Sunday, September 30, 2018

These are vindictive acts and cannot be endorsed.

1. Suspension, a Day Prior to Retirement.

    AM Pankajam, the secretary of the Adaat Panchayat of Thrissur district was suspended a day prior
    to her retirement. Rumour has it that the CPM had scripted the drama out of political vendetta.
    Consequently, all the secretaries of the remaining panchayats went on a strike by taking a day off
    and Dimple Maggie, the Additional Panchayat Director was boycotted by the members of the
    panchayat. The reason - not granting approval to a newly built house flouting existing rules which
    had the blessings of the local CPM leadership! She, also, had the gumption(?) to refuse to offer her
    pay towards the "salary challenge" of the government!! She was threatened on account of this act
    of her's.

    The party has, however, rubbished the allegations and stated that she had been punished for having
    furnished false accounts regarding the disaster relief operations which the secretary has stoutly

    A sad development indeed! Pankajam has vowed to approach the court for redressal of her
    grievance. Another long legal battle in the pipeline.

2. List of Defaulters(?) Put Out.

    A list of policemen, who have refused to take up the Chief Minister's 'salary challenge' has been
    circulated to all police stations from the Kochi Commissioner's office. The letter is signed by the
    Accounts Officer, on behalf of the Commissioner and mind you, this is after the High Court has
    directed that such lists should not be published.

    The reasons stated for having put out the list was to avoid cutting the amount from those who've
    not supported it and for making the list 'foolproof' - a real weak alibi because if that was the
    intention, a list of all those who were willing, should have been promulgated!

    In a disciplinary organisation like the police, such acts can have far reaching effects like
    promotions and transfers! A truly regressive step and shows as to how politicised the police have
    become. Sad!

It was only the other day that the chief minister had said that those who were not willing to join his government's salary challenge, would be asked questions by the succeeding generations and seemed to leave it at that but obviously, his party doesn't subscribe to his views. Retribution is a must - here and now - seems to be the overwhelming theme.


The 100 day reality show 'Bigg Boss' ended this evening with Sabumon winning the coveted Rs.1 crore worth prize. I think he deserved to win. 



Saturday, September 29, 2018

Hats off to you, Tanushree Dutta!

Tanushree Dutta, you're the proverbial Bengali tigress. Take a bow from me for taking on a Bollywood stalwart on his shenanigans. In fact, I'd heard about your reactions in 2008 itself when the unfortunate incident had taken place and for having stood your ground, you lost out on a blossoming career. The sad part was that there was none from the Hindi film industry - especially, the female stars - who came out in support of you.

And Nana Patekar, the accused, had laughed away the whole thing as a figment of your imagination and that you're alleging misdemeanour on his part for the sake of publicity and to gain a foothold in the industry, being a newcomer! Probably, because of lack of support from fellow actors - and in this, I include both, male and female actors for being gutless to stand up for a wronged, young lady - you'd decided to go into oblivion. I'd wondered, then, as to why you weren't pursuing the case's logical end when your honour was at stake. I can understand, now, as to what made you backtrack then!

At this juncture, I must elucidate on Nana Patekar's misdemeanour that Tanushree had brought out in the open. And I'm quoting the inimitable Shobha De, "The alleged incident had taken place in 2008 on the sets of a movie titled, "Horn OK Pleasss". She claims the harassment took place in full public view when Patekar behaved inappropriately touching, pushing and shoving her during a dance sequence which did not feature him in the first place. She (A former Miss India) insists she protested and complained, but nobody stepped forward to help her or stop Patekar. Her story gets worse. She says, she and her parents were threatened and intimidated by the representatives of a political party when they left the set, after Patekar made a phone call. The intimidation took a serious turn when her car was vandalised and her safety was under threat. Had the police not turned up in time, Tanushree and her parents could have suffered serious injuries. That ordeal effectively ended her career". Along with the star, she has also included Ganesh Acharya (Choreographer), Sami Siddiqui (Producer) and Rakesh Sarang (Director).

More actresses have, now, come out in support of Tanushree and on one television interview, I heard Dimple Kapadia saying that Nana Patekar was obnoxious! Tanushree seems to be surprised on her support now because she'd gone on to act three films with Nana Patekar, then, soon after her unfortunate experience!

This incident reaffirms the fact that many things are not right in the film industry and need to be set right. A couple of years back, the harassment of an actress of the Malayalam film industry had attained notoriety because of the leading male star, Dileep's involvement. The sad part is that the case is yet to come up in court because the defence has been putting one stumbling block after the other to slow the case down!

Hats off to you, Tanushree Dutta for your bold stand. I'm sure you'll get justice for the ordeal that you've been through. Stay brave and the truth will win in the end!


My cough has, finally, come under control. Thankfully, I'd successfully quarantined myself and Lekha has been unaffected. Thank God for minor mercies!


Friday, September 28, 2018

Women can enter Sabarimala, now!

1. Today's Supreme Court judgement allowing women - of all ages - to enter the shrine of Sabarimala blew the bottom of two of my longstanding beliefs that I'd acquired from my elders and the prevalent practices. They were:-

  (a) Women are to keep away from holy places, even the puja rooms of their houses, when they are
        menstruating as they were 'impure'. (Looking back at it, how can they be impure because 
        they're only going through nature's physiological conditioning!)

  (b) The pilgrimage to Sabarimala could only be performed after 41 days' penance and hence, the
        shrine could not be visited women after attaining puberty and not before they underwent
        menopause. (Looking back at it weren't the proponents of this argument, misogynistic?)

2. What makes me accept the verdict - without rancour - of the Supreme Court's five-judge constitutional bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra is that the change has been justified as:-

   (a) The devotees of Lord Ayyappa were exclusively Hindus and do not constitute a separate
         religious denomination.
   (b) No scriptural evidence to exclude menstruating women.
   (c) Barring women devotees between 10-50 age group was illegal, unconstitutional and arbitrary.
   (d) Any relationship with the creator is a transcendental one, crossing all socially created artificial
         barriers and not a negotiated relationship bound by terms and conditions.

3. It would be worthwhile to go through an overview of the legend of Lord Ayyappa, at this juncture, which are:-

     * Ayyappa, the presiding deity of Sabarimala hill shrine is regarded as the human incarnation
        of 'Dharma Sasthavu'.
     * Dharma Sasthavu is also known as 'Hariharaputhran'; son of Hari and Hara(Lord Vishnu and
        Lord Siva).
     * According to myths, Ayyappa was the prince of the Pandalam royal family.
     * It is believed that he was adopted by the childless king, who got the baby while on a hunting 
        expedition in the forest.
     * Ayyappa chose the life of a recluse after he is believed to have vanquished a plot by his step
        mom and a section of courtiers on his life, after the birth of a baby boy to the royal couple.
     * Ayyappa is believed to have kept a close friendship with a Muslim youth named 'Vaavar' and a
        dargah of Vaavar is an integral part of the Sabarimala temple.
     * Maalikappuram temple near the main Ayyappa shrine represents a young woman in eternal
        wait for the Lord to reciprocate to her wish to marry him.
     * Penace most important.
        - Devotees must abstain from physical relation with spouse.
        - Abstention from intoxicating drinks, smoking and 'tamasic' food.
        - Cooking one's own food.
        - Maintaining hygiene, including bathing, twice a day, before prayers.
        - One meal a day.

     * The Eternal wait.

        - Malikapurathamma is the goddess who is worshipped in a subsidiary shrine at Sabarimala.
        - Devotees visit the Malikapurathamma temple after having the darshan of Ayyappa.
        - Mahishi, who was the daughter of sage Galvan, was cursed by a disciple of Galvan, turning
          her into a buffalo-headed demon.
        - The demon was killed by Ayyappa, ending the curse and turning her into a beautiful woman.
        - The woman wanted to marry Ayyappa.
        - But Ayyappa told her that he was a Brahmachari. He told that he would marry her when no
          'Kanni Ayyappan'(A pilgrim who visits the shrine for the first time) would come to Sabarimala.
        - However, Kanni Ayyappas visit the shrine every year. Her temple, in time, came to be known
          as the Malikapurathamma temple.
        - The legend goes further saying that in honour of Malikapurathamma, Lord Ayyappa does not
          receive any menstruating women.

4. The Remedial Measures (Short term and Long term).

Now that women can also visit the shrine, the existing arrangements have to be reviewed and altered and my suggestions are to institute the following, with immediate effect:-

   (a) The temple should be kept open 24x7, 365 days of the year instead of the present practice of
        opening the shrine for the first few days of the beginning of every month on the Malayalam
        calendar and the two month activity covering the mid-Nov to mid-Jan period. This will have
        a uniform crowd all through the year with maybe, a spike during the Makaravilakku period
        (Mid-Nov to mid-Jan).
   (b) Segregation and crowd control by a mix of adequate numbers of policemen and policewomen.
   (c) Installation of rope ways for easy ingress and egress.
   (d) Exemplary punishment to be meted out to those who misbehave/show errant behaviour.


With the Supreme Court's striking down of the 158-year-old law making adultery a crime yesterday, I reckon that the institution of marriage is gonna get weak. But relationships - the consenting individuals do not look at the legality and usually, care a damn despite knowing the fact that if caught, the situation results in unpleasantness - blossom due to circumstances beyond control. I consider it as a very practical judgement.



Thursday, September 27, 2018

Happy birthday, Achu!

Had got up at 5 AM for no rhyme or reason and sleep refused to return as I lay in bed, ticking the minutes away. Got up at 6, went through the chores and we were ready well in time. Preetha, came in by 9 with the auto rickshaw for us to go to the road transport corporation bus stand and we left soon after. There was a traffic snarl short of the Mammiyoor junction and we saw the Venad blue, headed for Palakkad, standing within the melee. After telling the bus driver, we'd got off the rick and boarded the bus immediately - two things made our transfer easy. The bus kept standing at the spot and the rick driver said that he'd collect his fare later, damn sweet of both of them!

The road, after Pattambi and before Shoranur was a bad stretch, full of potholes. We reached my sister's place a trifle after 12 and around a half past 1, had the ceremonial lunch with Rema and Achu. After a short rest, we're off for kitting up the birthday boy. It was a nice trip around a few landmarks of Palakkad with Achu, the expert, behind the wheel. It required a lot of coaxing on our part to make him pick up a set of formals for himself. After picking up what we had in mind, we'd returned home and waited for Achu's dad to get back from office but not before picking up a Black Forrest cake for the evening. An inscription, "Happy birthday ACHU", was made on its face.

Padmakumar had reached home by about a quarter to 6. We, then, left for the goddess' temple at 'Manappully kaavu''s a nice, old temple and has an aura. After paying our obeisance, Achu insisted on taking us to dinner and he took us to a nice, cosy place. It was a splendid evening and we could make our get away as the dinner crowd was steadily beginning to build up. It definitely seems to be a popular eating joint among the locals. Achu was put on to it by a friend of his, he said. This friend likes his food and it shows on his body too!

We got back home and then, went through the ceremonial serial of 'cutting-the-cake'.

The day's serials had come to an end. It was a quarter to 10 and time for Achu to go to his office as it's the 'C' shift, that he's a part of, this week. As he drove off from the parking slot, I felt nice that the both of us had made it to Palakkad to spend quality time with him on his special day.......hope he enjoyed it too!

Achu, here's us wishing you that the coming year gets you all that you wish for. Enjoy every moment of life and take care. Our prayers shall always be with you.

.....And Madhavan was continuously present despite his absence! All of us missed him.


I'd expected Ammu and Midhun to drop by in the evening, from Coimbatore and provide the surprise element to Achu but it was not to be. Work had taken up their time!


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Why do they do this?

We've come a long way regarding online transactions. Initially, most were not user friendly, in that, there used to be glitches galore, giving one the impression that impediments were being purposely put in and the common ones were:-

      (a) the page/site took eons to open or never opened at all.
      (b) the page opens but hangs midway as one gets close to completing the transaction.
      (c) what is to be inputted is vaguely put and hence doubts linger.

It's much better now but I'm going to let you into a difficulty that I'd undergone over the past few days. I'd got my telephone bill, for the BSNL landline that we have, by the first week of Sep and it was followed by a message on the cellphone, too. It said that I was to pay the bill by the 26th of this month. From about ten days back, I've been religiously going into the BSNL site to pay the amount, online, but the message that I got was, "The telephone you have entered is either invalid or there are no bills available at the moment. Please contact BSNL Customer support number(Toll Free Number 1500) for more details or write mail at"

A couple of days back, since I found that I was getting periliously close to the last date after which a fine of Rs.100/- I think, would automatically get slapped in, I'd called up on the toll free number. Getting an operator on the line is a Herculean task but after a few attempts, I was able to get one on the line. When I told him about my dilemma, he said that the window would open at the appropriate time since the last date of payment was 26 Sep!

I realised that he'd given me a wishy washy answer because the window didn't open even this morning and I hate missing the deadline for payment. I immediately sent a mail as instructed hoping like mad that it would elicit a reply, pronto. Sadly, that seemed to be wishful thinking! So, around 12, I'd gone across to pay the bills - of the landline here, at Guruvayur and the one at my parents' house at Thalavoor - at the BSNL Centre, which had recently been shifted near to the Rajah Hospital. The job was duly accomplished. Phew!

And we rue the fact as to how the government owned BSNL has been netting losses over the years. How can an organisation that's not responsive to its customers' needs ever hope to thrive and make profits? It's the same old story. Sad!

Why shouldn't the bill payment window open immediately after your bill has been delivered? Or is it the way you can get the penalty of Rs.100/- from every customer of yours, to rake in profits?


Will be off to Palakkad tomorrow to celebrate my nephew, Achu's birthday. Shall return by the day after morning. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Creating confusion by spreading lies and half truths.

For the last few days, the media has been all agog about the Rafale deal. As per political affiliations, there have been reports saying that it's a good government-to-government deal and the counter saying, that it's a murky one in that Anil Ambani's Reliance Industries have been included as a spares supplier, as per the offset clause.

There is an argument put forth by Rahul Gandhi that the UPA government had negotiated the cost of one aircraft at Rs.527 crores. As a layman in matters of aircraft manufacturing, my doubt is as to which aviation company in the world builds a front line aircraft - sans the avionics and the weapon carrying ability - at such ridiculously low prices?

And another insinuation by the same gentleman is that the Prime Minister has, by making Reliance as one of the offset partners of Dassault, put Rs.30,000 crores into Anil Ambani's pocket and in the bargain has branded him a thief. Now, that is juvenile, immature politics. One might have many political opponents and verbal slug fests are common and natural between adversaries but should never exceed the limits of propriety.

General elections are around the corner in May '19. A lot of electoral rhetoric will be exchanged between the political parties but what should be maintained is the sanity of truth. Hurling lies and half truths at each other can only turn out to be counterproductive and self defeating in the long run. Mind you, to sustain a lie, many more lies would be required and at some stage, the lid would get blown off resulting in a tremendous loss of face for the perpetrator of the fake stories!

Yes, as a citizen of this country I, too, would like to know the truth but the following factors are discernible:-

   (a) The Prime Minister had won the mandate of the last general elections by hammering the
        UPA government on rampant corruption. Would such a person let anyone indulge in corrupt
   (b) The defence requirements were given the least priority as the UPA's defence ministry was
        over cautious and refused to take decisions.
   (c) Meanwhile, the IAF was faced with a depletion in its aircraft inventory due to obsolescence.
   (d) The offset part of the main contract is between Dassault and the companies based in India like
         BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Samtel, Reliance and negotiations are still on with other
         potential partners. The government has nothing to do with it.
   (e) The former French President, Francois Hollande's statements in a recent interview has been
        the trigger for the latest war-of-words. Why isn't the gist of that interview out as yet?

I suppose, in the cacophonics, the truth will be hard to come by! Sad!!


From history......there was a JPC - Joint Parliamentary Committee - probe on the Bofors acquisitions. Its report confirmed that the gun was the best - where was the doubt on that? - but never found anything about the under-the-table-payments.   

Monday, September 24, 2018

Adieu Madhava!

Madhavan was the watchman-cum-security-in-charge of the multi-storeyed building near the BPL factory on the Pollachi koottu patha, in Palakkad. My sister, Rema stays there. We go there frequently and are slated to go there the day after, to celebrate my nephew, Achu's birthday.

Madhavan was always thrilled to see me and used to earmark a slot to park my car so that it was safe from the weather. He used to ascertain as to which of the residents was out of town so that I could park my vehicle, without problems. And he used to wash down the car the next morning. Earlier, when my mom used to be there in short spurts, as we ran our errands, he used to monitor her during my sister's absence while she was away in her school. Amma and Madhavan had a unique relationship and she used to call him 'Madhavaswamy'!

Around 67 years of age, the dark complexioned, wiry Madhavan was a bundle of energy who was everywhere, with his pleasant countenance, sorting out emergencies as and when they sprung up. He was a man for all seasons, ran errands on request and was a great help and a favourite to the residents. He has five children and all of them are settled. He had cut off his relationship with his elder brother but this time, he sought to make amends to it and attended his remembrance day rituals. Wonder whether that action of his had any connection with the subsequent chain of events? He fell ill on return and never returned to work as he had become totally bedridden, lost his voice and refused to be taken into the new house adjacent to his, that he'd helped his son to build with monetary assistance. Earlier, he used to help Lekha's dad to clean up his house when he used to come to Palakkad on his monthly visits.

When my sister had gone to look him up with a few other residents, a fortnight ago, he mumbled that he wanted to get back to work with tears flowing almost continuously. Did he, then, know that his end was near, I wonder?

RIP Madhava. Wonder what forces brought us together but I'm glad that I got the opportunity to interact with you and to receive your love and affection. My salute to a dedicated worker along with my tears and prayers! May your near and dear ones have the strength to tide over these stressful times. The residents of the apartments - especially Rema, Padmakumar and Achu - whom you served passionately will miss you, I'm sure.

I shall miss you when I come there the day after! Your presence beside the car and assisting me with the luggage will be missed but you shall be remembered fondly. Can I be assured of your unseen presence?


The seven days' course of antibiotics was over yesterday but my throat continues to have the irritation and the cough, though at a much reduced intensity and frequency, persists. Must show myself to Dr(Mrs) Sodhi, at her clinic tomorrow, next door. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

From a Buddhist Monastery.

Who's a "Happy Soul"?

(a) A Happy Soul stops trying to change others but instead, focuses on changing self.
(b) A Happy Soul is one who accepts people for who they are.
(c) A Happy Soul is one who understands that everyone is right on one's own perspective.
(d) A Happy Soul is one who learns to "let go''.
(e) A Happy Soul is one who is able to drop expectations from every relationship and gives for the
      sake of giving.
(f)  A Happy Soul is one who understands that whatever we do, we do it for own peace.
(g) A Happy Soul is one who stops proving to the world, how intelligent one is.
(h) A Happy Soul is one who does not seek approval from others.
(j)  A Happy Soul is one who is at peace with oneself.
(k) A Happy Soul is one who is able to differentiate between "need" and "want" and is able to let go
      of one's wants.
(l)  A Happy Soul is one who stops attaching "happiness" to material things.

Here's wishing you work towards a Happy Soul........

*                  *                   *

News views.

Sister Kalappura, a Catholic nun - who had lent her support to the recent agitation staged by five nuns in Kochi demanding the arrest of Franco Mulackal on rape charges - has been asked not to discharge her church duties at St Mary's Church parish at Karakkamala, under the Mananthavady diocese in Wayanad.

Syrian Orthodox patriarchate  has warned Priest Yuhanon Ramban of disciplinary action for speaking in support of the nuns' protest.

Why is the church bent on protecting Franco Mulackal? A high priest is not unnecessarily pointed fingers at and especially by a defenceless nun, who would be fully aware of the serious consequences from the system. There has to be validity in the charges and the proof is that he's finally under police scrutiny for his lapses, notwithstanding the sweeping powers that he held and the tremendous clout that he'd in the corridors of power.

He deserves the penalty for his shenanigans!


Madhavan, the watchman of the apartments where my sister stays in Palakkad, is seriously ill. The doctor treating on him has given up, it seems. Sad.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The prayer of an unknown soldier.....

This time I don't want your hollow salutes
This time I don't want your hollow commendations
This time I don't want your crocodile tears
This time I don't want your fetish sadness or anger
This time I don't want your boisterous tweets
This time I don't even want your money
This time I don't even want your medals and chakras
This time keep all the above to yourselves
This time I just want to know for whom I die and 
 for what I do the things I do. 

- By an unknown, martyred soldier.

      *                      *                        *

We reached 'The Quarterdeck' by about a half past 1. The road between Kozhikode and Guruvayur, via Kadalundi and Tirur was bad. The guests were quickly distributed into the rooms - the Srivastava brothers in the lower bedroom, Maman and Saji in mom's bedroom, Ravi in the sitting room while Rajesh preferred to sleep in the car itself. The idea was to grab a quick round of sleep before going for the early morning 'darshan' of Guruvayurappan. While Lekha looked after the guests, I made a quick check of the bedrooms and the linen, changing an odd one here and another, there.

They were up by about a quarter past 3 and left for the temple by 4. An hour later, they'd returned from the 'darshan' and Maman and Saji left for Thiruvananthapuram in Rajesh's car. The Srivastavas and Ravi had breakfast by 7 and were off to Ernakulam by 8.

      *                      *                        *

The News Views. 

1. The Bishop Arrested.

Franco Mulackal, after hours of grilling by the police, has been remanded to two days' police custody. His anticipatory bail was turned down by the court as the police had argued it that way in the light of fresh revelations of his misdeeds.

2. Charges and counter charges.

Charges and counter charges, on the Rafale deal, have been hurled by the Congress party and the BJP. The fresh level of accusations are based on an interview with the former President of France, Francois Hollande. To me it appears that the accusations are being levelled without getting the full gist of the interview.


(a) The heat has become unbearable.
(b) Commander Abhilash Tommy has been rendered out of the circumnavigation of the globe because of two mishaps:-
      (i) His boat has been dismasted, courtesy the bad weather.
     (ii) He has sustained severe back injury.
May the rescuers reach him as quickly as possible. He's somewhere in the Indian Ocean and is being searched for.    

Friday, September 21, 2018

Covering Wayanad medically. Day 3 at Thrissilery.

Was woken up by Saji Kumar at a half past 5 and had gone through the chores. The two of us were lucky to have completed the morning ablutions early because the motor had developed a problem and Maman had to wait a long while to get the water, post defect rectification. We, thus, left for the Thirunelli temple by a half past 7 and were at the temple by a half past 8.

We'd ordered for a puja in the names of Muthachhan, Ammachi, dad and mom. The ancient temple gave a soothing effect and the local Devaswom authorities, along with a few political leaders, had given us a lot of attention being PN Panicker's son and grandson! Breakfast of idlis , chutney and sambar was had at the restaurant, smack across the temple.

We, then, proceeded to the Government Higher Secondary School at Thrissilery which was the venue for the day's camp. Thrissilery has a Shiva temple that's a popular shrine for the pilgrims. Legend has it that those who offer rituals to their ancestors at Thirunelli are aware that the proceedings are incomplete, without making an offering at the historic Shiva temple. The following were the additional attractions:-

   (a) Popular for its unique architectural proportions and the quiet and secluded ambiance.
   (b) A small shrine of Jal Durga, located in a water body, that originates from the Papanashini river
         near Thirunelli exists here.
   (c) Locals believe that the shrine was installed by Lord Parasurama.

The Government Higher Secondary School has a total of about 1,000 students and has many facilities, including smart classrooms. We quickly went through the short public meeting, presided over by the local MLA, Mr. Kelu, who was there earlier than us! The medical camp proceedings began, on the dot, by a half past 10. After initiating the registration counter, I'd taken up position at the initial examination (BP and weight observations) counter to manage the crowd. Ashna and Bindu were the health workers that were recording. Came across many cancer affected patients and a sizeable crowd of adivasis. We had a record number of patients viz. 263! A new doctor, Ritwik, had joined Pankaj ji and Kavya to inspect the patients, today.

The medicine counter was manned by the ever-efficient Sofia and soon, we're able to clear the knotty crowd from the initial inspection counter and send them across to the doctors, for further inspection. And today, too, the doctors had confirmed that there weren't any major illnesses bothering the people of Wayanad. However, the chewing of tobacco, by many, seems to be taking its toll.

The camp wound up by a half past 3 after which we had lunch at Majid-Subeida's dhabha and just before dispersing, Vasanthakumari teacher, the library-in-charge, came and invited us to attend the programme organised by her team. It was a nice and small interaction but what was sadly discernible was the bad upbringing of a few children assembled there.

The medical camps conducted by the Foundation at Wayanad, thus, came to a close.

We made a quick retreat to the Forest Inspection Bungalow, finished our packing and after thanking the entire team that worked to make the camp, a roaring success and the talk of the town, set off on our return trip. The time was 1725 hrs! I travelled along with Dr. Pankaj Srivastava and Rajeev Srivastava in their car and regaled them with anecdotes from my naval life. We'd shaped our return via Kozhikode but realised our error - the roads were really bad on this stretch. Pankaj ji and his brother, bought spices for their personal use from the Khadi Board outlet at Kalpetta.

Dinner was at Thamarasserry, at the same hotel where we'd stayed during the 'Yatra'. At Kozhikode, Rajeev had picked up a few sweets after ascertaining mine and Lekha's peferences from Maman ....damn sweet of him!


Thoroughly enjoyed the outing, understood the nuances of a medical camp and in the process, picked up quite a few friends.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Covering Wayanad medically. Day 2 at Panamaram.

Had got up at 6, gone through the chores and was ready by 9, to have breakfast with the entire team at our premises. Earlier, in the night, Maman had taken a tumble in the darkness of our room as he tried to make his way into the rest room. However, it didn't create too much of a difficulty. We were off to the venue by about a quarter past 10 and the programme had kicked off, exactly, at a half past 10.

After the formal inauguration followed by the explanation of the conduct of the camp, the proceedings had begun in right earnest. The initial melee had to be sorted out and I was given the task of streamlining it as it had to be accomplished without antagonising the people awaiting the medical check up. The stages were as follows:-

    (a) The registration counter was functioning smoothly where Indira ma'am filled up the personal                particulars of each individual. We'd decided to give the prescription chits a 'Foundation's touch'
          by having a masthead with PN Panicker's facial caricature on the top, along with, our address.
          The essential details were listed down with the column for the doctor's prognosis coming at the
          end. Indira ma'am and Shyamala manned this point and the serial numbers for each individual
          were issued.
    (b) At the sizing up counter, Ashna had to record the blood pressure and the weight of each
          individual and note the readings on the prescription chit. Since the crowd was getting bigger at
          this counter, Bindu was also tasked to take down the BP readings and things were brought
          under control.
    (c) The clinical inspection was done by doctors Pankaj Srivastava and Kavya and they went about
          their task systematically. It was ensured that there wasn't any bunching up of patients around
    (d) The next counter was the 'medicine distribution point', which was manned efficiently by Sofia.
    (e) The youngsters of the youth club manned the blanket distribution counter.

There were quite a few adivasi women who had come for their check up in today's medical camp and the numbers totaled up to 153, in the end and we went for lunch at a half past 3.

Pankaj ji's observations about the state of the health by virtue of today's cases were:-

    (a) There were no serious ailments in anybody.
    (b) There were a lot many ENT cases because of having spent excess time in the flood waters as
          relief took time to reach them. The ears had shipped in a lot of water causing infection.
    (c) There were 'no admittable disease in a few' but they were in a psychological trauma caused by
          the overwhelming nature of the emergency.
    (d) Satisfied with the medical health care adopted by the health workers.

We wound up by a half past 4, to visit the Banasurasagar dam across the River Kabini. I'd heard a lot about this dam's four shutters being opened untimely at the time of the deluge. They were opened during the night hours and without adequate warning - two don'ts that should never have been followed as per the manual. The result was that the whole of Palakkad town got flooded within no time. The flip side was that the outlet side of the dam was bone dry, resembling a near drought situation staring at the surroundings!

We're back in the Inspection Bungalow and had a debrief of sorts and went out again, as a big gang, for our supper at the Indian Coffee House around 2000 hrs. Came back and had another round of discussions before calling it a day.


1. Tomorrow is gonna be a long day as we begin the day with visits to the Thirunelli and the Thrissalerry temples at 7 AM.
2. We shall be on our return trip after the conduct of the camp.   

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Covering Wayanad medically. Day 1 at Thavinjal.

The PN Panicker Foundation's medical camp at Wayanad has been scheduled from 19 - 21 Sep. Why so late, you might ask. A very valid question and here's the answer. There have been very many well meaning philanthropists and the government agencies that have been doing yeoman service in this regard, ever since the deluge that had destroyed everything for a very large percentage of the population - Wayanad has approximately, 28 lakhs!

Maman and Saji Kumar (A financial expert, still with the government and who has a flair for social work has taken three days off to be with us!) had started from Thiruvananthapuram around 1800 hrs, yesterday. They'd picked up medicines @ Rs.4.5 lakhs, from Ernakulam, before reaching around 0200 hrs at 'The Quarterdeck' to pick me up according to the plan that we'd chalked out before. The hired Innova was heavily loaded with the medicines to be distributed and its driver, Rajesh - damn good at his work and ever smiling, with a single ear stud as decoration - worked out a few permutations and combinations before tucking my bag and lap top into the vehicle's innards!

Leaving Lekha, by herself, adds on worries but I try not to dwell upon it much because it can create tensions within. I'm glad that her immunity is in good mettle because it was me who'd ended up with a bad cough and cold consequent to the twin outdoors that we did over the last ten days.

The 268 odd kms were transited through, very expertly, by Rajesh despite the fact that, at many places, the highway was in a very bad state thanks to the recent deluge. We passed through Kunnamkulam, Pattambi, Perinthalmanna, Manjeri and Areacode, during the silent hours and reached Thamarasserry just short of first light. After a cup of piping hot tea at a wayside tea stall, we started the climb up the ghats passing through the nine hairpin bends and the single-lane-stretch-of the highway thanks to the collapse that it had suffered due to the recent land slide. The devastation  caused by the floods were visible all through the route as broken buildings and destroyed agricultural land stared at us, being the grim reminder of a calamity of unimaginable proportions.

We reached the Forest Inspection Bungalow by about a quarter to 8 and Suren, the efficient guy that he is, gave us a round of good tea, fixed an errant motor that fed the water from the well into the overhead tank and a well made breakfast of idlis, dosas and vadas. We were at the venue of the medical camp - the Thavinjal Civil station - by a half past 10. After a brief meeting to explain the conduct of the camp, the people were registered for the medical check up. A team of doctors from the local pool and the district's branch of the National Health Mission, examined each patient and provided the requisite medicines. The cardiologist from Lucknow, Dr. Pankaj Srivastava and his brother, Rajiv, the electronics engineer had fetched up by 12 o'clock as the flight from Lucknow to Bangalore had touched down late! They drove all the way from there in a car, damn sweet of them!

During our interaction with the people, the following were discernible:-

   (a) The people had, long back, shed their outlook of despair and grief arising out of the difficulties
         caused by the deluge. In fact, what received us were their cheerful, smiling faces.
   (b) The civil administration had reacted to the emergency with alacrity, provided timely succour
         that was followed by the soothing visits of many relief and medical camps.
   (c) The outbreak of illnesses, post floods, was contained effectively by preventive medical
         practices drilled into them by the health workers.
   (d) The helpful attitude and compassion showed to people in distress, cutting through caste, creed
         religion and political affiliation!

There were 153 people who went through the medical examination of our team but to confess my very personal thoughts, I found it to be a bit under subscribed! Arjun George and his family had left no stone unturned in their efforts at co-ordinating things for us. I shall never forget the beaming faces that had received blankets from us, sponsored by the Janus Initiatives, Lucknow.


We could salvage five boxes of medicines, left at the Inspection Bungalow, by a team that had come from Gujarat, just last week to conduct a medical camp. Similarly, there's plenty of relief material that are coming from various quarters and it's my fond hope that each and every bit of it reaches the needy and is completely utilised!   

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

If, by Rudyard Kipling.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired of waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn - out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch - and - toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold On!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiven minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And which is more - You'll be a Man, my son!


Rudyard Kipling's immortal piece that I'd grown up with at the NDA. It used to be in every cadet's cabin. A plaque - carrying the poem -  stands at my working table in my home as it has been for ages. I've tried to live up to the high ideals that the poem talks about.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The origin of our elite 'Para Commandos'.

It's a known fact in history, that in Sep '65 when Pakistan was on the verge of victory in Kashmir with the Chhamb offensive - a three pronged attack on Jammu, Akhnoor and Pathankot to cut off Kashmir from the rest of India - one man stood up.....Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh, the Western Army Commander.

The towering khalsa took upon himself to break the defensive mindset and went on the offensive.....thus, for the second time in history after the khalsa offensive by the legendary Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa against the Pathans in the 19th century; the Indian Army went on the offensive....Lahore was attacked.

Since early days, Harbaksh was destined to always save India out of trouble. 13 years of combat experience with his parent unit 5 Sikh, fighting the Japanese in the second world war, Harbaksh had seen it all from capturing posts, to being ambushed, injured and taken as a Prisoner of War. By 1947, Harbaksh, a senior military officer and a brilliant, battle hardened soldier had just completed Staff Course at the Staff College at Quetta and was ready to be part of the higher echelons of the military. As a Colonel, he was the Deputy Commander of the famous 161 Infantry Brigade in Uri in 1947. He had volunteered to command a unit in battle but was refused as he was a Colonel (Units were commanded by Lt Colonels).

During the offensive by 1 Sikh, the CO, Lt Col Dewan Singh got killed in action. Harbaksh Singh again volunteered and this time, removed a star from his shoulders (For the first time in history, an officer demoted himself to lead his men in battle). The battered battalion regrouped and fought like lions, under Harbaksh, to reclaim Farkian Gali and drove out the Pakistanis from the valley.

Harbaksh Singh was promoted as Brigadier in '48. As the Commander of 163 Infantry Brigade, he again conducted daring operations in Tithwal and captured Tithwal. He was awarded Vir Chakra, the third highest gallantry award, then, of India.

In Sep '65, the Indian Army went on the offensive with the Jalandhar based 11 Corps launching all of its infantry divisions(7th, 15th and 4th) towards Lahore and Army HQ Reserve 1 Strike Corps, with the elite 1 Armoured Division was launched further north, towards Sialkot not only to thwart the Pakistani juggernaut but also to crush the Pakistani feeling of supremacy and to regain the pride of the Indian Army, licking its wounds from the '62 China debacle. Bitter battles followed with both the sides fighting for every inch of land. The Indian Armoured Corps came into its own with the destruction of their Pakistani counterparts despite having inferior Sherman tanks as compared to their modern Patton tanks. Legends were created on the battlefield with units like 17 Poona Horse, 4 Horse, 3 Cavalry writing history in blood and gold. The infantrymen went beyond the call of duty and beyond imagination to fight with tanks, the likes of Abdul Hamid showed the true colours of the sons of the soil. India regained its pride as not only the Pakistani offensives were crushed but it was also ready to capture Lahore. Pakistan, however, launched another offensive, this time, towards south Punjab in Ferozepur sector. In Husseiniwala, Pakistan cracked up Indian defences and a crisis developed. The Army Chief, Gen JN Choudhary ordered the 11 Corps, which was in offensive to withdraw and take up defensive positions. Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh, the Western Army Commander refused, defied the Army Chief and ordered GOC 11 Corps to attack, thereby saving Punjab and India from certain defeat.

Meanwhile in Kasmir, during the progress of operations, history was in the making. Operation Gibraltar combined with the Pakistani offensive in Jammu, initially had succeeded due to surprise and speed. It was a precarious situation as Poonch was threatened. The only possible way to recapture territory and save Poonch was to go behind the enemy lines and destroy his flanks. The Pakistanis knew that India would lose Kashmir if the old road to the valley from Poonch was lost. Doom prevailed in the horizon of the future of an integrated India.

At this time a miracle happened. It's often said that outlaws create history; same thing happened when Maj Megh Singh of the 3rd Battalion of the Brigade of the Guards, a superseded officer and who had been denied promotion, volunteered to the Western Army Commander to carry out commando raids behind the enemy lines. A preposterous idea, given the time and situation and with no resources at hand. Nor were there any plans to raise any. Gen Harbaksh listened patiently and told Megh Singh, "Son, if you succeed in this, I'll put that star on your shoulder with my own hands". And without government approval, Harbaksh gave a nod to raise this force. Maj Megh Singh organised a force of volunteer dare devils, personally chosen by him....a few good men. This force known as the "Meghdoot Force" after Megh Singh - the forgotten men not recognised by the government of the day, formed the nucleus of the first special forces unit in India. Thus was born the elite 9 Para Commando or the 9th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment Special Forces.

Maj Megh Singh proved his mettle and carried out not one but three of the most outstanding and daring raids and link ups ever, in the history of warfare. His raids took the Pakistanis completely off guard as nothing this spectacular was expected by them, from the Indians. Today, Poonch remains with India, courtesy Megh Singh, the outlawed man facing Court Martial charges before the raids, came back with a bullet in his thigh and was pipped Lt Colonel by Gen Harbaksh Singh, himself and became the first CO of 9 PARA.

By the time, the ceasefire was declared on 23 Sep '65, the Indian Army had not only recovered from the initial losses but also captured large chunks of Pakistani territory in north Punjab. War, on the whole was a stalemate, but the Indian Army was able to thwart the Pakistani intentions of capturing Kashmir with force, their Operation Gibraltar proved to be an utter failure. Truly, Harbaksh was the saviour of Kashmir, Punjab and India's honour.


The day had begun at a half past 4. Lekha had begun with the chores, followed closely by me as we didn't want Maari to get delayed because of us; but that's exactly what had happened. He came in, on the dot, at 6 and we had still not strapped up our bags! We, finally, left the house by about a 20' past 6. The morning sky was overcast and we encountered a few showers enroute.

Maari chose the route via Angamali and hence, the traffic was comparatively less. We'd breakfast at Ettumanoor and were at 'The Quarterdeck', in time, for lunch. He was sent soon after, Letha's car was the saving grace. So, two trips done with our Chevy in the service station and it had never happened before! 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

An exhausting Sunday.

The day had begun on a leisurely note. Our 'sa'arthi' for the day was expected at 10 o'clock and so the both of us went about our chores without any hurry. But what made my life miserable was the persistent cough that had commenced this morning. And that too, without any throat infection, whatsoever. It put added constraints on me because I didn't want to pass it on to poor Lekha! The last time when such a situation had come about, we both coughed beyond a was miserable! It's my fond hope that such a calamity isn't repeated this time.

Vineet, along with his car, was at our gate by 10 and we set off for Kayankulam without much ado. An hour later, we reached the Oasis Convention Center after asking for directions from a shop owner, on entering the outskirts.

The engagement ceremony of Gopu (Lekha's friend's son) and Roshni was a cute affair but what made it more alluring was that her sister, Chandni, was also engaged at the same time! Both the girls, as well as their prospective husbands, looked smart and photogenic. The lunch after the ceremony was a bitter experience when people, literally, pushed the other to get into the dining hall. Consequently, Lekha and I sat with the third batch. Wonder why people forget the niceties expected of them and I get worried when Lekha is pushed or when someone steps on her feet because of the wound on account of the plastic surgery done, a few years back.

We returned home by a half past 2 and had our 40 winks. I realised that my cough was getting to be worse and therefore, had to get a medical opinion. I'd gone across to the Pranav Hospital, next door, to show myself to Dr. Hareendrababu - a good doctor who was my mom's favourite. I could meet him without wait and as I told him about my difficulty, he was quick to prescribe the remedy. Then he held my hand saying that he could see my mom through me and went emotional......they used to converse on a whole lot of things when she used to visit him, he said.

His mother, all of 85 years, is at nearby Kunnicode and he makes it a point to visit her twice - both in the morning and in the evening when he also sees his patients at the clinic there. I told him that he was lucky and took leave of him. On return, I'd the first dose of the medicines without further delay hoping like mad that I'd be better during the journey early morning tomorrow.......the placebo effect was already on!

Met a few more guests and relatives who had dropped by. Meanwhile, the caretaker had called up to say that the deweeding work was completed. There is one more tier - the third and the lower most - left which will be taken on by the same team, next week. That will give the entire plot a clean, swept up look.

It was a comparatively early evening because of the long and early day tomorrow.


Had a long chat with Indira kunjamma and Anian, the conversations were refreshing!


Saturday, September 15, 2018

The dispersal.

We'd got up, as usual, a trifle after 5 AM. Mini had lit the lamp in the puja room by a quarter past 5, she wakes up early! We followed her soon after and got through the regular morning chores followed by the prayer and the piping hot morning cuppa at the dining table, laced with conversation. I'd opened up all the windows and the doors despite the fact that we would be leaving home soon after lunch.

Natural light had to stream into the house to enhance its overall aura.

George and Sindhu had come in after 8, to continue with their work. The compound has slowly started looking clean and a good number of the rubber trees have been cleared off the weeds that had crept on to most. It will take a few more days of the blazing sun's light and heat to wither it away completely to release the real profile of each tree. Sadly, one among them has withered away completely but the rest are looking healthy and robust!

Vishnu, from the JSS, Kollam, had come around a half past 11 with the papers for my perusal and signature. He was headed for an exam around 2 o'clock and I'd explained the short cut towards the venue. Wonder how these chaps drive their mobikes through the relentless heat?

Said my farewell to mom and dad just around the time Aji, with his auto rickshaw, had arrived at the gate. Meanwhile, Raj Nivas was systematically shut down and everything that had been pulled out of the shelves were put back into their stowage places after wash and wiping with dry cloth. Lekha and Mini were at it till all the three of us were satisfied with the end result. The wet and the dry waste were disposed off appropriately, soon after our lunch.

After handing over the keys to the caretaker, we'd set off for Lekha's sister's place at Kottarakkara where we dropped our luggage and proceeded to drop Mini at her mother-in-law's. Couldn't thinking of sending her all by herself with her problematic leg! It was a short journey to Ayoor and boy, wasn't Sanil's mom thrilled to see us? We sat with her, had tea and talked about a host of things. She's yet to get over her youngest son's passing away. After spending time with her, we'd returned to Kottarakkara for a quiet evening. However, the impromptu visits of many of Lekha's friends and relatives made the evening hectic and extended but, we did, indeed have a great time with the interactions.


1. The 'khich khich' in my throat has been nagging me for the last couple of days after reaching Raj Nivas. Have been able to control it to a great extent with frequent saline gargles but the irritation persists. Only hope that I don't pass it on to Lekha. And I must get back in shape to be part of the Foundation's relief operations in Wayanad, slated for next week.

2. Missed out the 'Atalji Smruthi' at the auditorium of the Foundation in Thiruvananthapuram. As someone seems to have said, "It's only the PN Panicker Foundation that could pull off a function like this where people from across the political spectrum had conglomerated to pay homage to a much respected and decent political leader!" I couldn't have made it on time after finishing my engagement at Thalavoor yesterday. Maman had given me a brief about the programme.   

Friday, September 14, 2018

A great programme.

The house was agog with activity as Mini was up and awake by 5 AM, as is her habit. The dining hall's light, that she'd switched on, gave us the first indication of the stirrings of the day. We got up correspondingly earlier than our usual time of waking up. Frankly, it was great to be at home and as I keep saying, I feel that mom and dad are around, looking after us! Finished up the morning chores in a leisurely manner and in the process, washed down the bed clothes that were draped all this while. One doesn't have the luxury of these domestic services in a small village like yet! The house had been washed down, however, under the careful supervision of the caretaker a day before our arrival.

Meanwhile, Lekha and Mini had gone to the Thrikkonnamarkodu Devi kshetram nearby. They had gone at 7 and returned about an hour later. I, then, coaxed them to join me for the school function and after initial reluctance, they agreed to it. 

John, with his car, was at our gate almost half an hour prior to the programme. He confirmed to me that he liked driving around for me - a nice man and all because I'd guided his son to an assignment in the merchant marine when he was taking his initial steps in life. The youngster is now happily married to a Malayali nurse and they reside at Sydney, Australia.

We left home at a quarter past 10 to be in time for the function and we reached the Government Welfare Lower Primary School(GWLPS), Ambalathinnirappu. The Panchayat President, Rakesh arrived soon after and the event had taken off. Received exceptional adulation from everyone who spoke and I wondered aloud as to whether I deserved all that because according to me, I've hardly done anything. The Head Mistress felicitated me by draping a shawl and I was also presented with a beautiful memento that had my photograph - Lekha had sent it yesterday from the train, when requested for - imprinted on it. Damn thoughtful of them!

During my interaction with the tiny tots, Adya of class IV was the first to give me the correct answer to a question of mine and I'd promised her a gift. As I was leaving, I draped the shawl that I'd received minutes before which took everyone by surprise. It was a spontaneous act but the Head Mistress told me later that she was sad that I'd given away my gift. It took a while to convince her that I meant no offence! It's my firm belief that I'd to go back empty handed because I'd entered the school premises so....My sister released the souvenir prepared by the students! And then we went across to visit the library as requested by its volunteers.

On return, after lunch and my 40 winks, I'd gone down to spend time with George and Sindhu, who were working on the weeds in our compound. It was an interesting interaction and as I'd said before, for me, these conversations become a learning curve....


1. It was a quiet evening subsequently when the three of us talked and we talked.
2. Today has a historic importance. 73 years back, it was on this day that Muthachhan had organised the meeting of the representatives of 47 rural libraries at Ambalappuzha with Sir CP Ramaswamy Aiyar, the then Diwan of the princely state of Travancore, gracing the occasion. The Travancore Grandhasala Sangham became the Thiru-Kochi Grandhasala Sangham in '49 when the two princely states had conjoined and ultimately, the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham in '56 when the state was formed. The government had taken over the organisation in '78 and brought the entire network of libraries under the auspices of the then constituted State Library Council.   

Thursday, September 13, 2018

At Raj Nivas.

The day had begun at 4 AM, for the three of us. After going through the chores, we were ready by a quarter past 5 and it was Anto who was delayed by about 10 mts. There were five pieces of luggage between Mini and us - which I was a bit apprehensive about being problematic while boarding/disembarking the vehicles and no, I wasn't gonna let the ladies share the burden. Mini would be going to her husband's place for spending the remaining part of her holidays, while we returned to Guruvayur.

Anto had offered to help me with the baggage to the boarding point - our train was parked on platform 3 and hence, it was a long trudge which I'd politely refused - but damn sweet of him. At the entrance, Lekha had zeroed in on the RPF personnel-on-duty, Unnikrishnan, who helped us to get the porter, Kesavan through a call from his cellphone. Mini bought the tickets before the queue got lengthy and she and Lekha had started the long trudge, cutting across railway tracks while Kesavan went through the parked train, in between, with the baggage. I thanked Unnikrishnan for his timely help and trudged along after acquiring the day's newspapers.

The engine driver was a boor all right, he'd parked the train ahead of the normal parking point which gave the passengers a tough time to walk through the last stretch on the track between the stones and the grass. Wonder why guys have to be bad and boorish? I chided him showing how an elderly gentleman had to be steadied up when he fumbled twice on the uneven surface but he didn't seem to care. But after Anto, Unnikrishnan and Kesavan, this boor of a guy was quickly forgotten.

We'd settled down in the fifth coach from the engine and the journey was reasonably okay. I could recite my prayer before the train reached Poonkunnam, the station between Guruvayur and Thrissur and I found that Lekha and Mini, too, were also at it. The coach was packed from Thrissur to Ernakulam Town and then, there were hardly any passengers! We had a breakfast of idlis, a vada along with running chutney and sambar, bought from the platform stall, by about a half past 8. The train was delayed by over an hour when it was halted at Mulanthuruthy and Vaikom Road for two trains to overtake and two to cross! It didn't dampen our spirits, though, as we talked, pulled each other's legs and generally enjoyed the journey as we weren't worried about having to meeting any deadline!

Lunch was at 2, at Kollam, again bought off from one of the station vendors and by the time we reached Kuri Halt, our destination, it was a half past 3. Vijayan, the caretaker, was available with the auto rickshaw and we were at the Raj Nivas by teatime. The workers on our compound - there were only two of them today - George and Sindhu have done a wonderful job of removing the thick and unruly weeds but there's still a substantial amount of work left and we have already consumed 10 man days out of the 25!

I'd my usual conversation with my parents regarding our stay out here, this time and our programme!

Lekha and Mini wanted to go to the Kottarakkara Ganesh temple as it's Vinayaka Chathurthi today and so, I was left at home to interact with the school authorities who'd come to brief me about tomorrow's programme. There were other guests who had dropped by and it was great to catch up with the goings on in our village.


Lekha and Mini had returned from the temple by a half past 8 and looking at their faces, I knew they were happy and contended that they could make that visit to the temple! And that, in turn, made me happy!

It drifted into a late evening as we chatted about almost everything under the sun! The dinner rustled up by them was simply good!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The tremendous odds to overcome.

Facing increasing stigma and persecution from local church authorities ever since she accused Jalandhar Bishop, Franco Mulackal, of repeatedly raping her, the Kottayam-based nun has written to the Pope's envoy in India pleading that a speedy inquiry be conducted into the case and that the bishop be removed from all his responsibilities.

Meanwhile the bishop, who is in the eye of the storm, has countered that he was innocent and that the rape charges against him were instigated by the anti-church groups. It's alleged that he is using his power and pelf to scuttle the probe on his misconduct. What needs to be understood is that this case will depend heavily on circumstantial evidence and hence, will be a tough legal act for the truth to come out!

Meanwhile, the silence of the local church authorities has been deafening. It must be a tremendous mental agony that the nun is undergoing. She fears threat to her family members. It's the growing support from every section of the society to the agitating nuns at Kochi that gives the crusade, an impetus, against a corrupt priest. That must be helping her maintain her sanity in these troubled times.

Why do we dither when serious allegations are charged against powerful people? Do we endorse an unwritten thinking among a few of us that law should be different for different people? Enormous delay in applying corrective measures is an indicator of the rottenness of the system.

It's my sincere hope that the guilty is brought to book at the earliest thereby, bringing the sordid story to an end. Measures must also be instituted to ensure that a fool proof, transparent mechanism is put in place to avoid recurrences of similar unpleasant happenings!

Do the people sitting at the apex of the church's hierarchy have the will and the guts to bring about a revolutionary change? If affirmative, the system will strengthen and the others will look up to it as a beacon of rectitude! 


1. Mini had met the doctor and got a replenishment of the medicines for her troublesome ligament. Lekha had met the advocate and has given her the necessary directives to dispose off the house. She had, also, visited the house before boarding the return bus. They were back by tea time.

2. Tomorrow is gonna be a day of travel. We would be boarding the Guruvayur-Edamon Passenger which will help us get off at Kuri Halt, the nearest railway station to Raj Nivas. The following are the serials during our brief stay:-

      (a) See the progress of de-weeding that's currently going on around the house. 9 mandays have
            been consumed and 16 remain!
      (b) Hand over the books to the library on behalf of a Girls' Lower Primary School on the
            occasion of the Founding day of the Kerala Grandhasala Sangham ie. 14 Sep.
      (c) Attend Gopu's (Lekha's friend's son) engagement ceremony at Kayankulam on the 16th.
      (d) Complete paper work for the JSS, Kollam.

3. Mini will go to Sanil's house for the remaining part of her stay out here, in Kerala. Hope she rests her foot during that period.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Mom's second remembrance day by the Malayalam calendar.

Today is the star 'Atham' in the month of Chingam. Amma had passed away on this day, two years back.

Had got up well in time to go for the 'bali' ceremony, remembering Amma. Mini, my sister who's down from Bangalore, was ready much earlier than me. Shajan had come with his auto rickshaw at a half past 6 and dropped us at the Thiruvenkata Chalapathi temple where I'd been going for the past few years to offer my prayers for dad and mom.

We prayed at the temple and as we moved to the area where the ceremony was usually conducted, a gentleman who was in conversation with another auto rickshaw driver asked us about the purpose of our visit and hearing my answer, said that the ceremonies were no more conducted there because the 'thil homam' wasn't done at the temple. And he gave us the new destination.

The auto rickshaw driver, who was listening to our conversation, offered to drop us there. His passengers were within the temple and he estimated a half an hour's delay. Autos were difficult to get at that time of the day despite the fact that there's a full fledged stand smack in front of the temple. Ramankutty, that was his name, made it in quick time to clear the railway level cross gate and we reached the Perunthatta Mahadevar kshetram without much ado......and we just made it in time!

It was nice to see the familiar 'Thirumeni' who had a beaming smile on his face on seeing me and Mini. I've always found a sincere effort on his part during the conduct of the ceremony and always returned, fully satisfied. We offered the 'bali' for 'Chandramathykutty Amma, Atham' and returned by about a half past 8.

Can't believe that two years have passed since mom's passing away. All my classmates, who had interacted with her at some time or the other, had contacted me on the class site on What'sApp offering their prayers. She did have a way of profoundly influencing each and everyone that came her way.....she, indeed, was a magnetic personality!

Amma, missing you all the time...


Lekha had made a trip to her friend, Asha, around 11 o'clock regarding the clothes in connection with her nephew's impending wedding. Soon after, by 2 o'clock, she and Mini had set off for Palakkad to get her broken ear stud repaired - she'd purchased it from an outlet there - and to look up the lawyer in connection with the disposal of her dad's house. Mini will go through the review by the ayurvedic doctor regarding the ligament tear on her right foot.

The evening walk was nice and it was, indeed, very quiet after that compared to the usual ways.  

Monday, September 10, 2018

What the hell's happening?

Post floods, these are some of the happenings in Kerala that have the nature's stamp:-

 (a) All rivers are running at very low water levels. The big rivers have begun to show huge sand/
       mud banks all over.
 (b) The mud and the slush released during the landslides and erosion of the top soil have hardened
       into concrete-like material and combined with the sand at the river banks. It's said that the
       fertility of the soil could have been compromised.
 (c) Off the coast of Alappuzha, the sea has receded by 30 mts. Off Ponnani, new sand banks have
       sprung up.
 (d) Wells disappearing into the earth, water levels in many wells dropping alarmingly.
 (e) Huge cracks forming on the ground.
 (f)  Mass deaths of earthworms in the Wayanad and Idukki regions.
 (g) Blazing heat thanks to a cloudless sky.   

Scientists say that these anomalies would get sorted out once the north east monsoon sets in. It's expected over a month from now. Hope everything gets back to normal.

     *                            *                               *

Another Wasteful Day.

The 'hartal' called by the opposition parties to protest against the sky rocketing fuel prices was a dampener and the dawn-to-dusk inaction brought the state to a halt. The same was the case in almost every other part of the country. In many places, it had turned violent too.

Appropriately, here's an impartial analysis - courtesy my friend, Paddy Khanna - as to why the fuel prices are soaring.

India was spending the highest in oil subsidies among oil importing countries, even ahead of China (Only Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia were ahead which are oil exporting countries) whereas our yearly consumption kept increasing by 4 to 5%. In early 2000s, the idea of deregulation surfaced but it was only in '10 that petroleum and in '13 diesel were deregulated.Though the brent oil price dropped sharply in 2009, it kept increasing during 2009-2013, thereby offsetting the benefits of regulated deregulation from Administered Price Mechanism or APM. Finally, in Jun '17, India formally dismantled the last vestige of the APM for petrol and diesel. Government-owned oil marketing companies, who between them account for 90% of the retail market for fuel, linked daily sales at all their petrol pumps with the international prices of crude oil. Consequently, like in the US and Australia, domestic diesel and petrol prices have, now, been globalized.

This marks the culmination of a very significant piece of economic reform; something that we would be remiss in playing down in comparison to other reform initiatives.

Not only is it politically sensitive to undertake but it nudges India a step closer to becoming a competitive market economy defined by rules as opposed to the existing exception-based regime.

Even though started during the Congress regime, it's been completed by the present government.

Let's look at the brighter side......whether it's Congress or BJP, even though they may try and show the other in poor light for political gains with respect to oil prices, they both have worked hard towards taking India a step closer to being developed from a developing country.


The motor mouthed MLA, PC George, continues to spew venom at the hapless nun who reported against the errant bishop. Wonder what will bring an end to his tirade? It's a must and he should not repeat this nonsense, ever again.     


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Bio-engineered cornea.

In India, nearly two lakh people need corneal transplant annually but only about 25% are able to to get it due to the lack of donors.

A new, artificial cornea made of bio-engineered collagen, which has been used successfully by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS) in 10 patients over the last two years, promises to fill this gap between demand and supply.

Vital statistics.

 * What's a cornea? It's the transparent tissue that covers the eye. It lets in light and performs 2/3rds
    of the focusing tasks.
 * What's an artificial cornea?
    - For decades, experiments have been made to see if an artificial cornea could replicate a real one.
    - Synthetic prosthesis made from transparent thermoplastic is the most common.
    - But due to complications involved in its implantation and side effects, scientists in Sweden and
      Canada started experimenting with a bio-engineered alternative.
    - They implanted synthetic collagen - a protein found in skin and other connective tissues - to
      facilitate endogenous tissue generation and reported success in 2010.
    - AIIMS' eye centre tried to replicate the experiment two years ago and implanted the same in 10
      patients with success.
    - Eye specialists said none of the patients who underwent artificial cornea implantation involving
      synthetic collagen have suffered from rejection and there is significant improvement in their eye
    - Only patients with vision loss due to thin or irregular cornea have been advised this treatment so
 * Dr. JS Titiyal, Professor and Head of Cornea, Cataract and Refractory Surgery Services along with
    Dr. Namrata Sharma, Professor of Ophthalmology both of AIIMS, head the conduct of the

    *                       *                         *

Hoax Messages in Madhya Pradesh.

Fake What'sApp messages have whipped up rumours about "Armed Rohingyas on the prowl". This
comes close on the heels of several mob attacks and lynchings in the state. The fake What'sApp message that's viral in Bhopal and Indore, states, "Don't open the door at night if you hear babies crying. Groups of 15 to 20 armed Rohingyas are roaming the city with women and babies...when you hear a baby crying, please don't open the door. Please pass this message to all groups".

The message comes with a video footage of a woman police officer warning people against the 'crying baby ruse'. It's signed 'Bhopal CSP', making it seem like it's a genuine police alert.

The police are on the prowl to catch the miscreants.


It was cute of my course mate, Rajiva Prabhakar Padhye, to call up to catch up with me on various aspects and we had a long chat. He stays at Nagpur close to KC Murthy, my squadron mate and friend who had given me his contact number. He and I were in class 49 B at the NDA and together, we'd played many pranks during the Academics' classes.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The first of its kind.

For the first time in the history of the Catholic church in Kerala, a group of nuns defied their sacred vows to stage a public protest against their own church authorities and the police for trying to hush up the alleged rape of a nun by Bishop Franco Mulackal of Jalandhar. Here's the sequence of events.

 05 May '14       Nun sexually abused in guest room 20 of St Francis Mission Home near
                          Kuravilangadu. The abuse, as per her complaint, continued till 23 Sep '16 on dates
                          the Bishop visited the mission home.
 23 Jun '18         A complaint is filed against the brother of the survivor nun at Kuravilangadu police
                          station based on a petition by Jalandhar diocese PRO on behalf of the Bishop.
 27 Jun '18         Nun files complaint with the police chief regarding the sexual abuse from 2014-'16.
 28 Jun '18         Nun's statement recorded, case registered.
 05 Jul '18          Judicial Magistrate of Changanasserry court records her statement under CrPC
                          Section 164.
 10 Jul '18          Lookout circular application submitted to the district police chief to ensure bishop
                          does not flee abroad.
 18 Jul '18          Cardinal Mar George Alencherry's statement recorded.
 30 Jul '18          Police charge case against Fr James Erthayil, a CMI priest, for attempting to
                          influence the nuns who had given complaint against the bishop. In an audio clip, the
                          priest makes several promises to them to withdraw the complaint against Mulackal.
 03 Aug '18       Cops reach Delhi. Record statement of prime witnesses.
 13 Aug '18       The Bishop interrogated for over nine hours at bishop's house in Jalandhar.
 27 Aug '18       The nun files plaint that her life is in danger.
 03 Sep '18        Kottayam SP and K Subhash apprise IG Vijay Sakhare about probe progress in
 04 Sep '18        Statement of the nun recorded again.

To make matters worse for the nun, motor mouth MLA PC George called the rape survivor a prostitute with this tasteless remark, "Is there any doubt that she is a prostitute? Twelve times she enjoyed it, the 13th time it became rape. Why didn't she complain the first time?" at a press meet in Kottayam. The guy should be condemned outright!

Is there a hesitation in taking the bishop into custody? Both the LDF and the UDF seem to be soft pedaling the issue because of the sizeable vote bank. Sad that no one wants to stand by the truth, the angst of the violated nun be damned!


Reports of a stunning drop of ground water levels - up to 5 ft in certain places, over the last 10 days - coupled with the blazing heat, makes one ponder as to whether the deluge-battered-Kerala is poised for a drought especially if the north east monsoon is gonna be feeble.

Friday, September 7, 2018

What's this script?

Navjot Singh Sidhu is yet to get over his unwanted hug of the Pakistani Army chief at the time of the swearing in of Imran Khan as Prime Minister. He has been trying to justify his action through press conferences that he has called for, subsequently but has not been convincing. Today, he has thanked the Pakistani PM for enabling the opening of the Kartarpur corridor.

The Kartarpur corridor will allow pilgrims from India to go to the Darbar Saheb Gurudwara in Pakistan - close to the India-Pakistan border - which is associated with Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Devji.

Consequently, quite a few questions rise:-

   (a) Why is Sidhu announcing it? What is his locus standi to do so? 
   (b) Usually it's through a government to government communication that such an action is passed
         on and acknowledged. Here, nothing of that sort has happened and shouldn't the necessary
         directives be issued by our government to facilitate movement of the people, ultimately?
   (c) Is Sidhu's action tantamount to making it a Congress initiative and hog the credit, if at all
         there's any?
   (d) The motive behind Sidhu's announcement, therefore, is getting curious!

    *                     *                       *

The hype that has been created around Rahul Gandhi's Kailash Manasarovar trip, again, has been inappropriate. Well, if he wants to gain more insight about Hinduism then there are many other ways to achieve it, not by this symbolism! And while on such trips, usually, one looks for solitude and shuns publicity completely because it annuls the fundamental theme of achieving a spiritual uplift.

And again why such an exercise in the eve of an election year? Is it because he and his party now feel that they have gone overboard with their minority appeasement by their actions and words up till now? Is there a deliberate action to project the party's president as a believer of all religions?

I can only say that these gimmicks are not gonna affect the common man because they're seeing through all this 'tamasha'!..........the games the politicians play!

2. Yet Another Chinese Move.

China has agreed to allow Nepal to use four of its sea ports and three land ports for third-country trade to conduct international commerce. Nepal will be able to access Shenzen, Lianyungang, Zhanjiang and Tianjin, the latter being the nearest sea port at a distance of 3,300 km from the Nepalese border. Similarly, Nepal has been allowed to use Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse land ports(Dry ports) as well, which will provide alternative routes for Nepal to carry out international trade.

The Madhesi agitation of '15 had forced Nepal to explore trade links with China and reduce its long dependence on India. With the Nepal Communist Party in saddle, the efforts seem to have paid off.


Went to town to complete a few pending jobs. The heat, close on the heels of the deluge, has become unbearable.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

News views.

We are passing through momentous times as we are witness to winds of change. Age old pattern of thinking is getting a fresh whiff of air and we seem to understand the importance of changing with the times! Today was one such day.

 1. Supreme Court's Landmark Decision.

     In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code,
     thereby legalising consensual sex relationships among gay adults, a first step to the gradual
     acceptance of the LGBTQ(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community. It was a
     unanimous (5-0) verdict handed over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices RF Nariman,
     AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

    It was a correction that was long standing and would go a long way towards making everyone
    inclusive! The discriminatory section also violated the community's fundamental right to equality
    (Art 14), right to freedom of expression(Art 19) and right to choice coupled with right to dignity
    (Art 21).

    Spontaneous jubilation erupted, on the streets, all over the country.

 2. And Now, the Flip Side!

     Despite the dams filling up to the brim, the Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd is facing severe
     shortage of power. This has forced the agency to impose restrictions, including load shedding,
     across the state. The reasons for this state are attributable to:-

        (a) High coal prices.
        (b) Dip in the central allocation and
        (c) Significant reduction in domestic production.

     Power restrictions are being imposed between 1830 and 2130 hrs daily.

     A paradoxical situation, huh!

 3. India, United States Ink Defence Pact.

     India and the US held the first edition of the 2+2 dialogue in which the major takeaways were
     the signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement(COMCASA) and
     the setting up of a hotline between the External Affairs minister and the Defence minister with
     their American counterparts. Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman held talks with the US Secy
     of State Michael Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis.

     The signing of the COMCASA will enable India to access advanced technologies from the United


We set off for Kochi by a half past 6 with George at the helm. Ramakrishnan was dropped at Thrissur and he could board a waiting private bus to Pazhayannur. After the breakfast break at Chalakkudy,we reached Ernakulam by about a half past 9. We did not have much of a wait at Vyttila but got caught at the traffic snarl at the Kunadannur junction and by the time we reached Shenoy's Care, it was beyond a quarter past 10. It was after reaching there, that we came to know that on Thursdays, the doctor began his work only after a half past 12. The doctor seemed to be happy with Lekha's medical condition and has reduced the HCQS dosage from 400 mg to 300 mg.

We were off by about a half past 1, had lunch at an eatery off Kalamasserry and reached 'The Quarterdeck' by 1700 hrs.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

The day had begun, for us, at 3 AM. Lekha's alarm had gone off and she was up and about. I'd got up a half an hour later just to ensure that there was no 'crowding'! We were ready by 5 and it was Maariyappan, aka maari, who was late by 10 minutes. Without much ado we'd left Letha's house and headed straight for Padmakumar's house at Pidavoor. Said our 'pranams' to Pidavoor amma and Bharathi chechi and Rema joined us on our onward trip.

Maari, a professional driver, drove with ease and we were at the Motel Aram at Alappuzha by a quarter to 8, in time for breakfast. The traffic wasn't overbearing and we were at Shenoy Care by a 10' past 9. Just we were disembarking, Lekha said that she'd not got the the prompt from the clinic regarding her appointment today and the security personnel on duty told us that Dr. Shenoy was not going to be there today.

It was, then, that I realised that he usually was away at Changanasserry on Wednesdays and hence, the reason for no communication! The lady at the reception felt really sorry for our predicament and flipping through the prescription, I realised that the appointment was, indeed, on 06 Sep. A terrible faux pas on the part of yours truly! We quickly went off to the state road transport corporation bus stand, Ernakulam and saw Rema off in a super fast bus to Palakkad.

We, then, headed for the naval canteen to buy the grocery. Could get a temporary pass made for Maari, so that he could chauffeur us in and Commander Chakraborty was a great help. Met Satish Pillai, George Scaria and Anand. After completing our work within about an hour, we headed straight to my cousin's house at Gandhi Nagar for lunch. Ramakrishnan, my brother-in-law, joined us for the onward trip to Guruvayur as he was gonna spend the night with us!

Rema had reached her home by a half past 3 after lunch with her son at a hotel.

The highway via Kodungallor was bad with too many potholes at regular intervals. Maari, really, did have a tough time dodging them. We reached 'The Quarterdeck' by about 4 PM and began the unpacking, sorting out. Meanwhile, Ramakrishnan went for his 'darshan' of the Guruvayurappan.

It was nice catching up with him after what seemed to be a long while!


George will be taking us in his car to the doctor's clinic and back tomorrow. Luckily, we will be leaving only at a half past 6.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

It's been two years!

Exactly two years back on this unfortunate day, my mom had passed into the mist of time. I was mindful of the time and was tracking every minute, today, till 1158 hrs when she'd breathed her last. The shock, the loss and the sadness continue to prevail. Why did she have to go away so soon? Why didn't I get the idea of the 'sayanapradakshinam' at the Guruvayur temple? If I'd done it she would have been with us even fault!

       *                     *                       *

Was up with the lark, literally, after a nice sleep. Was amused when my sister, as well as the caretaker, asked me last night as to whether I wasn't scared of being at home all by myself, through the night. My answer to them was that mom and dad would take care of me and therefore, fear was out of the question. The caretaker was at the entrance, calling out to me, to hand over the piping hot tea that he'd brought along from his house.

Lekha and Letha, had meanwhile gone off to Thiruvananthapuram along with Maari, as the chauffeur to invite our relatives for the latter's son's wedding.

After going through the paces of the chores and the prayers, I was ready by 9 when Rema had called up to say that she was coming towards me by bus. A quick shut down of the house and soon, we were hurtling towards Kottarakkara. The connecting bus to Kollam was ready at the bus stand and we continued on our journey.

There was a third connecting bus from the Kollam bus stand that we boarded on arrival, to go to Kavanad but I made a mistake in identifying the right stop for disembarkation. I'd gone about a kilometer ahead and had to retrace our steps in the prevalent heat. Finally, we were at Varadamma appachi's place by 11. And wasn't she thrilled to see us?

She looked frail after her recent illness for which she was hospitalised during Thiruvonam. I'd my doubt earlier because her landline - usually, answered only by her - kept ringing when I'd called her to wish her a happy onam! She had caught up with a viral fever ending up with a lot of sputum in her lungs which had to be forcibly removed by the doctor. She is, definitely, looking much better now and she wouldn't let us go without having lunch and wouldn't listen to any of our excuses.

Accordingly, she called up her favourite eatery and placed an order for lunch for all of us. Meanwhile, her late husband's nephew, Babu, had dropped by and it was great to meet up with him after a long while. By the time we'd taken leave of appachi, it was a half past 2. The connecting buses for our return were available without having to wait much. Rema got into another bus from Kottarakkara and so, we'd parted ways from there.

On return to Raj Nivas, it was winding up time and also to take leave of my parents. After shutting down the house, the keys were handed over to the caretaker and I was off for Lekha's sister's place to spend the evening.


Tomorrow, it's gonna be an early day. We set off at 5 to be at Shenoy Care before 9, for Lekha's medical review.