Tuesday, September 23, 2014

ആറ്റിങ്ങല്‍ കെ എസ്‌ ആര്‍ ടി സി ബസ്‌ സ്റ്റാന്‍ഡ് രണ്ടു ദിവസം അടഞ്ഞു കിടന്നതെന്തിന്?


Photo courtesy: Shiju Hridayapoorvam Facebook account

കഴിഞ്ഞ ശനിയാഴ്ച ആറ്റിങ്ങല്‍ വര്‍ക്കല റൂട്ടില്‍ ഓടുന്ന ട്രാന്‍സ്പോര്‍ട്ട് ബസിലെ ഡ്രൈവര്‍ ശ്രീ. രാജേന്ദ്രന്‍ നായര്‍ എന്ന ആളെ ഒരു ചെറിയ ആക്സിഡെന്റിനെ തുടര്‍ന്ന് ശ്രീ ഫിറോസ്‌ കാവേലി എന്ന ആള്‍  മര്‍ദ്ദിക്കുന്നതോടെയാണ് സംഭവങ്ങളുടെ തുടക്കം. രണ്ടു പേരെയും പോലീസ് സ്റ്റേഷനില്‍ കൊണ്ട് പോയി. അവിടെ വച്ച് ഫിറോസ്‌ വീണ്ടും ശ്രീ. രാജേന്ദ്രന്‍ നായരെ അടിച്ചു. പോലീസ് നോക്കി നില്‍ക്കെ തന്നെ. അതിശയമെന്നു പറയട്ടെ പോലീസ് ഒന്നും ചെയ്തില്ല. അക്ഷരാര്‍ത്ഥത്തില്‍ തന്നെ നിഷ്ക്രിയമായി നിന്നു. 

ആത്മാഭിമാനം വൃണപ്പെട്ട കെ എസ്‌ ആര്‍ ടി സി  ജീവനക്കാര്‍ ഫിറോസിനെ അറസ്റ്റു ചെയ്യണം എന്ന് ആവശ്യപ്പെട്ടുവെങ്കിലും പോലീസ് അതിനു തയ്യാറായില്ല. ആദ്യം തന്നെ ആക്സിഡെന്റിന് പെറ്റികേസ് ചാര്‍ജ് ചെയ്തു അറസ്റ്റ് ചെയ്തതിനാല്‍ വീണ്ടും അറസ്റ്റ് ചെയ്യാന്‍ കഴിയില്ല എന്നായിരുന്നു പോലീസ് ഭാഷ്യം.

യഥാര്‍ത്ഥ കാര്യം പക്ഷെ പിന്നീടാണ്‌ മനസിലായത്. ഫിറോസ്‌ പ്രദേശത്തെ കോണ്‍ഗ്രസ്‌ നേതാവാണ്‌. ഐ എന്‍ ടി യു സി യുടെ ക്ഷീര കര്‍ഷകരുടെ സംഘടനയുടെ എതോക്കൊയോ ഉപരി ഘടകങ്ങളുടെ ഭാരവാഹിയാണ്. ആഭ്യന്തര മന്ത്രി രമേശ്‌ ചെന്നിത്തലയുടെ അടുത്ത ആളാണ് എന്നാണു അയ്യാള്‍ അവകാശപ്പെടുന്നത്. പോലീസ്‌കാര്‍ക്ക് നടപടി എടുക്കാന്‍ വൈമുഖ്യം ഉണ്ടായതും ഇതൊക്കെ കൊണ്ടായിരിക്കാം.

കെ എസ്‌ ആര്‍ ടി സി  ജീവനക്കാര്‍ക്ക് സമരം ചെയ്യുകയല്ലാതെ മറ്റു മാര്‍ഗങ്ങളൊന്നും ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നില്ല. തുടര്‍ച്ചയായി രണ്ടു ദിവസം ആറ്റിങ്ങല്‍ ഡിപ്പോയില്‍ നിന്ന് സര്‍വീസ് ഒന്നും ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നില്ല. കെ എസ്‌ ആര്‍ ടി സി-യിലെ എല്ലാ സംഘടനകളിലെയും ജീവനക്കാര്‍ സമരത്തില്‍ പങ്കെടുത്തു.

ആറ്റിങ്ങല്‍ ഡിപ്പോയില്‍ നിന്നും 86 സെര്‍വീസുകള്‍ ഉണ്ട്. കഴിഞ്ഞ രണ്ടു ദിവസമായി എല്ലാം മുടങ്ങിക്കിടക്കുകയായിരുന്നു. വേറെ ബസ്‌ സെര്‍വീസുകള്‍ ഇല്ലാതെ ഉള്‍പ്രദേശങ്ങളിലേക്കുള്ള സര്‍വീസുകളും ഇതില്‍ ഉള്‍പ്പെടും.   

ഇന്ന് ഉച്ചയ്ക്ക് ഫിറോസിനെ അറസ്റ്റ് ചെയ്തെന്നു വിവരം ലഭിച്ചതിനെ തുടര്‍ന്ന് സമരം പിന്‍വലിച്ചു. പക്ഷെ ഔദ്യോഗിക കൃത്യ നിര്‍വ്വഹണത്തിനിടയില്‍ ഒരു സര്‍ക്കാര്‍ ജീവനക്കാരനെ പോലീസിന്റെ മുന്നില്‍ വച്ച് മര്‍ദ്ദിച്ച ധാര്‍ഷ്ട്യം അവിശ്വസനീയമാണ്‌, വേദനാജനകമാണ്, പ്രതിഷേധാര്‍ഹമാണ്‌. അത് നോക്കി നില്‍ക്കേണ്ടി വന്ന പോലീസ് കാരുടെ അവസ്ഥ അതിദയനീയവും.
 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Onam in Attingal: An Onam of Our Times


Attingal woke up to a drizzling morning on Thiruvonam day. The town appeared deserted – save for an odd vehicle or two, a couple of morning walkers, and a few forlorn destitute men. 

While it was the morning of the grandest festival in Kerala, the town centre looked like a ground where a festival had just been over. It was in stark contrast to the chaotic previous week that had seen endless traffic jams, bullish wayside vendors, and wandering pedestrians who seemed to have been in a perpetual hurry. 

Pookkalams galore

There was at least one pookkalam in almost every bus stop in and around Attingal. None of these was hastily made. A casual enquiry revealed that young boys who used to gather on these junctions made the floral designs. They braved early morning chill and incessant rain to come up with craftily designed, impeccably arranged and gorgeously colorful pookkalams. A few of samples are here.





Soccer in paddy fields

By about 9’o clock in the morning, rain started to subdue. The wet pookkalams bristled in sunshine. People began to come out of their houses, some in their cars. Most people were caressing their tummies as if to hasten up metabolism. 

They had a number of festivities to choose from. One club was organizing an assortment of racing competitions, while another had quiz competition and other indoor events. Elsewhere, there were games of musical chair, water drinking competition and kudamadi (that is, smashing a pot blindfolded). I went to none of these events; instead, I chose to go and watch a five-a-side soccer tournament. If not Mahabali, at least Vamanan would have made it into the Arsenal team.   

When I reached the place where the tournament was supposed to be held, I found no signs of a soccer tournament there. I was thinking of returning when I saw that scooter. It was painted in red and green, just like the Portugal national football team’s jersey. As if to prevent any misunderstanding, “PORTUGAL” was written on its front. On the other side, it had the name of the most famous Portuguese in Kerala after Vasco de Gama: Cristiano Ronaldo aka CR7.


I ventured further into those once paddy fields – now brimming with tapioca plants, banana plants, and occasional coconut trees – and found the ground. It was as green as any of the European grounds; but beneath the lush green grass, there was Indian mud. It was difficult to sprint through the field without falling.

The rules were simple: five players per side, two halves of 10 minutes each. I asked one of the organizers whether offside is applicable. He looked at me as if I came from another planet. He – surely a cricket fan – replied in haste: “all sides are there”. Then I asked again, he folded his palms together: “I don’t know, sir. Please don’t bother me”. 



There were four teams. One of the teams was a well-drilled one. They first met a bunch of local boys who gave a spirited performance. But it was like Manchester City vs Swansea. They defeated the local boys 5-2. Next game was between a team of pot-bellied grown-ups and some kids. The pot-bellied team, defying the expectations, won 5-0.


The final was between them and the earlier winners. It ended up as a no-contest. The well-drilled team won the match 5-0. One of their players, Suhail, who looked like Neymar and sometimes played like him, was easily the best player in view.


Offside rule, as you may have figured out from the scores, was not applicable. Immediately after the final match, rain poured down again. All ran for cover. Somehow I reached back home, just in time for lunch.

Water games of Onam

After an hour or so, rain stopped. The biggest draw among the Onam events in our parts is what some people now call acqua-fantasia. It involves some games in a temple pond. The pond had been recently renovated. The water appeared less muddy than usual. 

The crowd was not as big as the previous year’s. Still, there were sufficient people to cheer up the competitors. Plus, there was an announcer who spoke almost like the Malayalam TV newsreaders.


The first item of the event was a swimming competition. One of the swimmers swam underwater while others were going over the water. There was no trace of him. Midway through the race, he emerges sensationally ahead of others. However, he appeared to have lost his sense of direction, as he swam towards a side than to the other end of the pool. He managed to finish second though.

The next item was what can be called water walk – simply, walk to the other end of the pond; no swimming. The local favorite was a boy affectionately called Kuttappan. He won with ease. He was celebrating even before he finished the walk.


Then came the turn of the most anticipated one: water pillow fight on the pond. As usual, the fight offered some hilarious moments. There was some spirited banter going on between some of the players. When the event reached the final stages, rain interrupted again. Spectators ran for cover. Players, already wet by frequent falls to the pond, went on with the fight. Kuttappan won this item as well.



“In our days, Onam was …”

I returned home drenched. Onam is almost over, even though there are two more days to go officially. I don’t know these are the best – or the right – ways to celebrate Onam, which is essentially a harvest festival when the ancient king Mahabali comes to visit his one-time subjects. We do not cultivate anything these days that can be harvested. And Mahabali may have come and gone.

Perhaps, Onam celebrations evolve with times too. Onam is what Keralites celebrate. After many years, I may also tell my young generation, as today’s old-timers say to us: “In our days, Onam was …”.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dr. Mohandas of VV Clinic Passes Away


Dr. Mohandas, the founder of VV Clinic hospital in Attingal, and easily the most reputable physician in the town, died yesterday in his house. He was 81 years old. It is learnt that the death is from natural causes. He is survived by a son, Dr. Vinod, and  a daughter, Dr. Veena. His wife, Dr. Molly Mohandas, who herself was an eminent doctor in her time, had passed away some years ago. The cremation is scheduled at his house near the hospital at 10.30 am today.

Dr. Mohandas was both a pioneer and a traditionalist in the medical profession. It was thanks largely to his vision that Attingal got a top hospital when such hospitals had been a rarity even in the cities of Kerala. The buildings of VV Clinic, said to have been built in 1969 with the remnants of a fallen gothic church, stood out in those times for its architectural elegance.

The medical treatment in the hospital is quick and effective, however, less pleasing to the eye than its architecture. Dr. Mohandas was incredibly quick in diagnosis and decision making. It would not take more than a couple of minutes for him to listen to the patient’s woes, make diagnosis, and scribble down the prescription. He was a man of few words, but never minced the words that had to be said. RIP Dr. Mohandas.






Tuesday, February 28, 2012

General Strike Fails to Rouse People, but Paralyzes Normal Life in Attingal


The general strike announced by all the trade unions in India against the pro-rich policies of the Indian government went like just another Harthal in Attingal, perhaps in most other parts of Kerala as well. This was the first time that the ruling-class trade unions (mainly INTUC of Congress(I) and BMS of BJP) joined hands with the left-leaning trade unions like CITU and AITUC. But people of the town converted it into just another holiday. 

 
Shops remained closed and public service vehicles remained in the garage. The town had a 1960s or 1970s look and feel to it, with occasional vehicles plying and some pedestrians passing by. Only a handful of people, around a hundred, gathered even for the protest march held in connection with the strike.


The march started from Attingal Kacheri Nada, in front of Mandoor Building, which once housed the now defunct SR Theater. Prominent local leaders of CITU, INTUC, BMS, and of any other trade union worth its salt were present. CPI(M) cadre and the Congress workers (who are now active again in Attingal after five long years of hibernation) were marked by their absence. Some banks and private financial institutions started the daily operations. But they were forced to close down soon. It all took only a couple of phone calls to force them though.

The march proceeded to KSRTC bus station in Attingal, which also had an empty look. The only person visible was Mr. Sundar Wilfred (a familiar figure for most people in Attingal – shown in the photo below). 

 

The strike had been billed by some people as India's answer to Tahrir Square. Judging by the mood in Attingal, it did not even reach the level of Anna Hazare's agitation.

Photo of the Day


Where else can you find Karl Marx and the Lord Parama Sivan, an unlikely pair of comrades, together? This snap was taken from Poovanpara near the bridge.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Attingal Remembers A. Ayyappan

A group of poets and poetry lovers in Attingal remembered A. Ayyappan, the most bohemian of all the wayward clouds that hovered in the horizon of Kerala poetry, a year after his anonymous, roadside demise. ABHIDA, an organization of poets in the town, conducted the function at Town UPS, Attingal, on the Deepavali day. It was an informal function - more like an amalgam of remembrance speeches and poetry recitals.

Noted playwright and dramatist, P.M. Antony, no less an iconoclast himself, was the chief speaker of the function. He lived up to his bill with a scathing criticism on the poetic ways of the man whom he remembered. He summed up that Ayyappan the poet took no social responsibilities and had no political direction. He compared Ayyappan unfavorably with the more politically conscious poets of his era and earlier eras, like Vayalar, Sachithanandan, Kadammanitta, and even Balachandran Chullikkad. In his brutally frank speech, he also found time to criticize the methods of the communist parties for the present state of Kerala society, which by his reckoning is almost deaf to the cultural movements and initiatives.

P.M. Antony's speech was in stark contrast to the earlier eulogizing of A Ayyappan by the young and less known poets. Most of the speakers had had some personal memoirs to share about Ayyappan. Some of them recited their own poems, while some others chose to recite some well-known poems of Ayyappan.

The function was reasonably well attended for a poetry function. The young poets enthralled the crowd their fresh, yet raw imagery.

“On the blood of George Bush's,
Obama's shaving blades,
Lies the hapless map of my nation”, lamented a young poet.

Another poet paid tributes to Ayyappan through sarcasm, “Why my son should not be like Ayyappan”. Judging by the present state of Kerala society, nobody's son is likely to become another Ayyappan. But it is certainly worthwhile to remember the poet whose poetry is yet to be properly appreciated in our literature.