Fruit and Some Practical Observations
Updated: Jan 20, 2020
Julian likes to begin class sessions by asking us to describe one thing we observed or learned the day before. A lot of people offer practical observations – the buses in Bangalore are segregated by gender, with women sitting in the front and men in the rear; cars and auto-rickshaws honk to let you know they’re approaching, not because you’ve done something wrong – that kind of thing. Gavin talked the other day about how Indian convenience stores employ many staffers to assist with your shopping, but none of them wear identifying uniforms.
I talked about the jackfruit tree I’d spotted next to the public restrooms.
It was a great tree – one of many giants that my classmates and I have spotted across Bangalore. Pinky-sized jackfruit too young to have developed spikes hugged the tree’s trunk while spiny fruit larger than watermelons hung far out on branches 20 feet above my head.
I think my mom would have enjoyed seeing that tree. Inspired, she would have driven to Seattle’s International District and bought a jackfruit, along with a case of mangoes and overpriced longan, and set the lot on the dining room table for us to share. When my mom called me up last Saturday to check in, I didn’t tell her about visiting Bangalore Palace, which housed the last maharajah of Mysore state, or about the view from halfway up Nandi Hills (the road to the top was closed for construction that day). I told her about buying “about a baseball cap full” of sapota for 40 rupees and the same amount of longan (called “lychee” here) for 60. (She quickly informed me that most people would describe “about a baseball cap full” of fruit as “a kilogram.”)
Bangalore shares a language, fast food chains, and Under Armour ads of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with the United States. But in this city where so many things could feel familiar, longan has been my connection to home. I’ve thought about this a lot while pulling together ideas for my blog post over the past two days, and the idea that longan makes me feel at home keeps making me smile a little. Both the longan I buy from Lam’s Market back home and the longan sold at the fruit stand down the street here come from Thailand.