CALICUT – A HISTORIC CITY
It so happened that I reached Kozhikode Trunk Exchange to report for duty on 15th August 1964, after availing eligible transit period on transfer. When submitted joining report, the LSG Monitor ie. Supervisor, told me to join next day, that day being Independence Day. Why a particular date for reporting in an exchange working 24 hours / 365 days? Then it flashed in my mind. Independence Day (15th August) was one of the three national holidays available to the operative staff, for working on which day, either compensatory off on another day has to be given or pay overtime allowance. There was no other holiday for operative staff. The supervisor wanted to deny the compensatory off / OTA to me. I was not prepared accept this injustice.
Told the supervisor that I did not come in my interest but was transferred in the interest of service and if not allowed to join, problems will arise. Supervisor phoned Assistant Engineer, Trunks. Was allowed to join immediately. I could understand what has happened. AE did not want to invite trouble.
I stayed with my eldest brother Prof. V.A.Kesavn Namboodiri who was working in St.Joseph College, Devagiri. Later, for better convenience of attending shift duties etc., shifted to P & T Lodge, where many of my colleagues were staying and which was nearer to exchange.
Calicut, formerly capital of Malabar District, was a growing city. A city with a glorious past. Ships with merchants and tourists came from China, Persia, Arabia and other ancient cities in the past. Famous for hill products like pepper, ginger etc. Vasco de Gama reached Kappad, near Calicut in 1498 and the European connection started. The area was ruled by Zamorin’s kingdom. Gujaratis came for business. ‘Gujarati Street’ still exists. Kallai Timber Yard was world famous. Spinning Mills, tile factories and other industrial establishments existed. There were and still are a number of famous Temples, Mosques and Churches. Nearby Beypore was a busy port.
Many newspapers, weeklies including “Mathrubhoomi”, “Deshabhimani” “Manorama” “Chandrika” being published from Calicut. Well known writers, authors, drama writers, artists made Calicut their centre. S/Shri S.K.Pottekkat, K.T.Muhammed, P.C.Kutikrishnan, Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer, M.T.Vasudevan Nair – a few among them. A centre of cultural activities.
The beach on the side of the Arabian Sea is wide and stretch for miles with full of people enjoying breeze and beautiful scenery. Valiyangadi is the whole sale market for rice, provisions and hill products. S.M.Street, the main market, is in the centre of town. Telephone Exchange is near Mudalakkulam Maidan, where public meetings are held often. On the front side of the exchange is Mananchira Maidan where foot ball etc. are played. Mananchira tank nearby. German constructed Common Wealth Factory is there. Head Post Office was functioning in a building near S.M.Street. Telegraph Office near the beach.The first telephone exchange was in the compound of the old collectorate. Collectorate compound and building were sold to LIC which constructed a multi-storied building. The old heritage collectorate building should have been maintained as tourist attraction. A very small, but solidly constructed old telephone exchange existed on one side of the compound covered by trees and bushes. That also was demolished later.
Town Hall was the main centre for holding important public meetings. Calicut Railway station is one of the busiest in Kerala. The Government Medical College opened during 1957 Com. E.M.S. Ministry is about 7 kilo metres from the town. Mavoor Gwalior Rayons employed a large number of workers, but later went out of business. Many hotels and restaurants are open day and night providing tasty food. By the time I came to Calicut it was already upgraded to a Corporation. Trade Union organisations are strong and militant.
There is so much to write about Calicut, but I am restricting myself only stating that Calicut is a very friendly city. Calicut is now Kozhikode, with its original name restored officially.
Since August 1964, my official work and union activities were centred in this vibrant city. (to be continued).