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Friday, July 10, 2020

Tied in Ties

The Tiring Ties 

I started wearing a tie for work only in UAE and continued till I left Brunei .

In initial days I was not very adept at tying one ,I was taught by my friend Sushil Daniel an opthalmic surgeon in Cochin who with a Stephanian past was well versed .
He came home to teach me before I left to Dubai 😁
When I landed in Abudhabi and later was taken to Al ain and checked into 
Hotel Hilton as planned by my hospital by  official Sidhu who recieved me .
 I  told him to wait and  had a bath and quickly adorned a ready made knotted tie I had  kept for an emergency to go to hospital to place my credentials .

Within days i used to knot ties in my sleep and also got a big collection as gifts or as my shopping as ties were sold in so many varieties in the malls there .

Come winter I started wearing jackets and coats and its collection too grew .

In Brunei the tie business continued ,though jackets werent needed much with its climate expect for formal occasions like meeting the royal highness or when making a presentation in conferences .

I hated to wear a two piece suit and preferred a suit over a jeans in colder climes or for grand evenings .

When working in Tawam Hospital ,Al Ain,UAE we had for a short time a medical Director of our Oncology dept Dr Sanjay Jain who was an American citizen and selected by John Hopkins group which managed the hospital .
Usually American hospitals preferred more comfortable scrubs or even casual wear but our Sanjay was old school .
He insisted all doctors wear the prescribed full sleeved white coat with tie .
It wasnt bad in the super cooled interior and in winter even outside but not in summer .
Tawam had a huge laundry to take care of the white coats not the ties 

Nowadays ties and coats are frowned as being transmitters of cross infections

In Brunei it was UK style always .

Doctors wore ties to work every day .
Somehow I always felt strangled and used to ease my tie whenever I had the oppurtunity .
I preferred a blazer without tie on informal evenings .
In India one just wore neat pants and shirt ie it .
Whatever we wore it was the work done which was more important .

Sunday, June 21, 2020

fathers day

 know its an out of focus photo of me and my father but thats just how it is .

My memories of my father who left me at my age of 10 five decades back is also out of focus .

But strangely this father of mine left a lot of him in my thoughts in those ten years ,imagine how much he would have if he had lived longer !

I remember with vividity my father as a very intelligent person , a sanskrit scholar and a classical music listener , though he worked in Tamilnadu Secretariat as a junior officer in the Home department .

I do remember our predominantly Tamil brahmin neighbour friends in Mylapore Madras ,where we lived then coming home and asking him doubts on Sanskrit scriptures .

And when he died carrying his body which in those times when caste was quite important wasnt done .

I also remember the local milkman drunkard who was known for his uncouth behaviour specially in the evenings bringing a garland and standing with tears in my fathers funeral and crying ,telling us Ayya was kind to me always.
we never knew that .

I do remember him taking me to his office once , to his canteen and me spending a whole day with him as he jotted in his ebullient script and handwritten notes in the files ,said to be admired by his senior officers and even by the minister .

Nothing much for someone who had no time to get down from the stage as most prizes and awards went to him in school and college those days, though he had so many problems to face ,like walking long distances and eating just a plantain for lunch because of the circumstances he lived then .

I remember him wearing just a couple of well pressed neat pants and shirts even though he could afford more and walking long distances to bus stops ,to save money to send to his family in kerala .

I think unconciously he passed on the message of frugality,sincerity,hardwork,cleverness,andscholarship to me and my sister though I hardly fit in to all that .

I do remember the kindness and soft words and never an angry word, leave alone anything physical on me and those lessons still stay .

I remember the myraid illnesses he suffered and the clinics and hospitals he visited and that might just have rubbed in a bit of empathy to me in my work later .

He may have been an out of focus dad who just lived 10 years of my life ,but he remains so much in my mind and heart every second of my life not only on this fathers day .
This is just an excuse to pen this on him .

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Chinese Hegemony

Chinese designs
China as a nation has designs far dangerous than any .
The Chinese ambition and hegemony is more toxic than the Corona Virus it inflicted  by accident or design .
The Belt and road initiative of the Chinese is a long term strategy for its global domination .
India seems to be the most affected by it .

The Chinese know thier strategic limitations in their geographical reach .

They are far from the warm oceans that 
 matter and hence its  imperative for them to build bonds between countries that have acess to them 
Pakistan is its ally .
It had always had sponsors for its muscle show to India ,earlier the US which provided it with military toys it hardly knew how to use .

And now when US realised late in the day on feeding snakes and ignored Pakistan it  got China as a chum .

Now China is a more dangerous partner to Pakistan as far as India is concerned .

Chinas policy is to sponsor take over and dictate 
It has no qualms or guilt on moral turpitudes .
Ideal for a Pakistan as its generals too think in such lines  .
So Pakistan has been in Chinas pocket for long and allied to combined enimity to India and are going strong .
But its Nepal Maldives,Bangladesh,SriLanka,and even Bhutan that should start worrying us a Chinas stronghold against India seems to be tighter .
Nepal by tradition specially during monarchy times has been Indias great friend having shared many similarities but past few years with left politics usurping the kings ,Chinese influence is getting more .
The recent decision to compulsorily introduce mandarin in all schools which is Greek amd Latin to Nepalse who talk hindi think Indian .
Chinese money seems to be building roads hospitsls bridges schools in all these countries slowly makes them slip under its suzeranity
The recent arrogance of the  Nepalese trying to pass off biased maps incursing into Indian territory is open defiance ,which it would not have dared to do if it did not have the Chinese bull dog giving support .
When we went to Sri Lanka and Nepal we did find roads border areas built by Chinese .
Bangla desh got liberated thanks to India but all it did was to create a revengeful Pakistan declaring a 1000 year war on Kashmir .
It also exports thousands of aliens who pollute our nation .

IPKF in Sri Lanka cost us one prime minister and persisting irritability of Sri lankans as they considerer India interfering nation 
Bhutan is at present quiet but may lean to China which is geographically closer to it than India .

Afghangistan dilly dallies with indian presence and help but one wonders which side they will move 
So India is isolated with intimidating neighbours .
For one it can reduce or stop all aid to these countries and use it for say HEALTH for our people

Pic of me in Nepal China border in Tibet .

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Covid Crisis

Corona crisis a lookback 

While we all continue with our changed life as best as we can the Corona virus is proving to be the biggest game changer for mankind this century .
The two World wars too look relatively less global in its reach than the Pandemic .
Strangely animals are spared .

The Goverments of the world shuffle along , some better than other, but like blind men on a precipice .
Economic debacles with pandemic scare is a double whammy needing rope walking of the highest order .
In India as usual political divides make states not acting in coordination with the center .
States like Kerala which had come out in flying colours thanks to the good leadership of its Health minister and team and cooperation from its people , is now in a muddle with its politicsl decisions and  an abrasive relationship with the center .

The stand off and egos of both has created total confusion in the mass movements of keralites from abroad and from parts of india with no coordination .

The NRI invite itself was a political exercise by the states supremo to impress on sections that he was the greatest saviour of global malayalees .

The state is ill equipped to handle the exodus and its boasted plans of quarantine has  tumbled down .
With SSLC  exams and possible opening of schools ,the relaxation of lockdowns, interstate migration , has all put kerala in trouble .
 Community spread a reality .

The poverty stricken state sqaunderd money giving unnesscary rations to all , most of whom who never needed it .

Attempts  to loot temples openly to make money and the usual blame game on the  center acting as if Kerala is a country not a state will definitely affect it .

Mamata Banerjee is one sad example today reeling in another natural disaster and devastation and total chaos with all her arrogance leaving her as she clearly needs help to grapple with her problems .

With Floods 3 in the anvil it wont take much for Kerala to follow this example ,as its superman builds animosity within and outside .
I hope it doesnt happen so.

The center too seems to have faltered in migration issue which is a humanitarian one .
In initial stages ,center should have been firm with  states to provide succour to migrants till say september and shared in expenses .

This would have avoided the cross country panic and distress of many .
As usual the SC wakes up in a start to mess more with trigger orders .

States like Gujarat ,Maharastra ,and Tamilnadu should have been taken over by the army as an emergency by now , as the state Goverments are clearly not able to manage the crisis and are overhelmed by it .
With the economic devastation staring at us looking much greater than we thought it would take years before we are back on our foot 
 All the sloganeering like vocal about local will remain jingoistic .
Dear indians brace yourself for a period we had never seen in our lives or even heard off .
China has not only jumped back ,it seems to be taking a snook at a world blaming it and punching india as a trial to show it means business .

To deal with that rogue nation with Pakistan never stopping to prick us  we aldo  have neighbours like Nepal,
Sri lanka ,Bangla desh all showing thier backs to India under Chinese pressure .

So the bag of woes to a beleagured Modi is full and the few years ahead will be a steep hill to climb .
Menwhile the pandemic itself keeps cheating us to false sense of security ,while it hides in glowing embers ,its solutions look more distant with vaccination disappointments and costly herd immunity a bad option .

Sorry for sounding pessimistic.

To me reality is better faced when visualised in its worst face , so any small gains are an encouragement , and any disappointment more acceptable .

This is definitely not advocated by many , who advise to look at things positively .

Whatever it is, we are in sad times and we better get used to it, as its becoming a reality .

Monday, May 25, 2020

Mallu intellecualism

Shallow jingoisms is all thats needed to get away in malluland .

Once u start believing u know all , and u r the most intelligent ,you lose the curiosity to find out the truth ,the path to fairness,you slip into routine,you are the prime target of propagnda .

Communism and such other philosophies rely on such machinations to keep their subjects in line,make believeisms ,Goebellism ,suceeds in such fertile soils .

This is why the malayalee believes such shallow shiboleths by thier ministers ,politicians , anchors that with time ,they change into automatons living in a make believe castle of superiority, while in actual reality they are sad examples of intellectual poverty ,caught in the maze of collective stupidity .

For a change for the very few who differ from the common, its good to hear rational arguments break the shallow walls of falsehood .

The illietrate farmer of Tamilnadu or the poor cobbler in distant Bihar may not compare to the mallu thinker with his thick tomes, but in terms of intellectual liberty and common sense unbound by indoctrinations ,he is more democratic .

Grand hotel

Theres something very grand in the Grand Hotel in Cochin .
I feel it whenever I go there.
Its the old world charm of the seventies the whiff of nostalgia when life was more at leisure ,food was slower ,and eating out not a daily affair .
And these days eating out is become nostalgic
Dont know when we would do it
Even if we do to sit with stupid masks in a non AC place is a horror story .
Forget the bloody Corona ,lets talk ofvGrand hotel .

In 1963 its said the man who started it an agriculrturist from Kottayam dt did it as he was denied a room in a nearby hotel but that hasnt been confirmed by the family that still owns it .
It sits right in the middle of MG Road in the center of the city sqaure a three story terraced building with no pretense of ethnic red roofs .

The heritage is there of course in its spacious ambience ,wooden chairs, and exotic homely kerala food it specialises in .

If you ask me can I get a chicken fried rice or a masala dosa ,yes you may ,but dont go to Grand for that .

You go there only for the succulent juicy morsel hidden in the wetness of a green plantain leaf the karimeen polichattu Grands gift they say to Cochin .

The fish caught in the dipping Chinese nets off Vaikom is the famous pearl spot tasty and soft .
One goes to Grand to dip into hot red rice with avial ,thoran ,sambhar and Allepey fish curry with its tangy mango flavour or a fluffy white aapam or parotta with a pinch of coconut in their Beef olarthiyathu .

Its this emphasis of homely central kerala christian cooking that attracts people to this place .

As one hears whispers of kottayam slang ,Cochin banter,or Thrissur crescendoes or an American tang from a tourist the friendly waiters bring you tall glasses of limed sodas on the rocks or iced teas to cool the embers.

The couchyn bar provides adeqaute drinks if needed or ice cold beers in long glasses with steaming biriyanis .

We had aapam parotta Allepey fish curry ,meen mulagitathu and beef olarthiyathu
The mulagitathu was fiery red with oil  , lovely to look at with very soft succulent fish though my heightened sensitivity detected a tad bit of rancid masala .

The Allepey fish curry was a bit salty and wasnt really vying itself for the best one in town .

Beef olarthiyathu was good though I had to search for the coconut bits and a bit chewy  .

The lime soda was a delight in the humid climate of may last year
All in all a very fine experience .
Best part was the company my dear son in law Achu .

Real Grand

History travels

To explore places where history sits in every corner,time capsules that transport you to worlds in the past,where you hear the sounds of the marching armies,clashing of the swords or see the kings ,the regal queens,the massive temples ,castles,mosques,churches,
where lone sentinels gallop on windswept horses over vast deserts ,or sweat in dark swampy jungles where tigers lurk and elephants blare,where the slaves pull a small mountain up the ramps of a pyramid under the desert sun ,where the cold winds of icy desert walk woolen hidden caravans .
Generally reading before visiting helps you get into the mood
A good knowledgeable guide can tell you more than the books or google at times but one needs luck too .
The ruins of ancient temples in Cambodia ,with its acres of knarled roots of huge trees intertwining with the fallen stones ,the non chalant serpent sculptures ,the round eyes of the dancing damsels,the unending corridors the turrets behind which the sun rises or skips ,
I am a lover of historical tourism .

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Ventilator story

The Ventilator Story ....

The average layman mallu knows ventilators as objects used in big hospitals in keeping the dead patient for a few days more  to make a fat bill .
Thats what his media tells him and thats what he sees in those avant garde award winning  films and in  those cheesy serials in TV .
Of course some of them have seen their loved ones saved by those ventilators and know it isnt true .
But these days the malayalee is hearing statistix of ventilators in the state .

Covid 19 afflicted patients need them in a situation of acute respiratory distress .

The machine takes over the weakened respiratory apparatus for vital oxygenation,needs intubation and sedation and monitoring by skilled intensivists nd trained nurses .

In short a technically complex ,costly, life saving machine  .

Hope dear mallu next time you get to know your grandpa is on one please believe hesnt dead as a dodo .

Cant blame the mallu pshyce which believes a qauck better than a qualified doctor or invests in goat farms or believes blade companies for investments .

The penchant for foolishness in a mallu  increases with  his literate state .

Now lets see how much a ventilator costs
Today an Indian ventilator can be bought for 3 lakhs not a big deal but thats not enough
One cant put a ventilator in the friendly neighbourhood clinic it needs an aseptic ICU with piped oxygen and skilled personell ,maintenance and parts on off .

We do see rusted ventilators in Govt hospital shrubs which an over enthusiastic politician had bought in bulk with no plans to install or maintain till it becomes like a discarded KSRTC bus or an election lost MLA .

And so dear mallu this is the story of a ventilator
Just to ventilate your locked days and nights .

Friday, April 24, 2020

Vaishno Devi temple

Vaishno devi trip

Years back we planned a trip to Vaishnodevi temple in Jammu and Kashmir .
In nineties terrorism has already sprung in kashmir valley ,and Vaishnodevi was in the hotspot .
Premilas cousin was a senior army officer .
We requested him for help before we ventured .
He arranged everything through his friend as ettan was not posted there.

So we took a train to Jammu from Delhi .

Since it was winter and AC tkts were not available to book ,we booked in sleeper compartment .9
Never did we think our journey would be a horror.
From the moment we set foot on platform with two small children and luggage ,we knew we were in deep trouble .

North Indian stations in winter those days is not a pretty sight.
The platform was filled with people of all kinds ,old ,young  ,children ,families ,sleeping ,sitting,smoking ,
 some were even cooking with tiny stoves .

Coming from south india this was new to us .
The train too didnt come to platform on time
We wondered if we could reach our compartment comfortably
And when it did it was with great struggle .

We managed to reach our reserved compartment but found it full of army people lying on every available space .

Many had warned us that sleeper compartments in north india have no rules

We managed to evict them from our berths as they respected families and ladies .

We slept tired and cold but going to toilet wasnt easy .
By morning we found train was much delayed due to thick fogs and we would reach Jammu only by late afternoon .

The cold fields of Punjab sped by in a haze
Hungry and exhausted we blamed ourselves for this colossal mistake .

Somehow we reached Jammu got out .

Our destiny changed then .

We saw two military police smartly dressed saluting us and taking our bags .
They escorted us into army room in station and later to an army jeep .
We would go to Udhampur army headqaurters  and spend the night in the  officers guest house ,and the next day leave to Katra the foothill to Vaishnodevi temple .

The army guest house and camp was neat , sophisticated ,and as guests of a senior officer we were given an excellent place to stay.

We had dinner in the officers mess and slept well .

Two jawans were deputed to take us up to Vaishnodevi and back till we returned to Delhi from Jammu .

They were Bhagwan from UP and Pande from Bihar both were in civil dress.

We instantly got close to them and they both were very friendly with Sruthi and Shyam .
After breakfast an unmarked army ambassador car came for us .

The road to khatra from Udhampur was high range and fraught with danger as terrorism was rampant in those parts and it was snowing on off too .

An obvious army car would be a sitting target .

Both Bhagwan and Pande regaled us with tales .

The car left us at khatra .

Now a train goes upto khatra as Modiji has  extended railway line for pilgrims .

From khatra we needed to climb the hills .

Though there were nice sloping tiled paths with steps on off ,plenty of shops, it was steep and a hardy climb .

Gulshan Kumar of T series a great devotee of ma Vaishnodevi had built the path .

Pande and Bhagwan took each of our kids , as they were not very happy in climbing a mountain whose top is reached after a couple of hours .

There were two other modes of climbing,one can be carried on a chair like a palanquin or on back strapped to climber caled Pithu  specially for children ,
 or  by horse back .

Bhagwan and pande said those were not  needed .
They asked us both to plod up slowly with our sticks which we all bought
they started running up with the children who joined them laughing.
Soon we lost sight of them .

It was hot in the lower area but got colder as we climbed higher.
The magnificient Himalayas stretched in front of us in panoramic beauty
The snowy peaks glistened in the pale sun .

We could have tea etc on the way and songs blared from shops .

Devotees danced sang and chanted Jai Mata jee to drumbeats to inspire those who plodded on .

After around 3 hours we reached the top.

The children were waiting happy with their army uncles .
We went into an army outpost and office freshened ourselves removed footwear to go into the temple.

The altar was inside a cave .

Earlier one needed to crawl a long distance those days there was a covered path .

Still nearing altar one needed to walk bent for a short distance .

Luckily we went by VIP entrance as army guests .

The army was all powerful in those areas .

After darshan we refreshed ourselves had some food .

We needed to climb some more to reach the  Bhairon temple
This time we took horses though it was scary as the horses more like ponies tended to go the edges .

After Bhairon we started walking down.
I thought going down would be easy but it wasnt so at all .
Our knees hurt as we climbed down steeply .
Evening came but we were only half way through.
In the great distance we could see Khatras lights.
It was around 6 pm when we reached khatra totally exhausted .

Both children were tired
Thanks to bhagwan and pande who carried them down for some way
Our car was waiting and we were taken to a hill station called Patnitop .
We were to stay in CRPF camp there that night .
Pande and Bhagwan left us in a lovely guest cottage in a snowy slope and went to thier lodgings there.
An army cook made us hot chappatis with sabji .
He had to go for sentry duty after that ,so told us to have good rest and went away .

Children had already slept off in bedroom under heavy blankets
We too tried to sleep off but it was bone chilling cold.
There was no electricity only an iron fire bucket  in hall .
We both foolishly carried the bucket with hot coals  into bedroom for warmth .

As we were dozing off ,we suddenly realised we could all be dead of carbon monoxide poisoning by morning in the closed room .

In a panic we carried the hot fire bucket  back to hall calling ourselves rank idiots .

Morning came
It was scintillating
Our cottage in camp was like in a fairy tale with powdery snow ,tall firs and poplars and so cool .
Children too were fresh .
We told of our idiocy to Bhagwan and Pande who had a hearty laugh.

After breakfast we went by our car to a skeing area where we threw snowballs and enjoyed ourselves .

Later we drove back to Jammu station and we parted with Pande and Bhagwan hugging them and giving them some gifts we had bought for their families .
We were in touch with them for some years .

This time the military police in smart uniforms escorted us in Jammu station  into our berths
They  stood gaurd in front of doors to see only reserved passengers got in .

So we returned very comfortably

Jai mata jee

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