However, watermelons, muskmelons and cucumbers available in plenty
Hot, bothered and thirsty? One way to beat the heat is to bite into a juicy melon or crunch on a crisp cucumber. Fortunately, the city is lavishly dotted with makeshift shops on the platforms and hawkers who make summer tolerable with seasonal fruits.
This year, however, savouring the season's bounty comes at a cost. Plump mangoes, juicy watermelons, muskmelons and crunchy cucumbers have promptly arrived this season but with increased price tags.
Mangoes, especially, are seeing a 50 per cent rise in prices, as the supply to Chennai is not even 20 per cent that of last year. Observes S. Chandran, secretary of Koyambedu Market Licensed Merchants Association: “One tonne costs around Rs.25,000 to Rs.30,000. We primarily source it from Salem and Vijayawada,” he said.
Tirupati and Palakkad used to be the major suppliers of Banganapalli, but the supply has shrunk owing to paucity of rain. Arrival of other varieties such as Alphonso has also come down and Rumani is expected only in June.
Watermelons and muskmelons (kirni) compensate for mangoes, with their abundance along roadsides. Watermelons, which come easy on pockets, are first pick for juice lovers and seen as an ideal fruit to combat dehydration during summer.
Slices of watermelons are neatly stacked in many areas, as cut-fruit sellers make a brisk business by drawing commuters who stop by for an immediate sugar fix. “From Rs.5 a piece to Rs.15, watermelons are sold according to their sizes and most melons are juicy and sugary,” says Dhanammal, who has put up a makeshift shop near Loyola College.
Juice kiosks such as Selva Fruit Juice Shop in T.Nagar have stocked creamy muskmelons in good numbers, sensing demand. “Kirnis make for the major chunk of the business during summer.
Every day, we dish out at least 50 glasses of kirni juice,” says Selvaganapathi, the owner. The unassuming tender coconuts, which began to dominate the market much before the onset of summer, are still arguably one of the seasonal best-sellers. Priced from Rs.15 to Rs.20 each, tender coconuts find good takers on busy stretches such as Arcot Road and G.N.Chetty Road.
Compensating for the lesser arrival of mangoes, apples and sweet lime (saathukudi) manage to get takers during summer.
“Nearly 90 per cent of sweet lime is sourced from Andhra Pradesh. The fruit is available in plenty round the year,” says S.Srinivasan, president, Koyambedu Wholesale Fruits Association.
Nearly 300 tonnes of sweet lime arrive every day, mainly from Hyderabad and sometimes from Maharastra. Apples from Himachal Pradesh might turn out to be lesser expensive than last year. “Snowfall across the world was good which has led to frequent arrivals of apples,” Mr. Chandran said.