SELLING VEGETABLES IN SHINING INDIA
There was a time when the villages such as Uttarahalli and Konankunte were outside the jurisdiction of Bangalore Municipality as the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike was then known as.
I remember a milk woman who used to come walking all the way from the village in the morning carrying on her head, along with milk, freshly harvested Avrekai (Sema peas) and huge, fleshy tomatoes (all organic) in a shallow wicker basket and deliver it to our house on Bull Temple Road, every day in the season. My mother-in law used to serve her hot, strong, sweet, milky coffee in a silver tumbler. After drinking it, she would freshen herself, rest for a while and head back to her village, again on foot. Both the Avrekai and the tomatoes were free, on the house. There used to be a leisurely pace about the whole transaction.
At that time, even the sellers of vegetables on the streets of Bangalore (mostly women) would carry their ware in flat baskets balanced on their heads with a small cushion made of towel to stabilise it. They had their regular customers and would supply their requirements in absolutely no hurry.
A little later came the vendors with push carts- hired or own, displaying a wider variety of vegetables neatly arranged. Coming in midmorning hours or late afternoons, they would call out their stuff in such loud tones that the housewife or the cooks had all the time to come out, buy what they wanted and pay for it. Even if the housewife went inside to get the money, they had all the patience to wait. Some of the menfolk started selling greens in the mornings by balancing a basket on their cycles. Depending on whether he is pushing the cycle or riding it, the housewife would manage to catch him and make purchases.
But, of late, with India taking on extra shine, a man, obviously more affluent (could be the grower himself) comes selling greens on a motorbike. Catching him is really a very complicated matter. When he rides his bike up the road, the noise the engine makes and the speed at which he goes, it is well-nigh impossible to catch him. When he comes down the road, probably with the engine switched off to save petrol, there is a slight chance of catching up with him. Even then I have to adjust my co-ordinates to synch with his and tune and time my voice to shout exactly in the instant he crosses my gate. Even if I miss by a second, he will be far gone, beyond my physical capabilities to catch him.
But what baffled me more one day was onions and potatoes being sold on a moving one tonner! With their driver away from our vision and the assistant’s calling muffled by the sound of the vehicle, how do they expect us, the consumers, to spot them beforehand and stop them in time to make purchases?
Recently floating markets have opened up (like Dal lake ones?) to make vegetable purchasing an aquatic pleasure.
In the dazzling shine India has acquired, I would not be surprised if the vegetables are sold in aerial vehicles in the near future catering to the multi-storied flats at their own level, like aerial fuelling of aeroplanes in flight.