{shortcode-b061613e95ae45d63ce64ec21bc91098816c8a86}POV: Two wayside Midwesterners with South Asian heritage are so moved by the joys of H Mart that they are inspired to become playwrights. Find Flyby’s original off-Broadway debut below:

Character List

Maya: a Flyby writer and first-year from Kentucky, has never been to an Asian grocery store other than Patel Brothers (an iconic and chaotic Indian grocery store) and is hoping to find snack paradise in Central Square.

Sneha: a Flyby writer and first-year from Indiana (and also tangentially Kentucky), has a pan-Asian grocery store back home and believes that makes her an expert on H Mart without ever having visited.

SCENE 1

WE OPEN on a bustling Massachusetts Avenue that cuts through the heart of Central Square as two overly excited Flyby compers, Maya and Sneha, emerge from the dark depths of the T stop across from H Mart. As they jaywalk across the street, Maya and Sneha discuss their destination.

Maya: This is a general Asian grocery store right? Like a bunch of different types of Asian foods?

Sneha: Yeah, I think so.

Spoiler: It was not, in fact, a pan-Asian grocery store.

Sneha: This is way bigger than I expected. I’m getting Patel Brothers vibes.

For those not in the know, Patel Brothers is an Indian grocery store chain that sells spices and yummy snacks to the masses starving for food with flavor. It is, however, rarely owned by brothers with the last name Patel.

Maya: It’s way too organized to be a Patel Brothers. (Maya stops in front of a fridge.) SNEHA, LOOK! (points excitedly to a Yakult drink) I’m having my Lara Jean (of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”) moment.

Sneha: (picks up Aloe water) How much aloe vera juice should you drink?

She gets no response.

END SCENE

SCENE 2

THE TWO WANDERING FRESHMEN find an aisle in which to take aesthetic pictures to commemorate the moment. Since we last left them, Maya and Sneha have figured out camera angles and are orienting their phones to conveniently avoid capturing the other H Mart visitors in their photo evidence. Maya and Sneha are currently positioned next to jars of cabbage and hot sauce.

Sneha: POV: you beeline to find the pickle aisle.

Maya: Look!!! SRIRACHA! This is, like, everyone’s introduction to Asian culture. Imagine if you brought this into Berg.

Sneha briefly contemplates this idea and then concludes that giving the people what they want — i.e. seasoned food — would cause spontaneous combustion from happiness and give the Cambridge Fire Department more trouble than the kids in Matthews on Friday night. She’s not sure she wants to be like the kids in Matthews. She slowly places the jar back on the shelf and walks further down the aisle.

Maya: (looking around at more East Asian products) I think we’re the wrong brand of Asian.

Sneha: I know, right? I don’t know what half of this stuff is. And where’s the Maggi?

A helpful introduction for those who haven’t heard of Maggi before: Maggi is an addictive Indian ramen. Sneha is regularly berated by her friends for eating such food that damages her liver, but frankly she doesn’t care because it tastes so good.

Maya: There has to be one packet… somewhere…but we’ve already been down every aisle twice

Maya and Sneha spiral through the five stages of grief as they try and fail to find Maggi in H Mart.

Maya: It has to be here. It has to be here.

Camilla Cabello’s “Crying in the Club” plays in the background.

Sneha: Where is the Maggi? They have twenty types of pasta that’s not even Asian. They must have Maggi. There’s no way they don’t have it.

The two are still in denial.

END SCENE

SCENE 3

MAYA AND SNEHA again get lost in H Mart. (Insert a “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” style montage here. Highlights are featured in the scene below.)

Sneha: (gesturing at a wall of seaweed) AH SEAWEED!!

Maya: But what are all these flavors?

Sneha: (attempting to Google Translate the labels on the seaweed packets) How is something sunshine flavored?

Maya: (distracted by another aisle) Wait, look at these tiny utensils!

Maya and Sneha contemplate getting tiny teaspoons they will never use. Yes, they each buy a set.

Maya: (gesturing at a section of flavored ranch): What Asian food requires ranch?

*in Spongebob voice: sOmE hOuRs lAter*

Maya finds some slimming tea, marketed “for both men and women,” and begins cackling. It’s perfectly understandable; they have wandered into this aisle ten times now.

Sneha: I think this entire place is mostly beverages.

Maya: Is soy soup a tea? Why is it next to the tea when all the other soup is in the next aisle?

Sneha: All soup is tea.

END SCENE

SCENE 4

THE H MART NEWBIES decide that their journey has come to an end and exit H Mart, musing on their experience.

Sneha: This was like if Aldi and Trader Joe’s had a baby and raised it in Asia.

Maya: (trying her Yakult) Wait, this tastes like Gogurt but better!

As Maya looks for her Peter Kavinsky, she and Sneha walk to the T-stop and descend out of the brightness of H Mart into a dark world once more.

FIN.