All and Sundry...
Ottu Kadai (Indian mini sundry shops)
Amidst mushrooming modern 24-hour convenience stores, the Ottu Kadai has managed to survive in George Town’s Little India shopping enclave.
Measuring a humble 3m by 1.5m in size, the Ottu Kadai got its name from being literally “stuck” (ottu) to a proper shop (kadai)! The hut-like stalls were a concept imported by Indian immigrants from their rural villages back home.
There are now only a handful of shops left in town thanks to the loyal patronage of regular customers. Selling everything from betel nuts and sirih leaves (a sort of “chewing gum” for the older folk!) to newspapers, magazines (with the latest Hollywood gossip, no less), cigarettes, buns, soft drinks, tidbits, toiletries, medicated oil, aspirin, plastic toys, sweets, snacks, mobile phone accessories and hardware items, the Ottu Kadai is a “pit stop” for motorists who can make a quick purchase by just winding down their windows and hollering out to the seller.
Imported incense sticks, cigars and basic body care products from India are also sold at these one-of-a-kind shops that though not air-conditioned, are full of character and charm.