18 April, 2021

Hai, Hai, Mirchi...

Chillies colour this city in fiery, flaming hues, luring the world with their red-hot fervour

T. Narayan
Hai, Hai, Mirchi...
You wonder what Guntur would be like without its chillies. At 2 am, when the restless city has barely slipped into an uneasy snooze, farmers are already making their way on the two metro-class ring roads, riding atop their bursting sacks of freshly harvested chillies. By 3 am, the first customers are arriving at the subzi mandi, eyeing the dozens of varieties laid out in neat hillocks of blood red, emerald and pastel green. By 4 am, Rayi Yedukondallu, one of Guntur's top dozen pickle-makers, is riding back in an auto, past the shuttered fronts of jewellery showrooms, shopping malls and glass-and-chrome cinema halls, beyond the still silent 'star hotels' and handloom sari and coaching school shops, to her home on 'Pickle Street', where she'll wash and dry her day's haul of ripe, red chillies on a plastic folding cot. By the time her five employees turn up at 8 am, freshly bathed, bright nylon saris tucked into shapely waists, the chillies are ready to go into the...

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