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Smells familiar?

The vibrancy of street life comes alive at the ongoing `Thattukada' food fest

Pic. by R.Ragu

ALL THE paradoxes were there; Bharatanatyam and poikalkuthirai, mushroom and vegetable marrow curry and kara kozhambu, quail roast and kothu parotta, item numbers on big screen without voice down, spoon and fork with vaazhayilai lined plate... When the rich go slumming, the results are interesting, to say the least.

It is the `Thattukada' time again at the Raintree, Taj Connemara. It is a valiant attempt to capture the vibrant street life of Tamil Nadu or South India itself, give and take a few things, sans the smell, the dust and the bacteria. And if Dhanasekar Tea Stall and Jayaseelan Elaneer Kadai appear clichéd, it is inevitable. Anything prised from its natural surrounding will appear so. That is the price you pay for commodification of an ethos. What can be avoided are the potter's wheel and the kili josium that have become quite stale. Actually, one feels sorry for the bird whose biorhythm must have gone haywire.

On the bright side, when was the last time you had sugarcane juice and panji mittai or cotton candy? The flies, they are more lethal than all the Al-Qaeda units put together. It is said that when a fly sits and rubs his legs, bacteria are discharged. Talk of WMDs. Need I say more?

Under the stars, in the balmy weather, Subbama Idli Kadai and Madurai Muniandi Vilas became the epitome of street flavour. By the time the infectious beats of poikalkuthirai dance started, the pineapple and squid rasams and the smooth creamy paya kuruma and pepper crab roast didn't matter. It was like watching a Rajnikanth film. You simply have to believe that he can single-handedly turn 10 to 12 able- bodied men into pulp! And once you willingly let go of common sense, it is fun.

The idlis, simply superb, went easy with the lamb, trotters, crab, spinach, kara kozhambu and the rest. I could have had those light, soft-as-a-petal diskettes even with the payasams. They were that good. If one can't stop the advent of gobi manchurian, flaunt it. Bruce Lee Fast Foods had noodles, fried rice, chilli chicken and of course, gobi manchurian.

At Singari Sweets the pazha payasam was the super star. The bright yellow jeera poori glazed with sugar syrup was the Ilaya super star. The `street fest' comes with a tag of Rs. 550 per head tax inclusive and is on till March 26.

MARIEN MATHEW

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