I was on a short three-day trip to Malappuram. I was not too eager about a stint there because we consider is a 'less developed' town compared to other 'civilised' municipalities and corporations in Kerala.
I was put up in the best accommodation available here for people visiting the town, but that is not saying much. As the restaurant attached to it was closed, I chose to walk down to the eatery nearby rather than ask the room boy to get me my dinner.
I had a quick bite. As I stepped out, my eyes fell on a small contraption on the outer wall. The legend it bore - Food on Wall - was intriguing. It was a wooden box with two compartments, both open at the top. On one was written 'Breakfast' and on the other 'Meals'.
I was curious. Two young men who looked like locals were standing nearby. I asked them about this. They said it was a recent initiative of the Municipality. Jointly launched in association with the local hotels and restaurants owners' association, one of the two told me, the objective of the Scheme is to ensure that nobody in Malappuram goes hungry.
Anybody can buy a token or more from the restaurant - Rs 30 for a Breakfast token and Rs 50 for a Meals token - and drop them in the respective boxes. Anyone who cannot pay for his food can come, pick up a token, walk into the restaurant and order food after surrendering the token.
What a dignified way of offering and receiving charity! The donor does not know who the receiver is; the beneficiary does not know whose act charity fills his stomach.
Another initiative of the Municipality in the same direction, the other young man explained, is the installation of refrigerators at a few points in the town. They are accessible to anyone: those who have food to spare - restaurants, individuals hosting parties etc - can leave the surplus food there in the containers provided and those who need it can pick up what they want from the fridge.
All 'developed' towns can take a leaf out of this, but will they?
I had read about the 'Coffee on the Wall' project in some cities abroad, but to think that our humble Malappuram can emulate it!