Saturday, November 6, 2010


No.. I haven’t got it wrong. In fact, there is nothing unusual about being caught on the wrong foot and I am sure this has happened to all of us at some time or other. But, being caught on the right foot? This happened to me and the worst part of it is that it happened because I got the pronunciation right or so I believed!!

I visit India with Manju and children twice a year for short stints of 10 days to two weeks and in each trip we divide our time between Madras and Bangalore. From Dubai we directly fly to Madras and spend a few days there because most of my friends and batch mates live in Madras and I somehow find time to contact and hobnob with them. Manju’s mother and some of her relatives also live in Madras and in each of our trip to India, a visit to Madras is a given for her. Forgive me for sticking to the moniker Madras because I cannot bring myself to acknowledge that my beautiful city is rechristened as Chennai, as that does not sound right!!

We also visit Bangalore for two reasons. One, many of Manju’s relatives live in Bangalore and Manju insists on calling on every one of them. Two, we have our luxury Villa at Palm Meadows, the most sought after address in Bangalore, and we have given our villa on corporate lease to a MNC operating in Bangalore. So, we make it a point to visit Palm Meadows and say 'Hello' to our tenant in each of our trip to Bangalore.

Besides these, we visit Guruvayur and Tirupati Temples for Darshan, however short our stay in India may be.

A visit to Guruvayur Temple is relatively straightforward and hassle-free. We fly from Madras to Kochi, take the taxi we have already booked over phone from Madras, waiting for us at Nedumbassery airport, reach Guruvayur late in the evening, check into Elite Hotel in Kizakke Nada and call my friend, a member of the Ambala Committee and organize an early morning Darshan.


The Temple visit takes exactly less than 30 minutes, we have a good Darshan, sometimes two, by rejoining the last segment of the queue and back to Elite for breakfast, pack-up and leave for Nedumbassery (Kochi) airport to board the afternoon flight to Madras.

However, a trip to Tirupati Temple is not such an easy and straightforward affair and needs a good deal of strategy in organizing. If you go through the normal procedure and book for Darshan through the Internet, you will get a slot anytime after 8 to 10 years waiting!! Otherwise you have to join the queue, wait close to 12 hours for a 2-second glimpse of the Lord.

So every time, I unashamedly do something which we Indians are very adept at doing i.e. pulling a few strings!! And believe me, that works. So, I don’t feel guilty about pulling a few strings, after making sure I pull the right ones!!

This time around my trip to Tirupati was in mid October when the Hill Temple gets busy and overcrowded with Pilgrims for Bhrammotsavam festival. We got the Darshan Tickets alright for Suprabadha Seva but we couldn’t get a cottage for our overnight stay at Tirumala hills before our early morning Darshan. My contact person said ”Sorry, I cannot organize a cottage for you in the eleventh hour. You know, it is Bhrammotsavam season and we are overbooked. All our cottages have been booked well in advance by Ministers, Government officials and VIPs”.

I toyed with the idea of a snappy retort, telling him that VIP also means Very Insignificant Person (as most of the politicians are) but wiser counsels prevailed and restrained myself and applied as much pressure as one could over a telephone call from Dubai, seeking favors. But no use. The best he could offer was a suite in one of the new facilities for pilgrims, that too by flouting a few rules, which most of the TTD employees are very adept at!!

I agreed as I had no choice and more importantly, he also offered Darshan Tickets for AAD (Archananda Seva) as an added bonus, presumably because he was feeling bad about not being able to organize a cottage. On my part, I was prepared to shack up in a suite which I presumed was a glorified twin-bedroom, although I was sure Manju and my daughters Shilpa and Madhu would turn their pretty noses up and sniff at this prospect but like I said, I did not have a choice and accepted it. AAD Seva involves at least one to one-and-a-half hours waiting in the queue but we were happy to get it, as the main purpose of our visit to Tirupati is having a good Darshan of the Lord and we are happy to have a repeat Darshan, immediately following our Suprabadha Seva Darshan.

So on the scheduled day, we booked a cab from Madras and embarked on our 3 hour journey to Tirupati. We reached Tirupati town around 6:30P.M and drove straight to Bheema’s for coffee. We rested a while in the hotel lobby and when our cab driver Ram Babu was good and ready we started the ascent. Ram Babu knew Tirumala like the back of his hand and took us straight to the TTD Office for collecting the keys to our suite.


I walked up to the man behind the counter and told him that I have a booking for a suite in my name and can I please have the keys. The man behind the counter was amused. “Sweet, you have booked a sweet?!!”

“Yes, that’s right. I have booked a sweet.” I insisted.

I could see the lady sitting in the adjoining counter was also amused and my man, encouraged by the admiration of his colleague decided to impress her with his keen sense of humor. He switched over to Hindi and asked “Kya sweet chhahiye aapko? Rasmalai, Gulab-jamun, Basundhi yaa Halwa?” (What sweet do you want? Is it, Rasmalai, Gulab-jamun, Basundhi or Halwa?)

The lady burst into a chuckle and our man decided to carry on the show to further heights in his mission to entertain his admiring colleague. “Dhekkiye, yahaang aapko sweet nahin milega kyun ki yeh sweetshop nahi hain. Agar aapko Suit chaahiye tho miljayega.” (Look here, you will not get any sweets here as this is not a sweet-shop. You may get a suit here if you are interested).

He told his admiring colleague something in Telugu and both of them burst out laughing. Although I had only a nodding acquaintance with Telugu language, I could make out that he was telling his lady colleague “What can I do if this guy does not know the difference between a sweet and a suit?!!” Soon the laughter became contagious and all the other staff members sitting in the adjoining tables joined in and a good time was had by all. I presume this was a good entertainment break for them in their otherwise drab and lackluster working-day.

I resigned myself to my present lot and told him “Yes Sir, I have booked a suit and can I please have the keys to my suit?” He passed on the keys to me and as I was leaving the booking office I could sense the sympathetic glance from everyone at the man who does not know the difference between a sweet and a suit!!

We deposited our luggage in our suit (!!), freshened-up and drove to Mayura restaurant for dinner.

After dinner I offered to Manju and children “Would you all care for a suit for desert?” and they all burst out laughing. This time around I certainly didn’t want to say 'sweet' and be caught on the right foot!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


The pre-specs for embarking on our sojourn to see Endhiran was quite exciting. “I am driving by the side of Galleria Cinema and if you guys are interested I will book tickets for all of us to see Endhiran” our friend Krishnan offered on phone. "Yes, yes, yes, please" Manju and I squealed in excitement. "Book the next available slot, any day, any show. Luckily, Krishnan got the tickets for night-show on Monday (04/10/10) and I was saved from the embarrassment and hassles of bunking office or leaving early. The journey from our home at Springs to Galleria Cinema was equally exciting. "Let us take the Metro and Krishnan can pick us up at Bur-Juman Station (Khalid Bin Walid Station)" Manju suggested.

On Monday evening we hopped on Manju's Pajero at 6:15 P.M (for the 8:00 P.M show) and I stepped on the accelerator and steered the Car to the Nakheel Harbour Metro Station. I parked at Nakheel Harbour and we rode the escalator to the platform. Just before entering the platform, I checked the balance Credit in our NOL Cards. Manju had sufficient Credit for the return journey but I had only 7.00 Dirhams Credit in my NOL Card; 1.20 Dirhams short for the return journey. So I refilled my Card for 20 Dirhams and passed triumphantly through the turnstiles into the Platform only to see the Rashidiya bound train leaving the Platform. After 7 minutes waiting the next train to Rashidiya stopped at the Platform but the time was already 6:45 P.M and the Metro takes about 45 Minutes for the journey from Nakheel Harbour to Bur-juman Station. By simple arithmetic, we will reach Bur-Juman station by 7:30 P.M and 30 Minutes is not at all sufficient if Al-Shindagah Tunnel is choked with the evening traffic.

I kept looking at my watch as the Metro slowly trundled through Dubai Marina, Mall of the Emirates, World Trade Center Stations and I was in a state of frenzy by the time the train left Al Karamaa Station. However Manju was keeping her cool and enjoying the ride. We alighted on the dot at 7:30 P.M at Bur-Juman Station and came out. Krishnan whisked us away in his Prado and thankfully traffic was moving fast in the road to Al Shindagah Tunnel. We parked at Galleria Cinema at 10 Minutes to 8:00 and walked into the Cinema Hall for Screen 1. The usher showed us to our seats and the moment we sat, the hall lights were switched-off and the screen came alive.



Rajni’s acting – well executed given that the ageing superstar is 62 plus

Visual delight – Computer graphics and animation are superb. You sit zapped for the last 15 Minutes

Danny Denzongpa the Bollywood villain of yesteryears as the jealous Professor

Cameo by Delhi Kumar (the stage veteran) as Rajni’s father, the Late Kochi Haneefa as traffic police inspector and Kalabhavan Mani as the ruffian rustic

The first-half (till Interval) is thoroughly enjoyable, especially Rajni’s stunt and fight with the local goons in the suburban electric train


Comedy track by Karunas & Santhanam – the less said about it, the better

A.R. Rahman’s Music – a disappointment. You don’t remember a single number of his in this flick as you walk out of the theater and that is indeed a disappointment

Passing-off Aishwarya Rai at 37 as a College Girl - Agreed that she is ex-Miss World and beauty queen of 1994 but now she is 37 and much water has flown under the bridge in these 16 Years. Most of the Bollywood heroines move off the shelf to mother roles at 37 but Aishwarya Rai is adamantly sticking to the showcase. She is used as an eye-candy yes,but the candy is shopsoiled!!

Robot falling in love with a girl – this theme is as old as the hill


Hello there – why no mention of writer Sujata except as an also-ran in the titles. This Science fiction came out of the late writer’s brain and I am sure he was the man behind all the technical aspects and computer graphics in this movie. Even the name ‘Endhiran’ was given by Sujata but I didn’t see any credit to the late writer.

There is nothing new in the climax - the Giant Robot made of tens of thousands of Robots sticking together walking in the traffic and crushing cars, buses and trucks with his giant sized toes – we have already seen this in Godzilla. So, what else is new?!!


Recommended as a visual delight but nothing much to write home about.

Monday, September 27, 2010


കനകസിംഹാസനത്തില് കയറിയിരിക്കുന്നവന്
ശുനകനോ വെറും ശുംഭനോ

The disappearance of Rajan, son of Prof.T.V. Eachara Warrier and a student of the Regional Engineering College, Calicut, during the emergency in 1976 and the furor created by the media brought this case to countrywide attention. Rajan was whisked away from the hostel one night and never seen again. It is presumed that he was killed in police custody, one among so many other 'disappearances' during the dark days of emergency. Based on the testimony of other jailed students, it is believed that Rajan was tortured to death.

The habeas corpus petition filed by T. V. Eachara Warrier was the first one to be presented before the court right after the emergency. This petition and subsequent investigations found that Rajan had indeed been taken into custody, and perhaps died when in police custody. His body was not found and due to this many charges against the accused, this case had to be dropped. The accused included the then chief of the Crime Branch wing of Kerala Police, DIG Jayaram Padikkal. K. Karunakaran was the Home Minister during the emergency. He resigned from the post of the Chief Minister of Kerala in 1978 due to adverse judgement in the case. After 30 years of struggle, Eachara Warrier passed away on 13th April 2006 most appropriately, on martyrs' day, the day of the jallianwallah bagh massacre.

I request you to spare a moment and enjoy the song, “Kanaka Simhasanatthil kayariyirikkunnavan chunakano verum chumbano” (The guy who is sitting on the throne – is he a dog or a mere idiot?) from the film Arakkallan Mukkaakkallan (1974) which Rajan rendered on stage directed at the Chief Guest of the function, with which Rajan signed his own death warrant.

1974ഠ വര്ഷം പുറത്തിറങ്ങിയ 'അരക്കള്ളന്‍ മുക്കാക്കള്ളന്‍' എന്ന ചിത്രത്തിനു വേണ്ടി പി.ഭാസ്ക്കരന്റെ വരികള്ക്ക് ദക്ഷിണാമൂര്‍ത്തി സ്വാമി ഈണം പകര്ന്നു യേശുദാസും ജയചന്ദ്രനും ചേര്ന്ന് ആലപിച്ച ഈ ഗാനത്തെ ഒന്നു ച്രെവിക്കുവാന് ഞാന് നിങ്ങളോട്

Excerpts from the book "With Malice against none" written by Eachara Warrier

Koru, Benhar and Chathamangalam Rajan told me about Kakkayam camp, shivering while narrating stories of bloodclotting torture, as if trying hard to forget. I never asked; I never wished to know. Still they told me all.

Mr. Jayaram Padikkal would sit on a chair and pass orders, while police jeeps rushed in and out and youngsters were dragged forth. They were beaten, and then tied to a wooden bench with their hands and legs down. A heavy wooden roller would be rolled over their thighs; many could not stand the pain, and fell unconscious. To prevent them from crying out, the police pushed cloth into their mouths. Afterwards, they would be bought before Mr. Jayaram Padikkal. While questioning them, he would roll a sharpened pencil in his hands; suddenly he would stab the pencil into the muscles worked loose from the bones on the thighs of the tortured. Koru said that at that moment you thought it would be better to die. The cries from being stabbed with that pencil could be heard outside the camp.

Why torture so much? They were shivering while describing all this. When one gets over the pain of the body, more wounds are born in the mind.

My son Rajan was tortured first. They asked him where the rifle was that had been stolen during the attack on the Kayanna police station. He had never been beaten even once in his short life, so with the first round of torture he became weary. Then he was tied to the wooden bench and rolled. He cried out for his mother; they stuffed cloth into his mouth. At the end of the torture, to get away from it he told them that he would find the rifle. Then he was taken to Mr. Jayaram Padikkal, who told the policemen to take Rajan to a jeep and go in search of the rifle. Then he cried again. He told them that he was not aware of the rifle at all, and had said that to escape further torture. Mr. Pulikkodan Narayanan began kicking him in his stomach with his heavy police boots. With a loud cry he fell back and writhed on the floor, then became quiet and motionless.

The policemen started to worry when they were sure that Rajan was dead. Other youngsters overheard some of the duty guards murmuring that one had been killed during the day. They packed Rajan’s body into a sack and took it away in a jeep. They burned it in the midst of some forest with sugar, to ensure that not even the bones would be left behind, so it was said.

These are all stories told by the children who got out of the camp alive. When they showed me the never-fading scars of torture on their bodies, saliva filled my mouth and darkness, my eyes. A whistle echoed in my ears. For a moment I remembered the son who would have come back with an engineering degree, the son of my expectations.

The light went away. No, it didn’t go away; it was beaten away. Somebody said that Rajan was begging for his life before Pulikkodan Narayan kicked him to death. Enough children, enough—enough of these stories of my son begging for his life. His tender face comes into my mind, begging for life with hands pressed together. Oh my son, please pardon this helpless father, I cry out.

The world of stories is going away. In every piece of knowledge there is the echo of truth. The hunters are continuing the hunt. The victims are begging for life with pressed hands.


I went around Kakkayam camp with Advocate Ram Kumar and Mr. Appukuttan Vallikkunnu, a journalist. The waves of the Emergency had receded. The building where the camp was run had been deserted. It was in a remote place. I felt sure that its remoteness was the reason that Mr. Jayaram Padikkal selected it from which to run the camp. Maybe he decided that the cries from the camp should not even reach the clouds.

Mr. Appukuttan Vallikkunnu brought out the inside story of Rajan’s case through a series titled “Kakkayam Camp Kadhaparayunnu” (“Kakkayam Camp Narratives”). The war he waged through the Communist Party mouthpiece Desabhimani is a model for the struggle for democracy and human rights. He had been deputed to report the Coimbatore hearing, and he was very precise in informing me of the details. He correctly predicted beforehand that the witnesses would change sides. His ability to study and observe the details and to analyze issues struck me with wonder. Within a short time there developed a strong emotional bond between us. He treated me like his father.

I felt emotional as we went around Kakkayam camp. When we entered the room where Mr. Jayaram Padikkal used to sit, I imagined him in that chair, rolling a sharp pencil in his hands. It was in this room that my son bid farewell to this good earth. It was in this room that he writhed with pain after cruel torture. What might have been in his mind during the last moments? He might have cursed; he might have cursed all the green freshness of this world before death… no, it could never have been like that. How could he remember his mother who waited for him every day, his father who held him as he walked around, and all his dear ones, with a wounded mind? My eyes started getting moist in memories.

Both Mr. Appukuttan and Mr. Ram Kumar kept quiet. When they talked, they took care to talk only about the case. The crickets and other tiny insects were still crying out from the silence outside the camp. I have read of great men who have talked of life, and struggles from the other end of death. It is sure that death will never be a burden to those who have crossed those great worlds of ideas and ideals. But I don’t believe that Rajan had imbibed those fresh winds of faith blowing through the country after the Naxalbari uprising. When I asked a Naxalite friend of mine whether Rajan was one of them, he replied that he was only a sympathiser. That would have been the truth. It would have been beyond Rajan to attack a police station and snatch away a rifle. He was so weak in mind that he would not even have been able to think of that.

One story is that there was a Rajan among those who attacked the Kayanna police station, so the police picked up all youngsters with the name Rajan, brought them to the camp and tortured them. I could not reconcile this within my sense of justice. The rolling torture was done in front of other inmates, I was told. Going through the dark alleys of torture, they were also made to see and hear the writhing of the tortured, the loud helpless wailing and drained eyes. As one prey was writhing, the next was waiting for his turn.

I came to know that Rajan yielded himself silently to the torture. I have read about people being called to their deaths in Nazi camps. As an officer called out names, others were queuing up, waiting for their turn. They even took care not to call a husband and wife together into death; Hitler knew that the pain of separation and getting lost was more intense than death.

Mr. Paul, the proprietor of the famous spare parts dealer, M/S Popular Automobiles, was an inmate at Kakkayam. His father contacted Mr. Karunakaran, and got him released because he came to know of it very early. Mr. Paul had Rs. 500 on him, and when leaving the camp he gave it to the other boys. After influencing someone, they bought food; up till then they were all starving. Rajan was not able to stand hunger; such a boy would have been burned in its forest fire. His mother could not even feed him a handful of rice before his death. Nor could I offer one to him in funeral rites after his death. That still weighs on me. When I hear him calling “father” in the heavy rain some nights it is the cry of hunger. Thinking that my child is hungry, I too never escape hunger, however much I eat.

“We must be able to face everything; must be able to face all that happened with a balanced mind. Only if you are able to do that will we be able to do our social duties,” Mr. Appukuttan Vallikkunnu consoled me. I understood that. The struggle against such brutalities had to begin with Kakkayam camp after the Emergency. I should not leave the new generation to that wooden bench and the rolling.

I fell silent. There were no signs of the police camp left in the building. The wounds that the thirteen-day-long camp inflicted on the bodies of those youths had not been posted on its walls. But those walls knew Rajan’s sighs and cries. They stood silent and detached, watching the young men writhing with pain. There were cobwebs on those walls. There were termites in those closed windows. I opened one of them, and light entered the room. In which mysterious wilderness is my son’s soul still wandering? I pressed my face against the iron bars. Oh, my son, here is your father…

The sunlight outside blurred my vision. If the soul has eyes, he will be seeing me, I thought. He will recognise my throbbing eyes. Is there a sound coming out of the dry leaves on the ground outside? Whose footsteps am I hearing? I set my ears to listen.

I had to face the question of whether or not I had vengeance towards those police officers responsible for Rajan’s death. This question pulled me down into doubt. I grew up among Hindu beliefs. To one born in a house guarded by a temple, prayers, offerings and religious customs, the feeling of vengeance is quite unnatural. But whenever I saw Mr. Pulikkodan Narayanan on television, arguing heatedly with his curled-up moustache shivering vigourously, vengeance flashed through my mind. I remembered the helpless and painful moments my son faced. Unconsciously, I start thinking of settling the score. A previously unknown anger entered my mind. Whenever I think that I have forgotten everything, I remember it more clearly.


“You didn’t care for him,” his mother said to me on her deathbed. Then, I had the face of a father who ran around the country like a horse, running through the days meaninglessly. But as time withered day after day in Kakkayam camp, her comment about the helpless father who couldn’t get his son might have been meaningful. I still have tears in my eyes to weep. This body still has weak throbs of life. So please, my dear ones, pardon this cursed father if I have pained you all.

Advocates Eeswara Iyer and Ram Kumar, Mr. Vahabudeen the principal, Mr. Appukuttan Vallikkunnu… there were so many who tried to cheer me up when I went down into darkness. With which birth will I repay them for their outstretched hands, among those unseen and unknown experiences? Thanks, friends, thanks.

My path is ending. The rain that lashed all over will thin out soon. I feel blessed that so many were drenched in that rain for me, and along with me. Let me hold this feeling close to my heart as an offering.

Rajan used to sing well. When I wrote that he sang only when his mother asked him, my daughters got angry. They said that Rajan used to sing for them too. He never sang for me. I had no time for his songs. So he might have decided that his father should hear his poorly recorded songs only after his death. Oh Rajan, how sad those songs were that you sang while alive, and which I never heard then. I see in them something that meditates for death. Did you hate life so much, my son?

I shall stop. The rain is still lashing out. I remember my son when this heavy rain drums my rooftop, as if someone is opening the locked gate and knocking at the front door. It is not right to write that a living soul has no communication with the soul of the dead.

I hear his songs from a cassette on this rainy night. I am trying to retrieve a lost wave with this tape recorder. The good earth is getting filled with songs till now unheard by me, this crude man. My son is standing outside, drenched in rain.

I still have no answer to the question of whether or not I feel vengeance. But I leave a question to the world: why are you making my innocent child stand in the rain even after his death?

I still have no answer to the question of whether or not I feel vengeance. But I leave a question to the world: why are you making my innocent child stand in the rain even after his death?

*** ***

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


It was indeed apleasant surprise to receive a mail from Radhu, a recent visitor fromUSA stating that he is also connected to a branch of the Parur Thoppil Madomfamily and Radhu is eagerly looking forward to more information on the Thoppil Madomfamily. Radhu’s mother was like a daughter to Chelli Athai and SundaramAthimber and I am sure Radhu will share more information with us.

Here is the exchange of my e-mails with Radhu.


On Fri, Sep 2, 2011at 12:42 AM,



My name is Radhakrishnan. I was browsing the internet and bychance I saw your blog mentioning your relatives from North Paravoor.

I was thinking that we may have some common relatives since Ihave heard the names like Vaidyanatha Iyer, Chelli ( his sister ). Mymother who pased away recently was raised by Chelli. Chelli's husband, SundaramIyer retired as a postmaster in Coonoor. He passed away sometine in 1978or so. Chelli passed away a couple of years before his demise.

Please email me if you think there is a common thread. I will bedelighted to know you all.



On Fri, Sep 2, 2011 at 2:39 AM, Ram <> wrote:

Dear Radhu,

Extremely glad to receive your mail and more so you visited myblog on Ponnappamy grandfather.

Yes, there is indeed a common thread and I am sure we arerelated. My grandfather Ponnappa was the youngest of the 4 brothers, and Shri.Vaidyanatha Iyer, who retired as DSP of Kerala Police was his elder brother.Chelli Athai (as we call her) was Ponnappa's younger sister (perhaps theyoungest of Amma Paatti's 7 children) and her husband Sundaram Athimbaer was aPost Master.

Chelli Athai died in July 1977 and Athimbaer passed away in1978.

I live in Dubai with my family and I have two daughters, bothmarried. My wife Manjula is from Madras. Please do write about yourself,your family, what you are doing and where you have settled etc.


---------- Original message ----------
Date: Fri, Sep 2, 2011 at 6:09 PM
Subject: Re: North Paravoor relative ?
To: Ram

So it is now confirmed!

It is now my turn. I think from what I have heard, mygrandfather and your grandfather were first cousins. My grandfather's name wasRanganatha Iyer, and his dad's name was Rama Iyer or Sastrigal. My grandfatherwas a poor school teacher teaching sanskrit at the Parur sanskrit school ( Ithink). He had three sons and two daughters. My father , K.R Subramanian, washis second son. My dad passed away in 1979. He retired as Commercial Manager,Air India.The third son ( my fathers younger brother) was Prof K R Chandrasekharan)who passed away a few years ago in Mumbai. The first son ( my dad's elderbrother ) passed away in the sixties.
The initial 'K' stands for Kannankulangara ( in N. Parur).

I am in the US for the past 16 years. I am a Scientist byprofession but am now in IT. My wife's name is Subbalakshmy(Subba) and we have 2 daughters, Swarna and Divya.

I was in Parur when Chelli athai passed away in 1977. She raisedmy mom since her childhood.

I remember Sivan, his brother ( I forgot his name ) andthe eldest one who was a doctor at that time ( early 1980's). I think theperson standing on your left is Gopu- ( in one ofyour blogs). They had a house in Cochin.

I remember Mani ( Chandrasekharan) who had a fiercemoustache. He was the only son of Vaidyanatha Iyer, Retd DSP.

I shall send you some of our old pictures one of these days.

We will be in touch.



Here I would like to share some photographs of me taken between the years 1952 and 1976, some from my childhood and some more during my adolescence and my early twenties. These are to revisit my childhood, a temporary escape from the late fifties that I am in!!


This Group Photo was taken in 1952 at our family home in Ponnani, my father’s native place, a small town in the Malappuram District of Kerala.

You can see me snugly sitting in my Mother’s lap in the extreme left on the front row, surrounded by assorted aunts and cousins. I was about 6 to 8 months old when this photo was shot. I am indeed happy to be part of this rare and perhaps the only group photo of all the daughters and daughters-in-law of the Ponnani family!!


This Photo was taken in Madras, in the Year 1955 and I practically grew up with this Photo as it was displayed in one of the rooms of our house for as long as I could remember.

I am sitting in the middle and there is a little story behind this photograph told by my Mother. I look a bit unhappy in this photo, with my toes all twitched because I had done some mischief at home and was berated by my Mom just before we were packed and taken to a nearby studio for this photograph and hence the grumpy look!!!


This Photo was taken at Ponnappa’s Stately Home at Aluva in the Year 1961.

I am standing in the extreme right, next to my grandmother Chithammai. I can decipher the Year to 1961 because of the toy-gun that I am holding, which Ponnappa bought for me at a toyshop in Karaikkal town when we were living in Nagappattinam in 1960-61. I am sure the Year was 1961 and not latter because none of my toys survived for more than 6 months due to my childhood curiosity and skill to dismantle my toys to see what’s inside and how they work but I have never been able to reassemble them!!!


I can still recollect our one day trip from Madurai to Palani in the winter of 1962 in Sampath’s (Father’s friend) Austin A40 and returning the same night. Sampath was behind the wheel and father was sitting in the off-side bucket seat in front. Sampath’s wife Padma, my Mother, my brother and me, all of us squeezed in the back seat of Sampath’s car for the 3 + 3 hours return trip to Palani.

From Left: Father, Mother, Padma and Sampath – I am standing in the front row on the right

This photo was clicked in the precincts of the Palani Shri Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple atop the Palani hills. I was made to wear a Dhoti meant for adults (several sizes bigger for me) and the excess material were all rolled and bundled around my midriff!!

SALEM 1963

Those were the days when I used to walk around the streets of Salem in my knickers and mostly barefooted so much so that even wearing Hawaii slippers is reserved only for ceremonial occasions such as posing for the photograph below.

I am standing on the right and you will notice that my shirtsleeves are extending beyond my trouser belt!!

PARUR 1968

This was during my summer vacation and I think this Photograph was clicked just a day or two before my Poonal ceremony. You can see me standing in the left.

This was the house to which Ponnappa shifted after vacating his Stately Home in Bank Road, Aluva to which most of my childhood memories are associated. Ponnappa stayed in this house barely for one Year and shifted back to Aluva, to another house very near the Aluva Court to resume his practice.


My Poonal Ceremony was conducted by Ponnappa at Parur with lot of fanfare and the function was well attended by all our relatives plus the local guests, Ponnappa’s friends and well-wishers from Parur, Aluva, Kochi etc.

Here I am standing with my father holding the leaves of a shrub, which I presume is part of the religious ceremonies.

ALUVA 1969

This Photo was taken in April/May 1969 in Alwaye, when Ponnappa was staying in a house bang opposite to Alwaye Court and near Zeenat Cinema. The house was owned by a Teashop owner called Aiyppu.

I am standing in the extreme right and the baby that my mother (second from left) is holding is my cousin Ganesh who was 1 Year old at the time. Standing to my right is my aunt Rukmini, mother of Ganesh. fter one Year Ponnappa moved to another house near Tass Hall befoe buying the present house.


This Photo was taken during the breakup-social of our B.Sc Chemistry batch at Hotel Geetha, Egmore. This should be around Mar or Apr 1971 just before the B.Sc final exams.

You may notice that I was in a state of dazed stupor as I had my first dose of liquor - a full bottle of Kalyani Beer. Around this time prohibition was revoked in Tamil Nadu and liquor shops were opening everywhere in the city. My friend Jagannathan (in the middle) is looking at my condition with concern and Mukundan (left) the Iyangar fanatic that he is, refused to touch the liquor and sitting with an air of disapproval!!

STANDARD-10 1973

The occasion was the Satabhishekam of my Grandfather and Grandmother, (a function to celebrate the senior having sighted 1,000 full-moons in his life – which means the senior should be 83 plus) celebrated in Madras in June 1973.

Here I am, ready to take my father’s car to Madras Central Station, either to drop or to pickup some relatives/guests for the Satabhishekam. The Car is Dad's 1961 Model Standard 10 Pennant and the License Plate Number was MSW 4189. It is in this car that I learned the rudimentary skills of driving, thanks to Perumal, my father's driver who taught me how to cope with Madras traffic conditions, which is standing me in good stead when I cruise at 120KM per hour in my Mercedes in the fast moving 6 lane traffic of Emirates Road in Dubai.

Those days I used to wear my watch on my right-hand!!


This was taken during a marriage in the family, held at Tiruttani in the Year 1976, through the good offices of my father as he had tremendous clout to organize all the logistics required for a marriage at short notice when he was in power.

I am standing second from the right, and this photo was clicked at the most inopportune moment when I was scratching my nose!!