Omiyage

Monsoon in the Sahyadris is an interesting experience. It helps that it’s a quick trip: planned in a week, over in a night or two. You can wedge it into any part of a week that’s relatively free. On our way back from the ghats, we saw locals at stalls by the highway selling vegetables and fruits. They have a freshness that you seldom see at the far end of cold chains that reach us. So we bought veggies in quantities large enough to distribute to family and friends: a perfect omiyage from a trip to walk between rice paddies looking for wildflowers. I’m a little lost about what we bought: there’s a lauki (bottle gourd) visible in the upper right corner of my photo. Then, going diagonally down to the lower left corner, we see in succession a bunch of torai (ridge gourd), then a smoother skinned cousin which, I’m told is also called torai, followed by the warty karela (bitter melon), and the common as mud kheera (cucumber). There’s also a leaf there which I must have eaten, but cannot identify.

I’ve given you the names of these vegetables in Hindi, but as a bilingual family living in a state where most people speak a third language, we use a khichree of words for produce. The word kheera, for example, is replaced by kakri, which is Marathi for cucumber (oh yes, we do use English for some of the produce), mainly because that’s the word you need to use when you shop here. It has stopped occurring to me that kakri meant something completely different in the part of the country where I grew up. If you know these veggies, what do you call them?

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By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

16 comments

  1. Lower right looks like a zucchini. The red stems & green/yellow leaves look like young Swiss chard. I recognized the bitter melon even though I have never eaten it, nor seen it locally where I live in Southern California.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha.. I.J a light post. And greeny at that. To start with, i would say please look into the image as it probable has mirrored and is reflecting the opposite side of where the veggies should have been.

    You are right, It boggled me the very first time in Mumbai i asked a vegetable seller if Kakri comes here(this part of the country) and he directed me towards Kheera, on telling me the third time I told him ‘tumhe pata hi nahi hai kheere Kakri ka’ and left. Only later … But yes, always interesting in feeling to have known something all life to be called completely different. Btw what do they call Kakri ?

    Liked by 1 person

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