September 02, 2012

Madras Week on different neighbourhoods

The only stores I knew in George Towne were the ones that sold chillies and spices. Stores I had mentally noted when Mom did her rounds of this district.

In the days gone by, China Bazaar and George Towne were the shopping hubs.

So when I noticed that some members on the Chennai Food Guide FB page were from that area I did what a catalyst must do -spun a thread and left an encouraging note.

It worked. And that is how the Mint Food Trail came to be a new addition to the annual Madras Week celebrations which have just come to a close.

Having triggered the idea and hand-held it for a short while, I felt it would be a good idea to join the Trail. So last Saturday we headed to Kakada Sweets, a big name in the food world there and were greeted by many others who had signed up for the Food Tour.

Kakadas is best known for its Aloo Tikki Chaat and creamy badam milk and once the recommendation was made, the walkers fell over each other!

There were seven stops on this only-by-walk trail and on this stuffy, sweaty, grimy evening, discovering Mint's food nooks was much more than a Food Trail.

Murugan Sandwich Shop offered us its rich chutney cheese toast and murukku sandwich ( if you want to know what these are, log on to the FB page)

Ajab Mithaighar offered jalebis and ganthias, served with raw papaya chutney, a popular breakfast combo for the community here.

And the Kesar pista kulfi at Maharaja Kulfi Shop was just what you wanted after stinging your tongue with some spicy snacks.

Pratibha put together a team of volunteers which included Darshana Bokadia, Tara Kankaria, Tanmai and Uma Chordia, Dhruv and Aditi and each one of them gladly took us around to the shops, spoke about their lives and times and shared some shopping tips too.

These were people who loved their neighbourhood and given the opportunity to showcase it, did it proudly.

Remember, the Trail like all Madras Week events was a voluntarily-planned event.

It takes a bit of creativity and patience for a few to energise a group. It did work in this case and we were happy.

It did not work in Anna Nagar where I expected a bunch of senior residents to launch a Social Archives Project.

Our neighbourhoods need to have residents who know their backyard and their histories. And enjoy the memories.

See what a photo exhibition of Adyar in the 60s did to one person who lived his teen years in Sastri Nagar and is now a professional in the USA?

He mailed a photo of his teen group hanging out on the fringe of a cemetery which later became the Besant Nagar crematorium. It adds to the archives.

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