Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

It’s raining Mangoes!

Summer is heating up,  despite all the talk about the sun being puzzlingly cooler than usual. While the monsoon won’t be here for another month or so, it’s the time of the year, especially in Pakistan, when several fruits make their appearance on the scene. The Mango trees are revving up for the season and already, we’ve got unripe mangoes, which are called “kairi” or “kairiyaan” (plural) in Urdu, that are used to prepare a sweet ‘n sour dessert. Having lived in Saudi Arabia all my childhood with only occasional visits to Pakistan, the hype and hoopla surrounding this fruit was something I learned while I was probably still a toddler. It’s not an exaggeration, really! I’ve got picture of me as a toddler next to a metal bucket full of mangoes, and mango pulp on my face and clothes – the madness!

The mango holds a very central position – scratch that – a very royal rank in South Asia, being irrefutably referred to as the “King of Fruits”. Now, while I dispute that for my own reasons, I wouldn’t go and announce that to a group of ‘mango mad’ South Asians for fear of a good berating in return. As soon as mangoes hit the market, they will be  all that you’ll see, hear and possibly eat for dessert (after lunch and dinner) for a couple of months. There are innumerable varieties, they follow each other as the season progresses and never will you find people passing up the latest variety because they’ve “had enough mango” – it’s just not possible!

The older generations, especially those like my father who spent their childhood years running about in the mango farms in India, reminisce about all the different natural (‘tukhmi’ mangoes) varities they had and how they’d have huge mango festivals. On the other hand we, who have been raised in the cities with sparse exposure to village life,  can relate more to mango dices, milkshakes, curries (yes, curries!), pickles, juices, sorbets, souffles and of course – ice creams! That’s really how versatile mangoes are – you could keep coming up with ways to have them and in the end, they’d still taste yummy even if you had they as they are.

Mangoes can make people react in all sorts of ways, as I mentioned earlier. Criticise the status of the mango as the “King of Fruits” and you’re in for a bashing. The politiking that goes on during a mango session after meals is also very interesting. Some people meticulously prepare their plate or bowl of mango to their taste and if you happen to nick a teensy bit, be ready to face the consequences. Also, if one person has prepared a plate of sliced mangoes and another person’s interested in having one or two, it’s not a ‘gift’ most of the time… it’s a deal! Yes, so if I take two slices from my sister’s plate, it need not be said that when I slice up my own mango, she has a rightful share in mine. While this might seem quite obvious, the live scene will put it into perspective and show just how mango makes some peoples’ behavior go ga-ga.

And of course, there are the amiable mango parties where there are baskets and buckets full of mangoes soaking away in ice and water, plentiful in number so that no-one’s in a hurry and a jolly mood prevails. A very popular poem by an Urdu poet, Akbar Illabadi, is much quoted on such occassions (and in my father’s case, after every meal)…

“Aisay zaroor hoan jinnhain rakh kar kha sakoon
Pukhta agar ho bees tou das khaam bhaijiyyay”

The poet is writing to his friend in another city to send him some mangoes and says,

“Do send some which I can save for later
If you send ten ripe ones then ten unripe ones please!”

Now, for a very unfitting end to this discussion but one, which I am sure, many Non-South Asians or those South Asians who were raised abroad would relate to. Mangoes are certainly a blessing from Allah(swt), a wonderous delight and beautifully versatile. However, to name a fruit the “King of Fruits” pushes it a little, especially to a person like me who loves so many fruits. It’s safe to say that mangoes, like all fruits, hold a special honor in the hearts of South Asians who feel (and rightly so) that they have the best varieities in the world. So, as a Pakistani, I’m all for the next mango party but do get me a basket full of watermelons, figs, grapes, bananas, peaches, plums and cherries from my home town in Saudi Arabia and that‘s when I’ll go slightly ga-ga!

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8 responses to “It’s raining Mangoes!

  1. iMuslim May 7, 2009 at 2:31 am

    Mango curry? That’s a new one!

    Loving this post, masha’Allah… it’s very sweet (pun kinda intended!).

  2. iMuslim May 7, 2009 at 2:32 am

    Btw… I loves mango too. But mainly fresh, or a nice n’ thick mango lassi… not really a fan of the juice or icecream as much.

  3. mystrugglewithin May 8, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I hate mangoes. It’s too much thinking while picking one out of the fridge to eat. I remember my siblings always getting the more sweeter ones.. and I used to be left out with greenish/kairi-like mangoes, duh!

    the king for me is the watermelon!

    brw, aik kilo kitnay ka milta hai aaj kal?! 😀

  4. Ameera May 9, 2009 at 8:19 am

    iMuslim: You’d be surprised to know one of the first times I encountered something similar to “Mango curry” was on BBC Food! I suppose it must be nice… anyway, there’s a growing trend to mix fruits with curry recipies – sweet ‘n spicy!

    Mango lassi?! That’s a new one.

    mystrugglewithin: Hmm… mangoes are one of the signs of Allah(Swt) so not sure if they merit such profound disapproval! 😐

    But you’re one South Asian who doesn’t think Mango’s number one so that’s a refreshing sight.

    My father checked out the current rates and considering these are the first (and usually blander) manhgoes of the season which are brought into the market for those obsessed with them (and would thus pay a little extra too)… it’s around Rs 60-80 per kilo… amounting to about $1 per kilo?

  5. mystrugglewithin May 9, 2009 at 9:11 am

    my apologies for the ‘hate’.. but see here is the idea.. i’ll surely love the mangoes in Jannah, Inshallah, because each piece would taste different, and far better than the previous one i would’ve eaten :>

    yeh, even i doubt my lack of addiction to mangoes.. my family loves this fruit like every other family out there though..

    @rates .. 80rs=1$ yes, but that’s too much.. or is it?

    but anyways, this Mango surely has a personality 😀

  6. Rheinsberg May 17, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Being far away from Pakistan I can only dream of your mangoes… fruit here in Europe is never like there. I miss the mangoes, the making of mango pickles and my friend’s special receipe of mango jam…
    But nothing compared to my big cup of chai with fresh buffaloe milk after fajr prayer – can’t you send me some?
    A homesick sister…

  7. Noor June 2, 2009 at 3:53 am

    Assalamu aleikum,

    This gouri loves mangoes too! I’m also loving your blog. Please keep writing for the sake of Allah SWT and the deen–we need you! 🙂

  8. Ameera June 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Jazakillah Noor! Your comment really warmed me… I;m a very common, very ordinary blogger but Jazakillah for reminding me *why* I should be writing at all – for the sake of Allah(swt) and His Deen. May Allah bless you with all that is good. Please share your comments on my humble little blog in the future too, InshAllah!

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