Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Nomad That Is Me - Part 2 (The Story Of My Homes)

Calicut beach (digitally altered photograph)
Kozhikkode (a.k.a Calicut) has this magical feel to it. Lush greenery as you come down the table top airport, the smell of rain in the air, the signs all around – even on buses – written in Malayalam – it is quite literally – another world in itself. And that was exactly what I thought, when I came down to live there for the first time. I had left behind some of my best friends back in Muscat, and it was horrible for me.
We stayed at our ancestral place (you could not call it ancestral per say, since the house of my grandparents (mom’s side) was built in the 1970’s.) Our family is originally from Mahe, the erstwhile French colony (a lot of the Frenchness can still be seen around, and this Mahe is on the Kerala side, not Tamil Nadu.) My Grandad moved to Calicut to start his own business – Mahe Tea Mart (wholesale and retail sales of tea, coffee and later even milk powder.) The ancestral place was huge. There were around 5 rooms and as many families to fill it up (the need for a nuclear family was not even in the heads of anyone till then, and everyone felt comfortable living with each other as a joint family, almost.) But my mom thought if we too moved into the same house, then it would get a tad overcrowded. So we decided to head out and shift into an apartment close to the ancestral home itself. Thus came my third home – Shikha Apartments.
It was just barely 50 metres away, and it was a normal sized building with around four apartments in them. We took the one on the right hand corner on the ground floor. This time around, Dad was not there (he was still in Muscat, making ends meet.) So it was just Mom, brothers and myself at the new 2 bedroom apartment. I don’t think I have too many memories of this place, but I can muster up some enjoyable moments I had outside of it.
It was while at this home that I was able to cultivate the passion of cricket in me. Every weekend I used to go to the nearby ground in Jawahar Nagar Colony, where the neighbourhood boys (most of who studied with me at the Madrassa) would get together to play some of the most engrossing games of cricket (or any other sports for that matter) I have ever played. We also used to have cross-neighbourhood, wherein we would be challenged by the chaps from the Nadakkavu junction (the neighbouring locality.) The bet used to be for a meager amount of 10 or five rupees. But there used to be a lot of tension since it was the case of upholding our pride. I used to be sent in as a pinch hitter, and I was good with that (I guess) – a couple of sixes here, a couple of fours there, and then get yourself out. And yes, I used to be on the boundary line always – good fielder you see. The Nadakkavu boys used to hit hard, and I used to be there to catch hold of any ball that came my way. 
Shikha Apartments is also the place where I got my first bike – a Hero Devil. It was awesome – since I never had a bike of my own. Ever. And it was my pride. I used to take it out to go and play. I remember my elder bro had an accident with the new cycle just weeks after buying it. And surprisingly I had remained cool about it. It was my brother after all, and it was a cycle, not his bones (but yeah, he did lose one tooth.) Oh and I remember me throwing down my brothers bag on the floor thinking that he had replaced my bag from the chair. I was a very disturbed kid, who’d have his tantrums every now and then. I must have been beaten up by every other uncle and aunt I know.
School was another thing that I didn't enjoy much. After getting the adoration and admiration of the teachers in Muscat, how could I start building my reputation from scratch? I used to go to the Hill Top Public School (yes, as the name suggests it was on a hill-top). We used to go in Amba Travels, a trusted old tempo van that used to pass through the lane in front of us. Again, not much great memories with that van, since most of ma friends used to go in another – ultra super cool van – whose driver was kick-ass. Our tempo van consisted of most of the snobby kids, so it was not that great. But then again the travel was quite beautiful. We used to take the same path everyday, through our lane, in through Kottaram road to the magnificent Azhakodi Temple road and then out through Arayadathupalam to the congested Puthiyara junction and the beautiful winding road up to the top of our school (which was incidentally surrounded by huge chimney’s of large tile and brick factories that you could (and can still) see dotted around that place.) The winding path was made up of red bricks from the very factory. I should say this – it is one of the most picturesque schools I have ever been to. Life was pretty normal. Nothing major out here.
But getting back to my home, as I said earlier – not much to talk about, not much to cherish (we didn’t even have a TV out there, but yes we had an aquarium.) I have more memories of my ancestral homes in Mahe and Calicut, during the time we used to come for vacations from Muscat than of the two years I spent here. Yes, we shifted after two years, back to where I belong, back to old friends, memories, but old home? Well for that you have to wait for the next one. So it is adieu to an almost memory-less Calicut for now.


mj said...

we should drive past Shikha smeday! its like the only place that i havent seen. what say?

nishath said...

It's become headquarters of some political party or something right now. And where have you seen my ancestral home also?

Advanced Version said...

Another beautiful piece, Nishath. Not much to contribute here because I was not there for this particular time of your life, but at least now I have some idea of what you were up to.

nishath said...


Paulami said...

i dunno how your sequels did not get enough attention. beautifully written and yes the end makes me want to read the next part :)

nishath said...

the sequels did get attention. but the readership just went down after the third. i think the third was the death bell. but yeah thank you for here. :)

Thamjeeda Malik said...

I lived in that building :') Memories :)