In the early 1980’s I met KM Mathew who tried me out as a print consultant when Malayala Manorama was in the midst of changing over to offset and installing Cruseot-Loire web presses with 4-colour satellites at all its centres. In those days it was just Kottayam, Kochi-Ernakulaum, Kozhikode and possibly Palghat if I am not mistaken. My experience with Manorama over those fifteen months bears out what TJS George writes in the appreciation of Mathew that he has kindly allowed us to publish on page 14.
George writes that KM Mathew was both adaptable and an instigator of change. He always thought of the bigger picture — about publishing change, development and growth not only for his own publications but also of at the very least, Kerala as a whole. When I suggested that with computerised typesetting becoming available there was room for new Malayalam typefaces, he readily agreed to sponsor Malayalam font design work by Mahendra Patel at the National Institute of Design. Malayala Manorama gave a project fee to NID, but typically with the provision that the new font would not be exclusively for its own publications but for all publishers.
At one point during my work at Manorama, a technical seminar was organised to discuss new developments in newspaper technology and offset printing. Again, the mini-conference included editorial and production invitees from many of the daily publishers in Kerala. This event took place in Manorama’s conference room in Kottayam — in spite of the enormous rivalry between Kerala’s daily newspapers.
I have fond memories of both KM Mathew and also his wife Annamma Mathew who took me over to the Vanitha building for a session with her young colleagues. Hearing that I fancied myself a cook, she gave me copies of all her cookbooks — the recipes had been tested by Vasu who looked after me well at the Manorama guest house!
I remember one evening at KM Mathew’s house in Kottayam — particularly for KM Mathew’s easy conversation and his sense of humour. Since I had been to each of his son’s homes in various cities of Kerala, to put me at ease he made a joke about their similar taste in furniture. I could only smile but it was wonderful to be able to get on with the two of them, as it has been to experience the graciousness and generosity of the entire Manorama family.