Sridhar Venkatasubramanian

Comedy Others


Sridhar Venkatasubramanian

Comedy Others

An Enchanting Tale Of Our Tour Of South India-Part 15 Of 20

An Enchanting Tale Of Our Tour Of South India-Part 15 Of 20

4 mins

OUR SOUTH INDIA TOUR IN 1975 (Episode 15 of 20)


A funny incident at a restaurant in Kerala and other stories.

The overnight train from Coimbatore reached Trivandrum in the wee hours of the morning. 


Thiruvananthapuram is a major tourist centre, known for the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, and the beaches of Kovalam and Varkala.


Our first stop was Padmanabhasway Temple, where we had a wonderful darshan of Lord Vishnu in Anantha Sayanam (sleeping) posture on the serpent Adi Sesha. After that, we spent some time on Trivandrum Beach. As mentioned earlier, I was slowly getting over my fear of waves, and I had started enjoying the experience. The waves at this beach were quite gentle at first. Emboldened, I went a little bit further when suddenly a big wave came rolling and struck me knee-high. I got a little bit scared but managed to keep my balance. But the receding waters nearly pulled me down, and I thought I had enough. 


From there, we went to the Trivandrum Zoo. It was a marvelous place with lots of greenery. The animals were enclosed in natural surroundings, instead of steel cages. Even though it was midsummer time, the place was quite cool and enjoyable.


Then, at around noon, we came out to have our lunch. We entered into what looked like a decent restaurant. We ordered four sets of meals. Now the fun begins.


A funny incident at a restaurant in Kerala


When the waiter brought the thalis with the vegetables, we found that the aroma was quite different from that of the items we get to taste at home or even that we had in restaurants in Tamil Nadu. My mother, who had a quite a bit of knowledge of the style of cooking in Kerala, said that the aroma is different because in Kerala, they use mostly coconut oil. She pointed out the dishes and said that this one is ‘olan’, that one is ‘erissery’ etc. The names sounded funny as I heard it for the first time, then. I started laughing, much to the surprise of other people in the restaurant. My father shushed me rather sternly.


Then the waiter brought the rice, one bowl for each. As soon as my sister opened the bowl, she wrinkled her nose in distaste. It was boiled rice, which she hates. My father said that in Kerala the locals prefer boiled rice. He said it is healthy too, as it is not heavy on the stomach like raw rice that we consume at home. It is also easily digestible, he added. But my sister could not be convinced, and the restaurant did not have raw rice. So, she said she would have only vegetables and other side dishes.


The rest of us, on the other hand, relished the food immensely and had a second helping of rice too. I loved the taste of the vegetables very much. To me, it tasted exotic. In fact, erissery has now become my all-time favourite, and we have it quite often at home.


The waiter then came around to enquire whether we needed anything else. When asked for the bill, he called out to the cashier in Malayalam, “E KUTTI one plate only, rest two plates rice…”. I burst out laughing rather loudly seeing him address my sister as ‘kutti’. In Tamil ‘kutti’ means someone short in height. It is also used for animal babies like nai kutti (puppy), poonai kutti (kitten), etc. My father had to shush me again. He said that in Kerala, unmarried young girls are colloquially addressed as ‘kutti’. He sternly said that I should not mock others' culture and habits just because it is alien. 


There are many things common between West Bengal (where I was born and brought up) and Kerala. Keralites like Bengalis prefer tea, unlike the Tamilians who go for coffee. Like Bengalis, they also prefer boiled rice and fish. And of course, people of both the states have a leaning towards communism. Seeing the red flags fluttering while moving around Kerala, I felt like I was in Calcutta. 


In the next episode, I will share how Mother Nature helped in retrieve a gold ornament that we had given up for lost.

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