In February, I was in Thiruvananthapuram for nearly a week for personal and work-related stuff. My last port of call was writer Paul Zacharia’s apartment on a Sunday evening. When I called him at short notice and requested for an audience, Zacharia initially tried to shake me off—only to finally agree to talk to me for 30 minutes. He was busy giving final touches to his now released debut English fiction—A secret history of compassion. My freewheeling conversation with the writer ended with some political chatter. And I asked him the inevitable: Which candidate was he supporting in the general elections as a voter enrolled in Thiruvananthapuram?
Pat came the reply, “Shashi Tharoor”.
Was he worried about the prospects of the BJP candidate winning if the secular votes are divided? I persisted.
Towards the fag end of the election campaign in Kerala, an advertisement sponsored by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) played out on all channels. The fifth in a series of ads for the Kerala BJP, it had the familiar setting of a tea shop with a small group of youth talking politics. One of the young men is seen professing his newfound love for the BJP to his Modi-fied friend but seems unsure if he should go on and vote for the BJP. “Even if I were to vote for the BJP, would they win from Kerala?”
For a long time, many pro-BJP folks in Kerala have faced the same predicament. A vote for the BJP meant a waste of a vote as BJP candidates contested ritually for third place. However, the 2016 assembly elections saw the contests becoming triangular in a dozen constituencies with the votes polled by the BJP (or their ally BDJS) deciding the winner and loser in many more seats. This was never the case earlier and it presaged a brighter future for the BJP after decades of toil.
As the row over the nine-year-old cancer patient from Alappuzha found infected with HIV following blood transfusion at Regional Cancer Centre (RCC), Thiruvanathapuram, continues, former Health Minister V. S. Shivakumar has urged the Government to examine the situation scientifically and find out what exactly had happened. He further asked the Government to bear all the treatment expenditure of the victim.
The girl, an Alappuzha native, was diagnosed with acute leukaemia and has been undergoing treatment at RCC since March. She had undergone blood transfusion several times at the hospital which is an autonomous institution jointly established by the Government of Kerala and Government of India. The girl was found HIV positive in a blood test conducted in August after she underwent blood transfusion. Meanwhile, the parents of the child have been found HIV negative.
It is informed that there was a deliberate attempt by the RCC officials to hide the information about the infection.
Whenever I visit Thiruvananthapuram, there is one place that I am eager to go to for dinner. This place serves the best chaats and Punjabi-style food that you cannot find anywhere else in the city. The Dhaba Project, true to its name, serves dhaba style food. It is a bit pricier than the food you get in dhabas of course, but I’m not complaining since it’s much cleaner than usual dhabas and worth every penny. I love everything about this place, right from the way its interior is done to the chilled lassi they serve.
The restaurant is done up in a kutcha style with brick walls and thatched roof. Once you enter, you have the option of choosing a cabin or the open area seating. I always go in for the open area seating because of the ambiance and the colourful pillows that adorn the benches. Oh, and you cannot miss the Daler Mehndi numbers and other Punjabi folk songs playing in the background. In fact, most of the time, I have to strongly resist the temptation to do a “balle balle” right there!
When it comes to the food, I always start with Chaat, followed by Tikka, Aloo Paratha and end with Lassi. Depending on the people I go with, we also order Biryani, Naans, Kulchas and Curry.
From August 1, only those who wear helmets will be given petrol in fuel stations. This new rule seems to be very funny. The rule is to be implemented in the cities of Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. It appears impractical prima facie and should have been discussed in a greater way. Public opinion should have been sought before the rule was implemented.
Kerala Transport Commissioner Tomin J. Thachankary said that it is in light of increased accidents, with regard to motorcyclists, that such a rule was put in place. How far this would be helpful in curbing accidents and deaths remains to be seen.
Initially, the Transport Department was a little “disappointed” with the implementation of such a rule. Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran said to the media that if such a rule creates difficulties for the public, the order would be reviewed. Later, the same Minister gave a nod to it.