Finding a long-lost friend is as special and heart warming as the incredible climax of the blockbuster movie ‘Katha Parayumbol’ starring Sreenivasan in the lead role. Joy and pain flow out of our eyes as tears as we unexpectedly meet someone who we thought had gone away from our lives.
Celebrity chef Suresh Pillai has shared such a heartwarming experience through his recent Facebook post:
Here is my experience of unexpectedly finding a friend who I thought I had lost forever. It happened after I posted a video on my Facebook page when I went to London, in September, to renew my passport. K K Suresh who hails from Kodungallur worked with me way before I met Roopesh. He was my favourite colleague at Casino in Kozhikode. He was as handsome as Kunchacko Boban’s character in ‘Aniyathipravu’. As we have the same name, everyone called him KK and I was nicknamed S.
Those were the times when we were running in the last lap of our teenage days and were eager to work really hard. We developed a close bond; we used to go for movies whenever we had off days. The staff are split into two teams, for lunch and dinner, at the Casino. On most days, we were on the same team. KK was a senior in the beginning, but soon we became equals. We took the same train to Coimbatore, looking for jobs, after Casino pulled down its shutters. Later, when I went to Bangalore, he too came with me. We even lived in the same house in the mega city.
It was during then that KK got married. I remember going to Kodungallur to attend the wedding. He soon brought his wife to Bangalore. However, after having their first child, the family moved back to Kerala. Meanwhile, his father passed away and his circumstances forced him to earn a living by fishing in the sea. I came to know that he had worked in the Gulf for some time. But after that, I had no news of him. I kept searching him in Facebook. He didn’t know that I became a chef, went to London and earned the moniker ‘Chef Pillai’. Until we parted, both of us were waiters and I was just S Suresh!
I was in London, in September, to renew my British passport. As I was waiting for it, I posted a video on my Facebook page. A person posted a picture as a comment for that post and asked whether I know the person in the photo. He said that the man in the photo was now a fisherman in Kodungallur.
It was an old and faded photo of me with my dear friend KK Suresh. I was amazed by the surprises that social media could spring at us. I asked the person who commented for Suresh’s phone number. As soon as he picked up the phone, I started hurling abuses at him. For me, chiding people closest to me as a joke is an act of joy. I think he too enjoyed it a lot. Even though he said nothing as I kept shouting at him, I understood that he too was excited. We spoke for hours that day. I learned that he fishes at the Munambam harbour and does odd jobs in the off season. He has two daughters. His eldest daughter was studying for BDS. I felt incredibly proud about him.
I haven’t seen him or his family for twenty years. From London, I booked a table for them at RCP (Restaurant Chef Pillai) in Kochi.
His wife Sheena works in a tissue manufacturing company in their hometown. One day, she came across Sathar, the manager at the company, playing one of my cooking videos on his mobile phone. Sheena watched it and wondered whether it was her husband’s friend Suresh. Meanwhile, Sathar said that it was Chef Pillai and not just any Suresh. However, Sheena was sure that I was her husband Suresh’s friend.
Sathar showed her my other pictures and videos. She vowed that I was her Suresh’s friend and that we were known as ‘KK’ and ‘S’ during our Casino days. But, Sathar or her other colleagues couldn’t believe her. As soon as she reached home, Sheena showed those videos to Suresh. He was surprised and watched all my videos until three in the morning.
I asked him to visit my restaurant in Kochi before meeting me. It was their first five star experience. After the dinner, his daughter spoke to me on the phone. I was delighted to speak to her and my heart was filled with joy.
I asked him to come back into the industry. I told him that I was opening a new restaurant in Thrissur and that he should work with me there. ‘It is my biggest dream to work with you. But, I had lost my touch as I have been a fisherman. Besides, I don’t look great as I have been working under the scorching sun,’ he tried to reject my offer.
But I asked him to work for a month at the restaurant in Kochi before taking a final decision. KK became part of RCP from October 1. Within this one month, I noticed reviews like ‘Best service by Suresh’ pouring in on Google.
I was sure that a person like him would be an asset for any restaurant. I would say that I am selfish like that. A good leader shines when he realises that looks do not matter and recognises the true skill of his team members. Even though I wasn’t a team leader, I was confident about his amazing hospitality skills and passion for the job.
In Suresh Gopi’s own style I would like to announce that I am ‘giving’ the restaurant in Thrissur to KK.
His suit and visit card are have been readied. Suresh, who was a fisherman at Munanbam would now work as the restaurant manager in United Coconut (by Chef Pillai), Sobha City Mall.
The readers can read more such interesting stories in Suresh Pillai’s autobiography ‘Ruchiyude Nirvana’ which will be published by Manorama Books in December.