A Tribute to Ethakka Appam ( Banana fry)










The school I attended, belonged to the church. It was named after the church,  St Mary’s LP school. There were two tiled buildings at the front, facing the road , and one behind the main buildings, which was thatched. The class rooms were separated by wooden partitions. One could hear what was going on in other classes, as well as all around.
I was at the third class, and my teacher was Thomas sir. The adjoining class was run by Ponnamma teacher. Thomas sir had taken a liking to her. At every opportunity, he would go to the side of the wooden partition that separated the class, and Ponnamma teacher also would reach there in no time.


I don’t know what they used to talk about. But they used to stay near that partition for long times. At times, they would just look at each other and just stand, without saying a word. When they had more and more to talk about, the questions on our black board used to get lengthier and more difficult to solve.

The Head master was Thomma sir, who was my immediate neighbor. He was elderly, with a crew cut hair which was all white. He used to wear what we used to call a bush coat, on top of his dhoti. One could never see him without the long cane, which he used to carry at all times. It was, as if it was part of his attire. And he never wasted any opportunity to use it on the kids. He was a terror for us.







Buying tea and snacks for the teachers was considered a matter of prestige. At about mid day, Thomma sir would call “ Babu, come here “ and order me to go to the tea shop and bring three teas and  Ethakka Appams.( Fried bananas). This was the most enjoyable time for me. I could escape the classes.  I would make it a point to walk to Pillachan’s tea shop, which was about half a mile away, at my slowest pace. I would stop at every opportunity on the way. Having reached the tea shop, I would sit at the bench in front of the shop and watch those lucky ones eating appoms and mutta roast greedily. Every now and then, Pillachan would come and add little gravy on to the appoms,  to encourage the customer to eat more. My mouth could sail many boats, with so much of watering. I was never in a hurry to go back to the school with the tea, and would tell Pillachan, to make it slow. Once in a while,  Pillachan would give me one of those precious banana fries,  at no cost. After all, I was one of his promoters !..The trip back to the school used to be slower, because I had the banana fry at one hand, and I used to savor the taste of it in small bites all the way. Thomma sir used to get angry about why the tea was always cold.


When I shifted to the Govt high school, the scenario was much better. I must have been about 12 years old and at the 7th class. The school had a larger campus and pucca buildings and class rooms. Anandavalli  teacher was the most beautiful among our teachers.  It was rumor was that our mathematics teacher, Sahrudayan sir, was in love with her. He was liked by no one in the school.  On the other hand, everyone  at the school liked Anandavalli teacher. I thought she was the most beautiful woman on earth and was secretly in love with her. I used to see her in my dreams.

Probably the only thing I loved more than Anandavalli teacher was the Ethakka Appam.( Banana fries).Being the youngest in the family, my mother used to give me half Anna in the evening, when I returned from school. There was no practice of making evening snacks, and I used to go to Pillachan’s shop and get one banana fry   in exchange of my half Ana. I used to select the biggest of the fires in his Alma rah. Back home, I would sit at the front steps and slowly take nibbles of that delicacy. I never wanted to finish eating it.

And so it was, one of those evenings, I was sitting with my banana fry, when my brother Unni came back from college. He came near me and asked me to give him a  bite of the fry. I would have parted with my life, than my banana fry.  He was coming closer and closer to me and I was afraid if he would snatch it away. I was supposed to be very clever and then this idea occurred to me. I licked the whole banana with my saliva drooling all over it, so that my brother couldn’t eat it any more. I was happy and relieved.
And that was the only time my brother proved to me he was cleverer. He came closer to me and spat all over my banana fry and said.
“Now, you eat and enjoy”.

Comments

  1. Well that was a very enjoyable narration of school 'dramas'. The teachers sure had to survive the scrutiny of the students.

    What happened with the teachers you mentioned, were they lucky with their love?

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  2. @Anil,
    It seems the world was so small.Ponnamma teacher used to live near my home.They got married.
    Sahrudayan sir was a failure.His name didn't suit him much.He had stammering, and was the least expressive.
    You wont believe, I had not spoken to the lovely girl who was my immediate neighbor, till we met at Medical College.We used to walk the same road to school and college,still.
    The fondest memories are the earliest ones.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sad to hear about Sahrudayan sir. Stammering can make people reclusive. In those days I doubt if professional treatment to cure it was available. It must be fun to meet teachers from our younger days. Do you manage to meet them now?

    I've eaten lot of fried banana chips, but cannot recollect if I've tasted Ethakka Appams though.

    Oh yes, most of fond memories are from earlier days.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Was really nice reading that. Do write more of the old times. Even the names -- Ponnamma teacher, Pillechan, -- are so good to hear. My first time in this blog. Will come more often :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Chris
    Thanks.Please do come as often as u can.It is encouraging for a beginner.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Anil
    Ethakka appoms are different. They are made of fully ripe sweet bananas.Slice them,dip in a special batter and fry them in coconut oil. Yummy.
    I can send u a recipe,if interested.

    ReplyDelete
  7. :-)your brother is smart indeed!
    having studied in girl's school(and that too in convents) throughout, i have missed the romeo-juliet drama among teachers.
    nice post. how different schools were in our times!

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  8. Yeah, Unni uncle was cleaver..hmmm thats like a checkmate as far as the "prevent the snatching of the banana fry" game is concerned. :-)

    At least, to avoid wastage , you could've peeled off the batter skin and eaten the banana (though not as tasty)...howzzat for one more round?

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  9. interesting...... you should have washed it and eat again

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  10. @Beena
    I cried,my ammachi came and washed it,and i continued my activity!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Have you ever thought of meeting the beautiful
    Anandavalli teacher at her olden age?

    ReplyDelete
  12. @Sojen
    Interestingly,I thought about her when I was writing the blog.Children are often fascinated by their teachers.Our concepts of beauty changes with age.Still,I have no doubt that she was very good looking.I saw her few years back,gracefully aged and charming and as affectionate as ever.

    ReplyDelete

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