Small-town Malidas

Bhāgalpur coming off gabapentin 300 mg My sister and I, from infancy through to adulthood, were small town Pondy girls as against our maternal cousins from big city, Madras. Every summer, we would spend a part of our vacation with them, and they in turn with us, and a whole month would speed by in this annual ‘holidaying with family’ exercise. Even as children, we were aware of and remarked on how differently we lived our lives and yearned enviously for the greener grass on the other side of state lines. I must mention that we were also struck by how uniquely each defined ‘around the corner’ and ‘just there’.

ivermectin 12 mg tablet for child In May of each year, we took the ‘Keerai Express’ (MKM Travels with its load of greens on the carrier on top) at 1.30 in the afternoon to Madras. That was the one and only time in the year that we needed a bus to take us somewhere! In ‘Pattinam’, as Madras was oft referred to by the Tamil-speaking population, we hopped on and off buses that took us to different locations. We marvelled at discussions on how a 12B would take us faster than a 24 C through the laberynthine streets of the teeming city to this place or that. In Pondicherry, it’s extremely difficult to get lost as all roads within the boulevard run parallel to one another and everything that we wanted could be procured within the four avenues at walking distances from one another. While in Madras, visits to Moore Market, shopping for readymade clothes, buying ‘nice’ shoes, watching a movie on a 70 mm screen – these are fond experiences immortalized in memory. Today, when we, the cousins, have our virtual meets, Hayley and I are told that we were envied too. How wonderful to be able to walk down the street to the beach for an early morning paddle, to chase one other along the pathways in the verdant surroundings of Botanical Garden, to enjoy the slides and swings in Bharathi Park or to play catch or hide and seek in the Children’s Park on the beach. When cycles became a part of our lives we peddled up and down the beach road with our cousins on our carriers! How lucky we were! All these simple pleasures were ‘around the corner’ and ‘just there’ while the very same phrases in Madras meant a kilometer away, at least. Rickshaws were aplenty in the town and older folk often transported themselves in them especially on trips to the markets (the Manigundu Small Market and the Goubert Big Market) when shopping made the return journeys tedious.

Apart from recreational pleasures, the cousins were also treated to culinary ones. Our easy access to French food meant that we always had a variety of pâtes, saucissons secs, chocolates and dragées available to snack on. This was in addition to Nana’s homemade tea-time treats: the most debated on and enjoyed were her Malidas.

Malidas in Madras were small poori-sized circles of dough (maida or whole wheat) that were cooked in boiling water and then topped with grated coconut, cardamom powder and sugar. Malidas in Nana’s kitchen had a very different base – tapioca! Raw tapioca was peeled, grated, mixed with a pinch of salt and some grated coconut, spooned into ghee-greased idli moulds and steamed till they were translucent. Once done, the Malidas were easily scooped out onto trays and sprinkled generously, while still piping hot, with more grated coconut and sugar that slowly melted into the base sweetening the entire cake.

As each of us, children, were served a couple of Malidas on quarter plates silence reigned around the table. Differences between the Madras and Pondy varieties forgotten, we tucked delightfully into them reenergising ourselves for more fun and more mischief much to the consternation of the best of grandmothers ever.

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