Mango encounters.

There’s a saying, that if life gives you lemons, make lemon juice or something to that effect. In my case, life has given me mangoes but making mango juice out of them, isn’t part of my life plan.

I’d rather have them in ways that is a secret revealed to only a few, sure to transport one to whatever heaven one subscribes to and probably, brings out the native Indian, in me.

First, take a thoroughly scrubbed mango( remember the grim warning of your childhood : the sap sticking to it’s peel will give you nasty breakouts) then slice off a thin, round disc from the top with a knife. Next, using the aforementioned knife, fingers or teeth( the last, has a special advantage of letting you taste the sweet flesh and the bitter skin at one go) peel the fruit, top to bottom,length by length until the whole glistening fruit stands fully unveiled.

Thereafter, you can bite into it holding it in your hands, with the thick, slurpy juice dribbling down all sides of your mouth and chin, possibly down your front too and coating half your face in a thin layer of orange coloured pulp, making you look rather like a sinister simian. Or you could squeeze the whole thing, into a bowl of milk( thickened and sweetened, if you got lucky) pulp it all up with your sanitized fingers, mindfully keeping the seed for the last, to be eaten like an ice cream and then transport the whole thing, bit by slurpy bit, to your mouth.

As a precautionary measure, try to do all this while you’re alone and hopefully, also have a loo nearby to quickly repair to and restore your civilized self, post mango, lest people mistake you for that same sinister, now mango coated, primate. Best avoided too, in front of company and at the dinner table, it may create a less than favourable impression.

If all this reminds you of sploshing around with tomatoes in your last visit to the La Tomatina Festival in Spain or if the very thought of eating a mango, not chopped into delicate pieces, perched on tarts or stirred seamlessly into custards and gateauxs, sends shivers down your spine, then this is not for you. But it is quite simply the shortest cut to your very own Ode to Joy, even though you may risk being disowned by others around you.

Incidentally, this brings to mind a thoroughly spoilt, pet German Shepherd Dog, who used to secretly polish off mangoes, kept in the fruit basket and then saunter around nonchalantly, while protests erupted over the missing fruits, until his mango coated, orange whiskers gave him away.

We learnt the art of eating the mango another way, when we were very young and hung around mango groves in a small town in Bihar, checking out the loaded fruit trees carefully, to see which one was, literally, ripe for the picking. Occasionally, we would be joined by some canny langurs, sitting on the upper reaches of the trees, eyeing and eating the mangoes just like us.The nights were reserved, luckily, when we were asleep, for the fruit bats and the civet cats, which came over for dinner to the mango trees.

Our forays began, when after careful scrutiny, some mangoes were plucked from an over loaded tree and washed clean, in a bucket of water drawn from a well.Following this, they were swiftly demolished in the company of wise Santhal mates, who showed us how to make a hole with our teeth right at the tip of the pointy end of the fruit, suck out the flesh of the unpeeled fruit as if our lives depended on it and then make a beeline, for the next one. Aspirational life was only about making short work of mangoes in the company of like minded fellow animals, under the shade of giant mango trees on a sweltering summer day.

This whole exercise, probably constituted some sort of timeless and holy communion between man, animal, bird and insect too, all engaged in exploring the glory of a single fruit. One mango eaten, inside the mango seed another plant waiting to be born, the flesh of the fruit, a rapturous union of the sun, wind and rain and all of it born from a living, breathing tree, everything in sync with Natures grand plan. God was surely in mango heaven and all was definitely right with the world.

Eve had her apple. The mango does well enough for me.

Published by Diti Sen

An independent writer and author, currently exploring blogging, tracking life from India and ready to explore anything from the tried and tested to the wierd and the eclectic. You will find, nature, travel, food, children, folklore, customs, myths, festivals, reflections, inspirations, hope, amongst many other things here. Anything that makes me think and ponder and want to know more about, shared in an informative and entertaining sort of way.

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