thank you acid_kewpie !
you were right. iptables had not stopped. this is surprising since i had already used
'service iptables stop' to terminate the firewall before connecting from the client-side. Moreover, 'service iptables status' and 'pgrep iptables' had also 'confirmed' that no firewall was running. but your comment got me thinking. so, i did a check via 'system-config-services' and that confirmed my worst suspicions - iptables was indeed running !
Any idea why this happened ?
i was away from work for a few days and hence this delay in replying.
thanks once again !