A flier settles for a calm nest


The capital metropolis has developed a contemporary skyline and a very good health-care system.

For a village boy like me, Thiruvananthapuram was the utmost metropolis, the promised land. My father who had spent two years in a university right here late in his life was impressed with the alternatives within the metropolis and determined to ship me right here for school training. The newly discovered freedom and the dazzle of faculty life appealed to me. The rigours of studying English and my outsider standing had been impediments, however my good efficiency in school gave me confidence.

The one function fashions I had had been the good lecturers within the English Division of the College School akin to Ok. Ayyappa Paniker, G. Kumara Pillai, Hrdayakumari, Ok. Srinivasan Santhakumari and I aspired to be certainly one of them. There was no world past Thiruvananthapuram.

A high-flier settles for a quiet nest

My father, nonetheless, had larger ambitions for me and he informed me a few younger professor, Shankara Pillai, who was getting ready for a profession within the Indian International Service. When Pillai joined the IFS and obtained posted to unique locations, I learnt extra about diplomacy as a occupation, set my coronary heart on it, and obtained chosen. Sadly, Pillai fell sufferer to the gun of a mad man in Ottawa, when he was India’s Deputy Excessive Commissioner there.

My coronary heart was in Thiruvananthapuram, however, just like the Biblical prodigal son, I set sail for my 40-year Odyssey which took me to many international locations and gave me the expertise of a lifetime. I had with me a chunk of Thiruvananthapuram in my spouse Lekha, who was born and introduced up right here. We determined that we’d return to dwell in Thiruvananthapuram someday.

Throughout my frequent journeys to town within the 40 years I spent away, I seen the sluggish however regular growth of Thiruvananthapuram, which strengthened my resolve to return to it. It had developed a contemporary skyline and a very good health-care system with out destroying its conventional options just like the Golf Hyperlinks, Museum and the palaces. On the one hand, a quaint golf membership was there for health and on the opposite, a multi-speciality KIMS Hospital if health failed.

As we had been packing to return to town, we sounded out others about our plans to settle right here, however most of them discouraged us. They felt that we’d discover town uninteresting and missing in social life, leisure, and mental stimulus.

A high-flier settles for a quiet nest

Perfect climate

However 15 years later, we’ve no regrets. There have been moments of disappointment however not discontent. The very best half was the climate which didn’t dictate change of garments to outlive. Having lived in temperatures starting from -40 levels to 40 levels Celsius, a imply temperature of 25 levels appeared ideally suited. Initially, we determined to dwell in a suburb, with out realising that 18 kilometres was a good distance off due to the poor roads. We additionally tasted the deception of a builder who constructed a home at half the worth we paid him. Later we learnt that what he did was the rule quite than an exception.

The Technopark is the establishment that introduced Thiruvananthapuram to the trendy age. I had met G. Vijayaraghavan in New York when the undertaking was solely a twinkle in his eye. I knew then that his imaginative and prescient would develop into a actuality quickly. The glistening metal and glass constructions and eating places with worldwide delicacies are the offshoots of Technopark. No different establishment has modified town as a lot.

Non secular locations ‘develop’

A brand new phenomenon within the metropolis is an explosion of non secular religion. What had been small temples, church buildings, and mosques have grown into gigantic constructions and new ones have sprung up. There has additionally been a proliferation of rituals. Maybe the sensation that people can’t be trusted has led individuals to carry tightly to gods and goddesses.

Cultural occasions even have multiplied. Other than the Soorya programmes, that are held just about around the yr, there are government-sponsored occasions to mark each nationwide and State festivals. The Worldwide Movie Pageant of Kerala and the Mathrubhumi Pageant of Letters have develop into common options. Town’s residents have developed extra curiosity in nationwide and worldwide genres of music and dance as evidenced by the truth that artists from different States and international locations are performing extra steadily right here.

Noise stays intact

The proliferation of public conferences has made town extra noisy. Town should formulate a code of conduct concerning the variety of individuals on the dais and the size of their speeches. The huge use of electrical energy for illumination and bills on flowers in plastic and glass monstrosities that are given as souvenirs are wasteful. Noise air pollution is as acute immediately because it was once I learnt driving within the metropolis a few years in the past. My coach insisted that I ought to maintain my hand on the automotive horn in order that it sounded constantly like a fireplace engine. Sounding the horn remains to be a ritual right here, whereas in different international locations, it’s used most sparingly.

Mercifully, the timber in a lot of the metropolis have been saved, primarily due to activists just like the poet Sugathakumari. Within the local weather change debates on the UN, I used to plead for growth as towards surroundings, however I discovered that the Western argument for environmental safety appeared to enchantment to the intelligentsia within the metropolis. We should strike a stability between surroundings and growth and mustn’t develop into environmental fundamentalists.

The invisible waste

Thiruvananthapuram remains to be a conservative, largely bureaucratic metropolis, as distinct from a extra cosmopolitan metropolis like Kochi. Public companies are pretty passable, however it doesn’t have a waste disposal system. In some mysterious manner, town stays freed from accrued waste because it occurs in different cities when the system fails even for a day.

The one factor that doesn’t change concerning the metropolis is the acceptance of Sree Padmanabha as its presiding deity. The revelation that the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple holds immense wealth has vastly enhanced its worth. However there is no such thing as a consensus as to how one can put the wealth to productive use. Proposals vary from exhibiting it to turning it into bonds and utilizing the cash generated for the event of the State.

I imagine there have been plans for leaving the traditional metropolis as it’s and to construct a brand new metropolis as was carried out within the case of many world capitals. However the determination to merge the brand new with the outdated has given town a attraction of its personal. Glitzy jewelry shops encompass the traditional temple, the spires of the Kowdiar Palace add a royal contact to the skyscrapers, and fashionable wax fashions coexist with metallic statues of the Maharajas.

The author is a former ambassador of India

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