Fun-filled, traumatic, joyous, troublesome, boring, cruel, pleasing, satisfying, challenging, tempting, misleading - yes Life is full of 'em - that is why life is so very SPECIAL - and yet the thrill is in "living" life! And all the accompanying ordeals are the frills attached with the thrills.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Where have they gone?
Ammi polayalayo (or whatever that is!) : The lady with a hammer and chisel. The eye-catching attire is when she bundles the hammer and chisel onto her head and carries her baby in her saree. She is the one who chisels the often used ammi and kozhavi (mortar/pestel). When the mortar-pestel are used often, the rough surface becomes smooth, thereby taking more time for the ingredients to get ground. More and more people turning towards mixies and motor grinders, seemed to have had a big effect on these poor people.
Krishnaaaaa...aayil : This was how the kerosene vendor went about marketing his 'krishna oil'. I wonder if the blue tint given to kerosene (to prevent illegal trading) gave this common name. The vendor used to pull a bright yellow coloured cylindrical steel tin mounted on two tyres.
Uppu thatha : The frail thatha with a contrasting white moush and hair was a friend of the kids. The only dress we saw him in was a cotton cloth wrapped around his waist. He used to tirelessly go about selling his uppu (salt) from street to street. I hardly see him these days.
Saana(m) pidikaradhe... : The man carrying a cycle wheel structure attached to a wooden structure with a pedal and a sharpening stone used for sharpening blunt knives, aruvaals and importantly arugamanais. I am sure the whole 'machine' was his own design and self-made. Sad that many of our conventional inventions have either gone unnoticed or unappreciated.
Jodrippair : Maybe it was 'Jot repair'. I know people refer to shoes as jot (as in 'jottala adippen'), but don't know if its the same. I used to go ga-ga over the cobbler's tool bag. Almost all of his tools are made from a used product. The needle would be nicely packed in a rubber stamp handle, the scrapper would be a shoe polish tin lid and the way he makes the stitches - wow! For me, its a treat to watch anyday!
Kulfikaaran : Though I do see them in the beach, their daily rounds in the streets seem to have reduced a lot. The bell was the kulfikaaran's trademark sound with a petro-max light hanging on his tri-cycle. In our street, our family was probably the only one buying kulfi from him but nevertheless he was popular in many areas. What is reminiscent of the kulfikaaran is his sweat clad face seeming very ghost-like when seen above his petro-max light. I used to watch in awe the way he takes out the kulfi from the metal/plastic-rimmed containers with a knife and slice it up. He would place it on a dry leaf (forgot the name of that leaf). The taste used to be awesome though I used to get odd tastes in between. Some of my friends have warned that the water/way of making might not be very hygenic but the kulfis haven't troubled me so far!
Soan papadi wala : Just like the kulfikaaran, the soan papadi wala is confined to the beaches these days. When I think about the son papadi boy, I am amazed when I realise that I have not spoken a word with him nor have I heard his voice. His arrival was signalled by his bell and the huge bell jar would be tied firmly with a rope to the wheeled cart.
Kadalai vandi : Very similar traits as the soan papadi boy. His trademark sound was the roasting sound of sand and groundnuts on an iron wok with an iron spatula. He would bang the spatula on the wok to announce his prescence. I still remember the words 'MINIMAM 25 paisa' written in a very bad handwriting and bad spelling in front of his cart. It was 10p earlier, then it became 25, later 50 and now I think its 1 Re minimam, sorry minimum! Whenever I got groundnuts from him, my eyes would fall upon the books which he probably got from the old paper mart for selling his groundbuts. Most often, there used to be some kind of text books like Chemistry, Maths and I used to wonder then "aah! what is this guy doing? This guy doesn't know its worth"
Kaikari paatti : Though the tri-cycle cart vendors still visit our streets, the paattis (grandmother) carrying the vegetable basket are not to be seen these days. One should see how the different varities of vegies are neatly arranged in that one round basket. A cloth bundled as a bun on her head would act as a support for the basket and she would sit in the verandah for hours chatting with the ladies of the house. I remember helping the paatti lift the basket and place it on her head when she is about to leave and boy! that is some weight! Imagine having to carry such weight in the scorching sun across many streets. Hmm... what grit!
Paal cover, buddi, papaaar : The old newspaper man is still prominent but the number of them has drastically reduced. In those days, scent bottles, plastics were his best buys and so was iron. During our childhood days, we always used to mimic his tone and the nice paperkaaran used to smile back - not minding our childish mocks. One of the paperkaarans of our street who has been around for a long time has his son studying in one of the good schools in our locality. Isn't that great news?
One thing which is common among these people is their sincerity to earn money instead of resorting to cheap tactics like begging, stealing and other means. I can't imagine myself in their shoes. I can afford to be lazy on a day and forgo going to work but to them each day counts. Its not a question of wanting to become rich but to ensure their family gets their next course meal. My salutations to their grit, determination, hard work and endurance. They do teach us some lesson - don't they?