“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Kozhikode - the City of Small Goodnesses




Having lived a lifetime in different parts of Kerala, I have like a true Malayalee come to love my native state, though I dislike most of my fellow people - for one reason. Their indifference and callousness to nature. The insensitivity of most, the lack of kindness in them.

It is well known among Malayalees ( it could be a myth too) that further the north of Kerala you go, more good the people are. For eg., the autorickshaw drivers of Kozhikode are famous for their politeness and the just fare they ask you. I have visited Kozhikode several times and every time I was impressed by their behaviour. They never charge you extra, they don't take you for a roundabout, they are polite to a point. But this quality extends to people of other walks too. Hoteliers, shopkeepers, passers-by.

Last month I was in Kozhikode for two days. Since the person I was to meet could not keep the appointment, I had a whole day to myself. In the morning I took off from the Rly retiring rooms ( dormitory, very clean, only Rs.200/- per bed) to the Zoological Survey of India office where my old friend Jafar was working. He was away in the field so I sauntered through the exhibition hall all by myself. It has quite a good collection of exhibits and photographs displayed there. Having nothing else to do, I walk back to the private bus station and then catch a bus to the S K Pottekad Memorial ( S K Pottekkad was a Jnanapith award winner, a great storyteller and travel writer in Malayalam). On the way to the bus station, I happened to walk alongside a man to whom I asked directions. He not only gave it but offered to come with me part of the way. He was a shopkeeper on his way to open his shop. While walking, he proudly narrated the history of that part of Kozhikode, showing me the landmarks and how it were when he was young. It was a wonderful morning. As we parted our ways ten minutes later, I felt regret like leaving a friend.

Getting down from the bus I asked my way. The Museum is near the Kuthiravattom Mental Hospital. The shopkeeper to whom I asked for directions took so much pain in detailing the route. Not that he wasn't busy. But he could see that I needed help and took at least seven minutes off his time to ensure that I did not get lost.

Near the hospital, I notice this old tree. A plaque was in front of it. An organisation has recognised its antiquity and put it up so that people would revere it. The plaque said - 'This is a holy tree. Along with contributing for environmental protection, this tree has given shade to countless passers-by and a resting place for the birds of air. We name it as the holy tree of 2010 and offer our respects.' A tree. Just a roadside tree.

It is noon. In the sweltering heat, I walk the streets around Mananchira Maidan, unwilling to go back to the Retiring Rooms. I wonder what I am doing there, having quit my job in the Bank and totally clueless about the foreboding future. Then, by the side of the road, beneath a shady tree, I notice this old Willy's in immaculate condition. I drool. I walk around the Willy's like a prospective buyer of a horse, taking in the winch and the ammo box and spade and metal can. It is so handsome that I have the itch to dive in and drive it away. A young man comes over, leans into the vehicle and takes out two packets in aluminum foil, one big and one small, and hand it over to some one. The recipient is obviously a labourer or a tramp. As I watch, an old lady walks up, gives a namaste to the young man; and again he dips into the Willy's, takes out another two packets and gives it to her. I notice a banner behind the Willy's. I read, 'Pothi-choru' ( Packed Lunch). The young man notices me and smiles. I ask him what is going on. He is one of a small group of friends who come here every noon with lunch packets - 30 or 40 - cooked at home. He says it is rice and fish curry. Did you have your lunch, Sir, he asks. I will give you one. I decline, suppressing a burp which carries the fragrance of Fish Biriyani from Saagara.





The youngster points at another two men chatting nearby. They come over and ask if I am from the media. We want no publicity, he says. We are professionals in various fields, but we take time off from our lunch break and distribute the lunch packs. Its free and first-come-first-served. My wife cooks it, he says. We are here every day at noon, it takes only about half-an-hour to give out the packs, yeah, mostly poor labourers or beggars, but sometimes others too partake. He gives the url of his website - www.avigna.org. I assure him I am not a journalist, but I might write about you in my blog. If you inspire somebody else to emulate your gesture, that will be good, wouldn't it ? 


In the mid-day heat, I feel a cool breeze enwrapping me. Kozhikode is a city of good people.

********** Balachandran V, Trivandrum 01.06.2013

27 comments:

  1. Ha, what a beautiful narration. I often admire the people from Kozhikode about the pride with which they talk about their city. I have witnessed the kind heartedness of auto drivers and others as well. I had spent an entire evening walking through the streets and roads, passing through the public library, mittayi theruvu, railway station, mananchira square and admired the cheerfulness of people there. Blessed are those souls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What I forgot to include was that the young man asked me to give out the packets. He asked it so naturally and spontaneously that I readily agreed. As I gave the packets to a few, I could feel the glow on my face - and inside, as they thanked me. A few feet away, the young man stood and smiled, watching me...

      Delete
  2. Wonderful! Kozhikode exudes in me a confidence the way no other city does. I always feel at home when I am in Kozhikode, something that eludes me even when I’m in my native town, which is about 65 kilometers away from the city.

    ReplyDelete
  3. And for foodies, Kozhikode is paradise! Every time I go, I make a beeline either to Paragon or Saagara - just for the Aiykoora Fish Biriyani! And all those Ummachi kuttees, Arun! ;-)

    Perhaps the goodness of Calicut/Kozhikode hasn't better brought to limelight than by the movie, 'Ustaad Hotel', which I would rate among the 10 best Malayalam movies.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ha ha ha ha… Sir, next time try visiting Amma, it’s a mess near BMH. Any auto driver will take you there, the fish fry, it’s been at least 3 or 4 years since I ate there, but nowhere had I eaten such delicious, lip smacking fish fry except the possible exception of Hotel Narayana in Mangalore. Also there’s Zain’s restaurant near the beach, it’s been years since I visited the place, but still the taste of pathiri and chicken. ‘Ustadd Hotel’! Yeah, the secret ingredient, as Thilakan says, must be ‘mohabbath’!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am humbled by the initiative to offer free lunch by those group there. Even a small act as these can do immense goodness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup. And they weren't bragging about it either!

      Delete
  6. Good to know of the goodness around. Thank yoi for sharing.

    By the way, what is a willy?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beautiful and inspiring narration!

    ReplyDelete
  8. True,i think that humanity gathers rust as it travels to southern Kerala.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe true, but am gonna polish up myself! :-)

      Delete
  9. Hello baletta, hav heard lot about u frm my brother Dhanush. Dis was a great piece of writing abt my favorite hangout. Being brought up in vadakara, as children we had many oppurtunities to visit kozhikode quite often( i prefer kozhikode to calicut). But it was my graduation days in dis city dat brought me so close to it. Every corner of dis place has got a tale to tell n was quite lucku to explore most of d places nearby.. And d food!! U can never find a tastier food once ur senses hav been touched by kozhikode.. Simply proud to say ' njangalum kozhikottukar'.. Thanks for dis great writing once again.. Com, lov d place, lov d people n b loved...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Dhawani,

      Saw you in FB! :-) Yes, you have every reason to be proud of Kozhikode. Though I haven.t worked there, I used to visit Kzd many times and have always liked it. When I was in PNB, I had to attend training programmes at the Centre in Kzd. Every evening I would board a bus to town and walk around till late in the evening. There is a post here http://mytravelsmylife.blogspot.in/2012/02/calicut-sketches.html and another on Beypore also.

      Glad you liked the post. Do convey my regards to Dhanush. (After nearly 6 years since our bike ride to Ladakh, we became 'friends' in FB just now!! Can't imagine how I missed it!!

      Delete
    2. Dhanush himself shared dis post.. sure about ur regards.. and its dhwani not dhawani.. bit particular abt my name.. he he..

      Delete
    3. Oops for the typo!! Dhwani it is! :-)

      Delete
  10. Baletta, You never cease to amaze! Absolutely beautiful narration.

    Till I was married, I never knew much about Kozhikode (my wife is from Wayanad). For the last 4 years, during various journeys, Kozhikode has come into my life at least once in every 2 months. Felt ashamed that I had bragged about Kochi all the life - it is nothing compared to the general goodness of the people of Kozhikode. Its indeed a 'bright' place!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yes, I wish I had the opportunity to know Kozhikode better!

    ReplyDelete
  12. wonderful and inspiring blog. I lived my prime youth there, but never find Kozhikode is attractive this much thank you

    great writing style. I like it.

    __________________
    VISIT MY BLOG http://kallivalli.blogspot.com/2013/07/history-of-feroke-in-photos.html
    Like and Join in Kerala Old photos and Heritage
    Join Kannur - Cannannur Walk

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi,

    Glad you liked the post. Thank you. I shall surely visit your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Laptop Lab Calicut
    IInd Floor, Calicut Mall, Opp. Phillips Show Room
    4th Building Behind Silk Park, Stadium Puthiyara Road
    Calicut - 673004, Kerala.
    Tel : +91 495 3106525
    Mob : +91 9995060091
    Mob : +91 9995060092
    Mob : +91 9995060077

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good Narration Sir...Proud to be born and to leave in kozhikode...Keep on writting...:)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Lovely write-up and got to know so much about Khozikode. Situated in Kerala, you can witness Kathakali dancers in Kozhikode. Although, Kerala tourism has lot to offer, from the majestic heights of the Western Ghats the land undulates westward presenting a vista of silent valleys clothed in the richest green.

    ReplyDelete
  17. brilliant! infact quite awesome! makes me want to update my blog which has been ingored for about half a decade now. Thank you. stumbled upon this gem of a blog while googling for the new Enfield Himalayan pictures. let me go through your blog in detail. would love to chat more. I am from Jagathy. but living in the jungle for the past 6 years. a complete jungle that is..PNG!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Social Media Marketing India | Door Mats Manufacturers | GRE Exam Preparation


    The contents are really cohesive and makes sense. I really appreciate the writing style of the author.
    It isn't like the regular articles that I quit almost mid way. A good work indeed!

    ReplyDelete

Leave a word, please!