Reported at Cannanore Telephone Exchange in February 1959, on transfer from Kottayam. The exchange was situated in eastern end of Fort Maidan and near General Hospital. Famous St. Angelo Fort, through which the ground got its name, was constructed by Portuguese in 1505, conquered by Dutch and later captured by British. It was an important fortification and controlled sea movements. Recently, excavations have been made and guns, ammunitions etc. were found in there. Large number of people used to visit fort. A portion of maidan was converted in to a football court, where famous Gymkhana Foot Ball Club practiced. Cannanore, a centre of football fans. Almost always, there used to be food ball tournaments and large number of enthusiastic spectators, cheering players. We also used to be there.
Beyond road on eastern side of exchange, there was a very old Christian cemetery, which was full of big trees covering tombs. Many tombs belonged to British military officers, who died during battles British have fought to conquer India. Details of their life, mission, date of birth and death were marked. Roots of the trees were a danger to the existence of tombs. Gate of the cemetery seemed to be rarely opened. However, visited the same two three times and went through writings on tombs. They were remarkable.
Cannanore was a CB Exchange, not yet upgraded to automatic. Three Local Boards, one Record Position and two Trunk Boards. It was all in same room. About 300 subscribers. Trunk lines to Calicut, Tellicherry, Mangalore, Kasargode, Kanhangad, Payyanur and Baliapattam. About forty employees including one Engineering Supervisor, who is the Officer-in-Charge, two Phone Inspectors, three or four LSG Monitors (Supervisors), Telephone Operators, Mechanics, Line Inspector, Sub-Inspectors, Linemen, class IV etc. Night duty only to male operators, though almost half were lady operators. It was a small building. There was scarcely space for dormitory, recreation club and other facilities. But as in case of all small exchanges, there was full co-operation and co-ordination amongst staff.
Many operators were Tamilians, probably because recruitment was made by P.M.G. Madras, waiting for transfer to their own state. They took me to the lodge where they were staying. It was run by Shri Poduval of Payyanur, who was the owner of a hotel functioning near railway Station. Meals will be brought to lodge for those who were not on duty. Duty staff will take meals from hotel.
Adjusted quickly with daily routine. Since lady operators liked morning duties, men operators took evening duties exchanging their morning duty with ladies. Some arrangements were there for making tea in the exchange, but for breakfast and meal you had to go to nearby hotels.
Union functioning was systematic. Collection of subscription on first day of month itself, when Postman delivers salary Money Order. On lower portion of M.O. form, details of pay, allowances, deductions etc. will be noted. Necessary to keep them for verifying later. Union general body meetings will be organized at least once in two months. Individual copy of union monthly journals from Central Head Quarters and Madras Circle used to be received in bundle, which will be supplied to members. Com.P.Narayanan, a Supervisor at Payyanur, was Branch Secretary. All exchanges from Kasargode to Tellicherry were under Cannanore branch. In next annual branch meeting, I was elected as treasurer. Balance of Rs. 6, handed over to me. Monthly subscription was Re. one for Class III Union and 0.50 paise for Class IV Union.
Used to spend time after duty hours in Public Library near telephone exchange as also in Khadi Stores, where I used to hand over khadi thread made by mother and receive khadi clothes. Shri Pampan Madhavan, senior Congress leader used to be present. Swami Chinmayananda used to deliver Gita Classes in Sreekandeswara Temple Talap, Cannanore. Some of used to go there to hear his excellent speech. In the morning, we used to swim and take bath in the temple tank.
It was very difficult to get leave due to staff shortage. Medical certificate was necessary even to get one day casual leave. One day, approached Dr. Major(Retd) C.Raman in his clinic at Talap for one day Medical certificate. He started full test after asking me to remove shirt. Then he started shouting: ‘It is because of unhealthy persons like you working in the exchange, that we are not getting immediate attention when we lift our telephone. All of you require treatment here.’ He gave me some medicine free and also MC for one week, which I did not actually require. He did not take any fee, told me to come and test now and then. Of course, I did not go. He was really a kind hearted man, but dealt with the patients in his army way. His brother was Professor C.Narayanan, who was the Principal of Guruvayoorappan College, Calicut.
Once in a week I will go home, meet parents and brothers. By this time, both my sisters ere married. Elder sister Parvathi was married to Shri Ayadam Madhavan Namboodiri near famous Katathanad Temple and sister Sreedevi was married to Shri V.T.C.Kesavan Namboodiri of Veetiyot Illam at Kadiyangad, near Perambra. Eldest brother Kesavan Namboodiri with wife Sreevi Anterjanam and children had shifted to Chirakkal, where he was teaching in Raja’s High School. Brother Parameswaran Namboodiri was staying at Peruvallur near his school. Father, mother, brother Sankaran Namboodiri, his wife Sreedevi and children were at home.
Registered for appearing in Intermediate Examination of Utkal University. Also registered for Postal Tuition of British Institutes to prepare for appearing in departmental examination of Engineering Supervisor. Started serious study for both. There was sufficient time and had full confidence of being successful. Had I continued as a teacher, I could have simultaneously continued studies and appeared in examinations. Was determined to continue studies to the extent possible. My elder brother had passed M.A. in Hindi, Malayalam and Sanskrit by that time.
I used to read English Daily ‘The Hindu’ from student days. On Saturday or Sunday will go to ‘Kunhi Palathra’ Illam, where Shri Thrivikraman Namboodiri, who was sub-Editor Hindu, had Hindu brought through post. This helped improving my English to a certain extent. (To be continued).