While more exotic imported fruit make for a shiny display and expensive buy, local fruits like the chakkotha, ramphal and sitaphal are making a slow comeback
“All our old Bangalore fruit that we grew up with as kids, are making a comeback, which is good. Because, there was a stage when getting Bangalore blue grapes was more difficult than buying Californian globular grapes,” grumbled Salma M, who lives on Infantry Road.
“When we were young they grew in abundance in our own home gardens. Now sadly they cost a fortune if we go out to buy them, as the gardens have disappeared to make way for concrete high rises. Good to know they are making a re-appearance in Bangalore. I bought bull’s heart (ramphal) and chikoos from the Association of People with Disability (APD) unit recently,” reveals Jackie Colaco, who is the treasurer of APD. In the old Bangalore days, which could include a lot of the 90’s as well, we had enough and more fruit growing in our own gardens, to share with the residents of the whole road, when we came for holidays to Hayes Road. However, just like our home, most big gardens with fruit trees have gone the apartment way and the fruit trees now, sadly gone as well. Avocado (butterfruit), custard apple (sitaphal), star fruit, jackfruit, rose apples, litchis, besides mango…the list was endless and we all gathered the fruit in baskets and shared with everyone around us.
“The soursop, which grew in abundance when I was young, is now very scarce and is being sold at Rs. 350 a kilo,” reveals Elsie Noronha, who lives on Richmond Road. “It is supposed to have great curative properties,” she remarks.
“Mulberries, guavas, jamuns, jackfruit and boras — half the fun was climbing the trees to fill our pockets and help mum make mulberry jam and guava cheese. These senses of smell, taste and touch of Bangalore, is never to be forgotten from my childhood in India,” says Edith Cassel, who lives now in London.
“Thank God they are coming back!” says theatre person Kirtana Kumar.
“I was sick of seeing Chinese apples, Washington apples, dragon fruit and not a single pomelo (chakkotha) in sight in any of our fruit shops!” Pomelo trees too grew in every garden and fruited abundantly in the Bangalore of yore. You were blessed if you owned a tree that gave you fruit which was slightly acidic, bordering on sweet.”
“So strange to hear that these have become exotic delicacies, that one needs to buy from a market. When I was growing up we only had to pluck them off trees in my grandmother’s compound, to enjoy them,” says Calvin Printer from Victoria Layout.
Many Bangaloreans are going back to planting a fruit tree or two in the small spaces left around apartment blocks. Grafts are readily available in the Lalbagh Nursery at reasonable prices, but you can also grow your own rose apple, avocado, custard apple or bull’s heart from the seeds saved after eating a good quality fruit. Then in a few years, you could pluck your own bag of fruit off your own tree.