A Feast for all the Senses


Mango looks like gift-wrapped sunbeamsIMG_20180608_203804.jpg

Mango sounds like ‘slurp’

Mango smells like only a mango can

Mango tastes like Kesar    (*pick your favourite!)

Mango feels like one can survive the summer after all!

Ah Mangifera indica!


About 1,500 varieties of mango are grown in India, including 1,000 commercial varieties. Each of the main varieties of mango has a unique flavour.

* Take your pick!


1. Taimoorlang
2. Husnaara

3. Aabehayat

4. Zawahiri
5. Dussheri
6. Chosa
7. Lucknowi
8. Langra
9. Neelum
10. Rumani
11. Alphonsa
12. Bombay Green (Sarauli)
13. Banganpalli
14. Samar Behest Chausa
15. Fazli 16. Kishenbhog 17. Himsagar 18. Gulabkhas 19. Zardalu 20. Airi   21. Malkurad (Goa) 22. Kesar 23. Rajapuri 24. Jamadar(Gujarat) 25. Beneshan 26. Bangalora
27. Suvarnarekha 28. Mulgoa 29. Raspuri 30. Badami 31. Allampur Beneshan 32. Himayuddin 33. Jehangir 34. Cherukurasam 35. Bathua 36. Bombai 37. Sukul
38. Fernandin 39. Mankurad 40. Vanraj 41. Mundappa 42. Olour 43. Pairi 44. Safeda
45. Raspoonia 46. Mithwa Sundar Shah 47. Mithwa Ghazipur 48. Taimuriya
49. Sharbati Begrain 50. Gilas 51. Nauras 52. Rasgola 53. Hardil-aziz 54. Cherukurasam
55. Peddarasam 56. Totapuri 57. Kothapalli Kobbari 58. Chinna Rasam 59. Cheruku Rasam 60. Pedda Rasam 61. Mallika 62. Ratole 63. Kaju
64. Himayat 65. Khatta Meetha 66. Panchadara Kalasa 67. Manjeera
68. Amrapali 69. Arkapuneet 70. Sindhu

Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/mango/varieties.aspx


Matchmaker, Matchmaker….

Shared memories are probably what define a community or nation or any grouping.

And one indelible memory shared by millions of Indians is seeing miles and miles of walls painted with:

‘Rishtey hi rishtey

Prof. Arora

Mil to lein’.

Prof. Arora rocked social media before social media was invented!

But this piece is not so much about the ‘world-famous in India’ professor, as about how matches were and are made.

Detail from ‘Matchmaker’: A painting by Nilofer Suleman



When we were young (and for centuries before that, I would imagine), it was about

Pushy pishis

Mission-mode mamas

Chatty chachis

Anxious ammammas

Each activating their network of relatives, friends, acquaintances; chatting up people chance-met at weddings or house warmings or whatever; reaching out to guests of their neighbours, sisters in law of their cousins, whoever. But the fundamental strategy was ‘pass the word, pass the word’.

And boy, did it work! Everyone (except the resolutely resistant), did end up getting married.

‘Matchmaker’: Nilofer Suleman



And then came a generation where it was considered OK to put up a matrimonial ad in TOI or Hindu or whatever the local dominant newspaper was. This seemed to work fairly OK too.

Today, with so-called efficient networks and all manner of specialized networking sites, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. I meet so many 30+ people who are not married. It could be that they don’t want to get married. But I know at least half of them do want to. But they never seem to find the right person. The trick seems to be to find a soulmate in school or college. It seems to get increasingly difficult afterwards.

Then parents come into the picture. And they are pretty clueless!

Which makes me think that we have to find some other means to fix matches. Have no idea what, but maybe go back to real-live human beings as intermediaries, rather than just bits and bytes of information floating in the ether?


The Upside-Down Tree

A Tree-Tale on the occasion of World Environment Day

I first saw a Baobab tree in Tsavo National Park, on safari in Kenya. With a huge bulging trunk and branches that looked like roots spreading in a wide canopy, it was unlike any tree I had seen. I was intrigued. As I read more about Africa I found that this tree, which was native to Africa, Madagascar, and Australia, played a significant role not only in the ecology, but equally the folklore of these regions.

Across Africa, there seem to be many stories passed on from generation to generation, that explain why the Baboab looks the way it does. One of the most popular, and my favourite one, goes like this.

The first Baobab grew near a small lake, along with many other trees. One day it saw its reflection in the water, and it was shocked. It saw a huge fat trunk covered in bark that looked like the wrinkled hide of an old elephant; small leaves and pale flowers.

Now this Baobob was a complainer. “Why did you make me so ugly?” it asked the Creator. “Why did you make me so big and fat? Why can’t I be tall and slender like the Palm tree?” “Why is my bark so rough and tough? Why can’t I have a smooth trunk like the Mahogany tree?” “And such insignificant flowers, why not bright ones like those of the Tulip tree?”

And the Baobab went on whining and complaining, comparing itself to every other tree, and feeling short-changed in every aspect. Until finally the Creator had enough! In a fit of exasperation, he came down and yanked the Baobab up from its roots, and replanted it upside down! No longer could the Baobab see its reflection, and no longer could it compare and contrast!

But the Creator could not be heartless. The vain whiner had to be taught a lesson, but after all this too was one of his own creations! So the Creator gave the Baobab some special features that would make it one of the most valued of trees for countless other living beings, including humans.

This Tree of Life, as it is called by some tribes in Africa, creates its own ecosystem, as it supports the life of countless creatures, from the giant elephants to the thousands of tiny creatures scurrying in and out of its crevices. Weaver birds nest in its branches and owls and Hornbills roost in its hollows; baboons and warthogs devour the seedpods and the fruit; bush babies and fruit bats drink the nectar and pollinate the flowers. The tree can store hundreds of litres of water in its trunk, an adaptation to the harsh drought conditions of its environment. This water is tapped in dry periods by elephants and Bushmen.

P1130244.JPGEvery part of the tree is valuable for the local communities; its lumber is used for storage, its bark is pounded to make rope, fishnets, mats, baskets, paper and cloth. More recently, its fruit has joined the ranks of international Superfoods–it is known to contain six times as much vitamin C as oranges, twice as much calcium as milk, and plenty of B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, and antioxidants.

Baobabs can reach up to 75 feet in height, and the trunk can grow more than 60 feet wide. Humans have used the hollowed trunks for a variety of purposes—from a post office, to a jail, and even a pub!

Baobabs are some of the longest living of trees, believed to live for more than 2000 years!  When they do die, they simply rot from the inside and suddenly collapse, leaving a heap of fibres, and so the local belief is that they do not die at all, but simply disappear!  No wonder the Bushmen call it the Magic tree!

Some years after I returned from Kenya, we visited Diu, an island just off the coast of Gujarat. As we walked around, we were astonished to come across a Baobab tree! Solidly ensconced in majestic, solitary splendour among the Hoka palms and green fields, it brought back memories of our Safari days!  No one seemed to know when and how it came to be there. Thereafter, on our annual Diu trip with the children, we all eagerly looked forward to spending a morning exploring the Baobab. Over the years, as the children grew, it remained a reassuring and comforting presence. This year, the Baobab was introduced by my now-grown daughter to her husband, as an old friend!


Happy World Environment Day!


Average is Normal

It is that time of the year again. It is the season of Superlatives. Exam results with Beyond Belief percentages, pictures of the Highest Scorers in the papers, magazines listing the Best Colleges, coaching classes advertising Record-breaking Achievers. So many wonder-kids? Are there no ‘average’ children anymore?

Even several years ago, I remember meeting my children’s classmates’ mothers when we were summoned to meet the teachers after the exam results were given. I heard exchanges about the achievements of the respective prodigy—prizes for painting, dancing, skating, swimming and more. Class toppers, school leaders all. I wondered, if every child is so brilliant, are there any simply ordinary children in the class?

I began to have doubts about my own parenting responsibilities and skills. Well, I did try to get the children to go for swimming coaching, largely because their cousins were going too (50% success—my daughter picked it up, and my son did not), dance lessons (my daughter did last a couple of years, but never made it till an arangetram!), and karate (my daughter made it till the first camp, my son till the white-one belt!).  Neither they, nor I, seemed to have the endurance run the gauntlet and emerge a Winner every time!

As parents who followed a relatively laissez-faire style of parenting, our considerations were mainly that the children were given the space to simply be, and blossom as they will. But as they grew, it became increasingly difficult to cope with the expectations of a competitive system. Still we thought that we were managing ok within the larger environment. We got a jolt one fine morning, when our son was denied readmission into Class 11 in the same school he had studied in for 10 years, because he missed the “cut off” by a couple of marks. Imagine the devastation for a fifteen year old. The experience that followed is a story in itself. One of the outcomes was that we decided that we did not wish our daughter (who was even less equipped to cope with a mindlessly competitive system) to go through this. Despite being told that “this is the system, your children and you will need to learn to swim with the tide, or sink”, we actively explored alternatives….and found them.

The children made it through! Today they are in the ‘system’ as it were, without being sucked into its vortex. They may not meet the generally accepted norms of Mainstream Success. (“Settled” so to speak, with six-figure earnings, car and apartment, designation, the skills to compete ruthlessly …and burn out at 35). They are following somewhat unconventional paths; they continue to explore, and discover new passions, new horizons, and new accomplishments. They are rich in experience, life skills, and relationships. They have the confidence to be themselves, and “not just another brick in the wall”.

Perhaps the greatest freedom we can offer our children is to allow them to think differently, and more importantly, to act differently.  Gunter Pauli

peanuts flaws

From Peanuts by Charles Schulz