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Away from home, they thrive on adversity

07 November 2016

The creator sent down 40 odd rivers to traverse God's own country. But, he would have been most pleased after seeing his handiwork of Meenachil and the resourceful people of Pala living on its banks. Throw them off a cliff and they land on all fours like the proverbial cat.

The nineteen thirties and for ties saw economic turmoil the world over and what already was a fragile economy of colonial India further nosedived. In Pala, the picture was no brighter. The majority was made up of marginal farmers with small landholdings and their very livelihood was under threat. But they were equal to the task. They girded their loins, said a silent prayer, crossed themselves and set out for the hitherto unchartered lands in Malabar, then a part of Madras presidency. Mountains were levelled and terraced, marshes were filled up and what were till then wastelands were magically transformed to bountiful paradise. Mosquito borne diseases and destruction of crops by wild animals were handled with grit and optimism.

Take for instance, the case of the Peravoor (in Kannur) brothers, Jimmy George, Jose George and Bobby George (yes, Anju Bobby George's substan tial half). Jimmy, when untimely death claimed him, was Asia's best volleyball player. The others' sporting fame is too well known to be repeated. Their grandparents had migrated from a village near Pala 60 years ago. In the 1970's the poverty was gentler.

All the same, many aspired for a better standard of living and migrated to the US, this time as nurses, doctors and other health professionals. Malayalis have made their mark in the West, and Pala has a good share of achievers.

Way back in 1989, when liber alization was but a small ripple, and corporate sponsorship came at best in the guise of small gifts and compliments, Dr Roy Abraham Kalli vayalil decided that a national-level doc tors' conference could be held in Kottayam, which is not even a state capital. I asked him as to how he took on this daunting task, and he replied with characteristic exuberance, "My brothers, cousins, family helped with the travel arrange ments and hospitality ." Since then, Dr Roy has gone on to take up senior posts with the World Psychiatric Association.

Jose Dominic of CGH Group has his own take about the hospitality industry. "My father had tried his hands successfully in various spheres including the Casino hotel. I was a chartered accountant in Bombay and he roped me in to the family business, and maybe I was a bit reluctant." He went on to narrate that hospitality and tourism has to be eco-friendly, sustainable, have a local flavour and involve local people. Providing employment to local people pays dividends in the long run to all concerned.

 

 

P K Kuruvilla|The Times of India| Nov 6, 2016

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