Saturday, August 25, 2012

Two Is Better Than One

I am sharing here a blog written by my husband Ananth, I thought, my blogger friends would like it:


Most of my School and college days were spent in the balmy city of Madras in the grandparental home in Mylapore. Balmy because of the close proximity to the Bay of Bengal, the Santhome beach being just a stone’s throw away. As the youngest at home, it fell on me to run little errands for my aunts, uncles, and grandparents, buying household provisions, odds and ends from the Bazaar street round the corner. I loved this Bazaar street with its myriad little shops purveying all kinds of goodies. Their offerings to my various senses was equally pleasant : rhythmic thump thump thump of the motorized pounding machine releasing to the atmosphere pungent odour of red chillies, the heady aroma of roasting coffee beans, the sweet smell of roasting chickpeas from Panchaksharam’s Pattani shop, a sudden draft of cold air while passing by the Manickam Ice candy factory. Ramanathan the ice candy man was also the leg spinner of our underarm street corner cricket team.

Our Lady of Bon Secours school ( upto 5th Std. only) was at the farthest end of the Bazaar street from our home, and this was my daily commute to school, a walk of about 15 minutes each way. I knew each and every shop on this street like the back of my hand and every roadside vendor including the petty vegetable ladies displaying their wares in neat small stacks ( kooru in Tamil ) for retail sale and no bargaining.

Basha Bhai’s roadside stall was the favourite of the little boys, with a small mob always milling around him. For reasons I cannot fathom till today, there were well defined seasons in the year for various games and toys : for marbles, for gilli danda, for the spinning top ( a thumbtack delicately hammered in on its head for perfect balance) for colorful toy kites and special pink and orange manja to go with the kites : and Basha Bhai had the best of these goodies. His catapults made out of seasoned wood from the guava tree was the best, or so he claimed. Although I had no Algebra at that time, I was the first on the buzzer to answer one of his trick questions on this subject and was rewarded with that catty, and a prophecy that one day I would become a great man. Basha Bhai had come to Madras from Tirunelveli in the deep South, and had no family to call his own.

But all this is digressing. Once in a blue moon, I would sally forth to Bazaar street to buy a razor blade for my grandfather for his daily shave. Wilkinson Sword was his brand and the blade had four shaving edges ( two sides x front & back ) the numbers neatly printed on the blade so that one could choose the edge for the day’s shave. My grandfather frugal man that he was, kept a green, translucent whetstone made of glass in the shape of a soap dish, the surface suitably roughed up to hone the edges of the blade by stropping it along the surface with neat small strokes. The blade then would last forever and ever.

Of course, in those days Grandfather had all the time in the world to do the sharpening, pick the correct edge of the blade, unscrew the razor handle, remove the top plate, sandwich the blade in between the two plates, screw it tight again, ready for the shave.

A few decades later, Gillette came with the very handy disposable razor for people on the move. Many more years of serious and sustained research led to the development of the twin Blade razor, the underlying theory being two blades are better than one, and certainly better for the Company’s bottomline. The Gillette Mach 3 was but a natural evolution from the twin blade contraption : How could three be any less than two ? I doubt if even a master marketeer like Gillette would dare to venture beyond three. One cannot fool all the people all the time.

Taking a cue from Gillette ( two is better than one), a simple biological Sewage Treatment Plant in Bangalore ( A truly Hitech city) has been built with two stages of Aeration. Even common barbers have become environmental consultants in the great state of Karnataka, where earlier only plumbing consultants roamed free.

Dr. Ananth S Kodavasal August 23, 2012


  1. Roamed around Bazaar street. It is famous for little shops and can identify those sights and sound. My paati's home is Mylapore.

    1. I also love roaming around Pondy Bazaar, Mylapore market, though my Grandparents were in Triplicane. Each one has their own memories of days gone by.
      Yes that is our new Lab pup, she is really cute, and her name is Bumbilli.
      Thanks Asha.

  2. Oh, BTW have you got yourself a cute puppy. The Puppy in the header photo is very cute.

  3. Interesting post and reminiscing by your husband about his school days. Opens up some of Chennai for all of us.

  4. Lovely description of Mylapore. And i am reminded of my grandpop's razor and blade:)

  5. reminded me of some of those good old days back in the village and school times ..

    I would love to visit the place described so aptly


    1. You should, some places are still the same.

  6. I loved the local flavor in this narration Rama, very well written!

  7. Nice memories of each of us, when we think to our childhood. I like the minuteness of the descriprtion, like in grandpa choosing the finest edge of the razor. and then, the fine link your husband made to the marketing:) Congrats for a great text!