The Mango Majlis

An Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Kamala Nehru College recalls how mangoes were chosen, how they became an open house Saturday affair at home and she wonders why this king of fruits (her favourite!) is called ‘Aam’ (ordinary) when it is anything but!

By Anubha Yadav

There is nothing as messy and enjoyable as eating a mango in the monsoon rain sitting on a swing. Try it. The sweetness of the mango, the salty rainwater dashing against your cheeks, and the suspended parabolic state as you swing up and down makes the experience most delectable.

Since childhood this king of fruits has made my summer basket most memorable. Almost all summers in my house are about squishing mangoes. My father buys them with ritualistic fervor. He gets up at five in the morning to catch the enviable best. And as summer lazily moves its tail my family stock moves, from Alphonso to Safayda; from Dusseheri to Langda; and the last of the season Chausa. An old school mango eater, my father celebrates the fruit with a rigid mango protocol, refusing to buy it in any other order.

Any real connoisseur of this fruit knows that buying a mango is as much an art – it should be ripe and yellow with just a touch of green, should have the characteristic mango smell and as you touch it, it should yield mildly.

Mango eating in my house is an affair– in Hindustani a word that would describe it most ideally would be -a ‘Majlis’. Every Saturday friends are invited and lots of mangoes are on offer and to say the least no one counts as we all savor it with chit–chat.

In my family album summer months can be easily identified, as one of us would be carrying a precariously placed boil along with a cheesy smile, thanks to the hectic mango consumption.

The mango tale, I remember most vividly is how my sister and I jumped the rear window of our ground floor house choosing to savor mangoes in the monsoon rain over the
pre-scheduled weekly Kathak class. I still remember peeping out of the window to find guruji approaching in his white Kurta-Pyjama, his salt and pepper curly locks dancing against the invitingly black rain clouds. We sisters, swiftly tucked our mangoes under our elbows and jumped out of the window. That was the end of Kathak for both of us.

Anubha Yadav teaches Film Studies & Broadcast Media at University of Delhi. You can read more of her work here.