Apart from being a hangout zone, Shanghumugham beach is also known for its lip-smacking menu, courtesy beach-side vendors
T he sun, the sand, the cool blue expanse of water! The rollicking waves, the pleasant breeze, the beautiful sunset and the children's park, all make Shanghumugham beach one of the major hangouts in the city.
But throughout the day, from the wee hours of the morning till late at night, there is another added attraction that lends some spice to proceedings on the beachfront and this comes in the form of street vendors providing sumptuous food and hot drinks.
The lip-smacking menu comprises largely of vadas, bajis, banana fry (pazhampori), boiled eggs, boiling hot tea and coffee and the traditional kappa and fish fry, all prepared right in front of our eyes and served within minutes. The fiery chilli baji has it own loyal clientele. All this is in addition to vendors selling roasted ground nuts and chick peas, and ice creams.
Reasonably priced, these ‘thattu-kadas,' as they are commonly referred to, ensure that one can have a filling, tasty meal for less than Rs. 35.
The only other option for food nearby is the Indian Coffee House, which does good business as well. Yet, as Nirmala, the owner of one of the carts says: “It is the roadside vendors that attract customers and not the big, fancy restaurants. The tourists and a lot of the locals prefer the hot eats we make.”
As can be expected, Sundays and public holidays generally see brisk business. Even on weekdays the number of customers isn't too shabby.
Lack of other places to ‘chill' in the city means that a lot of students hang out on the beach and end up sitting outside these shops, sipping tea and catching up with friends.
As Syam Nath, a student of Sree Chithra Thirunal College of Engineering, says: “The beach is an ideal place to be with friends, especially during the day. There is nothing much to do in the city and the fact that our colleges so often get disrupted by protests means that we have a lot of free time.”
His friend Vimal adds: “Getting on a bike and heading to the beach to enjoy some ‘nadan kappa' and fish is often the best thing to do.”
It is also a popular rendezvous for young couples. Though these shops are open till nine in the night, the crowd thins out by around seven, much in keeping with the ‘get-home-before-dark' policy we've all grown up around as kids and mostly follow even as adults. For the shop owners like Nirmala, this means time to pack up and then head back early next morning for life to go on as usual!