celebrations, courtesy this one dynamite of a man!

Sasi Pillai was with us for a good twenty years after which he'd set up his own family and got busy with his personal life, but was on call whenever required. The farming activities were handled by his older brother, the late Manian Pillai who'd joined us as his substitute. But Sasi Pillai was Sasi Pillai - there was no one to replace him. He was unique and good at everything he did.

I remember him, looking quite sad, during my dad's and mom's funerals and since he was, then, an influential member of the Nair Service Society's 'Karayogam' had ensured that everything went like clockwork. Much later, he was beside me with suggestions and help during my niece, Ammu's wedding in May, this year. Our present caretaker, Vijayan, his niece's husband, took advice from him about the work in our compound.

RIP Sasi Pillai. I can never forget you and your contributions for our family. Rema, Lekha and I will be there with your family tomorrow to spend some time with him. May they've the strength to tide over their tremendous loss.



Tailpiece.

Meanwhile, the sitrep on my friend, who's in the ICCU of the KIMS. A CT scan showed an increase in the size of the blood clot in Mohanachandran's brain. Surgery was conducted in the evening to open a small space on the left side of the skull to give space for the brain, in case it swells. The clot is being managed with medication. We, classmates, collectively prayed for him through communication on What'sApp at 1700 hrs.

   

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Get well soon, friend.

It was on this date last month when the four of us - Suresh(293), Mohanachandran(428), self(519) and Vijay(526) - were getting set to fly to Singapore for a cruise on a passenger liner. Vijay-Anita will fly off to Houston by an Emirates flight early morning tomorrow. Confusion about the dates made Mohanachandran ring him up last night to wish him bon voyage. Barely, a couple of hours later, around 2230 hrs upon hearing a sound, Manju found that her husband was not on the bed, beside her. He was lying on the floor and as she tried to pick him up, found that his left hand had gone limp.

Thanks to a quick reaction and correct actions on her part, he was wheeled into the KIMS Hospital at Thiruvananthapuram - within the 'golden hour' - where he underwent an angiogram followed by an angioplasty and a stent was put in place. He'd suffered a heart attack and that was brought under control. Luckily, we've a school senior - Ashraf Ali of the '68 batch - a psychiatrist, on the rolls of the hospital to give us vital information. The bad news is that a blood clot has lodged itself in the left part of his brain and he is in the ICCU of the hospital. Suresh and Vijay, who've been monitoring him closely say that he'd opened his eyes and moved his right hand ever so slightly which was a positive development. The next 48 hrs are crucial! The doctor attending him has told that even if he were to survive, he'd be in a paralytic state and will require to be nursed for a while.

Of late, Mohanachandran and his wife, have been upset over the fact that their younger son, Vishnu had married from another community and close on its heels, he lost his 84 yr old mother with whom he was very close. Consequently, he became quiet and had withdrawn into his cocoon. We did have a long chat during our recent outing abroad and he said that he was able to come out of his melancholy, thanks to it. He'd promised to me that he'd keep himself busy by doing his daily rounds, in Kazhakootam and other places around. He's God to the livestock owners of the area! He'd taken leave(?) from all activities, consequent to his son's wedding and used to say that he was gonna live a retired life.


They've two sons - Vinu, at Bangalore and Vishnu at Dubai. The former is already at his bedside.

A veterinary surgeon by profession and a very fine one at that, he calls himself a 'dogtor'. He used to take care of our Doberman, Bruno on whom he'd carried out a complicated surgery - in the late '90s - that stood him in good stead subsequently.

We, your classmates, are eagerly awaiting your early recovery, so that you can join us for our get together at Kochi from the 9th to the 11th of next month. In prayers.



Tailpiece.

An RSS worker was hacked to death here at Guruvayur during the forenoon. Four car borne guys seem to be behind this. Anyways, they've called for a 'hartal' tomorrow at Guruvayur and the nearby 'Manalur'. So its gonna be another forced holiday, tomorrow. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The extent to which some can cheat!

The Al Shifa Hospital at Ernakulam boasted of advance treatment for piles and fissure - a rich man's illness as it is widely termed to be. It has been in existence for quite a while and boasted of a large clientele at various stages of treatment of the illness. The hospital is housed in an imposing building of concrete and glass, located at a prime spot in the city and its frontage matched the reception of any five star hotel! I remember having taken my cousin's husband for a scan since he has a problem of piles quite a while ago.

It has suddenly come into the news for the following:-

    (a) Its managing director, Shajahan Yousef Sahib, was expelled from the Travancore Cochin
         Medical Council.
    (b) The Council's disciplinary committee, in its report, had concluded that Sahib's MCI
          Registration number was false.
    (c) Consequently, his registration was cancelled and his IMA membership suspended.
    (d) The hospital was shut down amid growing allegations of forgery, false documentation and
          cheating.

The inquiry was conducted following complaints from several patients against the hospital and Sahib saying that the hospital had no expertise in the field and hence, lots of complications were being reported. It was also alleged that he didn't have the requisite qualifications to practise modern medicine.

Moreover, the MCI had recently replied to the Travancore Cochin Medical Council's disciplinary committee that it had never issued any certificate to Sahib and the registration number that he was claiming to be his was actually that of a female doctor from Kerala!

My take.

Piles is such an ailment that people detest disclosing about it to the others unlike say, heart, sugar or cancer patients. I've always wondered as to why it was so.....was it because of the difficulty that they face in the rest rooms, the discharge of enormous quantities of blood from the anal region and the irritability, consequent to bad/erratic bowel movements? And probably, it was because of this reticence that emboldened quacks like Shajahan Yousef Sahib to have a heyday at the expense of the poor, hapless patients!



Tailpiece.

The north east monsoon has, suddenly, undergone a lull though our caretaker reports that it has been very active in Kollam district and the job of clearing the weeds off the third and lowest gradient of our rubber field is taking time.

Friday, November 10, 2017

News views.

1. Rumbling at the Top?

The Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra set up a five judge bench headed by him after overturning
yesterday's two-judge bench - consisting of Justice Jasti Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer - order to hear a case of bribery of judges in which a retired judge of the Orissa High Court, Justice Ishrat Masroor Quddusi, is an accused. The showdown was over the issue of supremacy of constituting a bench in which the authority of the chief justice was undermined as it was asserted that he was the master of the rolls!

It also needs to be understood that Justice Chelameshwar is the senior most judge after the CJI. Sad!

2. BCCI Stands Firm.

Going against a sports ministry directive, the BCCI has made it clear that it shall not allow the government's watchdog, NADA (National Anti Doping Agency) to conduct the tests on Indian cricketers. The reason that it has given are:-

       (a) It's not a national sports federation and
       (b) It has a robust anti-doping system that's WADA-compliant.

Why does it shy away from being subjected to NADA tests? What is the body afraid of? It needs to come clean on the issue.

3. The Absurdity in Conducting Celebrations.

One is witness to the bizarre celebration of Tipu Sultan's 267th birth anniversary in Karnataka where it has become a Congress party sponsored affair while the BJP and the right wing parties oppose it. While the Congress terms him a patriot who has done a lot for the region, the BJP perceives him to be anti-Hindu and a perpetrator of forcible conversions!

Why are political differences brought on to the streets? How can the celebrations take off when the people are divided right across the middle about its relevance?


Tailpiece.

The streamlining of the GST goes on in full swing. I suppose it's coming round to an all quarter acceptance! The earlier, the better for the country!!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A hardly convincing report!

Justice Sivarajan's Solar Commission report was tabled in the Assembly by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Consequently, the usual mudslinging and slug fest have begun. It's amply clear that there is a concerted effort to write Oommen Chandy's political obituary. The report raises serious questions like:-

     (a) It has skirted two important issues given in its terms of reference viz.:-

          (i) The resultant loss to the state exchequer.
         (ii) As to whether the then UDF government did anything to help 'Team Solar' of Saritha Nair
               and Biju Radhakrishnan.
   
     (b) It has relied heavily on Saritha's statements and come to the conclusion that:-

          (i) Oommen Chandy had received a bribe of Rs.2.16 crores from Team Solar.
         (ii) He had received sexual favours from Saritha Nair.

Two questions linger at this point of time viz. :-

          (i) The involvement of KB Ganesh Kumar in this sordid case has been glossed over. Is it
               because he's part of the LDF, these days?
         (ii) The jumping to conjectures by the Commission on the basis of mere allegations by Saritha
               Nair, who'd kept changing her statements and even refused to arrive before the Commission
               on several occasions.

And did the Commission come around to its conclusions due to a change in government? Why I'm asking this question is that Oommen Chandy could not have appointed the Commission, anticipating the present train of events had he been in the wrong because he would have done everything to cover up and perhaps, ensured that the Commission's findings were put up before the term of his government came to an end.

Sad that political jealousy and one upmanship can come to such a sorry pass! Here's wishing Oommen Chandy the best in his endeavour to clear his name.


Tailpiece.

Thankfully, the evening was clear of rain and I walked towards the temple for the following:- 

   (a) Buy Lekha's eye gel from the Medicare and
   (b) Pay obeisance to Guruvayurappan after what seemed to be a long time.


   

   

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Another 'hartal'.

The residents of Thrissur district were saddled with another 'hartal' today. This was called by the Hindu Aikya Vedi to protest the take over of the Sri Parthasarathy temple (Near the Guruvayur railway station) at about 3 AM yesterday by the Malabar Devaswom Board. Why they had to do it surreptitiously beats me, the botched attempts, earlier, notwithstanding?

The administration of the temple was being carried out by a committee drawn from the local population all these years. The Malabar Devaswom Board has been trying to take over the temple for the last eight years but without success and there are many cases pending, in this regard, in various courts. The present take over has been carried out on the basis of the High Court's interim order of 01 Nov.

A posse of about 140 policemen guards the temple since yesterday morning. What is the real story?
Some of the stories doing the rounds are:-

   (a) The ousted temple administration was deemed to be corrupt.
   (b) Whenever the LDF comes to power, its government has initiated similar takeovers. This is one
         such exercise begun during its previous regime.
   (c) The cash rich temples are taken over and the income, thus acquired, is transferred into the
         bottomless pit called the government coffers.
   (d) The maintenance of such 'taken over' temples become the last priority to the new stake holders.

My take.  

   (a) What is being achieved by the take overs?
   (b) If it's for streamlining the system and to stop corruption, the Devaswom Boards have also not
         acquitted themselves, above board, in this regard.
   (c) Why are the take overs selective? Why can't the entire lot of temples, in the state, be taken over
         and placed under an efficient, corruption free Devaswom Board?
   (d) The Boards' functioning must be subjected to periodic audits. The upkeep of the temples must
         be an ongoing priority.
   (e) Seeing the government's alacrity regarding the take over of the temples, why is it not taking
         over churches and mosques? I'm sure many of them are not free of the common ills of
         corruption/mismanagement.

This brings one to the basic doubts on the subject which are:-

   (a) Why do the take overs happen only when the LDF is in power?
   (b) Isn't the UDF not bothered about the colossal corruption that goes on in the name of
         propitiating the gods?
   (c) Or is it just a communist action plan to have a control of its Hindu vote bank?



Tailpiece.

A day that had thoroughly gone waste. What did the perpetrators of the 'hartal' achieve in the end except for causing great suffering and difficulty to the common man? The sad part is that it's the Thrissur district that has been subjected to the maximum 'hartals', this year! 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Six years have gone by.

Today is Santhan Kochachhan's sixth Remembrance day. He'd passed into the mist of time eleven days after Leela kunjamma in '11. He was a genial person and was liked by one and all in the family.

*                                          *                                       *

I first saw him in end Nov '63, standing beside the left pillar at the main entrance of the Thampanoor Railway Station. Consequent to my dad's transfer, the entire family - dad, mom, 8 year old me, 3 year old Rema and a babe-in-arms Mini - was returning to Thiruvananthapuram to stay with Muthachhan and Ammachi (Six months later, mom was off to my dad's place to take up her job as the Branch Post Mistress of Kura PO and she took Mini along with her. I was put into class III of the Holy Angels' Convent and Rema, into the Carmel Nursery School, next door to our house, Kalpar on the Easwara Vilasom Road).

Coming back to the evening, I shall describe it in Santhan Kochachhan's own words when he told me about his predicament much, much later on, "I was not scared of anything till then. I was in love with Villu(Vilasini Kunjamma, my mom's second sister) and she'd told me that it was important that chechi(Mom) endorsed me to take the wedding formalities to the next level". Maman was at the railway station to receive us with the car and he seemed to be terribly excited and pointed, rather unabashedly at Santhan kochachhan, as Vichani's(My kunjamma's nickname) guy who was standing along with his friend, whom we all knew as 'Swami' from then on!

        *                                    *                                       *

Well, everything went along fine and the two of them got married five months later on 27 Apr '64 at the Guruvayur temple. Their's, incidentally, was the first love marriage in the PN Panicker family! The couple used to be a fantastic sight with them going to the office in the morning - their offices were also situated close by, her Khadi Board and his Government Press, behind the Government Secretariat at Statue junction! - and returning in the evening by a half past 5, always together!!

They have two lovely daughters in Bindu and Sindhu.

        *                                    *                                       *

His culinary abilities were legendary. When he entered the kitchen and made a meal, not only was it super but was also a great help to Ammachi and the ladies. I, specifically, remember the days he used to make puries...they're simply the best. He, also, helped Ammachi to acquire grocery for the house on a monthly basis while Ammachi's assistant, Thangamma bought the vegetables and fruits from the market in Palayam!

My progress cards from school used to be signed by Muthachhan most of the times but whenever there was a dip in the marks, Santhan kochachhan signed up as my guardian. He asked no questions except for an advice that I should make up on my deficiencies and do well the next time. That was the trend when I'd joined Model School in class V, after one and a half years in the Holy Angels' Convent!

When I'd joined Sainik School in Jan '67, Santhan Kochachhan and Vichani kunjamma stood in for my parents as my guests during the Annual Sports Meet and the School's Annual Day Celebrations. Kurup kochachhan-Leela kunjamma and Sasi kochachan-Indira kunjamma had also been my guests, in turn!

         *                                    *                                      *

After Sainik School while awaiting the NDA results in '72 and when I was doing first year BSc(Physics) at the University College, every night, after finishing my studies, I and Santhan kochachhan used to pair up and beat almost everyone at the card game of 28. This, of course, was disrupted when I'd gone off to Pune to join the NDA in Jan '73.

          *                                   *                                       *

They've also visited us many times when I was posted at Kochi subsequently. I reckon that they enjoyed being with Lekha and me!

          *                                   *                                       *

I shall never forget my last conversation with Santhan kochachhan at Leela kunjamma's funeral when he insisted that his heart's condition was worse than Leela kunjamma's. He'd sat next to dad and me and told me about the minor discomforts that followed the intake of medicines because of his medical condition. He looked okay and without problems and never in my wildest of dreams did I know that I'd never see him again. I, also can hear my dad's wail on seeing him lying in state on that fateful day, six years ago.... 

Santhan Kochachha, I can go on and on about you and as to how you'd touched our lives by your pleasant and non partisan behaviour. Why did you've to go away so early? Missing you!



Tailpiece.

Dampened by the call for 'hartal' tomorrow, in Thrissur district, by the 'Hindu Aikya Vedi' for this early morning take over of the Sree Parthasarathy temple by the Malabar Devaswom Board, setting aside the local trust in a stealthily carried out move. Was it really necessary?








Monday, November 6, 2017

Let's see the recent news.

1. The Queens of Asia.

     In a nail-biting finish, Rani-led Indian Hockey team regained the Asia Cup beating China 5-4
     in penalty shoot outs. By doing so, it has won back the cup after 13 years and joined the men as
     the continental champions. India remained unbeaten through their campaign, scoring 28 goals
     while conceding 5.

     Way to go girls. Heartiest congratulations to Rani, her colleagues and chief coach Harendra Singh!

2.  Delaying Action?

     At its state secretariat meeting today, the CPM has decided to wait for the advice of the attorney
     general regarding minister Thomas Chandy's Lake Palace Resort's land grab in Alappuzha. The
     thinking is that an uproar would be whipped up, among the people, when the government tables
     the 'Solar Commission Report' in the state Assembly, during the one-day session, on Thursday
     whereby the public attention towards this treachery would be deflected. But would it change or
     diminish Thomas Chandy's misdeeds who cannot go unpunished for his crime? And it's also
     a stalling-for-time tactic as Chandy's party, the NCP, has no one else who can be made a minister,
     if he were ousted.

     Am reminded of the occasion when the whole of Kerala waited with bated breath to watch the
     CD that showed Oommen Chandy in a compromising position with Saritha Nair of the Solar case.
     It just highlighted the depravity of the Malayalees to be eager to watch a 70 year old at it, if at all
     the announcements made by the Malayalam television channels were true. The promised telecast, 
     eventually, never came! 

3.  The Annual Festivities of Kalpathy.

     The annual festival of the Kalpathy Viswanathaswamy temple in Palakkad will be celebrated
     from the 8th to the 16th of this month. The highlights of the celebrations are the Ratholsavam
     and the Sangeetholsavam. This time it has been decided to do away with the elephants and
     use earth moving equipment in lieu to haul the heavy chariots. The heritage village of Kalpathy
     has been spruced up, the bathing ghats have been given a face lift and the river banks, beautified.

     The pulling of the chariots will be from the 13th to the 16th, through the agrahaarams(Tamil
     Brahmin dwelling clusters) attracting thousands of visitors from all over the country and abroad.
     Consequently, the 18 agrahaarams have also got a face lift.


Tailpiece.

Was watching the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kailash Satyarthi on the penultimate episode of the popular 'Kaun banega crorepati'. The incidents that he narrated about children being exploited were
heart rending. Realised that my eyes were wet in the process.

  

Sunday, November 5, 2017

I ain't surprised with this survey.

Only one in every four car occupants use seat belts. The outcome of a "Seat belt use in India"survey conducted by Maruti Suzuki India, across 17 cities, gives the following additional information:-

     (a) South Indians are most reluctant to use this life-saving technology.
     (b) 81% women drivers skip using it while 68% of their male counterparts flout the rule.
     (c) 75% of people don't use seat belt while driving.
     (d) 72% of drivers, 70% of passengers in front seat don't use seat belts.
     (e) 96% of rear passengers don't use seat belts (I remember the backlash that I faced from my
           folks, including mom, when I'd insisted on everyone wearing the seat belt. I'd to backtrack
           from my strictness when I found the resistance to be stiff. My mom, knowing that I was right,
           used to clutch the seat belt in her hand from then on. I could make out that it wasn't 
           comfortable enough because of the angles and have now got used to seeing the passengers
           at the rear seat without the belt. I and Lekha make it a point to use it during our drives!)
     (f) While Nagpur, Jaipur and Chandigarh showed a high compliance, Coimbatore, Indore and
          Bangalore showed low compliance.

  According to global studies, wearing of seat belts reduce risk of death by 45% and cut risk of
  serious injury by 50%.

Only strict enforcement can make more people wear their seat belts. The respondents to the survey
had agreed that it was the fear of police action and fines which motivated them to wear seat belts.

My take.

I must hasten to add that it's outright ignorance, on the part of the passengers, which is a contributory factor in the non compliance of the rule. For example, most air passengers unhook their seat belts soon after landing even as the aircraft is taxiing at high speeds. They are under the wrong impression that the belts are only required for take offs and landings! Just imagine a situation when the pilot has to suddenly slam on the brakes while taxiing!! 

And does it give a macho feeling when they are not wearing the seat belts? 



Tailpiece.

I'd called up Elsie ma'am, this morning around 8, about the requirement of washing down our overhead water filter. She agreed to send somebody on Monday morning, Sunday being a holiday and I'd replied that it would be a great help if somebody could be sent in this morning itself. Perhaps, sensing the urgency in my request, her son was at our doorstep half an hour later and within 15', the problem was licked. I thanked the mother-son duo for their helpful attitude and felt nice when I heard her say, "Anything for you, sir". 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

All in a day's work.

After a lot of dithering, I'd gone to town to get a few pending things done. When I'd gone to the bank to transfer money in connection with Lekha's investment, I found that most of the top echelon were missing. It was the bank's 'Vilakku' at the temple today and they were there, overseeing the final arrangements. However, a chirpy and ever smiling young lady had taken me under her wings and had gone through the transaction.

She had told me about the 'Life Certificate' being ready and I went through the biometrics identification and got an acknowledgement. To my discomfort, I'd to see my Aadhaar photograph that was not flattering at all - in it, I look like a rapist and a thug! The after effects of using a computer camera for the photography!!

As I was walking towards my next stop, I'd walked past the bank where my mom had her account. Had she been with us today, it would have been time for getting her Life Certificate too. A wave of memories swept through my mind:-

     (a) The manager would come to 'The Quarterdeck' to clear my mom's Life Certificate. He was
           from Kurichi, a place close to Neelamperoor where she'd spent a good part of her childhood
           and she was very fond of Subhash on that score.
     (b) Every month, I used to pull out money from her account through the ATM counter at the
           ground floor.
     (c) Earlier, it was SBT and now, it's SBI after the merger.
     (d) Ever since her passing away, the bank has become yet another place of no consequence!

Life is like that. A thing of importance today could become redundant and of no consequence, tomorrow - a simple law of nature!

      *                                             *                                                  *

The overhead water filter seems to be having a problem. It's five months since it was last cleaned and is due for a wash up. Meanwhile, a plumber was called in, who'd confirmed that the system looked okay when I asked him to check for ruptures in the tank or for any other problem. He was, then, tasked to fill up distilled water in the batteries so that he didn't have to return, doing nothing.

The evening filling up of water in the overhead tank went off without any overflow but the taps remained dry. Call for the filter washer, first thing in the morning, tomorrow has taken priority on the 'do it' diary!

       *                                             *                                                  *

Vishnu, from my office at Kollam, had come by in the evening to get my signatures on the cheques for disbursement, early next week. He's come with his entire family to visit the temple. He brought good tidings about Benoy, my official chauffeur, who has begun driving the vehicle after a year's lay off, consequent to a bad road accident.


Tailpiece.

The evening drizzle prevented me from going out for my customary walk. Instead, I did the exercises within the confines of 'The Quarterdeck' and on the walker.

Friday, November 3, 2017

News views.

1. The Gujarat Assembly Elections.

     The battle lines seem to have been drawn in Gujarat with almost the entire opposition having
     got together with the Congress to form a huge and formidable combine. The BJP has the problem
     of anti-incumbency staring at it. What gives it nightmares is that small time traders have faced
     hardships during the implementation of the GST and their discontentment will, naturally, be
     exploited by the opposition. How much effect is Yashwant Sinha's speeches - he has been invited
     by a few Congress backed groups to lecture on the negative impacts of demonetisation and GST -
     is gonna have on the elections needs to be watched and seen.

     PM Modi will be the star campaigner for the party along with his master strategist, Amit Shah.

     The stakes are high and politicos consider this as the prelude to the General Elections of '19. As
     ordinary citizens, we're gonna be fed with a lot of falsehoods and half truths. But what makes me
     sad is that Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmavati' is being made a scapegoat. I mean, should we be 
     worried about the princess' love with a man from another religion? And that too, after almost 400
     years of its happening?

     One thing is for sure. 'Padmavati' is heading for a super hit, thanks to all the controversies!

2. Against the GAIL Pipeline.

    GAIL's LNG pipeline being laid through Mookkam and Eranhimavu in Kozhikode district has
    hit a bad patch. This project has been unduly delayed from the time the current ruling dispensation
    was in the opposition. The mismatch was on account of the compensation given out to the people
    whose land was affected. But now it's seen that the UDF, egged on with a tough stand taken by
    one of its constituents, the Muslim League, has asked for a realignment of the pipeline through
    the sea which is opposed by GAIL.

    It shows the following:-

        * The stiff resistance by the people of Kerala against change. What they seem to forget is that
            the pipeline will become the fulcrum of future growth around that area. Development be 
            damned, personal interest is important. Sad!
        *  The negative attitude of the parties, while in opposition. If the ruling dispensation gets 
            something done, it's gonna be an asset during election time, so kill/stall the initiative seems
            to be the motto!


Tailpiece.

The course of medicines for Lekha's cough and fever are over. The residual cough that she has put me on tenterhooks. Hope it's gonna taper off in due course and in quick time too.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

China's continuing stand and other stories.

1. Yet Again.

     China has yet again blocked India, the US and other nations' bid to list Pakistan-based JeM
     chief, Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN. This is for the fourth time that it's doing
     so, citing "there's no consensus" within the members of the sanctions committee. The comment
     comes as its three-month-old technical hold on a proposal by the US, France and Britain to
     list Azhar as a global terrorist, was set to lapse today.

     When will it stop blunting India's efforts against terrorism?

2. Kamalahaasan's Utterances.

    I admire Kamalahaasan for the powerhouse of an actor that he is. I've also admired him for the
    principled stands that he's taken on various social causes over a period of time. But he seems to
    have struck a discordant note in his eagerness to join a political outfit. By voicing another's idea,
    he seems to have surrendered his originality.

3. Udhav Thackeray's Shenanigans.

    Probably, stung by the fact that Modi and the BJP have not placed him on the same pedestal of
    importance that his dad had enjoyed, Udhav and the Shiv Sena have been going around saying
    negative things about the PM. The latest is his meeting with Mamata Banerjee, voicing
    disapproval of demonetisation and GST.

    There's nothing wrong in criticising the decisions and being a strong(?) votary against it, but then
    have the decency to get off from the coalition and stop masquerading as a partner of the NDA. I'm
    sure your own vote bank must be totally bewildered by your opportunism.

4. Against the Mobile-Aadhaar Linking.

    Why has there been a defiance among a section of the society against the mobile phone's
    link up with Aadhaar? Is it because of a genuine fear that one's personal information will get
    compromised or is it the known Indian trait of hiding information to circumvent the law - like
    having excess land holdings, more than one gas connection etc...the list is exhaustive? While
    the apprehension of a compromise and consequent frauds must be put to rest by the government,
    the linking will bring about an overall honesty in the way we do things, I'm sure.



Tailpiece.

I've come across a father - he has two sons - who hates his wife's affection towards their elder son. In fact, he has gone a step ahead by accusing incest between the two. A case of mental illness, I'm sure because how can one nurture hatred towards one's own flesh and blood?