When you read this, imagine I’m in a train going back to my home crossing all the yellow sintexes in the growing apartments of Bengaluru and some streets between Carmelaram and Cant. I’m going away to where my parents live. I’m going away to a place where Tamil films are played without subtitles.
With memories that I’ve gathered from the beginning of this month, memories that didn’t fade away despite all the cleaning and washing I did this month– I’m not going for Biriyani or Paneer Butter Masala. I’m going for cooked rice with less water and perfect dosa with some chutney other than Aachi idly powder. To be precise, I’m going for effortless eating.
Traveling back home by train is different this time because I am not thinking of home. I am thinking of Lakkasandra. The only place in Bangalore that I often think about despite Bangalore days.
All my mornings in Lakkasandra begin the same way– with the Adhan from the mosque coming from an unknown distance. Waking up is not as difficult as climbing up and down the three flights of stairs to buy milk from Bhayravi enterprise (the name was learnt via Google pay and I always pick the blue Nandini milk that my friend Christo bought on the first day when he dropped me in this apartment)
The shop owner, a middle aged man with oversized shirt whom I have learnt to call anna understood on the very first day that I didn’t know Kannada. I had dictated all the groceries in English by looking at my phone screen, but for a long time after that — he didn’t ask me which other languages I knew.
It’s only now that I’ve learnt that he also knows Tamil. A young girl with thick hair and tiny ponytail stuck together with a rubber band and bomma clips had once asked for Kadala Mittai and he said, ‘Yevlo venum?’
My first week here was no butter. Uncut onions never made me cry before but after coming to Lakkasandra, everything changed. The bed in my apartment remains unfolded to comfort me in between cooking. Semiya in the morning and paniyaram for dinner still remains the undisturbed routine. Vegetable shops are not far away, but I never think about them during college’s working days. The apartment building is not friendly to delivery partners who roam with big black bags that contain small parcels and I walk up and down three flights of stairs to pick up food. I have no idea how Akkaiyamma temple – the major landmark, continues to be remain unidentified.
The sunlight absorbs my work. Cooking and cleaning fight bitterly without giving up their jurisdiction rights over me.
Evenings are when Lakkasandra comes alive in a different way. As I walk near the family super market, I see autos lined up – 10 meters distance – with piled up oranges and apples on their backs. They play Kannada songs on full volume to pull our ears towards them. All the annas chant the same price leaving me with no option except to buy fruits from the first auto anna. The adjoining street is full of stitching shops with pillows and bedsheets hanging by the front like goats hanging in kasaap shops on a Sunday morning.
Even though there are similar shops squeezed together in a row, people crawl slowly with Kattapai and cotton bags from left to right as speed breakers for the bikers. With more people on roads, streets become too small to consume large vehicles. I smiled one evening when it occurred to me that it’s hard to find a mobile repair shop that isn’t run by young boys or a workshop without a guy who loves music.
I realised that we never notice cooker repair shops unless our cooker has some makkar. Also we cannot directly find the name of the Maligai kadai (grocery shops) near our locality. Some of them don’t have boards and many don’t have names. You may learn their names only if you pay via Gpay.
Walking through the streets of Lakkasandra can give you user specific experiences. If you want to buy papaya you will notice tons of papayas, if you want to buy Jelabi you can find both North and South types nearby. Lakkasandra is there for all your moods. The same Lakkasandra with all its sarees, dhotis, shirts, white cotton Kurtas and burqas but no skirts or shorts.
The smell of Lakkasandra is a borrowed asset. Shops on every street are Dharala Prabhus in that matter. When I walk to take my regular bus, I cross Kanagaambara Akka’s idli kadai– and from the smell of those idlis, I deduce that they are the proper aavi parakkura idli. Men stand here in great devotion, bowing their necks down to eat these idlis.
Paan spills decorate both sides of the Lakkasandra bridge. This smell has a special place in my heart because it never leaves your dress even after you vacate Lakkasandra.
Once Lakkasandra likes you, then remember, it’s hard to get away from it. With its smell still travelling with me in the train, I can’t think of anything other than Lakkasandra.