Wonder why people HAVE to eat mangoes on trains! How long can a train journey be? 30-35 hours? We wait 9 months for the mango to arrive and take over - first the serendipitous sighting of the lemon-colored, melon-sized Safeda or Badam – great for the breakfast mango shake; very slowly the thicker-skinned, darker but better-loved cousins Langda and Dashehri that are saved for after dinner and which soon appear after lunch too…. Then the days become mango-filled. ‘Aam kha lo' – the offer/directive at every hungry un-snacktime. The crispy, crunchy raw kairi presents itself in the form of tangy aam ka panna, pungent pudine ki chutney, syrupy gudamba and the glorious aam ka achar to last the whole year.
But still? What’s with people who cannot forego the pleasure of eating mangoes during train journeys!!
Admit that unless neatly peeled and diced – eating a mango is MESSY. Dinesh never forgets to remind us that angrez used to eat mangoes in the bathroom. And here they are making the whole train compartment a bathroom!
The kid sucking the last dregs of an almost transparent skin has the sticky orange liquid running down his elbows. Inevitable. He looks around and finding everyone’s focus on the fruit in their own hands alone, runs his tongue – from the elbow to the palm – one neat job (one less for the mother if and when she cares). I’m glad its over and no sudden movement of the train can throw him onto me – mush and all. But immediately mummy dearest notices his khaali-haath, clean and empty and supplies him another sun-colored slice filled with holy nectar.
He looks at me through his mango-brightened eyes and I quickly decide to go buy mangoes on the way home from the station.
Remember Mirza Ghalib? Only donkeys do not eat mangoes! :) A lesser known kissa is when asked to comment on the mangoes he was eating, Ghalib pronounced, 'Aam meethey hon aur bahot hon'.
PS: My jaw dropped when Valcal served us aam-ras in Bombay. She did that to the Alphansos!