Mango trees around my house are in full bloom. If all the flowers translate into fruits, there should be a bumper mango crop. I do not get any fruits from the trees that I see but if that is the trend and if there is a bountiful crop this season, mango prices should come within my reach. That is the wishful hope.
Prices of the most favoured variety of mangoes in Goa, the ‘Mankurad,’ usually start at an atrocious two thousand rupees a dozen and as more and more fruits trickle or pour in, (depending on the harvest) the price comes down and settles between Rs 300-600, depending on the size and quality. (The best quality is totally fibre free, wonderfully flavoured, cuts like butter and has a very small seed/pit. Real delight!)
At the very beginning of the season, the hawkers usually have just a dozen or two with them and treat their ware like gold. What surprises me is that there are always people who buy at that price! I am curious to find out who buys them and have tried to witness an actual transaction by standing at a vantage point close to the sellers without being obvious about it, but have failed. My curiosity has only resulted in getting an irritated “I do not know why it takes you so long to bring a kilo of onions from the market” from my wife. Sometimes I am sent to the market twice in a morning with a near apologetic “Oh, I am sorry, I totally forgot about coconut and I just cannot manage without one” and I take the opportunity to look up on the golden ‘mankurads’ once again. Since I do not see any in front of the hawker who had been offering them at two thousand, I conclude that they were sold. By circumstantial evidence.
I have attempted to confirm the real selling price by bargaining with the hawkers but have only managed to get a disdainful look in response. My father in law says that he once received a comment "ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮುಖ ನೋಡಿದ್ರೆ ನೀವು ಹಣ್ಣು ತೊಗೊಳೋ ಹಾಗೆ ಕಾಣಲ್ಲ ಸ್ವಾಮಿ, ಸುಮ್ನೆ ಯಾಕೆ ಕೇಳ್ತಿರೀ " from a street hawker in Bangalore. (You don't look like you can afford to buy these fruits. Why do you ask?) No one has actually said that to my face here but my wife says, dressed in my market attire of half pants, faded T shirt and a faded cap on top of an even more faded face and carrying a cloth bag (not faded - because it has been stitched using the cloth which till recently was the seat in an armchair, now turned inside out) I look like a vagabond not good even for two hundred rupees and it is a surprise that I get any looks from the vendors at all!
So, if a bumper crop brings down mango prices this season, to, say vagabond levels, I may be noticed as a customer in the market too!