24 November, 2009
My friend and fellow blogger Murali Rama Varma http://muralirvarma.blogspot.com/2009/11/some-questions-and-answers.html sent this Q & A to me, "I came across a blog from a most promising and talented teen-aged girl. She had quoted a questionnaire supposedly asked to a celebrity by a media man and had given her own interesting and most original answers, assuming that these questions were aimed at her.This made me to think as to how I would have answered these questions, if it were asked to me. I think, by answering these questions, we express our personality to enable a friend or reader to understand us more."
I would request my fellow bloggers and readers to answer these questions themselves- whether to publish or not- for the fun of it and for a self analyzis. It can be quite exhilarating.Here are the questions and my answers.
(1). Fun to you is...
Party with lots of beer and dancing.
(2). If you were invisible for a day, you would...
Have a look at many that is not possible otherwise.
(3).The one invention you're really waiting for...
(4).Would you like to be young forever?
(5).What are you reading at the moment?
(6).Who is your favourite cartoon character?
(7).The place you really want to visit and why?
United States of America, because I haven’t been there.
(8).Which film's hero/heroine do you most identify with?
Naren in Robin Hood (Malayalam movie) .
(9).Your idea of a perfect meal?
Buffet Lunch / Dinner in a star hotel.
(10). Lean or brawny?
(11). Three people from history you'd like to meet?
John F. Kennedy, Lord Mountbatten, Diana Princess of Wales.
(12).Your worst date ever?
Alas, never had one.
(13). Ethnic wear or Western wear?
Both according to the occasion.
(14). Morning person or night person?
(15).What are you addicted to?
I am embarrassed to disclose.
(16).The naughtiest thing you've ever done?
The Answer is censored.
(17).What's your retirement dream?
Buy a plot opposite to my ancestral place, build a home, enjoy the visits of children and friends and visit them. Then, I would want to travel first class to places of interest staying in the best hotels.
(18). Five personal care products you can't do without?
My toothbrush, comb, my garments, chapels and my eye glasses.
(19).Who do you think your partner has a crush on?
She doesn't have time after her worries !
20).Your favourite drink?
(21).The one food you can never say no to?
(22). Rate in order of importance: fame, money, power.
Power, fame, money.
(23).Your next move?
Putting it up for the world to come to a conclusion about me.
Comments about me are most welcome.
08 November, 2009
03 November, 2009
Couple of years ago Kerala Minister Paloli Mohamed kutty made an adverse comment about the Kerala High Court Judges being influenced by the wealthy. The High court initiated contempt of court proceedings against the minister. Two letters, one by Dr. Titus and one by me, both criticizing the minister were published in the Indian Express on the same day. Both the letters were published under the caption ‘Just desserts’. Since I couldn’t figure out the meaning of the caption I searched out Dr. Titus’s phone number from the BSNL online directory and called him. He was surprised by my call and asked me how I got his number. Even he too didn’t know the meaning of the caption which was given by the (sub) editor. Later after finding the meaning of the word he called me back.
Dr. Titus is an avid tennis player. Mundakayam club conducts veteran’s tennis tournament every year in February. Being originally from Mundakayam I happen to be a member of the club. The tournament was taking place in a couple of month’s time and we decided to meet. As planned we met for the first time at the club and talked for the next 2 hours as if we knew each other since childhood! Ever since, almost every day we are in touch with each other either by phone or text message.
It was destiny that brought us together, a letter by me titled ‘Phew what a relief!’ which I had written supporting Dr. Titus regarding (something about children and their studies) was published when we were total strangers to each other and he had preserved the newspaper showing it to his friends and relatives who called on him and whom he thought were interested. As a mark of our friendship he gave that newspaper to me when I called on him at his place.
A couple of months later I got in touch with Mr. Thomas Mathew Parackel, Muvattupuzha , another prolific writer, the same way. It was a coincidence that he knew my father-in-law and was neighbors with my wife’s maternal uncle. Apart from letters to the editor he used to contribute to ‘Time out’ as well. He gave me the email id of Mr. Swaminathan who was handling ‘Time out’ at Express. I passed on the email to Dr. Titus and we too started sending anecdotes to ‘Time out’. Many of which were published.
All three of us got –together for lunch at hotel Windsor castle, Kottayam last year and regally cemented our friendship over a bottle of Chivas.
29 October, 2009
There is a raging controversy in Kerala about the question paper for the mid term examination in the Government higher secondary schools. The question papers are set by teachers’ affiliated to the communist unions.
In the mid-term Plus 1 examination, students were asked to comment on the media coverage of the death of Mercy Ravi, suggesting that the death was overplayed because she had been rich and influential.
There was also a suggestion that students write to the editor, protesting against the lopsided treatment of news, giving `undue’ importance to the death. (of the Federal Minister’s wife).
The congress affiliated teachers union could come out with the following question paper to counter their communist counterparts.
Write an essay on one of the following.
(1). Explain why communist parties constantly agitate for increased wages when according to the Dus Capital workers are not to be paid anything more than what is necessary for their daily sustenance.
(2). According to the communist manifesto all land belongs to the state. Then why do the communist parties support redistribution of land to the landless?
(3). Why is it said that communism is the offspring of jealousy?
( Anyone who answers all questions satisfactorily will be promoted to Std.XII immediately).
22 October, 2009
11 October, 2009
09 October, 2009
His Highness Sree Chitra Tirunal Balarama Varma the Maharaja of Travancore.
click on the photo to enlarge (photo courtesy Kerala police history.com)
It is the truth and nothing but the truth, what His Highness. Sree Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma, the Mharajah of Travancore said about Sir. C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, the erstwhile Dewan of Travancore. It is for the first time someone at his level or rather anyone at all is publicly praising Sir. C.P. I fully concur with HH. "C.P. should not have been mistreated".
The following is the comment I had posted in the blog about Sir. Mirza Mohammad Ismail - ‘Musings from Antique Origins’ http://muralirvarma.blogspot.com/2009/02/sir-mirza-mohammad-ismail-kcie-obe.html. “You are absolutely correct in your observation that the quality of administration of the princely states had been great with the contributions of men of exceptional caliber like Sir Syed Mirza Ismail and Sir C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer. India and more particular Kerala suffer from lack of such able administrators. In my opinion Kerala is in this present state of morass may be because Sir. C.P. cursed this state for having tried to kill him.
The Communist parties of course have an understandable hatred towards Sir. C.P because he would have crushed them. But 'Malayala Manorama' the leading right wing daily in Kerala too have an animosity towards him. They state that he deliberately sealed the newspaper office and liquidated the National and Quilon Bank in which the present Chief Editor K.M. Mathew’s father Mammen Mappilai was a director. Not only that, he even incarcerated Mammen Mappilai. Recently I happened to see (couldn’t read) a book written by Prof. Sreedhara Menon, in which the actions of Sir.C.P. regarding the National and Quilon Bank is lauded. In the book it is written that but for his timely action the public would have lost their deposits in the bank.
The Pottamkulam family to which I belong too has an axe to grind with Sir. C.P. See the attached pages from our family history. But I always took the entire episode with a pinch of salt for two reasons. one, as a Diwan who encouraged economic and industrial reforms could a man of such high competence be communal and or jealous whatsoever, and two the lack of business acumen coupled with the legendary extravagant lifestyle of the people in the picture too may have contributed to the cause of the shut down.
I must point out that Mr. & Mrs. K.V.Thomas Pottamkulam (my great grandfather's brother)were supposed to be close with Kaudiar Palace especially with Amma Maharani Karthika Tirunal lakshmi Bayi. It was he who originally bought the Ammachy Kottaram (Regent's summer palace) at Kuttikanam, Peerumade, Idukki district, Kerala; from the Regent Maharani Pooradam Thirunal Sethu Lakshmi Bayi and made it his residence before selling it to its present owners the Kallivayalils (incidentally my maternal grandfather's brother).
I admire Sir.C.P. maybe because of the belief that he would not have allowed the communists to be anywhere near where they are now, keeping Kerala still in the socialist era . I also appreciated his call for independent Travancore (for which the State Congress too disliked him). But had Travancore been independent and in the course of time became a democracy, the communists when they come to power by rotation as it is happening now in Kerala, would have implemented the land reforms act much more stringently and none of the other parties would repeal it when they come to power for fear of loosing support of those who got the land for free. The plantation sector escaped the Kerala land reforms act because of certain control of Indian Parliament.
(Translation) "If that K.V. Thomas is allowed to to grow and become successful like this, he'll become very rich" Sir.C.P. said to his secretary on their way to Trivandrum after inaugurating Travancore Wood Works with a Golden Key. The rapid raise of KVT was such that even the Dewan of Travancore became jealous.
Click on photo to enlarge
(Translation) In 1938 The then Dewan of Travancore Sir C.P. Ramasawmy Iyer himself came to inaugurate Travancore Wood Works which had about 1000 workers. Surprisingly on his return to Trivandrum he issued orders to stop cutting of trees within an area of 10 square miles of the factory and put pressure for foreclosure of all bank loans.
06 October, 2009
Does anybody remember when, why and the outcome of the last human chain protest carried out in Kerala? Bet the recent one too will meet the same fate.
18 September, 2009
26 August, 2009
There is a big outrage in the Indian media against detaining and frisking of Shah Rukh Khan at Newark airport. When you look at the occurrence in right perspective we will see the appropriateness of the action.
We don’t realize that there is a perceptible difference in the Indian and American way of doing things. It stems from the fact that in India we have a category, especially politicians, their kith and kin, celebrities and those in the Ambani league, who think that they are privileged to bypass the simple rules followed by the commons. This is where Dr. Kalam stands apart and that is what makes him truly great!
The other day in an interview by Larry King Gen. Colin Powell ex Secretary of state said, that every time he flew he was frisked and checked thoroughly. He said that as a senior dignitary he expected them to do it and since he was one, they did it or they may have got into big trouble with him noticing their laxity. Larry asked him, do they not know who you are? And he said, yes, “Of course and that is why they ensure I am frisked thoroughly”.
If Sonia Gandhi is subjected to frisking and checking we can do the same to Hillary Clinton as well. (Forgive me, I am a self confessed Gandhi loyalist)
10 August, 2009
Sitting Left to Right:-
Lt.Col. Padmasree Bharat Mohanlal.
His Highness Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma the Maharaja of Travancore.
Gowri & Prabha the twin daughters of Avittom Thirunal Aditya Varma, younger son of the Junior Princess of Travancore
Pooyam Thirunal Gowri Parvathy Bayi,The Senior Princess of Travancore .
Standing Left to Right:-
Avittom Thirunal Aditya Varma, younger son of the Junior Princess of Travancore, Aswathy Thirunal Gouri Lakshmy Bayi.
Manya Rajya RajyaSree Chathayam Naal Raja Raja Varma Valiyal Koil Thampuran Avergal of Chemprol Kottaram, Consort of the Senior Princess of Travancore Pooyam Thirunal Gowri Parvathy Bayi.
his younger son Aswathy Thirunal Rama Varma, well known singer.
Sree Padmanabhan Thampi, son of His Highness the Maharaja Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma.
On 1st August 2009 a letter to the Editor, written by a Professor of History was published in the 'Deepika' the oldest Malayalam daily (Estd. in1887) criticising Mohanlal for visiting Kaudiar palace in full uniform of Lt. Col Territorial Army, Madras Regiment and saluting HH. The Maharaja of Travancore terming it as undemocratic, unconstitutional and born out of colonial hangover. The letter is reproduced below. Click on it to enlarge and read.
It is a historic fact that two Travancore infantry battalions were integrated into Madras regiment after the states merged with the Indian union and were called 9th (Travancore) and 16th (Travancore) battalions of the Madras regiment.
28 July, 2009
Mr. Kalam has not come out with a statement that he personally considered it a humiliation.
Security-checks for air-travellers were initially confined to international sectors. As incidents of hijacking escalated over the years, pre-embarkation security-checks were extended to domestic flights. There was a time when security officers had the discretion to exempt from security-check those passengers whom they did not deem it necessary to check.
Frisking was imposed with extreme rigour in the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre.
For passengers, such pre-embarkation inspection often leads to a harrowing experience. Yet, after that monstrous man-made catastrophe in the U.S., nobody is exempt from such pre-emptive scrutiny — not even the U.S. President. (I am told that for security reasons the U.S. President is being checked by a separate set of personnel). In India also security- checks became rigorous. Still, exemption is given to VVIPs. Should they be exempted from it?
In 2004 I was in the Cairo airport as one among 32 passengers waiting for an onward flight. The security-check involved the frisking of each passenger and the examination of cabin baggage apart from X-ray scrutiny of the check-in baggage. It took six hours to complete the pre-embarkation checking of 32 passengers.
When my turn came, the chaperoning senior officer was heard murmuring to the security staff a plea to exempt me from elaborate checking on the ground that I was a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India. A senior staff-member came and asked me: “Sir, we can trust you. But can you trust that none would have stamped a button type bomb in your trouser pockets?” I said I cannot. Next he asked: “Can you trust that none would have surreptitiously inserted a nail-type bomb in your baggage?” I said I cannot. Then he said: “Sir, this checking is not only for our security, it is for your security also.” I explained to him that I never wanted exemption from the security-check.
The remonstration that the former President should have been exempted from checking is over a non-issue. When Zia-ul Haq was President of Pakistan, he and his baggage were exempted from security-checks. His weakness for ripe mangoes was well-known. It has been reliably theorised that his adversaries managed to have a small packet of mangoes to be included in his cabin baggage, that one of the “mangoes” was in fact a small bomb and that it exploded when the aircraft was air-borne. All the crew-members and passengers in the flight, including the General, were killed in a trice.
What is disquieting is the criticism that a security-check amounted to insulting or humiliating the former President. In an egalitarian society like India, if something is insulting or humiliating to a VIP or VVIP, it is equally insulting to other citizens.
It is indeed an agonising exercise for the security staff of airlines and the security agencies to subject every passenger to pre-embarkation frisking, and scrutinising minutely all baggage, whether it is cabin baggage or checked-in baggage. It is a monotonous and weary job when each day thousands of passengers and their baggage are to be individually checked. Some of the passengers put on a long face.
Yet, by and large the security staff do it with dedication because they know they are thus ensuring the safety of the air-borne passengers.
To exempt some persons from security-checks by categorising them as VVIPs is but the consequence of a hangover of a feudal and colonial culture. Let Mr. Kalam stand out as model to our ruling elite and other VIP-VVIPs to persuade them to willingly yield to security-checks in the same manner as any other citizen of India.
Source: The Hindu (Opinion) http://www.hinduonnet.com/2009/07/25/stories/2009072556080900.htm
21 July, 2009
13 July, 2009
Got an interesting fact to share. Nowdays each one of us carry Hi Fi mobile devices and always fear that it may be stolen. Each mobile carries a unique IMEI i.e International Mobile Identity No which can be used to track your mobile anywhere in the world.
This is how it works:-
1. Dial *#06# from ur mobile.
2. Your mobile shows a unique no. (it could be a mix of alpha numeric digit code)
3. Note down this number anywhere but except in your mobile as this is the number which will help trace your mobile in case of a theft.
4. Once stolen you just have to mail this IMEI No. to firstname.lastname@example.org
5. No need to go to police.
6. Your Mobile will be traced withing next 24 hrs via a complex system of GPRS and Internet.
7. You will find where your hand set is being operated even in case your no is being changed.
PS:- The e-mail id is distinctively Indian, so this may be India specific.
26 June, 2009
As most of our ministers are a big waste on the exchequer, we should have a ‘Waste Minister’ to tackle this serious issue.
25 June, 2009
26 May, 2009
08 May, 2009
I have not been posting as frequently as I would like these days. My home Internet account had expired and I did not renew it deliberately because my son is home for his examination leave. He is taking the CA (PCC) exams in June . Face book and orkut are a distraction for him. So kindly bear with me till the middle of June.
27 April, 2009
As age got up with my mother, she too started showing signs of her mother’s genes. One day when I visited her she was irritated as the phone was out of order for a couple of days and about the same time her cellular phone also had konged out. On my way back I stopped at my brother's petrol station to register the complaint on 198. When I keyed in the phone number - 272460, the answering machine stated that there's no telephone corresponding to the number. However much I tried the response was the same. I accepted defeat and proceeded to register the complaint in writing including the frivolous response of the answering machine.
Couple of days passed and still the complaint was not rectified. I talked to my brother about not being able to register the complaint from the phone at the petrol station. To my amazement he revealed that in order to mislead freeloaders he had switched the dialling buttons zero and star. All NSD / ISD codes start with zero. So when I thought I was dialling 272460 in effect I was dialling 27246*. No wonder the system couldn't recognize the phone number and kept repeating, "There is no phone corresponding to the number you dialled".
I couldn't but admire my brother's indigenous and simple NSD/ISD barring technique
17 April, 2009
Chechi = Malayalam for elder sister
In the eighteenth year of our wedding, Suja who was a 1st year medical student at the time of our marriage (discontinued since) started to complain about an irritation in her right ear. Naturally I took her to an ENT specialist in the nearby town. He examined her ear and found that she had a minor hearing loss and directed us to get an audiometer test done. The test confirmed his findings and we were asked to come after a year to repeat the test and if there was a significant increase in the loss of hearing go for further investigations.
Some months passed by and Suja started feeling as if an insect got inside her ear. Off we went to a senior ENT specialist in the city who happened to be the professor of the ENT specialist whom we consulted first. He examined her and came to the same conclusion of minor hearing loss and asked us not to make a fuss about it and to ignore it. Since a senior ENT specialist gave a concurring second opinion we totally ignored the fluttering sensation, as she used to refer, in her ears and did not go for the re-evaluation after one year as recommended by our original consultant.
A couple of years passed by and Suja started to get tired more often. One would find her taking rest frequently even after short journeys. Celebrations for the 50th wedding anniversary of her parents were planned and among the invitees was Dr. Paul Puthooran, a family friend. While talking to Dr. Puthooran, he mentioned that he had recently undergone a craniotomy (brain surgery) to remove a tumour the size of a tennis ball and made me put my hand on his head to feel the soft portion in his skull, where the surgeons had opened to remove the tumour. Casually I asked him what the symptoms were and how he suddenly became aware of it. He said that one day while examining patients in the OP he felt numbness at the tip of his fingers and called in the neurologist who conducted an MRI scan and the tumour was detected.
After the wedding anniversary celebrations, while we were driving back home I narrated the incident to Suja when she said she too has numbness at a particular spot on her right cheek. The next day morning we went to the ENT specialist whom we had consulted originally. On preliminary examination itself he said that the hearing loss had worsened and recommended a CT or MRI scan. The ENT specialist at the hospital where MRI scanning could be done was a close friend of mine. I rang him up and fixed a date for the scan convenient for the periodic servicing of my car!
We waited till the servicing date was due, gave the car for the routine servicing and went to the hospital for the scan as if it was only of secondary importance (I happen to be a perennial optimist). As the scan was in progress I found my friend, the ENT specialist, rushing into the scan room. After a while the nurse came and made me sign an indemnity letter, I did sense some danger then. Scan completed, the doctor friend took us both to dinner and admitted us in the hospital, (for purposes of claiming the medical insurance), saying that there was nothing serious and we’ll be discharged the next morning. By next day noon I found my mother, brother and sister at the hospital to break the news to me that the scan report showed a large tumour on Suja’s right acoustic nerve which had grown too large and had already started pressing other parts of the brain.
The ENT specialists we consulted originally as well as for second opinion missed to diagnose the tumour because she had told them about a fluttering feeling and not used the medical term ‘titinis’ or something to that effect (how are we, laypeople to know). We too had missed some tell tale symptoms like patches on the pillow cover caused by oozing of saliva at night due to weakness of the lip muscles.
The doctor friend said that the tumour called medically – Right vestibular shwananoma, has to be removed at the earliest but since the tumour had grown so large and that it was adhesive to the facial nerve, we need to find the expert in the field of CP angle surgery as facial nerve damage could cause severe disfigurement of the face. My brother-in-law who is a doctor contacted his colleagues and finally shortlisted two neurosurgeons, one at Hinduja hospital Mumbai and the other at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences Trivandrum (SCTIMST).
Suja preferred to do the surgery at Trivandrum considering the logistics and language. At SCTIMST, were treatment is highly subsidised by the Govt. Of India, there is always a long queue of patients waiting for surgery, and only life threatening cases are given out of turn preference. It so happened that my maternal uncle was the Director of the State police at that time with HQ at Trivandrum. He got an appointment with the HOD of Neurosurgery as soon as I telephoned him. The surgery was fixed after two days and the tumour was removed along with the right acoustic nerve which left Suja permanently deaf on the right side. As expected it was a benign tumour as 99% of acoustic shwananoma tumours are found to be.
However since the tumour had grown too large and was severely adhesived to the facial nerve some damage was caused to the facial nerve which resulted in partial facial palsy. As a result she lost her ability to smile naturally as well as lost the functioning of the right eyelid to close and open. The atrophy of the lachrymal glands dried up the production of tears on the right eye; so she has to use artificial tears for the rest of her life for her right eye. This causes irritation and redness in the eye often while travelling due to dryness of the eye and she becomes tired after prolonged introductions.
Subsequently she has had two minor episodes of exposure Keratitis (cornea-the black portion of the eye, becoming white which could lead to eventual loss of sight) of the eye due to the failure of repeated tarsoraphy (stitching together of the eyelids at the corner of the eye to facilitate closure of the eyes). Finally a small gold (for its non infectious quality) plate was inserted in her upper eyelid as a weight to aid closure of the eyelid.
For a year after the surgery she shunned social interactions and public functions. Now she has got accustomed to or forgets the minor disfigurement of her face but still becomes uncomfortable if she is being photographed.
PS: This post is in response to the question from a friend during our recent visit to Chennai. “What happened to Chechy, She did look off colour?”.
21 March, 2009
I am a poor little rich man who undeservedly utilise the benefits of government subsidies.
I was forced to apply for a ration card to be produced before all and sundry government offices as proof of my name, age, sex, address, and what not. While applying for the same, I had declared an income which I believe must be the highest in my servicing ration shop if not the locality (nobody gives the true figures).
By virtue of the ration card I was issued, I became entitled to two litres of subsidised kerosene every month which I use for my generator. The shop sells somebody else’s subsidised rice at a higher rate to me with which I feed my dog. I am entitled to subsidised sugar only during festival season, which I fully make use of.
I buy the kerosene and sugar only because I am entitled to it and if I do not take delivery of the same, obviously the shop keeper will sell it in the market and make a profit at my expense because he would have already taken delivery of these items from the civil supplies godown on my account.
I do not require any subsidy on any item whatsoever. I don’t mind taking them away, but put an end to the cross subsidisation. Take away the subsidy on kerosene and cooking gas and other petroleum products, but pass the corresponding reduction on to prices of petrol and diesel.
Please note that this might be a case more particularly of relevance to the state of Kerala where there is no abject poverty as seen in the north or other parts of India. The gap between the rich and the poor is comparatively less here because of the exorbitantly high wages.
12 March, 2009
A year ago I temporarily shifted my place of residence from the estate to the town owing to my son’s education. He was in school as a boarder from the 1st standard and since he is to appear for the 2009 ICSE exams, bitter half wanted him under her tutelage.
Being a Syrian Catholic it is obligatory for us to attend Holy Mass on all Sundays and the church rules stipulate that anyone who resides in the jurisdiction of a parish for more than six months should transfer their name from the old parish to the new.
The first Sunday I attended Mass at the new place I noticed that the church was not very impressive and thought why the priests had not so far contemplated remodelling it. As if the vicar read my mind, the very next Sunday after the Mass he started a prayer for divine help to renovate the church.
Immediately I sensed what was in store if I joined this parish because just before I relocated from my former place of residence, the vicar there had imposed a hefty donation on me for building the parish hall. The only course of action for me to save from yet another heavy donation at the new place was to go for Mass at the nearby Latin Church which is an outstanding edifice and definitely not going to be remodelled in the near future.
Incidentally the most expensive piece of real estate at Kottayam in Kerala, India, is situated at the church cemetery! A 6 feet x 3 feet plot costs Rs. 2 ,00,000/- ($3,850) rate as on 26th Jan.2009.
Extortion No. II
I happen to have a small cardamom plantation is in the high ranges at Vandanmedu in Idukki district of Kerala, a state at the southern most part of India. The plantation was acquired by my grandfather in 1950 in the name of my then 18 year old father, from Mr. M.M. Mani Modayil, and has been in the family for now nearly 60 years.
Though we are supposed to be the lord and master of our land, there is a superior authority above us. If you thought I am referring to God almighty, you are mistaken. It is the all powerful union leader whose interference hangs as the dread Damocles's sword over our head.
Even though we pay the prescribed minimum wages plus all fringe benefits such as Bonus, Leave With Wages, National and Festival Holiday Wages, Sickness benefit, weather protection allowance, Extra Wages for insecticide and fungicide spraying and Gratuity, the militant communist trade union leaders precipitate issues to hold-up work with their muscle power if they are not kept in good humour.
During the 1st week of February the local CPI (Marxist) office bearers approached me for a donation to the party fund. I stated that I was willing to contribute Rs. 2000/-, which step by step I increased to Rs.4000/- but they sought Rs.8000/- and after bargaining wouldn’t settle for anything less than Rs.5000/- which reluctantly I had to part with which much heartburn. After they left I was shocked to find that only Rs.500/- was written on the receipt. I sent the receipt to the person and got it corrected but the amount he has written on the counterfoil remains a mystery!
A week after they ripped me I received a notice informing me that they were starting a union in my estate. Maybe the thought that I might not oblige them with funds once they opened a branch must have prompted them to make the raid in advance.
07 March, 2009
The unlucky driver fell into the pothole and broke the axel of the car (click on the picture to view the full impact). The 15 year lifetime road tax collected at the time of registration of the new car is used to pay the exorbitant salaries of the Government employees. Then where is the fund to maintain roads?
Stop charging road tax. Give the important roads to private entrepreneurs, let them maintain the roads and collect user’s fee.
01 March, 2009
True to the excellent stock that he came from the boy grew up to become so handsome that girls couldn’t help from exclaiming about his good looks. Like all boys of his age he grew up into a mischievous young man.
Entering college he had a big fan following because of his pleasing and easy manners. Things came to a state where he had to discontinue studies half way through the first year and return home. But the brains he inherited from his brilliant mother saw him through the entrance examination for CA with distinction.
The brand conscious person he was would do his training only in one of the big four. As luck would have it he managed to get into one of them. In the city where he was undergoing training the office of a famous film producer was directly opposite to the office where he had joined for training. Many a day the producer and he would travel up the same elevator. The producer noted his good looks and one day asked him if he would like to join movies.
Though a little apprehensive he thought of giving it a try and answered in the affirmative. He was cast opposite a pretty young thing in a movie which went on to become a block buster. So the CA course too was abandoned midstream.
Further movies didn’t takeoff and he was left in the lurch. But destiny was benevolent. That’s when thankfully his distance education Bachelors degree came in handy. Armed with the degree he applied for the civil service examinations. Because of his casual nature there too he was unsuccessful in the first two attempts. With his back to the wall he put in rigorous work and finally came out successful and was enrolled into the Indian Police Service.
NB: Any resemblance to any person living or dead is intentional
22 February, 2009
Before 1990 this tax was levied based on income against appropriate slab rates as in central Income tax. The basic exemption those days given for Agricultural Income was Rs.20, 000/- and the rate of tax was as high as 80% in the final slab. Those days almost everybody used to declare only Rs. 10,000/- to 15,000/- as income. How on earth one could live with that income for a year was conveniently ignored.
During the proceedings of the assessment like issuance of pre-assessment notice and calling for objections which invariably the assessing officer rejected on flimsy grounds the assesse bribed the officials and the officer would enhance the income to somewhere around 25,000/- levied a small income tax and matters were settled to the advantage of the assesee and the personal profit of the officer and considerable loss to the exchequer. (The officers in turn bribe the powers that be to get posted to lucrative offices like Kanjirappally and vandanmedu)
Then in 1990 the Finance Minister in the LDF ministry Mr. Vishwanatha Menon (he was dismissed from the communist Marxist party some time ago and contested unsuccessfully as an independent in Ernakulam and I am not sure whether he is back in the party) introduced the compounding system of payment based on area and the crop that is cultivated. It was a great relief to the assesse in as much as that the amount of tax was fixed irrespective of the income earned and it also took away the discretionary powers of the assessing officers.
Now the planters have accounted surplus in their books. The officers have lost interest in doing the nominal work since they do not benefit otherwise.
The statement below shows how compounded tax is calculated.
20 February, 2009
I would rather remain silent if the political parties (loot the public money) target MNCs like SNC-Lavalin etc. for their fund requirements and leave small fry’s like us alone.
12 February, 2009
04 February, 2009
The perpetrators repenting albiet 38 years late
News report of Muriken's Grandson Adv. Mohan's tragic end on 26th January
at Mandya near Mysore
Visit http://prometheanally.blogspot.com/2008/07/economies-of-scale-and-property-rights.html and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8P9YdLOwBEU for an excellent article by Rosemary Abraham with an animated vedio of the Kayal Rajah's farming technique.
30 January, 2009
On the night of 26th he boarded the Kaveri express bound for Chennai and at Mandya station, which is 1 hour from Mysore, got down from the compartment presumably for some fresh air/ washing his face. Unfortunately while trying to board the moving train slipped and fell on to the track and was mauled beyond recognition.
The Railway Protection force dialed the last called numbers, on his undamaged mobile phone, one of which happened to be his brother-in –law’s. I got the news around midnight. His parents stay less than a kilometer from where I presently stay. So I rushed and had to break the tragic news to them little by little.
His younger brother and co-brother (Mohan's wife is from the jeweler’s family ‘Chemmannoor’ of Trichur) had to go to Mandya which is 10 hours drive from Kottayam to identify and bring the body. By that time friends and relatives from Mysore and Bangalore had rushed to the spot and there was plenty of support and help. After all the formalities the body reached Kottayam early morning of 28th and was buried the same day afternoon.
Mohan was extremely proud of his lineage.
Mohan happens to be the Grandson of the so called ‘Kayal Rajah Murikken’ of Kavalam who owned the famous Chithra, Rani and Marthandam Kayals* of Kuttanad, each of them being in excess of 500 acres. The famous kayals got their respective names after the three principal members of the Travancore Royal family His Highness. Sree Chitra Tirunal Balaramavarma the Maharajah of Travancore, Amma Maharani Her Highness.Sree Karthika Tirunal and His Highness .Sree Uthradam Tirunal Marthandavarma the then Elayarajah, the present Maharajah; they graciously travelled to Kavalam to ceremonially inaugurate the first sowing.
*The three famous kuttanadan kayals fields are paddy fields made cultivable by building 12-15 feet deep, thick walls around an area each of more than 500 acres in the Vembanad Lake. It’s like an unimaginably big swimming pool from which water is pumped out to make them dry lands. It was an unparalleled feat in the world carried out in the erstwhile state of Travancore. No wonder that the Sovereign along with the Amma Maharani and Elayarajah arrived for the inauguration.
The communist government of EMS nationalized the Kayals in 1971which are left fallow at present, a perfect example of dog in the manger.
25 January, 2009
Marykulam is a sleepy village in Idukki district of Kerala, on the road from Peermade to Kattappana through which I pass a dozen times a year. Ever since the by line was noticed and whenever I passed the place I always wondered whether Giji took the name from the same place and lived there. Two days after the show cause notice appeared I was driving past Marykulam and on an intuition I stopped at a wayside shop and enquired whether a person named Giji Marykulam lived there, the mention that he worked with Indian Express immediately elicited favourable reply and a kind soul offered to show the house which happened to be a short distance away.
The nondescript house was a forewarning of the person himself. The famous Sub-Editor cum reporter of the mighty Indian Express hailing from a place where there is not a single subscriber for any English newspaper let alone the Indian express. Bewilderment turned to astonishment as he spoke of his schooling in the local school where he was not the brightest and his pre-degree course as a private candidate from where he went to a college that does not figure in the list rated by India today. The secret of his English language was his voracious appetite for reading of all things philosophy.
He was a determined journalist who after stints with different journals at far off places like Gawhati finally landed at the New Indian Express, Kochi. His interests where in wildlife, environment, and historic architecture and has published numerous articles in NIE and won awards. At present he is the staff correspondent of ‘The Hindu’ at Kattappana.
Epilogue: - After reading my Time Out ‘Looks can be deceptive’ in the NIE, he rang me up to say that when he saw me at his house when I went to meet him, he was about to bolt thinking I was a police officer sent by Indian Express to pick him up for unauthorised absence from duty.
19 January, 2009
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.
18 January, 2009
13 January, 2009
None of the ministers had anything new or imaginative to offer except the mundane. Especially the Chief Minister’s, “Houses and land for all” is like pouring water down the drain. Instead of wasting a huge amount like 5000 crores on giving free land and houses and thereby making the already lazy Kerala populace even more slothful, the amount should be better used for improving the infrastructure. The consequent increase in economic activity would have brought liquidity into the hands of the common man and help him to buy land and build houses on it by himself.
Nevertheless one need not worry about the Rs. 5000 crores going waste because the state does not and will not have even 50 crores in its treasury after paying the salaries and pension of its huge wealth of bureaucratic employees.
02 January, 2009
Mundakayam is a plantation countryside opened by the British and Irish planters during the early part of 1900 and is literally a place where milk flows; the only difference being that it is of the latex verity or rubber paal as called locally. Mundakayam has the largest single plot under rubber plantation in India and is situated at the midpoint between Kottayam and Kumily on the famous 110 kms K.K. road now known as Kollam – Theni NH220. I am fortunate to have been born and brought up there, with both my parents belonging to the same place.
I was driving down the NH220 from Mundakayam to Kottayam during Christmas. It is during this period that the tipplers in their inebriated condition cause maximum havoc on the roads. And since Kerala holds the dubious record for the highest alcohol consumption in the country the highway police were very vigilant.
As I negotiated a serpentine curve, which the road is well-known for, there was a highway patrol car waiting as if to pounce on unsuspecting drivers. When my car approached the cop waved me down. Since all the papers were in order, I stopped confidently and waited for the officer. After the routine queries he asked me to blow. I was perplexed; blow where and what for? Suddenly it dawned on me that he was trying to find out whether I was intoxicated. But there was no breath analyzer, a device for estimating blood alcohol content which measures the level of alcohol in an appropriate sample of breath expired, with him. So I asked him, “Blow where”? The inspector held out his hand and asked me to blow into his palm that was his breath analyser or ‘Oothometer’! (In Malayalam ‘oothuka’ means – to blow). Trust our cops to be inventive.
On New year’s day when I regaled this incident to friends, one of them, a confirmed bar hopper with “good capacity”- a common terminology used by tipplers, revealed how he hoodwinked the cops once while returning from the club. He had had one too many when the arriving members warned him about the cops checking with breath analyzer down the road. Before finishing his ‘one for the road’ he asked his wife to lace her mouth with a peg of brandy and spit it out if she didn’t like the taste. She was confused to say the least and refused bluntly. After much cajoling she relented when he told her, “Otherwise I’ll have to spend the night in a police lockup and you will have to go home alone”. Section 203 of the motor vehicle act empowers the police to require any person driving a motor vehicle in a public place to submit to a breath test, and if the presence of alcohol is found to be above the permissible limit in his blood or urine, the individual may be arrested without a warrant
As expected the cops stopped him on the way. He was asked to blow into the breath analyzer and it showed that the alcohol content was way above the permissible 30mg/100ml limits. He wouldn’t agree with the cop and argued that he was not drunk but the apparatus was faulty. The cops too wouldn’t yield. Then he took out his ultimate weapon. He said, “I’ll prove that your machine is faulty, try it on my teetotaller wife and see for yourself?” The inspector wasn’t amused but nevertheless agreed after some persuasion. You can imagine the inspector’s bewilderment when the breath analyzer showed that she too was pissed drunk but without any of the attendant indications. Shocked he tried it out on her once more with the same effect. Probably he was too embarrassed to try it on himself not sure of the result. Convinced that the apparatus was indeed faulty he let them go!