Some “fishy” thoughts…..

Our aquarium ... and it's residents
Our aquarium … and it’s residents

Our fish are not well 😦

Few days ago, Sneha tipped one whole bottle of goldfish food in to our fish tank.  My 2+year-old toddler – like her elder sister Saumya – is fond of watching fish these days, and spends a lot of her time in front of the aquarium; often standing on the sofa, leaning on to the aquarium with her nose pressed on to the glass.

Whenever I see her in this position, I pick her up from sofa and will keep on floor near to the tank, hoping she will prefer this normal view.  But Sneha always goes back to sofa, possibly because once on sofa, she can have a clearer view of most part of the tank.  Probably this position might also give her a surreal “under water” feeling, with bubbles escaped from filter pump floating – and bursting – in front of her eyes.

While I was not too happy with her preferred place, I hardly thought it will do any harm to her – or to fish for that matter.  But here we go; Sneha’s enthusiasm to imitate Papa and Mummy feeding fish resulted in this catastrophe.

OK….!!!!  No need to clarify.  I agree, I was trying to shift blame on to a 2-year-old!!  I should have kept the fish food far away from Sneha’s reach.

We brought these goldfish 3 years ago on a cold January weekend.  Saumya was younger, and she was fond of fishes.  Once we took her to our nearest aquatic retailer – Maidenhead Aquatics.  Saumya was mesmerized by the sheer verities of fishes.  “So many colours!  So many sizes!!  So many fishes!!!” she wandered all around the shop – seemingly for hours.

At the end Saumya settled in front of the tank with orange coloured goldfish and “demanded” to buy one of them.   Of the innumerable available types, I too was OK with goldfish – purely because I remembered reading somewhere that goldfish were supposed to be “tough”, could survive in harsh situations, were ok with cold water and were a bit tolerant towards an in-experienced aquarium owner.

Saumya's Favorite one
Saumya’s Favorite one

Though I liked having an aquarium in our living room, soon I started hating it and its occupants.  The fish ate too much and dirtied the tank too quickly.  The aquarium too demanded attention very often by turning stained-green.  I had to scrub and scrub endlessly – every alternate weekend – to make it look a bit cleaner.

Holidays gave another headache – who will feed the fish?!  It was Sunila who thought of it first.  I blamed the hungry fishes and kept quiet.  But Sunila ensured that the fish were fed nicely by requesting one of our good friends to come in and feed fish on alternate days.  She also searched over internet and brought an automatic feeder by the time we planned our next vacation.

Over the period, one of the goldfishes turned its colour – from gold to silver!  That story another time.

Anyways, slow and steady the fish became part of our life.  All three girls like the fish and feed them; I try not to hate them while cleaning the tank.

Back to our current issue.  When Sunila told me about the incident over phone and mentioned that she removed leftover food floating around, I thought the matter was closed.

That was almost 5 days ago.

This Saturday, I noticed the unusual cloudy water in aquarium.  As the water was replaced last Saturday, I wrongly attributed the cloudiness to recent change in climate.  I should have known better. By Sunday morning, all four goldfishes were hovering above water, gasping for air.  Then, and then only alarm bells started ringing in my head – food poison!

Straightway Saumya and I went into action mode; it took solid 3 hours for us to remove 90% of water, clean gravel and other plastic tank ornaments, and re-fill the tank.  The goldfishes seemed a bit tried with this whole exercise and soon went motion-less, resting (sleeping?) down below.  As this sleep is normal on afternoons, especially after a change of water – it looked all normal.

We went out to meet one of our friends as planned earlier, and came back home only late evening.  Once in, I went straight to the aquarium.  Goldfishes were up and active – swimming all around the tank as expected on evenings.

That was when I noticed the burned mark.  Of the 4 goldfishes, three have blood red colour on their foreheads. The fourth – Saumya’s favourite – one’s forehead is now whitish.

It’s late Sunday evening.  Maidenhead Aquatics should have been closed long ago.   Not knowing what to do, I googled on “goldfish red forehead”.  That’s when we came across the dreaded words “ammonia burn”.  It seems the extra food had contaminated the water, causing the burn marks.  The more one searches on symptoms, the more worrying facts emerge.  I don’t want to go to those details 😦

Sigh… let bygones be bygones.  We have done what we could do now – thorough cleaning and a change of water.  But it looks like all is not well.  Even though the fishes are active, swimming around, and not gasping for air anymore, their bright red foreheads does not give Sunila or me any comfort.

Have you gone through this situation before?

Are there any medicines?

Let us know what could be done to save these fishes.  They are loved a lot by Saumya, Sneha and Sunila…. And these days, by me too!

Couple of good days….

After a busy office day, for some reason I feel happy towards end of this day.

While thinking why, I realise that the feeling is not just for this day, but for last couple of days. 

Reasons?

To start with, BBC website declares that “Commons back gay marriage bill”.  Even though it splits the Conservatives right through the middle, the bill passed with a good majority.  Good news indeed.  Right to love and marriage should not be limited only to heterosexual couples; gay/lesbian couples too have equal right to express and celebrate their love for each other.

It was only yesterday we heard Malala Yousafzai is feeling “better and all right” in her own words; yet another reason to be happy about.  A 15 year old girl’s day-to-day life is just not meant to be lost in operation theatres and hospital beds.  Despite this, Malala’s sparkling eyes, her enthusiasm and vision for future gives an assurance that all is not lost – not yet – for Pakistan.  Hope, aspirations and yearning for a better tomorrow could be heard loudly and clearly in Malala’s voice – not only her’s, but of an entire nation’s.

There are reasons to be happy on personal front too….

Sunila cleared a test, Saumya started eating better; she also reads books very nicely these days.  It gives me so much pleasure just to listen how Saumya blend words – a technique I was not familiar when I started reading.  Sneha is – well, as happy as always 🙂  A long-awaited trip to Kerala is now scheduled; soon will meet parents, family members, good old friends and relatives.  Nicer times are in store for near future to be happy about.

I re-started gym and badminton few weeks ago and lost 7 kilos during the process; another reason to feel happy 🙂

Last but not least, this post resumes what I stopped almost 2 months ago – writing.  It too gives me happiness.  A good friend after reading my blogs enquired whether I write diary regularly; I don’t.  Though, I feel my blogs could be a reflection of my daily thoughts and actions. 

So hopefully, more posts to follow in coming days…

All in all, couple of good days…

Old Man on Regent Street

Few days ago, I was walking to my hotel room in Cambridge after dinner at a nearby restaurant.

As fate dictates on unusually cold November nights, it started to drizzle as well. Trees shed rain drops on separation.  Leaves rustled in gentle breeze and circled around; slowly wind blew them away from trees.

Autumn had declared victory over summer and togetherness.

Each year, autumn reminds me of separation and loneliness.  Maybe it is the falling leaves; or it could be the passing year, or even the silent nights.  It might be a mix of all of these; who knows? Lots of simple questions have no answers.

I experienced fall only after coming to England.  At home town in Kerala, seasons nurtured nature with sun and rain, and were kind enough not to impose autumn and its separation.

The first English autumn I witnessed was the most striking one.  Ten years ago on that late October morning when I came out of the bed & breakfast where I stayed during bachelor days, nature presented a completely different front garden.  The Hawthorn, beech and even the weeping willows turned their green leaves to a colourful mixture of red, brown and bright yellow.  Bloodgood Japanese Maple on garden corner was the last one to turn deciduous.  As if to catch up with lost time, instead of going through shades of red and yellow, the bloodgood’s purple leaves left in a hurry to turn the tree with desolate branches.  By December, the once green surrounding turned all grey and white.  From December till March my heart longed for spring.

After grey days of winter when the spring turns up, I always felt that the trees had somehow reincarnated.  Instead of growing old with passed time, they turned more handsome and powerful.  Though they will go through numerous future harsh winter days, each of those days the trees could dream of their newer, younger, powerful self, waiting to reincarnate.

How short and weak the human life is, when compared to this magical transformation!

A bicycle bell ring brought me back from thoughts to Cambridge.  I took a turn in to Regent Street.  Bright lights pushed winter’s darkness away from the street.  Shop windows on either side of road reflected blinking red light from the passing cycle.  As the cycle passed by, shop windows handed over reflections to their neighbours.   After few seconds it was difficult to detect the source from its reflections.  Slowly the twinkling red light and hundreds of its followers glided towards English Martyrs’ church.  Soon the street went quiet.

Freshly fallen leaves and rain water made the pavement slippery.  Ice cold rain drops reminded me of duvet in warm hotel room. I hurried to reach indoors before the light rain turned in to a heavy one.

The street was now empty except for an old man walking towards my direction. From a distance he looked fragile and in his late 70s. He walked slowly, but inched ahead, body swinging from one side to other. I was surprised to find him out on street at that time of night.

When we reached near each other, I looked at him to greet but instead, just stood there. In front was a familiar face from my childhood days.

“Good evening”, I managed to mumble at last.

“Evening”, he replied in a delicate voice. There was a tiny smile on corner of his dry lips.

“Be …” he continued.

I was not listening. Even though I stood in front of him, my mind was busy travelling back to past in lightning speed.

Calicut was – and is – an ever-growing city with bustling market and a trading hub.  Goods to north Kerala passed through godowns of Calicut.  Busy streets crowded with trucks, tempos, three-wheeled auto-rickshaws and hand-pulled carts carried goods from one godown to another.  Hardworking men hurried around in city centre selling and buying things, making profits in each transaction.  While wholesale business occupied Palayam junction and Valiyangadi, retailers ruled the narrow but prestigious SM Street.  Each of these areas and streets has thousands of stories to tell – of Arab, Portuguese and British merchants; and of war stories of Samoothiris and Tipu Sultan.

Those days, my family lived in a rented house near to Corporation Football Stadium, which was a bit far away from the maddening market areas.  With a temple and few grocery shops, the area was comparatively quieter and calmer – except during football seasons.

I might have been 7-8 years old when the old man with his flute was a regular sight on a road-side near our home. He appeared to be in his 80s, wore the same old shirt and a torn off-white dhothi almost every day. He hardly looked up. With closed eyes, the old man played sad tunes on his flute. Infrequently his yellowish eyes wandered around to catch up with time, surroundings or life passing by. As if felt out-of-place, he will quickly look down, close eyes, and continue the music.

Most of the crowd on Pavamani Road walked past him without even acknowledging the old man sitting, playing music. A few offered coins in to the rusted tin in front of him.  Customers at “MohanDas Cycle Repair and Renting shop”, few meters away from his usual spot, too ignored him.  The old man and his music was part of the background, like many other street lives that were part of the same canvas.

It seemed no one knew where he came from, or where he rested in nights.  Some said he used to work in a bank as a senior clerk but drinks brought him to street.  Others said his wife and kids abandoned him when he turned old and became a burden.  No one knew for sure; no one cared.  Whether it was pouring monsoon or scorching summer he was at his usual place, playing music with the rusted tin box in front of him.

How vividly I recollect that dark green clasped Farex tin! Memories are strange indeed. They lie low for so many years deep underneath, without showing any proof of existence. But when bubble up, are as fresh as when they were first encountered.  What other reason could I give for still remembering the shape of the Farex tin and his broken grey-black slippers?!

I saw him regularly on my way to school on weekday mornings. He will be at the same spot, playing flute. Melodious Hindustani tunes will dance around him; but the dance will last only for a few seconds; soon they will get lost in busy traffic noise like small kid in a busy market.

My childhood fantasy yearned for the old man to get up and re-claim his pretty tunes back from the nasty traffic.

“How happy would the tunes be, if they could go back to the flute rather than wandering in horrid traffic?!” I used to wonder. “They would surely start dancing again with joy if only they could re-unite with the flute!”

Of course, the old man was oblivious of the sad endings of his tunes. He would sit there, half-asleep, letting more tunes to dance around him in the air.

On weekends the old man used to visit houses in our area to collect alms. By the time he reached our main door, my sister or I would be ready with a coin from the glass jar kept above bookshelf. The glass jar was meant for these occasions – when milkman asked for change, or when ice-cream vans or beggars turned up.

Once in front of our house, the old man will call “Ammaaaaaa, dharmam!”

I always waited for his feeble cry to finish before throwing coin in to his tin.  We kids were told not to go out when tramps were around. Scary stories of kids – being snatched by beggars and made blind – roaming on streets were good enough to keep us indoors. Hence we always threw the coin out through the grilled main door.

Along with the clinking sound of coins in his tin, a tiny smile will appear somewhere between his dry lips; yellow eyes will slowly close and reopen. Shaking the tin, he will walk towards next door – with body swinging from one side to other. The “Ammaaaaaa, dharmam!” call and clinking sound will slowly drift further and further apart.

Thinking about it now, I realize that he never played flute during those visits. Was it because the artist inside him felt self-pity? Another of those questions, for which I may never get an answer….

Years passed by. Life offered surprises, newer friends and more excitement. Instead of being bored at home on weekend afternoons, we friends started renting cycles and rode all around Calicut.  Initially we were satisfied riding around the Corporation Football Stadium and SK Temple roads.    But slowly we braved ourselves to ride in to busy Calicut city; but speeding buses and big trucks at Palayam junction scared us away from centre of city.  Soon we changed our destination to Calicut beach.  The straight roads welcomed us and our carefree riding. We friends boasted of riding together all the way till Kappad when we grew up.

During those days, I used to see the old man at his usual place. He was always there, but my eyes ignored him; an old man with flute was not an appealing sight for teenage eyes. Slowly the old man disappeared completely from my world.

One wet Sunday evening we friends returned the rented cycles and were walking back home. Someone joked and all of us started laughing; further jokes and shouts followed. Busy enjoying the company, I was not aware of the mud and rain water on road, slipped on the same and fell backwards.

On each second of the weightless-free-fall, I dreadfully expected to hit the ground; but just before the final thud, two hands held me. The weak skinny hands surely lessened the impact, but were not strong enough to stop my body ending up lying flat on back in muddy water.

Friends surrounded me, laughing hysterically. All wet and dirt on T-shirt, I got up.

“Stop laughing you idiots”, I shouted, feeling annoyed and embarrassed.

More laughs followed; this time pedestrians too joined in the fun.

“Are you ok?” one kind soul enquired. I thanked and replied I was fine.

Back on legs, I looked around. It took few more moments to realise what actually happened. Next to me was the old man, sitting at his usual place; his flute, Farex tin and coins all around him.

He looked much older, with most bones visible and skin tuned charcoal black.

“देख के …” (“Look …”) he started saying something, but seeing my expression, stopped.

With the despise only a teenager could offer to someone from older generation, I walked past him without offering sorry or thanks. That was the last time I remember seeing the old man.

Regent St. sketchOr so I thought, till this cold wet November night on Reagent Street at Cambridge. Slowly, I came back from Pavamani Road to Regent Street.

I had another look at the man. Through his expensive M&S overcoat, I could see skinny pale white hands shivering in cold and wet weather.

Of course it’s someone else, my left brain reassured. Or else he should be around 110 years! In his vintage coat and old hat, the respectable English gentleman was miles – and cultures – apart from his charcoal black-skinned counterpart from Calicut streets; also, he looked younger and more cheerful.

At that moment he raised his head and looked straight in to my eyes. There, I swear to you, I saw those very same yellowish eyes.

He slowly closed and reopened his eyes. With a tiny smile on corner of dry lips, he said in pure Hindi:

“देख के चलो, वरना फिरसे फिसल कर गिरेगा !” (“Look where you’re going, or else you might slip again !”).

Then, with satisfaction of finishing an incomplete sentence, he turned and walked away – body swinging from one side to other.

I stood glued to Regent Street; flute tunes danced around me in autumn’s cold Cambridge air.

Musings on a rainy day…..

Rain has the same beauty everywhere.

Saumya and I looked out of the restaurant window.  Rain was pouring.  We could see one young mother half-running, pushing her pram.  Through transparent rain cover, her baby giggled with delight.  An elderly man walked past with an umbrella which was for sure a recent purchase, because a price tag was still holding on to it.  The tag shivered – either with excitement whether to accept rain’s invitation, or with fear of an oblivious unceremonious end in muddy pavement.

Three teenagers walked past laughing and teasing their fourth friend, completely ignoring the rain.  As if angry, rain turned heavier.

“It rains everyday”, Saumya said in half-matter of fact and half-complaint tone.  But today, she does not mind the rain much; in fact she wanted to go out in rain.  Reason for this desire is lying below our table – a pink umbrella.

“But I have my Peppa Pig ‘mbrella!”  Saumya continued, “I will not get wet at all”.

While Saumya was busy eating her Macaroni pasta, I thought of the rains we had at my home town in Kerala.  It was not just rain, but festival of rain – the monsoon!  My primary school year memories insist that monsoon arrived first week of each school year.   In younger classes, Amma, or my elder cousins, used to take me to school.  Amma worked at the telephone exchange at other end of town, but ensured that I was in school before time and used to rush back to her office, mostly walking.

At evenings, Amma will be at front gates before the school bell; sometimes, a bit late.  Wearing raincoat, I used to wait near the deserted main gate.  No kids running around expect rain drenching flowers and garden bushes.  When Amma arrives, I will run to her; both of us then walked back home, with rain marching along.

Those days, we stayed in a rented house, near to Corporation Football Stadium.  Monsoon visited us every year either with wild beauty or brutal force.  When it rains heavily for three to four days, the linked row-houses will turn in to a small island.  Road in-front will get converted in to a small canal.  There was an open drain on left side of the road.  It was impossible to make out where the drain starts and road ends.  Rainwater paraded through the drain, carrying small bushes and tree branches.

Mini, my sister, and I made paper boats and floated them; and rain took all the paper boats away from us,  to faraway places crossing seven seas.  Mini is seven seas across in US on a business trip.  At India she stays in Bangalore –groovy, trendy, fashionable cosmopolitan, but I always felt something is missing in Bangalore’s monsoon; maybe the greenery of trees and simplicity of nature, which a busy city could never boast of.

During early work life in Bombay too, rain was a constant companion.  [Though the official name is Mumbai, to me the city is/was always Bombay.  Mumbai reminded of saffron flags and Shiv-sainik’s hatred. Bombay, on other hand, is the ever-lively cosmopolitan city of fun-loving, hard-working, secular, zealous people who came to this wonderful city from all part of the country.  ….More on Bombay some other time!]

Back to rain…“Don’t believe rains and girls of Bombay” was one of the first advice given to me by Bombay friends.  Rain was an unwanted companion on commute to work.  In earlier days, I used to take locals, but later on my proud Yamaha.  Either way, I cursed rain on those journeys.  Local train full of wet/sweat covered people was claustrophobic.  Equally bad were the motorbike rides; trucks and buses soaked pedestrians and bikers in (d)rain water.  Though belonged to same monsoon gang, weekend rains were calmer and kinder.  We friends enjoyed rain-drenched bike-rides along Juhu, Worli and Chaupati.

“Let’s go find Mummy”, Saumya’s voice brought me back to Bracknell’s rain and its music.  We came out of the restaurant, looking for her mother busy shopping somewhere nearby.  Rain drizzled on us; somehow I was sure this same rain is busy pouring heavily now in Kozhikode and Bombay as well.

Creches at workplace

A number of very able, highly educated women whom I know are not working, just because they are not in a position to leave their kids somewhere during the time they are out for work.  Reasons are many: there is no good nursery nearby; time taken to commute between home, nursery and office; unable to be punctual at all of the places, resulting in completely different, but equally catastrophic outcomes.  In a nutshell, a number of various, valid reasons force these women to be a full-time mum-at-home.  [Now, I am not saying that being a full-time mom-at-home is a bad thing at all; given chance and circumstances agree, I myself would love to be a full-time dad-at-home.]

Just think of the contribution these women could provide to our society if they could work without being anxious of their children’s care during the time when she is at work?

Even for working parents, the story is not very different.   There are many worries for a mother (for father too):  Who will take care of her kids when she is at work?  How competent and honest the child carer is?  Will it be possible for him/her to leave early enough the office so that he/she can reach the pre-school in time to collect the kid(s)?  If late, how real is the threat of getting reported to social care?

Majority of above questions of anxious mothers could be answered, by a single solution – an office crèche.  By this, I mean a crèche opened in the business premises itself.  If space is an issue, as a temporary measure, the businesses could reach tie-ups with nearest crèche.  The businesses only have to take care of the high level responsibility of the crèche; day-2-day running of the crèche could be outsourced to any respectable pre-school / crèche / nurseries.

I still fondly remember the crèche operated by Department of Telecommunications in a small town in India, where my parents worked in 1970s.  In my younger days, I was a very regular visitor, and I enjoyed my time there.  I still remember the faces of aayaas (child minders) at that crèche.  If a developing (in fact a third-world country in 70s) country could do this 40 years ago, why cannot it be implemented in UK of modern times?

Why should spend the businesses money on crèche?

Why not?!

  • The young mothers spsend most of her daytime in the office; even though one argue she is getting paid for it, can whatever wage paid compensate for youth and motherhood?  Of course not!  So this is a small expenditure for the business in return for the daytime of a mother’s time with her kid.
  • Worker or employee is the most key resource for any business / organisation.  It is well-known that happy employees produce far better output than their unhappy counterparts.
  • Workplace crèche arrangement will not only help the businesses to become more productive, but also help the national economy by generating more jobs in the childcare arena.

To start with, the Government should put in a policy to all medium to large enterprises to provide for crèche at workplace, wherever possible.  Government could even assist the businesses by giving tax-breaks for those organisations who keep aside a portion of their profits towards their employee’s requirements.

There could be various difficulties and issues to say “No” to this proposal.  But there will be only one, simple, straightforward reason for the businesses to say “Yes” – that they are serious about the well-being of their employees and their families.

Adieu, Satheesh….

I just stood and listened to the dreaded news in broken words from Priya.  Even though it was known that Satheesh’s health was not at all promising, my ever optimistic mind hardly thought of this outcome.

It was 7th Jan 2010 – the day after the heaviest snow I ever experienced.  In fact, the coldest winter UK experienced since 1963.  Working from home, and in between numerous phone calls and instant messages from offshore team, the soft voice of Priya brought me back to the real world that mattered most.

Who was Satheesh Shenoy?

When typed ‘was’, something shattered inside silently.  There is no simple, single sentence to describe the complete package called Satheesh – and it is impossible for one person to do so.  So, let me say a few words about the Satheesh I knew – one of my best friends, a great Team Lead and consultant, badminton player with a number of trophies, one who enjoyed travelling and loved organizing events and trips, one who is always there to help when you need it most; the list will go on and on…..

I still remember the day I first met Satheesh.  A rainy mid-May day in 2003, my first day at Siemens plc Bracknell Head Office.  It was lunch time and my new colleagues were going out to either canteen or their homes for a quick-lunch.  The slim, tall figure of Satheesh came to my desk and said – “Namaskaaram, Enthokkeyundu?”  (Greetings, what are the news?), as if we were known to each other for a long long time.  The very next day, Satheesh invited me to his home for lunch, which I promptly accepted.  A Kerala lunch was not so easily available for a non-driving, bachelor staying in a B&B in Bracknell.  That was the beginning.  How many more delicious lunches, dinners and snacks I had at his home, made by Amma and Priya!

The very same week gave me the opportunity to see Satheesh’s organizing skills.  He easily accommodated Adi, Anil, Vasan and me in his already planned Cornwall trip for May bank holiday weekend.  All we had to do was to arrange a car; rest everything – cottage to stay, travel schedule, sites to visit, and even where to get Indian food – were planned weeks ago.  During the trip, I somehow felt that Satheesh had pre-arranged the weather as well!  Sunny skies and deep blue oceans welcomed us at each beach, and the Japanese Garden near New Quay too was in its full glory.  I travelled much after this trip, to various parts of the UK and Cornwall itself; but I can still confidently say that my first trip to Cornwall was the best planned one.

Following the trip, Satheesh encouraged me to join his weekly badminton sessions at Bracknell Leisure Centre.  Five to six of us played badminton at least once a week.  Soon I found out that I need to practice harder to keep up with Satheesh and his playmates.  Satheesh, Sailesh, Subhash and Balika were at another level altogether compared to my skills.

Later that year, Siemens UK started SAP implementation for their HR requirements.  Even though Satheesh was new to SAP, by go-live  he became an expert in SAP HR module.  I have memories of external HR consultants getting ‘tips’ from Satheesh on how to simplify a complex configuration!  At the same time, he would answer “how-to” queries from business users in simple, non-technical words.

The year went quickly.  Whether it was to apply for an NI card, fill tax forms, rent a house or buy a camcorder, Satheesh’s expertise was exploited.  Not only by me, but by rest of the team as well.  His trips to Sainsbury’s or Safeway were often not alone.  Consultants on short business trips, not with own vehicles, might be with him – to get a ride back with groceries.

Following year, Siemens shifted me to Poole office.  Even though I missed the badminton evenings, we were still very much in touch.  I used his travel documents (Let’s Go Scotland,   Let’s Go London, and many others) to visit UK attractions.  Satheesh used to joke that he should apply strict copyrights for his documents. He used to get emails from unknown people requesting further details on an attraction mentioned in the documents!  Blame the rest of us, who made these documents available to world, with our own alterations.

When I requested Satheesh to attend Saumya’s first birthday get together, he kindly accepted the same and was at the venue with his family. Was a bit late to arrive and said “I am sorry, but need to talk to you later today, once you are back home”.  When pressed to know what the matter was, he said “nothing serious”.  Later that day he delicately informed that he was diagnosed with cancer and is about to undergo treatment in coming days.  Only then I realized that even though he was in extreme pain, Satheesh never mentioned it earlier the day, just not to disturb the party atmosphere.  I was speechless, not knowing how to respond to this person who cared more for other’s comfort than his own agony.

Slowly, we learned that the disturbing news was more serious.  But endless hospital runs and painful side-effects did not stopped him from being his usual self.  Satheesh organised  a few more one-day trips.   We went to Bristol Balloon Fiesta along with other friends, not knowing this will be my last outing with Satheesh.  Hospital visits became frequent again.  Even though he was getting weaker, Satheesh was with laptop in hospitals; whenever he could, he was in touch with friends via emails and social sites.  I met him last on the day before he left for India.  Though weak, he said – “See you soon”, and I replied “Yes, in Bracknell; in a few month’s time”.

Friends like Satheesh are hard to get, and their farewell are a great loss to all who knew them.

Satheesh ji, you will be always in our hearts.  We know you are still keeping yourself busy somewhere else; we wait for that next email on upcoming events – whether it is the Bournemouth Air Festival or Leeds Castle trip or Abhishekam at Birmingham Balaji temple …

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