you're reading...
City Scapes

Corn on the Cob

Walking from St Marks Road towards Cubbon Park, I looked out for a pavement to walk safely on . Sadly, there were hardly any and whatever was there, was narrow, uneven and encroached. That is how I noticed the Cuddapah stone ledge jutting out of a low wall, next to a large Fashion Designer store. It was an illegal structure, but buzzing with activity – office goers from St Marks and UB City had crowded Gauramma (the vendor), buying cigarettes, boiled sweets, chewing gums. The “shoppers”, mostly young males, did not move away, but stood around, lighting their lights  and chatting away, blocking the pedestrians, if any, on the narrow granite pavement. I had to bypass this crowd to move ahead, as well as to avoid the tobacco smoke that I detest. And just after that is where I saw Raasamma. She was originally named Raasam, (Royal in Tamil) but adopted the Kannadiga moniker to her name after the Cauvery dispute and anti-Tamil riots. She was a third generation Bangalorean and could speak Tamil and Kannada fluently, and her Hindi was what some people would call “Kaam Chalao” – working knowledge. Raasamma was the corn-on-the-cob vendor who would cart her cart from her home in Ulsoor each mid morning – after loading it with the salted, boiled corn on the cob in a large aluminium vessel. She would carry at least a dozen lemons, and the plastic packet of salted chili powder mix. The shady mango tree on this lane was where she stood around lunch-time and she would move to the nearby Convent School gates around 3 pm. I was truly amazed to see her as I never associated the modern young office goers to eat boiled corn on the cob for lunch or with lunch. This was a rural food item that many farmers carried to their fields in Karnataka and a staple for Africans, rural and urban. But in 2011, seeing the golden yellow pearls strung together, resembling an arm fully clad with yellow pearl bracelets was pleasing. I was in no mood to try it that day, but my companion, a Delhiwalla was truly amazed to see this – he had never eaten boiled corn on the cob, and was quite delighted to try it. Raasamma asked her husband (who sat beside her) to pull out a plump and warm cob from the covered aluminium vessel and scrub it with the lemon slice. She looked at me and asked in halting Hindi whether she could spice it with the chilli. I replied in Tamil – “Venda” – no, thanks. She smiled and questioned me in Tamil, now, “But Delhiwallas like spicy food, so why not some chilli on the corn”. She was a smart woman who caught on to our conversation and figured the Delhiite amongst us. I just shrugged my shoulders and answered, “why smother the taste of the fresh corn, when it is so flavourful on its own?”. She smiled a knowing smile, and pulled out some corn leaves to place the corn on and handed it to my companion. He paid her for it, and we walked away. The taste of this boiled corn was so different from the monsoon favourite – roasted corn cobs. My friend took a while to adjust to the “blander boiled” taste, as he put it. I assured him that this would also strengthen his teeth, apart from filling his stomach. He smiled, as he stuffed his mouth with freshly shelled kernels.


About Narayan

Not a good stock market investor and you can perhaps read why - I find odd reasons for their movements!


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: