23 December, 2008

Season's Greetings

Wish You a Merry Christmas
A Happy and Prosperous New Year

19 December, 2008

Actionable Intelligence

Reliable sources say that there definitely was useful information that was available. If an input says that a ship carrying terrorists has left from Karachi, the Navy and Coast Guard cannot say we want the name of the ship and the names of the terrorists so that we can intercept them. What they should have done is to send out a message to subordinate formations and ask them to step up surveillance and board a few ships at random so that the terrorists would know that they were taking a major risk of being apprehended. If the terrorists managed to land despite such checks, the Navy and the Coast Guard could then have said that with the available intelligence we did what we could.
This is not to say that the intelligence agencies did all they could. However the technical competence of our intelligence gathering, especially the external intelligence gathering, is very high. They can’t go to town crowing about their supremacy for it will compromise our sources of information as well as intelligence gathering techniques.

24 November, 2008

Abhaya Case - Arrest a Closure motion?

The entire episode of the CBI team arresting the so called culprits in the Sr. Abhaya case within a few days of taking over the investigation seem to be running along a well scripted plan. This may be the only way for them to close the case as the courts were not allowing them to do so otherwise. The clever ploy seem to be to arrest the priests and nun who have been in the distrustful eyes of the public all along and charge sheet them. When the verdict comes they may be acquitted for want of sufficient evidence. Thereafter there will be one or two appeals and the case will be logically closed.
The public and Joemon Puthenpurackel is happy because they could see a couple of priests and a nun in cassock arrested and paraded and the media gleeful for they could feast on the visuals as well as the report. And above all it’s a win win situation for the CBI. If by chance the arrested are guilty a feather in their cap, if not, relived that they could finally close this ignominious case once and for all. That leaves everybody except the priests and the nun; in case they are innocent, the mental agony and the irreparable damage to their reputation will be indelible.

11 November, 2008

Upendra Verma IPS

After the indomitable K.J. Joseph and the gentleman officer P.K. Hormis Tharakan, according to seniority it was rightfully Upendra Verma’s turn as DGP Law and Order. It is true that both the UDF as well as the LDF Governments neglected the services of the brilliant officer. Maybe they did not want an uncompromising person to head the state police force.
However Mr. Verma should thank the powers that be for unwittingly sparing him the ignominy of presiding over the extremely politicised force which has to dance to the tune of their political masters, more so in the present dispensation. The incidents of politicians and their cadres forcefully taking away detainees from the police station almost every other day has severely eroded the credibility of the force to act impartially.
Mr. Verma should take heart that even though both the Governments meted out injustice to him, the discerning public had taken note of the bias against him.

22 October, 2008

When will Indians start being proud of themselves

The answer to Monsieur Francois Gautier’s question, “When will Indians start being proud of themselves and their own culture and stop looking down on their own society?” is, we will do so only when people of other countries start looking at us in admiration.

For this to happen, to name a few, we must have six lane express ways crisscrossing the length and breadth of our country, Bullet trains speeding from one end to the other, hop in and out of flights and trains at everybody’s convenience, have uninterrupted supply of cheap electricity, petrol and diesel at one tenth of today’s prices, and last but not the least, get fifty US dollars for every single Indian Rupee! (By that time the drinking water, health care and education of the under privileged which are our perennial problems would have ceased to exist.)

If ever someday it happens then we will hold our heads high.

11 October, 2008

Indian Administrative Service and their penchant for Flags

Recently travelling along the state highway a VIP car with beacon light passed by flying not the national flag but a new and hitherto unseen flag. The car did not have any stars denoting the high ranks of the police and military personal that usually fly flags. After a few weeks when I saw the same flag being displayed on the official car of the District Collector it became evident that the IAS cadre was getting even with their IPS counterparts. It seems the IAS cadre which considers God, IAS and the rest of the world in that order, couldn't digest the IPS officers above the rank of DIGs flying flags on their official vehicles, so they invented one for themselves, since even the chief secretary doesn’t have an official flag to show about.
Flags are better left to uniformed personals. Are the IAS officers planning to don uniforms too to stand out in the crowd. Pray what will they do for the stars, use stripes instead?

30 September, 2008

Variants of Punishments & Genes of mischief

Born and brought up in the midst of rubber plantation, where educational institutions were far and few, I was packed off to the boarding school as early as five years old. My first alma mater was a famous convent school in Kochi where boys only of the safe age group of five to ten were allowed.
Rest of my school years were with the Carmelite fathers of Mary Immaculate, pioneers in running educational institutions like military garrisons. One evening the rector stormed into the study hall holding a small packet, which a mischief monger had stealthily put in his room. None of the boys would own up responsibility as immediate expulsion would be the consequence. The academic year came to a close and there was a purge, all suspects were asked to find other schools to complete their further studies. Though not remotely connected with the mischief I too was disgracefully discharged from the school. For a eighth grader it was equivalent to capital punishment. With pull and push I managed to get admission and complete the rest of my schooling in another school of the same congregation though at a different location.

As living surroundings hadn’t changed much, I too admitted my son to a co-educational boarding school in the first standard itself. It was a smooth passage from the first to the seventh, the so called safe phase. While in class eight he slipped out of the hostel at night to buy snacks for his friends and himself. He was caught by the matron while sneaking back and reported to the principal. Naturally the principal send for me. I arrived a bit apprehensively thinking, “Like father like son”, he too will be dismissed from the school. On reaching the school my younger son casually asked me, “Dad in which class were you when you were compulsorily sent off”. The import of his query was apparent; yes I too was in the eighth. However the punishment my elder one got was, thanks to the changed times, cancellation of day out for the rest of the term.

Couple of years passed without further incidents. One day I was again summoned by the principal. He was caught for bullying his juniors. As the matter was serious and since I too disapproved of his behaviour, I agreed with the principal to take any punitive action that she considered appropriate. I was praying silently that the punishment should be anything but dismissal, since new admission in the tenth class was very difficult to obtain.

Incredibly the punishment he got for bullying the boys in the junior dormitory was to stay in the girls’ dormitory for a week. To be politically correct I pretended to be annoyed. Surreptitiously I thought “A few more years and he’ll wish for more of the same kind of punishment”.

Had he known that his paternal and maternal Grand fathers were college mates at St. Philomina’s, Mysore and that both of them were packed off from college, he would have said “ Dad don’t blame me, blame it on the genes.”

28 September, 2008

Man proposes God disposes

I must have been twenty two when late one night my father woke me up. My maternal grandfather and great grandfather had arrived at that unearthly hour and wanted me to accompany them to vellore urgently. They wanted my services as an expert driver.
Word had come from CMC hospital that grandmother’s sister, who was admitted there critically ill, was sinking. Grandfather who had a Willy’s station wagon immediately set out proposing to take the patient’s father, his own father-in law, to see the dying daughter once more for the last time and also to bring back the body as soon as the inevitable occurred.
I changed in a jiffy and we set out earnestly on the 400kms journey. The diesel vehicle wouldn’t move as fast as the present day turbo charged engines and there weren’t a patch of four lanes in all of India those days. As we wanted to reach before she passed away, we drove non stop except for a brief while for tea and reached Vellore after about sixteen hours on the road.
Grandmother’s sister was in a very serious condition and the doctors gave her a maximum of 24 hours. Planning started immediately for the return journey with the body by the next day evening. Since there won’t be room for great grandfather to accompany us along with the body on the journey back, he was to be taken to Madras early the next morning and put on a flight to Cochin. That too was entrusted to me and we left after getting a wink of sleep.
At the airport while waiting for the boarding pass I told the person standing next in the queue that great grandfather was travelling alone and to be of assistance should the need arises. Probably feeling a bit scared seeing the old man, he asked me whether he can go the toilet by himself. Great grandfather was a little hard of hearing otherwise he would have been offended.
We the advance party of undertakers waited for the eventuality which never occurred the next day nor four days after defying all the doctor’s conclusions. So we returned rather uneventfully.
A couple of months passed and the patient was discharged from the hospital not because she was cured but because the doctors said there was nothing more to be done. She was brought home and was bedridden for the rest of her days.
Meanwhile grandfather developed a chest pain and was referred to a famous cardiologist at Trivandrum. On the day he was given appointment he took along with him for company, a retired doctor friend. At Trivandrum at the prodding of grandfather his doctor friend too underwent investigations and when the findings were announced, grandfather’s heart was pumping well but his friend the doctor who accompanied him just for the heck of it was found to have a cardiac snag. They were prescribed medicines and sent back by the cardiologist. On the way back grandfather dropped his friend at his house and asked his wife to take good care of him since it was revealed that her husband had a heart problem.
Two days later my grandfather who was all of 63 years passed away in his sleep. His sister-in law whom he had gone to vellore to bring back dead, breathed her last only a week after him. The doctor friend who accompanied him just to pass time but was found to have a heart condition lived for another eighteen more years. And Great grandfather out lived all of them to the ripe old age of103. Man proposes God disposes.

04 May, 2008

Visiting Spaniards

I was privileged to stay with The Duke and Duchess of Santa Elena, their graces Alberto and Eugenia de Bourbon for couple of days in Madrid, during my trip to Europe in 1984. Closely related to the Spanish royal family; Their Majesties King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia were godparents to their only son Alfonso.
The duchess’s aunt was part of a group of nuns who came to India in the late forties to establish the order of the discalced Carmelite of St. Teresa in Kerala. It’s a peculiar order, that once cloistered they are forever confined to the convent and not allowed to go out under any circumstances except medical, nor anyone outside the order allowed in. The stringent conditions have been relaxed only recently. My grand aunt too had joined the order. When the Spanish sister came to know from my aunt that I was travelling to Spain she asked me to visit her niece whom she had left almost half a century ago.
The Basque separatist movement was at its height during that period. After the strict checking at the San Sebastian border station which was teeming with armed guards I entered Spain from France. News about my impending visit had already reached the Duchess from the convent. Warmly greeted in the customary style with kisses on either cheek, they were eager to know all about their aunt way back in India.
After seeing the various tourist attractions in and around Madrid like the Royal Palace, the Prado museum and deliberately avoiding the gory bull fight; I took leave after two days stay. Four years passed quickly. I invited the Duke and Duchess to the baptism of my son and my brother-in law’s wedding that were taking place the same day. They graciously accepted the invitation.
A group of nine which included the Duchess’s daughter, sister and her husband who was the Spanish consul general in Istanbul, their two children, The Duchess’s younger sister and her three teenage daughters, the elder, already the Duchess of Montemar, landed at Cochin airport in the last week of December1988. They were taken straight from the airport to St. Joseph’s convent Thiruvalla to meet their aunt.
I took them sightseeing to Thekkady, Kanyakumari, Kovalam and other tourist destinations. The wedding and baptism was on New Year’s Day of 1989. The Spanish guests brought with them a baptism dress as gift. It was a family heirloom, the same dress in which the Duchess’s son was baptised with the King and queen of Spain as Godparents. George was christened in that dress.
In the evening there was much merry making with music and dance. The Spaniards entertained with their famous flamingo dance. Two days after the function they flew back home. A week later I asked a local visitor how the function went and whether everyone enjoyed. His reply left me astounded, “It was a grand function, there were cabaret artistes from Bombay to entertain the guests.” I thanked my stars that the Spaniards were out of earshot and safely home.

28 March, 2008


What’s there in a name?
You don’t choose your parents so also your name. Usually mother’s have an upper hand in choosing the name of the new born. It was not after the Babylonian king Nebuchadnasser that I was named.
The Wikipedia says, “Nebu is the Egyptian symbol of gold. It depicts a golden collar with the ends hanging off of the sides and seven spines dangling from the middle”. I am sure my mother never knew it then as well as now. The fact is that I grew up disliking my own name and even considered officially changing it.
When VSNL queried me for a user name I opted for nebu@vsnl.com. But to my dismay it was already taken. On the spur of the moment I send a mail to
nebu@vsnl.com saying that I too am a Nebu. Prompt was the reply from a dermatologist.
That it was a doctor of medicine aroused my curiosity. I knew from my mother that the original Nebu, her friend’s brother was a Doctor. It was his turn to be baffled reading my next mail asking him whether he was so and so. He thought it was one of his friends pulling his leg.
He was astonished when I narrated the story that I was named after him. After a few mails to and fro, it had to happen sooner or later, we arranged to meet. I took my mom for the first time to meet the person after whom she named her first born; it had been 45 years.
Her old friend had passed away a couple of years ago. The tragedy was compounded when her daughter too passed away embracing the mother’s dead body.


Lost Rome for a Lira
The ten hour flight from Bombay landed at the Leonardo da Vinci international airport Rome on a chilly afternoon. As an amateur traveller wearing inadequate attire the cold was biting.
Twenty four years ago it was the start of my solo two month trip to Europe. Not finding the familiar face of my uncle who was the first secretary in the Indian Embassy to greet me, I started to feel anxious.
There was only one other passenger who had boarded from Bombay and travelled all the way to Rome. The others had either disembarked or joined from Kuwait. Ricardo was on his way back to his home in Milan after visiting India. I narrated my predicament and he guided me with the formalities.
The bus from the airport dropped us at Roma Termini (train station). The Indian Embassy on Via Venti Settembre was only a short distance from the station. The embassy staff told me that the first secretary and his family had left for Paris before my telex reached informing about my advanced arrival. He would return only after a couple of days.
Ricardo helped me find a hotel to stay for the night in Pizza Barberini at the centre of which is the famous Triton’s fountain. He left after inviting me to his home in Milan; which I did after a few days.
The next day I went to see the famous Trevi fountain. Legend has it that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the water over your shoulder with your back to the fountain. Having seen Rome, I saved the change. Now I wish for another visit but somehow or the other it doesn’t happen. I realise a Lira saved is Rome lost eternally.

04 February, 2008

self reliance

Aristocrat, Everinsky, Own opinion, Track Lightning- to the uninitiated these might sound as some random words from the dictionary. An avid race goer of the early eighties will immediately identify these champion thoroughbreds.
Those were the days when the Bangalore Derby was the only derby still eluding Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy. The Punters were divided as to whom among M. Jagdish and V. Shinde was the champion Jockey. Though R.R. Byramji was far ahead of other trainers, A.B. David was immensely respected. Bangloreans were yet to discover the I.T.E.S and one could fend oneself with five hundred rupees a month.
I was a science undergraduate at the prestigious Christ College. Through some enthusiastic horse racing YMCA hostel mates I got introduced to this pastime of the rich and the famous. The race course was the place I spent several of those days at Bangalore instead of College. When cash ran out and all options of borrowing from friends too came to a naught I used my great equation with the Reverend Father Principal to borrow money on the pretext that the money order from home is late in arriving; which was promptly reimbursed from the winnings.
One fine race day a champion horse by the name self reliance a sure bet was running. The punter in me got the better of me and throwing all caution to winds, wagered the princely sum of three thousand rupees on the forty on sixty odds on favourite. The race started “Self reliance” was leading the field from the start, coming to the home stretch still in the lead. Alas but was piped at the post by the second favourite which too belonged to the same owner. I felt like sinking into the ground, how will I repay to all those whom I had borrowed.
Those days for students owning a four wheeler was extravagance and two wheelers luxury. What I had was the lowly moped but luckily two of them- a T.V.S.50 and a Kinetic Luna. Luna the older of the two was sacrificed at the altar of racing and all loans squared off.

30 January, 2008

Looks can be Deceptive.

Not too long ago I was driving through Ernakulam searching for a particular domestic appliances service centre. The service personal was giving me instructions on my mobile phone how to locate the place. Out of the blue a traffic constable waved me down for using mobile phone while driving.

Caught red-handed and with no explanation to offer, he directed me to pay the fine. Cursing my fate I asked for the inspector so that I would pay up and get on with it. Over hearing the expletives used while cursing myself, probably he thought I was a bird of the same feather.

As I was crossing the road to go to the traffic inspector to pay the fine the constable came after me and asked where I work. Reluctant to say that I am a planter which the uninitiated do not comprehend, I smiled at him and kept mum. He asked me whether I was from the department, meaning the police. I still kept quiet with the same smile on my face. Now he grew more doubtful and kept stalking me for an answer. Finally I half nodded with fear of getting caught for impersonation.

By this time I had reached the traffic Inspector who was busy collecting fine from another person. As soon as I gave the half nod the constable said, Sir, you should have said so before, and asked me to carry on without paying the fine.

People have mistaken me for police, armed forces etc; looks can be deceptive nevertheless save your skin at the best of times too.