Tuesday, July 27, 2004

My Calicut aka Kozhikhode

I can't believe I typed this entire thing again! Proved once again that I am nuts!

Though I've been in Kerala during the initial 17 years of my life, I've been cocooned in the cultural capital of Kerala during most of the time. I was a very very lazy girl during those days, happy to roam inside the little Thrissur.
But Calicut has a special place in my heart, as it is the first city I stayed on my own away from home. Thanks to REC Calicut (now known as NITC). Those 4 years made Calicut a second home for me. I feel very much at home in this city. When I walk around in this city, I feel as if I belong here.....or as if the city is a part of me.

(Do you know that Calicut is called so because of its connection with Calico, which was a speciality of the place once!)

Though the LH (ladies hostel) in REC had an iron rule of 'back in the prison before 7pm', I managed to roam around in the city as much as I could. The weekly ritual of 'going to the city' was a much awaited event. The excitement of going to some place outside the campus (other than the Lovely Foods and the 45 minutes rollercoaster ride in one of those typical local private buses (to be experienced to be believed) made the event even more exciting.

A typical journey to the city would be by a group of 4-5 girls (boys...who needs them :) well...just kidding. In reality there was this unhealthy divide between guys and gals in our class. I always wondered why one of the negative traits of Kerala culture, due to which mallu boys and girls dont mix freely, has to be followed so religiously in a national institute like REC! Well, studying in a co-ed institute for the first time, I had my own apprehensions too. But then there were exceptions to this rule too....for instance, how can I forget my dear friend who went ahead and got married to a lady prof who tried her best to teach us Computer science!)

So what do a bunch of very excited teenage girls do in a city like calicut?
Shopping............of course!A shopping spree at SM street or any of the newly opened brand outlets or Gulf bazaar.......a lunch at Calicut Towers or at the **** Malabar Palace ( in our dreams :) ) or at Paragon .............a walk around the Mananchira square..........an ice cream from Baskin & Robbins near the beach......check out new CDs/Cassettes at nearby Sound Garden.......and then a movie at Crown or Coronation.........OOps! it's already 6!
We had to rush to the bus stand before the movies could end, because of the stupid iron rule at the hostel! Maybe I should sue the warden for my not knowing/remembering the endings of all those movies!

Coming back to Calicut after 3 years...........after the Bangalore experience......was an experience in itself. Kerala rules. It felt good to be back at home base far far different from those over-polluted over-populated mad mad cities. But then, all was not well. I seem to have forgotten most of the street names/ places name in calicut! Short term amnesia! I was so ashamed that I had spent 4 years in this same place and today when someone asks me some direction or a landmark I give them the same look I gave to Prof. Panda in Marketing class today when he asked me some blah blah blah about Consumer Behaviour on Chocolate! (Damn! lost my CP(class participation) points!).
So, when I went to the city last weekend along with some of my friends, it was more like a flash back! Had some interesting experiences during that outing.

Some thoughts that crossed my mind while walking around in the SM street

- Walking around in a jeans in Calicut is the dumbest thing a girl can ever do.
Walking around in Calicut is the dumbest thing a girl can do. The male population seems to be as frustu as it was before! How could I have forgotten this! Or was I expecting a miracle? The strong Muslim culture in the city plays a big role in this. I lost count of the number of sleazy comments that I could actually understand! Forget about the ones I didn't hear properly and some others which I couldn't even understand! But then the courage of most of these people end with that. A good stare with my 'big eyes' was enough to make most of them shy away.

- Wipro Lingerie! Who wants one!? Does it come under Wipro Techonologies or Wipro Infotech? Must be under Wipro healthcare! I always wondered what they were upto. The whole of SM street footpath was lined with this stuff in some you-wont-believe-it-if-i-tell-you colours! Mr. Vivek Paul are you listening? Premji uncle, now your secrets are out. Now I know how you declared that 78% growth in profit in the last quarter! Ha!

- The Queens still rule the city. I had seen my share of them at the famous Mananchira square, at the beach and at the Planetarium during my REC days. Things are just the same. After all Calicut is famous for Gays, Halwa and Chicken biriyani in that order.

- Talking about Chicken Biriyani.......just heard from a friend of mine that he travelled around 4 hours to calicut just to feast on this famous 'Chicken Biriyani'!!!!! He dint forget to take enough stock with him to stash in his refrigerator! There are people who live to eat! :)

- The city is still dead on sundays

- The veg food in most of the restaurants in the city is still pitiable. It has to be so according to the demand-supply rule in a city like Calicut where 99% of the population start their day with a good piece of meat (doesnt matter what!).

- The beach is still filthy and is infested with sleazy guys.

- People don't understand much of Hindi/ English, as my friends painfully found out. (100% literacy! But whats the use if you cant communicate to a fellow country man!)

- I should go see the Dolphin's point once before leaving this place. It seems at this place one can see Dolphins frolicking around in the beach! What a sight it would be........Dolphins....sea....and early morning. I am sure to go mad with joy!

- I should go check out Tusharagiri and those Tree houses! Now wouldn't that be fun!

- Bekal Fort here I come! (Uyireee............Uyireee..........)Northies please read (Tu hi ree.....Tu hi re.......)Yup! that song was picturised in Bekal fort!

- Should try out the hot hot Idiyappam at this Muslim restaurant(forgot the name again!) near the Rly station. This used to be my fav food in Calicut!

- Should visit Eloor library once. The place which was a haven for RECians, which used to supply us with the latest paperbacks and of course the Asterixs, the Gardfields, the Archies.........and ofcourse a big hole in our (read dad's) wallet.

- Should go visit REC one of these days!


Anonymous said...

my goodness...I never knew that there were so many places in Calicut that one could visit...and Tu Hi Re...I thought that it was in Bombay or Goa...but Calicut...amazing.
btw, I figured out this saturday that the city does have some good shopping opportunities...that is, if you have the cash (or card :-))

Girl With Big Eyes said...

hey nitai,

yup! there are loads of places one can visit in and around calicut.

and bekal fort is not in calicut....its in another district called Kannur...up north. But surely a few hours drive from here.


Anonymous said...

We used to call the 7 pm deadline "curfew" !! My gawd, u shud see the women pedalling away for dear life when they knew it was late.. Wot a sight ! The chowkidar was a tyrant - more powerful than the Principal himself :-) Oh those days *sigh*

Calicut seems almost Dickensian - "quaint" from wot u have painted here - M curious now to see this place :-)

PS: Its Uyire or Uyiray.. The way u sound, its as if Manisha is shrieking in agony..Uyireeeeee.... :-)I thot that fort was 15-10 Kms near Mangalore (Shut up J) but knowing me, we are probably speaking abt the same thing except that my geography is a little inaccurate :-)

Anonymous said...


In my undergrad and in school we had a nice bunch of people in class - girls and boys used 2 b good friends -sthng very rare in Kerala ;-) I dunno y the REC wasn't that way. But i guess it comes from having a very low ratio. We had a nearly 50:50 in school and Engg. So if u didn't talk 2 girls, ur possible friends would reduce by about 50% ;-)

I haven't explored calicut much. The only places our batch goes to is The Taj, Fortune or Paragon and the Baskin Robbins near the beach. Paragon has the best food of these ;-) Though when i am dying 4 some continental fare, The Taj is the only option :-( Ditto when u want a drink along with dinner!

In trichur, our fave hangouts were Bharat and Mini Fast Food (i dunno if u've seen this place - they used 2 serve the best burgers i've ever tasted) and had that small diner atmosphere that we loved so much as kids. Still go to Mini Fast Food everytime i'm back in trichur - sheer nostalgia! We used 2 spend hours there - mainly because no grownups would ever frequent it and it was a safe place where u could stay bunking tutions and chat ;-) btw, a friend of mine from school owns Pathans now (actually his dad does) and the same goes for the Malabar Palace here (this is owned by anthr friend from school). If i run into them, i'll be sure to tell them that they have a loyal (prospective in case of Malabar Palace ? ) customer!


Maddy said...

well, well, you made me all nostalgic of my REC days 1974-1979...i know the place has changed a lot, though we still come to calicut almost every year...

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Whoa! That's BGWBE!
(I meant Before GWBE)

Glad to meet you here!

Rinchen said...

Loved this post. Felt like I was back in Calicut once again. Am mentioning my fave thing in SM Street here - The Faludas. God knows how they used to make it...have never tasted anything like that after CREC.

Miss Eloor library very much and of course the AnDePRin gang!

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Faloooas!! Yes! And those Sharjhah shakes :)

Arjun said...

hey, i m a kozhikodan plus nitcian ;

nice post :) btw, bekal is in kazarkode not in kkd or kannur

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Ah yes! I discovered that when I visited the fort :)
Thanks for pointing out.

VKM said...

man o man..
miss REC...