THE WEIGHTY COME DOWN
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?