Edward Lear at ‘The Summer Isle of Eden’-1874 – Calicut

‘Ye crows of Malabar, What a cussed bore you are’ was a famous utterance. This person who spent that sojourn in Calicut was none other than Edward Lear.

 And so he reached Calicut in 1874 just as the Monsoon had started.
It is Oct the 16th and the old man Lear is on the way by train to Malabar. He is eager to see the bare breasted women on Malabar and is craning his neck out in search (These are Lear’s real thoughts as accounted in his diary, not my imagination). Lear says

Plain bare; good hill lines. Approach mountains; very varied and fine forms, but not clear enough to get any idea of in pencil. For the last ten miles, rice aboundeth,and palms both coco and palmyra, and there is a river with sandy banks, and low hills, and distant blue mountains, all beautiful. Train passes; 3rd class all open, plantain-leaf umbrellas in the train-boxes; in the fields they look like large mushrooms. My! behold for the first time the naked breasted females of Malabar! Beypore: the upper room of the railway hotel overlooks the sea, the sight of which is pleasant; calm, all but breakers about some bar or rocks. 1.55, off in boat; cross river, very beautiful; carried on shore by coolies. Wonderful beauty of villages and lanes, and very surprising undressed females! It was, I think, past 4 when, at the end of the grandest tree-bordered roads I ever saw, we reached Calicut station.

i quoted the above lines from maddy's RAMBLINGS ;just to mention that i had the good fortune to see the same sight in 1960 while sitting in my 3rd class train compartment ; while going from kozhikodu(calicut) to mangalore .i used to hear from my friends that such a sight is common in north malabar ,among women working in paddy fields ;and i was not ready to believe it ;till i saw it my self