Monday, March 16, 2009
Day 8 gave me an opportunity to explore new routes that didn’t appear on the map. I had my breakfast at a place called Chalakudy and proceeded along the highway to Ponnani. Ponnani was then a hotbed of Kerala politics. This was ahead of the 2009 National Elections and there were rumours that the LDF could split over the choice of candidate for that constituency. On the field, there was nothing happening to support the hype generated by the media.
It was at Ponnani, I moved away from the highway by taking an alternate route. It involved the use of a Jhankar boat to cross the river and a ride further north along peaceful roads.
The road led to places like Unniyal, Tanur which didn’t appear on my map. The only problem with this route was the absence of vegetarian restaurants on the way. I had to thrive on few snacks from a bakery along with some chilled lemon soda. I hit a bus stand to take a small afternoon nap and rest for a while. I also got in touch with a few students and picked up some random conversation. This region was largely dominated by people belonging to Muslim region and it was quite interesting to note that many of the girls were going to or returning from their schools and colleges. They were clearly identifiable by the black scarves draped around their head. At first, it didn’t make an interesting story as I could not comprehend much from what I saw. Few months later, I read this brilliant piece from Ramchandra Guha in India Together. He concludes the article with these lines.
For me, the ubiquity of the headscarf in Calicut University is a perfect illustration of what Mahatma Gandhi liked to call “the beauty of compromise”. The pragmatism of the Malayali stands in salutary contrast both to the thoroughgoing secularism of the French and to the narrow bigotry of the Hindutva-wadis
I could relate to the contents better based on what I witnessed in first person.
The road led me a beautiful place called Kadalundi. It is the name of the village as well as the river that joins the sea there (Most of the west coast towns share a similar feature). The attraction of the place was the view from the bridge that runs across the river, a few metres before it meets the sea. One of the persons whom I met on the bridge travels 10 Km everyday by train (he told me about his season ticket) to come there and enjoy a walk. I would have loved to be there to enjoy the sunset. But Kozhikode was far from there and required at least one and a half hour ride. I proceed to the next town on the coast called Beypore where I was to join the highway back.
The road to Beypore included another Jhankar ride across the Beypore river. I could catch some beautiful snaps from the boat. I hit the Beypore beach to enjoy the sunset and I could spend some time in solitude enjoying the sunset.
After the sunset, I proceed to reach Kozhikode or Calicut to stay for the night. For the first time, I faced some difficulty in getting a room but eventually succeeded in getting a cheaper yet clean place. I could find a Tamil restaurant for my dinner that night. The restaurant had a board which mentioned that they don’t provide plastic bags for food parcels. On enquiring about the reasons, I learnt that the municipal corporation of Kozhikode had taken the decision and all shopkeepers have been co-operating with the directive.
Guruvayur – Chavakkad – Ponnani – Unniyal – Tanur – Parappangadi – Kadalundi- Beypore – Kozhikode
More images from the day’s ride. Click here