The Journey Of Okra From LadyFinger
It was only a few weeks that I had landed in a foreign soil, and the grocery shopping called me: “come on girl, let’s go..there is nothing in the fridge! Get acquainted with the shopping experience on your own”, (minus the husband, who had been guiding me so far).
Picked up my backpack, took the free loop bus on the campus ( we were living in a university town that time) and landed at the grocery store. I mean, what’s the big deal?..it’s just some vegetables, milk etc etc and Ta..Da..
Lady finger as we call it in english in India for OKRA, was at the top of my list. We love bhindi masala, stuffed bhindi. Bhindi an Indian name for Miss OKRA. My menu was set that night…it’s been a while that we had bhindi/LadyFinger/okra…I had to make it. But before that I had to find it. I was looking frantically everywhere in the “Green Section” of the grocery store..but it was nowhere in view. I guess a valley and university town in the middle of Pennsylvania didn’t have much demand for it. It’s all about demand and supply after all. Who cares if lot of Indian students in that university might find it staple. Never mind..no hurt feelings :).
Finally, I approached the store employee, busy stacking the other stuff in the aisles. “Ma’m, I am looking for lady fingers, could you please help me find it.” She was surprised by my politeness of addressing her as Ma’m and not by her first name as mentioned on the pin she wore on her apron.
She smiled, took me to the green section again and showed me the lady fingers. Oh My God, a huge disappointment struck me, since she showed me a packaged food which had brown thin wafers. I read it, it said lady finger on it. My head was spinning.
I said, ” no,no..I mean the lady finger that we eat in food, have to cook it first, it’s green in color…etc etc”. I was trying my best with words and gestures to make her understand…but her face was blank and she looked at me in surprise and as if I was demented. “Excuse me, don’t look at me like I am an idiot. It’s you who doesn’t even know what a LadyFinger is, and you have the guts to roll your eyes at me”. Well that’s what I thought in my head and didn’t actually say it. Hardly did I know at that time that it was my “democratic right” to defend myself verbally from the eye rolls. I was still in my polite and “new kid on foreign soil mode”.
I gave up. I was almost in tears for two reasons : first didn’t find the LadyFinger and my menu was spoiled and secondly, the eye roll and the silent “demented you” look in the employee’s eyes. You know the looks can kill ;)))… Right?? I am laughing now while typing it..lol…
Well, few days later I became friends with an elderly Indian lady , Shantha, who was nice enough to introduce me to OKRA..and she told me that fresh one is rare here..but check in the frozen aisle. From then on I knew my way in the grocery store to find my lady fingers :)))).
Love it here! Everyday is learning something new and teaching something new :)). Passing this Okra from lady finger to the new kids on the foreign soil!