April 30, 2005

Fighter Pilot For A While; Fighter For Life

The following is an biographical essay written by one of my senior from school. I have never met him (he passed out of the school long before i joined) but he was a legend during my school days. as soon as i came to read this article on one of my friend's blogs i knew i had to repost it. I took this article from my friend's site (www.sojish.com) and in the following links you can find more about Anil.

Indian express
Indian Express 2

Anil is an IAF pilot who no longer flies figher planes, he has moved on to bigger things. today he inspires kids (and some adults like me!) to take what life gives you and make what you want out of it!. I often read this when i am depressed, bored or feel like cribbing on the "raw deal" i am having with my life. Reading this article always help me to put things in perspective; hopefully it will do the same with you guys

All my attempts to move my limbs were futile. The pain in the neck was excruciating and it intensified by the second. I was stumped for a moment but quickly recovered to realise the seriousness and significance of my inability to get up. I do not remember whether I screamed involuntarily, then, in sheer desperation. On that abominable night, my mind was in a medley of intense frustration, utmost dejection and extreme disappointment. For some timeless moments, I wished I were dead.

On 28 June '88, at around 2300 hrs, whilst returning to the Officers Mess on my motorcycle after night flying, I drove onto a road barrier just ahead of the technical area gate, inside Air Force Station, Pathankot. The impact of the helmet on the wooden bar wrenched my neck and broke the cervical spine. Fifteen minutes after the accident, I was taken to the Station Sick Quarters in an unconscious state. While being carried, my head was left unsupported. The base of the helmet (rear side) which was resting against the nape of the neck pushed the fractured vertebrae into the cervical spinal cord. (The casualty must always be carried in a stretcher, after immobilising his/her neck with a cervical collar.) The resultant spinal injury completely paralysed me below the neck.

After overnight's stay in Military Hospital (MH), Pathankot, I was transferred to Army Hospital, Delhi (AHDC). Neck surgery failed to mitigate my predicament. Though I had brief spells of consciousness during the fortnight's hospitalisation in AHDC, my memory fails to recollect my fight for survival. On 12 July '88, I was transferred to the Spinal Cord Injury Centre of MH Kirkee, Pune.

Two weeks after my admission, I gathered my wits and eagerly inquired about the prognosis. The medical officer looked up and motioned his hands skywards; perhaps he wanted me to adjure divine intervention. This charade instantly deflated my hopes but it lucidly conveyed the enormity and helplessness of the incurable nature of the incapacitation. Inconsistencies of life have always bemused me but not even the wildest nightmare presaged that one day I would fall prey to such a quirk of fate. The modicum of faith I had in Providence got shattered when I failed to show even an iota of improvement.

The cervical spinal injury (quadriplegia) necessitated me to lead a totally dependent life, tethered to the bed and wheel chair. Now, I am like a man fettered for life; unable to use my hands and legs, incontinent and spoon‑fed. Ironically, the most painful aspect of quadriplegia is the painlessness! It isn’t mere loss of tactile inputs and outputs but absolute dependence on someone else to accomplish mundane necessities and domestic chores that yoked me; even for things like swabbing ears and swatting flies.

Disuse atrophy had set in within a couple of months and took its toll by altering the geometry of my torso and limbs. The mirror replicated the image of a human skeleton swathed in a layer of wizened skin. Two years' stay in MH Kirkee taught me how to battle the numerous encumbrances and how to conquer the bouts of depression. With a smile on my face, I managed to dissemble the pangs of the heart. The Indian Air Force (IAF) realised my uselessness and discharged me from the service on 12 April '90. The silly accident dealt coup de grace to my aspirations and terminated my fledgling career in the IAF. In August '90, at the young age of 26, I got admitted in Paraplegic Home, Park Road, Kirkee, Pune, as an inmate to begin the second phase of my life ‑ afresh.

I was born and brought up in a village by name Chirayinkil, 35 kms north of Trivandrum. At the age of nine, I entered Sainik School, Kazhakootam. A slow learner and an unobtrusive student by nature, I had excelled consistently in both academics and sports. Later on, I was found worthy enough to be adjudged as the best Air Force cadet of 65th course of National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla, Pune and as the best in aerobatics of 134th Pilots Course of Air Force Academy, Secunderabad. In Dec '84, I was commissioned into the IAF as a fighter pilot. I had 700 hours of flying experience (including 500 hours of flying in a magnificent flying machine called MiG-21) during my truncated career in the IAF.

All my efforts to rationalise personal catastrophes have always mystified and at times stupefied me. To adapt to the new challenges posed by the debility, I had to unshackle myself from the self‑imposed stupor. Therefore, in Sep '90, I decided to learn the art of writing by holding a pen in my mouth (because of dysfunctional hands). I began scribbling illegibly but was chagrined to find little progress even after 3 weeks' laborious efforts. Then, I decided to change tactic and wrote a letter to Sheela George, the person who kept on chivvying to start mouth‑writing (earlier I had paid little attention to her exhortations). My joy knew no bounds when I completed the few lines that embodied my first mouth‑written letter. Initially, I found my hard work to be a mere pie in the sky; but, 4 to 5 months' assiduous efforts resulted in attaining a readable style of writing. This modest achievement enabled me in reviving the chain of correspondence and begetting new friends.

In May 1991, I was presented with an electrically operated wheel chair, with chin controls for manoeuvring, thanks to the benevolence of the IAF. Motorised mobility, though only a poor substitute for natural one, has enlivened my lifestyle considerably.

It was Wing Commander PI Murlidharan, my former flight commander, who mooted the use of a personal computer (PC), as a writing tool. He added that it would assist me to utilise my mental faculty to the hilt. Hitherto unsuccessful attempts in procuring a keyboard (modified to suit my requirements) have somewhat emasculated my resolve. Nonetheless, my hope of acquiring a PC remains undiminished.

In the meantime, I toyed with the idea of teaching. For some untenable reasons, I kept on declining the offers by bringing one imaginary reason or another as an ad hoc excuse. Aforesaid setbacks notwithstanding, I'm very hopeful of converting the second phase of my life into something as meaningful as the one I would have had from the confines of a cockpit.

Believe it or not, every dark cloud has a silver lining. To surmount even seemingly insuperable obstacles, one has to muster the remnant faculties and shun the thought of disability and then canalise one's dormant energies purposefully and whole‑heartedly. It isn't just physical ability and average intelligence but an insatiable appetite for success and an unflagging will power that would texture the warp and woof of the fabric called human destiny. Greater the difficulty, sweeter the victory.

April 29, 2005

Once a Socialist

Once upon a time i was a socialist (this was during my engineering college days before i knew economics!). Now this is nothing unusual in Kerala (remember that Kerala had the first elected communist government in the WORLD!). Recently i wrote this mail to a group of my friends (who were part of the communist student organization in my college). Thought this might be interesting.
The mail was in response to the following question by a friend who is now happily settled in UK but was once a communist


What are your different views about Comrades working in MNC ...
Boorshwa Companies ?

Is that acceptable ? Please respond with justifications ..Why you
think Yes or No ?

and my long reply was this

Lemme introduce myself first!

i was in gec from 1997-2001, was referred to the
group by deepak george. i think i know most of the guys in the group
(except may be the youngest guys). anyway finished my engg went on to
do my mba in bangalore, worked with infosys for a time and then joined
my present company in chennai

anyway, have a big confession (and possibly a disqualification from
the group!) to make. while i had some socilalist beliefs and some
communist leanings, i was never a member of SFI per se . my sole
contribution to sfi was in organizing one "tech-impact". but then i
was in MH for most of my time and almost all sfi guys in my time were
my friends. and when i moved to bangalore i got to enjoy (for free!)
the company of lots of our earlier saghav's. so feel really connected
to the group.

First of all comments about moderation: moderation should be for
accepting new members (so that "burshaws" like me dont get in. i was
able to join the group without any moderator permission). But once a
member is in (after "saghavu" certification, if necessary) we dont
need any moderation. It just slows down the messages. may be once in a
while the moderators can have some purges (like the one that is
currently happening in the "mother" party) to weed out the
ideologically corrupted

and now to move to Deepak's "philosophical" question :)

The answer to me is quite clear: I was once a believer in the "great
idea of socialism". But pretty fast i grew out of it (even while i was
in engg college). So i no longer believe in the ideology (as in the
"large picture". i might still subscribe to smaller parts of it, but
then i also subscribe to parts of several other ideologies!). Believe
me guys, communism got its chance in the last centuary (and a big
chance at that!) but squandered it. Ok..i wont say sqandered coz after
several philosophical discussions i have come to the conclusion that
while communism appeals to the finer instincts of a man, capitalism
appeals to the baser (and more natural) instincts. so the decline of
communism was inevitable (i know i am talking with hindsight here..so
not much original analysis). However, socialism (distinct from
communism) might have a better chance (as long as its primary
objectives are "equality of opportunity" and a "social safety net")
because it is more adapted to human psyche

The problem with communism and other top-driven ideologies is that
they leave almost no leeway for innovation. and more than anything
else, it is through innovation that mankind has progressed. I will
give a very close example. In the late 80's and early 90's all the
unions (including non-communist ones, but driven by the communist
unions) was campaigning against computerisation of banks/psu's/and
govt departments, particularly in kerala. Doesnt that, in hindsight,
look like a pretty stupid idea?. They were agitating against
innovation and look where that finally got them?.

so what do i think about working in MNC's??. absolutely nothing!.
between whats the difference between MNC's and local companies?. The
motive of both are profit. do u think the poor man in India will
benefit more if ambani becomes richer than bill gates?. By saying
"yes" u r just allowing urself to be used by the indian businessmen
who want to retain the extra profit that they were earlier used to. I
get a real laugh today when i compare what indian communists and
indian "muthalali's" say about foreign companies!. Both say that these
foreign co's should not be allowed in (or if allowed in..tightly
regulated so that existing indian companies, which are not
competitive, can continue to make profits!). so who is using whom??.
And what about the indian communist leadership??. why do they visit
the US/western europe so much when they should be visiting Cuba or
North korea???. And do they stay in anything less than a star hotel
when they visit these places?. Oh yeah, and they support lallooo,
mulayam, amar singh with pleasure!. Did you hear that when tsunami
struck jyoi basu was on "cruise" to Phuket (that capital of "western
decadence") and that he felt the waves passing beneath his ship!. what
was he doing on a cruise to phuket?? i thought all these cruises are
for "muthalalis"! . I am not trashing the entire communist leadership.
I am not even trashing jyoti basu. dont know the guy well. but i am
just giving a recent example about a communist leader, which stayed in
my mind. there have been lots of good guys in the party and there are
still some of them. But thats true of almost any party. show me a
reasonably sized party and i will show some decent individuals in that
(including in BJP, a party whoose social policies i abhor). so then is
the communist party any different from other parties?

And what is so wrong with the word "profit". sure it appeals to the
baser instincts rather than to the more "ethical" instincts. But i
feel that Human nature is essentially selfish and "profit" appeals to
that instinct. u want to get paid for the additional value that u
create. Charity is fine, but then charity also appeals to the
"selfish" nature (u feel good after u contribute to charity..right?).
This is why the communist slogan "from each according to his
capability..to each according to his want" will not (and should not!)
work. all the people are not same. some are more intelligent,more hard
working and more willing to take risks. Why should they be paid less
than what they contribute?.

Oh yeah, and why is mnc's in manufacturing good but not so in
services??. this to me looks such a stupid comment (no offense to u
anoop.) that i wont even comment!

anyway i conclude my monologue (written during free time whle working
in an MNC and making use of their facilities!) by saying even guys who
really belived in communism shouldnt feel any guilty about working in
an MNC. if u r exploiting people, then so is any one working with an
indian company (private/public) or government. the people in the NGO
field might be different (but not always!!).

i dont know if this mail is gonna get me dismissed from the group but
it was nice to mail a lots of guys with whom i have lost touch over
the last few year.


ps: bernard shaw, the famed socialist and arch-enemy of status quo
once made this comment. i think its very relevant to the topic
"If you are not a communist at 20, you have no heart; if you are still
a communist at 30, you have no head."

April 25, 2005


Watching the sunrise in a beach is always an experience, even if its a beach in chennai !
Mind you, i have nothing against chennai, this is where i have been working for more than an year now and got some good friends too. But boy, is this place hot!!!

I come from a hot n humid place myself, but Chennai is at a "higher level". Today morning got up early (like 5.00 AM, first time in years!) and thought i will visit the beach near to my home. reached the beach at around 5.30 and it was quite a stunning sight. even though the place was crowded (with the morning walkers) the sea was calm n beautiful (especially with the fishermen folks boat all around).

But it was not to last..by 6 AM the fucking place became so hot..it was blazing. Even my usually thick skin couldnt take it. and to think that summer probably hasnt reached the peak yet!
anyway almost ran home..and switched on the AC. wow..that was heavenly!..i think the guy who invented AC is far more creative than god himself :)
Check out father of cool

keep cool this summer

April 24, 2005

A New Day

Well its monday morning. somehow found myself at the office earlier than the regular timings :)!
Today is the begining of a new life for me!, i have made some promises to myself. i will not talk about the particulars right now..but may be sometime later i will do that (depending on whether they were succesful or not!)

Just read a good news in Indian Express. 8 employees of the great eastern hotel in calcutta has taken voluntary retirement. This hotel is state owned (by a marxist state government) and been rotting for the last few decades. The government has belatedly woken up and been trying to privatize this hotel but ofcourse the unions oppose it. These 8 employees taking the VRS might shakeup the unions and pave the way for privatization. I have never been to calcutta, but i come from kerala which has a similar communist background. From my own experience (yeah...thats correct!) i know how crazy, stupid can these commies be ...living in their own bubbles... So this is a good news to start the day off!


ps: i soon plan to write about the new pope..so keep looking in!

April 19, 2005

Ireland And Its Raconteurs

Well its been 3 posts and I sill haven’t got any comments (other than the two welcome comments!). But the “unread” status of my literary efforts shall not discourage me. After all a blog is as much as about self expression as it is about self publishing!

After watching the first few overs of Indian bowling in the final India-Pakistan series, I decided I am definitely not masochistic!. I am not gonna hang around to watch that lousy (but girls tell me “sexy”) pathan called afridi stick it up Indian arses!

So what else to do? Two roomies deserted me for the environs of Bangalore and I am all alone in the apartment (ofcourse there is this pigeon which keeps coming in but counting it out!) and its too early to invite friends over for a drink. Well I thought I will raid my roomies rather large collection of books most of which I have already read. Found a new one, Tis: A Memoir by Frank McCourt. This is the second part of his autobiography (first is called Angela’s Ashes). i decided if another Irish book is the only one available then it will be my read for the day(rather gloomily I must admit!).

But boy, was this book something. It is not often that an author can introduce humour to a book which has the feeling melancholy running through the entire content. But he does that, and does it as well as Frank has done here, it is definitely worth a read. I have not read (but plans to read soon) the first part of his biography which details his childhood in Limerick (That’s in Ireland..for u dumbo’s ..the Limerick style of poems are named after the place!). This one deals with his life in America as a poor immigrant (not to mention an ugly one!) with a bad accent and no prospects. The books moves on to his mis-adventures with the US army as a volunteer soldier and as a drifter post-army life. He wants to go to college (but does not have a high school diploma), still managed to do that but finds that that he is leagues away from his class mates in terms of social, economic thought processes. The book moves on to his life as a teacher, married life (not much here..may be saving it for the third part?), a father and above all as a dutiful but confused son of a mother (who lives and dies a sad life). I have read many (too many?) sad but uplifting stories, but very rarely do I come across one which is sad but manages to be uplifting not because of the story but because of the author’s outlook to life and his style of writing.

Definitely recommend the book. I am also planning to read the first part of his memoirs and the books by his younger brother (Malachy McCourt). Hopefully the younger sibling will also have the freshness of his older brother’s writing


April 14, 2005

The Nasrani's

Ever since i moved out of kerala to far less greener (literally!) parts of india in search of education and job, i have often come up on people who are curious about my christain background. The questions basically go as "so are you a catholic"? "oh..so you must be a protestant"? "who is your pope" ? etc..
I am now an atheist (as u will notice if read the previous post!) but still this stuff got me interested in the history of my community
We are now called jacobites, basically syrian christains, we come under the patriarch of Antioch. So i did some googling and found some interesting history about my community. i am posting the links here

please remember that i dont subscribe to the religious beliefs (if) expressed in these site. i am just a history buff. I will probably keep adding to this list once in a while