Friday, June 20, 2008

Mango Party

Mango Party
The Mango season in Hyderbad is quickly coming to a close, whilst yet another year, I rue the missed opportunities. For what? Sitting under a tree and eating a mango with bare hands
When I was a kid, I had this aunt of mine who stayed in a village in Andhra Pradesh. Come summer [not September!] our tickets would be procured and the three of us would be packed off to this village sans our parents. What halcyon days they were!
My aunt was a wonderful cook. In a jiffy she could make anything that was mouth watering and fit to be consumed on those lazy afternoons or nights under the sky. But when that, sometimes, didn’t happen, the mangoes were always there as a backup. Gorge into them, no questions asked. And where did we get these mangoes from? No, not from the supermarkets! In that village, most of the people had their own mango groves and it was customary that each family gave a basket of mangoes from their grove to all others. And of course the kids from Chennai had a special place in everybody’s heart. From the village doctor [I wonder whether he was really a doctor or a registered medical practitioner] to the official village painter – they would troop into my aunt’s house with baskets of mangoes. It was considered offensive if you refused their offer.
The best of course were the invitations to the mango groves where you could sit under a tree, pluck a raw mango and eat to your heart’s content. No gardener to shoo you off! Strangely enough, the visits to the grove stopped after a village kid told us that the groves were frequented by ghosts very often. But the mango party continued. Morning, noon and night.
In Chennai, we had a custom at home. We would not eat mangoes until the completion of my grandfather’s ceremony in the latter half of May. It seems my grandfather used to love mangoes a lot and as a tribute my dad stopped eating mangoes till the completion of the yearly ceremony. We followed suit. So two days before the ceremony, Mom, brother and I used to go the place in Parry’s corner in Chennai and purchase tons of mangoes [hyperbole of course, what I actually meant to say was as much as we could carry between the three of us!] And post ceremony – it was all mango celebration.
After I came to Hyderabad, the interest in mangoes weaned away. Especially this year, I had hardly had a decent mango. Even the mango faithfully given by Chachaji would just rot away in my house. I mean what is the fun having mango in your own room with no company of either human beings or Mother Nature. And of course, there is also no fun in having perfectly cut pieces of mango in a bowl with a fork to go along with it. Many a time I felt like using my hands, but etiquettes had a better claim over me.
And of course, the place where I stay, we used to have mango party every night. Want to know how it went? Mango’s would be cut and given in a plate. [I was not worthy of cutting mangoes with a kitchen knife because after one attempt, my friends concluded that I would cut my hand instead of the mango] and you had to partake of it with a spoon. The seed inside was of course, condemned to the dustbins. So this was the rather sorry state of affairs. The season was going to come to a close without my having manhandled, or rather womanhandled a mango. But then … fate intervened.
Day: Thursday
Date: 19-Jun-2008
Place: in front of friends who thought that I had gone mad!
I had had a difficult night the previous day and lost my appetite during breakfast. Naturally at around 12.30, rats started running in my stomach. I became desperate for food. There was a distinct possibility that I might turn into a cannibal when I spotted Chachaji. Without any prelude, I stated my problem, and in an instant he took me to the room where mangoes had been stored. Without pausing to think, I picked up opened it up with my hands and ate it to my heart’s content. Of course, a liberal dosage was on my face and hair as well, and everyone knew why I ate less lunch. Whatever, after 4 years, I actually ate a mango with my bare hands. Cause for celebration, right? I got four more and I am going to attack them tonight!