The mango is India’s national fruit — and deservedly so. It’s a fruit fit for the gods. But it is not just the fruity attractions of the mango that come to mind when I think of the mango. I think of the Baron, a butterfly whose larva feeds on the leaves of the mango tree (see The Perversions of Butterflies). And I think of Balvinder Singh, the earthy taxi driver in William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns, who tempts Dalrymple to accompany him on a visit Delhi’s red light area just to look, adding for good measure: “Delhi ladies very good. Having breasts like mangoes.”
Not long ago, I came across this visual interpretation of Balvinder Singh’s simile:
With these non-fruity mango associations out of the way, let me pay homage to the national fruit of India, the country that produces half the word’s mangoes. The first indication that something was afoot was this banner:
One day, I took my sons and went. The mango fest was a veritable feast for mango lovers. I’d no idea there were so many varieties of mangoes. Stall attendants cut open mangoes and offered pieces to taste to tempt buyers. Sellers had come from outside the state as well. The entire place was redolent with the mango fragrance, and as I walked among the stalls, I was sharply reminded of climbing mango trees outside my grandfather’s house as a boy. I bought a few mangoes before returning home, which turned out to be luscious and sweetened our dinnertime for the next few days. I leave you with the following images of the mango festival. Hopefully, they will tempt you into buying mangoes on your next visit to the market.