Pathanamthitta: Holding a cordless mic and sporting a face that betrays no emotion, Ibrahim Narampadi belts out announcements on bus arrivals and departures at the base camp of the famed Sabarimala hill shrine. What makes the stocky man’s assignment at Nilakkal bus-stand is his felicity in four languages, providing major help to the motley crowd of passengers.
Ibrahim has been official deputed to make loud declarations on the time-table of vehicles at the location where state-run KSRTC buses arrive and depart. Basically a driver with the government-run transport corporation, he announces the bus movements in Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Hindi, much to the advantage of the people around.
What is more, the Ayyappa pilgrims find him extremely resourceful in getting travel details and getting their doubts clarified in their mother tongue. For, he also speaks Tulu and Tamil languages, besides English.
Glimpses of his North Malabar dialect chip into his Malayalam, as Ibrahim hails from upstate Mulleria in Karadka panchayat of Kasaragod district that borders Karnataka. The nativity helps: it's a junction of spoken languages such as Malayalam, Tulu and Kannada traditionally.
“It’s devotees from Karnataka who struggle the most when it comes to communicating locally,” noted Ibrahim, wearing a badge that hangs loosely above his paunch and standing outside the counter that has ochre-coloured carpets rolled out for the pilgrims.
Whichever be the language in which Ibrahim makes announcements, the end bit is invariably the same invocatory twin-word: Swamiye Saranamayyappa.