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Snippets from the unwritten history of Kerala Iyers

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One of the preferred profession for the Tamil Brahmins in Kerala was the Legal profession. Even before the Bachelor of Law degree came into being, these people practiced as Vakils.

The problem they did face was that you can not possible have one too many lawyers. They went to places where courts were established to practice their profession. Palakkad Brahmins went to Kozhikode, Manjeri, Quilandy and even a very small place like Payyoli (P.T. Usha's place) to practice law. Many of them were successful. Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer is from Quilandy. Manjeri Rama Iyer was a well known Freedom fighter.

The general population in these areas were Muslims. The big land lords called Moopenmars preferred a Tamil Brahmin lawyer. The Tamil Brahmins developed over the years a very good rapport with the Muslims. Kerala had an Chief Minister Mohammed Koya from Kozhicode. He was called a Brahmin Muslim because the Kozhikode Brahmins voted only for him. Almost all the Muslim businesses had a Tamil Brahmin second in command in charge of accounts.

The Travancore Iyers went to Kottayam, Kottarakara, Alwaye (it was in Travancore). Kottarakara is a small town now. But it had more importance before independence. There was a even a British Club. Later they admitted Indians. My great grand father was a member there. Dewan V.S. Subramania Iyer who was Divan of travancore though born in Nagercoil shifted to Vazhappally near Changanacherry. In fact he changed his name to Vazhappally S. Subramania Iyer. He was the Chief justice of Travancore high court before becoming Divan.

The Travancore Iyers entered the judicial service of Travnacore in large numbers and later rose to high positions.

The Travancore Iyers developed a good rapport with the Christians of Kottayam region. Once an old Malayala Manorama employee was recounting how they used to dump paper bales in Kottayam Krishna Iyer's ( known as Undial Krishna Iyer among the Brahmins) house and borrow money from him. Tamil Brahmins even entered the business of developing estates.

Them money lending was another favourite profession of the Kerala Iyers. More about that later.

kottayam krishna iyer happens to be a relation. my maternal grandparents come from badagara, close to quilandi (pandhalaayini), iringal, payyoli, feroke, and ofcourse kozhikode. tali in kozhikode had thriving agraharams. not sure what the status now is.

almost all pattars of these places were either vakils or advocates, or in the cook catering business. altelast everyone i know. :)
Palakkad Iyers went to different places to better their prospects.I reproduce below the life story of one Palakkad Iyer who went to Burma in 1940 and walked back to India during second world war II.By God's grace,he is still alive and staying with his son
in Bangalore.(Source:-Another Forum.)

Those of us who are relatively young , this story of a Centenarian from Nellayi (Km 10 from Trichur in Kerala) is a reminder of our fathers/forefathers,who left their native seeking green pastures, struggled for their livelihood , ventured to locations not imaginable these days, indulged in hard work and earned reputations for their sincerity/ loyalty in work . The hunt continues even today. Present generations of pattars still venture out , excel in their field of choice and bring laurels to their community in spite of most difficult competitive environment. My salute to all of them.
Following appeared in The Hindu, Bangalore edition recently:--

When you've been around a hundred years, you sure have a lot of stories to tell. So it is with Nellayi Rama Iyer Venguswamy, a WWII survivor, who celebrates his milestone on Friday.

His family already celebrated the centenary as per the lunar calendar on September 4, with his three children and their spouses, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, along with many other well-wishers in attendance.
Mr. Venguswamy was born in 1911 at Nellayi in Kerala and like millions of his generation, learned shorthand and typewriting. At the age of 29, he found himself in Rangoon, the then Burmese capital, working for Brooke Bond in 1940, leaving his family back in India.
With a sharp memory and a zest for Life,the centenarian vividly narrated the Japanese bombing of Rangoon and Brooke Bond's shifting to Mandalay.
He then had to make his way from Mandalay to the Burmese Border town of Tamu
walking through the forests with a group of 15 to 20 people only to be left behind
at a Tamu's medical camp because of his illness.He lived to tell his tale, resuming his career with Brooke Bond in its Calcutta office till he retired in 1974.
He then served as Secretary to the former President of India V.V.Giri during his retirement years.He is a voracious reader.He has been living with his oldest son Jayaraman in Bangalore since 1996, spending most of his time reading Books on Current Affairs as well as Spirituality.
A centenarian Bangalorian is celebrating his Birth Day today."
He can be contacted at 080-26963126.
And there are quite a few fortunate ones in Nurani,Kalpathy who relate similar stories of survival.In fact my grandfather from Thirunellai Shri.T.S Ramaswamy had to undertake such arduous journey on foot from Rangoon to Calcutta via the jungles of Nagaland twice.This was because during evacuation transportation
by Ships was a luxury offerred for ladies and children only to Calcutta/Madras.
Gents had to fend for themselves.My grandfather retired from Madras Airport service in the year 1965.
S.A.Dharana Palakkad.
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