12 Jul Dr.Thrivikramji, Asst. Geologist, Work Story 4
Thrivikramji.K.P. shifted to Trivandrum Office
of Directorate of Geology
Once I went back to the Chalapuram office, in mid-March, 1967, within the stipulated time of one week, I finalized the accounts and cleared all the dues to the office. Completion of the scientific report was the second task. It took hardly another ten working days or so to submit the same to the geologist boss. By the end of first week of April, 1967, I was a freed bird. Enjoying gossip and contributing to the gossip or chats.
Down south in Trivandrum, by that time the University of Kerala started a search for two lecturers in the Dept. of Geology. In response to the advertisement, I filed a c.v. for the job. Yet, I earnestly believed that my chances of bagging an offer are extremely slim. For one thing, I am far outside of research and secondly the past experience (if a better qualified person shows up he/she will walk off with the job). In fact in the 1966 selection, a similar situation arose and the offer went to a PhD mineralogist. Yet, this time around only difference is the availability of two slots.
Alongside, my elder brother a politician without ambitions, through a compatriot of his was kind of pressing the Director to post me in the Trivandrum office. In general it is kind of difficult for many bosses to turn away the politicians if latter are quite determined. In my case, it was precisely so. There was a word from the Director that I will get top priority for a shift to Trivandrum, if an opening pops up in the Trivandrum office.
By the time Iyer completed his filing of the scientific report to the boss, he too was free. On Sundays and holidays, our driver Mr. Joseph will come to the Valiyadi estate lodge with a packet of pasteurized milk, like around 6 am or so. On such occasions, Joseph will take over all chores connected with cooking. He will buy beef from Meenchanda and all the other stuff to make a decent lunch for all the three or four of us.
One Mr. Gopi who instructored carpentry to a vocational institute in the neighbourhood, had given us some useful lessons about cooking beef curry, in the earlier days. Mr.Gopi is undoubtedly a connoisseur of good food. His physical appearance is the branding of his food habit. One useful lesson Mr.Gopi taught us was how to bringing of packet beef from the butcher at Meenchanda to Valiyadi estate. The sharp eyed falcons, perched on tall trees lining the road will be keenly watching from their vantage point, the passersby down below and will be looking for packets of beef, hand carried to home. The moment the large bird spots an unwary man or woman with a packet in the morning, the bird parachutes down to the packet and instantaneously grabs the packet by its claws to shoot and soar back up. Some unlucky persons, due to this falcon landing on their bodies lose their balance to fall down on the road and might even get injured. So Mr. Gopi told us to carry an umbrella open while coming back with the packet of beef. It was a very useful advice. We instructed Mr. Joseph to follow Mr. Gopi,s words of wisdom in letter and spirit, to avoid a fall and to save the beef for making a delicious dish, which he meticulously practiced.
One other thing needing record about my Kozhikod life, is about a little girl doing her assignments, in the verandah of her house adjacent to and on north side of the road from the third or fourth railway gate to the beach. That street is known for a large clustering of Gujarathis of Kozhikod. Our team (Iyer, Nair and I) on certain evenings would take a walk through this street to the beach. On our way down and up I took note of this cute little girl in her petticoat. She probably was doing her middle school. However, later on during the Naxal movement in Kerala, this girl participated in the Pulpally police station attack. She is Ms.Ajitha, daughter of Mandakini and Kunnikal Narayanan. Now, Ms. Ajitha leads a NGO, named Anweshi based in Kozhikod, with the noble mission of protecting the women and women’s causes and rights.
It was a pleasant surprise for me to have earned a transfer to Trivandrum from Kozhikod. With the permission and warnings from my geologist boss, I left to Trivandrum by an and evening bus. In fact my friends gave me warm hearted send off. At the Kozhikod bus station I was planning to take the Kannur Deluxe to Trivandrum so that I will be home by the early dawn. Then, my friends in the bus station advised me to catch the first available bus to Kochi, so that I can hop into the Kannur Deluxe with no difficulty at all. The bus will be nearly empty by the time it reaches Kochi. I did exactly the same thing. I reached Kochi like at 12:30 am and in no time the deluxe express arrived. I boarded the bus and after buying the ticket started dozing off. I would become alert only when the driver does a hard brake to stop the bus or to avoid a certain road situation. I remember having opened my eyes from sleep at Chertala and thereafter at Alappuzha. After Alappuzha, near Karuvatta, I suddenly woke up by a very loud thud and a rattling of the bus. When I became alert I saw the bus turned turtle. In fact inside the bus, I was standing with my feet on the ceiling of the bus, all the passenger seats kind of hung from above my head. There were only just 13 passengers and crew. I heard one woman wailing about her husband’s face with shut eye. The conductor was loudly shouting about his professional cash bag. Otherwise, it was calm.
Around 4:0 am, the south bound bus, while negotiating a right hand curve, ran across the northbound lane and plunged into a wayside pond and in that process turned turtle. Roughly the front half of the bus was under water. But, luckily bus was not entirely flooded but for the front end. In minutes I started shouting that the driver might be drowned to death as his seat was fully under water. In the next, instance I saw the man walking on his legs from the water in the pond, with his gold chain in tact around his neck. In fact, one older official, a security officer of the Bus Corporation died by drowning inside the bus as he himself was seated in a VIP seat or seat one in the bus. My seat was 13 and I sat without my shoes on.
The bus was surrounded by members of the local community. I got my composure back and walked toward the main door of the bus which is at the rear left side. I had only a tote bag with me, but never worried about my pair of shoes. Also I was very eager to get out of the scene, as I had left one day earlier to my official departure from Kozhikod. The crowd shouted at me to get out of the bus. Then suddenly the bus pivoted on the edge of the embankment started sort wobbling or mildly rocking. So I was afraid to get out of the bus fearing that if I was keeping the bus at stable equilibrium, my walking out might make the bus overturn on me. I was mortally afraid of taking that decision to get out. In fact some member of the crowd literally grabbed me out of the bus.
The next moment I saw yet another bus of the bus corporation, making a sudden stop across the road at the sight mishap. I saw the crew walking toward the capsized bus and spotted a familiar face among the three member crew, i.e., a person who lived in the Valiyadi estate lodge. After informing him, I boarded that bus and headed to Trivandrum.There is a specific reason for this early morning escape from the scene of accident. If stayed back my name will go to the passenger list of the ill fated bus in the next day’s news paper. I did not want any one the Trivandrum office to know that I did travel one day earlier from Kozhikod unofficially, putting the geologist boss to answer some inconvenient questions raised by the Diretorate at Trivandrum. My decision to board another Trivandrum bound bus, took me home by about seven o clock in the morning. The next day was a Friday and stayed home till dusk.
On the following Monday, I went to the directorate to report and take charge. I had plenty of advice to behave correctly as the director was already fuming with my presence, as I earned the shift to Trivandrum politically and against the will of the boss. Within two months of my work in the Trivandrum office, I received a letter directing me and another Nair who was still at the Kozhikod office, to join the newly created ground water wing of the Agriculture department. There was some more paper work to be concluded. I was pretty much decided on joining the new Ground Water Cell. The Nair joined the GW Cell finally, while I went to take up a lecturer’s job.
Due to that delay I was send to a drilling camp for clay at Sasthamkotta, on the east shore of the Sasthamkotta kayal. The rig was setup in the property of a political-activist (Kerala Congress), one Mr Thomas at Muthuvila, on the eastside of Sasthamkotta-Kallada rd.. I chose to be a paying guest in their house. The home faced easterly overlooking the Chittumala kayal.
While I was in the camp, I like others, would go home during alternate weekends but unofficially. On one of my visits, amma gave me a letter which wanted me to appear for an interview in the University for selecting lecturers. The geologist in charge of drilling got permission for me or approval from higher ups to go on a day’s leave from the camp to attend the interview.
That Critical day arrived and I appeared for the interview. I had questions from experts like Prof. Viswanathaih (Mysore U), Prof. MGC Naidu (SV U) and Prof. CKN Nair (Agri. College). My Prof. KK Menon though sat in the committee did not ask any. The Dean of Faculty, Prof. A. Abraham had one or two questions. For one thing there were absolutely no erroneous answers. Several others also appeared before the selection committee.
After the interview which lasted for about 20 min., in the forenoon, I went back home in town, just to change clothes and sat down for a lunch. For the questions about my chance to be selected I said it was fifty-fifty game. In the evening, around four pm or so, I was walking past the University College. I noticed a car went past but very close to me to come to a complete halt. The person driving the car hailed me toward him. It was shri.KVK Nair one of my teachers in the MSc class.
From his seat the car, I was told that Prof. Menon was looking for me after their lunch, but felt sort of bad due to my absence anywhere near Department. In reply I informed Shri.KVK, that right away I will walk down to Prof. Menon’s home. The walk down hardly took only 20 min., and once I entered the gated compound, I saw the expert professors and Prof. Menon. I was mildly reprimanded for not staying back to see this special crowd outside of the interview. Then after pause, Prof. Viswanathaiah announced with the permission of the other two, that I was in the appointable list. I got to work hard and earn a doctorate in Geology and teach and train younger people.
I was indeed happy beyond words could describe. I landed finally in my chosen field; my passion was for teaching and researching. I walked back home with boundless joy and the new achievement equally enthused my parents and brother. The following day, in the early morning, I got back to the camp. And attended my duties till the drilling camp closed after 45 days. Mr.Thomas and family, in Muthupilakad, also congratulated me at the selection.
In the office on return from the camp, I walked into the director’s chamber to report the new grab I made. That man did not care to look at my face or to offer a seat, instead he continued with whatever signing he was doing. When I received a memo from the university signed by the Registrar asking me to join and take charge as lecturer, my office asked me to give a written request for relieving me to join the new job. The Director’s office also insisted that the letter seeking relief shall have a statement that I will not demand any future claims for any job in the Directorate of Geology. I prepared the letter the way the boss wanted. But I was relieved of the job to join me as lecturer in the university on the FN of 18-3-68. A wonderful transition for much better stuff in future.