I remember so well – those vegetable shopping trips to the South Mada Street in Mylapore and in the Thani thurai market near Sanskrit college, Mylapore. Two markets near my home and we get absolutely anything to do with cooking and of course flowers, too. Also, there was a small shop which sells the salted peanuts fried to perfection in hot sand – OMG, that smell will just hook me and drag me to the shop.
I used to tag along with my amma or my patti, especially to carry the load of veggies, we buy for a week. And so we get to munch a carrot or radish or a lady’s finger, while trying to balance the bags – one on the shoulder (the long strap one) and the other in the hand. I also used to get an additional bonus of 25 paise for buying peanuts, which I used to munch while walking back home with 2 heavy bags.
With my mom, it’s a more technical shopping – she’ll buy the root vegetables first and put it in. Then the tomatoes and other soft stuff on top, to avoid the crushing of soft ones. So, one bag will surely be more heavier, with all the root veggies in it.
I learnt a lot – to choose the tender ones, to look for skin color in some veggies, check for worms…so many other things and of course, with it, the art of Bargaining.
Isn’t bargaining an art by itself ??? While I watched my amma and patti bargaining so well, I’ve also seen my appa, pay the amount they ask. We had all sorts of people at home.
Elumichai pazham eppadi ???? How much are the lemons ???
Pathu roobaikku naalu. 4 for 10/-
Anju kudaen. Give 5 na.
Athalleam kattu padi aagadhu ma. All those won’t work out fine.
Amma will pester and talk some more and convince some more, till she gets 5 for 10/-
I was enthralled at this conversation. I thought that this is the way I should shop. Those people always raised the prices and its our job to bargain and reduce the price, before buying, was my idea.
Then slowly, I was sent on my own to buy things. I was first hesitant to bargain. And the vendors too thought that what this little girl will know about bargaining. How wrong were they ??? I did bargain and got the veggies at a lesser rate than he told. And that was only the beginning.
I loved those talks – the bargains – me and the vendor used to have great conversations, while bargaining – starting from the economic policy of the country due to which the prices are sky-rocketing to the farm from which he gets his greens. I used to love them all.
The bargaining went for anything – even when I used to buy those accessories for my dresses, in those countless platform shops in and around Luz Corner – those lovely handbags – the stylish chappals – those dolls, which we used to keep in the Bommai Kolu during Dussherra.
Then slowly came in the culture of supermarkets in Chennai and Food World caught everyone by surprise. I started loving those trips to the supermarkets, where you get everything under one roof, in a much cleaner environment than the South Mada Street vegetable shop. But there was one thing that disturbed me – I couldn’t bargain here – I had to buy it at the cost displayed – even the vegetables were neatly packed and sealed and priced. The most horrendous thing was I had to pay for my curry leaves and coriander. That was too much for me – all along, when we bought vegetables in those Mylapore markets, we always get the curry leaves and coriander for free. That was a happy moment, when the shopkeeper acknowledges the fact that you’ve chosen his shop among many and made some business for him. And we are happy with the free coriander – can make some good chutney at home.
Then slowly and slowly the super-market culture grew over me and I stopped visiting those markets, but still they have a special place in my heart. Even today, I go to South Mada Street, to buy some delicacy like mavadu (those small raw mangoes). It’s the best only in those markets.
Now a days, I go to the super market, in my apartment, to choose the veggies or better still, the lazy one in me, calls the super market to home deliver the veggies. I’ve actually forgotten the art of bargaining…wherever we go it’s a fixed price shop right.
But, we do love the SALES, where the prices drop and we get to buy more for the same money. :) ;) I think its human tendency.
Today morning, when I bought the veggies, the lady gave me coriander and curry leaves for free…WOW, I was reminded of my veggie shopping days and endless bargaining.
So, do u love those open markets, where you can buy and bargain and converse too ??? Or has the super-market bug, bit you too ???? ;)