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Mango musings: A tradition unpeeled

Mango musings: A tradition unpeeled

A formidable king renders the queen inconsequential

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Last Updated : 12 June 2024, 02:45 IST
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Although summer has its downsides with extreme heat, power cuts, and water problems, it also has its delights. Summer is heralded by raw mangoes and their delicacies, such as mango rice, pickles, and chutneys. Then comes the king himself, the mango. My father had a great enthusiasm for seasonal fruits. Every week, he would take us to the santhe (marketplace), where he would show us how to recognise different varieties of mangoes like Raspuri, Badami, Neelam, Malagoba, etc., by their shape, size, and smell. I would nod my head and pretend to have learned. I don’t think I could recognise any of them then, but I can do it now.

Some people eat mangoes, or rather drink them, by biting off the tip and sucking and squeezing the juice. But my father was fond of peeling the mangoes and cutting the fruit into cubes. He would peel the mango so that the peel would be in a single piece, like a ribbon. We would flaunt the peel like a moustache or wrap it around the wrist like a bracelet. By the time he finished cutting them, we would be drooling. We would rush and grab a bite, even as my father would ask us to slow down, swirl the fruit on our tongues, and savour it. He would then show us the size of the seed in different varieties of mango. The ritual would repeat every few days with different varieties of mango until the season was finally over.

I decided to continue this family tradition and took my 5-year-old son and daughter to the departmental store in our neighbourhood. My children were very excited about the mango business. As I was instructing them to sniff the mangoes, my son had already nipped it off! I got the mangoes billed and rushed home. I washed the mangoes at home and started peeling them. My kids waited patiently, playing with the peel. Finally, I presented the cut mangoes on the platter to my daughter with a dramatic announcement: “Presenting to you the king of all fruits, ma’am.” She picked a big chunk and asked, “Amma, who is the queen of all fruits?!” I had never bothered about the queen my entire life. Though I knew Google would know about the queen, I didn’t. As my daughter started chomping, I had to tell her to slow down and savour. I had to do the same with my son. More importantly, I quickly tossed a piece of mango into my mouth, swirled it just like my father would advice,  and enjoyed the fruit with my children. When the king is formidable, the queen becomes inconsequential.

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