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Ghost Protocol

Ghost Protocol

“Did you see any ghosts during your recent trip to Europe?”Colonel James Kanagaraj, wanted to know in response to my blog Ghost Writer. I do not blame him for asking; my title was deliberately loaded with a double meaning. The richest and  well known GW in recent past  is the man who ‘ghost’ wrote Donal Trump’s autobiography. A quarter of a million dollars is a lot of money to write about Trump. The writer not only regrets having written the piece, but also claims his literary brilliance led to the elevation of the Trump image to such an extent that he became Presidential material.

Coming back to the question, no, I did not ‘see’ any ghosts simply because we cannot see them. According to a well researched book resting in a nook in the British Council Library, Chennai, presence of ghosts and spirits can be experienced in three ways, sounds and invisible signs or through a medium – usually an animal.

My own theory is, and explaining by the nearest resemblance of similarity as we currently know, is that the ‘atma’ or soul is akin to sound wave or vibrations. It travels through the air unseen. Yogi Jaggi Vasudev in an interview explaining the spiritual significance of the ritual for dead people says that the brain and thought process creates vibrations. When a person dies not too peacefully or suddenly with unfulfilled wishes the thoughts created are abounding in the atmosphere with no longer any control over them. This may be what disturbs close ones, especially those receptive to such paranormal activity. Those born between February and March especially during the cusp are considered more receptive. I myself was born in that bracket and throughout life experienced many paranormal events.

My children are pleading that I write about the actual ghost experiences, but I will save that for a later date. Many are wondering about the grey area between my Mallu upbringing and sudden transformation to an ‘English’ writer. Besides well stocked libraries, the Gurus in literature are the most significant contributors. Mr. Chatelier, our English Teacher in Montfort School, Yercaud, certainly enlivened our English Literature class, embellishing even boring classics in to fun. He also dressed like an English gentleman; suit and tie.  Bennet Albert, the Professor of English Literature in Madras Christian College was responsible for fine tuning my English with his erudite simplicity and British humour (maybe even Scottish humour as many of MCC founders and fellow staff were Scots and could have possibly passed on that influence). Sir, (we never called him by name to his face) was more down to earth -always dressed in white drill pants and white cotton full sleeved shirt. The humour stayed in his eyes and rarely traveled to his lips. He was also the Warden of Selaiyur Hall, and woebegone any resident who wrote a leave letter unsure of the spelling of diarrhea. The medical officer of MCC was puzzled why students were claiming to suffer from dysentery, (easier to spell) though there was no cases diagnosed.

There was one more reason for the boost to my proficiency in English. My father had joined the Oil Company Burmah Shell. All the kids my age were British, Dutch or the odd Scottish or Irish. Playing with them and secluded from the outer world beyond the Officers’ Colony, my spoken English soon picked up too, replete with a few Cockney phrases and cuss words. Perhaps it also left a cultural and ethnic footprint on the sands of time relative to me.

The only occasion I regretted not being equally adept in my mother tongue, Malayalam, was when the US Consulate wanted to hire me to read Malayalam newspapers and magazines and condense to English those of economic or political significance to America. The salary was 20 times more than my employer a public limited company was then paying me!

Once a writer, always a writer! After a lapse of 7 years I have taken up my pen; literally. I always use a fountain pen and write down notes in my diary after some intense research. Fountain pens not only improve your handwriting, but occasionally the spill ink and buttress the claim of a famous washing powder brand; more so if you use ‘washable royal blue’.

I owe this return to the pen mainly due to my 43 day sojourn in Sweden the perfect environment for a writer’s fertile imagination and creativity- surrounded by nature and absolute calm and peace all around.


Crime writer

Of all the subjects I wrote about, my short stint as a crime writer, I enjoyed the most; very predictable as my favourite authors were Alistair McLean, Arthur Hailey, John Creasey, Sidney Sheldon et al. In my school days it was Enid Blyton. Perry Mason the criminal defence lawyer had a redoubtable Detective; truth unraveled by plodding investigative work buttressed Mason’s legal acumen in getting his clients acquitted.

I say plodding because, a murder of an old lady in Teynampet with robbery as the motive was solved by a very ordinary Chennai City Police Inspector, who was neither very brilliant or lucky, just meticulous and thorough. The robber had gained entry through the front door, opened by the land lady followed her to the kitchen and picking up on of the kitchen knives, killed her and fled with her jewels. She however had time to scream in terror and pain and soon a crowd gathered in front of the house. Th robber fled from the rear or side by scaling over a wall and jumping on to a neighbour’s compound.

Two clues were left behind; a pair of slippers abandoned by the fleeing criminal; a set of fingerprints. Now, normally since the scene of crime was the kitchen and the perpetrator made his entry through the front door, the forensic gathering of clues would be restricted to the ground floor. The inspector however insisted that the first floor also be screened for fingerprints. As it turned out, there were no prints found on the ground floor – he had been careful not to touch anything. However while fleeing he had used a route through a first floor verandah to jump on to the compound wall, which was too high to scale at ground level. Briefly he touched the wall or banisters to steady himself before leaping off. This set of fingerprints would later help to identify the murderer from a narrowing list of suspects. Other witnesses clinched the watertight case by identifying him as the owner of the slippers. The person nabbed was an old driver of the victim’s husband’s office, who occasionally  worked as a part time driver for the couple. What I am trying to drive at is that but for the meticulous and systematic footwork done by the investigation officer, the crime would have remained unsolved. If our Government lacks funds and infrastructure to train our cops, they can at least insist they watch serials like CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) that runs on channels like HBO, Star and AXN.

Why I suddenly thought of crime investigation  was a headline in today’s newspaper about an actor’s daughter losing her Rs.12,00,000 ring down the road where I reside, while eating an ice cream. Her dad, a famous movie star, is an alumni of my school Montfort, Yercaud and presided over the recent Centenary celebrations, as Chief Guest. But really! A ring worth twelve lakhs? What was she thinking? If she had asked my advice I would have told her to buy a ring worth ten lakhs and take a flight to Stockholm, eat a really nice ice cream there and fly back and still have enough for another return flight to Sweden to look for her ring left behind there.

A small note about ice creams and rings in Sweden. The ice creams cold storage freezers hog more space then the entire vegetable section of one of our giant super markets; the ingredients used are fresh natural fruits, not artificial flavours. As the ice cream melts in your mouth, you can feel your teeth sink in to the soft luscious pulp of a mango or crush of a strawberry.

Now a few words about the rings, precious jewellery, chains and pendants; they lie where they have fallen, waiting for their owners to return an pick them up. Needless to add, five prisons out of ten are closing down in Sweden – no inmates. Their mental hospital has closed and been converted in to an old age home. Yes, you guessed it, no crime branch in the police, in fact no traffic police either; traffic signals noted for their absence, except a few in the capital, mainly to help pedestrians to cross. Their annual accident rate is in single digit for the entire country.

Both at Stockholm Arlanda Airport and Stockholm, on my way to Poland I came across gold chains, diamond rings, silver and platinum trinkets hung up in the wash rooms still there on my return trip after one week. Back to Khader Nawaz Khan Road, I took my dog Sparky to the crime scene. Hopefully if the lady had dropped some ice cream on her ring, my pet will dig it out of the debris and garbage strewn around the ice cream joint. But no such luck.There is a family of mynahs perched on the tree above the CS. I wonder if they saw it?











Ghost Writer

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After a career spanning four and a half decades of professional writing, editing and ghost writing for corporate heads, scientists and even a management guru or two, it seems a late entry in to the realm of authors. There is a time for everything and I guess this is it.

All that remains is finding my ghost writer, not the professional human, two legged one; the elusive Muse is the one in my sights. There is good reason for this, I am basically lazy and undecided on the subject and topic and classification of my word smithy. Fiction or non  fiction? Autobiography or biography of a great soul, wandering unheard of and unwritten about. One subject I definitely won’t be writing is romance. In my writing career as a journalist, as a policy I avoided politics and cinema.

Studying English literature in MCC during my undergraduate days exposed me, for the first time, to the this so called Muse; hinted at by none other than the author of Paradise Lost. I suspect I would prefer to write on spirituality, healing, or on parapsychology. Research on miracles can probably yield some fascinating chapters; my time of births having something to do with this. I was born in a cusp between Sun sign and Moon sign. So I should be something of an enigma myself – a thought brought home abruptly when  recently when traveling near the Arctic Circle, I experienced the unusual grandeur of seeing the moon and sun simultaneously. Not so unusual in the land where the sun sets at 10.30 pm and rises at 2.30 a.m. In future blogs I will attempt to unravel and dissect some of the miracles I stumbled across in the course of my ordinary life; some impacting me, many others in far lands seemingly of no relevance to me or my religion or culture. Many more have been forgotten than those remembered. But like a student sitting in an exam hall and writing his answers, once I begin the ink is flowing and the words are tumbling out, forming paragraphs. If this persists, it should not be long before the word bank touches the magical 7000 to 9000 words for a compact book. Publishers are you listening?