The Weighty Come down

Vector illustration of vendor pushing vegetable cart.


Couple of years back one of my friends complained that the vegetable vendors visiting her road refused to sell 1/4Kg of any vegetable to her. She being a loner and not believing in storing them in her refrigerator lest they lose their nutrients did not want to buy more than a 1/4Kg of each variety. Thus she had to face the sneers and snubs of the vendors.

But now the prices have shot up so much- doubled, trebled, quadrupled…… that the sellers themselves have become aware of the fact that if they were to empty their merchandise they better dispense the quantity the consumer demanded. Earlier in their disdain, they would not only not carry the standard 1/4kg weight, they would even bring a stone from the roadside and claim it to be 1/4kg. But now it being a buyer’s market they are forced to carry one. While cucumber used to be quoted at 5 for Rs 20, they are now willing to sell them piecemeal.

I remember those good old days when vegetable sellers in Delhi would dish out freebies such as a handful of green chillies or a bunch of coriander leaves along with the vegetables bought. Of course, we never came across such generosity on part of the South Indian sellers. On the other hand we were rudely asked not to touch their vegetables more so with the left hand lest their sales suffered then on. If one were to dig one’s nails into a cucumber or broke the tip of the ladies’ finger (okra) to test their freshness or maturity, it would be calamity and a permanent full stop to the seller-consumer dynamics.

Now it is a moody market. If tomatoes are sold one day for Rs 50-80 per Kg, another day it would be strewn on the roads next to the village farms as the transportation charges to the town market would far exceed the price they would fetch there. Of course, the Spanish festival Tomatino is beginning to find flavor with India after the movie ‘Zindagi nahi milegi(a) dubaara’.

Another thing that has found flavor with Indians is Capsicum or Bell pepper as they are known abroad. When Pizzas were introduced in India, the farmers made a good profit out of the growing demand for the vegetable.

I have a vegetable vendor who takes a big load of fresh vegetables on his cart every day early morning without shouting his wares. In fact, he sneaks past our houses pushing his cart without making any sound as the vegetables are probably meant for a posh colony where he is guaranteed a better return for his goods. If I happen to see him and stop him, he dishes out the items with such a bad grace (as refusing to sell to the first customer does not augur well for his further sales that day) that I get a vicarious thrill making him stop and sell the vegetables to me.

Who knows a time may come when vegetables like beans and ladies finger also would be sold at a rate per piece instead of in fractions of Kgs?












Cartoon Characters Swimming


The other day in a resort in Kodugu where we had gone for a week long holiday, an elderly lady expressed a desire to get into the pool though she did not know swimming. Her daughter who owned a full body swimsuit lent it to her so that she could have some fun in water. The younger lady used to don the full swimsuit as she was allergic to sun and ultraviolet rays. Nobody had any objection to the suit as it was health based. Then I wondered why all the furor by associating such a suit with religion, calling it ‘Burkini’ and linking it to  the highly religion-associated costume ‘ Burkha’ and to the  fanaticism and asking for its ban in the pools of the developed world?

Men have an easy thing wearing the universal trunk. The problem arises when we women get into water. Our mothers would take religious baths in rivers and ponds in their 9 yard sarees. Half the saree would be tied around and the rest floating. Apart from standing in a shallow area their upper body would hardly be under water. They would just have a ritual dunking of their heads in the water, their fingers tightly pinching their noses to prevent water getting in.  But, if they were to get into the swimming pools, would they have chosen to do so in ‘madisaar-kini’ or ‘mel kacche –kini’? Just a thought!

When I started going for swimming, my mother-in law asked me naively, ‘What do you wear while swimming?’  Probably she thought I would be modest enough to wear a saree or a petticoat with a dupatta for the upper body. She was quite taken aback when I told her that I wear a single piece swimsuit. She was polite enough though not to reveal her mental shock. People forget that one can look more sexy and ‘revealing’ in a wet saree than in a practical swim suit as proved by many of our film heroines.

Bathing in rivers is quite different to swimming in a pool. Apart from the fashion statements, a swimsuit is highly practical allowing free movement of limbs. Wearing a bikini like the world class swimmers though does not guarantee a world class standard of skill.

Of course, when one is not interested in the exercise resulting from serious, brisk swimming, one can just hang around the pool wearing attractive bikinis which I have noticed quite a few young girls indulge in.

Swimming is a unique experience. Water is a totally different  element where one experiences wonderfully  the gravity being countered by buoyancy. Aquatic exercises are particularly advised for Rheumatoid Arthritis patients. One can start teaching swimming even to toddlers; earlier the better.

I feel the medical benefit and pleasure one derives from swimming is more important than what one wears to get it. One should be allowed to wear what one feels like. Nobody should make unnecessary religious associations and go to the extent of getting it banned. So long as one doesn’t get into the water in street soiled clothes, the pool authorities should not bother as to what one wears (or doesn’t wear as in some cases).

Let’s hope that with Burkini, there will be a revolution in the field of women’s swimwear- shalwar-kini, jeans-kini, leotard-kini, dhoti-kini !

Illustration courtesy illustrations of. com