In this post, we will take a walk along the residential streets (Theruvu) towards the western side of Chalai, one of the oldest markets in the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. The local market is being covered separately in another post. Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram is the place where I met my friend sharp at 6AM for the walk. After spending few minutes in the vicinity of the temple and the temple pond, Padmatheertham, we hired an autorickshaw and headed towards Aryasalai.
Before the hire, the auto driver was adequately forewarned about the possible testing of his patience with two friends who carried cameras which would mean frequent stopping and waiting. From that point onwards we became like buddies and mutually agreed that the fare meter is nothing more than an object of compliance and aesthetic. We neither negotiated the rate nor he mentioned any.
A must visit location is the back lanes which house many Agraharams where the Brahmin community live. Adorning the front yard of their homes with kolam designs ranging from simple to complex. Newspaper, most of the cases it was invariably The Hindu, a bowl awaiting the arrival of milkman, the familiar face of Vegetable-Woman, street sweepers, the prayer call from nearby temple, people who sit on the verandah or balcony with a half-smile either due to the meaningless news they had just read; the sweetness of the filter coffee they had imbibed; seeing a man with a camera wandering the streets to attain overnight fame writing blogs. Whatever said, many people stopped by to say hi and to ask the company-the newspaper-being represented by the SLR-carrying, friendly-looking, stranger.
After the walk in the Puthen Theruvu (New Streets), which are four in number, one can enter Chalai bazaar from the other end which is opposite to the main entrance near the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. This would be an ideal time to have a hot tea and a ride in a rick. Most of the auto rickshaws in the area will have plenty of fresh flowers decorating the dashboard with many burning incense sticks and a freshly bathed, crisp, auto-driver. Up to 9.00 AM any fare being paid is considered a kaineettam which means the first fare for the day. Only few passengers seldom dare to bargain on a fare that is so preciously received by the driver.
Almost 3 hours later we decided its time to return to our respective homes for a home-made breakfast of Idli and white coconut chutney (other variety being red). Auto-driver hesitantly asked for a fare that we felt was quite reasonable with all the tiring stops and patient waiting. We tipped him handsomely too.