Back home….

It had been a hectic trip – this one, I must admit. Flying through the pacific seas and SE Asia to India, we were well looked after by the many Singapore girls on SAL. After many hours of flying and plied with food and superb shots of Singapore sling, the arrival at the rainy destination of Kochi in the wee hours of the day brought a lot of cheer- finally back home after 3 years this time, the longest stay away from mater land since leaving it over 20 years ago…A long 5 hour drive to Calicut in the pre-dawn hours was interesting, stooping at a roadside food cart for ‘bread omplate and chaya with a lot of mosquitoes nibbling away at our legs.…There were a lot of police on the roads due to the recent bomb explosions and as we neared Calicut, we saw very many dhoti-turban clad ‘musaliyar-koyas’ and disciples walking about in those areas – at 2-3 AM!! The driver, a Mappila lad, murmured that the present times were not good and that he thought twice before replying when somebody asked him his name.

Palakkad remains the same, except for the biggish ‘big bazaar’ super mart, ‘escalator and all’ the talk of the town. People who had tired of going to view Tippu’s fort & Malampuzha now had this object to visit, family in tow, with zealous security guards out there to weed out the non shoppers and check bags going in & out. Pallavur was unchanged, and after many years all the siblings of our family were meeting at the same time with all the kids milling around & playing…

Bangalore followed and that was terrible from a traffic point of view. The Kurla express that took us there by day reminded me of all the fascination only Indian trains can provide, with the multitude of very interesting humans that ride them. This time we had a big group of giggly Irish girls – teens dressed in Indian clothes. They were excited & bubbly from the visit to an orphanage they were supporting from their Church in Ireland. The coordinator showed us the many photos taken with a lot of pride, but it made me rather sad, it took a foreigner to see these invisible masses of humanity. The constructions started from Hosur and well before, apartments after apartments…and the drive from Cantonment to Jayanagar took over an hour when it used to take just 15 minutes. All the malls were checked out and some shopping done. The train trip back was typical, there were some ‘unreserved’ guys who wanted to be in the compartment and obviously picking up a fight with the TTE, threatening him for having asked them to move on..

Then it was back to Calicut where my history aspirations took over. Unfortunately all the good Mappila restaurants were closed for the month due to the Ramadan, but well, Onam festivities were in full swing, so also the DC book fair where amongst others Shoba De attended. Calicut too is taking different looks, with lots of new buildings and a flyover construction at the Mavoor road making life miserable. But well, I was here and there and everywhere, visiting the many bookshops and picking quite a collection of Malabar History books. I found that in addition to the beach, youngsters milled around the new Focus mall while ithatha’s and ummachi’s in burquas tested the escalators. Many new offices required us to remove our shoes/slippers and deposit them at the entrance. I found that my fears that they would be lost had not abated with time, so furtive looks towards the entrance were quite frequent. The Japan aided water pipeline project was the talk of the town (the Japs were being blamed for all the dug up roads!!) and there was this chap who smuggled in many kilos of Iranian saffron and got caught…

And I visited the old house where we lived, which was sold in the 70’s – our visit resulted in much delight for the old lady whose husband had purchased the home. The vast house had thence been partitioned with a wall through the middle by the two inheriting sons…but otherwise it was quite the same. Saw my old ‘Ganapati’ School, went to the Padinjare Kovilakom where the many Zamorin’s, their families and my great grandpa once resided as the Vidwan Zamorin…I met a fascinating relative who told me many of the stories from the past and then I visited and paid obeisance to the present Zamorin, a distinguished and active nonagerian in Calicut.

The monsoons were good company, keeping most nights cool. Ear splitting thunder accompanied the torrents on some nights, was fun listening to it after ages…This visit like others was filled with many interesting incidents, including our attending a court session where I could witness the fascinating cross examination of a canny Moppila landlord. It was a real battle of wits and sadly the old man did get outwitted by the clever lawyer playing on his pride.

It was soon time to fly back immediately after the Onam lunch – after a quick stop over with a dear friend and family in Singapore…We had a jolly time, seeing a night safari and all and of course many a Lamborghini and Ferrari speeding through the pristine streets. The LAX immigration was smooth, a very pleasant officer welcomed us with good cheer…and Hertz upgraded the vehicle request to a luxury car for the drive back home.

Comments

Great style Maddy. Seriously. Enthaa oru flow :)
Aduth irunnu katha ketta pole :-)


-Nikhil
Indrani said…
The only sad part of vacation is: it gets over! :(
Anonymous said…
Nice naration, especially about Calicut and Ganapthi School!
hope you woudl have enjoyed diner at sagar with palkanji (ramzan special!)

Ganesh
Good read - one can feel your enjoyment.
Welcome back, we missed you.
Happy Kitten said…
That was a great narration!

Even we had a quick visit to Calicut and even the Focus Mall. It has been set up well with some good shops. Unfortunately the biriyani at Sagar finished and now they say there is another place where one can get good biriyani.

though Hubby grew up in Calicut, he says it has changed a lot.. was finding it difficult to find places. Made purchases from "Regal Bakery" and "Velayudhans".. dont know if they are still the best...

The new by-pass looks impressive too
Maddy said…
thanks Nikhil, indrani, ganesh, raji and HK..
yup we went to regal too, still have some halva in the fridge that is consigned to the innards now and then.

Bombay hotel and Plaza have good biryani and the much recommended saina ethatha's place at the beach..
Biriyani - Paragon is still the best! New Topform is quite good and has started take away and home delivery.
Read this post on Paragon
http://harinair.wordpress.com/2008/01/13/can-the-calicut-heritage-forum-preserve-the-best-of-malabar-food
SM said…
I have been reading your blog for some time now; was redirected while searching for Hyder's info and should I say, I am really thrilled by the details & language used.
Keep this going!

BTW, noticed that you're a JNR Mallu staying in BayArea. I am a JNR-ite too, stayed in SFO area for quite some time though now settled in Swiss.
Maddy said…
Thanks SM - i am glad you enjoy what I write, many a time written after painstaking research. I do intend to keep going.

Sorry pal - what is JNR? I am ex NIT Also I am in Socal, not in the bay area, close to San Diego. I have a number of friends in Switzerland and have been there a few times!! You can if u want write me on the gmail ad.