Edavanna. Covered in lush greenery by banks of the Chaliyar river, its beauty lies not only in its surroundings but also its people. I went to meet Irshad here and though I only spent one evening, it is a place that will keep me going back.

Edavanna Chaliyar bridge

We set out from Ernakulam early one morning. By we, I mean me and my loyal co-pilot, Binish Joseph. How I met Binish is a long story. Multiple encounters, purely coincidental, gave way to my real-world belief in The Alchemist. Anyways, long story short, it was me and Binish. Now Binish had never been to Malappuram for an extended period. Just the usual driving by and stopping for tea or snacks. So this was going to be an adventure for him as well.

Binish Joseph

So we get there and Irshad waits for us, ready for lunch. Now, I have photos from that day, but barely any photos of the food. I’m kicking myself for not having the camera out all day photographing all the amazing food that was served. It is hard to recall what all we ate, but let’s just say every aspect of the food chain was covered. This ties back to what I said about the people of Edavanna. Hospitality was their thing. Dining was a way to feel free, to feel welcome, to feel home.

Irshad and Binish talking about the quarry
Hyundai Commercial
The beginning of nightfall

I still remember Irshad’s father saying, “You should be honored. We haven’t made anything special for you. That is because we see you as a family. Irshad insisted we have only the usual.” I was flattered to see that they didn’t feel like they needed to impress me. That felt real. Comforting. Irshad was always the kind of guy who didn’t try to please anyone. The what-you-see is what-you-get kind of guy. So it was no surprise that his family would be the same. As good as the statement sounded, seeing the spread of food, I thought his dad was being modest. UNTIL, dinner time at Irshad’s wife’s house. Holy crap. He wasn’t joking.

As I said, the visit was short so, besides having a ton of food and meeting the family, we didn’t have time for much. Irshad took me around the city, showed the areas ravaged by the floods. Though parts of the town had been destroyed, the soul of the town still was alive. No downers there. Irshad himself was involved in a lot of this relief work. He took me to his family’s new business venture – fresh fruit pulp for milkshakes. Followed by a visit to the quarry where I was finally able to get some pictures.

I wanted to get some portraits of the family before I left. However, we set out early the next day’s morning, so I was only able to get Irshad with his parents this time. There is still something special in these. Something simple. Something calm. Something kind.

There is a certain peace in having seen the world and still wanting to come back to your roots and where you know you belong. Irshad doesn’t want to move to the city because he values the novelties in the simpler life in Edavanna. “I want my kids to be able to experience it. Because what if their kids cannot?” he told me. In this simplicity, they find stories rooted in the deepest of human emotions.

So, I plan on going back to spend more time with this simplicity, and this time to get photos of the ENTIRE family.

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