Monday, March 23, 2009

Sweets and more

There are several sweet shops in Chennai, each one of them trying to create its own brand of what are intrinsically unbrandable sweets. Some of them have been successful, maybe too much so, that many today believe that mysurpa and mysore pak are the same thing. That story has its beginnings in Coimbatore, not Chennai, so I'll let it pass and stick to a more 'local' sweet shop.

In 1982, G.Natarajan was at some kind of crossroads in life. The oil-press he started near his village had failed. A retailing venture in Madras was probably way ahead of its time and it took off only his wife's jewels, all 300 sovereigns of them. A more recent transport business had been successful enough for him to buy back the oil-press. The industrial canteen he was running at Manali seemed to be a good bet. So good, in fact, that he took a leap of faith and bought the house at 24, II Main Road in Adayar's Gandhi Nagar area and started making and selling the generic snacks, traditionally made by the old ladies of the house - the sweet mysore pak and laddoo as well as the crunchy, savoury 'mixture'.

Today, Grand Sweets and Snacks has resisted the urge to expand, beyond their outlet in Anna Nagar. Staying in Adayar, their range today runs into over 250 items, including ready-mixes for vathakuzhambu and puliyodharai. There certainly was no looking back for Natarajan. He must have bought back all of his wife's jewels and then some; crowds like these, jostling at the counter for his wonderful sweets and snacks, played a part in his receiving a post-humous award in 2002 for being that year's highest income-tax payer in the region!



4 comments:

lviss said...

Mysurpa sounds modern .Pak in mysorepak takes a toll on your throat.

Shantaram said...

@ lviss: More branding than modern, don't you think?

Ram N said...

Heard they've wi-fi'd now ....

Shantaram said...

@ Ram: Believe the wait times are really long... guess they had to find something!