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Too khaas to be aam: Hyderabadis on their ‘mango memories’ and what it means to them

Though it was painful back then, today they are sweet memories which define his childhood and bring a smile to his face.

Published: 18th May 2021 09:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th May 2021 09:46 AM   |  A+A-

mangoes

Mangoes (Photo | B P Deepu, EPS)

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Can you imagine your childhood without mangoes? Gobbling down that piping hot comfort meal on a sweltering summer afternoon just to get to the best part of it — a bowl of fresh chilled mangoes. Or devouring a plate of curd rice with some of grandma’s spicy-tangy avakai. We’ve all been there and done that, but can never get enough of the aam, because, let’s admit it, it’s just too khaas. We speak to some Hyderabadis about their ‘mango memories’ and what the King of Fruits means to them. 

For K Swarajya Lakshmi, an 80-year-old grandmother, mango trees have always held a special place in her heart. She had planted five varieties of mangoes in her yard when she was in her 20s, of which three continue to bear fruit. “My schedule in the summers used to be packed. I used to get baskets full of mangoes plucked from the giant trees and share three-quarters of the harvest with neighbours and close relatives. I never sold the mangoes because it makes me so happy to share the joy of eating the fuit with others,” she says. 

Till date, Lakshmi’s summer is incomplete without the organic, delicious mangoes from her trees. She has a separate to-do list for raw mangoes too. “It is my hobby in the summer to cut kacha mangoes and preserve pickles for the entire year. I tried a variety of recipes over the years and they’re all super hits,” the granny says. 

Vishnu Vardhan, a retired government employee, gets nostalgic while speaking about his childhood days when he used to spend most of his time on mango trees with friends. “We used to secretly climb the neighbour’s mango tree and pluck the fruit. My brothers and I used to compete for that one mango that was usually bigger than the rest,” he says as he remembers the tang buzzing through his nerves. “Those were the golden days of my life, which cannot be relived by today’s generation.”

There was this one time when Vishnu fell of the very same tree and fractured his arm. Though it was painful back then, today they are sweet memories which define his childhood and bring a smile to his face. “Despite such a serious injury, I did not stop climbing that tree. I ignored my elders’ repeated warnings. Now that I’m older and my body is weak, I cannot climb the tree. But given a chance, I’ll do it all over again,” he says.

Twenty-two-year-old Priyanka Gajanan recalls the first she scaled a mango tree when she was 17. “We had just moved into a new home which had a huge mango tree. There also used to be a cow which would sit under it. My friends and I would feed it mangoes every summer. Life was great! It was the happiest thing possible to be able to eat mangoes every day,” she says. 

For some, the age-old summer ritual of mixing pickles and distributing it to friends and relatives has turned into a brisk business. Prasanna Lakshmi got married into a huge joint family, with over 30 people living in a massive house. For her, the months of Aril and May were nothing short of a festival. “Three generations of women, along with a battery of servants, used to get ready to make pickles. They go early morning to get the mangoes, and that to only the Jallal and Thela Gulabi varieties. The pounding of the red chillies from Warangal used to start a month early, along with mustard, sesame and other ingredients, which go into the pickle,” she says.

It was in 2018 that her joint family split into nuclear families. But the demand for pickles continued. “As I was involved in a big way in the pickle-making mayhem, I hinted to my husband that we should make the pickles ourselves and share them with out relatives and friends. In a  week’s time, we received orders for 80 kg of pickles. That’s how Pickle Story was born,” the proud entrepreneur says. Today, Prasanna and her husband Jaiveer Rao’s venture is basking in success.

Despite the 2020 lockdown, their sales figures only looked upwards. “At first, we were cautious because the sales had dipped due to Covid, but as things would have it, we were on Swiggy and Zomato and we made close to 1,400 kg of pickles,” she says. Pickle Story offers a range of over 17 pickles and 20 podis. The summer is at its fag end. Grab your crate of mangoes and try out some recipes or just relish the King of Fruits. 

(With inputs from Sri Jahnavi, Shreya Veronica)



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