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. 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.



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. ...