09 Jul Founding of the Department of Geology, University of Kerala.
Dr.Thrivikramji.K.P. (Work Story-1)
I started my research career immediately after completing the M.Sc degree from the University of Kerala in June, 1965. I belonged to the first batch or was a member of the class of 1965.However, I was clueless about what exactly I shall be focusing at after the MSc course. In fact, the faculty of the department also did not explicitly tell me as to what are the avenues open before me or the career tracks available to a post graduate in the country. In fact no suggestions whatsoever was offered by the faculty..
But only one man in the faculty, Prof Menon, suggested that if I were free and willing I could assist in the lab work in his research. Indeed, it was very exciting to me and I jumped into it. My family also did not object to this idea. Imagine, an invitation or offer thrown at you from the boss. The next day onwards, I started going over to lab. I rode my bicycle to the campus at Palayam. Dad gave a rupee or two routinely to meet to buy a lunch. I loved to eat in the Aruna Lodge, Palayam..These days the place is renamed as Aruna Hotel.
Being an ex-student assisting the boss, I had unrestricted access to every nook and corner of the lab and the library, which by any standard had an excellent collection of books and journals. For all intents and purposes, i was like a research scholar but with special rights.
I had been to the trips along with Prof. Menon. For e.g., one trip I distinctly remember is the one to Padappakara along the SEastern shores of Ashtamudi Kayal. The intent was collection of samples from the type area.Professor did demonstrate the process of field work, like locating in the topographic sheet, observing the out crop from distance and very closely, discriminating the different exposed sediment layers, carefully gathering a piece each of the layers and packing them carefully with appropriate labels and taking field notes etc.. The personal car of Prof. Menon was the field vehicle. Thus I was introduced to this kind of learning. I distinctly remember our eating lunch in the VRR of Kollam train station. On our way home, we had vada and tea in the same place. At Padappakara, I heard stories about Dr.A.k.Dey (of GSI, who looked at the macrofossils of the Quilon Limestone) from an elderly man- a retired school teacher. In fact he had anecdotal narrations about the British resident of Travancore, who visited the Padappakara limestone.
Later, Prof Menon had landed a paper in the journal of the Indian Academy of Sciences. We had an excellent binocular microscope for checking the specimens to look for structures and matrix as well as frame work grains. Obviously I had little role in the fine checking specimens, as it was beyond my capabilities. But I had gotten these ready on the binocular microscope stage on a 6×6 in., white glazed porcelain tile. In fact one of the two binocular microscopes (one with a black body) was transferred to Dept. of Geology. Prof. K.K.Nair, Dept. of Zoology was the donor.
Prof. Menon during those hours of keen examination of the samples used to narrate his training with Prof. Longwell at the Yale University. Indeed, I learned and picked up good deal of knowledge during such sessions.
Now the question regarding the founding of the Department of Geology, It was in the middle or second half of month of June, 1963, that I met my class mate P.Krishnamoorthy at Palayam near the VJ Town Hall. Murthy told me that Prof. Menon had informed him that he secured a first class in the BSc degree examination. And if I am curious, I too can go to the Geology Department and find out my position in the examination.
In fact, I dashed through the campus to the office of Prof. Menon. I was called in. Then I was told that I had a first class and I stood first in the graduating class. Obviously questions regarding the future study plans I had in mind informed to the Professor. (I had secured admission to the three year M.Tech., in Applied Geology at Saugar University. In fact top students from Kerala University had discovered this place). Mr. KVK Nair was seated in the guest chair, with Prof. Menon.
Then, Mr. Nair added that Prof. Menon is no longer with the University College, instead he is the reader in charge of the newly created department of Geology in the University and there is a pretty high chance that the new department will offer a new course in MSc Geology. The notification is in the pipe line. Prof. Menon told me that he took charge as Reader-in-Charge on June 24, 1963. Thus that day is the foundation day of Dept. of Geology. A copy of a signed page of a register with Prof. Menon’s signature follows. Sri. KVK Nair handed over the charge of the new department to Prof. Menon.