This morning I went to the supermarket to get some vegetables and miscellaneous grocery stuff. I must have looked really clueless standing on the vegetable isle as an elderly man looked at me with pitiful eyes and said, “Don’t take the ones that are bruised. Look for perfect yellow skin with no brown stains. The green ones wont have any juice. They are ‘kacchcha’“. He was describing to me which lemons I should pick from the massive pile laid in front of us.
I put down the pair I had casually scooped out to put in my basket and started looking for a few that would match his description. But it was no mean feat- every time I thought I’d found one flawless lemon, the last turn showed a brown scar which made my shopping mentor shake his head in disapproval. After a while, he joined the search and realising the supermarket may have run out of flawless lemons on this fateful day, offered me 4 lemons out of the 8 he had carefully picked for himself. I refused to take them saying, he must have taken them because he needed them. But he insisted he’ll come back tomorrow and look for more perfect lemons – 4 would be ok for him today. I thanked him about a zillion times as I took them and put them in my basket and we went different ways to finish our shopping.
It was only a small act of kindness and for something as unimpressive as lemons but it did go a long way to make me feel welcome in Bangalore. It felt like a sign that I will probably not have much trouble fitting in. It confirmed my notion that people in the south are very hospitable and generous. He also reminded me of my grandfather. With a dot on his forehead from some religious ceremony and lungi clad medium stature and skinny frame, physically he was very different from my grandfather but his kind gesture was what made them alike. For a brief moment it felt like I was spending time with grandad like when he used to show me how to plant different kinds of flower plants in our farm house.
I came home and started making myself a sprouts salad- I was starving. As I held a lemon between the knife and my fingers, they felt special. Handpicked after careful scrutiny through the thick glasses of an elderly gentleman who decided to give his prized selection to a clueless girl in the supermarket.
Day 1 in Bangalore, sure gave me the warm fuzzy feels.