Thursday, May 31, 2018

The bypoll results - what they mean.

The results of the bypolls to Parliament and several state Assemblies have shown what a combined opposition can do. One doesn't have to get worried about opposition unity because there are a lot of contradictory factors and naming just a few:-

    (a) Political parties as different from each other like chalk and cheese are trying to do it together.
          It was with much fanfare that the JD(S) and the Congress had decided to come together since
          they supported secularism and joining hands with the BJP was considered blasphemous and
          unthinkable. It's almost a week since HD Kumaraswamy has taken oath as the chief minister
          of Karnataka but his ministry has been unable to swear in because of the differences in opinion
          between the two parties over portfolios!
   (b) Congress desperately wants Rahul Gandhi to be made the Prime Minister in case of an
         opposition win but many of the other parties are not enthusiastic about such a move because
         each one of them nurses prime ministerial ambitions.
   (c) The political parties in the opposition are fully aware of the windfall of the hard work done by
         Prime Minister Modi, that can be propped up as their achievement if voted to power.

Recently, I'd come across an article which said as to how Modi's strength, as an effective leader, has brought the divergent opposition together. His continuance after '19 would bring about their downfall as more and more corruption charges against them come to light and are proved in courts. In this regard, one wonders as to why P Chidambaram is being given the reprieve from being arrested, time and again? Isn't he being given special status because an ordinary citizen can never dream of getting such privileges! A look at him and his body language gives away a 'hunted' look, though. Why be scared of being taken into custody if you're squeaky clean?

The bypoll results have made one thing clear that the voter cannot be taken for a ride. He has reacted to local issues where say in UP, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is yet to provide effective governance and he needs to deliver. In Meghalaya, the Congress has won a seat and has become the largest single party. Will it be able to cobble up a majority to form a government when it stakes its claim?

In Maharashtra, in retaining the Palghar parliamentary constituency, the BJP did have a tough fight with its ally, the Shiv Sena, contesting against it.

The General Elections of '19 is gonna be very interesting. It is becoming increasingly evident that it will be Narendra Modi versus the rest. The Indian voter will make the correct choice, I'm sure.


Vishnu had reached the Foundation by about a 20' past 10. Lekha had scrutised the papers and put up the cheques for my signatures. After doing my bit, I'd rushed off to the railway station and earlier, Sekhar had got my reservation done. Aji dropped me at the entrance, I'd made a rush to platform 3, got into coach B2 and occupied seat 7. As the train pulled out off the station, I was disoriented with the direction it was moving and had to make a frantic last minute confirmation that I was indeed in the right train!


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

At Thiruvananthapuram.

Was up by a half past 6 courtesy Maman. Went through the chores and we were out of the house by a half past 8. Towards the run up to the meeting, there was a power interruption that plagued almost the entire duration of the meeting too. Three of the districts viz. Pathanamthitta, Thrissur and Kozhikode were represented by the reps with the secretaries being absent.

The meeting began with Maman briefing the gathering about the details of the way this year's 'Vaayana Dinam' and month was going to be celebrated. The Foundation would carve its own niche by organising various events - throughout the period from 19 Jun to 18 Jul - while the state library council went ahead with their's. Each day's activities will be well documented and uploaded to provide the feedback to the right quarters.

The reason for the waywardness of the state library council - at least, a section of it - became clear to me today. I had always been wondering as to why a section of the CPM harbours animosity towards PN Panicker. Somewhere in the '70s, a section of the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham actively supported by Thayattu Sankaran, wanted to establish 'Desabhimani Study Centres' in every library which was vehemently opposed by PN Panicker saying that he would never permit politicisation of his library movement!

The meeting wound up with an excellent lunch organised by the staff and our district reps were sent back with the connected orders regarding the conduct along with a list of suggested activities to be carried out during the entire month. Our ever-efficient accounts boss, Lekha, had their TA/DA disbursed after the proramme and what I saw was that there was no unnecessary wastage of time, every minute detail was looked into, every query answered. Truly efficient!

The day meandered through, with me getting an opportunity to meet very many people. Sasi from my organisation at Kollam, had come in the evening to discuss the latest issues. Soon after, we'd gone to meet Pannian sir as Maman wanted to give him some papers. It's always a treat to interact with him.


By the time we'd reached home it was 11. Another day had passed and as Pink Floyd had sung, "....and it's one more day closer to death". 


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

To Thiruvananthapuram.

The train pulled into the Guruvayur station at 0030 hrs. Thankfully, the rain was holding and we could negotiate the long walk - without taking the foot over bridge for Lekha's benefit - without any hassle but by the time we'd reached the entrance, there were no auto rickshaws available as the entire fleet had gone away with their first set of passengers!

And people get into smart acts during such occasions. A member of the group, goes quite a few metres down the road, gets an auto rick and have his/her folks collected from the entrance to zoom off to their destinations. There was this auto rick driver - he knew us and realised that we were standing at the entrance for a while - who asked such a guy to get off his vehicle and accommodated us, instead. That person was furious and I could very well understand his bitterness but Jose - that was his name - was very clear that we're being wronged and he righted that wrong!

By the time we turned in for the night, it was a half past 1! And by the time I'd got up in the course of the night to clear my bladder, it was 3 and to my horror, I found that I couldn't get back to sleep. So, I resorted to reciting my prayers and by the end of it, the alarm had gone off signalling 4 AM!! I was groggy with sleep and even felt like turning off back to sleep and start my day later.....and consequently, reach Thiruvananthapuram later. But a meeting had been scheduled and I didn't want them to wait for me and had got up determinedly, sleep be damned!!!

Was ready by a quarter to 7 and Anto had arrived by then. Rema had also got ready by then as she wanted to go to the temple. We set off together and before I set off, I'd presented Lekha with a miniature Ganesh - in crystal, as she has a collection of them. Her birthday falls on 31 May by the English calendar - as I'd be returning only by the midnight of 31 May/01 Jun after the workshop on digital payments at Kottarakkara, that day!

Was able to clamber on to the fast passenger bus headed for Vyttila hub and the journey was uneventful though towards the last quarter hour, we're stuck in a bad traffic snarl short of the junction. It let off butterflies in my stomach but thankfully, the snarl was soon overcome. Phew! After a quick visit to the rest room and a light snack with tea, I was in time for the low floor volvo to Thiruvananthapuram and was on my way by about a quarter past 10. Lekha and Rema, meanwhile,  had cancelled their trip as the latter had decided to spend another day with Lekha, lightening my worry.

Lunch was at Kollam, though delayed. I reached the Foundation by about a half past 3. Maman had sent his car to pick me up and it was nice to go through his latest achievement of making the 'Reading Month' pan India. It's been a tremendous effort on his part. Well done, Mama, I'm proud of you.

It was a quiet evening at their place while I caught up with Ammayi from where we'd left last.


I can be quite restless without sleep. Today, thankfully, everything went off without a hitch and I could make it an early evening, comparatively! 

Monday, May 28, 2018

With Mohanan's family.

Lekha, Rema and I left by the Guruvayur-Edamon Passenger - which  was late by about 20' as it had to wait for the Madras Egmore - Guruvayur Express - for Thalavoor to spend some time with Mohanan's family. The journey was free of all untoward incidents, as the three of us talked our way through it about various things.

Vijayan, the caretaker, was of a great help in that he'd organised a vehicle for us to be picked up at the Kuri Halt station, transport us to Mohanan's house and also finally, to return to the Kottarakkara road transport corporation bus stand for our onward journey to Kollam.

The 45' that we spent with Mohanan's wife, Rajamma and daughter, Maya were poignant as we exchanged notes about him. We couldn't meet his son, Manu, as he was away inviting people for the Sunday's 'sanchayanam' ceremony. Rajamma's ailment is in remission and she is on a maintenance dosage and is looking good.

I spent a few minutes at his grave site reliving those wonderful times that we'd spent together. Thankfully, the spell of rain had taken a break and we could move around freely though we're armed with our umbrellas, just in case! Raj Nivas looked quiet with the leakage of the eastern verandah shipping in a lot of rain water that's, of course, going harmlessly down the drain.

Hope I get positive news from the bank, this week, so that the truss work could be undertaken without delay. I'd spent a few minutes at my parents' grave sites, too, apprising them about the purpose of our short visit.....grass has started growing wild and will require a trim shortly.

We could get a bus for Kollam without wait but the mad traffic snarl in front of the Kottarakkara bus stand held us there for at least about 15'. After reaching the Kollam railway station, we'd a snack and coffee and had to wait an hour for our train to fetch up. Since Paulson had done the reservation, all we needed to do was to occupy the seats on the train's arrival though we'd to walk some distance to our coach as I'd wrongly appreciated its position from the engine. I avoid such silly mistakes to let Lekha have minimum stretches to walk but today, I'd erred.

We'd begun our return journey about half an hour late from the scheduled departure.


A trip that was required to be made and thankfully, it was done without much of a delay!   

Sunday, May 27, 2018

We've a penchant for spoiling our celebrities!

The Malayalam superstar, Mohanlal is my favourite actor. There are memorable movies like 'Kamaladalam', 'Thaalavattom', 'Kireedom', 'His Highness Abdulla' of his and I can keep going on and on. They've his distinct stamp and one can safely say that no one in the Malayalam cinema who could have done those roles better than him. Towards this end, he has won many national and state level awards as well as many other awards of the prominent television channels.

Yes we, Malayalees, love him and adore him.

But there's an increasing tendency to deify him and that bothers me. There's no doubt about the fact that it's us, the audience, that make or break the cinematic stars! Two recent incidents have left a very bad taste in my mouth and I'm sure that there are many like me, around, but are keeping quiet for the fear of being caught on the wrong(?) side.

Firstly, there was this mass entertainment, 'Amma Mazhavillu' that was put up at Thiruvananthapuram. Mohanlal was active in many of the entertainment numbers that evening and one was enjoying it thoroughly when his next movie, 'Odiyan', scheduled to be released shortly, was promoted rather shamelessly. It was supposed to be a pure entertainment programme which was used to promote his film and it definitely, was in bad taste. No wonder, many of the young actors stayed away from the programme. Why weren't the forthcoming set of movies of the other actors and actresses given the wide publicity that they deserved just like 'Odiyan' got? Or is only Mohanlal entitled to such special treatment? Not fair! 

Then came the celebration of the 100 days' completion of 'Adi', the maiden film of Pranav, the son of Mohanlal. As most of us Keralites registered it, the film ran in the theatres hardly for a week or two. So, naturally, they're eager to know as to where it had completed 100 days to full capacity. The celebrations are going on with the entire family and their acolytes saying in superlatives about the father-son duo. Pranav's discomfort on all these occasions can be discerned from his body language. Poor fellow, he seems to be a real guy but the sycophants around his family are not letting him be what he is!

When he finally becomes his own man, I'm sure he'd be a disgusted man....disgusted in the falsehoods that people resort to, including his dad, perhaps? Give him the chance to be his own self, do not let your fans' association and your numerous friends lay the yardstick for him. Let him have a few duds otherwise, what you're doing will eventually break him, please understand that. And Mohanlal, for your good must see through your sycophants!

And never forget the fact, that a successful actor's son need not be a successful actor. No amount of your charisma, popularity or fans' association's theatrics can ever force that issue either! 


Murali came at about a quarter past 8 and we're off to Kochi at a half past 8. The wedding was at the TDM Hall and we reached there well in time. We could meet many of Lekha's relatives in the bargain and it was a well conducted wedding. Here's us wishing Nandini and Balu a very long and happy married life. May you get whatever you wish for!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Opening of the Cantonment roads.

There has been a general anguish among the defence personnel on the recent government diktat of opening the cantonment roads for the general public. Reasons cited are security concerns which, to an extent, is justified. The roads are well maintained, the loans and the grassy stretches that serve as pavements are clipped periodically.

The cantonment was a British concept introduced during the times when they ruled us. It was to keep the Indian Armed Forces insulated from the rest of the country so that they could be deployed against their own people in enforcing law and order. Accordingly, the 'fortress' was usually established about 20 km from the main city with excellent road connectivity. And over a period of time, the cities have grown and reached the gates of the cantonments!

The armed forces, all these years, had used their resources to beautify and bring orderliness in the cantonments, so much so, that all of them without exception beat the cities that they are meant to serve hollow, in maintenance and upkeep. For the general public, the area was out of bounds and they're required to make a detour to reach their destinations. When I was staying at the Delhi Cantonment, I remember all my friends and guests from the civvy street being perpetually in awe of the pristine surroundings of our environs. A few of them, even, wanted me to get permission for them to drive through for their outings but I used to politely refuse them saying that the security concerns needed to be understood and the terrorist activities that took place - at various places - only bolstered my reply and the requests had stopped.

For the defence fraternity who live in the areas, it might be a situation hard to stomach because they need to now get used to mad vehicular traffic, accompanied with the attendant noises.

My take.

The defence forces, need to take a more pragmatic view of the order and bolster the security because of greater exposure of the cantonment. We cannot tend to live in isolation from our civilian counterparts in perpetuity. To the extent feasible, non accessible areas should be earmarked and the least vulnerable ones be opened to thoroughfare without ever lowering the guard. 

To the higher ups, my advice would be, do not let this accessibility be used as a bargaining chip for huge chunks of playground and open areas to be given off to the land sharks who might have already set their eyes for such acquisitions, in future.......sadly, pliant seniors might bow to the wishes of their political bosses for their personal gains.


Mohanan was cremated at about 1130 hrs, this morning. The caretaker was giving the feedback on a minute-to-minute basis. It was raining heavily.     

Friday, May 25, 2018

Adieu Mohana.

Around 11 AM, as I was driving around Guruvayur clearing the list of work that I'd noted down on my slop chit, our caretaker, Vijayan had called up to say that Mohanan had passed into the mist of time.

The two of them were having a conversation in front of Sasi Pillai's(His elder brother who'd passed away, just a few months back) flour mill when the farm workers who were going to work around the coconut trees, in our compound, had arrived. Vijayan, after taking leave of Mohanan went along with the workers after being assured of the ash lying in his backyard for the coconut palms......rock salt will be the other ingredient that will be administered along with it.

Mohanan had walked into the mill and fallen down unconscious and all attempts to revive him proved futile. He was rushed to the Vijaya Hospital at Kottarakkara where he was declared 'brought in dead'. All of 58 years, Mohanan leaves behind his breast-cancer-stricken wife and two children - a son and a daughter, both married, settled and currently working in Thalasserry.

I believe that his doctor had warned him about the three 'blocks' in his system and had advised a bypass surgery. Was he avoiding it because he didn't want to spend anything on himself, I wonder?

Our relationship had begun in '68 when the Raj Nivas was newly commissioned and Nani ammoomma of the Thottadiyil House, opposite ours, had joined up to help mom with her household chores. My sisters had shifted to Thalavoor from Thiruvananthapuram - at my grandparents' house - after finishing the academic year. Dad was still in the IN, Mom was the branch post mistress at the Kura PO and Raj Nivas, from then on became my leave station as I was studying in the Sainik School.

Nani ammoomma had nine children - two daughters and seven sons; Mohanan(V Mohanan Pillai) was the youngest - and was, then, struggling to make both ends meet. The daughters and the first two sons were married. He, too, joined our household to help mom in drawing water from the well, to secure the cattle at the grazing spots and to run errands(There was no lift pump that was installed, then) but my parents were clear that he'd continue with his education. He and my elder kid sister, Rema, were in class IV and my sisters along with him, used to go to their school, the Thalavoor UPS, together. It was ensured that he was included in every activity of the household and treated at par with my sisters, so much so, that there was a general talk among the others, in the village, that he looked like another child of the family! We used to go for movies in the movie hall at Kunnicode and on excursions to the nearby places when dad and I were at home on leave/vacation. He stayed with us and if I remember correctly, he never ever went to his house because he didn't find any requirement to do so. He used to quarrel with my mom if his food was perceived to be lesser than that of my sisters though I must hasten to add that mom never treated him differently. (I remember him crying profusely during dad's and mom's funerals while waiting on me as I went through their last rites; that was his attachment towards them).

He was fiercely loyal to us and used to be possessive about everything that had the Raj Nivas touch. Anyone who dared to pluck the flowers from our courtyard got a mouthful and he never encouraged any of his young nieces and nephews to come into our compound. My sisters tell me as to how the three of them used to play 'working women' on holidays, wearing mom's sarees, once she'd left for the office! He was weak in studies and his spellings were atrocious - seen from many of the warnings that he used to write and display to prevent people from entering our compound...we used to have a good laugh without hurting him.

He'd joined my younger sister's class eventually and any attempt at my parents or me trying to help him at his home work was thwarted by him. He didn't get through class X and had left our house by then but was always willing to help us whenever required. By that time, Nani ammoomma, too, had passed into the mist of time!

He had taken up farming activities and later switched over to construction activities but had hit the bottle hard. It was sad to see him drink himself silly but he made it a point never to come in front of any of the five of us from then on, after imbibing liquor. He'd provided medical support to his wife, taking her to the RCC, Thiruvananthapuram from time to time as was required and she's much better now. He'd also ensured that his children studied and passed class X; they've their families and are living comfortably at their place of work.

RIP Mohana. You've given us so much to remember and shall always have a special place in our hearts. My tears and prayers and here's wishing that your family has the strength to tide over these stressful times.


Rema will come here on Sunday and together, we shall go to Thalavoor to spend some time with his family to share their grief. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

That's not done, President Trump!

President Trump has called off the much announced summit between him and Kim Jong-un that was slated for 12 Jun at Singapore. It was done soon after North Korea had shut down its nuclear building facility. What makes me wonder is as to whether that was his only objective? I mean, making North Korea destroy its nuclear establishment. A statesman would and should have a much larger objective which I firmly believe.

Perhaps, the President has scored brownie points among his constituency within the US but the act has taken away the potential of him being considered a statesman who could rise above petty considerations, like in this case, of having got North Korea to dismantle its nuclear capability. In fact, he was even being considered for the Nobel Prize for Peace for his initiative!

It's a sad development. Though nothing spectacular was being anticipated from the summit, given the animosity and years of distrust between the two sides, the very fact that North Korea was brought on to a negotiating table was a great achievement and who knows, it might even have offered certain initiatives that would have ultimately brought that country out of isolation from the rest of the world.

The President, had not very long ago stunned the world, when he scrapped the nuclear deal with Iran which, incidentally, was one of his election promises. He has been of the opinion that it's heavily one sided, in favour of Iran. What he seems to disregard is that the foreign policy initiatives never change with the change in political leadership, the party affiliation of the leader notwithstanding. That's why the rest of the world, especially Europe - the traditional allies of the United States - has said that they would stand by the Iran nuclear deal. It's definitely a diplomatic setback for the super power which was expected to take a stand that was ethical!

The leader of the world's super power has certain responsibilities that he cannot shirk away from
and to my mind, these are:-

     (a) He stands for world peace and towards this end, he has the eyes and ears of the leaders of
           the rest of the world to enforce it within the ambit of the decisions of the United Nations.
     (b) He's the natural leader as he has the world's most potent defence capability that can be
           deployed whenever and wherever he chooses to do so.
     (c) The use of force should be just adequate enough towards the achievement of the aim. A
           prolonged stay would wear off the sheen and the potency of the intervention.
     (d) His word is final and his successors are honour bound to carry on with the initiatives that he
           has set in motion!

President Trump knows best as to what he's doing, I'm sure. With the senate investigations regarding the alleged Russian influence on the outcome of the last Presidential election going on, here was an opportunity for him to display his character. The opportunity seems to have been given the go by.....or will he have second thoughts?


Another of those quiet days. The melancholy brought in by Ramesh's passing away continues to hang heavy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

10 interesting villages of India.

Today I'm gonna touch upon an entirely different subject. It will be a brief on ten interesting villages of India. Without much ado, here I go:-

 (a) Shani Shingnapur.

       The Shani Shingnapur village in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra where none of the
       300 odd buildings - houses, educational institutions and even banks - have doors. The people
       believe that 'Shani' (Saturn) will look after them and their belongings.  Precious items like
       money, gold ornaments etc are kept in open containers within the house and there has been no
       case of theft reported till date!

  (b) Kodinhi.

        Kodinhi village in the Malappuram district of Kerala boasts of having 400 pairs of twins. The
        rare phenomenon is the subject of intense scientific research, the world over.

  (c) Shetpal.

        It's a small, sleepy village in the Sholapur district of Maharashtra where poisonous snakes
        roam around freely within the houses without causing any harm to one another. The people,
        here, believe that snakes represent Lord Siva and hence, are to be looked after and fed; they
        assign a place within their houses where the snakes can rest!

  (d) Mattur.

        Along with Hosahalli village in the Shimoga district of Karnataka has every person speaking
        in Sanskrit as the normal medium of communication.

  (e)  Rongdoi.

         In the Rongdoi village in the Jorhat district of Assam, people marry frogs to please the Hindu
         rain god, Barun. It is said that such a system becomes popular in times of drought.

  (f)   Kuldhara.

         The Kuldhara village in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan is a haunted village where people
         fear to go even during daytime. It's believed that the Pahliwal Brahmins had begun to live
         there in the year 1291. The houses built by them - the ruins exist to this day - were made of
         stones that kept the heat away very effectively and their means of livelihood were farming
         and cattle upkeep. The story has it that the Diwan, Saalim Singh, who'd seven wives was eyeing
         the daughter of the 'mukhya' and the entire lot of villagers fled from the village, overnight to
         escape the tyrant's lustful eyes.

  (g)  Punsari.

         This village in the Sabarkantha district of Gujarat is the most modern village which boasts of
         all houses having wifi connectivity  and cctv coverage at every nook and corner. The street
         lights work on solar energy.

  (h)  Mawlynnong.

         Is a village in the east Khasi hills district of Meghalaya. It's famous for its cleanliness and
         the abundance of beauty bestowed upon it by nature.

  (j)   Jambur.

         Is in the Junagadh district of Gujarat, near the Gir forest. The 'Siddi' community that resides
         here resemble the Africans. They're Africans by origin, Indians by nationality and Gujarati
         by language. The story has it that the Nawab of Junagadh had once visited Africa where he
         fell in love with an African woman. They got married and she came to India with him and
         brought along 100 slaves with her.

  (k)  Hiware Bazaar.

         This village in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra carried out seven remedial measures
         to remove its ills and poverty viz. ban on cutting trees, ban on open grazing, donation of
         labour, ban on liquor, family planning, ban on open defecation and proper use of ground 
         water in '89. The impetus was given by the educated youngsters of the village. Today, it's one
         of the most prosperous villages in India with many millionaires and definitely, no poor people!


As one travels through every nook and corner of this great country, many more interesting aspects would be forthcoming. India is a great country with plenty of diversity and that makes it all the more beautiful.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The tragedy at Tuticorin.


1. After about 100 days of protest, demanding the closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit in                  Tuticorin, in Tamilnadu, protesters turned violent. They'd announced that they would take out a
    march to the Tuticorin District Collectorate today. About 15,000 people had swarmed the streets
    despite prohibitory orders which culminated in police firing and the death of 12 people.

Why the protests?

2.  (a) The smelter which can produce 400,000 tons of Copper cathode a year, is controlled by
           Vedanta Ltd, a majority owned subsidiary of the London-listed, Vedanta.
     (b) The plant has been shut since 27 Mar when it was closed for a 15 day scheduled maintenance.
           The company plans to double the capacity at the smelter to 800,000 tons/year.
     (c) During the closure, the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board rejected Vedanta's licence to
           operate the smelter saying that it had not complied with the local environmental laws. The
           Board has accused Sterlite of dumping copper slag into a river and not furnishing reports of
           groundwater analysis of bore wells, near the plant.
     (d) Sterlite has challenged the step.

Is it a popular unrest?

3.  (a) Residents have been demanding the closure for the past 100 days.
     (b) An activist group has accused the Pollution Control Board of allowing the company to operate
           its smelter with shorter chimney stacks, than permitted, which helped the company reduce
           costs but harmed the environment.
4.   And taking a head count of those who want the plant to run:-

      (a) The Tuticorin Stevedores' Association, which handles manual cargo at the port, wants
            resumption of copper production at the plant. It's the single largest private company handling              a consistent annual volume of 38 lakh metric tons of cargo. The Association says that the
            closure of the plant affects the livelihood of freight operators, drivers and workers in
            related industries.
      (b) The Chemical Industries Association and the Winding Wire Manufacturing Association
            have also opposed the closure because it would adversely impact thousands of workers in the
            small factories dependent on it.

 5.        So, it's not a popular unrest in the real sense.

And consider these points too.

 6..   (a) Closure of the plant has led to a spike in copper prices.
        (b) The plant has about a 35% share in the Indian primary copper market and exports mainly
              to the Gulf and Asian countries.

My take.

A tragedy that could have been avoided if the parties concerned had exercised restraint and did not allow the matter to get out of hand.


It was Lekha's birthday today, by the Malayalam calendar. Had given her the card and wished her many happy returns before I set off for my morning walk and calls from the relatives kept coming. She'd gone to the temple along with Preetha and returned happy, because she had a good 'darshan'. The cake cutting followed.             

Monday, May 21, 2018

Appeal for votes on religious lines? Is this what the Vatican wants?

I was stunned by the news that was coming in during the evening. The Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Delhi, Father Anil Couto, has issued a letter to the entire lot of Catholics in India calling for the 'spiritual renewal' of the nation and a regime change after the General Elections of '19.

I have a serious doubt here. Do the heads of the Roman Catholic Archdioceses in different countries make policy statements on their own or do they've to get the Vatican's clearance prior to that?

One had heard of similar appeals made by the Christian clergy during the elections to the Gujarat Assembly, recently and I'd not given much thought to it then as I thought it was election rhetoric when every Tom, Dick and Harry feels that he has the right to utter pearls of wisdom, even if it's utter gibberish to the others! The sad part is that they don't realise that by advising the others to do a thing in a particular manner, they're actually infringing upon the fundamental right of the individual's freedom to think and make decisions by himself! So, aren't they acting against the spirit of our Constitution and if affirmative, aren't they punishable as per the law?

From my school days, I'd always thought that there was a lot of exaggeration when people told me that the Christian Missionaries, since times immemorial, had spread their religion and forced conversions on the other communities. Thinking that it was all hunky dory, many had converted into Christianity only to find that their lives continued to be the same but in the process, came under certain restrictions promulgated by the church. It was hard to reconvert and get back to their original religion because they would have found themselves to be outcastes as people lose respect of those who 'change colours' during adversity!

It was this thinking of mine that suffered a severe jolt after hearing the appeal of Father Anil Couto. He has certainly come down in my esteem for his comments that were unnecessary, unwanted. In fact, I'd like to go a step further and ask him as to how his life has changed after the present dispensation has come to power that has made him make such a misguided appeal to his flock. Further, I'm sure that many in his flock have independent minds and would any day cock a snook at such avoidable uttering from those of his stock!  Had he been in any other country, he would have been tried for treason for making such an appeal!!

A very sad day indeed.

The flipside of the whole thing would be that the people will get a fair idea about the vested interests that are vying with one another to force the election results and that, essentially, is good for Indian politics in the days to come.


Today was the wedding anniversary of two couples in our family. Rema-Padmakumar and Ammu-Mithun. As is our custom we'd rung up, first thing in the morning to wish them, many happy returns. We'd planned to call Mithun-Ammu to come down to Palakkad by the evening after work and celebrate the foursome's special day there. But Mithun's younger brother was already there, at Coimbatore, along with his friends, for the celebration and hence, that plan was ruled out.

We'd decided to go by the low floor bus in the evening to Palakkad to celebrate Rema-Padmakumar's great day but even that was not destined to happen. The Vice President's short visit to Guruvayur and the consequent traffic curbs had thrown the spanner in our plans!   

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Need to be alert!

A few important pieces of information worth remembering.

  * Kozhikode is on high alert as three deaths attributed to Nipah Virus have been reported.

  * An infectious disease that broke out in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 and '99. It first appeared
     in domestic pigs and other species of domestic animals.

  * The virus gets its name from the village in Malaysia where the person from whom the virus was
     first isolated succumbed to the disease.

  * The disease spreads through fruit bats or 'flying foxes'. Presumably the first incidences of Nipah
     virus infection occurred when pigs in Malaysian farms came in contact with the bats who'd lost
     their habitat due to deforestation.

  * The virus is present in bat urine and potentially, bat faeces, saliva and birthing fluids. So do not
     eat the fruits left over by them.

  * Symptoms.       
        - Fever.
        - Headache.
        - Drowsiness.
        - Disorientation.
        - Mental confusion.
        - Coma and eventually,
        - Death.

   * No vaccine is available to fight the illness. Has a 70% mortality!

   * The primary treatment is intensive supportive care.


I'd posted my thoughts on Ramesh in my post yesterday. There are two related incidents that I want to mention here.

   (a) They've become a twosome.

         Sometime, last year, when my brother-in-law Suresh was undergoing treatment at the Amrita
         hospital, my cousin, Reshmi and Bindu had met at the hospital's entrance and I'd introduced
         them to each other. Both had assured help to one another as and when it was required. Reshmi
         lost Suresh  a while back and Bindu has lost Ramesh now.

   (b) An old association?

         I remember mom telling me that soon after her marriage, they used to live in a hired house
         not very far from the Ravipuram crematorium and she used to be scared when dad had his duty
         at night. Was it coincidental, that her doctor, whom we used to visit quite often, had his clinic
         in that area? As I spent time at the crematorium yesterday, that thought did cross my mind.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Adieu 'Chakka' Ramesh!

In the morning my classmate, Savio George, the doctor from Chicago had called up to say that Ramesh was critical and that his end could be coming anytime. Soon after, MS Mohan Nair, another friend and classmate had confirmed it. Arakkal Narayana Pillai Ramesh(As he liked to call himself, while at school) or AN Ramesh was admitted in the Amritha Institute of Medical Sciences last Sunday when he complained of pain around the abdomen. The tests confirmed the worst... he did not have much time in this world.

Colonel AN Ramesh was diagnosed for colon cancer about six years back and was under treatment with the usual combination of chemotherapy and radiations at the Amritha Hospital. As a result, he'd lost his hair and had acquired a bit more of weight but the greatest thing was that he continued to smile and regale us with his sense of humour, never once showing his discomfort to anyone of us, including Bindu, his wife. Last Sunday's tests had confirmed that the cancer had spread like wildfire and there was nothing left for the doctors to do. He'd to be kept away from the pain and that was done by putting him on a drip of morphine, along with other sedatives.

Ramesh had joined the Sainik School in '66 and his roll number was 408. I joined the same class, a year later and my roll number was 519. We're in Prasad House under the care of Mr. KK Muthanna, the House Master and Mrs. Sarojini Sreedharan, the Matron. Being on the heavier side he, automatically, was assigned the nickname, 'Chakka' by the others and was always on the sunny side in behaviour. He was what we in the defence forces call an 'OG' guy, meaning he took everything seriously and insisted on doing it meticulously.

He could be a hard task master and to cite an example, when made the class leader, he used to put down our roll numbers on the board - because we dared to move or question his authority - that resulted in us tasting the cane of the supervising teacher during the evening study time! He was a master prankster too. Good at Academics and an enthusiastic participant at the outdoors, we're House Captains together, in the final years at school - I was of the No.5 dormitory while he was in the neighbouring No.6 dormitory.

After passing out from school, he'd joined the Army and we went our ways without meeting for a long time. I, however, used to get plenty of inputs about Ramesh through his juniors who'd great admiration for him! It was this quality of his that stood out and his flat on the 15th floor of the Kent Glasshouse at Vyttila was a place that many of us looked forward to spend time while being at Kochi. Whenever, we used to go to Kochi in connection with Lekha's quarterly medical review, he used to insist upon us to stay at his place. During those late evening sessions - mind you, he was a teetotaler - what he used to look forward to, the most, was when we talked about each of our classmates from roll numbers 276 to 642, trying to recall the details of each, along with the anecdotes associated with them while at school and as to what they're embarked upon at that moment! Those were non stop laughing sessions.

Last March, we missed that tryst and I feel bad, now, for it.

RIP, Ramesh. My salute, prayers and tears to a good friend who never let his discomfort overtake him and laughed away through life. Here's wishing that Bindu, their daughter, Ramya and the entire family have the strength to tide over these stressful times.


Could start from Guruvayur only by 1400 hrs. The traffic was heavy and we reached the outskirts of Kochi by 1615 hrs when Josekutty Thomas prompted us towards the Ravipuram crematorium as Ramesh had begun his last journey from home. Reached there at 1645 hrs to see a shrouded Ramesh awaiting his turn on the pyre. Lekha and I were sad that we couldn't see his face for the last time. Perhaps, that was destined as he didn't want us to see him in that condition! Was lucky in joining Mannali, among us classmates, to lift him on to the pyre. A short ceremony ensued and soon, tongues of flame engulfed him and the jolly good 'Chakka' Ramesh had become memory.....we shall cherish every moment spent with you. And Bindu, you're strong.....we're with you in this hour of grief!   

Friday, May 18, 2018

Stacked up for tomorrow.

Today seemed to be a quiet day because most of the action is gonna happen tomorrow. It always happens I suppose. A quick look at those events.....

 (a) The Floor Test in the Karnataka Assembly.

       As per the orders of the Supreme Court, BS Yeddyurappa will prove his majority tomorrow at
       4 PM, on the floor of the House. Meanwhile, the Congress and JD(S) MLAs have been lodged
       in a plush hotel in Hyderabad. The whole country seems to be waiting for the nail biting finish
       that's expected.

       How can the BJP get the support from a section of the opposition MLAs? A story that was doing
       the rounds was that they've been assured of the requisite numbers. The theory is that the newly
       elected Lingayats aren't enthusiastic to support HD Kumaraswamy, a Vokkaliga. Just goes to
       show that religion still plays a major role in our decision making!

  (b) The Royal Wedding.

        Prince Charles' son, Prince Harry will wed Meghan Markle tomorrow in London. It's gonna be
        the biggest social event for the day attended by a variety of guests from the world over. Harry,
        who'd lived a fairly colourful life is finally settling down with Meghan, a Hollywood actress.
        The Archbishop of Canterbury will solemnise the wedding and Prince Charles will walk the
        bride up the aisle. Harry and Meghan are yet another Anglo-American couple!

  (c) My Chevy Is Ready.

        The service centre had called me up this evening to say that my Chevy would be ready by
        10 AM tomorrow. The major body work of the bonnet and the forward/rear bumpers have been
        attended to along with the defect rectification of the air conditioning system. Will see each of
        the work, minutely, as I think I've been a bit lax in my previous forays. For example, I think I
        had kept my apprehension, about the a/c system requiring to be operated at the maximum pitch
        on the control knob, to myself. That the leak of the refrigerant was not licked was something
        that I'd realised, only, towards our last journey.

        Lekha's complaint is that I tend to believe whatever the customer adviser tells me. I do believe
        that everyone is sincere to his work and since I frequent the service station for all the work on
        the vehicle, I expect each and every one of them to be dedicated because a single mistake can
        mar the reputation of the firm and can even cost him the job!


My friend and classmate, Savio's early morning medical information on two of our classmates was depressing. Is there a chance for miracles to take place? Another friend, Suresh was the only one who'd given it straight about our mate in Thiruvananthapuram!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What the Karnataka Assembly election results mean to people.

As predicted by the psephologists, the results of the elections to the Karnataka Assembly has thrown up a hung house with no party getting the majority. Charges and counter charges are being hurled by the protagonists in this drama and plenty of action is taking place:-

    (a) BJP's Yeddiyurappa has been sworn in as the chief minister. The Governor has, thus,
         encouraged horse trading by giving time to the party to poach on the Congress and JD(S)
         MLAs. Incidentally, all of them are being held in a resort to preempt poaching.
   (b) The Congress had gone to the Supreme Court to stay the swearing in of Yeddiyurappa in
         a midnight move and the Court, in turn, has asked the chief minister to submit the letters of
         support from the MLAs.
    (c) Meanwhile, the Congress and Laloo Prasad Yadav's RJD will go to the Governors of Goa,
         Bihar and Manipur respectively to stake claim to form the government as they're the largest
         single party in the states mentioned.

What the Karnataka Governor has done is nothing but a repeat of similar actions by his predecessors in various states, scripted by the political parties in power, during those times. I ain't supporting his actions but I'm sure he has gone by the advice given to him, based on past experiences.

Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee have asked the President to 'guide' the nation in these times. What Mamata seems to have conveniently forgotten is the shoddy manner in which the panchayat elections were conducted in her state just now. The violence unleashed was unbelievable, wonder whether she's happy, within her heart, about the victory that she has been able to garner. I, in her place, would definitely not be! Previously, she used to complain that the CPM goons - when that party was in power - resorted to violence during every poll and after coming to power, her goons have taken over that job! She'll be swept away in due course of time and that day might not be far away.

These are the essentials of democracy - the freedom to carry it a bit too far - and the side that has the maximum lung power and are prone to histrionics, that can be portrayed effectively by the media, wins the war of emotions! 

My take.

The 'tamasha' has just begun. It can get more vicious as time goes.

What's happening now is the beginning of the run up to the General Elections of '19. The Opposition has realised that they've a formidable opponent in Narendra Modi and hence, the talk of unity among themselves. Now, how can over ambitious parties with many of the leaders coveting the prime ministerial chair, form an effective coalition? The Congress has conveniently shifted gears and buried its dismal performance in Karnataka. Most of the opposition leaders are periliously close to being indicted on corruption charges in various courts and hence, their viciousness and hatred towards Modi. I read somewhere that the entire opposition is thinking hard about bringing Modi down in the eyes of the people and are desperately seeking the necessary inputs. What a shame? One must try to win the hearts of the people by one's positivity and not on playing up the opponent's negativity! 

And sadly, the media cannot be believed because the spread of 'fake news' is at an all time high. 


Oommen Chandy has got a lease of life, in that, the 'Solar Case' has all but fallen flat with the High Court annulling Saritha Nair's letter on the basis of which the Commission's findings and recommendations were drawn. The LDF's plan to pin down Chandy has got unstuck. Perhaps, Justice Sivarajan must be feeling the heat from both the sides - the LDF and the UDF. Poor guy, he must be ruing the fact for having strayed away from the terms of reference to curry favour with the ruling dispensation! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

27 and counting.

Today's our 27th wedding anniversary. As we cut the anniversary cake and snapped a few photographs, I was taken back in time to the actual date. Many of the protagonists who'd actively worked towards the preparation for the wedding have passed into the mist of time. Lekha and I remembered them as we flipped through the pages of our wedding album. Why can't we've a system where we have the luxury to hit the 'pause' button in our lives to remain eternally at a lovable moment? Why can't we have all the people that we love, with us, till our very end?

I know that these are illusory thoughts and are not achievable due to the cosmic truth of life.

So, I shall do the next best thing and that's to recount the milestones in our lives that happened on or after 16 May '91. So, here I go:-

    (a) Ammachi (Mrs PN Panicker) telling me after the wedding ceremony was over that she didn't
         mind passing away, now that she has seen my marriage. I never knew that it would turn out to
         be prophetic. I'd told her that she and Muthachhan must come and stay with us at our house in
         Ooty. Her reply, "You tell Muthachhan and I shall make sure that we come and stay with you
         to your hearts' content"shall always remain an unfinished dream for me.
    (b) On the first week of Jun, we'd proceeded to Wellington so that I could join the 47th Staff
          Course. Our first house was 28/2, Gorkha Hill which we'd furnished with items bought off
          the shelf at Wellington and the soft furnishings from Coimbatore.
    (c) Ammachi passes into the mist of time on 25 Jul. I'm not informed about her passing away
          because they did not want me to break the course! I come to know of it during the tutorial
    (d) Lekha has continuous temperature and pain in the joints and I take her to Lt Col Bhatta, the
          Medical Specialist who's taken aback when Lekha's weight was noted to be 25 kgs. He tells
          me not to worry but a look at his face tells me that I should. Her blood samples were sent to
          Bombay and Bangalore for further tests to rule out Lupus phenomenon.
    (e) I go for the FAT(Forward Area Tour) and prior to that, drop her with my parents at Raj Nivas
         in early Sep '91.
    (f) She's put on ayurvedic treatment under the care of Dr. KMK Labba, our family friend and
         dad's classmate and friend.
    (g) Realised during the next tutorial break that Lekha would never join me back at Wellington
          because of her medical condition. She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and the
          treatment had begun.
    (h) When I'd asked my dad as to why he and mom were bearing the brunt of looking after Lekha,
          my dad's words were, "Looking after your wife is a rare privilege. You don't worry about
          us. Concentrate on your studies". Thus I was a forced bachelor from Sep '91 to the end of the
          course, in Apr '92.
    (j)  I was posted at the Headquarters, Southern Naval Command in the Training Division with
          Cmde KP Mathew at the helm when in Aug '13, Lekha had gone into coma following epilieptic
          episodes, at a frequency of 11/2 to 2 hrs, for 48 hrs. The, then, 72 year old Joseph Kurien, the
          Superintendent of the Lisie Hospital was her saviour and being a fighter herself, she'd come
          back to life. She was comatose for a week and it was established that she suffered from the
          deadly SLE(Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus). With intense physiotherapy over six months, we
          got her to walk and use her hands all over again
    (k) I wanted to get a second opinion and had asked for a transfer to New Delhi and it was the turn
          of the late Lt Col Achuthan Kannampilly, the Rheumatologist, Ashok Kumar, the immunologist
          and B Ramachandran, the Physiatrist who'd tended and nurtured Lekha over the next 17 yrs,
          commencing Apr '94.
    (l)  For the first 9 years, she was under steroids which was followed by a spell of no medicines
          and towards the last 8 years, she has been on Quinine which is an effective antidote.
   (m) She's now under the care of Padmanabha Shenoy, the Rheumatologist, based at Nettoor in
          Ernakulam and is poised to meet him next on 05 Jun, as part of the quarterly review.

Lekha is a fighter and she lives a normal life with the little deformities, consequent to the epileptic attacks of '93. It's a great comfort to have her beside me and she's my able navigator when we go on long drives. Our life together has been a roller coaster ride with plenty of action and a great circle of friends.

It's simply great to have her around and I value her sane inputs on many aspects of life. God, please do take care of her......for me.


Had met Dr. Ramachandran along with the latest results on my sugar levels. The medicines have been tweaked and I'm supposed to take another set of readings after a week and convey them to him!


Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Had got up with the alarm at 4 and went through my chores. I was ready well in time when Anto showed himself up and together, we left for the railway station without much ado. Lekha had given me a packed breakfast as she usually does during such forays of mine. I'd recited my prayers as the train hurtled towards Punkunnam, the first station after Guruvayur and immediately before, Thrissur!

At Thrissur, this young girl, Uthara had boarded the train along with her mom and sat in my coupe. She's studying in class VI of the Holy Family School in town. A beautiful, little girl brought up with the best of values and soon, we'd become good friends. She sat on the single seat opposite mine and was keen to know about the stations that came by. It was through her that I came to know that they're headed for Kayankulam as the little one kept wondering as to why the train wasn't reaching her destination fast and was wide eyed in that I knew the stations in the order of their sequence!.

The loco men were on strike all over India, but their counterparts in Kerala had decided not to strike work and instead, wear a black band around their hand to register their protest - was impressed at this attitude of theirs (It was Lekha who'd given me this information, when she'd called and I must confess that I wouldn't have embarked upon this journey had I known about it beforehand!).

The young chirpy Uthara, kept boredom away with her incessant yet lovable chatter and a great number of innocent questions. Soon, her mom, Rekha too, joined in the conversation and thus, I came to know that she was a teacher who taught classical dance to many students, both at Thrissur and in Guruvayur. In addition to it, she's also an 'Art of Living' guide and currently, was off to Kayankulam for a five day 'AoL' camp and had her little one tagging along with her to spend those days with her cousins during her ongoing vacation. They've agreed to keep in touch and to drop by at our place in Guruvayur - "We keep coming there every week as we've a lot many relatives out there!" - as they waved me good bye.

The remainder of the journey from Kayankulam to Kollam to Kottarakkara was very quiet as the train piled on a 11/2 hour delay! I'd to just grin and bear the agony. Meanwhile, had lunch at the Kollam railway station, courtesy its vegetarian refreshment stall. By the time I was at the bank in Kottarakkara, it was a quarter past 3 and had to wait a while for Ramakrishnan to come back from lunch. Earlier, I'd a bad experience when none of the auto rick guys, parked at the railway station, were eager to drop me at my destination as it was a 'minimum return' run for Rs.20/- and I'd to shout as to whether I'd reached Pakistan where an Indian would come across unfriendly people! My taunt worked wonders because there was a quick reaction.....we Malayalees will never improve because we're fundamentally bad and arrogant!!

After handing over the papers for mom's lifetime arrears, I'd told Ramakrishnan that the money, if received within a fortnight, would be of a great help in erecting the truss work over Raj Nivas before the monsoon sets in. I thought it right to tell him about the need so that he put in efforts to get us the money in time, otherwise such things have a way of getting delayed for no rhyme or reason!

On completion of work, I'd got myself dropped at the road transport corporation bus stand and clambered on to a Scannia volvo, headed for Bangalore. I would have reached Guruvayur before 9 but a rally sponsored by the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripaalana Yogam and blinding rains coupled with a dinner halt of half an hour enroute, saw us at Thrissur at a 10' to 10 with the rains still drip, drip, dripping......In the volvo, I'd to tick off an IT professional who had lowered the backrest of his chair rather hard on to my knee, in the process of making himself a convenient sleeping position. A Paulose from Canada - overheard his name from a few of his phone calls - was active with his crunch, crunch, crunching of a seemingly crispy and hard wafar that he was busy with. The journey had its share of an intermittent sound and light show, thus!

I was back at 'The Quarterdeck' at a half past 11 on completion of work. Phew!


1. Tomorrow happens to be our 27th wedding anniversary.
2. The results of the Karnataka state Assembly elections were fed to me, on a continuous basis, by a few of my friends through What'sApp.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Limbering up for another short trip.

Had got up late by about 20' to 6, the alarm on my phone had played truant for some unknown reason. I wasn't, however, gonna let go off my plans to do a few things today and so, was able to set out for my walk by a 10' past 6. I'd headed straight for the hospital - as part of my morning walk - to give my blood sample on fasting and returned soon after.

In the meanwhile, Lekha had made a quick breakfast to facilitate my going back to the hospital for the second drawing of blood post breakfast, one and a half hours later. It was around that time that Vishnu, the bank manager, had called up to remind me about the inauguration of the 'PPF counter' at a half past 10. I was at the bank, soon after, to be part of that short and sweet ceremony. I could also transfer a sum of Rs.5 grand to the Head Mistress of the UPS, Thalavoor as part of the endowment on dad's name to buy books for the school's library. Either me or one of my sisters will hand over the books - selected by a committee comprising the Head Mistress, a teacher, a parent and two students - on the Vaayana Dinam on 19 Jun.

On my return home after another errand, I'd got the medical results that showed a slight setback in my sugar levels. I'd called up the doctor, told him about the results along with the reason that I'd been wayward with my food intake over the previous fortnight thanks to a spate of weddings and other engagements and so, could I meet him after another month with a new set of results? He'd have nothing of it and has given me an appointment at 8 AM, the day after, as I'd be off to Kottarakkara on a personal work tomorrow.

Anto will be my 'saarthi' for tomorrow morning and I board the same train that will see me doing the specific work after 2 in the afternoon - it reaches Kottarakkara only by that time, you see - and return by the Thiruvananthapuram-Guruvayur Intercity express, from Kollam by 1840 hrs. Hope my work tomorrow, provides the necessary momentum for the next project concerning Raj Nivas, well before the onset of the monsoons!

Have been receiving the full coverage of my course mate, Suresh Inani's son's wedding and related celebrations at Jodhpur and Chittorgarh, which Lekha and I had to back out from because of Appachi Ammaavan's passing away. Will make up for it some time later to wish the newly wedded couple - Rishiraj and Vidya - the very best in their life together.

Our maid, Preetha and her husband seem to be set on parting ways. She's strong but he's crumbling as he met me this morning and said his sob story. Something tells me that he's slowly getting to be a mental wreck and both Lekha and I had advised her to tackle him delicately. Hope things would get under control with the two families dealing with the soured relationship with maturity and compassion.


Tomorrow is gonna be a long day!       

Sunday, May 13, 2018

These events make me wonder.......

Some of the happenings that take place takes you by surprise. You wonder as to whether it's the done thing, does it augur well in the long run and whether it should be happening in the first place? It's with this bewilderment that I'm gonna discuss the following points:-

  (a) The Politicisation of the Police.

        That the police force has an association is by itself a paradox because much of its efficiency is
        blunted by political affiliations and the possibility of manipulation by the wily politicians. The
        force needs to be apolitical and be revamped/modernised at the earliest, that's what successive
        committees - the Dharam Vira committee is the most comprehensive of them all - have been
        recommending thus far. The very fact that nothing seems to have taken place in this regard
        shows that the political class is least interested in ushering in the changes lest it gets away from
        their grasp!

        The Kerala Police Association in their recent annual function, by their flag hoisting and
        associated drills resembled a particular political party and was quick to receive brickbats for
        it. The subsequent corrective actions weren't able to remove the doubts that were cast! To make
        matters worse, the chief minister's endorsement and the DGP's related diktat are at loggerheads
        with each other in purport!

  (b) Too Much of Misconduct. 

         The news that keep coming up regarding the massive fraud that has taken place during the
         recently conducted Assembly elections in Karnataka in terms of money changing hands and
         discovery of huge numbers of voters' ID cards is appalling. In a democracy, corruption begins
         at the elections, its most important aspect which is both, its tragedy and the paradox.

         Was the misconduct on a large scale because of the stakes involved? The Congress has to
         retain the state under its influence while the BJP needs to desperately get the reins whereby it
         gains a toehold in south India. Hope the misconduct is not swept under the carpet after the
         results are out and the new government takes over.

 (c) A Spate of Abduction and Rapes.

       Without exaggeration, I hate to say that there's no day that has gone by without a case of
       abduction and rape of minors of being reported by the media. What makes the scenario worse
       is that in certain cases there has been police connivance to hush up the matter because of the
       culprit's connections.

       What's happening to us Keralites?


Had reached Guruvayur half an hour behind time at half an hour past midnight. A quick bite of dinner, followed by the usual chores brought the curtains down to an interesting day.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A day's tryst at Kottayam.

Had got up, on the dot at 4, went through my chores and was out of the house by a half past 5 as Antony was on call instead of Anto. The train left on time and maintained its punctuality till Ettumanoor, a station short of Kottayam. Meanwhile, I'd decided to call on Sarala kunjamma and her husband, who weren't keeping well of late.

It was her daughter, Vidya, who gave the necessary directions to the auto rickshaw driver, to their new house into which they'd shifted only a couple of months back. It was a two storeyed building in which the owner had stacked up his stuff in the ground floor. The difficulty was that the main bathroom and toilet were on the ground floor which is, indeed, a tough proposition for my kunjamma.

She looked bright and cheerful though Unni kochachhan was running a fever thanks to an infection on his right foot. Vidya took him to his doctor as I chatted up my kunjamma. She and her grandchildren looked after me to ensure that nothing went wrong during the short stay! Meanwhile, I also did take take time to marshal my thoughts on CG chettan, to speak at the commemorative meeting that was being held at the KPS Menon auditorium at a half past 4 this evening, within the premises of the Public Library - the raison de tre of this trip of mine. I'd a conversation with Maman to ensure that I didn't miss out on anything about CG chettan and noted down a few points.

After catching up on my 40 winks, I'd interacted for a while with the entire family before going off to the Public Library. The session was well crafted with the designated speakers paying glowing tributes to the lovable CG. I'd concentrated on his relationship with my grandfather and the family. I'd likened their rapport to the legendary 'Sri Ram - Hanuman' relationship and at the end of it, offered my condolences to the family who sat attentively in the audience. A few of them had wept when I'd dwelt upon the depth of the PN Panicker-CG Vasudevan Nair relationship and the gist of our conversation during our last meeting in January.

Perhaps, Maman's urgent requirement of having to be in New Delhi and my consequent presence at the event was but the logical conclusion of bringing the second generation of the PN Panicker family to pay tributes to the simple yet elegant man. His love for his mentor had to be felicitated! He was receptive of the latest trends and an active participant towards attaining the membership of the National Digital Library through the Indian Public Library Movement under the auspices of the PN Panicker Foundation and getting the small time traders of the town of Kottayam under the ambit of digital payments.

I was, then, dropped at the KSRTC bus stand by LT Paul sir's chauffeur and got on to a bus for Vyttila. Three traffic snarls enroute and the non availability of auto rickshaws - they don't do trips after 8, in the evening, I was told. A lot many empty ones had passed by and I'd thumbed for them during my trudge between Vyttila and Kadavantra but to no avail, it was drizzling too - brought an exhausted me at the Ernakulam Junction railway station around 10' to 9. It was Milton - a clear headed auto rick driver - who turned out to be the angel and pulled me out of that wretchedness as I passed Kadavantra!

The Thiruvananthapuram-Guruvayur Intercity Express was late by about half an hour and I could finally board it by a quarter past 10. Phew!


Babu Syriac, my classmate and friend had called up, after seeing my jottings on the what'sApp, to point out to me that I'd passed his house during the day! I could have easily called on him and Joma, too - a nice chance missed!!

Friday, May 11, 2018

The news views.

Am again trying to make a sense of the news that are the current headlines. Shall go through a couple and see what they're all about. I'd asked a classmate of mine residing at Bangalore for the last 25 yrs and is a successful businessman as to what he thought would be the electoral outcome and his answer was typical...."you know it would be in the best interest of the state that the BJP comes to power but the predictions seem to point to a hung Assembly!" After his punishing schedule in the state, the Prime Minister is on a two-day state visit to Nepal.

 (a) The PM in Nepal.

       Narendra Modi is, currently, halfway through his state visit to Nepal as I write this. He and
       KP Oli, the PM of Nepal would have had talks regarding the ties between the two countries
       through economic assistance and enhancement of trade. The most interesting aspect of mutual
       co-operation are:-
               (i) To develop inland waterway for cargo movement within the framework of the Trade
                    and Transit treaty. Offering Calcutta as a port for Nepal's benefit?
              (ii) Upgrade road and cross border rail links again, to complement the above.

        KP Oli is from the Communist party of Nepal and he and Narendra Modi have been able to
        come a long way from the distrust caused between the two countries during the month long
        halt in the movement of goods during '15 as India was keen on the Madhesis - people of Indian
        ancestry residing in the Terai of Nepal and comprising various cultural groups such as Hindu
        caste groups, Muslims, merchants and indigenous people - getting their rightful place in their
        newly drafted Constitution.

        It's nice that India has taken the first step in removing the distrust that could have developed 
        as a result of that blockade.

  (b) The Ugly Incidents During Electioneering in Karnataka.

         An incessant flow of money to influence voters and taking the help of a particular religious
         group for electoral success have been the latest scam in connection with the Karnataka
         Assembly elections, poised to take place tomorrow. I'm sure that the appropriate authorities
         would look into these happenings and the guilty are brought to book, earliest. Sad!


Will be off to Kottayam, by the early morning train, to be part of a commemorative meeting on the late CG Vasudevan Nair(CG chettan). Am glad to have got the opportunity to speak about a person that I'm fond of. Will return by the Intercity Express arriving Guruvayur at midnight. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

My queries after the electioneering in Karnataka.

I'm like a babe in the woods insofar as electoral politics is concerned or for that matter, politics as a whole. To give just an example, there are a whole lot of corruption charges that are traded during the run up to the polls but are totally forgotten after the results come out and the winner takes over government. So, are they only to enhance the fire and fury of the electioneering? I always thought that when an allegation is made, the protagonist has solid proof of the misdemeanour and would, therefore, carry it to its logical conclusion viz. have it investigated, facts ascertained and the guilty brought to book.

The fire and fury of the electioneering is behind us and the people of Karnataka are poised to go to the polling booths tomorrow and here's hoping that the Kannadigas get the government that is responsive to their needs and finally, may the best team win.

My queries based on what I saw on television, heard from friends and relatives who would be voting out there and the voluminous analyses that were splashed across in the print media are:-

    (a) What do the Kannadigas expect from their new government? Are they happy with the
          performance of the outgoing government?
    (b) What was the sudden need to make the 'Lingayats' come under a new religion?
    (c) The opposition has always been berating the BJP of playing the religious card. If that be so,
          why did:-

             (i) their leaders, without exception, visit religious places before kicking off their campaign? 
            (ii) what was the tearing hurry to bring the 'Lingayats' under a separate religious group?
    (d) Is Sidharamaiah corrupt? He seems to have countered that charge effectively by slapping a
          defamation case against the PM and the BJP chief. Will he be the chief minister if his party
          wins or is he just a dummy for the electioneering?
    (e) Has the BJP's chief ministerial candidate been able to clear his 'corrupt' image during the
          campaign? If not, hasn't the party taken a big risk in projecting him so?
    (f)  What about Kumaraswamy's JD(S)? Its corrupt ways and the nepotism that it follows never
          were issues that were discussed, anytime, during the campaign?
    (g) If yes, will he be the kingmaker or king, as he puts it?
    (h) Isn't BJP taxing the PM to take on very many rallies prior to his visit to Nepal? Perhaps, the
          party is pinning great hopes on his powerful oratory to swing them the votes.


All political parties, more or less, try the same electoral tactics time in and time out while crying foul about their opponents' tactics. The gullible voter becomes an easy prey. Or would we see an enlightened voter trend this time? We shall get that answer on 15 May.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Disturbing trends.

I'm perturbed by a few of the happenings taking place around us. That people do get affected, there's no shred of a doubt. When some of the trends continue with no end in sight, it's time to get alarmed and ascertain as to whether there's any pattern in the occurrences. It, definitely cannot afford to go on and on like this. I'm, perhaps, making a mountain out of a molehill but it's better to err on the positive than repent at leisure and so, here I go:-

 (a) Recurring Road Accidents.

       Not a month passes when there's at least one road accident, on Tamilnadu's highways, that has
       a Malayalee family involved. Usually, these are families that had embarked on a pilgrimage but
       there are many others who've been on a tourist beat! O, it's a natural happening, skeptics would
       laugh it off but the regularity of the fatal accidents have another story to tell. I, myself, have lost
       close relatives in similar circumstances!

       It's believed that there are gangs operating in Tamilnadu who're aware of the essential details of
       the travelling groups, especially about the Malayalee's weakness in wearing jewellery. Together
       with the liquid cash in person, the group becomes a tempting target for these unscrupulous
       elements. The missing valuables from the scene of the accidents bears ample testimony to a
       mute and tragic story.

       I'm sure that the Tamilnadu police have been seized of the problem and must be working 
       toward problem resolution. Otherwise, if left unchecked, the highway thuggery can continue to           claim innocent lives!

  (b) Akbar Becomes Maharana Pratap.

        A poster with 'Maharana Pratap' written on it was found pasted on an 'Akbar Road' signboard
        in New Delhi. The police had removed it later. "Neither has such a proposal been received
        nor has such a renaming been approved by the council. The defacement of the signboard is a
        law and order problem, the police should take requisite action", the NDMC spokesperson had

         It had surfaced at the birth anniversary of the Mewar warrior and this is not the first time that it
         has happened. It took place in '16, too, but the Hindu Sena had taken responsibility for the

         Interestingly, two years back, retired General VK Singh had proposed that the Akbar Road be
         rechristened as Maharana Pratap Road!

   (c) The Kerala Government's Initiatives.

         The Kerala Government has come out with a comprehensive rehabilitation package of the
         Maoists who surrender. For the purpose, the government has classified the Maoists into three
         categories, based on the positions they hold in the movement and the benefits of the package
         will be based on this categorisation viz.:-

               (i) Cat 1. Those who occupy the highest positions in the movement come under the first
                               cat. On surrender, they will be eligible for a purse of Rs.5 lakhs, disbursed in
                               phases. Rs.15,000/- for those who want to pursue their studies and Rs.25,000/-
                               for those who want to get married, towards their wedding expenses.
              (ii) Cats 2A and 2B. Rs.3 lakhs on surrender and the other benefits based on their needs.

          Will these incentives lure the Maoists back to civilised living? 


In the recently conducted NEET examination, an invigilator was caught for inappropriate stare at a woman candidate's chest. She was one among the few who had to remove her brassiere at the security check as it had some metallic appendage. Embarrassed by the invigilator's stare, she tried to cover her chest with the question paper. On completion of the examination, she along with her father, had filed a police complaint.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The dangerous games politicians play.

For the last few weeks we've been seeing the opposition going through the motions of the impeachment of the Chief Justice of India. After collecting signatures of 50 of their MPs in the Rajya Sabha, it was put up to the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha who's also the Vice President of India. Mr. Venkaiah Naidu, without hesitation, had returned the appeal saying that it wasn't worthwhile even for a discussion.

Lawyers Prashant Bhushan and Kapil Sibal appealed against the decision - in the Supreme Court - of the Chairman, Rajya Sabha and had insisted upon the case being handled by Justice Chelameswar. What the protagonists in the drama, don't realise is that they are unwittingly playing to the sinister game crafted by these lawyers which are:-

     (a) They've sidelined the Chief Justice of India. A sad situation indeed because the top most
           position of the country's judiciary is being maligned to suit narrow political minds.
     (b) By insisting on Justice Chelameswar to hear the case, they are unwittingly sending across a
           message to their countrymen that here's a judge who'd do their bidding.
     (c) The appointment of a constitutional bench to look into the matter, thwarted the move of the
           opposition and by the end of the day the petition was "dismissed as withdrawn".

"Sibal and Bhushan were more interested in the bench which would hear their petition rather than arguing their case on merit. It's a clear case of 'bench hunting'. When they filed their petition they thought that their petition would be heard by a bench comprising of one of "those four judges who'd addressed a press conference against the CJI" but when they got to know their's would be heard by a different bench, they've withdrawn their petition.

Really, by their conduct, these lawyers and opposition parties are suggesting to the judges, either you pass order the way we want otherwise, we will move impeachment motion against you".

A sad day indeed for the Indian judiciary!


Rain was a possibility all through the day but it had fallen only in the evening disrupting television viewing!


Monday, May 7, 2018

Adieu CG chetta!

Actually, it was my Maman who'd called up around 12 to give me the sad news that CG Vasudevan Nair, the Library activist and Gandhian, had passed into the mist of time. He was all of 84 yrs. CG chettan - as I called him - notwithstanding all his official titles, was an ardent admirer and follower of the legendary PN Panicker. He used to follow him like a shadow to ensure his well being while he was actively guiding the Kerala Library Movement.

He was hesitant to leave him on getting a government job at the statistics department but it was his mentor who helped him come out of this dilemma. He recalled his words, "Vasukutta, it's very difficult to get a government job these days. Since you've got one on your own merit, you must take up the job and you've the option of joining me and the library activities as and when you find time". It was this advice that guided his actions subsequently and on retirement, he became a full time library activist, once again, to be with his beloved PN Panicker sir.

I'd met him last on 07 Jan, this year, at the Kottayam Public Library during a public meeting and on completion, we'd gone to PN Panicker's ancestral 'Puthuvayil Veedu' for assessing the quantum of work for its refurbishing while handing over the task to Ranjit, a civil engineer with a 'vaastu' background. He spoke about his medical condition wherein his haemoglobin count was hovering around 7 and the consequent weakness that he was suffering from but that did not deter him from travelling all the way from Kottayam to Neelamperoor and back, with us, travelling by foot at certain places. He was very voluble about his association with my grandfather and gave me most of the details during that ride. Was he, then, aware that we'd never meet again, I wonder?

I'd always been amazed by his tremendous zeal, enthusiasm and stamina when he embarked on any activity that had the PN Panicker legacy. He seemed to acquire super human powers to undertake the task, such was his loyalty to the great man. That day, he'd ensured that lunch was served to each one of us in his cabin at the Kottayam Public Library and seemed to take tremendous satisfaction in taking care of  Maman, Aniyan and me.

Kottayam will never be the same for me, CG chetta because every time I'd visited the town, I looked forward to being with you and bask in your kindness. That's a luxury that I will be denied from now on!

He was the first recipient of the PN Panicker award given by the state library council.

RIP, CG chetta. My tears, prayers and a salute to your simplicity. May god give Chinmayidevi chechi and her children the strength to tide over these stressful times.


Aniyan and family left by the early morning train, back to Kottayam. Anto was the 'saarthi'. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

It's raining guests!

"Hey boss, I've a very severe ear ache. Is it possible to get urgent medical help?" That was Pradeep 'Rana' Roy, who'd woken me up at a half past 1 in the middle of the night.

Earlier, we'd wound up our conversation by about a half past 11, long after dinner. Rana and 'Lokhi' Anusuya were leaving at a half past 2 for Kochi, for their early morning flight to New Delhi. They'd finished with the week's ayurvedic treatment at the nearby spa, earlier in the evening and I'd brought them home for a quiet evening. My favoured 'sarthi', George, had been fixed up for ferrying them to the airport.

As the pain was persistent, Rana had decided that he'd send Lokhi by the flight while he followed her by train, later in the day, but Lokhi would hear nothing of it, insisting that she would also go by train along with him! He feared that the ear problem would only get aggravated and therefore, had ruled out flying!

George was summoned and after locking Lekha - she was fast asleep, quite oblivious of what was going on - in the house, we set off for the nearest hospital. Dr. John, at the Casualty and the doctor on duty, attended to Rana's discomfort. He diagnosed it as an external ear infection with oedema and wrote down the course of action on the medical prescription - of administering 'Ketnov' an antibiotic and a pain killer on the buttock after a test dose - that was prepared, as per procedure. Lokhi, however, wanted to confirm from her doctor uncle(Kaku) whether the contemplated action was right and had got a nod from the other side but not before a query as to why 'Voveran' was not being used. Original Bengali reaction, if you please!! (John with his shapeless jeans, unkempt hair and halting English did not pass muster for a doctor!)

Dr. John, however, was of sterner stuff and he brushed aside the suggestion without getting offended. Looking back in hindsight, he could have got nasty and turned us out of the Casualty for not having faith in him! But, he was a nice guy!! He'd also made it clear that there wasn't gonna be a problem in flying because the problem was within the external ear!!!

After the administration of the injection(On the buttock? I asked Naveen, who'd administered the injection and who said that the reason was because of the abundant number of muscles out there!) followed by the administration of an ear drop, Rana felt the pain reducing and by the time we'd reached back at 'The Quarterdeck', he'd got the message that their flight was delayed to a half past 7 due to the late arrival of the incoming flight! George was told about it and accordingly, they left for the airport by 5. Rana's ear ache was a thing of the past, by then and he'd caught up with his sleep, too. Phew!....... They'd called up from New Delhi, on arrival, and were effusive in their gratitude for being with them to tide over the emergency.

Then, Aniyan, my younger uncle had called up to find out as to whether he and his family could drop by this evening as he wanted to celebrate his birthday at Guruvayur. While clearing him, I'd purposely hidden the fact that both Lekha and I were down with a bad cough because of three things viz.
      (a) It would appear that we're putting up an excuse for not letting them to come by.
      (b) They're on their way to Kozhikode to drop their daughter and grand daughter and our place,
            at Guruvayur, provided them with an appropriate halt.
      (c) And one can't say 'no' to a birthday boy, can one?

They'd, finally, fetched up at 10 in the evening by a state road transport corporation bus! For us, it was raining guests, back to back and I'm of the firm opinion that people look forward to drop by only when they know that they are comfortable!

The late evening was noisy with Aniyan, Usha ammayi, Malu and li'l Prarthana. It was definitely a change for us! The li'l one was friendly and talkative!!


Earlier, Raji, the wife of my classmate from school, Yedu Kumar, had dropped by around a half past 2 to spend time with us. She'd come all along from Kozhikode to attend a wedding and had dropped by on her return trip. Damn sweet of her!