Thursday, October 31, 2019


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!!


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!


    *                             *                              *

                               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!


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
     (viii) Protects the heart from seizures and strokes as it contains cardiovascular protective
       (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
       (xi) Drinking a cup of boiled bay leaves, twice a day, breaks kidney stones and cures infections...


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!


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


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

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

      *                    *                     *

with Anu Garg

Sunday punch

(SUHN-day punch)

noun: A powerful, devastating blow.


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.


"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.


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

       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

 (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!


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!


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!


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

     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.


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.


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

  (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!


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

 * 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.


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.


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.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Is this because of the Malayalees' craze for gold?

The Customs department, which raided 23 places in Thrissur on Wednesday and seized 123 kg of gold suspected to be smuggled into the state, said yesterday that it had intelligence that over 250 kg of the precious metal would come to Thrissur before Diwali.

The operation which started in July-end with collection of intelligence on the movement of couriers carrying smuggled gold from Madras and Trichy to gold traders in Thrissur concluded on Wednesday morning by striking exactly on the premises where the smuggled gold was kept. The carriers used to travel in groups of 5 to 10 members and used to get Rs.3,000/- for smuggling a kg of gold; carried them as cut pieces, crude ornaments and biscuits.

So, where and how does the gold come from?

Origin of smuggled gold

  * Gulf countries.
  * Bangkok.
  * Sri Lanka.
  * Malaysia and
  * Singapore.

How smuggled gold enters Kerala market

Gold reaches India via airports, sea landings, border smuggling and smuggling through container ships. Customs officers say that the latest trend is that gold is smuggled to exchange hubs in Kerala like Thrissur through public transport like trains, interstate buses, passenger buses, etc.

Which are the exchange hubs?

Customs officers who made Wednesday's seizure say that carriers used to shuttle between Thrissur, Trichy and Madras. The gold is suspected to be processed and resold from here. The exact link between the origin and destination of the smuggled gold is yet to be identified. Koduvally in Kozhikode, is also a similar destination.

What's the loss to the exchequer?

The customs duty on gold is 12.5%. Adding 3% GST to it, 15.5% of the value is supposed to reach the government exchequer as taxes and smuggling denies this revenue to the government.

How it affects the customer?

Sources say that the ornaments are sold at cheaper rates by decreasing by decreasing making charges. Customs officers say that the duty saved through smuggling, most probably, becomes the profit of those in the industry who use smuggled gold.

Sea landings

* Smuggling in various vessels to the Tamilnadu coast.
* Smuggling using container ships.

Border smuggling

Gold smuggled in through borders of neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and China are later transported to various states.


* Mostly youth.
* Each one carries a kilo of gold.
* They use public transport and travel in small groups.

Note. Courtesy ToI.


Attended the late Vinod Kumar Vasudev and Sujatha's daughter, Parvathy's wedding at the Hotel Devaragam auditorium that commenced at 0630 hrs with the 'thaalikettu' at the temple, attended by the close family members. We'd fetched up at a half past 8. Met Vinod's elder sister and her husband. MS Mohan Nair-Asha, Padmasenan-Sujatha, KS Venugopal, KN Mohandas, Chacko Ipe-Sara and self-Lekha had attended from among our classmates. It was a well conducted function with the right amount of pomp and show. Here's wishing Vignesh and Parvathy a very happy and long married life and everything that they wish for in their life together!

KS Venugopal(413) came home for dinner. It was nice to hear him on various things!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Scientific standards to ascertain beauty?

The "Golden Ratio of Beauty Phi", defines beauty in accordance with classic Greek calculations. Measurements of facial proportions are done going by standards that Greek scholars applied while trying to define beauty with scientific formula.

23-year-old Supermodel Bella Khair Hadid, born on 09 Oct '96 in Washington DC, reared in Los Angeles and a resident of New York City is this year's winner.

According to the "Golden Ratio Measurements", Bella has a face that is 94. 35% perfect.

Scientists determining the most beautiful woman on the planet according to the "Golden Ratio of Beauty Phi Standards" have picked the Victoria's Secret model's face as the one that comes closest to perfection!

Vital Statistics.

    * Parents - Real Estate Developer Mohammed Hadid (Palestinian) is the father and former model
       Yolanda Hadid (Dutch) is her mother.
    * Is an American Model. Commenced modeling from 16 years of age.
    * Has an older sister and a younger brother.

Modeling Information.

    * Height                                 5' 9".
    * Hair                                     Brown, Blonde(Natural).
    * Eye colour                           Blue-Green.

Other Information.

    * Currently, Ambassador of Dior makeup.
    * Wants to take up Fashion Photography as a career once she is done modeling.

The others, in the reckoning, fared as given below:-

    * Pop diva Beyonce Knowles finished second and her face is 92.44% perfect.
    * Actress Amber Heard came third and her face is 91.85% perfect.
    * Pop star Areana Grande was fourth and her face is 91.81% perfect.


A bright day to start with. A quick flit to town to fetch sundries. My classmates Venugopal(413) and Mohan(278) have fetched up for attending the late Vasu's(415) daughter, Parvathy's wedding tomorrow. Chacko Ipe(433) has said that he will fetch up tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

A murder most foul.

We'd got up this morning to the sad news about a ghastly murder, that had taken place during the early morning hours of yesterday morning.

KK Manoharan, all of 68 yrs, had left his HP Petrol Pump at Moonnupeedika in Kaipamangalam, around 0115 hrs yesterday. The CCTV visuals, retrieved from the pump, show him leaving in his car to his home which is just 10 minutes away. He did not reach home even after 0130 hrs. So his daughter had called on his mobile phone twice but nobody picked up the call. On her third attempt, a stranger answered the phone call and said, "Sir is sleeping" and disconnected the call. After waiting till 0200 hrs, his family members reached the petrol pump looking for him. The employees told them that he'd left about 45' earlier. As there was no sign of him, the family members filed a missing complaint at the Kaipamangalam police station.

The body was found around 0700 hrs by the early morning walkers at Mammiyoor, near the Little Flower College - our backyard, literally - nearly 40 km from Kaipamangalam. He was found lying face downwards with his hands crossed behind his back. The doctor who conducted his post mortem said that he had died of strangulation.

It is understood, from the preliminary investigations done by the police, that three local youth had chased Manoharan's car on a two-wheeler and hit his car from behind and in the bargain, one of them was thrown off the vehicle. Manoharan had stopped his car to inquire about the accident when he was overpowered by the youth. When he tried to escape by shouting out, one of the miscreants had clamped his mouth shut which ultimately saw his end, due to smothering.

The miscreants dumped the body enroute during their get away and the police had later retrieved the ill fated car from the Angadippuram Railway Station in Malappuram. The miscreants have since been taken into police custody. Reportedly, they abducted Manoharan to rob him of the cash collection of Rs.5 Lakhs collected at the pump, which the owner had left behind in the petrol pump office!

After working in the gulf for about 35 years, he'd set up this petrol pump in 2007 and on returning from abroad two years later, he'd become active with the running of the bunk.

RIP Manoharan. This world is full of nasty people. My heartfelt condolences to your family. Here's wishing that your near and dear ones have the strength to tide over their loss.


The onset of the north east monsoon has begun in right earnest. The tell tale thundershowers in the evening, accompanied by thunder and lightning, was the highlight of the day causing a massive power outage. Viewing the television was out and therefore, Lekha and I had a lot of time to talk!   

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Leaking Bucket.

* You wake up early morning trying to do your Pooja/Path/Yoga but your mind is elsewhere and
   before you know it, you're done with it without being mindful of it. (A leaking bucket)

* You are very kind to outsiders/people in general and speak with them gently but with your own
   family you're always harsh/rude. (A leaking bucket)

* You honour and treat your guests well but when they leave, you gossip about them and talk about
   their flaws. (A leaking bucket)

* You try to read as much religious books, listen to Satsang/Keertan, participate in social services/
   Seva but you swear, insult, curse daily. (A leaking bucket)

* You help others but you're doing it to gain something in return from them and not doing those acts
   of kindness selflessly. (A leaking bucket)

* You slander other devout persons out of hatred, spite when your views do not meet one another,
   (A leaking bucket)

* You look down on the others and feel more superior than them, judging their level of knowledge
   upon religion based on external appearance.

We struggle to fill our Jeevans (the bucket) with the 'kamaayi' of religious knowledge (the water), hoping it will retain inside but it is leaked by the many flaws (the holes) that we commit daily.

      *                               *                                 *

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg

If you have ever wondered how the days of the week were named, here's the scoop. The ancient people named them after gods and well, a goddess.

Sunday is named after the sun and Monday after the moon. After that things are not so obvious.

Tuesday is after Tiw, the Germanic god of war and the sky. His Roman equivalent is Mars, hence in Spanish Tuesday is martes, in French mardi.

For Wednesday, we can thank Germanic god Woden (Scandinavian Odin). Roman equivalent is Mercury.

Thursday is Thor's day, the Germanic god of thunder. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter.

Friday! We forgot there are females too. Let's name a day after a goddess, after all. Friday is named after the Germanic goddess Frigga, wife of Odin whom we met on Wednesday. She's also known as Freya. The Roman equivalent is Venus.

Saturday is obviously named after Saturn, the Roman god.

Many terms in the English language are named after days of the week, for example, Monday morning quarterback. Here's another one.

Friday face.


noun: A glum expression or a person with such an expression.

From the time when Fridays were days of fasting. Earliest documented use : 1052.

Today, most people look forward to Fridays (TGIF: Thank God It's Friday), but it wasn't always so.
These days Friday means the weekend is near, but back when religion ran day-to-day life, in some religions a Friday was marked as a day of fasting or at least abstaining from meat. Hence, a Friday came to be associated with a gloomy face.

"I see ya got your Friday face on, looking gloomy".
Luca Di Fulvio; The Boy Who Granted Dreams; Bastei;2015.

Note. Source : Adapted.


An unusually quiet day. Annie had taken an off for the day.  

Monday, October 14, 2019

From near and far.

Yet another news analysis about the ones that are currently making headlines. So, without much ado, let's get down to brass tacks.

 (a) The Chinese President's Visit to Nepal.

       Before landing in India to have his informal meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi,
       Chinese President Xi Jinping had visited Nepal. It's interesting to note the list of agreements
       signed between the two countries viz.:-

          (i) A 70-km rail link to connect Gyiron in Tibet with Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal as part
               of China's Belt and Road initiative.
         (ii) Alongside, a proposed 28-km road tunnel will more than halve the distance to the Chinese
               border from Kathmandu, saving on time and cost.
        (iii) Officials from both sides signed 20 deals covering trade, water supply and traditional
        (iv) Pledges $439 million assistance to help Nepal's development programmes, which will be
               provided over the next two years.
         (v) Upgrade the Arniko Highway linking Kathmandu with Tatopani transit point - it was shut
               down following the devastating earthquake of 2015 - and open more customs points to
               improve connectivity.

        The Chinese President was emphatic when he said, "We will help Nepal realise its dreams of
        becoming a land-linked country from a land-locked one".

        My take.
        China is not keen to have any rivals in the region and it perceives India as the greatest threat in
        this regard. It has been trying desperately to wean away the SAARC countries into its fold which
        has been its diplomatic strategy to contain India. Only Pakistan seems to have gone by its
        diktats; Sri Lanka has burnt its fingers with the Hambantota port development by the Chinese!

  (b) Neither Forethought nor Planning!

              The houseboats on the Vembanadu Lake in Alappuzha district have attracted tourists from
              far and wide and has a great money making potential. The greatest problem today is the
              discharge of sewage waste by houseboats that chokes the lake. The amicus curiae appointed
              by the High Court has suggested that action was required to prevent pollution and
              construction of resorts alongside the Vembanadu backwaters. The absence of a waste
              treatment plant in Alappuzha is considered a great deficiency1

              My take.

              When the project was thought of at the beginning, don't tell me that the planners never
              thought about the various contingencies and initiated necessary measures. Wonder how
              decisions are made? It's a sad reflection of our lack of thinking and original thought. Hope
              that the necessary remedial measures will be put in place at the earliest!


Had gone to town to give the clothes for dry cleaning, Lekha's watch for repairs, pay the monthly water bill and do up the puncture in the left rear tyre.



Sunday, October 13, 2019

"Valiant were their deeds, undying be their memories".

This is the epitaph that greets a visitor at the IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) Memorial, at Colombo, built by Sri Lanka to honour the soldiers and sailors of the Indian Armed Forces, who'd made the supreme sacrifice while defending that country consequent to the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord of Jun '87. I, too, was a member of the IPKF and the ship that I was commanding - INLCU L 36 - was operating close to the Jaffna Lagoon at the time of this incident.

Dateline 12 Oct!

Today, we pay homage to the brave soldiers of 13 Sikh Light Infantry(Then led by Maj Birendra Singh, VrC (P) and 10 Para Commando, commanded by Maj Sheonan Singh, VrC - part of the operation "Jaffna Helidrop". Launched on the midnight of 12 Oct 1987, the operation was planned as a fast heliborne assault to capture the LTTE leadership at Jaffna University building which served as the Tactical Headquarters of the LTTE.

Unknown to the Indian intelligence, the LTTE had intercepted Indian radio communications, had advance knowledge of the operation and had correctly identified the landing ground. Jaffna University had been turned into a fortress. Several 0.50 calibre machine guns had been moved to the north of the football field and LTTE cadres had laid an ambush for the Indian troops.

As the troops were heli-dropped, they came under intense fire. In many cases, the soldiers were not able to see the LTTE snipers and attackers. After the Sikh Li's radioman was shot early on, the unit lost contact with the Indian High Command at Palaly Air Base. Further insertions of Indian troops could not be made due to the firing and 30 Sikh LI soldiers were left in the battleground on their own devices.

Through the night, the Sikh LI fought fiercelessly even as the men fell one by one, Maj Birendra Singh and his Platoon Commander, Subedar Sampuran Singh fell to enemy fire sometime in the morning. By 1130 hrs on 12 Oct, Delta Company was down to three jawans surviving. When they ran out of ammunition, the three survivors attempted a brave bayonet charge. Two were cut down by LTTE gunfire and the last man, Sepoy Gora Singh, was taken POW. When the Indian Army finally reached the area after a week of heavy firing, they found the battlefield littered with pieces of Sikh LI's uniforms and equipment, along with thousands of 0.50 MG shells. Gora Singh, after his release, reconstructed the happenings of this day as one of the most poignant battles in the history of the Indian Army.

The fallen Sikh soldiers were stripped off their weapons, uniforms and equipment and their bare bodies laid out in a row at the nearby Buddhist Nagaraja Vihar temple. The mortal remains of the fallen troops were burnt with a barrel of oil.

In total, the Delta Company lost 29 men killed in action, accounting for almost all of the Sikh LI casualties. The Para Commandos lost six men in the battle.

The 13th Sikh LI now holds a special Ardas and Akhand Path on 12 Oct, every year, to honour their 30 fearless comrades on the brutal killing fields of Jaffna University. Salute to these brave men who lost their lives for a war which was not their own. They merely followed orders and fought for the #izzat of their 'Paltan', the Indian Army and the nation.

Jai Hind.


It was, indeed, a quiet Sunday and during the course of the day, the first set of clothes were washed and the unpacking was completed. Lekha's advice about returning yesterday itself was right.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Back at 'The Quarterdeck'.

We were up at a half past 5, had gone through our chores and left Suresh and Sindhu's house by a quarter past 7. Madhavan Nair sir had some nice words to say when I'd invited him to Guruvayur and he seemed to be keen!

Our first stop was at the Mohanachandrans'. He has improved to a great extent from what we saw of him during the Old Boys' day in July. He, now:-

  (a) makes eye contact while you speak to
        him and recognises people.
  (b) smiles as you recall anecdotes and
        narrate events.
  (c) walks with the help of a stick and with
  (d) reads the newspaper every morning.
  (e) gave Lekha and me a parting

After spending about 45' with him and his family, we resumed our journey and reached Lekha's sister's place for breakfast. We, then, drove to Raj Nivas and spent some time there. While waiting for the light at the Kottarakkara junction, a guy on a scooter rubbed his vehicle on the front bumper of the Chevy. Since we'd to go a long way with a lot many things to do, I'd not pursued him and let him go and the car had just come out of a long overhaul and touch up. Given a chance, I'd have given a tight slap across his face and asked him to get it corrected, pronto! 

Spoke to my parents as is my custom and loaded the washed clothes and a few other items that we'd left during the journey onward. The continuing rain has seen the sprouting of a fresh set of weeds much to my angst and we experienced rain - blinding, at certain places - enroute. Had topped up the Chevy and checked tyre pressure at the Kottarakkara bunk when Suresh, its owner who took it up on himself to service us, told me that the left rear tyre may be having a puncture but since it was tubeless, I could drive through without apprehensions! Lunch was at Motel Aram at Alappuzha where Tommy had looked after us. The choke points at Vyttila, Palarivattom and Aluva were clogged with traffic, with blinding rain in accompaniment and a lot of time was wasted.

On reaching Guruvayur, we'd stopped at the department store to buy fresh provisions. But the unfortunate part was that I'd forgotten to replenish one of Lekha's medicines. Bad show, Rajeev!

The Quarterdeck was opened up, a partial unpacking was done and the clothes for washing/drywash were segregated for handling tomorrow. Lekha had, meanwhile, rustled up a fine supper and it was 'pipe down' at our usual time.


Was back after a break of 16 days. The newspaperboy has been told to drop the newspapers from tomorrow. Our landline telephone is unserviceable and I believe that the entire BSNL network is down! 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Back at Thiruvananthapuram.

The day had begun liesurely for us at 6 AM. Went through our chores and were ready well on time. Vichita, the lady-chef-on-trai ning from Kasaragod made a lovely omelette for me as I struck conversation with her. She has spent just three months and has another year and seven months to go, to complete her training.

Our sa'arthi to the airport, Mr. Saan, had parked his vehicle well away from the hotel's approaches and it was after Vijayakumar had asked the tour operator regarding his whereabouts, that, he came huffing and panting, saying that he had arrived there quite early.

He drove through a shorter route and reached the airport taking only an hour. The flight to Kuala Lumpur was short and uneventful and we'd about 8 hrs to kill before our connecting flight at 2205 hrs. Snacks and coffee, alongwith a take away sandwich as pre-flight dinner snack were collected followed by window shopping couldn't eat away the hours of the long wait. However, it was managed through the browsing of a long list of What'sApp messages and the perusal of the mail. Lekha was also able to pick up a couple of things that she'd planned before. I dunno why I did it but had given her a dressing down, making her break into tears. Realising my boorishness, I'd apologised to her soon after. Wonder whether it took away the singe of the episode?

The boarding gate was shifted half an hour prior to boarding, creating a bit of confusion among the passengers! The flight was full of Malayalees, who were announcing their subsequent plans on the top of their voices. And most of them were armed with liquor bottles bought from the duty free shops!

The return flight had taken off half an hour late but made good the loss during the journey. On landing, the immigration guys were pathetic - their aim seemed to be to  simply harrass, for example, one guy wanted us to remove the belt while the other didn't! The Mango Cabs' driver, Sebastian, dropped us at Suresh's house soon after.

Can never gorget the sight of Madhavan Nair sir wide awake and eagerly awaiting our arrival!


A nice, cute holiday and a great experience.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

To Phi Phi Island and back.

The day had begun at 4 AM for us. There was a nagging worry in my mind - on account of Lekha - on two counts viz.:-

    (a) the irregular sleeping times that we
          have been following, dictated by our
          travel/sight seeing requirements.
    (b) the inter boat transfers involved in
          today's outing.

We were ready on the dot, after breakfast.
The vehicle was anout 15' late to arrive. The drive to the Paddadda Pier took almost an hour because of the morning, office going
traffic. On reaching the pier, the grouping of the guests was done in a professional and systematic manner. The six of us were slotted into the 'Green group' - which allows the organisers to seat us in the boats for effective headcounts on transfers and for lunch.

We'd boarded a sleek ocean going yacht, with three decks, which ferried us for over two hours till a smaller landing craft into which we were transferred to head for the Long Beach Island of the Phi Phi group of islands. Tcraft had done an excellent beaching giving us a hard, dry ground to disembark but the clearance of the ship's ramp door, from the beach, was a bit higher than normal. Lekha had begun to step down when her left knee had bent and to my utter horror, I saw her lying on her back on the ramp door with her left leg bent grotesquely, with her foot dug into the sand. I grabbed her foot and released it from the sand quickly and eased her on to both her feet - thankfully, averting a disaster and a quick recheck confirmed that there was nothing to worry! Phew!

For the next two hours, we were on our own and we chatted about a whole lot of things, while our friends and the others were busy with other activities like snorkeling and swimming. Lunch was at a half past 12 and by a half past 1, we were transferred in small boats to load the landing craft which, in turn, brought us to the mother ship which transferred us to the pier by a quarter past 4. The air conditioning within it was uncomfortably harsh and I required all levels of control not to make it an issue. On disembarkation, each of us got a porcelein plate that had our photographs imprinted on it.

We returned to the hotel and after that, I'd gone across to a nearby bank, to exchange into local currency as there was a crunch in my valet for Bahts.

It was a quiet evening and we'd our dinner at our hotel itself. It was also an occasion for an early pipe down.


Surprisingly, both of us - Lekha and I - did not feel tired, the lack of the afternoon siesta, notwithstanding.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

At Phuket.

The day had begun at 0530 hrs, we had gone through the chores and were ready on the dot. By a half past 8, we'd set off for Bangkok, the sad part was that we couldn't meet up with Crees before our departure. Mr. Naan was our driver and he finished the Pattaya-Bangkok stretch in just about two and a half hours! We were at the Bangkok airport before 11.

The check in formalities were quickly completed and we'd packed our lunch from the Burger King stall at the airport. The flight was on time and it had taken off by 1325 hrs. The lunch was wolfed down soon after take off, so hungry were we then!

Our flight had landed before 1500 hrs and Phuket was in my sight for the first time - had heard about it being the US Navy's Rest and Recuperation port and had also used it for launching forces during many-a-wargame at the Staff College. The beauty is that it has retained much of its old world charm and that's its attraction. We're put up at the Hotel Horizon Patong overlooking the beach.

Emm, at the reception was cheerful and very helpful. The bellboys were tipped with the stock of Baht coins, that I and Lekha had by now sufficiently piled up .over the last week and weren't they thrilled?

After an hour's break, we were back in our maxicab, hurtling towards the drama spectacular, "Fantasea - the fantasy of a kingdom", which boasted of a large star cast! Dinner had preceded the show.

It was comparatively an early evening because, tomorrow we begin at 7, for the outing to Phi Phi Island and the serial is gonna take up the entire day!


The backlog of washing the undergarments was sorted out before we had cast off for the evening's programme.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A day that was spent well.

The day had begun on a depressing note that was an extension of an unpleasant episode that took place last night. The guy at the reception had misbehaved with my friend, Vijayakumar, who had asked for additional tea sachets and had added that the hotel should be lavish in the provisioning of such basic things to the guests.

The guy - sadly, an Indian married to a Thai woman - heard it as 'rubbish' and had taken off on that, bad mouthing all Indians saying that they needed everything free! Completely unaware of the episode, I'd called up the reception for the same stuff only to be told that I'd be supplied with it in the morning. And when I'd called him up this morning at 0600 hrs, he said that the house keeping staff would report only at 0800 hrs and I'd to wait until then. Mind you, this is happening in the hospitality sector!

Anyways, on our way to the day's event at around a half past 8, his boss, Crees, was apprised of the matter and the matter was resolved amicably after an apology was tendered by the errant staff.

The day's event was our visit to the Cocoa Island. It involved changing two speedboats midstream which was difficult for Lekha and a few others in the group but Lekha, being a fighter, gave it all her heart and all her soul and did brilliantly well to tide over the difficulties. Parasailing, snorkeling and handling water scooters were the activities and we were on a spectator mode. A nice lunch was served on completion and after an hour's break in our hotel, we were taken on a city tour by Mr. Chang who became our guide and photographer. The visit to the Gem Museum, followed by the trip to the hill temple, gave us nice sights of the city of Pattaya.

We, then, had returned to our room to give Lekha's feet a much needed rest and had ordered dinner to our room. Our friends had gone for the evening outing and once they were back, insisted upon us to join them which we utilised for a freewheeling conversation.


Two queries were uppermost in my mind after having spent so many days in Thailand viz.:-

 (a) Why does the Hotel Grand Bella, that
       thrives on Indian tourists, misbehave
       with them? It needs to stop this
       practice forthwith.

 (b) Why does flesh trade thrive in this
       proud and well behaved country? The
       sight of very young girls soliciting for
       customers, in the vicinity of Walking
       street, was a depressing sight.

I'm of the opinion that a country whose citizens are very well behaved - seldom use their vehicular horns even in the thickest of traffic - deserves a better deal.

Monday, October 7, 2019

At Pattaya.

We had got up at 6, gone through the chores and were ready well in time. Radha had made a superb breakfast and I'd eaten myself silly. Her Thai friend, Sucheta, had come by to meet us, bringing along her mini pick up truck to ferry our substantial amount of luggage, to the airport. Damn sweet of her. She's a model and a close friend of Radha.

Sucheta even complimented me by saying that I could easily pass off for a Thai with my looks! Pradip Katti had also come by and thus, we were driven to the airport in an interesting and longish convoy. The flight was on time and we were back at Bangkok within an hour!

Mr. Chung was our sa'arthi to Pattaya as our journey was by road. We'd lunch enroute and fetched up at our hotel, the Grand Bella by 1600 hrs. After a quick wash, we had gone on a fairly long walk to the beach and through the famous 'Walking Street'. It was during this time that we had our foot and shoulder massages done. After having gone through it though it was nice, I would place our ayurvedic massages at a higher level from the therapeutic point of view.

We'd a lovely supper of Thai cuisine and walked the long way back. Did I overdo it for Lekha? The poor thing went though it sportingly and had a liberal use of the 'Moov' ointment after returning to the hotel.

We'd turned in for the night, comparatively early, around midnight.


Shall remember this day for the long walk that I'd put Lekha through. My fault!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

At Nakhon Phanom.

Our day began at a half past 3, when we had got up to the alarm and got ready. By a half past 5, we'd signed out from the hotel and proceeded to the airport. After having a portion of the breakfast of sandwiches provided by the hotel, we'd gone through the check in procedure and the security checks to reach the gate for Nakhon Phanom.

The air conditioning was harsh and it had to be endured till our flight was called out at a half past 8. After about an hour's flight we reached Nakhon Phanom, where our friends, Anil and Radha were there to receive us. The drive to their house was short and we were subjected to the most fantastic hospitality.

After a lot of yakkitiyak, it was an exquisite coffee with snacks followed by a scrumptious lunch. After an hour's siesta, much against our wishes - didn't want to sleep and lose out on valuable time with our friends, you see - Anil had taken us for a drive during which a great amount of shopping for tidbits, along with a small luggage trolley, was accomplished.

We were also shown around the Ho Chi Minh museum, the friendship bridge towards Laos and the preparations for the week long boat festival on the bank of the River Mekong. It was around this time that we had the privilege of meeting up with our course mate, Air Cmde Pradip Kumar Katti. It was wonderful to catch up with him.

We returned home by about a half past 8, to take corrective action on the washed clothes that were wet in the sudden rain. It was another session of light hearted banter, good food and a sing song session, subsequent to that which went beyond midnight!


It was a day of great bonding with Anil and Radha who'd gone out of their way to look after us and make our short stay, memorable. Thanks, both of you, we shall remain greatful to you.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

A day of temple tours.

We had got up at our usual time of 6 but I was groggy thanks to the late night binge. We went through our chores and were ready well in time to be the first from our lot to be at the breakfast table.

Our driver for the tour was Sampa, a boorish guy lacking in basic manners and did not understand a sausage of English! The first was the 'Golden Temple' that had imposing figures of Budha in various positions. The long and steep flight of stairs to negotiate through the temple must have disheartened Lekha but had egged her on, encouraged her so as to not miss out on the sights....and she, sportingly plodded on.

The next on the itinerary was the Grand Palace which looked quaintly old, richly architectural and extremely elegant. It was crowded thanks to the commencement of the weekend. Our next visit was to the 'Marble Temple' and after the visit, we'd tender coconuts to beat the heat. Incidentally, we'd seen all these landmarks during the river cruise on our first evening at Bangkok.

The day's itinerary being over, we'd asked Sampa to drop us at the MBK Mall. He'd asked to be paid extra money which we refused because the tour operator had told us so. Consequently, he was extremely rude when I'd told him to be more friendly with the guests. Meanwhile, I'd kept two plastic bottles for disposing them into the nearest dumping bin but the scavenging lady, at hand, shouted and said that all Indians did this. Even after telling her my intentions, she wasn't mollified. I didn't want to shout at her as I controlled my anger.

Over the next two hours, we had our lunch of the local Thai fair that was available. Lekha, had, picked up the stuff for giving away to the people back home. And by a half past 4, we were back in our hotel. Went with the others to pick up a few stuff from the department store nearby.

It was a shorter version of the last night's binge with 'Pad Thai' dinner. It was sleeping time by about a half past 10.


Messaged Anil about our programme at Nakhom Phanom tomorrow and the day after. Shopping is almost over.

Friday, October 4, 2019

A passionate professional!

Had got up, on the dot at 6, thanks to the alarm. Had called up Lekha, soon after and we went through our chores and fetched up at the mezzanine lounge for breakfast, 15' late. We'd got up with our friends and were ready to board our vehicle, promptly by a half past 8.

Samjhai - a very shy guy - was our driver for the day. He'd driven through a few kilometres, when Poppe and three other guests had joined us; the former as our guide and the guests were fellow tourists from Coimbatore.

Poppe had a feminine streak in him and spoke with an extended musical twang and had brought about an electric vibrancy about the proceedings. The safari, through the next four hours, went off like a song.

The dolphin show, the orangutan show, the elephant show and the cowboy show were interesting themes but the highlight of the day was the drive through the wild life sanctuary. It was a treat to watch the animals at very close quarters without them being disturbed, by our presence or by the sound of our vehicle and mind you, there were many, passing by at a noiseless regime. Poppe, meanwhile, regaled us with his ready wit and easy humour.

It had finished all too soon and I'd - in fact, all of us - felt a tinge of sadness as he bid us farewell after dropping us at the Intra market, for shopping. Did he reciprocate our feelings? Sure, he did!

Lekha quietly went about picking up things for everyone back home but by the end of the day, our shopping was far from over and will stretch into the remaining days that we're gonna be here!

Dinner was bought and we'd our get together in our room, back at the hotel. It was a fairly long and interesting evening.


Poppe, you're the star and a thorough professional who converted a dull event into an extraordinary one. Thanks, on behalf of all of us and may God bless.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

At Bangkok via Kuala Lumpur.

We'd boarded the Air Malindo flight by a quarter past midnight from Thiruvananthapuram and reached Kuala Lumpur by a quarter to 7, local time. We'd quickly gone on to the boarding gate for Bangkok but not before downing a cup of cappuccino.

There was more than a half an hour's delay for take off as there was a massive pile up of air traffic - dunno why - at Kuala Lumpur. We reached Don Mueang Bangkok International airport by a half past 12 but thanks to a mess up on the tour operator's part, we reached our place of stay - the Solitaire hotel - by a half past 2. Had Penang pizzas, along with coffee, for lunch.

After an hour's snooze in our room, it was a quick wash and change to go for the cruise on the Chao Phraya river in a big boat where dinner was served with a band in attendance. It turned out to be a nice evening.

They've replicated the Singaporean river cruise and succeeded to a considerable extent. The roads were clogged with traffic but hats off to the patient Thais, they never used the vehicular horns! We, Indians, need to take a lesson or two from them.


All pending work seems to have been put in place, back home. Didn't want to miss out on anything.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Vaishnava jana tho.......

Today's the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. It's the time to reflect on the great man and the lofty ideals that he stood for. His favourite hymn, 'Vashnava jana tho....' is an all time favourite of mine. Given below is its English translation:-

 "Call those people Vaishnavas who
 Feel the pain of others,
 Help those who are in misery,
 But never let self-conceit enter their mind.

 They respect the entire world,
 Do not disparage anyone,
 Keep their words, actions and thoughts pure,
 The mother of such a soul is blessed.

 They see all equally, renounce craving,
 Respect other women as their own mother,
 Their tongue never utters false words,
 Their hands never touch the wealth of others.

 They do not succumb to worldly attachments,
 They are firmly detached from the mundane,
 They are enticed by the name of Rama,
 All places of pilgrimage are embodied in them.

 They have foresaken greed and deceit,
 They stay afar from lust and anger,
 Narsi says: I'd be grateful to meet such a soul,
 Whose virtue liberates their entire lineage.

 They stay afar from lust and anger,
 Narsi says: I'd be grateful  to meet such a soul,
 Whose virtue liberates their entire lineage".


It was a quiet day to begin with and the conversation flowed freely. A laid back breakfast, an interesting combo lunch and a nice dinner. By 2100 hrs, we were off to the airport for the checking in and customs clearance for our midnight Air Malindo flight to Kuala Lumpur from where we get our connecting flight to Bangkok. Suresh Laxman-Sindhu, BR Vijayakumar-Anitha and self-Lekha form the entourage. Missing Mohanachandran and Manju, who were with us in our last jaunt!  

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Sivok - Rangpo rail project.

The new Sivok - Rangpo rail project of the Indian Railways is gonna be a game changer. Travel from West Bengal to Sikkim will be undertaken in just two hours.

It's set to transform the heart of the Northeast like never before. The upcoming project promises an unimaginably breathtaking train journey, through the picturesque mountain terrains and forest reserves. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone along with IRCON International Limited, has proposed to construct the 44.98 km long Sivok - Rangpo railway line, which will enable travelling between Sivok in West Bengal to Rangpo in Sikkim in just two hours.

The salient features of the route are:-

   (a) The rail line spans across a total length of 44.98 kms crossing as many as 19 bridges and 14
   (b) The tunnels on the route cover a total length of 38.55 kms, with the longest tunnel covering
         5,270 metres and the smallest tunnel covers 538 metres.
   (c) Interestingly, these tunnels cover almost 85% of the total journey.
   (d) The journey will cover Sivok, Reang, Teesta Bazaar, Melli and Rangpo stations on its route.

The rail line will cut through mountains and valleys to connect Sikkim to the main Indian Railway network for the first time.


The day had begun on a bright, sunny note. I was pretty sure that Liju George and his team would come by to finish off the remaining work before we left for Thiruvananthapuram. But it was not to be. It stared pouring and soon it was a wet day. We wound up Raj Nivas, the caretaker helped me tuck the baggage into the boot and by about a few minutes past 12, we were off on our journey. Had pulled out money from the ATM to hand over Rs.3,500/- to apply manure for the rubber trees, now that the weeds have been removed.

Lunch was at Letha's house and we set of for Thiruvananthapuram by about a half past 1. The journey was fine, thankfully, with no pesky or irritating motorists and we reached my friend, Suresh Laxman's house at Jagathy by a half past 3. I could drop the ICICI cheque at the Sasthamangalam branch soon after.

Had spent quality time with Madhavan Nair sir - Sindhu's father - during which he reminisced about his professional life and there were a lot of interesting nuggets of information.

The six of us viz. Suresh-Sindhu, Vijayakumar-Anitha and Lekha and I met at Vijay's place to discuss about our journey, collect tickets and the foreign exchange, worked out for the journey. It was a nice and laid back evening.