Vegetable shopping is a favourite activity for B +ve and O +ve that they look forward to every week.
Earlier, we used to go to the supermarket for vegetable shopping. I realized that it was not working out with the girls. They liked to touch and pick the vegetables. However, the crates arrangement in the supermarket was not conducive for the girls to get to work. So, we switched over to the weekly market that gets organized on the roads.
It has been a revelation for the girls and for the last two years, we have been doing this every week. The girls get their cloth shopping bags, the shopping list made by their mother and we are ready for the adventure.
I realized that it is not just the experience of vegetable shopping that O +ve and B +ve get in the weekly market; they also learn a number of life skills in the process.
Experiencing the real India
Weekly market happens on the arterial roads with vehicular traffic in full swing. The hawkers and the vendors put their vegetables on the road or on the pushcart – in the open. The girls experience the real markets with dust, dirt, heat, smoke, dogs, puddles, vehicles, people and everything else.
With the supermarket, they were seeing the sanitized environments. Now, they see the real India and they interact with ease.
I do not know how India will be when they grow up to be an adult. However, I feel that the transition from the road-side market to the sterile surroundings of the supermarket is relatively easy than the other way round. Navigating the maze of the weekly market as compared to the aisles of the supermarket may hold them in good stead when they grow up.
Talking to strangers
Due to the very nature of the weekly market on the road in the open, there are actually not many children out shopping. So, when the hawkers, vendors and the fellow buyers see two girls moving from one push-cart to another, they ask their names and what they are doing.
As the girls stay-at-home and do not go to formal learning environment, the weekly market serves as a good mechanism for them to get introduced to people and speak to them.
Understanding the concept of money
The girls pick their vegetables and also pay for their buy each time, taking turns.
In the weekly market, nobody accepts digital payments. So, we have to pay in cash. The girls understand that there are Rs. 50/-, Rs. 100/-, Rs. 200/- and Rs. 500/- notes. These are to be paid to the vegetable uncles and vegetable aunties and we get the change in return.
I understand that the girls are missing out on knowing about card payments and mobile wallets. But I suppose they will pick up along the way.
Knowing real vegetables
The girls did learn about vegetables from their books. However, they are all neatly coloured and of uniform shape and size. The supermarket sells graded and sorted vegetables, many a time. Going to the weekly market, the girls know how to pick tomatoes – red and medium-sized, and to avoid tomatoes with holes, that are green and soft. They know how potatoes and onions can be really out of shape and huge and tiny. They know how to pick brinjals, they know how arvi comes with so much of soil attached to it.
I felt that supermarkets, though they sold exotics, were weaker when it compared to stocking local leafy vegetables and gourds. The weekly market does not sell exotic vegetables. But they have all the local leafy vegetables and gourds – based on the season.
This has ensured that the girls know pretty well about the local vegetables basis their vegetable shopping experience.
Working at home with their buy
Coming back from the weekly market, the girls know that all the vegetables have to put in their respective baskets and bags. They practise their counting while putting the vegetables in their place. Having the ownership of their buys, the girls help their mother in the kitchen with all the cleaning, chopping, cutting and preparing the curries.
I suppose this has really helped in ensuring that B +ve and O +ve eat all the vegetables.
Going to the weekly market has another advantage that the girls do not get distracted by the processed food – chips and chocolates and the likes that the supermarket tries hard to sell to children.
Vegetable shopping can be a chore and difficult to get children excited about this task. However, for some reason, this has turned out to be an exciting weekly mission for O +ve and B + ve, till now.
I suppose they are not just learning vegetable shopping, they are learning a number of life skills along with.