10 Missing Characters of Chennai…

A few characters that were around in chennai whilst i was a kid who seem to be getting scarce to be seen around by the day. If found please notify here. These people like me have a special place that brings aforth a lot of childhood memories….

1. Kallu Uppu Vyabari – Sells crystal non iodized salt in his push cart on the roads, probably killed by the innovation of tata iodized salt.

2. Night khulfi – Sells Khulfi ice cream after 7PM in a push cart. Price varies from 50 paisa to 10 rupees which buys you a really HUGE khulfi.

3. Koravan/Koraththi – Gypsies who go door to door selling fur of various animals and thaayaththu, anna kayiru etc

4. Rope Walker – Usually small boy/girl walking on a rope with setup in the middle of the road.

5. Korangu Vidhdhai – Ellarum Joora Kai thatti siringo, vedikkai paththuttu 50 paisa oru rooba manasaara pottuttu ponga! Gosh how can i forget these words!!!!!!!!!!

6. Kudu Kuduppai – Fortune teller who apparently has magical powers and has kari naakku. Will say things that will come to life. Comes early in the morning after taking mayyi from mandai odu from the sudu kaadu. “Jakkamma sollara, indha veettula irukkara payyanukku nalla padippu varum”

7. Boom Boom Maadu – Man/Woman with colorfully dressed cow sings and entertains at your doorstep begging for money “Nalla Kaalam Porakkuthu”

8. Tin Cycle – Guy who has a rope tied across in his cycle with a tin on it that makes a rattling sound and he does tricks for money.

9. Javvu Mittai – Sweet candy sold door to door. Candies made out of hand to the design of watch, scorpions, crab etc.,

10. Karadi Vidhdhai – Similar to Korangu Vidhdhai only that this is a black bear. Police action and forest department curbing on poaching probably killed this guys profession.

14 Comments so far

  1. suppamani (unregistered) on October 27th, 2007 @ 11:47 am

    Milk Vendor: Who was generally brought a cow with a stuffed calf and milking in front of the house duly watched by the house wife and even then he knows how to add water in front of them without their knowledge;
    Kerosene Dealer: who brought kerosene in a two wheeler carriage with a big drum and calling “KISHNOIL”

    AAVIN BOTTLES: then the milk of AAVIN was supplied in nice glass bottles one for the mornig supply and another one for the afternoon supply and the morning bottle to be returned for the next supply and the same were kept at the door steps to retun promptly;

  2. shiva (unregistered) on October 27th, 2007 @ 3:22 pm

    Nos. 1,4,8 & 9 are definitely extinct. Rest you can still find if you don’t live in one of the posh localities.

  3. Ram (unregistered) on October 27th, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

    Kudu Kuduppandi ! This character fully dressedup in colourful rags, predicting your future!

    Hear khulfi still comes in Triplicane high Road.

  4. sachin (unregistered) on October 27th, 2007 @ 9:43 pm

    dilip bhai…

    kulfi.. not khulfi

    Couple of things that i miss about being a kid in chennai

    1. the ppl selling sonpapdi.. the white stuff in a big glass acid jar
    2. the 20 different ice cream carts by gandhi statue on marina beach
    3. tic tac ice cream which used to be where ispahani is today

  5. reva ananda (unregistered) on October 28th, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

    hi dilip,
    you’ve gotta nice post here, i really like the concept.. can’t find your email id, i have taken some stuff you have posted here for my revavudan programme which is airing on Hello FM 106.4 on 29th october night at 10pm. I hope you would not mind it, i have mentioned your name in the programme too. Listen in, if you have the time. its from 10pm to midnight.
    thank you so much, keep in touch!!!

  6. R.Vijay (unregistered) on October 29th, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

    Plastics seller : Takes old clothes & gives plastic bucket and other plastic items.

    Some more who come to my mind :

    Keerakari, mavadu seller (small mango for making pickles), Knife sharpener (saanai pidikiravan), icecream vendor who shouts paal ice, cup ice. Hope you remember the taste of Paal ice & semiya ice.

  7. knightnavy (unregistered) on October 29th, 2007 @ 2:55 pm

    List goes on..

    1. Kallu uppu is still sold, in that same sack (koni)- in the same cycle.

    2. Javvu mittai, mittaai watch is missed – that is a sure casualty

    3. Raatinam, another one that is missed, a mini raatinam moved around the streets enthusing children of all ages

    4. Soan papdi/ bombay halwa – is still strolled around.

    5. Kulfi is served but the metal cones have given away to plastic cups and is not served these a days in thaiyela.

    6. Nellore palagova, as is pronounced is not completly extinct but is a rare species.

    7. Aval/ Saemiya / Paereechambalam is also on the decline

    8. Hour cycle in the city is on the decline.

    9. 5 rooba vandi, which claims all products to be 5 rupees – yup he is a goner as well.

    10. Potti kadai have become dhum kadai(non accessible to kids), I am missing thaen muttaai 5p for the smaller one, 25p for the juicy pompous one.

    11. The yesteryears sales people, who claim to have invented their very own new formula into a soap or washing powder.

    12. Garment factory workers(tailors) who were part of the orginal BPO culture – outsourcing Tshirts – all have gone on to make Thirupur what it is today.

    13. Elani/tender coconut vendors became stationary these a days. Nungu(palm) has almost become extinct not to forget padhaneer.

    14. Malai thaen/ oosimani /paasimani/ Singa pallu, GYPSIES have shifted their costumes to torn Jeans and some shirt – the elders stick to the skirts.Can be spotted along High court campus on the south side. With all the muscles and strong hair they look like some RnB star.

    15. Sherbath, kuchi ice (scrapped ice with essence), mangai, naga palam, sita pazham is replace with road side juice shops. Naga pazham is unheard off.

    16. Uppu biscuits / Bomma biscuits have given way (biscuits shaped in various animal / bird shapes) to brands.

    and on and on.

  8. Pavithran (unregistered) on October 29th, 2007 @ 3:03 pm

    Big fun bubble gum missing – was major part of my childhood.

    I was part of a big cricket playing gang during my childhood days and we constituted a fund to pay for broken windows (side fx of cricket) and I was not given the treasurer job for the fund because the other guys were worried I will unscrupulously swindle funds to buy big fun!

  9. Arun Vasudevan (unregistered) on October 29th, 2007 @ 4:14 pm

    Interesting post Dil…I am sure some of it are extinct and some are still there but definitely are in the decline –
    I think if people can derive pleasure by wading through / walking in history (which seems to be the next best thing to do) after coffee pubs, still woudl be a great model to sell:)

    Overall an excellent post!

  10. neoflys (unregistered) on October 29th, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

    oh yeah ‘big fun’ bubble gum! i would love to buy those again and start collecting cricket placards

  11. santosh (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 12:28 pm

    talking about kulfi…..i remember chunks of kulfi being served in badam ilai(leaf) in the Marina…maybe 20 years ago !!

  12. Boopalan Yadhavan (unregistered) on November 3rd, 2007 @ 12:09 am


    I miss all those things that you guys mentioned. Thanks for the good post.

  13. rajappa (unregistered) on November 3rd, 2007 @ 11:09 am

    Many of these “missing” things / persons are still to be found in traditional localities like Mylapore (where I live), Mandaveli, Triplicane, and maybe Mambalam. Having said that, I must add that presence of these interesting people is diminishing.

    An excellent post.

  14. Angela (unregistered) on November 3rd, 2007 @ 6:05 pm

    I was working last year in Bangalore and the very first morning in my new house, The boom boom maadu guy was at the doorstep and I was thinking how Bangalore was such a weird mix of stuff that’s become extinct in Chennai and at the same time full of the sort of yuppie crowd you’re yet to see in large numbers in Chennai..

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