BANGALORE: Yes, it’s that time of the year when the words ‘sunny and warm’ do not bring a smile on your face. The scorching sun has not spared the city of Bangalore otherwise known for its ‘cool’ and ‘pleasant’ weather even during summer. With rain gods being stingy this year and temperatures soaring, Bangloreans are ‘hot under the collar’ these days. However, nature has its own way of balancing things. Juicy, pulpy, and mouth-watering summer fruits are here to cool us off and boy, are we glad!
The usual green cover of the city is replaced by a green of another kind; watermelons piled on the roadsides of Bangalore is now a common sight. Whether whole, cut, plain, salted or spiced, watermelons are the most relished buys of summer. The cool, refreshing fruit forms an important part of the diet.
Watermelon seller Muniswamy, who sources watermelons from Tamil Nadu, dedicates every summer to sell only watermelons at Chamrajpet and makes a tidy profit of about `400 per day. He says the produce is higher compared to last year but the prices have gone up as the demand is high. Muniswamy isn’t worried about wastage as he cuts up the very ripe ones and sells it for `10 apiece. A kilogram of watermelon costs about `15. Incidentally, watermelons grow and thrive well in warmer parts of the country. They have a cooling effect, are low in calories and very nutritious. The green cover protects the rich red juicy flesh inside which has the properties of a powerful antioxidant.
If watermelons are here then the musk melons can’t be far behind. Musk melons may not be as popular as their bigger cousins but are in great demand every summer. The Rama Navami festival last Sunday saw hoards of melons consumed in the form of a sweet drink Panaka. Raju, who owns a HOPCOMS in Jayanagar has been doing brisk business of fruits especially watermelons and musk melons this year. He is selling about `7,000-8,000 worth fruits per day. This includes other fruits like sweet lime (Mosambi) and grapes.
The Belada Hannu (Wood Apple), however, has seen a decline in sales this year, says Raju. The fruit that heralds the arrival of Ram Navami has ironically no takers. Very few traditionalists still use this fruit to make the Panaka drink during the festival. People have switched over to melons or use lime, he says.“Come summer, sale of fruits go up. People have been spending more than ever on fruits,” he cheerfully says. Manolasya, a doctor and a regular fruit buyer, says that she spends more than usual on fruits during summer. Her usual take-homes are watermelons, musk melons and sweet limes. Fruit juices are the best option to beat summer, she says.
Another fruit that has a niche clientele is the Asian Palmyra Palm (Toddy Palm) colloquially called Thati ningu. A regular Thati ningu is hard on the outside like a coconut; on the inside are three translucent juicy white pulps protected by a thick cream covering. Murugesh, a Thati ningu seller at Gandhi Bazaar, says that the fruit is available only in March and April.
Murugesh has been selling Thata ningu for two months a year for the last six years. He says that people love this fruit as it is not exotically priced and healthy.