The fruit oddity on push carts

The fruit oddity on push carts

The fruit oddity on push carts

Fresh fruits, juices, cold beverages and whatever to beat the heat — everyone longs for a relief from the oppressive summer.

Bangalore streets are flooded with fruit and juice vendors competing to quench the thirst.

Just before the king of fruits, mango, makes its appearance, there is an exotic fruit that begins to wind its way across the lanes of old areas of Bangalore – taati ningu or ice apple.

The pulpy translucent fruit, available only on push carts, is a part and parcel of discerning Bangaloreans’ life during the months of April and May.

The brownish black fruits, the size of a baseball, beckon the fruit connoisseur to the street vendor.

Unlike its popular cousin, the coconut tree, palmyra palm is not cultivated on a large scale.

There are hardly any taati ningu trees in Karnataka. Most of these trees can be found in scattered stretches of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in South India.

Prabhu, a ‘Taati Ningu’ seller in Malleswaram says, “We bring the fruits from either Salem or Dharmapuri.”

He travels from Salem every year to sell the fruit in Bangalore.

“I’ve been coming to Bangalore for the past 10 years; a group of 20 to 30 of us travel every year and we are spread out across the City,” he says.

All the vendors said that they prefer coming to the City because they get a good price here.

Though the cultivation of the trees takes almost a year, the fruits stay for no longer than a month.

Prabhu and his fellow vendors find wards and other accommodations for the month across the City.

“In another week or so, I will be heading back home to my family,” says Prabhu, who stays in Yeshwanthpur.

Although their summers are occupied in the city selling fruit, the rest of the year is spent differently.

Prabhu goes back to Salem to work on the plantation while Srinivas, another taati ningu seller in Malleswaram, says he sells Ooty apples and pineapples.

Perumal, who has been coming to Bangalore for the past six-years says, “I’m going to go back home (Dharmapuri) and farm groundnuts.”

Most people are unaware of these vendors and their fruits even though they are an essential part of the City.

Chirag M couldn’t even pronounce the name and said it reminded him of a brinjal. Prakash, who stopped to eat some said, “I’ve always passed by the carts but have never tried them before. I thought I would try it today.”

Shreyas said, “My mother wouldn’t let me eat any because she said I would catch a cold if I ate it.”

There are some who say that they have been eating it ever since they can remember but those people remain a minority.

Commonly called taati ningu in Kannada and tari in Hindi, the ‘Borassus Flabellifer’ remains an oddity to large sections of the City.