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2nd Lockdown - DAY TEN - Of fruit and vaccines and kefir and fruit thieves


When Ram and I were using a pole-and-basket to bring down some avocadoes to later wrap in pages of old Le Mauricien to ripen, and to harvest a few others to share out with neighbours to do the same with, I spotted one neighbour Ramanand right up on the comb on top of his house, which is two stories high, across the road and up one, from our house. I moved to where I could see him better and called out whether he was carting water up in the bucket on a rope or what? He called down that he was just doing some general maintenance, being home-bound. Then, as other neighbours joined in the conversation, with him being the arch-angel in the sky, he proceeded to ask advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine. We sure were social-distanced. “Should we take it?” he asked looking down. I said, “Yes! As soon as it’s your turn, take it!” Then he asked, from way up there, if we had already had the vaccine (yes, we have) and whether I think it’s safe for people with existing illnesses (often, I reply, those people are the ones that get most sick with Covid, so “yes”, they need to take the vaccine) and so on. I added, still looking up into the blue sky that yesterday the European union had maintained its green light. He concluded maybe it had been a post-Brexit fight. I said we were following the science and if ever we read anything relevant, I would let him know. He said his avocado tree was also bearing, so I gave one or two to other neighbours in the street – straight out of the little basket at the end of the pole. And two to Jean Christophe across the road, and two to Parvedee directly across the road. She said the three doctors on MBC had explained the vaccines to her satisfaction. Kisna, whose shopping day it is, meanwhile set off on her smart bicycle, with her cyclist’s helmet on and her trousers tucked into her socks, taking an avocado plus a breadfruit for Paul and Sunita in her rucksack. Conversation on Ragoo Lane then turned to fruit thieves who have been doing the rounds in Ragoo Lane. Everyone is fed up with them but we all avoid raising the stakes too high, whereby we might end up being in the wrong. They are a new kind of agricultural thief, we conclude, of the dependent-on-synthetic drugs kind; when you confront them, with a “Ey-u-la! What you doing up our breadfruit tree,” they reply in a lazy, apologetic fashion, “Sorry, Mawsi” or “Sorry, Matant”. You become their aunt on the spot. “But you didn’t hear when I called out to ask you for permission.” So, deflecting the blame that they are trying to shift on to me, I retort, “So, you just come in and steal?” “It’s only two or three, why are you shouting at me?” Now you are the one in the wrong. The dogs are so used to these laid-back fruit thieves that they hardly bother to bark at them anymore. 

 At this point, the rubbish collectors, masked men and women, come loping by ahead of their reversing lorry and its beep, beep, beep. Ragoo Lane is a cul-de-sac (which is why we have a bad reputation for, in the past, a group having badly beaten up agricultural thieves – it is cul-de-sac behavior, famous – not to say notorious – in other cul-de-sacs like Vallee des Pretres and Camp Thorel, not to mention Fond du Sac and Olivia.) Anyway, the rubbish collectors are a heart-warming presence as they go about their important work – now women, as equals, amongst the men – and maybe they, in this work sector, save more lives than, say, brain surgeons. I think all this kind of thought because why not think about such things during a lockdown? – and as I listen to them laughing and bringing good cheer, as they get rid of all the unnecessary rubbish we all produce, even in Ragoo Lane. I bet brain surgeons don’t get to laugh as much. Nor to spread so much good cheer. I wave to the lorry driver – we always wave to each other, even when I’m driving past in a car, far from Ragoo Lane. Strange fact: when we first came to live in Bambous in 1975, we didn’t produce any rubbish. Think of that. None at all.

Anyway, when I gave Parvedee the avocadoes – placing them on the circular cement structure around their letchi tree, as usual – we continue our on-going conversation about me preparing kefir for her. I’ll put some kefir pearls, or grains, into a separate jar with its own milk tomorrow morning, I agree, and then the day after tomorrow, we will have a socially-distanced show-and-tell on kefir management. She has to bring a plastic strainer, non-metal bowl, and non-metal spoon. I will bring her Kefir in a jar, with a bit of kitchen towel keeping the metal away from the kefir. Kefir, it is said, does not like metal. Kefir is a kind of liquid-ish yogurt originally from the Caucasus mountain ranges or somewhere, with a Turkish name. And it has more pro-biotics that our guts apparently love, than anything else, including ordinary yogurt. A year ago, I didn’t know what kefir was. Now, here I am, sharing it with people in Ragoo Lane. I drink it mixed with honey every morning with our fruit “plato”. Ram and I don’t make fruit salad. We each get a work-in-progress instead: half a banana, half a slice of pineapple, half a frisiter, half a mango (in season), a quarter of a pear, half a kiwi, a bit of atemoya, and last week, the first of our pitaya. And we have to peel our fruit, as we eat it. So, our breakfast is like a workshop. I do the dairy-maid part around the kefir, and Ram does the fruit plato preparation, which then segues into fruit-eating workshop. Yes, our pitaya plant, that Kisna got from Maurice, the brother of Kung-Fu and son of Ledan Lor, in front of whose shop public political meetings get held, and who has got green fingers, has produced, after a beautiful flower, its first absolutely divine fruit. Bright purple and sweet and full of a delicate taste. It is of course very best one I’ve ever eaten in my whole life. Our cactus plant that produced this marvel grows in an old plastic dustbin that the bottom had dropped out of, filled with stones then rocksand, then nice earth.  And we more-or-less ignore it. Goes to show. Anyway, Ram drinks his kefir as a lassi sometime in the afternoon. His share – about 3 tablespoons or so kept in a little jar in the fridge – he mixes, for a long drink, with ice and water and four sweetener pills, being diabetic, plus a twig of spearmint from a pot in the back garden that the adolescent dogs, Lock and Down, have not yet dug up. Kisna keeps her share of the kefir for breakfast the next morning – she mixes it with this and that, I’m not quite sure what and I can’t ask her because she is out on her bicycle. Maybe she can add her recipe into her translation into Kreol. That would be a nice development in translation skills.

She and Alain, who checks her translation, and also Ram and then Rada, who check my original, and then Rada, who loads the blog on to Lalit’s site and Facebook page, are part of the preparation of this blog, though I am the one who signs it. So, if you’re mad about anything in any blog, blame me. But the credit for anything good goes to those four other Lalit members, too. As well as all the people who star in the episodes.

Lindsey Collen