Wednesday, January 31, 2018

In Pathanamthitta district.

Had got up a trifle late, around 7 and could get to use an adjacent room so that I could get to do my chores uninterrupted. We're ready by a half past 8 and had a sumptuous breakfast of 'puttum kadalayum!' Earlier, the night was on the same track as the previous ones with me coughing away without let up! The morning turned out to be okay!! Get a feeling that Muthachhan's taking care of us.

We set off for the Ezhamkulam panchayat by a quarter to 9. After a bit of a leather hunt, we fetched up at the Enaathu bridge where the panchayat had organised a rousing reception with a students' band and over a 100 strong audience, predominantly, ladies. It, indeed, was a rousing reception. The next function was at the High School in Kodumon panchayat, after which a scrumptious lunch was provided.

The five panchayats of the day were:-

   (a) Ezhamkulam.
   (b) Kodumon.
   (c) Vallikkodu.
   (d) Omallur and
   (e) Elanthur.

Came across Kochu Kunjamma Kochu, a 75 year old social worker, who had worked with my grandfather during the literacy movement. She told us a rousing story when PN Panicker, along with a few of them, had gone to a tribal belt and was appalled by the sight of 27 unfinished houses due to lack of funds. He'd, soon after, called up the then chief minister, Karunakaran and within a month, had personally ensured that the project was completed, much to the satisfaction of the concerned people.

The second anecdote was when my Muthachhan had stopped by the roadside, one day, to felicitate about ten ladies working in the paddy fields in the hot sun. That was his concern for the poor and the downtrodden. Truly, a great insight into his personality! She broke down as she narrated these stories!! She'd hugged me after coming to know that I was his grandson.

Today's proceedings went beyond sunset and by the time we'd settled down for the night at the Pathanamthitta rest house, it was past 8. A quick foray outside to have dinner and we're back to winding up for the day.


The cough is subsiding slowly because I can feel the throat unwinding after the last few days! Lekha seems to be better but she has been put through another round of medicines for the next four days.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Kollam finals.

Shall never forget the night's stay at the Rest House in Kollam. Had coughed throughout the night with no let up. I suppose the viral fever that I'd contracted while at Sri Lanka is playing its fairly long innings! The throat had no irritation but the tendency to cough prevailed. The exposure to the dust, heat and the sun could perhaps, be the villains of the piece but being part of the yatra, I don't want to be a problem with my physical discomfort.....maybe, in the course of the journey, will come across a doctor and the remedy. Today was our last day at Kollam district.

The panchayats that were covered were:-

     (a) Neduvathoor.
     (b) Ezhukone.
     (c) West Kallada.
     (d) Sasthankota and
     (e) Chavara.

The crowds, today, were huge in each of the panchayats and there were healthy interactions all through. The predominantly female audiences were attentive and showed their eagerness to join the bandwagon to become e-literates after hearing about the methodology of teaching and the time factor of 20 hours, to become one.

There was a minor problem at west Kallada, where our police team hesitated to have lunch because one of the organisers refused them food as the interaction was in progress. The team had, then, arrived in the area after their show at Ezhukone. I'd to intervene and smooth ruffled feathers to defuse the situation.

Jayachandran took leave of us after putting us up at the KMML guest house which was dignified and a nice cosy place to stay. Took adequate care of my throat with a couple of saline gargles and hot water intake. He'd done a fairly good job as our co-ordinator! 


Tomorrow, we step into Pathanamthitta district, the first panchayat being Ezhamkulam on the Kayankulam-Punalur road. Lekha's cough seems to be showing a respite and hope she gets well soon.

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"He has begun to show happiness and sadness according to the situation. He's being administered combination exercises during physiotherapy sessions. He's also taking liquid food orally though the process is slow".

Taken to the nearby hospital for showing ourselves to the doctor. At last some respite, I hope! 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Entering Kollam district.

We began from Kilimanoor at a half past 9 and entered Kollam district soon after. The panchayats that were in our itinerary of today were:-

    (a) Nilamel.
    (b) Anchal.
    (c) Pooyappalli.
    (d) Thrikkovilvattom and
    (e) Kundara.

We'd skipped breakfast to be on time and the hunger began gnawing my innards much earlier than the usual lunch time. Vidya's mom and dad had come for the meeting at Anchal and it was nice to see them after a long time.

The strengths of people who attended the proceedings were average despite our co-ordinator, Jayachandran's sincere efforts. Wonder what was missing? There was a lack of enthusiasm and a communication gap that was glaring at Thrikkovilvattom! The apologetic faces of the panchayat president and her secretary did not reduce the bad taste in the mouth despite the fact that it had given us a scrumptious lunch!

The policemen's street play was performed at Thrikkovilvattom and Kundara.

The team was put up at the Hockey Stadium complex for the evening. It was sad to see the sports complex in a dilapidated state due to bad maintenance. Vijayan got lost enroute and was retrieved before any damage was done. He'd fallen out of the flock and lost his way giving me a few anxious moments. The three of us - maman, Chambu and I - were put up at the Rest House.

Manu was sent to drop Jayachandran back at his home in Chathannoor as we didn't want him to drive all by himself, especially because he'd reported about faulty vision.


My throat is bad and this morning, saw my right eye having a redness. Hope everything subsides at the earliest!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The last leg of Thiruvananthapuram.

We'd kicked off by about 8 o'clock to Vembayam. Had told everyone last night that the yatra would resume at 0830 hrs this morning. Had wanted everyone to finish his breakfast by a half past 8, which was arranged by the Karakulam panchayat along with the night halt arrangements for the entire team. However, there were a couple of drivers who'd to fund their own breakfast.

Taking a tough stance right in the beginning was to convey the need to maintain punctuality and a sense of discipline. It was clearly conveyed that no nonsense would be brooked on this score!

The following panchayats were passed through today, the last of the ones in Thiruvananthapuram district:-

     (a) Vembayam.
     (b) Nellanad.
     (c) Vamanapuram.
     (d) Kilimanoor and
     (e) Pazhaya Kunnummel.

Being a Sunday, weddings, other programmes and festivities hampered our interaction with the audiences, in that, the strengths were abysmally low. But the juggernaut rolled on. We wound up, at the Pazhaya Kunnummel private bus stand with the street play, by about a half past 6.

The team's night halt and tomorrow's breakfast have been organised by the panchayat. We will roll on to Nilamel - and Kollam district - by a half past 8, tomorrow morning.


My sinus has been nasty and keeps me busy. The consequent tiredness and discomfort have been worrying. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

At the southern most tip.

We'd made a dash in the morning to Parassala in our convoy of nine vehicles. It definitely looked impressive. The panchayats covered today were:-

     (a) Parassala.
     (b) Balaramapuram.
     (c) Pallichal.
     (d) Kalliyoor and
     (e) Karakulam.

Interesting interactions, the overwhelming eagerness and the simplicity on display makes the yatra interesting.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The 14th Eco Digital Jan Vigyan Vikas Yatra kicks off amid fanfare.

It was a very short night, I'd gone off to sleep around midnight after reviewing the preparations at the site on the Maanaveeyam Road, near the Althara Devi kshetram. Had got up at a half past 4, gone through the chores and was out of the house by 7. We'd gone into the Foundation, the loose ends were tied up and I held back for our computer expert, Shekhar, to fetch up to copy the yatra's signature tune and the associated coverage from the compact disc to a pen drive to suit the system in the souped up vehicle. It was going to be the mainstay for the next 33 days'!

We, Shekhar, Lekha and I reached the venue just 15' ahead of the the chief minister's arrival. Everything was in place and we went through the arrangements one last time to ensure that the events tumbled out with clockwork precision.

The function went off well and the chief minister had also boarded the Science Exploratory, that was a pending task till this date. There was a sizeable crowd as audience and the entire place bore a festive look. After about 40', the guests had dissipated after the yatra was flagged off followed by a round of tea and snack. Had met Indira kunjamma, Suma kunjamma, Gopu and the others of the family during the function.

       *                             *                                 *

We'd returned to the Foundation to spend a quiet afternoon and to have lunch with our staff. There shall be no further activity for the 'yatra' team, for the rest of the day, due to security reasons. Instructions were given to each member of the team to be outside the Foundation, tomorrow morning at a half past 6, to head for Parassala.

        *                            *                                  *

Meanwhile, news from Lekha had confirmed that she had met the ENT specialist, Dr. Harindra Babu - mom's favourite - had a thorough medical check up and collected the medicines. Thankfully, it has been confirmed that there were no complications and her chest was clear. Rest and recuperation over the next few days should help her regain her health. And that puts a great worry - of the past few days - off my mind.


1. And today was India's 69th Republic Day, that was celebrated with pomp, show and gaiety all over the country. All the leaders of the ASEAN countries were brought in as guests at the parade at New Delhi.

2. Maman was very keen that I attended the 'At Home' at the Raj Bhavan in the evening. I'd politely turned down the invite because I wasn't dressed to the occasion - I was in the 'yatra' rig of keds and a bush shirt that were too casual for the occasion.....not expected from a Naval Captain, as per my understanding of the customs and traditions!

3. Had gone to offer condolences to MM Hassan, the Congress leader on account of his mother's passing away. Told him that I still remembered his mom's delicacies sent to our house on festivals. He squeezed my hands.!   

Thursday, January 25, 2018

To Thiruvananthapuram.

The day had begun at 6. Lekha was in a bad shape still and I really felt guilty at having to leave her with her sister with a persisting cough. George came, along with Murali, our chauffeur for the trip, a trifle after 8 because of a death in his family. Mini was all set to move. We, finally, set off at a half past 8 - as I'd let Lekha to get ready at her own pace - and took the NH 17 and for a change, had breakfast enroute.

The journey was uneventful but the lasting remembrance of the trip shall be Lekha's coughing that rang through every now and then. I, too, complimented her at times if that was of any comfort! We reached Letha's place, had a quick lunch and asked Murali to drop us at the bus stand where Mini had taken off for Kollam and me, to Thiruvananthapuram.

Reached the Foundation by a half past 5 and quickly got into work along with the others. It was a late evening but most of the nitty gritties were tied up as we headed for home, late in the evening. We'd also seen the flagging off venue at the Maanaveeyam Road, where the work of erecting the necessary pandals were on.


The next 33 days are gonna be hectic and what I look forward to is the interaction with the people.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Limbering up.

Sleep was a bit hard to come by as I monitored Lekha's cough all through the night. She seemed to run a slight temperature too that was a source of worry. Had got up at a half past 2 and since there was  nothing else to do, I'd recited my prayers. Had turned back to bed soon after and at 5, had called up Anto asking him to stand down on my last night's directive.

My health was not very hunky dory and I seemed to develop an aversion for food. The best option, during such times, is to skip a meal and that's what I did - skipped breakfast! The lung specialist had taken a day off because of the vehicle bandh protesting the rising prices of fuels. The day had a dull grey hue to begin with.

Going to the nearby ayurveda doctor did not appeal as the treatment for the cough would have begun with steps initiated to aggravate the ailment, before bringing it down. Mini had, in the meanwhile, gone to the nearest chemist to get a few medicines for herself. Lekha, slowly began to get better and it was decided that George's car would be used to ferry us tomorrow to Kottarakkara........that was the only way to put myself at ease. Without much ado, George was told about the errand and he was game for it.

Once the plan of action had crystallised, limbering up was just a matter of course. 'The Quarterdeck' was shut down and as I was going about it, the long procession of the Thamarayoor Devi temple's annual festivities was passing through the main road. The packing was carried out without ado and things began to move on as had been planned. It was during the post lunch session that Lekha came on her own with her cough under control, finally. Phew!

So, we shall be off by 8 tomorrow morning and should be at Lekha's sister's place by lunch time. After a quick bite, Mini and I get dropped at the bus stand where my sister will go off to Kollam while I shall be on my way to Thiruvananthapuram.

The coming month is gonna be hectic but I shall look forward to the takeaways from the massive people contact programme!


By the end of the day, the uncertainty of the last few days was out. Lekha looked better and Mini was raring to go along with Ammu, Midhun and his mother when they join up at Kollam, the day after! 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A miserable day.

Had got up early in the morning with both, Lekha and I vying with each other for the top honours in the 'coughing marathon'. Mine was into the sixth day while Lekha's was a day shorter! The five day course of antibiotics had rendered the digestive system lacking in sensitivity with hunger and thirst, having taken a respite.

I was trying to finalise our trip - Mini and Lekha to Kottarakkara and me, off to Thiruvananthapuram but coming to a decision looked difficult because of the following factors:-

      (a) A vehicle bandh tomorrow, protesting against the rising fuel prices.
      (b) Rumours of a 'Bharat bandh', the day after, on account of the Supreme Court's clearance to
            screen the Hindi movie, "Padmaavat".

Meanwhile, had taken Mini to town to get her bank work done. I, too, had tied up a lot many pending work which needed to be sorted out. Thus, by lunch time, with almost all the serials completed, we're back at home. Lekha's medical condition is a cause for worry.

By evening, I'd decided to leave by the early morning train tomorrow and had fixed up with taxi man George, to drop the two ladies at Kottarakkara. Accordingly, I'd called up Anto to ferry me to the railway station! Lekha was in a miserable state by night time and I'd quietly tossed my programme for tomorrow, out of the window. And felt nice!

         *                             *                               *

The Prime Minister's keynote address at the World Economic Forum at Davos was superb when he spoke like a statesman. What was jarring were the reactions from Rahul Gandhi and his party, which was outright crass and childish. Why do they insist on putting across their opinions if they don't have the right points.


A miserable day with illness taking centre stage. When will it taper, I wonder?

Monday, January 22, 2018

For Prasad's sake.

The day had begun at 4, when I'd woken up my sisters for the trip to Ettumanoor. Lekha had already ruled herself out as she was going through the pangs of the nasty viral fever. We're ready well in time and since we'd Jose as the chauffeur, I was not under any pressure at all. We set off, on the dot, at 6.

Jose did not fit into my concept of an ideal chauffeur as he talked quite a bit, was rash and he used to have this irritable habit of driving over the road dividing 'studs'! I'd to tell him more than once to avoid it but since he had made a habit of it, a total avoidance was impossible. Moreover, his elongated prayers before commencing the drive looked a little contrived but having said that, he handled the machine well. However, he was gonna give me a bitter shock during the course of the trip.

We'd stopped at an eatery for breakfast when I noticed that the Chevy had taken a swipe against some concrete embankment by the left bumper. I guess he would have managed that while maneuvering the car out of our courtyard. It really sank my heart because I can fix it only after a hiatus.

And so, we're off to attend Vishnu and Lekshmi's - Prasad's daughter - wedding at Aravi maman's Nandavanam Auditorium at Ettumanoor. Prasad is that relative of ours, who makes it a point to attend every function of the family, when invited. So, there was no question of skipping any of his functions even if one had a serious difficulty - as was the case today for Lekha and me. On reaching Ettumanoor and since we'd adequate time before the wedding, we had paid a visit to the famous Siva temple and had a nice 'darshan' of the good Lord.

Sree kochachhan, Suma kunjamma and Santhi were the only others from the family who'd come down from Thiruvananthapuram. It was great interacting with them and the other close relatives of ours at Ettumanoor. The wedding was a simple, well organised function and the couple looked made-for-each-other. May you get whatever you wish for during your long and happy married life, Vishnu and Lekshmi!

After bidding adieu to everyone we set off on our return leg. To avoid the traffic bottleneck, Jose had taken the wise decision of taking the Viyyur-Mundur route which was not only good but also bypassed the Muthuvara snarl and the Amala snap standoff, called by the people, due to the death of a patient, owing to medical negligence. We're back at home by 4 and after a quick cup of tea, had gone to see off Rema by the 1730 low floor to Palakkad!

A short trip that was performed for Prasad's sake and I felt nice.


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"It's over a week since he has been transferred to CMC, Vellore by road, in an ambulance. There's no infection or fever after the long journey. He's under the neuro medicine department. Due to a sleep disorder, the physiotherapy sessions haven't taken off fully. He responds to certain instructions and the doctors have proposed a CT scan to ascertain the extent of damage to the brain". From K Vipinachandran.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Is the CPM changing?

The crucial party meeting at Calcutta, today, showed the fault lines within the party's top leaders, Sitaram Yechury and Prakash Karat over having a truck with the Congress in the General Election of '19. The reasons could be any of the following or a combination of a few:-

      (a) The party doesn't consider the Congress as a winnable mascot.
      (b) It's a tussle between the two leaders to prove each one's supremacy.
      (c) Or is the party trying to form a third front?
      (d) Or stranger still, is it making a case for cosying up with the BJP?

I find it as a similar situation when Jyothi Basu was in a dilemma, years back, while being offered the Prime Minister's chair to head a rainbow coalition! Mind it, he as well as many of his colleagues, rued the decision of spurning the offer, then!

The ultimate decision at the party congress should give a peek into the overall strategy!

      *                                *                                 *

2. The North East.

Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram are going to polls shortly. The BJP seems to be eyeing for a clean sweep but will the CPM bastion of Tripura fall like a pack of cards in its favour because Manik Sarcar, the chief minister, has a clean image thus far? The BJP is banking on the Prime Minister's winning juggernaut!

       *                                *                                *

3. A Hectic Day.

Lekha was down with a viral fever and is on the third day of antibiotics. My sisters had come down from Palakkad to join me for the early morning trip to Ettumanoor to attend Prasad's daughter's wedding. Selvam, the pressman, had dropped by dutifully as promised despite it being a Sunday. Damn sweet of him. Jose, who's gonna be our chauffeur for tomorrow came to identify the location and had cleaned up the Chevy. He's our man, George's elder brother.

This is just to take the pressure off me as I'm still recouping from the viral fever that has, thankfully, begun to ebb. Ashok Swaminathan and Anjali - they're with us in the Sri Lanka trip - dropped by for a short while, just to be with us. They're here to attend a friend's son's wedding. Damn sweet of them!


A quiet yet turbulent day. Hope Lekha's medical problems get sorted before I embark for the 'yatra'!

Saturday, January 20, 2018


During my younger days, my grandparents and parents had drilled into me the importance of teachers in one's growth in life. If I'd returned from school, complaining that the teacher had punished me they were always sure that I would have done some mischief to merit it! Consequently, I've had wonderful experiences with all my teachers, through school to the NDA. The bonding between us is as strong as ever as seen on occasions when I get the opportunity to spend time with them.

Compare that with today's state of affairs and I shall highlight them to show the extent of decay that the system has undergone:-

      (a) The teachers are not allowed to punish the students. It's the most ridiculous order of recent 
            times. Kids are bound to make mistakes and they should be corrected, to be shown the right
            path and the teachers have to have the freedom to chose their options.
      (b) The militancy of the PTA Organisations. The Parents Teachers Organisations are meant to
            guide the school authorities to have a vibrant and all round growth in the institution with their
            collective knowledge. Instead one is witness to the PTA office bearers' children getting 
            preferential treatment because of autocratical tendencies shown by many!
      (c) Parents' interference in the school affairs. A ridiculous matter had come to light, recently, in
            one of the schools. The parents took the Principal to task for asking the children to cut grass
            as part of a 'shramdaan'.
      (d) Which brings me to the all important point of the quality of our teaching fraternity. This is a
            profession that requires dedication and a sincere interest to mould the children, under their
            watch, to good citizens of tomorrow. And as any profession, it needs to be looked after and be
            provided with an attractive pay packet. 

Teaching is not a 9-to-5 job. Period!

And now, I come to the news byte that has disturbed me. "A class XII boy of the Swami Vivekananda School at Yamunangar, Haryana walked into his Principal's office this morning and fired three rounds on her with his father's licensed revolver. The lady succumbed to her injuries later!"

And the reason for this dastardly act? She'd pulled him up for picking up fights with his school mates and teachers and for his poor academic record. 


The boy's father needs to be taken to task for being slack in securing the weapon in his house.     

Friday, January 19, 2018

Colombo to Guruvayur.

The alarm woke us up at 5 as we went about our chores and we're ready at the foyer, with our baggage neatly kept in a row, to be loaded into the bus which ultimately fetched up at a half past 9. Meanwhile, the photography sessions were on, clicking each and everyone for posterity. Victoria was his gregarious self but did I trace a tinge of sadness as we're leaving his company? Many of us weren't well. Was it because of the frequent ins and outs from the air conditioned environs of the bus to the hot weather prevalent around?

A word about the Jie Jie Beach hotel at Panadura. Though the infrastructure is good, services were pathetic. The GM was called in and told in as many words. Hope he and his crew sort out their lethargy as early as possible.

We're at the airport by 11. The people going to New Delhi(Their flight was at 1350 hrs) and us(Our flight to Kochi was at 1410 hrs) were the first to disembark and after quite a few hugs and hand shakes, we proceeded into the departure terminal. The emigration, security check and the customs clearance didn't take much time with a few of the officials being pleased as Punch on hearing my answer that the six days were too short and we'd be fetching up quite soon for another 'chukker'. Lekha'd picked up a bag of chocolates, from the duty free shop, for distributing it to many of our friends and relatives. I'd a string of $1, which I didn't want to carry back and so had an Expresso, which taught me two things:-

      (a) the stuff is served in a teenie weenie styrofoam container.
      (b) it didn't excite our palates either.

The security check in Sri Lankan airports is very thorough with every individual having to strip himself off the shoes and socks, belt and watch. It was cumbersome for the passengers but the Sri Lankans have not forgotten the nightmare that the Tamil militants had inflicted upon them, not very far back in time.

We're at Kochi by about 10' past 3. We're picked up and taken to the Golf View Hotel as arranged previously. Our Chevy was washed down and parked, ready to be driven off. After an initial dithering, we'd made it to my cousin's office where she'd organised tea and snack for us. And it was she who'd suggested a chauffeur for us, seeing my overall physical state. Bipin was a smart lad who'd been in Doha and Dubai for about 41/2 years and had returned, dejected. He drove the car beautifully and I'd no cause for complaints. We dropped him at the transport bus station to board the 2030 super fast to Kochi, from Kannur.

We drove back to 'The Quarterdeck' soon after. It was a quiet evening, thereafter, after six days of fun and frolic, non stop! A memorable trip indeed!!


Lekha'd also begun to cough and showed signs of feverishness. Without second thought, I put her on a course of antibiotics.   

Thursday, January 18, 2018

At Panadura, day 2.

It began as a lousy day for me. The cough was persistent during the night. I was also running a temperature. So, I decided to stay off from today's outing. Lekha left with the others by a half past 9. Their itinerary composed of the following activities:-

   (a) A boat ride.
   (b) Sea food special lunch.
   (c) At a fish spa.
   (d) Visit to a turtle farm.

I'd slept it out with an occasional read. Skipped lunch as I was in no mood to have it.

Lekha and the folks returned by a half past

She'd sent me messages on What'sApp but didn't browse them as I wasn't anticipating them. She'd got confused about our room number and it was a coursemate who'd helped her out. There was also an incident of the breakdown of the bus for the first time.

Then it was party time on the occasion of the 37th wedding anniversary of Things and Gurpreet. Kept myself to a light dinner.


Does travel fatigue set in? I am no more impressed with the array of food on offer. Long to have home food.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

To Panadura.

We'd started from our hotel at a half past 9. It was a fairly long drive and at the end of it, had told Victoria to avoid such huge swathes of travel when the age dictates that there are frequent rest room breaks. There were a few under tremendous pressure and I felt bad for them.

Our first visit was to the Ashoka Vatika, where Sita used to have her bath everyday. And it was on one such occasion that Hanuman was able to meet her. There's a huge footprint supposedly, that of Hanuman. There's a swift flowing river with clear water and a temple with the Ramayana deities.

I was a twad disappointed that the Vatika did not have the grandeur that I expected it have. Then, thinking dispassionately, I realised that the Sri Lankans did no have to eulogise Sita because it will be at the expense of their beloved king, Ravana!

We'd lunch at a nice little motel enroute. After a session of photography and taking Prabal to th kie wash room, we'd resumed our journey and had a tea break at the 'Tea Villa' where I'd accdentally misplaced my wallet. The ladies and the gents were protective and had handed it over to Lekha, to pull my leg.

We reached the Panadura seafront hotel by a half past 6. Guys at the reception were snooty and refused an accommodation on the seafront. Victoria was angry.

We'd a small party on the beach. It was a comparatively early evening. 


We're gonna be here for two nights before we return to India.  Our longish gtg is coming to an end.

I was badly off with a cough throughout the night. I only hope that it's not passed on to Lekha and put myself on a course of antibiotics.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

To Nuwara Elia.

It was a comfortable departure time at 10 from the 'Cinnamon Citadel'. The Thinds had joined us in place of Vikram Naik who'd left us yesterday afternoon. I didn't make him out initially and did I disappoint him, in the bargain, I wonder?

Victoria was expansive in his offer to the ladies, in that, he had us stop twice for shopping - at the Handuni's and at the supermarket of the silks. Lekha could, finally, purchase a few tidbits from the supermarket and looked please as Punch!

The next stop was at the Glenloch tea estate that was short and sweet. Most of the crowd had bought the many varieties of tea that the island nation is known for. We're also treated to a complimentary cup of tea on the occasion.

We'd a scrumptious lunch at the Bush Tree Restaurant at the foothill. Sheeja, followed by Sathi chechi called in quick succession for which remedies were given. We'd, then, proceeded to the Hanuman temple. It's believed that this was the place where Hanuman had first landed, on being sent by Lord Rama, in search of Sita.

By sunset, we'd reached Hotel Araliya Green Hills at Nuwaraeliya, our night halt. It was quiet evening thereafter.


1. Tomorrow, we visit the place where Sita was kept in captivity by Ravana.
2. The cohesiveness of the group is getting on abundantly.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The second day at Kandy.

It was a leisurely morning as we set off at 10 for the sight seeing. The army coursemates were wished many happy returns on the occasion of Army Day.

Our first stop was at the Handuni's Gem factory where people bought small pieces of ornament. Then was the tour of the Botanical Garden. Lekha and I reduced our visit to a short segment as there was a huge distance to cover and she didn't want to burden her legs with too much of movement.

A scrumptious lunch rejuvenated us and our next 'port of call' was the 'Tooth Relic Temple'. It's believed that Buddha's tooth is preserved here - a sacred place for the Buddhists, the predominant section of the Sri Lankan population.

The next programme was a cultural evening at the famed Kandyan Cultural Centre. An hour long event that was simply scintillating and sensuous. The dances were performed by nimble footed dancers and the evening was punctuated with the 'walk-on-fire.

Back in the hotel we're privileged to be treated by our army friends on the occasion of the Army Day celebrations. Even shook a leg post dinner.


The cohesiveness of the group is strengthening.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Colombo to Kandy.

The day had begun at 6 and after going through the chores, packing and breakfast, we're off with the day's programme.

The first stop was to pay homage at the war memorial built for the fallen bravehearts of the IPKF by Sri Lanka and it was a poignant moment because I was part of it. And then, it was the long drive to the Sri Lankan Simha army camp at Ambepussa. Major Hemanta Munusinghe, a war casualty, was the gracious host. The young man took pains to ensure that we're comfortable.

Driving through the countryside, one felt as if one was back in Kerala. It was an excellent afternoon that they'd organised by the scenic Maha Oya riverside. After a scrumptious lunch, we're off to Kandy which was gonna be our night halt.

The two evening hours spent at the Spices and Herbs garden with a spirited Dr. Murthy giving us the contours of each medicine that was in stock. We, too, purchased a couple of oils and spiced tea.

We, eventually, reached the Hotel Cinnamon Citadel, our our place of stay for the next 48 hrs. Thapar's birthday cake was cut and the evening rolled out in a pleasant manner.


1. Day two of fun and frolic.
2. The workshop on the use of digital payment application, Bhim was kick started at Kottayam, this afternoon.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

To Colombo.

The day had begun at a quarter past 4 for the both of us but sleep had vaporised an hour earlier to that for me. And as I do usually under such circumstances, I'd said my prayers and was partially awake when the alarm had gone.

Roy was a sweetheart in that he'd a box of sandwiches sent up to our room by 6, along with the morning cup of tea. We're, finally, on our way to the airport by a 20' to 7. Our Chevy was parked in the western corner of the hotel's courtyard and it shall remain there till we return.

Our flight was delayed by an hour due to the late arrival of the aircraft. The flight was uneventful but it did make up for lost time by reaching Colombo by a half past 11 instead of its scheduled arrival of a 5' to 11.

Kannan was available at the arrival, to pick us up and take us to the Hotel Ozo where we're being put up for the day. It was a kaleidoscope of emotions, meeting up with course mates after a lapse of two years.

Heard the sad news about the passing away of Commander Swaraj Munusinghe of diabetes almost a decade earlier at a comparatively young age of 51. I can never forget his unadulterated respect to a fellow warrior and his presenting a squash racquet, autographed by the then world champion, Jahangir Khan, in a fit of emotional outburst after I'd missed certain death from an LTTE machine gun fire in a night exercise that we'd undertaken! RIP Swaraj. My salute, tears and prayers.

Our escort and guide, Eggersen Victoria took us for lunch and a well conducted tour of the city, followed by a scrumptious dinner in a popular eatery in town.

It was a comparatively early evening under the circumstances!


1. An emotionally charged day on the eve of Makar Sankranthi!
2. The waste management in the city is commendable. One doesn't find waste lying by the roadside.
3. Had the 'hopper' today. It's nothing but a modified version of our appam with a variety of egg forms as toppings.
4. Our room is on the 6th floor with a panoramic view of the sea face.
5. No cacophonics of vehicular horns on the road. We, Indians, need to take a lesson or two from the Sri Lankan on orderly behaviour.

Friday, January 12, 2018

At Kochi.

The day had begun at a quarter past 5. By 6, I was out of the house for my walk and it was fairly dark. It was in the process of wearing off when I'd returned forty minutes later.

The shutting down of 'The Quarterdeck' was done and the news paperboy was told about our absence for the next few days. After a light and early lunch, we'd set off for my cousin's office at Kochi to collect as well as deposit a few personal effects.

We're at the Hotel Golf View by sunset. It was a quiet evening thereafter.


Hope this time the telephone behaves after the bit of homework done.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

That's not the way, Nitin Gadkari.

"Won't give an inch in Mumbai for Navy housing", said Nitin Gadkari, the union minister of shipping.

He was speaking at a public event in Bombay in the presence of the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command. He's miffed over the fact that the Navy has objected to the setting up of a floating jetty at the Malabar Hill in south Bombay where a floating hotel and seaplane service are also planned. The Navy has taken its stand taking the security aspects into consideration.

The minister has rights to cross swords on decisions that he thinks are 'anti-development' but he shouldn't have vented his spleen under the circumstances. He should have discussed with the Navy further, found out about the seriousness of the perceived threats to security and jointly, arrived at an amicable and a win-win situation for all concerned parties!

His connecting remarks that he wouldn't give an inch of land for the Navy's housing for its personnel and that they, instead, should be patrolling on the Pakistan border was in bad taste. He even wondered as to why the the naval personnel insisted on staying in the 'posh area' of Bombay. Mr Minister, you seem to be forgetting the basics and may I take this occasion to remind you about the fundamentals:-

     (a) The IN is an important part of the country's defence forces.
     (b) The service personnel seek very little in return for the sacrifices that they make in the pursuit
           of their profession. Not only does it have to defend the country but it also has to provide
           support in aid to civil power. Many a time you politicians take wrong decisions and the
           resultant strife needs to be brought under control by these forces - at that time, they don't ask
           you as to why you've made a mess of things.
     (c) The selfless service that the men in uniform provide for the country needs to be compensated.
           He needs to be adequately motivated and one of the things that is a must is the knowledge
           that his family and the near and dear ones are safe. Safe accommodation close to his working
           environment is, therefore, no great thing that is provided by the government.
     (d) The 'poshness' of south Bombay and its pristine environment have been carefully and painfully
           nurtured, over the years, by the IN. You've begun to talk about 'swachch Bharat' now, the
           service has always been practising it. You wouldn't have bothered about it even now but for
           the thrust given by the Prime Minister.
     (e) And if you plan to give space for naval accommodation at a faraway place, then do have the
           decency to provide round-the-clock transport for conveying the service personnel to and fro.
           It should be easy for you to do it since you're also the minister of transport, aren't you?

What these politicians don't realise is the paltry resources in the command of the senior naval officers to ensure sustenance of morale among their men. Accommodation is just one among them and that, too rightly so, under the government's control. Mr. Minster, do not bargain on it!

This reminds me about an ex-defence minister, recently, wondering aloud as to why the Naval Headquarters was at New Delhi. Just showed his ignorance on a very important aspect. Sad!


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Since his condition is improving, he's being tranferrred to CMC, Vellore for physical rehabilitation, by road in an ambulance, tomorrow". From our classmates' What'sApp group.

Lekha's credit card, that was missing for almost a month, was found when we'd just returned from the bank after reporting its loss and its consequent blocking. Its duplicate should reach us within the next five working days!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The last of the China trilogy.

The PLA and Pakistani military officials met at Jiwani on 18 Dec '17. Jiwani is located on a peninsula about 15 mile long stretch of land, with a small airfield. The large naval and air base will require the Pakistani government to relocate the residents, living in the area, to the other areas of Jiwani or further inland, in Baluchistan province.

Pakistan is inflicting military excesses and exploitation on the Baluch population who are subjected to rape, abduction and killings on a daily basis. Sadly, three helicopter gunships, gifted by the Chinese, are used in support of the attacks on the hapless population.

The Chinese has asked the Pakistanis to undertake a major upgrade of the airport to enable the handling of large Chinese military aircraft and work is expected to commence in Jul '18. The naval base and airfield will occupy nearly the entire strategic peninsula.

It can be seen that China is consolidating in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR) at an incredibly rapid pace. Against this backdrop, India needs to take a serious note of China's shenanigans listed below:-

      (a) Its tacit support of Pakistani terrorists.
      (b) The recent Dokhlam stand off.
      (c) Continued trans-LAC incursions by its troops.
      (d) PLA's presence in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, which is Indian territory and
      (e) Undertaking projects in PoK without reference to India.

It's the Chinese aggressive actions, in conjunction or without Pakistan which may lead to conflict situations in the IOR. China's OBOR(One Belt One Road) initiative and the Maritime Silk Route, aimed at replacing the 'Dollar' with the 'Yuan', is liable to create more turbulence in the years to come.

A tricky situation indeed!

* Adapted from material available on the subject.


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Only the immediate family is being allowed to visit Mohanachandran in the room. This is basically to avoid infection from setting in. His condition has been improving steadily". From Suresh Laxman. 

1. Today's dad's sixth remembrance day as per the English calendar.
2. Had 'paav bhaaji', courtesy Lekha, after a long time. A favourite!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Expanding its footprint in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR).

Continuing with the China story to show as to how it's trying to encircle India for a future show off, perhaps! The argument, on the flip side, would be that it has nothing towards its north that's worth conquering!!

An article in mid '14 had revealed Chinese plans to build 18 bases in the IOR termed, "Overseas Strategic Support Bases". It mentioned three specific categories:-

      * Peacetime fueling and material supply like Djibouti, Aden and Salalah.
      * Fixed supply bases for warship berthing, fixed-wing reconnoissance aircraft and the naval
         staff ashore rest like Seychelles.
      * Fully functional centers for replenishment, rest and large warship weapon maintenance like
         Gwadar in Pakistan.

Another article in Nov '14, quoting Sri Lankan sources, talked of the following Chinese bases in the

       * Hambantota(Sri Lanka)
       * Naval bases in Pakistan, Myanmar
       * Naval supply base at Walvis Bay in Namibia
       * 18 - 19 overseas strategic supply bases in Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Kenya, Tanzania,
          Mozambique, Seychelles, Madagascar and other ports of the IOR for supplying, berthing and
          maintenance bases - very different from US types of bases, without specifying the difference!

An Interesting Diary of Events.

   * Sri Lanka's Hambantota port was officially leased to China for 99 years since Sri Lanka had to
      service the debt on the loan it took from the Exim Bank, China to build the port(Jul '17).
   * China commissioned its first overseas naval base at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. China's
      agreement with Djibouti ensures Chinese presence there till 2026 with a contingent strength of
      up to 10,000. The period can be extended and troops strength can be increased subject to the
      prevailing situation(Aug '17).
   * Gwadar port in Pakistan was handed over to China for 49 years which gives China immense
      strategic advantage because of its proximity to the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
   * China had already indicated plans to increase its marine corps from 20,000 to 1,00,000 for
      overseas deployment including at Gwadar and Djibouti(Mar '17).
   China has engaged in ports development in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
   * Its economic ties with Africa and the related rise in its naval profile across the IOR has been
   * The magnitude of its investments in Sri Lanka(Colombo and Hambantota) is quite high and
      China is aware of the economy of the country and also that payback would be aimed to be
      retrieved in strategic terms. China's nuclear submarines and warships do not dock at the docks of
      Sri Lanka Port Authority(SLPA) in Colombo, mandated to accommodate military vessels but
      instead at the Colombo South Container Terminal(CSCT), a deep water facility built, controlled
      and run by China through an aid project. CSCT is a Chinese enclave within a Sri Lanka
      administered harbour, the berthing itself a violation of protocol.
   * Similarly, in Maldives, China's Integrated Development Project rides on huge concessional loans
      and financing; they are on such high rate of interest that Male will default unless given a waiver.
      So the waiver will come with a strategic price - the Chinese control over maintenance projects
      (As was the case in Sri Lanka) including its establishment of a naval presence.
   * In Jul '17, the Chinese unveiled a massive ship described as "magic island maker" named Tian
      Kin Hao which is capable of digging 6,000 cubic meters per hour equivalent of three standard
      swimming pools. That this would be used in the Indian Ocean is obvious with China having met
      most of its plans in the South China Sea!


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Mohanachandran has been, finally, shifted out of the ICU into a room". From K Vipinachandran.
Phew! it was high time that it happened. I'm sure his progress will be in leaps and bounds from now on! 


Monday, January 8, 2018

China is at it yet again.

China has made it clear that it is opposed to US branding Pakistan with abetting terrorism and providing safe havens for internationally wanted terrorists. The Trump administration has suspended a $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan for its failure to take decisive action against terror groups like the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. It went further to say that China could play a helpful role in convincing Pakistan that it was in its national interest to crack down on terror safe havens.

And China's response has been on expected lines, that, "It always opposed linking terrorism with any certain country and it doesn't agree to place the responsibility of anti terrorism on a certain country. Countries should strengthen anti terrorism cooperation on the basis of mutual respect instead of finger pointing". 

Note the two timing by China on the issue. While it talks about cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, it has been continuously blocking Indian efforts to brand Hafiz Sayeed as a terrorist in the Security Council of the United Nations! China, along with Pakistan, have always been working together against India so that this country is on a continuous fire fighting mode that will ensure slowing down of its growth because it has a direct impact on development!!

Its recent incursions into Arunachal Pradesh was another episode of its anti-India shenanigans. It was attempting to build a road deep inside Indian territory which was thwarted. It continues to insist on permanent positioning of troops at the Dokhlam area. The nefarious designs of that country are very evident in its actions against India. Why does it do so while insisting upon a robust relationship between Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi?

It doesn't seem to have learnt lessons from the irritants handed over to it by the Pakistan based terrorist groups on its ongoing work on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

It's clear that China is scared about the scenario in which India overtakes it in growth and goes on to become a formidable nation in terms of economic might which is inevitable as time progresses. It's also irked by India's stand against dumping of cheap Chinese goods into its markets. Perhaps, the series of irritating incidents along the LAC could be because of its mindset. It's gonna be long drawn but we shall overcome!


Another one of those quiet days.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

The day had begun at 4 and we left the house by 6. There was a quick detour to the Foundation to collect a few more papers for Maman's impending Delhi trip and we're, finally, off by a half past 6. The drive was nice with Manu behind the wheel. Breakfast was at Thiruvalla and we reached the Kottayam Public Library - the venue of the workshop - before 10. The Science Exploratory was parked at the main parking area and it added to the overall ambiance, attracting curious onlookers/visitors to the library.

Meanwhile, Lekha had left Palakkad by bus and was received at the bus stop in front of the Little Flower college by Preetha around 10 o'clock.

Aniyan was unable to join us as Usha ammayi had to be taken to the hospital because of fever. The programme commenced at a half past 10. Our coordinator had organised about 60 college going children to be trained as 'trainers' for the main workshop - for about 2,000 small time traders of the town - from 15 Jan, for a period of 10 days.

Once the workshop was initiated after the public meeting, we made a dash to Muthachhan's Puthuvayil House to show it to engineer and architect, Ranjith for its renovation and a facelift-of-sorts(The proposal of converting it into a national monument is already with the government but it has its inertia and hence, this interim  initiative!). Santha kunjamma was lying wrapped in her bedsheet with fever but by the time we're leaving, she was up and about and back to being her original self and even saw us off at the gate! Gomathi peramma, too, was lying on bed and insisted on each of us to kiss her which I readily obliged. She's 89 and has a loss of memory, but that momentary sense of recognition that passes through her face, on sighting any of us, is palpable.

The secretary of the public library, CG Vasudevan Nair chettan, had also accompanied us and told us as to how Muthachhan's elder brother used to meet up with him during his visits and insist upon him to stay at the Puthuvayil House! He was delighted to meet up with two of his daughters and reminded them of those good, old days.

We, then, returned to the public library and after a quick lunch, resumed the workshop and around a half past 2, Kummanam Rajasekharan had joined us to observe the proceedings. I was dropped at the railway station, soon after and as I was sauntering through the platform I heard someone call out my name, K Rajeev - the name that I was known by, at school, since we'd three Rajeevs in our class! It turned out to be VJ Binu and his wife, Asha who were waiting for their train to Thiruvananthapuram - they'd arrived in town, earlier in the day, to attend a wedding.

And as it was during the onward journey, all trains were running late. The Kerala Express fetched up at a half past 3 and the TTE issued me a berth in the air conditioned 3 tier coach. The journey was comfortable and I reached Thrissur by a quarter past 6 and had disembarked on platform no.2. To my pleasant surprise, the evening passenger to Guruvayur was idling on platform no.3.

Was back at 'The Quarterdeck' by a half past 7 and it was nice to be back.


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Ever since food is being given through the peg, Mohan has maintained a steady course and is stable". From Suresh Laxman.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Peculiar reactions.

A bit of news views will be in order and therefore, here I go:-

 (a) The Sudden Clamour Against Aadhaar.

       Of late there has been a spate of messages against the Aadhaar. The messages on the What'sApp
       have been shrill and suggestive about personal particulars being passed on to unauthorised
       people for a paltry Rs.500/-! The same has now come in the print media too. My take on this has
       been expressed earlier.

       It's an Indian weakness to skip paying taxes, have many gas connections, have even more bank
       accounts and so on. It's these things that would have to be given up once the Aadhaar is on track!
       Now how does one change the warped view of the people? I support the call for the 
       government to be aware of every aspect of its citizens through a system that's tamper proof.
       Without doubt, the Aadhaar should be brought into force at the earliest.

  (b) The Fodder Scam Case Comes to its Logical Conclusion.

       After hitting the headlines in the early '90s, the case had meandered over almost 20 years to
       arrive at its logical conclusion with Laloo Prasad Yadav being sentenced to 31/2 years in jail.
       Of course, he'll go for an appeal against the verdict to the higher court and the outcome is 
       anybody's guess, the court has found him guilty and consequently, punished him.

       The case was stalled many-a-time as the witnesses showed a reluctance to appear in court  
       because of being scared of testifying against the mighty. It's the greatness of our justice system
       that it overcomes the impediments, without fear or favour. I'm proud of it!

  (c) Gatecrashing into a Wedding Reception.

        Thanks to my Maman, who needed company, I was a gatecrasher to Mathukutty's son's 
        wedding reception. We'd made a grand entry as the entertainment programme was coming to
        an end, wished the newly married couple and moved in for a lavish lunch. While I told
        Mathukutty that I'd come by uninvited, he apologised to me for not having invited me! Well!!


We'd returned to the office, from the reception, in an auto rickshaw that vibrated a bit too much when it stood idling at a traffic light. Maman had experienced a passing bit of discomfort in the process. I told the driver that he needed to get the engine tuned and his remarks were, "At Rs.25/-, what more comfort do you want?", that tickled me no end.

I'd to explain that a heart patient could find it miserable to travel in his vehicle and it was then, that the reality dawned on him. He apologised.  

Friday, January 5, 2018

Whither Kerala?

1. An unofficial report of the Home ministry prepared, with inputs from the central agencies and the police say that every year about 1,200 Keralites are converting to Islam! And it's not 'love jihad', adds the report. Though it's more personalised and individual based, the report says that outfits like the SDPI and the Popular Front have encouraged such conversions using their religion, money and law to achieve it. The following outfits, also, work on conversions:-

      * Maunathul Islam Sabha, Ponnani
      * Therbithuyal Islam Sabha, Kozhikode
      * Sathyasarini, Manjeri.

2. The salient features are:-

      * @ About 1,200 per year.
      * Predominantly, the youth.
      * No political influence.
      * The conversions are more in the Malabar area.
      * In Malabar, Thrissur district has the maximum number of conversions.

3. The breakdowns under which conversions have taken place are equally interesting to note viz.:-

     (a) Reasons.
           Love                            61%
           Poverty                         8%
           Mental Agony              7%
           Media Influence           7%
           Others                         22%

     (b) Families Affected.
           Nuclear Families         65%
           Joint Families              32%
           Others                            3%

     (c) Educational Background.
           Those Who Haven't Completed High School       34.6%
           Those Completed High School                             44.7%
           Graduates                                                              10.7%
           Post Graduates                                                        4%

     (d) Political Relationships.
           CPI(M)                        17%
           Congress                       8%
           BJP                               2%
           CPI                               0.8%
     (e) Agewise Breakup.
           18 - 25                           39%
           25 - 35                           35%
           35 - 45                           19%
               > 45                             7%

     (f)  Castewise Breakup.
           Backward castes            64.6%
           Nairs                              10%
           Brahmins                         6.7%
           Catholics/Christians      17.4%
           Scheduked castes/tribes  7.3%

Aren't all religions equal? So, what's the need to convert? Or are the ones, better off, not interested to understand the plight of those who flock for conversion without any coercion, whatsoever?


The Kids of Today Are Evolved.

Jahnvi, a three year old and Mohanachandran's granddaughter, is the darling of her parents. When he was admitted, they'd come down from Bangalore. Professional compulsions made them return as Vinu had to get back to work. But when his dad's condition had worsened, Vinu and Bhavya had decided to go to Thiruvananthapuram, leaving the little one with the maid who was from their 'neck of the woods'. The alibi provided to the kid was that the dad had suddenly developed some medical complications and had to undergo a medical check up at Thiruvananthapuram.

The kid tells the maid, "I know that they're telling me lies. Appukkuttan(She calls her granddad that) must be in a bad condition. I shall pray for him!" 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

At Thiruvananthapuram.

The day had begun at 5, with us going through the chores and Anto, along with his son, Abin, had fetched up at the gate by a quarter past 6. The latter works in a hospital at Angamaly as an accountant. He also boarded the 0640 passenger to Ernakulam like me and had stood in the line to buy our tickets. I had a wait of an hour in the waiting room at the Thrissur railway station before the Jan Shatabdi, from Kannur, fetched up.

The journey was uneventful except for the fact that the train was late and fetched up at a half past 3 in Thiruvananthapuram. In fact, most of the trains were late which I came to know is a daily phenomenon. Is the railways really finding it difficult to run its trains on time? Meanwhile, Lekha had left for Rema's place, at Palakkad, by the 0950 low floor bus.

Manu had picked me up and I was at the Foundation soon after. It was great to be back with Maman and his staff as usual. By about a half past 5, I'd picked up Suresh Laxman and Sindhu on my way to the KIMS, to look up Mohanachandran's family. Since they allowed only one visitor per person into the ICU, to avoid any sort of infection, seeing Mohan was not possible. Sat with Manju, the sons, Vinu and Vishnu and the brother-in-law, Vijayan and his wife and updated on Mohan's medical bulletin. A 'peg' has been put in place in his abdomen, earlier today, so that he could be given more substantial food in liquid form, though - a sure sign of improvement in his condition! He was made to sit on a chair for 45' in today's session of physiotherapy. He now opens both his eyes and reacts to the others' conversations by a twitch of his lips. He responds only to the sounds and sights of the left side.

We'd wound up the office and were home bound, when Pannian Ravindran sir had called us for a visit to the house of Mr. Sudhakaran, the PWD minister regarding the installation of Muthachhan's statue. What struck me was the simplicity of the minister and his wife, their hospitality. She'd inquired as to whether sugar was required in our tea and brought us tasty banana chips, made by her. It was an interesting session for over an hour or so and at the end of it, we're seen off at the door by the minister, himself. A rare sight, these days for sure, as power has not eclipsed the niceties meant for the guests. No wonder he was my Muthachhan's favourite!

It was a late evening and the dinner and interaction with Ammayi and Chambu was nice.


The two day workshop for the students at Kottayam has been reduced to a single day because of an earlier 'vehicular bandh' call in the district - it has since been called off. So, the Sunday is gonna be really a tight affair!   

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

It's been six years!

I'd got up at a quarter past 5, went through the chores and was out of the house, on the dot, at 6. The walk was pleasant as there's a nip in the morning air these days and it's dark, still, as I turn into the home stretch. Lekha was going through her morning chores, as I watered the plants at the balcony and on finishing it, had settled down to read through the messages on the What'sApp that had accumulated after 11, last night.

It was while going through them that my mind had wandered and I realised that dad's remembrance day was on the 10th and therefore, the date as per the Malayalam calendar was somewhere around. Hoping like mad that I hadn't missed it, I'd rushed to the work area of the kitchen and browsed through the Malayalam calendar hanging there. Totally absent minded, I'd flipped the leaves and zeroed in on 27 Dec and my heart sank. Called up both my sisters to tell them about the inadvertent miss and thankfully, it was they who'd called back to tell me that I hadn't missed it as the date fell today. I'd erroneously browsed through the Dec '18 page!

Thankfully, except for a glass of water in the morning I hadn't had anything and it was a vegetarian dinner devoid of rice, last night. So, I was 'fit' in all respect to do the 'shraadh ceremony' in the morning. I'd a quick shower and made a dash to the Thiruvenkatachalapathy temple, nearby. The all too familiar 'thirumeni' was all smiles when he sighted me as the first round had just been completed and the people who'd participated in it began dispersing. I was slotted into the second round with two ladies and we went through the motions, directed and closely monitored by him. Incidentally, he'd insisted on me sitting on a biscuit tin to avoid soiling the white dhoti that I was wearing. Damn sweet of him!

After our round was over, by about a half past 7, there was a surge of people for the third round. I'd handed over the 'dakshina' to the thirumeni, touched his feet and then, wished him a very happy new year. Never had the ball of rice mixed with curd and an adequate number of chillies, given as 'bhog' to eat subsequent to the ceremony, tasted so nice! I'd have missed this opportunity to remember dad due to a carelessness on my part and wouldn't have been able to pardon me till the same day, next year.

Missing you dad!

And see the passed away on Leela kunjamma's birth star of 'Pooyam' and Santhan kochachhan had passed away on dad's birth star of 'Uthrattathi'. Isn't there a cosmic connection between them, in that, they'd passed into the mist of time within three months - between end Nov '11 and early Jan '12?


Tomorrow would have been mom's birthday had she been with us!

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"A sort of stalemate persists. The fever, due to infection, keeps coming off and on, with the doctors not having been able to pinpoint the cause. Mohan has spent over two months in the ICU of KIMS at Thiruvananthapuram. It must be taking its toll on the family. Vishnu, the younger son, has almost given up his job in the Gulf and has been trying for an alternate in India but to no avail...the fact being that the offers are so low because here, they don't count the time spent there in his CV! Sad!! From Suresh Laxman.    

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Responses do get affected.

One's responses to happenings, conversations or for that matter, anything, get affected due to a whole lot of reasons and without realising it, one reaches a point of being unable to respond. I'd like to give three specific instances that have fetched upon me recently......

  (a) Nyet to Begging.

        One used to be a regular to dole out something to the beggars that one came across, be it on the
        streets or during journeys by bus or by train. Then a very respected person prevented me from
        doing it, by saying that in doing so, one's actually letting that person make money without
        having to work to earn his/her daily bread! She, however, did make an exception for those who
        really had observable problems. Even that becomes subjective and over the years, I've stopped
        doling out 'favours' altogether!

        This morning, a man who should be in his early 40s - but looking older for his age - knocked on
        my car's window asking for alms and I'd refused. A sense of guilt at refusing him weighed in my
        mind for a fairly long time subsequent to the episode probably because I'd just returned from the
        bank after pulling out money. To say 'nyet' while you have the wherewithal to give, is a difficult
        proposition and the guilt gets to be overwhelming.

  (b) Messing Up The Dates.

        Last month, I'd goofed up on two events. Babu Sahadev, my classmate, had about a month
        earlier, informed me about his arrival at Guruvayur accompanied by his wife, Suma, and I'd
        made a mental note. Usually they stayed with us on such occasions saying that it gave them a
        good break from their Canadian surroundings! Similarly, Charlie Mike, another classmate, had            informed me about his younger son's wedding at Thirur during mid-December and again I'd                made a mental note. But when the time came I'd goofed up and what was unpardonable was
        that the gaffes took place in quick succession, within a week!

        Spoke to both of them and asked for their forgiveness. Babu had told me that he'd come in
        connection with a wedding and accommodations were booked. Lessons learnt - my mental
        notes need to be backed up in writing.

  (c) A Difficult Situation.

        This is consequent to the ruffling of feathers that I'd caused last week. A young lady has
        cleared a public examination with flying colours. Congratulating her has become difficult
        because I'm sure that they wouldn't like to hear me at all. And hence, I stay mute, unable to


Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"No change from last sitrep". From Suresh Laxman.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The National Medical Commission(NMC).


1. Last year, a parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare tabled a report which exposed the scam-infested Medical Council of India(MCI), the country's medical regulatory body. The report had found that the MCI had become a "club" of influential doctors who perform their roles as regulators(Approving the setting up of medical colleges and monitoring the conduct of doctors) with little care for the basic norms of governance or fear of regulation. Corruption and bribery thrived in approvals to set up medical institutions and further down the line, even in the inspection process.

The Way Out.

2. The Bill that is being introduced in Parliament tomorrow aims to replace the MCI with a new regulator, the 'National Medical Commission(NMC)' which will do away with red tapism over medical institutions and bring about transparency.

A Few Important Features.

3. A few of the important features of the Bill are as follows:-

    (a) The government can dictate guidelines for fees up to 40% of the seats in private medical
          colleges. This is aimed at giving students relief from the exorbitant fees charged by the
    (b) Recognised medical institutions don't need the regulator's permission to add more seats or
          start PG courses.
    (c) Fewer elected members to the new commission.
    (d) Earlier, medical colleges required the MCI's approval for the establishment, recognition and
          renewal of the yearly permission or recognition of degrees and even, increase the number of
          students to be admitted. Under the new bill, the powers of the regulator have been reduced to
          establishment and recognition.......less red tape.
    (e) Allows practitioners of alternative medicines such as homeopathy and ayurveda to practice
         allopathy after completing a "bridge course".

My take.

4. It's my fond hope that there is a great deal of deliberations in Parliament, over the Bill, to bring out a comprehensive piece of legislation, free of all loopholes! And I wish that the standards of infrastructure and personnel who man the various medical institutions - from the primary health centers to the largest of hospitals - become world class so that the common man is looked after without having to fear about bad handling of cases! May ethics be the cornerstone of the health services in India!!


Drove off from my sister's place around a half past 9 and we're at 'The Quarterdeck' by 12, a bit ahead of lunch time!

Mohanachandran's medical bulletin.

"Is improving steadily but no significant change since last sitrep". From K Vipinachandran.