Saturday, 18 April 2015

venu hangs up his boots

i was pleasantly surprised the other day being called to receive a memento at a function hosted by the trivandrum press club at the conclusion of this year's jpl (journalists' premier league) cricket tournament in tvm. this is a tournament in which press clubs from all districts in kerala field teams. the competition is intense. this time hosts trivandrum press club won the trophy, beating ernakulam press club in the finals.

i did not play since, during the days of practice prior to the tournament, my old archille's heel injury showed signs of coming back. also, there was this issue of 58, i find the coordination of movements and overall orientation not what it used to be once upon a time. a little rickety, or wobbly, if you know what i mean. to put it simply, it has become difficult to take a simple catch in the deep. i got painfully hit on the ribs, missing the looping trejectory of a ball that was hit deep into the midwicket area by a batsman during one of our practice matches. so, i thought time has finally come for me to hang up the boots. despite pressure from the team management to play because of my still considerable batting and bowling abilities, i, therefore, opted out of the team. they all say my decision to focus entirely on strategies for the team contributed to its victory in the tournament.

i.m. vijayan and v.p. shaji, on my either side, you surely must know. they are former indian footballers. vijayan is credited with one of the fastest goals in international football (in the 12th second of the match against bhutan in the 1999 saf games). the man in the blue shirt is chandrasenan, a former ranji player and very old friend, with whom i had played in the kerala south zone cricket team in 1977. the friend at the extreme left, with only his nose visible, is jayan menon, tvm press club secretary...

i am retiring from all forms of cricket, including the backyard premier league (bpl) with the boys in our mudavanmugal colony...i am also hereby announcing the closure of this blog, as part of an experiment to see how it would be to let oneself slip into total anonymity. you can no longer see me at the crease.

no longer
wanting to do
this thing that
hither then thither
a ping pong ball
on bounce

the ball has rolled to a corner and has come to rest...just let the world move on its own, without my help!!! thanks every one who has been in this journey from time to time.


Monday, 6 April 2015

William Carlos Williams


munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand 

They taste good to her
They taste good
to her. They taste
good to her

You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand 

a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air 
They taste good to her

(last night sitting on the steps of my home eating a fresh orange moon shining high i remembered reading this poem a long time back but could not remember neither the poet's name nor the title of the poem but i knew there was this poem which said the thing about eating a plum the way i was eating the orange. i then went in and switched on the machine and by the time i logged in to my blog i forgot what it was i wanted to write! all comes back 20 hours later...)


Monday, 23 March 2015


furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto!

what do you unerstand from this 17-syllable Japanese poem by Matsuo Basho?

into an ancient pond/a frog jumps--/a deep resonance!

just the resonance of poetry is enough, if one has a listening ear. one does not need to know the language.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

"i want to be loved"

wanting to be loved, admired...

this appears to be the root cause of all our anguish. i have long been fascinated by the way JK analyses a problem. he makes one stand outside and watch oneself as a player in this ordeal we have made of our lives.

the solution, as he says, may come from seeing the cause of it directly, as a reality...

please listen this 13-minute video:


Friday, 13 March 2015


am experimenting with a zen device of my invention.
focus your mind on little things all through the day.
can you do it? like being totally with your grandchildren?...

now kunhoottan is having his morning siesta and neha is watching pogo. any moment i may have to go to kunhootan's side. any moment i may have to log off and go...

it is like working on a koan. how did you look like before your father and mother were born? you go on thinking over the question and whatever else you do, this question is working on you in the background; it is like the sound of the thamburu in the background as you sing...


Thursday, 5 March 2015

in other words

over our usual drinks tonight, 
a friend said:

"kaivittu cycle chavittunnavanu aare pedikkanam?
vazhiyil nilkunnavar sradhichaal pore?"...

another added:
"bhrandhan nayinenthu pokkaru haji?"....

(the cyclist, both hands off the handle-bar, whom should he fear?...
isn't it the botheration of the man in the street?

in other words,
to the mad dog, what if it is pokkeru haji?)


An apostle...?

The Hoot story ( ) given linked to my previous post 'whistleblower' has, as of this morning, elicited 18 comments, of which a few are about me. Those who have read Vaikom Mohammed Basheer's story 'Viswavikhyathamaya Mookku' (The World Renowned Nose) can understand my condition at this moment when I confess I feel very much like the protagonist of the story. A man in deep penury, he finds one fine morning his nose had overnight grown an inch longer. It keeps growing and, within a few days, is dangling down four feet to touch his knees. The news spreads like wildfire and people make a beeline to his small abode in the village to see his wonder nose. He becomes famous. The media is all the time after him, seeking tidbits about his daily routines. They want his reaction to all major developments in the world. The Prime Minister resigns. The story is incomplete without Mookkan's reaction. "What does Mookkan say about it," they all ask. There are also others who are Mookkan's critics. They spread the scandalous story that Mookkan's nose is "rubber nose," a fake one.

I give below a comment to The Hoot story by one Mr. K. Balakrishnan Nambiar putting forth the rubber nose theory. Mokkan's reaction to the allegation follows.

'A rubber nose,' says Nambiar

Call it collective or selective amnesia, but however much Mr.Roy Mathew and Mr.Sunil Nair feign ignorance, it is evident they are trying to cover up the track record of a person like Venugopal who was twice removed from his beat in TheHindu for his slanted reports, the first time on V.S.Achuthananthan and the second time in connection with a land grab case involving his soninlaw's family. It does not take an investigative journalist to unearth this fact, it is a fact known to everyone in the media fraternity in TVM. It is a shame to uphold this person as an apostle of journalistic ethics.
-- K.Balakrishnan Nambiar
                     Date - Tuesday, 03 Mar 2015, 22:52:32

Mookkan refutes allegation:
Referring to K. Balakrishnan Nambiar's comment, it has become necessary for me to clarify the following points. I was never removed from covering any 'beat' I was assigned to cover while I was working with The Hindu. I was not covering Left politics. So the question of my being removed from a 'beat' for my "slanted reports on Achuthanandan", former Chief Minister and CPI(M) leader, does not arise. It is very easy to check whether I had written even a single "slanted report" for his political benefit by googling the words 'The Hindu', 'Venugopal' and 'Achuthanandan'. Relating to the "land grab" issue, it is a case now before the Supreme Court of India. It was doing the rounds in the High Court of Kerala at the time of my daughter's marriage to Sajo Joseph, an architect, in 2008. The proprietors of the estate involved in the litigation won the case both before a Single Bench and Division Bench of the High Court and the officials involved have also been found guilty of contempt of court. The officials are defending the contempt of court charge against them in the Supreme Court. As a matter of professional propriety, I kept myself off the environment beat during the time the case was being heard by the High Court. I resumed covering forests and environment only after the verdict came from Division Bench of the High Court in March, 2012, unequivocally finding that the land involved in the case is not forest encroachment. Any reader can google the words 'The Hindu', 'Venugopal' and 'forests' to check whether I have ever violated the chastity of this 137-year-old paper for the benefit of land grabbers, or anyone else, during my 36-year career in The Hindu. My Nambiar, with the assistance of those in the newspaper wanting to cast aspersions on my conduct as a journalist, can do a thorough research to come out with even a single report under my byline favouring land grabbers. In fact, they will come across several reports in which I had exposed land grabbers. This controversy is not my creation. I quietly chose to go out because the kind of stories I used to break until three years ago are not possible now. An the bad working environment was affecting my health. I am peacefully baby-sitting at home now, looking after two grandchildren. I had tried to intimate the editor about the bad tendencies now in the newspaper and how difficult it has now become to work with dignity, but the systems that used to exist in the paper earlier for correction are no longer working. Good stories are being killed in the womb due to mysterious reasons. One cannot even discuss a story idea at the Bureau meeting. The Hoot, if they think it proper, can publish the two letters I had written, the first one to Mr. Varadarajan and the second to Ms. Malini Parthasarathy and Mr. Ravi. These letters are about far more serious issues than the issue brought up by the government report mentioned in this report. I have no axe to grind. I will be happy if the editor initiates a thorough inquiry into what is happening--and the Managing Editor named in my letters should not be entrusted with the inquiry, if at all the editor wants to have the truth.
-- P. Venugopal
Date - Wednesday, 04 Mar 2015, 13:22:58



Saturday, 28 February 2015


there is mention in the linked story published in The Hoot about the 'whistleblower' role i had played in The Hindu to bring to the notice of the editor certain unhealthy tendencies in the newspaper. i opted to retire from the newspaper two years ahead of my normal time of retirement because good journalism was becoming impossible and there was no point in hanging around...

this is the link:


Friday, 20 February 2015

Hale and hearty

Today cardiologist C.G. Bahuleyan reviewed the condition of my heart and said: "Remarkable!"

Pumping perfect, pulse rate 62... All other parameters good.

The picture shows us Press Club Heroes just before the start of our match against Asianet Cable Vision at the annual Press Club Cricket Tournament day before yesterday. I am the white beard in the front row with the cricket bat on his lap. The other team members are the tigers of the journalist's profession here.

I opened the bowling for our team sending down two well-directed overs. My line and length were as perfect as always. Didn't get any wicket, but conceded only nine runs. I was the second most economical bowler in our team.

I also contributed four runs off two balls. A cameo, they all said. The first ball I faced was dispatched off the back foot through the cover for a boundary. The second ball I stepped out and lifted clean over the long on boundary. But the wind was blowing in from the opposite direction and blew the ball back for a fielder to catch me on the boundary line.

Chasing, our team scored 60 runs in the allotted eight overs and lost the match by just one run. The highlight our innings was a 31-run knock by Ajayan (beaming from the middle of the second row). It was heart-stopper of a match, said everyone who had the good fortune to watch it. The result hung in the balance till the last ball.

Amrita TV, a young team with the players' average age 27, won the trophy for the third consecutive year this time. The Press Club Heroes, whose average age is 47, was knocked out of the tournament in the league stage itself but you can be sure we will be back with a bang next year. We were known as Kapil's devils once upon a time. They still talk about my whirlwind 96 way back in 2001, a five-wicket haul in one over the same year by Shyam (the bespectacled player sitting just behind me) and a tumbling catch by Prasannan (the bearded man at the right end of the spectrum gesticulating with his hands as though to say he would like to put himself in quotes)...

That catch off the last ball of the match in deep third-man in the year of our Lord 1999 led to the only tied match in the history of this tournament. Prasannan had the sun in his eyes. Still, tumbling all over, he caught the ball on third or fourth attempt.

...One must admit that, over the years, we all have slowed down a bit. But we propose to work on it and give a better account of ourselves next year.

My next health review is in August.


Friday, 13 February 2015


have you ever seen a cobra up close with its hood raised, spread full?

if you can detach yourself of your fear of its killing venom, the raised hood will seem like a benediction.

it is as though some Godly presence is showering its blessings on you. the wonderful pattern on its hood glistens magically. the beads that are its eyes hold you mesmerised. its tongue darts out and darts in, creating a blur that is the pinpoint of concentration.

today i listened to Swami Sarvapriyananda. please listen to him yourself. given below is the link:


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

going deaf

journalism is an extremely ego-inflating profession. as i had noted in a previous post on this blog, i gave up my life in the profession at the end of 2014 and am becoming an ordinary person very fast. the toxins i had gathered into my body and mind are gradually draining out. i can feel the ripples settling down and soon the lake will be as still as a sheet of mirror.

my mobile phone is generally silent. if i want to hear its ringing when i am home, i have to dial the number from my land phone. and if it rings when i am out of home, the chances are ten to one it will be ambi asking whether i won't reach home soon. my only duty is to help her look after our grandchildren. i am doing it wonderfully well and liking it--contributing mightily to the overall management of the turmoils of the world.

i am watching bubbles bursting one by one. without the faintest of pops are they bursting. only the visual aspect of the burst is there and no sound. it is as though one had suddenly gone deaf watching a fireworks display...the pooram festival...

up into the night skies a rocket climbs spiraling. then it bursts into a flash and one involuntarily winces expecting a deafening report. but there is no sound.

vedi pottiyal puka--just smoke when the cracker goes off.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

temple visit

"did you go to a temple," asked my friend the vodka-and-lime, when we sat across the table at the cellar tonight.

"yes," i said, putting my hand involuntarily to my sandal-paste-smeared temple. "today is my son's birthday. ambi took me to the temple."

"did you offer worship," asked my friend the atheist and the leftist, after taking a sip.

"of course, i did," i said. "i stood before the sanctum sanctorum with folded they all do."

and i added, giving the exact picture: "i didn't prostrate before the deity, as most others did."



"the bridge flows, the water is motionless. why?" -- zen koan.

our train started moving. first it moved heavily inch by inch; then gathering momentum, it rattled steel over steel heading hurriedly towards its destination. it seemed unstoppable when suddenly everything stopped and the rattle died away into the distance. only the stopping seemed real now and the shouting of a hawker. "chai, chai, chai."


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

right action

right action is about acting directly, straight as an arrow, without subterfuge of any kind diverting the path of the missile...

this very complicated sentence drifted through my mind when i was playing with my nine-month-old grandson kunhikuttan this morning.

i usually take charge of him straight out of the bed around 6 a.m., just about the time the sun rises over the mukkundimalai hill to the east of where we live.

the crows would be out cawing, the cockerels calling cock a doodle doo and the koyels singing far and near, as the rays of the sun slanting across the lane going past our gates light up the mist making everything sparkle...

he has this way of bouncing as one holds him in one's arm. he would jump up, jump up, sort of impelling one in the direction he wants to move. when one starts walking in that direction, he would stop bouncing and relax. when one takes him across the spotlight the sun's rays throw across the vanishing mist, he would blink and start smiling, with a remembering sort of expression on his face, eyes shut.

then this sentence, which has no meaning as such, drifted through my mind like a white cloud over the morning skies:

right action is about acting directly, straight as an arrow, without subterfuge of any kind diverting the path of the missile...


Sunday, 1 February 2015

how do i know if i am enlightened?

just listen to this beautiful talk by Sathguru:


"it's just that i didn't cry"

my five-year-old granddaughter neha, running along the quiet lane in our colony, had a fall this morning and badly bruised her knees.

she was running ahead when i was walking to my friend radhakrishnan's home just 50 metres up the lane with her nine-month-old brother kunhikuttan in my arms.

it is our routine nowadays to go there first thing in the morning to see dicky, the white pomeranian, who never barks and likes chocolates and toffees.

neha often takes a bar of chocolate or a piece of toffee to dicky and the three of us--neha, myself and kunhikuttan--would watch her nibbling the offering gleefully, wagging her fluffy tail and running all around us excitedly. my grandson would be jumping in my arms giggling all the while.

this morning, before we reached my friend's gates, neha had this fall gamboling along the tarred lane.

that she was in extreme pain was apparent from the expression on her face, although she was not crying.

"did it hurt," i asked her as her mom cleaned the bruises with cool water preparatory to applying some healing ointment.

she looked up gallantly, her eyes overflowing, and said: "appooppa, it's just that i didn't cry... brave kids don't cry."

her hero is chhotta bheem.


Sunday, 18 January 2015

return to silence

i listened to him--
his words,
like clean pebbles,

the tumult of the thunder squall
died outside
and a quiet crept into room,
snuggling close for warmth.

through a leak in the roof,
dripped rain water,
into a copper pot.

i listened to him--
his words,
like clean pebbles,

P.S.: The above lines were scribbled in May, 2012 trying to describe something one had experienced then. Today one happened to listen to a talk by Papaji on youtube in which he gave clarity to that vague experience. The link to the talk is given above.

Friday, 2 January 2015

let it wait

"we must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

i chanced into this quote by e.m. forster today, the day after i let go the life i had known for 36 years and stepped into the life that is waiting for me.

today is the day after the day my retired life started.

it looks good,
having nothing to do,
except play with grandchildren a bit,
read a bit,
go for long walks morning and evening...

in this unfurling silence something is waiting.

let it wait.