Life & Style

Watch: Mehaboob Alappuzha, the hotelier who entertains his customers with his singing

Mehaboob Alappuzha at his shop at Alappuzha

Mehaboob Alappuzha at his shop at Alappuzha   | Photo Credit: Sreejith R Kumar

The videos of the 58-year-old 'Mehaboob Alappuzha' who has presence in YouTube and Facebook is already going places

As vehicles zip through the National Highway at General Hospital Junction in Alappuzha, ‘Surumayezhuthiya mizhikale...’, the soulful, evergreen MS Baburaj-song fills the night air with melody. Mehaboob Alappuzha croons the number even as he dips sliced banana pieces in batter and gently slides them into spluttering oil in a wok. As the banana fritters turn golden, he breaks into another golden oldie, Ilaiyaraaja’s ‘Unnai ninachen...’.

Mehaboob is at work at his no-frills, late-night joint along the busy coastal stretch connecting major towns in Kerala. As commuters stop to sip piping hot tea and bite into snacks to break the tedium of the drive, it is music for their ears as Mehaboob entertains them with his songs. That’s the package deal at this outlet, which is among the many on this road that remain open throughout the night. “I ensure that they don’t leave without listening to my songs,” laughs Mehaboob.

The 58-year-old says that music has been a constant in his life although he is not a trained musician. “My aim is to refresh my customers through music. Most of them are long-distance travellers. I felt that instead of running a usual thattukada, if I could entertain them for a few minutes, that might keep away sleep for quite some time during their journey,” says Mehaboob.

Close to his heart

He adds that most of the songs he sings are of Yesudas’. “Mohammed Rafi is also my favourite. Customers might ask for songs of Kishore Kumar and Mukesh. Some of the in-demand songs are ‘Mein shaayar toh nahi’, ‘Tere mere beech mein’ and ‘Chahunga mein tujhe’. Most of my customers love to listen to old songs. I don’t know any new songs and never bothered to learn any,” he adds. He has a YouTube and Facebook page as well, named Mehaboob Alappuzha.

Mehaboob Alappuzha

Mehaboob Alappuzha   | Photo Credit: Sreejith R Kumar

Mehaboob picked up Hindi while working in Mumbai and Delhi. “I left home for Mumbai without appearing for my class 10 exam. I returned three years later and went to Delhi, where I worked as a visa agent before opening a small restaurant,” he says. He also ran a dance troupe, Udayakalakshetra, at Alappuzha. “My children, who are now engineers, played the main roles,” he says.

He has also worked for a few years in West Asia and did odd jobs after he returned home to make a living. “But I never let go off my music at any point of time,” he stresses.

Some musicians have been his regular customers. “The late Balabhaskar was one of them. Although some of them had promised to give me a chance, nothing has happened till now. Now I have stopped dreaming. Let it go like this as long as I can,” he says, breaking into the next song as he spoons sugar into a cup of tea. Sweet and spicy treat!

(The outlet is on the right when you drive down from Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi, in between a petrol pump and the General Hospital, Alappuzha)

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 9:54:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/mehaboob-alappuzha-who-runs-a-no-frills-late-night-diner-at-alappuzha-entertains-customers-with-his-singing/article29970899.ece

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