Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pining for a Pineapple

It is so easy to like an apple. You grab one on your way to work from the fruit stall and at lunchtime you go crunch-crunch-crunch over a newspaper. Almost nine out of ten people like mangoes. I have seen people grow out of their jeans eating mangoes in the scorching Indian summers. Mangoes are the only solace when the tropical sun gets vapours out of your skin. Liking a banana is also one of those really common things but it takes men and women of character to like certain fruits.
I always wonder about the first man ever to discover that jackfruit is edible. I think he must have possessed sainthood of gigantic proportions to be able to see past the skin and the thorns and believe that there must be something inside that he could eat! Or he must have been really desperate for food.
Somehow I totally respect people who like Kiwis as well. I am intrigued by their desire to find something edible behind a brown ball that looks like an alien in its early stages of evolution. Some fruits are just so much work!
As a kid I always prayed that I could get a seedless watermelon. It is such a pain to eat one and throw the seeds out. There is a great joy however in saving the seeds in your mouth and spitting them out in a spray. ( The author must confess that this was an oft practiced ritual in the Keskar household and it has got nothing to do with the author’s upbringing). Papaya is another fruit that tests your superficiality.
I never thought that the juicy pineapple fell into the second category. I love pineapple.
It is such an exotic fruit! Crunchy and sweet with no seeds! Sounds like a fruit-lover’s dream come true.
In India, I had seen only two states of pineapple. The first being when it sits in the market in a cane basket, with it’s crown and scales, being advertised as a honey-soaked-piece of heaven( Yes, fortunately I was not one of those American kids who think Pineapple comes from a can). The second stage was when it sat on my plate, which the maid brought in at around four in the afternoon everyday in order to tick the box labelled “fruits” in my diet chart. :)
So when I saw a plump pineapple in the supermarket the other day, I jumped in joy and said “yey” in my fake little-girl-voice. My room-mate Riju tried to warn me of the probable knife mishaps we could have buying a pineapple at this stage in our lives but I defended my stand by telling her that even students deserve pineapples!

We got it home and let it stay in the fridge for a day. Today afternoon I walked the river walk with near romantic ideas about the pineapple. I remember giving a serious thought to the thickness of each slice, and the amount of pepper that would be required to get it sweet and spicy at the same time. I even thought about a suitable bowl to arrange the slices in so that when Riju comes home, she gets to pick them elegantly and have them as we have the “How Was Your Day?” talk.
When I got home I could hardly keep my hands off the pineapple. So I made a cup of tea and got down to work in between sips. At first I tried to cut it with the biggest knife. It kept slipping off the scales. So I thought maybe I need something sharper and I got another one. In my desperation to make things work I forced it in and then it refused to come out of the fruit. I banged the whole assembly on the sink and the pineapple was thrown off the knife a bit unceremoniously. I gathered it again and decided to get back to it after a few sips of tea. When I got back, I was equipped with two smaller knives and a peeler ( God knows why I included the $2 peeler in the army). So when I finally worked the procedure out it had numerous steps involving all the four knives put up for the job .I had to take care not to waste any fruit on the peel because if Riju got to know that there was more than three millimetre of pulp on the skin in the waste basket she would go down to the very last cent I had put to waste.

I finished slicing it up after a good forty-five minute long fight and when I did I had juice running down my elbows. I was triumphant though that after so much of hard work at least I get to eat my favourite fruit. I decided to let it cool till I finish with my jog.
I set out to jog and I felt like the whole of Brisbane was eclipsed by a pineapple juice leak. Everything smelled of pineapple. Pretty women crossing roads it seems had just had pineapple showers. My earphones smelled like they just had a pineapple snack. The river was not water! It was pineapple juice with ferries on it!
I figured that eventually my sweat would overpower all that sweet pineapple fever in the air but even my sweat smelled like pineapple!
I realized halfway through the jog that the skin on my knee was suddenly stiff. Being a hypochondriac I thought maybe I had suffered from a scraped knee without falling down but a bit of investigation led me to some dried pineapple juice that was slowly making my joint immobile!
On my way back the coffee shops smelled like they were selling pinacoladas in their coffee mugs. It seemed like the whole world was “Glad-Wrapped” with pieces of pineapple and cut off completely from the rest of the Universe.
When I entered the kitchen Riju was sitting at the table like this eager rabbit eating a slice of pineapple I left in the fridge. When she saw me she looked at me with evident pride for standing by my words and giving her the juicy pineapple that all poor graduate students deserve. She held out a cheesy yellow slice in her hand and I found myself saying, “ Oh no! I am sick of it”!


Ameya said...

good one!!
I could imagine u with the knifes and the peelers and also with the stiff knee!!
Co-incidentally enough,a third type of pineapple, the one peeled of its thorny covering by the fruit seller, sits in my fridge today waiting for me to go and cut it into slices and eat it :)

शिरीष said...

This was a wonderful narration! Could see you from frame to frame.Yes you have an original thought about Jack fruit,Kiwi!
....but it takes men and women of character to like certain fruits. This I liked the most.Liking of certain fruits I think also explains the personality of that person.
Spitting out the seeds of watermelon stored in mouth followed by your witty comment made me remember everthing realated.

Your what I should say but the appropriate word would be Joonun(जूनून)about the Pineapple with the melodramatic end is simply superb!
Hats off to you.

sameer said...

well an obsession for fruits itself does define a personality..but i feel 'CHARACTER' is very heavy a word,to be used for defining a person on his fruit of choice.
just 2 remind u'll,fruits remain the lightest of food available for even the heaviest of people on earth. so guys lets not affiliate such fun-to-have items with heavy words.
ofcourse the write up remains pretty heavy(bhari) despite having lighter(barik) saee[;)]
in fact i got worried in the middle of the write up whether u have hurt urself in ur war of stripping the pineapple[;)]..thankfully u were safe at the end[:)]
i suggest u try grapes next time..we'l be relieved back here in india wat say every1??hehe[:)] take care my smart angel[:p]

Saee said...

LOL@ Sam..yeah I guess I put a bit too much character in the post. :P
Nice comment. :) You rock!
@ baba
Thanks baba..we better keep the seed sprays hush-hush or aai will be after us!!
@ Ameya
Youre always the best!
Love you guys.:)

neha said...

first of all ..a great title ..that word pining is just perfect !...bhari ahe ha blog :)
after reading this blog i remembered something funny which my dad had told me ....my mom had this craving for pineapples and every time they used to buy one it turned out to be extremely sour. it was impossible to eat that without sugar infact even after adding a good amount of sugar it was impossible so aai used to make this 'pineapple paak' something similar to 'muramba' and 'sakharamba' and poor baba had to finish it ...but my aai never gave up buying a pineapple ( tila vataycha ya velela tari god nighel )...and by default it was never sweet and there were more 'pineapple paaks'...till date my dad is soo scared of that fruit hahaa ...me tyanna ha blog nakki denare vachayla

Saee said...

@ Neha..
LOL God..your story sounds freakishly similar. In our house this happens to mangoes. I never ate mangoes with relish so my aai used to make something that can be called "condensed mangoes" God!! You could light up the whole of Brisbane for two nights with the kind of energy and effort she wasted on getting that pulp and it used to sit in the freezer for ages. Then when some influential or important people came for dinner mazi aai to "thevnitla" gola kadhun sheera/milkshake/amrakhanda karaychi. :)
Our moms are so similar!

Aparajita said...

Nice to see that little things can make you feel so happy.
i am indeed pleased. :)

and oh by the way, even i have wondered about the jackfruit :)

Saee said...

@ Aparajita
Thanks for the comment I am sorry to reply late because I did not check my earlier blogs in a while. :)