The string of garlic immediately attracted. Rather beautiful to behold now, lovely as an orchid. How long had it been since the like had been seen? Was it in one of the garages down in Melbourne, the Calabrese Sig. Niccola a few doors down, or Frane’s perhaps in Seaholme? Here you sometimes see purpled baby garlic in small baskets in the markets or provision stores; rarely was it tasted in the local food dishes and certainly not the lashings we Mediteranos use in our cuisine. At the Haig in front of Mr. Lim’s fruit stall, in the flower stall on the other side of the passage, numerous strings were hung close together holding 4, 5, 6 or more whole bunches and wrapped in blood red netting. Kinda risqué Santa socks sans foot hanging arrow straight. Well, decoration of some form or other clearly, though doubtless edible too. The Haig is a Chinese market; some of the food stalls in front are Malay and Indian, but the Chinese predominate. So, go figure if you can….
It would be unfair to suggest Chinese, or even diaspora Chinese in these particular market conditions on the Equator, favour anything over family, clan, homeland &etc. Perhaps if anything was to come close it was coloured paper possibly. In Hokkien and possibly Mandarin Schwan—soft vowel as in arc—was in the costermonger’s boy Mr. Lim’s translation “calculation.” Of course calculation equaled one thing only. The characters for “garlic” and “calculation” were different, though they were articulated precisely the same. Schwan. For the New Year, Mr. Lim explained, presumably meaning the international—CNY was not until early February. The flower seller was preparing for the early birds. Nothing was more dirty than money, the Montenegrins held (because of all the hands grasping).