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Under the Mango tree

The most important news that emerged from Bush's visit to India is not the N-deal, but the M-deal, says Saumya Balsari.
None | By Saumya Balsari
PUBLISHED ON MAR 25, 2006 06:45 PM IST

The most important news that emerged from the American President's recent visit to India is not the N-deal, but the M-deal. Mangoes will henceforth be exported to the United States. There was a rather belated reaction from the mangoes themselves today. A poem was issued by Mr. Alphonso, president and resident of Ratnagiri district:

A Mango's Tale of Woe

I am a mango
I'm a king, I'm a pro
My only job is to grow
So how can I say No
Or change the status quo?
So a roaming I must go
To Indiana and Idaho
But, oh the woe
That Indians will never know
My price that once was low
Or my taste again
I am the new drain
After the brain

There are others equally perturbed at the migration of mangoes across the Atlantic. I met Auntyji at Vee-Cee-Kay-Dee-Jay-Bee Mart. She looked quite cross. She said May was for mangoes, but the American deal had spoilt it all. Things would never be the same again. As it is, she grumbled, eating a single mango for the price of a pound from a Wembley grocer's dozen was not the real thing. She described the Indian summers of her childhood sitting cross-legged in the heat on the cool tiled floor in her petticoat, sucking fleshy red-orange nectar dribbling from her mouth that was an "O" of happiness. The mangoes had ripened slowly in straw placed on the folds of a worn sari, and her mother had reverently turned each one over every single day, coaxing golden fruit into perfection.

What did the Americans know about the ritual and respect for an Indian mango? asked Auntyji. What if McDonald's decided to sell Mcmango along with the burgers, Apple changed its name to Mango, and all the iPods turned orange, and New York turned into the Big Mango and the stars on the American flag were all shaped like mangoes, and the television series O.C. (Orange County) became Mango County, and Indian mangoes one day carried the stamp "Made in America"? 

Still, Auntyji's worst fear is for Britain. What if the price and demand for mangoes goes up here? After all, Blair can only follow a bush that leads to a mango tree.

(Saumya Balsari is the author of the comic novel 'The Cambridge Curry Club', and wrote a play for Kali Theatre Company's Futures last year. She has worked as a freelance journalist in London, and is currently writing a second novel.)

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