“Boss, kha. Can help Ooh? I see her crying in the street yesterday. Her husband beat her because they have no money. Big rain 3 days ago wash away her vegetable seeds.”
There is something up-close-and-very-personal about Asian village life that makes it almost impossible to close your heart. Ooh grows and sells vegetables on the corner of the little soi (laneway) across from our Pure Thai Naturals production building. I buy fresh greens and limes from her most everyday, knowing full-well that she has no money for chemicals and everything she grows in the street across from ours is seasonal, local and organic. On a good day she sells 200 baht (about USD$6). Trouble is, she’s Chinese, and many of the local Thai ladies don’t buy from her.
We watch her. It’s painful to see some days, when hours go by and her greens wilt, and the local people buy fried-fast-food-palm-oil curries from the awful Muslim shop 25 metres away, and don’t give her fresh vegetables a second glance
“Boss, kha. You like one?” (hands me a steamed chestnut). “Ooh can get for you!”
I went to Ooh and offered her 50 baht advance, for chestnuts. She declined.
“I find and bring you”, she said in very broken Thai. “If you like, you can buy. Good price.”
And so yesterday, Ooh came. Unannounced, Thai style.
Like all good Asian business, it was conducted squatting on our front porch. Ooh laid all her chestnuts on the porch and Sii, our worker (on the left) checked them for quality. It would have been disrespectful to buy without checking the quality. Ooh is not asking for charity, just a chance to sell high quality organic to us at a fair price.
There were 7 mutt (bunches) and enough loose ones that we agreed it was 8.
“Suu mot”. I said. “Buy them all. My daughter love. Please bring your basket again next week.”
120 baht. About USD $4.
And so, we are eating steamed chestnuts. Very moreish. Healthy. Wholesome and good for the soul beyond their nutritional and taste value.
I saw Ooh tonight as I came home, and bought 15 fresh rain-soaked limes from her.
“Not beautiful,” she said sadly, pointing to the blemished limes.
“Very juicy!” I replied. “We want juice and good taste, not pretty.”
She smiled and the world felt like a much better place.
“Not forget my chestnuts next week!” I called over my shoulder, and she positively beamed.
My challenge? The chestnut pods!!
They’re GORGEOUS and such a stunning colour! Surely there’s a use for them? They’re far too pretty to compost!
BlissednBlessed in my Thai Natural World.