In the quiet of the early hours on Wednesday, the bus stop just outside the Kozhikode railway station has many people in queue.
But they are not waiting for buses on the first day of the 48-hour nation-wide general strike. Instead, the weary-looking men, women and children are waiting for a hot plate of upma and a cup of coffee, sweetened with jaggery, before the long hike home.
The aroma of coffee being prepared on the footpath is a sign of invitation for many a beleaguered passenger coming out of the railway station.
Nearby, a group of young volunteers, mostly school and college students and retired persons, of Active Group Calicut, fuss over a big aluminium vessel cooking upma on a makeshift stove.
The group, which was formed just a week ago, said the kitchen was their first venture in the field of “social service”. By afternoon, the group of 30 volunteers had fed over a 1,000 hungry mouths, spent Rs.10,000 on food stuff. Nearly 100 kilos of sooji had been consumed.
The food given to the people was free of cost, prepared right there on the spot and served piping hot. “We bought 50 kgs of the sooji and came here expecting it to last for two days. We calculated that 15 kgs would feed 150 people. But by mid-morning, the entire stock had finished. Then we made a shopkeeper in Nayinamvalappil open his shop and bought another 50 kg, now that’s also going to get over by 4 p.m. We don’t know about how we are going to organise the kitchen tomorrow…” Sudheendran K., a volunteer, said.