It is that time of the year again. The 'king of fruits' has hit vegetable and fruit markets with a bang. Every mango tree, even if it grows in the wild, at the corner of a street or down the alley, is large-hearted with its fruit.
You can eat ripe mangoes absolutely fresh from the tree, as an accompaniment with vanilla ice-cream, you can eat them in tangy pickles or sweet chutneys or jellies, you can eat them in their dried form, as in 'aam papad' or maybe as a refreshing summer drink 'aam panna'.
The mango fruit is truly our USP, available in over a hundred-odd varieties, each with its unique colour, shape, scent and flavour.
The other day, I drove past the industrial area and was delighted to take in the beauty of the groove of giant and aged mango trees on either side of the road. Most of us who have lived in north India have vivid memories of mango grooves that appear like a refuge in the midst of vast and mundane countryside.
Somewhere in the corner, under the shade of the mango tree you are able to spot a labourer enjoying his humble lunch followed by an enviable siesta.
Mangoes are delicious, but let us not forget the beauty and elegance of the majestic mango tree.
If at all there existed a hierarchy among trees, the mango tree would perhaps be at the top. They are deep-rooted, symmetrical evergreens that attain enviable heights with tall, spreading branches, and their glossy leathery leaves just leave you spell-bound.
My maternal grandfather, who retired from the Indian Forest Service, is fond of trees and the mango is his favourite.
He particularly looks forward to this season when he can binge on the lovely mangoes, that too not after but before every meal.
He often finds himself at the receiving end for this habit from my grandmother to which he retorts, "This is Lyallpur style, something you will never understand," and continues his feast.
Now that the mango season is here, the attentive chowkidar is a busy man driving away impish gangs of schoolchildren who try to sneak in with a hope to make merry with a handful of juicy mangoes.
And then there are the graceful emerald-green parrots with blood-red beaks that can't wait to gate-crash mango grooves.
Sadly, though, the 'aam' fruit is no longer for the 'aam aadmi' considering the sky-rocketing prices at which it is being sold.
Can the 'mango man' afford to shell out Rs 1,200 for a dozen of alphonso (in this banana republic)? Who will buy them? The demand-supply mismatch has indeed played havoc with the "aam aadmi's" taste buds.