Sunday, October 8, 2017


2.       Education

2.1   Naduvil High School:

My first writing initiation was done by the village gurukal (village astrologer). Image result for vidyarambham
I was very bad in studies and I used to get beaten up by my teachers. They used to scold me by comparing me with my brother. During school days, we used to just play in the classrooms with friends and never study. My teacher used to spend a lot of his time with his knife, smoothening the cane. I never had a memory of a classroom learning. Only during 6th or 7th standard, I remember getting scolding and public humiliation in the assembly for stealing aracunut.

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I used to wear my spectacles which I used to break quite often during playing in the school and never used to get a replacement for next few months. I never had an option to go for social functions, and I watched a movie for the first time during my 7th standard. I skipped writing one of the annual exams as I was bitten by a dog and that dog was smashed and killed by me. That was the season when there were rabies around, and one or two villagers died being mad after a dog bite. I was driven to the clinic to take 14 injections around nave. This was my first experience of staying in a city in my brother's house at Payyanur. A distant relative of mine who was a compounder used to take me for these injections and I shared with him my desire to use telephone. So, I went to a neighbour's house and waited for his call, but I couldn't speak to him as I didn’t know what to say when the person is not visible. It's during this time when I also had my first experience with electricity.
During one of my relative's marriage, which was only 20 kms far, because of lack of transport, we went and slept in their house the previous day after reaching there by walk. Next day morning before the marriage, me and a relative of mine (who is now in Kolkata), went to the morning show which is 6 kms away from the marriage. During lunch time, I joined for the lunch without attending marriage.

2.2   Tagore Vidyaniketan

Tagore Vidyaniketan under government was a special school created for the brightest cream students of the district. The admission to this school was through an entrance examination and it was a mere luck that I got an opportunity to be admitted into this best school along with my cousin (Prof. Dr. T P Raveendran, now he is the registrar of Kalady Sanskrit University). While my cousin continued to be a good student in Tagore, I used to get 27th rank among 27 students. I was forced to get out at the end of the year, back to Naduvil High School. The school management felt that I will not get first class (above 60%) in 10th and will spoil their school’s reputation. It was true that I couldn’t get a First class. The days in Tagore Vidyaniketan, travelling in the bus, for a village boy like me was a great thrilling experience and that was more of an enjoyment for which I used to go rather than for education. I used to do a lot of mischievous activities which were unexpected from a classic student in that school.
Once back in Naduvil High School, I joined a Drama Troop and so neglected studies. I did multiple activities during school days like being with the Jeep Drivers to learn driving, running stationary and Foot-ware Shop in Naduvil. I was also part of NCC that gave me an opportunity to have fun in Camps while staying away from home without permission from mother or brothers.  All these were the result of the courage that I could get from the Tagore experience.

2.3    Payyanur College Pre-Degree

Staying away at Payyanur for the Pre-Degree was like a dream come true (as it was a town) and I insisted to join the First Group (Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry) in spite my brother’s insistence to opt for the arts group. It took me more than three months to locate the chapter the mathematics teacher was teaching as I shifted to English medium from a Malayalam medium. Except Malayalam nothing could hold my interest. During this time, I joined politics, KSU (Kerala Students Union), to get involved in the social activities. I used to have a good company of all the political groups and the students from different classes and used to have loads fun in college. All these reflected in the First year results, in which I failed in all the papers except Malayalam. My English language score was less than 10%.
Just before the Pre-Degree exam, I decided to be in a good company to study and hence collaborated with Vijayan, Vijayakumar and Ramesh at Payyanur and was able to manage to pass with 52%. This was not enough for getting an admission in any of the good colleges for science subjects and was advised by my brother - guardian (Prof T P Sreedharan, who was the teacher in Payyanur College) to take Malayalam BA and pursue studies.

24   Graduation in 3 Colleges
But my insistence for the Science graduation lead me to Kanjangad Nehru College with Ramesh and Vijayan for the Double Main (Mathematics and Statistics). But after a month there, I felt that I was not into the path that I wanted to be.

I decided to get a seat in Kannur S N College with the help of a friend, who was a Deepika Paper representative at Payyanur. It was Panthalam Sudhakaran or someone who helped me make contacts which helped me in getting a seat in SN College of Kannur for BSc with Mathematics main. Here, I was involved only in political activities and was always on road shows etc. I being a good public speaker, enjoyed these activities for three months. The travel from Payyanur by bus to Kannur was a long journey and aggravated my Migraine which made my life horrible during those days.

Somehow the change in thoughts made me to think on getting back to Payyanur College. With influence and forcing Principals of the colleges I got my way in to Payyanur College for the B.Sc.
I then decided to change my life and was determined to learn, but as I was almost out of classroom for entire first year and the exams were near, I failed in all the subjects in the first year. In second and third year, I wrote all the backlog papers and did reasonably well. Got a good result and this gave me the courage to go for higher education in Mathematics.

2.5   Post-Graduation: Calicut to Kochi
I joined for MSc (Mathematics) in Devagiri College, one of the oldest and the most prestigious college, which was under Madras University traditionally. This was a new start for me. But, this was the time when my brother (P T P Narayanan Kutty who worked as a lecturer after MSc in Zoology in NSS College Wadakkanchery) got into Indian Forest Service. Brother's IFS opened doors to new aspirations inme and dream of IAS had crept in. I decided to spend my time in the library, reading for civil service exam. The Librarian at Devagiri recollected this when I met him after 20 years (when I visited the college as a Director of UGC -Academic Staff College). Most of my classmates opted Calicut University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) Centre and then shifted to Payyanur College for MSc. When the new (first) batch started in Payyanur, I opted to change to CUSAT. CUSAT was almost like IIT and there was that rumour that it will become IIT. Unfortunate that the political situation didn’t allow this to happen and it became a special university with Science and Technology Tag. It also had courses on Economics and Law. Mathematics and Statistics was offered combinedly by the School and so we had good amount of Statistics for MSc. Operation Research and Computers was also offered as part of our course and that was unique and advanced course that was offered in 1984-86 for MSc.
Great was the life in mathematics and I was forced to keep away my IAS dream to get oriented towards true research in Mathematics.
2.6   Mumbai to Bangalore for a PhD
During the vacation trip, I got a Times of India advertisement Officer post in Mumbai and attended an interview in TIFR (which I failed even without performing anyway close to entry). Attending Bangalore PhD interview at Departmental Special Assistance Centre at Bangalore University under Prof. Rudraiah was by a chance. Just for fun I went to BU to see my classmates who were attending the PhD interview. But, that gave me the admission and I joined for PhD.

I used to take tuition for Mathematics for BTech Students of Visweswaraiah College and also LLB students who wanted to learn the meaning and explanation of their law books, during late night department stay. Spending time, in the library - solving problems, in the Family court at the court complex – listening to cases, in cooking, long walk on the Bangalore streets with Radha (Dr P V Radhadevi, my wife) became my hobbies those days; Kerala trips with the gifts (Bangalore silk sarees etc.) purchased from the little money out of the 900 rupees fellowship I used to get were some of the special memories of those days.

My PhD was done in three years along with MPhil at central College. During that time, I had the chance of attending Conferences at Varanasi, Madurai and Hong Kong. I got the best paper award from ISTAM. As I finished the PhD, by then my professor who was also my guide became Vice-Chancellor and we were to leave the department. Radha and I decided to join Department of Space by then.

I was posted in Ahmedabad at Space Application centre when I wrote my PhD Thesis. My PhD was delayed due to my dislocation from Bangalore. By then, I had my posting in ADRIN, Secunderabad.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


1. Childhood  :

1.1   Love to Forget

My Childhood was spent in Jnaanam, Naduvil. A few instances with my father are only available as a memory of him. There was not even a clear picture of his other than the portrait of his face. My brother used to explain me that my father’s size was little less than my present size. By looking at my legs, my mother used to say that my father's legs were similar to mine. After conversing with many people I got to know that he was good to everyone, kind-hearted and used to help people throughout. I was told that my father was a good hunter and I remember this when I see his gun which is now with my eldest half-brother. We used to have our agricultural field in a different village and most of the time, my father used to spend his time there. I lost my father in 1970, on Oct 2nd in an accident, where my sister, father and I were involved, both of them departed in that accident and I was the lone survivor. When I opened my eyes I was in a private nursing home where villagers were around and I explained my whereabouts and regarding the accident. At Jnaanam during the funeral, as I was too young to understand what’s happening, when my friends came to see me, I remember giving them Jaggery.

Image result for devi mahathmyamMy childhood memory is of my mother feeding me most of the time in the late nights with only rice water when I used to feel hungry and she working in the kitchen restlessly, going around the backyard for getting vegetables (those days, we never used to buy vegetables) for making curries. The taste of few curries were very specific to my mother who used to cook them such fantastically. In the evenings, she used to help us in learning chanting slokas, which I by-hearted without even knowing the meaning, later I realised that it was dhyaana sloka, Devi Mahathyam etc., which was one of the biggest asset my mother has given me. I was told that my mother was a rheumatic patient and used to have blood clotting in the legs, so my father used to collect leech for treatment. This gave me a heroic admiration towards my father. I have the memory of my mother eating paan (a preparation combining betel leaf with areca nut and sometimes with tobacco leaf) which was equal to smoking and also she used to have severe teeth problem due to this paan chew habit and she left it later in her life due to health issues. She used to have continuous bethadoxin injections, pain killers and ayrurvedic medicines, probably all these might have led her to be in disease in early age, but, was strong going till 84 years old and passed away in 2004. My mother was a hard working person in spite of having many diseases.

Not much is heard about my father's family except that he was very poor and had met my mother's father and got married to her, whereas, my mother's father was a landlord who had the authority over more than five lakhs of land, including a few temples and school (which is now a higher secondary school). So, I never had a scolding or punishment in the school and always felt majestic and royal. We had a special status in the village.

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During Onam, Vishu and such festival days, the blacksmith of the village and other such people used to come to take the blessings from my mother with their gifts like knife etc. They always had a special consideration for me and used to get me a small replica knife as a special gift for me. I knew that village has considered me as one who lost his father in early childhood and I was a pet for all. I had a nickname 'VELLATHIL POYA MON' (meaning - the son who has fallen in water). Even now (after 45 years), when I went to Vellad (a nearby village) for the temple festival, I had to introduce myself to them with my nickname, which shows that people remember this story over years.

My house in my childhood gave horrifying memories as I have seen many deaths in the house, a few relatives who had psychological troubles being locked up in rooms, snakes hanging from the roof, snake coming to hand instead of books, dark rooms in the night (as we had no electricity), water had to be fetched from a 40 feet deep well etc.

I used to work feeding and milking cows, climbing on trees, working in the field etc., in which I was more involved than studies. I don’t remember anybody asking me to study or read till my 8th standard. During 8th class vacation, I remember my brother beating me for reading a novel which made me abscond from my house for three days. Though I was not really out of my house except for one day spending on top of a cashewnut tree. I enjoyed witnessing the panic and the scolding which my brother got from the relatives.
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During one of my Vishu, my eldest brother when he came from holidays from Payyanur (where he was a professor in a college and rarely used to visit us as a guest) had sent me to get an areca nut giving me some money, after buying areca nut with the balance money I purchased crackers, for which I knew he would scold, and hence I entered from the back door of my home to take money from my piggy bank (the piggy bank was made up of used cuticura talcum powder tin with a hole made on top for putting the coins), I was caught while taking the money to pay him back and got beaten-up.

Another brother of mine, who is now chief of Forest Wild life in Kerala, used to be very mild and smooth with all, but used to always fight with me. I still remember a day when we were playing, mother called him for lunch and he was still playing with knife cutting a wood. I asked him to stop, but he didn't. To force him to stop, I placed my hand on the wood and my hand got cut. My sister carried me running to the doctor and I was told that I had to be carried in a jeep 20 km away driving for 1.5 hours to get it stitched.

These were few of my memories of childhood which are still fresh and memorable.

1.2   Walking for a Slipper
We never used to have slippers during our childhood. Only my eldest half-sister’s kids, I remember, used to wear slippers. One of their son happened to be my classmate. During vacations and holidays, I used to walk to their village expecting their old slippers as a gift. While returning back wearing those sandals (not of my size), my skin used to come off and it used to pain a lot during crossing the small stream with the wounded feet. This has created an impression in me that whoever has to use slippers have to undergo these sufferings.

It is not uncommon to see people without footware around during our childhood. Rare were people using footware in village during those days, may be in north Malabar area. Shoes and socks are seen rare only in movies like for somone from city to represent, the costumes have used these as symbol.