South Asia

Iconic Indian-origin hotel doorman dies in Lanka at 94

Kottarapattu Chattu Kuttan, the legendary hotel doorman at the famous Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, who served dignitaries ranging from world leaders to Royalty, died at the age of 94 on Tuesday. Here, he stands next to Prince Philip's first car. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Kottarapattu Chattu Kuttan, the legendary hotel doorman, who served world leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Richard Nixon at the famous Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, has died.

The Indian-origin doorman of the country’s iconic hotel, known as Kuttan, passed away peacefully at the age of 94 on Tuesday after a brief illness.

“The iconic doorman at the Galle Face Hotel who made history for being one of the oldest hotel employees in the world. Passed away peacefully in the early hours of 18th November 2014. May his soul rest in peace!,” Galle Face Hotel said on its Facebook page on Kuttan’s death after serving the institution for 72 years.

Sanjeev Gardiner, the hotel’s chairman, said it was a “truly sad day“.

Guests would be greeted at the entrance by the diminutive Kuttan with his palms pressed together in the traditional greeting.

White—haired with a handlebar moustache, the diminutive figure also sported badges from all over the world.

After leaving his village in Trichur district in Kerala at the age of 17, he reached Talaimannar pier in Sri Lanka’s western coast in 1938 looking for a job with just Rs 25 in hand and the clothes he was wearing.

Joining the hotel as a bell boy cum waiter in 1942, he continued to serve until his death, Lanka Mirror reported.

Kuttan, who served dignitaries like Lord Mountbatten, Princess Elizabeth, Emperor Hirohito, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Richard Nixon, celebrated his 91st birthday on February 15.

He has been part of the Galle Face Hotel’s culture from as far back as 1942.

Kuttan virtually became the trade mark of the Sri Lanka’s booming hospitality industry as well as the Galle Face Hotel as his photograph has adorned the cover pages of many travel magazines all over the world.

Kuttan’s Sri Lankan wife, who was a Christian, died some years ago.

He had been ill for his final months but remained on the Galle Face Hotel staff.

The 150—year—old Galle Face Hotel is situated in the heart of Colombo, along the seafront facing the famous Galle Face Green.

The hotel held a minute’s silence as a tribute to Kuttan.

A hotel press release, paying tribute to Kuttan, said: "Starting his career as a restaurant waiter and then as the hotel’s prestigious usher, Kuttan became an integral part of the hotel. He recognised almost all faces of frequent visitors and was a hit amongst the many guests of the hotel.

His welcoming broad smile and hands raised to say "Ayubowan" (may you live longer), was always a symbolic sight at Galle Face Hotel."

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Printable version | Nov 18, 2020 6:34:25 PM |

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