It was our long-cherished desire that we should go and meet our old friends settled in Kerala when they are in good health and spirit. Our inspiration was mainly Shri PN Balasubrahmanian (Doraiswamy) who left Bhilai nearly 40 yrs back and settled at his native place Palakkad. Swamy, in spite of his advanced age, still finds it a pleasure to come to the railway station to meet his old associates passing through Palakkad, though the stoppage is only for five minutes. Another great heart is Shri Sivadas Menon, now residing at Thrissur and same is the case with him also.
Accordingly, in one of our kitty consisting of GVK, PRN, MNC & Ramdas, it was decided that we should plan a trip to Kerala before getting much older. We mentioned our plan to PNB. He was so glad and said, “I will be at the station to receive you all; you can get fresh at my house and have a typical Brahmin breakfast.” Similar offers came from Shri Padmanabhan, Shri Ashok Menon and Shri Sasi Nedungadi. We found Shri Padmanabhan’s place would be more conducive and comfortable for getting fresh. We informed him and Sasi in advance that our breakfast will be at PNB’s agrahara. Accordingly, we planned our journey.
We set out from Bhilai on 15 January 2020 night by Korba-Trivandrum Express. We reached Palakkad on 17 Jan around 09.00 hrs. Shri Padmanabhan and Sasi were at the station to receive us. After freshening up and sipping hot tea at Padmanabhan’s place, we moved to PNB’s agrahara. Padmanabhan then took us to Shri Ashokan’s house. From here we moved to meet Sasikala, w/o late Rajagopalan. Sasi then took us to his house at Kanjirapuzha, near Mannarkad, about 35 kms from Palakkad from where we had our lunch. We left Mannarkad around 5 pm in Sasi’s car and reached Sri C Radhakrishnan’s house at Ottapalam around 6 pm for our night halt.
Leaving Ottapalam around 9 am on 18 Jan, we reached Thrissur at Shri Sivadas Menon’s house by 10.30 am and had breakfast there. Here some ex- Bhilaians viz. T Bhaskaran, Sri Rajagopan (Sita), Artist Vijayan, C Radhakrishnan, Sasi Nedungadi, Shri Gangadharan (BH), Shri Lonappan, Shri Unni (b/o Ramdas) were invited for a small get-together with lunch. Leaving Thrissur around 6 pm we reached Aluva for our night stay.
From Aluva onwards, Shri Anil (GVK’s son) spared his vehicle with a driver for our comfortable journey, At Aluva, we first visited the relatives of Mrs GVK followed by Shri PGG Pillai (Stores) & his brother Krishnan Nair. We also visited Shri Venu at Angamali. From Aluva, we went to Ernakulam to meet Shri Surendran & Vasumathy and had lunch with them. We took this opportunity to visit Smt Girija (w/o late PR Chandran) also. We then went to meet Maya (elder daughter of late Shri Murali, Cash Sec) and her husband, Shri Sasidharan Nair. Sasi then took us to Preeti (younger daughter of Murali) & their mother Vanaja. We also met Shri CE Paul & Thresiamma at Edapally. Then went to Mohanan’s house. Shri Gopi & Mony (Maroda) came there to meet us. Had dinner with Mohanan & Vilasini and stayed there that night.
On 20th morning, we went to Thuravur to meet Aravi & Radha and had breakfast with them. From there, our trip was to meet Sreekumar (Aniyan s/o late Balan Chettan) at Chertala, where our lunch was arranged. Then we moved to Vaikom to meet Shri KS Nair (Shankaran). On our way to Kottayam to meet Shri MPB Nair (Bhaktan Chettan), we met Sreedevi (Aniyan’s elder brother Babu’s wife). At Kottayam, we also met Shri Sivadas of Simplex. Our next journey was to meet Shri Purushottaman Pillai & Thankamma at Thiruvalla. We retired for our sojourn at Pandalam (MNC’s house) and had dinner there.
On 21 Jan 2020, our first stop was Cheriyanad. After our breakfast at the residence of Geeta (d/o late Shri MNV Pillai), we went to meet Radhakrishnan, Mullasseril followed by Kunjumol (w/o late Shri KV Philip) at Ala. After that we visited Thazhakara to meet Shri Bhaskaran (Finance), Janardanan Pillai (IBM) and Smt Vijayalakshmi (w/o late Janardanan, Township – Homeo Dr). From here, we moved to Vazhuvady accompanied by Shri Bhaskaran to meet Smt Sarala (w/o late VM Nair, MECON). We then proceeded to meet Shri MBK Pillai at Peringilipuram and Shri GS Thampy at Kuttamperur. Then we proceeded to Bhagavathypady near Chettikulangara to meet Shri RGK Nair. Next, we met Shri GG Kurup (Gopichettan) at Muthukulam accompanied by RGK. Thereafter we went to Mannar to meet Shri TVS Pillai (Acts). From Mannar, we drove straight to Karipuzha near Mavelikara to meet Veena (d/o late Ananthakrishnan Chettan) & her husband Dr Omprakash. We took this opportunity to visit the relatives of Shri Ananthakrishnan & Manian and also their houses at Mannar. Returned to Pandalam for night halt.
On 22 Jan morning, we first visited Shri Madhusudhan Pillai (Stores) at Pathanamthitta. Thereafter went to Vallicode to meet Shri KV George and had breakfast there. He then took us to an ex-Bhilian and his neighbour Shri Gopalan Nair and Saraswathi who are now settled in the US and came in that morning. From there, we moved to Ezhamkulam near Adoor to meet Shri EP Haridas. Our next visit was to Shri Adoor Ravi. Then we went to Vetticode to meet Shri Rajan (RTD) & Shri Purushan (Personnel). Concluding our trip for that day, we went to Chunakkara (PRN Pillai’s house) where arrangements were made for our lunch. Reaching Pandalam, visited the relatives of Mony (MNC) and had traditional night food at ‘Ampady’.
On 23 Jan our trip was to Karunagapally & Kollam side. First, we visited ‘Aramana Veed’ near Amrithanandapuri, Karunagapally, recently acquired by Shri Saji Nair, s/o late Shri Ananthakrishnan. Here we had our breakfast with Mrs Ananthakrishnan, Saji & his wife Dr Ambika. Then we went to Karunagapally to meet Shri Mural (SMS). Our next stop was Chavara to meet Shri SRK Pillai and had lunch there. Shri Murali & Shri Ramakrishnan of MECON gave us company here. We then proceeded to Kollam to meet Shri S Reghunath accompanied by SRK Pillai. Shri Vijayachandran ((Babu) of Kottiyam (MD, Surya Group) and an ex- Bhilaian joined us here. We then met Prof Suryadas & his wife, Dr Indira, at their residence. He is the young brother of S Raghunath and did his PG from Bhilai. We then proceeded to meet Seema d/o Raghunath. Our next visit was to meet Dr Sandhya young daughter of Babu and then his elder daughter Sindhu. From here we moved to Babu’s house to meet his wife Kamala. Babu then took us to his ‘Hotel Surya’ where our accommodation was arranged. He hosted a fabulous dinner for us with a special menu. The presence of SRK & Raghu added more taste to the feast. In spite of his busy schedule, Babu spent considerable time with us to see that his guests are extremely comfortable.
We vacated Hotel Surya on 24 Jan morning and proceeded Thiruvananthapuram. We first visited Shri Rajappan Nair (RTS) at Kazhakootam and then Shri Vrijan Manapuram at Manvilla. We then went to Kumarapuram to meet Shri Indran and Ambi. Here Shri Anil Philip joined us and took us to Ms Jayanti Jayadevan at Vanchiyoor. From there, Anil took us to his house for lunch & rest. We then proceeded to GVK’s house at Varkala. On our way we also met Shri Premarajan family near Sivagiri.
On 25 Jan morning, GVK took us to Varkala Janardhana Swamy Temple, Varkala Beach and the Papanasam. Winding up the trip, we then moved to our houses – at Chunakara (PRN), Pandalam (MNC), Ernakulam (GVK) & Anthikad (Ramdas).
We all returned back to Bhilai on 31 Jan 2020. We are eager to make such trips again in future if our health permits. The warm welcome and hospitality extended by the ex-Bhilains, our old friends, were really depicting the Bhilai culture.
PS: This firsthand report is a collection of Whatsapp messages, edited and published by Anil Philip, on behalf of the group.