When you really want something, the universe conspires to get it to you. Exactly what happened with me. I was yearning to get out of my 12 hours a day work routine, and came along an invitation to attend my client’s destination wedding at a beautiful coastal city of India, Calicut or Kozhikode (pronounced as Ko-eee-code). I jumped at the chance. Partially because the client and me shared a very warm relationship but otherwise because here was a chance to see yet another destination in India!
So with bags packed, we boarded the airplane to Calicut. In there, I bumped into one of my professors at my post-grad institute. He now taught at one of India’s most premiere B-schools, IIM Kozhikode. He was a humanities professor and it was most delightful to meet him after ages. It was he, who insisted we visit the IIM K campus at Calicut during our stay there. We agreed.
Boom! Hot! Sticky! Humid! I never thought I would say this for any city other than Mumbai. But it was true. Calicut made Mumbai look like a princess when it came to weather. Sweating in the heat, we sat in the air conditioned cars that came to pick us up to our Hotel. And on our way, to our delight, we paused to have the unadulterated, the original street side nariyal paani or coconut water. It is one of those delights Kerala (the state where Calicut is located) is famous for. It was refreshingly cooling. We then proceeded to check in, to get ready and head to one of the most lovely resorts in Calicut, ITC Kadavu. Kadavu enchanted me at one. Set in the backdrop of a river, this resort was mesmerizing. It had this lovely amphitheater which was decorated like a bride for my client’s traditional Indian functions. Despite our heavy clothes and jewellery getting drenched in sweat, nothing could dampen our spirits of partying in this wonderful resort.
Day 2 was when the actual wedding was. Dressed in traditional south Indian white and gold (note: Indian wedding dressing varies every few Kms), with the fragrance of gajra (a decor made of lilies) and gold adorning her body, the bride looked ravishing. Traditional kerela music band played the wedding shehnai which, in its native, sounded sweet and authentic. The wedding was short and disciplined. I felt proud. Being in India, there was so much more to discover in one’s own land. No country ever has that privilege. Not yet. Post wedding there was an authentic Kerela lunch on the banana leaf. They served us some 20 delicacies, some spicy, some coconuty, some yummily sweet, some tangy.. the food was paradise on earth. Post this we retired to our rooms and slept as if there was no tomorrow.
The evening was ours to explore the coastal town. We chose to go to IIM K. India’s finest B school was built on a resort like location. Long winded curves took you to this breathtaking campus surrounded by lush green forests. Boy. If ever I was a student here, I bet on anything, I would have never been able to study. The wooden corridors, the expansive lawns, the traditional scriptures and carvings.. everything made me feel so amazing. Sigh. It was beautiful. Just when we were admiring the beauty is when the clouds rang their thundering bell. Wait? What? It was gonna rain. In the middle of summer! They say the IIM K campus was bliss in rains. Perhaps gods had decided to give us a preview. And it rained. Lifting off all the heat off the earth, adding some more green to the lush meadows.. students came out dancing in joy and so did we.. oh boy oh boy! This was amazing!
The rains went as fast as they came. But now the city was much cooler. Post IIM K, we took a stroll on the Baypore beach at night. The city seemed to come alive (just as Mumbai does) on the promenades of its shores. Families were walking along, aunties in sarees with shoes, kids running around with local spices and fruits, couples holding hands, men holding hands.. wait.. men holding hands? ” Here if you are a women, you need not worry about men checking you out. Calicut is the gay capital of India”, informed a friend who had stayed in the city as she was an alumni of IIM. Yes. It did seem so. And it seemed so natural. No one was ducking, hiding, commenting. I felt as if the small coastal town of Calicut was way more open to embracing an individual’s identity than Mumbai ever seemed to. It’s wonderful how traveling opens up perspectives.. even within your own country.
Post the slow and wonderful walk along the promenade, we made way to dine at Taj. The dinner was lovely. And we made new friends. By the time we returned to the hotel, the only thing we could do was to thank ourselves for bringing us here, to this wedding. Time at Calicut pauses and travels slow. In the two days we spent there, we learnt so much every new moment.
Well do not miss this wonderful city, if you ever happen to travel in India 🙂