The Orchard

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I wake up abruptly. The cool winds and the peace of the orchard make me want to sleep some more. But the string cot is uncomfortable. I open my eye’s and look up at the mango tree under which I am lying.

The mangoes are still raw. It would take another couple of months for them to turn into sweet juicy goodness. I see two birds on this tree. They seem to be fighting. I turn my head and see the litchi trees around me. The worker’s are picking up the fruit that we need to take back home with us. I’v had my share of litchi’s today. Climbing up trees all day had left my legs sore.

I close my eye’s again but sleep deceives me. I get up and start walking around. The orchard belong to my grandfather. There are litchi and mango trees. We are here after nearly a decade. It’s been so long but the tree’s are still the same. Nothing has changed here. It’s like time has stood still.

The chief of the worker’s that we have employed at the orchard is still here. He’s supervising the work. Making sure that the fruit is not harmed while picking it from the tree’s and is packed correctly. Litchi is a delicate fruit. He know’s it can go bad in no time.

I look at him working away. He has aged a lot. But his voice still has the same booming quality that was there 10 year’s ago. That hasn’t changed.

We have to go back today. I feel sad about leaving. The peace of this place make’s me want to stay here for some more days.

It had rained yesterday. That is the reason the worker’s are here working overtime. Rain’s are not good for the fruit at this time.

But the heat has been wiped away with the onset of the monsoon. I take off my flip flops and walk bare feet on the wet grass.

My family is at the other end of the orchard. They are putting the boxes full of litchi in our car.

It’s time to go. I look around one last time and take in the serenity of the place, promising myself to not wait for another decade to come back here.

 

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For The Love Of Mangoes

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This is a picture of me when I was 6 months old and we were visiting my mom’s hometown. My mom is holding me up while my aunt feeds me a mango.

My mom tells me I barely ate anything else there but the moment a mango touched my lips, gorged on it.

I have always loved mangoes. Loved it from the deep down core of my heart. It’s the one fruit which when I bite into, my whole body just glows!

Give me a glass of Aamras (Fresh mango juice) and I enter into a trance.

Mango is considered the king of fruits. And in India where more than 500 varieties of this fruit are available, it’s nearly impossible to not have them.

And when the summer’s roll in, you can find nearly every eatery in India creating and  innovating new dishes which incorporate mango’s. There is mango rabri, mango lassi, mango rice, chicken in green mango, Mango raita, mango salads and what not.

In my home, mango shake is a staple drink every morning. It’s like a rule which has been followed for years. We begin the day with mango shake at breakfast and end it with freshly cut mango and ice cream for dessert after dinner.

I recently found this quote on the internet-

“Mango is like a drug. You must have more and more and more of the Mango until there is no Mango left. Not even for Mango!”

And this is kinda is true for me. Every year when mango season comes, I get addicted to the sweet, juicy, pulpy fruit. And every year it seems like this addiction is getting stronger.

Despite the fact that mango’s are sinfully sweet and have a comparatively higher caloric value than other fruits, and I’m supposed to lose the extra weight I’v gained during my exams, I just dive into the sweetness provided to me so lovingly by this fruit.

I wait every year for this fruit to come back and when the mango season ends, believe me I’m inconsolable.

If you ever come to India during the summer’s, do try this fruit. I’v tried mango’s from other countries when I traveled there, but they were not as sweet as the mangoes found in India.

It probably because India is a tropical country and the climate is favorable for the bumper produce for this fruit.

I remember when we went to London to visit family, my dad filled half of his suitcase with mango’s and took it it with us. Our family there was so surprised when we opened his suitcase. But the mango’s we took with us were so heavenly, that all of them vanished withing a couple of days. And now, every time somebody from India visits them, they make it a point to take mango’s for them!

India has numerous varieties of this fruit with every state producing a top class variety. I’m yet to try a major part of these, but I’m on my way to taste every variety that is being produced. The most famous one which is exported worldwide is the Alphonso.

But there are mango’s which are sweeter and juicier than the Alphonso, but they have a very little shelf life and can’t be exported.

And right now, I’m sitting in office, savoring this wonder fruit that I bought with me in a lunch box and I’m falling even more deeply in love with it.