This is mango session and I indulge myself with the fruit every now and then. I don’t know all their varieties and can’t tell one variety from another but like most of them once their colour turns from green to bright yellow. The green ones taste mischievous with sprinkling of salt but they leave your teeth numb.
I buy mangoes from the hawker who parks his cart near my house with ripe mangoes heaped on it. I had long wondered what happens to the mangoes that don’t sell. Mangoes tend to perish faster than other fruits and the ones that are yellow today develop black stains tomorrow.
Are they returned to the wholesale vendor from whom they were bought? Are they resold to some other vendor looking for cheaper deal? Do small fruit juice shops buy them at throwaway prices? Two days back, when I was there buying my mango, curiosity got the better of me. And I asked the hawker what happens to the hapless mangoes that don’t find patrons.
He dropped his voice to convey his self-pity and avoiding eye contact, said: “There is nothing in this business.” Then he explained why.
In Bangalore mangoes mainly come from Andra Pradesh. (Few varieties also come from Kerala, but they aren’t popular.)There are a few places in Bangalore where mangoes are sold on a large scale but the one in Hebbal, which is very far from most parts of the city, is the largest depot which attracts hawkers from across the city to buy mangoes.
Wooden boxes containing mangoes are auctioned. You have to indicate the box you will buy by placing a fistful of grass on it. Once you place the bunch of grass, the box is yours with its defects (underweight of mangoes with newspapers at the bottom of the crate, spoilt mangoes, etc.) or otherwise becoming your responsibility.
If you buy multiple boxes, you have to make sure they don’t go missing in the mundi; stolen boxes will not be indemnified by the seller. As Hebbal is very far, you need to buy good number of boxes to economize the transportation cost.
“But what happens to the unsold mangoes?” I asked.
“In old days you could return the unsold mangoes to the one you bought them from, but now they are your loss,” the hawker answered. The same goes for other fruits.
“Fruit business me pehle jaisa maza nehi raha,” he concluded twitching the corner of mouth, indicating resignation. (There is no meaning in fruit business any more.)