Go mango! | india | Hindustan Times
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Go mango!

In the days of the Raj, a British lady was reported to have decried mango as something which could be consumed only in the privacy of one?s bathroom. But mango is now the stuff of diplomacy, not only within the subcontinent but also beyond it.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 01:01 IST

In the days of the Raj, a British lady was reported to have decried mango as something which could be consumed only in the privacy of one’s bathroom. But mango is now the stuff of diplomacy, not only within the subcontinent but also beyond it. It has acquired celebrity status with President Bush’s recent announcement of allowing Indian mangoes to be exported to the US is an example at hand.

In my knowledge, one of the earliest practitioners of mango diplomacy was my mother. When one of her brood refused food to protest against the denial of some demand, she would lure him/her with mangoes, to give up the satyagraha. And it is tribute to the delightful mango that she was always successful.

The lure of the mango has never faded. Which Indian child can resist this uncrowned king of fruits? Had the British known better, they would have tried engaging with the Mahatma on the strength of mango power.

I too have used this marvellous tool of diplomacy. There was a director general of police in Gujarat whom I had to deal with, who was scrupulous to a fault but miserly in granting leave. I was SP of a district and had applied for two weeks’ leave to take my family on vacation. The chances of it being sanctioned were, as usual, very bleak.

There was hope when I learnt about his weakness for mangoes. Plucked from the tree in the SP bungalow, the Kesar variety was a Gujarati special. But I was still in a fix, for any gift from a junior was abhorrent to the old cop.

But considering what was at stake, I decided to take a chance and sent him two boxes of the choicest mangoes, along with a note stating that they were from the trees in the SP’s bungalow.

A few days later the DGP’s PA rang up. Bracing myself for the worst, I took the call. But a happy surprise awaited me. The PA told me, “Sir, your leave has been sanctioned.” I was delighted to hear this and thanked him. But he added to my wonder by asking, “Sir, the DGP has inquired if you could send some more mangoes.”

“Oh why not”, I replied but was mystified. The sharp PA sensed this and said, “Sir, you know he has given one of the boxes to me and said that the mangoes were from the trees he had himself planted as SP in your district many years ago.”