Across Indian cities, towns, and villages, there are small shops called ‘petti-kadais’ known by the local language equivalent in each region. The name loosely translates to the ‘box shop’, not because they sell boxes, but because they are shaped like boxes. Small, compact shops on every street.
The wonderful thing about these shops (thousands of which exist to this very day) is that they can cater to 99% of your daily shopping and convenience requirements.
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From neatly stacked glass jars stocking all kinds of delicious candies and savouries, to veggies and fruit, to basic kitchen provisions, to stationery to shampoo satchets to washing soap to newpapers and magazines, these ‘petti kadais’ have it all.
When we were kids, most of our school assignments were incomplete without a visit to the neighbourhood ‘petti kadai’.
These shops were usually manned by a single person, who could work magic, and produce any thing one required, from its recesses.
We often ran to the ‘petti kadais’ with our weekly pocket money, to buy poppins, cumin seed candy, lollipops and many other yummy treats.
These days the ‘petti kadais’ sell top-up for phone calling cards, offer door delivery services, and a wider-range of products.
Their ruthless and efficient use of space has to be seen to be believed!