Friday, June 30, 2006

The Kamarkat Elegy

If you salivate at the thought of that rather self-effacing stick of caramellised jaggery and sugar and just a hint of coconut, then, Friends, South Indians and Country people, lend me your senses.

The Kamarkat (ka-mar-cut and NOT to be pronounced like meer-kat), to my mind, cannot be defined for someone who has no clue. But this is for my fellow-kamarkat lovers...

The professional ones that we got at the school tuck shop were dark brown, wrapped in a transparent plastic paper so you could pick and choose the darkest,vilest brown turning to black. You could tell these were the tastiest and would last longest. And those were the days when you could produce a princely rupee and walk away with enough kamarkat to feed a kingdom.

I remember we had to time the purchase well. Because, the kamarkat would last a really long while and you simply could not get caught with a sweet in your mouth in class. So preparations would be to finish lunch in a jiffy, skip over to the tuck shop and buy an armfull of kamarkat and run before the nun vending it can ask you 'what-are-you-going-to-do-with-so-many-sweets-that-can-spoil-your-teeth-and- give-you-four-kinds-of-stomach-worms?!'. You don't want to be answering those kind of questions, do you?

Anyways, this is not so much about the nun as it is about sinking your teeth into that gooey 'goli', and letting the slow effusion of sweet-yet-a-little-bitter jaggery take over. It kind of lets the juice out like a drug eluting heart stent. Image in bad taste (!) but truly, there is no perfect-er metaphor: it's like the kamarkat knows exactly when to release the juices, just like the stent lets out the drug to keep your artery unblocked!

The best treat was to be able to suck on it forever and a little more and then push around a few slivers of coconut in your mouth,when forever ended and so did the kamarkat. Ah! The pleasure of that!

But then, the kamarkat died. After a while, they simply stopped making it anymore.
:( Which is when you tried to make do with the 'poornam' used to make the sweet kozhukattai, but no siree, we're just not there at all! :( It's not as rock solid as the 'pro' ones we could buy off the push carts, 'Naadar kadais' or oddly, convent tuck shops. Nay.

O, and did I add? If you have not had the pleasure of sinking your teeth into that gooey piece of heaven, walk away please, your tail between your legs...

P.S. And now, when the only sliver of the kamarkat I have left is a memory wedged in the deepest recesses of my brain, someone peeps over my shoulder at blogger and says Kamarcut is still available in Vysarpadi! I just turn back and say, "Buy me some!"

x

15 Comments:

Blogger S said...

oooh that one sure did brought back memories....funnily i was searching the net high and low for a kamarkat pic, or something remotely close to it, for Ammani's happiness meme, and i just settled for the next best thing. http://thedailybreadblog.blogspot.com/
very well written ramya...as always.
S

6:30 pm

 
Blogger None said...

hello S,

what a coincidence. i was searching for a pic for kamarkat for ammani's meme too! and, then i decided, what the hell, it deserves a post!
thanks! btw, ur happiness meme now, was once my kuchi ice post!

cheers!
r

11:55 am

 
Anonymous Kavitha Shivan said...

Hello Ramya... from Holy Angels right?...'Coz this kamarkat is one of my favourites at HA too...! And how chaotically crowded that tuck shop was during lunch time... Sadly, I only recall many times waiting with hands stretched and squeezed into the crowd of bigger girls, only to return without kamarkat at the stroke of the bell! It is still available here at Ambika Appalam in Ranganathan Street, but tastes like 'mannu'. Anyway, guess I've settled for a poor compromise for want of a better tasting kamarkat!

BTW, great blog. Couldn't resist commenting on kamarkat!

4:24 pm

 
Anonymous badari narayanan said...

Interesting post.

10:28 am

 
Blogger None said...

kavitha!

fellow angel and kamarkat lover! which batch (not kamarkat!) !? yeah, i remember that too, except, after a while i just figured, you could slink up between the big uns' legs! :)
and hey, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

badari,

thanks...

cheers!
r

1:38 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ramya!
how did i miss this all weekend? kamarkat! from our own school! and got me thinking all about kamarkats, poornam (wah...), elandhapazham (boohoo...), kuchi ice (sniff, sniff...)...
shelob.
ps - did you 'elandapazham' outside school? and thundam manga? with 'kaaram'? i did! and loved it! though, honestly, if my daughter did, i would die worrying if she will get four kinds of stomach worms!
pps - excellent post!

12:25 am

 
Blogger hari said...

Hi Ramya,

Sometimes after reading your posts I really feel I should stop blogging, because my posts seem to be a mere apology to blogging when compared to your writings. I made this same statement about Ammani also, but I cannot resist stating that words play to your tune and the expressions are on a song when you use it.

I am an ardent lover of kamarkat and the least I can tell about this post is that it gives the same long lost ecstatic feeling and the high that the release of the juice, from the kamarkat into our throat, used to provide.

3:55 pm

 
Blogger None said...

shelob,

yes, from our own school! :)
nice kind of invocation, eh? they don't have the tuck shop anymore, btw.

hari

surely u don't mean it. if u dint blog, then how'd we have met?! the thought itself is quite unacceptable!

cheers!
r

11:30 am

 
Anonymous F e r r a r i said...

I had a tough time finding kamarkat in mumbai. In fact when i mentioned the name, my friends burst out laughing :D

3:59 pm

 
Blogger Kiwilakhs said...

Rums,

Have lived almost my entire life in Chennai - but have not eaten kamarkat even once......call it a freak of fate, if you will....Glad you enjoyed it so much. As for me, can't really miss what I've never had, can I:)

6:51 am

 
Anonymous Ravi said...

Damn. Where's that 'print' icon. My better half is an ardent fan of kamarkats and she would drool at this post. Besides, she'd send me pronto to get a dozen. Poor me will have to then shop all around Bangalore. Also, nostalgia time. I used to buy them while in my knickers in Francis Xaviers school here...sigh..just where have those looooong lost days gone to? ;)

4:32 pm

 
Blogger Mahadevan said...

In Mumbai, we have 'Chikki', which is a clone of Kamarkat. If the Chikkies are branded ones, near school compounds, one could find the crude ones with an apology for coconut in them, which the half-pant clad, Gattu look- alike stealthily savour, having bought from that pittance called pocket money.

"Poornam" of Kuzakkatai is certainly tantalising and many a times, mothers would be left lamenting, as the dwindling stocks of "poornam" were not sufficient enough to go into "Kuzakkattai" which God Ganesh was eagerly looking for.

5:57 pm

 
Anonymous brinda said...

no, no, chikki is NOT a kamarkat clone! hey ramya, my school obviously had better kamarkat than yours, so there! we NEVER had coconut in ours -- there'd have been widespread revolt and rebellion! and ours were wrapped in something close to tracing paper (no, not butter paper either. tracing paper)-- no plastic for us, thank you :-)

11:25 am

 
Anonymous Swordsman said...

Hey, Cool Post, that sweeps the heart reminding of the old days.

'Kamarkat'... yes, I did love it as any other school kid. They came in 2 types. 1 as you have described, and the other comes round and sometimes with a 5 or 10 paise coin inside it, just to keep us kids curious or buy one more of that :)
Another thing that I used to love were those small plastic cups with crushed ice mixed with the thick, richly colored, sweet, 'paneer'...

Ah.... those days, how I wish......

have funs

12:25 pm

 
Blogger rockubaby said...

Brilliant!!! Absolutely Brilliant!

I must say that I am as much impressed by your blog 'about' kamarkat as much as I am by your control over the english language. I guess I possess just about your vocabulary, but cant ever make the vocabulary to such good use. I fell hard on my face reading that blog. Amazing... Kudos to you!

9:00 am

 

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