Sunday, April 29, 2012

Quintuplets beat odds to clear Grade 10 exams - My letters

Quintuplets beat odds to clear Grade 10 exams

After father's death, mother raised them single-handedly
By K. Jayaprakash, CorrespondentPublished: 00:00 April 29, 2012

Thiruvananthapuram: The quintuplets of Kerala are in the news again. They — Uthara, Uthraja, Uthrajan, Utthara and Uthama — have scored exceptionally well in the Grade 10 examination, results of which were announced on Thursday.

Thus, the four sisters and the lone brother fulfilled their promise to their mother Remadevi, who works as a peon at the Pothencode branch of the District Cooperative Bank in Thiruvananthapuram.

She single-handedly takes care of her five children since the demise of her husband Premkumar seven years ago.

The couple was happy at the birth of five children, though they had wished for one. But their happiness was short-lived.

"They were not healthy. They fell sick frequently. We took them to hospital regularly and it was unimaginable to take care of the five together," Remadavi recalled.

Adding to the couple's woes, Premkumar's business (a stationery shop and bakery) ran into trouble. As losses mounted, he committed suicide.

"Some newspaper carried my ordeal. Thus, the government offered me the current job. Several people came to help. I had decided that I would not follow the path of my husband. I decided to bring up my kids by doing any job at any cost.
"I don't know how the money will be raised for their education. Some organisations have come forward," Remadevi said.

The five are on cloud nine as wishes and blessings are pouring in from near and far to their home at Venjaranmood.

"I want to be a doctor," Uthraja said. Uthara dreams of being a journalist. Their brother Uthrajan aims to be a computer engineer. Utthara and Uthama are confused about what course to pursue. While Uthraja has scored six A+ (for Grade 10 exams, grades are given, not marks — A+ is top scoring), her sisters and brother have fared equally well.

Uthrajan and Uthara prefer the computer science group for Grade 11 and 12 while the rest have decided to pursue the science stream. They plan to continue their studies at Lourde Mount Higher Secondary School, Vattapara.

"The school authorities have offered them seats," Remadevi told Gulf News.

They were born through a Caesarean section at the SUT hospital in Thiruvanathapuram in 1995.

My comments as follows:

Congratulations to these 5 children and their mother to take harsh life realities head on and reach this far with a winning smile. It is commendable in all aspects on this mother as we all know how demanding educational expenses are and for the children with limited resources to keep aiming on an objective oriented academics to progress in life. Gulf News too deserve special praise to highlight this story with prominence as it will be inspiring to all students from the region and keep reminding them that difficulties if any, are momentary and they have to aim high and stay focused on their goal. Another sense of this particular news coverage was it’s meaningfulness to readers than reading mundane news like some person marrying two sisters at the same time. Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS online.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Family of five survive on leftovers from weddings

Family of five survive on leftovers from weddings

Father says he contemplated suicide several times
  • By Rayeesa Absal, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 April 25, 2012

Al Ain: A family, including three young children, the youngest just two years old, has been surviving mostly on leftover food they salvage from a wedding hall near their home, for over 18 months now.
In a place where food wastage is come across too often, the Indian family of five is determined to fight against the odds to survive, they said, but they don't deny having had second thoughts. The father, Mohammad (full name withheld to protect privacy), confesses that the thought of suicide has crossed his mind several times.

Crying inconsolably, covering his face tightly with his hands, he said that his little one, who is always clinging on to him, is probably the reason he hasn't gone that far.

"My three daughters, aged nine, seven and two push me to keep trying my best to survive," he said.
Whenever kind-hearted neighbours, some of whom are working at the wedding hall itself, inform them about a wedding taking place, the entire family waits until about 11pm or midnight — when the celebrations usually come to an end — and then go to the hall to collect leftover food, with the permission of the workers.

"Mostly it is camel meat and rice and other food items we get. We freeze the food in plastic bags, write the date on the bags and ration it out over the week, until there is another wedding," said Mohammad, 41, who hails from Kerala in India.

"It felt a better option than letting the kids starve," his wife, added.

Speaking to Gulf News at their home in Al Ain, the family said that they have been struggling financially for some time now. Mohammad has been in the UAE for 16 years, doing interior decoration jobs in households while his family used to live in India.

Like many expatriate workers he missed his family, but could not afford to bring them here. Then some tormenting family issues back home, forced his wife to attempt suicide as she slashed her wrist. Fortunately, she did not succeed, but Mohammad knew he had to bring his family to stay with him to avoid such situations from recurring, he said.

But problems for him began when he decided to be part of a plan of his ‘trusted friend' to set up a small business. The so-called friend took off with the money, leaving Mohammad indebted to the loan shark. He ended up in prison but his Emirati sponsor managed to get him out of jail after reaching a compromise with the loan shark.

"Now I pay him [the loan shark] Dh1,000 every month out of the Dh1,300 I earn monthly from my sponsor. The remaining is hardly enough to pay even the school fees, let alone grocery," he said.

Their house, an almost dilapidated extension of a villa, belonging to their house owner, reflects their plight. The only room of the house has a bed with no mattress on one side, a broken air conditioner and a wardrobe with no doors. Torn uniforms and schools bags are tucked away under the bed.

"It is hardest for the children," Mohammad's wife said. "Their friends make fun of them at school, about the shabby clothes their father wears. They feel very ashamed."

A worker from a nearby home, provides them with goat milk and eggs occasionally, she said.

Sigh of relief

The family can now heave a sigh of relief as a charity organisation, Valley of Love (VOL), has taken up their case. The volunteers are helping us sort out our issue — one at a time. They spoke to the school, who then donated [a] few uniforms. We are hopeful of things taking a turn for the better," Mohammad said.

VOL volunteer Joseph Bobby said that the plight of the family is probably the worst one he has seen in years of working as a volunteer. "There is no use of sympathising after a person commits suicide, rather the community should help when there is still time." The recent spate of suicides are what prompted VOL to focus on such cases, he said. Most would have given up long before, but they are brave enough to fight it out, added Bobby

To help Mohammad and his family, please contact Joseph Bobby, volunteer of the Valley of Love, on 055 3370044.
My comments as follows:

Very timely news for this family, which I hope will assist them to recover and us to not see a repeat of the recent Ras Al Khaimah family tragedy of a similar kind. God bless all those who assisted them with helping hand before this news came out and now and on till they are safe and settled. Special appreciation and praise also goes to his local sponsor for helping him when in need.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Photo speaks - Don't hit me from the back

Caution - don't hit me from the back. A caparisoned elephant and the deity (Kaduppassery Bhagavathy) on way to the famous Arattuppuzha Pooram. A road side scene I saw during the first week of April 2012 at Irinjalakuda. Take a closer look and note the way the reflective stickers have been wrapped on the elephants tail. Safety of elephants used for temple festivals are really a matter of concern. Each time an elephant goes wild, there will be talks, but then as usual, the public and the festival committees and elephant owners association, not to forget about the authorities, forget what happened and close their eyes.

It's definitely a busy world if you happened to be an elephant in Kerala.

Photo Speaks - View from far and high

I watched from my apartment window this monkey sitting and himself watching what's happening around. From far and a height, while his friends played around, or searched food or whatever. It was quite relaxed for a very long time and just enjoyed.

I felt, what a good idea, have to try learning doing it.

Photo speaks - Train travel

A train arriving at Irinjalakuda railway station. It is really a special feeling to wait for the train, listen to the bell signalling the arrival of the train, then the special bell followed by the closing of the railway gate. The rush of passengers running for tickets just before the arrival of the train. The anxiety of finding the compartment position. Then here it comes with continuous honking of its loud horn. And there jumps the tea wallas, the passengers, the porters in and out. All happens within minutes and once again, it departs with loud horn and curious passengers looking outside to see the scenary or random beauty around, while those in trying to get a seat or settle themseleves in for the rest of the journey.

Photo Speaks - A bee sucking honey

A honey bee at work. What attracted me is the combination of colors including those of the flower and the bee. Nature has its own way of protecting those around with deceptiveness of unknown kind and character.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

സൂക്ഷിക്കുക - ഇവര്‍ തിരക്കിലാണ്, ഇവരെ കൊണ്ട് നടക്കുന്നവര്‍ അതിലേറെ

സൂക്ഷിക്കുക - ഇവര്‍ തിരക്കിലാണ്, ഇവരെ കൊണ്ട് നടക്കുന്നവര്‍ അതിലേറെ

ഏപ്രില്‍ ആദ്യ വാരം തൃശ്ശൂരില്‍ പോകാന്‍ ഇടയായത് കൊണ്ട് ഈ കാഴ്ചകള്‍ കാണാന്‍ പറ്റി. ആറാട്ടുപ്പുഴ, പെരുവനം ഊരകം പൂരങ്ങള്‍ നടക്കുന്ന സമയം. ഇതു റോഡുകളിലും ഒരു ആനയെ എങ്കിലും കാണാന്‍ പറ്റുമെന്ന സന്തോഷം മനസ്സില്‍ ഉറപ്പിച്ചു കൊണ്ട് കാര്‍ ഓടിച്ചു. പക്ഷെ കണ്ട കാഴ്ചകള്‍ എന്നെ അങ്ങനെ ഒരു കാഴ്ച കാണേണ്ടി വന്നുവല്ലോ എന്ന് വേദനിപ്പിച്ചു. ആറാട്ടുപ്പുഴ പൂരത്തിന്റെ അന്ന് ഇരിങ്ങാലക്കുട ടാണ കവലയില്‍ കാര്‍ എത്തിയപ്പോള്‍ അതാ പോകുന്നു. ഒട്ടും വേഗത കുറക്കാതെ ഒരു ലോറി. അതില്‍ ഒരു ഒത്ത ആനയും. സമയം ഒരു നാല് മണി കഴിഞ്ഞിരിക്കും. തീര്‍ച്ചയായും അത് പൂരത്തിന് കൊണ്ട് പോകുന്ന ഏതോ ഒരു ആന, സമയത്ത് ഒരു സ്ഥലത്തെ ജോലി കഴിഞ്ഞു മറ്റേ സ്ഥലത്ത് എത്തിക്കാന്‍ വേണ്ടി കരാര്‍കാരന്‍ പെടുന്ന പെടാപ്പാടു 
ആയിരിക്കും അത്.
ഞാന്‍ ആലോചിച്ചു. ആ ആനയുടെ അവസ്ഥ എന്തായിരിക്കും. ഉത്സവ പറമ്പില്‍ എത്തിയാല്‍ ഒരു മിനിട്ട് പോലും ഒന്ന് വിശ്രമിക്കാന്‍ സമയം ഇല്ലാതെ പുതിയ ജോലിയില്‍ പ്രവേശിക്കണം. പുതിയ സ്ഥലം. പുതിയ കാലാവസ്ഥ, പുതിയ ഭക്ഷണം, വലിയ ജനക്കൂട്ടം, തീ പന്തങ്ങള്‍, മേളക്കാര്‍, പൂരവും ആന ഭ്രാന്തും പിടിച്ച കാണികള്‍.
ഇവന്‍ ഇടഞ്ഞിലെന്കിലെ അത്ഭുതം ഉള്ളു.
അധികാരികളും, ഉത്സവ നടത്തിപ്പുകാരും തീര്‍ത്തും ആലോചിക്കേണ്ട സമയം  കഴിഞ്ഞിരിക്കുന്നു.

എന്നെ ഏറ്റവും അമ്പരിപ്പിക്കുന്ന വസ്തുത, ഈ പരക്കം പാച്ചില്‍ കണ്ടിട്ടും അതിനെതിരെ ശബ്ദം ഉയര്‍ത്താതിരിക്കുന്ന ആന പ്രേമികളും നാട്ടുക്കാരും എന്താണ് മൌനം പാലിക്കുന്നത് എന്ന വസ്തുതയാണ് ?
ഒരു ആനയെ ഒരു സ്ഥലത്ത് നിന്ന് മറ്റൊരു സ്ഥലത്തേക്ക് കൊണ്ട് വന്നാല്‍, അതിനു വേണ്ട വിശ്രമം കൊടുത്തെ തീരു. 
കൂടാതെ പ്രധാനമായും അവരെ കൊണ്ട് പോകുന്ന വാഹനങ്ങള്‍ അമിത വേഗത ഒരിക്കലും  പാടില്ല. 
സാവധാനം, ശ്രദ്ധയോട് കൂടി   ആ വാഹനങ്ങള്‍ ഓടിക്കണം. ഉത്തരവാദപ്പെട്ടവര്‍ കൂടെ മുന്നിലോ  പിന്നിലോ  മറ്റൊരു വാഹനത്തില്‍ അനുഗമിച്ചു അവരുടെ പോക്ക് ശ്രദ്ധിക്കണം.  
ഈ മിണ്ടാപ്രാണികള്‍  ഇടഞ്ഞാല്‍ നമ്മള്‍ തന്നെ അല്ലെ കുറ്റക്കാര്‍.നിങ്ങള്‍ പറയൂ.  

 ഇനിയും ചില പ്രധാന പൂരങ്ങളും ഉത്സവങ്ങളും ഇക്കൊല്ലം ഭാക്കിയുണ്ട്.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Need to clean up - Gulf News Community Report Dt. 5 April 2012

Need to clean up

Gulf News reader raises concern over facility
  • By Ramesh Menon, Gulf News Reader
  • Published: 00:00 April 5, 2012

  • Image Credit: Gulf News reader Ramesh Menon
  • Gulf News reader Ramesh Menon is displeased with the way a transformer station in Abu Dhabi’s Tourist Club area was made into a dump.

  • While on a walk in the prominent Tourist Club Area in Abu Dhabi, I was astonished to see this site of a transformer station being callously transformed into a waste disposal ground.

    What made me more worried was the fact that this accumulated waste would not have happened within a day or two. This calls out the careless attitude of several parties. First and foremost, those who take away tea and other drinks from numerous restaurants and groceries throw away paper cups in this area.

    Secondly, to the Abu Dhabi authorities responsible for maintaining this station, and other such stations to keep it safe. Thirdly, to the Abu Dhabi municipality cleaning staff and supervisors responsible for cleaning and clearing such waste. Considering the fact that this station in in a heavily populated location, what would happen if a careless smoker throws a lighted cigarette in that area?

    Apart from fire hazards and hygiene issues, due to heavy wind, these waste items are likely to get stuck in the ducts of the transformer, reducing its performance capabilities.

    I hope such a thing does not happen.

    Authorities, kindly take necessary initiatives to keep the transformer areas safe by way of high wire meshes protecting it so that no inflammable waste material could be thrown into the open spaces surrounding transformers. Secondly, please fine those who litter and make such volatile areas more dangerous.

    — The reader is a technical officer and resident of Abu Dhabi

    To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS Online