Sab Theek Ho Jayega !

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Kochi / Ernakulam, Kerala, India
A Doctor who loves to Live, Love and Laugh with the World! Absolutely crazy about Cricket ! Other Qualifications: A Tired Bathroom Singer, Retired Gully Cricketer and Satire Writer !

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Footpath, My Foot !

Sachin Tendulkar scored 50 Test Centuries. But for him, 50 is just another number. For me, 100 too is just another number. No fire crackers, no sweets, not even raising my mouse and no celebrations.

People haven't thrown many stones at me, so I can't convert them into milestones ! But my hundredth post deals with stones, millstones, slabs, beams and more.

I have written so much about our roads in Kochi. But something had escaped my attention all these days. I apologize to all those who have walked the footpaths of Kochi all these days. I salute everyone in advance for continuing to do so.

I chose to walk to the post office today because I wasn't sure I would get a parking place. That 200 meters walk has left me wiser a zillion times. Most importantly I know why pedestrians walk on the roads in Kochi. Henceforth, I shall never curse anyone walking in the middle of the road. That is the only place where they can walk. Safety is another thing.

You step on the roads, the Red-Killers of Kochi might leave you dead. But if you walk on the footpaths, your kin won't even get the Ex Gratia. Death due to suicide is not compensated in our country.

This perhaps is a situation prevailing in most of the cities in India. But living in Kochi, I write for my town. I Cry for you my beloved Kochi. So sad I can only do that and then write this piece !

Here are some snaps of our 'Footpaths' ! These snaps were shot between Kacherippady junction and Madhava Pharmacy junction; by far the busiest junctions in the Kerala State.

The Beam of Death ... This is where I tripped and survived to write the Story

Imagine Kids and Senior Citizens walking here at night !

How safe is it to walk here ?

Rough and Tumble !

Two Wheeler Parking !

Wade through paths full of stones ...

Training in Long Jump required !

Slab Slab pe likha hai Girnewaale ka Naam !

Work in progress ... Forever so !

Hip Hop suggested...

Side view of a lopsided footpath


Take Care... Step out at your own risk !

More Cracks and more Stones !

Talk when you Walk - And end up in a Hospital !

Free Trips... Over our Slabs ... No Law, No Order, No Nothing !

Way to Maveli-Land ... The Paataalam !

Different sizes of Indifference !

Gaping holes !

Stepping Stones ... Orthopedician's Delight !

If the slabs don't get you, the filed "Beams" will !

Search for the Footpath and win free tours to Maveli-Land !

Whole place is full of these broken slabs !

More prizes for detecting the footpath !

God's Own Country; Devil's Own Gutters !

After an enlightening walk of just 200 meters, I was left to exclaim, "Footpath, My Foot" !

Dr. Pun-dit

Monday, December 13, 2010

Three Tiny Robbers and the Goddess of Hiriyangadi Temple !

To make sure my father doesn't miss his beloved hometown Karkala, I gave him a subscription to 'Udayavani' the Kannada daily. Though it reaches him 2 or 3 days later, he is happy with it. At 76, even 3 days old news is news if you want to keep in touch with your roots.

One day he sounded unusually excited and and asked, "Do you remember the Devi temple at Hiriyangadi ?". I said, "Oh, of course yes. How can I forget it ?". Father said in a sad tone, "Well, the Idol from the temple has been stolen. And this time, even your Grandpa isn't alive to retrieve it". He heaved deep sigh and so did I !

Going back in time. 1997 May, Karkala. I was in town on a holiday to participate in the annual 'Rathotsava' in our main Venkataramana Temple in Karkala. My cousins, Upendra and Rajesh were already there with Upendra's brother in law Prakash.

After recovering from the overnight train journey, I met the threesome that evening. They were eagerly waiting for me. One to test us and the other two, to prove a point. So before any exchange could take place; Prakash asked me, "Hey Govind, tell me honestly what did you guys do at the Hiriyangadi temple when you were kids ?". I calmly replied, "Well, we brought the idol to our Grandfather's home". I could see both Rajesh and Upendra jump for joy and Prakash silenced with an exclamation, "Oh my God !".

It seems he did not believe one word of the story when Upendra and Rajesh narrated him as it happened when all 3 of us were 9 years old. That was during the summer vacation of 1980. Let me introduce Rajesh and Upendra. Rajesh is the eldest of the troika, my mother's eldest sister's son. Upendra is the second in order and my Mom's immediate elder sister's eldest son. We all know I am my Mom's son, no prizes for guessing here ! I happen to be youngest by 8 months.

Rajesh used to come to Karkala during summer vacations and we used to have a gala time. There were no summer camps, no summer courses, no summer classes and Abacus was not born. Life definitely was so much more fun. I sometimes feel sad for our kids. As much as they enjoy their life and the modern day comforts and Internet, they probably will never have a story like this to narrate.

This is the story of 3 boys all of 9 years. What they did that night was an innocent act of the boyhood. Yet it was a hugely scandalous act by any stretch imagination.

Three Tiny Robbers and the Goddess of Hiriyangadi Temple !

Rajesh, Upendra and Govind were at once famous and notorious for the mischief  they were capable of. Upendra was the local guide because of his familiarity with the place. Rajesh was an annual visitor from Kochi during vacations and Govind came during holidays too. There wasn't a corner they didn't visit in and around the place and there wasn't a person they didn't keep a vigil on.

That evening they were coming back after a long and aimless wander. Upendra whispered, "Hey look at Bemmu, he is now going to pick his toddy liquor from the Devi temple compound". The boys were naturally keen to see the 'bottle'. The little fellows were quite impressed by the drunken act of Amitabh Bachchan in Amar Akbar Anthony and were fond of recognizing themselves with that movie.

They slithered through the main gate and watched the old man dig his stuff from a corner of the temple. They were hiding behind a huge mound covered by shrubs at another corner of the compound. Thanks to the constant movements of the restless youngest tyro, the old man was alarmed and looked around to see what was going on.

Realizing the danger of being caught by a drunkard, the boys ran for life towards the inner gate of the temple. In no time, they entered the temple thanks to the careless priest who had neither fastened the latch nor locked the door.

There they were, in side the temple with the beautiful 'Panchaloha' idol of the Goddess smiling at them. Rajesh and Govind were always fond of Gods, Poojas, rituals and Utsavs [Processions]. They had their own Deities, Chariots, Palanquins and every toy necessary for conducting Utsavs and celebrations.

Oh God, but this was different. This was a 'Real Goddess' not a toy. In all her splendor in spite of not being cleaned and shined, she looked gorgeous. Rajesh and Govind instantaneously decided to carry her home. Rajesh gave the justification, "See these priests are useless. They are not feeding the Goddess properly. Let us take her home and give her milk, honey and everything. We will keep her for ourselves".

Govind seconded the motion instantly, "Yes, Grandpa's house is the best place for the Goddess. We will wash her, shine her and keep her at the center of the Pooja room. And we will also conduct Utsav for her !".

But Upendra was alarmed now. He pleaded with the other two not to carry the idol. But his plea was dismissed by a 2 : 1 voice vote and carry her home they did. Hiding her inside the shirt, Rajesh and Govind stealthily marched home as the Moon god was on his way up through the emerging darkness.

Now, Upendra ran for his life to reach home ahead of the other two and blurted out to Grandpa, "Rajesh and Govind are bringing the Goddess home". Since he was panting and what he told was so much out of the ordinary; Grandpa didn't realize what was happening. As was his wont, he gave a royal hiding to the little fellow. Just as Upendra was recovering his breath, the twosome entered the house with the deity.

Seeing the temple deity in the hands of two 9 year old mischief-mongers, Grandpa was flabbergasted. He immediately snatched it from Rajesh and ordered to Upendra, "Go and keep it back where it was, and NOW !". Even as Upendra ran towards the temple, the other two started to wail. They had the temerity and courage to argue with the ferocious Grandpa; a liberty which was never given to Upendra.

Around that time, the wonderful uncle came to the rescue. He came in and soothed the boys and protected them from the Grandpa's wrath. He also assured them of taking care of the poor Goddess. That was a night etched indelibly in the minds of the three and remains fresh thirty years since.

None of them slept that night. Two because they felt betrayed and the third because of all the bashing he received from Grandpa for no fault of his.

It was the same idol that was stolen by some unknown robbers recently. That is why my father remembered his late father-in-law who recovered the idol from the tiny robbers and got her reinstated at her rightful place.

The Enfant Terribles Trio: Rajesh, Upendra and Govind

Rajesh is a hugely successful businessman in Kochi today with a burgeoning enterprise that manufactures and exports essential oils and perfumes. Upendra is well entrenched in Moscow and deals in decorative lighting business. The third part of the triumvirate went onto become a Doctor and doesn't believe in Gods today !

He also blogs at Live, Love and Laugh !

Dr. Pun-dit

Monday, December 6, 2010

Left, Right and Wrong: A Story of a Fight !

Committing a Crime is bad, but tolerating or ignoring a Crime as it is being committed is worse !
Krishna in Geeta !

After the events that lead to my previous post, I have tried my best to remain cool in most of the provocative situations. I have succeeded in many and failed partly in some. But this incident deserves a narration as a follow up to my story of my own evolution.

Thanks to unexpected illnesses and unforeseen circumstances, there is a sudden shortage of Doctors in our small Hospital. In a small institution, this means only one thing; those around will have to work overtime. So here I am, forced to slog and then write about my travails on my blog !

After a hectic nearly 36 hours schedule, I was going home on my little Santro last Thursday. The roads are so bad, some parts have only half the road. Can't really blame drivers if they behave rudely. Anyone can run out of sanity on these crater filled apologies of roads.

I was about half way to home. Through a particularly bad stretch, I was sticking to extreme left of the road because there was some semblance of tar over there. Then I saw an Auto Rickshaw appearing from the opposite side crisscrossing the potholes. And then it was there right in front of my car, both face to face.

I stopped and waited for the Auto Rickshaw driver to take his vehicle off. But he was not budging. Instead, he was honking and insinuating towards me to get going. I was surprised. I was on the extreme left, that is the right side to be, on our roads. Now, some vehicles had gathered behind me and some behind him too. There was a huge crater to my right and I was in no mood to jump into it as it was not my side.

I saw the Driver, a thirty-something chap come out and scream at me. I slid down my glass and asked him what was all the drama about. And this conversation ensued. He was talking in Malayalam and I had to respond in the same tongue. Here is a loose translation of what transpired.

He: Don't you have eyes ? Did you not see my light flashing ?

Me: Really ? But what lights ? Am I not on the correct side ? It is you who is on the wrong side.

He: There is no side. I can't take my vehicle through the gutter.

Me: Well, do you expect me to do that ? Neither am I going to do that.

He: You go whichever way you want. Right, left or up, but get lost from here.

Wow, this was a situation to explode with expletives. But my mastery over Malayalam isn't something to crow about. So I decided to act pigeon.

Me: But Brother, here I am to the extreme left of the road. Can't go any further left. There is the compound over there. Neither can I go to right because you can see a crater there. Going up is out of question, because I am not Rajnikant !

He: #@*%#&;$#@. Are you joking ? I can bash you up and throw you into the gutter.

Me: Well, that is violence. You probably are capable of that. But we live in Kochi, not Afghanistan. So you can't go Scott-free. There is Police and Law.

He: %#*&+;@~#*&+;% Police can't touch me. Will you get lost or should I smash you ?

Me: Brother, can't you be a little decent ? Have I used any bad language ? Why don't you talk with some respect ?

He: Respect, you son of a #$%&=;*, creating a block here and talking smart ?

By this time some people from either side had tried to overtake and there was a holy mess. Some people came out of their vehicles to find out what was going on.

Our man was explaining to them in loud voice how atrociously I had blocked him. So I just told a couple of people who peeped into my car, "Just look at who is on the wrong side and then you people can decide who is on the right side".

People were murmuring. Some of them asked him to move. He was not ready to budge. Some of them wanted me to sacrifice because he was too crass. "Don't you have some shame, fighting a guy like him ?" asked one of them. So finally I had to make the move.

And so I said, "See, this man is wrong from the beginning. But if my moving could help to diffuse the situation and solve this logjam, I could definitely do it. But as you people can see, I am stuck here. His language and rudeness has been beyond tolerance. I don't have any more work today. I have AC in my Car and will switch on the AC and rest right here. I can't fight him at his level. But neither am going to move from here. Let the Police come and decide how to solve this problem. I have enough access to fight a case if such a scenario occurs. I know enough Advocates who will fight my case even till the Supreme Court. But I am not going to move from here".

With this, I raised my glass, increased my AC to full blast and leaned back in my seat to listen to Jagjeet Singh. I could see the people move towards him and could see a lot of argument. He had expected to win by being foul. I had from the beginning decided not to lose my balance at any cost.

It really pays to stay cool. The crowd had become irate. I was enjoying a heavy duty verbal attack on him. One of the guys even called up Police from his mobile. This perhaps worked. Because our man immediately jumped inside his vehicle, pulled back a little and waded through the pothole on his side. He glared at me as he was going past and blurted, "I will see you #$%&@^. I will smash you one day when I get the chance".

I smiled at him and declared firmly but with a very low volume audible only to him, "You better watch out. You have declared this openly with so many people around. Now even if someone else even as much as scratches my car, YOU will be held responsible. I can assure you there will be enough people to vouch for me against you. And I will have any number of Advocates to fight my case to the logical conclusion. And I don't forget faces or number plates. Thanks for giving way and take Care !"

We both knew who won. I realized the importance of retaining the composure during situations of extreme provocation. If I were to pick up a fight with him on his own terms, he would have dictated terms. Fighting a swine is really tough. He will enjoy all the time as he keeps pulling you down and before you know you are in deep shit. I had decided not to end up in a pool of fecal matter. So I stayed out and actually enjoyed.

Managing to remain calm and not getting into a free for all brawl made me feel good. But what made me feel better is the fact that I did not allow the scumbag to escape with such deplorable behavior. I don't really know how I could have reacted in a similar situation if I had to rush for an emergency. I managed to come out better because I was not in a hurry. Hope I'll be able to retain my equanimity even when I am running against a deadline.

The best thing about the whole episode was that I had real fun through all this simply because I was determined to win without shouting or ranting. Victories taste sweetest, when the fights are won without violence !

Dr. Pun-dit