Kannan's MOHAN SWEET STALL - A Sweet Legacy

Hard working Ammini Ammal had founded a ' Petti Kadai ' ( tiny box like shop ) those days. She used to sell sweets and savories to the general public. Her husband Kannan Naidu was in Kamala Mills at Singanallur ( Coimbatore - Tamilnadu ) and he was quite close to the management. He took up the sweets business and would sell his stuff at places like the Coimbatore Municipality and the Singanallur Bus Stand. The sweet and savory business was known as ' Palagaram ' business those days. Kannan Naidu would buy Murukkus from Idigarai ( a suburb of Coimbatore ) and take them in a trunk box on a cycle in order to sell them to his clients. The cost of buying used to be Rs.1 per hundred Murukkus ( one Murukku was just 1 paisa those days ) !

The smart looking and fair complexioned Kannan Naidu was known as ' Ayyar ' by his clients. He would sport a Namam ( Vaishnavaite symbol ) on his forehead and move about. The sweet shop came up thereafter. Kamala Mills had meanwhile been taken over by Karumuttu Thiagaraja Chettiar from Madurai. Anyway, Kannan Naidu and his wife Ammini Ammal set up the shop in their home. They had a wood fired stove, ural & ulakkai ( implements used for processing ). The firm had two employees but the main person was Ammini Ammal. Nothing would move without her. She was ever present in the premises.

Kannan Naidu belonged to the Galiyar Kulam ( family ) and the family temple happens to be located at Vattamalaipalayam on the outskirts of Coimbatore. Ammini Ammal and Kannan Naidu were blessed with G.Krishnakumari, B.Hemalatha, B.Poornachandrika,V.Santhamani, Chandramohan, Rajaram and Balachandar. Kannan Naidu had personally chosen the names of each of his children. The daughters were educated under the guidance of Vasundara Devi , wife of L.Bhaktavatsal ( son of R.V.Lakshmaiah Naidu ). " Vasundara Amma was responsible for me doing B.A, M.A, & M.Phil in Tamil Literature. I could study in Queen Mary's College because of her support, " recalled Krishnakumari Gopalakrishnan, the first daughter of Kannan Naidu and Ammini Ammal.

" Kannan Naidu was part of our family all his life. He was ever welcome to all our homes. I remember him taking care of all our family weddings with promptness. He would ensure the distribution of invitation cards and also take care of the guests earnestly. I remember my father telling me stories about Kannan Naidu's cycling trip around the country. He had gone on a cycle in the year 1942 and would sustain by taking photographs and selling them. One of the pictures taken by him was liked by a Maharaja in Rajasthan. Therefore he was hosted in the quarters at the Palace those days. My father recalled a humorous incident. Kannan Naidu had run out of money during his cycling trip. He had wired my grandfather thus - Pocket Empty, Wire Twenty. Grandfather had broken into a laugh on reading this. He had sent Rs.50 and Kannan Naidu continued with his tour for some more time. He was a rare gem and to find a person like him would be impossible today, " stated Hari ( B.Lakshminarayanan , son of L.Bhaktavatsal ).

The first son Chandramohan had been an avid reader cum cricket player. A number of people would borrow his books and read. The Sweet Shop used to have a television and would be crowded on ' match ' days. The store used to provide food for all the employees. Non vegetarian lunch was served periodically. Kannan Naidu had earlier managed ' Ammini Bhavan '. There were in fact two of them , one veg and one non veg. Ammini Ammal would get up by 5 AM and sleep only by 10 PM. Mohan Sweet Stall used to supply food to the CIT canteen, Sulur Air Force Canteen those days. The SKC ( Sweet, Karam & Coffee ) for several meetings was from here. Push cart sales had driven the family fortunes prior to the opening up of the shop. Every family member had worked hard.

Kannan Naidu had been a stickler for quality, Oil could not be used more than once. This yardstick ensured the taste and quality of the Murukkus. The sweets and savories would be thrown into the Kamala Mill Kuttai ( a pond near Kamala Mills ) if they did not meet the standards. Ammini Ammal had got the property from her family. She helped her relatives by turning them into vendors for her sweet stall. One relative supplied the Obbattu, while the daughter Santhamani supplied the Ellu Urundai. She had trained three people to make them and the standards have been maintained.The clients continue to savor the signature dishes - Mundiri Cake ( cashew cake ), Jalebi and Karam Murukku. Adhirasam is popular too. Kajjayam was a delicacy then. The Jalebis used to be collected in the vessels belonging to the clients. They used to take it along with the tasty Jeera. The Jalebi had won a special prize from Chief Minister M.G.Ramachandran.

A.K Complex was the first one of its kind in Singanallur. It was so named after Ammini Ammal Kannan Naidu. The family is very united. " We used to go on tours in our Standard Van for many years. Amma took us to Tirupathi, Sringeri, Srisailam, Puttaparthi etc., once a year. A cook would accompany us. We had a very good time those days. All the kids would go to school in the same van. Father used to sing Bharathiar songs and eat Gulabjamun.

Kannan's Mohan Sweet Stall was like a village industry. All the relatives were benefitted. In turn, they provided employment to a number of people. The shop had to give space during a road expansion that took place more than 50 years ago. This iconic sweet stall continues to be a darling of the people. Anuradha and Soundarya, the two grand daughters of Ammani Ammal through her son Rajaram have created a new legacy by founding the new venture ' Amminis ' a few years ago. Amminis ' has a few branches, one in SaiBaba Colony and one more in Nehru Nagar ( Coimbatore ).

Anuradha ( wife of V.R.Vengatesh of Teachers Publishing House & Proptam Realty Solutions ) and Soundarya Murugesh are hands on today. Their relatives continue to participate along with them. They have about 40 sweets and 25 savories in their showcase. The sisters are very careful and choosy while adding new items. Their motto is quality. They are very much like their grandparents. The 3G ( Third Generation ) is already in the venture and they are keen to keep up the standards like the good old times.

Ammini Ammal & Kannan Naidu continue to live through their venture : KANNAN' S - MOHAN SWEET STALL.

Mr. Rajesh Govindarajulu is one of the founding members of The Verandah Club Pvt. Ltd. He is a leading columnist, historian, jeweler, entrepreneur, and a heritage enthusiast who is earnestly working to revive the past in the light of the present. Experiential learning about the history of Coimbatore is his main course of interest and he is also a panel member of many colleges in the city.

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