Stories From My Home – 7: Appa and Thomas the Tank Engine


We don’t always have to travel to seek stories; they are right there in our homes too. In “Stories From My Home“, I examine the many objects surrounding me at home and attempt to document and share the memories associated with them, one story at a time.


What do you want from London, Appa?

Can you get me Thomas the Tank Engine? A model, a book, anything to do with him.

I wasn’t surprised at what my Appa wanted. He was crazy about the railways, trains, engines and everything associated with them. He loved watching the animated series on Thomas the Tank Engine and I used to love watching him watch the series on TV and giggle away.

So that’s what I got for Appa when I returned from London in 2009 after a year-long stay — a small model of Thomas and a book with illustrations of all the engines and characters in the series. I got him other things too, but once he saw Thomas, nothing else mattered. The look of delight on Appa’s face when I gave it to him is something that I will never forget.

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Stories from my home – 6: Captain Sandal Face powder


We don’t always have to travel to seek stories; they are right there in our homes too. In “Stories From My Home“, I examine the many objects surrounding me at home and attempt to document and share the memories associated with them, one story at a time.


My maternal Paati (grandmother in Tamil) had only one request for relatives visiting Madurai — to bring back Captain Sandal Face Powder that was only available at the M.K. Azeez and Sons shop located in the West Tower Street outside the Meenakshi Temple​. Once or twice a year, a few small tins of the face powder would be handed over to my thrilled grandmother by obliging relatives returning from Madurai.

Paati would get to work immediately. A newspaper would be spread out and the little tins of Sandal face powder would be emptied on it. Some ‘normal’ face powder (Ponds, Lakme, or whatever was available) would be added and then mixed and filled in 4 silver powder boxes — one each for my mother, her two sisters and my Paati herself.

Paati and her three daughters used only this face powder and each had her own silver powder box​. When the powder box got empty, it would return to Paati for refilling. After Paati passed away in 1980, Amma took over the role of preparing the powder mix for her younger sisters and herself till they passed away, and then she would do it just for herself.
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