Something that the pandemic took away from our classrooms is the way it used to be a playground for both students and teachers. We kicked around an idea until it was pulp, narrated anecdotes that left one part of our bodies giggling, another part brave, and discovered ways of looking at ourselves through the stories we told, and the stories others told. In an online classroom, where students are sometimes a DP, sometimes a register number, sometimes barely a name, we lost many things. Most importantly, play. Along with this, we also lost a kind of intimacy that is only possible when teachers get to see what sentence in what part of the story does what to the maps of their faces. Whose joke does what to the girl sitting by the window who suddenly breaks into hiccuppy giggles. Whose story about plucking mangoes from an ancient tree tickles what line of memory in another’s feet. Whose hunger for mango payasa leaves whose mouth straining against the pleasure of sunny mango afternoons. The chat box is where students now leave these memories and we bring to you a small version of something that brought us great joy one afternoon when we told each other a mango story.
My father has weird habit of eating mangoes without peeling the skin off. It irritates my mother. In the lockdown last year, she used to scold my father when he would put an entire piece of unpeeled mango in his mouth. There was one more person from Gokarna who would smash the mangoes, put sugar, spices and mix it. It would be served as payasa. But that day he took the entire bowl of mango payasa, put it in the rice, mixed it gently and ate it all. My brother and I would have mango fights where we used to eat the mango until its seed was white and clean. Even today I have a doubt whether to peel it and eat or eat while peeling it.
Nandita Nagaraj Bhat
The best part of summer in Kerala is the mango season. But for us cousins, it’s not just about the pleasure of the sticky juice dripping all over the arms and staining the white petticoat dresses but also the pleasure of plucking it fresh from the tree. To pluck the mangoes from a specific tree (normally muvandan or chakkarkutti) all of us would gather under a tree and were assigned a role. The girls were given the role to hold the kattori (made out dried leaves) and also pick up the mangoes that fall far away before any kedi squirrel could get it. And the boys were given a long pole with a hook attached at the end, to maneuver it and pluck these mangoes that perched on the high branches. Those mangoes turn out to be the best ones. The pole was as tall as a house and due to its weight, these boys would take hours to even pluck one. So, us girls, restless as the smell of the mangoes tempted our salivary glands, would grab the pole, all together and pluck the unattainable mangoes and run away with them. Leaving these poor boys with bitten mangoes and a useless feeling.
I love eating unripe mangoes with sugar. But the mango is specific, the ones growing in our home does not satisfy the taste of my sister’s mangoes. She live a few kilometer away from our home. So, one day during lockdown, I have a thirst to eat those mangoes, so i just found out a way and travel to my sister home. I took so many shortcuts so as to not meet with the police. And i had to take so many u-turn because so many roads were closed as it is pronounced as quarantine zone. Later I reached my sister home and she was waiting for me with a bag full of unripe mangoes. And i reached home by taking the same route. I fill my thirst just after reaching home and the journey makes the mangoes taste even better.
My grandad had the responsibility to bring the mangoes during the season and he bought nothing but the best hand-picked mangoes. We were never allowed to eat inside the house so me and my brother used to go to the garden behind our house to eat the mangoes. Eating it there was a very unique experience, which had smell of freshly watered mud sneaking through our nose was equally satisfying as the taste of the mango was. After my grandad passed away, we planted a mango tree in our farm in his memory. The tree is now a big one and provides us mangoes every year just like how our grandad used to get it for us.
We got a crate full of mangoes a few days back and it’s almost empty now. Today morning my grandmother kept wondering where the Alphonso keeps disappearing all of a sudden, cause all of us fast throughout the day. When we enquired about it, it happened to be hidden in my younger brother’s shelf. He had piled up all the good looking, ripped one’s and kept boasting about how he can just eat mangoes all day.
Muhammed Aseem K
It was some years ago and I was at my native house. Along with the neighbourhood kids I went to play cricket in a place nearby. After we finished a game, I saw many kids there throwing rocks at mangoes. So even I joined in and lucky enough a mango came falling down. I was all ready to take this back home and eat it. Although seeing the rest of them eating it raw made me want to do the same. I took that mango in my hand and gave it a bite and inside was ugly looking worms. Ever since I have been really conscious while eating mangoes raw.
My mother always told me this one story about how she loved to eat mangoes and she also loved the whole phase where the mangoes transitioned from being raw to ripe and the joy of being able to eat them after because most of the mangoes would be used to make pickles when they’re raw and only a few would be left to ripen on their own. Especially when my mother was pregnant with me, she would have cravings to eat mangoes and for the record there were fields with mango trees in my native owned by my very own uncles but now unfortunately no one takes care of them, but when my mom asked for mangoes once or twice, they gave her some unsatisfactory answers and she hasn’t forgotten about it even after 20 years today. When I was around 10 years old my mom had decided that by hook or crock, she needs to have a mango grove of her own and she should never have to ask anyone for mangoes in her life, rather others should come and ask her for mangoes. My mom made her dream come true and today whatever mangoes come home are from our farm and not only our house every year at least one basket of mangoes are given to all my dad’s brothers houses (not out of love, more like to tell them “I’m not you” and my mom gets some sort of satisfaction out of doing this to them) and also with love to my maternal grandparents house and all my mom’s sisters houses without fail.
Back in 2010, we went to my grandpa’s house for vacation. The house is surrounded by mango trees in front of the porch, banana trees on the back and lichi trees near the detached verandah. Banana and lichi were fairly young while Mangoes sprung out in full swing. And I loved Mangoes back then. With an unlimited supply, I tried incorporating Mangoes in everything I had. Every meal was followed by a Mango as a desert. Snacks were Mango. Midnight run to the kitchen was for a Mango. My taste buds were replaced by Mango pulps. I became a solely Mango eating being. I was loving it. Sitting on the detached verandah, with my tiny leg pulled up in stance that gundas use, head bended forward so as to let the juices drip off my hand onto the soil and juices spraying around my lips. This love affair came to an end as I returned back to my home at the end of vacations. I ended up with a big infection on my neck, which later was so swollen that it had to be surgically removed. The surgery removed my love for mangoes thereafter. I don’t really enjoy mangoes anymore. It was a fericious affair that ended in the Summer of ’10.
I remember whenever I visited Thanjavur during my summer vacations I used to watch these really young village boys who would climb the mango trees and pluck out so many raw and ripe mangoes later they would come down and sit and eat them till the seed looked lifeless. I made friends with the boys and learnt how to climb these trees every day and finally when I plucked my first mango out I ran back to the house wore my loose white pyjamas and sat under the mango tree, took a bite into the mango and the juice was all over my clothes it really felt like I was in the slice Ad it made me so happy, it was the sweetest mango ever and at that time I dint care about anything happening except how to relish the mango and after I came back to Bangalore I tried washing my white pyjamas with Rin aala but the stain just became more and more brown every time I put it for wash.
Shreshta V Rao
Every day during Mango season we would eat a mango after every meal. Ajji would cut them and give these careful partitions to only those who could do justice to them. Whoever got the kotai (seed) part was tasked with chewing it and scraping it’s pulp off until it was white. If two people received it they competed heavily with each other so much so that they would begin scraping the kotai only. Ajji watched all this but never ate her Mango until we were all asleep. When the coast was clear. She’d hold her Mango with both hands and bite a tiny whole of the top of it and start pressing it upwards so the pulp and the juice would reach her tongue. She only listened to MJR Music while she ate mangos, it was her way of combining two of life’s finest pleasures.
Apart from being the King of fruits, Mangoes are the King of summers too. At every family gathering in summers, two common things served are Watermelons and Mangoes. In 2018 summer vacation, I visited my paternal and maternal aunts and uncles (there’s a long list) and their hospitality was really heart-warming. But after a point of time, I got fed up with the idea of mangoes being served everywhere, in every house, with every meal, in the form of fruits, pickle, juice, curry, salad and snacks. Not only my mental self but my physical self also started showing symptoms of brimming mango satisfaction. I had a new pimple every day that summer. As a result of which, I started to drink milk to disdain the effect of mighty mangoes. Gradually, Autumn rejuvenated my love towards mangoes and my face also imbued this fact in.
When it is the mango season, there’ll be a huge rush to the big granny mango tree, without even brushing our teeth to keep a check on the fallen down mangoes. Then there will be this fight among the siblings as to who will have the ripest, the biggest and the nice green mangoes. (Yes, a nice green colour exists when it comes to mangoes.) Then the parents should come and divide the mangoes equally among us and the rest will be taken to the kitchen to make “mambazha pulissery”. If there is a branch for the art of eating mangoes, and if the university gives a medal to the artists who eat mangoes without letting the juice flow all over their bodies, I am sure I’ll never get one.
Lima Rose Siby
Personally, I’m not a person who likes ripe mangoes, it’s too sweet to me, therefore I prefer eating raw mangoes with chilli powder and salt. My favourite memory of mangoes traces back to 3 years ago when my paternal grandparents lived with us. My dad bought some mangoes and hid it from the sight of his mother who loves mangoes. He hid it because she’s diabetic and shouldn’t eat it. So, the only time my dad and sister used to eat mangoes was at midnight when my grandmother was fast asleep. My dad used to wash the mango and grab a plate and a knife and slice it so carefully as if the mango had a dear life. He used to give my sister some and he had some. Whenever this happened, I don’t know how my grandmother would wake up from deep sleep and appear next to my father and ask for a few slices. My father would look at her and start laughing and try to explain about her diabetic condition but then would eventually budge in to the innocent look on her face and give her a few slices.
Amma is obsessed with mangoes. There are more than 20 mango trees of various sizes and kinds in my house, no kidding. The mango trees seem to love the salt water present in the soils of varapuzha. Mangoes were dominant in all of my childhood memories. Every summer, my cousins would come home and together we formed the kacha manga group. Sitting at the terrace savoring raw mangoes with salt and red chillies was our past time. Once finished they would be aimed at sneaky crows on the ground. From sharing Chakkas to bus conductors and gifting bags of mangoes and coconuts to far neighbors, Amma is a fairly generous person who never shows her anger to outsiders. However, one time, I remember losing her shit when two men working in my house plucked many raw mangoes without permission. Now she was eagerly counting days waiting for them to ripen. Anyways, I have never seen them in my house again.
I’ve never eaten or even tasted a mango, yes, I know it’s weird but it’s the truth. The only memory I have of mangoes is the smell of dal sambar grandma used to prepare every Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. She always made sure to send a small container of it to her younger sister who hated mangoes in dal curry. Knowing this, her sister used to curse and fight with Grandma which would always prove to be entertaining. Though the fights were a given, grandma never stopped annoying aunty like that and the same fight would continue throughout the week.
Roger Wilfred Vishal
After the mangoes are squeezed out of its ichor by tiny hands or tall mixer grinders which the older ladies helped us with, we would shush them out of the kitchen. Raiding the freezer, ice cubes would be extracted. Some munched on and others dumped in a basin. The melted water would be stored in bottles to make lemonade or to simply wash the faces with when they are brown and approaching an alarming purple due to the blood rush after running around. A few of the kids would sneak into the yard to look for coconut leaves to pull out its spine. Breaking them at its edges so that they are strong enough, all are carried back to the kitchen where the thick mango juice has been evenly poured into the ice tray. They are placed in the centre and back to the freezer. The excitement and giggles can hardly be contained and every time one of us passes the kitchen we open the freezer much to the dismay of our parents. After lunch, the mango sticks would be served as a dessert and nothing ever matches up to the fight that follows it for a second one.
Every year by end of April through mid-May. We go to pluck mango in the nearby field. So, this time all my cousins would be there. Every year, one should climb the tree. One should stay under the tree to hold the basket. what happens is that every year, we fight, that ‘last year, I climbed the tree or I did hold the basket’. No one wants to climb because, there would be the red ant in the tree. And no one wants to hold the basket because while throwing the mango, the ‘chona’ would stick in their face. But all likes to take the mango home.
Jay Sankar Manoj
I’ve never been a fan of the ripe/sweet/yellow mangoes, according to me it’s one of the most overrated things on Earth but I love the green/raw/sour mangos. Every time I go to my grandparents’ house during summer vacation, my cousins and I would go on a hunt for these green mangoes and there were only a few of them so we have had fights on who gets to eat the mango but my Grandmother would somehow manage to give us all an equal share and enough to fill our bellies just before lunch. She would cut it in this cube like shape and put in the small bowl with a bit of oil, some salt and chili powder and would mix with her steel spoon and steel bowl and all of us seeing her mix would just start drooling all over and then we would all go sit at the veranda and finish off the mangoes in 2 minutes.
Mangoes have always been my worst cravings. It was in my childhood that I last remember eating mangoes where it stuck to my entire dress. I’ve Often heard people saying that if you eat mangoes more than one you might get black pimple on your face because of the heat it provides. But that lasted for one or half a year as my grandmother used to forcefully give me mangoes to remove that belief of mine. She used to scrap its pulp and put it on her hand until it is fully white and one by one all of us cousins would lick it from her hand.
Throughout my childhood, I had to keep distance from mangoes not because I don’t like them but my mother had a bad memory of me getting sick after ingesting a whole raw mango. As I recalled that day, I came back from my aunts’ home which is a couple of kilometres away. I plucked few mangoes and ate them but after few hours my lips were chapped and started to crack followed by an overnight headache.
When we shifted to our new house, I found that it had a mango tree in its backyard. It was a young one and was yet to bear its first fruit. So, the actual owner who planted it didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of his labour. There is something about the soil in that area – every single house has a mango tree in its backyard and each of them belonged to a different breed. And I later found out that everyone was obsessed into believing their tree produced the best fruit. While we were still shifting, I remember the old man next door, who also had two huge mango trees in his garden, told me, “Son, don’t pick the mangoes. When they are ripe, I’ll definitely give you some.” I was surprised at the audacity of that old man – I didn’t even like mangoes that much. Our breed was called Amropali and it bore its first fruit exactly a year after we arrived and I found everyone in our neighbourhood were exchanging mangoes. I gradually found out that the curse of that area crept into my family too who, with the exception of me started believing our backyard produced the best mangoes. And since that year I started hating mangoes, because no matter how many times I said that I preferred hard pulp Himsagars to soft pulp Amropali, my father wasn’t ready to listen.
There is a mango tree in our taravad. The mango from that tree is different from the other mangoes. It is very small in size and its colour from outside never changes. But the time we pass near that tree, we will stop there. The smell of the ripe mangoes attracts not only bees but just like them they attract us humans also. The tree is very tall and it’s very difficult to climb the tree. But every time we pass by there will be some mangoes on the ground waiting for us. My father is a very big fan of this mango. He visits the tree atleast 4 times a day and bring handful of them. Even though he has diabetes, he can’t stop himself from eating them. Even I can’t. Because. I know what it’s like to have them. Eat bite of the mango is filled with the sweet and also the sour. It tastes as sweet as honey at the same time as sour as ’emli’. In Malayalam we say maruravum puliyum cherna oru manga. People who love mango will feel the smell of that mango as atar. Even at the age of 65 my father is willing to spend his whole day under that tree. He eats 6 to 7 of them daily. I haven’t seen a person who loves mango like this in my whole life. I am the only other one who eats them, I usually steals them from my father. I drip the pulp of the mango whole around my hand and dress. But the sweetness and the sour never let me stop licking the final seed and that is the best part. It feels as if I am having the kacha mango (toffee). It’s heart breaking to see the last mango on the tree.
I remember trying to pluck out raw mangoes from the tree right outside our house every summer. It gave us such pleasure that we’d not want to stop making various recipes out of it. But now the only time we get to eat raw mangoes are in the pickles my grandmother makes. Sadly, that gets delivered to us only once a year from Hyderabad.
Every mango seasons my grandmother would come over to my house because since we grow a raw mango tree so she would make sure she was here every mango season plucking almost every single mango so she could make pickles out of them and distribute them among her friends and sisters and children. she would make the watchman go to one of the balconies and pluck every mango his hands could reach out to. he would pluck so many that it would fill an entire sack. every time he would say he couldn’t reach she would make him grab a long stick and hit the branch so the mangoes would fall down. once she was done plucking all of them, she would pick one mango from the sack and go into the kitchen and cut the mango into slices and put a chilli powder and salt paste on the mango and we would all sit around her and eat the mango.
I love eating unripe mangoes with salt, chilly and finely sliced onions. There used to be a mango tree on the side of the road close our house. It was the only mango tree in this area which bears fruit like the leaves can’t be seen and mangoes fallen all over the road. The kids used to throw stones at the tree and aunties used to some to our house for mangoes. We never ate any ripe mangoes from that tree. The mangoes are so good when they are rip so we used to pluck mangoes all the time even though my mother wanted them ripe. The stick we used to beat the mangoes down was a long big stick and I used to pluck mangoes with that stick. My sister would hold me from behind and my brother would go collect the mangoes from the road. Then we eat mangoes until our lips go white and save some for the night to eat while watching movie.
My fondest memories of mango were of eating the mango pickle which my grandmother used to make. The best mango for pickles is the longish Salem ones, in my opinion. I don’t know why but I’ve always liked that mango the most. My grandmother used to cut them into small cubes and put them into pickle. I loved the mango so much that while she was sleeping in her room, I would sneak inside the kitchen, steal a handful of pickle and walk out with my hand clenched behind my back. I didn’t like the pickle that much and I couldn’t eat too much of it so I used to rinse the pickle under running water to get rid of all the masala, leaving behind delicious pickle-infused mango. It tastes a lot better than just plain mango and is a little softer too because of the vinegar I’m guessing. I know that washing mango pickle may sound sound weird but it’s the best way to eat raw mangoes.
When I was 5yrs old, appa and me walking through our plot of land near our house. Appa told me there was a mango tree near the river and we both moved towards the mango tree and we found it full of mangoes. The way my father eats mangoes is very interesting it still stays in my mind even after all these years. He used to cut the mangoes with a sharp stone and adds chilli powder and salt to it. He eats the first piece to check whether there’s any distaste in it before giving it to me. Me and my dad used to eat the mango sitting on a huge stone bench next to the tree, no one in my family knows about this secret mango escapade me and my father went on every summer.
As a kid I used to love mangoes a lot. Amma used to give me the mangoes without peeling it and I hated that. I like to eat them without the outer part. And amma hated the process of peeling it. Muvandan was the mango I ate for the first time and that was the only mango I ever liked. Amma tried her best to make me eat all other kinds but i refused to even try them. I was content with my relationship with muvandan. Nowadays after growing up I started to eat not many muvandans. Amma reacts like I have terminal illness when I say I don’t want to eat mangoes. Two pieces of mangoes is the maximum I can eat these days. I have been disowned by my parents for this behaviour because my parents are hard core fans of all kinds of mangoes.
During mango season there is kind of mango where we peal the whole outer skin or just make a small hole to suck the juice out of it and for me that was my favourite type of mango. Ammachi ( grandmother) saves a few mangoes to make mambaza pullicherry ( sweet mango curry ) for lunch . Everyone at the table mixes the curry with the rice but then i save the whole curry including the mango till I finish the whole rice. I still can remember the taste of that gravy mixed with the fish fry masala and last few pieces of the thoran the sweetness of the gravy and the spicy flavour of the leftover in the plate gave the perfect blend to the lunch. Another thing that I remember is making mango jam and giving to all the cousins. I had a really tough time stirring the mango jam because every 5 minutes it got thicker and harder to stir. We used to get vanilla ice cream and vermicelli to make Ammachi’s so called falooda with mango jam. Mango seasons for me is more like bringing the family together especially grandparents and grandchildren all sitting inside the kitchen and each one is assigned to do a particular job including the smallest one. It was more like talking about their childhood life with mangoes and for me it’s making all these moments a memorable one so that one day I’ll also have stories to tell.
Mangoes are the best part of summer. Once I was in a village. My cousin and another village girl climbed a tree to pluck raw mangoes. My cousin and I thought we couldn’t eat those mangoes but after we got the mangoes down, the village girl took a medium sized stone and started hitting the mango. She had a small bag and from it she took two papers which had red chilli powder in one and salt in another. She added these two powders to the semi crushed mangoes. That was the best raw mango I’ve ever had.
Personally, I feel mangoes are overrated. Never really liked eating mangoes even when everyone else in my family enjoyed it with full craze. We had two big mango trees in the house. Every summer monkeys and rain would almost ruin the riped mangoes. So, we started to pluck them off unriped. That became my favourite type of mango. Not the yellow one but the green one. Cut them up into pieces, put chillies and black salt. That sour tang would give you goosebumps and leave you tasteless for hours.
I never liked mangoes in my entire life. One summer night one of my uncle invited me and my family for dinner, surprisingly most of the stuff’s that were placed on the table were made of mangoes. I could see Mangoes that looked like juicy chips, the juice drooled all over the plate, there was also mango chutney which looked red and spicy, there were also mangoes chopped into triangle shape . Infact there was an unripe mango that literally looked disgusting and completely changed my mood. Literally the table was filled with different mango dishes, some looked good while some looked disgusting. That was the night where i puked over several times and got severe fever for couples of days after being forced to consume those unusual looking mangoes dishes. Even today my uncle would make fun of me calling me Anti-Mango boy.
To me mango to me is a fruit that has qualities on the colour of its outer layer green is sour, yellow is sweet, brownish yellow is rotten. I have had a lot of experience with mangos as we grow our own mangos and tried many ways to eat mango like making dried mangos, Eating the unripe green mangos with salt and chilly power and mixing it with other fruits. This used to be a usually way I eat mango and even my first experience of eating a mango was with an unripe mango with uncertain amount of salt and grinded chillies. I prefer an unripe mango then a ripe mango because of the mess of a ripe mango can cause.
My dad’s friend sends us mango crates from his farmhouse every year more than 6 crates and he asks us every two weeks if it’s over he’s a gem of a person his family loves mango likes ours so he sends us as well. The mango in my house is like getting a post-mortem out of them my dad likes to eat the mango in slices and the seed which is inside he likes to cut out all the mango from it until the seed starts to get white hair by pulling out all the mango from it. My mother she likes to eat the mango directly she cuts the top part and squeezes something out of it and starts to suck the mangos life out she presses the mango and then bites it and tears the mango skin apart and then eats it she bites the mango seed so that the mango isn’t left on it anywhere and bites the skin which is left out in the last. I like to cut the mango into half then cut slices of it then take out the skin and cut the mango into small pieces and then put chilli powder and salt on it and mix it and then eat it because I like the sweet taste of mango and the spicy and salt taste of it enters the mango and makes it go ummm. Whenever we ate mango our luck was so bad that someone has to come at that moment and ruin the moment because we need to offer them as well I really hated our neighbour aunty because she use to wait for us to get whenever the Crates were kept out there use to this huge sound and she use to either come out or peep from the door eye and when we use to come out to take the crates inside she use to come out with her dirty paan in her mouth and ask oh mango aaya she sounded as though it was for her and not for us the paan use to drip down her lips while saying that and I use to be like aunty pahale paan wipe kar lo after that you talk.
I love mangoes so much that whenever mangoes are bought the whole lot of a box of mangoes (5kgs) will be finished in just 2 days. A fortnight ago my two cousins visited my house and we had a good feast of mangoes with mango shakes and mango ice-creams and later in the night all of us had a very bad stomach problem with vomiting and had to visit a doctor who advised us not eat more than one or two since all these mangoes coming from other states are sprayed with harmful chemicals. After that episode my mom stopped buying mangoes, I had stayed off mangoes for a while but now again when I came to Bangalore have started tasting different varieties of mangoes and now, I realise that I can stop eating all other fruits but not mangoes.
Rhea Rachel Mathew
Mango, ripe or unripe, has always been my favourite summer fruit and that was the case even when I was a kid, or at least that’s what my mom told me. “You were always this silent kid but very rarely, you would suddenly become this very mischievous”, my mom told me. We had and still have, a mango tree in our house but it never bore yellow- orange mangoes only the green ones. So during summers, my parents would buy us some ripe mangoes. It was during this time when the mango tree bore green mangoes or our parents brought us mangoes that my mischievous side would be triggered the most. She has always been strict with me and my brother, especially when it comes to doing things on time. She probably inherited this from my grandma who was the epitome of punctuality in the family. We were allowed to eat mangoes only when we were given. I was too small to pluck mangoes from the big tree and our caretaker was loyal to mom so she would never do that for us so I would steal the ripe mangoes and eat it with my brother. “You would steal and your brother would just follow you around with gleaming eyes to let him have a bite or two”, she said. How i executed the crime is still a mystery to my mom because she told me she made sure to hide them pretty well after my first time doing it.