Very, Berry Good


I am doing my weekly vegetable shopping; my eyes fall on lovely, green gooseberries.

We Indians pickle gooseberries, grind them into chutneys or eat them raw, with a little salt.

My mouth waters when I see these beautiful berries. I quickly unroll a plastic bag from the dispenser and fill it with gooseberries.

As I stand in the checkout line, I smile as I remember how we loved these small berries as children.

Just outside our school, was a street hawker, who sold all kinds of berries. She was usually seated on a stool in front of a small table, where beautiful triangular mounds of berries called out to young children.

image

              The Indian Jujube
   Courtesy – http://www.maalaimalar.com

The measuring of these berries was done using small metal containers called ‘padis’ – a measuring system that goes back hundreds of years, and which was still prevalent when I was growing up. There were measuring containers of different sizes, each priced accordingly.

image

     The padis used for measurement
       Courtesy – http://www.thehindu.com

The lady usually had an assortment of berries, all in vibrant colours – Naga Pazham (Jamun), Vicki Pazham (a local wild berry), Elantha Pazham (Indian Jujube) and Gooseberries.

We usually bought an assortment for 25p. With our school bags slung on our back, we would receive the berries in our palms, and bite into them lazily, as we took the bus home.

The Naga Pazham usually coated our tongues purple, and we would sometimes pretend that we had worn lipstick, by applying the juice on our lips.

image

                  The Naga Pazham
          Courtesy – http://www.agrifarming.in

The wizened, old lady who sold these berries, was there as long as I can remember. She must have sold thousands of berries to school children over the years.

She did not speak much, but just cackled out the price, when asked. She had a jute bag, under which our coins would disappear. During winter she wore a scarf and a shawl, but she was always there, come rain or shine.

I come back to the present and feel a tingle of anticipation when I think about eating the gooseberries I have bought.

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15 Responses to Very, Berry Good

  1. What a lovely memory. I’m not sure I’ve ever had gooseberries ??

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never eaten a gooseberry. Sounds interesting. Certainly good for memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 2ndhalfolife says:

    I would love to try them……

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aadhirai says:

    Every school has their own version of wizened old lady and so goes for our memories.. 🙂

    Thanks for reminding those sweet (should I say sour 😉 ) memories.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful memories Nimi 😀 We had gooseberries in Denmark too, they thrive in cold weather too. We used to boil them with water and sugar until soft and then serve them with milk, cream or just as they were, very healthy and delicious.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. reocochran says:

    I like different kinds of berries so I know I would find these delicious, Nimi. The pickling of berries intrigues me! I like sweet and sour flavors together. I used to rub strawberries or raspberries on my lips, they did look like lipstick! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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