Source: Excerpts from an interview given to Dr. M.K. Muneer, on behalf of Malayala Manorama, Sunday Supplement published on Jan 28 2001
He had just returned from UAE after attending the MES Educon 2001. He had boarded the flight at 3 am. Although the sleeplessness was evident on his face, he was seen receiving the guests at 11 pm the next day.
The phone rings at times. He answers them directly. Most of them were from the residents of Nadapuram. His words were a healing for their aching hearts, “Grieve not. Almighty will show you the way for everything.”
After keeping the phone, he turned towards us and said, “It was a sister from Nadapuram. She is terrified. All her brothers are in the Gulf. The women are alone at home.”
Later he went inside and brought tea himself and sat beside us. “What is it Muneer at this time?”
I have come for an interview for a prominent daily. To know about some of the personal moments in life and the past. I hope it will not be inconvenient for you.
No never. What is it you want to know about? Hasn’t it come already been written a lot in different publications? Now who will be interested in such matters?
It is not such. The readers are always eager to know more about you.
Never mind. You may enter your questions.
Honorable Syed! How do you spend your leisure time? Any special interests?
Leisure time is very rare as such. But in case I get it, I spend it with family. Otherwise I spent time in the garden behind the home.
Are you fond of flowers?
Am I? I have gone in search of a flower when I heard of its bloom.
About your student life at Egypt?
Egypt was a memorable experience in life. I had a chance to study at the renowned Al Azhar and Cairo University. There were Students from different parts of the world.
Who was your favorite writer at that time?
The stories by the well-known Arab novelist Mahmood Taimur, the regular essays of Abbas Mahmood Haqqath and Muhammad Haiqal, the editor of the popular Arab daily Al Ahram.
Any memorable moments at Egypt?
I had a chance to see Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru (Indian Prime Minister) at the Indian Embassy on his visit to Egypt. When we the Indian students visited him, he was not alone. Colonel Nasser was also present. The axis of Nehru-Nasser-Tito as the heroes the Non Aligned Movement was very strong then. They were very close friends. We also took a photo with Nehru and I also got his autograph.
Observations on Nehru?
He is well behaved. He plays around with the small children. He was very relaxed in his meeting with Nasser. He asked us if science courses were available in our university. Science was one of his favorite subjects. It was also in Egypt that I met Zakir Hussein, the then Indian president. I also met Humayun Kabir, the education minister of India.
Do you used to write much in early years?
I had written many essays. Many Malayalam magazines have got them published. The essays on Journalism in Egypt, Suez Canal and the Nasser project, biography of Laila Khalid, Pyramids, history of Ibn Sina and al Beruni have been published while I was a student.
What was your main preoccupation when your father PMSA Pookoya was alive?
I regularly subscribed to different publications. Serving tea to those who visited father was another work. Major part of the time was spent on reading.
Which countries have you visited so far?
I have visited the majority of the Middle East countries. Besides I also traveled to Britain and France (and recently Australia) and Malaysia and Singapore in the Far East.
Which is your favorite out of these (when viewed culturally)?
I prefer Egypt because the culture is 5000 years old.
A major portion of your life is spent in travel. Have you ever driven the car yourself?
I began studying driving very long back. But I could not continue it.
Do you perform any exercise?
Now I am unable to find any time for such activities. In the beginning I used to walk a lot. It was fun to climb the mountains. While as a student, I have walked miles on mountains of Malappuram. I also used to play badminton in MM school, Calicut. I had recently met the coach of the game subsequent to his retirement.
How did your marriage take place?
(He smiles artlessly). It just took place like that.