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Thursday, April 21, 2016


Rufus Uncle
If today my son is the captain of his college football team or if to him football is his passion one of the most important persons responsible for this would be the legendary uncle Rufus of Fort Cochin .

Uncle Rufus was an excellent sportsman in his youth , a bachelor he turned into a coach with time and had coached many who became part of the state and the national team too .
He was particularly keen on coaching younger boys aged around 10 to 15 and even at a ripe age of above seventies a robust Rufus uncle would be in the Fort Cochin parade grounds come rain or sun without fail to train his wards every evening .
He is now in his eighties and i hear he still continues .

Shyam too had gone to his classes for more than three years ,Rufus uncle as he was fondly called was a fatherly coach he never chided the boys but loved them but was also strict with their physical fitness and football skills ,he made them play in heavy rain soaked to their skins or in blistering heat ,many of his older students would never fail to visit him when in Cochin and also help out in training others
Shyam too got an opportunity to see his favorite Rufus uncle recently .
there is a small side story in this
shyams mother always gave him the right amount of money for the bus fare and not a paisa more as he used to travel alone to his football coaching .
once in a while when i was free i used to go to pick him up ,
once he asked me if he could have some fresh cakes in the bakery hotel in Fort Cochin famous for its soft pastries ,so we both went there .
A waiter came grinned widely looking at Shyam and said
"hi shyam didnt see you for long time " ,
my son immediately looked at him and fiercely started nodding at him and pointing at me with his eyebrows ,but i caught it and asked the waiter so he comes here often is it ?
"of course shyam is a regular ",i looked at a sheepish shyam
" and what do you come here for ?
" well to have some pastries " ,
but " where is the money after all your mother gives you just enough for the bus "
" most of the bus crew know me well and take only half the fare so i use it to buy this "
,i was laughing inside but i acted angry and told him if he wants to buy pastry or eat anything he needs to ask and not do things on the sly .
one more lesson he learnt while learning football

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Diwali in Varanasi

I have been lucky to visit this ageless city on the banks of the holy Ganges many times as my son studies there now .
read my previous post on the city .

This post came about after I saw a documentary in the Discovery channel on the Diwali period in Varanasi yesterdy .
Diwali is universally celebrated in India mostly for two to three days .
in Varanasi it goes on for more than a month.
The Ramnagar ( place of the Varanasi Royal family ) Ramleela is more of an interactive long term Enacting of the great epic Ramayana as written by Tulsidas .
Mostly enacted by adolescent boys who are called Swarups or those who become the character when they act it and are venerated by the faithful for it ,the audition of these boys is itself an event and even the king takes part in it ,generally certain roles traditionally belongs to certain families .
With the formal procession of the king the event unfolds ,it has several stagesand venues  and is over an extended time limit ,the audience moves with the performers to different venues and the whole mass is in itself a part of the big play .
Ramnagar is on one side of the river Ganges ,the Ram and Lakshman and Sita Swarups move from places called Ayodhya down into the forests and later cross the river to the place really called Lanka where the Benaras Hindu university is situated and where the effigy of the villain Ravan is destroyed as the climax and with good winning over evil the leela folds itself to renew its act after an year

Every single day the crowds follow the drama with copies of Ramayana called Manas  in thier arms and reading it meticulously ,the priests who read it out for them are called Vyasa
the people literally  live their roles .
this certainly is an amazing theater event unparalleled .

Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated in every temple ,house offices of the city where Lakshmi the Godess of prosperity and wealth is welcomed ,the festival of lights light up the city of the soul in resplendent glitter as its populace indulge in their sweets and savories .

The Dev Diwali is another event in Varanasi a few days after Diwali itself and as its name suggests it is for the Dewas or the Gods ,truly a treat for the Gods the Ganges is lit up with thousands of floating diyas as its Ghats shine bright by the lighted wicks of many earthen lamps and the Aaarathi on its banks shine into its waters a feast for the Dewas themselves .

The Nag niyatha or nag Diwali has Krishna leela to fall upon ,
not very far from Varanasi is Mathura where Lord Krishna had lived his childhood ,enacting as Lord Krishna an adolescent Krishna swaroop climbs a kadhamba tree planted on the banks of the Ganges in front of a very large crowd and falls straight into the river to kill the mythical poisonous snake kalindhi and dances on it saving people from its venomous nature ,

the felling of the tree in the dawn and its transportation to the ghats and erection there supervised by the high priest of Sankat mochan temple Shri Mishraji  is an event by itself and the crowd adores the child Krishna swaroop as he is carried on the shoulders of his devotees .
 Another Diwali ends with the fading of the earthen lamps and the stillness of the Ganges flows for ever !!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ho Chi Minh

It takes two hours to reach Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam ( Social Democratic Republic of Vietnam ) from Brunei .

Saturday, April 02, 2016

My Grandmother

what can I say about my favourite amamma (grandmother )
Valliyil karthiyayani amma ,
she was gentle ,loving , pious and had a soft corner for me I think for the moment I landed in Parappanangadi she would yell
"Chozhi Harikku kayavarthathu kutiyappunde peedigennu vedicho !
( chozhi was our man friday ,buy banana chips for Hari from kuttiyappus shop )and till the day I returned to Madras I would have stock of my favourite kayavarthathu ,those days a slimmer me could afford to gorge on that but the addiction still holds and contributes a lot to my paunch !
My grandma had her routine .
she would be up in morning and after bath endowed in a spotless mundu she would walk gracefully to nearby pishariyakil ambalam and return with our favourite thrimadhram,(offering of ripe plantains mixed with coconuts and jaggery ).
In the temple she would meet her friends and do some small talk ,while returning many would greet Karthiyayani amma , some as thamburatti ( her higheness !! it was the habit those days for older ladies of bigger families to be so adressed )
she would talk to them all and as she had a bit of hearing problem she would ask entha paranjadhu ? ( what did you tell ? )and adjust her hearing aid a bit ,
she would always enquire the old embrandhiri ( the temple priest ,
embrandhiris are namboothiri brahmins from north Kerala they spoke malayalam and Tulu ) about his many children who were all my summer vacation friends ,most of my days would be spent in embranthiris house playing and spotting me she would ask me to come with her for breakfast and go again ,I would plod alongside her holding her hands tasting the thrimadhram,
My grandfather the doyen of the samorin family of calicut
Vasco da Gama had first met the samorins when he came and had long fights with them .
Padinjare kollothe Manavedan raja or PCM Raja would be spotted in the most unroyal feats of gardening or dragging the cow ,he was happiest during these moments ,while amamma would ask him ee thambrannu onnu chennu kulichude ,( can this man take a bath ? )
he would grunt a reply and they understood each other perfectly well .
Once in an evening I tried some filthy word taught by my many friends in Parappanagadi on him and he chased me angrily , I found solace in amamma and cried ammamma adikkunnu ,( grandma hes beating me ) she hugged me and said enhtinna kuttina adikkunu ?( why are hitting the child ? ) avan paranjadhu arayyo ( do you know what he told ? ) and told the forbidden word upon which she caught me steady for him to give me a couple of blows while I whimpered and learnt my lesson !
Amamma was a dictator in the kitchen ,with Nambiar our main cook she was sort of friendly and they shared a long friendship from times of her childhood when Umamma ( great grand uncle ) was alive ,Nambiar too was the main chef and directed the other assistants
Madhavi the rolly polly one who would later churn our turmoiled minds when we became older !
Amamma would make it a point to yell at her once in while and she would mumble her inannities and amamma would ask her endha paranjadhu !( what did you say ? )onnumille ( nothing madam )she would reply .
Unnuli was different she was the cleaner cum helper and Chozhis sister was always very subservient to thamburatti and so she sort of had an affection for her ,these were all people who were loyal to our family for years and were considered as part of the family .
Breakfast mostly would be soft white idlis with red hot coconut chutney needless to say rice for idlis and coconuts were all from our lands there would be my chips of course and also sweet mangoes or jack fruits .
Our return to madras would put amamma in a flurry with her directing all of them to make delicous chakka varatiyathu with ghee and jaggery fry our own cahew nuts which we cousins used to barter away for biriryanis and films at local jayakerala talkies .
My grandfathers routine made him walk to the railway station every day at 10 am in the hot sun a distance of more than five km with a tent like umbrella in his huge bush shirt ,amamma would give him a leestu of things to do like post letters , buy lacotu or envelopes and such things , the provisions parts were done by chozhi who would at times join the trip , I too would drag along but mostly put it off as the sun was tiring ,my attraction was the nannari sarpath my grandfather would get me in the market .
Amamma would doze for some time in the afternoon , by evening she would take bath wear another spotless white mundu and go to temple while the young girly in the family then would light the deepam chanting deepam deepam which was a call for us to start the sandhya naamam but me and my cousin Babu were known for thinking everything other than namamms ,
we would wait for amammas thrimadhram and then dinner and finally a warm glass of fresh cow milk , from yes our own cows sweetened by sugar and amamma would hand it over personally , I still dont think any milk has ever tasted so nice in my life than that .
As we retired to sleep we could hear amamma and amachan talking rather amamma shouting as she couldnt hear and thamburan grunting and then they would go to sleep .
and another day would end in Parappanagadi .

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mutation document

In medicine mutation is a very common term and means some change had taken place  in the basic structure of a gene which affects the body 
mutant genes cause many illness 
 I never imagined there are mutated documents in land registry department ,torn worm eaten missed documents are very common but mutated document was new to me .
Recently while trying to sell off my house in Cochin at the last minute the lawyer of the buyers bank providing him a loan for buying the house threw a spanner in the works declaring the mutation document was vital .
there was no way one could go ahead without the said document and the onus fell on the seller to get the document ,in fact it should have been got by the owner the time he bought the land and built the house ,that was around 25 years back ,so the lawyer raised his bushy eyebrows to ask so why has it not been done yet !!
 The past came to haunt us .
but India is one country where time is relative and the past can be brought to the present by knowing the right people 
so we found someone who could make things easier and get the said document in time as the running around needed was considerable ,
The process started at first with a visit the village office with the original document which would be scrutinized by the clerk concerned and later he would give a date to visit the site ,
one had to take the clerk to the site and he would meticulously measure the land and house dimensions and give a location document ,
this document needed to go to the to the Revenue Divisonal office for further scrutiny which in normal standards would take a couple of months but one could physically taker it in an hour or so and confirmation the document is brought  back to the village office .
Then the mutation document is issued ,
it was afternoon and Cochin was fuming with heat ,there had been no electric power in the office since morning and the dark interiors showed the officer ,clerks and computer operators working in humid atmospheres
even in the heat they did their job diligently as they checked the documents with care and also the computerized version ,
the idea of making it online is to dispose off the paper based documents but now both are being used 
we really appreciated the work of the Government offices in India as we signed off our house in Cochin

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


“Moon shot for cancer cure “is the catch word today on the eve of the World Cancer day
What is meant by moonshot?
During the sixties there was a race for the first man to reach the moon, a race between the cold war rivals USA and USSR, the spurt in US Government spending and focused efforts by its rocket scientists made it the winner and that jump  was then called as a moonshot.
So any focused concentrated attempts to a target by all agencies including the government to achieve that target is termed Moonshot.
Oncology did have a previous moon shot and it did bring about dramatic developments though the cure which was aimed for was never reached.
Today both the President and the Vice President of USA have initiated a moon shot again which will definitely make a difference .
Cancer is one stigmatic diagnosis that has an imagery which is very negative.
For years people have always associated cancer with dread and as a dead end to life
To a certain extent with all the advances even today it is true.
But to a large extent their comprehensibility of the enigma is totally wrong
Cancer is not one disease.
If someone says we conquer cancer it is unlike saying one conquers small pox or TB
Calling cancer as a single disease is akin to calling the Himalayas as a hill!
Every cancer is different and depending on its organ of origin, the person it afflicts and its aggressiveness
Over the years research has brought about a paradigm shift in its management, survival and cure too .They all have  increased to a remarkable amount but there is still miles to go in order to relieve every unfortunate who has been diagnosed with one and definitely a surge in its research and funding will help accelerate this process .

In that sense the moon shot is welcome 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Its all about destiny

P.G.Wodehouse is an English writer for those who have not heard of him and his writings come under the genre of humor and satire.
When I mention not heard of him though sacrosanct to his ardent readers to a large part of humanity he is an unknown,
They vaguely picture him as a Victorian writer dabbling on dreary earls in their foggy castles and slippery butlers.
Well all these are true but he means much more than all this to his admirers
Evangelism is difficult with PGW as converting someone to like his books often results in abject failures, either you are tuned to like him or not .
It’s in ones genes
 it’s all about the DNA either one owns it or one doesn’t there is no half way to it !
One mostly doesn’t fall to PGW literary charms unless there is a plum in the blood I would say, plum incidentally is his fond nickname by which his fans endear him with.
The best thing about his books are they are light and settle down like a wisp on  ones grey matter quietly like a feather floating to the ground in slow motion .
They pep you up like no antidepressant can ever do, one minute you are in the depths of pathos and looming dark clouds have engulfed your poor soul and the next you dip into a plum tome the sunshine peeps to dry and refresh the sodden soul.
The books tingle the laughter pheromones which happily trill all over and the reader is suffused with a calm and happiness akin to Zen meditation.
They never lurk on forbidden crevices like fear as for example a Stephen king’s books does where ones thudding heart threatens to escape its bony  cages or where one’s eyes threaten to jump out  with terror !
Nor do they tax the intellectual faculties like heavy tomes of classics or philosophies but just leaves the cerebral convolutions in peace, there are no hovering dark clouds which excite the lacrimal glands to profusion, of course one can laugh so much that one cries.
All his books are universal and one never needs to hide it from ones children for fear of forbidden matter ,the only problem is they hardly look at it
Reading a PGW can be anywhere anytime and anyplace in the book not that it has no continuity, it       does have but the beauty lies in its analogies its minutiae where every word excels in making you smile or laugh and one can just pick any page at random from any PGW book and by the end of that page one is assured at least four to five laughs.
Which writer can give you a guarantee to beat that?
His books are full of  of stern aunts who cajole and threaten alternatively their feeble nephews or try to pair them with quirky damsels  ,feeble uncles who totter around pigs and stammer in public meetings t it hovers on floating butlers who can in a deuce find  solutions for vexing issues out of thin air like magic and present  them to their masters with panache .                                                                                                                                                  There are decrepit and wasteful men of the world who only see the sun setting which prods them to their nocturnal visits to lazy clubs and bars and live the life of the idle and rich, there are endowed rich uncles who provide unstable allowances for these men for their frolicking amongst the evils nof humanity  ,there are chefs who with their nimble talents produce food for the gods and are constantly in danger of being pilfered from their masters , there are loony thick eye browed doctors who treat the disturbed .
What’s so great about all this?
Any non plummite may ask this but a plumite would just give a knowing smile, for he knows hidden among these simple plots are words and sentences that would evoke the smile from the thinnest lipped Englishman!
One can spot a PGW fan reading his book in public from far.
Generally these men or women give the surroundings definite  doubts of their sanity as they show their myriad emotions on their crinkled faces  which would occasionally burst into guffaws at frequent intervals followed by embarrassed smiles and nodding at the neighborhood which by  now is sure of what they suspected all along .
I am yet to hear of any police complaint from the public on the man or the woman who keeps grinning at his book in airports or railway stations and giving suspicious smiles yet, but the days aren’t far for this to go with the paranoia of the times.
The fans of Wodehouse also tend to group together and have meets that are as quirky as they come most of them turn into characters in their favorite plum book and for a foreigner the whole bunch needs urgent attention and strait jackets, they are generally seen in coffee houses or clubs trying to pilfer each other’s caps or tapping one another with long umbrellas or these days taking selfies and uploading them furiously while constantly shouting what ho what ho at each other!
Like those mysterious masonic lodge members a plumite always recognizes a fellow plumite and there is a sense of blood hood when they sight the other. Like the native pygmies of dark Africa howls of recognition are a must .
Promotions are made and good wills are transferred in society they say these days all on a plum
 I have heard that millions of dollars in business have become realities because it was between PGW fans!
Romances should be sprouting too and one would hear of PGW couples in the future though my romantic interest doesn’t touch a PGW with a long pole .
Once again this piece is not to spread the word that PGW should be read
Like once it seems God told a fiery preacher I don’t need your services keep off so does PGW all the time, he would be read by those destined to do so
And we are all happy with the present small focused PGW lovers
 if you miss it its simple you have missed it there are no two words on it
its all about destiny ,what ho !

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