Calcutta to Calicut: via Bengaluru

When I was pursuing my MA, Muneer from Calicut was my batch-mate. The soft-spoken Muneer had spent a few nights at my place in Kolkata while he was returning to Kerala after completion of his degree.

While I was keen on attending his wedding last year, distance turned out to be the deterrent. To make amends, recently, I boarded a bus from Bengaluru and got down at Koduvally, where Muneer received me.

Given the recent drubbing of the Left in Tripura, and their out of picture status in my home state, West Bengal, the red flags along the road seemed like the remnants of the farsighted revolution amid the hills and greens of Kerala.

Contrary to the gastronomic vigilance in other parts of India, I saw people lining up in front of a beef shop. We had tea and appam in a tea stall and proceeded to Muneer's home. The well-maintained road was dotted with magnificent bungalows that exhibited the circulation of the capital gathered in the Gulf countries by the Malayali diaspora.

Muneer's house was in a rural setup, however, given the amenities in the area, it seemed urban in most aspects when compared to other parts of India.

Muneer's scooty gave us the liberty of mobility and it was a pleasure for the eyes to witness the beautiful intersections of numerous natural resources.

We visited the Ariappa waterfall, which has till now evaded the regular tourists. And for the first time, I tested my swimming skills in a natural waterbody. Our time was pleasantly interspersed with delicious food at different spots, ranging from homemade biryani at Muneer's in-law's place to falafel sold at a shop. A falafel shop in the middle of Kerala once again reminded me of the prominent Gulf connection. Talking to people on the road whom I befriended and managed to converse in a mix of English and Hindi, further confirmed the west-ward inclination in Kerala. Conversation with Muneer gave me glimpses of how the different political parties operate in the neigbourhoods everyday.

My return journey began from Calicut bus station, before which I managed to explore Calicut for a few hours. The city exhibited a look which is yet to be swamped by the predatory instincts of neo-liberalism. Wide roads and clean streets greeted me in Calicut. I visited the Sweet Meat Street, from where I bought halwas of numerous flavours; following which I headed for the beach.

Unlike a regular tourist beach, it had a distinct leisurely overtone, with numerous trawlers over the horizon; as if the action at sea contrasted the inaction on the land.

Now, constraint of time did not permit me to visit the historical sites of Calicut, so, I boarded the bus for Bengaluru. The uphill journey through Wayanad was often punctuated by the smell of wild honey and sights of pineapple and rubber plantations. It was a memorable sojourn.

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