Friday, August 31, 2018

An unacceptable proposition.

Had got up at our usual time, gone through the chores and was ready by the time Anto had arrived at our gate. He likes these outings with me, he reiterates and without much ado, we set off towards Ayyanthole where the doctor resides. The time was a quarter past 7. Anto and family weren't affected by the recent rains and the consequential floods but he pointed out the stretches of the Guruvayur-Thrissur road that were submerged during that deluge, to me, as we transited.

We reached the doctor's house on the dot at 8 but he was already reviewing an elderly couple. I'd, therefore, time for contemplation. Going through my medical records, the following were discernible and nothing seemed to have changed, despite my earnest efforts:-

     (a) I'd become the doctor's patient in March this year, when my blood sugar readings were 180
          (Fasting) and 250(Post Prandial) and the readings, now, were 186 and 300, respectively.
     (b) And I'd not been sitting idle either. I was having/doing the following every day:-

                   (i) Fresh 'Neem' leaves (5 of them) on an empty stomach,
                  (ii) Soaked (From the previous night) Fenugreek and
                 (iii) The figure-of-8 walking exercise, for half an hour, in the morning and in the evening.
                 (iv) But, of course, I had a normal diet without restrictions, but a strict vegetarian one at
                        that, along with ice creams, fruits and bananas.
                  (v) And a generous intake of gooseberries.

The doctor seemed to be pleased seeing me and I'd told him as to why I couldn't make it last month. I also reported to him that I'd acquired a new toy, as per his suggestion - a one-touch glucometer! After a thorough examination, he'd the following to suggest:-

                   (i) My blood pressure was normal.
                  (ii) My sugar levels needed to be controlled and he has given me another week of strict
                        dieting before he has a look-see at my sugar readings. If they continue to misbehave,
                        then the tablets would be replaced with the insulin pricks (And I dread that!)
                 (iii) The other measures recommended are:-

                        (aa) Supper at 1900 hrs (I dread the idea!)
                        (ab) No bakery items - which means, no rusks with the morning tea, no sugar at all,
                                no mangoes/jack fruit, no ice creams.
                        (ac) Try to reduce weight.
                        (ad) No hard drinks either!

And frankly speaking, this is an unacceptable proposition!

After the check up and the suggested antidotes, we'd got down to talking about things that interested both of us. The places around his house were inundated that required him and his wife to move into his sister-in-law's house during the previous week. And after winding up our conversation, as I was leaving, I'd this one question that I couldn't resist asking him viz., "Doctor, what's the use of living when one cannot eat what one wants to. And the only thing that I'd be doing is to extend my old age which I ain't interested in. As I'd told you earlier, I don't want to plunge insulin needles into my system as I dread injections".

(Years back, my dad had said something similar to me when mom had restricted his diet on the advice of his doctor, after an incident of ischemia of his heart. It was then that mom, my sisters and I'd decided to avoid doing so because we wanted him to be happy so long as he was with us!...... A case of history repeating itself, I wonder?)

As I left the doctor's house, he told me that I could call him whenever I wanted and as Anto turned his auto rickshaw towards the gate, I'd glanced back to see the doc standing at his door and was there a worry writ large on his face, or was that all my imagination? I, sure, must be an errant patient of his. Finding that I'd caught him lost in thoughts, he waved at me and I reciprocated, instinctively. 


Lekha and I will leave for Kottarakkara, by bus, AM 02 Sep. We shall be attending Aneet's - Ramadasan kochachhan's grandson - wedding at an auditorium in Adoor on 03 Sep. Lekha and her sister, Letha will go to Thiruvananthapuram on 04 Sep to invite my folks for the latter's son's wedding due late Oct and we'll return to Guruvayur on 05 Sep after meeting up with her doctor for a review and after picking up grocery from the canteen, thereafter. Maari will be our chauffeur in Letha's car!   

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A story of two seas and life's lessons from it.

Sitting in the Geography class in school, I remember how fascinated I was when we were being taught all about the Dead Sea. As you probably recall, the Dead Sea is really a lake, not a sea (And as my Geography teacher pointed out, if you understood that, it would guarantee 4 marks in the term paper). It's so high in salt content that the human body can float easily. You can almost lie down and read a book! The salt in the Dead Sea is as high as 35% - almost 10 times the normal ocean water. And all that saltiness has meant that there is no life at all in the Dead Sea. No fish. No vegetation. No sea animals. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea.

And hence the name, Dead Sea.

While the Dead Sea has remained etched in my memory, I don't seem to recall learning about the Sea of Galilee in my school Geography lesson. So when I heard about the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea and the tale of the two seas - I was intrigued.

Turns out that the Sea of Galilee is just north of the Dead Sea. Both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea receive their water from River Jordan. And yet, they are very, very different.

Unlike the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee is pretty, resplendent with rich, colourful marine life. There are lots of plants. And lots of fish too. In fact, the Sea of Galilee is home to over twenty different types of fishes.  Same region, same source of water and yet, while one sea is full of life, the other is dead. How come?

Here's apparently why. The River Jordan flows into the Sea of Galilee and then flows out. The water simply passes through the Sea of Galilee in and then out - and that keeps the sea healthy and vibrant, teeming with marine life.

But the Dead Sea is so far below the mean sea level and it has no outlet. The water flows in from the River Jordan but does not flow out. There are no outlet streams. It is estimated that over 7 million tons of water evaporate from the Dead Sea every day. Leaving it salty. Too full of minerals. And unfit for any marine life.

The Dead Sea takes water from the River Jordan and holds it. It does not give.

Result? No life at all.

Think about it.

Life is not just about getting. It's about giving. We all need to be a bit like the Sea of Galilee.


I'd got a call, this evening from the service station, saying that the alternator assembly of my Chevy has gone kaput and that, it needed replacement. The cost is gonna be Rs.30 grand! The order has been placed and the unit will have to come from their depot at Pune. So, no vehicle for our forthcoming trip! Lekha has tied up with her sister for using their car. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Two interesting messages...

I'd received two interesting messages from two course mates of mine. They've interesting content and I thought I must pass them on to you.....

1. An Empty Boat.

    A monk decides to meditate alone away from his monastery.

    He takes his boat out to the middle of the lake, moors it there, closes his eyes and begins his

    After a few hours of undisturbed silence, he suddenly feels the bump of another boat colliding with
    his own. With his eyes still closed, he senses his anger rising and by the time he opens his eyes, he
    is ready to scream at the boatman who dared disturb his meditation. But when he opens his eyes,
    he sees it's an empty boat that had probably got untethered and floated to the middle of the lake.

    At that moment, the monk achieves self-realization and understands that the anger is within him; it
    merely needs the bump of an external object to provoke it out of him.

    From then on, whenever he comes across someone who irritates him or provokes him to anger, he
    reminds himself, "The other person is merely an empty boat. The anger is within me".

Take time for introspection and search for an answer. Empty boat is a famous metaphor. Its value lies in its implementation!

 2. Eight Points to Ponder.

     8. Death is the number one killer in the world.

     7. Life is sexually transmitted.

     6. Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

     5. Give a person a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a person to use the internet and he won't
         bother you for weeks, months maybe years.

     4. Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.

     3. All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

     2. In the '60s, people took to drugs to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people
         take antidepressants to make it normal.

     1. Life is like a jar of chilli chutney. What you enjoy today might burn your ass tomorrow.

     .......and don't worry about old age; it doesn't last long!


(a) It was a knotty situation. The guy who delivers the LPG cylinder was firm that the new cylinder had no problems, whatsoever, as one out of the three burners was burning, albeit, at a low flame and insisted that the fault was with the burners. Babeesh, who'd serviced the burners, just the previous day, was insistent that there wasn't any fault with them and wanted to have another new gas cylinder. Consequently, I had borrowed one from our neighbour and presto, Babeesh was able to prove his point. The gas agency was called up by Lekha and the matter reported. The delivery boys came by evening, took away the faulty cylinder and provided a replacement.

(b) Ramesh, the gardener, had come by to tell us about his nightmarish experiences when the Chalakkudippuzha's waters had sloshed into his house at Chittaattukara, about 5 kms south from us, during the last week's deluge. Poor guy, he has put in his losses to the revenue authorities and is awaiting some sort of relief. Hope he gets it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Pun intended!

  1. I recently got crushed by a pile of books, but I suppose I've only got my shelf to blame.
  2. A man knocked on my door and asked for a small donation for a local swimming pool. So I gave
      him a glass of water.
  3. I had to quit my job at the shoe recycling factory. It was just sole destroying.
  4. I've decided to sell my vacuum cleaner. Well, it was just gathering dust.
  5. Never date a tennis player. Love means nothing to them.
  6. How do prisoners call each other? On their cell phones!
  7. The thing about dwarfs and midgets is that they have very little in common.
  8. To the guy who invented zero. Thanks for nothing!
  9. Did you hear about the man who lost his entire left side in an accident? He's all right now.
10. I couldn't work out how to fasten my seat belt for ages. But then one day, it just clicked.
11. My first job was at a calendar factory. I can't believe they sacked me, all I did was to take a day

   *                         *                           *

My Chevy at the Service Station.

I was planning to drive my vehicle to the service station as everything seemed, back to normal. The car had responded to the remote control-cum-ignition last Friday, the engine started at the first flick of the ignition and the LED light atop the dash was flickering! But I seemed to have missed out on its not working sometime during the morning today. Lekha and the maid were going to the super market and I'd offered to drop them enroute!

But I had to open the car manually and after getting into the driver's seat, realised that the battery icon was flashing on the dashboard meter. The plan to go together was abandoned and Lekha and her assistant went by an auto rickshaw, instead and I decided to wait for the crane after making a few phone calls to the service station and their helpline.

Sreejith and his understudy, Lawrence were outside, on the main road, by a half past 1. I drove my Chevy to the main road, connected up the towing pendant and had the tow taken on the vehicle's winch. With me behind the wheel, I guided the car through the ramp on to the comparatively low trailer and once in position, the duo had lashed the vehicle down with chocks/straps and nary did it move throughout the 21 odd, bumpy kilometers, thanks to the many potholes.

An hour later, the vehicle was lowered at the service station. What I was impressed with, was the way the crane duo worked as I was sitting in the cabin, along with them. Calls came pouring into Sreejith's cellphone, seeking the crane's assistance to retrieve vehicles, spoiled in the deluge. Polite refusals, a quick calculation of the distances entailed before taking on a job, noting down necessary telephone numbers and passing them on by sms/what'sapp to his drivers - the Janatha Crane Service has four cranes, incidentally - and Lawrence even jotted down certain telephone numbers in a notebook. All these activities were being done while the former was behind the wheel and driving. I told him that I usually do not encourage people using telephones while driving, but since the present occasion warranted his quick responses to people in agony I was granting him that oversight. He'd picked up over Rs.45,000/- worth of jobs during our transit and the tasks covered places like Coimbatore(200 kms), Ernakulam(100 kms), Alappuzha(170 kms) and Chalakkudy(60 kms).

Was quite impressed with the efficient manner in which the duo went about their work and told them that I'd be mentioning about them in my blog. They shook my hands as we took leave of each other and I've told them to get in touch with me in case they required any assistance! Truly, an educative ride with my Chevy sitting cosily behind me!! It cost me 4 grand though!!!


At the service station, Sreejith, my adviser, noted down the car's problem and had me dropped at the nearest bus stop for my return trip. The problem will be checked, analysed and sorted out. Only hope that the spares required are available on the shelf. The service station was flooded during the recent deluge and the computer services were yet to be restored and so, the information wasn't available. As of now, the vehicle's delivery is yet to be ascertained!

Monday, August 27, 2018

And you thought English was easy!

Consider these.

  1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
  2. The farm was used to produce produce.
  3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
  5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert...
  7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
  8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10. I did not object to the object.
11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13. They were too close to the door to close it.
14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear..
19. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

     *                  *                    *

Heard this news that the state of Maharashtra was at risk of Kerala-like floods because it has 3,200 dams. What was not highlighted was the fact that Kerala had to suffer the ignominy because there was a total mismanagement of the opening of the dams' shutters and sluice valves. Many of the dams were opened during night time giving hardly any time for the affected people to evacuate.


There has been a steady flow of money after the chief minister's request of every Malayalee, the world over, to contribute one month's salary towards the rebuilding of a 'new' Kerala. Based on the tremendous response, it's, now, important to set up a dedicated committee to account for the money and regulate its expenditure, for relief measures, in a transparent manner.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A mix of thoughts.

1. An Interesting One from the What'sApp.

    Why, why, why?

    * Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard when he lives in the jungle without a razor?
    * Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are flat?
    * Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they know there is not enough?
    * Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you
       say that the paint is wet?
    * What is the speed of darkness?
    * Why is it that people say they 'slept like a baby' when babies wake up every two hours?
    * If the temperature is zero outside and it's going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?
    * Do married people live longer than single ones or does it seem only longer?
    * How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put
       wheels on luggage?
    * Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on
       the ground?
    * Why do toasters always have a setting so high that could burn the toast to a horrible crisp, which
       no decent human being would eat?
    * Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?
    * Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don't point to their rear when
       they ask where the bathroom is?
    * If corn oil is made from corn and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil
       made from?
    * If electricity comes from electrons does morality come from morons?
    * Why do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

2. An American's Farewell to the Late Senator John McCain.

I usually stay away from politics, but thought of putting a few words on the day of the passing away of a 'Decent US politician'.

John McCain was born into a military family (His father and grandfather were 4 star generals).

He served as a Naval Pilot, was a prisoner of war in Vietnam where he was tortured for five years but refused to be released earlier until his time came for POW exchange.

He served as the US Senator from Arizona for 36 yrs and ran for President against both George W Bush and Barack Obama.

Once when someone described Obama as an Arab during a campign speech, he picked up the microphone and told the audience that Mr. Obama is an American just like him, a good family man and a very decent man. How many politicians will correct a campaign worker like that now?

He has said that there are no political enemies but people with different viewpoints.

He had brain cancer and knew he was going to die and asked Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama to say eulogy for him at his funeral, but did not want President Trump to be present at his funeral.

He always said he had tried to give his country his best and had the best life the country could give to him (He could not even comb his own hair due to war injuries and lost his first marriage while he was in Vietnam and had previous bouts with cancer).

His only complaint was 'not getting things done' in the senate due to partisan politics.

McCain's favourite dialogue was, "Don't listen to big mouth politicians, TV and social media. Put those down and pick up your old phone and start talking".

My Take.

RIP Senator McCain! A salute to a decent gentleman, unheard of in politics!!


It's the third day of Onam and the day of the 'Avittam' star. The left overs of the Thiruvonam food, augmented by a few new preparations, became the menu for the day as per customs and traditions. Don't get me wrong, try a day old 'Saambaar' or 'Kaalan' and you'll get what I mean!

Saturday, August 25, 2018


It was the second day of Onam and the all important 'Thiruvonam'. My first job outside the house, early in the morning, was to detach a clutch of the Labernum flowers - yes, the tree is in bloom at this time which is unusual - from the courtyard, to place it at the puja room as per Lekha's wishes. She, had also used the petals of another clutch to create a floral pattern on the verandah at the front!

She'd, then, made a quick trip to the Mammiyoor Siva kshetram and back. Since the crowd wasn't much, she had returned soon after.

Over the whole of the morning, she was busy in the kitchen preparing the familiar spread of the Onam lunch. The maid would not be available for three days, with effect from today, as she is celebrating Onam with her family. Selvam, the pressman, had come by for pressing a huge backlog of our clothes and he got to be our guest for the ceremonial lunch. He preferred to sit at the verandah and as I was helping Lekha serve the lunch, our neighbours passed by not before pausing to wish us a happy Onam.

Had called up relatives and family to convey our Onam greetings and it was a great interaction. By connecting under the pretext of wishing each other on an auspicious occasion, the pauses in communication are erased and the interaction enables one to catch up with each and everyone!..... The lunch was on banana leaves and I ate myself silly.

Did resume my evening walk that was interrupted for over a month because of the monsoon and in the process, met a few of the people that I come across, usually, on the stretch and every one of them wanted to know as to where I was all this while. I told them that my walk was restricted to my house thanks to the rains and some of them even wanted me to confirm that I would be a regular from now on, making me wonder as to whether they missed me so much?

On return, short of 'The Quarterdeck', I came across Shobha, the eldest daughter of the Warriath family. She and her husband narrated the horror of the floods that they were subjected to. Their house, at Aluva, was inundated with four feet of water though they did manage to clear off at the appropriate moment. They'd saved important documents. Their daughter, along with her two small children were with them, down from Dubai, on vacation! The entire range of household items and furniture have been destroyed and they seemed to be totally dejected!

Could only tell them that they're lucky not to have had any mishap and that I was sure that they would make up the loss within no time. I'd also advised them to fill up the relevant papers regarding their losses and put them up to the revenue authorities, to claim compensation from the government. However, I must hasten to add that I've my doubts whether they would receive help because they would be categorised as an affluent family!

It was a quiet evening thereafter.


Lekha's left knee and the foot did give her pain due to prolonged standing in the kitchen, doing work. Massage, knee cap and crepe bandage were used to mitigate the pain. Hope she overcomes the aches and the pains by tomorrow morning!     

Friday, August 24, 2018

An unnecessary 'fake news'.

Over the last few days, news have been making the rounds that the government of UAE had promised Rs.700 crores in aid to the flood victims of Kerala and that the central government had refused it by saying that it was following what the previous central government did on a similar occasion. 

The implication was that India was capable of tiding over the crisis using its own resources!

Today, the UAE's Ambassador in India has confirmed that his country, while contemplating assistance for the flood devastated people of Kerala, no money has been offered. Thus the lie was out!

The Anatomy of the Lie.

  (a) The state's chief minister announced that the UAE government has agreed to give Rs.700
       crores to tide over its crisis brought about by the floods in a press conference on 21 Aug.
  (b) The central government, while confirming the assurance of flood relief from the UAE, did
        not say anything about the Rs.700 crores.
  (c) But close on the heels of this information, comes the news that India will not accept aid from
       foreign countries and cites an instance, when the previous Manmohan Singh government had
       refused aid saying that the country was capable of tiding over such calamities with its own
       resources. This was, however, not in consonance with the present government's thinking by
       virtue of its own report, on the subject, published in '14.
  (d) The Congress and the Communist parties ask the government to strike down the law so as to
        enable it to accept the aid.
  (e) Probably, the last straw on the proverbial camel's back was when Alphons Kannanthanam, a
       union minister and a Keralite, made a pitch for amending the law to facilitate the acceptance
       of aid.

Once it was confirmed as 'fake news', the chief minister, this evening, comes out with a bizarre explanation that the UAE-based Malayalee industrialist, MA Yusuf Ali had informed him about the aid and had given him the go ahead to announce the news in public! What bewilders me is as to when has a chief minister announced important policy news based on the advice of a private citizen when established diplomatic channels and protocols exist?

Deciphering the Lie.

    (a) It now transpires that the central government has so far granted Rs.60 crores(Promised by
         Kiren Rijiju, the minister of state for Home Affairs) plus Rs.100 crores(Promised by Rajnath
         Singh, the Home Minister) plus Rs.500 crores by the Prime Minister against the state's initial
         demand of Rs. 2,000 crores which was later estimated to Rs.8,000 crores and the final estimate
         is yet to be calculated. The PM had also said that he'd have the NHAI to rebuild the highways
         and the ministry for urban development build houses at the earliest. (But compensation in cash
         is preferred against compensation in kind!).
    (b) The existing procedures are very clear viz. the affected state puts up the estimate to the
         central government, which while granting an interim payment sends a team for assessing the
         extent of damage and finally arrives at the amount to be provided as assistance. So, the grant
         of Rs.660 crores, thus far, can be clearly factored as an interim payment!
    (c) Instead, by bandying an amount @ Rs.700 crores, was someone trying to show that a rank
         outsider - the UAE - had decided to pay more than what the central government has given?

 My take.

    (a) Why do I get the impression that the central government is being shown in bad light?
    (b) The authorities, in Kerala, are yet to give reasons for the poor management of the dam shutters
          that resulted in the massive flood that brought in damage and destruction. And don't those
          heads have to roll?
    (c) Why should the opening of the dams' shutters be a cabinet decision? What the hell are the
         professionals supposed to do? Sad!
    (d) And finally, who in the central government said about not accepting the aid citing the previous
          government's actions?


The Onam has begun and today is Uthraadom - the first Onam. Sadly, the usual enthusiasm is nowhere to be seen and Lekha and I have decided to have a quiet occasion to ourselves sans the usual pomp!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Work for Tuesday.

Had called up the service station regarding my car. Jibin and Pramod were sent along, with a new battery, to rectify the problem in situ. As usual, when Jibin had pressed the remote, the car responded as though there wasn't any error. He, then, switched on the ignition and the engine had started on the first attempt itself. The blinking battery icon - on the dash board meter - showed that the vehicle, indeed, has a problem. Phew!

The guys had a thorough check and have localised the problem to the alternator or its connecting wires. Driving the vehicle in this condition would bring it to an abrupt stop, while running, that can result in a difficult situation. Taking the vehicle to the service station today to effect repairs was ruled out because of the following:-

      (a) The service station at Puzhakkal, Thrissur, was flooded and the cleaning exercise has been
            on since the last couple of days. Any meaningful work, therefore, would be undertaken on
            Tuesday next, after the Onam holidays!

      (b) Since driving the car in its present condition was out, it will have to be towed/loaded on to
            another vehicle. The transporting guy has been identified and fixed.

      (c) Only hope that the spares are available off the shelf. Otherwise, retrieving the same from
            elsewhere is gonna take time and getting the car back after repairs will get correspondingly

Though Onam will be on a low key this time, we've decided to stay put at 'The Quarterdeck' during
the period.

       *                  *                    *

2. Trump in Deep Trouble.

    Trump's former campaign manager(Paul Manafort) has been found guilty on eight charges of
    tax and bank fraud and for failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. Almost simultaneously, his
    former personal lawyer(Michael Cohen) pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations relating to
    the story involving adult star, Stormy Daniels.

    His credibility has taken a direct hit but he continues to hang on with the flimsy excuse that he's
    in no way connected. Wonder how he can look into the eyes of the people with the noose slowly
    tightening around himselfo Shouldn't he be telling the people of the US as to what's going on and
    move on, if required? If not, he'll be demeaning the Presidency when more revelations finally
    implicate him.

3. Kerala Blames Tamilnadu.

    The state told the Supreme Court that the abrupt release of the Mullapperiyar waters was one of
    the reasons for the recent floods in the state. What, however, needs to be investigated is as to why
    the Idukki water level was allowed to rise to the maximum level of 2,403 ft, fully well knowing
    that unprecedented rains were to follow. Similarly, the opening of many of the dams like Sabarigiri
    at Pathanamthitta and Banasura Sagar at Kalpetta, all of a sudden, without adequate warning,
    contributed to the untold suffering in its aftermath.

    The combined waters of the Mullapperiyar and the Idukki dam sites saw the Periyar river in spate
    that caused immense damages on its banks and surrounding areas.


Lekha and Preetha had gone to the Guruvayur temple as part of their regular Thursday visits. I had the 'paal paayasam', consequently.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A comedy of errors.

As I was going up the stairs, sometime in the morning, Lekha had asked as to whether we could go to Kottarakkara despite the bad roads and waterlogged areas enroute. After more than a month's stay without any movement, her request was understandable. It was then that I'd decided to go and set 12 o'clock as the kick off time.

The house was progressively shut down while the maid continued with her work. Packing was done and the bags were brought down to the entrance for being loaded into the boot. The first rap on my knuckles was when the Chevy didn't respond to the remote and it was then that I noticed that the ever blinking LED on the dash wasn't active. I'd then opened the driver's door manually and kick started the engine which thrummed with no reluctance whatsoever.

The engine seemed to be running without any problem but what worried me was the continuous blinking of the battery icon on the dash meter. Perhaps, after running the distance - it was about 600 km up and down - the battery would get charged and the problem would get solved on its own but with Lekha along, I wouldn't take any chance with lingering problems that could flare out into a major one!

What also held me back was that today was a holiday on account of the Eid ul Adha. The Geeyem Motors would be closed, I'd presumed. But what I came to know much later was that they were working today owing to the loss of work, the whole of last week, because of flooding/water logging of the premises!

The trip was cancelled and 'The Quarterdeck' was opened up all over, again. Had called up our neighbour to tell them about the change of plan. Thankfully, I'd not called up the newspaper boy asking him to discontinue his services for the weekend! The day, then, continued as usual with us going through our chores.


I'd started up the Chevy only three days before and found that everything was in order. I'd dusted the vehicle and removed the traces of wetness on the upholstery which would otherwise result in fungal growth. So, what had transpired over the last two days? I felt bad for having let Lekha down for not being ready to do what she'd wanted! Bad show, Rajeev!!


It's becoming increasingly clear that the floods that had devastated the state, last fortnight, was man made, in that, the KSEB did not get their act right in opening up the shutters and the sluice gates of the dams. Generate electricity and make profits by selling it out to the other states seem to be their sole priority. Sad!    

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The aftermath.

The after effects of the unprecedented rain and the consequential floods in the state are still being felt. The heartening thing is that the district collectors have been leading the operations from the front and the panchayat personnel are also actively involved in the rescue and relief operations. Everyone seems to be working for a purpose, setting aside differences of caste, creed or religion. Would like to touch upon a few more incidents.

 (a) Cleaning of Temples.

       Venniyode Sree Mahavishnu temple in Wayanad and Sree Ayyappa temple in Manarkkad in
       Malappuram were cleaned by Muslim youth of the respected areas. While the former was
       achieved by youngsters drawn from nearby, Mukkam, the latter was achieved by the youngsters
       of the Mannarkkad Samastha Kerala Sunni Students Federation.

       Just goes to show that emergencies do bring people together, setting aside differences!

 (b) Looting.

       While people have left their homes and belongings to stay within the safe confines of the relief
       camps, there has been another group that has been active - the looters! These thugs have quietly
       gone around the desolate houses and whisked away valuables that they could lay their hands on.
       Police say that it could be the handiwork of the localites who are well versed with the layout
       of the houses.

       Wonder how heartless people can be!

  (c) Well cleaners, Electricians and Plumbers in Demand.

        With several wells having got filled up with slush, cleaning them up has become a priority
        job. Sadly, the rates begin from Rs.15,000/- depending upon the depths of the wells and the
        quantum of muck accumulated. The availability of clean, breathable air is a must for the guys
        lowering themselves into the wells. Similarly, electrical repair work in an inundated three
        bedroom house could cost up to Rs.20,000/- The plumber's costs can, thus, be extrapolated!

        The reason that the service providers give is that such services cannot be provided completely
        free of cost!

The cleaning phase is on and the coordinating authorities have asked for donations in kind viz. disinfectants, rubber gloves, gum boots and connected cleaning material, including brooms. After that will begin the arduous task of reconstruction/refurbishment which will go on for a long while. Saw a crazy message from some idiot, on What'sApp, that Keralites need things like brooms, disinfectants and other cleaning material and not money, because they're rich. What an irresponsible statement it is!


Today was a sunny day. It was nice to enjoy the warmth of the sun, which looked so distant and remote during the previous weeks of deluge.



Monday, August 20, 2018

Out of sync.......

Am going through a few more stories that I've come across as I moved through a few relief camps near my house. People are being looked after with timely food, good drinking water and clean environment. It's heartening to note that the youth are eager to lend their helping hand and go out of their way to mingle with people. There are many of the inmates of these camps who are lost as to where they would return once the camps wind up because their houses don't exist anymore as they've been destroyed and uprooted in the deluge.

There's a need to find sponsors who would take on the work of providing houses. Low cost housing materials are available in plenty, like bio toilets, smokeless chulhas, hollow bricks etc. These need to be put to effective use as government assistance may have limitations!

Having said that, there are a few aberrations that continue to exist in the ongoing flood relief camps. Some of them might appear comical but there's a message in each, that needs to be taken seriously and addressed forthwith so that things get smoother, better.

 (a) The Quality of Clothes/Medicines.

       Many of us tend to forget that the inmates of the relief camps are people with a sense of self
       respect and dignity. Therefore, while donating clothes and medicines one must ensure the
       quality of the items. Soiled clothes and medicines that have crossed expiry dates are a strict no
       no. For heaven's sake, for a moment, think whether you'd like to receive similar material and
       you'll get a clear answer.

       Disaster relief is not the dumping ground for your waste. Please!

 (b) Counselling the Camp Inmates.

       While visiting the relief camps do take time to counsel them when they tell you their woes.
       Giving a patient hearing and empathizing with them would go a long way in putting them at
       ease. Your presence as a mere visitor would give the impression to a bystander that you're
       going through the motions of visiting a zoo. I'm highlighting this aspect in the wake of a lad's
       suicide when he came to know that his Plus two results had been reduced to shreds when the
       flood waters had entered his house. There are many ways to get duplicate documents and as the
       state's education minister had said today, the educational institutions need to be informed for
       the remedial action.
       And by the way, through counselling, you'd be improving your own communication skills!

 (c) Declaration of a National Disaster.
      Responding to a petition seeking to declare the floods a national disaster, the central government
      had made the following points:-

            (i) There was no provision in the statutes or manuals to declare a disaster as a 'national
                 calamity' (Were the past declarations a gimmick to hoodwink the public?) In hindsight,
                 I, too, feel that there were things amiss then because as I understand that by virtue of such
                 a nomenclature it becomes incumbent on the central government to take on the entire
                 range of reconstruction/restoration!? It has never been done, for sure despite the

           (ii) The situation has been categorized as a disaster of a serious nature and consequently, it
                 has been tagged as a Level 3 disaster under the national disaster management guidelines.

      And the Court has said that the state government must make its rehabilitation measures more

 (d) A Strict Watch on the Cleaning Activities.

       It has been reported from various quarters that the cleaning up teams are demanding
       extravagant rates for their work. These need to be kept under check by the police and a team
       of the local self government of a continuously roving nature.

       You can't fleece the people for the difficulty that they are in, can you?


Vishnu, from my office, had come with the necessary papers and cheques for my signature. Since it was late in the night, I'd asked him to stay put and go by the early morning train/bus tomorrow. The worry that was in my mind all these days - the delay in distributing the pay and emoluments of my staff - has been sorted out. Phew!



Sunday, August 19, 2018

'Out-of-the-way behaviour' even in these times.

Most of us cannot exhibit good behaviour all the time. But being in one's best behaviour during trying times and during emergencies would go a long way in resolving crises or bottlenecks that are bound to crop up. During the ongoing times of catastrophe in Kerala, there were quite a few such occasions. I shall go through a few of them.

 (a) Refusal to Provide Storage Space for Relief Material.

       The Bar Association's hall at the Collectorate, in Thrissur, was sought for stowing relief material
       by the Collector which was refused. A lame excuse of the key having been misplaced was
       floated but the firebrand young Collector, TV Anupama IAS wouldn't hear any of it and had the
       lock broken open under her powers - during extraordinary conditions. The place is now stacked
       up with 1,000 kg of rice in bags.

       The lawyers, caught off guard, now claim that they had never refused and it was the misplaced
       key that was the sole reason!

 (b) Refusal to Provide House Boats.

       Many house boat owners in Alappuzha had refused the use of their boats for rescue purposes
       when flooding had taken place. Perhaps, their hesitation was because the boats, pressed for such
       uses, would require an overhaul, post activity. What they didn't understand or cater for, in their
       narrow mindedness, was the tremendous suffering of the people around them. They were only
       thinking in terms of making money through their well heeled customers and foreign tourists.

       What they don't realise is that if the local populace is not prosperous enough and supportive to
       their supportive requirements, their business can never be successful!

 (c) Joyride Costs Time, Fuel.

       The commandos on board the IAF chopper on a rescue mission to Arattupuzha in Chengannur
       were shocked that the 28 year old Joby, they'd winched up, wanted a joy ride and to be left back.
       Even though a woman and child were stranded nearby, the rescue team had decided to pick him
       up as the aircraft was low on fuel.

       The officer-in-charge could not hide his desperation at having left the needy!

 (d) Hoarders Make a Fast Buck.

       By afternoon when the water had receded in many parts, unscrupulous wholesale merchants/
       vendors tried to make a quick buck by exploiting the hapless people. Please taste the prices:-

               (i) Tomatoes @ Rs.120/- per kg.
              (ii) Beans @ Rs.100/- per kg.
             (iii) Okra @ Rs.120/- per kg.
             (iv) Potatoes @ Rs.60/- per kg.

        A few of these guys were rounded up by the police. But I feel that they should be given
        exemplary punishment to avoid a repeat!

 (e) The Refusal to Embark.

       Many people, stranded within the confines of their flooded houses, refused to board the rescue
       boats because they didn't want to leave, the difficulty with which the rescue team had made it to
       them, notwithstanding! There were others who were scared to be winched up into the choppers.

       They wanted to have their food packets sent across to them, instead!

 (f) The Sad Plight of the Domestic Animals.

      Except for a few dogs, cattle and other domestic animals had to bear the brunt of hunger and
      lack of drinking water. Naturally, many of the fleeing people wouldn't have had the presence of
      mind to cater for their safety/well being.

      The silent animals had gone through harrowing times without having anyone to share their
      agony with!


1. With the sunny weather returning and flood waters receding, the people affected by the flood have slowly started to recoup and find their way back from the relief camps. There are many who have nowhere to go because their houses have been washed away/are not inhabitable without a reconstruction or refurbishing. Their nightmare will continue for a long, long time.

2. The yeoman service rendered by the fisher folk, fresh from their recent 'Ockhi' nightmare, along with their boats - both big and small - is indeed commendable.            

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Interesting stuff.

1. Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect.

    Dr Ian Stevenson, MD is the author of the book. Children who claim to remember a previous life        have been found in many parts of the world, particularly in the Buddhist and Hindu countries of          South Asia, among the Shi'ite peoples of Lebanon and Turkey, the tribes of west Africa and the          American northwest.

     Dr Stevenson has collected over 2,600 reported cases of past-life memories of which 65 detailed         reports have been published. Specific information from the children's memories has been
     collected and matched with the data of their claimed former identity, family, residence and the             manner of death. Writing as a specialist in psychiatry and as a world renowned scientific
     investigator of reported paranormal events, Stevenson asks the west to suspend their tendencies
     to disbelieve in reincarnation and consider the burgeoning record of cases now available. The
     book summarises Stevenson's findings which are presented in full in the multi-volume work
     entitled Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth

2. Culture and Attire.

    Culture and ways of living are not static - but tend to revolve with time. Social mores, ways of
    dressing, the kind of places we live in, the food we eat - all changed as we moved from the First
    Wave (Agrarian) societies to Second Wave (Industrial Revolution type manufacturing) societies -
    and will evolve further as some select segments transit to niche products.

    In agrarian societies, multiple layers of loose clothing that covered the entire body along with head
    cover were the norm - aim was protection from insects, snakes, agri particles, etc. When people
    transitioned towards manufacturing, they changed over to tighter, lighter clothing - heat from
    machines; layered and loose clothing snagged in machines.


On the Kerala front everyone said, "We all were petrified looking at the rising waters....till the Army came.....smiling......their actions were so reassuring......that we forgot all our fears and calmed down....the Army even set up camps for motivation and cheering up kids who are missing school! The moment the TV cameras arrive the Army disappears and the idiotic, publicity hungry politicians take over.....My uncle asked a Colonel why they move away from the limelight. To which he smiled and said our light is with you......when you're at peace, our lives light up and will be lit up till lights are temporary".

Many eyes were moist when they heard this!                                

Friday, August 17, 2018


Rains were on, as usual. The traffic on the Thrissur-Guruvayur-Kozhikode/Palakkad highway, near us, was sparse because many parts of the road are inundated. To make matters worse, the Airtel services had taken a hit rendering both our cellphones down almost for the entire day. It was rendered operational late in the evening.

Came to understand from the management of the service provider that electric power was shut down at various places because of heavy flooding and water logging, resulting in the use of generators for the normal operations. The end result was not completely effective. Must give you a whiff of the 'fake news' that was prevalent regarding the situation. It went something like this and I quote, "The government had asked the private service providers to shut down their services so that the rescue teams could take on the genuine calls from the BSNL instruments only, seeking relief  assistance".

If one were to think rationally, why would the government take such a frivolous and an illogical decision? Secondly, in such an emergency situation, the rescuers would look for calls from any number so that they can home on to the stranded people, forthwith, to effect rescue. It's a question of reaching the right spot without loss of time.

Meanwhile, the effects of the disruption in rail/road traffic, over the past week, has begun to show. The petrol pumps have begun to shut down because of depleting stocks. Milk, bread, eggs and many of the groceries are missing from the shop shelves at most places. Thus one feels totally helpless that despite having the money, one is unable to acquire things for oneself for sustenance!

And God help you if you do not have electricity in your house. Ringing up for assistance from the local electrical office is an option that will end you up with frayed nerves and rising blood pressure. A continuous 'engaged tone' will invariably greet you; the telephone has been kept off the hook, without doubt. And the telephone guys will, sweetly, promise to set the things right once the 'situation improves'.

Usually, one heard that people came to one's aid and are ever willing to help, in times of a calamity. I would like to believe that perhaps, the majority belong to that culture but there are some among us who can be incorrigible and unhelpful. Wonder what they'd feel if they were to be in a similar situation?

To my mind, Robinson Crusoe and his Man, Friday were much better off on that uninhabited island!


1. The caretaker had called up to say that four labourers would be clearing the overgrown grass and weeds immediately around Raj Nivas, the roadside in front of the compound wall and the place where my parents rest, behind the barn. Could not transfer their wages, amounting to Rs.2,800/- into his account, as the banks' electronic servers are down, thanks to the continuing deluge. Have asked Lekha's sister to give him the money in the interim!

This is despite the fact that rain persists but the cleanliness of the house has to be maintained at a certain standard on the occasion of Onam.

2. Saw the funeral of the late Vajpayee ji on television. The spectacle of a mammoth event like this was well managed with the dignity that it rightly deserved!

3. Going to attend my course mate's son's wedding at Ernakulam, on Sunday, seems to be a difficult proposition owing to the following:-

     (a) The highway at Chalakkudy and a few other places, continues to flood.
     (b) Fuel has become rare, in petrol bunks, as replenishment is impossible because of disruption
           of traffic.

Will still try to make it because the number of guests would be quite less under the prevailing weather conditions. It's up to us, his friends, to do the needful to make the occasion a success with maximum participation! 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thrown off gear.

The continuous rain has thrown normal life completely out of gear. The combined onslaught of the rain and the waters from the opened dams have resulted in massive flooding and water logging at various places. Rail and road traffic have come to a standstill. Many places have got cut off from the rest, resulting in the marooning of the population that desperately looks for assistance.

To make matters worse, the fresh water distribution network has got submerged in the mucky flood waters in many places and fearing contamination, the pumping stations have been shut down. The result has been chaotic - a tremendous shortage of drinking water as well as potable water, essential for cooking. From last night's downpour, water had sloshed into the ground floors of many residential areas in and around Thrissur, announcing the disaster's arrival closer to us at Guruvayur.

Many portions of the arterial road between Guruvayur and Kozhikode/Palakkad have got submerged in the seeping flood waters bringing about a breakdown in the smooth flow of traffic. The power interruptions have been continuous almost and to top it all, our maid could not make it because the bus services had been terminated. It did put a bit of pressure on Lekha while I keep my fingers crossed that the resultant cold/wet conditions do not affect her. It's not conducive for her overall health. In our case, there was no question of venturing out of the house.

Today, being Thursday, she'd planned to go to the Guruvayur temple but gave it up since there were restrictions to vehicular movement as the area in front of the Mammiyoor temple was submerged under knee deep water. A few kilometres south, along the coast line, it has been a real mess - especially, where the seawall is absent, there has been soil erosion, houses shipping in water and roads with enormous potholes, that have got submerged.

By evening, Lekha and I did some spring cleaning of the house - it's the last day of Karkkidakam and no waste is to be kept in the house - and the waste, both wet and dry were disposed off. The power situation had improved by the latter part of the day. Phew!

We thanked our stars for our well being when so many were going through miserable conditions. Wish all of them got timely help and have been shepherded into shelters of safety where warm food, good drinking water and resting arrangements were assured. The defence forces and the disaster management team have been doing yeoman service in providing timely relief measures. But there are chances, still, that quite a few would be missed due to a lack of communication!

And as I write this piece wonder how many people are left stranded for rescue - waiting desperately to be spotted - and are under severe conditions?

And tomorrow's Chingam Onnu (The first day of the Onam month of Chingam).


Adieu Vajpayee ji!   

Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee (93) passed into the mist of time, this evening at 1705 hrs at the AIIMS, New Delhi. A great orator and a good human being, he was a towering personality on the country's political firmament and charismatic. My salute, tears and prayers for the great leader.       

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The 72nd Independence Day.

This Independence day, I shall recount a story passed on to me by my friend and course mate, Col Anil Alagh. A true story of what so many of our brethren in uniform have experienced. 

Karanbir Natt joined my outfit when I was commanding in ’97 - a young, super excited Lt as all hot blooded young men are, on commissioning. The Army’s CR system did not allow him a future and he moved out after 10 years or so, only to rejoin the Territorial Army as he was addicted to the uniform. His first posting took him to Jammu and Kashmir. A go getter and always in operations with his men even as a Lieutenant Colonel now, he earned their loyalty and respect under fire. One night his luck ran out. In a CASO, based on hard intelligence, as he entered to search a tiny outer hutment, a terrorist lying in wait in the darkness, let loose a burst which went through his throat and out, via his cheek bone. In those moments, as he fell, he successfully neutralised the ‘sonovabitch’....But he was grievously injured.

He was air evacuated to Srinagar and then to the Research and Referral Hospital within 36 hrs. Karanbir Natt survived. The day he was brought in was 23 Nov ’15. He was in a vegetative state as he’d suffered oxygen loss in the brain. The doctors gave him little chance but their selfless efforts, the love of his comrades-at-arms, the prayers of the retired unit veterans, his parents and his young wife, Navpreet gradually sustained and kept him alive. From that day began the saga of suffering and extreme test of faith for his beloved Navpreet, his children – Guneet and Ashmeet – and his parents (Themselves veterans).

Exactly, 2 yrs and 9 months(less a week) that the encounter had happened. Lt Col Karanbir Natt, Sena Medal(Gallantry), continues to be immobile and without speech. He cannot recognise and cannot react or respond.....he cannot eat and survives on external feeding implements.....he is unable to enjoy the sight of his lovely daughters growing up, waiting for their father to attend the Parents-Teachers’ meetings, their annual functions, their birthdays.

He's unable to understand the sacrifice of Navpreet and the psychological and emotional trauma she so courageously continues to endure. Here, I shall quote a conversation that I had with her, "Good Morning Col Alagh. Hope you and ma'am are fine. Today Ashmeet had Independence Day celebrations in her school. I got her ready and she said I want to show it to papa. I was thinking I'll send a picture of her with Karan to you and I request you to post it on Facebook with a write up about him and share it with the Indian Army and maximum people. It will be a tribute to his sacrifice. I hope you can spare a little time for writing and you're a superb writer". When I asked her to send her own thoughts as well, she said, "I can't find words, Col Alagh".

"My heart rips apart when Ashi says, papa kab uthenge? Mujhe school se kab lene ayenge? Mera school function kab dekhenge?....many more questions.....I hug her tightly and say, very soon. Wondering will it happen? Gunnu says he should be with us always even if he is in this condition.....we have him. The photos are of Ashi with him in the hospital. Gunnu made a collage of the good times because she was emotionally drained at her mother's proposal of this note on FB and refused to be clicked in the hospital". 

This is from Anil's heart, "Navpreet says that when Ashi visits, the four year old cannot understand why her father does not respond and gets angry with him in her innocence. To the comrades-in-uniform, you'll understand.......and also understand my special bond with him and the family, having been his first Comdt. 

More importantly, I would like my civilian friends to understand this post......understand the scars even our soldiers' family and children bear......while saluting the Mira Road brethren and others for the homage they paid to Major Rane and his comrades last week.......I would greatly appreciate that whenever an opportunity arises, you salute the Forces who keep you safe and your independence secure.....not just in their death, but in their life too. It's not just the one soldier you read about in the short note in some newspaper, it's a whole family that you and me (As veterans we too owe it to the serving) owe our respect to. 

I don't know whether I've done justice to Navpreet's request.....but I have tried. And I hope this message will highlight the saga of an army man's household and encourage the reader to salute my youngster, Karanbir Natt and pray that he becomes responsive again and bring back the happiness of his parents, his lady wife and his lovely daughters......a happiness taken away on 21/22 Nov '15 in the line of duty.

Jai Hind! Vande Mataram!! Bharat Mata ki Jai!!!

Waheguruji ka Khalsa
Waheguruji ki Fateh".


(a) Anil, you've done it marvelously well. I'm sure Navpreet would be eternally grateful to you for your moving account about her husband and the feelings that she and their children are going through.
(b) Had hoisted the tricolour on my balcony, promptly at 8 AM and saluted it with pride.
(c) It was an absolutely wet day all over again.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Supplying War by Martin Van Creveld - A Review.

Supplying War Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton by Martin Van Creveld is a fascinating read. it examines battles and campaigns that most history buffs will know, but from angles that are not often considered. To understand war, you must understand logistics and Van Creveld's work is a compelling look into how military logistics has developed since the early 17th century, including in some of the most important theatres of World War II.  

The Review.

"An army marches on its stomach". So goes the well known Napoleonic dictum. But until very recently, the forward progression of an army was far more dependent on the stomachs of the horses, whose daily feed allowance by weight was 8-10 times what a soldier needed. In fact, some 980,000 pounds of food per day was required to feed both the cavalry and their horses during Louis XIV's wars - of which only 120,000 pounds was for the men.

Such detailed calculations provide insight into why wars unfold as they do and therefore, why history unfolds as it does. For example, though Napoleon has often been criticised for using heavy carts in his Russian campaign - they sank in the mud, making them difficult to move - light carts would have required far more horses and therefore, more feed than the countryside on the path to his eastern advance would probably have been able to supply.

This is an example of the many calculated decisions made in war that Martin van Creveld covers, in depth, in his book. One recurring theme is the need for balance between requisition (An innocuous word for armies stealing from the inhabitants of the land through which they march) and dependence on established supply lines (Which extend from some sort of forward base or magazine). As it turns out, using supply lines that stretch far back to a home operating base is a very modern concept. Even though Napoleon further developed the rudimentary magazine system established by Louvois (One of Louis XIV's generals), it didn't come close to supplying all the food required by his Grande Armee. In 1805, for example, Napoleon had to change the course of his offensive because his generals weren't able to secure enough hard biscuits in the town at which his army was set to rendezvous. Logistics, therefore, dictated strategy!

Even during World War I, armies still needed to feed off the land. In Germany's march on France in 1914, the updated version of the Schlieffen Plan required that the western wing of the advance move quickly, given that it had more ground to cover relative to the eastern most wing. In addition, there was a limited number of roads that could be used to supply the army - which forced supply units to traverse the same roads used for the offensive and led to traffic jams and delays. These factors led the 1st Army, especially its 3rd and 4th Reserve Corps, to move forward quickly and prevented the supply line from reaching the army. Indeed, the delays were so substantial that the heavy columns would not reach the remainder of the fighting force until after their retreat from the Battle of the Marne. The Germans were, even in the days of modern industrial war, forced to live off the land!

Reviewed by Brigadier Kuldip Singh, a dear friend and course mate.


1. It was a thoroughly wet day. Have asked a supplier, suggested by my doc, to get me a 'Glucometer' so that one can monitor one's sugar levels. But my heart sank when I came to know that pricks were necessary to draw the blood sample. What a blow?

2. Anitha and Captain Premkumar dropped by in the morning. Anitha is Lekha's college mate while Prem was with me in C-LABS. It was nice catching up with them.

Monday, August 13, 2018

In perpetual misery.

In today's hi-tech world, with the state-of-the-art gadgets available with almost every man and woman, life appears to have become much easier. If technology is used in the right manner, life gets to be smoother without doubt but the related miseries are also worth understanding. Touching upon just a couple.....

 (a) The Smartphones.

       Our digital lives and excessive dependence on smartphones may be making us more distracted,
       distant and drained, a study has found. For example, even minor phone use during a meal with
       friends was enough to make the diners feel distracted and reduced their enjoyment of the
       experience.......had more trouble staying present in the moment.

       Decades of research on happiness by the researchers of the University of British Columbia in
       in Canada have said that engaging positively with others is critical for our well being. Modern
       technology may be wonderful but it can easily sidetrack us and take away from the special
       moments we have with friends and family in person.

       Researchers conducted two studies - a field experiment in a restaurant and a survey. The
       restaurant experiment included more than 300 adults and university students in Vancouver,
       British Columbia. The survey portion included more than 120 participants. The results were

              (i) The negative effects of phone use among students who are commonly known as digital
             (ii) Compassionate people spend less time on social media than people who are more self
                   centred and narcissistic.
            (iii) People with lower emotional intelligence used social media more than those in touch
                   with their feelings.

  (b) Succumbing to Fake News.

        Belief systems that people develop early in life to help protect against the anxiety and stress
        of an uncertain world may help explain why some individuals fall victim to "fake news" as per
        the behavioural scientists. The key to people accepting fake news as true, despite evidence to
        the contrary, is a phenomenon known as confirmation bias or the tendency for people to seek
        and accept information that confirms their existing beliefs.

        The brain is wired to accept, reject, misremember or distort information based on whether it is
        viewed as accepting of or threatening to existing beliefs. Some of these beliefs can be based in
        fantasy and that can lead to 'nonsensical thinking' say researchers.

        In adolescence, people develop critical thinking skills and some begin to question what they
        were taught as children. As people reach adulthood, many of these beliefs formed as children
        are simply accepted and continue to influence how a person perceives his or her world according
        to Mark and Eve Whitmore, developmental psychologists with the Western Reserve
        Psychological Associates in the US.


Lekha had completed the recital of the Ramayana this evening with three days to spare and she's happy. The rains continue and only hope that it would be over by the beginning of the onam month of Chingam, that commences on the 17th. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Why you should not talk trash...

The Assam NRC issue - listen to a son of the soil, Plabita Baruah.

"If you are a celebrity starving for popularity or a politician hunting for some unrest in the country for your personal gains and you think Assam NRC is your golden break, then you seriously need to shut up immediately.

It's pathetic to see such ignorant, casual tweets from some popular figures of the country regarding the NRC list of Assam. Stop portraying this as robbing off of citizenship of a particular group of people and please put this in your brains that they are not Indian citizens in the first place. If you have heard about a country called Bangladesh, these are people of Bangladesh who cross over to India illegally (Thanks to our pathetic border system) and start living, breeding and of course, create nuisance in Assam, just like that.

Okay, I understand your need for showing off your humanity, large heartedness and of course, the knowledge of what's going on in the country. But let me ask you first........

What do you really know about NRC? How much do you know about Assam's NRC issue?

Have you ever come across the term, 'Ahom Andolan' (Assam movement) or for that matter, how much do you know about the state of Assam itself?

Let me tell you a small story here, back in the year 1978, an MP in the Mangaldai constituency of Assam named Hiralal Patwari died requiring a re-election in the place. In the re-election, the dramatic increase in the number of voters was the first noticeable hint that voting rights were given to some foreigners to increase the vote count for a particular political party. This led to the start of an agitation led by a student party and a local political party of the state which was supported by the whole state. Massive protests were held across Assam against granting of voting rights to illegal infiltrators at the cost of huge damage to the overall development of the state.

Assamese people - youth, aged, women gave their lives for this cause (The martyrs' count was 855). They died in order to protect their motherland from these illegal foreign infiltrators. The agitation subsided with the assurance by the then government in the form of the 'Assam record' signed in '85 between the then PM and some "incapable" leaders of the Assam movement, which later turned out to be a joke as rather than freeing Assam from these outsiders, their influx increased like wildfire throughout the state and continues even till date.

Do you know that these people are the main cause of most of the problems in the otherwise comparatively peaceful state? Do you know that if you look in any Assamese daily, about 90% of the crimes in the state are committed by this particular illegal bunch of people?

Do you know that being an Assamese, we are afraid to go into some areas occupied by these illegal immigrants, even in broad daylight? Do you know the reason why? Do you think you can live peacefully among these people who are forever encroaching our lands, literally polluting our beautiful realm, committing heinous crimes like rapes and murders and of course, always, multiplying like rabbits?

Are you even aware of the fact that the cut-off date for detection of foreigners in Assam is 24 Mar '71, whereas the cut-off date for citizenship in the rest of the country is just after independence? I'm sure not. We are still liberal in the dates than you at least and you want us to accept them as our own? Would you accept Pakistanis or let's say Talibanis all over your land if they illegally cross the border and just start living here? I know you wouldn't but we, here, at least tried. Tried to keep quiet, tried to bear with the numerous inconveniences, tried even accepting them but what should we do when our own identity starts becoming a threat in our own lands?

Have you heard of Arnamai Bora or the numerous other brutal rape victims in the hands of these infiltrators? Have you lit a candle for them?

Do you know that Assam holds a top position in the number of kidney and cancer patients due to the cheap, banned fertilizers and pesticides imported from Bangladesh and used in our crops by these people who have already acquired and started their farming businesses in our lands?

Let me tell you something. Showing humanity for these people in front of the Assamese is a joke on you yourself  because if you have ever been to Assam, the big hearts and hospitality of the Assamese people would put your humanity to shame. Were you ever aware of the annual disastrous floods that affect the state or the various other grave problems faced by us? Did you ever raise your voice on any issue of Assam or is it just the NRC issue that seems sensational enough to gain popularity?

If you have even an ounce of common sense left, you should know that the fight here is between Indians and illegal, trouble making foreigners. Shameless politicians who see these people as vote banks have always tried to defend and shelter them.

I hope not, but our state especially the bordering towns and the hills are going to get affected".


Those who talk about Assam must educate themselves about the state and understand the issues properly before making an opinion.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Happenings that make one wonder.

1. Why the Name Change?

The Rajasthan government has renamed Muslim-named villages with names rooted in Hindi. A total of seven villages have acquired new names. They are:-

  (a) Miyon-Ka-Bara(Barmer)                     -        Mahesh Nagar.
  (b) Narpada(Jalore)                                   -        Narpura.
  (c) Islampur Khurd(Jhunjhunu)                -        Pichanwa Khurd.
  (d) Mohammadpur(Chittorgarh)               -        Medikh Kheda.
  (e) Nawabpur(Chittorgarh)                       -        Nai Sarthal.
  (f) Rampura-Ajampur(Chittorgarh)          -        Sitaramji Kheda.
  (g) Mandfiya(Chittorgarh)                        -        Sanwaliyaji.

Coming as it does, four months before the Assembly elections, it smacks of vote bank appeasement. Wonder what change is brought about by simply rejigging the nomenclature? I, for one, continue to call Mumbai as Bombay, Kolkata as Calcutta, Chennai as Madras, Odisha as Orissa as I'm comfortable with the earlier names. Meanwhile there has been no change, whatsoever, in the places after the rechristening. And hence the question, why the futile exercise?

2. The Insecure Husband.

Saddam(32) of Araria, in Bihar, had married Samira(28) for her beauty but he wasn't ready to accept the consequences viz. men stared at her wherever they went and he got jealous and got into fights. She was his second wife and he continued to keep in touch with his first wife and three children. He, then, came up with the idea of selling her to a brothel in New Delhi.

Accordingly, he had called up a number of pimps and in the process, without his knowledge, got in touch with a police informer who didn't hesitate to report the story to the Kamla Market SHO, Sunil Kumar. After overcoming Saddam's final twist of seeking an advance before producing his wife, the police could nab them and the young lady is, now, with the counsellors.

3. Muslim Protests in China.

Ethnic Hui Muslims of Wuzhong city protested against the official plan to demolish parts of the recently renovated Weizhou Grand Mosque in Ningxia Hui Autonomous region. The renovation has allegedly violated regulations making it look a typical west Asian mosque with "Arab style" domes. The officials want the domes to be changed to Chinese style "pagodas" which the local Muslims are resisting, through protests.

The Chinese media, in a terse report, has said that "No religion is bigger than law".

4. And Now, What's Happening to the Uighurs in China?

A United Nations human rights panel has said that it has received credible reports about a million ethnic Uighurs being held in a massive internment camp and that the whole exercise is shrouded in secrecy. Have the minorities been forced into political camps for indoctrination?

China had, earlier, said that its Xinjiang province suffers from the threat of Islamic militants and had, consequently, tightened controls and surveillance.

Is it the first step towards their forced migration into the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, I wonder?


1. The havoc caused by the widespread rains in Kerala is massive and a realistic assessment of the damages would only be possible once the rains stop. Meanwhile, the meteorological department has forecast heavy rains, in many parts, till Tuesday.

2. It was a nice gesture on the part of the chief minister to take the opposition leader, along with him in the chopper, for the aerial tour of the flood affected areas. Hope politics will not come in the way of the relief operations.

Friday, August 10, 2018


Reservation to various categories of people, in securing jobs, has resulted in almost no availability of opportunities for those of the upper castes. What wrong did they commit to be born in such families? In fact they must be ruing the day they were born into one. The problem has been made worse when the political parties used the reserved categories of people - on the basis of caste, creed and religion - as their vote bank.

One thought that all the permutations and combinations of the 'caste manthan' were over but it's far from the reality. Just see the new set of categories agitating for reservations.

 (a) Marathas of Maharashtra.

       Nearly 32 to 40% of the state's population. They include 'Kunbi' or peasant class.That the Kunbis
       have quota within the OBC category, notwithstanding. They demand quota for themselves in 
       educational institutions and government jobs.

 (b) Jats of Haryana.

       Nearly 29% of the state's population. They are the influential Jat community carrying out 
       farming activity. They demand quota in the OBC category for government jobs and educational

 (c) Patidars of Gujarat.

       Nearly 12 to 14% of the state's population and are a prominent trading community. They
       demand quota in the OBC category for government jobs and educational institutions.

 (d) Gujjars of Rajasthan.

       Nearly 7% of the state's population. They are a pastoral agricultural ethnic group and they
       demand 5% quota in government jobs and educational institutions.

 (e) Kapus of Andhra.

       Nearly 26% of the state's population. They are the farming community in the coastal belt and
       demand 5% quota, under Backward Class, in government jobs and educational institutions.

Reservation by the Centre.

        Total               49.5%
                  (i) SC    15 %
                 (ii) ST      7.5%
                (iii) OBC 27  %

        The Supreme Court had capped quotas in government jobs at 50% in '92. In 2010 it said 
        that states may exceed the limit if it was justified. Tamilnadu(69%) and Maharashtra(52%)
        have breached the ceiling.

My take.

The government must take a strong stand on not allowing any more reservations without worrying about the vote bank.


Calls from friends and well wishers regarding us against the backdrop of the flooding caused by unprecedented rain kept pouring all through the day. I felt nice about the concern shown. Thanks all of you for your love and affection!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

An update.

1. The Ramayana Month.

Today is the 25th day of the Malayalam month of Karkkidakam. Lekha has been reciting the Ramayana all these days, both in the morning and in the evening. After her recital this morning, she's poised at, "Rama has sent Hanuman to Ayodhya - as advance party - to inform everyone that they would be arriving at the kingdom shortly, after the 14 year banishment. Earlier, he'd overseen the coronation of Ravana's brother, Vibheeshana, as the ruler of Lanka after defeating and killing Ravana. On reaching, Hanuman observes that Rama's footwear adorn the throne of Ayodhya and Bharathan and Shathrughnan are leading the life as followed by Rama during the banishment".

Meanwhile, the rains continue to pound though I must add that life has been fairly normal out here, all these days. There isn't any water logging and traffic continues to breeze past on the highway, nearby, as though nothing has happened/is happening! We've, however, restricted our movements and go out only to take care of essential requirements. Have made forays, into nearby areas to provide a shoulder for the needy and have been in touch with the various panchayats of districts trying to ascertain the extent of help they require and in turn, transfer the information to the people who are involved in the rescue and rehabilitation exercise. From Wayanad, the requirement of blankets and clothes have been projected as almost everyone has reached the shelters with just the clothes that they were wearing while being evacuated! To make matters worse it's cold out there.

The state has never witnessed such a harsh monsoon for quite a while.

        *                             *                                *

2. The New Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha.

JD(U) MP Harivansh has been elected as the new deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha. He had won 125 votes against the Congress' candidate, Hariprasad who got 105 seats. Naveen Patnaik's BJD and K Chandrasekhara Rao's TRS had supported the ruling coalition's candidate.

The four important takeaways from the election are:-

    (a) BJP's ally appeasement approach seems to have worked.
    (b) BJP - JD(U) ties on a firm wicket  in Bihar now.
    (c) Broad opposition alliance is a work-in-progress.
    (d) BJP likely to be less combative in Orissa.


1. With the passing of the bill on the scheduled castes/tribes, in Parliament, to countermand the SC orders on the issue, the call for the 'Bharat Bandh' had fizzled out, thankfully. Otherwise it would have been another day of agony close on the heels of the 'vehicle strike' of the day before.

But what I'm looking forward to is the movement of the 'Triple Talaq' bill in Parliament tomorrow.

2. It's also the 73rd anniversary of the dropping of the second atomic bomb at Nagasaki, during the Second World War. My tears and prayers to all those who'd undergone a violent end.