SARASWATHIPURAM ANDAVA: cuppu, conu, ballsu

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: Musing over our childhood days in Saraswathipuram, my mind goes to the time when bicycles were a vital mode of transport, among the young and the elderly.

Which meant that you had to go to one or the other ‘cycle shop’ in the neighbourhood for repairs, routine maintenance and ‘blow’. ‘Blow’ being the euphemism for checking tyre pressure!

In the same line as ‘coffee pudi’ Vasu’s angadi, between the 4th and 5th main roads, was a ‘cycle shop’, of which a lean, dark-skinned guy was the head honcho.

His name was Andava.

Andava it turned out was not necessarily a man who believed in upholding business ethics. Instead, he was out to make a quick buck from all those who entered his lair!

"Andava, swalpa blow hodyappa," we would intone. Quite surreptitiously he would go around the parked bicycle, as if checking its every part. Then he would lift the cycle by its handle and thump it down to the ground a few times. He would turn the handle vigorously a few times and then slowly reveal his ‘diagnosis’.

"Cuppu, conu, ballsu hogidyalla mariAppa-nge helappa…Change madisbidodu olledu…" Andava would whisper, and for a whole generation, "cuppu, conu, ballsu" became words to be dreaded. 

Panic-stricken we would invariably rush back home, seek some money and return promptly to Andava’s ‘shop’ to get the necessary repairs done! After all, cycles had to be maintained!

It was long before we came to realise that the scoundrel was making fast cash out of us with the same refrain, ‘cuppu, conu, ballsu’!