THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Retirement can be quite boring. But not for Raveendran Chennilode, whose retirement after 35 years in radio broadcasting only brings a smile on his face. For, he has his darling orchids to fall back upon.
A man who has come up with hundreds of radio documentaries and won many accolades, Raveendran shares an equal passion for orchids. He was the Indian representative at the International Orchid Shows held in Malaysia and China in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
He has been trying cross-breeding of orchid varieties and has even come up with one - Oncidium aarshasree - which was developed using Caribbean orchids flown to India. Aarsha being the name of his daughter and Aarshasree the orchid centre and garden he runs in the city.
For the thousands of radio listeners in Kerala, the man is familiar with the programme ‘Malayala Cinema Flashback’, a mega radio serial documentary which narrated the birth and progress of Malayalam cinema. ‘Ormacheppu’, a musical programme that saw many ‘Ormacheppu Clubs’ being born in many parts of the State, was also conceived by Raveendran. Not to mention many other programmes lapped up by listeners like ‘Sangeetha kairali’, ‘Gana manjari’ and ‘Pallakku.’
‘’When I began in All-India Radio (AIR), it was the only radio channel available here. I started off by doing ‘Yuva vani.’ Later, I took to radio documentaries and my friends say I have made more than 3,000 documentaries till now,’’ Raveendran recollects.
Born to G Nanu Achary, a freedom fighter who joined Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army and Thankamma, whose family Vayalil Veedu at Nanthencode was a meeting place of early Communist leaders, Raveendran’s craze for orchids started in the late 1980s.
He was later guided by Dr J Joseph, who was then the Joint Director of Botanical Survey of India. According to Raveendran, Dr Joseph happened to hear the radio programmes about orchids that he had done and took to guiding him.
Along with his trips deep into forests, which he frequently takes to refresh himself and his music (Raveendran is also a poet and lyricist), his love for nature grew stronger.
‘’Orchids are the most beautiful flowers on Earth. They have a charm and other-worldly beauty that make them heavenly,’’ he says.
Raveendran has visited orchid farms in Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Hong Kong. Retirement blues, therefore, are not for him. ‘’I am planning to produce the country’s own commercial hybrid orchids and is on a breeding programme between foreign and Indian plants. Aarshasree has developed low-cost seed and tissue culture techniques for orchid cultivation,’’ Raveendran says.
His wife Mangala Raveendran is a horticulturist, imbibing the love for orchids from her husband. Their daughter Aarsha Raveendran is doing her graduation in Carnatic music. Their orchid centre near Medical College and orchid garden at Nedumangad are showpieces of their passion for the flower.