In Salutation to the Heroes of the NRK Revolution

LAST-WORD

Way back in 1969, on 21 July, to be exact, when Neil Armstrong alighted from the lunar module, and made his ‘One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind’ statement, the entire humanity, most in delight, some with envy, greeted the news as the greatest breakthrough yet in space exploration.

One group of professionals who had a field day over the historic happening was Malayali cartoonists, a cynical lot that never spared anyone. Astronauts were no exception. One caricature carried by a leading newspaper depicted a startled Armstrong, in zombie like apparel, overcome by shock and amazement, being greeted by a Malayali tea vendor, kettle and tea tumbler in hand, with the standard query: “How ‘bout a glass of tea saar?”

That’s how we Malayalis are! Come hell or high water, sand or snow, sun or rain, we will be there as pioneers in any part of the world if there is the slightest of an opportunity waiting; the opportunity to work hard, suffer hell and come out a winner earning lots of money…and, yes, you guessed it right, repatriate it all to support the near and dear ones left back home in Kerala.

The true saga of the Non-Resident Keralite (NRK) began with World War I when the British recruited thousands of Indians, including Keralites, to fight and die in the killing fields of Europe. The story was repeated during World War II as well, when Imperial Britain and the Indian National Army (INA) supported by Imperial Japan sent our young men to lay down their lives in Europe and East Asia in a war in which, tragically, there were no winners.

During my numerous forays into the happening spots of global tourism, particularly event majors such as ITB-Berlin, WTM-London and ATM-Dubai, I have had the privilege to closely look at and hugely marvel at the unique achievements of several NRKs, all of them inspirational icons for emerging generations. I recall the fraternal affection with which B.M.C. Nair from Haripad in Kerala hosted me, ITB after ITB, in his Berlin apartment and the India Taj restaurant in the German capital, operated by him as a success story, ably supported by wife, Mony and son, Sandeep. On T Haridas of London, I have already written in detail in this column. In Dubai, Sunny Augustine of White Sands Tours & Travels whose self-made saga of achievements once again convinced me that for a determined NRK, sky alone is the limit. In his Silver Sands Apartments in the heart of the Emirate, Sunny narrated to me the trials and tribulations that finally helped him leave his footprints on the sands of time.

There is hardly any need to narrate the saga of the NRKs in the Arabian Gulf. We are all beneficiaries of the sacrifices of those brave men and women for whom all obstacles were to be surmounted.They did, and how! Add to their stories of mixed fortunes the emigration of high level professionals from Kerala to every corner of the world, and you will get an idea as to how the NRK has invested himself and all he has, so that generations to come may have a better Kerala to live in.

Ladies and gentlemen of the NRK saga, we salute you for turning the impossible into possible. Bravo!!!