For Parameshwaran Nair, who runs a hotel in the city, former President A P J Abdul Kalam was a loyal and regular customer for seven years.
From 1975 to 1982, while he was at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Kalam dropped in at Nair’s hotel for breakfast and dinner. Nair, 82, recalled how every morning Kalam would take a glass of milk and two appams, while dinner was two chapattis and a glass of milk. “There was not a single instance of Kalam complaining about the food.
He was always in a hurry. Once he told me that if he ever forgot to pay the bill, I should remind him without fail.’’ “Many people used to come to my hotel. But I had a feeling of affinity and respect for this man. That made me keep a special plate for Kalam. That plate was only used to serve food to Kalam,’’ Nair said.
After Kalam moved to DRDO, Kalam kept in touch with Nair. “I attended every function in which Kalam participated,’’ said Nair. Recalling one such function he attended seven months ago, Nair said: “Kalam recognised me… that was the last time I met him.’’
Kalam used to stay at the nearby Indira Bhavan Lodge. “He came to our lodge in 1968 and lived in the same room for 15 years. Although he moved out of Thiruvananthapuram in 1982, he retained the room for another year because he had several bundles of books in the room,” said B Indira Devi, the 78-year-old owner of the lodge.