Vegetable shopping

Once, during my winter vacations, my grand-mother sent me downstairs to buy some vegetables. I knew nothing about veggies of course but her reassuring face hovered above from the balcony as she said she would point out the fresh ones from the rest. So I skipped down the stairs to catch the vegetable cart. Once I got to the bottom, I realized that he had started wheeling the cart away and was already at the end of the block. As I climbed up again, my grand-mother chided me

Why didn’t you call out for him to stop?

But I did! I kept shouting out ‘Bhajeewala! Bhajeewala!‘ but he didn’t stop!

Oh you silly child! They are called Sabzeewalas!

What? But he is a Bhajeewala, why should I call him anything else?

That’s just to you silly Mumbai people. Look he is back! Go get me some potatoes and onions

So off I went again. I returned in a huff bearing the bulging bags of potatoes and onions.

Your Delhi people don’t know anything! I asked him for ‘Aadha kilo kanda-aadha kilo batata‘ and he looked at me like I was an alien! I had to pick up each vegetable and stand around till he figured I needed bags to carry them up!

My grandmother just smiled and told me that I was looking for aaloo (not batata) and pyaaz (not kaanda). I gave up the argument. How do Delhi-ites ever manage to eat?! I suppose the problem is solved by the new retail habit that my family and friends have acquired.

Big air-conditioned stores that stock multiple varieties of neatly labeled ‘baby potatoes’ and ‘shallots’. To be loaded into shiny plastic baskets and dumped into shop-name-bearing bags. With a smart uniformed assistant to ring up the cash register.

But can they match the sheer aesthetics of this?


Wah…muuh mein paani aa gaya! And that’s the same thing in Hindi or Bambaiyya!

3 Comments so far

  1. Viewer (unregistered) on December 24th, 2007 @ 9:41 am

    Awesome shot ! And yeah seriously how do Delhites manage to eat? I mean common shopping must be a tedious task :)

  2. Mahesh Narkar (unregistered) on December 26th, 2007 @ 4:36 pm

    Wow, what a lovely photo.
    I completely agree — what else can you call a bhaajiwala or kanda or batata, but bhaajiwali, kanda or batata?

    The airconditioned environs and the prepackaged bhaajis may be cool, but how can it ever compare to the “kya bhai, thodisi aur kothmir dena to” or “do rupaye ka masala dena (kothmir, mirchi, adrak and lasun)” :-)

  3. TRADERJANKI (unregistered) on January 4th, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

    i just came back to new york after vacation in bombay and while it’s nice to go to one place (i.e. a grocery store) for all your cooking ingredients, you are right about the aesthetics of the veggies and fruits that are sold outside, under the sun…

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