Have any of you experienced heaven on earth? I have. Many years ago, I found myself in a mango grove in Alagar Hills, Madurai, one morning. I walked in the green-tinted semi-darkness — the canopy was so thick that it did not let much sunlight in — my eyes wide at the sight of hundreds of neelam mangoes hanging low, glistening invitingly. I could simply put my hand out and reach 10 of the greenish-yellow fruit. I remember sitting on the floor and eating one of them — not too sweet, but a flavour so intoxicating.
The mango is like a drug. Once you have some, you cannot stop. There are so many varieties, each with a unique flavour and texture. You can even plan a mango road-trip across India, stopping by at various states to taste their specialities. You will be surprised at how the taste changes with geography.
Skin an imam pasand, cube it and pop it in; slice a rumani and scoop just the flesh with your teeth; grab a senthooram and suck the juice out by biting a tiny portion off the top; slice a neelam and chew on it with your eyes closed…wait, I’m taking a break from writing, the malgova on my table beckons.
Comparing it with any other fruit is like comparing Rajinikanth with Mohan or Sarath Babu. I mean, doesn’t everyone know there can only be one Superstar?
— Akila Kannadasan has a secret underground chamber in which she hoards mangoes to last her a year at the end of every summer
An ode to banana
Holiday romance is refreshing, sure. But everybody needs a constant to stand by them through the most mundane days. And banana is my constant.
This cheerful yellow fruit is there for me to lean on, all through the year. Unlike mango, for which one has to wait for 10 months like the protagonist of a tragedy anticipating the return of a loved one, who then causes heartbreak. Or in my case, indigestion.
It is a piece of art. No wonder, at Art Basel Miami Beach last year, a single banana taped to a wall drew as much attention as, dare I say, a painting by Picasso.
Despite its celebrity status, banana is my 2 am buddy: when I am just going to bed after a long night out (pre COVID-19 days) or after tiring my eyes out on OTT platforms (post COVID-19).
Feeling lavish? Have a decadent banoffee pie. Frugal days? Mix it with jaggery and rice. In a health-conscious mode? Have a smoothie. This fruit is as versatile as Shah Rukh Khan — put it in any situation and it’ll fit in just fine. The banana is a fruit you can depend on; the Rahul Dravid of the fruit world. With it by your side, you will never go hungry. It will tide you through all stomach issues. No seeds, no mess, no hassle. Dirty hands? No problem. Just peel and eat.
Now, excuse me, I have to join the minions and sing the banana song. “Ba ba ba ba ba nana…!”
— Priyadarshini Paitandy is travelling the world, banana in hand