The 360º Project | Mohan Chettan and Nimbu Paani at 22º

Mohan ChettanIf you are a KovCat, you know who this silhouette belongs to.

There is no tale, about IHM Kovalam, that can be completed without the mention of the ubiquitous Mohan Chettan. He is a part of our active memory, an ageless edifice, with whom some of the most important events of the Institute are connected.

I meet him, once a month at least, even now, and the nimbu-paani (lemonade/naranga vellam/bwonjee) still comes free. He will come bounding out of his perch in the shop (it is much bigger and flourishing), which has catered to generations of KovCats, smokers and non-smokers, the moment we let out that familiar bellow announcing our arrival.

I remember those early mornings, the nip in the air still around, when I would wait at his shop to buy stuff needed during the day. He would tote up the cost verbally, cancelling the decimal point, INR 2.50 becoming 250, and so the total which ran into thousands had to be then converted in your mind by affixing the decimal point at the appropriate point. It was interesting to watch how it transpired, this mental arithmetic a highlight of the shopping experience.

He will invariably enquire, with much personal concern, your well-being and the latest events of your life. When I am with him, I am still that fresher, quite the schmuck with no grip on realities of life. But that doesn’t matter with him, you can still read the kindness in the eyes, in spite of the rough exterior.

His daughters, whom I remember as four year olds, are married and Mohan Chettan is a grandfather now. His grand-nephew works in my office as a driver. Yet, after all these years, Chettan doesn’t forget my name.

No wonder, along with the teachers of the Institute, he was the unanimous choice of the Alumni Association to be honoured at the Reunion in Aug 2010. The standing ovation that he got is perhaps the longest in the history of IHM Kovalam. I remember him being misty-eyed and flummoxed at the same time, looking demure in his new kasavu mundu.

And, folks, the nimbu-paani/bwonjee still tastes the same. Awesome.

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11 Responses to The 360º Project | Mohan Chettan and Nimbu Paani at 22º

  1. Vineeta June 17, 2011 at 1:04 am #

    Fantastic Soni Chetta!!! loved this article about Mohan Chettan..though i havnt had much acquaintances with him i know how much he is honored and admired by us kovcats..And this helped me know more about him and his life and i respect him even more!!

    • Soni Somarajan June 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      Thx,Vineeta! Can’t reserve emotions when it comes to Mohan Chettan!

  2. CG June 17, 2011 at 9:52 am #


    Wonderful. You penned it so well that those who may not have seen Mohan chettan or known to him would have started admiring him and his association with IHMCT kovalam

    Do write more on similar grounds

    • Soni Somarajan June 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

      Pleasure, CG! Thx for dropping in.

      • Prasad June 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

        I used to drop in whenver you pen.. Many a things go over my head Nothing umbrage on you but to my language which is not able to chase it well..

        Keep it up

  3. Peter Pulliattu June 17, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    Soni, Nostalgic
    Mohan Chettan and the Aalthara have enough material for an epic serial.
    Wouldn’t want to miss a glass of Baonjevellam and the “enthireppi” call.
    Should make him part of the alumni as a honorary member with the likes of Sumeran and the tea shops that was our breakfast & dinner refuge

    • Soni Somarajan June 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

      Mirror your sentiments big time, Peter! What an institution he is, by now! Thx for dropping in.

  4. Jeril June 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    You wrote it write.. Mohan Chetta was part of IHM life…

    • Soni Somarajan June 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

      Thx,Jeril for dropping in!

  5. Raghesh Vijayakumar June 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Great Post Soni……..An Amazing person indeed….My best relaxation therapy for a long time has been…A drink in hand & thoughts abt Mohanannan’s shop & seafood restaurant! Those were some days…And this wonderful man played a huge part in that….!

    • Soni Somarajan June 20, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

      Rightly said, boss! Seafood was the PLACE to be. We are only richer for we possess those memories. Thx for passing by.

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