Tuesday 30 April 2024


Writing about the end of own life, that too after knowing that it could happen any time is hard to write for anyone. I am not an exception. But the specialist doctor Aju Mathew whom I am in consultation on a regular basis since early February 2021 encouraged me to write about the experience and feelings I had undergone from time to time ever since I was identified with the disease, made me to take up this hard task. This he specifically mentioned  after knowing that I was a regular blog writer!

This article is expected to be published  as soon as possible after I leave this world but not before for obvious reasons. Sure, if I live long enough, as the doctor had predicted, then also I would  publish it after few years. The main reason why I keep it this way is that my privacy would be intruded. I have been trying my best-although it fails at times-to lead a normal life and involve in everything as usual as I could. My apologies to all those with whom I interacted as normal during this period but did not reveal what I had been going through. Please accept my apologies.

I had made an arrangement with my children to publish this article once I am gone. Very hard decision but let it be done. If this helps anyone who would land up in similar difficult situations, to face life in a better way, I would be  more than pleased.

So there is a possibility that this could be my last article in this blog- I sincerely wish not, something I am happily involved over the last twelve years. Other than the fact that nearly 430,000 readers world wide have visited my blog so far from 110 countries, I enjoy sharing my thoughts with you  as always. I will miss your readership and your opinions which has reached over 2000. I am sure that this blog will be continued to be read for few more years to come, thanks to google technology......

Bye...Namaskar..Namaskaram ! Sad but with solace!!

How this was detected....
When Vinay, our eldest son and Anu his wife along with our grandchildren Maria and Serah came back to Kochi ,our home town after 2 years at Coimbatore  Geetha and I were exceptionally happy- more because of the fact that we could enjoy our sweet grandkids once again. Both of them -Vinay and Anu-are specialist doctors and they were at Coimbatore for a 2 year post PG fellowship at Aravind Eye Hospital for Anu, while Vinay was an Ortho surgeon at Kovai Medical Centre and later at Palghat. Over the past 9 months or so Anu hadn't visited Kochi due to her hectic training and travel restrictions due to Covid albeit Vinay alone used to make flying visits at times.

The moment Anu met us, she made  a comment on my health "Appa, you have pulled down considerably". I knew that I had. Later on, the same day as they settled, the children continued to ask few questions to me. How long have you been losing your weight? What is the weight now? Is your bowel movements as usual? What about your appetite? I answered  them sincerely. I was not feeling alright for quite some time on the subjects they had asked but thought I could come back to normalcy eventually on a normal course. "I think you have to undergo some blood tests tomorrow itself." They summed up.

Next day morning Geetha and I didn't go out for our usual walk at 6.00 a.m. Instead, I decided to go for the blood test. As soon as I came down from my bed room, a list of blood tests to be carried out noted down by Vinay was there on the dining table to be picked up. He had gone out for his morning jogging. The list was pretty long, I could notice. Obviously they were searching to rule out some diseases which shows the symptoms I had. I drove the car myself to DDRC, the medical testing lab which is close by and returned after 40 minutes. The results would be e mailed to me the next day before noon ,they had promised.

Among the abbreviations of tests Vinay had noted down, about one I had particularly remembered-CEA, may be because it resembles CIA-Central Intelligence Agency of America! I was curious and googled to find out more. It was right there- the test is exclusive to find out signs of cancer growth in  the body! My heart might have raced for some time but once done, decided to keep my cool  esp in my behavior to Geetha so as not to make her panic!!

01 February 2021
The D day came and the test results in mail on the next day. 01 February 2021- My hemoglobin level was found to be very low while CEA levels were very high. My God! I was almost on a black out for few seconds after I read it! I sincerely  wished it could end up as a minor gastrointestinal problem instead of cancer!! Once composed , the results were forwarded to Vinay and also a print out was handed over to him. He looked at the results which ran 4 pages silently ...perhaps twice as I could notice. Problems? I asked him. Yes, Appa.. he answered. Gastrointestinal? I asked him in hope but foolishly. There are nodes clearly marked, Appa. Perhaps you have to meet both specialists in Gastroenterology and Oncology and took leave from the room. I was sure that he could be going away from my ear shot to  consult his friends and seniors who are specialist doctors in those respective fields.

Vinay came back to the room after half an hour. "Yes, Appa. Tomorrow both of us and Amma will go and take a test for Covid RT-PCR which is mandatory to be admitted in a hospital now. And day after tomorrow we will go early in the morning to meet Dr Aju Mathew who is a specialist Oncologist at EMC- Ernakulam Medical Centre at 07.30 AM! I have enquired with my friends in the profession and zeroed on this person Appa. "He is well qualified in India, has done accreditation from US Board and the best in his field. He may be around my age. He is personally known to some of my friends and I have gone through his professional profile and am more than satisfied. Let us see and hope for the best". He summarized in one go.  Please get ready to spend two/three days at the hospital so that you will be subjected to a lot of tests. I agreed fully and readily. His tone was mixed.. that of a son as well as a professional doctor. 

I sat motionless ...alone for few minutes! So that's it. I am a highly suspected Oncology patient! My heart might have stood still for few seconds and then raced! Geetha was visibly  upset after hearing the news. I was really sad...very sad! In the evening while I was watching TV, I took a large whisky in a glass and sipped slowly on the rocks. I knew that it could be my last drink of scotch which I used to enjoy each day but limited to two pegs max! While having dinner, there was a sort of silence in the room in spite of the presence of Maria and Serah..our bubbly granddaughters at the table. I retired early that night without watching TV as usual to our bed room. I wanted to cry loud but didn't. After half an hour or so Geetha joined me. She had her usual prayers, as she lay by the side on the cot, she put her hand on my face and whispered but firmly. "Nothing is going to happen to you Jaison. You will come out of this! Her undiluted faith in God had made her tell me this sentence. I was very much relieved to hear her strong words! I never thought she had the courage to face situations like this but proven wrong. That night I could not sleep at all but lay motionless. I knew that Geetha didn't either....

The next day ..myself, Geetha and Vinay together went to have the test RT PCR done for Covid and the report came only by night. It was negative.

03 February 2021
Anu tried to force herself a smile as she waved to  the three of us driving out of the house. But I could read the anxiety on her face. Geetha was cool. So also Vinay as he took the car out to road.He had taken leave from his job for two days, he told me. "There are effective treatments these days for cancer. At least 10 years in your case, nothing is going to happen, Appa" He was trying to pacify me. Suddenly I remembered about Vishal, our younger son who was stationed at Bangalore. I asked Vinay to be in touch with him if not already and ask him to come down to Kochi as soon as I could get back home. For some reason I wanted to meet him also.

We reached the hospital at 07.30 AM sharp as the doctor wanted. Got into a room which was arranged the day before itself. Dr. Paul, Anu's father is a close friend of the owners of the hospital. The nurse came in and took blood samples for various tests. Dr.Aju Mathew the specialist Oncologist did not mince words. The earlier blood tests clearly indicates that you have cancer in the colon. Now you will undergo various tests to determine the extent of the damage done already for the next two days. By the end of the day I can tell you more about it. "Uncle, there are very good medicines and treatments for colon cancer" he summed up! Already my mind was self tuned to hear the worst news by that time. It is better to face it boldly than running from it, I thought. At the same time I wished foolishly  that the results of the tests would be negative!!

As I was about to be taken out for various tests on a wheel chair  I glanced at the face of Geetha. Her eyes were moist, looked sad but had kept herself cool. I knew that she must be praying silently. Vinay looked bold as usual, busy conversing with doctors and nurses. "Pray well Jaison" was what Geetha told me as I moved out. For the first time in my life I was admitted in a hospital during the last 71 years which is my current age. I never had any sort of major ailment till  that day as well, I remembered.

A lot of tests, scans were taken as I was moved to different floors and different rooms. About 4.40 PM I was taken back to the room. Geetha was ready with some light snack which I was happy to have. Dr. Aju once again came in along with Vinay. He confirmed that I was having cancer of the colon for sure. He did not tell me the stage of cancer (but it was 4th stage as I found out from one of the reports myself later).And I didn't ask either. If it was in the initial stages I would have been told, I knew. And he would start the chemo the next day since it is better that way. He tried to explain to me about the troubles I may have to face. I told him that I was ready for anything he decided but specifically asked about the hair loss I may have to face. He told me that he would start with medicines which will  not have that effect.He also offered me the choice of having imported medicines or Indian for which Vinay answered to go for the best , preferably imported. 

I also requested him that whatever be the period I live, let me have a normal life as possible. I enjoy reading, writing, interaction with close friends,socialising,good food, morning walks with Geetha, follow national and international politics, driving etc. I am a person who always looked for quality than quantity. He appreciated my courage and cooperative nature which he said was important for the treatment. As the doctor was about to leave the room, he stood up and  told us point blank but firmly " We are a bit late in diagnosing the disease and it has spread to few areas in a limited way but I can assure you that we will fight it out bravely. His words were sweet music to me. Geetha smiled for the first time since I was suspected with such a disease , as the doctor went out with Vinay.

As Vinay came back to the room, I never asked about the disease further but listened to  what he wanted to say. But I asked him how many  of our relatives were told about my disease. He told me that it is limited to my only sister and family and family of my only late brother other than Anu's parents and brother. I requested him to stop there and ask them not to spread the news to anyone further. Our society is so negative that bad news as this one can spread like wildfire with more and more complifications. I don't mind anyone to know about it but I never wanted sympathetic talks or negative approach from any one so that I could try to live as if nothing had happened as much as possible. Geetha and Vinay could understand what I meant and agreed.

Geetha, as usual was cool and remained confident even after listening to the doctor. When I returned to the private room where chemo would be induced, she came to the bed where I was sitting and sat beside me."Nothing is going to happen to you Jaison" pressing my palm... she said..may be seeing my unhappy face. From where she is getting all this fire to face unexpected hardships, I wondered!
04, 05 and 06 February 2021
I had the first chemo experience. Fatigue was there. Various tests continued. I was in a state of 'fighting- back' mood as much as possible but at the same time wanted to take all steps deemed necessary in case something happened to me. I asked Geetha to take note of few matters which were to be taken up as early as possible as soon as I was out of the hospital. Together we listed out the important matters to be done immediately in the small notepad Geetha used to carry in her handbag. I wanted to get ready for my eternal journey whenever it happened.

In between, the zoom meeting scheduled related to conducting the 50th Graduation day of my Engineering class alumni came up. And I attended it with a usual smile. No other participant had even an iota of doubt that I was joining them from a hospital that too after my first chemo for cancer! I felt bad that I couldn't reveal the truth to my friends. I am sorry for that even now- my apologies..

On 7th of Feb 2021 I am back to my home. Sweet home!!

It is one year since cancer was detected in me. Definitely I am on regular check ups and medications. I was glad that I survived one year! Parameters related to my disease became almost normal after 6 months but continued the medicines and treatments as advised by the doctor on a regular basis. On my request once I knew that the CEA levels were under control I asked the doctor permission to have at least wine once in a while which he agreed. Now I have become more hopeful about the outcome. I will list out what mainly went through during the past one year.

*Apart from Dr.Aju who used to take personal interest in my case, I owe a lot to Geetha who remained very positive and supportive to me all these days. And whenever my confidence dipped for some reason, she used to pump it up  instantly! My medication process and comfort was her first priority. She kept on telling me confidently that nothing was going come to me in this regard! And I wanted to believe her although I knew that it need not be the truth. Her faith in God had  always been great. She was extremely punctual in giving medicines, take note of points to be discussed with the doctor on our next visit, my diet, living style ..... But what amazed me is her confident and positive approach to me in this regard as if she wanted to stand in front of me to fight with this dreaded disease! Vinay used to take interest in my whereabouts on a daily basis in spite of his busy schedule as an ortho  surgeon. Anu was always supportive to me and Geetha. Vishal who is at Bangalore was also given the day to day progress of my condition by Vinay !

*The first action was arranging a confidential meeting within immediate family members- Geetha, Vinay, Vishal and Anu. I wanted our children to know the current financial status of the family revealing briefly the details. I came to that conclusion for two reasons. First the money and assets we  have are to be managed properly on a regular basis if something happened to me for which children were to be involved. Second was that both of our children have become more or less financially matured to deal with such a situation. I didn't want Geetha alone to take the responsibility since she too is getting old. In any case money was a least interested topic for her!  We had made a joint will well in advance.

Dr Aju used to help tide over a lot of bad side effects of the chemo and other medicines I had to face. But I don't know why I used to face them cooly and Geetha's contribution in these matters was enormous. Combinations and permutations on the dosages were made by Dr. Aju to see that my life was almost as normal as possible.
I could fulfil a cherished desire of mine.. I could compile some of the articles I had been writing in my blog and publish it as a book titled 'Gandhi? Who's that?' The same was published by Notion Press and distributed through Amazon in India and the rest of the world! It was a success!

*I could organize two zoom meetings with respect to the tenth death anniversary of my late brother Thavo. One with his family members  and those of his wife. When some  his old colleagues expressed their desire to have a similar meeting, I could organize another one. I was satisfied that I could manage those meetings, despite my situation. It was the least I could do for my ever loving brother and a great friend.

*Due to the fears of Covid 19, my trips outside home was restricted but I could drive local trips in our cars.

*One family reunion took place at Bangalore at the residence of Vishal. And we all travelled to and fro by air and had a great time there.

*Regular zoom meetings- three in the last one year- I could organize with my mother's family members. Attended so many zoom meetings with MACE members (old Engg classmates) esp. related to an oncoming 50th graduation anniversary as a member of organizing committee.

*I could also make a presentation on 'How to develop one's own career- tips' for MBA students of SCMS Institute of Management online. 

*But the best I had among all was enjoying our grandchildren Maria and Serah during their weekend stays with us! I always considered that this regular interaction with grandchildren was a special gift for me.

All the above were positive experiences but what about negative? Sure I had. First few weeks I used to get depressed sometimes but I got over  that myself. I thought that in my life when I look back, I was a satisfied person with a good quality life and as such I should not complain. Even otherwise I expected a life span of up to only 80 maximum. Again I thought that it was not fair on my side that I should  complain to God since He had showered upon me a lot, much more than I really deserve!! 

#One negative aspect I had was whenever I saw an obituary note or visit a funeral, I used to think of myself in that position. But as months went by I got over that situation as well.

I lost a great friend of mine- Prakash in the month of November in 2021.

Now I stop here. Shall write AGAIN hopefully in 2023 when I complete two years of anniversary of the detection of this illness. Bye till then.

07 February 2023

My God, two years are over! Again a short narrative of the main events in life during the past one year.

*I started making long drives in the car along with Geetha, mostly for spending few days at good resorts in the state like at Thekkady and Munnar. That was a good change in me. Felt more confident to face the world under the circumstances.

* Finally on April 22 the much long awaited 50th Graduation day of MACE Alumni was conducted at Cherai with much enthusiasm from most of the members along with spouses. The function was grand, to say the least. A video CD was made. I had few physical difficulties attending the function but could somehow manage. Few of my old friends suspected that my health was not that well but could not point out what the actual reason was. I was in a sorry state not to divulge what was going on with me!

*Creation of my second book named "Kaleidoscopic Musings" started taking shape. It was published on October 22. Both of my books were presented to Dr.Aju as well.

*Unexpectedly, I had to be hospitalized and undergo surgery on 15 Aug 2022. Actually the colon developed blocks due to the disease. But again thanks to the surgeon Dr.Solomon and Geetha I came out of the hospital. I announced to my relatives and friends that I had to undergo the operation due to constant stomach aches but never revealed the actual reason behind it. Sure, few might have suspected that I was not that well.

*Unfortunately I lost another intimate friend of mine Govindankutty on the same day I had to undergo the operation. After reaching home when I was permitted to drive again, the first place I went was visiting his house and meeting Sathi, his wife. Kutty had to undergo few strains due to liver cirrhosis but never thought that he could vanish from my life this fast. Indeed he was a close friend of mine who brought a lot of sunshine and laughter to my life.I felt sorry that I couldn't reveal the ailment I myself was going through to him as well! Looking at the smiling picture of him which was hung in  his drawing room on my visit, I silently told myself  " Go peacefully Kuttysaab now...I may follow you soon"!

*In spite of the few side effects of medications, I continued to enjoy my life. And I don't have any complaints either. I continue to read a lot, write a lot and move around. Economically India is growing rapidly. But I long for the day to see that utter poverty doesn't exist in India. Hopefully in another 10-35 years it should take place provided a man like Modi leads the country.

*During October, Geetha and I could travel to Pune to meet Veena , wife of late Prakash. Again Prakash was an intimate and excellent friend of mine. On humility, simplicity, honesty and knowledge, he was an undisputed baron. On the way back we could drop at Bangalore and spend two days with Vishal.

* Geetha  and I made an exclusive trip to Kanthallur off Munnar along with families of old classmates of Engineering College. Interaction with old Engineering classmates was regular throughout the year. Also my interaction with COG members of business/professional club in Kochi restarted after Covid.

*  My interaction with local old friends of Kochi since childhood had been always good . I used to make sure that I was constantly in touch with them-in spite of the fact that I was abroad- since I used to enjoy their company. 

So my third year is running after I was detected with this disease.I consider this as a big bonus . Covid had almost fully subsided. But recently it has surfaced again. Hope India can make use of Indian made vaccines than the western ones as found in first hand experience.

7 February 2024..
 Three years are completed on this day while the 4th has commenced. I shall note down as usual the main points which have taken place during the last one year.

*My regular chemos, medication etc were going on well, thanks to Geetha for the support.I always thought Geetha would have been an outstanding doctor or  teacher, had she taken up one of those careers. She is unusually patient to listen to others, knowledgeable and empathetic!

* I always enjoyed the company of our grandchildren- Maria and Serah who used to come and stay with us every weekend without fail along with Vinay and Anu. Definitely, I have to appreciate Vinay and Anu for this gesture. Obviously, it is an unusual act. 

And in order to entertain the grandchildren I started another career-that of  a Magician. I used to get the necessary magic kits from Amazon, train myself on the trick and show them. They used to get thrilled. And I used to feel more thrilled than them!! I used to tell them that I had learnt these magic tricks from Prof.Swarovski of School of Magic, Romania though I couldn't convince the children for long.

Another matter I used to indulge in was asking general knowledge questions to Maria and Serah  while we had breakfast together on Sundays. The topics were India, Science, Space (Maria's favorite), Oceans (Serah's favourite), Animals, Volcanoes....anything under the sun actually. Both are intelligent and smart. 

* During the month of June,I decided that it was time that I share what was going on with Nebu, one of my close friends in confidence. He is known to me since childhood and he is a good hearted man. After conversing with him at Lotus Club, I felt a lot relieved. Definitely he was a bit uneasy but sure he will recover as weeks go by.

*During June/July Vishal was with us for 6 weeks. He had to undergo an operation on his knee following a complex injury sustained while playing football. 

*During July , the doctor decided to change the medicines of chemo as my CEA level was found increasing. The dosage also had to be increased. I may face few more side effects - more fatigue, diarrhea and hair loss, the last being a big challenge. Have I reached a stage where deterioration of health would take place faster hereafter? He said that all the medicines which were effective for the cure without the hair loss had been used. I think it was a polite way of telling me that I have reached another milestone of my journey.

*It was nice to have made a trip to Bangalore along with Geetha and spend two days with Vishal during last week of Sept for  his birthday!

*One of the articles posted on my blog titled "FROM NAZI TO NASA AND ROSCOSMOS " related to how US and Russia used the Nazi technology and scientists to their benefits to launch their own space vehicles in the initial years of space exploration was a hit. Indeed it was more surprising for me that NASA published that critical article on their FB page without hesitation whereas Indian space agency didn't!

*In October along with Geetha, I could make a 4 days trip to Colombo.It was a surprise  to me and Geetha at this stage of health and we enjoyed every minute of it.

*During November, I decided to reveal what I was undergoing to another close friend of mine-Britto. We had a very emotional meeting at my residence for almost two hours where I had shared my thoughts and feelings to him, I felt relieved. Another friend to whom I wanted to share this news was V.G Thomas, but since he was based in Doha, decided to wait for some more time.

*Today 22/11/23 Geetha and I had a meeting with Dr.Aju before my infusions of chemo. He didn't mince his words when he expressed that  my current status of CEA levels were slipping from his control since the options of medicines available were almost over. My blood counts were getting affected due to continuous chemo medicines! May be another one year to two could be the life span I could possibly have! Though expected, I was not happy to hear that. Once we got out of the room and was waiting in the patients lounge for a Uber taxi, Geetha was again quick in reacting. She whispered in my ears more sweet music - 'Jaison, nothing is going to happen to you. God will be with you,I assure you!'

*I have started planning to publish my third book...to dedicate this time to our grandchildren..possibly done in next March/April of 2024. Hope I can make it!

But the good points were that my brains worked as usual. I could enjoy jokes and crack jokes. I enjoy reading and writing. I enjoy TV and films.

  * Today (21/02/24) on my routine meeting with Dr.Aju, I was told that my CEA levels cannot be downgraded anymore. All he was trying to do hereafter will be to try to control the sudden increase in levels. That meant slowly my disease would control me. How long he did not mention. Unfortunate news for me. Fatigue to extreme level continued each day. Through Vinay I revealed what was going on to our vicar. So also to my old friend Thomachen of Doha. It was a shock for him. He told me he would visit me soon.

I shall write again hopefully when the fourth year is completed. For some reason if I am not alive or physically not in a position to write then my apologies...please take this as a bye from me. In this case I have to say bye bye to all friends - in India and abroad, relatives and neighbours. Bye bye to Mr.Sherida Al Kaabi and his family members in Qatar......Sorry that I could not reveal the truth to you all. Please pardon me for this...bye bye to all my immediate family members Vinay, Vishal, Anu, Mia, Serah...all except Geetha.

Geetha...As you firmly believe, allow me to meet you again 'on that beautiful shore'...one day! But please don't be in a hurry to do that. Enjoy the rest of your life as it is ushered to you each day.. our immediate family needs you .... as a 'woman who knows only to love and help others', you have been simply great! I am sure that you will be sad once I am gone. But always think what I used tell you: 'I am glad that I had an excellent life with you. Please allow time to get over your sadness and I am sure you will, as years go by'. Bye!! I am leaving sadly but with a lot of solace!!

Monday 1 April 2024


The worst traffic jam that ever  happened in the world was in China in August 2010 in the Beijing-Tibet Expressway. It lasted for an incredible 12 days! The drivers could move only 1 km per day! One bottle of water which costs only 1 Yuan was sold on this highway for 15 during that time. So also noodles and cigarettes!! There are similar incidents elsewhere in the world. In February 2011 at Chicago Illinois and Bethel, New York in 1969.Each traffic jam- small or big- anywhere in the world  is a harrowing experience for those who have experienced.

But here I am writing about a traffic jam-it was a gateway to a new world- which happened in Berlin, Germany in April 1990.Berlin wall was brought down by jubilant crowds of East Germany on 9 November 1989 piece by piece. It was estimated to be 18 million cars on the roads on  12 April 1990- it was Easter holidays-  during unification process full of Germans eager to reconnect with friends and family members with a fallen Berlin wall which many thought would remain forever, me included. Many East Germans were thinking that the borders now open could be closed anytime later! But instead it turned out to be a peaceful revolution. It stopped eventually the iron curtain and started the process of demise of communism in the world! Neither a shot was fired nor anyone died!

Aftermath of defeat of Germany in WW II...
After the utter defeat of Germany and axis forces- unconditional surrender- in the WWII, the jubilant allied forces agreed by a common decision to divide Germany into four zones who occupied namely Britain, USA,USSR and France. The capital Berlin too was so divided. Such a decision was taken at a high level meeting at Yalta. You may note that Yalta is in Livadiya, Crimea which was a part of Ukraine but forcibly incorporated by Russia as Republic of Crimea. The palace where the meeting took place  on February 4-11,1945 was former summer retreat of last Russian Tsar Nicholas and family.

The zones taken by Britain, USA and France became west Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) practicing Capitalism and free market economy while the USSR zone became East Germany(German Democratic Republic) practicing Communism. Both came into existence in 1949 .

Brandenburg Gate...
Brandenburg Gate which is Berlin's most popular landmark to date is a monument gateway which reminds us of Acropolis, Greece. This gate was built by King Fredrich William II in 1788-1791.The Quadriga on the top of it depicting a two wheeled chariot pulled by four horses side by side was to symbolize peace entering the city when erected.. In 1806 Napoleon took home this chariot which was brought back eight years later. During the division of Germany this gate could be visited neither by west Germans nor by those from East albeit it is situated in USSR sector. The gate symbolized symbol of Germán division but later it symbolized German unification!

Why and how the Berlin wall was erected..and brought down!
Right from the start, life in East Germany was less attractive compared to that in the west. Salaries were much less, so also freedom. As such a lot of Easterners moved to West Germany for work in spite of restrictions on visas.. During 1949-1961 more than 2.7 million East Germans esp the blue collared workers and professionals moved to west. While GDR proclaimed through propaganda that life in the west is only an illusion, the fact was something different. This I knew in person since one of my elderly neighbors who was very friendly towards me and my brother in 1965 or so was a member of some sort of a club linked to GDR  and USSR!He used to speak highly of USSR AND GDR those days but my brother used to hear VOA (Voice of America) broadcasts regularly and  get literature from USIS (United States Information Service) on regular basis and used to tell me that what our neighbor told us was false!

However as history unfolded for me, on the night of 13 August 1961 the East German authorities had stopped the movement by erecting a barbed wire fence through heart of Berlin which later changed to concrete structures for fortifications. Plus the entire border of East Germany was laid with 1 million landmines and 3000 attack dogs along with 302 watch towers with a ready to shoot at sight orders! Official explanation of East Germany was that this wall would prevent fascists of west Germany to infiltrate to East. But actually the only aim was to stop or control defections of East Germans to West which they were ashamed to admit!

On 12 June 1987 in a speech at the Brandenburg Gate US President Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbechev, leader of USSR to tear down the wall. Two years later on November 9 1989 the jubilant East Germans actually tore down the wall piece by piece as you can see in the photos above. On October
 3, 1990 East and West Germany was unified to be known as Germany officially! Communism was a good idea but proved to be Utopian!!Long live Freedom, Equality and Fraternity!!


Thursday 21 March 2024


When I woke up from deep sedation, I knew I was in a post operative ICU.  I might have been under sedation  for quite a few hours,  after I had to go through a bowel obstruction operation  . It was wee hours of the morning for sure but of which date and day, I didn't  know.The stomach pain which was troubling me for few days had gone but instead a few new minor pains elsewhere had surfaced.All this will vanish as days and weeks go by, the nurse assured me.

Without long Vinay , our eldest son came to my bed with a how- are- you-smile, handing out the newspaper which I had missed for two days. He just took out and read a report card or something the nurse produced to him. You are okay Appa, he told me.Vinay was not my doctor but a Consultant Ortho surgeon in the same hospital.Soon your consultant doctors will meet you and appraise you when you can expect a shift back to room etc.Vinay told me that Amma(my wife, Geetha) is still in the room waiting for you, Vishal (my younger son) too is around.I enquired about Anu, Mia and Serah( his family) .He left the ICU.

I was happy that once again I was back to life and hopes. But my hopes were short lived.What I did not  know was what was happening in my own city outside the hospital.My best friend in life Govindankutty had passed away in between. I was told of this  again by Vinay after I got back to my room! His demise on 15 August 2022 was not unexpected for me, at least for the  last 3-4 months  following the ailments he had undergone.But still I sobbed softly on my bed which I came to realise only when Geetha tried to pacify me! Last and first time as an adult I cried was about 11 years back, when my own brother died! 

     Last photo together, snapped few weeks prior to his demise during our last                   meeting at Grand Hyatt,Kochi along with our three generations of                                                            family members.

How did our friendship start?  
We belong to the same city- Kochi. We are products of the same alma mater for our Engineering studies. But we hardly knew each other until I landed up in Qatar in 1984. He had come and settled in that country about 5 years prior. How it all started? After I got two or three  'I wish- that -you -could- have - called -me- some- other- day' replies    unexpectedly from  persons known to me on  holidays who were living there , I decided not to make anymore such efforts.May be with the boredom I had to face on a holiday- again I decided to give another try - this time with Govindankutty,who was hardly known to me. After a quick introductory warm pleasantries, he asked to give my location of residence which I did. OK.'I know this place. After half an hour say at 11.30 am ,can you come in front of Thomaskutty Supermarket below where you stay, to be picked up?'  Yes, I answered. 

He took me to his apartment , gave me a chilled beer. He was the first to introduce to me, what actually Qatar was then. A brief about the ruling royal family, employment potential and laws, geography and about the expatriate population and peculiarities of the locals! Before I was dropped back , I was given a sumptuous lunch prepared by Sathi, his wife . His ever  friendly son, Suraj was only 5 years old then.Kiran was not born.Within two or three hours I could make out that he was a good conversationalist, had a high sense of humor and loving family. I think he had maintained this- his assets I would say- till his last day!A reliable friend ..... my mind said that day itself.He was!!

My early days and weeks with AlBalagh..and Govindan Kutty
My early days and weeks with AlBalagh, the firm where -I started off and ended with in Qatar- was tough. With another two or three visits to Govindankutty, I had to relocate to Dukhan, an oil township 100 kms away from Doha to supervise a small residential project with Qatar Petroleum. Those days the interlinking road was in pretty bad shape and I didnt have a driving licence either. The company could not afford to spare a driver and a car for my use or spend for a rent-a- car!!

The accommodation company provided me  was away from Dukhan township which was not to acceptable standards! That too with a faulty electricity connection  with an old run out generator.But thankfully with a separate bath and pantry!Food was good as I had a cook-Kassim. In between When I visited Govindankutty  I had mentioned about these physical difficulties I was facing. He advised me that soon after one Indian like us reaches Qatar, there are three hurdles to overcome- family visa and accommodation, driving licence and car and liquor permit!I wanted to run back to India and join the Govt service but stayed back only because I didn't want to fail in my assignment abroad.

Kutty...an autophile!
After four months of my arrival in Qatar , I got the covetable Qatari Driving licence and a car.When I drove out a brand new white Honda Accord, fully  automatic, I was really relieved that my stay was shifted back to Doha. During my next visit to Govindan Kutty , I surprised him with the new car.I still remember his smiling face inspecting the car minutely.Then only I knew that he was a car enthusiast which he continued throughout his life! As we settled in his drawing room, he said:'Jaison, now your first hurdle is over'!My daily routine included driving about 300 kilometers those days!And thankfully in different cars or SUVs as years went by!

Govindan Kutty was fond of cars.He used  some of the most expensive brands of cars from time to time. Jaguar, Bentley, Mercedes, BMW ....all old ones which were available in old cars market, which he could afford!Though these old cars were good enough to put a big hole in his wallet, he loved them!

It took another one year to get a family status allowed by my company though I was always promised by them. But before my family joined me, it was Govindankutty who noticed the availability of an apartment , not far from where he was put up.Geetha and children joined me there and that was our sweet home for next 7 years or so.I got over my second hurdle!

The friendships blossom.....
Our families got along well and family gatherings on weekends at least once in a fortnight became an  event both families looked forward to.By that time a third person and his family joined the crowd.He was Thomas-Thomachen- as we called him who also hails from same home town-Kochi. In between I had to rush to India to sort out an issue with promotion in my parent dept PWD.I was in a dilemma to go or not since Vinay's leg was in bandage then and walking on crutches as one of the tendons had to be repaired due to an accident while playing with children.Govindankutty came to rescue voluntarily.He assured me that he can pick up and drop back Vinay and Vishal from school!He did that exercise for a month or so.

Our children were studying in the same school and we used to drop and pick them up. While we had to pick up, it became a practice for us for years to follow,to assemble a bit early and chit chat together in one of the cars!Mostly we were talking as if we were in our late teens!By that time Govindankutty became 'Kutty saab' for me, as called fondly by his Indian workers and Technicians.

For me who was running against odds and time for successful execution of projects each day ,such a talk and laughter was a ' stress- buster'! Having a hearty talk with those friends, a   peg or two together in our family gatherings was a relief valve for me as I could acquire a liquor licence ,my third hurdle. Among all, the jokes and sense of humour of Govindankutty always stood out.As years went,more like minded family friends joined the group. Thankfully the company where I was working was on a  growth curve, but slow one. And finally I was promoted to  be the GM as my predecessor decided to quit on personal reasons.That was officially from Jan 1993!My friends -Kutty saab and Thomachen- were really happy and shared their joy over the matter wholeheartedly.

Though GM the company was still small and I started dreaming of making it big!But how I didn't know as the opportunities available were not good and understandably the owners always looked forward for more and more profits!But we grew steady and rapidly for some reasons.I would say that the company could get into the bandwagon of systematic development works as Qatar got new riches from their oil and gas installations.From an obscure maintenance firm to a large corporate of Business House of repute! Finally in April 2013 , the company was awarded with the 'Best National Company in Qatar'.It was quite unexpected and the atmosphere in the company was for all out celebrations.That day I put in my paper of resignation to my Chairman silently!I don't know why I chose that day but I wanted that way.He was in a shock and told me that he required me at least  to stay back for one more year which I agreed.I told him 'yes, I would but not more'.But added that keeping a CEO in chair who had resigned may not be a wise decision.The only person whom I consulted before I had resigned was Geetha, while we had lunch together at home. I knew that she was enjoying her employment as a 'Foreign Press Reviewer' at Ministry of Information and Culture.But she said that I can go ahead with whatever decision and she will follow suit at the same way and time.I confided the matter with Govindankutty and Thomachen, later -after a week or so.

Govindan Kutty .... who he was ....Goodbyes are not forever!
He was an out and out technocrat.Excellent trouble shooter in his sphere of activity--MEP Building  Services.As a person he was a gem of a man. He was trustworthy, selfless and our basic foundation of friendship relied on  mutual trust.Empathy was limitless in him.Probably he might have had to face hard days because of these qualities.But in spite ,he was not ready to change his approach to life.I had a lot of tough days in my career but each time when I managed to put a step up on  the ladder of my career, he was too happy!He was a lover of Malayalam literature and music.

Once he  was back to India on retirement, along with Cherian and Venu, two of our college mates from the same town who were working in Kuwait and their better halves, we made a lot of unforgettable and lovely trips in the state, rest of India and abroad.

After my operation about which I started off in this article, when I was allowed to drive a car by the doctor after 4 weeks or so, the first person and place to visit was Sathi Govindankutty at their residence. As I walked in, in the centre of the drawing room, a garlanded smiling photo of his was in place.I looked at that photo and said silently in my mind:'You may go peacefully and rest now.But Goodbyes are not forever, Kutty Saab!'


Friday 1 March 2024


On October 25, 1944 the Japanese military employed the Kamikaze bombers for the first time in WW2. Who's a Kamikaze bomber? He is the specially trained pilot who would crash his specially made plane directly into Allied ships. Simply to put it, Kamikaze attack is suicidal bombing tactic to destroy the enemy ships.

Mohotoru Okamura who commanded a Kamikaze Squadron sincerely believed that these dare devil acts would make the tide of war in favour of Japan as he ordered the first Kamikaze pilot to be at the battle of Leyte Gulf, in the Pacific Ocean near Philippines!

In various attacks thereafter more than 3000 Japanese Kamikaze pilots perished while causalities among the US, Australian and British forces might have touched 7000.Nevertheless this did not change the tide of war. Japan had to surrender unconditionally on 16 August 1945!

"Tenno Heika Banzai" literally means " Ten Thousand Years" in Japanese. This they used to express joy or long life. It was also used by the Japanese military personnel while storming in the battle meaning  "Long Live The Emperor". The Kamikaze pilot used to shout exactly these words before he hits the ship of Allied Forces killing himself!


Year 1944...Birth year of Kamikaze.

By the year 1944 it was clearer that the tide of world war was clearly favouring the Allied forces. Japan, one of the trailing Axis Forces was facing defeat one after another whether on land, sea or air. It was in this context that Takijiro Onishi, Admiral of Imperial Japanese Navy, who founded Kamikaze convinced his superiors of having a squadron of suicide bombers attacking and destroying enemy ships to change the tide of war. At least they would be able to negotiate better terms for surrender, Japan thought. But Takijiro had to commit ritual suicide following unconditional surrender of Japan !

Kamikaze means 'divine wind'. It was the name of a typhoon originally which destroyed invading Mongol ships in the 13th century saving Japan.

Kamikaze planes...
The planes used were light bombers loaded with bombs-250 kg on the nose and extra gasoline tanks. Kamikaze planes were  launched with their wheels dropped at take off. This reduces the weight, increase the range and possibly limit the ability of pilot to return. These single seated planes- mostly like Yokosuka MX 7 Okha were used.

Kaiten...torpedoes containing human beings!
Kaitens were an under water equivalent of Kamikaze. These were launched from submarines for direct combat on identified ships. The kaiten was small enough for the pilot to squeeze through and enter the body of torpedo!The pilot verifies the position of the target- a ship normally- by a fitted periscope and then surges for the final assault. The first Kaiten assault claimed USS Mississinewa which was on anchor when hit. 63 US sailors perished!

Kamikaze pilots' training...
Kamikaze pilots were given special training for their special mission. They  performed a special ceremony of drinking Sake (Rice wine) and eating rice before they take off in their mission. They were also honoured by giving medals and a Katana sword (traditional curved sword used by Samurai) during these ceremonies.

By 1945 more than 500 Kamikaze planes had taken part in these suicide missions it is estimated! And 3800 Kamikaze pilots had died!!Many were new recruits from the finest universities of Japan! Although Kamikaze pilots never threatened to change the course of war led by the Allied forces, Kamikaze offensives were a concern for the Allies.

There are a number of books and movies produced based on actual experiences of Kamikaze post war.


Thursday 1 February 2024



We all know that as the greatest colonial power on earth, the British once emerged as the 'Empire on which the sun never set' due to their supremacy over the high seas- with their fantastic ships, admirals and sailors. Being an Indian, this I had learnt repeatedly right from the the days I started reading as a toddler to this very day.But what I didn't know or learn was that one of the biggest contributions for the British to attain this status rivaling Spain,Portugal or France was colonial India itself! 

More than  India's rich resources being stolen by them- traders turned as masters- systematically, an Indian shipbuilder at Bombay, exclusively built indigenously using Indian craftsmen, skilled workers and raw materials including Malabar Teak , world class ships on orders of British Navy! Not just one or two but 363 of them- enabling the British merchant and naval gunships and others trotting the whole globe covering and mastering all the seven continents in the 17th,18th and 19th  centuries!! Such a fleet which were products of exclusive Indian brains, skills and technology contains HMS Minden,HMS Trincomalee and HMS Cornwallis ! The name of the great shipbuilder was Jamsetjee Bomanjee and family of  Wadia Shipbuilders !!

More than what you have already read above, it is believed to have been on  board  this Indian made Royal Naval ship HMS Minden, that the great American lawyer poet wrote the US National Anthem 'Star- Spangled Banner ' while on the coast of US near Baltimore in  1814!  The poet Francis Scott Key was a prisoner in the ship held by  British Navy who also coined and gave America its motto:In God we trust! Again it was on board  HMS Cornwallis built by Indians in 1842 that the Treaty of Nanking was signed that ceded Hong Kong to the British! Then the record of the oldest ship afloat goes to HMS Trincomalee, another one!!

Hard to believe? Incredible? But be rest assured that this is absolutely true.It is high time that we learn from our own history - our strengths and weaknesses- more than who invaded or colonised and looted us.....It is high time that we tell about ourselves to the world than waiting for others to do that which they limit to 'extreme poverty or casteism' only for their interests! 

HMS Trincomalee is kept at National Museum of Royal Navy,England. Figurehead                  of the ship is modelled on its builder Jamsetjee Bomanjee.                                                                                                                                                     

How I ran to this....

Two months back I could see a magnificent telefilm video produced  by the Indian Navy on themselves. Impressive it was but I wished that they could add our ancient past too as ancient Indian port at Lothal was  one of the oldest dry docks in the world, if not the oldest. Subsequently, my interest in digging the past on the subject hit a gold mine of historical information on our own naval history - of reasonably recent past than ancient ones.That's how I could write this article which I am sure will make many eyebrows raise like I did. 

The background

The Mughals who were ruling India were a bit relieved to see the British East India Company(EIC) in the early 16th century defeating the Portuguese, predominantly because while the later were Christian fanatics against Islamic fanaticism, British were not , which went on tune with Mughal's interests in India initially. The Mughals eagerly made concessions to EIC to accommodate them as emperor Jahangir gave them permission to trade within their territory followed by commencement of the first British factory at Surat in 1613. Bombay was just a sleepy fishing village then.That status continued till 1662, when Catherine of Braganza of Portugal  was given Bombay village as a dowry to wed Charles II of Britain!

At the end of the Napoleonic war against France, after Battle of Trafalgar in 1815,British Royal Navy felt the need to replenish lost or ageing  fleet of theirs.At that time there was a shortage of availability of quality Oak wood for the purpose of ship building.But soon the British knew about the availability of quality Malabar Teak wood of India which was even better than Oak as being more denser for building ships. Than bringing the bulky cargo of teak wood to Britain taking time, they focused on the fame of a master shipbuilder at Surat in India-Jamet Bomanjee of Wadia Shipbuilders! The British decided to 'outsource' the engineering skill of shipbuilding to an Indian which was just a tip of an iceberg of events of naval history of the world to follow. 

Portrait of Jamsetjee Bomanjee in British naval archives.A divider in one hand while the drawings of  HMS Minden on the other. One can also see the progress of construction of the very ship with 74 guns which was launched in 1810- also through the window!Interestingly this portrait is available in US historical archives also for reason as explained in the article

Wadia family ...the illustrious shipbuilding family of the world..

The Wadia Parsi family hails from Surat in Gujarat.The very name 'Wadia' means carpenter/shipbuilder in Gujarati language. Jamset Bomanjee's  firm which was named Surti Ship Builders(later known as Wadia Shipbuilders) secured initial contracts for building ships with EIC from 1736. He himself was the master shipbuilder. 

Bombay Dry Docks was built by his brother Lovji Nusserwanjee in 1750 on the British request as EIC headquartered to Bombay from Surat. Incredibly between 1735 and 1899, seven generations of Wadias built 363 ships of world class quality for the British and others ,which sailed all over the seven high seas ! The Indian Parsi shipwrights exclusively produced 39 vessels on orders of  British Royal Navy- 16 ships of the line, 13 frigates, 9 sloops and 1 schooner! Some of them remained the finest creations of it's class for decades which followed! The British, the US and the west have officially chronicled this info but we, Indians are yet to add in our curriculum for our children, it seems!

Bombay Dock , the oldest in Asia is functioning even today as the Naval Dockyard.The northern part of the erstwhile dockyard is today's Mazagon Dock, India's premier Ship Building Centre.

HMS Minden and birth of US national anthem 'Star-Spangled Banner' 

This 74 gun frigate had set off for the maiden sail on 8 Feb 1811 from Bombay Dockyard after the customary 'breaking the bottle' ceremony performed by the then British Governor Jonathan Duncan.HMS Minden was the handiwork of Jamshedji for which the order was received from Royal Navy ten years earlier. This was the first British Royal Navy ship of the line built out of 'Great' Britain.

Indian made teak 74 gun ship HMS Minden and actual remains of the US flag preserved at National Museum of American History,Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History.

On 3rd Sept 1814 many Royal Navy ships including INS Minden were about to attack US Fort McHenry near Chesapeake Bay , outside Baltimore as they were enemies then. On the advise of the US President James Madison , two of his representatives Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skimmer had set sail on a US boat flying a flag of truce and reached INS Minden. Their aim was peaceful negotiations for surrender with the British. What the British did was not only agreeing to the discussions but kept the two American reps as captives! In the night the royal Naval ships bombarded the fort the whole night to the astonishment of the American captives. In the early morning, expecting a complete devastation of the US fort, as they looked out they could see almost a miracle -the fort was standing loud and clear with a fluttering US flag atop!!They believed that God had intervened!

Key was a poet too. As he saw the US flag with 15 stars and 18 stripes on the fort , he scribbled down a poem while still as a captive in the ship...the fragile faded flag remains the holiest icon of American life.

                 Francis Scott Key               original scribbling of the poem  

It was recognized as a patriotic song immediately but it took more than 100 years. On 3rd March 1931 it was declared as US National Anthem. 

The last years of HMS Minden was in Hong Kong where it was used as a hospital before being scrapped in 1861!

 HMS Trincomalee and HMS Cornwallis

HMS Trincomalee was launched on 12th October 1987 at Bombay. A 46 gun frigate it served many occasions for Royal Navy including Crimean war in 1897 and even WWII (1939-1945). It also served as a training ship under the name Foudroyant.To this day it floats at a British Museum and attracts around 60000 visitors a day!

Guns in HMS Trincomalee

                                  Signing the treaty of Nanking in HMS Cornwallis

14 gun ship HMS Cornwallis was built in 1813 for Royal British Navy and served till 1957!  The treaty of Nanking by which Hong Kong was ceded to Britain was signed in this Indian made ship.

The technical prowess and skills of Indians in shipbuilding for the last three centuries is recognized in maritime world history very much. I am neither a professional  historian nor a naval architect or expert but anyone can find out these facts from historical chronicles. Am I wrong in suggesting that the subject is to be inducted immediately in Indian school curriculum as I find this a 'must' ,the whole of India and world should know?



Writing about the end of own life, that too after knowing that it could happen any time is hard to write for anyone. I am not an exception. ...