Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Badettu family started its long journey during the early years of last millennium from a humble agricultural beginning into the hotel business and attained reasonable success in spawning 5 generations of descendants with fairly decent living standards. One has to admire the tenacity and perseverance of Narnappaya, the founder head of this unique family in creating such a vibrant group, from a humble beginning. Traditionally Brahmins belonging to Madhwa community are renowned for their mastery over practices involved in propitiation of various Gods through poojas and other established norms. It is well known that Narnappaya's name is remembered to day not for his business ventures or agriculture but his unwavering service to Goddess Brahmeru at Brahmasthana and the Ganapathi Temple in the Mahalingeswara Temple complex in Padubidri.

The fact is that the second generation descendants did expand the nucleus hotel business started by him in the year 1928 (as some say) or 1938 (as some others aver). The Sri Krishna Bhavan Hotel (SKB as popularly known) in Kollam and Alleppey are well known names even to day, though the last major one wound up business in 2007 due to negligence, mismanagement and years of stagnation. While the set up at Kollam, managed by Vasudeva Doddappa was the only one hotel in the town as well as on the route from Trivandrum to Alleppey serving tantalizingly tasty vegetarian foods, the closure was attributed to the illness like diabetes that made him literally very weak to run the establishment in a decent way. Added to this his first son Sethuram was least interested in hotel business with his focus on becoming a thorough bred professional. He was supposed to be a brilliant student and his passing the coveted C A degree is a living testimony to his caliber. It must be remembered that Charter Accountant degree is one of the most difficult ones those days and the pass rate was very very low, only extraordinarily capable students getting through. Why Vasudeva Doddappa did not consider his brothers like Padmanabh and Gopalakrishna worthy of succession is not known. 

In the Alleppey case after the retirement of Subbraya and Ananthrama for spending their time with families back in Padubdidri, the responsibility solely fell on Venkatramana who gave every thing to nurture the business, in spite of his two elder sons opting for professional life. It was catching up with age that caused him to withdraw from active engagement with the day to day hotel work and this signified the rapid slide in the fortunes of Sri Krishna Bhavan in Alleppey. It was reported that he was some what disturbed by the trend emerging vis-a-vis activities going on in the hotel which was run by two of his junior sons but did not do any thing to correct the situation then, probably because of his helplessness. He could not recall his two elder sons for help as they were well settled in their professions. After his demise in the year 2000, the establishment was to be closed as per the desire of most of the members. It is only because of the likely adverse emotional impact it might have had on the surviving wife of Venkataramana that the closure was postponed. The family took a unanimous decision to bring the curtain down on Sri Krishna Bhavan hotel at Alleppey with utmost regret and sadness as there was no other alternative option available to the family in absence of any assurance that things would change for better. 

After the sale of the property which was delayed for almost two years due to many reasons, most of them avoidable and a few unavoidable ones, those who were running could have started new hotel ventures with the "fortune" they inherited as they were supposed to have "rich" experience in hotel business. Some credit needs to be given to one of them that he at least started a small restaurant in Alleppey though it was not much different in terms of ambiance and other quality parameters from the old Sri Krishna Bhavan, having learned no lesson from his past experience. After running the business for about four years he is reported to have closed it seeking better fortunes else where. At least for those people in Alleppey who were bowled over by the quality and taste of food preparations in the old hotel when it was being run by the second generation members, the presence of a micro version of Sri Krishna Bhavan was a moment for recalling and reminiscencing good old days when they were coming in droves for their favorite dishes. 

Now that this has happened, the link to the past has been unceremoniously snapped and whether any future hotel entrepreneur will ever emerge is a matter of conjecture. As of now no one among the fourth generation or fifth generation descendants of Badettu family seems to have any interest in business associated with restaurants, though Appukuttan one of the third generation members is running a decent catering business based in Kasargod in Kerala without any formal establishment. His children are also professionals and it is unlikely that his business will last indefinitely. Of course late Govinda Rao of BRH hotel chain in Ernakulam, also a part of the larger Badettu family based in Thripunithra has left behind a rich heritage for his off springs that may still remind some of us about the past glory. 

Answer to last Quiz

Late Jayaram, one of the illustrious grand sons of BadettuNarnappaya, born in Kande family of Padubidri, after spending his formative years in Alleppey and Kollam, migrated to Mumbai in 1950s and set up his family there ever since.After his demise a few years ago, his wife venerable Ratnakka is an embodiment of goodness, affection, sacrifice of high quality and ideal motherhood continue to live in Mumbai even to day with her four sons and their families happily and with supreme contentment. An alliance between Ratnakka's son Ramesh and Sukanya, daughter of Vittala has further cemented the kinship that survived for the last six decades.

Quiz for the next issue

Name the first member in Badettu family who was able to obtain an engineering degree by living and studying, 24/7 in Badettu House under conditions that cannot be considered conducive to studying?   

Sunday, December 9, 2012


When one talks about Badettu family, the role of Vasudeva Doddappa, the eldest son of Narnappaya, in steering his younger brothers through the early formative years in Kerala cannot be forgotten. He was the major help for Narnappaya in starting hotel business in Kollam and Alleppey and nurturing them for a number of years, assuring adequate fund generation for the sustenance of the families and households in Padubidri, Kollam and Alleppey. While he was engaged in looking after the welfare of the whole of Badettu family as an able aide of Narnappaya, he did not neglect his own family. His first wife had a premature death leaving behind a son who became over the years a well recognized chartered accountant commanding wide respect. Subsequently after a few years, he married Tulsi Akkaya and raised family consisting of six female and one male off springs.

As Kollam house was the focal point during early days of Badettu family's venture in Kerala, all children from the second generation members used to congregate there often, especially during school holidays. Besides, the family of Vasudeva there were children from Padmanabha family and Gopalakrishna family at Kollam. With the Ashramam ground nearby, which was an abandoned World War II air port, offering a vast area for playing, Kollam was the epicenter of activities as far as third generation children were concerned. All said the Ashramam area was one of the most beautiful areas in Kollam, serene, quiet, cool, scenic thoroughly enjoyable. The Krishna Bhavan was located about 2.5 km from Ashramam and  walking to the hotel was exciting because of the thought of preparations like Poori-masala, Masala Dosa, Sugiyan, Valsan, Alu Bonda, sweets, Badam Kheer etc, though getting into the hotel was a tough task.  Vasudeva Doddappa, being a strict disciplinarian, did not want children to eat hotel foods, insisting that they should eat only home cooked foods so that their health is not affected! Of course walking back was some what burdensome with a full stomach after eating at the hotel!

Vasudeva Doddappa  had a nice house near Ashramam and it was a pleasure for the kids to sit on the veranda outside the kitchen and chat with Tulsi Akka. Those days there was no gas stove but wood fired hearths which generated lot of smoke necessitating frequent blowing of air through a small pipe piece. That means who ever was cooking had to stay in front of the hearth to ensure food is cooked rightly without getting burned! Her six daughters, Vasanthi, Radha, Jayalakshmi ( Bangaru), Haripriya (Apri), Saraswathi (Chachu) and Sunita were always available to help her out with various day to day chores. These six daughters rightly known as "Kollam sisters" were always considered more mature with leadership qualities and they established their own equation with more aggressive cousins in the other two households. Boys always respected Vasanthi and Radha, the two elder ones and used to obey them without any question asked! One of the memories which still linger around is the sweet "Bublimas" fruit tree near the well in the front of the house which used to give plenty of fruits red juicy vescicles and to lay one's hands on a fruit during the visit was indeed a pleasure. Sethuram, the eldest among the children was very senior and no one took any liberty with him.

If the adult phase of the lives of Kollam sisters is recalled, it evokes only good sentiments and pride as every one of them were married off in a manner befitting the status of Badettu family. Vasanthi is presently in Kollam with her versatile husband L. N . Potty who is a teacher, social wizard, musician, politician, religious, community service expert all rolled into one. Their children are all well off settled in UAE and Bangalore. Radha is in Kottarakara (lost her husband the amiable Sundar Bhava recently), living with her wise son while daughters and grand daughters are settled well in different places. Bangaru lives in Malankuli near Uchila and her husband is a pioneering teacher with lot of reputation for his unusual talents in motivating his students. Apri is in Attingal, Kerala situated between Kollam and Trivandrum and her husband is another highly talented and versatile personality, known for his special ability for building up institutions. His Pittman Institute at Attingal managed by him produced many skilled office executives while he himself once even served as a Syndicate member of Kerala University. As for Chachu she married Narayanan of Kottarakara, a bank officer and is living in Trivandrum. Sunita, the last daughter, was married to Krishnamurthy, then working in Reserve Bank of India ( since diseased some time back and is currently settled down in Trivandrum. One of the common features of these sisters is that their children and grand children have all done extremely well, spread around the world. 

Vasudeva Doddappa got a son after the birth of six girls in a row and was named Narayana, to commemorate the name of Badettu Narnappaya and is currently living in the ancestral house in Kollam happily with his son and daughter, both engineers by profession. Incidentally the name Vasudeva was given to him to commemorate his grand father by the same name. Tulsi Akka passed away in her own house after a brief illness looked after well by her son. Those who were familiar with Vasudeva Doddappa can reminiscence old days when visiting his old house, which of course has been renovated. Seeing Narayan and watching his mannerism one will be reminded of the old charm of Vasudeva Doddappa.but will be missing is the laughter, giggles and shrill voices of the Kollam sisters!

Imagine how lucky were those living in Kollam being able to interact with their cousins frequently (about 15 in number) , almost on a daily basis and only such constant contacts and joint participation in ceremonies, poojas and other family functions can create kinship and bonding. In contrast many members of Badettu family to day whether belonging to 3rd, 4th or 5th generation do not have any idea about those living far and wide and participation in the functions of different members at different times is becoming more and more infrequent and rare. The March 20, 2012 meeting at Udipi was supposed to have generated a feeling of oneness among the diverse members separated by long distances. Unless a couple of youngsters take lead in setting a platform for constant future interaction, the 6th and later generations may never be able to trace their origin to that stalwart Narnappaya who started this family building project long long back! Some of us might be wondering who were our great grandfathers, from where they hailed, the relatives of grandfathers and grand mothers etc as there are no proper documents regarding these details. At least let us in the third generation do some thing to record our history in a proper way. 
Answer to Quiz of last issue

Sreepathi Rao, the spouse of Chummi (Seemanthini or Seema)), (daughter of Subbraya Doddappa), now settled down in Bailur in Udipi retired as Income Tax Commissioner, his last posting being at Bangalore. An upright officer (unlike many of the present breed of officers of doubtful integrity, he earned great reputation for his integrity and transparency during his tenure with income tax agency.

Quiz for the next issue

What is the Mumbai connection of Badettu family?