Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Day I met a god….

“Why the hell are you still asleep? It’s almost 7: 45! Aren’t you going to office today?”
shouted my roommate. I replied in a rude manner, for I was agitated at being woken up, “Today, I am going to SHAR and not to office; close the front door when you go out, I won’t be up until 10:00”. I had lost my sleep, thanks to my roommate, but had nothing to do on a blue Tuesday morning. For the last one month, I was going through a hell of a time and I started thinking about the conversation that I had, with an equally dejected friend of mine, the previous day. He pointed out, “You lost some flavor of your life. You must get it back and travel is a good option. A great many things happen when you travel. Read some good books that can guide you on what you want to do with your life”. I don’t like to travel and used to feel all the more irritated when I was on for the place called SHAR. But this day, I didn’t feel that bad, for I was going after a long time and I had a hidden agenda of refurbishing (read ‘my experimentation with books on self realization’) myself. I fell asleep again.
Finally, when I woke up it was almost 12’ o clock and I remembered my friend’s warnings about some unprecedented road blockades due to “kavadi” and some party meetings. I surged to have a bath, packed my bag (the art of piling up your clothes into a back pouch) and rushed out. Oops…! I had forgotten my books. I hurried back and got two books from the row of a dozen(hehe, all on enlightenment and I knew the authors or the titles of none) and rushed back to confront a road which was barren (a very rare sight at the place where I live) except for some rare two wheelers and autos. I called out, “Auto…!” and an auto rickshaw stopped. The driver gave me a wicked smile (as if he knew what was in wait for me). I shouted“Thampanoor…!”

Feb 07th 2011 Time 2:15
Place: Outside the AC reservation coach of a superfast train bound to Chennai.
I was searching through the railway reservation charts and finally found my name against A1-18. I didn’t stop with that; I started gleaning the details of my co-passengers. Alas! My co-passenger was a girl (Female 26), from Changanassery. The imp in me woke up and started envisioning stories on my chat up with the girl (of course to be portrayed to my friends as an impeccable beauty), by narrating which I could enthrall my roommates when they telephone me at night. But of recent times, they do not show much interest in my superfluous narration and I felt that I should try some neologism to put in my gibberish. I ridiculed one of my integration friends, who was in the same coach, for being put amidst some old folks. Huh! So I am supposed get enlightened before Changanassery, after which I may continue, considering my ability to concentrate (previous experience shows that my focus on any subject holds a linear relationship with the extraneous disturbances from the surroundings)! However, the goddess of sleep didn’t like the idea of my getting enlightened and soon took me under her control.

Time 4:15
Place: 2623 Chennai mail, A1-18, Side Lower.
Eater’s coma had attacked me and I slept for almost 2 hours. I woke up when somebody shouted inside my head “Dude, you have every right to have a tea before savoring the bliss of self realization”. A tea at 3: 30 is one of my office routines and I have developed a sort of biological alarm inside my head for this time. However, the alarm had gone late by almost 45 minutes. When the train stopped, I started looking for the chaii waalas but nobody turned up.
Suddenly, a 6+ feet tall figure appeared dragging her red trolley bag. I couldn’t see her face because the angle of elevation of her face was intercepted by the upper berth. She went out to fetch her other luggage. The train started rolling and the ‘Changanassery’ plaque was slowly moving backwards, but she was still missing. She turned up after a few minutes and sat facing me.
Ho! A tall (definitely above 6 feet), stout, dark girl, who could toss her big carry bag like a balloon! I remembered the adage that ‘black is beautiful than seven colours’, and in her I saw its proof. However, being an acrophobic (meaning connoted) of 5’ 5”, I was turned off. I took my book on enlightenment and mentally called out, “Oh! the enlightened ones, I am coming to your abode in half an hour”. Before I could open my book, she tried to plug in her mobile charger, and Alas! it was not working.
Her friend in me woke up. I told her that it wouldn’t work and laughed at the maintenance that the electrical guys in railways did. In fact, I explained to her the total powering and grounding scheme of the 110V railway electrical sockets. She was impressed by my explanations on why her laptop touch mouse and keyboard failed when she plugged it on the socket the previous time. At last, the ice was broken. She asked me what I did. I told her that I am an engineer at VSSC and she told me that she had great respect for my fraternity. I asked her what she did. She told that she worked for Southern Railways. “Oh! So the train is free of charge for you, isn’t it?” She just smiled.
“B-tech?” I enquired.
“No, sports quota”. Faces of all my friends who got in to good colleges through sports quota came flooding into my mind. While I studied, they played, and when the list was out, they just walked through. I hid my indignation and asked her name. “Geethu Anna Jose”, she replied. I told her that the name sounded familiar but concluded that I had a friend with a similar name. She just smiled. “Which sport ?” “Basket Ball.”
Hmm! Basket ball is not my cup of tea but an inherent wish to impress the girl made me exaggerate.
I described to her how I used to do the finger roll throw pretty well during my college days, how I could rarely convert a slam dunk or a jump shot and so on. She kept on smiling and that made me bluff over and over again.
She told me about her job. She had to go, sign in and complete some administrative work once in every 6 months; that’s all the work she does for the railways. I exclaimed “Wow! What an enviable job!”
She told that she was from kottayam, and had completed her education from the same place. Before coming to basketball, she had an athletic background.
I asked her “Have you gone to any foreign countries?” (expecting at most Bangladesh or Srilanka as a reply). She told me that it was a long list. The ignoramus in me was not content.
“So what is the next milestone you are looking up to?” She told me that she couldn’t make it into WNBA last season, and was planning to go to US for the same again.
“Oh! Which university? The Ivy League?”
She was confused.
I made it more direct. Why do you want a double MBA? (I had heard WNBA as double MBA)
She couldn’t control her laughter anymore. She explained that WNBA is Women’s National Basket Ball Association, world’s most sought after basket ball league in the US, and that it was any player’s dream.
Finally, I asked her the most sensible question of the day. “What tournaments have u played? National level for the Southern Railways?”(I still don’t know how I missed to ask it
She smiled and said, “International games, for The National team.”
I was left agape.
She then told that she was ‘The GAJ’, one among the two Keralites in the Indian team, and the captain of the National Women Basket Ball team. I lost my senses, for the word ‘captain’ had done its trick and a picture of MS Dhoni flashed through my mind. All I could say was, “autograph please”, by saying which I gave her the book I had in my hand.
She said, “Oh no! But why? I am not the right person, you don’t even know me!” She smiled. I was thrown silent. She continued, “Please don’t feel bad. It is not your fault, nobody in this compartment may recognize me but Basket Ball is a great sport, do follow it, if possible. Google it and you will get everything, including the double MBA”, she laughed. “And someday do google my name also”. For a moment I was bearing the burden of the millions of Indians who have hardly thought of considering anything other than cricket as a national game. I knew the names of the all the eleven players in the Indian cricket team and even more. If ‘sports’ is a religion, then India is a religiously intolerant nation with an affliction for extreme ‘cricket-ism’. I knew the name of the fast bowler from my district who occasionally makes it into the playing eleven, hailed by the local media, famous (or infamous)for his unfathomable arrogance than bowling skills. I knew his pet names, nick names, his parent’s name, the comments that his parents use to make in the local media and even the whole sort of blusters he created. I even knew about his predecessor who played just two international matches and became immortalized. And here, in front of me, was a girl of my age, from the district next to mine, the No1 in India for the last couple of years, a player in the media for the last 11 years, and yet, I knew nothing about her.
I was struck hard by my ignorance and my conscience bit the dust. I controlled my tears, which were trying to force out. However, my consternation finally put me in my place. I said “ I don’t know you. I don’t know how to appreciate your game, nor do I know how to appreciate your achievements; but I know one thing; among all the living gods I can ever imagine, you are the simplest and for that, I admire you. Hmm! Well, she looked impressed. A voice inside me called out, “You flirt! You will never change.”
She said “I don’t have a pen”. I borrowed a pen from another guy and my wish was granted. I was much delighted to exchange my seat with her friend who boarded from Ernakulam and I didn’t have to face her for the rest of my journey.
I took out my laptop and googled her. Google predicted her name once I typed the first three letters and gave out 226000 results (veracity of which I don’t claim) in 0.10 secs. Wikipedia and youtube hailed her glory (I leave it to the readers to find out) and I realized that she was the God herself. Google has always been my good friend, but he never says anything unless I ask for it. I looked at the book in which she had given me her autograph. The title of the book stared at me. It read “The Open Secret”. Yes, for me, GAJ was an open secret, a luminary who was all radiant but for my eyes closed, a god whom I failed to recognize because I belonged to a different religion, a legacy well written but a secret for many because they never bothered to check it (hardcore GAJ fans may disagree, but this is a very personal statement).
Next day morning, on the way out, she waved me good bye. I waved back at her and smiled. Somebody inside me whispered “good bye god”.
A Foreign land
2052 Olympics:
An elderly couple consisting of a retired ‘project scientist’ and his wife were sitting in a match arena amidst a clamoring crowd. The man, being a man, checks out the hot girls in bikinis oblivious to his wife's squabbles. He knows that she loves him, and he loves her too, but the one with the long legs was too hot. The lady started bickering.
“Do you know what your age is?”
“Yes dear, isn’t it above 60?”
“Ok, then tell me why we are here?”
“Well, to see the Olympics and support the Indian janta.”
“But India is nowhere into beach volleyball?”
“You are correct. Don’t you think that it’s a game that needs some appraisal?”
“You shall not talk to me!” she brawled.
“Ok dear, I will tell you an anecdote of how I met a god, got enlightened and became secular.”
“Oh! Not that one. Not again.”

Cricket is a good game and our players might be good at it, but there are equally good players and equally good games which lie concealed and unnoticed, whose appraisal is required to make our country a sports flaring nation. If you consider national games to be a necklace chain; something that gives us an identity; that which makes us proud; that which makes us stand on our toes and jump on our seats; that which keeps us unified, cricket would be the most conspicuous link destined to hold the beautiful pendant. But Alas! A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.

Monday, January 2, 2012


It was a pleasant morning in Ooty. The members of our family trip – comprising my parents, brother, uncles, aunts, cousins and grandmother tucked into a hearty breakfast. We then embarked on our sojourn to Masinagudi, a sleepy town nestled amidst lofty mountains, dense jungles and vast tea plantations. About two hours’ travel along the narrow, winding road saw our van rumbling into the Mahindra Zest Resort, where our accommodation had been arranged. A few metres from the destination, a long, silver- coloured snake slithering across the road into the thick bushes bordering the road welcomed us to Masinagudi. Subsequent to an elaborate lunch, we set out for a stroll inside the resort premises- clambering atop the tree house and enjoying the swings and hammocks fastened to large, sturdy trees. Soon, we were stepping gingerly into the clear, chilling waters of a gurgling stream flowing along the rear of the resort. As it was a spot frequented by wild animals coming toquench their thirst, we were cautioned against venturing into the opposite bank.

By evening, accompanied by a local guide, the younger members of our group, went on a trek to a nearby hill. The seasoned guide steered us along pathways with gentler slopes so that we could ascend without getting exhausted. As we approached the peak, the scenery became more and more glorious. The tall hills all around, shrouded in lush vegetation, with the silvery clouds floating beneath them, presented a magnificent sight. The steady breeze, coupled with the cool air, provided us with natural air conditioning. At the summit of the hill, there was a quaint temple, with Lord Muruka as the presiding deity. After we offered prayers, the priest, an elderly man with a matted beard, enchanted us with anecdotes of how the temple was often visited by leopards and how he sought asylum by bolting the sanctum sanctorum and crouching inside.

The wind was blowing with tremendous force, as if to sweep us off our feet. After the arduous climb, we relaxed, seating ourselves on boulders and taking snaps, drinking in the panoramic view. The calm prevailing in the pristine surroundings enervated us. After our descent from the hill, we halted for a cup of tea at a tea shop in Bokapura town.

The following day we awoke early and proceeded for a walk. There was a slight drizzle but that did not dampen our spirits. The imposing ghats were partially concealed by mist. Filled with apprehensions about being assaulted by wild beasts, but none quite voicing their fears openly, we strode ahead. Aside from dainty deer and monkeys hopping between trees, we caught sight of two giant squirrels with red, bushy tails scampering up a giant tree. Hiring two jeeps, we enjoyed a safari ride through the region, which constitutes parts of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. We spotted a few trained elephants (known as kumkis), deer and peacocks. Later in the day, the jungle safari facilitated by Tamil Nadu Forest department proved more fruitful. It was an exciting journey in a van through a rough path amidst the wild, undisturbed flora. We were fortunate to witness a majestic leopard prowling among the thick, tall grass. As the cameras clicked away, the young big cat gracefully vanished among the trees. We also sighted a herd of wild elephants filling their voluminous stomachs with large leaves, at a distance. Herds of spotted deer, lion- tailed macaques perched on trees and the charming peacocks put in an occasional appearance. Soon, a procession of wild bison crossed our path.

The elephant rehabilitation centre at Mudumalai was our next destination. Tourists from far and wide flock here in large numbers to behold the elephant feeding ceremony. One by one, the pachyderms were led out to their designated positions and fed with enormous balls of their diet- a mixture of ragi, salt, jaggery, rice etc. From 4-year-old baby elephants to 80-year-old seniors, the gentle giants of all ages gobbled up contentedly, the food proffered by their caretakers. During our return journey to the resort, we sighted elephants and wild bison among the woods lining the roads. A white rabbit hurried across the road, in front of our van. Since the inhabitants of the jungle roam freely after dusk, the roads in the region are closed to traffic from 8 pm to 6 am. Back in the resort, when I left the door of our room ajar for a short while, a monkey dropped in for a visit. As we hastily shooed it away, it swiftly grabbed sachets of milk powder from the table and sped away, much to our amusement.

We commenced our departure from mesmerizing Masinagudi the next morning. Our minds rich with memories of the beautiful mountains, the wildlife sanctuaries and their residents, we bid adieu to the captivating hill town.


“120ml of Alchohol for 2900 days = Liver Sclerosis “, read the billboard sponsored by NIMS heart foundation. This sign board is the part of a newly launched awareness campaign by NIMS. “2900 days. Someone starting today as a regular drinker has 8 years before he gets the disease”, I thought.

You name it; alcohol has a bad effect on that organ. The harmful effects of the usage of alcohol have remained largely of a qualitative nature among the public; like alcohol damage kidneys, it creates addiction and hallucination, results in loss of control and coordination etc. A quantitative statement like the one displayed on the hoarding might be the result of a new finding in the psychology of advertising.Alcohol-pleasure quotient dependence might not have been of much academic interest, however users contend that there is a strong dependence and it has even palliative, antiseptic and even medicinal effects. Well, we have an elixir in that case! The medicinal values of alcohol are not widely known but as the old joke says - “Worms when put in a glass of alcohol were killed (drowned - if you don’t mind) in no time!” - alcohol has a remote possibility of killing worms.

Days later after seeing the hoarding, I happened to overhear a conversation between two people who shared my table in a hotel. The duo, it seemed, after trying out Dosa first, settled on Poori as they couldn’t resist the taste of the Poori served by the hotel. Orders were being made when I reached the table. After having his first round of poori, the man in his late 40s noted “The poori is soft and delicious. I am going to order two more. You want more anna (elder brother)”. The wise old man cautioned “Cholestrol !! It’s bad for you.” “What cholesterol ? Two pegs of rum would melt all this mess”, said the younger one. Turning to the waiter he told “Two more”. “Whoa! Alchohol melts cholesterol. Medicinal value for alchohol?”, I thought with my head down in my dish. Before the novel idea sank in, I heard the old man ordering two more for him. I wondered whether it was the love for food or drink that made him order more.

With so many “thattu kadas” (roadside makeshift shops selling food) mushrooming in the urban areas, the repeated use of oil is becoming a serious health hazard. Cooking oil like the rest of oils has a smoke point beyond which it loses its nutritional properties and flavour. Oils break down beyond the smoke point. The formation of by-products and food residues further reduces the smoke point of cooking oils. On degradation, oils release polymers and polar compounds which are harmful to health. Olive oil has the maximum resistance to breakdown by repeated use, as reported in a study report published on


Considering, the health aspects, I was trying to make it a habit to avoid fried foods from hotels. The duo made me curious rather craving to try out the special Poori. I stuck around with the Dosa till the table was all to myself. “One Poori”, I told the waiter. I savoured the Poori in the same perspective as Humorist Tom Wilson saw failure “About the only time losing is more fun than winning is when you’re fighting temptation”.

Regarding the medicinal effects of alcohol, the man was partly right, if we go according to the information available in a site. Although, it does not ‘melt’ the bad cholesterol or LDL, it increases the good cholesterol or HDL. HDL helps in removing the extra cholesterol from the body. So in one way alcohol reduces the bad cholesterol. Foe’s foe is a friend? Before we draw a conclusion: the other side of the coin as per the site is

“For moderate drinkers, this is a nice benefit to that glass of wine after work, or that beer while watching the game. However, this is not a case of “more is better”. Excessive alcohol intake (which is anything over the moderate level) negates the health benefits of moderate intake by causing other, more ominous effects: high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke, enlargement of the heart, and even sudden cardiac death.

Although there are definite benefits of moderate drinking, the American Heart Association recommends that non-drinkers do not start drinking just to reap the health benefits

of alcohol. There are many other ways to naturally increase HDL cholesterol levels, including moderate exercise, weight loss, and a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.”

Summing up, . After all we set out to enquire if alcohol has any medicinal value.

Courtesy :-

1) Wiki



4) Duo at the hotel


The EMU from Sullurpetta just entered Chennai station, I couldn't wait for the train to come to a halt, I jumped off to the platform. A confirmed berth in some train to Kerala was all I had in my mind.

I rushed through the crowd of commuters with my baggage to reach for the current reservation counter. I took a reservation slip, scribbled my details & entered 2623 as the train number. The number 2623 has got much significance in the lives of space techies working in VSSC, who travel frequently to SHAR. It is the number of the last train leaving Chennai central to Trivandrum.

The guy at the counter turned a sorry face on seeing my slip. He told that there are no seats available in any train going to Kerala today. The next day it was Onam in Kerala.

I wandered through the station like a geo stationary satellite which was ejected in the GTO but failed to reach the required apogee. What next? Was the question in my mind, but I was sure that it didn't have any logical answer.

Then came an announcement about a train to Allepey which will be leaving in a short while from Chennai station.

I rushed to the ticket counter to take a general ticket in the sole hope of finding a Ticket Examiner whom I could lure to allot me a berth in the train. It didn't take much time to realise that all my hopes were in vain as I found it difficult to bribe the Ticket examiner into getting a berth. People say that anything is possible in India if you have the money and the will to bribe. I had both, but that couldn't get me a confirmed berth. I just realised that India has changed.

Grabbing my baggage, I ran to the general compartment which I knew was my only way out of Chennai.

The view of the general compartment reminded me of the great train tragedy that we have learnt in history classes during our school days. People have filled the compartment as if sand in a jar. Every piece of space - seats, luggage racks, floor etc - in the compartment was occupied by passengers.

With not many options left, I squeezed into one of the general compartments.

There was acute shortage of three things inside the compartment - foot space, baggage space and breathing air. The atmosphere was so humid and the obnoxious smell of sweat was so intolerable, but it was just a trailer of the events that followed.

With great difficulty, I found some space to stand near the toilet corridor. The pungent smell of urea was so intolerable that I was cursing God for giving human kind these urinary skills - why the hell didn't he find out some better way to throw excess water out of our body.

After two hours into the journey, the rush subsided as the train reached the next station. Some free spaces started appearing on the floor and I rushed towards it. The torture that my legs and nostrils was subjected to was too much that I decided to sit on the floor, with my baggage on my lap, as it was pretty far from the toilets.

As the journey progressed, an old guy sitting near to me started a conversation with me. From his looks, it seemed that he was just out of some labour camp.

He enquired about my whereabouts and I replied that I am a scientist from ISRO and explained that I am back from SHAR after the launch campaign activities.

I could see his eyes propping out from his eye sockets. He was staring at me as if I was some uncouth, insane maniac trying to deceive him. I could understand his feelings as even I would have thought like this as you never expect to find a scientist from some premier institute sitting in the floor of general compartment while traveling on official duty.

It took me some time and lot of fundas to convince him that I was really a scientist. His expression of fear soon gave way to sympathy and he started abusing the government for treating us like this.

I explained to him that though we are eligible for traveling in flight, ISRO has decided not to do so to save money from the public exchequer. I went on to explain him that the campaign activities always coincided with some festival season like Christmas, Onam or Ramzan, so we end up traveling in general compartments.

The gyan that ISRO runs this big show in a shoe string budget was kind of relief for him as he thought tat all sarkari babu's waste tax payers money without any regret. He didn't hide his admiration towards ISRO for being sensitive towards taxpayer’s money.

Just as I settled down in the small floor space, I received natures call. In the fear that I may loose my sitting place, I tried to control myself. But as time passed, the pressure was building up in my bladders and I realised that if I am not going to go to the urinal now, the bladders are going to blast as in the big bang and I am going to live my rest of my life without them. Keeping my baggage as mortgage for the small piece of floor space that I got for resting my bum, I went to the bathroom.

The bathroom was in a state which was in no way different from the condition inside the compartment. To add to the filth and odour, it didn't have window glasses. From the instinct so typical of the Indian male, who can turn any roadside wall into a urinal, I released my pressure without worrying about the privacy that it had to offer. As I came out, I saw a lady waiting to go inside. As she opened the door and realised that it didn't have any window, she turned back. Poor lady, the price one has to pay for being the fairer sex. At that moment, I thanked god for creating me as a male.

As the train passed each station, the number of passengers kept doubling reminding me of the famous words of Intel founder " The number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years "

It was not just the passengers, but their baggage was also multiplying. Probably the baggage will be full of Onam gifts for their dear and near.

With great astonishment I noticed that people always found space inside the compartment no matter how.

Another ten hours of journey passed, without sleep, without getting a chance to stretch your legs, without having food. As the train approached Allepey station, I tried to getup and found that my whole body was aching due to the unconventional way in which it was folded and made to sit during the course of the journey. By the time I came out of the compartment, the odour of the compartment had transfused into my body. The dust from Chennai to Allepey had accumulated over my skin. I couldn't catch a glimpse of the new me as the compartment was devoid of the luxury of a mirror.

I walked to the taxi stand and tried to take a taxi back home, but the driver refused to take me in. The looks on his face made me realise that I have become an aam aadmi - the cattle class..yes a cattle class scientist...

Poetic Ponmudi

Even though I have visited Ponmudi earlier (of course it was some 15 years back), it didn’t occur to me that such a marvelous place lies within 1½hrs journey from Trivandrum. When my brother suggested Ponmudi trip for Onam, I wasn’t that excited. I was, like, oh what is there in Ponmudi. But the journey completely changed my mindset.

We started off at 1530 hrs from the city and reached Golden Peak, the KTDC resort just after 1700 hrs passing the 22 hairpins and several silver streams of ice cold water. After a tea at the resort canteen, we explored the picturesque scenery around the hill, where the resort was located. It was misty and chilly, but luckily rains eluded us at that time so we could enjoy a nice evening. At night a heavy downpour was there and that probably shattered our hopes of a campfire.

Next day morning by 0730 hrs we were ready to go uphill, but as the visiting time is strictly 0800 hrs to 1700 hrs, we went downhill and roamed a bit exploring rare spots and keeping our cameras busy. Then at 0800 hrs we could go uphill. The sight of the valley through the journey and from the hill top was breathtaking and not less magnificent than Munnar or Vagamon. The vast green land totally takes us to another world of serenity. That scenic beauty made the trip worth it. The view of the clouds moving over the hills, and the hide and seek of the sun was mesmerizing. One moment we had zero visibility because of the mist and couldn’t identify the person standing next to us, but the next moment it was all sunny and bright.

We had a buffet break fast at the cafeteria, and a very good traditional feast was arranged as lunch, complete with three ‘payasam’s. Contrary to the common belief the resort and surroundings are neatly maintained and is quite peaceful. There is even KSRTC Service right upto the resort.

After lunch we started our journey back. Even though we wished to visit Meenmutty, coz it included a bit of a trekking we decided to come again for a Meenmutty-Kallar exclusive visit. But all had this satisfaction of a well spent holiday.


പൊന്മുടി - (The Golden Peak) is a hillstation in the Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. Its located 61 km north-east of Trivandrum city at an altitude of 1100 m. It is a part of the Western Ghats mountain range that runs parallel to the Arabian Sea.

Ponmudi is connected to Trivandrum by a narrow winding road which offers a scenic view on the way to Ponmudi. The climate is always pleasant and it serves as a base for trekking and hiking. The tea-gardens here are also famous.

Other attractions near Ponmudi include Golden Valley and a number of rivulets and rapids, some even across the road. Located in a rich forest area, this whole place may be of interest to those who are interested in tropical vegetation. There is also a rich wildlife around these hills. Golden Valley is a sneak peek offered to the beauty of the hills. It is an access point to the river Kallar. Well-rounded pebbles, lush green trees, the cool water, fishes and the sheer wilderness of the park enthrall the visitor.

Another attraction in the region is Agasthyarkoodam which is one of the highest peaks in the Western Ghats and the highest peak (1868 m) in the district. This peak is famous for its wilderness, and can be accessed only with permission from the Forest Department. Meenmutty Falls is also a famous attraction in the range.


She died on a Sunday morning. The people she cared for were by her side but she was not conscious. It was on Saturday evening that her condition had deteriorated. Even nine bottles of blood could not lift her sagging blood count. I had retired to my room when the doctor from the ICU called me up and asked me to come immediately. My wife would have to be put on a ventilator since she was losing time. They asked me to consult Dr.Gangadharan first. I gave the go ahead for them to get the ventilator ready and called him. He quietly said that the ventilator was of no use and it would only prolong the inevitable. An aneasthesiacist came up quietly behind me and said that they had given a small sedation to let her die peacefully. I did not know whether to feel comforted or miserable. She hung on through the night and died quietly at around 11 in the morning.
This was at the Lakeshore hospital. Midhi fought against cancer for exactly a year. I am still not sure why I am writing this column but I somehow feel this disease has opened my eyes to the number of inexcusable attitudes around us.
RCC was a place I thought I never would have to visit. The building is just a small blur whenever one passes Medical College Junction. My first visit was in taking the lab sample from KIMS to RCC to get a confirmation. The staff of RCC is a dedicated lot but if a management expert were to undertake a casual stroll around the administrative building he would find enough recommendations that would fill an entire diary. I am no management expert but I found a number of faults with the system.
A TV kept in a big hall that would run either the news or TV shopping programmes on how to reduce weight. The news was not audible and the videos it carried were of accidents, terrorist acts or acts of violence. It was again a sorry reminder to the world we lived in. On my second visit, I saw this ‘stomach flab’ reducing programme going on. Standing below the elevated TV stand was a man with throat cancer; his wife pouring him tea through his nose which had a funnel fixed with tape. He incidentally had a bit of flab. I did not know whether to get amused or disgusted.
The counters were by the dozen. Cash at the ground floor, token at floor below, testing at a floor above and the files kept at the lobby floor. Finding oneself through this maze would not have been a problem if there were simple directions written on the walls indicating each station. One day I found an old man asking for directions. On enquiring further I found out he was not searching for any particular counter but a way to get out of the building since the exit at RCC is not at the ground floor. It was somehow a manifestation of most people affected with this disease.
The doctors OP would start at 10 or maybe earlier. 12 patients would be called into a narrow alleyway. On an average 5-10 minutes would be required on a patient. The 20th patient in such a scenario would need to stand 120 minutes or about 2 hours. There is no seating arrangement and remember these are cancer patients.
Next was the cost of the chemotherapy medicines. Initially she had to take 4 shots of chemo and then further 6 shots of chemotherapy. A shot of chemo cost about 25000 rupees. It was difficult to imagine that 75ml medicine could cost so much. Agreed, a lot of money went into research but such high costs for medicines that were in great demand all over the world surely meant the medicine companies were making a killing. The only crime I had committed was I had mentioned that I and my wife had a job. She was incidentally a teacher while a person with a better standard of living than me had produced a BPL card and getting his treatment for free. Social equality you see.
Arranging the money was difficult. The medical insurance policy to which my wife had been enlisted in November 2009 claimed that this cancer had started well before November. True she had a cyst prior to that however I had scan reports indicating that all was well. Only after the biopsy of the cyst which was operated in March 2010 did it reveal traces of cancer. Even a doctor’s report proving that there was no issue with her prior to November could assuage the medical insurance company. Even medical experts say that the cancer gene is present in every human body and it is only in certain circumstances that this breaks out into cancer. You can never exactly pinpoint at what point in time you started having cancer. Therefore a person with cancer will never get any coverage from these insurance companies. I did not get a single paisa. Some say; seeing an ombudsman might be of help but I am tired and too cynical now.
She was a good cook and enjoyed only non-vegetarian food. This does not in any way mean that the vegetables that we get in our market which are infested with carbide content are any safe. It is common knowledge that the oranges we get in our market are ripened openly using carbide at Nagpur. There are different types of growth hormones injected to mature a chicken in 30 days. Eating beef is to be avoided is what is mentioned on the RCC notice boards. My brother in law mentioned some hotels in kottarakara selling dog meat instead of mutton. Fish only seems to be the safe bet. A report on a RCC info chart claimed that 80% of cancer diseases were borne out of our food lifestyle. If BT brinjal is bad, this hormone infected chicken is even worse.
Another paper on the RCC notice board says that burning plastic or thermocol is high carcinogenic. The last week I carried my plastic waste in the trunk of my car searching for waste disposal areas near Technopark. It is no secret that these hotel owners come in the middle of the night and dump the food waste on the sides of the highway creating breeding grounds for the most viral diseases. The newspaper carried a report the other day of a Techie who by the way was socially responsible; having not found a waste disposal near his home took it all the way inside techno park so that he could dump it in dustbin there. Blame his luck, for a security saw the bag and informed the bomb squad. The situation might seem funny but it shows a sorry state of affairs and the complete apathy of the state administration in dealing with this issue.
I believe in democracy but the sort of money all governments, whether at the state or at the centre is looting makes me angry. 160000 crores squandered in 2G. I sometime think of the possibilities that this could open up. Proper medical research institutes could develop indigenous medicines for life threatening diseases instead of having to depend on these MNC medical firms who are making a fortune at our expense. Proper incinerating machines or waste disposal mechanisms to check the outbreak of diseases every monsoon. Some in the US say that when a mineral water bottle is purchased they pay an extra amount. This amount would be refunded if you return it to the shop which also gets some sort of government incentive. Governments say no one offer creative solutions. There, I just provided three.
We were married only for two years. The astrologer her parents were seeing said that her disease would be cured and she would get a government job. She died a month later. I am a Gandhian in the sense that I am non-violent but it was good that he was not around on that fateful day.
Her last few months after a relapse occurred were spent in Lakeshore. Dr. Gangadharan was her doctor. I never knew doctors could be so caring and loving. In the last few moments when he said that keeping her on a ventilator would not help her and that I should let go, I was reminded of the fact that this was a private hospital. Keeping her on a ventilator would make the hospital richer by a few lakhs. This is called medical ethics. The last week when a controversy broke out that students had paid upto 50 lakhs to book a seat in a Medical College I sometimes wonder would these future doctors have done the same thing or would they see it as an opportunity to recover their 50 lakhs.
It is true that cancer drains you emotionally, mentally and financially. The one thing I have learnt from my experience is taking each day as it comes. Life has become hard but I strive to move on because Midhi has left behind an angel. She is 1 year old and we call her Ammu.