The offer of higher emoluments to my brothers came through a postcard from Kurnool. Traveling expenses of Rs.30/- was also received. So after the obsequies of my father, sister Kaveramma, brother-in-law, and brothers, as servers landed in Udupi Hotel, Kurnool. They were paid Rs 20, Rs 12, and Rs 10 respectively.
Another tragedy struck when my eldest brother Ramachandra Kalkura succumbed to Pneumonia in April 1947, in the District Headquarters Hospital, Kurnool under the care of the Hon Medical Officer Dr.V.Ramachandra Rao. Commercial production of Penicillin was not yet commenced in India.
Govinda Kalkura and Manjunatha Bhat continued their services at Kurnool. There used to be a fraternal feeling among the hotel workers, mostly hailing from South Kanara Dist, known as Udupi Brahmins. My brothers and brother-in-law were very close to Ananthakrishnachar, a dosai master, and his brother, Gangadharachar, a grinder and idli master. They hailed from Ramakunja village in Puttur Taluk in the S.K. District. They migrated to Kadapa in 1936 and were with their uncle Babu Rao. From there they came to Kurnool in 1944.
The proprietor one day, in early 1948 in abusive terms, scolded my brother and the Achar brothers for some fault. Feeling insulted, all the three left the job and landed in Nandyal. After working in the Modern Cafe of Seetharama Bhatta in Nandyal for some time all the three together started a tea shop in a hut; kottam hotel. Later in 1949, they started a small restaurant, Sri Krishna Bhavan Opp. Bus stand. As my brother had to support the family, he could not invest in the business. So he remained an employee. But was treated by the Achar Brothers as their own sibling. In 1952 Ananthakrishna Achar married his niece Sumathi Bai and Gangadharachar, Laxmidevi, and set up a family in Nandyal. In January 1954 my brother, aged 21, married Indira Bai, daughter of an old relative Parameswara Manja of Pandeswar, a village ten km.s. from Kurady. All three couples were living in a small rented house. Darkness was privacy. In the meanwhile, another restaurant Sudha Cafe was started for Gangadharachar in 1956 and he set up a separate mess.
In April 1958 Ananthakrishnachar started a venture: Udupi Coffee Bar, the most modern establishment in Nandyal. Instead of brass tumblers, water and coffee were supplied in Glasses. Steel crockeries replaced the Aluminium to serve refreshments. The establishment needed more manpower. I had completed my SSLC in 1957 and was taking care of ancestral agriculture. My fourth brother Narasimha Kalkura was employed in Kampli, near Hospet in Bellary Dist. Both of us were summoned and separately reached Nandyal in Feb.1958. I did not know an iota of Telugu. From Railway Station to Bus stand, the Jatkwala demanded and I paid twelve annas instead of two annas. Hotel rates were: coffee, tea, upma, vada, and idli plate, two annas; dosai and poori, two and a half annas; sweet three annas and meal ten annas.
All the three of us settled at Nandyal for a salary of Rs.60/-, Rs.40/- and Rs.30/- per month. Within two years we were able to liquidate the debts and redeem our Kuradi property. Yet the family was living in a leaky hut. All rain outside; only water inside. So we constructed a modest decent house at Kuradi.
At that time, it was the tradition that in large families at least one of them should pursue higher education. Like my mother, Laxmidevamma was passing her prime, my younger brother Mahabaleswara Kalkura, after passing his SSLC in 1961, stayed in Kurady to assist her in agricultural operations. By that time, the second brother, Sadashiva Kalkura was settled as a Secondary Grade Teacher in Govt Service. I was asked to continue my academic career. So I went to Udupi and joined the newly started (1960) Poorna Prajna College in July 1961. I completed my Pre University Course in March 1962, With the financial support of Ananthakrishnachar, in April 1962, my brother had established Udupi Hotel, Kurnool, in which he was an employee 14 years earlier. I and my other brother Narasimha Kalkura also joined him.
The business was progressing well. In July 1962, I Joined Osmania College, Kurnool, and passed the degree examination of Sri Venkateswara University in July 1965. As a student, during leisure hours, I was also assisting my brothers in managing the hotel. According to the wishes of my brothers, I joined the Govt Law College, Bengaluru to pursue a law degree. Passing the Law examination in 1967, enrolled as an Advocate on 1 April 1968, I joined as a Junior, the chamber of a leading advocate and a social activist in Kurnool, A.Venugopal Rao. He created social awareness in me. Finding the legal profession unsuitable for my temperament, I bestowed more attention on business. We started a branch at Adoni in 1973 and two more in Kurnool in 1975 and 1980 under the name and style KALKURA HOTEL. We were getting on well. After the division of the family, I got Kalkura Hotel, bus stand, Kurnool, to my share. It was a rented building. The bus stand was shifted. Hence there was a huge fall in the business. The landlord was not happy with the rent and I couldn’t afford more. Hence vacated the building in Jan 2008. Same is the case with Narasimha Kalkura at Adoni. Only Govinda Kalkura’s two sons are now in the trade.
All three of us were active participants in the local Hotels Associations as well as A.P.Hotels Association (APHA). We held various positions in APHA. Govind Kalkura wanted to expand his business in Bengaluru and he established one, KALKURA HOTEL, a restaurant in 1987. Till then he was the V President of the APHA. From 1995 till his death in Oct 1998, he was the President of the Bangalore Hotels Association. I was elected Secretary, APHA in August 1993 and continued till, Oct. 1997 and President, APHA from Nov.1998 till 1 Oct 2003. Starting a career with a humble salary of Rs.30/- to be the President of APHA is really more than satisfying. At the same time, we were involved in religious, social, and cultural activities also. My elder son Muralidhar Kalkuria is dealing in rice in Hyderabad. He is the President of the Kurnool Hotels Association and V.President of the APHA. Younger one Mohan Kalkura is a software professional in Hyderabad. Now both me and my wife Prabhavathi, hailing from a village near Sringeri, whom I married on 25 March 1970 live under the care and protection of children.
Ananthakrishnachar expanded his business activities in Nandyal by establishing the most prestigious Shobha Lodge. During the 1977 crucial elections to the Lok Sabha, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy lodged there. The Office of the Reception Committee of the Congress Party to the by-election to the Nandyal Lok Sabha in Nov 1991 was functioning from there. I was the Chairman of the Reception Committee. It is well known that P.V.Narasimha Rao was the Congress Candidate. Though both the Achar brothers are no more, the third generation youngsters of the families, respect and honor me as their eldest guardian. Among the three couples, only Sumathi survives.
The History of our family is not unique. During the 20th Century, Udupi was synonymous with the Hotel Industry and almost enjoyed a monopoly. It played a pioneering role in transforming the Pootakullmma system into the industry. Many jokes were cut regarding the entrepreneurship of the Udupi people in the industry. e.g. Udupiwala offered Garam Chai to Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary at Mount Everest and Neil Armstrong on the Moon. Here and there, there were Ayer Restaurants and Nair Tea shops. Only a few Aryavyshya Meals Hotels and Reddla Military Meals Hotels were available. Due to industrialization and the flow of money from outside, mostly from hotel and banking industries, the economic conditions of the people in Udupi improved by leaps and bounds. Literacy spread and local trade and commerce also improved. Economic up-gradation stopped the migration of manpower for the hotel industry from Udupi. Even among the old entrepreneurs, only a few opted for their heirs to succeed in their business. Now hardly twenty percent of the business is managed by the Udupiwalas. e.g Twenty Five years back there were 25 Kurady Kalkuras in the hospitality industry in Karnataka and AP. Now there are only five!
To conclude, striking a personal note, all the three of us, Govinda Kalkura, Narasimha Kalkura, and I earned the goodwill of the people. Personally, I was the president of the Kurnool Town Congress Committee from 1985 to 1999 and Chairman of the Zilla Grandhalaya Samstha from 1992 to 1996. A migrant illiterate in Telugu in 1958, now, I am one of the sought-after speakers in Telugu literary meets in Kurnool. Since 2014, I am the President of the A.P.Library Association, the oldest functioning Library Association in the Country.
(KC Kalkura, now an advocate, once owned the popular Kalkura Hotel, near old bus stand, Kurnool)