The Fruit Man

by Tara Russell, Apr 20, 2003 | Destinations: Thailand / Bangkok

Sometimes he wears a straw hat while lingering closely behind his cart, and sometimes he sleeps on the wicker bench aside the road when business is slow. His body is short and thin, wrinkled and tanned from years of working in the sun. He always smiles with his semi-toothy grin when I approach. His fruit cart holds watermelon, papaya, pineapple, guava, and cantaloupe; all are perfectly displayed on ice and visible from each side of the glass walled cart with wheels. Aside the cart is a small, metal bar that holds the fruit baggies, the wet towel, the wooden sticks much like elongated toothpicks, and the outer bags. And my favorite accessory atop his cart?-a beautiful, single red rose stemming from the most central, forefront part. Today I want watermelon. His routine never changes. First, he points to reaffirm which fruit I would like to buy. After this, he always suggests I buy a second fruit (a great salesman, indeed!). He then wipes his hands with the wet towel, pulls out the ¼ watermelon and his knife, and grabs the fruit baggie as well. He holds the fruit by the rind, careful not to touch the flesh of the watermelon. Next he makes seven equally spaced slices in the half-dome, opens the baggie, gathers the fruit with his metal 'fruit horn', and slides the fruit into the base of the bag. Now the fruit is ready for the wooden sticks and the outer bag. He and I both stand ready, holding our barter material-him the fruit and me the 10 baht coin. Our trade finishes for the day, and he smiles, knowing I'll be back again tomorrow.