Wednesday, February 25, 2009


SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE directed by Danny Boyle won an astounding 8 Academy Awards and out of that 3 Awards went to Indians. This movie, glorifying the slum life accompanied by exceptional music, put the urban slums of Bombay and Indians musicians A.R. Rahman and Rosul Pookutty on the world stage. The Britishman, Danny Boyle, and others who acted in the movie raked in the money,name and fame. But nothing has changed for the slum dwellers of Bombay or for that matter for the slum dwellers living in innumerable slums in the cities and towns all over India.

Here in the heart of Kochi we have SLUMDOG BILLIONAIRES. They are living in Manapattiparambu which is normally rented out to touring circuses. No one takes notice of them. They have come from Delhi to make a living. They live in ramshackle tents. They live here, cook here, eat here and sleep here. Their children don’t study and from a very young age they are taught to be self dependent. The dirt, filth and squalor will put any one off. They get kits for small drums from Delhi, assemble them here and sell it in the busy streets of Kochi. If they can get a business worth Rs.1000 a day they will make a profit of Rs.200 US$4). The old and infirm will beg to earn a lively hood. The children will generally learn the trade of their fathers i.e. to make drums and sell them.

I understand that 3 children belonging to these hapless people were stolen a few days back. There is no police complaint or police investigation or even a report in the news papers. You can imagine the anguish of the parents who lost their children. Those of you who have seen SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE will know what happens to abducted children. In the movie one abducted child is drugged , blinded and made to beg on the road. The begging money will, of course, be taken by the gang leader. What will be the fate of these 3 children. It is anybody’s guess..

Now hold your breathe and take a look at the life and living conditions of these SLUMDOG BILLIONAIRES in Kochi town.

I was a bit apprehensive while taking photos of children because I could have been assaulted by these desperate people who might have thought that I have come there to abduct their children. In fact, one little girl screamed and told the other children to run and hide themselves. One girl covered her face. One little boy stood there bravely and challenged me to take his photo. Thank God I was not attacked.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I am posting this quote because I have been guilty of blunt assertions many times which got me into trouble and I lost some good friends. I hope this quote will help me change. You may find it useful too!

“I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of others and all positive assertions of my own. I even forbid myself the use of every word or expression in the language which imported a fixed opinion such as “certainly, “ “undoubtedly” etc. and I adopted instead of them, “I conceive,” “ I apprehend,” or “I imagine,” or “it appears to me at present.”

When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition; and in answering I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present case there appeared or seemed to be some difference etc.

I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner; the conversation I engaged in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I proposed my opinions procures them a readier reception and less contradictions.”


Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I am happy to inform you that this post was published by the Kochi edition of The New Indian Express, a leading English daily in India, on 17th February, 2009 in their centre page under the TIME OUT column. Actually I had posted this in my blog on 3rd June, 2008. A few days back I emailed the post with some modifications to the INDIAN EXPRESS and was delighted to see that it was published. Please read and enjoy.

One afternoon, after a heavy lunch, I got into a red killer bus at Menaka bus stop to go to my bank at Pallimukku. It was an unusually hot day and the bus was overcrowded. I hung on to the overhead bar and looked around. One kind man gestured towards me offering a seat next to him. He was sitting in the last row of seats that could seat six people.There were five people there and he pushed the man sitting next to him and made space for me. I gratefully acknowledged his magnanimous act and squeezed myself onto the seat. Those of you who travel in a bus will agree that it is better to sit uncomfortably than to stand in an overcrowded bus. People push, jostle and elbow with no mercy.

So I sat down and heaved a sigh of relief. I smiled at the man and thanked him for being so kind. He smiled back and nodded in acknowledgement. It is very difficult in these days to find such good and decent people. I relaxed. As mentioned earlier, I had had a heavy lunch and I felt drowsy. My eyes closed in spite of my best efforts to keep them open. I woke up with a start when the driver applied the brakes at a bus stop. I half opened my eyes and found the space next to me was vacant and the kind soul who had offered me the seat was about to alight from the bus.

He looked at me and I looked at him. He had a strange, startled look on his face. I didn’t bother and he jumped off the bus. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. The bus started moving.At frequent intervals I used to check my breast pocket to ensure that my mobile and money were there. The very next time I checked, I found my mobile missing. I panicked and desperately looked at the people seated and standing near me hoping that one of them would give me clue about my missing mobile. They seemed least bothered.

I realized that my mobile phone had been taken by the “kind soul” who had offered me a seat! I screamed, “ Stop the bus! Stop the bus! My mobile phone has been stolen. The thief got down at the previous stop.” People looked at me as though I was a nuisance. They were not interested in my mobile. Not a soul. They were only concerned about reaching their destination and reaching it fast. The bus driver did not bother to stop. Some even told me to shut up.

Finally the bus came to a stop at the next stop. I quickly scrambled out and ran back to the previous stop which was quite a distance away. I thought perhaps the thief would be hanging around and I could catch him red handed. When I reached the stop, huffing and puffing, there was no thief waiting there. Of course, it was foolish on my part to even think that he would be hanging around.

My thoughts rushed around. How will I contact my customers? How will they contact me? I will lose a big chunk of business. The thief could have at least given me the SIM card. He will get a measly amount from a second hand dealer. I would have willingly given him that money. I was completely shattered and stood there for a long time cursing my fate and mumbling abuses at the goddamn thief --- that kind soul.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


He was walking unsteadily with the help of a cane on MG Road near Perumanoor. He walked towards a ditch and I looked at him in horror. But with the help of his cane he avoided it. He tried to cross the road and banged himself on to a parked van. He steadied himself and started walking into Alapat Cross Road. He had lottery tickets in his hand.

I wanted to pick up a conversation with him. When he came to a shady place,
I said, ” Hello! I want to buy a ticket from you.” He stopped and took out a ticket.

I started talking to him and found out the following details .His name is Mohammed Basheer, a Muslim by religion. He is from Kalavoor in Alleppey District. His married and has two children. Kalavoor is about 60Km from Kochi. He sits near the Kerala Beverages Corporation retail outlet in Alapatt Cross Road. He earns about Rs.200($4) a day after meeting all his expenses.

While I was talking to him, I could see he was becoming impatient. Obviously, he was tired walking all the way from the bus stop. I asked him if he will take Rs.10 from me even if I did not buy his lottery ticket. He told me that it is my wish. So I gave him Rs.10, said bye to him and walked away

Here is an honest man. Although he has no eyes, he is not complaining. He is not begging. He doing his own business and earning a livelihood in a decent way. He doesn’t mind traveling alone all the distance every day. He is fulfilling his responsibility to his family without thinking of the hardships he has to undergo.A special,outstanding man with iron will and fantastic determination. A man to be admired and applauded by all of us.

God bless him and his family. .

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


You Can Improve Your Relations With Others Without Spending A Single Penny!

Learning to deal with people is like learning to walk except it requires a lot more work!

Here are the habits you should always avoid when interacting with people.

Habit #1 Looking down at the floor when speaking to someone. You must learn to look at someone directly in their eyes when speaking to them. If you were taught that staring at people was impolite, you're absolutely right. However, this does not mean you can't look at someone in his or her eyes.

Habit #2 Slouching when you're standing or sitting down. Stand up straight. In our society being tall is a good thing. When you slouch you appear much shorter. Not only will standing straight make you look taller but it will also give you a confident look.

Habit #3 Frowning and not smiling enough. No one likes to spend time with someone who's in a bad mood. If you're not feeling too great then try to keep your distance. People love to spend time with upbeat, optimistic people. Make an effort to smile, not frown.

Habit #4 Avoiding strangers. Since the day you were born, your parents have taught you never to speak to strangers. Well, you're a grown up now and things have changed. In order to develop exceptional people skills you need to be comfortable speaking to all types of people. You need to meet as many people as you can.

Habit #5 Making a poor first impression. Did you know that people will judge almost everything about you just by your first impression? Make an initial effort to get along with the person you are meeting and you'll save yourself a lot of trouble in the future.

Habit #6 Not making an effort to speak well. In order to develop great people skills you need to become a great conversationalist. This doesn't mean you need to speak a lot; this means you need to speak well. You need to articulate and choose your words wisely. Basically, you need to listen to what you're saying and not just blabber on about whatever you feel like.

Habit #7 Not being a good listener. Have you ever noticed how you tend to fall into a mind drift as soon as the other person begins to speak? Okay, well if you really don't care about the person, then fine. But if you do, make an effort to listen and let the person speak. It will only help you further on in the conversation.

Habit #8 Not staying in touch with your acquaintances. To make sure you have the best relationships with all of the people you know, you must stay in touch with them. You need to regularly check your contact list and remind them all that you still exist. I'm not saying to call them up twice a week but an occasional check up is always nice.

Habit #9 Not being proactive. When there is not enough action and things are looking dull, it's up to you to make a move. If you aren't satisfied with the current situation don't blame others, do something about it! Let's face it: no one really cares if you're unhappy, except maybe your mom...

Habit #10 Not facing your fears. Actually, this relates to all aspects of your life but in this context I'm talking about meeting new people, career promotions, etc. If you need to do something logical but your emotions are getting in the way, then you need to analyze the situation and use some common sense.

Habit #11Refusing to be open minded. There are all kinds of people out there. There are different religions, different races, different cultures, and different languages. Learn to accept others for who they are not who you want them to be. Give them your full respect and work out your differences unless of course you aren't receiving the respect you deserve.

There you go! These were the habits to always avoid if you really want to develop exceptional people skills!

(This was emailed to me by my friend Ravi Pillai in Ahmedabad)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Here are some photos of the wedding of my niece, SHINY JAMES PULIKOTIL. She is a Syrian Catholic and the groom is Syrian Jacobite. The wedding took place in a Syrian Jacobite Church.

Kindly bless her and wish her all happiness.