Monday, April 16, 2012

How to pick an orange

The process of buying oranges is really traumatic. I think of all the problems I have faced in my life, the dissatisfaction that is caused due to having to eat an off orange is the worst. I know I sound like I am overreacting but I am not. I have eaten enough off oranges to know that whatever I feel makes perfect sense. You know, orange is one of those devious fruits that has the ability to make you feel remarkable vulnerable and helpless. It is like a little slice of life itself. You never know if the orange you pick up at the supermarket is going to be good. There is no guarantee. And even if you take that chance, of buying something based on say, instinct (or undying hope), there is still a significant effort on your part to be made before you can consume it. Peeling an orange is not something I enjoy doing. Usually, I cook for my best friend Elodie as an exchange for getting all my oranges peeled.

 The feeling you get when you spend those seven minutes of your time carefully peeling the fruit, getting an occasional squirt of essential oils in your eyes that makes you weep and then, finding out that the orange is off is really enraging! Some oranges are downright sour. Some are downright dead (the ones that make you feel like you are eating 100 % fiber). It is easy to forgive those two kinds. But I get really mad when the orange is just past its prime. You can taste the hint of sugar it had but it is not longer there, which kind of teases you. It makes you feel like this perfect little orange was waiting for you all this while, but you only decided to pick it when it lost all its enthusiasm. The orange has sort of moved on, gone ahead without you to attain whatever fruit moksha it is destined to attend. 

I observed that Elodie always picks the good ones of the lot. So I tried to ask her if there are any rules that I should follow to get a good orange. I should tell my readers at this point that she is French. So she told me a few things (using her arms, her eyes and her shoulders more than words). Then every time I went grocery shopping with her, I realized that she changed her rules slightly. When I tried to audit her on this, she declared that picking a good orange is a combination of science and art. I usually give up when people bring me to the interface of science and art. I tried to follow her rules when I went shopping by myself but every single time, I came back home with a bunch of sad, off oranges.

Sometimes, my sadness makes me want to give up oranges all together. I don't really need them. I can do without. But then a few days later I feel as if the Universe is doing great injustice to me by depriving me of oranges. It is not so much about the orange as it is about my inability to pick a good one. Then, I let Elodie pick my oranges for me. Things were going fine for a few weeks but then this inescapable feeling of utter and total dependence started creeping into my mind. I wanted to pick my own oranges independently. After all, Elodie is not going to be there forever. There will come a time when I will have to face my own oranges, in their total and complete offness. I tried saying a quick prayer before I chose my orange and then a quick prayer again before I peeled it. But that just made me feel dependent on God. I mean, if I am unwilling to depend on a clearly visible and breathing human being, how then can I let myself depend on a faceless, formless entity (that changes its own rules in every culture and country?).

Then I decided to study the oranges at the supermarket, wondering if their carbon footprint had anything to do with their quality. A number of plausible explanations came to my mind. Maybe the Spanish people were insecure about their economy and so they plucked the oranges too soon so that they could ship them over. Maybe these premature little babies (with their giant carbon footprint) spent a bit too much time in the cold storage. Maybe that led to acceleration of ripening process when they were taken out. (As I was wondering all these things aloud, Elodie informed me that I should either see a biochemist or a psychotherapist.) So I started buying oranges from South America (hoping that their smaller footprint would help, along with the fact that South American countries are not as stressed as Spain). I always ended up buying off oranges.

Then I thought maybe something is wrong on the metaphysical level. Maybe I need to purge my mind of all this hatred and stress I have around the thought of buying oranges. Maybe just thinking more positively about the problem would make it better. So I started believing (with a fanatic certainty) that I had it in me. I had the power to pick a good orange. But my lack of confidence (owing to repeated failure) was making me fall into the same trap again and again. I cleared my mind and started a lot of positive thinking. But you know, positive thinking is really exhausting. You have to stand outside your own mind like a guard. Stopping negative thoughts from entering it. It just made me shut down and crash all the time.

So I started distracting myself with other citrus fruits.

"Grapefruit is good for weight loss! You should just have grapefruit instead. Anyway, it tastes so bad that you don't even have to worry about it being good or bad. There are blood oranges. They are easy to peel and they usually taste okay. Tangerines, tangelos, mandarins! Sky is the limit! This is just for citrus fruits. Imagine venturing out of the citrus fruit domain. Apples never disappoint (but I don't like the crunching noise I make when I eat them). There are so many other fruits!"

 But my mind always comes back to oranges.  I really want to be able to pick a good one and just for one fleeting day, a single fleeting moment, believe that I can pick and enjoy a good orange, all by myself. :)


Abhijit Bhave said...

Ah! Sorry about the oranges! But the good thing is. . Your readers have an interesting blog to read!
In a world of oranges, the blog is sweet, round, orange and tastes great !

Saee Keskar said...

Haha.. thank you. :)

Raj said...

You are tagged. :)

Anonymous said...

Saee Keskar said...

Thank you. But why did you not write your name? :-|

Chaitra said...

A very refreshing post after a very long time.... Loved your post and your spirit as well....
Keep going !!!


Kaustubh Nadkarni said...

humorous... agdich avadla :)