Sunday, November 13, 2005


Reading Megnut's posts on mangoes over the past couple of days had me reminiscing about my childhood/youth in Chennai and its connection with Mangoes. Our home in Chennai used to have three mango trees. The largest tree was about as old as the house itself and was close to around thirty years old. It was taller than the first floor of the house and its branches were as wide as the width of the house. In its non flowering months it provided a glorious shade to the house from the harsh Sun that would cover the Eastern face of the house. Afternoons and evenings could be spent in its shade even in the middle of summer! A tall glass of cold juice by my side, a good book to read, sprawled-relaxed in a cane chair was the way I spent many a summer afternoon when there was not much else to do. Shade wise the other two trees were of not much help as they were on the north-western side of the house.

April, May and June were the months I loved the most due to the summer vacations and more so because our star performer the 30 year old tree bore fruit during these months. The fruit was in a word glorious! An exotic mix of the Bhaganapalli and some other mango type they were large(always larger than two fists held together), colored perfectly yellowish orange when ripe, spot free, had a minimum of fiber and the maximum possible amount of flesh I have seen on a mango. I have not had mangoes as tasty as them ever.

Every summer the bountiful tree bore fruit that matured in three batches so we had them plucked in three batches. Each batch easily contained around 400 mangoes. At home we had my parents, grandmother, my sister and me. Though we would have loved to try there was no way we were eating 1200 mangoes in under two months. So we would give them away to whoever came home, to friends, relatives, neighbors and employees. We used to be really popular among the people of my colony in summer.

The two months our fridge would be full of mangoes in various forms: raw & ripe fruit, raw mango chutney, mango pickles (different types including a sweet mango pickle) mango juice concentrate, mango juice, mango jam, mango ice-cream. Mangoes would make their way into every dish. I was on a two to three mango a day diet. Needless to say mangoes in such large quantities would fight with my adolescent hormones for priority in erupting as acne on my face.

I was a happy person the day I was taught how to cut a mango by my grandmother - The four cuts that separate the flesh from the seed. I needed to be shown the way to do it just once.
. Mallus will recognize the words Metha-pool(fleshy side) and Chagiri-pool(fibrous side) and the way to eat it. Of course this method of four cuts is for the non-formal way to eat a mango …basically with your hands. Yes, yes clean hands and fingernails are essential for this as well. Not for me the niceties of eating mangoes with forks. What am I …American ? I am 100% Mallu even though I didn’t grow up in Mallu-land.

Sadly the joy of having fresh mangoes was not to last forever. Even though we were liberal in giving away the fruit to people, there were many greedy people staying in that area who felt they could jump over the walls of our home and steal anything and everything they could under the pretext that they were plucking mangoes. After several rounds of broken window panes, stolen household items and yelling matches at the ruffians we gave up and gave in. The local ruffians had no fear of our dog or our servants either. Finally one day the trees were cut down. No more mangoes, no more shade.

Filed Under: Memories


Blogger Arun R said...

Mangoes are my fav fruit too.... The post made my mouth water....

The end makes u realize that good things dont last for ever!!!

November 14, 2005  
Blogger .... said...

India has 4 seasons. Summer, Winter, Rainy season and Mango season :-). Yeah I love mango season too. At hostel we never used to have the patience to cut the properly, so we used to cut them in large slices and scoop it out with our teeth. The jiuce would dribble out and we'd be licking our hands and arms.
Reminds me of the old Slice ad..Dabakey Piyo!!!

November 14, 2005  
Blogger silverine said...

Why were the trees cut down?
That is so sad :(

Mango is my fav fruit and come mangoe season I can live on a diet of mangoes only. In fact I feel that the mangoe is God's apology for the scroching Indian summers :)Great post.

November 14, 2005  
Blogger Sushil said...

U actually mentioned the same exact way I like to eat mangoes with it all over my hands :-).

I have been struggling as well when I wrote the post as I miss the mangoes.

The trees were cut down because the menace of people jumping over our walls and stealing mangoes and other stuff from our house became too much to bear. I didnt think of Mangoes as an apology to scorching summer as I love summer :-).

November 14, 2005  
Blogger Danesh said...

Hmm... makes me want to eat mangoes now. I like Bhaganapalli the best among the variety. There was a mango tree in my grandpa's place where I learned a bit to climb trees, sadly that tree is no more too.

November 15, 2005  
Blogger Jiby said...

reading ur post made me remember abt the mango tree in our house that got cut coz it wuz damaging a wall and my mom forcing me to plant the new one in its place and i asking, "njan, enna manthri aano ee thai nadaan"!!

November 16, 2005  
Blogger silverine said...

@Sushil: you could have built higher fences. Cutting down a tree in my humble opinion is a mortal sin. Oh yes as a kid I had a nick name : maramkeri :))

November 16, 2005  
Anonymous injinuity said...

awww... in our house in kerala.. near the front yard we used to have this mango tree... I enjoyed watching my little cousins climb up the tree to pluck em down....

November 25, 2005  

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