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Sunday, October 18, 2009

" aaj(kal) mausam beiiman hai"

There used to be small box advertisements on Page 3 of "Mathrubhumi" weekly, where the contents of that issue are listed. The advertisements used to be the same, issue after issue. One advertisement which used to appear on the top left hand corner had an Indian ink sketch of the head of a woman with jet black hair, with the caption " Prakriti parajayappedumpol....Kumari gulikakal" (When Nature fails....Kumari tablets). Presumably, Kumari tablets would ensure regular periods for women. I was not even aware of such a phenomenon at that age. Kumari tablets does not seem to be around to give solace to women any longer.
One other advertisement was "Ajantha Nalpamara Soap". I did not have even a faint idea what Naalpamara was, until destiny took me to Ernakulam to head the Bank's M.G.Road branch almost two decades and half later. Mathrubhumi weekly in those days used to be printed on inferior quality paper. Or perhaps that was the best quality paper available then. The Nalpamara Soap advertisement was shabbier than most.
It must have been during the first one week of my charge of the branch, a small man in his early sixties called on me and introduced himself as the Proprietor of Ajantha Soaps. One of Alistair McLean's thrillers starts with a sentence "A small dusty man in a small dusty room; that is how I will always remember him" The novel ends also with the same sentence.
A shabby old man in a shabby old dress. That is how I will always remember this guy. The proprietary firm had remained a small proprietary firm, even after three decades. ( 'Chandrika' grew big enough to be swallowed up by Godrej) .This firm was a chronically sick unit of the Branch being kept alive through one rehabilitation assistance after another. The loan was not called up thereby ensuring instant demise of the unit only because of the transparent honesty of the man.
I visited his small unit, somewhere near the South over bridge I think, and at that time asked him what 'Nalpamara' meant. 'Athhi, Ithhi, Arayaal, Peraal' he rolled out. The soap was apparently prepared out of the oils of these four great trees of the Ficus family. The nominal activity going on at the unit was presumably towards achievement of this supreme end!
That brings me to the subject of this post which is 'Ripening of the fruits of Peraal and the steadily declining population of flying foxes.'. An imposing tittle, I am sure; like Charles Darwin's 'The voyage of HMS Beagle and an enquiry into the Origin of Species'. But first let me wind up Naalpamara soap.
I don't have the faintest idea whether the product is still in existence. Or the proprietor. I wish that particular story had a better ending. People are fond of saying "anaayasena maranam" but I always felt that the wish contained in the second line " vina dainaena jeevanam" (life without misery) is far more desirable. The old man was not fortunate to enjoy the latter; I wish he at least had the former.
Coming to the subject with the imposing tittle, Peral belongs to the Ficus family (Ficus Religiosa) also known as Ashwatham or Bodhi or Vada Vriksham. It flowers once a year and produces tiny fruits in abundance. It is difficult to see the fruits among the thick foliage but the flocking of "Vavvaals" (flying foxes) after dusk is a sure indication. In my younger days, one could see an army of 'choola pakshis' flocking the tree during daytime. I have not seen them for years. There is a saying in Tamil: "Eraa pakshi kaada, eranga pakshi choola" because these birds never come down to the ground. These birds must be extinct now in these parts.
The 'naickanaal' has bloomed and is full of fruits and flying foxes. The ground beneath is virtually a thick carpet of withered flowers, droppings and half eaten fruits. The vavvals perform their strange walks on the branches of the tree, hanging upside down, much like Dracula did on the steep walls of his castle in Transylvania. To add to the eeriness the 'Eazhilam pala' (Indian Devil tree) has also flowered and its overpowering smell is everywhere. In short ' aaj (kal) mausam beiiman hai'.
Tailpiece: Talking of old advertisements, this one used to intrigue me for quite sometime. " Kaalan Nellayi". I used to wonder how a curry like 'kaalan' can turn into paddy!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Crows for Remembrance


Rosemary for remembrance. Crows for remembrance?
Crows are the messengers between the nether world and our world according to Greek mythology. We too beleive that they are the souls of our departed ancestors. Crows are honored guests both in Pitr' Bali and Bhootha Bali among the five great yagnas.
During my stint in Audit & Inspection, I used to stay at Sea Palace hotel in Colaba, whenever my assignment was in Mumbai. They used to give me a room on the first floor, in the middle facing the Arabian Sea. The room was much larger than the other rooms which was some consolation when you have to stay in hotel rooms for long periods. Sometimes the stay used to be three to four months at a stretch. It was during one of those long stays, I started befriending crows.
I started leaving the crusts of the bread I used to get for breakfast, with a liberal spread of Amul butter on the window sill. I never liked the crusts of the bread anyway, and butter was out of bounds on consideration of lipid profile. The crows started coming, at first hesitantly, but with increasing confidence as days went by. They used to fly in the moment I approached the window in the morning. I do not know how many of the late Kozhipurath/Chettur/Chelanat/Cherangottil guys were there but certainly they did not appear to be getting bread and butter in the Pitr' loka.
People generally do not like crows. It must be something to do with the fact that they are too numerous proving the dictum 'familiarity breeds contempt'. Certainly, they are not the ugliest. Their raucous call could be improved upon but they are capable of making less repelling sounds. If the crows were rare visitors, I am sure people would go into raptures about their glossy black feathers, their intelligence bordering on extreme cunning. Especially, the jungle crow, which is bigger and has black feathers on the back of the neck compared to grey for house cows. They are also much more vary of humans. The jungle crow can be seen mingling with the house crows but even then there is a certain aloofness. The jungle crow is our Bali kaakka.
I have a regular crowd here at Thrissur. About fifteen of them; out of which two are jungle crows. Although it is not very apparent like in the case of Mynahs, crows also move around in pairs. They prefer Chappathi pieces to bread crumbs or Iddli pieces. Except one of the jungle crows which has a preference for Iddlis. The rest of them turn their attention to bread/iddli only if chappathi pieces are not available. The usual time of visit is 6.30a.m. And after 'breakfast' they just vanish. In the beginning they used to make a lot of noise, justifying the phrase 'murder of crows' for a group of them. They do not make much noise now. They have realized that usually there is enough to go around.
Saturn is the ruling planet for Capricornians which is my Zodiac sign. It is also the 'dasha nathan' for 'Anuradha' which is my constellation. Saturn is depicted as a stern authority figure who knows 'the limits of time and matter, and brings structure and meaning to the universe'. He is the Lord of the eighth house, the house of death and of 'pitr lokam'. His 'vahanam' is the crow, the messenger between this world and the world of the departed souls. Indian system of astrology specifies a bird, a tree and an animal for each of the 27 constellations. Crow is the bird for 'anuradha'. If only the people took care of just the bird/tree/animal pertaining to their 'star' I think that will ensure adequate environment protection.
Four or five squirrels and an Indian Tree Pie have also started participating in the morning banquet. The Crows have realized that the iddli pieces tossed under the coconut palm are meant only for the squirrels and do not try to steal them. Initially, I had to shoo them away when they tried to do it but they seem to have understood the rules of the game. The 'tree pie' is an irregular visitor and is not deterred by the crowd of crows. A flock of 'seven sisters' come later and noisily pecks at all the small crumbs.
These are the usual morning customers. A crow pheasant couple spurns all attempts at familiarity and occasionally saunters on the compound wall if no one is near. The nest for the owl made as per specifications down loaded from the internet and installed at the recommended height remains untenanted. Hope one of the barn owls or mottled back owls will take a fancy to it one of these days. The 'koel' sings every morning and thereafter is not seen. A few sparrows make an occasional visit. I saw a humming bird (soochi mukhi) once after a long time. I think they are almost extinct.
I had been to Gaya in 97 or 98 and did 'tharpan' there. The souls of all my departed ancestors till that time, both in my father's and mother's lineage were expected to be propitiated by the rituals I did then. By sheer coincidence, I was at Gaya in December on a day Pandavas did 'tarpan' after the Mahabharatha war for those killed at Kurukshetra. If any of my ancestors were around to get killed in that war, I hope their souls have also found their rightful places in the 'pitr' loka'. If not they are welcome to participate in the morning banquet!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

'karnikaaram'

"Karnikaram" has been troubling me for some time now. At first I knew only that it was Sanskrit for some kind of flower. Later, when the film songs 'karnikaram poothu thalirthu, kalpanakal thalameduthu…' and 'Vaalittu kannezuthum karnikaram, ninne varavelkkum shankupushpam..' etc. became popular, Karnikaaram to me became Konnapoo. I must have gathered this information in my highly unfocussed readings or somebody may have told me. For a long time, karnikaaram and konnapoo meant the same thing for me. (It did require some stretching of imagination to imagine 'vaalittezhuthia karnikaram.' Golden nose rings strewn on the ground in the morning came to my mind more readily.)

A couple of months ago, I posted a blog script on "Golden Shower"- Indian Laburnum. At that time, I looked up in the internet the Sanskrit names of Kanikonna. "Aragvadha' 'chaturangula' 'Kritamala' 'suvarnaka' are all Sanskrit names of Konna. But Karnikaram is not one of them.

In the Malayalam translation of Shloka 5, Dashakam 67 of Narayaneeyam (Vanamala Vyakhyanam) 'karnikara' in the line "Ha chootha, ha champaka, karnikara..' is 'konnapoo'. A recent issue of 'Mangalam Weekly' also carried the same information. I thought I should make some research.

There are some references in the internet to Karnikaram. The great majority of it refers to two shlokas from Bhagavatam.

'Bahupeetam vapu karnayo karnikaram' (10.21.5) and

'Sahasra patra kamalam gokulaakhyam, mahatpadam tat karnikaram..' (5.2)

The English translation given is "a particular kind of blue lotus like flower" "the whorl of the lotus".

Internet site "find4sites.com" karnikara is the Sanskrit and Malayalam names of 'kanak champa'-Dinner plate tree (Pterospermum acerifolium'. The Tamil name of this is given as 'vennagu'. The narration is:-

'the golden hued flower has a beautiful tassel like form which makes it look very ornamental. It has an intense fragrance, perceptible from a great distance while it is on the tree. The fragrance starts fading the moment it is plucked. The golden pendant flowers of the 'karnikara' adorn the ears of Srikrishna of the Bhagavatam (karnayoh karnikaram)

It would appear; 'kanak champa' has a greater claim to adorn the ears of the Lord, especially as Konna is available hardly for two months in a year.

I have sent a letter to Professor O.N.V.Kurup. I hope he will clarify.



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Deva Prasnam


Three types of terrain have been stated as suitable for construction of temples. 'Supadma', Bhadra' and 'Poorna'. A terrain with trees like Arayaal, Peral (Ficus Bengalensis and Ficus religiosa Sanskrit Aswatha, and Vada), Veppu, Maruthu (Jarul in Hindi, Pride of India), Elanji (bakul in Hindi), Ashokam, Chempaka (Champa), Jasmine etc situated on top of a hillock or in a valley with limited water sources is known as 'Poorna' and is considered suitable for construction of a temple
The terrain where Vadakkunathan temple stands conforms to this description completely. It is on top of a hillock and as water runs off from all sides after rains, there is limited water supply within the temple compound. The hole caused by Arjuna resting his bow on the earth for stringing it and where devotees are expected to wash their hands and feet holds but limited water. There was a huge Elangi tree inside the temple, near the Northern gopuram. The famed Elangithhara Melam used to take place under it. The tree fell some years ago and a new one was planted at the same site after observing all holy customs. It is just about ten feet tall now and the Melam now takes place adjascent to it. There is no dearth of Peraals with names like Manikandhan aal, Naduvil aal, Naickan aal etc. (V.K.N. adds Sonilal Harilal , jewellers). Manikandhan aal also collapsed almost a decade ago and the new one planted in its stead is flourishing. Banyan tree is much faster growing than Elanji. There is a medium sized sprawling Arayaal on the South side of the Northern gopuram.
The Kanikkonnas were in full bloom a month ago. Every morning a thousand golden nose rings used to be strewn underneath the trees. But they have now been stripped of all their bunches of flower which have been sold during Vishu for kani. The (Poo) Maruthu (Jarul) trees sway with their pink flowers. An odd Gulmohar puts the skyline on fire and a couple of Ashoka trees add further colour and fragrance. There are any number of jasmine vines and shrubs inside the temple. A couple of months ago the scores of Mango trees in the maidan had also flowered. The pond maintained by Catholic Syrian Bank used to contain a few white and blue lotuses (aambal). The pond is now totally neglected. But for this the stage is fully set for Kamadeva and if he brings along his bow of sugarcane stem with the string of bees all the arrows would have been readily available.


Aravindam f shokam cha
Chootham,* cha navamaalika
Neelotpalam cha panchathe
Panchabanasya sayaka.
(*Chootham= mango shoot)
Spring born out of a sigh of Brahma and which goads all creatures to undertake nesting activities (vasantham) is here. Her companion Malaya maaruthan has sadly been replaced by the exhaust fumes of countless vehicles rushing by. And the stentorian speeches of politicians at Vidyarthi corner and 'adipoli' Rahman songs have substituted the singing of koels . However, it should still be possible for Kama to carry out Mohanam (deluding), Shoshanam (withering) and Maranam (killing) with a little help from the politicians, Bevco and the Devaswam board. Only harshanam (delighting) and Rochanam(appealing) may be difficult.
Lord Shiva at the moment is quite vulnerable, surrounded as he is by Party ticket holders. And halahalam is no match for the stuff Bevco is peddling.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Of scoundrels, by scoundrels, for scoundrels


"Those who make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. This world will never know peace in the world until the last politician is strangled with the guts of the last priest". Voltaire


Politicians and priests continue to thrive even after almost three centuries after Voltaire. Their tribe has in fact multiplied and prospered. Perhaps , the fervent wish that some benign force, terrestrial or extraterrestrial, would somehow bring about this prerequisite for peace in the world is never greater than during Election time.
Not that the people need much persuation to believe absurdities. There is no dearth for takers for schemes promising to make one a millionaire overnight. Or for godmen! Or for politicians bent upon serving you and me and the country!" In order to become the Master, the politician poses as your servant. DeGaulle"
"Asambhavam haema mrugasya janma
Thathapi Ramo lulupae mrugaya.
Praya: samapanna vipaththi kale
Dheeyo api pumsam malanee bhavanti"
(Knowing that a golden deer is improbable, Rama went after it. In times of danger, the minds of even the wise persons gets corrupted.)
And the average Malayalee cannot be considered 'savvy" despite his pretentions to intellectual superiority. I think the average Bihari who declares his allegiance based on caste or creed or such earthy consideration is wiser than the so called politicaly conscious Malayalee who believes in distant Gods, be it Marx. Engels, Lenin, Nehru or Indira. And the cultural leaders of Malayalees are no better, busy wallowing in the garbage produced by left leaning Latins with unpronounceable names.
Hearing the politicians, and reading the 'investigative reports' appearing in the print media or the hours of discussions which go on in the visual media one is tempted to ask the same question which Vikramaditya asked Acharya Siddhasena:
If truth was,
that which was said repeatedly
that which was said loudly
that which was said with authority, or
that which was agreed by the majority.

We should be ending up with a Government of the people(?) by a majority, for a minority.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Big B Blog

Amithabh Bachchan takes his blog very seriously. He posts almost everyday and find something interesting to write about. By comparison, Mammootty's blog lasted just two or three postings! There is a hyperlink from my blog to Mr.Bachchan's. It is worth a visit.


In Day 335 posted in March 09, he introduces Shobit Kaushal, poet, painter and also a terminaly ill cancer patient. Some of Kaushal's paintings, posted in the blog are really good. The whole write up is extremely sensitive and poignant. Please read at least this post at Bachchan's blog.


I append my comment which appeared among the responses.



“Hush……the old reaper is here again

Has been sitting in the dark corner for a while now.
If I just ignore him, perhaps he will go away,

or the comfort of the corner and the soothing breeze may lull him

like the morphine coursing thru my blood stream
Hush…..let not the phone ring now or a brash driver honk on his horn

let the old man rest, he also needs his forty winks.
The Paint……..why is it all coming out deep blue and brick red

Is there no sunshine yellow or foliage green left in my pallette…..

But, let the red and white blood cells dance along for a while more

the Old man shouldn’t mind, he was here a bit too early.





Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hierarchy of Discounting

This was the topic of a presentation by Dr.Krishnamoorthi in the TMA meeting of 31st.March

What I could understand from the presentation is that a person begins writing his/her own life story (script) at a young age, as he/she tries to come to terms with the world and his place in it. The script is revised throughout life but the core story is decided upon by age 7. The 'drivers' for the script are the 'parent' figures as perceived by the child and the 'parent' 'child' responses which were found to be successful in coping with persons/situations. It passes out of awareness but his /her responses to self, others or situation continue to be governed by the Script. When such responses/reactions/behavior fails, conflict arises internally and externally.

The person ignores some aspects of reality in acting out the Script belief. This is called "discounting". Such discounting may not be observable but may have to be inferred. A discounting matrix as under is used to decide the exact area of discounting


LEVEL TYPE

Existence

T1

Stimulus

T2

Problem

T3

Options

Significance

T2

Significance of

Stimulus

T3

Significance of

Problem

T4

Significance of

Options

Change

Possibilities

T3

Changeability of

Stimulus

T4

Solvability of

Problem

T5

Viability of

Options

Personal

Ability

T4

Personal ability to

React differently

T5

Personal ability to

Solve problems

T6

Personal ability to

Act on problems


A discount in any of the box entails discount in

all the boxes to the right

ail the boxes below it

all the boxes on the same diagonal

The person may have access to information but is blanking it out intentionally or unintentionally. The aim is to convince the person that he need not follow the Script strategy decided upon in infancy. Hopefully, the person will succeed in coming to terms with the changed circumstance.

This is my understanding of what Dr.Krishnamoorthi said. As indicated in the earlier blog posting, he ended his presentation with a quote about changing things that can be changed and accepting others. I had some doubts about the theory of hierarchical discounting. It did not touch upon the influence of the genetic makeup in the formulation of the Script. Do beings have unfettered choice in the formulation of the script? Granted that the script is developed through a trial and error method of selecting a response or behavior pattern that succeeds in furthering the person's interests still the genetic make up of the person plays a great part in it.

The 'trigunas' which Gita talks about the sattva, rajas and tamas and the parent-adult-child of transactional analysis may not be much different. What the child would perceive as good, mediocre and ugly behavior; the parents behavior has to be good as they can do no wrong.


karyate hy avasha karma

Sarvah prakrtijair gunaih (3.5)

(Everyone is made to act helplessly by the impulses born of nature)

Sadrsam cestate svasyah

prakrter jnanavan api

prakrtim yanti bhutani

nigrahah kim karisyati (3.33)

(Even the man of knowledge acts in accordance with his own nature. Beings follow their nature. What can repression accomplish?)

Sattvam rajas tama iti

gunah prakritisambhavah

nibadhnanti mahabaho

dehe dehinam avyayam (14.5)

(the three gunas, goodness passion and dullness born of nature bind down in the body the imperishable dweller)

Yad ahamkaram aseitya

na yotsya iti manyase

mithyai'sa vyavasayas te

prakris twam niyoksyati (18.59)

(if indulging in self conceit, thou thinkest 'I will not fight'; vain is this, thy resolve. Nature will compel thee)

Svabhavajena kaunteya

nibaddhah svena karmana

kartun ne'cchasi yan mohat

karisyasy avaso'api tat (18.60)

(That which, through delusion, thou wishest not to do, that thou shalt do even against thy will, fettered by thy own acts born of thy nature.)

Lord Krishna does not use a Discount Matrix but the counseling he does is unmatched. The ultimate is when he leaves the onus of making the decision to Arjuna

karmarjitham poorva bhave sat'adi

yat tasya pankthim samabhivyanakthi

That is what Varaha Mihiran says. The 'sat' 'asat' and 'sat-asat' deeds of the ancestors culminates in the unchangeble(dr'da), changeble (adr'da) and intermediate (dr'da- adr'da) yogas which a native is ordained to undergo. The core aspects cannot be changed. The Script or a large part of it appears to be in place even while the child is in the womb.





Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hierarchy of Discounting

The monthly meeting of the Trissur Management Association for March was on 31st. Venue Hotel Elite. Dr.Krishnamoorthi, who is a paediatrician in Elite hospital spoke on "Hierarchical Discounting". The topic is part of transactional analysis. He was assisted by his wife Lakshmi who is also a medical doctor.
Krishnamoorthi spent sometime at Ottapalam. I used to know him when I was in school/college. He was staying somewhere near the Courts on R.S.Road. His great ambition was to become a doctor which he did after his B.Sc. He was a great fan of my father and used to talk about books he borrowed from my father for reading. "Man, the Unknown" by Dr. Alexis Carrel was one such book. I remember Krishnamoorthi stopping me on the road to talk to me about the book. "Human personality has become so much compartmentalised that now it takes a team of specialists to analyse a single human being" he used to quote. This was in 1964-67. It appears that his interest in Psychology is abiding and enduring. He studied medicine at Osmania. I wonder whether the choice of Paediatrics was only a compulsion. Anyway he is a good paediatrician too.
Krishnamoorthi's PowerPoint presentation ended with a quote
'God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.'
This was a quote which my father also used to like very much. I am not sure whether Krishnamoorthi presented the quote exactly as above. The author is Reinhold Niebhur. I have no idea who the gentleman is. (I must research on this)
The talk by Krishnamoorthi on 31st March, evening. I regularly read a book of  Daily Thoughts tittled  'Days of healing, Days of Joy'. The subject dealt with in the book  for 1st April started with the same quote! You can calculate the mathematical probability of this happening which must be absurdly remote. I wonder whether Krishnamoorthi had an opportunity to read 'Synchronicity' too which was one of my father's favourite books.
P.S. Wikepaedia article on Reihold Niebhur suggests that his authorship of the quote is disputed. He wrote it as under.
"God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Golden Shower




We drove down from Thrissur to Ottapalam yesterday. On both sides of the road, we noticed a number of Kanikonnas in full bloom. It appears that this year's exceptionally hot weather has triggered the early blooming. Normally, the blooming takes place around Vishu in the middle of April. And that is why the tree is also known as Vishu konna. The other explanation is the 23* odd difference between the Sidereal and Tropical Zodiacs which has taken place over the years due to Equinox precession and Nutation. Vishu used to coincide with the Spring equinox which is March 21 when day and night are of equal duration. If you go by that, the blooming was on time in Kerala.
I had noticed that farther up North you travel, away from the equator, the blooming of the Kanikonna is also later in the year. I have seen Kanikonnas in full bloom in June-July in Jorhat and Kolkatta during my inspection travels. In Assamese it is known as Sonaru and in Bengali it is Sonali or Sondal. There was a particularly good specimen in full bloom at Victoria Memorial in Kolkatta. There were a couple of trees in the Botanical garden at Alipore.There was also an albino variety at the Maidan near the Kolkatta stadium side by side a normal golden variety. Wikepaedia mentions in the article on Indian Laburnum (Cassia Fistula indica) that the flowering occurs in May in the Northern hemisphere and in November in Southern hemisphere.
In many ways, Kanikkonna has as great an influence on the Malayalee psyche as the Cherry blossoms on Japanese. Cherry blossoms also flowers in March-April and the flowering of trees advances from the South to North. But the Japanese have made it an occasion to be celebrated systematically. The Japanese Meteorological Agency monitors the advancing cherry blossom front. The Hanami festival is in celebration of the blossoming of cherry blossoms. To the Japanese, the cherry blossoms represent the transient nature of life as the trees blooms but only once a year and that too for a short period. I am reminded of a sentence written by Shanta Rama Rau in Readers Digest quite some years ago. It goes like this. "Most people possess the ability to appreciate art to some extent; but it is only the Japanese who have made an art of appreciating art" The viewing of the cherry blossoms is as elaborate a ceremony as tea ceremony or viewing the rain or sunset or chrysanthemums.
The Vishukkani need not be confined to an early morning darshan of Konnapoo on Medam 1. It has the potential to be developed as a big festival like the Hanami festival or the viewing of the fall colours in US. With a little effort, both sides of our roads could be lined with Konna and May flowers and when in bloom it would be a sight for the Gods to behold! We have spent or wasted crores on Vana Mahotsav, social forestry etc. for planting useless shrubs like acacias, sheemakkonnas etc We could spend some on a native variety.
Konna is the state flower for Kerala. It also is the National flower for Thailand which is not much bigger than Kerala. The names for Konna in Sanskrit are quite expressive. Kritamala" "Suvarnaka""Saraphala""Chaturangula"For a detailed list please visit http://www.worldforestrycentre.org/ and look up Indian Laburnum.
Someone mentioned to me years ago that we could have a 'kanji ceremony' like the Japanese tea ceremony. We could use the leaf of the jack fruit tree in the traditional way instead of a spoon, have a whole lot of other dishes like chammanthi, cherupayar, chutta pappadam, ghee, kappa etc. We can have as elaborate a ceremony as we want. May be someone will give it a try. Some young guys have started following the Monsoon clouds after the publication of Alexander Frater's book 'Chasing the Monsoon'. A vishu konna festival has also marketing potential .


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Conspiracy of the Constellation?


New Year did not start very auspiciously. Sandhya phoned in the morning to wish us happy New Year. She phoned again after a few minutes to inform us about the car accident. She and Hari were returning after a vegetarian dinner at Meenakshi's house. The accident took place near Cubbon Park. A Tavarre car slammed against the front left side of the Santro where Sandhya was sitting and overturned. A young guy sitting in the front seat was caught under the Tavarre and died. Miraculously, Sandhya and Hari escaped unhurt although the car suffered heavy damage. They had to spend most of the night at Cubbon Park Police Station.The next two days were quite miserable for them. The Police delayed accepting a complaint or writing an FIR. The usual greasing of the palms, a little bit of pressure from above etc was necessary. This is likely to drag on for some time.
On Sunday the 4th. Lava and her mother went to Calicut to attend a marriage at Kadavu. I went along and got down at Ottapalam. They picked me up on their way back and we reached Thrissur by 7.00pm. At about 8.30pm Lava's mother rang up to inform about Aravi's tragic death. It seems he choked while eating Chapattis and chicken. Most of the night was spent there. His son has to come from US before cremation is possible. Anand is expected to reach by 3am on the 6th.
I had written this much on the 4th-5th Jan but did not publish it. I had left it at that as an unfinished My Document. Since then Aravi's cremation was done and a Mrutyunjaya Homam done at Raj Vihar. Aravi had died on Chatayam Nakshatram. Avittam, Chathayam, Poororuttathi, Uthrattathi and Revathi are called Panchamam and any death on these days is expected to be followed by more. The Poojari had said after the Homam that it may succeed in warding off further deaths to certain extent but may not prevent it. Jagan fell ill in February and was admitted to Hi Tec hospital. He was shifted to Mother hospital later. He passed away on the 16th.March. Jagan's nakshatram was Vishakham and on 16th.just about 7 nazhikas (less than 3 hours) of Vishakham was left after sunrise. Jagan passed away at that time. The doctor had said only the day before that the acute stage had passed and he may recover. It is said that for a critically ill person, his nakshatra day is the period of maximum danger and if he survives that, he will recover. If he had held out for another three hours….. The two brothers who were very close to each other left within a period of two months. The other brother had escaped a very major car accident in December.
All mere coincidences, I am sure. But one wonders.

Stale wine in Old bottles

A meeting of SBI Pensioner's Association (Thrissur Unit) was held yesterday.. The meeting was held at the Main branch premises at 4.00pm. It was the first meeting of the Association which I attended. M.J.Raphel, the President of the state unit was on the chair. So was M.R.Janardanan who is also an office bearer.
I was reminded of an incident in a Sherlock Holmes short story, Naval Treaty I think, where Dr.Watson comes across one of his old class fellows. Watson states in his memoirs that there is no sorrier sight than to encounter the wreck of person who one remembered from olden days as a fine human specimen. He adds that he saw the same thought reflected in his friend's eyes keenly appraising him.
The colleagues from the past whom I met were not all physical wrecks but were definitely a shadow of their earlier selves. With one exception. Easwaran had the same freshly scrubbed look and positively glowed! Even Raphael was a bit jaded. I am sure Father Time must have been even more unkind to me with physical flexibility all but gone.
The meeting was true to style. Some of the speakers were so far removed from reality they were talking about 'militant' action to force the Govt. to accede to the demands of the Association! Even their grandchildren will not be frightened by their militancy. One 'pazham pori' and coffee was served (Courtesy Bank?). It was the usual stuff but unlike their serving days, some member's declared that it was quite good! Anything free seems to be appreciated after retirement!
I may not attend future meetings. It only helps to add more years to the 61 odd years. In a few hours you age a couple of years. I think I will look out for younger company or a different kind of company or keep my own company. No one seems to have taken up any new hobby or occupation possibly with the exception of Easwaran who now mingles with the film crowd!
I must say I was looking forward to meeting old friends with some pleasure. It was a big let down. Either I have changed too much or they have or both have changed a bit. I think this idea of revisiting places one knew in the past or trying to renew old ties is not always a good idea. The Old students Association meeting at Govt.Victoria College some months ago was an even greater let down. It must be the burden of expectation. The inevitable change that has taken place over the years comes as a shock, however one may try to anticipate it or make allowance for it. I think from now on I should just enjoy the ride without actively seeking out destinations