Kaadige kathai


Or may be I should say Racoon Eyes 🙂

Ragini kaki was the most vibrant of all my aunt’s so was Mala Aunty. Somehow Mala Aunty always preferred the use of “Uncle” and “Aunty” over Kaki and mama as we normally called our maternal uncles and aunt. Ragini Kaki always preferred “snow” over”lactocalamine”.

Every time we flipped through the Kannada magazines “Sudha” hey there was one more I cannot remember its name. “Taranga came in much later” the postman delivered it every week and we devoured it, the kids comic first, the film gossip next and finally all the advertisements. Until we grew into the romantic stories which came out as weekly stories. Three serials and two short stories were the format. J

Coming back to Ragini Kaki, as viewed the advertisement of Afghan Snow with the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and some model holding a cheeks with kohl lined eyes we would drift into a world, instead of Ragini kaki at the mirror it would be us.

One holiday we had all collected at Kasargod where my grandpa Krishna Rao’s sister lived. It was a huge house with a swing and a really big backyard. Maybe I should call it groove. One afternoon, the excitement was tangible, “Broadway mama” was arriving from Madras (as Chennai was called then) Broadway mama was Broadway mama since he lived at Broadway in Chennai!!

The kitchen was vibrant with activity and gossip. Meena-athe and sushila-athe were busy giving finishing touches to the Shira and Upittu, so that they could get ready when Broadway mama came. The underlying issue was Broadway mama came with a camera, and he would click photos despite the fact the fact that these pictures were black and white; the dressing up would be great.

My cousin Surekha and I watched this buzz, and two nine year olds going on eighteen could not miss this opportunity, to establish our entry into the adult world of “snow-lactocalamine, jai kaadige” lipsticks were fortunately not acceptable part of makeup.

We sneaked into the “kottige” that actually meant a room, eventually this was replaced by “kone” and imitated Ragini kaki, that

  • The mirror that was kept behind the bookrack was extracted and placed on the window.
  • From the”almirah” that was long side, we picked up the lactocalamine dotted our cheek, forehead, tip of the nose and chin, spread the rest of it.
  • Then came the “ponds” that dry loose powder that was marketed.
  • Then came the most adventurous one of it all, the kadige—or kaajal.

We had of course locked the room such that little kids like Subhashri, sunitha, and pesky brothers like Suresh would not discover us. But when we did emerge, we looked like racoons with patchy dermatitis.

One look at us Meena aunty hauled us to bathroom, oiled the Kaajal off our cheeks and eyelids and got us dressed like all good nine-year olds should.

We could not sit down without squirming for a week, and were teased mercilessly till our next scrap. But looking back it was exciting. Of course we eventually learnt how to make kaajal at home, which was another disaster in itself.

I am sharing the Kohl recipe that I inherited from lakshmi chikki.


Til oil, or pure cow ghee.

1 silver lamp that can accommodate the ghee.—if silver is not available any other will do.

1 long cotton wick

1 copper plate.


  1. Keep about a tbsp. Of ghee/oil aside, pour the rest into a lamp. Put a wick and light the lamp.
  2. Place the copper plate on top of the lamp in such a position that flame touches the plate. Fixate the position of the plate with the help of a stand.
  3. Place this lamp in a place where wind does not blow through and let it burn overnight, or as long as it does.
  4. The dark soot collected on the copper plate is the kaajal base.
  5. To this add the ghee/oil set aside drop by drop till reaches a consistency you are comfortable with.
  6. Store it in an air tight box.

I bring it to the consistency of homemade edible butter and store it in a steel box.

LITTLE WOMEN : http://www.dove.in/en/Products/Bar-Body-Wash/default.aspx

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