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Tuesday, May 25

Holiday blues

Must say, the 11 day vacation was hectic than the busiest work schedule I ever had! Jeez, it was like a merry-go-round, hardly got a chance to set foot on the ground.

9th May 2010 meant it was one year since my little bundle of joy arrived into my life. No way I could afford to miss her first b'day, even when the Eyjafjallajokull fire-mountain threatened for a while. Ah no, back to good old Trivandrum in the nick of time, and ouch... the summer this time in Kerala was reportedly harder than usual.

No glitches to report though, the birthday celebrations went on fine :)

Got a chance to meet up with old friends. Sad, many of the old pals are now scattered around in Bangalore, Gurgaon, Kuwait, Halifax, Chicago, San Diego and the likes. Trivandrum, without them, now feels a lot different than it used to be 3-4 years back. And the couple of old friends left in Trivandrum, one is a surgeon in Medical College and the other an Area Manager of a Pharma Co, supervising from Kottayam down. In short, they seldom find time to look at themselves in the mirror or relax for a while on the commode.

Nevertheless, found some time to do what I love most to do when I'm in the city. Visited the new international terminal under construction in Trivandrum. Matter of pride and despair. Hoped to use it this time but ha!

Took family to the Zoo, myself going there after at least a decade! Lion, hippo, rhino, deer, monkeys, snakes, rats all ok, but where has the Giraffe gone?

Watched TRDCL change the looks of my city. MG Road works seen here, the surfacing of the road has been completed since.

Meanwhile the construction of the half-kilometer long flyover at Bakery Jn still carries on. We're promised vehicles will be 'flying over' pretty soon. hmmm...

The church has got back its old colours, and the road in front is being given a new surface, lane-by-lane.

City has got an extra touch of green though many trees have been axed down. But who will tame this litter menace? (empty plastic water sachets thrown around in front of the Martyr's square after some political/ religious procession left the scene)

Checked out a few eateries...old and new. Nothing beats Buhari at Attakulangara and Rahmaniya inside Chalai. You'd better try this one out if you yearn for the posh variety. Ambrosia @ Heera Grace, Kowdiar! Trendy, spacious, rich menu, nice ambiance but may well scald your pockets. 

Stayed a couple of days at the good old Tharavadu in Kayamkulam. My family bosses decided to raze down the century-old charming tiled house to build a modern concrete structure and it was my first time at the new house. The old one never needed a fan but it appears as if you'd need a 2 ton conditioning beast to make this thing livable. A goddamn greenhouse!

Not to mention the last 2 days in Trichur, at wife's home.

Hey, went to the famed Trichur gold-houses to get some metal for the li'l one. Mother-in-law was certain that we'd get year-round blessings if we bought gold on May 16th, Akshayathrithiya. Scam, but its not wise arguing with her. Gold merchants are making merry @ 13k+ per sovereign, but we get tons of free prosperity this day. Still awaiting the promised 'free' stuff...

Back to Trivandrum in Amritha Express.

Saw the MG Road being tarred in front of the AG's Office on way back home from the Railway Station. 2 days since, I read that the same road has been dug up by the Water Authority! (Image courtesy Keralakaumudi) Hail Public Works, Kerala!

And back...How disappointing I'm not flying out of the T3 :(  Guess the lobby and gate will be more luxurious than this. Next time, surely.And wait, don't tell me you haven't seen the sneak shots of the interiors of the new terminal. Click, and enjoy, thanks to Vivek, a smart techie boy and member of Skyscrapercity India forum.

See you again folks :-)

PS: Managed to publish in a hurry, an already drafted post about Shashi Tharoor's one year as the MP of Trivandrum. Guess who got impressed? :whistle:

Thanks to Shashi Tharoor's tweet, the article brought 3600 hits in 24 hours and has fetched 52 responses until today. Whew, some serious publicity for my hobby! :-)

Tuesday, May 11

Shashi Tharoor: A year into the job

Spoiler: This post is a mere look-back on my MP Shashi Tharoor and how he has fared as the most hyped-up representative of Trivandrum. If you're looking forward to discussing the likes of cattle class, interlocutor, IPL and so on,  then you may please close this browser window asap. I propose to look at something very different and in all probability pretty uninteresting. Thanks...

The dates connoted in the passage indicate the tweets of @ShashiTharoor. You can access the tweet-archive on or

I'm least bothered about the Foreign Policies and the erstwhile External Affairs conundrum of Dr. Tharoor, its all Greek and Latin for me. This is my perspective of my MP from my constituency and state, simple as that!

Dr. Tharoor surely must've taken this first year as an internship to understand the internal games of Indian politics, and surely got some very hard lessons. The gains for Trivandrum commenced the very day he announced his candidature. The constituency hogged national spotlight and Tharoor deservedly climbed the steps into the Lok Sabha by squashing the now obsolete commie opponent by six-figure margin. Period.

But not before he was taught the first lesson in Politics by the Trivandrum DCC, that you needn't try too hard to create enemies in Politics. His late night party with a group of 'red-class' businessmen irked some local Congressmen who were getting irritated by the limelight a newcomer like him hogged. Tharoor did start well,  on way learning that  if ever there was a 7-day a week job it was that of a politician (May 17). Before leaving for the Capital, he held a 3 hour meeting on the development needs of his constituency within a wide range of experts (May 17) including fellow blogger Ajay Prasad.

On reaching Delhi and assuming the power at his Office of MEA, Tharoor diplomatically handled the doubts about his open tweeting and also pitched in for Trivandrum's long awaited demand on High Court Bench. He was different from ordinary politicians we see around us when he openly declared that the struggle for the High Court Bench couldn't be settled anytime soon and that there has to be a softer stand adopted by the Trivandrum Bar Association. (June 17) The appointment of the one-man commission by the Ministry of Law is a direct reflection of the efforts Dr. Tharoor put in for the High Court Bench.

From eating 6 mangoes a day (June 9) to meeting with CM Achuthanandan in Trivandrum (June 13) Tharoor soon realized his priorities should be the unfortunate sections of society who lives on <$1.25 a day. Inaugurating his first bridge at Kazhakkuttam(June 17), initiating steps for new Passport Office facility, (July 6) and the successful inclusion of economically backward girls in Rai Foundation's scholarship (July 29) saw Tharoor stamping his arrival on all arenas of Indian public life.

It might be ironical to see his caricature as the US-bred-and-spoiled, blackberry wielding NRI Minister who connected with his Twitter constituents and not to the roti-kapada-makan folks in his hometown. 

Tharoor, like other politicians, didn't jump in front of the camera claiming responsibility for the fruitful proposals for Kerala in Rail Budget ' 09. There was just a quite tweet that he was so grateful to the Railway Miniters for showering his constituency and state with the best ever Rail Budget (July 9). And he did continue his efforts to make sure that all the proposals got implemented. Papers have moved more briskly for the Kochuveli and Nemom development plans, though the Trivandrum Central modernization project is still bonded by Fevicol somewhere. Depressing to say though, the 2010 Mamata speech was a disaster.

In a quite robust event Tharoor managed to get Trivandrum twinned with Spanish city Barcelona, the idea being co-operation for city planning and improvement. It was another joke for many eager Trivandrum enthusiasts (and Tharoor deterrents) because of previous experiences with other sister-city projects. Remains to be seen where Tharoor and Barcelona will take Trivandrum to. Fingers crossed. But unlike his predecessors Tharoor took a few useful steps forward, including evoking an official Spanish interest in Trivandrum's dream project Vizhinjam, (that now VISL is seriously looking up at a G-G model) making sure that his brain-child wouldn't be left stranded and become a point for his critics to joke about.

Tharoor's panaciousness saved Trivandrum from losing of the Mental Health Center of Excellence originally proposed in Trivandrum, to Calicut. Tharoor did vociferously fight for the city but it appeared for a while that the executionery power of the State Govt would win. State Minister for health Sreemathi teacher almost succeeded in taking the institute to her constituency but as Tharoor would tweet later, an MP can influence the Central govt but without the co-operation of the State Govt nothing gets done(Sept 11). But the one relief is that this tug-of-war didn't result in the State losing an Institute, like what happened with the IIT. (You can read more about it on Hijacked City on TrivandrumLife)

Tharoor's timely involvement in the Sree Chithra Tirunal Institute of Health Sciences and Technology expansion plans may save Trivandrum from losing yet another prestigious development to Malabar. This has been the curse of this city,  when the Congress led coalition is at the helm its Central Travancore-Cochin areas in focus and when the Reds are in control its the Malabar region which is given the thrust. Tharoor has been a welcome relief for Trivandrumites on that count and episodes like IIT, NIFT, NIALS doesn't happen too often.

It might be imperative to note the way he used the foundation in the name of his late father, the Chandran Tharoor Foundation to assist the Neyyar Dam kids to access their school safely. Airport Development, new road developments and infrastructural initiatives have picked up during the tenure of Dr. Tharoor, unlike the previous regimes where Trivandrumites heard more and saw less.

Even small things matter. Tharoor was earnest in appreciating even minor initiatives from his constituency because his Tweets carried the weight of Gold. Tharoor happily responded to a local web initiative to promote their website by his tweet. (Feb 2)

A new working platform was formed for the integrated development of the capital region, TCAN (Trivandrum Citizens Action Network), for expediting the developmental works for the city. (Mar 13).

Tharoor did hint at his hands were tied because an MP didn't have executionery powers. Quite right, the LDF Govt getting cold feet over Trivandrum becoming like  a family property for Dr. Tharoor just like Amethi for Rajiv Gandhi. Quite interesting when you think that the likes of Mr. Vijayakumar who was the fighting warrior for Trivandrum, has almost gone into a shell.

Tharoor may still regard his most important achievement as bringing the  IPL team to Kerala. Rest is history. All in all, a Greek tragedy...A great cricket enthusiast himself, Tharoor was instrumental in bringing the Rendezvous Consortia together for a Kerala team above the much stronger contenders like Ahmedabad, Nagpur and so. His works also helped in expediting the Edakochi stadium by KCA and also in the putting the skids on the similar stadium in Trivandrum as a part of National Games. Tharoor was very vocal about getting the facilities ready in Trivandrum to hold IPL matches, even as we speak now.

Just not IPL, it would be cruel to suggest that he is not trying to uphold his constituency when he has mentioned about efforts to bring in world-class events to Trivandrum, like the Hay Literary Festival (May8). These kind of events may give our local economy great boost than TRIDA building a market complex.

Some people feel that Tharoor hasn't lived upto his expectations, that they see no 'visible' changes. Well folks, what do you expect to see in 12 months? A palm-island in the Arabian Sea off Veli or a new Burj Trivandrum in the CBD or a Maglev from Attingal to Kovalam? First time in my living memory I'm seeing someone who're honest and committed to his constituency and ready to look beyond the 2.5 crores MP fund. Remember, all what our previous MPs had managed to do with that money was re-thatching a few school sheds, building public toilets and tarring a few roads to their in-law's houses... Tharoor has pretty much addressed the most needed development needs of the city instead of promising castles in the air.

Its just one year folks, and Rome was not built in a day! A small example: We are just getting to see some obvious changes to the urbanscapes of Trivandrum after the road development project was kicked off 8 years back! So how wise it is to write the post-script now?

Pretty much of the Tharoor critics seem to run and hide when someone talks about pointing out a suitable replacement especially for Trivandrum. Even hardcore critics who care about the city, gumly agree that the city can't get a better one, well at least in the next few years. 

Perhaps my political viewpoints may change over time but one thing I'm pretty much assertive about. Trivandrum may never get someone as committed as Tharoor, at least we have a person whom we can speak to. As his Congress deterrents said he wasn't accessible, but how ironic he was available at the press of a button to you and me.