Summer holidays and mangoes

A friend of mine told me today that he was jealous that I am in Kerala during the mango season and how he actually drove six hours once to get ripe mangoes.

This took me back to my childhood and school summer months. Like most people in Kerala, we had and still have mango, jackfruit, papaya, cashew and coconut trees and banana plants in our back garden. I might be lucky with the jackfruits ripening before I leave on Saturday, but it is too early for the mangoes. They are still quite raw.

I went with my mum to pick the fallen cashew fruits and nuts today. I took Lakshmi with me. The peppercorns are also just dry enough for me to take back with me when I leave.

Fresh and organic fruits. We had all this and yet never made full use of it. Most of the times the fruits which were not picked were left to the neighbours, the birds and the squirrels to enjoy. I was never a fan of ripe fruits. Raw mangoes, lime and tamarind with salt was my favourite snack in those days. When the season was over, dried and pickled mangoes were just as good. I used to raid the store room cupboards and walk around with a bit of these savoury items in my palms, licking away to my hearts content or till my teeth couldn’t stand the sensitivity anymore, whichever came first. Even just mentioning it is making me drool.

Once on holiday in the Dominican Republic I saw a lady shell some tamarind by the road side. I couldn’t help it. I asked her for a taster and she couldn’t understand what I was talking about and so I had to get the tour guide to translate. She gave me a piece and looked on with surprise as I savoured it.

Now I live in a place where mangoes have to be imported and it is usually a bit of a hit and miss whether we get tasty juicy ones or not. Like all things in life I have started to like them, when it is not readily available anymore.

If I am given the opportunity to live my childhood again this is what I would like to do. Eat and enjoy mangoes and all the other fruits that I never took the time to try and enjoy when I had the chance.

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