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A CLOSE LOOK

Choice of deshi, cultured, foreign consumer items

| Updated: February 26, 2022 00:00:25


Choice of  deshi,  cultured,  foreign  consumer items

As a consumer, everyone is different and so are personal likes and dislikes. However, when it comes to making a choice of consumer goods from the staple to the toiletries to the fancy items with no utility value except for pleasure to the eye, it is impossible to find as many varieties in the market as there are people. Yet people of a given locality, region or country develops a common taste for so many things that those are either locally grown or imported to meet their need.
Even food choice in extreme cases can be shocking to people. Leave alone the nomadic or ethnic people living mostly in or close to forests who eat some animals the Bangalees shudder to think of. How surprising that some Bangalees who migrated to Andhra Pradesh in time of Pakistan discovered that ripe palms go rotten there because it is no food to people there. What is food to one can be an object of derision to another.
However, as the saying goes, beggars have no choice. In desperate situation people eat anything and everything. The planet Earth, albeit it has been damaged grievously, still produces enough to feed its 7.0 or so billion people. But by this time, there has been an agricultural revolution or the traditional crops and cultivation system would not be able to meet the demand for food. For example, the high yielding varieties of paddy have elbowed out the local Aus, Aman and Deegha varieties. Then there are genetically modified (GM) crops over which controversy is raging.
Yet there are people who, for valid reasons, complain that most foods have lost taste. So they are on the look out to procure all that is local and traditional. Even retailers ---from vegetable vendors to retail fish traders ---are aware of some of their customers' weakness for all things 'deshi'. Let's start with rice. There is no Aman rice except some with reddish colour but it is a bit coarse and cannot meet the standard of finer quality. The only Aman variety called 'paisam' but mistakenly got the popularity as 'nazir shail' among consumers is now becoming rare.
Next come pulses ---'musur' and 'mug'. In the face of aggressive cultivation of hybrid varieties, the more tasty variety is on the way to disappearance. Particularly, what was called 'sona mug' was a treat to both eyes and taste buds. It seems the variety has become extinct or if there is any, does not make it to city markets.
The best sources of protein to the Bangalees' dish were once fish and chicken. Now the matter is particularly intriguing. Many of the fish species were on the verge of extinction. So, scientists had to bring them back. They are now cultivated commercially even in natural water bodies. Those who still pine for original 'deshi' or local 'pabda' have to be greatly disappointed. 'Koi', 'shing', 'tengra' of the indigenous varieties are still available but only rarely. 'Mini' or 'roina' is completely of the cultivated type. But fish traders would like customers to believe that the cultured varieties are the original type.
Then the debate over local chicken and other varieties is unending. With the broiler taking the centre stage of meat supply, even what is called 'Pakistani chicken' ---God knows why it is called so ---has also entered the competition for the local title. Unsuspecting customers often are deceived by chicken traders. Genuine local chickens are still available but how long they will prevail is not known. Eggs are produced in poultry farms but still there are some which traders call 'deshi dim'. In fact, the eggs available are not from local hens but from the 'Pakistani' variety, a trader would confide if he is long familiar with you.
Thus the debate continues for endless rounds when customers are choosey about selecting the local variety of papaya, cauliflower and a host of other vegetables. Taste certainly differs but not all can choose the local varieties which are costlier at a time when the heat is up in the market.
However, it is the same customers who are particularly in favour of local commodities, will look for toiletries of foreign origin. From face cream to after-shave lotion, the foreign brands will be at the top of their shopping list. The 'deshi'-'bideshi' choices are more than a practical preference. It is a psychological tug of war too. People qualifying to be nouveau riche hanker after things they have eyed from shops' windows. So, the luxury goods must correspond to their newly acquired wealth.

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