Thursday, November 14, 2019

The verdicts of the Supreme Court.

It's another installment of the news views. Today was a great day, in that, the Supreme Court had delivered its verdict on many issues. Interesting, to say the least! Without much ado, here I go:-

 (a) Women's Entry Into Sabarimala Temple.

       The Supreme Court unanimously agreed to refer the religious issues to a larger bench, while the
       five-judge bench by a 3-2 verdict decided to keep the pleas seeking a review of the top court's
       decision allowing the entry of women of all ages to the shrine. It will be incumbent on the next
       CJI, on taking over, to constitute the larger bench.

       The Kerala Government will have a tough time but I hope that they don't escort women in a
       covert manner this time, earning the wrath of the believers.

  (b) The Rafael Agreement.

        The Supreme Court bench headed by the CJI had dismissed all the petitions asking for a review
        of its earlier verdict on the Rafael Agreement, according to which India will acquire 36 Rafael
        Jets from France through an Inter-governmental agreement.

        Rahul Gandhi was chastised for calling the PM names and falsifying the facts regarding the
        case. Alas, he remained defiant and has asked for an investigation by the Joint Parliamentary
        Committee. Why isn't he being put to size?

  (c) CJI's Office Brought Under RTI's Ambit.

        A five-judge bench - consisting of the CJI, Justices NV Ramana, DY Chandrachud, Deepak
        Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna - has brought the CJI office under the ambit of the RTI, saying that
        "in a constitutional democracy, judges can't be above law".

        Wish the politicians also takes a leaf out of this decision!

  (d) The Disqualification of the MLAs.

        The Supreme Court had also upheld the disqualification of the 17 Congress-JD(S) MLAs but
        has permitted them to contest the Karnataka byelections on 05 Dec.

        15 of them have been admitted into the BJP and many of them are the party's candidates too!
       
        How the revolt within the BJP will be handled is the question. The sad story of engineering
        defections continues and the unscrupulous elements continue to have a ball!


Tailpiece.

A quiet day when I'd gone to town to clear a few pending work.
    

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

We'd got up leisurely around a half past 6, went through the chores and were ready by about 9. Without much ado, we had gone down to the restaurant to have our breakfast. George wasn't there but we met each and everyone to thank all those, who'd made our stay memorable. The winding up was swift and we left Golf View by a half past 9. Manas was tipped as he was a consistent, quiet worker who'd run many errands for us since our arrival, last evening!

The timing of our getaway was such that the traffic was manageable and I took the Container Road to reach the Naval base canteen without delay. The ever-smiling Anand was there to receive us with the query as to why we had not dropped by last month. I could find a suitable parking for my Chevy, while Lekha had entered the grocery section to buy the items.

I think we took more than an hour at the premises because the computer system had a problem. Thankfully, it did restart without further delay and we could finish our purchases by about 12 o'clock.Meanwhile, I'd called up Dhanoop, the insurance man to collect the premium for our Chevy whose insurance needed renewal this coming week.

Continuing our drive, we crossed the bottlenecks of Vyttila, Palarivattam and Idapalli without any delay as they were not clogged with traffic! Had lunch at a wayside restaurant by about a quarter to 1 and we were particularly impressed with young Ilayaraja, for looking after us and Ramar for guiding our vehicle, in and out of the parking!

Reached Guruvayur by a half past 3. Our first visit was to Vimal's electronic shop to find a solution for the voltage stabilizer that had gone kaput on the day, prior to our departure for the course get together. Riyaz, had promised to drop by at 1800 hrs. Lekha had to pick up fresh vegetables and fruits from the department store and we were back at The Quarterdeck by a quarter past 4, but not before buying a few snacks from the tea stall opposite the Mammiyoor kshetram.

A quick cup of tea followed by unpacking and washing 'machinex' saw the end of our short, cute trip to Orissa where we did have a great time. Riyaz came by at 6 and picked up our faulty voltage stabilizer, to give it for servicing.


Tailpiece.

And what were the take aways of the trip?

   * The anxious stretch of our onward journey from Madras to Bhubaneshwar. The anxiety was on
      two counts - the delay in take off and the likely repercussions of cyclone Bulbul on our landing
      at Bhubaneshwar. They were, however, found to be unwarranted.
   * Bhibhu picking us up from the airport on time and off chasing the group which had already left
      for Puri. He was thrilled for the anticipated drive to Puri which was altered as we'd caught up
      with the gang at Dhauli.
   * The warmth with which we were received by one and all. Lekha and I were the last of the lot to
      join up. The long drive to Puri after seeing Dhauli where Emperor Ashoka had embraced
      Buddhism on seeing the untold fury of the Kalinga war.
   * The warm welcome at the'Empires' hotel that was gonna be our home for the next three days and
      the winsome attitude of the staff all through.
   * The miserable wobble of Nandi and Paddy because of their problematic knees. The latter would
      be going for surgery next week but the former is gonna wait a while.
   * Everyone's reaction at my temple going rig with a few clicking snaps on their mobiles, to send
      them across to their children. A few of them even touched my feet!
   * The jostling within the temple and the manner in which Lekha was helped through the crowd
      between me, Rana and Parameswaran. And my success in holding on to my dhoti!
   * Lokhi's thoroughness in collecting the 'prasad' from the Jagannath temple after a puja for Lekha,
      the next day.
   * The easy banter, throughout and the way we had caught up with each other.
   * The genuine and spontaneous reactions from all.
   * No change in egos on certain guys despite their forays into spirituality. Or probably it would take
      more time, perhaps!
   * Lekha's tumble on the elevator at Madras airport.
   * And the decision to meet up at Amritsar, next November, for the next get together!
   * And of course, the thrill of Prem Gulati on seeing us without any sort of ill will.



   

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Lekha's tumble!

We had got up at 4, gone through the chores and were ready before 7. As planned last night, the aim was to load the luggage by 7 into the vehicle earmarked for us, have breakfast and kick off to the airport by 8. We were slated to take off from Bubaneshwar, transit through Madras and reach Kochi, around sunset.

We managed to leave 'Empires' by 8 and because of the comparatively sparse traffic on the highway, we could reach the airport by a quarter to 10. There was sufficient time for our aircraft to arrive and we finally took off at 5' past 12......and reached Madras by a half past 1. The peculiarity of the lay out of the airport was that the transit passengers made it to the arrival, to repeat a security check to get through the rigmarole of the second departure procedure!

Soon after the 'Security Check'was over and we were poised to go for lunch, disaster struck. Lekha was going towards the 'gate' that we were to depart from, following a misstep on the elevator she took a nasty tumble. I could only helplessly and to my horror, watch it happen as I was a couple of steps behind her. The elevator was quickly shut down by a watchful staff and it prevented a major catastrophe. Sivakumar and another person helped me get her back on her feet but I could see that it had left her badly shaken.

A quick observation confirmed that she did not have any serious injury, except for a few superficial bruises and she was able to walk without any hassle. I told myself, then and there, that from now on whenever there was an option to use an elevator or an escalator. only the latter would be chosen.

Subsequently, it was a long wait at gate 5 and then, at  gate 4 because our flight to Kochi had finally taken off at a half past 5. There was an excitement among the passengers that a cine actress - didn't know her name - was travelling along with us.

Meanwhile, I'd spoken to the manager of the hotel about our arrival and he'd messaged me that Jaison would be there, with the vehicle, to pick us up. His cell number was also passed on. Consequently, we were at the Golf View by 7 to be received by Mr. George and a welcome drink!

After a quick wash and change and viewing television, we went down to the restaurant for supper. Stanley - a bachelor in his 50s - looked after us and made interesting conversation. Returned to the room and had helped Lekha with the pain balm to sort out the aches and the pains. Hope she's refreshed by morning after a good night's sleep.

Felt very tired after the day long travel and hit the sack soon after.


Tailpiece.

It was a good outing except for the fall that Lekha had. We could get a slice of Orissa over a short span of four days and meet a large number of our Naval friends!



Monday, November 11, 2019

Day 3 - To Chilka and back.

The alarm went off at 3 AM but Lekha had pain on her left knee, we decided to drop the idea of going to the Jagannath temple. Accordingly, Lokhi and Rana were told about our changed plans and to conduct a puja in Lekha's name, on our behalf. We had got up at a half past 6, gone through our chores and were ready well in time. It was during breakfast that the others told us about the sun being obscure at sunrise in the morning!

We cast off at a half past 9 towards Chilka. The journey was over two hours and after freshening up at the Yatri Nivas at Satapada, we boarded ten each in small motor boats. The boat was catamaran-like with a small canopy atop that kept the fierce sun away from us. Boarding in and out of them was an exercise by itself and our helmsman, Dilip, took us to two unscheduled stops to help the vendors make a fast buck on us by selling their small eats and drinks and even pearls!

The over two hours of boating were uneventful but gave us ample time to interact with each other and understand us better. We had a nice lunch, based on local cuisine, at the clean Yatri Nivas (I suppose this is the Oriya version of the KTDC's Motel Araams!). The return journey was spent mostly on snooze and we were at Hotel empires by a quarter to 5. Piping hot tea with small eats were provided at the hotel and we'd about two hours to get ready and be down at the spacious lawns for the valedictory function and dinner.

The evening was a sentimental journey. Rana had conducted an interesting quiz competition, though the questions above our heads due to:-

    (a) The questions weren't audible and what was written on the slides was not eadable.
    (b) And of course the questions were tough to answer.

Bid farewell to each and everyone, to the extent feasible, and everyone seemed to be wanting to come to Guruvayur. Let's see as to how many would come by. Many people had a lot of nice things to say about Lekha being present for the get together despite her discomfort.


Tailpiece.

Three days of fun with course mates and wow, already looking forward to the next GTG at Amritsar in the first week of Nov '20!   

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Day 2 - At Puri.

We'd got up early in the morning at a half past 4, gone through the chores and were ready to go for our tryst with Lord Jagannath. The journey in the SUVs took us to the exit point of the temple, where all of us deposited our footwear at the cloak room and had a long walk to the eastern entrance of the temple for entry. The trick was nice because we would reach the point, plonk after the visit to the temple was completed. Was only bothered about the strain on Lekha, due to the protracted walking.

The arrangement had gone awfully awry. We were conjoined with the normal queue and boy, we were subjected to the worst kind of jostling when the devotees pushed each other to have a glimpse of their good Lord. Lekha, why me too, had a tough time to remain upright in the crowd and I was attired in a dhoti and an angavastram! Thank god, my clothes stayed in place and we went through the hustle and bustle of being in the long queue! My angavastram was retrieved by a lady and I was extremely grateful to her; I didn't even know that it had slipped off my body!!

We'd returned to the 'Empires' for breakfast after which the ladies went for shopping while we rested in the hotel itself and I could finish up the backlog of work on my laptop during the period. Went down by about 12 o'clock to be with the guys who were swimming in the inhouse swimming pool/ After a leisurely lunch, we'd set off in two buses to see the Sun Temple of Konark. After a two hour journey, we had reached our destination. Thirty years back I used to visit the Jagannath temple at Puri and the Sun Temple at Konark as part of my liaison duties for VVIPs visiting Chilka. While it was 'special darshan' at Puri, the Sun temple could be approached, as close to the monument, in vehicles then. Not anymore and rightly so; the vehicles are parked quite far away from it and it's a long trek subsequent to that.

The walk around was okay with us clicking a few photographs and soon after sunset, we witnessed the sound and light show that talked about the monument. It was almost an hour's programme preceded by high tea. Our return trip was comparatively a quiet affair and we were back at the hotel by 2100 hrs. A quick wash and change, followed by the evening's get together on the lawns with dinner, was the way the events had wound up for the day.

Tomorrow, it's gonna be an early day as we are slated to go for the 'mangal aarathi' of Puri Jagannath, hoping like mad that the crowd is gonna be less at a half past 4. I want Lekha to have a good darshan of Lord Jagannath.


Tailpiece.

Tomorrow, we are also slated to go to Chilka, where I'd spent a year and ten months on appointment prior to my marriage to Lekha and I couldn't take her then as I'd to report for the staff course at the DSSC, Wellington almost immediately. Is it destiny that has made this tryst a reality, ensuring that Lekha visited Chilka, 28 years later?   

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Kochi to Bhubaneshwar via Madras.

We'd got up by about a half past 5 to the alarm, gone through our chores and were ready to kick off on our journey by a half past 7. The hotel had given us packed breakfast and Jaison dropped us at the airport just as the clock struck 8. Met Thomas-Martha and Sivakumar-Raji and later, Parameswaran-Bina and Ajit-Asha and the excitement was palpable. We finished up a part of the breakfast of cut fruits and sandwiches much before boarding the flight to Madras, the others had peeled off for their flight towards Bangalore as they were travelling by that route.

The security was unprecedented as the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on the Ayodhya case but it did not dampen my enthusiasm even a wee bit!

We were at Madras by a quarter past 10, only to get a message that our onward flight was delayed by a half an hour. Finally, the flight had taken off for Bhubaneshwar by 1400 hrs, late by over a hour and a half. We had the proud privilege of being pampered by one of the stewardesses, Monika, who seemed to have taken an affinity for us! The in flight meal of Chinese fried rice, served by her, never tasted so nice!! She'd followed it up with her inquiry as to whether we liked it and showed her  genuine concern over our well being!! Must send over our appreciation of the young lady's efforts to her superiors!!

After much apprehension, we landed at Bhubaneshwar by a half past 3. Bhibhu, our sa'arthi, was there to receive us and as per the changed programme, we headed for Puri instead of joining up with the rest at the Empires because of the delay in our arrival. The rest had already set off for Puri as per schedule, by then. The first thing that I noticed was that the airport and the stretch of the highway had changed drastically since I'd seen it last during 1989-'90 while I was posted at Chilka! There was so much of travel, on official purpose, then.

It was an emotional meeting up with the rest of the gang of my Naval course mates as I made it a point to meet each and everyone of them, along with their wives - some of whom, the ladies especially, I was meeting up for the first time - and made it a point to familiarise Lekha with each one of them.

The evening was memorable as we bonded over an entertainment programme and dinner, that had a mouth watering spread. Pattanaik has really done a good job of organising the event; kudos and full marks to him. There was an emotional meeting with Prem Gulati after I'd last seen him when he'd to leave the service prematurely after a Court Martial, in which I was a member! He has grown - I must admit, much more than I have - as he doesn't bear any ill will from the incident. When he conceded that he was very happy to see me, he had meant it as it came from his heart and I was left gasping for the appropriate words, with emotions overpowering me and I gave him a tight hug!

There was, incidentally, no sign of the cyclone Bulbul! It had veered off in a north easterly direction!!


Tailpiece.

It was a kaleidoscope of emotions at being amid my friends with whom I'd begun my Naval career, 41 years earlier! Thank god that Lekha and I could make it for the jamboree this time!!  

Friday, November 8, 2019

Step one to our course get together.

The day had begun on the usual note, we'd got up around our normal time, gone through the chores and were ready on time. Missed out on meeting the newspaper boy, Ramakrishnan but the franchisee, Preman had dropped by to collect the last month's owing and I could tell him about my requirement. Vishnu, the accountant from the JSS, Kollam had reached 'The Quarterdeck' fairly well in time. After going through the papers that he'd brought with him, I'd given my decisions and sent him back so that he could board the passenger train to Thrissur at a quarter to 12!

A quick lunch and after shutting down the house, we were out of the house by about a half past 1. Had stopped by at the nearby petrol bunk to top up the Chevy with fuel and check the tyre pressure. My next stop was at an ATM to pull out some money and it was then that I got a shock! The balance reflected something that did not match up with my calculations and the thought worried me as another cheque would be coming up for clearing within a couple of days!

We drove into the Golf View by about 1600 hrs and Mr. George, the new Manager in place of my friend, Murali was ready to welcome us. After giving us their 'welcome drink' he took us to our assigned room and noted down my requirements before and after our trip to Bhubaneshwar. Meanwhile, cyclone 'Bulbul' - hurtling, currently, in a north westerly direction over the Bay of Bengal - is poised to veer towards a north easterly direction and finally, peter out over Bangladesh and Myanmar, skipping the eastern coast of India over the next couple of days! So our flight, scheduled to land at Bhubaneshwar tomorrow afternoon, is poised delicately!

Meanwhile, had spoken to Vishnu, the bank manager and he allayed my fears on the balance in my account!

I've been praying to the weather god very fervently as the timely arrival is a must for being with the others and to commence the subsequent serials planned for our get together. Am tingling with excitement to be with my Naval course mates after what has been a long while! Hope Lekha also enjoys the gathering.


Tailpiece.

When Body Parts Are Used As Verbs.

Many parts of the body can be used as verbs in either a physical or a metaphorical sense.

You can head a company but if things go wrong you'll have to shoulder the blame or face your investors. A good leader will back his employees but if you don't toe line the management can skin
you. Did you muscle your way into that job?

You might eye someone suspiciously or wait for the police to finger a suspect.

But if you need to get out of town, you can thumb a ride or you can ride with me if you can stomach the thought. Use strong arm tactic if you want to elbow out someone. 

I don't always sing along with the radio but I sometime do mouth the words.

That's amazing English!    

Thursday, November 7, 2019

News views.

My personal views on the news that are, currently, grabbing the headlines. One wonders as to why things happen this way because facts are distorted - despite video grabs, if you please - and the final outcome is, many-a-time, parsimonious with the truth.

 (a) The Tamasha Continues.

       As the deadline for the lame-duck government of Maharashtra to go, no consensus has been
       reached between the BJP and the Shiv Sena regarding the formation of the new cabinet as the
       latter is insisting on the post of the chief minister for its leader's son. It's dirty politics in the
       hunger for power at any cost. From the contradicting stand taken by the Shiv Sena, till now,
       it seems likely that it will lose face in the ultimate reckoning.

       It has already gone down in esteem of many citizens of its unprincipled decision to flirt with
       Sharad Pawar's NCP - Congress opposition. But, then, these guys are so thick-skinned that they
       forget their actions after a milestone is achieved.

       The right thing would be to have a short session of President's rule, followed by fresh elections,
       the additional expenditure to the state coffers, notwithstanding!

 (b) The Kartarpur Corridor.

       The emotional urge of visiting Guru Nanak Devji's gurudwara at Kartarpur is overwhelming
       and the average Sikh looks forward to the visit as a personal fulfillment! It's this fine and noble
       sentiment that Pakistan seems to want to exploit by giving the pro-Khalistan faction to put up
       their banners and placards at the site.

       This is in direct contravention to the fundamental rule that governs relationship between two
       countries that nothing which would embarrass any of them would be bandied about.

       The Pakistani action, thus far, seems to smack of mischief. Only time will tell!

 (c) The CPM-CPI Feud Regarding The Approach Towards Maoists in Kerala.

       Consider the following:-

           * Two CPM cadres have been arrested and charged under UAPA - Unlawful Activities
              (Prevention) Act - for leanings with the Maoists.
           * The CPI and many in the CPM have aired their grievances in public that the police should
              not have clamped the under the UAPA as it's non-bailable.
           * They fault the police for having used the Act.
       
       For once, the chief minister, is seen supporting the state police! But, of course, he is the state's
       Home Minister!!

       The CPI's fact-finding team condemned the firing at the Maoists, terming it a 'Fake encounter'.

       It's sad because the activities of the duo point towards unlawful activities towards the integrity
       and security of the country. It will be interesting to see as to how this pantomime will come to
       its end. Incidentally, was the Maoist encounter brought in to shift the focus of the rising public
       sentiments against the Walayar killings?


Tailpiece.

It was a normal day to begin with. Had gone to town around 1000 hrs to drop the cheque at the bank and to give my 'Life Certificate' and it was Sijo, who was my sa'arthi!



     
       

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Two adieus.

There are a lot of people who come into one's life and though the contacts could have been fleeting or for short periods, their personalities leave a permanent imprint in one's life. I'm speaking of two such people - who'd touched my life - making a tremendous impact deep within. So, without much ado, let me put across my narrative and tell them, albeit quiet late, that they've already got into my list of those for whom I say my prayers every morning.

Both of them had passed into the mist of time towards the end of last week.

 (a) Alappurathe Amma.

       97-year-old KP Thangamma of the Alappurathu House at Neelamperoor was the wife of the
       late Raghava Panicker, who was a cousin of my grandfather, PN Panicker. I have a faint memory
       of all of them and the unrestrained love that they had showered upon me during my childhood
       visits which was a must in the yearly itinerary drawn up by my grandparents and my parents to
       ensure that my generation was well aware of their near and dear relations!

       It was sometime during the latter half of 2015, when Lekha and I had accompanied my mom to
       Neelamperoor and I remember having spent a good amount of time at the Alappurathu House.
       The old lady was lying on the bed and registering the footfalls of each and everyone who came
       into the house. My mom was thrilled at seeing her, went close to her and introduced herself when
       I saw an electric transformation in Alappurathe Amma. She'd got up and felt my mom's face and
       her upper torso when my mom informed her, that her son and his wife were also beside her. She
       quickly embraced me and ran her palm over my face and upper body and said, "I can see you
       both, now".

       A botched up cataract surgery had resulted in the loss of her sight about two years earlier! And
       she'd learnt to live with that shortcoming without complaints!!

       Three days prior to her passing away, her food intake had drastically reduced and she passed
       away peacefully. She leaves behind a daughter and two sons, who were beside her, when the end
       had come about. Yet another link to that era of our family has snapped!

       RIP Alappurathe Amme! My tears and prayers!! Your love and kindness shall always be
       remembered deep within.

  (b) Gopala Panicker.

        87-year-old Gopala Panicker was a hard working farmhand and a good rubber tapper. He was
        my dad's loyal understudy and used to work in our paddy fields, the farm immediately around
        the house, pluck coconuts/betel nuts, take the dry 'copra' to the mill for oil and tap the rubber
        trees every morning and prepared the rubber sheets for selling to the guy who collected them at
        the market.
     
        He had a weakness for the bubbly and drank himself silly, often, without backing it up with
        wholesome food. His tall and wiry frame was regularly seen at our place when either my dad
        or me were home on leave. I used to tip him and my dad used to caution me about giving him
        large amounts as he headed straight for the bar to down his sorrows - though he did not tell
        anything to anyone. He'd married twice, but both the families kept a distance from him till his
        very end!

        Mom used to give him a lot of pep talk about not being addicted to liquor but it fell on deaf ears.
        Consequently, my parents had kept him away from doing any of the farm work but he made it a
        point to come home, at least twice a week, to spend time with them. My dad gave him a chhota
        peg, once in a while, while mom gave him food.

        I, however, distinctly remember his visit during mom's last trip to Raj Nivas, when she allowed
        him to sit on a chair next to her to read her palm. I was quite amused about the incident and she
        gave me that characteristic smile when I'd questioned her about it, subsequently.

        I shall miss his visits to our house during my next trip. He, too, had given us his unadulterated
        love without seeking anything in return.

        RIP Gopala Panicker ji. My tears and prayers. Shall always remember you for the love and
        affection that you'd showered on me and have added you in my prayers.


Tailpiece.

Had got up about half an hour late, gone through the chores and washing machinex. Tied up quite a few things that had to be completed before our forthcoming trip.
     

        
       
       

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Unfortunate!

The clashes between the police and the lawyers, over parking in the premises of the Tis Hazari court, is indeed an unfortunate incident. By no way should such a situation have escalated to the magnitude that it has. Hope it is handled with care and maturity, the culprits brought to book quickly and the situation handled in a mature manner. I support the police in this messed up incident where the lawyers, to my understanding of the reportage till now, had exceeded the limits of propriety expected of them.

   *                             *                                *

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

It was a normal day to begin with. We had got up at our usual time of 6, gone through the chores and were ready by 9. We left Rema's house around a quarter past 9 with Padmakumar showing us the way on to the main road. The Kundannur choke point was negotiated with ease and we reached 'Shenoy Care' much before 10.

The registration formalities were gone through and the crowd today seemed to be much more than usual. Lekha's blood sample was drawn for the ANA (IFA) test and the results will be added to her case history in the clinic's records within a couple of days. Any variance will be intimated and remedial measures taken. By a quarter past 12, she was was called up to the second floor, the preliminary clinical investigation was carried out by a young doctor by the name of Anju.

Lekha was apprehensive about the reactions of the staff after incident yesterday but the concerned sister was all smiles and came and inquired as to whether everything was going smoothly! 

We met the doctor at a trifle past 1 and he was at his usual witty self. He was happy at Lekha's medical condition, tweaked the dosage of a particular tablet and we were off from the clinic with the next appointment fixed for 07 Feb '20, a Friday. We headed straight for the Avenue Center, at Panampilli Nagar, for lunch where we had a buffet which had a nice spread.

It was then that we had called on my cousin at her office, handed over some stuff that we'd picked up for her, during our recent tour and collected Lekha's personal stuff that she'd deposited for safe keeping prior to the journey. We left for Guruvayur, by about a half past 3, after collecting the food supplement, Prox D, from Dr. Satish Bhat's clinic.

The traffic was quite okay and the journey was smooth. We'd a stop at our usual joint at Angamaly, for tea and a rest room break. We reached Guruvayur a trifle after a half past 6, hit the department store to collect grocery and reached home a few minutes after 7. The unpacking and the settling down took the usual time as we went through the evening chores.

It was a nice short trip when much was achieved and I'm glad that Lekha's medical review had gone off well!


Tailpiece.

A lot needs to be done over the next couple of days before we head for Bhubaneshwar to attend a get together of my Naval course mates. It's gonna be for four days.   

  

Monday, November 4, 2019

A day of twists!

Lekha had got up at 4 to the alarm that she had set last night. It was pouring at that time and I wanted to tell Lekha that we could cancel our journey because I was not very keen to drive through the blinding rain. However, the possibility of the rain stopping completely a few hours later shook me out of my stupid apprehensions and went through my chores. But Lekha had no doubts about the day's programme. We, finally, set off on our journey by about a 10' mast 6! And it turned out to be a bright, sunny day!!

The transit through Thrissur town was smooth, as the traffic was sparse and we reached the Paliyekkara toll where there was an inordinate wait and soon, all the vehicles were let off without having to pay the toll fees, wonder why? And it was then that I noticed that the warning lights of the brake and the ABS (Anti Brakelock System) had begun blinking on the dash board! Now, an emergency of this sort was the last thing that I was expecting at this point of time because:-

       (a) Lekha had an appointment with her dentist and there was no question of cancelling the
            programme.
       (b) There were quite a few events that were scheduled within the next fortnight and a
             rescheduling was not possible.
       (b) A plan 'B' was not even thought of.

With the trouble looming large behind, we had breakfast at the Saravana Bhavan, near the toll gate and soon after it, I and Lekha had run through the Cruze Manual to see the cause of the error and the way to tackle the emergency......Speed had to be restricted to avoid harsh braking till I showed it at the next Chevrolet service station at Kochi and I had over a 100 kms to go to reach there.

After handing over the Chevy at the service station for defect rectification, Godwin who was assigned the responsibility to attend our vehicle, got us an Ola cab that saw us at Dr. Mallan's clinic well within the time assigned to us. Samish, the sa'arthi, was damn sweet to agree to drop us back too. Without much ado, the doctor had gone through the x-ray, the correction and the treatment after which he discussed a lot of non-dental issues with us.

It was a nice lunch at the Indian Coffee House, enroute, followed by our return to the service station to collect the Chevy. The order for the spares, required for the repairs, were placed on line and I shall have the job done at the service station at Thrissur. Padmakumar, meanwhile had reached the mall near the Kundannur junction to show us the way to their place. Meanwhile, another anxiety was looming large - the 'Shenoy Care' had not called up Lekha to confirm her appointment with the doctor tomorrow. After leaving the both of them in the Chevy, I decided to go to the clinic, myself, to clear the doubt.

Had hired Moncy's autorickshaw that was at hand - he was very rude and told me that he would charge me Rs.130/- for the short trip because of the potholes enroute and I'd meekly agreed to his demand. But it was the clinic's reception that beat me ultimately - one of them tells me and I quote, "Sir, we would have made that call before 1800 hrs and by the way, your wife doesn't have an appointment with Dr. Shenoy tomorrow, as per the records". My reply brought about a deathly silence around the reception area which was, "Young lady, I would be out of my senses to have driven all the way from Guruvayur, dreaming of an appointment with your doctor. Should I meet him now to sort out the matter?" She quickly added Lekha's name on the register and asked us to be there tomorrow at 1000 hrs.

Moncy, was watching the entire spectacle and on dropping me near my Chevy just took Rs.150/- as fare for the up and down trip! I was surprised to see his benign transformation!!

We were at Rema's flat at Thrippunithura by about 1600 hrs and it was a quiet evening thereafter! And an end to a day of twists!! Phew!!!


Tailpiece.

We hope to be back at Guruvayur by late afternoon, tomorrow. The proposed trip to the canteen will have to be postponed as it's gonna be a half day!
   

  

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The four (4) principles of Metaphysics.

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

The first principle states:

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

The second principle states:

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

The third principle states:

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

The fourth principle states:

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

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

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

Just be good to yourself. Always be happy........


Tailpiece.

One of those quiet Sundays. Had gone to the nearby petrol bunk around 1000 hrs to top up the Chevy and to check the tyre pressure. Returned and spruced up the interiors. Tomorrow, our first destination would be Dr. Mallan's clinic at Chertala. Will be spending the evening with Rema and Padmakumar.


Saturday, November 2, 2019

Worth pondering upon.

Wonder why in a country like ours, loans become bad?

Today, there is deep introspection and debate around redefining the purpose of a company. The pendulum is swinging (back) towards the idea that big business should not just serve shareholders; it also has obligations and a duty of care to employees, to customers, to communities and the environment in which we all operate. In other words, a move away from 'shareholder capitalism' and towards something closer to 'stakeholder capitalism'. For those familiar with the history of industrialism going back to the late nineteenth century, this renewed focus on inclusion may elicit a sense of deja vu. It certainly does at the Tata Group. Our founder, Jamshetji Tata, firmly believed that the community is not just another stakeholder in business, but is in fact the very purpose of the existence of any free enterprise.

His conviction was so strong that it is written into our unique corporate structure : two-thirds of the shares in the group holding company are held by the Tata Trusts, the dividends of which are applied to a range of research, interventions and institutions spanning rural development and livelihoods to health, science and sports. The home of Tata's first manufacturing hubs pioneered employee housing, medical care and education back in the early 1900s. This created a tremendous repository of trust - and this trust of the people and the nation is the measure we have strived to live up to.

Here is one of my favourite stories. KraussMaffei, the large German engineering conglomerate, shared with our executives this surprising story of what the Tata word meant and the Tata brand stood for.

In 1946, soon after World War II, the KraussMaffei board met JRD Tata (Chairman of the Tata group) on the platform of the bombed-out Munich station. India was under British rule, and German and Indian companies could not make any legal agreements among themselves. The Germans requested Tatas to take their best technicians and their families to India, who were starving without work in Germany. They will teach you all they know; please take care of them, is all we can ask, they said. And thus, Tatas learnt metal-working from the best of the best.

Many years later, they said, when India had gained independence from the British, a letter arrived at their headquarters from Tatas. Now that we can, how much shall we pay you for the technology you have provided us, it asked. That letter, they said, is a legend in our company of what trust means. You honour your debt, even when it is not legally binding and even when it is not demanded of you.

Trust is not built through legal contracts between parties. It is built by a desire to do right by the others. With well over a century of experience under our belts, the Tata Group isn't simply proud of this legacy - we are determined to carry it forward in the 21st century.

Note : A nice piece from Chairman of the Tata Group, Mr. N Chandrasekharan!


Tailpiece.

Lekha had got up at a half past 5 to be ready to receive the Rajah Medical team to collect her blood and urine samples for the quarterly tests, the results of which we shall carry along with us while we meet up with her doctor, Padmanabha Shenoy, next week. The pathology team which was supposed to reach us by 7, had pressed the doorbell a half an hour earlier. To my query as to why they had fetched up early, the comely sisters - there were two of them - replied in chorus, with a smile, "We know that you'd be ready well before time, sir and we have a lot many patients to attend to". Sensing their requirement, we didn't say anything further and they quickly got down to work. Finding Lekha's vein wasn't a problem for the expert sister but the receptacle with the urine had slipped out of Lekha's hand and the sample could not be handed over to the team! Half an hour later, I had to hand it over to the path lab hurtling up and down in Hamid's autorickshaw.

Lekha had gone to the Guruvayur temple as part of her weekly tryst and to buy grocery from the department store, near it. It was Hamid, yet again, who was her sa'arthi!

The results were brought in by about a half past 11 and the various readings were within parameters. And that's a good start! 

Friday, November 1, 2019

The salient aspects of the Gazette regarding Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

The Official Gazette of India Order signed by President Ram Nath Kovind declares Jammu and Kashmir (With a Legislative Assembly) and Ladakh (Without a Legislative Assembly) as separate Union Territories, post abrogation of Article 370, as per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019 effective from 31 Oct 2019.

What's new.......

 * No Dual Citizenship will be applied, only Indian Citizenship will be valid.
 * State Government will have limited authority, Law and Order will be Centre's jurisdiction.
 * Jammu and Kashmir Assembly decisions will seek Government of India's nod.
 * Rule of people born before 1911 having Citizenship will stand null and void.
 * Kashmir will Not have separate flag, only 'Tiranga' will be applicable.
 * State can't decide on 'Permanent Resident' status, all citizens in the state will be considered equal.
 * Insulting 'Indian Flag' and 'National Symbols' etc will come under sedition.
 * Right to Information (RTI) will be applicable in all aspects and for all.
 * Right to Education will be applicable for people from all segments.
 * CAG scrutiny and audits will be applicable on Schemes and Decisions etc.
 * State government jobs, facilities will be granted to 'non-residents' also, without discrimination.
 * Equal opportunity will be given to SC/ST as well, without discrimination.
 * Economic Reservation (EWS) 10% quota will be applicable by default.
 * Women in Kashmir will get freedom from Shari'a Law.
 * 7th Pay Commission will be applicable across all grades.
 * Law of eviction from ancestral property if a girl marries a non-Kashmiri will stand null and void.
 * Around 50K+ Panchayats across Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will get rights.
 * Reservation of 16% for Minorities, Hindus and Sikhs will be applicable.
 * Hindi and English will become the official languages instead of Urdu.
 * Indians from other states would be able to buy property in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
 * Pakistanis will not get citizenship by marrying Kashmiri girls.
 * Indian Constitution Laws will be applicable now across Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
 * Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh will have Lt Governors.


Tailpiece.

It was a bright and sunny day after days of rain and overcast skies. Offered condolences to Murali chettan (On the passing away of his daughter) and TAK sir (On the passing away of his mother).   

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Frightening!

Worldwide, rising sea levels could, within three decades, push chronic floods to affect 300 million people, according to research published by Scott A Kulp and Benjamin H Strauss of Climate Central in the US, a non-profit news organisation comprising scientists and journalists that analyses and reports on climate science and contains new estimates on the impact of rising sea levels.

Given below are a few of the effects that will be visible in India:-

   (a) Bombay at risk of being submerged by 2050.
   (b) Much of the southern parts of Bombay may sink at least once a year below the projected high
        line by mid-century.
   (c) Nearly 250 million people around the world currently live on land that may go below water
        levels during annual floods.
   (d) West Bengal and coastal Orissa are projected to be particularly vulnerable to floods, as is the
         city of Calcutta.
   (e) Large parts of central Kerala, including Kuttanad, Vypeen and Kochi islands, Vaikom and
         parts of Thrissur district, figure in the high-risk zone of sea-level rise in the new digital
         elevation model called CoastalDEM.

The threat is concentrated in coastal Asia and could produce economic and political consequences within the lifetimes of people alive today. Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam are home to the most people on land projected to be below average annual coastal flood levels by 2050. Together, the six nations account for roughly 75% of the 300 million people on land, facing the same vulnerability at mid-century.

    *                             *                                 *

How Long Is Gonna Be The Wait?

The deadlock to the government formation, in Maharashtra, is continuing. The BJP - Shiv Sena standoff seems to be on, with no end in sight, as both the parties are vying for the chief minister's chair. The opposition - the Congress and NCP combine - is watching the tussle with amusement. My assessment is that Udhav Thackeray is trying to don the mantle of his father rather unsuccessfully. The ego play needs to stop! And BJP's smugness needs to be dropped!!


Tailpiece.

It was a thoroughly wet day restricting one's movements or rather, one did not feel like stepping out of the dry environs of the house! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A Navy Poem.

When I was young many years ago,
I joined the Navy, why I don't know.
I served my time, with honour and pride,
for this young boy, it was a great ride.
I went places; I'd never dreamed,
time went so fast, or so it seemed.

I met people, I'll never forget,
and even some, I wished I'd never met,
but as I think back on those days gone by,
my ship, my shipmates, brings a tear to my eye,
I didn't know it then, never gave it a thought,
but my time in the Navy, could not have been bought.

I guess we all feel the same after we're out,
the pride we feel, that's what it's about,
having served our Nation, keeping it free,
protecting our way of life, and our liberty,
and the friends, I made along the way.
Would I do it again? Any day, and to all my shipmates,

Anchors Aweigh!

Unknown.

    *                             *                              *

                               The National Security Apparatus

Sri Dutta Padsalgikar, a former Police Chief of Bombay has been named as Deputy National Security Adviser. He is now one of the three Deputy NSAs; the other two being Sri Rajinder Khanna and Sri Pankaj Saran. Thus the senior leadership of the national security apparatus of India is now provided by Sri Ajit Doval, an IPS officer who has been the director of IB, Sri Rajinder Khanna, a career RAW officer, Sri Pankaj Saran, an IFS officer and Sri Datta Padsalgikar, an IPS officer.

Conspicuous by the absence of a military officer in the set up raises questions about its balance. Should we infer from this set up that while the Indian Armed Forces are considered absolutely essential to maintain the territorial integrity of the nation against any kind of external threat, they are not considered capable to handle the overall national security?

To me it is more of a case of bias against Service Officers rather than any kind of merit based appointment. It is nobody's case that the Police for internal security, RAW for external intelligence and diplomatic presence in the set up for shaping international opinion are important. However, absence of any kind of military presence at the apex in this National Security Setup makes it absolutely unbalanced.

It may be interesting to note that from the time the system of NSA was introduced (Mr. Doval is the fifth NSA), it has always been the preserve of either IFS or IPS officers.

The government should seriously think in terms of making it more balanced by adding an officer from the Armed Forces as part of this set up. 

Note. Adapted from What'sApp and I subscribe to the views articulated in the article!


Tailpiece.

A quiet Wednesday when Lekha had gone to the Mammiyoor Siva kshetram - in the morning around a half past 9 - for her weekly tryst and on her return, I'd gone to the town to finish certain pending work and collect grocery. Indira kunjamma is at the temple, as part of the 'Narayaneeyam' team, but we won't be meeting each other because of her tight schedule. It was a wet afternoon and there's a yellow alert in the district, tomorrow, due to anticipated heavy rains because of the low pressure over the Arabian Sea.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The terrorists are active in Jammu and Kashmir!

Five labourers, hailing from West Bengal's Murshidabad district, were killed in a terror attack at Jammu and Kashmir's Kulgam district today.

Aren't these killings quite selective? Observe the pattern and the mischief:-

 (a) Last week, two truck drivers were killed and their vehicles loaded with apples set on fire by
       terrorists in Shopian. Another driver was injured.

 (b) 14 Oct    (i) Terrorists shot dead a Rajasthani truck driver.
                     (ii) Assaulted an orchard owner in Shopian.

 (c) 16 Oct    Punjab-based apple-trader killed in a terror attack in the same region.

 (d) Terrorists fired at a civilian - identified as Narayan Dutt from Udhampur district's Katra - in
       Bijbehara area.

 (e) 15 people were injured in a grenade attack by terrorists in Sopore, Baramulla district.

The attacks at Sls. (d) and (e) above took place a day before 27 members of the European Union Parliament were expected to visit Jammu and Kashmir.

 (f) A truck driver loading apples into his vehicle was killed by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir's
      Anantnag, yesterday. This is the fourth attack on truckers transporting apples from the Kashmir
      region in the last two weeks.

We seem to be our biggest enemies. Period! The spate of killings is to frighten and thereby, prevent non-Kashmiris from entering the state to do their business. 

     *                             *                                  *

                                    The Use Of Bay Leaves

Many ladies add bay leaves to our foods, especially red meat and poultry meat. Don't know why bay leaves are added to food? When a woman is asked why, she says : to flavour the food.

If you boil the bay leaves in a glass of water and taste it, it will have no flavour.

So why do you put bay leaves in the meat?

The addition of bay leaves to meat converts triglycerides to mono-unsaturated fats and for experimentation and confirmation :

   * Cut the chicken in half and cook each half in a pan and place on one bay leaf a bay leaf and the
      other without it and observe the amount of fat in both pans.
   * If you have bay leaves, there is no need for a pharmacy. Recent scientific studies have shown
      that bay leaves have many benefits;-

         (i) Bay leaf treats digestive disorders and helps eliminate lumps.
        (ii) Removes heartburn, acidity and constipation.
       (iii) Bowel movements regulated by hot bay tea.
       (iv) It lowers blood sugar and bay leaf is also an antioxidant.
        (v) Allows the body to produce insulin by eating it or by drinking bay tea.
       (vi) Eliminates bad cholesterol and relieves the body of triglycerides.
      (vii) Very useful in treating colds, flu and severe cough as it is a rich source of Vitamin C. You
              can boil the leaves and inhale steam to get rid of phlegm and reduce the severity of the
              cough.
     (viii) Protects the heart from seizures and strokes as it contains cardiovascular protective
              compounds.
       (ix) Rich in acids such as caffeic acid, quercetin, eigonol and bartolinide - substances that
              prevent the formation of cancer cells in the body.
        (x) Eliminates insomnia and anxiety. If taken before bed, helps you to relax and sleep
              peacefully.
       (xi) Drinking a cup of boiled bay leaves, twice a day, breaks kidney stones and cures infections...


Tailpiece.

Had got up at a quarter to 5, dropped Padmakumar and Rema at the railway station to help them board the Guruvayur - Edamon Fast Passenger and they reached Thrippunithura by a 20' to 9. From there, they'd proceeded to Pidavoor by about a half past 2 and reached there by 6. It was a quiet day out here, otherwise. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

The sordid 'Walayar' saga.

It was an evening, like any other, in Jan '17. Nine-year-old Sharanya was playing at her grandmother's house . In the evening, she was back home to check on her elder sister, 14-year-old Hrittika, who said she was unwell and had not gone to school that day.

Sharanya would never have anticipated the sight that greeted her as she entered her one-room makeshift house at Walayar in Kerala's Palakkad district - Hrittika, suspended from the roof, a noose made of cloth around her neck!

The death of their elder child terribly aggrieved the parents, Shaji and Bhagyavathi. Little did they know however, that in less than two months, they would find Sharanya in the same state, at the same spot - immobile and hung from the ceiling. The date - 04 Mar '17! Safely tucked away inside Sharanya's petticoat was a photograph of her elder sister.

While Hrittika's death did not garner much media attention in January, her sister's death in March created widespread shock.

Days later, the police revealed that the siblings were victims of child sexual abuse. It was a tale of suffocating silence, which eventually extinguished the girls' will to live.   

Following Sharanya's death, the police arrested five people who allegedly sexually abused her and Hrittika. One of them, a juvenile was granted bail. The rest of the accused - V Madhu, Shibu, Pradeep Kumar and M Madhu - continue to be in judicial custody. The accused have been booked under IPC section 305 (Abetment to suicide), 376 (Rape), SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, various sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the juvenile act.

Following factors are discernible:-

   * M Madhu sexually abused the younger sister, Sharanya.
   * Shibu abused the elder sister, Hrittika.
   * All the other three accused allegedly abused both siblings.
   * Sharanya was subjected to sexual abuse after Hrittika's death.
   * Two of the accused are closely related to the children .
   * Hrittika had complained to her mother, who opted to keep quiet, as she feared that the relationship
      within the family would sour.
   * The prosecution had failed to produce strong evidence.
   * Some of the accused are CPM activists!

A POCSO court has acquitted all the accused for want of evidence. Hence, the outrage!

Diary of events.

 *13 Jan '17      The elder daughter of two daily-wage labourers found hanging inside their home,
                           at Attapallam, Walayar. Their were suspicions about her death as her nine-year-old
                           sibling had seen two masked persons running away from their house. Though the
                           cops arrested a youth on suspicion, he was let off the same day.
 *03 Feb             Autopsy performed.
 *04 Mar            Sibling found hanging in the same house. There were doubts over her death as there
                            was no explanation as to how she couldn't have possibly tied a knot on the roof and
                            hung herself given her short stature. Case investigated by three teams.
 *06 Mar            ASP Pugalenthi visits the house to collect evidence.Special probe team formed.
                           SHRC registers case.
 *07 Mar            Cops arrest three more persons. Thrissur IG Ajith Kumar and doctors confirm
                            multiple sexual assaults in both cases.
 *08 Mar            Allegations arise over improper investigation. DGP Behera says that DGP Rajesh
                           Dewan will handle probe. Investigation team reconstituted. Walayar SP PC Chacko
                           dropped. Case given to DySP(District Narcotics Cell) MJ Sojan.
 *09 Mar            Cops arrest V Madhu of Pampampallam and Shiju of Rajakkad, a neighbour.
                           Chacko suspended. Thrissur IG seeks departmental inquiry against DySP
                           Vasudevan CI Vipindas.
 *10 Mar            M Madhu, mother's nephew and Pradeep Kumar from Cherthala arrested.
 *13 Mar            All four sent to police custody. for four days.
 *15 Mar            Cops begin collection of evidence.
 *18 Mar            A sixteen year-old arrested and lodged at juvenile home.
 *25 Apr             Praveen(29) of Pampampallam, one of the accused, found hanging on a tree at a
                            deserted spot. Cops had summoned him.
 *22 Jun             Police file chargesheets against four accused, except the juvenile. They say the
                           deaths were suicide.
 *16 Oct '19       Third accused Kumar acquitted by POCSO Court.
 *25 Oct             V Madu, M Madhu and Shibu also acquitted.



My take.

Saddened by the sordid story. The guys responsible should be punished without delay!


Tailpiece.

Started from Gottigere, Bangalore by 10' past 6. After topping up the Chevy and checking tyre pressure, we set off on our return trip. Thanks to the early morning take off, traffic was minimal and we could have breakfast, about 20 kms short of Salem. The drive was sheer enjoyment because of the beautiful highway and the continuous and non-stop chatter between Lekha, Rema, Padmakumar and me. Lunch was at Palakkad and after that, the road was bad, full of potholes.

Was back at 'The Quarterdeck' at a half past 4. Rema and Padmakumar stayed put the night to catch the early morning train to Thrippunithura and onward to Pidavoor.

A nice and enjoyable trip!   

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Reunion.

Came across a lovely poem.

The topper of the class,
is a happy Homemaker.
Back bencher of the lot,
is an Entrepreneur.

The flambuoyant fashionista,
Became a dreaded Lawyer.
Often ignored Joe,
turned a well known Writer.

The one who failed in math paper,
is a Fashion Designer.

And one who often got to stand outside
the class, is a respected Army Officer.

The reunion taught me,
How people come with many layers,
And told me why we should never judge a book by its
cover.

Each child out there has a different success story!!!

      *                    *                     *

A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Sunday punch

PRONUNCIATION
(SUHN-day punch)

MEANING:
noun: A powerful, devastating blow.

ETYMOLOGY:

In boxing, a Sunday punch is another
name for a knockout punch, one
that leaves an opponent unable to
continue fighting. It's not clear what
the significance of Sunday is in
Sunday punch. it could be because
most boxing matches took place on
a weekend and/or a Sunday punch
supposedly knocked an opponent
out till the following week. Earliest
document use : 1915.

USAGE.

"I don't know if this was nature's own
little shock therapy or just the peace
that passeth understanding like it's
standing still, the kind you get from
knowing that you have taken life's
best Sunday punch and you're still
standing, figuratively".
Howard Owen; Rock of Ages;
Permanent Press; 2006.


Tailpiece.

Saw the Malayalam movie, 'Adyarathri' in the afternoon. The evening's Diwali celebrations was a memorable one!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

A few worrying questions.

There are a few questions that have crept into my mind over the past few days based on contemporary happenings. I hope that each of them would get sorted out in the manner that would be beneficial to our country in the long run.....more importantly, the outcomes would send the right message to every Indian. So, without much ado, let me get down to brass tacks.

 (a) Don't Ethics Matter?

       Post Assembly elections in Haryana, where a hung Assembly has been the verdict, the political
       parties have been desperately trying to manage alliances to attain power. Air Hostess Geetika
       Sharma committed suicide in Aug '12. Six months later, her mother, Anuradha Sharma also
       hanged herself in her house and the main accused was Gopal Kanda, an MLA then of the Lokhit
       party.

       The guy has once again won the elections, this time from Sirsa. He is offering his unconditional
       support to the BJP to form the government, this time around.

       If the BJP - a party that talks of principled politics under Modi's leadership - were to take the
       support from this rogue, then it would be a very sad occasion. Hope we don't see such an
       eventuality!

 (b) The Kartarpur Corridor Agreement.

       The agreement allows visa-free travel for Indians to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib located 4.5 kms
       inside Pakistan. Despite hostility on the LoC and Pakistan's diplomatic offensive, India has
       ignored the provocations and pursued the opening of the corridor in the interest of the Sikh
       community. The agreement, I believe, leaves enough room for suspension of pilgrimage on
       account of exigencies and for termination on one month's notice.

       A clause about payment of cess by every Indian pilgrim, has caused heart burns but the
       government has decided go ahead with the agreement. It needs to be seen as to how Pakistan
       responds to our decency!

  (c) Will The RTI Continue To Be Effective ?

        The following are the amendments that the government is set to pass in implementing the
        RTI (Right to Information) Act:-

             (i) Chief Information Commissioner, Information Commissioners, State CICs and ICs to
                  hold office for three years. Salary - CICs (Central and State) would be Rs.2,50,000/-
                  and ICs (Central and State) would be Rs.2,25,000/-
            (ii) Retirement from parent service on appointment.
           (iii) The conditions of service of the chief at central and state level ICs for which no express
                  provision has been made in these rules shall be referred in each case to the Centre and its
                  decision will be binding.
           (iv) Centre shall have power to relax provisions of any of these rules in respect of any class or
                  category of persons.
            (v) If questions arise relating to interpretation of any provision of these rules, it shall be
                  referred to the Centre for decision.

       It's my fond hope that the RTI Act continues to be an effective tool in checking misdemeanours
       by the government, the amendments notwithstanding!


Tailpiece.

It was a quiet day at Mini's home with a free flowing conversation. In the evening we'd called on
Sanil's niece, Reshmi, staying in the vicinity. Ranish was away at Vadakara, to be with his parents and will be back tomorrow and has promised to meet up tomorrow.
    

Friday, October 25, 2019

At Bangalore.

The day had begun at 4 when Lekha's phone's alarm had gone off. We went through our chores and were ready well in time. We left 'The Quarterdeck' at a 10' past 6 to a bright sunny day. The drive was flawless with not much of traffic and we'd our first stop, at a point a trifle ahead of Palakkad town. The stop was well timed for easing our bladders and for having our breakfast.

After a halt of about forty minutes, we'd resumed our journey. The scenic sights that whizzed past were a beauty to watch with the four of us maintaining a light hearted banter right through the drive. While passing through the numerous toll gates, I was exempted from paying the fee being a naval veteran at many points but not every one of them did give me that privilege. Probably, each one sitting at the gates had his/her own outlook towards collecting the payment and I wasn't unduly exercised!

While we passed through Perundurai, short of Erode, we called up Achu to say that we were passing through the place where he'd spent almost a year while working for the multinational, Marico. There was a dull ache deep within all of us that the difference between this trip of ours with the one that we'd made towards the fag end of 2014 was that Mom was not with us this time!

We stopped for a cup of filtered coffee around a half past 11, a trifle after Salem and the stop for lunch at a good wayside hotel at Krishnagiri. The vegetarian meal was nice and we'd spent about a little more than half an hour out there. The subsequent journey was a bit troublesome as I'd missed a turn to the left, immediately after the tollgate at the Electronic City, consequently, ending up doing an additional 8 km, through rain, bad roads, crawling traffic and in the process, touching hard the Chevy's undercarriage, twice, on loose granite stones/potholes - and it was my fault all through. The car behaved all right and we reached my sister, Mini's place at Gottigere by a half past 5. I only hope that there is no damage to the vehicle as we still have got our return trip of about 500 kms on Monday.

Sanil was back from work by then. It was a nice rendezvous with a free and non stop conversation. Sanil, Padmakumar and I went for a short walk and Mithun and Ammu had reached back from work soon after. The dinner and the freewheeling conversation went on till late in the night and it was good to relive the good ole times!

Achu was the only one, left in the quorum, who wasn't around on the occasion!


Tailpiece.

Ranjit Sarkar had given me a call on reaching Guruvayur, for attending a wedding. He's the one who makes it a point to send me a Malayalam film song, on What'sApp every evening prior to bedtime. He has promised to meet up next time when he comes by.  

Thursday, October 24, 2019

News views.

The analysis of the news, making headlines today, is being analysed. Some have very interesting results ans so, here we go:-

   1. At Reduced Rates.

       The cabinet has approved the following rates as traffic fines for the state of Kerala:-

            (i) Over speeding         Rs.1,500/-  *(For 1st offence for LMV).
                                                 Rs.3,000/-    (For 1st offence for HMV).
           (ii) Dangerous
                 driving        Rs.2,000/- and social service(For 1st offence).
                              Rs.5,000/- and social service(For repeated offence).
          (iii) Violation of road
                  safety regs              Rs.2,000/-         
          (iv) Driving w/o
                 permit                   Rs.3,000/- (First offence)
                                               Rs.7,500/- (Repeated offence).
           (v) Not wearing
                 helmet/seat belt       Rs.500/-
          (vi) Allowing more
                 passengers than
                 permitted limit         Rs.200/- per passenger.
         (vii) Driving w/o
                 insurance                  Rs.2,000/- (For first offence).
                                                   Rs.4,000/-(For repeated offence).
        (viii) Drunken driving       Rs.10,000/-

        Happy driving! Though my personal opinion is that the central government's fines should
        have been adhered to.

   2. The Results of the Assembly Polls.

       Though the BJP and the Shiv Sena seem to have pulled off another win in Maharashtra, Haryana
       seems to have offered a different script for the BJP. The reason is because of the lacklustre
       governance of Jagdish Khattar, I can say without hesitation. Kerala's five Assembly seats have
       gone to LDF - 2 and UDF - 3.

       Coming back to Haryana, one can see as to what the deep fault lines of caste create on poll
       outcomes. Let me dwell upon it for a while. The genesis is that Haryana was carved out of
       Punjab. The following factors are discernible:-

           (a) In Punjab, the Sikhs are a majority while the Hindus are a minority. On the other hand,
                 in Haryana, the Jats are a majority Hindus and Sikhs are minorities. It's said that when
                 caste starts playing up, the Jats and the Hindus are fierce opponents!

           (b) Jats come together to uphold their 'pride'.

           (c) Jagdish Khattar - a bachelor - is a Hindu and when he was made the CM in 2014, there
                 was a simmering resentment among the Jats in the BJP.

           (d) The anger against the Punjabi Hindus is the crux behind all Jats, non-Punjabis and non-
                 Akali Dal combining together to ensure that the BJP doesn't come back to power.

           (e) The tussle is deep rooted with the genesis of Jats and non-Punjabis vs the Punjabis!

           (f) In the Indian context, it's not that good governance gets votes but the caste that continues to
                play the spoiler!


Tailpiece.

Rains kept visiting us, off and on, throughout the day accompanied by frequent power outages. Padmakumar and Rema reached home by 1700 hrs. It was a quiet evening, thereafter!

           
                  

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

News views.

Here are my views on the news that made the headlines today. Nothing surprises me anymore.....I mean, anything can happen.....and you can blame it on the trend of the times! So, without much ado, here I go.

 1. The Revamped BCCI.

     The Supreme Court had signalled the end of its six-year-long-monitoring of the Board of Control
     for Cricket in India (BCCI), yesterday. The Court's intervention started in 2013 after the Indian
     Premier League (IPL) got mired in spot-fixing and betting allegations leading to a massive
     outrage. A bench of Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswara Rao asked the Committee of
     Administrators (CoA), which was put in place by the SC in 2017 to implement reforms suggested
     by the Justice RM Lodha panel - it consisted of Vinod Rai, Lt Gen Ravi Thogade and cricketer,
     Diana Edulji.

     Former Indian skipper, Sourav Ganguly, the new president of the BCCI and the other elected
     members took over their duties today. Ganguly has a truncated term of 9 months but his no-
     corruption, no-nonsense attitude should give the BCCI a new headway in serving the interests of
     cricket.

     Sorry for being a cynic, but the way certain family members have got into administrative roles
     - For eg. N Srinivasan's daughter has taken over as the chairperson of the TNCA, thanks to
      certain archaic rules - it's my fond hope that the game doesn't get coloured by personal interests
      and the greed for power, fame and wealth!  

 2. Justin Trudeau Back to Power in Canada.

     In the just-concluded Canadian General election, Trudeau's Liberal Party bagged 157 seats, 13
     short of a majority in the 338-seat House of Commons. The New Democratic Party, led by
     Jagmeet Singh - with 24 members - is gonna play the kingmaker.

     Jagmeet Singh is a pro-Khalistani sympathiser and need not, necessarily endorse India's policies.
     The relationship between the two countries will be observed, I'm sure, by the Indians that have
     made Canada their home.



Tailpiece.

It was yet another quiet day. The day was sunny to begin with and continued so, through most of the day. However, after sunset, the rains had started, causing power outages much to our misery as some of the television soaps couldn't be watched.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Beating Pakistan's perfidy on the Line of Control.

The Indian Army's major strike against terror launch pads in PoK, on Sunday, was crucial to stop infiltration ahead of the winters to stop attempts to create unrest in the Valley over the effective scrapping of Article 370.

According to sources, Indian intelligence agencies had given a clear-cut directive : stop terrorist infiltration into Kashmir at any cost as the cross-border militant groups would try to push as many cadre as possible in these months.

The Army had destroyed three such terror launch pads in the Neelam Valley of PoK with heavy artillery fire and caused significant damage to a fourth one, the Army Chief said on Sunday.

Sources revealed that the terror groups had been filling these launch pads, near the LoC, with fresh recruits over the last month and ground intelligence inputs had in the first week of October informed about the presence of the terrorists from the outfits - Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Al Badr. The GPS locations of these terror launch pads were identified and shared with the Army in New Delhi as well as Srinagar.

Once the GPS locations were received, the security establishment, government officials said, set satellites on these places and started tracking movements in and around them. They said this confirmed  that these were terror launchpads, as "movements of civilians and terrorists are always different", without elaborating further.

The COAS had said that around 6-10 Pakistan Army soldiers were also killed in the cross-border strikes and the number of terrorists killed could be higher. The government sources put the final figure of terrorists killed at 18 and the number of Pak Army personnel at 12. The strike also led to the death of six civilians, they said.

The Pakistan Army used ambulances in the middle of the night to carry these dead bodies from the locations.

Pakistan has denied Indian claims of the strike on terror launch pads and said it can arrange a visit of diplomats from P5 nations to the area to expose Indian "falsehood".

The Pakistan Army has shown only the houses of the civilians destroyed in the strikes to portray it as "indiscriminate shelling" and not a precision strike.

The Indian retaliation had come a day after Pakistan military resorted to firing in Tangadhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir, along the LoC, to assist infiltration by terrorists, killing two Indian Army personnel and a civilian. Three others have also been injured in the attack.


Tailpiece.

Though the "Red Alert" was in force in Thrissur district, on account of the rains, Guruvayur had a dry spell all through the day. Lekha had gone to town to complete a few pending work and to fetch grocery.  

Monday, October 21, 2019

Unusual sights and sounds!

Going by today's newspapers, I thought I must keep you updated about the unusual sights and sounds, that were on offer, around the world. The events need not have taken place yesterday itself but suffice to know that all of them have been recent happenings. So, without much ado, here I go:-

 (a) When Sheep Took Over.

       Sheep replaced traffic on the streets of Madrid, yesterday, as shepherds steered their flocks
       through the heart of the Spanish capital, following ancient migration routes. The annual event,
       which began in 1994, allows shepherds to exercise their right to use traditional routes to migrate
       their livestock from northern Spain to more southerly pastures for winter grazing.

  (b) Lady Gaga's Tweet in Sanskrit.

        Pop star Lady Gaga, who is recovering from a nasty fall she suffered during a concert in Las
        Vegas, surprised her Indian fans when she tweeted in Sanskrit, "Lokah Samastah Sukhino
        Bhavantu", yesterday. It translates to "May all beings everywhere be free and happy". The
        tweet has, since, gone viral.

  (c) Compensation to Passengers.

        For the first time in over 150-year history of Indian Railways, the country's biggest public
        sector will pay a compensation of Rs.250/- each to passengers who'd traveled on board the
        Lucknow-New Delhi Tejas Express for an arrival delay of over two hours on Saturday. The
        train was delayed in both the directions because of the derailment of the Krishak Express in
        Lucknow Junction yard on Friday night. There were 451 passengers on board the train from
        Lucknow and another 500, who took the train from New Delhi. To make up for the delay,
        passengers were served extra tea, lunch and refreshments with "Sorry for delay' stickers on the
        packets.

  (d) Costly Vote.

        For the voters of Kakkathuruthu island of Alappuzha district, in Kerala, surrounded by
        Vembanadu backwaters, casting votes is a costly affair. Each voter needs to spend Rs.110/-
        to exercise their franchise as the island does not have a polling booth. The voters have to cross
        the lake and hire an autorickshaw to reach their polling station. The island has over 700 voters.
        The island, which figured in the must-visit list of National Geographic magazine in 2016, lacks
        basic amenities like good roads and potable water. To build a bridge, for connectivity, with the
        mainland has been a long-pending demand of the islanders!


Tailpiece.

It was a wet day to begin with. Lekha had gone to the Mammiyoor Siva kshetram for her weekly tryst through pouring rain. A lot of water had collected within a short period around the temple's gate throwing traffic out of control, she said on return. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Illegal Indian migrants to the west.

Last Thursday, Mexico put 311 Indians, who had entered the country to cross over to the US, on a flight back to New Delhi. Each of them had paid agents between Rs.25 lakhs and Rs.30 lakhs to get to the US, just as thousands of others have done in the past. How do illegal migrants get there? What are the routes they follow? What happens if they are caught?

Here is Manpreet Singh's case study:-

  A 30-year-old from Punjab's Hoshiarpur, he decided to go west illegally in 2014. His family
  borrowed Rs.26 lakhs to give an agent. He was one of 30 from Punjab being trafficked into US. He
  flew from Dubai to Russia before being taken to Ecuador. There he had to stay for two months.
  From Ecuador, the group was flown to Gautemala, where they spent nights in a forest.

  Some of the travel to Mexico - the last stop before the crossing into the US - was done in vehicles,
  for the last two hours, the group went on foot to avoid border patrols. In Mexico, the group split up
  and Manpreet ended up in the home of a local policeman, which was a safe haven for illegal
  migrants. The house was locked from the outside so that neighbours and authorities wouldn't know
  that there were occupants. He spent a month and a half there.

  Then, one morning, they were taken separately to cross the border to Texas. But Manpreet got
  caught by the police. Nine months later, in Jul '15, he was deported to India.

Refugee or illegal migrant?

 * It's often assumed that there's a clear line between those who are fleeing persecution, identified as
    refugees and those identified as illegal migrants.

 * But in reality, before being recognised as a refugee, most people have had to cross an international
    border. They may well have been unable to obtain visas to do this and so may have moved
    irregularly.

 * Some people have to leave their homes for other reasons, such as loss of land from rising seas or
    economic collapse, which means they could not stay put but might not qualify for recognition as
    refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Majorities in most immigrant destination countries, surveyed by Pew Research Centre, support the deportation of people who are in their countries illegally.


Tailpiece.

Rema and Padmakumar were ready to return to Thrippunithura soon after breakfast. I'd dropped them at the Private Bus Stand from where they got a bus to Vyttila, almost immediately. They'd called up, soon after lunchtime, to tell us about their arrival at home.

The rain, soon after tea time, was heavy but stopped after about two hours.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Some interesting tidbits!

1. The dwarfing of Mount Everest!

    While a section of scientists claim that the snow cap atop Mount Everest is thinning because of
    changing climate, bringing down the peak's "net altitude", others are of the opinion that there has
    not been enough study and it is highly unlikely that Everest will be denuded of its snow/ice cover
    in the foreseeable future. The height of Mount Everest is 8,848 mts(29,029 ft) which includes the
    depth of the snow cap atop the peak. The thickness of the snow has been decreasing and as a
    result, the net altitude of Everest is changing.according to glaciologist, Anil Kulkarni of Divecha
    Centre for Climate Change., Indian Institute of Science. During the driest/warmest period of the
    year, the peak has lost up to a metre in the past one and a half decades. Here are certain other
    interesting factors:-

        (a) Some scientists claim the area's plate tectonics are adding to the height and moving the
              summit north-eastwards.
        (b) India's northward movement compresses the Himalayas and raises Everest by 3-4 mm/year.
        (c) Earthquakes lower the height a little, say geologists.
        (d) The 2015 earthquake decreased the peak's height by about 1 cm, according to geologist,
              Roger Bilham.
        (e) Errors occur while assessing mean sea level.

    A remeasured altitude of Mount Everest is likely to be announced by May '20. A team from
    Nepal has reached the summit to measure its height.

2. Monkeys outperform human beings!

    Monkeys exhibit more cognitive flexibility than humans when it comes to exploring more efficient
    options to solving problems, according to a study. It illustrates how humans can suffer from
    learned biases that can lead us to make inefficient decisions and miss opportunities.

    Through trial and error using a computer, monkeys and humans had to follow a pattern by pushing
    a striped square then a dotted square and then, when it appeared, a triangle to achieve to achieve
    the goal and receive a reward. Wrong results got a time out and no reward. After the strategy was
    learned, subsequent trials presented the triangle option immediately without having to push the
    patterned squares in sequence. The monkeys quickly used the shortcut while 61% of the humans
    didn't. About 70% of the monkeys used the shortcut the first time it was available compared to
    only one human.


Tailpiece.

It was like any other Saturday with plenty of power interruptions. Wonder whether it's due to the
work being undertaken in the new house under construction? It's restored rather quickly, that's why!
Padmakumar and Rema arrived a trifle after 1700 hrs from Palakkad and so, it was an active evening subsequently.