As a child Pia Meenakshi always looked forward to going dairy shopping with her mother. She would impatiently nudge her mother to quickly buy the milk coupon from the first floor and hurry down the steps to the counter at the ground floor.

Five-year-old Meenakshi wasn’t eager to buy milk – she was simply following the aroma of freshly baked breads and cakes.

Just like her, many children in Bengaluru would impatiently wait at the milk counter of Nilgiris 1905, a supermarket which was known for flavoured milk and its bakery. “At some point, the friends who I have made later on in life, may have been there at the same time as me, with their mums buying flavoured milk and groceries,” said 28-year-old Meenakshi, with an air of wonder. “That’s how small a group our generation is and that’s what a big part Nilgiris played in our lives.”

Meenakshi is one of the five illustrators who were commissioned by Nilgiris to sketch and share their personal memory of the supermarket on Instagram. The Bengaluru illustrator chose to depict her story from the mid-1990s with visual references to the “Japanese cake” and “sugared almonds”.

While growing up in 90s Bangalore, going to Brigade road with my mum mainly meant one thing: going to Nilgiris. I remember impatiently waiting for my mum to finish buying milk coupons on the first floor, so we could go get goodies on the ground floor. We would buy the family favourites: Candied almonds, chocolate covered Marie biscuits and my personal favourite (till date) - Japanese Cake, which I later realised, is only available at Nilgiris. And it didn't end there...we still had the grand finale, Vanilla softy ice cream on the way out! Nilgiris got in touch with me to pull out some long forgotten memories and illustrate them. I really enjoyed discussing days gone by with my mother. Follow the story of their journey here : @nilgiris_1905 #StoryOfNilgiris

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“Nilgiris was an important part of everyone’s childhood – it was the place for children’s treats,” Meenakshi said, with the eagerness of one trying to explain a secret world of nostalgia.

Twenty-eight-year-old Chennai-born Kaveri Gopalakrishnan agreed. Around 1997, Gopalakrishnan moved to Mysore to live with her grandparents, but did not expect the small town to have bakery goods that could match up to the confectioneries she had tasted back home.

“We never went to buy groceries at Nilgiris, we could get that from the vendors near my grandparent’s house.”

Since her first visit to the bakery, Gopalakrishnan’s all-time favourite has been Nilgiri’s Chocolate Biscuit, a Marie biscuit covered in chocolate. “They were special to me because there was no variety of biscuits at that time,” she said. “I would quickly store my stash in the refrigerator.”

I missed Madras when we had to move to the sleepy little town of Mysore, back in the 90s. Growing up with your grandparents has the added bonus of excess childhood treats: from japanese cake to cream puff to poppins. But. There was nothing quite like those chocolate-covered marie biscuits from Nilgiris. My father would regularly get us rabid sugar-monsters every kind of fancy duty-free chocolate he could, after business trips: but to me, those gold-foil wrapped biscuits were the perfect mix of crunchy, chocolatey and un-messy (so no traces left behind when you ate too many + they look like big shiny gold coins!) Illustration commissioned for Nilgiris, who got in touch for this very fun trip back to the past. Follow their other stories here: @nilgiris_1905 #StoryOfNilgiris

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Her illustration goes back to the good old days of Mysore: “I remember their building was covered by lots of trees and that memory stuck with me.”

When Gopalakrishnan came across a bigger, grander Nilgiris on Bengaluru’s Brigade Road, she assumed that the supermarket had a country-wide presence. It was only when she sat down to illustrate her memory from Mysore, that she realised that her childhood memory of Nilgiris was shared by people her age who grew up in South India.

One pastry which stayed with every illustrator was the “Japanese cake” – a sandwich of two biscuits with a thick layer of cream, rolled in butterscotch crumbs with a dollop of hardened chocolate on the top.

This doesn’t sound like a cake from Japan, but the name is reminiscent of the French bite-size dessert Japonais, which may have been introduced through colonialism.

Bengaluru artist Sonaksha Iyengar’s family loves the Japanese cake, but the 22-year-old’s obsession was focused on the baked savouries. “I cannot stop dreaming about the bread, it truly is the softest,” she said. “The memory of something so tiny being so momentous in my head – like devouring the perfect bread or cake, is what makes the childhood connection all the more special.”

When the car halted outside the house, I knew they had arrived. I could smell them before I saw them. It didn’t matter that the big white and green bags were filled with lots of fresh veggies and fruits. It didn’t even matter that there were a few packets of chips. I ran to grab the bag with the baked yummies - velvety bread and soft cake. I think I spent more time just sitting and hugging my loaf of bread and huge slice of cake than eating them because from what I can remember, they were in my tummy all gobbled before anyone else could get to them. And then it became a routine, every other Sunday I’d sit by the door reading a book, while waiting for those Nilgiris bags, filled with the warmest baked goods. Okay, now I’m running to get myself some nom nom, and you can head to @nilgiris_1905 to learn more about the Nilgiris magic! #StoryOfNilgiris So excited to be able to work on this illustration commissioned by them. Yum! :) 103/365 - - - - - - #365daysofart #art #drawingaday #childhood #memories #nilgiris #bangalore #food #yummyinmytummy #colors #throwback #collaborations #stories #illustrationartists

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Iyengar often designs in ocean hues, but chose to work with brighter palettes to describe her childhood. “I experimented with the feel of a child colouring in rather than solid blocks of colour,” she said.

The art can be viewed on Instagram under the hashtag #StoryofNilgiris, a campaign started by the company to create an online presence and continue maintaining relations with the generation which Meenakshi, Gopalakrishnan and Iyengar belong to.

Not all illustrators, however, had experienced the childhood memory with the brand. Many Nilgiris fans, for instance, came to them fully or half-grown, in the form of students from the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology.

Graphic designer Alicia Souza had a particular aromatic memory of the brand’s velvety bread. “This may sound creepy but I always sniff the breads at the store,” she said. “The bakery conveys a warmth which the supermarket can’t.” The 30-year-old illustrator was born and bought up in Abu Dhabi.

Neethi, 27, was born in Delhi, but often makes her comfort food in Bengaluru using ingredients from Nilgiris in Bengaluru, where she now lives.

No big event is complete without a glassful of good old payasam (kheer) in our home. Which is why when I moved out of my nest to a new city, I reached out to my comfort food. Coming home on a Friday evening to my new apartment with empty chairs and barren walls left me terribly homesick. I mustered up the courage to enter the culinary world with just an electric hotplate. Off, I rushed to the Nilgiris down the street to gather the ingredients. This first video call with amma was an emotional rollercoaster. As she guided me through the wobbly laptop screen, I opened a fresh carton of milk, turning up the heat and conversations. The aroma took me down the memory lane- payasam for my kindergarden birthday, coming 2nd in 1st class, dad's promotion, India winning the World Cup, passing 10th board, and many more. I almost forgot she could see me pop in those extra raisins. I had made my first payasam (and dish?) and was gleaming with pride! That's all it took to make this new place home. :) Head over to @nilgiris_1905 for more stories. #StoryOfNilgiris . . . . #illustration #illustrationgram #artistsofinstagram #art #drawing #nostalgia #story #india #recipe @theydrawandcook #instagood #milk #food #instaart #instadaily #instalove #illustrator #girl #sketch #designspiration #artist #art #mom #mother #love #designspiration #picame #pirategraphic #mood #illustree #thedesigntip

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Neethi has also illustrated a visual history of the company, which is over 100 years old. The story traces the family back to three generations, when Muthusamy Mudaliar who was a mail “runner” when the British had invaded India, founded Nilgiris in 1905 near Ooty.

In 1936, the dairy and bakery was opened on Bengaluru’s Brigade Road, which is the city’s busiest street today. Back then, it was a quiet road in the cantonment area, home to the British soldiers and migrant workers from Tamil Nadu and other neighbouring states.