Saturday, May 20, 2006

Summer fruit....

Like someone once said, its been the best of the times and the worst of the times.

Mid May in Mumbai, and to those of us who avoid the air conditioned culture with a vengeance, its sweat, sweat and more sweat. The vehicle madness in Mumbai ensures an overdose of hydrocarbons, and just in case i try to walk away from the traffic on the furthest side of the road, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai does its bit by digging up most of the road sides, all in the interests of progress. Traffic outside my area takes this as a challenge, and I am surprised that no one has drawn Michael Schumakers attention to the driving expertise of people here. Speed at any cost.

Lots and lots of fruits in the market. Despite Mr George W. Bush giving his presidential OK for the flight of Hapoos mangoes to the US, mango prices here are doing their usual seasonal slde in price as April trudges towards May. It amuses me no end to think of Safeway advertising Hapoos Mangoes from Devgad in their inserts in newspapers , and pseudo posh restaurants coming up with high priced Mango soufles, Mango a la something, Mango with hawaiin liquer etc etc and charging an obscene amount for it.

My daughter still likes to soften a whole mango with her palm , after lunch, make an aperture at where the stem was, and then gleefully suck it, till the last drop. And she does this every single day.

We have had lots of grapes, citrus fruits, melons, watermelons, not to speak of those fruits which have made a sneak entry due to , say, globalisation. We get to see the results of various hybrid melons, something that looks like a honey dew melon fron outside but is a watermelon from inside. The local rodside fruit vendor sneers down his nose when someone calls a kiwi a chikoo, and gets to see an open mouth, once he tells us the price. Chinese pears, New Zealand apples , and apples from God knows where, individually wrapped in nylon netting (at a suitable enhanced price).

Its entertaining to see people drive by congested lanes, and order so much of this bourgoise fruit, that they have to employ someone to lug it to their air conditioned cars; its a status thing to buy mangoes ONLY by the crate; and the more polished, labelled, and packed the apple, the more impresive it is to buy it.

I use to often wonder , how my fruitwalla (fruit vendor to non -indians) could afford to stock this stuff. i never knew there was such a huge market for it.

Yet, at the end of the day, there are still folks who argue about the price of bananas, prefer to reduce quantity to keep expenditure constant, and buy grapes with undisguised glee outside the suburban railway stations because they are invariable cheaper there, as always. Fruit vendors know when their bargaining customers come, and the unwritten rule is to keep silent while the kiwi fruit type customers point their fingers at non native fruits and load up their cars.

Little do they know, their globalised shopping habits actually subsidise my purchases, bargains and all.

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