Monday, December 17, 2018


Another December and today my mind left Kuwait and went to Peerumade. The weather out here is just like how it would have been at Peerumade. Chilly but not very cold. But it is the howling wind that distinguished Peerumade from the rest of the high ranges that I have experienced. When the howling started our hearts felt light since Christmas and holidays were not far away. The air would be smelling of eucalyptus and one could see it’s twigs lying everywhere. The sweaters would come out of the cupboards and my mother would be baking cakes for the season. Then it was all about waiting for the exams to get over.

There was nothing much to do but time flew somewhere. How I miss that place!

Recently I found a few photos that we took around Peer Mohammad tomb as kids. Peerumade got it’s name either from Peer Mohammad or Guavas (Peraka) since the small hills are scattered with small guava trees.  Now some of these hills are dotted with houses. Peerumade too is no longer free from the ills of development. The teas estates are no longer viable and I think small parcels of land were disposed off. I hope those lands are not entirely eaten up. Maybe trees can be planted or the tea shrubs can be left to grow wild. I am not sure if they consume more water than others.

For us, it is a short distance of travel from the valley to these hills. A day trip is always possible but even then it is not always done. I need to let everyone into my dreams. Hubby too fell in love with this place after our marriage so it is easy to convince him.

The last time we made a trip with my parents and brother and his family. We found that the bungalow that we grew up was left to die. The kitchen roof had caved in and the garden was no longer visible. The place was surrounded by trees which have all been now cut down. 

But Kuttikanam, the town that used to have only our school and few shops has now changed completely. It even has a 24 hour modern supermarket with a café that serves BBQ. Have not tried it yet but is on my bucket list. Last trip we passed the town on our way to Bangalore and had dosa from one of the hotels. Not very tasty but could be forgiven for the ambience. It came up after Marian College was built and serves the students mostly I think.

Here is a more detailed write up on Peerumade from another besotted visitor. The story of Peermade

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Kerala Flood

Wanted to put this down somewhere and then left it but each time we go on a search for a new car I remember the flood. We lost our car or it got burnt after the recent flood. It was a 10 year old car but gave us no trouble and took us to many places. Son wants a sedan while hubby wants something with a higher ground clearance. Son missed the flood while we faced it and lost our trust in the system. What if there is one more? It is the same old system and none has so far taken responsibility for anything.

The rains in Kerala were on time this year(June) and the dams started to fill up early. I remember during mid July when the one of the highest arch dam in Asia, the Idukki dam started to fill up and the media along with the government started giving out numbers. These numbers where the imagined loss in terms of electricity that could be lost if the dams were opened.

Loss: Rs 220 crore

Nearly 10 million cubic feet of water will flow out of the reservoir in case the shutters are raised. Power worth Rs 220 crore can be generated with this water. Incidentally, the three dams in Idukki were built at a cost of Rs 110 crore.

And what is the loss after the flood? 40,000 crores as per this minister:

But there was also another factor; all the encroachments along the rivers that would be swallowed up if the dam is opened up. It was too many years (26 long years) since such an event occurred and people forgot while bribing officials. It was now up to the officials to save them. Their hands were tied up. But nature waits for none. It decided to give a huge blow to the puny humans. Nature did not have to say much. We humans may call it destruction but for nature it is pay back time.

Jul 31, 2018, 07:26 AM IST...…
Cheruthoni: The water level in Idukki dam reached 2395.42 feet. With the water level in the Idukki reservoir touching 2395 feet on Monday night, just …

Read more at:

The water around our house on 17th August 2018
When the floods were causing havoc in Idukki we were at Bangalore trying to settle down son who would be studying there. We wondered whether we would be able to drive back. We did by selecting safer routes while avoiding Idukki and the ghats. We did see angry rivers and massive downpour. We reached home safely and thought the worst was over. It was on August 14th that the river started to swell and spill and yet we thought it would be normal and may just wet the land and recede like before. 100 plus years and it has never happened? Why now? And then they opened up all the dams at night! They may have told a few sleepy heads that the dams are being opened and to take care. But they never told how to take care. So most of them stayed back. It slowly started climbing. We were able to shift most of our things upstairs. We asked for help but it was not coming. There were too many old ladies to take the risk of walking through the choppy waters. There was frantic call from my father who asked us to reach dry land so that he can pick us up. Who is going to drop us there? And then the telephone lines dropped, water finished. Luckily there was still rain water to be collected for cooking and for the rest we drew water from the overflowing rivers right under our roof. The boundary walls of our neighbors started falling loudly. What is the walls of the house failed? What if the dams broke? These were some of the fears that went though my mind else we had enough food and rain water.
The water around our house on 17th August 2018 - 
the river in front of the house..scary it is was..

Finally when the water started receding after almost 5 days and a fire and rescue dinghy came along. They wanted the older folks to leave the house immediately, so they did. They would be dropped at our church which had opened up as a relief camp. The rest of us including children held hands and started walking though the currents. We wanted to reach home since the camp was not an option for the elderly. Too cold it would be for them. There were only tractors and lorries which was not an option for 85 plus ladies. This is when hubby spotted a few good Samaritans on a jeep searching for a the family of a mutual friend. They agreed to ride through the waters and drop us at a place from where we could go to my parent’s place. The jeep was equipped to go through knee high waters and we reached Parumala where a low floor bus to Mavelikara was waiting to start it’s journey. Finally we reached dry land.

But has Kerala learned any lessons? Hopefully. Read that the buildings destroyed along the banks of the rivers will not be allowed to be reconstructed.

“We ignored the importance of wetlands. We ignored the sensitivity of ecologically fragile land. And in cities, we built buildings on leveled farmland. Now, where will the water drain? So, floods are not surprising,” he said.

Commenting on the impact of the rains and ensuing damage, Susheela Bhatt, a former state government advocate, said it was time for people to reflect. “After seeing this havoc, I think it’s high time to be retrospective,” she said.

This flood also reopens the old Mullaperiyar issue which can no longer be ignored.

Several studies have found similar flaws in the ageing dam. Mullaperiyar is a traditional gravity dam, the strength of which depends on its weight. George of Christ College says over the years, about 40 per cent of the lime from the core has leaked out, making it much weaker. Cracks, leaks and seepages have made the structure damp and wet, he adds.

Another key charge for the current state of disaster is the “unpreparedness of the state and the central government during this natural calamity as there is no plan which is announced or communicated to the public at large till date”

As of now, there is no record as to how many lives will be lost or the compensation that Tamil Nadu would need to pay to Kerala in case of a disaster. Maybe if this is in put in record people will realize it is not a child’s game.

But then this not all about Tamil Nadu or one dam. It is about Kerala and how complacent it was in manging it's affairs. Governments came one after the other and one hoped new laws would be put it place to protect nature and Kerala's precious assets. But then how would political parties collect money to fund their elections and their own greed? 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How easy it is to divide..

Yesterday was the 70th death anniversary of Gandhiji, the father of my nation. It was on January 30th 1948 that Gandhiji was killed by  Nathuram Godse. Godse must have killled Gandhii because he did not like the idea of ahimsa. Although one associates Indian independence with Gandhiji’s ahimsa, I think this nation was born out of the blood of innocents and it was not only the blood of Gandhiji. This worst bloodshed happened during the partition.
The Indian independence movement must have started with Gandhiji’s idea of ahimsa which led to the Quit India Movement or the Civil Disobedience Movement but it is time we remembered the partition.
An excerpt from Gandhiji’s speech on the Quit India Movement
I believe that in the history of the world, there has not been a more genuinely democratic struggle for freedom than ours. I read Carlyle’s French Revolution while I was in prison, and Pandit Jawaharlal has told me something about the Russian revolution. But it is my conviction that inasmuch as these struggles were fought with the weapon of violence they failed to realize the democratic ideal. In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by non-violence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master. It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite you today. Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.

Maybe it is out of pain or even shame that the subcontinent fails to acknowledge the bloody partition that gave birth to two nations. It is said that 1–2 million people died during the partition of British India. This should actually make everyone very, very angry since a few leaders took decisions so casually that it led to the killing of so many innocents. This anger should have made everyone pledge that it will never happen again. But tension simmers.. between the two nation and within India.
I think even in our school books we skip or skim through the partition maybe since it was an utter failure of our founding fathers. But this nation should have allotted an entire textbook to this topic to make everyone very angry. Angry enough not to divide the nation again on religious grounds.
Gandhiji was against the whole idea of partition, yet he had to take a bullet.

Why Pakistan and India remain in denial 70 years on from partition

The division of British India was poorly planned and brutally carried out, as fear and revenge attacks led to a bloody sectarian ‘cleansing’

On 3 June 1947, only six weeks before British India was carved up, a group of eight men sat around a table in New Delhi and agreed to partition the south Asian subcontinent.

Photographs taken at that moment reveal the haunted and nervous faces of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian National Congress leader soon to become independent India’s first prime minister, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, head of the Muslim League and Pakistan’s first governor-general and Louis Mountbatten,the last British viceroy.

There is still a mystery at the dark heart of partition. Ultimately, it remains a history layered with absence and silences, even while many mourn and talk about their own trauma. Nearly every Punjabi family – Indian and Pakistani – can tell a tale about a relative uprooted in the night, the old friends and servants left behind, the nostalgia for a cherished house now fallen into new hands. Far fewer are willing to discuss the role of their own locality in contributing to the violence. Rarely, oral histories tell of culpability and betrayal; more often, guilt and silences stalk the archive.

Who were the killers? Why did they kill? Much evidence points not to the crazy and inexplicable actions of mad, uneducated peasants with sticks and stones, but to well-organised and well-motivated groups of young men, who went out – particularly in Punjab – to carry out ethnic cleansing. These men, often recently demobilised from the second world war, had been trained in gangs and militias, were in the pay of shopkeepers and landlords, and had often been well drilled and well equipped. They took on the police and even armed soldiers on some occasions
The politics of an assassination: Who killed Gandhi and why?

Historians and scholars have written extensively on “who killed Gandhi and why?” and the answer, obviously, doesn’t end with Godse. What Godse told the court in an attempt to explain why he chose to pump three bullets into Gandhi’s chest at point-blank range provides a glimpse into the politics of the assassination, writes Abhishek Saha

people were whipped up by demonisation of the other, encouraged by the rhetoric of politicians and a feverish media"

India and Pakistan teaches partition or the birth of the two nations differently. But to be fair, I think India is more balanced in its approach. 
If I am right, partition gets an entire chapter only in Class XII of CBSE as follows:

NCERT ClassXII History Part 3: Theme 14 – Understanding Partition 

3. Why and How Did Partition Happen?

3.1 Culminating point of a long history? Some historians, both Indian and Pakistani, suggest that Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s theory that the Hindus and Muslims in colonial India constituted two separate nations can be projected back into medieval history. They emphasise that the events of 1947 were intimately connected to the long history of Hindu-Muslim conflict throughout medieval and modern times. Such an argument does not recognise that the history of conflict between communities has coexisted with a long history of sharing, and of mutual cultural exchange. It also does not take into account the changing circumstances that shape people’s thinking.
I think it is not enough. It needs to be stressed again and again to the future generation that religion can divide brutally. It is up to them to change it. The older ones are tired.

Further Reading:

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