Saturday, June 30, 2018

This happens only in India.

Typical Indian happenings. Here we go.

  (a) The Amarnath Yatra.

        The annual Amarnath Yatra resumed after three days after pilgrims from the two base camps
        in the Kashmir valley were permitted to move towards the cave shrine. The pilgrimage was
        suspended due to incessant rains across Jammu and Kashmir.

        A total of 6,877 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu city in escorted convoys
        towards the Baltal and Pahalgam base camps. The first group of 2,790 pilgrims bound for the
        Baltal base camp left at 0310 hrs in an escorted convoy of 99 vehicles.

        A second group of 4,087 pilgrims left for Pahalgam at 0350 hrs in another escorted convoy of
        130 vehicles, the police had said.

        Our religious leanings make us go through great pain and difficulty. The general feeling is that
        the more you suffer the closer is your attainment of God!

  (b) A Chief Minister's Wrath.

        Quote. "Politicians are often accused of developing a sense of entitlement so massive that
        they resort to brazen display of arrogance after coming to power". Unquote.

         In the latest edition of such debacles, in Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Trivendra Rawat exploded
         at a school principal during the BJP's 'Janata Durbar' in Dehra Dun, instructing the police to
         arrest her immediately and ordered her suspension.

         Uthara Bahuguna(57), Principal of a government primary school in Naugaon area of Uttarkashi
         district requested the chief minister for her transfer as she has been posted there for 25 years
         and the poor lady had to face the ignominy.

         Trivedi, you're a boor and a cad! You've no right to misbehave like this!!

   (c) The Swiss Bank Deposits. 

         The government's claim of fighting black money has taken a major beating. The latest data
         released by the Swiss National Bank reveals that the amount deposited by the Indians in the
         Swiss banks in the past one year has increased by 50%. This is when secret Swiss Bank
         account deposits from global sources rose by three percent in the last 12 months. It was also
         against a downward trend and comes amid India's clampdown on suspected black money
         stashed in Switzerland.

         The Indian money in Swiss banks had fallen by 45% in '16, making it the biggest ever yearly

         The present news is, indeed, a dampener! Shows us Indians' fondness to amass wealth and
         that, too, black money!?


The end of a busy month that saw us travelling extensively - almost 1,000 km spread over eight days, meeting a wide cross section of people and spending time with friends and relatives. It was satisfying but there's plenty to work on the follow through.


Friday, June 29, 2018

50 years of ATMs.

Today's the 50th anniversary of the ATM(Automatic Teller Machine), the beloved cash point with its multiple functions. It's become an indispensable part of life, worldwide.

John Shepherd-Barron once explained that he'd come up with the idea of cash dispensers in '65 while lying in his bath after finding his bank closed. It was then his habit to withdraw money on a Saturday but on this particular weekend he had arrived one minute late and found the bank doors locked against him.

Later that year, he bumped into the chief general manager of Barclays Bank who was about to have lunch. Over a pink gin, Shepherd-Barron asked him for 90 seconds to pitch his idea for a cash machine.

"I told him that I had an idea that if you put your standard Barclays cheque through a slot in the side of the bank, it will deliver standard amounts of money around the clock. He said, 'Come and see me on Monday morning'."

Barclays commissioned Shepherd-Barron to build six cash dispensers, the first of which was installed at a branch in the north London suburb of Enfield on 27 Jun '67.

Shepherd-Barron was born in Shillong, India in '25 and later served in the Indian Army in the Second Airborne Division where he taught the Gurkhas to parachute. He also invented the PIN by recalling his Indian Army number. He had originally intended to make personal identification numbers(PIN) six digits long but reduced the number to four when his wife, Caroline, complained that six was too many. "Over the kitchen table, she said she could only remember four figures, so because of her, four figures became the world standard," he recalled.

All this was possible due to the efforts, decades earlier, of a mathematical prodigy by the name of Srinivasa Ramanujan - a mathematical genius of India.

Unconventional Ramanujan had no formal training in Mathematics and could not get further education in Madras University. His English boss at the Madras Port Trust encouraged him to write to Prof Hardy of Trinity College Cambridge. He wrote a big letter with his equations which held Hardy's interest and he secured him an admission without necessary prerequisites or the hard Tripos Exam.

He would have not made it to Cambridge and world fame, if rules were not broken for him and at Trinity College, he came up with the "Partition Theory".

He was the one of the earliest and the youngest Indian to be awarded the Fellow of the Royal Society!

When you put your debit or credit card in the machine and order the machine to dispense with the amount of your desire, the machine divides and arranges your money before dispensing it, using Ramanujan's partition theory.

A partition of a positive integer, 'n', is just an expression for 'n' as a sum of positive integers, regardless of order. Thus p(4) = 5 because 4 can be written as 1+1+1+1, 1+1+2, 2+2, 1+3 or 4.

The ATM arranges the correct money, to be dispensed with, according to Ramanujan's Partition Theory.

Salute to these two fine gentlemen!


Had gone to the bank to transfer my contribution towards the building of a house for a poor couple in my village, Thalavoor that consists of an elderly, jobless widow and her mentally retarded son, aged 26 years. They were living under plastic sheets all this while and it was Sasikala, an energetic local Congress woman and my mom's friend who spearheads this philanthropic activity of building a 'pucca' house for them. She'd solicited my support, in this project, during my last visit.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Metaphysics and us.

It's not important whether you are spiritual or believe in God........But the four principles of metaphysics apply to all from the moment one is born and until our last breath!

The first principle states, "Whomsoever you encounter is the right one".

  This means that no one comes into our life by chance. Everyone who is around us, anyone with
  whom we interact, represents something, whether to teach us something or to help us improve a
  current situation.

The second principle states, "Whatever happened is the only thing that could have happened".

   Nothing, absolutely nothing of that which we experienced could have been any other way. Not
   even in the least important detail. There is no, "If only I'd done that differently, then it would have
   been different". NO....What happened is the only thing that could have taken place and must have
   taken place for us to learn and evolve in order to move forward. Every single situation in life which
   we encounter is absolutely perfect, even when it defies our understanding and our ego.

The third principle states, "Each moment in which something begins is the right moment".

    Everything begins at exactly the right moment, neither earlier nor later. This is because we are
    subconsciously ready for the new experience or challenge.

The fourth principle states, "What is over, is over".

    It's very simple. When something comes to an end, it helps us evolve. Hence, enriched by the
    recent experience, it's better to let go and move on.

                  Is this a coincidence that you're here, reading this?

If these words strike a chord, it's because you meet the requirements and understand that not one single snowflake falls accidentally in the wrong place!

Just be good to yourself. Always be happy.......Love like there's no tomorrow. And if tomorrow comes, well.....Love again.


A thoroughly wet day. It was pouring continuously as the weatherman had said it would!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The CPEC and the OBOR - China's demographic compulsions.

The CPEC project has courted a lot international attention. The minute details of the project have been kept tightly under wraps. Several observers are giving various reasons for China's keen interest in the project. With fundamentalism on the rise, being a hotbed of terror and with its economy and administration in shambles, Pakistan today is an investor's nightmare.

The $56 billion that China is 'investing' in CPEC is more than all the FDI that Pakistan has ever attracted, since '70. Moreover, this investment alone is around 20% of Pakistan's GDP. Despite Pakistan being an investor's nightmare, China has entered Pakistan in a big way. Why?

Several reasons have been cited by international experts. Some say China wants to encircle India. Some others opine that China wants to rapidly develop its isolated western part. It is also thought that China wants to secure its energy and communication lines in the event of a lock down of the Malacca Strait.

But amid all these, one vital question lingers. Why Pakistan?

If we analyse closely, keeping in view of China's internal politics and history, a different picture emerges as to why Pakistan was chosen to be the 'fulcrum' of its One Belt One Road(OBOR) policy. Simply put, it has been done to stabilise its demographic imbalance. Since the '70s, China has aggressively implemented a 'One Child Policy' whereby married couples had to bring up only one child and were provided with incentives. If anyone flouted the norm, they were punished economically. The additional child had to be brought up with the family's own resources and the government did not provide any subsidy for the 'extra' child's social costs. Moreover, Chinese society(like most Asian societies) is a male-offspring obsessed society. It is estimated that in the 35 years of its implementation, China prevented 400 million additional births and most of the prevented births were that of female offsprings.

Recently, China relaxed its policy and that too, for a reason. It now has 30 million men of marriageable age, who will never find a bride! Imagine the unprecedented havoc, law and order situation and societal catastrophe that they can cause. Studies have also pointed out that most of those 30 million men belong to the lower economic classes.

Now what if you can employ those 30 million men and keep them busy in building a life? It will be even better if you can send them outside your borders. In this way, you will bring down the demographic pressure. Better still, if most of those men who go outside China, marry non-Chinese girls. Enter Pakistan...China's problem solved. A demographic analysis shows that the number of Pakistani girls of reproductive age(15 - 39) is around 29 million, as per the latest publicly available census. And the numbers fit.

The answer to the riddle is solved. Through the projects CPEC and OBOR, China hopes to sort out the demographic imbalances brought about by its past unsound decisions!

The carefully crafted remedial measure can take an unexpected turn when many of those young men find the Pakistani girls, a distraction, to tide over their temporary loneliness but insist on marrying Chinese girls only, eventually!!

*Note. The article has been adapted from various sources on the subject. 


It was a very wet day indeed. My sister, Rema, had come down from Palakkad to collect a bag of hers that we'd brought. After a visit to the temple, she was with us for lunch and I'd seen her off to Palakkad, from the nearby bus stop, soon after.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Gold, the last resort?

The IMF has officially given the green signal towards the acceptance of Yuan - the Chinese currency - into its foreign exchange basket. Reuters says that this move paves the way for the IMF to place the yuan on a par with the US dollar. This is the latest in a series of global developments that threaten to eliminate the US dollar as the world's reserve currency.

Experts predict this announcement will trigger one of the most profound transfers of wealth during our lifetime.

The International Monetary Fund is one of the most secretive and powerful organisations in the world. It monitors the financial health of more than 185 countries. It establishes global money rules and provides bail-out assistance to bankrupt nations. Some even warn that any move to supplant the US dollar could be catastrophic to American investments.

It's the first time in history that the IMF has expanded the number of currencies in the foreign exchange basket. This means that the Chinese currency will now become a viable global alternative to the US dollar. This dollar alternative is likely to transform the world's financial landscape in the next 5 - 10 years!

The announcement will start a domino effect which will basically determine as to who in America gets rich in the years to come and who struggles because so much money could move so quickly. Dr. Sjuggerd says, "If you own paper assets - that includes stocks, bonds or just cash in a bank account - you should be aware of what's about to happen and know how to prepare". A number of experts believe that a recent spike in gold and silver prices is a direct result of the IMF's action. Precious metals notoriously rise when the US dollar falls.

For the last 600 years, there have been six different global reserve currencies controlled by world superpowers. The current - the US dollar - has dominated the world currency for 88 years. The alarming fact is that global reserve currencies have collapsed every 80-90 years for the last six centuries!

All Fiat Currencies Collapse.

Fiat currency is paper currency backed by nothing tangible. As opposed to 'sound money', which is backed by gold or some other valuable commodity, a fiat currency is backed by nothing more than the faith in the government. The US dollar has been a fiat currency ever since Nixon closed the gold window in '71.

After Nixon closed the gold window completely in '71, it took $67 to buy an ounce of gold, devaluing the US dollar by 50%. Today, it takes well over a thousand US dollars to buy that same ounce of gold. And note that the current US government is saddled with $18 trillion in unpayable debt, growing @ $10 million per minute!

So, what should we do? Remove at least some of our savings from the dollar backed, paper-based financial system and protect it with one asset that has outlasted every fiat currency ever invented over the last 5,000 years : Gold!


There is a massive school of shrimps that have closed in on the sea coast at nearby Chavakkad. Ismail, Lekha's regular fish vendor, had come in this morning to give us a share of this prized catch - the prices of fish have dropped thanks to the news about 'Formalin preserved fish' being dumped in the local market, brought all the way from Andhra Pradesh!

Monday, June 25, 2018

CPEC - China's imperatives.

The world's economic model was shaped by two stark events - the post World War II Breton Woods conference at New Hampshire and the shift from the gold standard to the US $ as the trading currency. Since then, these two events have led to inter dependency of nations on manufacturing and trade. For example, China-South Korea-Japan are very heavily dependent on each other for finished goods. That is one part.

The other part is that China is supplying 60% of the world's white goods. But now, with hi-tech becoming more easily available, a number of other nations, too, are trying to be exporters. The global consumption size and consequently, the import size is, however, finite. Labour costs are a major input into a product's price.

So China, which wants to remain the prime exporter and supplier to the world, is doing three things:-

   (a) It's investing very heavily into IIOT(Industry Internet of Things) and in AI(Artificial
        Intelligence). In fact, China is the biggest buyer of AI equipped robotics in the world today. The
        aim is to shift the 4-man shift with one robot(So, no pay, pension, health care, food, bonus etc).
   (b) It plans to make an unprecedented jump to high quality value manufacturing(Eg. Japan). But for
        this, it needs to outsource lesser tasks to other less developed nations.
   (c) Hence, here enter countries like Indonesia, Vietnam(China just opened a new SEZ) and now,
        Pakistan. It wants Pakistan to become one of the nations doing the low-end production/
        manufacturing and passing these on to China for the finishing process.

China is investing US $ 56 billion in Pakistan for the CPEC(China Pakistan Economic Corridor) of which US $ 28 billion will go towards power generation projects. All these have the potential to jump start Pakistan's economy.

Additionally, it will be very difficult for India to attack Pakistan without inflicting damage on Chinese assets!


It was a personal blow. Jayanthi, of the SBI pension cell, was talked to and she'd told me that she has forwarded my letter - more than a month after I'd submitted it to mom's bank at Kottarakkara - today to the PCDA, Allahabad and she has endorsed a copy to me. It will take three months, she says. And a month lost for no rhyme or reason!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The script is changing!

The script on the actress' abduction and molestation case is changing. Actually, the trend was discernible when the new office bearers of 'Amma' had been installed - the elevation of Ganesh Kumar and Mukesh as Vice Presidents was indicative of the forthcoming trends.

Remember the press conference, a day after the incident where the duo had got into a fracas with the press trying to defend Dileep's high handedness?

So, Dileep has got back into Amma because a less attended executive committee meeting, today, has decided that he has to be reinstated! Will he become the treasurer, too, I wonder? Consider these:-

     (a) What stance will the actors take who'd recommended strong action against Dileep?
     (b) What about the actress' collective which had recommended stringent measures against him?
     (c) While everyone was of the view that wrong things were taking place within the Malayalam
           film industry, they had insisted on a cleansing of the system. Now, that process seems to have
           been given a quiet burial.
     (d) Have all of these been swept beneath the carpet in deference to the wishes of a 'caucus' that
           seems to be playing a role to get back the disgraced actor?
     (e) The television channels have increased the frequency of showing Dileep's movies and also
           transmit an overdose of songs picturised on him. Is it to create a favourable outlook among
           the general public playing up on the fact that its memory is short?

Mind you, the case is coming up for hearing in the Court, shortly.

It would be damn sad if the people among them - who'd recommended strict action against Dileep - buckle and not react, fearing the possible death knell of their careers?

It will be sad because the film industry is missing a great opportunity to cleanse itself off the dirt that has accumulated over the years! Sad!!

But if the new decision makers think that they can change public perception, they will bite the dust in due course because we refuse to believe that 'Pulsar Suni' had committed the crime on his own initiative! Dileep has to answer for his misdeeds. Period!!

And a final question to Mohanlal, Mukesh, Ganesh Kumar and the other office bearers of Amma. Why have you forgotten the agony that the young lady had undergone that evening? Would you've taken such a decision if your sister/ wife or daughter was subjected to such a heinous act?  


We kicked off from Thiruvananthapuram at 7. A quick breakfast at Letha's at a half past 8 and lunch at my cousin's around 2 o'clock, took care of our gastric requirements. We could buy the grocery from the canteen and reached 'The Quarterdeck' by a half past 5. It, indeed, was a multifaceted trip in which we did everything that we had in mind!  


Saturday, June 23, 2018

The 49th Sainik School Old Boys' Day.

It was a leisurely morning and by the time we had our morning cuppa it was a quarter past 7. The conversation continued unabated between us and we were out of the house by a quarter past 10, headed for the school. Lekha and Sindhu were headed for the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple to meet up with Anitha to have a special 'darshan' out there. They were to join us for lunch, later, in the school.

The Old boys' Day activities had commenced earlier but we were in time for the high tea followed by the commemoration meeting. Met a whole lot of my seniors, contemporaries and the juniors who were in my House. It was a memorable meeting of a great number of my school types. Suresh Laxman, KS Venugopal, Vipinachandran, self, Vijayakumar and Louis George were from our class, attending the meeting. We did also come across Sivaprasad, who was relegated from our class to pass out of school a year later than us.

We had met all our old masters like Viswanathan sir(Hindi), SH Sarma sir(Maths) and Saraswathy Amma teacher(Biology). She'd joined the school newly as a 'demonstrator' in the Biology section under George Joseph sir and was in charge of our class - this was in '67 and yours truly was in class 7 then! I had got top marks(72) in Biology and she was fond of me, keeping track of my progress till I'd passed out. As I touched her feet in front of the others, she told the people near her and to Lekha, "Rajeev was such a small, cute boy and he was good at everything and very well behaved". Who needed a character certificate after such an endorsement? It did make my day as she kissed me on my forehead as we took leave of her and I'd touched her feet yet again.

We decided to have lunch in a hotel close by as we hadn't registered our names for the get together because the registration counter eluded us and we thought it ethically incorrect to have food in the mess. So, the six of us had gone to the Al Saj hotel, nearby, to have a nice yet simple lunch!

We, then, headed for Mohanachandran's house as was planned last evening. Lekha and I were seeing him for the first time after the surgery. He has a long way to go towards complete recovery. I'd read out the citation on the 'Lifetime achievement Award' parchment that he was awarded this morning as he had done stupendous work during his tenure as the President of the OBA. He looked at me, smiled and briefly held my hand. We had once again assured Manju and Vinu about our help whenever they felt its requirement!

After a wash, I'd gone to the 'Krishnan kovil' nearby, the temple that I used to visit many a time during my school days while staying at 'Kalpar', on the parallel Eswara Vilasom Road in the mid '60s. Many more deities have been added, Krishna was well decked up and I had gone around the outer perimeter before getting into the sanctum sanctorum, reciting the Vishnu Sahasranaama Sthothram all the while and I felt a tremendous sense of peace descending upon me.

The get together of the classmates was at Vijayakumar-Anitha's place. It was again nostalgic, a laugh riot and a grand affair. Suresh-Sindhu, Venugopal-Umah, Vipinachandran-Leena, self-Lekha, Josekutty Thomas and Louis George were in attendance.


Tomorrow's gonna be a long day as we'd be on our return journey back to Guruvayur! Hope the weather and the traffic do not play spoilers!!       

Friday, June 22, 2018

With my classmates from school.

It was a wet day to begin with. Had got up leisurely by 6 and gone through the chores. Our interaction with Suresh and Sindhu was an ongoing process. I'd to undo two of my faux pas in recent days and consequently, sent a mail of apology to my close friend and apologised to my cousin's husband for missing out on his mom's remembrance day. Wonder how I'd missed out on the two?

Had gone to the pension cell to inquire about mom's dues and met with Jayanthi ma'am, the deputy manager who has promised to expedite the process. Her "Sir, you've a heavenly face", had made my day. I'd like to believe that the instant rapport with her must have something to do with our past karma! In fact, I did mention this to her.

The afternoon went off in a pleasant manner and it was nice to meet up with a lot of people. Saw the matinee show of 'Kaala'. Rajnikanth was his usual self. The evening's get together with my classmates from school, at the Trivandrum Club, was a great occasion as usual. The quorum, though small and in the order of our roll numbers, consisted of Suresh-Sindhu, Thrivikraman, KS Venugopal, Jojy, Vipinachandran-Leena, self-Lekha, Josekutty Thomas, Vijayakumar-Anitha and Louis George.

It ended up with the usual sing song session. Lekha, too, had pitched in with the immortal, 'Chandrakalabham chaarthi vidarum theeram.........'


1. It has been an eventful week when I could catch up with many things and meet up with a wide cross section of relatives, friends and people.
2. Tomorrow, we will be visiting Mohanachandran and spend time with him after the Old Boys' day proceedings of the forenoon.
3. Our next get together will be at Wayanad during the month of October.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Back in Thiruvananthapuram.

Had got up on the dot at 6, went through the chores and the tea brought by the caretaker was bang on time. The figure-of-8-walk and the recital of prayers were executed. Raj Nivas was progressively shut down and we'd set off for Thiruvananthapuram a trifle after 10. We'd detoured to Letha's place to shift the fruits to an open space, in her house, to avoid keeping them in the closed confines of the boot for the next two days of our halt in connection with the school old boys' day.

It was pouring during the entire day and the weather continued in the same outlook through the entire stretch of our drive. We headed straight for Lekha's appachi's(Bua) place but it turned out that she was gone out of the house on personal errands. So, it was off to Indira kunjamma's(Ma'asi) house where we were given a scrumptious lunch.

Soon after, we set off for Suma kunjamma's house as we'd to look up her newly born grandchild with Lekshmi and Madhav in tow. It was a nice visit though my aunt had expressed her displeasure at our missing tomorrow's party at the Trivandrum Club in connection with li'l Ayaan's thread ceremony, at the beginning. We, then, waited till 4 to see Vani and li'l Nayana come back from school and returned to Indira kunjamma's house as Lekshmi had to catch a bus to Pondicherry by 6. Rema was going to spend the evening at Padmakumar's niece, Mini's house at Kesavadasapuram and they were dropped by my cousin, Reshmi.

We'd gone back to Lekha's appachi's place and this time were able to meet up with her and wasn't she thrilled, while insisting upon us to spend the evening out there? We were looking her up after Ammavan's passing away and she gave us a lot of interesting anecdotes during the course of our brief stay with her.

We reached Suresh Laxman's place after sunset around a 20' to 6. After a wash and change, we'd settled down to a quiet evening with Vijayakumar and Anitha joining us. The next two days' programme has been chalked out and as usual, I've botched up on the dates and consequently, we'll have to stay another additional day out here.


Got a feedback from Maman about his Delhi trip and the Reading Day celebrations at the Vigyan Bhavan on the 19th. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Remembering dad.

The day had begun with a slight drizzle. The caretaker had brought the morning tea from his house which was stimulating. The figure-of-8-walk for half an hour, reciting my prayers was followed by a wash down of the Chevy. Soon after, piping hot breakfast of dosas and chutney came in from the hotel nearby - the Raj Nivas kitchen has not been activated this time!

Rema, Lekha and I were off to be at the Thalavoor Upper Primary school by a half past 10. Its Headmistress, Lissy teacher, welcomed us with her familiar warmth. The sad part is that I shall be missing her lively presence from the next year's Reading Day celebrations because she's gonna retire in end Mar '19. Thazhvara Gopi, another distinguished guest, was felicitated along with yours truly and I saluted his grit and courage because despite his physical weakness after a stroke, he was there to participate in the function since he was an ardent follower of PN Panicker.

Rakesh, the Panchayat President, had inaugurated the function and it was a well attended function. He paid a flattering mention of my activities. It was nice interacting with the children. The books worth Rs.7,500/-(Though the contributed amount was five grand, the school gets another two and a half grand worth of books as commission!) were handed over to the headmistress. Later, she took us around the library and I saw the photographs showing mom lighting the lamp during the first edition of the ceremony, in honour of dad kept at the library's activity corner.

We were back at home for lunch and a short break. Prasanna, the Headmistress of the Kura Government school had earlier informed me that the school's committee had not bought the books and would like to conduct the ceremony on 05 Jul. I would have to make another trip because the school's convenience to conduct the activity had to be taken note of and I didn't want the books to be bought hastily.

We reached Padmakumar's house by about a half past 4 to look up Pidavoor Amma. At 92, she was as lively and agile as ever with a fund of interesting anecdotes. After spending time with her, we'd set off back to Raj Nivas but not before the old lady had ensured that a whole lot of her garden produce were stacked up in the boot!

It was a quiet evening, thereafter, with the three of us in conversation. The caretaker was there with us for a while giving us interesting inputs of our little village..


A Jack fruit tree, on the compound, was cut and stacked away into small logs for future use. It has been stowed within the old cattle shelter. The rain has battered the house but the leaks within the house seem to have reduced, probably because of the shifting of the tiles on the roof due to the heavy winds.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The 23rd Vaayana Dinam.

Today's the 23rd Vaayana Dinam(Reading day) - PN Panicker's remembrance day - and the commencement of the Vaayana Maasam(Reading month). The preparations had been made and it was the execution that mattered and it was a flawless one, thanks to the homework done. Not seeing Manu and the car that was supposed to pick me up, I'd jumped into an auto rickshaw from the stand near Indira kunjamma's house and reached the Foundation by 8 o'clock..

The things that were supposed to be taken to Kanakakkunnu Palace were loaded into our service vehicle and the group was dispatched without delay. The rest of the staff was told to report straight to the venue. The brief for Pannian Ravindran sir was prepared between Maman from Delhi, me and Shekhar. Earlier, Maman had told me that the pledge might be read out by the Governor and this point was discussed between Pannian sir and me, as we proceeded towards the venue. He'd insisted that I must say it as it would be inappropriate to make the chief guest to do it.

We reached the Kanakakkunnu Palace by about a 20' to 10 and my heart sank as a whole lot of empty chairs stared at me. Was my decision of hiring 300 additional chairs for seating the audience a mistake? To avoid an embarrassment, I'd asked a few in our team to stack up the chairs and presto, the first set of fifty students fetched up and from then on, there was a steady trickle of students and the crowd, ultimately making it a jam packed audience. Seeing Lekha and Rema among the audience - they'd started from Kottarakkara early in the morning, by bus - was heartening.

The guests on the dais arrived one after the other and the Governor arrived at 25' past 10, kicking off the colourful programme and for the next one hour, each of the serials went off as planned. Meanwhile, Maman was getting ready for the national 'Reading day-Reading month' programme at New Delhi scheduled at a half past 12 at the Vigyan Bhavan where the Minister of HRD was the chief guest.

After thanking the staff for their efforts, I'd gone off to Indira kunjamma's house for a quick pack up to set off for Raj Nivas. Rema and Lekha, soon after the programme, had gone to offer their condolences to Sathi. We'd set off for Kottarakkara by about a half past 4 by a low floor bus  and had reached here by a half past 6. Raj Nivas has taken a beating from the monsoon.

Around 13' past 7, we spent time remembering Muthachhan, the exact time at which he'd passed away 23 years back. It was a quiet evening subsequently.


Feedback about the Vaayana Dinam celebrations kept coming in from all over and it was clear that the day's activities were well conducted by our co-ordinators in each district.  

Monday, June 18, 2018

Preparing for the Vaayana Dinam.

Had wanted to get up at a half past 5, but Indira kunjamma had to finally give me a shake up at 6 as sleep had no intentions of letting me free! Went through the chores and did the figure-of-8-walk while reciting the prayers after a day's lapse. Indira kunjamma and I, then, went by an auto rickshaw to Gopu's place to attend Sathi's dad's 7th day - sanchayanam - ceremony.

We'd returned to my kunjamma's house and soon after, I'd left for the Foundation because Aji had come by to pick me up. The day went off in a blur as things were done and struck off the slop chit, one by one. The staff like Lekha, Indira ma'am, Sudha ma'am and the others were of a great help in carrying out work expected of us.

A team headed by Bijumon maash was assigned the task of inviting students to attend the function. Without the hall being packed to capacity with a mix of elders, grown ups and children in the audience, the programme could turn out to be a damp squib.  The backdrop at the dais at the Kanakakkunnu Palace, flex boards showing Muthachhan's face, along with the details of the programme, were up in place at the venue by a half past 9.

Items like a floral garland, flowers, camphor and wicks were purchased towards late evening to ensure that they remained fresh. Meanwhile, Maman was being given the feedback continuously while his requirements like the notice covering the programme at the Vigyan Bhavan, tomorrow, etc were being set and cleared on the computer by the ever efficient Shekhar. Febna, the latest addition to our team, was given necessary inputs regarding the script to help her compere the event.

By the time the things were in an acceptable shape and after overseeing the work at the Kanakakkunnu palace, it was about a half past 10. The small group of Kuttu, Chambu, Aji, Padmakumar and Manu were available with me, all the time, for the execution of the work. Meanwhile, guests trickling into the office all through the day, were looked after by answering their queries and sending them back satisfied. After ensuring that dinner was provided to my task team, we'd wound up for the day before 11.

Lekha and Rema will be arriving tomorrow morning by the road transport corporation bus.


Maman's car had developed a problem - the gears were refusing to engage - and Sudha ma'am, of the staff, was kind enough to give us her car instead. Pannian Ravindran sir had dropped by, in the evening, to see the progress of work.

Lekshmi and Madhav were at home when I'd returned and we all had a very interesting chat about quite a few things, over a delayed supper.   

Sunday, June 17, 2018

At Thiruvananthapuram(1).

Had got up leisurely by 7, gone through the chores and was ready by a half past 8. Was behind the wheel to take Ammayi and Chambu to Gopu's place to offer my condolences on the passing away of Sathi's dad. I'd mistaken today to be the 7th day ceremony - Sanchayanam - and we made the trip. But it turned out to be wrong but I would still say that we did the right thing.

Sathi seemed to be sad at the loss of her dad, who'd lived on to the ripe old age of 103 yrs and from the inputs got, he seems to have passed away at a very auspicious time - an indication that he has moved heavenward, for sure, thanks to the pious life that he'd led. It was also nice to meet many relatives and friends, after what has been a long time. Met Mohan, a very humble guy, who was the managing director of the 'Ayurveda kashaya' toilet soap manufacturing company that has a turn over of Rs.5 crores. Just a few days back, his company had got a bulk order from the civil supplies corporation which is gonna enhance its turnover, further.

We'd sat in conversation and had idli-sambar for breakfast as well as a scrumptious lunch. In other words, we'd spent the entire forenoon with Sathi, making up for my absence at her dad's funeral! Ammayi continues to be apprehensive about Chambu's future with Kala, my cousin, trying to calm her and I, too, put in my bit to allay her fears. However, I know that no amount of such interjections mattered and her misgivings would continue to linger. We returned via Indira kunjamma's house where I'd dropped my over nighter, as I was gonna stay here for the next couple of days.

Was at the Foundation by a half past 2 and there was a clutch of our staff to assist me in sending the connected press releases to the various offices of the print media. Kuttu, from Wayanad and Aji, along with Chambu, helped me in this work of mine. I, finally, left for Indira kunjamma's house by a half past 8 and we sat through late in the evening, trying to catch up from where we'd left last. In the process, realised that I'd last visited them almost a year back when Suresh had passed away. Kripa-shankar's spontaneous tight hug grimly reminded me as to how much he missed his dad. He was doing a combined study with his classmate, Arshit, as his examinations begin tomorrow with Physics!


Am damn thrilled to know that both, Madhavan and Kripa-shankar have decided to join the Indian Navy and I've promised to coach them, based on my personal experience!        

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Guruvayur to Thiruvananthapuram.

The alarm had gone off at 4 AM on both our cellphones simultaneously and we were up without any hesitation, whatsoever. Went about our chores and did everything that I'd put down on my slop chit prior to kicking off for Thiruvananthapuram. I'd asked God last night, before turning off to sleep, to keep the traffic manageable and to bring about a temporary lull in the rains as I drove down.

We could set off only by a half past 6 and had a nice breakfast of 'poories and masala' at the Anand Bhavan at Chalakkudy.

I never knew that He would react promptly to my request but today, we experienced sunny weather all through till we neared Kottarakkara where it was raining and the traffic was comparatively sparse all the way. We would have made it by 1, in the normal course, (And that was good time, mind you!) but for a massive accident involving a road transport corporation's long distance bus and a pick up truck loaded with stone chips, short of Inchakkad. One look at the battered bus told me that its driver wouldn't even have had the time to pray before he met his gory end.

As the affected vehicles were moved away from the middle of the road, it took an enormous amount of time and long queues of vehicles had formed up on either sides. Over and above that, the smarties(You always have such idiots) overtook us and placed themselves in two lines, causing an upset in the order of exit. In the end, it took us 45' to retrieve ourselves from the scene of the accident!

Lunch, at Letha's, was scrumptious and I made it a short affair. Her maid, Thankamani, is getting admitted at the Medical College Hospital on Tuesday for a hernia surgery and removal of a kidney stone and she seemed to be quite worried about it. Her confidence was pepped up before I left for Thiruvananthapuram, by bus, as our programme had to be suddenly altered. Lekha stayed put at Letha's and the Chevy was parked on the driveway.

I was at the Foundation by a half past 5 and quickly got into the frequency of preparing for the 'Vaayana Dinam'. Ammayi wasn't keeping well and therefore, kept our interaction to the barest minimum.


We'd done a distance of 250 km and within a reasonably good time! It was a trouble free and enjoyable drive!       

Friday, June 15, 2018

A few events that I'm eagerly looking forward to.

The 'Vaayana Dinam' has reached us. It will be celebrated all over Kerala, as usual, but this year it takes a Pan India coverage with every state celebrating it, for a month, with the importance that it rightly deserves - the promotion of reading will get the right fillip as I'd like to believe! Digital reading is also being popularised taking into account the ongoing trends.

Digital reading, to quite a few of us, has become a favourite and don't get me wrong, when I say that there are many among us who feel that one is up to date with things through What'sApp messages and the 'brevity' attracts them as knowledge being available in a nutshell, so to say. And herein lies the biggest danger - knowledge on any subject can only be meaningful and complete if the information is tapped from many sources and cross referenced.

So, then, what makes digital literacy important? Apart from the fact that it is state of the art, the following points are worth remembering:-

    (a) Digital information is for life without fearing about the effects of weather, white ants and
          other external factors that affect books and periodicals.
    (b) The volume of information available on one's finger tips is massive but the stowage is not
          cumbersome at all.
    (c)  Retrieval of data is swift and the search for information can have a worldwide cover.

On the 20th there shall be two functions, the one at the Thalavoor UPS where books worth Rs.5 grand will be handed over to the school library, from the endowment on my dad's name, at 1030 hrs. At 1430 hrs, books for a similar amount will be handed over to the Kura GLPS, from an endowment on my mom's name. Dad had studied in that school, at Thalavoor, when he was a kid while mom's post office was next to the school and she used to keenly follow its activities and offer her support from time to time!

My cousin, Nonu's son's thread ceremony is scheduled during the forenoon of the 22nd while it will also coincide with our school's Old Boys' day. Both the events have to be juggled carefully to help Lekha and me to spend time without antagonising any body.


It's gonna be a long day tomorrow. Hope the traffic is manageable and the weather is nice without too much of rain. I'm also looking forward to being at Sathi's dad's fifth day ceremony on the 18th. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The monsoon's fury.

The Monsoon's Fury.

Kerala has been experiencing a monsoon full of fury. Landslides, flooding and the resultant loss of lives and destruction to property are being reported on a daily basis. Communications have been hit and the district of Wayanad has been cut off because the highway has been affected, damaged and closed because of landslides having dumped tons of mud onto it.

Shortly, one would hear about the outbreak of monsoon-related illnesses. After the intense heat of the summer and the Nipah virus scare, the devastating rains are too difficult to handle.

Hope the agencies are able to provide timely succour to the people and adequate resources are put to use to tide over the difficult situation.

The Football Fever.

World cup football '18 is finally here. Russia is not leaving a stone unturned to make the football bonanza a grand success. Over the next one month, the game will be played by the countries that have qualified for the world cup to have a go at the FIFA Cup.

Russia, the hosts, delivered a crushing 5-0 defeat to Saudi Arabia, this evening in the opening game at the Luzhiniki stadium in Moscow, soon after a glittering opening ceremony. The stage has been set for exciting matches involving the greatest of players and the world is looking forward to it.

But having said that, are the world cup matches the best? There's a sneaky feeling that the best of football is seen at the club level matches of Europe and Latin America!

Upping the Ante. 

Pakistan has upped the ante in Jammu and Kashmir by reneging on the ceasefire-on-account-of-the-holy-month by resorting to a spate of killings. Yesterday they had ambushed and killed four personnel of the BSF, today Shujaat Bukhari, the editor of "Rising Kashmir" was shot dead as he was leaving for an iftar party and the bullet-ridden body of Rajouri resident army jawan, Aurangzeb - abducted yesterday, who was proceeding on leave for Eid - was found.

RIP, brave sons of the country. My salute, tears and prayers. May your near and dear ones have the strength to tide over these stressful times.

Why don't these guys behave and exhibit a sense of decency?


It was a wet day today, here at Guruvayur, with rain pouring almost non stop.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

An anatomy of crimes.

Why are crimes committed? Who are those who commit them? Do they have a personality flaw in them? How does the victim get entangled in the muddle? Is there any set pattern regarding their occurrences and is there any similarity in the personality profiles of the culprits?

Most of the questions, posed above can, at best, be answered by the police and perhaps, a psychologist! I shall go through three cases that had occurred at different places, in the state, today and leave the analyses to the readers.

 (a) A dumb beggar does it.

       This was a case of burglary in broad daylight. A man aged around 45 yrs, dressed up as a beggar
       and wearing a cap had approached the post mistress. After gesturing himself as being dumb, he
       begged for some money. As the lady turned around to pull out the money from her handbag, the
       man fled away with the bundles of cash kept on the table. They were two bundles of hundred
       Rs.2,000/- notes each, amounting to Rs.4 lakhs meant to be handed over to a customer.

       The scene of the incident was in a post office at Tirur. The police say that the guy, not a Keralite,
       has been up to this strategy where he has been able to flee with the stolen stuff after distracting
       his victims!

 (b) Car thieves.

       The owner had parked his car at the premises of a temple and within minutes, it was stolen. A
       gang of four had been at it for a while. The beauty about it is that the actual car owner's son is             one among the four who've been arrested by the police on account of the crime!

       Mohammed Haji is the actual car owner. His son used to give away the car, as surety, to an
       unsuspecting person to acquire quick loans. And when the new owner wasn't looking, he used to
       flee away with the car, using a duplicate key.

       Some ingenuity, this. And the scene of crime? Kakkassery near Pavaratti, in Thrissur!

 (c) Road rage.

       An MLA, along with his driver, was proceeding to meet a bereaved family and the victim was
       returning after visiting them. Their vehicles came head on with each other on the narrow stretch
       of the road leading to the house of the deceased. Eye witnesses say that it would have been
       easier for the MLA's car to have backed and given way to the other. But ego seems to have
       played the spoiler.

       The MLA had got out of his vehicle and assaulted the driver of the other vehicle and obscenely
       gesticulated at his mother when she tried to tell him that his car could have easily given way,
       without creating the unfortunate and unnecessary brawl!

       A case of 'status' projection and high handedness! And the scene of the incident, Anchal!


There was a break in the rain, for a while, out here. Otherwise, it has been raining non stop as the Meteorological department had forecast heavy rains till Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


A collage of a few interesting happenings of the day. I'd enjoyed compiling them and I'm sure that my readers will find it equally interesting. So, without much ado, here I go:-

 (a) A Judicial Intervention.

       The scene was the Ernakulam market where 12 to 15 tons of waste is dumped everyday. Along
       with the vegetable waste, animal waste is also thrown into this ground which is amid 212
       wholesale vegetable stalls. The waste had started rotting, the rains made it worse and the stench
       was unbearable. Along comes AM Basheer, a sub judge and the secretary of the district legal
       service authority and his team to check the quality of the produce sold and to verify vendor

       For the sub judge, the stench emanating from the waste dump, that had not been removed over
       the previous 10 days, was a bit too much. In addition, he'd received complaints from over thirty
       additional places in the city about mounting piles of garbage. He staged a sit-in protest for the
       immediate removal of the garbage pile and consequently, three corporation trucks that move
       refuse cleaned the place in less than five hours!

       Waste management - collection and disposal of waste - has still not become the average
       Malayalee's concern. What a shame?

 (b) The Trump - Kim Summit.

       Finally, the much awaited Donald Trump - Kim Jong-un summit did take place at Singapore's
       Sentosa. Though not much is discernible from the agreement, the dismantling of the North
       Korean nuclear apparatus takes top priority. No earth shaking decisions have come about which
       was anyways not expected from the two countries, feuding over decades.

       The takeaways are that the two heads of state got to sit down to talk, exchange pleasantries and
       provide great camera moments. Barely a month ago, both were at each other's throats and it's the
       thawing of that situation that's the mainstay of this moment.

       How fast is the follow gonna be taken up will be the aspect that will be watched by everyone
       across the world. The summit, definitely, has been a step in the right direction!


I've commenced my half-an-hour-walk on a figure-of-8 configuration from today onward, both in the morning and in the evening. This is a 'siddha-based' exercise that gets one's erratic blood pressure and sugar levels to normalcy. Shall see the results after a fortnight.


Monday, June 11, 2018

This is what 'fake news' can bring about.

Shattered glass on the road, blood stains on a bamboo fence and a pall of gloom are what that remain at the Panjuri Kachari village in Assam's Karbi Anglong district. Two men from Guwahati were lynched after locals suspected them to be child abductors, the village is desolate and most young men have fled, fearing police action.

The victims - Abhijit Nath and Nilotpal Das - travelling in a black SUV were stopped around 1930 hrs on Friday mere minutes after rumours had spread that the two had kidnapped a child and fled in a black car. Locals say that the rumour spread through phone calls that allegedly originated from Kanthilangso, a neighbouring village where Nath and Das had visited a waterfall earlier.

The rumour was short, "Puwali aase garir bhitorot"(There's a kid inside the car) but enough to get angry young men from Panjuri Kachari together to stop and check the SUV. A crowd of around 250 had dragged the duo out of the vehicle and hit them with sticks as others kicked them repeatedly even as the victims pleaded that they were Assamese. The mob continued to assault the duo even after they found no abducted child in the car!

By the time the police reached the site about 90 mts later, Nath had collapsed and Das was barely alive. They were rushed to a hospital where they were declared dead.

Panjuri Kachari is home to just 90 families, mostly from the Kachari tribe and is the only Kachari majority village amid a cluster of 25 odd Karbi majority villages in the region. The locals got suspicious because no one travels in a car through the area late in the evening, particularly when panic about child abductors had spread.

According to the police, the lynching was the culmination of fear mongering over a week, in the region, about child abduction. The rumours were passed by word of mouth, posts on Facebook and social media!


Both the boys were music and nature loving friends who had gone into the wild in search of a rare fish and a waterfall on Friday. They were originally from Guwahati, had met through common friends while in college. Nilotpal, after completing his BCom in Delhi University moved to Bombay in '11 to do a course in sound engineering from Andheri's Sound Idea Academy. He, then, settled in Assagao in Goa four years ago where he set up a company specialising in multi-dimensional psychedelic art installations and visual landscapes for dance floors at Goa's party events. He sported shoulder length hair!

Abhijit, who studied mechanical engineering at SRM University in Madras had moved back to his hometown in '11 following his mother's ill health and there, he ran his own arts and entertainment events management firm. Fondly called 'Metal' for his love of heavy metal bands, he was passionate about breeding dogs and exotic fish at home. Nilotpal, popularly called 'Nil', was a self taught biker, explorer, cook and musician skilled at playing multiple ethnic instruments like the djembe, didgeridoo and a regular at harp festivals around the country.

Nilotpal had come riding on his mobike, all the way from Goa, to meet the gory end along with his friend, Abhijit!

My take.

I do not know you but what I've come to know is that both of you were energetic and talented youngsters, with a zest for life. RIP, Metal and Nil. My tears and prayers and here's wishing that your near and dear ones have the strength to tide over their irreplaceable loss.


Fake news must be shunned at all costs. Verification is a must before believing in what has come about. And here's a fervent appeal to each one of you, "Please do not spread fake news. Desist from the temptation". 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

Had got up leisurely on Sunday morning and gone about our chores. The worry was as to whether we could make our return trip to Guruvayur today itself because of the All India bandh/Black day called by the farmers of north India.

We'd set off to the 'MyG' once again to sort out the remaining issues and to buy my sister, her cell phone. Lekha's handset was handed over for repairs as the 'mechanic was available' and within an hour, the pin at the charging aperture was replaced making the instrument operational at a mere Rs.450/-. Her new handset was brought on stream, further, by downloading the necessary 'apps' and transferring the existing data from the old instrument. Meanwhile, Padmakumar and Achu had zeroed in onto the same instrument for Rema, too, in exchange for a tab, that they had. Since the transfer of data was taking time, we'd made a quick dash to Lekha's dad's house, near Mercy College. The house has taken a thorough beating from the elements of nature and the worst thing was that the white ants were creating havoc, by being everywhere.

The new buyer will have to knock off the house and build a new one in its place. I believe there's a prospective buyer who has approached Lekha's younger sister and is still in the process of bargaining to clinch the cost! What reminded me was about our last visit to the house, years back, when Lekha's dad and Radhamani amma had hosted us. It was vibrant and a well kept house, thanks to their efforts. Lekha's dad had shifted to his ancestral home in Kottarakkara, soon after the passing away of Radhamani amma, sometime in '07. He used to make his monthly visits to Palakkad to collect his pension, stay at the house and have it cleaned up during those visits. For Lekha, it was a sentimental visit and I'd gone along despite the fact that there was nothing we'd planned to do out there!

Lunch was at the Indraprastha which was nice and it didn't take too long at the vegetarian end while we saw a long wait at the non vegetarian end. We returned to the digital hub, collected our stuff and headed for home. We did the remainder of our packing and left Rema's place, soon after, on our return journey. The 'black day' had not disrupted normal life and things went on as usual as confirmed during our earlier foray into town. Many of the roads, within the town, were dug up and therefore, we'd to take a detour to get on to our actual track.

We reached 'The Quarterdeck' by about 5 and went about the unpacking bit. The top door towards the balcony was left open by yours truly. Thankfully, the door had remained shut because of the present weather conditions but it was an unacceptable lapse and I could only blame my lack of concentration while doing things. I had repeated a similar error, soon after dinner, when I'd switched on the motor to pump water from the well into our overhead tank. It was raining around that time and I, quite, forgot about the chugging motor - it had run for an additional 38 minutes! The error was unacceptable and I kicked my shin for my faux pas. About a ring and a half of the well water was pumped out in the bargain!

It took some time for me to get out of that feeling of guilt of having done the unthinkable!


Adieu Sathi's dad.    

It was while we were returning from our shopping spree that Gopu had called up to say that Sathi's dad - Bhaskaran Nair sir - had passed into the mist of time a couple of hours before. He was all of 104 years. Alzheimer's illness had caught up with him after the death of Sathi's mom, about six years back. When I think of him, I'm reminded of a very agile and diminutive figure, having an ascetic's aura and we've spoken about a lot of things, regarding life, in our conversations. I've always enjoyed my trysts with him.

RIP sir. My prayers and tears. May your family have the strength to tide over these stressful times.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

To Palakkad.

Got up at 6 to massive rains and it was dark as though the evening had set in again! Yesterday's forecast has been that it will be raining heavily till Tuesday and the outlook has been true to form.

Had made a quick visit to the dry cleaners to pick up the clothes and in the process, met Roshni at the desk. She'd lost her husband last month, who was all of 49 yrs and had passed away due to a massive heart attack. Their only son, a degree student, is yet to get over the shock as they're pretty close to each other. She, herself, was back at work after the mandatory 41 days and I was seeing her for the first time after the mishap. I offered my condolences and made a quick exit without prolonging her agony and lingering on her tragedy further.

After a quick and early lunch, we'd set off for Palakkad dropping our maid enroute at Kunnamkulam. I was under this mysterious apprehension as to whether I'd closed the door opening to the balcony but was reluctant to get back to verify as I'd traversed more than 20 kms! Will know it only once we return. There are times when one comes across such occasions and the reactions usually have been pathetically casual. A case of Akrasia, in a convoluted sense, perhaps?

It was raining almost continuously as we made our way through the familiar Guruvayur-Palakkad route. It has been quite a while since we'd traversed through the route, I realised. We reached Rema's by a quarter past 4, and Madhavan, the watchman, had already slotted me into a covered parking space. After a cup of piping hot tea and snack, we'd set off for the mobile phone showroom, 'MyG'(Acronym for 'My generation digital hub) recently inaugurated by Mohanlal. It had a wide variety of handsets and the salesmen were courteous and helpful. I listened intently to the conversation between the salesman and Achu, my nephew and must confess that I could add on quite a few lessons to my information on the nuances of the cellphones.

For example, I was long perplexed about my cellphone - a comparatively new acquisition - prompting me that I've utilised more than 80% of the capacity and I'd promptly, but reluctantly, erased quite a few saved photos and musical tracks that have been sent across by friends and well wishers, over a period of time. I believe, whenever one's prompted to update the system and when one does it, the updated version of each App consumes more space, resulting in a corresponding decrease in capacity! So, what do many of the customers do? They never update the system without loss of functional efficiency of their handsets! 

Lekha, finally, collected her new set and the rest of the evening was spent in making the set workable as per her requirements, ably assisted by Achu.


It was conversation, as usual and streamlining our programme for the next ten days as there's a lot of travelling to do and events to attend.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Can't help but laugh at these developments.

The news abuzz is that there's revolt in the Congress' Kerala unit because one of its constituents, the Kerala Congress(Mani) has been given the Rajya Sabha seat, to contest, from the state. The paradox is that there were many within the Congress who did not want its incumbent, Prof PJ Kurien, to be given another term and the war of words between the young Turks and their seniors had not even got over when the new situation has been thrust upon them by the party's high command. So, let's go through a few of these developments to have a hearty laugh.

 (a) The fire that needs to be doused.

       The war of words within the Congress needs to be stopped forthwith. In fact, K Muraleedharan's
       call to surrender a sitting seat of the Congress to accommodate and bring back Virendra Kumar
       of the Janata Dal drew delirious mirth among most Congressmen. The younger crop of MLAs
       have raised the banner of revolt but might not do anything to 'upset' the high command. If it ain't
       doused quickly, there will be a great amount of dirty linen that will be washed in public that
       doesn't augur well for the party.

       And this uncomfortable situation has been brought about because some quarters didn't want
       Prof PJ Kurien to have another shot! Group politics to the fore!!

 (b) The 'tamasha' at the Kerala Congress(M) meeting.

       Quite elated that the party had got this unexpected windfall of a Rajya Sabha seat for itself, the
       party's executive committee sat down to decide upon their candidate. Prior to the meeting, KM
       Mani made an announcement at a press conference that he's not in the run for contesting for the
       Rajya Sabha seat and insisted that he wasn't keen to see his son get into the upper house either.

       But the final decision was that it would be the son who'll contest. The father-son duo run the
       party their way and get endorsements for whatever they want to do. The other members strut
       around in starched khadi and seem to have no opinion of their own!

 (c) The Congress' reaction.

       The Pune police has unearthed a plot by the Maoists to assassinate Narendra Modi in the
       same manner as Rajiv Gandhi, during his mass contact programme. The Congress was quick to
       get off the blocks and make an ungracious remark that Modi and his partymen were trying to
       garner sympathy!

       The swiftness in its response shows the party's lack of confidence! Can't help but laugh as the
       party is still not sure of its strategy in the next elections other than defeat Modi at all costs!! It
       seems to be worried that the BJP will get an upper hand consequent to the news.

       I hope that the central government reviews the PM's security and carries out the periodical
       exercise without laxity.

 (d) The Karnataka experiment.

       HD Kumaraswamy, the chief minister, doesn't seem to get off his worries in running the
       Congress-JD(S) coalition. After his ministerial team has been put in place, the senior lot among
       the Congressmen have revolted for having been sidelined in the cabinet formation. The chief
       minister has taken it upon himself to pacify them while urging the Congress high command to
       take remedial action.

       The way he seems to be jumping from one problem to the other one wonders as to whether he'll
       get any time for governance at all?   


A wet day in the real sense. Could catch up on my reading after a long lapse.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Footprints on my soul.

1. What draws you to your friends?

What excites you to be able to reach out to friends after decades?
It's the magic of the air we'd inhaled together that never fades.

What attracts friends to each other, even after many many years?
It's the memory of having shared with them your joys and tears.

What draws you to friends, even if you barely interacted, years ago?
It's the innocence of being together, not knowing who's friend or foe.

What pulls you to friends, with whom you've lost touch long back?
It's the spell of having walked together, hand in hand, on the same track.

What lures you to just rush and hug your friends of the yesteryears?
It's the pure nostalgia of reliving those golden times, spent as peers.

2. An amazing prayer that cannot be more precise.

Lord, You know that I am growing older.

Keep me from becoming talkative and possessed with the idea that I must express myself on every subject.

Release me from the craving to straighten out everyone's lives.

Keep me from the recital of endless detail.

Give me wings to get to the point.

Seal my lips when I am inclined to tell of my aches and pains. They are increasing with the years and my love to speak of them grows sweeter as time goes by.

Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally, I may be wrong.

Make me thoughtful but not nosy, helpful but not bossy.

With my vast store of wisdom and experience, it does seem a pity not to use it all. But You know, Lord........

I want a few friends at the end!

I got this from a friend. Is it a hint?


Our friends left by a 20' to 9, soon after breakfast. They're off to the Kadampuzha Devi temple near Kottakkal. Around 2200 hrs, they'd called up to say that they'd reached their homes at Thiruvananthapuram.

It was a real wet day, today.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Why sailors don't clink glasses - A Navy superstition.

Most people clink glasses when they meet over a drink and make a toast for good luck and health. However, Naval officers never clink glasses when they make a toast. They just hold up their glasses and say, "Cheers" and voice the toast.

The reason for this is as follows.

In the early days of the past, when a sailor died at sea, his body was buried at sea, committed to the deep waters, to the Davy Jones' Locker at the bottom of the ocean. The ship's bells would be sounded 8 times as a mark of respect to the departed soul of the deceased mariner during the funeral service for burial at sea.

In a ship, at sea, 8 bells are sounded at the end of a watch. The 8 bells sounded at the funeral of the sailor signified "End of the watch" for the sailor. Thus the striking of ''Eight bells"(A nautical euphemism for "Finished watch") during burial at sea symbolised the obituary of the dead seaman and was a way of pronouncing that the dead sailor's duty watch was finished forever.

The sound of clinking glasses is similar to the solemn toll of the ship's bell as the body of a dead sailor was committed to the deep. Thus it was assumed that the clinking sound will herald the death of a sailor. Hence, clinking of glasses on board ships was considered a bad omen.

There was another superstition to lessen the gravity of the evil portent in case a sailor inadvertently clinked his glass. The sailor quickly silenced a clink that has mistakenly occurred with his hands or he quickly clinked a second time. It was thought that this would confuse the devil enough so that he might take a soldier instead.

Of course, this is all a myth, a superstition.

But the next time you see someone reluctant to clink his glass, do ask him if he is a sailor. 


Suresh Laxman-Sindhu and Vijayakumar-Anitha had arrived by a half past 2 as Preetha was winding up her cleanship of the house. They'd a short rest, wash and went to the temple and returned by 8. It was a pleasant evening with a lot of singing during the post dinner session. An evening well spent. 

Lekha's cellphone has gone into a blink and a new one has become mandatory.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Faux pas galore.

It was a day of faux pas galore; everything I did seemed to end up in some faux pas or the other! I suppose it's a natural happening but I can't believe it. It all started yesterday, on our drive from Guruvayur to Kochi. At the Paravoor 'T' junction, after the church, as I was turning to the right there was this guy on a bike who overtook me and gesticulated at me. He drove parallel to me, looked into the car, saw us and then, proceeded without further action. I couldn't make out as to why he did so, had I drifted across his path? No, I'd the right of way and it was for him to stay clear off my Chevy but he was angry for some reason or the other.

Without much ado, here I go:-

  (a) On the Thevara - Kundannoor Road.

        We're out of the Command Mess and on our way to Shenoy Care and somewhere in front of the
        Sacred Heart College, did this incident happen. There was a nasty auto rickshaw driver who
        was literally sitting on his horn. The traffic from the opposite direction was heavy with the two
        wheelers zipping past on the narrow road. There was this guy who was pushing a cart of waste
        along our side and I tried my best to keep clear of him. I don't know as to what had irked him
        but he started gesticulating and was also speaking. I was sure that the Chevy hadn't touched him
        because it would have been his cart that should have come in contact first! I'd rolled down the
        window on Lekha's side and said that I was sorry if I'd caused him any difficulty. He called me,
        "Chetta" and had nothing to say thereafter. I was left wondering as to what my mistake was?

 (b) At the Parking Area at Shenoy Care.

       As I was backing the Chevy into its final parking slot, its rear touched the adjacent car ever-so-
       gently. The sentry was supposed to have been guiding me but he seemed to be missing at the
       crucial moment. He smiled at me after I'd finished the maneuver saying that there was nothing
       to worry. I, however, made it doubly sure that it was indeed so, by inspecting both the vehicles.
       I didn't want to vent my spleen at the sentry!

 (c) At the Canteen.

       By the time we'd met the doctor, it was a 20' to 1 and we set off for our next destination that
       was the canteen. I'd scrutinised the timings on the board and found that it would reopen after
       lunch at a quarter past 2. We decided to have a snack at the Coffee bar, close by and do the
       buying during the afternoon session and that was my undoing! The canteen was open for some
       more time, beyond and who knows, were waiting for us to enter as we're the last set of people
       to enter the premises but had come to the conclusion that we'd actually reached there only to
       have a snack!

       By a quarter past 2, we'd gone across to the canteen only to find the shutters down within the
       thick glass doors and I realised that there was something amiss. On a closer scrutiny of the
       timings, this time, I realised that I'd made a faux pas. As per the latest, the canteen would work
       only till 1 on Tuesdays! That was a blow as we've to make it yet again to collect the grocery!!


Was glad about the outcome of the medical review. Lekha is quite fine, based on the latest set of
parameters and the doctor has asked her to meet him on 06 Sep, for the next review.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Adieu Leela Menon ma'am.

Much has been written and aired about Leela Menon ma'am by now. Born in Nov '32, she began her career in the postal department in '49 and had, then, taken up journalism in '78, in her second innings. She shifted to Kerala in '82 and came into prominence by breaking stories of national importance like the rampant poverty and prostitution at Aruvacode in Malappuram district, the Vypeen hooch tragedy, the Suryanelli case and the Thoppumpady prostitution racket.

She had fought the deadly cancer on her own terms and came out of it, successfully thumbing her nose at the vicious illness! She'd gone about her life as cheerful as ever as though nothing had happened and it was this tremendous quality that endeared herself to many.

She was shifted from a private nursing home into palliative care about three months back and had passed into the mist of time last evening due to age related illness.

I'm taken back in time about seven months ago when I'd the privilege of interacting with Leela ma'am at the PN Panicker Foundation when she had come to steer a session of our weekend discussions. She did not hide her happiness in interacting with us because, to put it in her own words, "I feel that PN Panicker sir is very much alive here amid you". To quote an immortal saying, "She was charmingly unconscious of her charm". I feel lucky at having got the opportunity of being with her for those two hours and it was sheer education for me as she recalled quite a few anecdotes from her life.

RIP ma'am. My prayers and tears to a remarkable lady who lived life on her own terms. Ma'am, they don't make 'em people like you any more. 


Had begun to shut down 'The Quarterdeck' in preparation to our journey to Kochi after lunch. Then made a dash to town to effect a bank transfer of Rs.5 grand to the Headmistress, Government School in Kura as endowment on mom's name to buy books and they'd be handed over officially to the school's fledgling library during the 'Vaayana Maasam'. The Chevy's tyre pressure was checked by the ever smiling-Krevka at the petrol bunk.

We set off at a half past 12 after an early lunch, through pouring rain and reached Kochi about 21/2 hrs later. Sat through at two places as Lekha went about her shopping bit and finally, tucked ourselves in the familiar cabin 13 of the Command Mess. It was while having dinner that we had the honour of being personally attended to by Johnson, my civilian bearer while I'd stayed in the Mess, on taking over as the MCO, Kochi about seven years back. It was nice catching up with him!      

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The gimmicks of the political parties.

The political parties, to gain power, do all sorts of things more often than not, contradicting their own stand. It's utter shamelessness and we, the general public seem to laugh it off voting for them again and again. Am just going through a few of the recent flip flops and here, I go:-

 (a) Shiv Sena's Anti-BJP Stance.

       Stung by the fact that its leader has not been given his rightful(Read, the same as his dad got
       and I don't understand as to how Udhav expects it without having anything worthwhile to earn
       it!) position, the party has been on the warpath against its ally, the BJP. Its latest stand on the
       'Bullet trains', along with that of the CPM, is gonna see a few agitations and the grass root
       worker is gonna take the brunt.

       Why don't these guys look at anything and everything in a long term perspective? I mean, the
       projects that are underway need to be analysed - without fear or favour - and supported, if need
       be the ideological differences notwithstanding! The Shiv Sena's stand is crystal clear, it's not
       naturally acceptable to the other parties within the opposition and so, it needs to do things that
       would increase its 'appeal' and this is one project that has Modi's head and heart.

       It will be interesting to watch the way the clash between the parties play out over the remaining
       months to the general elections '19. My only suggestion is that let the projects that bring in state
       of the art technology should not be opposed, they have enormous potential for developmental
       activities and as a country, we cannot afford to set the clock back by blind personality-based

 (b) The Scramble for a Rajya Sabha Seat.

       The members of the Rajya Sabha, who are finishing their tenures, need to be replaced. For the
       Congress, in Kerala, there's already a clamour for not permitting another tenure for PJ Kurien.
       The reason being cited is that youngsters should be given an opportunity by 'retiring' the elders.
       There's a point in it, perhaps and the party will reach a suitable decision in due course.

       What surprised me was an argument put across by one of the junior leaders that was crass and
       lacked the basic decency and I quote, "PJ Kurien is a respected senior leader of the party and 
       he should not be burdened with serious responsibilities". 

       Is that an argument, I wonder? It would have been better had the blighter said that he was a
       serious contender because of the results that he has accomplished.

 (c) The Mani factor.

       Prior to the Assembly bypoll in Chengannur, all the political dispensations were vying with each
       other to woo KM Mani to their side to cater for the Christian votes and he, too, was seriously
       thinking of ditching his long term ally, the UDF, to get into the LDF which was vehemently
       opposed by the CPI. Finally, he had gone along with the UDF but its candidate had lost.

       Having realised Mani's real worth in the present circumstances, the LDF has changed tack and
       now says that KM Mani is not a factor at all. Well, just goes to show as to how easily political
       parties can change colours!

 (d) The Farmers' Stir.

       The farmers of Punjab and Haryana have been dumping their produce on the roads and the
       agitation has entered the third day. What the farmers are agitating for is not understood. Every
       state and the central government have been waiving farm loans worth enormous amounts in
       each budget. They can't bleed the nation by their whims and fancies!


1. We're now armed with Lekha's test results as we go to Kochi for her medical review on the 5th. All the parameters are within limits. Made it in the nick of time, really.
2. Ikka's family sent us this evening's supper. A nice gesture! They're following whatever used to be done during Ikka's days.



Saturday, June 2, 2018

The return.

I'd gone across to the venue, by about a quarter to 10 in an auto rickshaw, which was the St Gregorios College, Pulamon, Kottarakkara. The fact was that our co-ordinator, Jayachandran was keeping the venue close to his chest. Wonder why? I'd gone to the college initially, only to be told by my Maman - he'd, also, fetched up from Thiruvananthapuram a while before - that the venue was at the turn for the institution on the Kollam - Chenkottah road, 150 mts east of Pulamon junction.

Meanwhile, I'd shuttled between the two gates - the college and the school gates are located 180 degrees to each other and the auto rikshaw driver must have wondered as to how disorganised I was - because of the confusion. The time given to me, again, by Jayachandran was 10 'o clock sharp. (That it took place finally, at 11, was a clear indicator of the elasticity of the 'punctuality' factor. There are many of us who've a tendency to keep facts within them....the momentary feeling of power exhilarates them, I suppose!)

Our Science Exploratory had reached the venue, having left Thiruvananthapuram in the morning and it had to be positioned at the venue. Accordingly, I gave directions to Aji to park the vehicle parallel to the V2 Shopping Complex at the eastern end of the row of shops and towards the right side of the main thoroughfare. Its rear platform was pulled out, the railings fixed and the awning above, drawn out and the stage looked imposing, getting many curious onlookers to crowd around almost instantly.

The MLA and the Chairperson of the Municipality were in attendance and Maman explained to the gathering regarding the procedure. It was basically to connect all traders, including the auto rickshaw fraternity through cashless transactions using the BHIM App. Incidentally, Bhim is the acronym for Bharat Interface for Money!  There were our reps - the students from the college's chemistry department - who'd help us in the shop-to-shop registration by giving each vendor his/her QR Code which is unique and serves as his/her identifying factor, which would enable the financial transactions!

The children were handed over a cap and tee shirt and having adorned them, the entire lot, along with the guests, walked in a procession carrying a huge placard to the Pulamon junction from where the registration began. It was truly a colourful event and the whole of Kottarakkara took note of the event. The activity will continue for three days and we hope to announce the town's traders to have achieved 100% digital connectivity, for financial transactions, by Wednesday. It will be the second town to have achieved this status, after Kottayam.

We left by Maman's car and had visited the Malayala Manorama office at Kottayam for a short meeting around a half past 4. I got off, soon after, at Ettumanoor, caught a bus bound for Ernakulam but could reach the Vyttila hub after the departure of the last private bus to Guruvayur. It was then that I'd boarded the state road transport corporation's bus to Kannur and got off at Kunnamkulam by a quarter past 10, reaching home in an auto rickshaw 20' later.


During the journey, I'd got in touch with the Rajah Hospital's path lab to tie up for sending their team for the collection of Lekha's blood/urine samples for tests, early morning tomorrow. Armed with the results, we meet her doctor on the 5th as per the appointment already taken. It's the start of the next serial! There's never a dull moment!!

Friday, June 1, 2018

An embarrassing journey.

As Lekha and I'd outlined my travel programme for the day, last night, there was nothing much left for me to do except for finishing some work before I left and the wrapping up of the packing - basically, readying the overnighter.

Leaving Lekha, by herself, puts tremendous pressure on me throughout the period of my shift, I must confess, but there are times that it has to be resorted to. I'd given her the option of going to Rema's but she'd shot it down simply because of the fact that my absence was going to be just for about 24 hrs. Antony had come with his auto rickshaw, on the dot, at 12. The low floor Volvo was parked at the south western corner of the bus stand, awaiting its turn to move.

The driver was Santosh and the conductor was Dinesh, an efficient duo as I observed them to be, throughout the course of the journey. I'd chosen my favourite seat and before occupying it, had gone around the corner to ease my bladder. In the process, I managed to unzip my fly on a permanent basis. I was wearing my favourite beige coloured trouser that had the tongue of the zip broken quite a while back but since it was quite comfortable while being worn, I'd selected it for this journey yet again. The rump of the zip came into my hand and the disaster had taken place.

I was wearing a tee shirt, that was just about covering the 'vulnerable' area and I'd become very, very cautious from then on. I'm sure that at least a few passengers must have noticed my general lack of confidence and the length to which I went to cover my frontage(?) with the bottom end of the tee shirt! I must have been comical and a bit too jarring!

There were no rains anywhere enroute and I reached Kollam by about a quarter to 7. After a wait for about 15', during which I'd finished up a banana, a fast passenger to Aryankavu had fetched up. I was at Kottarakkara by about a quarter past 8 and Letha, along with Murukesan, were waiting for my arrival.

A quick wash and change and a lovely supper, rustled up by my sister-in-law, had brought the day's proceedings to an end.


Meanwhile, our friend, Rekha, her daughter, Megha - she's carrying - and Sreekanth had fetched up at 'The Quarterdeck' to say hello to Lekha. The time was around a half past 6.