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Monday, August 27, 2018

St Joseph's Convent KGF - - Some Nostalgia - Buying Tuck - Green Mangoes, Jig Nuts, Borums etc

Some nostalgia about St Joseph's Convent KGF - Buying tuck from the Tuck Women
Our school, St Joseph's Convent, Champion Reefs, KGF,  didn’t have a Canteen or cafeteria. Every child had to carry her own packed lunch to school. My mum usually packed chapattis or sandwiches for us in plastic Tiffin boxes. Chapattis with butter and sugar or jam was our favourite choice for lunch. We had our lunch in our class rooms or we ate it sitting on the benches under the huge trees in the school garden.
 Besides our plastic Tiffin boxes, we also carried our own water to drink in brightly coloured plastic water bottles with long shoulder straps. Some times when we didn’t carry our bottles to school, we just drank water straight from the taps in the school compound and didn’t worry about picking up any germs from the tap water!!!
 Our school didn’t have a tuck shop either so to speak. However, the cooks in the convent kitchen made delicious ground nut toffee for sale almost every day. We had to stand in line to buy squares of this toffee every day after lunch, through the Trellis of the Convent Kitchen. The Jaggery toffee with the chunks of roasted groundnuts in it was delicious.
 Some of my most memorable and happy memories connected with my school days at St Joseph’s Convent are of buying the forbidden tuck from the Tuck Women who always sat on the road outside the school gate with baskets of Green Mangoes, Borums, Gutty palams, Pani Chakke, Pattani, boiled Groundnuts etc.
 We were actually forbidden from buying anything from these Tuck Women, but their wares were so tempting that we just couldn’t resist the temptation. The thrill of disobeying the teachers and nuns to eat the ‘forbidden fruit’ was a great ‘high’ for us.
 For just 4 annas or 25 paisa, we could buy tuck such as green mangoes, green tamarind and guavas (which we ate with chilli powder and salt), Borums and Gutty palams (I don’t know the English word for this fruit but they were small purple fruit the size of small plums), Luckily we didn’t suffer from any tummy upsets or illness after eating all this junk.

Friday, June 15, 2018



While we were growing up in KGF, the houses and Bungalows didn’t have attached kitchens or kitchens that were part of the house. The kitchens were always built off the dining rooms with a small covered passage in between. This was because all the food was cooked over firewood and hence the kitchen had to be separate from the main house so that the smoke, fumes, soot, etc didn’t get into the house. Like the rest of the house, the walls of the kitchen too, were painted white, but the ‘white washed walls’ would get quite black with the smoke from the firewood ovens in no time.

Cooking Gas was introduced in KGF only during the 1970s So most of the cooking was done on firewood ovens and a few light dishes would be done on an electric stove. The fires in the ovens were always kept going in our kitchen. At any given time, one could see glowing coals in the ovens. When she needed to start cooking the food, our Cook Ayah would blow through a long narrow metal pipe (or tube known as an ‘Oodankol’ in the Tamil language) on the embers to rekindle them. 

A huge aluminum pot filled with water was always kept on one of the ovens so that there was a perpetual supply of hot water for use whenever needed. 

Besides the wood stoves and open ovens, we also had iron ‘Sigris’ that were fired with coal. Some dishes such as Ox tail, Ox Tongue, Beef Roast, Trotters etc which had to be cooked on a slow fire or “Dum” were left to slow cook over the Sigri the whole night. There were no pressure cookers in those days and hence they had to slow cook for several hours to make them soft and tender.

Our kitchen had a number of shelves filled with lots of aluminum vessels or dekshis in various sizes, frying pans, etc. The big dekshis were for cooking the Biryanis, roasts, etc, while the smaller ones were used for cooking the curries, fries, pepper-
water, etc. Separate dekshi or pans was kept for each type of dish that was prepared.

There were also a few cooking utensils made of mud which were called “Chatties”. These Chatties were used mostly for baking Hoppers and for preparing Fish curry. A special ladle made out of half a coconut shell with a long wooden handle was used to stir the Fish Curry in the Mud Chatties!

After each cooking session, the utensils would be covered with soot from the wood fire. Our ayah would scrub the dekhis and pans with a mixture of powdered charcoal and soap and some ash from the oven. After a good scrub they would once again shine brightly like polished silver.

The enamel dining plates and dishes were also washed using ashes and 501 Bar soap in those days. The glass crockery however was washed with liquid soap specially procured from Spencers! The brass items such as the water pots, pans etc, were scrubbed with a mixture of brick powder, salt, tamarind or lemon rind to leave them sparkling and shining like gold!

Sunday, April 22, 2018


I have lots of fond memories of the Shandy Day in KGF. When we were young we would accompany my dad to the Market in Robertsonpet as a treat on Sundays. The Market was named as Mahatma Gandhi Market. Sunday was ‘Shandy Day’ and the market was always filled with people. Traders would come in from all the nearby villages to sell their produce. Everything was quite cheap in those days. My dad would buy fresh vegetables and fruit required for the week and we would help to carry the bags.

 The sights and smells and the hustle and bustle of the market as soon as one stepped in was so exciting. It was a joy to see the mounds of fresh vegetables, fruits, bags of pulses, grains, sugar sweets, fried savouries, etc besides shops selling Plastic toys and games for just a couple of Rupees. Choosing what toy to buy with our pocket money of Two Rupees was quite a decision and we had to weigh the merits of a plastic or paper windmill against a spinning top or plastic gun.
After the vegetable and grocery shopping was over, our next stop would be at Aleem Bakery or Omar Bakery for cool drinks and hot chicken or vegetable puffs. (I don’t think they made somasas as in those days) We’d then buy buns and coconut biscuits and muffins to take home. The coconut muffins in Omar’s Bakery were especially nice as the muffins were filled with sweet, juicy coconut shavings and the outer pastry would just melt in our mouths!! The sponge cakes and Fairy cakes too were light and delicious.
Jewel Coffee Powder Centre was just next to Aleem Bakery and my dad usually stopped there to buy the week’s requirement of coffee powder and tea leaves. The smell of fresh,  just roasted coffee beans was just heaven!! With our bags laden with all the stuff that we bought in town, we’d take a jatka ride back to our house in Nandydroog Mine. It was time to wait for another week before we went to the Market again.