Thursday, 14 July 2011

Bajji on the beach

Last Sunday evening, for the first time since I started this blog, I decided to go for a walk somewhere purely in order to sketch. I packed a little jolna pai with two sketchbooks, my Koi travel watercolours and my assorted pens and pencils and set off from home. It was around five and quite cool. I kept walking down R.K. Salai and didn't spot anything particularly sketch-worthy except the grotesque-ly ugly city centre building and so I kept walking till I hit Marina Beach.

The beach was teeming with people - merry-go-rounds of different sizes, hand operated and motor operated. Push-carts with street food, kids on a roller skating rink, hawkers, beggars, in short I didn't know where to start. I was also feeling a bit self-conscious because its been a while since I've sketched on location at such a crowded place.

I spotted a really colourful merry-go-round and was contemplating squatting on the sand to draw it when I realised there was a bajji stall nearby. The stall was a simple push cart with a really lovely display of hanging molagas - so typical. Lovely huge green chillies. I immediately felt like drawing the stall too. The stall was run by a young lady and another elderly lady and they had put out multi-coloured plastic stools. I guessed you had to buy something from them to get to sit on a stool. But sitting on the stool would give me a comfy vantage view of the merry-go-round as well as the hanging molagas so of course for this reason and no other (heh heh) I ordered a piping hot plate of bajjis.

I don't like the green chilly bajji and they had a lot of other veggies on offer so I chose a mixed platter of raw banana, potato and onion bajjis.  The merry-go-round sketch got done while I waited for my order. The bajji stall sketch was done while I nibbled slowly at my delicious hot snack. It was served with a small cup of green chutney which I didn't touch since we all know what happens the day after that chutney.

Very happy with my fried snack I handed the young lady a large note and she had to send it somewhere to get me my change. At this point the elderly lady plonked herself in front of me with a large tub of onions and started peeling and slicing them. Her speed was astonishing. This is a really quick sketch because she really went through a pile of a dozen onions in less than five minutes.


  1. It looks as though you had a really wonderful time, apart from managing to produce such lovely sketches.
    My friends and I used to frequent roughly the same part of the beach about 40 years ago. We would get there on our bikes after dinner and would often spend hours on the sand chatting away. Perhaps because of the timing of our visits I don't recall seeing any bajji vendors then. Sundal, shelled peanuts, chana, pattani, and sliced managoes dusted with chillis were the stuff on offer.

  2. Now there's cotton candy, corn on the cob, and some sort of wierd indian chinese food - very red fried dishes called "manchurian" apart from all the stuff you have said which are all still there as well. Want to go back soon. U want to come now that there are stools around?

  3. Wow! Absolutely fab sketches.They are like postcards. I love the bajji stall with the hanging chillies and the lady with the hawaii chappal:)

  4. Glad I found your posts about chennai. Good Sketches. :)