Devil Chutney and Ball Curry came into my life quite early.
That is because I studied at an Anglo-Indian school. Though there weren't many Anglos even at that time, I am happy I got to know a small community that does not carry the burden of caste.
Those wonderful experiences continued well after we had passed out of school because of one classmate - Ashok.
Ashok's family runs the famed Charm Dress Makers in Egmore, diagonally opposite Hotel Ashoka.
Charms was the hang-out for us long after we had passed out of college.
It may have been a destination to catch up with old friends but for the Anglos, this was a key service provider!
For, Ashok's father, K. Krishna Rao, who had set up shop in the hugely Anglo-dominated neighbourhood of Perambur way back in the 1950s, and moved to Egmore soon after, was one of the four tailors the Anglo-Indians trusted in the city.
From Perambur and Narasingapuram, from Vepery and Royapettah, Charms had clients even as far as Arakkonam and Tiruchinopoly, some of the many hubs of this community which dominated the Railways and nourished those quaint railway colonies of this country. Guntakkal and Shoranur and Gooty . . .
And if we chose to sit inside Charms, we could eavesdrop on the fascinating stories that the women shared with Ashok's dad as he went about an elaborate exercise of planning a wedding dress to be made from 20 metres!
If we were lucky, at Christmas time, we would get introductions to the families which prepared wine and cakes and khul-khuls.
And if we wanted to partake of all this, we had to go after another classmate, Bully alias Alistair, now in the Gulf, whose family lived in the Anglo Blocks behind Sacred Heart Church in Egmore.
In course of time, our Anglo friends migrated and we were left with only a few.
Ashok, who has taken over from his father and is proud of Charms which completed its golden jubilee in business, is still happy with the many Anglo customers he has today, including those from Canada, visiting here, who get their unique dresses ordered.
The orders have thinned. And Ashok knows why - young Anglo girls simply do not want to wear the colourful frocks anymore; they feel comfortable in jeans and tops.
From this weekend, a celebration of the Anglo Indian community is being held in the city.
Themed 'Anglo Scapes' and designed by actor-director Rajiv Krishnan and Anna Nagar-based Harry MacLure, editor of 'Anglos in the Wind', there are a series of events which include a play, a food fest, photo exhibition, art show, films and readings and a concert. (Call 98845 02155 for info)
The fest, hopefully, will not only celebrate this unique community, but also enable those of us who have hardly known them or had misconceptions, to get closer to them.
And if you have always dreamt of a flowing, spotless-white bridal dress for your wedding instead of the Kanchipuram silk, go over to Ashok at Charms.