I came to Thiruvananthapuram in 1969 after serving in 14 colleges from Thalassery to Kollam. Upon reaching the city, I felt relieved. The capital then was a “village town,” where fresh, clean vegetables were served at a very low price.
I used to pedal up on my bicycle to the Chala market twice a week and buy vegetables and fruits. I was healthy and happy. In the hotels, a certificate issued by the President of India, which said “Trivandrum is the cleanest city of India,” was displayed. On a horizontal margin below the certificate, a seal of the Corporation with an inscription, “Keep it up,” was prominently displayed.
I refrain from commenting and leave those comments to the present “unfortunate miserable citizens” of the State capital. In those times, most of the houses had their premises fenced up or walled with an opening to the road with a gatehouse (Padipura), either thatched or tiled.
Looking over the fence, one couldn’t miss rich coconuts palms laden with bunches of 10 to 15 nuts. You won’t believe when I say that in Edapazhanji, there were extensive paddy fields in acres, where ploughing, tilling and reaping were all colourful sights. There was a harvest festival. Once in three years, temporary thatched-up temples came up and the village was given a sumptuous feast.
When I told this to Vyloppilly master, my Guru in poetry, he said, “Vishnu, are you joking?” I replied, “Come along, sir, and find it.”
He came and, in surprise and rapture, said, “Vishnu, I wouldn’t have believed this had I not seen it myself.” The city has changed considerably. It was clean earlier because it was a city of ups and downs, level grounds were few. There was a natural drainage and cleaning process after every rain.
And then came the airport in the mid-1970s, which brought with it modernisation, globalisation and bitter westernisation. Civilisation was no more decorum and self-respect as in the old temple city Thiru-Ananthapuram. Big flat builders came up one after another and drainage became “miserable and impossible.”
No road is safe to girls after sunset. Newspapers bring sad news of burglary in open daylight and news of seduction. After all we get what we deserve. Not only Kerala but entire India is running after westernisation, which plunges itself into corruption, crises, dehumanisation and such tragic situation, offering no way out.