Honour in Strawberry picking

It was a perfect summer morning. We were driving from somewhere to somewhere in California. This big signboard was significant enough to grab and hold the attention of folks in the car. STRAWBERRY PICKING.

In no particular hurry to get anywhere the mind didn’t need any effort to get enticed to alight and set afoot to do some picking. Strawberry picking !

It’s got some level of physical activity for all in the family. For the kids to run around. For the adults to run after the kids. For adults to become kids. And for kids to chase the new found adult kids. In between, of course, plucking and heaping up strawberries in small containers.

There were very few instructions to follow. This board illustrated all that was needed to be done. Which was as elaborate as : Come here : Go pick : Come back & Weigh : Pay up : Go !

Pick we did. With some gusto. Any first timer could have mistaken us for folks that have never seen strawberries before or for folks that have been kept restrained for long. Slowly the baskets kept filling. The red strawberries glistened to the background sounds of cars and big Harleys whooshing by, which in themselves were dwarfed by the shrieks of joy in finding a bigger strawberry !

Soon we were done. There was enough energy left in the nieces to pluck the entire strawberry. It was us adults, who were tired. And folks like me still calibrating the dollar-rupee equation and wondering how much we would have plucked for !

That brought me face to face with the ‘honour till’ as they call it. The concept is simple again. It goes like this.

a. You bring in the strawberries that you have plucked

b. You weigh them yourself

c. You calculate how much to pay

d. You open the till ( ‘cash box’, as is better known in our part of the world )

e. You pay the money

There is no ‘cashier’. In fact, no one from the store is around. There are no cameras. Nothing. The folks just trust you to weigh correctly and pay appropriately. Guess what, we lived up to their trust, in right earnest. Paying to the last dime. That perhaps is the model. Trust people to pay and they will ! That was interesting. To say the least.

Its about a month ago that we did all of this. The rain drenched Mumbai air provides a distinctly different flavor to the senses. Much different and much enjoyable too. Yet, dipping into memories of red berry dotted rows of green, is done with no difficulty.

The days when adults became kids and kids remained kids are not days that are forgettable. The expanse of nature and the fresh clean best complimented by an expanse in the trust of the ‘honour till’. The clean blue skies and the fresh stillness of farmland only to be punctuated by those shouts of joy from such adorable nieces.

Well, some memories are truly priceless.

The fruits of labour

There is something about whats available by the street, that excites the taste buds. Lets leave alone the samosas, jalebis and such else. Those deep fried grenades. That will sit two minutes on the lips, and blast into fragments that etch a permanent place on the hips.
This blog advocates healthy living and healthier eating !

So, Lets stick to, good for the body stuff : Fruits ! The varieties of fruits that are available for a roadside snack, is not only mind boggling but also, mouth wateringly awing.

For you could choose from Apples to Oranges. From Jack fruits to Mangoes. And from sweet ripe mangoes to unripe sour ones. And many more.

The mind wonders how it is with you. If you lay all these fruits side by side, and you were to pick one, which one would you choose ?

Ask that question in a MBA class and in nine cases out of ten, the answer begins with a ‘it depends’. And dependencies will stretch from global warning to Bernanke to Osama Bin Laden !

Lets leave that aside. And think, which one would you choose ?

Well, actually…. hmm…it depends. On the weather. On the mood. On what was had before. On what is to be had just after. And so on. Hmm. The MBA types with their ‘it depends’ seem to have a point. After all !

My all time favourite though is this. Cut (artistically so). Salted. A little bit of chilly powder. Throw in some winter chill. Ooh my mouth is watering already.

In my ‘wonder years’, three slices of unripe mangoes came for a rupee. Of course salted with garnished with a dash of chilly powder. Of course, it was forbidden. By ‘authorities’ at home. And at school.

Of course, it was mentioned that it was unhealthy. Flies and ‘exposed’ food were topics discussed. In all classes. Including moral science ! (yes, we had a class called ‘Moral Science!’).

Of course, the security guards at school, would whack your behind if they spotted you any close to the mango vendor.

But then, that was the most delicious of fruits. For it came by saving up those small five paisa, ten paisa and 25 paisa coins. With a sprinkling of labour !

Of distracting the attention of security guards enough to sneak out and buy. Through pacts with others for a share of the bounty.

Some of it was redistributed. Never for money. But for the odd favour, like a deal with the boy who sat in the first row to carry an extra pencil for me. Always! And of course, there were girls. I leave it there.

After a while it all became boring. For, whats to be done exactly to distract the security guards was known. The negotiation with the vendor was fairly straight. So, pronto, the only thing that needed to be done, was to induct others into doing it.

The other day, a slice of cut mangoes caught the attention of the camera. A flood of thought came rushing back. It was sweet. And sour !

For along with the lip smacking taste, came the lessons: Maths. Thrift. Saving. Marketing. Distribution. Positioning. Induction. Team Working. Oh boy. That sounds like one heck of a MBA curriculum.

It disturbs me. To think, that i went through two years of studying a formal MBA after having gone some distance with it in class three!