Friday, December 23, 2005

Salad for lunch?

One of the things I really like about Lahore is that you're never very far from something good to eat.

I walked out of the hospital this afternoon and a few steps away was a man selling guavas off a donkey cart. I went over and asked him how much.

"How many do you want?" he asked back, looking bored.

"Two," I said. One was too little and would probably have him snorting at me for wasting his time. Three was too much - only crazy people eat so much fruit. Besides, it didn't look particularly clean and I wasn't too keen on spending an evening cramped over in colic and diarrhea. Two, therefore, was a good number. One for me and one for later.

"Half a kilo for ten rupees," he announced.

"Alright, half a kilo then," I instructed him, trying to look gruff but suddenly delighted at the bargain.

"Choose the ones you want," he said, unimpressed by my act.

I picked out three large ones and tossed them on to the scales. Not enough. I handed him two more. Still not enough.

"You can put one more in," he suggested.

He rolled a small one on to the scales and watched them finally dip.

In ordinary circumstances the thought of eating six raw guavas in a single go would be considered ludicrous but greed and the thrill of a bargain gives you a strange appetite.

He emptied the fruit into a bowl and deftly cut it up into quarters. Then, slicing an orange, he squeezed its juice on to the pieces of guava. Finally he sprinkled some rock salt over the fruit, shook the bowl vigorously to mix and handed its contents to me in a small shopping bag.

It was delicious. And nutritious.

And nothing ever happened.

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