Thursday, February 23, 2017

Kanthari: The Evolving Experiment of a Local Farming Family

Beef Fry
In the post liberalized global economy, the marginal farmers of Kerala find it too difficult to sustain with farming as a source of income.  Since late 90s marginal farming largely became non profitable. In the current free market oriented agriculture, for a small scale farmer to engage in it, is quite a challenge. And we did see a lot of them giving up; as per the official data, 979 peasants committed suicide in Kerala between the years 2003 and 2007.
This young man Romeo along with his father Keerthi Chandran, decided to engage with the market reality, instead. In the peak of a successful career as a yoga trainer in the Middle East, he quit his job, wanting to create, a platform for him and his family to be together and engage in their own expertise. He envisaged it as a space to add value to their farm produce and thus engage with the existing market

The result is Kanthari, I should say, the ever evolving Kanthari. If you ask me what Kanthari is, I do not have a one word answer. It is a farm, a garden, an amusement park, a training centre, a meeting space, a resort, a local produce shop and importantly a wonderful eatery (least important as per Romeo). It is in Karikandanpara, near Koorachundu in Calicut, Kerala.

Notice Board

Many of the elements at Kanthari for sure have more standard popular parallels. But what makes this venture unique is that it remains to be an evolving experiment of a local farming family. Examples to this are umpteen at Kanthari. To start with, the ropeway, designed and engineered by Romeo, stands apart from the industry models for its simplicity. 

What propels it, would tell you a lot about the genuineness in the experiment. The engine is exposed and is nothing complicated, but an old Bajaj Caliber 100 CC motorbike. “Copy Lefted” as they call it these days!!! 
Rope Way Engine
Then comes the rifle. The target, would take you back to your childhood and trust me, as an experience, it feels much better than shooting at a bull’s-eye. 
Rifle Shooting


What waited across the ‘’wonder cave”   was quite exciting. Defined as a social space, there is a carom board which offers you fun as you take some minutes to rest and refresh.

At the end of the exploration, the best part still awaits you-The restaurant. Nobody is in a hurry here.  To the background of a soothing live flute recital, sipping a cup of cardamom tea, Romeo, sat with us to share his vision of Kanthari. To our company, he held in his hand, his one month old baby girl, trying to put her to sleep. The line between personal life and professional life is too narrow here, if at all there is any. Simply put, Romeo and his family is living Kanthari.
Flute Recital

The Kappa Biriyani and Puttu Biriyani here is a must try. It packs within it all the goodness and love of this little village.   
Kappa Biriyani

Puttu Biriyani

The Beef Fry is one of the best, if not, the best ever I have eaten. What makes it so special is the time tested recipe of Romeo’s mother. 

Kanthari, as a concept becomes so unique, as you get to know that it is not conceived as a tourist destination, but a space for the locals to spend their holidays. Romeo is in no hurry to boost his customer base in multitudes. He wants to deliver quality experience to the people who come there, as he knows his limits. The restaurant, according to him is a little element in the whole larger concept. 

We jumped on to an opportunity which came our way to play some volleyball with the local boys. 
Volley Ball

Kanthari, is the Malayalam name of Bird's eye chilli, which is one of the hottest chilies in the world. The heat of this chilli comes slow on the throat, but then when you start feeling it, it’s really HOT. Romeo’s Kanthari is too like that, adding on bit by bit in features, to finally converge into a meaningful space. I know it will; I made a suggestion on the beef serving, and he said “:Consider it done”. 
Kanthari Plant

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