Monday, April 30, 2018

Small, little things yet important.

Today was the birthday of a very dear friend. I'd to convey my feelings to her daughter but due to a faux pas neither did I have her contact number nor was she on my What'sApp either. So relied on the good 'ole internet to send a mail. Her prompt reply assured me that my message was on time.......missing you, Laila Samson!

      *                 *                   *

It was the wedding day of Vishnu and Greeshma at the familiar Thrikkonnamarkodu Devi kshetram, close by - in its auditorium that is. The muhurtham was between 1130 and 1200 hrs. We'd fetched up at the venue by a quarter to 11 and had gone for a 'darshan' of the Goddess, which brought back old memories. We used to visit the temple frequently during our childhood days, my sister, Rema's marriage had taken place there on 21 May '89 with all our relations being present.

I made it a point to circumnavigate the temple on the outer circle and took in the scene, in the minutest sense. The temple tank, smack in the courtyard, the railway track(Kollam-Madras Egmore) as the western boundary, the Devi Vilasom High School towards the east end and the road to Kunnicode and onward to Punalur and Kottarakkara in front of the co-ed school! My sisters had studied in this school!!

       *                  *                  *

Met Sasikala, our ex-panchayat president, who was active as one of the servers in the dining hall. She'd sought my help for a needy family in refurbishing their miserable canvas hut and I'd assured her that I'd contribute my mite for the worthy cause. And wasn't she pleased?

        *                  *                   *

Soon after dropping Lekha at Raj Nivas and after a quick change, me and my sisters headed for my mom's pension disbursing bank. Ramakrishnan, a comparative youngster and a positive guy, was at the pension counter. Mom's 'lifetime arrears' was stuck for the want of dad's pension pay order(PPO) which was lost. It was only recently that I'd unearthed a 'corrigendum to the PPO' from his old papers and we'd gone across to find out as to whether it would suffice.

And he said it would. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten to carry supporting documents. Shall get them on 06 May, when I come for a two-day workshop on digital literacy at Kottarakkara. Mini and Sanil will also be with me, then! At least, the impasse has been removed!!

       *                   *                     *

Two gentlemen from the library next door had dropped by seeking a contribution towards their reading projects. I'd said that the state library council, under whom the library was, has been trying to prevent the PN Panicker Foundation from celebrating the Reading day and Week. A few of its top management viz. Adv Appukkuttan and Nambiar were behind this act of treachery. I'd, while assuring them of my contribution, posed the following questions:-

       (a) What's the council's locus standii in celebrating the Reading Day and Week when the
             concept and its execution for the past 22 years was the soul responsibility of the PN
             Panicker Foundation?
       (b) What wrong has PN Panicker done for which he's being crucified even after 23 years of
             his passing away?

They were told that I'd hand over my contribution only after the successful culmination of this year's Reading day and Month under the auspices of the PN Panicker Foundation.


1. Heartiest congratulations Vishnu and Greeshma. May you have a long and happy married life and here's us - Lekha and me - wishing you all that you wish for! Lekha had attended the evening reception while I did some packing for our trip back to Guruvayur, tomorrow.
2. It's gonna be a long day!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Biplab's theories.

Almost a week back, Tripura's chief minister, Biplab Kumar Deb had spun a goofy new theory connecting the internet with the epic, Mahabharatha and I quote, "The internet was invented by India lakhs of years back and not by the United States or other western countries. Many may disagree but if the internet wasn't there, how could Sanjaya see the war in the Kurukshetra and describe it to Dhritarashtra? It means internet was there, that satellites and technology were there in this country at that time. I feel proud that I'm born in a country with such advanced technology. Countries which claim to be technologically advanced are hiring Indian talent to upgrade their software".

His statement comes a few months after union minister Satyapal Sing debunked Charles Darwin's theory of evolution saying, "It was wrong and the changes need to be reflected in the Indian school and college curriculum. Since the time that man was seen on the earth, he has always been a man. Nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, has said that they saw an ape turn into a man".

Now, I don't object to these beliefs as it's based on their logic and could sound plausible. Perhaps, as we progress more into time there would be clarity on this aspect!

But what is unacceptable is the same Biplab Kumar Deb's comments about an international beauty pageant that took place 21 years ago. He claims that the beauty pageants were a farce and questioned the rationale behind crowning Diana Hayden "Miss World".

Ms. Hayden's reply is sufficient to shut this motor mouth, "A minister should be more heedful about what he says. I'm fighting this brown skin bias since my childhood. And I've succeeded. People should be proud of my achievement rather than belittling it. I'm a proud brown-skinned Indian".

My take.

Well done ma'am! I'm proud of you and damn glad about your smart answer. And Biplab Kumar Deb, shame on you for warped ideas!


Had left the house by a quarter to 9 and headed straight for Ponni's house. Lekha was the only one who hadn't paid a visit to offer her condolences on Jayan's passing away and reached there about an hour and a quarter later with Janaki's help to navigate the last 3 km. And from there, we'd headed straight to Varadamma appachi's house at Vallikkezhu, taking along with us Mini and dropping Sanil at the railway station, enroute as he was going to Thrissur. Appachi has had a variation in her heart's readings last month and was in hospital for two weeks. She looked weak, was damn thrilled that we'd called on her and continues to be beautiful! Meeting up with her third son, Jayan, his wife, Arathi and daughter, Aparna was nice. And we made a quick departure from Kollam because of the massive CPI Congress rally of one lakh volunteers around a half past 2.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Xi Jinping - Narendra Modi meeting.

After six rounds of talks that stretched close to ten hours over two days, including a lakeside walk, a boat ride and conversations over tea, Modi and Xi have pledged to work more closely together on global issues while managing differences. The important takeaways of the summit are the following:-

   * A major confidence-building measure and symbol of the potential to co-operate, the two leaders
      have given the go ahead for India and China to carry out a joint economic project in Afghanistan.

   * Agreed to issue a new "strategic guidance" to their two militaries to follow the existing
      mechanisms in place to maintain peace and tranquility in the border.

   * To better use the information sharing mechanisms that are in place. The Doklam stand off, last
      year, was seen by both sides as exposing a major gap in communication.

   * Found common ground on terrorism recognising the common threat posed by it. Reiterated their
      strong condemnation of and resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

   * Agreed to push forward bilateral trade and investment in a balanced and sustainable manner by
      taking advantage of the complimentary aspects between the two economies.

   * Enhance Military and Security communications.

   * Agreed to take forward economic co-operation and China did not think it was important whether
      India accepted the One-Belt-One-Road infrastructure project and China "won't force it to" - the
      approach seemed to be of shelving disputes while taking forward ties.

The influential People's Daily had given wide coverage of the visit, noting the personal touch that Xi had given to all the arrangements. It stressed the following:-

   * Beauty of the informal summit in Wuhan, Hubei Province is that it comes with no baggage, only

   * Free of the usual diplomatic frills, somewhat beyond the global limelight.

   * Heart-to-heart communication reflected their deepened mutual chemistry.

My take.

It's my sincere hope that the relationship between the two countries improves thanks to the personal equation between the two leaders.


We'd gone to look up Pidavoor amma - Padmakumar's mom - after a half past 3 in the afternoon. Rema had company in Bharathi chechi and Rohan....the others would be fetching up by early morning tomorrow to partake in an engagement ceremony within that family, at Kottarakkara. At 90, she was enthusiastic in collecting the dried 'copra' from the courtyard along with the others.

May God take care of you and keep you in good health, Pidavoor amma.

She was fussy about the tea and snacks being provided and insisted on us having a papaya too! A host-par-excellence!! And she recalled dad's monthly visits with a packet of the Kottarakkara Ganesha kshetram's delicacy - the unniyappams - after collecting his pension!!!  

Friday, April 27, 2018

Today in my village.

The village that saw my dad's birth, his childhood and and his school going days is called Nadutheri and it nestles all along an eleven kilometre stretch on the Kottarakkara - Pathanapuram main road. The population from about a 1,000 in the '60s has grown on to be about 12,000 as of date. Much of the old paddy fields have shrunk and given way to rubber/coconut/tapioca fields. The population is mainly agrarian but many of the younger generation have stepped out to try their professional luck in the world outside.

I had got up before 6 and my alarm clock was the cuckoo who has been regular, apart from being accurate!

Our stay, thus far, has been relaxed and between the work that have to be done, I've spent most of the time in moving around the village to get a fair idea regarding its progress over the years. The track that goes eastward all along the stream - our northern boundary - continues to be the same and the plots of paddy fields that we owned once upon a time have healthy paddy growing in them, nutured by the present owners.

One of them, whom I happened to meet during my walk in the morning - before the sun started to blaze down - told me that the plot has proved lucky for them as he has been able to acquire four more similar plots from the profits that he'd made out of its yields. Unni chettan, in his 90s, had expressed a desire to meet up and talk to me and I'd gone to his house on a hillock beside the dirt road, its eastern entrance is accessible by road. Chettan used to be one of the elders that people looked up for sane advice earlier and in turn, he used to discuss issues with my parents for solutions. He held my hand for a long time and I saw his eyes glistening in the morning sun.

During the forenoon, I'd made a beeline to the Panchayat office to ascertain the latest initiatives - the efforts on waste management is showing the results, the rural markets established at two places in the village see heavy commercial activity during Tuesdays and Fridays, every week. There's a plan afoot to revive fresh water rivulets, ponds and tanks. The urge to perform, guides the performance of the elected members and they seem to be a determined lot!

Met quite a few people at the market place and what struck me was the freshness of the vegetables and fruits - though the variety was restricted to mangoes and bananas of differing kinds - and that it was free of the use of pesticides!

The panchayat member of our ward had dropped by just to say a hello and said that she would ensure that the correction would be incorporated in our new ration card. George, the farmhand who'd be working around the rubber saplings next week came and gave me his estimates. He has been working for us for quite a long time.

Rema, my sister, who had come down from Palakkad yesterday and was in Padmakumar's house, dropped by for lunch and it was nice to catch up with her. We both had plucked, as well as picked up, a few mangoes from the two trees in our compound so that she could carry them along.

Meanwhile, Mini, my youngest sister and Sanil had reached Kollam this morning and were at Jayan's house. All the four of them will be here at Raj Nivas, by Sunday.

Rain, in the evening, wasn't harsh but it lasted for almost an hour, bringing down the temperature to a comfortable  level. There were three sets of guests in the course of the evening and as I shut the main door of the house, I realised that it was the end of another quiet day.


1. Got the news early in the morning that Lekha's aunt, whom we'd met yesterday, has been admitted in the ICU of the Crescent Hospital because of a variation in the heart. The doctor tending her has said that it will pass because the difficulty was due to exhaustion brought about by unnecessary worries!

2. Today, incidentally, is the 54th anniversary of Santhan Kochachhan and Vichani kunjamma's wedding. I still remember the trip and the many of the events connected with that day. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Looking up Appachi Ammavan - Lekha's uncle.

We're up half an hour earlier than our usual time, went through the chores and by a quarter to 8, had driven off to Lekha's sister, Letha's house. After a quick breakfast of Upma, bananas and coffee, we'd gone by an auto rickshaw to the state road transport corporation bus stand. I learnt a new thing today and probably it would be of interest to many of you.

We'd made a beeline for the low floor air conditioned bus to Thiruvananthapuram coming from Kollam. While checking up at the Enquiry Counter, the answer given was that it would arrive shortly. When the coach was nowhere in sight even after half an hour, Lekha's query was provided with the answer that he had never told that it would arrive. He went a step further to say that we might as well wait for the bus coming from Kottayam, headed for the airport. That we're finally able to board a coach that had come from there was another matter altogether but it did not head for the airport. 

I shall continue on this aspect later as I go chronologically through the day's events. We'd got down at Palayam and headed straight for Dr. Govindan's Hospital. Ammavan had a tube connected to his left nostril through which food, in liquid form, was being given. His memory had gone, temporarily, for a toss and he wasn't able to comprehend what was going on because the Sodium level in his system was fluctuating. So he didn't register our presence, at all, though his eyes were open and he kept muttering a lot.

Appachi, then, went on to tell Lekha that he'd got their Innova overhauled recently to make a family trip to our place at Guruvayur and had said that he was fond of me, among the outsiders who've come into the family! Quite sweet of him!! In between, I'd run an errand to the market, nearby, to buy some fruits and food for Lekha's aunt. We left about an hour later and all the three of us were crestfallen that he couldn't speak to us! He's all of 90 years and the infirmity is showing.

O God, please let him leave the hospital soon so that he makes that trip to Guruvayur to be amid us, as he'd wanted!

We reached the Thampanoor bus station and had a quick lunch of Biriyani. And then, went in search of information regarding the low floor bus and again it was the same lackadaisical response from everyone. It was, then, that I realised that we're asking the guys at the KSRTC while the low floor, high definition buses were manned by an elite staff, picked out off them, and the entire paraphernalia came under what's known as the KURTC(Kerala Urban Road Transport Corporation). Wonder whether it's professional rivalry or an inferiority complex, prevalent among them, that exposed us to reactions that weren't understandable? 

We, finally, hopped on to a super fast express and bore the heat as it lapped up the 72 km and were back at Raj Nivas by a half past 4.


Smack opposite Dr. Govindan's Hospital is the Holy Angels' Convent, my alma mater, where I'd studied the half of the third and the fourth classes after my parents had returned from Bombay. I took in the playground - though shrunken - and the chapel but almost all of the old buildings that existed in the early '60s have been demolished and new multi-storeyed buildings have sprung up in their place! A look at the compound took me down memory lane - Sister Anna, our class teacher, Girija Thampi(I'd a crush on her), Sydney Stephen, Udayashankar, Mary Ann, Valsala, Wilson T Paul - a few of my classmates - came into focus albeit for a short while! Wonder where they are now?  

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hats off to the young lady.

1. Asaram Bapu gets life imprisonment.

I doff my hat to the 16 year old, young lady for her unflinching stand on her allegation of rape on the fraud guru and god man, Asaram Bapu. A lot of pressure - in the form of requests from political leaders, influential people from society along with threats - I'm sure, must have been put on the hapless girl to withdraw the case. Probably, a great amount of money must have also been offered to keep her mouth shut! That she didn't succumb shows her grit, determination and the need to bring the guilty to book.

Today's thus a day of celebration that justice has been delivered by the pronouncement of life imprisonment on the fraud, Asaram Bapu for his guilt. May it also be a warning to all the frauds who masquerade as god men.

2. Thrissur Pooram from far.

This is yet another time that I'm watching the 'Thrissur Pooram' from afar on the television. It's a celebration that has to be seen first hand to experience the colours, sounds and sights associated with the tremendously popular event. Since we stay at Guruvayur, just 25 km away, participating in the festival is no big deal.

This year, there was this requirement to be here, far away from the Pooram site. Next year it shall be my endeavour to view the greatest spectacle on earth!

3. Rains all the way.

The sky was overcast towards the latter half of the afternoon. We're bracing ourselves for a heavy downpour and prolonged periods of power interruption but thankfully, nothing of that sort happened because the ominous dark clouds ended up in a drizzle that lasted for about an hour and a half. So the evening was pleasant and the water, pumped up from the well, was cooler.


Lekha had gone to the Maha Ganesha temple at Kottarakkara, by 9 AM, to pay obeisance to the good Lord. The caretaker did not forget to pluck two jackfruits, put them into a sack so that Lekha could hand them over to her sister. She'd returned by 11

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Why do people court controversy?

People, often court controversy, sometimes wholeheartedly to show which side they're on and many-a-time unwittingly. Let's go through a few such cases of the recent past and from their perusal, it would be easy to come to the right conclusion - but I'm leaving that to you. So, here we go.

 (a) The Supreme Court Judges' Revolt.

       Four judges of the Supreme Court had recently come out, openly in revolt, against the roster
       system prevalent in the allotment of cases to the judges. With high octane cases - that have a
       political bearing - coming up fairly regularly, the anguish is understood. It's payback time and
       every individual has his/her political beliefs that kick into play. The Chief Justice of India had
       made it absolutely clear that he's the 'Master of the Roster'.

       It's unfortunate that the top court is divided in this fashion. The Indian judiciary is known for its
       unbiased and unflinching dedication to the job in hand and many of the landmark judgement
       are shining examples of jurisprudence! The judicial system prevalent, the world over, looks up to
       our legal system for guidance.

       Quite soon the case against the Rajya Sabha Chairman's decision to reject the notice regarding
       the impeachment of the CJI, sponsored by eight opposition parties, is gonna come up in the top
       Court for hearing. It will be interesting to note the court's action and I'm sure it will come out
       with flying colours in resolving the issue once for all with finesse!

       Weren't the personal political affiliations of the concerned judges that had played a role in raking
       up this unnecessary controversy, I wonder?

 (b) The Bollywood - or rather Choreographer Saroj Khan's - Revolt.

       What prompted Saroj Khan to come out in this crass manner? She's quoted to have said that
       at least in Bollywood the casting couch(Amounts to rape in many cases) encounters ensure
       daily bread to the victim as against the dumping of victims in the world, outside cinema. That
       was a sad statement expected out of a woman, firstly and from a respected stalwart, secondly.
       The question that comes into one's mind is as to how the very same people had come out to
       deplore the Kathua/Unnao rape cases when they'd double standards about such happenings
       within their own backyard!

       On a personal level, it was disgusting to see Ranbir Kapoor's response to the reporter's question
       on the casting couch and also the manner in which Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra kept
       guffawing at it. And these guys tell us to be disciplined and well behaved in their films!

 (c) The Casting Couch in Politics?

       Ms. Renuka Choudhary's statement that the casting couch phenomenon exists even in political
       circles needs to be taken seriously for its import. Earlier, one had always laughed off such
       insinuations as the figment of certain people's imaginations, but now?


It was a quiet day at home, yet again, reliving the past!


Monday, April 23, 2018

It's yesterday once more...

At Raj Nivas.

It's our fifth day at Raj Nivas. Have been doing all that I'd done during my childhood over the last few days. Even Lekha had gone to witness the last two days of the Maha Ganesha temple's annual festival and said that she was taken back to her days at home when she was a child.

Plucking and eating mangoes from the trees in our backyard, playing in the stream that forms our northern boundary, meeting my cousins from my father's side and meeting up with relations and friends have become a way of has given me a tremendous sense of happiness!

The difference is that my parents aren't there and my sisters are at their homes. They will, however, fetch up by midweek to attend the wedding in Lekha's family next Monday.

      *                    *                     *

Why isn't Rahul Gandhi Being Restrained?

He aspires to be the Prime Minister or more rightly, his mom is keen that he makes it. There's but a decorum that such personalities are expected to maintain all the time which is that they do not belittle the others and especially, people who hold important positions. The Chief Justice of India is one such individual.

It's that gentleman who has been called a bench fixer by this brat. Is this the stature of the youngsters joining politics, these days? If yes, we need to hang our heads in shame. He has done appalling things in the past too, like one can never forget the manner in which he tore a piece of legislation that the government had approved in front of Shri Manmohan Singhji, the then Prime Minister. So what if he's a member of his own party? It's not his private fiefdom!

And he wants just 15' to demolish Prime Minister Narendra Modi according to him. Now, isn't that a laugh? How can he be so crass?

What's most ugly is that senior Congress leaders, including his mother, have not corrected him. Is he beyond reproach? I mean, at least, teach him the basic manners please. A very, very sad day indeed!


Lekha had gone to Kottarakkara to help her sister with the wedding related purchases. So, it was lunch by myself, she'd it late by about a half past 2.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mohanachandran returns home and other stories..

It's payback time and I need to spend time with quite a few close ones to catch up with them.

(a) The Return of Mohanachandran.

      Mohanachandran, my classmate and friend is on his way back to his home at                                        Thiruvananthapuram from Vellore as I write this. He's expected to reach there sometime, in the            wee hours of tomorrow morning. It's the family's fond hope, based on the doctor's advice, that his        medical condition could improve if he were to be shifted to a familiar environment. His status is
      almost the same in that there's no conversation, no showing of emotions, his right side has almost
      no movements except for the twitching of the digits! His overall health has improved as he has
      been having food orally for the past three weeks.

      Lekha and I were planning to look him up on arrival this week but his son's message was passed
      on to me by a friend saying that no visitor would be allowed at least for the first 48 hrs lest his
      system is upset, bringing about complications. The road to recovery is long and we, his class
      mates shall maintain vigil and say our collective prayers.

      We hope to look him up, sometime later this week, after the embargo on the visits is lifted!

 (b) Lekha's Uncle is Back in Hospital.

       Lekha's eldest aunt's husband has been admitted yet again after a break of four days. All of 90 yrs
       he has been making frequent trips to the hospital, this month, as the Sodium-Potassium levels
       within his system have not stabilised. Hope he gets all right and the frequency of the hospital
       visits are reduced.

       Last time, about six months back, we'd met him over lunch and he was very excited having us
       around. He looked fragile but his sense of humour was as fantastic as ever and also wanted to
       know the details of our work in the Foundation. His call of "You must come more often" was
       reciprocated by a vehement 'yes' by Lekha and I then, but we've not been able to keep up the
       promise. Must look him up when we visit Mohanachandran.

       The Idukki hydel project was dedicated to the country during his tenure at the helm of the state
       electricity board.

 (c) Varadamma Appachi, Dad's Youngest Sister.

       Infirmity has caught up with my aunt, who's dad's youngest sister. I've heard of stories when
       she used to be scared of standing in front of dad and used to get her requirements through mom's
       help and they made a tremendous twosome, always playful and full of laughter! When she fell in
       love with the ayurveda doctor who was newly posted at Thalavoor - he subsequently married
       her and they have four sons - it was mom who'd donned the role of the proverbial swan of the             legendary 'Nala-Damayanti' saga! When I was a kid, I used to egg her on to interact more freely
       with my dad but she used to say that it was impossible. In fact, she used to stand by the door with
       a part of herself behind the curtain! As the eldest brother in the family and because of his ways
       of interacting with people with textbook correctness, he was deified, literally!

       All of 83 yrs, she has stopped travelling and rarely gets out of her house these days. Will look
       her up and spend time with her sometime this week.

       She was a popular teacher at the High School at Kottavattom during her heydays, who brooked
       no nonsense!


The party congress of the CPI(M) at Hyderabad finally ended with a whimper without sorting out the simmering differences between the Karat and Yechury groups. Sad!



Saturday, April 21, 2018

The last day of the Ganapati Kshetram's annual festival.

Had got up smack at 6, gone through the chores and relived the halcyon days of my younger days at home, the only difference being that my parents weren't there and my sisters were away at their respective homes. Went through the morning serials with a bit of deliberateness as John would be arriving at a half past 9.

Eventually, we'd reached the venue of the meeting viz. the government guest house at Asramam by about 5' to 11.

Today was the meeting of the Board of Management of the JSS, Kollam which I'd steered. Reviewed our performance during the last calendar year, identified our weaknesses and have fixed targets for the coming financial year. Maman was the special invitee and he did give us a few inputs for bettering our performance.

By the time the meeting was over, it was a half past 2. Maman had a flight to board for New Delhi from Thiruvananthapuram and so he, along with our staff colleague, Lekha made a dash after lunch. We had further deliberations and finally, left by a half past 3. Since it was the final day of the Kottarakkara Maha Ganapati kshetram's annual festival, the blocks on the direct route to my house - to facilitate the passage of the long procession consisting of caparisoned elephants, horses, a camel and thematic floats - were bypassed by John as he took me east by north east!

Meanwhile, Lekha had left for her sister's place by 2 to get a vantage position - a comfortable seat at the police station, facing the temple - to watch the entire set of proceedings.

John was sad that his task with me had come to an end, all too soon. After bidding him bye, I'd got into the house, finished the-winding-up-for-the-night-procedure of shutting down the windows, burning up the paper waste, readying the lamp at the pujamuri and as I settled down for the evening Malayalam news, realised that my cellphone was missing. I'd left it in John's car. Vijayan was told about it - I didn't have John's number - and after about 15', John had himself come and returned the instrument!

Vijayan, our caretaker, gave me company for about an hour or so, talking about a lot of things. There were a lot of pending mail and other work to do on the laptop. Lekha, finally, returned at about a half past 10 chaperoned by her sister, Letha and Maari.

It was, thus, a late supper and watching Crime Patrol on televion for a short while!


Our maid had told Lekha that she was beaten up by her husband again, last night. Her brothers have decided to report the matter to the police on Monday and Lekha has suggested to her that she and her son should shift along with her younger brother and family. Her incorrigible husband needs to be kept out of the house, for a while, with the police keeping a watch on him.

Friday, April 20, 2018

A short outing.

Had got up around 4 AM to the rest room and after that break in sleep when I'd opened my eyes subsequently, it was a quarter past 6. Felt guilty for being late because the doors and the windows of Raj Nivas used to be open, on the dot at 6 during my parents' times. Quickly went through the chores, lit the lamp in the puja room, got the devotional songs flowing from the selected channel, cleaned up our Chevy with the rainwater that was available all over it thanks to the last night's rain, recited my prayers and then, went on to wash the bed linen that were submersed, last evening, in soap water.

By the time I was ready it was almost 10 but the bath didn't seem to have any effect because of the prevalent heat. John, an ex-state road transport corporation's driver, was the chauffeur for the day because I wasn't keen to drive. He seemed to be happy to do the errand because as per his inputs, he'd become very choosy about the driving assignments as he was in his early 70s.

The trip via Lekha's house was swift and uneventful with me listening to John's narration of his trip to Adelaide, Australia to be with his son and his family six months back. His daughter, along with her husband and son, were staying close by and he seemed to be a contended grandfather. We reached our destination before 11, the time set for the meeting but there was an embarrassing moment as we entered the road, I missed the office - the chairman had missed the office! - and had to be talked to the place over the telephone. Bad show, Rajeev!

The meeting had begun in right earnest and the points were sorted out one after the other. By the time we moved in for lunch, most of the decisions were given. The working lunch was nice and after that the session was rounded off after deliberating over a couple of points! And we left soon after. Had picked up a kg of the red skinned bananas from a shop enroute and headed straight to meet up with Kurup kochachhan. He looked good and I'd woken him up from his siesta. His nurse gave him a banana and he savoured every bit of it!

It was nice seeing him and to hear him talk - he said some very nice words about my parents and wondered as to how I'd remembered to get him the fruit that he was fond of. After bidding him farewell, I'd gone around the corner and as I passed by his room, I found that he'd gone off to sleep making me feel guilty for having woken him up. His nurse, Vijayan Kurup, is doing a good job of taking care of him.

The return trip was uneventful again and we'd crossed the auto rickshaw, carrying Lekha to the Kottarakkara Maha Ganapati kshetram who was on her way to have a glimpse of the annual festival and the associated lighting, at Kura ROB. Reached home and went about the evening chores. Lekha returned by Johnson's auto rickshaw by about a half past 7.

And it was a quiet evening thereafter!


John has volunteered to be my 'saarthi' for tomorrow, too. Tomorrow's is the Board of Management's meeting and it's gonna be held at the government guest house at Kollam. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

At Raj Nivas.

Had got up around 4 AM, gone through the chores and we were on the road by a 10' past 6. The traffic was okay and at the Swaraj Round, we saw that the preparations for the Thrissur Pooram had begun in right earnest. The thrill of being with my parents was palpable since last evening and made the journey, a pleasant one. My sisters and their families will be joining us next Friday. We reached Ananda Bhavan for our breakfast of puries and vegetables.

After about half an hour, we'd resumed our journey. During the trip, we passed two elephants at different times and for me, I've always taken the sightings as good omen - the superstitious me, huh! - that would make the journeys absolutely trouble free. We reached Shilpa Regency, near Kottarakkara, by about 1 and were just in time for lunch; we chose the 'thali' with fish curry.

At Kottarakkara, there was work at the Dish TV shop. Firstly, it was to activate our dish connection and also to query as to who'd recharged our connection for a fortnight rounding off two days before. I'd told the 'dish shop owner' that I wasn't buying his tale that somebody had wrongly recharged our line and he grinned sheepishly. But it continues to remain an intrigue, I must admit and it reiterates the fact that transparency is the greatest quality of digital transactions!

We reached 'Raj Nivas' by about a quarter past 3 and I went about the task of helping Lekha in unpacking. Water was pumped into the overhead tank, the television switched on as per the shopkeeper's directive to effect the recharge within a half hour, a visit to my parents' resting place along with a small chat regarding the purpose of our visit and as to how long we're gonna be here and a quick survey of the work carried out around the rubber saplings. The rains with harsh winds of late have done a lot of damage; about ten saplings are bent and straightening them, using stay wires, has become a necessity!

The coconut tree at the courtyard has bent further, its restricting stay wire has not been tightened by the guys who'd done the job about two years ago and were supposed to take in the slack every year with their 'composite pulley contraption'. I'd called them up later in the evening and they'd be coming in tomorrow to complete the job!

Meanwhile, both of us had our forty winks when the caretaker woke us up with milk packets from the nearby shop. Lekha had got the kitchen active and it rained throughout the evening, after sunset, accompanied by an overdose of power interruptions! Must admit that the electricity board tests the limits of our patience!!

Despite that, we saw a few of our favourite television programmes and interacted with the guests who'd dropped by, in between.


Ten days of carefree life with the gut feeling that my parents were around!        

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

All set for home.

The day was uncomfortably warm. I'd made tea for the guests - everyone said a lot of nice things and I felt glad - because I didn't want Lekha to climb the stairs a second time in the morning. I, myself, then waited for her to come down and give me my cuppa.

Suma kunjamma and family had set off for the Kadampuzha temple as they'd certain pujas to be completed out there. I'd washed down our Chevy with the municipality water, that was flowing out today but was muddy as usual. There was no pricking of the conscience because it could be used only for watering the plants or washing down the car. No guilt feeling about having 'wasted' water when there was an acute shortage of water all around! 

Lekha was planning a trip to the nearby department store along with her assistant. I found that the latter was loaded with work and had offered to take her with me instead, as I went about running errands before our ten day sojourn at my parents' place. We could return fairly well in time before the guests and then it was a boisterous lunch.

Little Nayana threw a tantrum because her mom had mixed the rice with ghee and carrots picked from another dish. She was pretty angry that the carrots were added but what got me impressed was the manner in which Vani, her mom, had sorted out the situation without being harsh. The little one was soon amid us, relishing the mix that had been made for her!

They left soon after to the rooms that they'd booked for themselves, nearer to the temple, as they're gonna be here for the whole of tomorrow while we moved out early in the morning. The house was suddenly quiet and I went about my usual way of shutting down 'The Quarterdeck'. The walk in the evening was nice and I felt nice sweating through all pores as I rounded it off with the ground exercises. It was, then, a quick wash and change because we'd a dinner date with Suma kunjamma's family.

Earlier, I'd tried to give excuses to turn down the invitation by telling them that I didn't relish having a late evening prior to an early morning departure but they weren't willing to buy any of that and by a half past 8, we're at the foyer of the all too familiar Hotel Gokulam Sabari! From the security personnel to the stewards to the receptionists, everyone was eager to come and interact with us because it was the place that we used to stay while monitoring the progress of work on 'The Quarterdeck' during 2011, '12 and '13. A few had inquired as to why we didn't frequent the place now and a few others said that they see me regularly during my walks!

It was a comparatively early evening when we thanked and bade farewell to Suma kunjamma and family.


Tomorrow is gonna be a long day and the car's air conditioning system is erratic! Hope Lekha isn't troubled by it!! The car's servicing is due early next month when the problem will be licked, hopefully because this has recurred a second time and those guys are gonna incur my wrath.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Interesting events.

Interesting happenings....the news that are grabbing the headlines these days. Let's see a couple.

 (a) The CPM Congress.

       The CPM Congress is all set to begin its session at Hyderabad tomorrow. Its gonna witness a
       showdown between the factions supporting and opposing an understanding with the Congress
       party to take on the BJP. Shorn of all the niceties, it's an open ideological war between Prakash
       Karat and Sitaram Yechury. The former wants Manik Sarkar as the next General Secretary while
       the latter is pitching for another term. Unfortunately, in this tussle, the problems facing the
       party as well as the analysis of the Tripura poll debacle will be swept under the carpet. It was an
       opportune moment for the party to review its ideology to suit the trend of the times.

  (b) The ATMs Go Dry.

         In another new situation, there seems to be a cash crunch in certain parts of the country.
         Consider these:-

               (i) The RBI reports that the currency in circulation, in the country, has reached the pre
                    demonetisation level of about Rs.17 lakh crores.
              (ii) The government reiterates that there is adequate supply of currency notes to meet the
                    entire demand.
             (iii) The temporary shortage has been caused by sudden and unusual increase in demand.

 And guests come calling.

The day had begun on a quiet note as we went about our chores. There were guests who'd fetch up in the latter part of the day.

First was Letha, Lekha's elder sister from Tirur, after a long trip visiting many temples. She'd fetched up around a half past 4. After a quick cup of tea, she and Lekha had gone across to Asha's boutique to buy clothes for the wedding in her daughter-in-law's house. After about half an hour, Suma kunjamma and family had fetched up. Since Lekha was out of the house it was my turn to provide them with tea and snack.

Her grand daughter, Nayana and all of 4 years, had interacted with me for the first time and it was real fun time. Her dress sense is amazing!

By about a half past 7, Lekha and her sister had returned and after a noisy session of conversation, a quick bite of dinner Letha and Maari were off to Kottarakkara. Suma kunjamma and gang had a quick flit to the Guruvayur temple to have a 'darshan' of the good Lord. They'd returned by about a half past 9 and then it was a journey down memory lane with all the anecdotes and past happenings.


A day that whizzed past!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Unfortunate and sad!

Am baffled by some of the happenings that are taking place in our country. Why are they taking place, in the first place? Is there a deep seated conspiracy as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, a few days ago? Going by the low levels of propaganda and the misuse of the social media, stories of atrocities against certain sections of the society have been highlighted out of proportion. I shall amplify my statement with examples:-

 (a) The CBSE Expose.

       The news of the question paper leak in this season's class XII(Economics) and class X(Maths)
       had occupied the headlines for a week or a fortnight and suddenly, it has become a forgotten
       story! The hint of a clear collusion between the officials of the CBSE, the teachers, the students
       and their parents was emerging and then the story goes off the air, without the country and
       especially, the students being told as to what the remedial measures are!! As I understand, the
       class XII students will have a re-examination on the 25th but nothing for the class X, even in
       Haryana and Delhi.

       The streets of New Delhi were panned by almost all the news channels to show the 'violent'
       reactions of the students. Specific students were brought in to news studios to say that they're
       distressed with the education system and were worried about their future! A student had also
       testified that she'd written to the PM about the impending leak of the question paper.

       The message for the country. Narendra Modi has let them down in the field of Education.

       My take. Why has it died down all of a sudden? What are the remedial actions?

 (b) The Kathua, Unnao Rape Cases.

       Two cases of rape were highlighted - and rightly so because the rapists must not escape
       retribution for their heinous crime - candle light vigils were initiated in New Delhi and many
       from the capital's social circuit cried 'shame' about the incidents. A religious hue was given
       for the Kathua incident - the actual truth about the case is coming out now, in bits and pieces
       recounting an entirely differing narrative - and a few Indians along with their counterparts
       abroad connived and got the UNGA President to condemn the same. Wasn't it an interference
       into the internal affairs of a country especially when the government had already instituted an

       The message for the world and our country. Narendra Modi has not been effective in checking
       atrocities on women and there's a religious tint to it.

        My take. The Unnao incident had taken place last Jun and the Kathua incident had taken place
        in Jan '18. Why are the protests engineered now?

 (c) The Distressed Farmers' Rallies.

       Earlier, there were farmers' rallies across Maharashtra and an unsuccessful one at New Delhi
       where 'thousands and thousands' of distressed farmers had taken part in the 'long march'. The
       general public was not amused because they were dismayed as to why the farmers were upset
       despite the regular sops that the governments give for farmers by writing off loans worth crores
       of rupees.
       The message for the country. Narendra Modi has done nothing for the 'poor' farmers.

       My take. The 'long marches' showed only a sea of the CPM flags, implying that all our farmers
       were from that party and Yechury's weak raising of his fisted right hand, at the end of it, showed
       that he, too, wasn't convinced with the script! What prevents me from thinking that it was done to
       cover up their debacle at the Tripura hustings?

  (d) The Sudden Love for Dalits.

        Then came the Supreme Court's refusal on 20 Mar to put in abeyance its judgement banning
        automatic arrests without prior permission for offences under the SC/ST(Prevention of
        Atrocities Act) '89. The Court had further amplified that it was to safeguard innocent people
        without affecting the fundamental rights of the marginalised communities.

        There was a flurry of protests followed by a Bharat Bandh that had spiraled into violence in
        many parts of the country and it took about a week to come back to normalcy.

        The message for the country. Narendra Modi has done nothing for the Dalits.

        My take. Narendra Modi's actions and speeches during the Ambedkar Jayanti put paid the
        hollowness of the opposition's claim!

  (e) The Cauvery Waters Tamasha.

        The media was agog with the news about the whole of Tamil Nadu being up in arms against
        the Prime Minister for not appointing the Cauvery Water Management Board as directed by the
        Supreme Court. It talked about massive demonstrations with black flags and balloons all over
        the state whereas the television grabs showed a single shot, mainly of grinning DMK men at
        the Madras airport where he'd landed to inaugurate the DEFEXPO '18.

        The message for the country. Narendra Modi is two timing the people of Karnataka and
        Tamil Nadu.

        My take. Everyone connected to the issue is playing the pantomime expected of him and 
        frankly, no one has the moral authority to point his finger at the other! The government's
        decision can be expected after the Karnataka election results are declared!
The combined opposition's one point agenda to bring a bad name to Prime Minister Narendra Modi prior to the General Elections '19 is now very clearly visible. Moreover, a few of the allies of the NDA like the TDP and Shiv Sena have been weaned out and they're yet to realise their folly or perhaps, they're sharpening their bargaining powers for a come back to the fold!

The tamasha is that a whole lot of regional parties have been trying to forge a combined opposition against Narendra Modi and is still in search of a leader to take him on because everyone of them nurses prime ministerial ambitions. Towards the run up to the general elections '19, there would be many more of such dramas and as a common man, it would be worthwhile to watch the lowly politician going about his sly moves!

And a point for the Prime Minister. Why weren't you as quick on your twitter on the cases mentioned above as you were when you'd tweeted your condolences to Boney Kapoor on Sridevi's passing away? Your quick reactions, perhaps, would have doused the flames before it spread. Or is it that you, too, were waiting to sift the truth from the pack of lies from the intelligence inputs?


Saw the matinee show of the Malayalam movie, 'Panchavarna Thatha'. A watchable movie with a lot of humour and Jayaram essays his role well.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Vishu '18.

Had got up around 3 AM, lit up the lamps in the puja room and helped both Lekha and Achu to view the 'Vishukkani'. The familiar 'Kani kaanum neram' played in the background from our music system. After that the three of us went back to take rest, till dawn beckoned for the day's activities. An elaborate wash and change as the handing over of the 'Vishukkaineettam' was the next event.

I, as the 'kaaranavar', had only three people to hand over the kaineettam viz. Achu, Lekha and Ramakrishnan, the newspaper boy! I remember the good 'ole days of the joint family system when Muthachhan used to hand over the kaineettam to all of us - there were more than thirty of us at any given point of time, including the guests who'd dropped by from far and wide to celebrate Vishu with the family. We, kids, used to count our collections and feel very, very proud and thrilled! 

After a breakfast of appam and vegetable stew, Achu had wanted to visit the temple and he asked me as to whether I, too was going, implying that he'd love it. After what he'd done for me last evening, I decided to accompany him though I wasn't very keen because I've found that the huge crowds can get to be unwieldy and uncouth on such occasions. The only thing that mattered to each and everyone was to attain a vantage position to see the good Lord even at the cost of pushing the devotee in front! The other's discomfort was of no consequence!!

Incidentally, earlier prior to going to the temple, it took Lekha's and my powers of persuasion to make Achu wear a white dhoti while he insisted on wearing his saffron lungi instead. He has a mortal fear of the dhoti working off loose as it had happened, quite a while back, when the both of us were on a visit to the temple one evening! He says that the lungi doesn't fall off, a statement that I wasn't willing to believe!!

We returned soon after Achu bought himself a light brown lungi from one of the shops at the kizhakkenada. Lekha had prepared lunch along with the traditional 'paayasam'. Meanwhile calls were made and returned to convey and receive the wishes on the occasion. All messages had to be replied to and a many had to be sent.

Suma kunjamma has said that their family would arrive on the 17th for a day's stay here. Lekha's, elder sister, Letha is also expected that day. So, that's gonna be a crowd in the house. Had walked up to the nearby bus stop to see off Achu by the 1730 hrs low floor bus to Palakkad. His short stay with us was great rejuvenating. The walk was nice and I was threatened, throughout, by imminent rain thanks to the dense rain bearing clouds in the sky, which seemed to dissipate soon after without offering us a downpour.

It was a quiet evening thereafter!


Achu had reached his house by a half past 8. Meanwhile, his parents had commenced their journey and would fetch up around a half past 3, in the wee hours of the morning. The youngster will go and pick them up from the bus stand.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Achu comes home and other tidbits.

Lekha's assistant, Preetha will be on two days' leave, firstly to celebrate Vishu with her family and secondly, to see her elder son off to her sister's place - on Monday - where he'll stay and finish the two years of his remaining schooling. That seems to be the only way to shield him from his father's frequent abuses and the ongoing fracas between them because of his closeness to the mother!

It's like a filmy story of a tempestuous father-son relationship! To go in for a divorce will be more problematic because, he can get to be vengeful and harm her in the bargain. He's, wary and scared of her brothers and it's quite nice to see that her two brothers and sisters, along with their spouses are solidly behind her and so is her mother.

She has been having many slips in the work that she does at our home, according to Lekha but she has given her the leeway realising the pain and the uncertainty that she's undergoing. She's yet to reconcile to the fact that her elder son is not gonna be with her from Monday! Only hope that she doesn't fall ill because she isn't taking care of herself! And her husband follows her, on his bicycle, from home to our house and back. He seems to suffer from a situation arising of acute possessiveness!

       *                         *                           *

Achu, my nephew, came in from Palakkad by 8 in the evening after his work because his multinational company didn't have a holiday on Ambedkar Jayanti. His parents had gone last night to spend time with my brother-in-law's mother on the occasion for Vishu. There was an incident that happened sometime after his arrival. After his wash and change, he was watching a Malayalam movie, on the television with Lekha, which had actually begun much earlier in the evening and since it was so, I'd asked him to help me with my computer woes.

Without saying a word he'd helped me out and sorted out most of the problems. He'd gone back to view the movie and it was then that I realised that he'd actually wanted to see it desperately. I did feel guilty forcing him to come to my aid and told him that he should have told me that he'd assist me later. But that was not to be, he's a much more evolved child and I'm proud that he's my nephew!

      *                         *                           *

After supper, around a half past 10, the three of us got down to prepare the 'Vishukkani'. Earlier in the evening, much before sunset, I'd retrieved the clutches of the Labernum flower and collected them with Lekha's help from the tree in our courtyard. The ingredients necessary for the 'kani' were arranged beautifully by Lekha and Achu.


A lot many things done within the span of the day and felt nice.

Friday, April 13, 2018


It's educative to see the small, little things taking place immediately around. The fact is that none of these happenings have a permanence but for the moment, they seem set to be going strong.

 (a) The Vishu Market.

       Vishu, the Malayalam new year, will be celebrated this Sunday. Can't ever forget the Vishukkani
       preparation in the run up to our first Vishu, here, at 'The Quarterdeck' in '14. Mom had joined us
       in the effort and the final 'kani' had her immaculate touch!

       As a run up to the festival, the market is flooded with items that go to form the 'Vishukkani'.
       This year the crafty Chinese have dumped plastic Labernum bunches and quite a few of the
       Malayalees seem to be lapping it up as they don't have to worry about the fresh clutches of the
       yellow flowers! Am reminded of the abundance of the 'thulasi maala' - again a Chinese product -
       during the last Sabarimala pilgrimage season.

       The sad part is that we refuse to manufacture and market them despite having the raw materials
       in plenty.

 (b) The Doctors' Strike.

       The strike by the doctors, working in government hospitals, has paralysed the working of the
       hospitals which directly affect the poor. It was a day of confusion, long waits without the desired
       results and the resultant anger directed at the staff who were on duty.

       It all began with the latest government orders to extend outpatient facilities during the evenings
       too which directly impinges upon a doctor's private practice that fetches him/her the moolah.
       Though the government insists that the present strength of the doctors are adequate to carry out
       the diktat, the fact is that many of the primary health centres are woefully short of staff. While
       my school mate, Rajeev Sadanandan, the additional health secretary, has issued the order, it
       remains to be seen as to whether it will be sustainable. Is it a case of a hasty decision without
       doing the necessary homework?

 (c) The Dissent in the Supreme Court.

       Have been following the dissent among the judges in the Supreme Court with dismay and a
       great amount of sadness. It reminded me of the points-counterpoints for/against the two officers
       superseded when the present incumbent was anointed the COAS. As time goes on, such feuds
       are gonna get louder as there is an increasing tendency to glorify self while batting it out for
       higher stakes. Decency and maintenance of decorum for the overall organisational good are
       slowly receding to the background and to get whatever one covets - come what may - seems
       to be the new motto.

       What is forgotten, in the bargain, is the lowering of their dignity among the people that they
       lead and the awkwardness that they would face when they're confronted with a dissent among
       their juniors/subordinates!


We've started having early morning walkers on the road that has recently been tarred. It, definitely, has changed the overall outlook and also appreciated the value of our plots/houses.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The anatomies of the Kathua, Unnao rape cases.

The entire nation has come to hear about the unfortunate rape cases of Kathua and Unnao, thanks to the omnipresent and prying media. It would be in the fitness of things to know about the details lest one blindly follows the media outputs and the consequent political 'tamasha' that have followed. Without much ado, here I go:-

 (a) The Kathua Case.

       (a) 10 Jan '18          8 year old little girl disappears under mysterious circumstances from her
                                      rustic neighbourhood in Jammu's Kathua district.
       (b) 17 Jan '18         She is found dead. She had been raped and killed by strangulation because
                                      the post mortem report had determined that her death was caused by
       * She belonged to the ethnic group, 'Bakerwal' who make a living by grazing sheep and goats
          across the forests. They're essentially Muslims and are like their siblings, the Gujjars.

       * Trouble began when the Kathua police arrested a Bakerwal activist, Mohammed Talib, for 
          raking up the minor girl's rape and murder and threatened him under the 'Public Safety Act'. 

       * Two ministers from the Mehbooba Mufti cabinet - one each from the PDP and the BJP - took
          two weeks to visit Kathua.

       * Politics sprung to the forefront, days after the CM assigned the investigations to the Crime
          Branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, over a PIL, with the Jammu and Kashmir High
          Court monitoring the case.

       * But as soon as the SIT of the Crime Branch began picking up the accused for sustained 
          interrogation, local leaders of different political parties began complaining that the 
          investigation was shoddy.

       * The key accused and administrator of a local temple in Kathua, Saiji Ram, mobilised crowds
          which was nothing but activists from different political parties calling themselves the Hindu
          Ekta Manch(HEM).

       * On 15 Feb, the HEM organised a 5,000 strong rally demanding the investigation to be h/o
          to the CBI from the Crime Branch.

       * Mehbooba Mufti took a tough stand and tweeted, "Appalled by the marches and protests
          in defence of the recently apprehended rapist in Kathua. Also, horrified by their use of
          our national flag in these demonstrations. This is nothing short of desecration. The accused
          has been arrested and the law will follow its course". 

 (b) The Unnao Rape Case.

       * 04 Jun '17          A 17 year old girl alleges that she was raped by Kuldeep Sengar, a BJP MLA
                                    when she'd gone to meet him, along with a neighbour, for his help in getting
       * I used to call the BJP MLA, 'bhaiyya' says the rape survivor, till he raped her.

       * 11 Jun '17           The girl goes missing. Her family lodges a complaint with the police.

       * 20 Jun '17           She's recovered from a nearby village and brought to Unnao, the next day.

       * 22 Jun '17           The police produces her before the court. She alleges that the police didn't
                                     allow her to name the MLA in her statement.

       * 03 Jul '17            She's h/o to the family after 10 days. She leaves for Delhi, alleges police
                                      harassment and starts sending complaints to the CM's office and senior
                                      police officers seeking registration of rape case against the MLA and his
                                      brother, Atul Singh.
       * 24 Feb '18           The girl's mother moves the court of CJM, Unnao seeking registration of
       * 03 Apr '18           The court hears the mother's plea. Her father, accompanying the family, is
                                      assaulted by Atul Singh and is h/o to the police which lodges a case of
                                      illegal possession of arms against him.
       * 05 Apr '18           Was sent to jail after medical examination. The girl's father alleges that he
                                      was framed and beaten up by Atul Singh. No action is taken on his complaint.
       * 08 Apr '18           The girl's father dies at the district hospital after he's shifted from the district
                                      jail. Six policemen are suspended and a magisterial probe is ordered.
                                      The girl attempts self immolation at the CM's residence in Lucknow
                                      demanding FIR against the MLA.

       The swagger of the MLA could be explained by his perceived importance in the upcoming 
       elections to the UP Legislative Council!

       The CBI is taking over the case after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention as of

My take.

Saiji Ram of Kathua, Kuldeep and Atul Sengar of Unnao and their accomplices, if, any must be brought to book for their heinous crimes and for dodging the law. The action has to be taken in fast track courts formed for the purpose. (If you're to ask me, the law of the 'Shariat' should be introduced so that the genitals of a rapist are chopped off, on confirmation!)


Why have the opposition parties and various women's organisations woken up so late? They should have clamoured for justice from Jul '17 on the Unnao case and 17 Jan regarding the Kathua case. Why are they guilty of having waited for so long?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A dilemma that had to be glossed over!


Sometime back, a well wisher and friend had sent me the photographs of the decommissioning ceremony of my ex-ship, INLCU L36 at Port Blair. I was extremely sad and heartbroken that the ship's present incumbents had not bothered to invite me for the ceremony - a privilege and honour for all those who'd spent their time on board, in the course of their professional assignment. I'd, therefore, reacted strongly on that message on Facebook.

There were many close friends who'd reacted to that post of mine, sharing my anguish and wondering as to what had happened to the well known naval traditions and customs! I'd given it up as a bad dream and was anyways busy with the yatra that was taking me around Kerala, giving me an education on a broad canvas - linked with the pulse of the people - which I couldn't have got from anywhere else.

The Aftermath.

Commander Deepak Dhankher, the Officer-in-charge of the decommissioned ship, one day, had called me up with a profuse apology for not inviting me and had said that he'd like to pay a visit to my place at Guruvayur so that he could meet me in person to say a few things and convey his apologies. Knowing the arduous journey from Port Blair to the mainland and back, I'd told him that such an exercise solely for tendering an apology could be avoided as it involved spending a lot of public money. I'd let it at that, thinking that he'd taken my sage counsel.

The Apology.

Yesterday, Deepak had called me up from Kochi inquiring about my presence at home today so that he could drop by. I was only glad to meet up with him. Accordingly, he'd come by this morning around a half past 11. He was profusely apologetic and told me that the team that was organising and co-ordinating the decommissioning ceremony was not able to collate the information of all those who'd served, including the retired brethren, even after contacting the directorate in the Naval Headquarters that looked after related matters. It was an explanation that could not be digested especially in these days of digital connectivity and I stated it rather bluntly for which the youngster had no reply and left him flummoxed. I'd asked him to tell his bosses to make out an SOP(Standard Operating Procedure) and to get an online connectivity - that is, if it didn't exist, as of now - with all the regional Navy Foundation Charters that have their respective directories which bear detailed information of all naval personnel of the past!

He'd brought in a lot of small mementos like a miniature version of the ship enclosed in a glass case(A Cute one), a white metal plaque with the ship etched on it with the requisite captions, a cap, a tea mug, the metallic scroll containing the names of all those who'd commanded the ship - the fact that I was the second and the only decorated skipper, among the 27 names over a span of 32 years of its commission pumped that extra adrenaline into my system - and a scrap book along with a compact disc covering the decommissioning ceremony.

Earlier, I'd told myself that I'd decline anything sent to me as an after note, consequent to the unpardonable gaffe, but decided to climb down from my rigid stand seeing the trouble that he'd taken and I'd this sneaky suspicion that there was pressure from some quarters after my public airing of disgust.

My only regret was that Lekha wasn't privy to this exchange as she'd gone to Palakkad, this morning, to complete a couple of personal jobs and would be back by tomorrow morning.


My classmate, Vipinachandran(Roll No. 432) and his wife, Leena had come calling just before sunset. They'd arrived, earlier in the day, at Guruvayur to attend a family wedding and decided to drop by. It was nice of them to have found the time and I didn't know as to how time flew as Vipin and I nursed a sun downer! The normally quiet Leena was at her conversational best and the three of us got to know each other better by the end of it all.

Learnt a new thing from Vipin. As we're leaving the house, I'd put off the flame of the 'pujamuri' lamp by waving my hand with adequate force. Vipin said that I should avoid it from then on because by doing so I was forcibly putting down the flame, which is another form of the goddess and not considered appropriate! Instead, the flame should be doused with a flower or a leaf or simply by pulling the wick back into the lamp.

Well, there's no end to learning and thanks, Vipin for the lesson!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

What a change?

The Commonwealth Games '18 has been progressing at the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia over the past week. For us, the citizens of India, there's a sea change in listening to the results of the various events and games. India has notched up gold medals that has gone into double digits besides the coveted silver and bronze medals and not a day passes without the news that another medal has fallen into our kitty. What adds to the thrill is that the medals have been won over a wide variety of disciplines viz. shooting, weightlifting, table tennis, track events, badminton and there are many more left in which we're sure to strike gold!

Previously, one would see a well populated Indian contingent marching past in the opening ceremony only to see that no athlete was anywhere near the mark of winning a medal as they fell by the wayside, without a trace, over the fortnight's duration be it at the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics. Towards the penultimate day, the hockey team fetched a medal provided if we're lucky - that too the gold, initially, which soon gave way to the silver and a couple of bronzes and finally to be left, totally out of the reckoning!

One used to feel that the Indian athletes and sports persons could not match the rigors of international sports and the raw skills of the Americans, the Africans, the Chinese and the others. Our sports medicine, coaching and other efforts seemed to be inadequate to bring about the killer instinct among the members of our contingent along with the medal winning capability! We, also, came to know that the huge contingent that accompanied the sportsmen and women - often inadequately equipped - consisted of bureaucrats, sports officials and politicians who're on a joy ride at our - the taxpayers' - expense. The government didn't seem to mind the dismal performances and the media, too, didn't bother.

And, then, somewhere from the beginning of the first decade of this century, things began to change. The sports persons looked more determined, adequately equipped with the right and the latest equipment together with the right coaches. Above all, they seemed to get more aggressive and acquire the confidence to be at the front line of world class sports. An all round confidence seemed to prevail.

The media set its probing eyes and asked uncomfortable questions to the government and the sports bodies resulting in bringing about a semblance of responsibility coupled with accountability. The result is there for everyone to see.

May India win many more medals in this Commonwealth games.

India has arrived at the world sports arena and there's no looking back! Jai Hind!!


Went with Anto - early in the morning - to collect my medical reports from the Mother Hospital, where I'd given my blood and other samples for test, on the 23rd of last month. Armed with them I'd met the medical specialist, who has now put me on a regimen with an advice to meet him after a month. The results show that I'm fit for fighting a war! The ophthalmologist who'd referred me to her brother seemed to be quite relieved when I reported to her about the events. Damn nice of her!!   

Monday, April 9, 2018

Fast Tracking Guruvayurappan @ Rs.1,000/-

Serpentine queues of devotees waiting to have a 'darshan' of the good Lord is a daily sight at the Guruvayur temple. Things have been made easier for those people, these days firstly, by the provision of benches so that they could sit while they waited for their turn to reach the sanctum sanctorum and secondly, by the periodic serving of drinking water. Whosoever had thought about providing these minimal amenities deserves a pat on his/her back.

I'm of the firm opinion that it's criminal to jump the queue and that no one should be permitted to do so. There are many who resort to this favour from the administrator or the other bigwigs of the temple administration and walk past the unlucky ones who've been waiting for long. Had I been in their place, I'd have cringed looking at the faces of the many that I was overtaking! Instead, most of them strut past as though it was their birthright to have got the privilege over their unlucky counterparts whose sole mistake was that they didn't know anybody in the pecking order of the temple administration/devaswom!

What makes people avoid standing in a queue? The long wait or the fact that they're too small in the society for not knowing influential(?) people/those who make things happen? I've a strong feeling that it's the latter for most. Anyways, those who come visiting the temple should keep adequate time in hand for the 'darshan' to cater for the unusual rush of pilgrims/delays due to unforeseen circumstances.

The temple administration has come up with a great new idea. Permit out-of-the-queue-darshan to those who pay Rs.1,000/- for the 'Neyvilakku'(A lamp where the wick would be immersed in ghee).

And on the first day of its implementation, the temple authorities had announced that they'd made a paltry Rs.4,500/- through the new scheme! I'm yet to decipher the Rs.500/-....Was it for a child? Or did anybody back out of the special darshan, half way through? Or ridiculously, was a lamp placed minus the wick and the ghee?

Another doubt is as to what happens to those who come with the administrator's/devaswom bigwig's letters of introduction? Or are the 'neyvilakku' subscribers over and above the privileged variety, mentioned earlier?

Am thoroughly confused! Wonder who'd thought about this hare brained programme?

My take.

Scrap the order forthwith!


Why can't people just join the queue as and when they arrive and wait for their turn to have the darshan of the good Lord, the waiting period notwithstanding? And no favours, no division into categories, please!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Out of love?

I'd read the two news stories with surprise and a doubt as to whether the crimes - yes, they're crimes when looked at from a legal perspective - arose within me as to whether they're prompted out of love, the bizarre ways of expressing it notwithstanding or out of mental sickness! Let's have a quick run through the two incidents, the first in Calcutta and the second in Tokyo.

 (a) 'Preserving' Mom.

       Subhabrata Majumdar kept his 84 year old mother's body at a constant temperature of -96
       degrees Celsius in his bid to preserve it for 25 years. All of 46 yrs, he's a leather technology
       graduate and was successful in his efforts to vitrify(The process of preservation in ultra low
       temperatures) the body. Note these points:-
           (i) Today was the late Bina Majumdar's third remembrance day.
          (ii) Body was kept submerged in Formalin.
         (iii) Several organs were removed through precise incisions, implying professional help.
         (iv) Her husband, Gopal Chandra Majumdar(89) is alive.
          (v) Subhabrata's plan was to preserve the body for 25 years by which time he hoped that
                technology would have attained the capability to revive a human body, after death,
                provided the body was well preserved through 'cryoprotection' used for preventing the
                decay of living cells.

  (b) 'Protecting' Son.

        Yoshitane Yamasaki(73) had imprisoned his son aged 42 at their house. Reports suggest that
        the son was forced to stay in a wooden cage, one metre high and 1.8 metres wide, built in a pre-
        fabricated hut. The father has told the police that he'd kept his son in the shelter for 20 years as
        he had mental problems!

My take.

Why did these two individuals behave in such a fashion? Wasn't it due to the love that the two individuals possessed towards their near and dear ones? Or is it a sheer case of mental instability of the two? The jury is still out on the issue...

          (a) Subhrabrata Majumdar is currently being treated at the Pavlov Hospital for mental illness
                after his arrest and bail.
          (b) Yoshitane Yamasaki is currently in police custody.


Vitrifying bodies need a threshold temperature of -85 degrees Celsius. Consider these:-

          (a) Normal kitchen freezers can achieve around -20 degrees Celsius.
          (b) Lab freezers can reach up to -40 degrees Celsius.
          (c) Only a few refrigerants can cool beyond -85 degrees Celsius.
          (d) Ultra low temperature freezers can reach -150 degrees Celsius and are used for bone
                marrow storage. 

We express our love to our near and dear ones differently. Don't we?


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Is this our new generation political leadership?

There has been an enthusiastic appeal from almost all quarters that the older generation must give way to the new in the changing political scenario of the country. It's reasonable because dynamic changes and the seamless transformation from the old to the new, cements the robustness of the existent political system. In India, too, this change has become inevitable and already, the political parties are making a sincere endeavour to herald this change.

In political discourses, especially during the hustings, one political leader tries to diminish his opponents with his oratory covering the aspects as to what he'd do if elected. It's a battle of ideology and never on personal lines; but having said that character flaws, corruption and evidences to prove misdemeanour of any kind against an individual would snowball towards his ultimate removal from the scene which is but a natural catharsis!

It's this well known tradition that was broken by the dalit leader from Gujarat, Jignesh Mewani, during one of his election rallies at Chitradurga - for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Karnataka. His call for, "disrupting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's electoral rallies by throwing chairs and resorting to violent means for not being able to provide jobs", is uncalled for and unpardonable!

Firstly, to my mind, a comparative youngster like him sounds dangerously venomous and seems to carry the same baggage that he and his cohorts accuse their seniors to be burdened with! What is his political base? Why is he quiet on his vision for the country? Or is he still smarting from the stinging defeat that the combined opposition - of which he was a member - had been served by the Prime Minister and his party during the Gujarat Assembly elections?

My take.  

I'm all for fresh faces in our political scenario. With their induction, it's my fond hope that the muck racked politics of today would be replaced with one that would have the stamp of their idealism and vision which would herald the much needed change, with a touch of refreshing candour. We need guys who're forward thinking, without the unnecessary baggage of the past, who'd give an impetus to a strong, vibrant India that has superpower status!


People like Jignesh Mewani must be brought to book, at the earliest, as he doesn't have any right to spread malice among the public. We do not need characters like him to vitiate the atmosphere.

We've once again shown our weakness to celebrities, allowing them to get an upper hand despite their highly unlawful activities. Consider Salman Khan getting a bail just after being in jail for two days, against a five year term, by fast tracking judicial processes. Can an ordinary citizen aspire for such judicial niceties?


Friday, April 6, 2018

Are we Malayalees anti-development?

Just touching upon three instances which prove that we, Malayalees, can be warped in our thinking regarding development.

# The Kuthiran Imbroglio.

   The widening work of the national highway on the Kuthiran point has been interrupted for weeks.
   There might be conciliatory talks among lower levels but to no avail and if that be the case, why
   isn't the level being raised to bring about a quick resolution of the conflict between the concerned
   parties? Why aren't they interested in opening up the renewed highway, at the earliest, so that the
   common man can enjoy the limitless advantages of the latest technology? No one seems to care.

# The NH Realignment Project in Malappuram District.

   A protest by the local residents over land acquisition, for the widening of NH 66 at AR Nagar and
   Vengara regions of the district turned violent today. Eleven people, including women, were injured
   when police resorted to lathi charge to disperse the protesters who'd blocked the survey on the
   Kozhikode - Thrissur stretch of the highway. As many as 20 policemen were also injured in the
   incident, where both the sides had resorted to pelting of stones, too. Sad!

# The Keezhattur Problem.

   The residents of Keezhattur, in Kannur district, had formed a collective called the 'Vayalkilikal'
   to protest the acquisition of paddy fields for the realignment of the same highway - NH 66. The
   agitation is very much on. Sad!

The Pros and the Cons of the Development Process.

Developmental activities like the widening of the highways, laying of additional railway tracks etc
are ongoing processes to cater for a region's overall prosperity that can be wished away only at the region's peril. Here, the thumb rule is that national priorities take priority over individual interests.
The individuals are compensated for their losses by the government and if there are no differences of opinions, the project does sail through.

But what happens when there are major differences among the concerned parties? In two of the problems cited above, there is a perceived sense of the authorities deciding to align the new highway so that it skirts houses/areas owned by influential people!

If there is a mismatch, I can't understand as to what prevents the authorities to sit with the affected people and thrash out the differences through dialogue? Is it an ego hassle or is it to protect the interests of a few? Rather than getting into blame gaming there should be an eagerness to put the problems behind, making it into a win-win situation to all, to the extent feasible.

Because every day lost is a setback to the state's development process.


I'm reminded of an input from a friend of mine who was part of a delegation that had visited China, a few years ago. He, like the others, were thoroughly impressed with the long roads and highways stretching over miles into the horizon - a fact that was unthinkable back home. Out of curiosity, he had asked the Chinese official taking them around whose answer was enlightening and I quote,

"What are the normal obstacles to a straight highway? You'd agree with me when I say that they're hill features, water bodies and human settlements. We overcome them by building tunnels through the hill features, bridges over the water bodies and executing the roadwork by evacuation of the human settlements".

The last method can only be done in a totalitarian country like China and not in a caring democracy like our's! And hence, the affected people can be gently persuaded through dialogue across a negotiating table, the delay notwithstanding!!

Thursday, April 5, 2018


This is an excerpt of a conversation, between Lekha and her assistant, to highlight the ironies of life and to show, yet again, how fickle relationships are.

Preetha is in her mid 40s, pleasant and has been working for us for the last three years. A hard worker, she never used to require any prodding at her work. Her husband is a freelance labourer, which means he doesn't work for any particular group. He, too, works hard, but has a weakness for the bottle. They've two sons - the elder one has written the class X Board exams and the younger one is in class IV. Both are good at studies, in fact, the elder one is the recipient of the government scholarship.

She had contracted a chronic kidney disease and two years ago, her doctor had advised the couple to refrain from physical relationship as her ailment did not support it. I suppose, that was the start point of a dip in their otherwise beautiful relationship. We still remember the way she used to talk about her 'chettan' very adoringly and recommended that we gave a few of our sanitary, plumbing work to him and we're only too glad to oblige her.

Shortly after the doctor's diktat, he told her that he wanted a divorce because she was 'of no use' to him. I remember her telling Lekha that they'd a massive fight, he'd even hit her and that consequently, she and her sons had shifted close to her family. About a couple of months later, however, her husband joined in after assuring her brothers that he would not fight with her.

She and her elder son are in dialogue with each other and it's this relationship that has salvaged her out of her blues many-a-time. Her husband loathes it and has even gone on to suggest incest between the two! The war of words goes on and it was one such slug fest that brought her to the sad situation of last evening.

It was evening time and the kids had gone out to play with their friends. There was a massive stand off between the husband and wife and she'd walked off in a huff, slamming the door of her room shut. The elder son had come by to have water soon after and asked his dad regarding the whereabouts of his mother to which he'd answered that she was in her room. What the lad saw through the window had horrified him. His mother had a saree's noose around her neck while its other end was tied to the ceiling fan above and she was trying to kick away the chair beneath her! The situation was retrieved with the son saying that he and his brother would also give up their lives if she were to repeat the act, ever.

The fact is that the son hates the father because of his shenanigans.

My take.

I'd spoken to her brothers to take remedial measures without delay but I've my doubts as to whether he'd stay away from her even after a court brokered divorce. He might even try out something vengeful.


The surfacing of the road in front our house has commenced and they seem to be at a very good pace. At the sixth minute after the commencement of the work, disaster struck when one of the workers had dug into the fresh water pipe laid underground and by evening, a second damage was also inflicted. Both the damages were made good before sunset!