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Location: Muscat, Oman/ Bangalore, India

Round Peg....in a square hole. That describes me! All my life I have never quite fit in ... now I have just given up trying to live up to the expectations of the square hole or trying to find a round one!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Stale vegetables – also in demand!

Neelakantan in his blog says that at the vegetable market he noticed ‘quashed, slightly rotten, black spotted tomatoes’ packed in a blue crate. He assumed these tomatoes were kept aside to be discarded but the vegetable vendor assured him the tomatoes were NOT meant to be thrown away. They were reserved for sale to restaurants.

We had a similar experience in Qatar. At the vegetable market on Salwa Road, there invariably would be a crate with very sorry looking, wilted, almost rotten vegetables. Naively I always assumed they were meant for cattle. (Fool that I am - where in Qatar would there be cattle? )

The vegetable vendor told us these vegetables were reserved for the labour camps.

Labour camps are places that house workers. The Middle East is full of expat ‘bachelor’ workers. Millions of them. The employment contract generally covers food and accommodation. Accommodations are these camps which are dormitories built on the outskirts of the city. Each labour camp could well house hundreds of people and providing food for them is a (lucrative) business.

Employers generally sub-contract the catering of food and the contract is given to the lowest bidder. And to make ends meet, the contractors buy vegetables at the lowest prices.

An Aside

Nasrul, our Bangladeshi house help in Qatar, who lived at one such labour camp never ate the food provided but chose to cook for himself.

Labour camp - sounds faintly Nazi doesn’t it?

I remember Muscati saying Indians always referred to restaurants as hotels. Neelakantan does too!

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