TIRUCHY: It's a hot afternoon and just the time any person would love to head home and take cover from the sun. However, this 77-year-old is out in the searing heat and moving around the streets selling ice-cream to all those who are thirsty.
A Kani, who is fondly called 'Ice Thatha,' is a well-known person among city residents. He has been very popular among kids of the 90s and 2K as they would have most certainly been his customers or seen him regularly on the streets.
The septuagenarian’s day begins at 6 am every day. He walks to an ice cream firm situated a couple of kilometres from his house, picks up the stock, fills the cooler atop his bicycle and heads out to serve customers. He doesn’t ride the bicycle but pushes it around all through the day. He covers nothing less than 20 km on foot every day, pushing his bicycle around.
Belonging to Pandamangalam, Kani lives in a rented house with his wife Hamid (68). He has five sons, who are married.
Initially, Kani worked as a salesman in an oil store, and later started selling ice cream at the age of 42. He regularly covers places such as Mela Chinthamani, Poosari Street, Andal Street, Malaikottai, Butterworth Road, EB Road, Palakarai, Beema Nagar, Ariyamangalam, and Kattur as he has regular customers in each of these areas. Kani gets business of `500 a day and `2,000 on weekends, just a sufficient sum to lead a peaceful life.
Speaking to TNIE, he says, "I have been meeting kids every day and have been providing them ice-creams of different varieties and flavours. During school holidays and summer, they would come out of their houses and eagerly wait to hear my voice or bicycle bell. I am 'Ice Thatha' for them, and it gives me great
pleasure to serve kids. Most of my young customers are in different areas of the city and they all know me well. I stay in this business because of their love and respect. I have so far saved so many lovely memories in my mind, more than money. Those memories keep me young and happy."
M Divya, a resident of Chinthamani, says, "I am 26 now, and I have been buying ice cream from him since the age of 10. Every day, kids on our street use to come out of our house at 1 pm to buy ice cream from him. Even today, I do that and also cherish the sweet memories of my childhood."
Robinson, an 11-year-old from Malaikottai, says, "I buy ice cream from 'Ice Thatha' twice a week. My father also used to do the same 10 years ago."
Dinakaran, Robinson's father, says, "Kani has earned the love of two generations. He covers all the areas on foot, attracting children. He is still popular even among my generation. He has always been working hard and loveable, and we can never forget him.”