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Let's Relax, Let's Walk Around Madurai

Discussion in 'Wednesdays with Varalotti' started by varalotti, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Of late there is a general feeling that I choose rather heavy topics for discussion in my forum. So let’s relax during this Wednesday. Let us just loiter around the busy streets of Madurai where festive shopping has picked up and tourist season has started.

    Yes, ILites, that’s what we are going to do this week. A walk around the streets of Madurai.

    Every city has its uniqueness, its own signature which cannot be replicated outside its limits. But being a Madurian all my life I can talk only of Madurai’s signature.

    As most of you might be knowing there are only 3 seasons in Madurai – summer, summerer and summerest. What we have in April and May is the summerest. We have something between a summer and summerer during this period. October-November.

    In Madurai Deepavali is a huge climax to which the everybody would be moving in a frantic pace. Thus if you now walk some where near the temple, let us say the South Chitrai Street and then go on via Dindigul Road, you will see a sea of people. All sorts of people. From Madurai proper, from the surrounding villages, from North India with the sarees worn the other way round and from foreig lands too.


    Incidentally the tourist season here is between October and February.
    So many people walking and driving all types of vehicles - from the ubiquitous tricycles to two-wheelers, cars, autos etc. Most of the platforms are occupied by the vendors. So people walk up to one half of the road. And the beauty is people from both sides, each walk up to one half of the road, which means that vehicles need to just crawl at the walking speed.


    Our vehicle drivers are very ingenious. You know that Britishers drive on the left side of the road, Americans on the right, we drive on all sides of the road.

    When you approach the temple from the west side, and walk in the West Tower street you get a direct view of the temple, its most majestic and the most beautiful West Tower at the end of the road.


    You can see the intricately sculpted Tower from the other end of the road and it is very difficult not to feel awed by such a artistic majesty right in front of your eyes. It is a symbolic representation of God waiting for us at the end of the road, waiting for us to finish our journey.

    You see textile shops all around the temple. The shop boys will stand out on the streets and almost smother you with their loving invitation to walk into their shops. The oldest shop is Hajee Moosa which is near the Eastern Gate of the temple. It was started in the year 1878.


    Those people are Muslims and have the biggest building near the temple. They have the courtesy to advertise their shop as “the second best landmark in the town.” The first always and will always belong to our Queen, Madurai Meenakshi. She is our most beautiful and the most compassionate Queen housed in one of the most beautiful temples ever conceived by man.

    We have some popular eating joints around the temple. One is a Gopu Iyengar snacks stall which should be more than 50 years old. They would close down by 7 PM every day. They start serving snacks from about 3 in the evening. They have their usual group of customers who would never deign to eat elsewhere. And for less than Rs.20 you can have so much of snacks that you would have to skip your evening dinner.


    And they serve a “kara chutney”, my God! It would be so hot (I mean “kaaram”) that you can keep it two feet away and just go on eating your idlies and dosas by just looking at it.

    A few blocks before that shop we have the famous “Original Nagapattinam Nei Mittai Kadai” Another 70 year old institution. Kara Sevu, a hot crispy savoury is their trade mark item. Another unusual item they serve is “Kara Urulaikkizhangu” (Potatoes – served very hot with red chillies) This item they will start selling by 10 AM every morning and the sales would be over by 1030, 1045.

    Another peculiar feature in Madurai is the “Sundal Vandi”. The trader will have a big push cart (something similar to the ironing cart) and will sell boiled ground nuts and a variety of sundals and sundry items. On a typical day you will find pattani sundal, kothukadalai sundal, payiru sundal all laced with chillies, mangoes, coconut, onions et cetera..


    I think all these sundal vandis have an association. Because the price is the same with all the people. The standard unit of any item costs two Rupees. If you eat just about 5 packets then you can’t eat your dinner. They will be so wholesome and heavy.

    In the mornings you have carts that sell paruthi pal (juice made from cotton seeds) sukku malli coffee (a concoction prepared from all medicinal items like ginger etc) We also have carts selling Jil Jil Jigarthanda. A cool drink prepared from Faluda Seeds and a host of other items. Murugan Idli Kadai (now they have branches in Chennai) sell this Jil Jil in about three or four varieties.

    The area around the Temple will always be crowded. And now festival shopping is in full swing. You see people every where on the road, in the shop, on the pavement, in autos, share autos, cars and all sorts of vehicles.


    The typical Maduraiite would be non-chalant in this turbulent atmosphere. In a corner tea shop he would be sipping his “cutting tea” (again a speciality of Madurai; the word cutting refers to the fact that the tea is just cut into half of its regular quantity) with the serenity of the Buddha blissfully watching the flow of life around him.
     
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  2. sudhavnarasimhan

    sudhavnarasimhan Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,

    I was wondering why you keep posting a day earlier....is this not meant to be posted on wednesday.....anyway i get to read it on tuesday, maybe it is late night there, when u posted.....
    But it was a pleasant WALK or should i say Stroll, (crawl) and what with the Delicious treats on the way, with sweet and savouries....and thank god i did not have to break my head and think ..ha ha....:mrgreen:
    That was a really relaxing walk through Madurai, and my head is full of memories.; feeling nostalgic; ...except you are making me homesick....and i am missing the festive feeling of Diwali! :cry: So in a way you are making me emotional ...
    But all said and done, a good description of the old town of your Queen Meenakshi! Great work.....and thanks for lightening the mood....but i wonder is there sometime 'heavier' on its way!is that why you are keeping our spirits lighter !:tongue
     
  3. Kamla

    Kamla Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Brainwave!

    Another great idea of your's Sridhar! For few short minutes (too short for me!), I was travelling in the hot busy streets of Madurai, maybe sitting in one of those autorickshaws! Where were you when we were in Madurai???!!! We did a south tour in 1986 ( I think) and Madurai was one of the stops. I am bad at remembering my travel experiences. I only vaguely remember not finding good South Indian food in the south, everyone serving parathas-curries and 'continental' breakfasts!!
    I especially appreciate the amount of humour you have poured into your little article. The way you described the traffic situation and the kara chutney brings out its essence and at once makes the readers laugh. I could hear the noise and feel the spice even as I stare into my monitor!
    Anyways, thank you for taking us through your lovely city and bringing the Meenakshi amman's temple memories:)

    L, Kamla
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2006
  4. safa

    safa Bronze IL'ite

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    Great!

    It was a pleasure trip to Madura..I really enjoyed my walk through the streets of the town! That mouth watering "kara orulakkizhangu"- oh, I will never forget it's taste! Since many days, I am thinking to have a drink of JIl, Jil..(will make it, recipe is here)
    Since last week, I was thinking what would be the next week's subject, will bring something make me mad?
    Whenever hear about Tamil Naadu, a pic of girls in dhavani, wearing lots of flowers would come to my mind...How is now? Is this changed coz of the reign of Churidars?
    Living abroad, we always feel some thing missed.It was pleasure to walk through your own Madura.Two days back , I had told Chithra, I really love to see your place! But this suddenly, I got a chance to see all...
    thank you,
     
  5. AbhiSing

    AbhiSing Gold IL'ite

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    My heart is heavy.

    Sridhar Sir,

    The article was meant for a lighter mood. But howcome my eyes are shedding tears and my heart is swelling with a mixed feeling of joy, pride, sad and of course laced with the silk tread of nostalgia. I can even feel the divine smell of kungumam and malligaipoo in the amman sannithi.
    You gave a free ticket to visit my Madurai and not to mention the window shopping in (Kadai)* Kadal!. We used to go with friends and relatives to all the main streets around the temple along with the jostling crowd just for the festive feel during Diwali times. But I am sad that you didnt mention our authentic Rajmahal- to dream about the rich colours of silk. All my silk dresses from my first red colour pattu pavadai, my wedding sarees, thalai deepavali sarees .... to the silk churidhars last year were from them. I revisited the dindigul road with the platform shop owners..with all their nitty gritties in the world...calling towards me..courtesy to you.
    I'm terribly homesick but your article comes as a surprise gift for my Birthday tomorrow. Thanks Sir.
    (Sorry ILites...Igot carried away and put all my incoherent thoughts in Sridhar's own space.)

    Cheers:cry:
    Vijee
     
  6. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    I make you jump the queue, because you are a birthday baby!

    Dear Vijee,
    Wish you many more happy returns of the day. I have made you jump the queue for replies because you are a birthday baby. Have a great day, Vijee.

    Other ILites, I have opened a thread in honour of our Vijee. Please pour in your wishes and blessings there. The link is:
    http://www.indusladies.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3116

    I could have mentioned Rajmahal. But I did not want the walk to be organised and planned. It had to be random and romantic. I actually went around the Chitrai streets yesterday in my bike. (I do it almost every day after my office hours. People tell me that I am loafing around; I tell them that is my meditation) And whatever sights my eyes saw and whatever thoughts my mind had I made them into a thread. May be if all of you want, we can have a second walk covering some other aspects.

    Your thoughts were not incoherent, Vijee, they were authentic and genuine. Have a great day.
    regards,
    sridhar
     
  7. meenu

    meenu Bronze IL'ite

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    tears hang inthe corner of my eyes

    Dear varalotti,
    Yes, it is indeed a pleasant change to see Madurai through a maduraiite who also loves the city. I have visited the city many times and I have noticed that all the shopping is around the temple. I laughed so much at the traffic (non)sense in Madurai and also the glory of kaara chutney that it has brought tears to my eyes. But you only have to change the name of the city in your description to know that its like that in every city in India which I have visited,. Thank you for a refreshing change which makes us light in heart.
    Regards,
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2006
  8. AGR

    AGR Bronze IL'ite

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    That was a gud decsiption of ur place sridharji..........I had been to madurai and has also stayed in the college house...........but u see sir.....in chennai panangal park just like like summer throughout the yr in madurai...its festive time through out the year..........the speciality is when u start at panangal park u can reach the t nagar bus terminus automatically..........u see being a chennaite I also need to boast something abt my place right......(was just kidding)........I actually enjoyed reading ur post and probably I should try those savouries (here we are used to venkatramana boli stall,suriya sweets and the likes).......Please continue ur stroll to the other veedhis of Maudurai.........We will follow u.........:clap
     
  9. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    If the topic is Madurai, how can I not join ?

    Inspite of living in Chennai for many years, I am still a Maduraite. I strongly feel our dear town literally grows on one. My heart still skips a beat when the train crosses the Vaigai bridge, reaching Madurai junction. I cannot help feeling that I am back home.

    Sridhar, God does not wait for us at the end of the road, the simultaneous view of all the four gopurams when you cross the mempalam, makes you feel that he is around you on all sides.

    How can I not mention about Pudumandapam and Ezukadal theru? In the former, you get raw silk for 40 Rs per metre & the next shop tailor stitches for you that cloth in a couple of hours. The place also stocks an unbelievable range of ironware for kitchen. Anyday, I still would prefer an iron kadai or tava from there to Fabberware. Ezukadal theru is one of the most narrow streets, but full of readymade clothes. People from around Madurai come there to make deepavali purchases inspite of Hajee Moosa – the Javuli Kadal.

    Now, being chitvish, how can I not be a foodie? Besides what Sridhar has mentioned, Thool Bajji from Delhivala is very famous. They start selling by 12.30 & the stock is over in less than an hour. Now a days, I bring it & freeze it. I just microwave small portions, when I need. The taste is unbelievably good. Burma idiyappam shop is opposite Mission hospital. They sell the softest idiyappams & give for side dish only coconut milk or sugar and grated coconut. You don’t have to eat it, you put it in the mouth, it will just glide down your throat. Yet another delicacy is Halwa from Prema vilas. It is different from the famous Thirunelveli Halva, but too good. You can get Mallipoo idli round the clock, opposite the railway station and hence it is said that the city never sleeps. Have it with Masala Pal – heaven is at your feet.

    Yet another item, which will shock you all, (more the N R I s) is the ordinary humble bread we get there. N M P bakery, Raja Barley, British Bakery and now surpassing all of them S M bakery, sell bread of unbeatable soft texture. Believe me, my nephew who lives in Washington D C for the past 25 yrs, tells me, “ nothing to beat namma ooru bread, americansku bread pannavae theriyalai” !

    Last but not least, Sridhar, how can I not mention about Madurai Bashai ? It continues to be “ Vangammaa, aamangammaa, charingamma, panniralaamungamma” which is the sweetest honey to me when I go there from Chennai.

    Now, my post is already longer than yours, Sridhar. I feel I have not written even a fraction of what I wanted to write. Please write a Part 2 of this thread, without fail.
    You are right, I do get put off by the hustle & bustle of Chennai. But when I go to Madurai, I nonchalantly walk in the crowd, not bothered about the thronging crowd around me. That is because it is Madurai, naan piranthu, valarntha mann.
    Or do I becoma a serene buddha ?
    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2006
  10. Kamla

    Kamla Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Lovely post

    Dear Chitra,

    I was waiting for this! How can you, an ardent Maduraiite keep away from talking about your home? It was touching and lovely to read your view of Madurai. No matter where one lives, it is the childhood memories that marks your Home ground:) I enjoyed all the goodies of Madurai virtually!

    L, Kamla
     

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