HIGH UP IN THE AIR-MUSINGS

HIGH UP IN THE AIR-MUSINGS

When we were flying high in the air , my mid wandered over the horizon of life and death. Is it worth worrying , about mundane matters? Even cities were not visible . The small people are like insects , busying about food and living. The same feeling of unreality grips me when I am on top of a hill..

The first thing I do in the morning , is to open my computer. Is the blog important? For that matter , is the newspaper worth the money we spend on it? I envy the real saints , who need

no saffron cloths. They wisely abstain from marriage.

Why did Christian God make Man? He could have left Adam alone. Why did he create Eve?

The couple has managed to over populate the world. Like the ants , they do not live in peace. They fight for something or other. Sex and money are the two forces motivating forces, impelling us to go forward.

Among Hindus , there is Pushpangadan who is always aiming his arrow of flowers against young men and women. When the arrow strikes , the poor victims run about seeking copulation.

What a world!

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ON TOP OF THE HILL

The calm serinity of the evening is something we must not miss.
Go out and climb a hill, to watch the sun going down and the stars appearing one by one!
When it is dark, the diamonds scattered in the sky is a treat to the eyes.The cool breeze enliven our body.
If a friend is by my side, It is heaven! I won’t talk, just enjoy the prence.

ELANKUNNU (WHERE SANTA MARIA ACADEMY IS LOCATED) IS A RICH SOURCE OF WATER.

The legendary Kamadhenu (cow) gives anything you ask her. Elankunnu is a Kamadhenu.

The lens shaped hill near our house (Elankunnu) is full of water. Its South West portion has already been removed by quarry contractors. You can see water in the quarry even in summer. During rainy season, water from this granite hill fills all ponds and wells in the neighbourhood, through subterranean water channels.

I saw a well with water level very high up, alomost you can touch it; but no attempt is made to draw water from the well. Most buildings in the locality have their own well. Others depend on tap water provided by government, which pumps water from the near by river, into a water tank on the hill.

At the foot of the hill, by the side of the temple at Njeruvisseri, was a small hill in my childhood. Now there is a very deep and wide well, after continuous quarrying of granite for more than half a century. I have recently seen water flowing into this well, from the Elankunnu. As there is an under-rock channel, from this well to the river, Karuvannoorpuzha, water cannot be stored in this well. If the outlet hole is plugged, we can stop water from going into the river. In this way all surrounding villages can be irrigated by gravity flow.

Now water is pumped from the river and rationed for two hours.

it is a pity that water from KAMADHENU is not used, even though there is great scarcity of water in summer.

HOLIDAY IN A REMOTE VILLAGE

Kaithapram is a well known Malayalam film music director and lyricist. His village is known as Kaithapram.

More than five hundred years ago, a group of twelve namboodiri families came down to an uninhabited area, almost encircled by a river and settled in the uninhabited,fertile valley. Then three more groups followed.

Now this village has more than two hundred families, all of the same caste and is known as Kaithapram.

Long ago, when my niece was married to a family there, we felt sorry for her. The village was too remote for us to approach, equidistant from Kannur and Payyannur stations on the Mangalore-Shoranur railway route. After leaving the station, we must travel by bus up to Plathara and then walk for an hour or so. Not a single terrace house and the only toilet, thankfully belonging to a lady who recently came there from south Malabar, was my relief. In those days, people just defecated any where outside the house!

Now I was taken aback by the changes, during the last two decades, which were a pleasant surprise. Almost all houses had concrete roof. Most of them have a car. We were picked up from Plathara by one of the twins of my niece (one is studying for engineering and one for medicine, with government scholarship) in their jeep. They had internet connection at home. Most namboodiries are computer shy. Many do not know what a blog is.

That evening they took us to the Parssinikadavu temple. It is an impressive big temple, right at the bank of the river by the same name. It is full of clean water. There are some boats, but something could be done to remove plastic bags and bottles.

The deity is Muthappan or grand- uncle. The head of an old man is worshiped here. The devotees are offered tea and dhal free of cost. Free meals are also given all the time.

Next morning I went for my walk with just a bath towel, after my bed tea. Within a few minutes, I reached the river. As the water was dirty, I reversed the direction and reached the Srikrishna temple, with good clean water in the pond in front. As there was no one around, I removed the only cloth I was wearing and plunged into the water It was my first dip in a pond, on coming to Keralam, this time.

After praying in the temple I roamed about for some time, but returned early, as I had not taken my break fast. I saw two old men reading newspaper, at Kaithapram Grameena Vayanashala (library). I too had a look at the head lines. I am a newspaper addict.

We were confined to the house, because of a hartal (bandh). In the evening, we climbed the highest hill in the locality. The top of the hill was a plateau, quite wide. I could not believe the spectacle of palatial buildings, constructed in feudal, artistic style. I was told that it was meant to be a music and dance academy , but the man found it impracticable and sold it to an engineering college.

There is a wide road along the periphery of the hill, from which we could see the surroundings.

The whole village is encircled by mountains and the river, which originates beyond Kerala border, in the Western Ghats. This explains the fertility of the soil and the abundance of water.

There is a well at the top, near a Shiva and Devi temple under construction. Water is available just ten feet below the ground. A large pond near by, also has plenty of water. This can only be explained by my theory of subterranean water channels, connecting the entire rocky crust of the earth ( Saraswaty- myth or reality? ).

At the foot of the hill, water level in the wells is fifty feet deep.

There is a rain gauge, well protected by fencing. I wonder if any one takes readings, climbing all the way up the hill.

RAILWAY AUDIT REPORT

The Controller and Auditor General is responsible for auditing the accounts of the Union and the States. He is assisted by competent and honest staff with great reputation, perhaps the only department free of corruption charges. I am somewhat proud to say that I worked in this department .

This happened long ago when a new rail line was being laid between Guna and Maksi in Madhya Pradesh. We were inspecting the records of Executive Engineer, when I noticed that the item of earth work , especially, cutting in hard rock increased disproportionately in the contractor’s bill. On enquiry, I was told that the alignment was changed to save fertile fields through which the original line was to pass. There were some representations signed by local people

On further scrutiny, I found that the new alignment actually cut through a hill, which the surveyors wanted to avoid, as it was much more costly. From the point of view of the environment too, it was wise to stick to the original line.

Lastly, the change in alignment has to be approved by the Railway Board; even General Manager of the zone has no power to approve it.

For constructing the second line between Kota and Lakheri section, an additional bridge across the Chambal river became necessary.

The existing bridge built by the British company was wide enough to accommodate an extra line, which the company anticipated even at that stage, but the life of the bridge was over.

While making the location drawing of the new bridge, they just copied from the existing one, WHICH WAS GIVING CONTINUOUS TROUBLE, BECAUSE ONE PIER WAS NOT PROPERLY SEATED.

One side was resting on rock, while the remaining half was hanging. So keeping it supported, with boulders and sand was a headache for the engineers. While locating the new bridge, this was not known to the construction department which functions under a different Chief Engineer.

They involved a specialized firm from Calcutta to cut the rock,DEEP,MOPLA,MALAPURAM,KERALA,HOUR,DIVERS,COCONUT OIL, so that the foundation could be properly laid. But all their efforts failed, as it was too deep and expert Mopla divers from Malapuram district in Kerala, who could remain under water for more than half an hour, failed to find the contour of the river bed. The divers needed coconut oil which they smeared over their body. A simple petty voucher for purchase of coconut oil which was selected for audit, aroused my suspicion. Auditors and criminal investigators should have a sharp inquisitive mind. I never thought that my curiosity about the large quantity of oil purchased, will lead to this result.

Failure of engineers, to properly study the bridge site was the cause of loss of money and permanent worry.

In another case, a railway station built for facilitating crossing of trains, coming from opposite directions, became dysfunctional, as the yard was sloping towards one side. A train going up the gradient, broke into two, the engine pulling upwards and gravity pulling in the opposite direction. The Operating Superintendent ordred stoppage of all crossings at that station. This was in 1974, between Nazirabad and Hatundi. I had gone there to do “Performance Audit” which was introduced at that time. Naturally I wanted to know the number of crossings which took place during the previous months.

Such instances are innumerable; only a few cases are selected for publishing in the Audit Report presented to the Parliament.

So far not a single engineer has been penalized for such lapses.

TRANSIENT FRIENDSHIP

I bought something from Poochunnipadam, near Oorakam and saw an autorickshaw  stopping in front of the shop. The driver enquired the way to Eravakad rail crossing. On an impulse, I offered to show the way, as I was going that way.

We had to circumvent a lense shaped hill called Elamkunnu. Even as late as 1920 it was a forest, with practically no one living in it. Kirangatu Kesavan (elephant) used to roam in the forest, after being released there, at the end of the pooram festival season. Even in 1943 there were few settlers living in this hill area. At noon we children used to climb up the hill, only in groups. From the top we could see the distant Arabian Sea.

Today, we were passing through tarred road, with terrace houses on either side shedding enough light on the road. Santa Maria Academy (plus 2 school) occupies the eastern and central part of the hill. The western and northern parts have been considerably cut away by quarrying contractors.

All this, I narrated during the ten minutes or so we were together.

As soon as we crossed the hill the auto driver regained his orientation and I got down. The lady in the vehicle, who was traveling with her son, was so engrossed in my story that she was actually sorry that we had to part company.

We may never meet again. She thanked me for my guidance and I too felt a certain feeling of friendship with her.

WHEN I WAS ENCIRCLED BY MONKEYS

Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (RAPP) is situated in forest land. The permanent township built on the hill, dominating the whole landscape, is full of monkeys. They silently move from one tree to another, eating the leaves and is normally ignored by the people.

One day, early in the morning, I was walking towards the Project Guest House, which was at the summit of the hill. Suddenly I became aware of the presence of a monkey just behind me and I stopped instinctively. Soon, one by one, a large number of monkeys collected on all sides, blocking my way. I was truly scared. I stood still quite for some time. Then their leader jumped up, on to the nearest tree and the whole troop followed his example. There was pin drop silence during those few minutes when my heart beat increased perceptibly.

An engineer had developed a vegetable garden in his plot in his bungalow. One day, he saw a monkey plucking tomatoes and he threw a stone to drive it away. Soon, some enraged monkeys came near and fearing further attack, he foolishly shot at them, killing one. It became a big issue, because he had committed an offense under the Forest Act.

As Hanuman is venerated by Hindus, the engineer had to incur the wrath of the residents. Somehow, the whole incident was hushed up.

In Delhi, which has the largest forest area in any city in the world, we are familiar with the monkey menace. Sometimes, they enter the house and open the fridge, taking away whatever came into their hands