Friday, 31 August 2012

Hotel Vilasini & Tea Shop

Those were the days when people of GOC did not feel the need to white wash Kitchens. It had to be black any way just like cars offered by Ford long back.
The smoke from fire wood ensured that no part of the Kitchen is left uncoated with the primal hue. The food cooked there in also had the slight taste of smoke. It was never noticed or disliked by the patrons. The cooks seemed to be smoke resistant. They came out only when need arose, that was to deliver the orders or retrieve the empty plates.

At times wet rubber wood in the hearth made so much smoke that now a days one might be tempted to call the fire brigade. But back then fire engines were so rare that people ran after them to see them working. The main activity of the fire brigade was to stage a tableau of a rescue operation, in the exhibition, on the national firemen's day. The show was widely covered by the press that claimed 500% readership.

Krishnan Kutty, owner of Hotel Vilasini And Tea Shop, was a very good cook, hard working and skilled. He was the only cook for the near by boarding school for years. He was very popular among the inmates there as he never interfered with the activities of the boys. He entertained younger boys with tricks of eating glass pieces and razor blades and older boys by describing his romance with the washer man's wife. He called her Vilasini. Her name was Ammini, I knew, but did not consider it an important enough detail to tell any one. Being a long term inmate I had heard the stories many times and had seen the tricks several times.

Dharmishtan, son of a priest ,who also was not interested in the stories, often used the opportunity to grab eggs though the window of the kitchen, He liked them raw.
It was the new boarding master who decided to hand over the mess to a canteen contractor, which led to the opening of 'Hotel Vilasini And Tea Shop' behind the bus stop at Chungam. Krishnan Kutty the Cook cum bearer/supplier was the sole owner of the shop. Most of his customers had  running  accounts with him. They settled their dues in the first few days of every month, so collecting cash happened only few times a day.

The tea shop became popular in a very short time. One could not tell which collected more people, the bus stop or the tea shop. The smoke from Vilasini never deterred any one from waiting at the bus stop. A type of peaceful co-existence.

It was not rubber wood smoke, but some other wild wood that did it. Krishnan Kutty appeared stark naked at the door of the 'Vilasini' dazed. With his hand over his eyes and breathing with difficulty.
It was a fine sunny morning. There were lots of students and office goers at the Bus stop.
The girls at the bus stop laughed, hiding their faces with note books. The boys ran to school to spread the news. The local VIPs immediately decided by a verbal vote to lock up Krishnankutty. But before that could happen some one in the shop pulled him in and closed the door never to open it again. Nobody heard about Krishnan kutty there after.

The bus stop is still there and a five story building with a narrow facade - 'Gift of God' Shopping Complex - in place of the tea shop. Husband of a rich nurse working in Middle East owns it.
I tried to paint the scene with a picture of the old Hotel Vilasini from my memory. Some how to me it looked more becoming for the place than the 'Gift of God'. May be a more flourishing Hotel Vilasini would have been better.
You see many a times small incidents make large unpleasant changes.

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