This eatery hosted Kalam for 21 years

Trivandrum - People from different walks of life have been stopping at Guruvayoorappan Hotel on the Gandhari Amman Kovil Street to feel a breath of former president A P J Abdul Kalam.

By T K Devasia

Published: Wed 29 Jul 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 29 Jul 2015, 8:51 AM

A 38-year-old tiny hotel near the Kerala secretariat at Trivandrum has been getting a stream of visitors since 9pm on Monday.
People from different walks of life have been stopping at Guruvayoorappan Hotel on the Gandhari Amman Kovil Street not to relish the homely food that it serves but to feel a breath of former president A P J Abdul Kalam who died at Shillong on Monday.
It was this hotel, which is famous for its kanji (rice gruel) and payar (green gram), where Kalam used to take his meals during the 21 years he spent in the Vikram Sarabhai Space Research Centre (VSSC), laying the foundation for the country's space programme.
Kalam, who stayed at the nearby Indra Bhawan Lodge, comes to the hotel early morning for his breakfast and late night for his dinner whenever he was in the city. Hotel owner Parameshwaran Nair said he also used to come to the eatery for his lunch on holidays.
"His meals were simple as the man he was. His breakfast consisted of two 'Appams' (a type of pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk) and a glass of milk and the dinner two "chapathis" and a glass of milk. His favourite food for lunch was rice and 'rasam' (a soup made from Tamarind pulp and various spices)", says Nair.
Nair, who is now 82, told the Khaleej Times that he had an intuition that Kalam would become a great man one day. He said that he had felt a powerful aura around him the moment he stepped into the hotel the first day and, therefore, he always received him with big respect.
Nair used to take special care of Kalam. "He comes for dinner very late in the night most days. I used to wait for him with his quota I had kept a separate plate for him. Many of my regular customers did not like the special treatment I meted out to Kalam, but today I feel proud for what I did", he added. Strictly a vegetarian, Kalam used to go to kitchen and eat by standing there. Seldom he sat and ate in the dining hall. He was always in a hurry. It appeared that he didn't have even a single minute to waste for food.
Kalam had also high regards for Nair and his family. He used to visit the hotel sometimes when he visited the city after moving to Hyderabad as chief of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1983. He called for Nair and his wife on a couple of occasions he visited the state as President.
Among the large galaxy of friends Kalam had in the city is a cobbler who used to work near the Guruvayoorappan Hotel. On one occasion he visited Gandhari Amman Coil Street to refresh old memories he spent some time with George, the cobbler. Many people in the city like to perpetuate Kalam's kinship with the city. A blog writer suggested conversion of the Indra Lodge into a museum for children, whom he always tried to motivate.
The place with the breath of Kalam will certainly ignite the minds of the children, he added.
The owner of the Guruvayoorappan hotel, who was a mute witness to the transformation of Kalam as eminent scientist and a humanist, believe it will be a befitting memorial for the man who always had shown special interest in the development of Kerala.
A 10-point 'Vision Kerala 2010' programme he presented in the state assembly during his term as President surprised politicians. If the programme that included development of tourism, waterways, deep-sea fishing and knowledge products and creation of a team of nurses and paramedics to meet international demand and exclusive economic zones to attract NRI investors were implemented, Kerala would have become a developed state now.

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