When I tell people I am in Kerala I am often reminded of the greatness and beauty of the houseboats and the experience of it…. but though I am a keralite I have not gone on a houseboat… this might have many reasons, May be I find it exorbitantly expensive or may be I don’t belong to that part of Kerala where the houseboats are popular or may be that I don’t see Kerala like watching the travel channel…. I have memories with Kerala and there are no houseboats in my memories….
it is not just about memories; Even when I visited New York I did not see Empire State Building but walked through the Alphabet street on lower east side and took pictures in front of the Nuyorican poets Cafe that I always wanted to visit since I first read Pinero. I am not saying houseboats are not great, but I like visiting places that call me using my first name it’s the memory and history I like over the luxury….. like the SM street and mavoor road and NSS meenchanda my school and REC Calicut and Calicut Medical College, town hall, Crown theatre because I am complete only after I touch the pieces of me that I have left on the pavements of time… something that makes you dream and sleep like a child when you are living even the loneliest of times….
Calicut or Kozhikode is one such place for me…. No, it does not act like a home for me…. it’s more like a friend or brother or sister or lover…. or parent depending on how you embrace it at that moment….
when I pass the Kozhikode beach it remembers me like a friend and starts piling the many evenings and nights from my life on to my mind…. so vivid…. going all the way back to my childhood when ice cream in the beach was the most admired outing and then its starts pacing through time like a flight of dominos to my teens , youth and the many Booz sessions and even late night brawls that gave me physical bruises….. I stand there enjoying the smell of the sea and roasted peanuts….
the SM street is like the heart of a warm city that beats the rhythm of Babukka and Abdul Khader….. all new now…. but still the old love… just to refresh my memory I walk into the pradeepam daily and meet their Chief Editor Prakashan to whom I had sold computers during my life as a young computer salesman….. I spend 10 minutes chatting with him and sadly I did not have my cell phone and so did not pick a selfie…. it’s nice to meet an old customer and be greeted after 20 odd years….
I walk past town hall and remember entering the door once as our very own Beypore sultan (Basheer) sat on a stool in the front…. some book festival and I remember the speech by M.N Vijayan…. sitting there spell bound by the eloquence of his speech and knowledge….. how I wish I could go back again and be there….
I look at the crown theatre and going there all my life with my dad, my cousins and friends and so on….. a place that introduced my people to Bruce Lee, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and others…. I turn and look at Mananchira the reservoir of memories still reflecting love…. I walk around it……
I go to the bus stand and spend time reading the destinations on the top of the buses to see if I remember all places the road could lead you to…..
The visit to REC and Medical College brought back so much….. it was election time in Medical College….. At REC the hostels still stood like it was back then…. I looked at the students walking….. many looked like my friends…. I searched for someone like me…..
The next stop was touring book stall or TBS from where I picked Sanjayan and uroob and pottakkad along with some methil and bits of parakkadavu…
I Walk the streets again… and as I decide to leave I hear music….. it could be Rafi songs or Ghulam Ali Ghazals in the background….. that’s my Kerala….. my Malabar…. my Kozhikode….