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Spasm for santhosham

Superstition can even go to the extent of killing,  though it is really difficult to decide  what superstition is . My firm belief , may be superstitious for you. Even atheism  is condemned as madness by some.

Superstition has killed people before and it is a pity it continues to kill even now when science and technology has much advanced. The recent report on the unbelievably cruel Killing of two grown up girls by their own parents , is heart- breaking  . They were not uneducated people from a backward area. They were highly qualified. Even illiterate poor won’t commit such a  heinous crime . But the parents thought they were performing their duty !!. You and me condemn their action as unpardonable but they feel they have done a noble task- yes, killing their dear daughters! That was what even those who encouraged widows to jump into the last pyre of their diseased husbands,  too thought . That was those who killed animals before some deities too thought .

There were and still are prevalent what I call superstition but was a belief for my ancestors . One such is the spasm of eye lids or other body parts . My mother believed that twitching of her left eye was harbinger of some bad events. She used to worry that ‘something bad was happening ‘ to me in the far away Hyderabad and pestered my father to send a post card to find out that I was Ok . If she were alive now she would have still believed so, but her anxiety wouldn’t have lasted long as cell phones and FaceTime facilities are available now. ( the point to be noted is that as a mother she thought and worried about her son and not about herself or even about my father!!)

This belief (which I don’t have ) was there in our country from time immemorial.  May have some reasons for that which I’m not aware of .

When Anjaneya entered Lanka, says a Malayalam poet :

ജനകനരപതിമകൾക്കും  ദശാസ്യനുംn



Janaka narapathi makal- King Janaka’s daughter. Sita

Dasaasyan.  One with ten heads -Ravana

Vama bAgham – Left side

( Remember- VAmae bhoomisudhapuracha HanumAn —)

Thudichu.- fluttered

Meaning :

When Hanuman entered the gates of Lanka, for Sita Devi and Ravana, their left  body parts had spasm( indicating good thing was going to happen to Sita and bad for Ravana)

During my young days ( not now 😐) while walking behind young ladies( unintentionally 😐) I used to wish and pray that my right eye(or any right part of my body 😐) should flutter but the spasm was always on the left !

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Worries on worries

My children, compared to me, talk less but say more. 

Yesterday, on FaceTime, Srikanth, talked more and said more about me.

‘You look worried Appa. What is troubling you?’

‘Nothing. I’m in high spirits, as usual’ 

‘You can hide nothing from your children and you know that’

‘Yes, I do’ 

‘Then come out’

‘Worried about —-‘s health’

‘He is in India. You, sitting in Florida, in what way can you contribute , to redress his grievances ?’

‘I know ‘

‘Good. If I take you by tomorrow’s flight to India, will you be able to render any service to him medically? 

No, as you’re not a physician. 

Will you be able to get food from home or stay in the hospital for one night? 

Difficult. You will be of little support to his family, by your physical presence there too. It makes no difference for them whether you’re there or here. 

Why do you worry then,  unnecessarily ? And what happened to your frequent posts in the Facebook, preaching ‘if things are beyond your control, worrying is meaningless’ ? What happened to your frequent quotation, ‘whatever has to happen will happen?’

He could not quote  the colloquial translation of the last sentence which my brother in law, Pallavur-  born late Ambi Anna told me, at Vancouver: 

‘What, what, when, when happeno, athu happanae happen! ‘

I know that. We all know that. But, knowing that, we, old people worry, worry! The present generation too know that either from us or from other sources, but they practice what they know, to the extend possible.

Practicing what we know or what we advice others, is not easy.


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Let the snow go on

The year 2019 is on its way out. It has to go. Anything that came,  has to go.  Anything which began has to end. And that is the best part of life. Yes, the charm of life is in its extinction! 

How will 2020 come in unless 2019 quits? 

Quitting is clearing the way for the entry of something new. 

This millennium, for my family, started with a tsunami. It carried away a part of my life. I thought, with that loss, I too was lost.

No, I was wrong. I have lived 20 more long years. The Destiny wanted me to live for a purpose. That purpose is over. 

He will decide what to do next. He will. It is not my worry.

Most of the time we worry about men and matters when men and matters will take the course on their own. Good or bad may be the result. In what way our worrying is going to help them or us, when the decision making is not in our hand? 

We act. Someone else decides. And again, that is the best part of it. 

Let the show go on! 


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Separating the grain from straw

Muram, where’re you ?

I’m yet to see a wind winnower in any of the houses, I visit in USA . Chool, broomstick Yes, though rarely used, as the houses are carpeted and machine removes the dust, if any. 

Recall my early days when murams were in regular use  for separating grain from straw.  Not only straw, even pests were removed from stored grain, using murams. 

I used to watch with amazement the lighter chaff flying in the air blown away by wind and the heavier grains falling back down, when my mother and servant maids, enjoyed doing the separation job, sitting in our veranda humming some tunes.  How relaxed they were then leisurely but quickly and happily engaged in their separation activity! 

Separation is unavoidable in many of our life activities too, to remove unwanted from the wanted, when they come together. 

Nowadays married pairs get separated for the reason above and a few more! Separation of bad thoughts from the good ones too are unavoidable as well as articles from our house and office. Even our body mechanism engages in non stop separation of wanted from the unwarranted. Nature has its own way to separate. 

My childhood habit of watching with amazement the lighter stuff flying in the air blown out by the wind, comes to my mind often when Fate removes people from my life, though they were not chaff or light weights! Of course, Fate is the Master and His action is unquestionable!

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I’m not a preacher, not a teacher

I am not a spiritualist. Not even a ritualist doing nithyakramas regularly or visitng  Temples often.  Just an ordinary story writer I am, , living a normal family life with my chidlren, grand children, roaming the world if they finace me and if my health permits or sit below a tree or walk through the woods and rice fields of my native land,  that rich Kerala, again if my  legs coperate, humming  a Thyagaraja or a  Swathy Thirunaal  or Deedkshithar, for mine  and mine alone –  satisfaction  and not for others’ certificate.. In fact,  my own people have said ,that I am more tolerable when I don’t song and keep my mouth shut.

But I can’t keep my mouth and eyes shut  I look at the trees, the hills and meadows, the squirrels and monkeys roaming over there, the deer looking at me from its bush, wondering who this fellow is, when I go for a walk in the evening through the highways of Baltimore or Florida or at the innocent cows wanderimg in  the lanes of Kasi or Kalpathy. I run along with the river in Ottappalam or stare at the Ganges with awe at Utharakasi or Gangotri . I talk to the guys sitting near or far to me in a sleeper class, force him to talk to me, may be a panda from Benares or a chettiar from Madurai, or an young girl bubbling with enthusiasm or a depressed soul sitting alone in a corner worrying how to feed her children, the next day.This  has helped me to live so long .   This  has helped me to live happily. And I have lived long enough and damn care if I am showed the gate tomorrow.

And, and I read our Upanishads, that invaluable record of our ancestores, who roamed in the forest , alone, wearing practically nothing, in the hot , in the cold, among the animals, enjoying the raising and falling sun, enjoying the waxing and waning moon, enjoying the twinkling stars and silent or roaring clouds. 

If all the books are lost tomorrow, pray that doesn’t happen and if we are left with a single upanishad , we are safe, our culture is safe.

I am not a preacher or a  councellor but suggest,  read our Upanishads and understand their meaning. You won’t regret.

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Mud we’re

I was in Hyderabad for the Deepavali, last year. Our compound wall is pretty long and was wondering how to arrange deepams on the entire length.  Remembered about the huge stock of materials dumped in the attic, when my wife was there. But how to climb , was the question. 

There is a boy in the outhouse behind our rear wall. 

‘Madhuuuuuuuu’, I cried. He jumped over the wall, climbed the attic and brought down a carton full of earthen lamps. I liked them. May be because I came from and will go back to earth, I like all products made of clay, lamps, pots even Moorthy of Ganesh for the Ganesh pooja. 

Products made of clay will break, if you drop them, as we too will, one day.  They won’t choke and kill animals as plastic does. 

Mother Sita, who came from Earth, went back to the arms of her 

Mother , leaving behind her husband, children and Kingdom. Her end was beautiful . More natural than mounting a vimanam and flying to heaven.

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Thought waves

When you grow old, you learn many lessons-

One I learned- I can’t correct the world,

I can’t correct my own children 

I can’t correct even my grandchildren ‘s home work

But I can do a great thing:

I can correct myself! 


My Christian friends

I never see the caste, creed or religion or race of my friends. Friends are friends, though FB friends belong to a separate category, as most of them remain unseen. 

In fact, during my childhood, being brought up in a Muslim dominated area, all our neighbors, except a couple of people were Muslims and they were like an extended family of ours. Our neighbor Hamsa’s children grew on my father’s lap and my friendship with his son Siddique continues. Last time, when I went Palakkad, I stopped my car to hand over a few packets of ‘then kai’, herbal seeds to him. He is one of the two Olavakkode friends who call me by my childhood pet name, ‘Appu’. The other friend is Kamalam, our neighbor and my sisters’s playmate whom I met in New Jersey after a gap of fifty years. 

There were not many Christian families in our area and even during my school education, didn’t have many Christian friends- one person I remember was from Trichur, an egg supplier, who used to entertain me with his flock of ducks, in hundreds. He used to drive them into post -harvest paddy fields filled with rainwater and it was a pleasure to see the white birds swim , though their smell was oppressive. His name was Vargheese. 

C  M Jacob, whom I affectionately call Chakku, my long term colleague and bachelor roommate continues to be my best  Christian friend, though he is a nam-ke- vasthe Nasrani.

 He joined my field unit at Trichur in October 

1959, three months after I joined and  I remember his pose then before me, tall, immaculately dressed in white, neatly combed hair, soft spoken. We travelled together to Hyderabad, our maiden journey outside Kerala and lived in the same hotel for a few days before shifting to Panchavati, our bachelor palace. He remains a bachelor till now at 81,  and going by his nature, is unlikely  to find a Mary or Maria as a playmate, in the near future. I don’t talk about far future.

He is amazingly a simple creature, can’t make his coffee and walks to the next restaurant for food, though his health is not in the desired level . A simple and truthful man, though don’t know whether he ever visited a church for prayers. Matters little. 

Happy Christmas to you Chakku. Continue to remain happily till Jesus calls you up for His company.  He needs good guys like you.

I had another colleague and room mate, a much smarter guy, C M manual, whom we called Manachan, who left NIN to join Air India, married an Anglo indian girl, retired as Airport Station Director and joined Jesus to teach him how to love girls and live happily. He was a jolly good fellow, who too never visited a Church till he married. 

At NIN , I had plenty of Christian friends, a few migrated from Connor, like me and Chakku. Most of them have already joined their Yesunathar.

Ultimately what counts is whether you are a good human being or not. Fortunately world is still rich with them.


When my cousin Ramki sent me this old family group of my mother’s siblings with their families, the head-cover patti, captured my eyes first, as I used to enjoy feeling her head with my hands appreciating its softness! She was the elder sister to my mother, whom we called Bhavani Periammai, after the river bank near Erode where she stayed when I was a kid. She was the last in our family to have shaven her head on becoming a widow. Though orthodox to the core, she was jovial and used to entertain me with her Thiruvathirakali dance and educate me with Samskritham hymns. Her body movements and claps while teaching me,

‘VeeravirAdakumAra vibho!’ dance, is fresh in my mind.

I remember her, every time, Shabhari express crosses  Erode junction. on my way to Palakkad.

She lived at Kanchi for a few years and was an ardent disciple of the Sage of Kanchi. She took me to Periyava and proudly proclaimed about my proficiency in Soundaryalahari and on AchArya’s advice I recited a slokam. . I had a habit of reciting loudly and despite Periammai ‘s prodding, I didn’t reduce my voice or speed.I used to move my body too like a pendulum while reciting and in total, it would have been a good Tamasha for the people around. Anyway, the Guru, blessed me placing his hand on my head. 

Recently while passing through the Kodambakkam Railway Station, I remembered her dish, Vathalkozhambu, which was unique in taste. I used to get down at that station and visit her as her house was close by and I liked her food. 

Last year when I went to Kalpathy Shivan koil, she came to my mind first . To spend Shivaratri night awake, she used to come with much preparation but slip into sound sleep soon aided by the cold river breeze.

I don’t remember when and how she passed away but it was peaceful death, I was told. What was important was she didn’t suffer putrasokam, as my mother had to and my first sister in under going. In all, she had a peaceful tenure in this world, though her family was living hand to mouth. Untimely that is important, I feel now, many living in luxuries have everything they want except peace of mind.’



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Shivaratri memories

Shivaratri memories 

On  Shivaratri, I remember two elders, my mother’s elder sister Bhavani periya ammai and Perinkulam Krishna vadhyar .

Periyammai, orthodox to the core used to prepare three days in advance for Shivaratri upavasam, sincerely do the fasting, Japam etc, manage to skip the afternoon nap, go to Kalpathy at night, with a grass mat in hand, wait patiently for the Kathakalakeshapam , enjoying the company of friends and unknowingly fall into sleep soon after the discourse started, encouraged by the cool wind from the Kalpathy river, transmitted by the big neem tree branches in the Kovilkundu, the site of the discourse in front of the Shiva Temple.

Like my father, Sri. Krishna vadhyar, was a Kathakali lover.  The Hemambika temple used to arrange Kathakali for nine nights, including the Shivaratri night, which I’m told is now reduced to three nights. Vadhyar used to come all the way from our village, have dinner with us and along with my father, go to Kallaikulankara Templ, enjoy the show whole night, have bath in the ponds next morning, worship in the temple and return. My father used to take me too and I remember our crossing the railway track and trek the hill to reach the other side, holding an indigenously made hand torch called choottu. Still fresh in memory the sparks from the hand torch moving around, in the darkness. So is the call for alms from an ‘untouchable’ Nayadi woman, standing far away, while we return the next morning. 

The unscrupulous builders have now completely demolished that natural hillock, just as they have molested the ever young Kalpathy river. 

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Thought sparkles


All the animals in the forest are hiding within us, only to urface under different situations.
We hold a forest within us !

Every strike on the surface of a percussion instrument, gives out a sound.
Every sin one commits too delivers a punishment.
The sound vanishes. The sin doesn’t. it will follow the sinner.

For 80% of your problems, there are solutions, if you work out.
The rest, leaving to  Destiny, you can feel free from the load.

Once, twice you can turn your face against your wife. Don’t make it a practice. She will show her back to you


Better to be brief and to the point when you are taking to your newly wed wife. It is a difficult job but will be long term tax saver for you.


One, two, three, four— is counted faster than ten, nine, eight, seven —,
That is the only occasion when going up is faster than climbing down!

Give me strength God, not to fight a war, but just to keep me moving . And moving, I should . Every one should be able to move.
The Earth moves, The Sun moves, the planets move.


The problem with problems is, none can escape from their grip, big or small, rich or poor.
The plus point is , invariably there are solution/s for all problems
and what is needed is knowledge, skill and luck to solve those.

Face those on ‘as is where is ‘ basis, don’t worry over , don’t lose heart and smile for a while. The success is yours.

And remember, there is none with no problems. I have my own problems, though there is absolutely no cause for me to have problems. I have hairs on my head- no problem. But those with no hair on head have also problems as head load.


Eat only if you should, talk only if you should, write only if you should but walk, as much as you can and drink water liberally.


What we get, often, is not what we want or what we ask for. Not in our hands.
But making the best use of what we got, (including discarding it, if what we got is bad for us and others) , is the correct attitude.
It also happens that we get exactly what we want but either we misuse it or dumb in a dust bin. It could be your life, it could be your wife or it could be even a great thought.


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Only a process of recycling


From my first son Ananth’s house to my second son Atchuth’s house is 21/2 hrs drive. When we started around 7 P M , the sky was very bright. Between 70 and 80 Mph, the car was moving. I was amazed at the celebration in the sky to bid farewell to the Sun . The whole of the western horizon was golden as if thousands of lamps had risen high from the woods all of a sudden . Hei, wait a minute . Look at the left side, not far from the sun. There is a large assembly of clouds and they are all pure silver shade, brilliant, lavishly bright. How are these bright silver heavenly bodies maintaining their original colour completely unaffected by the bright gold close by. I look at the sides . The thick woods, oaks, maples and other earthy bodies are all in high spirits, maintaining their dark green .

‘Appa, would like to have some coffee?”, asks my son. I am not answering. I am gazing at the sky, alternately at the woods. Any thing with a beginning has to have an end. Like a huge serpent with thousand hoods, darkness leaps and swallows the sun, clouds, the whole sky. I am sad. Look at my left, to my right. Everywhere the demon darkness has swallowed every thing. I look at the speedometer- crossed 80. Gold or silver, it makes no difference in the darkness. Good or bad, wealthy or poor, pious or sinner, it makes no difference for the Death. I never, usually think about Death, but ‘ why now ‘ I ask myself. I blame the darkness in the sky, all over the woods, for my thoughts. What a fool you are ?’, asks someone from within. ‘The darkness is the mother of brightness. the sky is in the process of conceiving now and in a few hours another sun will be born’

So, there is hope and we live on hope.
‘Appa, coffee?’ Sharath asks. “Hm” I nod yes. How many suns I have seen born and dyeing ! how many clouds I have seen being formed and getting liquidated ! So, there is no birth or death. Just a process of recycling.