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A Thousand Days

Twenty-second of July ended my dance with Thiruvananthapuram, at least temporarily.

How weird is it to begin writing something by describing the end! you might ask. It gives some context, doesn't it? It tells you that something has happened. For, something has to happen before it can end.

It began in 2016, my tryst with the state capital. I still remember my former self, distressed about leaving my college before the course actually ended in order to sign up for my first job.

Beware! they said.
The people at Trivandrum are the worst! they said.
Communities tend to get meaner as we go down south! they said.

They didn't tell me how stupid it is to go with hearsay and shun a people just like that, even without actually interacting with them. Sigh!

A wannabe city that refuses to give up on its traditional roots. If someone asks me to describe the city in one sentence, this could be how I would do it. If they ask me to describe it in a group of sentences with no necessary order, well read on.

I interacted with the folks, and you know what I discovered? I found out that the people there as loving and caring and selfish and cheating and witty and lying and helping as people elsewhere. So much for the stereotype!

What are some of the other flak that Thiruvananthapuram gets? The food there is mercilessly thrashed by many non-natives that the foodie in me was wary about what lay ahead. Again, surprise.
Maybe it's the timing of my arrival, anyhow I had a memorable tryst with the newly evolved food scene. No, I am not talking about the ubiquitous KFC or McD or BBQN, but Thiruvananthapuram offers some flavors, unique to the land.

Disagree with me? Go for the fried squid from Vizhinjam, or the karikkin shake from Buhari, or the Mutton specials from Rajila, and then let's talk. I agree that their biryanis with the longer grains and pineapples and boiled eggs do not really match up to that of the Malbari brethren. But, they have made amends and you can see Zam Zams and Le Arabias and Halais' offering decent biryanis. The native restaurants might still be offering the real Thiruvananthapuram variety, but if the people there like it, so be it. I love boiled eggs in biryanis. And while the whole world is topping pizzas with pineapple, let them top their biryanis at least. Their fish curries also get thrashed for having drumsticks. Come on dude, you know how drumsticks are beneficial. Trivandrum cares for you, man. Also, a discussion on the food scene is incomplete without mentioning the Sadya, in which Thiruvananthapuram excels. A structured, course meal complete with the signature boli and pal payasam.

What comes after food? A place to sit back n chill out? Relax, Thiruvananathapuram has got you covered. 

You a beach person? Stroll by the black sand beaches of Kovalam, climb the lighthouse to have the majestic view and get the cold winds gushing on to your face. Or hit Shangumugam and enjoy the crowdy beach. Or go straight to Perumathura and walk right into the sea. If you feel like going an extra mile, Varkala offers you with its tranquil seas and the picturesque cliff.

You a mountain person? Head straight to Ponmudi, negotiate all the hairpin curves, and embrace the cold wind. Howl your throat out, and find comfort in a glass of piping hot tea. If Ponmudi seems too mainstream, try Breimore or Kallar or Neyyar. Just go.

You into art and culture? The palace/museum/zoo complex is right at the heart of the city. Once evening comes and the heat dies down, head straight to the Kanakakunnu grounds, find a sweet spot and spend whatever time you feel like.

Despite all these amazing stuff out there, if there's anything that I would miss badly, it would be the International Film Festival of Kerala. There are about fifteen movie screens or so around Thampanoor, and almost all of these stop their regular screenings and pave way for IFFK. The ever-expanding crowd, the rushed walks from Tagore to Kairali to New to Kalabhavan, the delegate kit, the air of cinema, without doubt, the second week of December is the most memorable time in Thiruvananthapuram.

The place could be your traditional Thiruvananthapuram with its Padmanabhaswami temple and Attukal Ponkala, while also evolving as the trendy Trivandrum, welcoming the youth with its mall(s) and multiplexes and cafes. Give some more thought into developing the nightlife, and you could do wonders.

Talking about the stuff I would miss, if there's anything I would not mind missing, it's the totally outrageous manner in which the temples there carry out their local festivities. A local festival in a local temple would not be complete without dancing bulbs and speakers and loud crass songs, ensuring that the whole neighborhood loses their sleep and think of the temple alone.

Three years of my life was spent here, accounting to almost a thousand days. Leaving behind a thousand memories. Giving me a thousand reasons to come back. And come back I would, at least temporarily. 

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