Meera,our daughter-in-law, brought home from the grocery shop Singum Puli the other day. Movie cassettes are handed out to customers whose purchases exceed $20 at desi stores in California. And we have, at our son’s place in San Ramon CA quite a collection - Payanam, Eeram, Endiran, Peepli Live, Paa, Break Ke Baad,and wake Up Sid.
My wife and I, now on a US visit, plan to take back to Chennai a bunch of these CDs to be able to organize community film viewings on weekends at our clubhouse in Mantri Synergy apartments complex on OMR.
Desi stores in the US come up with such ways to retain customer base and promote sales. What’s more, they have, in recent years, added to the range of items on offer, including southie snacks – murukku, thattai, and banana chips – home-made ‘avakka’ pickle, You find rasam/sambar powder, Lahori chicken masala mix; masala bread from the Passage to India bakery.
Items needed for a religious ritual are also available. My wife shopped for Varalakshmi puja this Friday at India Plaza, Dublin CA. On the eve of Raksha Bandhan you can pick up a rakhi for 49 cents.
What we couldn’t get from the desi store (or my wife forgot to ask) was kolum powder used for rangoli. Our grandsons got chalks from their playroom to work on rangoli on our door front.
A surprise item we found on sale at this US desi store were curry leaf saplings. What shocked me, however, was the price - $59.99. Dublin has a sizable desi population and office-goers drop in at India Plaza to take home oven-hot samosa and vazhakka bajji on their way back fro office. A chaat stand comes up at the store on weekends.