Having least interest in Social Studies when my fiancé asked me about Calicut 21 years back, I smartly replied that I had read about it in geography. Pat came the reply: “No my dear, it has a greater historical significance. Vasco da Gama discovered India after accidentally making landfall at Kappad Beach, which is to the north of Calicut.” That is how I too discovered Calicut. I had never heard of this part of India as I had seldom travelled down south. But certain things are destined.

I came from a diametrically opposite cultural background to Calicut in 1996 after marriage. At that time, Pune was one of the fastest developing cities in the world, while this town was yet untouched by the waves of commercialization. Infrastructural development was also almost nil, with only a handful of restaurants.

Kozhikode

For a bindaas Puneite adjusting and adapting then to the slow life here was difficult. I guess anything new is difficult to get acclimatized to in the beginning, but as the years pass, one becomes an integral part of it. That year the Rain God too showered his blessings on us for nine months. That was a climatic shock! Moreover, some parts of the city were flooded and people had to reach to their homes by boats! I was appalled to see a town like Kozhikode having such a poor drainage system.

Another issue with personal implications was that there was no direct train connecting the two important places in my life - Pune and Kozhikode. However, after the commissioning of Konkan railway, Poorna Express was announced, making life easier.

While travelling I used to observe people peeping out of windows to glance at a waterfall or green swathes. These people should visit Sarovaram Bio park here, and experience the mesmerizing beauty of that ecosystem. One of my cousins who visited Wayanad rain forest, extending his stay, spending double the initial budget remarked: “Why do people travel to Switzerland, when such beautiful places exist in India?” On another occasion, my brother on a casual visit here wanted me to start the car, parked in the garage as the place was so calm and quiet, making him miss his daily quota of noise pollution!

The city has a magnificent beach wherein people from all walks of life can spend time together. A massive issue it faces is cleanliness, a proper waste disposal system and more clean toilets for women, given the sizeable numbers that congregate there. With our hundred per cent literacy, we need to be more responsible citizens and stop spreading litter.

Another big hurdle which we confront is the sudden strike call, which hampers economic growth. Compared to students outside Kerala, our students have more holidays due to these unprecedented strikes. Multinationals are reluctant to open their start-ups here due to this.

Establishments like Hilite Mall and IT Park have changed the visage of the city. The city which was sleeping twenty years back has at last woken to the roar of development. With the widening of roads and development of other infrastructure, it has undergone a remarkable transformation. Nowadays it is justly famous for its eateries. Every nook and corner of the city is dotted with restaurants, speciality cafés, even exclusive dry fruit and chocolate stores.

We 'koyikkodens’ are lucky enough to simultaneously enjoy the amenities of a metro as well as the cosy intimacy of a small town. Due to modernisation and development we have a greater responsibility to preserve the essence of Kozhikode which is our shared inheritance.

So, this is my adopted city, an oasis of calm, absorbing all cultures, trying to keep pace with a changing world and yet keeping its value system intact. Twenty years down the line, it has become an indispensable part of my life. People, the culture, the food…everything.

(The author is currently working as Language and IELTS Trainer at Arown Academy, Mankavu)