Thursday, February 28, 2019

An eventful Thursday.

There were quite a few things happening today and one, literally, had to pause for breath to take in the inputs! Let's go through those happenings:-

 (a) The Kerala Government's Reaction over Adani Take Over.

       The Chief Minister has written to the Prime Minister that there would be no state support if
       the Adani group takes over the running of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
       Instead, he has recommended its handing over to the company floated by the Kerala State
       Industrial Corporation.

       The repercussions would be worth watching. Wonder how the objection has cropped up when
       the state government supports the Adani Group's development of the Vizhinjam Seaport?

 (b) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman Set to Return Tomorrow.

       Imran Khan, the Pakistani Prime Minister, today announced in his combined Assembly that
       Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be sent back to India tomorrow as a peace
       gesture.

       What I'm amazed is the way most sections of our media have been whipping up a war hysteria.
       Wonder whether they are aware of the ramifications of such an action and the setback a war
       would bring about to the tremendous growth that the country has achieved thus far?

 (c) The US-North Korea Summit Collapses.

       Negotiations collapsed between the US president and the North Korean leader collapsed because
       the latter insisted that the US lift all sanctions in exchange for just the dismantling of the
       Uranium enrichment site of Yongbyon. US, on the other hand, wants full denuclearisation prior
       to the removal of the sanctions.


     
Tailpiece.

Had got up in the wee hours of the morning to ease myself and consequently, got up half an hour late. Went about our chores and were still on time. No maid today too, and the lady who'd promised to substitute didn't fetch up!

Our maid, Preetha, is down with Hepatitis C and it's gonna be a long haul insofar as her recovery is concerned. She has to take rest for at least a month to get back to normal!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Well done Abhinandan!

Well done Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman for your courage and the composed, stoic manner in which you had answered the questions, put across by your captors.

A version of what had happened prior to this.

The Pakistan Air Force F-16s came with an intent of targeting Brigade Headquarters in Naushera. IAF radars picked up these aircraft and scrambled the MiG-21 Bison.

The F-16s dropped their loads in a hurry, all off target and turned back. The MiG-21 chased them, targeted one F-16 twin seater and shot him down. (Two parachutes were sighted by the ground personnel). In the bargain he crossed the LoC and during turn back was hit by heavy artillery firing from the Pakistani ground forces.

Unfortunately, he landed across the LoC. The Northern Light Infantry men and civilians thrashed him and broke his nose. Instead of medical treatment after ejection they made him stand and questioned him. But Abhinandan is bull headed and strong. He took it well.

* The bottom line is that a MiG-21 has shot down an F-16.

         *                       *                         *

From me.

Let's all say a prayer, each day, for Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman till he comes back to us unscathed. As per the Geneva convention, a defence personnel is to be returned within 7 days of captivity failing which it would be considered as a declaration of war by the erring country.


          *                       *                        *

Message from the father of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

Thank you my friends for your concern and wishes. I thank God for his blessings, Abhi is alive, not injured, sound in mind; just look at the way he talked so bravely.....a true soldier.....we are so proud of him. I am sure all your hands and blessings are on his head, prayers for his safe return, I pray that he does not get tortured and comes home safe and sound in body and mind. Thank you all for being with us in this hour of need. We draw our strengths from your support and energy - Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman(Retd).

          *                        *                        *

Those who celebrate war will not participate in the war, those who participate in the war will never celebrate war.

Bitter but true......

  
Tailpiece.

Had got up with the alarm, gone through our chores but the Rajah medical team came in earlier by their standards at about 10' to 7 and the nurses - there were three of them - had to wait a trifle at our door and I'd tendered my apology. Preetha, the maid, was too sick and she said that she wasn't in a position to come by.

Lekha had gone to the Mammiyoor Siva kshethram and returned an hour later.

The test results came in a trifle later and things have really improved. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

India avenges Pulwama..

At 0327 hrs, this morning, a formation of 12 Mirage-2000 fighter bombers entered Pakistan, dropped bombs on their pre-designated targets at Balakot in Pakistan, Muzaffarnagar and Chakothi deep within Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The operation lasted 21 minutes.

Fighter jets, mid-air refuellers and early warning aircraft along with four Sukhoi-30MKI and an additional one as "hot stand by" as CAP(Combat Air Patrol) constituted the strike package. Spice-2000 precision guided 1,000 kg bombs and AGM-142(Popeye-2) missiles blasted the biggest and the sophisticated JeM terror training center into smithereens.

Wow, what a day! I salute the IAF and its brave men!! And, above all, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his courageous decision!!!

       *                   *                     *

The most amazing part is......that the 12 faceless men.....the pilots.....and the supporting crew.....will simply and humbly continue their routine lives.....standing in queues amid the citizens.....traveling on waitlisted tickets because of not bribing the TTEs......struggling for the kids' admissions because of mid session transfers......facing road rage from groups of money throwing rich kids.....bullying from politicians and bureaucrats......and will one day retire......and struggle for OROP.

These are the true heroes of India.....and not the Bollywood Khans or the cricketing machos.

The beauty of it all is......they still don't care and they still risk it all.....without any expectations of recognition.....and they would do it again and again.......every time the nation demands it from them....  


Tailpiece.

Got up with the alarm, almost and went about our chores thereafter. We were ready well in time. Got a message from Preetha, our maid, that she was down with Jaundice and therefore, would not be coming for work today. It was a damn blow. She has, however, said that she'd fetch up tomorrow and we wondered as to how she would do it but kept our queries to ourselves.

After a light breakfast of Oats and a boiled egg - Lekha had it only after her return - Lekha had gone for the 'darshan' at the Guruvayur temple as today was the last day of its annual festival. Meanwhile, news was coming in thick and fast about the surgical strikes - carried out by twelve IAF Mirage 2000s on Balakot(Deep in Pakistan) along with Muzaffarabad and Chakothi of the PoK in the early morning hours of the day. It was a proud and wonderful moment and I was thrilled. India had retaliated 12 days after the dastardly Pulwama attack and taken the Pakistanis by surprise.

Have corrected the Grandmother clock, this time, consciously erring on to the slowing regime. Hope it's the right point! Mrs. Rajah sent us a box of grapes grown on their vineyard at Kolhapur, damn sweet of her!!  

Monday, February 25, 2019

Some amusing and interesting happenings!

A few of the happenings, taking place these days, are worth pondering upon for the sheer paradox that they provide along with the flip flops. Why they happen is anyone's guess but for an observer it gives a lot of occasion to have a mirthful laugh! Let's see a few of them.

 (a) Finally, some forward movement.

       Based on the victim's request, the Kerala High Court has directed CBI Special Court Judge
       Honey M Varghese to preside over the trial  in the actor rape case. The Court had also dismissed
       the pleas of Dileep and Pulsar Suni against shifting the trial. It's still a long way to go because
       it can't be forgotten that the molestation had taken place on 17 Feb 2017......and that's a sad fact.
       Hope the trial commences soon and the guilty is brought to book at the earliest.

 (b) The accused changes his statement.

       The Periya case where two Youth Congress workers were killed in an inter-party fight has taken
       a strange turn. Shall go through the sequence of events insofar as the case is concerned:-

           (i) The CPM's local area secretary, Peethambaran and a few of his accomplices in the murder
                is arrested by the police.
          (ii) The CPM removes them from the party membership.
         (iii) Peethambaran's wife and daughter tell the police and the Media that Peethambaran lacks
                the guts to commit such a crime and that he must have done it on the party bosses' diktats.
         (iv) Almost the entire gang has been apprehended by the police, the case will now be handled
                by the Crime Branch.
          (v) Today they were produced before the Hosdurg First Class Magistrate.
         (vi) Peethambaran says that he never committed the crime and it was the police torture that
                made him say it.
        (vii) And the Crime Branch takes over the case two days from now!

* The police in the area is known to be biased towards the party. 

   (c) The Adani group wins bids to run five airports.

         The Adani group has bagged a 50-year contract to run five of India's airports viz.:-

           (i) Ahmedabad.
          (ii) Jaipur.
         (iii) Lucknow.
         (iv) Mangalore and
          (v) Thiruvananthapuram.

       
Tailpiece.

Had got up along with the alarm, albeit, a bit reluctantly. Went through our chores and were ready well in time. The maid had also fetched up soon after and reported that her Saturday illness was because of the starving regime that she'd undertaken - to reduce weight - from what she'd received on What'sApp. How ridiculous can one get and we'd, later, advised her not to pursue such stuff without medical advice.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

What was impossible five years back, has been made possible!

Preamble.

I reproduce here an e-mail. The letter makes for interesting reading. This is not a political post but please form your own opinions. Happy reading...and feel free to comment on your own experiences.....the good, the bad as also the ugly. India has many faces.

Dear Prakash,

1. Some time back you'd asked me, "Will Modi win 2019 election?" I told you that I've no idea as I do not get involved in politics. This time, almost for a month, I was in my village in rural Bihar and interacting with farmer communities of several villages. I also happened to interact with with a few persons in Jharkhand and UP. My observations are given in the succeeding paragraphs and based on these you can form your own opinion. You are a better analyst than me.

2. It all began when my aged 85 year Maternal Uncle came to our place and told me that he has got SMS of getting a credit of Rs.16,000/- in his account but he does not know in which bank account money has gone. My brother who was a banker, made a couple of calls and confirmed that the money has been credited to his account in a particular bank. My uncle was very happy. He is a middle class farmer of small land holding in a rural Bihar village. His village is deep in the interior, more interior than my village.

3. When I asked him as to what this money was for, he said that his area has been declared drought affected and he has received this subsidy for the same. I checked from other small and middle class farmers and they all confirmed having received the amount. In a family, if the land was held in the name of several members, each member received this amount. All of them were very happy. Not only this, one of my cousins who is a farmer told me that he received Rs.1,200/- and Rs.1,600/- as compensation for diesel used for irrigation for which he had to claim(Mind you, claim is much simpler than our CDA claims and no government officials are involved in these claims).

4. I further inquired as to what they must do to get this subsidy. They directed me to a small-time computer operator who links your Aadhaar to the scheme and the bank account. He then uploadsyour land holding, he will upload your diesel claims for irrigation and charges just Rs.30/- No government officials are involved, so there is no bribing or red-tapeism. Besides these, they regularly receive subsidy for seeds, fertilizers, urea etc. Most of the farmers have taken Kisan Credit Cards on which they can draw interest free loan of Rs.50,000/- in a year. My cousin told me that he plans to return this amount by 31 Mar '19 and withdraw again on 01 Apr '19. So, he will always have this money at his disposal for any eventuality.

5. I suppose the concept is to prevent debt by advancing such subsidies. Incidentally, since I remember, in my village there has neither been any death by starvation nor any farmer has committed suicide. Such news I guess are the creation of the Media.

6. These subsidies are not merely helping the farmers, these are triggering overall economic and social growth. The bazaars are buzzing with activities, people are graduating from cycles to motor cycles to cars to buses to trucks. Tractors are aplenty. Other agricultural tools like harvesters etc are operating in a big way.

7. I travelled on several state and national highways, these are all being upgraded from one lane to two lanes to four lanes to six lanes and so on. The famous GT Road was just a two-way road. During Vajpayee and Khanduri's tenure it got upgraded to four lane and now the work is on for its upgradation to six lanes. My own road from the district headquarters to my village and beyond is being upgraded to four lanes.

8. My village got electricity in the late '60s when we got power for 24 hrs. Later governments extended the poles and wires to all villages but without power. There was no improvement in power generation. For my personal consumption at home we have installed solar power and have a back up generator. But now for the last two years the power situation is so good that the generator is almost rusting and invertor has become outdated, batteries have dried up. The theft of electricity has been considerably reduced, people are going for meters.

9. All the above developments have also brought in real development on the social front. This time I observed hardly, maybe just 5% defecating in the open, they are doing by their force of habit. Every household has got toilets. Regarding schooling, government schools are yet to improve but those studying in them get free books, lunch, note books, uniform and girls get a cycle.

10. Private schools have mushroomed. They are offering quality education - but this will take time.

11. A few homeless families have got a credit of Rs.2,50,000/- to construct their homes.

12. Most of the households are cooking on gas, there is no shortage. Some of them still prefer to cook on wood and cow dung cakes.....food is tastier cooked on wood and cow dung cakes.

13. Law and order is generally okay but prohibition has its own drawbacks and it is causing problems.

14. By the way, each police station has got 10 re-employed Army personnel to function as QRT. Now the latest is that Registrars of colleges and universities are retired officers of the armed forces.

15. I also happened to be in UP and visited Varanasi - there is unbelievable development in the last two years. Ganga ghats are clean. People who visited Kumbh Mela told the others about the facilities and from my village and villages nearby, numerous people have all gone to Kumbh and there is no one who has any complaint.

16. Prakash, I did not believe initially but by personal visits and inquiries, I conclude that these are not mere "Jumlas" but a reality. These are indications of "Achhe Din". Ye jumla nahin hai.

To conclude I would say, you can make your own deductions as to who will win 2019.

With warm regards,
Satyendra.


Tailpiece.

Had decided last night that we'd get up later than our usual timing today being a Sunday. But after hearing the alarm, couldn't stay on the bed for long because of the habit. I let Lekha sleep for some more time as I went about my usual activity of opening up the house.

Spoke to Rema and Mini but both were busy; while Rema and family were visiting temples, Mini had Gopu visiting her as he was in the city in connection with the organising of a film festival.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

A cleaning drive.

The Hooda Issue.

Am dwelling on this issue, yet again, on the basis of today's events. Happened to view Lt Gen DS Hooda's responses to Rajdeep Sardesai's interview. 

The Military Strategy Group set up by the Congress plans to put down Military Strategic Perceptions along with the way ahead - in other words, a vision document - within a span of 30 days. It's here that the doubts set in:-

     (a) What's the locus standi of such a 'think tank' when there are official bodies that exist already?
     (b) After the vision document is released, it might be perceived as easy to punch holes in Modi's
           handling of the situation, post Pulwama(Idea is to show him in bad light), because the                         combined opposition has not been able to dent his image, till now, despite all sorts of wild
           allegations being hurled at him. 

And it's in such a situation that Lt Gen DS Hooda must never end up in.

There was a fake news that he advocated retaliation on Pakistan whereas we all know that he'd made it very clear - sometime within the last fortnight - that going for another surgical strike, at this stage, was not advisable.


   
Tailpiece.

Had got up thinking that I was late because it seemed to be quite a while after I'd heard the alarm. Lekha was sound asleep and I wanted her to get up on her own, as there weren't any deadlines to meet! Soon after, we went about our chores and were ready well in time.

Meanwhile, Pushpaakaran, the farmhand, had come in for the six-monthly spring cleaning of the house. He had started off in right earnest. Preetha had come by, a trifle later. The cleaning procedure was undertaken systematically as plenty of dust and dirt had accumulated all over the house thanks to the continuous, hot and dusty breeze.

The maid wasn't keeping well but she'd completed her day's work before her brother had come by in his auto rickshaw, to pick her up. Pushpaakaran helped her in winding up her work and by the time he'd finished with the external cleanship, it was 1600 hrs and time for a cuppa tea. The house looked neat and tidy, the wooden fixtures gleamed with the removal of the coat of dust and the ceiling and pedestal fans were shining - he'd done a good job.

The maid would not be coming tomorrow for work, so it will be Lekha's job to tend the kitchen. Her cough has subsided but yet to go off completely.   

Friday, February 22, 2019

Will he have the last laugh?

Did Lt Gen DS Hooda have to do it?

It has been splashed in the media that Lt Gen DS Hooda, the northern army commander during the surgical strikes at Uri has become the Congress' Military specialist. Firstly, haven't been able to fathom what the post is all about but there are a whole lot of queries connected with it, which are:-

   (a) What's the purpose of having a veteran parachuted into a political party's activities?
   (b) Is it to use him and his utterances to raise heat in the political discussions prior to elections?
   (c) Will the veteran be able to toe the line adopted by his political masters by sacrificing his
         military ethics and the thoughts that he genuinely believes in?
   (d) Has he been shown a tantalising carrot in the form of a position - post elections - if the party
         were to come to power?

What's being stated in hushed tones is that Lt Gen Hooda could be the National Security Adviser if the opposition were to come to power - a daunting task though! It requires the endorsements of the other parties of the 'Mahagathbandhan', but his stature is quite formidable that he should not find that worrisome!

My take.

In umpteen number of cases in the past, we've seen how the politicians have misbehaved with defence service officers - Gen KS Thimmayya, FM Sam Manekshaw, Adm Vishnu Bhagwat...the list is long. The 'genuine' (I use this word purposely because there are many, who've been otherwise) man-in-uniform is full of idealism and thinks more from his heart, thinks straight without deviousness.

The tendency to dump after use exists among the politicians. For them, anyone can be sacrificed to help them sit on the chair of power!

My only hope is that Lt Gen DS Hooda does not have any bitter experiences because he's a course mate and a friend of mine. He must, as they say, have the last laugh!


Tailpiece.

Had got up around 5 to clear my bladder, turned back to sleep and when I finally got up, it was a half past 6. We went through our chores and were ready well in time. Had gone across to the nearby cyber cafe for scanning my last letter to the naval pensions and had a copy sent across to the Naval Headquarters.

Close on its heels, I got a call from the Deputy Manager of the SBI, CPPC, Thiruvananthapuram saying that my mom's life time arrears had been transferred into her account at Kottarakkara and this was endorsed, almost immediately, by the manager of the bank. So, that was the successful culmination of a series of correspondences that I'd initiated right from the time the letter was initiated by the SBI, CPPC, Thiruvananthapuram. In the course of my efforts, a few of the government authorities had to hear my chiding and verbal onslaught!

There was a change in narration by the SBI, CPPC, Tvpm, in that a fortnight ago, she'd told me that I'd be getting the LTA through my bank account. Now, what has brought about the change in their thinking to today's decision, is something that I'm baffled about! But I ain't gonna lose my sleep over it!! 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

See how perfect God's creations are.

When God solves our problems, we have faith in His abilities. When God doesn't solve our problems, He has faith in our abilities.

One may observe God's accuracy in the hatching of eggs......
those of the Canary in 14 days;
those of the Barnyard hen in 21 days;
eggs of Ducks and Geese in 28 days;
those of the Mallard in 35 days;
eggs of the Parrot and the Ostrich hatch in 42 days.

*Note they are all divisible by seven, the number of days in a week!

See God's wisdom in the making of an Elephant.......
The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction. 
No other quadruped is so made.
God planned this animal would have a huge body.....
too large to live on two legs.
For this reason He gave it four fulcrums
so that it can rise from the ground easily.
The Horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first.
A Cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first.

*How wise the Lord is in all His works of Creation!

Each Watermelon has an even number of stripes on the Rind.

Each Orange has an even number of segments.
Each ear of Corn has an even number of rows.
Each stalk of Wheat has an even number of grains.

Every bunch of Bananas has on its lowest row
an even number of Bananas
and each row decreases by one,
so that one row has an even number
and the next row an odd number.
Amazing!

There's more.......

The Waves of the Sea roll in on shore,
Twenty-six to the Minute in all kinds of weather.

All Grains are found in even numbers on the stalks....

God has caused the Flowers to 
Blossom at certain specified times during the day.
Linnaeus, the Great Botanist, once
said if he had a Conservatory,
containing the right kind of Soil,
Moisture and Temperature,
he could tell the Time of Day or Night
by the Flowers that were Open and 
those that were Closed.

The Lives of each of us may be
ordered by the Lord in a beautiful Way
for His Glory,
if we will only Entrust him with our Lives
If we try to Regulate our own Lives, we 
will have only Mess and Failure.

Only God, who made our Brains and
Hearts, can Successfully Guide them 
to a Profitable End.

Life without God is like an 
Unsharpened pencil! It has no Point.


Tailpiece.

Had got up a trifle late after hearing the alarm. We went through our chores and though Lekha was ready at her usual time, I was about half an hour later than usual because of washing machinex of the bed linen while waiting for Tommy and Reji who were supposed to come in and get our grandmother clock going. Lekha, along with Preetha, had gone for her weekly tryst with the good Lord at the Guruvayur temple.

The new 'heart' was put in place and the clock started ticking by about a 20' past 10. We sat for a while and exchanged pleasantries and Reji has promised to come by next week with Jayachandran's contact number!

Finally, the familiar team of a couple of Tamilian rag pickers had come by to collect the huge clutter that had got accumulated over the last quarter.   

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

In a pensive mood!

Just A Common Soldier.

And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.

Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.

While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It's so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know

It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?

Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight till until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honour while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.

Perhaps, just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

                                                                   - Lawrence Vaincourt.

* For the 40 gallant men who had passed into the mist of time at Pulwama, in Jammu and Kashmir just a few days ago!


Missing Man Formation - SURYAKIRAN    20 Feb '19.

Yesterday our world renowned Suryakiran aerobatic display team lost one of its finest display pilots, Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, who was part of the core team that resurrected the Suryakiran on the Hawk aircraft in 2015. As a fitting tribute to one of their beloved team mates, the Suryakirans will now fly from your left in the "Missing Man Formation". As the three aircraft approach from your left, you shall see the position immediately right of the leader conspicuously empty signifying the departure of their comrade.

The team lost a buddy, the IAF a thorough professional and the nation a Hero.

Flight is freedom in its purest form.

To dance with the clouds which follow the storm

To roll and glide, to wheel and spin

To feel the joy that swells within

Should my end come while I am flying

Whether brightest day or darkest night

Spare me your pity and shrug off the pain

Secure in that knowledge that I would do it again

For each of us is created to die

And within me I know, I was born to fly.

                                                     - At the flypast today.

* For Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi with pride! And for the Suryakirans for many more successful sorties!!


Tailpiece.

Had got up with the alarm, gone through our chores and were ready well in time. Vineesh had arrived by a quarter past 9. The left garden tap broke and I isolated the line by turning off a valve on the right side of the balcony. We left soon after, for the Geeyem Motors, to collect our Chevy. Lekha, along with Preetha, had gone to the Mammiyoor Siva Kshethram soon after.

After their return, Lekha had called up Sajeev, the electrician-cum-plumber who' turned up half an hour later and fixed the problem. Vineesh had driven the Chevy into the porch as Sajeev was preparing to go away and I'd told him that he must break his promise of not attending house defects as he had to tend his shop.

He smiled and nodded.....wonder what he meant by that?   

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Finally, Lekha meets the doctor.

Had got up on the dot at 6, gone through our chores and were ready well in time. Today, also found that the 'Kappa TV' channel gives old melodies between 8 and 9 AM which is much better than the songs broadcast by the Surya Music channel. Moreover, the VJs are smarter!

After breakfast, had gone to Preethi's stationery shop nearby to get a few documents xeroxed and to buy plain sheets of white paper and an A4 cover. I returned, formulated my reply, got the enclosures in order and had the letter ready, which I took to the post office to have it sent by speed post. This is the latest piece of correspondence on mom and dad's lifetime arrears. Hope there's no more delay on that front.

Around 1500 hrs, Lekha and Preetha had gone across to Dr. Sodhi's clinic nearby to treat her cough that has been lingering for a while. They'd returned by 5 after collecting the medicines prescribed by the doctor. She'd an anti-allergic drug prescribed by her Rheumatologist doctor, Padmanabha Shenoy about ten days back but the cough was, still, lingering on a low ebb. Consequently, Preetha had left for her house correspondingly late!


Tailpiece.

Nose of one plane collided with the other's tail when close quarter maneuvers being carried out by the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team in nine Hawk Mk 132 aircraft. The mishap took place, at Bangalore around 1105 hrs, this morning during a practice sortie for the 12th edition of Aero India. The casualties are as follows:-

     (a) Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi        -    fatal.
     (b) Wing Commander Vijay Shelke        -    cut injury on chin. Blunt injury to limb. No fracture. Is
                                                                           Hemodynamically stable.
     (c) Wing Commander Tejeshwar Singh  -    Fractured shaft of Femur, both legs.

RIP Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi. My salute, tears and prayers. May your family have the strength to tide over these stressful times. Get well soon, Vijay Shelke and Tejeshwar Singh, we're proud of you.

PS.
Got an intimation from the Geeyem Motors that our Chevy was ready and that I could collect the vehicle by 10 AM tomorrow; Vineesh has agreed to come along to drive the vehicle back!  

Monday, February 18, 2019

Another hartal!

It was yet another 'hartal' today though without a formal announcement because of the High Court's latest directive that the calling of a hartal requires a minimum '3' day notice to be given to the general public to gear up to the difficulties and see how it was subverted by the concerned political party. So, it was said last evening that all the activities in the district will shut down while prayer meetings(?) would be conducted all over the state.

Two youth of the Congress were murdered by the CPM cadre at Periya in Kasaragod district.

Had got up a trifle after the alarm, gone through our chores and were ready well in time. The entire surrounding was absolutely quiet and almost no vehicle plied through the highway almost through the day except for a few two-wheelers and an odd light motor vehicle. Preetha, our maid, could not make it and my job at the nearby photostat shop, as well as at the post office, had to be postponed.

It was the phone calls that had kept us busy. My classmate, Anil(Roll no.322) lost his mother this morning. A fortnight back, he'd flown in to Thiruvananthapuram because his mom had been hospitalised following a heart attack. She was discharged about four days back and shifted to Anil's chechi's place at Vanchiyoor and he'd returned to Nakon Phanom in Thailand.

I remember the old lady to be full of life and she was fond of me; had visited us many a time. Will miss you amma. Rest in peace. My tears and prayers. 


Tailpiece.

Three Jaish-e-Muhammed(JeM) terrorists, including Kamran who was linked to the terror attack on the CRPF convoy were killed by the Indian security forces and four Indian Army personnel viz. Maj VS Dhoundiyal(Dehra Dun), Hav Sheo Ram(Jhunjhunu), Sep Ajay Kumar(Meerut) and Sep Hari Singh(Meerut) made the supreme sacrifice at Pulwama during the mopping up operations. 


Sunday, February 17, 2019

A happening Sunday.

Got up with the alarm, went through our chores and was ready well in time. The walk and the prayers went off fine, while Rema and Padmakumar were up and about, interacting with Lekha who was busy in the kitchen. Achu was allowed to sleep a bit more and he got up at a quarter to 9.

Rangoli, on the television was on, in full blast, which was a 'Madhubala special' as it was her 86th birthday last week. Being familiar with her photograph taken just before she'd passed into the mist of time in '60, I can't really visualise as to how she'd have looked at 86 yrs! And I don't want to, either!!

It was a boisterous breakfast of appams, egg curry and stew and Preetha sauntered in just as we were winding up. Got Rema and Achu to help me with the certificates to be rendered tomorrow in connection with mom's life time arrears. As I finished with my day's work on the laptop, Padmakumar, Rema and Achu went to the Guruvayur temple to have a darshan of the good Lord. It was a boisterous lunch on their return and after a bit of yakkitiyak, all of us decided to have our 40 winks.

Rema gave me a nice massage around the shoulders that was having a dull pain probably because of the wrong posture during sleep and my insistence on using two pillows!

The annual festivities of the Guruvayur temple is on. Today was the 'Aanayottam'(the elephant race) that marked the beginning of the 10-day festival. Twenty two elephants of the Guruvayur devaswom took part in the race and tusker Gopikannan came first. He'll, now, have the honour to carry the deity's golden replica all through this festival!

Soon it was teatime, we all had tea and then, the three of them had left for Palakkad. Padmakumar has a night bus to board from Coimbatore at 2200 hrs today to go to Mysore for doing some personal work. Achu will be at Palakkad, tomorrow as he has got some work at his company's outfit at Kanjikode!

And then came the news that two youth of the Congress party had been murdered in Kasaragod by the CPM cadre and a 'hartal' has been called for tomorrow! The first casualty is that Preetha, the maid, would remain absent! Lekha's gonna have a tough time.


Tailpiece.

Back home, the annual festival of the Thrikkonnamarkodu Devi temple had also commenced today. Our caretaker keeps me updated about it everyday! Damn sweet of him!!


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Should India have two time zones?

Preamble.

1. Russia has 11 time zones, the US has 9, Australia has 3 but China has only 1.
Many countries in Africa, Europe and most states in the US use DST(Daylight Saving Time) - by setting their clocks forward, usually by an hour, from the standard in summer and back in winter - to make better use of daylight.

The Case.

2. The sun sets almost two hours later in Gujarat than in Arunachal Pradesh, yet the watches show the same time. The country rises, works, studies and sleeps according to a single Indian Standard Time.

3. What's IST?

    * Indian Standard Time is 5 hrs 30' ahead of Universal Co-ordinated Time(UTC, which was 
       earlier called GMT), and is based on the longitude, 82 degrees 33 minutes east, running through
       Mirzapur, UP.
    * Prior to independence, India had two time zones - Bombay Time and Calcutta Time - to help the
       traders make use of daylight. However, in 1905, the British adopted a single time zone for India.

4. Why has it cropped up again?

    It's not something new. The north east has been demanding a different time zone for sometime via
    PILs(Which got thrown out) and campaigns. A government panel also shot down a proposal citing
    increased risk of railway accidents.

5. Research shows later sunsets mean less sleep.....

    * A new study by the Cornell University economist, Maulik Jagnani has noted the negative impact
       on quality of sleep, especially among poor kids and their educational levels. While the school
       day starts at the same time all over India, kids go to bed later where the sun sets later , reports
       IndiaSpend.
    * One hour delay in sunset means roughly 30' less sleep for kids.
    * Reduces school enrollment by 11%.
    * Leads to lower wages among adults, especially the poor.
       Rs.29,000 crores is what India may be losing in human capital costs annually.....

       ........And more consumption of power.
       Working in the dark requires artificial lighting. Researchers from CSIR-National Physical
       Laboratory estimate an annual energy savings of 20 million kWh if two time zones are
       implemented. 

How can it be done?

6. Demarcation line can be 89 degrees 52 minutes east, the chicken neck border between Assam and West Bengal, so that only a few railway stations need to reset times, according to CSIR-NPL researchers.

7. New time zone(IST-II) should be an hour ahead of existing IST.

8. Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Andaman and Nicobar Islands would follow IST-II.  
      
     
Tailpiece.

Got up along with the alarm, went through our chores and were ready well in time. Pushpaakaran, the friendly farm hand has been told about the postponement of his work and he will come by next Saturday as Rema and family will be here for lunch tomorrow.

In preparation for their visit, Lekha and the maid had gone to the supermarket to purchase grocery, vegetables and fruits.

Padmakumar, Rema and Achu reached here past 2200 hrs.  

Friday, February 15, 2019

What next after Pulwama?

A day after the terror strike, the Cabinet Committee on Security(CCS) has given the armed forces a free hand to decide on the timing, place and nature of their response to the carnage that left 40 CRPF men killed. India also revoked the 'Most Favoured Nation(MFN)' status to Pakistan that would hit Pakistan's exports to India which stood at $488.5 million(Around Rs.3,482.3 crores) in 2017-'18. The actions taken(Indicated in normal letters)/options available(Indicated in Italics) are listed below:-

   (a) The armed forces have stepped up pressure along the volatile LoC with the Pakistan Army, too,
        raising its alert levels.
   (b) In a major diplomatic offensive, India held a briefing for envoys of 25 countries including from
         P5 nations - US, China, Russia, UK and France - during which it highlighted Pakistan's role in
         using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
   (c) Before the above meeting, the Foreign Secretary had summoned the Pakistani High
         Commissioner and issued a very strong demarche over the attack. It has been told to take
         immediate and verifiable action against terror outfits operating from its soil.                 
   (d) The government needs to seriously consider limited cross border strikes - short of going to war 
         - to compel Islamabad to change its behaviour and these include:-

         (i) "Shallow" ground-based attacks.
        (ii) Occupation of some heights.
       (iii) Restricted but precision air strikes on "non-state targets" in Pakistan.
       (iv) Carefully calibrated air strikes which are the most viable and effective option to teach a
              punitive lesson.
        (v) Fighters like Su 30MKIs, Mirage 2000s and Jaguars, armed with "smart" glide bombs and
              and missiles, can be used to take out terror camps and launch pads near the LoC from
              "stand off ranges" without crossing into Pakistani airspace. Preparation time for such
              attacks will be minimal.
       (vi) The 90 km Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems and the 290 km BrahMos supersonic
              cruise missile can be used to target Army posts, terror camps, launch pads and staging
              areas.

But exercising any such coercive measures will require the requisite political will to risk retaliation and escalation. The aim would be to target the terror infrastructure in PoK, not the Pakistan heartland or its citizens. Hard kinetic options have become a necessity! 

And a few words of caution:-

         (a) The use of any air or missile strike on Pakistani territory, backed as it will have to be with
              troop mobilisation on the ground is bound to be escalatory as well as it will lead to collateral
              damage in the absence of hard intelligence and target co-ordinates.
         (b) Virtually, the entire air defence machinery of Pakistan is geared towards India. Things can
               easily spin out of control. Do not ever forget the fact that Pakistan has often threatened first
               use of nuclear weapons!


Tailpiece.

Had got up a trifle late after the alarm had gone off, gone through our chores and were ready well in time.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

An act of cowardice.

Forty two CRPF personnel were killed at Pulwama, in Jammu and Kashmir by a suicide bomber. The details are as follows:-

     (a) A 78-vehicle CRPF convoy was going from the transit camp in Jammu to Srinagar, this
          afternoon when the suicide bomber rammed his SUV, packed with explosives into a bus killing
          42 and injuring several others.
     (b) The explosive used in the attack was so strong - a report suggested that 200 kg of explosives
          was packed into the SUV - that the blast was heard 10-12 km away and the CRPF bus was left
          in a mangled heap.
     (c) The number of personnel travelling back to the valley was high as there was no movement on
           the highway for the past 2-3 days due to bad weather. The convoy was carrying 2,547 security
           personnel.
     (d) This is the worst ever terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy erupted in '89.
     (e) Pakistan-based terror outfit, Jaish-e-Muhammed(JeM) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

A Humble Appeal.

The Jaish-e-Muhammed has released a video clip of the suicide bomber identified as Adil Ahmad Dar and said that the video was shot before the young man carried out the attack in Lethopura, about 30 km short of Srinagar. 

Kindly do not circulate the photo of the terrorist through the social media, be it through What'sApp or by any other means, because these misguided people are trying to make a martyr out of the idiot! Let none among us fall into their trap!!

The CCS(Cabinet Committee on Security) is meeting tomorrow morning at 0900 hrs where the government will announce its response to the dastardly attack.


Tailpiece.

Had got up on the dot though with a bit of reluctance, gone through our chores and were ready well in time. The heat has been going up steadily and the water table has been correspondingly receding. Six rings of our well have been exposed, as of now.

Lekha, along with Preetha, had gone to the Guruvayur temple for their weekly tryst and had also done purchases from the nearby department store.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A bit of activity!

Had got up with the alarm and gone about our chores. We were ready well in time. Today's Wednesday and the first of the Malayalam month of Kumbham. The requisite 'aarathis' were carried out. The breakfast of 'sweet adas' turned out to be a dampener as certain parts of a few of them weren't cooked uniformly. I suppose errors creep in at times.

Vineesh came in soon after as per my directives given to him yesterday. Lekha and Preetha were dropped at the Mammiyoor Siva kshetram and we hit for the Geeyem Motors at Puzhakkal to sort out our Chevy's problems viz.:-

   (a) The clutch had become hard.
   (b) The car's body required an overall dent work and touch up.
   (c) A noise came, at times, from the front left wheel assembly and
   (d) To check fluid levels.

We returned an hour before lunchtime and I'd by then, begun to pursue restarting Lekha's cellphone as per instructions from Airtel. With a fair amount of juggling it was ascertained that the sim card needed a change and I was resigned to the fact that we'd have to go all the way to Kunnamkulam, about nine km from our house. Thankfully, we were directed to go to the new Airtel store that was opened a couple of months back at the railway level cross towards the eastern entrance. We made a beeline to the place and had a new sim place!

The siesta was, thus, shortened but for a worthwhile cause!


Tailpiece.

What the hell is happening?

Why do institutions like the AMU and the JNU court controversies all the time? Are we hearing about the shenanigans going on in these campuses, on a highlighted note these times, because of the BJP government in power?

Consider these:-

Fourteen students of the Aligarh Muslim University(AMU) have been charged with sedition, among other things, after they allegedly assaulted a TV crew and a few members of the BJP youth wing, last Tuesday. It all started after a few students, belonging to one section, objected to the proposed visit of AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi to the campus. The stories that preceded the FIRs raised would give a fair idea of the happenings:-

    (a) Mukesh Lodhi in his complaint has said that when he reached the AMU circle, his car was
          attacked by AMU students who tried to lynch him and when he'd opposed it, he was fired upon.
          Meanwhile, certain students were being targeted within the campus.
    (b) A reporter from the TV station, who'd gone to the campus for a story, alleged that the AMU
          security officer and students had misbehaved with her and her colleagues and snatched their
          camera.
  

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Power outages galore!

Had got up on time, went about our chores and was ready well on time. The maid was back after a gap of two days and so, things had eased out for Lekha. But there was another villain lurking around from morning - frequent power interruptions which restricted many of our activities.

Water was used sparingly because the motor could not be operated, the preparations in the kitchen had restrictions because the grinder mixer could not be put to use!

Could activate Lekha's new ATM card and give it our PIN at the nearby ATM. But the streamlining it along with certain apps didn't work as the bank was having an emergency meeting to sort out certain issues.

Went for the matinee show of the Tamil movie 'Perambu' meaning compassion. A nicely made movie that etches out the contours of a father-daughter relationship where the girl is a special child. Mammootty, as the often puzzled dad and finally coming to grips of the problem has given a subdued, sterling performance. Sadana who plays the daughter matches him in histrionics, frame for frame. The moment the father comes to terms with his daughter's transformation from a teenager to an adult has been very nicely put across! A nice movie that's gonna walk away with many honours in the long run, I'm sure!

The power outages continued all through the evening because of which many of the television programmes had to be skipped but the positive bit was that we got more time to interact. Lekha will be meeting Dr(Mrs)Sodhi tomorrow for her cough and cold tomorrow. The anti-allergic medicines don't seem to have much effect and she has been having it for the last six days!

The power outage towards the end of our day, hastened our decision to hit the sack comparatively early!


Tailpiece.

Lekha's cellphone has gone for a bunt. All of a sudden, this evening, its services were disabled and the instrument has gone dead. A similar situation had developed on my cellphone about two years back and mind you, both of us have post paid Airtel numbers! I'd put across to their executive that they've a tremendous responsibility towards their customers especially when they claim to have the largest chunk of customers rooting for them. Why do such things happen and why don't they accept their responsibility for the piss poor services that they provide? Or is it that the customer provider attains "godly status" after becoming numero uno - or whatever that means - in their field of work. No wonder the Reliance Jio has begun to overtake it and it will realise its follies in the end...albeit a twad too late.

Passed on the problem to a friend of mine who I came to know had left the organisation for greener pastures and yet, has promised to help me. damn sweet of him! 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Adieu Principal sir!

Then Wing Commander KH Jagannatha Rao was our school's Principal from 29 Oct '66 to 06 Dec '71. For guys like me who joined Sainik School, Kazhakootam in Jan '67, he was the Principal all through except for Captain GD Singh who had come by in his place over the last six months of our stay there. Can never forget his smart demeanour, his booming voice and the love he'd for his cadets.

His eldest son - the Raos have three children, Arun, Anand and Revathi -  Arun was in our class and so, we were privy to most of the strategic decisions taken but above all, we'd readily accepted the Raos as our foster parents! Our attachment was mutual and all pervading. I can never forget the flourish with which he used to put down his elegant signature!

Group Captain KH Jagannatha Rao passed into the mist of time this evening, at the ripe old age of 93 yrs, at his residence in Bangalore. Another important link to those halcyon days of our growing up has ceased to exist! 

RIP sir! My salute, tears and prayers for a thorough gentleman and mentor. May God give Arun and all the other family members the strength to tide over their grief.


Tailpiece.

Had got up on the dot, gone about our chores and we were ready well in time. It was the second day of Preetha's absence from work and Lekha had handled the show superbly. There was an all pervading breeze all through the day and hence, the heat during mid-afternoon was tamed to a considerable extent. But there were power outages galore, consequently.

Mithun's aunt(65) - dad's sister - had passed into the mist of time this forenoon. She was single and used to stay at their place all through. She was ailing for a while and the end came by at the hospital near their house at Payyannur. Ammu and Mithun have left Coimbatore by the late night bus to be in time for the funeral tomorrow.  

RIP Mithun's appachi! My tears and prayers.

PS.

1. Sir was fine till a fortnight back when he'd lost his balance and fallen in his sitting room severing the the ball from his left femur. It needed Bipolar Hemiarthroplasty which was carried out successfully and he'd even walked, thereafter, last Thursday onward. However, this Monday, the surgical stress led to gastric ulcers in the stomach  leading to their burst causing a heart attack from which his heart could not recover!

2. He's the latest to have joined the ever increasing list of those whom I pray for every morning.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

An MLA's shenanigans.

The Devikulam MLA's Highhandedness.

Young IAS officials facing threats from the Munnar land mafia has become a regular affair now. After Sub Collectors Sreeram Venkitaraman and VR Premkumar, Sub Collector Dr. Renu Raj is facing threats from land encroachers, aided and abetted by S Rajendran, the CPM MLA.

When the officials take serious action against illegal contructions and land encroachment in and around Munnar, the MLA and his partymen oppose the move  and even use abusive language against the officials to tame them into submission. Sample some of the threats:-

   (a) To Sreeram Venkitaraman. "You will be amputated and will have to crawl all your way from
         Munnar".
   (b) To VR Premkumar. The verbal attack was much more severe. He alleged that he'd got his IAS
         by copying in exams. He was a mentally-challenged person and was being controlled by
         someone.
   (c) To Dr. Renu Raj. "She doesn't have brains. Just because she is an IAS, she's trying to act
         smart. She should read about all these issues and understand them. How can a person who
         studied to be a collector act stupid?

Sub Collector Dr. Renu Raj's acts of "perfidy" were:-

   (a) The revenue department had issued a "stop memo" to the construction of a shopping complex
         near the Muthirappuzha River last Thursday. The panchayat ignored it. A revenue team reached
         the site on Friday and tried to stop the construction but the MLA and his goons, along with
         R Karuppuswami, the Panchayat President, blocked the revenue officials and sent them back.
         Meanwhile, the MLA abused the sub collector and its visuals sparked off the controversy.

   (b) Today, she has issued a "stop memo" to the soil mining activity on land owned(?) by a CPM
         leader after it was found that the guy had encroached on PWD land!

Luckily for the sub collector the following factors are supportive:-

    (a) The Revenue Minister is on her side. He's, incidentally, a CPI man and Munnar happenings
          have an inherent CPM-CPI tussle.
    (b) The CPM's district leadership has sought an explanation from the MLA. Is it a face saver
          or a desperate act to buy time?

PS. Nothing heard from MM Mani, the minister as yet!


Tailpiece.

Had got up on the dot and found Lekha sleeping like a log and decided not to disturb her. Had gone about lighting the lamp at the puja room, opened up the windows of the bedroom and the dining hall below as well as opened up the gate. Came back upstairs and watered the potted plants at the balcony. It was then that I'd woken up Lekha, who went about her chores pronto and by then, it was a half past 6. The Njaanapaana and the Harinaama keerthanam were heard on the music system followed by Rangoli.

We were well in time for breakfast which consisted of idiappams and stew. The day had a quietness thanks to it being a Sunday and the consequential reduction in traffic on the main highway.

Ammu and Midhun were at Bangalore while Achu was with his parents, in Palakkad, having arrived last night from Perundurai.

Ammu, by the end of the day, had started our What'sApp group and Rema has christened it as Raj Nivas. We hope not to repeat the mistakes of other groups and it will be a supportive group for all its members as there's no competition(?) amid us!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Another shameful piece of news!

Had got up with the alarm, gone through the chores and were ready in time. Xavier came in after 9  but found that he needed the help of an understudy to go up to the terrace to shut down a valve on the waterline network - I, too, wasn't aware of it till date! - to stop the input into the geyser. They, also, took their time to fix the main switch board with the four screws that I'd insisted upon. My assessment of Xavier and I don't hesitate being brutally frank - far from being professionally competent, it took six visits to my home for him to fix a problematic geyser. Is addicted to liquor and smells of it right in the morning! Many a time I'd noticed him gaze into thin air trying to come to grips with the problem but what exacerbates the problem is that he does not get the bills of the purchases that he makes in the due course of repairs. Opaqueness in his dealings which will, eventually, go against him!

Preetha is not gonna come by for the next two days as the temple near her house is celebrating its annual festival, her son is fetching up from Thalasserry this evening and the entire family will be ganging up at her place this evening. She seemed to be excited about it and as Lekha put it, she was only physically present at 'The Quarterdeck' while her mind was away at her place!

The gentleman who had bought the ten cents of land near our house seems to be going about his plans of building his house meticulously and in right earnest - yesterday, the trees were cut and sent away in lorries as neatly chopped logs and today, the clearing is discernible where the building is gonna come up.


Tailpiece.

Now, what a shame?

The #MeToo movement has shot into prominence in Latin America.

A former Miss Costa Rica beauty queen has filed a complaint against the country's ex-President, Oscar Arias, 78, for sexually assaulting her in '15, adding to a growing number of women lodging accusations against the two-time President, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating an end to civil wars in Central America.

This was Yazmin Morales' version of the sordid incident when he'd forced himself on her at his San Jose home, after he'd contacted her on social media, "He grabbed me forcibly and then with one of his hands he touched my breasts over my clothes and kissed me against my will. I was in shock I didn't expect anything like this from someone so well known and someone I admired very much".

Anti-nuclear activist, Alexandra Arce was the first woman to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the President.

Shouldn't the personal conduct of an individual be taken into consideration while he/she is being considered for an award? It's the moot question!





Friday, February 8, 2019

Setting things right!

Had got up around a half past 3 to clear the bladder when I heard the drip of water from the geyser and mind you, it was refitted overhead, only yesterday after repairs. I was damn angry with Xavier, the electrician, for the low quality of his work and consequently, sleep took a long time to return. Lekha had turned back to sleep after hearing the alarm on her cellphone and I deduced - rather stupidly - that it must have gone off at an earlier time that was meant for yesterday!

We'd hurriedly got up at a half past 6, gone through our chores as Rema was to be leaving for Palakkad before 8. We got our act together and both Rema and I went away to the road transport corporation bus stand for her to board the bus for Palakkad. The decision was arrived at earlier as the buses were anticipated to be crowded, around these times, because of school going children.

However, just as we reached the bus stand, Rema realised that she'd left her cellphone at home and so we came back to fetch it. Had then released the autorickshaw and we waited for the next bus - a fast passenger - that fetched up around a few minutes past 8 and my sister had reached her home, two and a half hours later. While standing at the bus stop, the security sentry at Ikka's house had asked me about my long absence from sight and I told him about my illness. He, too, has had medical problems in terms of high sugar and is undergoing medication. He looks weak but is trimmer than before!

Earlier, had called up Xavier to give him a piece of my mind about the shoddy job and he'd come soon after, identified the problem to be the leaking inlet tap and has promised to replace it later in the day. Reji had come by lunchtime, I'd to give a helping hand to remove the machine of the clock which he takes to Kochi for repairs/bringing another to refit into our Grandmother clock - it might take place sometime by the end of next week, as I see it.


Tailpiece.

A nixed noting of an MoD file was brandished by Rahul Gandhi, in a hurriedly called press conference in the evening, to say that it confirmed the involvement of the Prime Minister in the Rafael deal and called him a thief. Had the note been authentic, it should have in all probability be placed in Parliament where the party is seeking a JPC probe! The RM, herself, was on national television later on, pointing out the falsehood - the note written by the RM, towards the end, had been blanked out!

Does Rahul Gandhi's actions mirror the family's fear over the fact that the Enforcement Directorate is closing in on his brother-in-law, Robert Vadra's misdeeds through the interrogation that has been going on for the past three days?  
    

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Lekha's medical review.

Lekha and Rema had got up earlier than normal in preparation for their trip. I followed them about half an hour later and went through the morning chores. Vineesh had come about 10' before departure time and Lekha and Rema had left, on the dot, at 7. It was after they'd left that I realised that Vineesh had left me with a task - a metallic wheel of the massive moving gate had come off the rail and I'd sought the help of the workers next door to put it back in place.

Vineesh complained about the tightness of the clutch and the consequent difficulty in shifting gears while driving our Chevy. The problem was felt more at Vyttila and Kundannoor where there was a massive traffic snarl. They could reach Shenoy Care well in time, though. Though the time given for meeting the doctor was at 1, he finally, saw her at a quarter to 3 and that too, while being busy on his phone. Sad! Dedication and earnestness suffer a setback as fame and income increase, paradoxically acquired from the patients...the end result being that the doctor loses his personal touch and doesn't have time for those very same patients!!

Lekha's next review is towards the first week of May and I hope to take her then. Rema has been a great help in taking her for the last two reviews.

Reji had promised to come by for the replacement of the heart of the Grandmother clock but alas, his assurances remained but a promise. He has, now, said that he'd come by early in the morning, between 5 and 6, to collect the piece for its onward transportation to Kochi. Xavier, finally, fetched up at 5 to reinstall the geyser. Phew, the problem seems to have been licked though I must admit that I don't have faith in his workmanship as he reeks of liquor right from the morning. I would, go with him for this lone electrical work as money has been invested!

Lekha and Rema had returned by 7, in the evening. Vineesh seemed to be a happy man, having run the errand and has promised to help me subsequently, whenever required.


Tailpiece.

The Prime Minister was at his best in the Parliament where he showcased his government's achievements of the past 55 months comparing it with the 55 years of achievements of the successive Congress governments! The opposition was left tongue tied!! I liked his calling the 'mahagathbandhan' as the 'mahamilavat'!

So, what did Rahul Gandhi do in return. At a meeting, he makes a statement to, "Darpok Modiji ko mere saamne khada kar do aur mein usko demolish karoonga about the Rafael deal". The same empty bluster that saw the then PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh close to tears when he tore a piece of his government's legislation in public. Wonder what gives him the right to disregard and pooh pooh age and experience? A childish guy who's taking advantage of the accident of his birth!     

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

My sister comes by.

We'd got up at our usual time of 6, went about our chores and were ready well in time. The walk and the prayers went off without any hitch.

The review pleas on the Sabarimala verdict of 28 Sep 18 were heard in the Supreme Court today. After hearing them, the court has reserved its judgement. It would be appropriate to visit the background of the case and here I go:-





The Impasse.

The Sabarimala is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, situated at the Sabarimala Hills in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. In the past, women devotees of menstruating age - between 10 and 50 yrs of age - were not permitted as pilgrims due to the celibate nature of the deity in the temple. A Kerala High Court judgement had legalised this interpretation in 1991. It was this practice that was upturned by the Supreme Court on 28 Sep '18 stating equality of the sexes assured by the Constitution!

Massive protests took place all over Kerala when the state government tried to enforce the verdict. Of course, its view was that the protests were perpetuated by the goons of the RSS and the BJP. Some time in between the Nov-Dec pilgrimage season, two women were dramatically whisked through the sanctum sanctorum without the mandatory packed offerings on their heads - through a gate exclusively meant for the staff without negotiating the mandatory 18 steps while being fully wrapped up in black sheets. This stealthy performance was carried out by the police and exposed the diabolic approach of the state government where it said something and did something different. At the end of the Sabarimala season, The Kerala Police had submitted a list of 51 women - later found to have names of men and many women who'd reached menopause in it - it's but natural that it had the blessings of the state government! Consequently, in the current session of the state's Legislative Assembly, the government has proclaimed that only two women had entered the temple.

The Parties That had Asked For A Review Of The Verdict.

 * Nair Service Society(NSS)                              -              K Parasaran.
 * Tantri Kantharar Rajeevaru                             -              V Giri.
 * Prayar Gopalakrishnan                                    -               Abhishek Singhvi.
 * Kerala Government                                         -               Jaideep Gupta.
 * Devaswom Board                                            -               Rakesh Dwivedi.
 * Ms. Bindu, Kanakadurga                                 -               Indira Jaisingh.

Seven more days have been given by the Court for further reviews, for or against, to be given in writing.


Tailpiece.

1. My sister, Rema, had fetched up from Palakkad by teatime to accompany Lekha to Kochi tomorrow for her medical review. Meanwhile, Lekha's cough has gone up in intensity!

2. Vineesh, an ever smiling youngster, was sent by Sajid - our chauffeur -  for tomorrow's trip to Kochi as he was attending to his brother-in-law who was seriously ill and admitted in the hospital. He was told to reach us by 0700 hrs.

 


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A long power interruption.

We'd got up about 20' after the alarm but had gone through our chores with gusto and were ready well in time. The walk and the prayers had gone off well and I'd my morning cuppa by 8. It was before going for my bath that I realised that the geyser had again gone blink.

It was our maid, Preetha's birthday and we wished her many happy returns on arrival. Lekha had given special instructions to make a 'high lunch' with 'parippum pappadavum' and 'paayasam'! Selvam, who'd come by for pressing the clothes also partook the goodies.

On inquiry about his son, Raja's tryst with Pandian, his would-be-employer at Pondicherry, his reply was, "Sir, when my son was asked as to how much pay he would like to get, the boy was taken by surprise and had timidly answered that he would be satisfied with Rs.9,000/-!" I was amused and told him to tell his son that since he was an engineer, he could seek a higher remuneration.

Xavier and his mate came by about a half past 12 but the power interruption prevented them from embarking on their work and consequently, had to return. The power had returned only by about 1800 hrs!

Lekha's cough seems to be persistent and it needs to be tackled at the earliest before it shows a tendency to intensify. She meets Padmanabha Shenoy on Thursday who should prescribe the antidote. Such situations are always a cause for worry!


Tailpiece.

The Supreme Court has cleared the interrogation of Calcutta's Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar by the CBI at Shillong, a neutral territory. Mamata Banerjee has claimed it as a moral victory, wonder how? She has got her head off the self applied noose by calling off the 'dharna'.   

Monday, February 4, 2019

Limbering up for the medical review.

We were up at a half past 5 - though I wasn't aware - thanks to the alarm on Lekha's cellphone. She'd wanted that half an hour head start so that she could give me breakfast by a half past 7. The Rajah team had come promptly at 7 to draw our blood/urine samples. The girls took a bit of time to locate Lekha's vein and the entire process took about 15'!

Lekha and Preetha had gone to the Mammiyoor Siva kshethram for their weekly tryst. Meanwhile, the Rajah team had come in for the second time to collect my blood sample to ascertain 'blood sugar - post prandial'!

The results were brought in a trifle before lunchtime. Lekha's results are okay and she is slated for her review with her doctor on 07 Feb. But mine had spikes in the sugar readings as well as the SGOT/SGPT readings. The changes have to be observed in the next set of readings after a fortnight or so!

After almost a fortnight, an electrician by the name of Xavier had come by to rectify the geyser in one of the bathrooms. He got it going and thankfully, it was a defective circuit breaker that needed to be replaced! However, I,  feel that the problem has not been licked entirely thanks to a water drip from an inlet point in the geyser. I'd also got him and his mate to recharge the distilled water in the batteries of the inverter and the solar powered light in front of the house.


Tailpiece.

1. The drama at Calcutta is going on without respite. Perhaps, the logjam will be brought to an end          after the hearing of the case by the Supreme Court tomorrow morning.

2. The Kerala Government had announced that only two women had entered the Sabarimala temple
    in the Legislative Assembly, today. So, why was that bogus list of 51 ladies - under 50 years -
    submitted in the Kerala High Court by the same government some time back?

  

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Has the CBI got closer to Mamata Banerjee's involvement in the scam?

The Midnight Drama In Calcutta.

* West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sat on an overnight 'Save the Constitution' dharna 
   at Calcutta's Metro Channel late night this Sunday, 03 Feb along with Calcutta's Police
   Commissioner Rajeev Kumar as the state plunged into an unprecedented crisis.

* A CBI team, had earlier, gone to the Calcutta police chief's residence to question him in connection
   with the 'ponzi scam cases' but was detained by the police only to be released later.

* The opposition leaders have extended their full support(For what; her corruption?) to Mamata.

* The CBI will be approaching the Supreme Court tomorrow morning for an urgent hearing
   regarding the ongoing stand off between the CBI and the government of West Bengal.

So, has the CBI gotten closer to Mamata Banerjee's involvement in the scam? Otherwise, why should she lose her cool?


Tailpiece.  

This morning, Vichani kunjamma's ashes were immersed at Papanasham in Varkala by close family members. So, she has finally joined Achhan, Amma, Leela kunjamma and Santhan kochachhan and I'm sure, must be telling her tearful story to the others.

Had got up about 15' after the alarm, gone through our chores and we were ready on time. Pushpaakaran was working on the piece of land in front of our house and he has been booked for the bimonthly cleanship within the house on the 17th. His wife was in the Rajah hospital - I'd spoken earlier as to how both her kidneys have failed and she is on dialysis thrice a week - because her Potassium levels were high at a count of 6. Today, she has been brought back home with the 'K' level at 4.

Had called up the Rajah hospital's lab and fixed up our appointment for collection of our blood/urine samples tomorrow morning at 7 AM. Lekha is scheduled to visit Dr. Padmanabha Shenoy, this Thursday and I'm keen to know as to what my liver readings are.   

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Finally, at the Amigos.

Had heard the alarm in the morning at 6 but both of us had turned back to sleep for some more time. But we shook ourselves off the lethargy and went about our chores by a quarter past 6. Had decided to go for a haircut - my first one at the nearby 'Amigos' after October. In between, one of the boys had come home to style my hair because of my medical condition.

So, breakfast was had without having a bath! Lekha and Preetha had gone to the supermarket, nearby, to buy grocery, vegetables and fruits. By about a half past 10, before they returned, I was off because Sajish, the boy who took care of my hairstyle needs, was free. It was a nice three quarters of an hour with a massage thrown in that relaxed me considerably!

What saddened me was the news of the two Air Force test pilots, who'd passed into the mist of time yesterday, at the Bangalore airport. They were test flying a Jaguar made by the HAL which seemed to have all sorts of problems - one of its oleos had sheared off immediately on take off. Both the pilots had ejected but their parachutes had caught fire by the aircraft's debris - one died instantaneously while the second died, sometime later at the hospital! And this was the organisation, along with the Congress party, which was making a lot of allegations against the Modi government for overlooking it in the manufacture of the subsequent Rafael aircraft under the Offset Agreement of the main contract!

Vipinachandran(Roll no.432), my classmate from school and a forester, along with his wife, Leena had reached Guruvayur this afternoon in connection with a wedding in their family. They'd dropped by at 'The Quarterdeck' in the evening and were with us for about an hour and a half. I was on lime juice, along with Lekha and Leena, while he sipped his brandy - I was on a sabbatical from hard drinks thanks to a restriction in intakes, post-jaundice. Their son - Unni is his pet name - was off to Canada and was boarding the flight in the wee hours of tomorrow morning to attend a meeting. He will return after a week. He works for the company, IBS and writes programs that move the ailerons and the fins of an aircraft that help in its motion in air as well as on the ground and the youngster is deputed for most of the interactions abroad thanks to his proficiency in English.Must interact with him to know more about his work!


Tailpiece.

The selection committee comprising the PM, the CJI and Mr. Mallikarjun Kharge has selected former Madhya Pradesh DGP, Rishi Kumar Shukla as the new director of the CBI. He was recently removed from the post of DGP by the Kamalnath government, soon after taking over. Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress, has come up with a dissent note that all three aspects of seniority, integrity and investigative experience in investigation of anti-corruption cases should be given equal weightage and that RK Shukla lacked the third aspect!

Isn't that a joke? It's like insisting that the CMD and Managing Director of the Air India must be a pilot too!



Friday, February 1, 2019

The union budget - 2019.

The interim budget was presented in the Lok Sabha, today, by Mr. Piyush Goel, the minister of railways standing in as the FM, in place of Arun Jaitley away in the US for treatment. The highlights are:-

   1. Within two years, tax assessment will be done electronically.
   2. IT returns processing in just 24 hrs.
   3. Minimum 14% revenue of GST to states by the central government.
   4. Customs duty abolished from 36 capital goods.
   5. Recommendations to GST council for reducing GST rates for home buyers.
   6. Full tax rebate up to Rs.5 lakh annual income after all deductions.
   7. Standard deduction increased from Rs.40,000/- to Rs.50,000/-.
   8. Exempt on tax on second self occupied house.
   9. Ceiling limit of TDS u/s 194A increased from Rs.10,000/- to Rs.40,000/-.
 10. Ceiling limit of TDS u/s 194I increased from Rs.1,80,000/- to Rs.2,40,000/-.
 11. Capital tax benefit u/s 54 increased from investment in one residential house to two residential
       houses.
 12. Benefit u/s 801B increased to one more year ie. 2000.
 13. Benefit given to unsold inventory increased  to one to two years.

Other areas.

 14. State share increased to 42%.
 15. PCA restriction abolished from three banks.
 16. 2 lakh seats increase for the economic downtrodden reservation of 10%.
 17. Rs.60,000 crores for MANREGA.
 18. Rs.1.7 lakh crore to ensure food for all.
 19. 22nd AIIMS to be opened in Haryana.
 20. Approval for PM Kisan Yojana.
 21. Rs.6,000/- per annum to be given to every farmer having up to 2 hectare land. Applicable from
       Sep '18. Amount to be transferred in three installments.
 22. National kamdhenu ayog for cows. Rs.750 crores for National Gokul Mission.
 23. 2% interest subvention for farmers pursuing animal husbandry and also create separate
       department for fisheries.
 24. 2% interest subvention for farmers affected by natural calamities and additional 3% interest
       subvention for timely payment.
 25. Tax free gratuity limit increase to 20 lakhs from 10 lakhs.
 26. Bonus will be applicable for workers earning Rs.21,000/- monthly.
 27. The scheme called Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan will provide assured monthly pension
       of Rs.3,000/- with contribution of Rs.100/- per month for workers in unorganised sector after 60
       after 60 years of age.
 28. Our government delivered 6 crores free LPG connections under Ujjwala scheme.
 29. 2% interest relief for MSME GST registered person.
 30. 26 weeks of maternity leave to empower women.
 31. More than Rs.3 lakh crores for defence.
 32. One lakh digital villages in next 5 years.
 33. Single window for approval of India film makers.


Tailpiece.

1. Well, a good budget that looks for long term development. The sickening farm loan waivers have been done away with, the farmers will get their benefits by direct bank transfer. The budget has also catered for the middle class.

2. Our coconut palm has flowered for the first time after a five year wait!

PS.
Today was Vichani kunjamma's 13th day ceremony. Everyone of the family had conglomerated at the place where she'd spent her last days to be part of the proceedings. I've included her in my morning prayers.