The remote Kerala village of Valancherry where the ancestral home is situated has grown into quite a town, thanks to 'Gelf' prosperity. Its claim to townhood rests on the numerous shops that have sprung up.
In the not too distant past there used to be the curly-wurly kallu (toddy) in white letters on black boards with translations of the word in every language. (Obviously it was a much sought after thirst quencher.) These boards have been replaced by Bars and Beverages boards. And in place of chaaya kadas (tea shops) that sold pittu and kadala, you have Chaaynees hotels that sell Manjoorie and cooldrings. There are also Backeries that offer pups and doughnites.
I remember the time I went to a Valancherry shop looking for lip gloss. The salesman regretted that he didn't have lip gloss. "But we have steel glass", he said brightly. Another time the local tailor suggested sewing on lice on the fleets of a dress. But the time I was struck dumb was when a shopman offered to show nipples when I went looking for pickles!
During my stay at V town this year, I was eager for similar jocularity. But was sorely disappointed, until I spied a bollboard that advertised 'Bizarre Management Course'... Perhaps the Biz had something to do with Business?? But more intriguing was 'Romantic Laundry'. Now who can explain that???