Saturday, September 24, 2016

Two worlds

The whole house smells wonderful tonight. J has been preparing for cooking an Indian dish, spending almost three-quarters of an hour chopping, slicing, roasting, grinding, and then laying out the results in little platters on the counters. The overall effect is of a miniature banquet, totally at odds with the fact that these small treasures will soon be obliterated of their individual identities when they go into the making of a new dish.

It's at times like this that we miss that big old market we used to live close to in Bangalore. Set on both sides of a long, shady street, it would begin at sunrise and carry on to just after sunset. Sometimes we would wake up early, gather a few bags, and walk down. Now they mostly sold to wholesalers, so this resulted in a little bit of amusement when I timidly asked for only three lemons or a single tiny bunch of coriander. (One time the lady, with a gap-toothed grin, just gave me an extra fistful of green chilies for free. She was clearly unsatisfied by my paltry request for a mere bunch.) My rudimentary Kannada earned me many points, however, as did J's rudimentary Hindi.

I remember one occasion when, overcome by the beauty and freshness of the produce, J and I simply went overboard. We could barely return home with our purchases, so heavy were our bags. I had bought mangoes, limes, curry leaf, ginger in great quantities, some bunches of tiny local finger-sized bananas which I could never do without, and a great heap of creamy jasmine blossoms. When we got home, I arranged most of this on the dining table. The mangoes, plump and heavy, smelled vaguely of rain and were tinted with just the faintest flush of rose pink. (Did we even eat them all, I wonder now, or just gape the rest of the week?)

Today we searched the shelves of a local supermarket. We did find a small bottle of coriander seeds, pouncing on it gladly. I experienced the usual odd, juxtaposed feeling of existing in two places at once: One half of my brain was back in that market under the trees, the other was in this Southern California market with its hand-sanitizers and its hybrid fruit and gluten-free what-nots.

1 comment:

Friend said...

How lovely! I miss it all. J would labour in the kitchen while the rest hovered around :)

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