At least a hundred people from various walks of life squeezed into a small hall in the heart of Kozhikode city on a sleepy Sunday morning. The Governor of Goa flew all the way to be part of the gathering that spotted an array of solemn faces. All to commemorate a travel coordinator who passed away a year ago; not likely unless the coordinator was C. Narendran, better known as Vivekananda Narendran.
C. Narendran has been the heart and soul of Kozhikode-based Vivekananda Travels for around four decades and has been instrumental in taking a majority of Keralites to Varanasi, Kailash, and other parts of the Himalayas including Nepal. Many elderly people wished to meet Narendran because he was the one who realised their dreams.
Despite having to visit Kailash 18 times and the Himalayas more than 350 times, Narendran did not leave a huge bank balance, because he was an embodiment of charity who forgot to save for himself. That is why Goa Governor P.S. Sreedharan Pillai said in his inaugural address on Sunday that “Narendran was a person with a difference”.
“Narendran never worked for profit when there is a lot of eyewash going on in the travel and tourism sector,” Mr. Pillai said, adding that he took people on journeys where they gained enlightenment.
MLA Thottathil Raveendran, in his presidential address, recalled his experiences of travelling with Mr. Narendran and the latter’s role in getting several dilapidated temples in the State renovated.
“We, the people in Kerala get educated and often fly to foreign countries. What we leave unseen is India. Narendran helped people to see the heart of India”, Writer P.R. Nathan said, adding that Mr. Narendran played a major part in getting the contents for around 75 books Mr. Nathan had penned.
Another writer Valsala Mohanan, who was part of the very first Kailash trip under Mr. Narendran, recalled that it was the articles she wrote for ‘Theertha Sarathi’, the first travel magazine in Malayalam brought out by Mr. Narendran, that converted her from a writer of short stories to that of travelogues.
Mr. Narendran’s wife Usha and their daughters were present on the occasion.