A tale of three mothers and a vegetable seller

The mother of Satish the vegetable-wallah
I am back from a lovely but hectic trip of Hong Kong and Kolkata. There's lots that I want to write about but I thought I will start with a story from our house.

My mom in Law

My mom in law has recently sprained her ankle and we have requested her to stay with us and rest her foot. She's also trying to lose weight, as advised by the doctor, and is going to extremes by eating only half a watermelon through the day. Dieting is a new concept for her you see.

Last evening, when I returned from yoga, I asked her if she had eaten anything in the evening.

"No," she said with a tearful face, "I am very hungry but  the doctor has told me to lose weight so iIhave not eaten."

I quickly told her to have her dinner and then gave her ideas of snacks to have in between including a version of jhaal muri with muri (kurmura/ rice crisps), finely chopped onion, tomato, cucumber, green chillies, lime juice, channa and a dash of mustard oil with no raw salt (for BP management).

She sounded interested and her eyes lit up when I said she could add channa!

Satish's mom

This morning I stopped in front of a lady, selling vegetables at the corner of our street, to buy cucumbers for the jhaal muri. The lady's face looked familiar.  We have a lot of ladies like these who come to sell fruits, vegetables and fish at our apartment complex in Mumbai's Bandra and she is one of them. I had earlier thought she was a fish seller for some reason.

"Could I have three cucumbers please?" I asked in Hindi.

She took them out, weighed them and said "25 Rs." As I took out the money to pay her, she said, "don't you want dudhi and tinda?"

I certainly didn't want dudhi (gourd) and told her so!

"My son goes to your house to sell vegetables. He used to give 2 doodhis every morning. Now it's stopped."

Suddenly it made sense to me and I asked, "is your son's name Satish?"

"Yes," she replied.

My mother

Well, you see my mother had stayed with us for a couple of months recently. Some of you came over to met her too. 

Unlike me, or my mom in law, my mom follows a strict diet which involves lots of vegetables including the blessed doodhi and karela (bitter gourd), neither of which I touch. Nor does my mother in law.

The day mom came to stay with us, I called in for veggies from Lalu's, our local vegetable seller at Pali Market. They deliver when we call on the phone, which is about once in 10 days!

The next day mom told me that I needn't call from Lalu's. She had apparently found a local vegetable seller who came home, took her order, came back through the morning with veggies for her to examine and then pay after some serious negotiations. "I got a better price and he gives me an item-wise break up," she told me triumphantly.

"Whatever," I mumbled and went off to my room. She always brings out the teenager in me.

And so the routine followed. Every morning I would wake up, freshen up and come to the hall. I would sip a cup of warm water (as advised in yoga class) and look out at the neighbouring Almeida Park though our window, taking in the greenery. I would then have two small bananas, we call them elaichi kela here while mom insisted in calling them 'belchi'. I would then sit down, open our Butsudan (Buddhist shrine) and chant. 

At which time my mother would trundle in (no-one in our family is an early riser and K would still be asleep),  and sit down at the bistro table behind me. She's open her mobile tablet and check her blog stats (!) while she ate a bowl of oats. No words would be exchanged. Just a nod at each other at the most.

The bell would then ring and she would say, "aa rahi hoon"and then slowly go to the open the door. Satish would be waiting outside with a serious and earnest face. I have never seen him smile. Mom would place her order and shut the door while I continued chanting.

The drill was that he would then go and get the vegetables from different places and get them to my mom. I would have left by then to have breakfast and then write at Candies. My mother would insist on paying so I gave up on trying to pay for her veggies.

And so this routine continued for two months. Very different from her earlier visits to my place when my mom would wake up and switch on the TV while I, who needs his peace and calm in the morning, dashed off to work.

Then I stopped going to 'work'. Mom would still switch on the TV in the morning but would now look at me with mix of concern meets reproach, which only a Bengali mother can perfect, and which can be very deflating. I would snatch my laptop and run to Candies as I had just begun to write my book. 

This time things though were a lot calmer at home, and before leaving my mother told me that she is a bit less concerned about me and feels that I might have taken the right path.

She also told me to stick to Satish after she left.

"His stuff is cheaper, and you should eat vegetables every day." 

My mother likes to pack in some advice in every sentence that she utters.

Mom In law and Satish

I went off to Hong Kong and Kolkata for a week or so after my mom left and came back to find another mummy at home, my mom in law, who was earlier giving K company and then sprained her foot.

Thankfully, her advice dispensing is focused on her daughter and she (MIL) and I are hot chocolate drinking buddies while K is trying to get her to diet.

I sat down to chant the morning after I returned from Kolkata when the bell rang.

Satish was back. looking as grim as ever! 

My mom in law, who has a mummy hot-line with my mom, had kept him on it seems!

No volumes of doodhi, tinda and karela  in our orders now though...just the odd lime one day, or bananas, or a cabbage.

Satish's mom

"My son is unmarried," Satish's mother explained to me this morning. He helps me out. He did tell me that he doesn't have to give doodhis to your house any more which is why I asked if you needed some."

"We have stopped ordering doodhi because my mother has left," I replied.

"Oh," she looked sad like the CEO of an agency who has lost their top client.

"Let me take a photo of yours and send to my mother," I said.

Saatish's mom, I forgot to ask her name, fixed her palloo and ditched her warm  smile and made a slightly more serious face while I clicked her and thankfully approved of the picture I took - "achha nikla," - at one take. 

Many women don't.

I like to have my mornings uncluttered and the arrangement with Satish - take our order every morning and then came over various visits through the day with veggies - doesn't really work for me but, perhaps in tribute to the three mothers,  I will stick on for a bit.

I won't order doodhi though!

The link to my mother's blog 


Doodhi can be redeemed with chingri :) I think Bengalis are a lot like Parsis, adding a little meat or fish to liven up the dead boring vegetables.
What a lovely post Kalyan!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
lau chingri as Gopal Bhar would say. Glad you liked the post. Yes, that's why we married them :)