I once wrote a column titled The King of Fruits and was gratified to receive mails from my Indian readers, who said that they had experienced total resonance with the central figure of the piece - the Mango. I had, therefore, deemed the aforementioned tribute as sufficient, had not two incidents trapped me irrevocably into penning or rather ‘key boarding’ another write upon the subject. One of these incidents was an act of ‘royal contempt’ committed by a relative, who appalled all mango fans by consuming a half portion of the fruit, held delicately in his forefinger and thumb, with a spoon. The second was a visit to the local market where tiers upon tiers of chaunsas, langras and anwarratols in shops and on handcarts, seduced me into hopeless submission.
Rule Number 1: When buying the fruit, ensure that you eat (for the purpose of testing) at least one specimen per variety from each shop or cart that you visit. At the end of this exercise, you may discover that your craving for mangos has disappeared and that the party you were planning is not really required.
Rule Number 2: On reaching home, soak the fruit in a tub filled with ice cold water. If a tin tub is not available, then the best alternative is your bath tub. If you are using this latter option, you may economise resources by climbing into the tub yourself.
Rule Number 3: Do follow the dress code for the occasion. If there are ladies present, then your best bet is the same shalwar kurta that you wore in last year’s party and then hid it in the laundry room closet. If the party is ‘stag’, then you must wear a sleeveless vest and shorts.
Rule Number 4: Make seating arrangements on the floor and sprinkle the area with pillows and cushions. Use of the latter two items will manifest itself towards the tail end of the party.
Rule Number 5: The most celebrated method of consuming the fruit is to cut a finger hold on the top and then peel off the skin. Once peeling is done, hold the mango up slowly rotating it, to comprehend the full impact of what is to follow.
Rule Number 6: With total concentration, raise the fruit to your mouth and deliberately bite deep into the golden meat, ensuring that the juices run down your chin and onto your vest. You are likely to add flavour to your experience if you can successfully manage to ingest some of the juice through your nose.
Rule Number 7: When fully sated, stand before a mirror to check whether your hands (preferably up to your wrists) and the lower half of you face are covered with ample proof of your recent activity. If not, go back and rub a couple of discarded guthlees on required areas to complete the effect.
Rule Number 8: Do not wash yourself till you have secured proof of enrolment in the brotherhood (and sisterhood too) of mango lovers. This can easily be done by using your digital camera after ensuring that the yellow stuff on your hands does not deposit itself on the lens.
Rule Number 9: By this time, you will notice that an uncanny silence has descended upon the guests around you. Do not be alarmed as you will find them sprawled across pillows and cushions in the last and final act of the ‘mango ritual’.
While I am placing the above rules on an open public domain, I plan to write a complete volume on the ‘Golden Devil’ that beguiles us into setting aside our new-year resolutions on dieting and weight loss. It even forces some to commit theft from their own refrigerators in the dead of night, while it leads others to commit perjury, when caught in the act.
My sincere advice to those, who may be still be reluctant to follow the rules in this column, is to gracefully change their fruit preferences and develop a taste for bananas, for as long as the King of Fruits rules the land and has devoted subjects, it will continue to be consumed with messy gusto.
n The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.