Mango : The King of Fruits

Hiuen Tsang, after being in India is going back. Time AD 627-643, on the fabled Silk Route. Apart from his knowledge of Buddhism, his rucksack contains an extraordinary fruit called Mango.

The name in hindi AAM is derived from Sanskrit word AMRA which seems to be the loan from Dravidian and is related to Tamil words for Mango like “mamaram”. Portuguese were responsible for transferring the name to the West. It is growing in India since 4000 years at least.

Moguls were great connoisseurs of the fruit. Akbar got 100000 mango trees in Lakhi Bagh near Darbhanga Bihar. Others who relished the fruit were Shahjahan and Noor Jehan, Aurangzeb, Sher Shah Suri. Raghunath Peshwa got large numbers all over Maharashtra.

Main Constituents:

Citric acid and related compounds are responsible for sour taste. Several terpenes have been found in unripe fruit..

Ripe mango contains volatile compounds like alpha terpineol, ocimene, limonene, 3-carene etc. Yellow colour is due to beta Carotene.

Nutrients

Mangoes are rich in potassium, about 8% carbohydrate with 1.6 % dietary fibre. Very rich in vitamin A , C, B-6, calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Some famous Indian Varieties:

1: Alphonso or Hapoos
King among the mangoes. Named after Portugal admiral D Afonso de Albuquerque. Deogad in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra has got the GI tag of genuineness.

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2: Dasehri
It is birth place is Malihabad in Lucknow. Soft, succulent and mild.

3: Banarasi Langda
It was born in an orchard belonging to a Langda (lame) fellow and thus got this name.

4: Himsagar
Fibre less, creamy and full of pulp. Pride of Murshidabad in West Bengal.

5: Fazli
Quite big in size, famous in Malda of West Bengal. Late maturing.

6: Chaunsa:
From Bihar. Full of Flavour. It is pressed into mouth and juice is sucked.

7: Gulab Khaas
Native of Jharkhand. It is graceful mango

8: Kesar

Aromatic fruit of Junagadh Gujarat. Giving a tough fight to Hapoos. Plantations are on foothills of mount Girnar.

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9: Bedmi: Taste depends upon the plucking time.

10. Totapuri: it is abundant in southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka.

11: Sindoori: it gets its name from the vermillion colour of the skin.

12: Banganapalli/ Bagan Phali/ Safeda
From Andhra’s small town Banganapalli. Sweet, yellow and fibre less.

13: Himam Pasand/ Humayun Pasand
A cross made from Banganapalli and Malgoa. It is very popular in Deccan.

14: Chandrakaran: it is delicacy from Kerala. Sweet and sour. Quite costly.

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Where to Tricity?

Continue reading “Where to Tricity?”

Freak Weather

I remember when we were young in late fifties and sixties, weather transitions were fairly uniform. The farmers whose hard work can turn to dust till the crops are harvested and safely brought home, were fairly confident about weather. We saw only poor monsoons once in a while and crops failing badly and food scarcity. In those days farming was dependent on the blessings of nature especially for water. The variety of crops and food items was not much. Only native seeds were used and often mixed crops were raised. For example, wheat alongwith sprinkle of barley or mustard. Only those crops were raised in the same field which did not use the same nutrients. Number of crops raised were limited and land was kept fallow in cycles to restore its fertility. In those days agriculture was not considered a business.
Slowly all this has changed. Land has been drained of its nutrients by raising two or three crops in a year. It is in fact never given time to take a break.
Over the years, the weather is becoming highly wayward or unpredictable. It seems that old theory about how the monsoons in the North India began in Assam and water laden clouds were then directed towards western India from Bengal to Bihar and then Uttarpradesh and Punjab side. Rajasthan however remained a dry area, is not true anymore. Rains can precipitate anywhere. For example many areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat were innundated while states which were regular recipients of monsoon remained devoid of.
Environmentalists say all this is happening due to our activities. Global warming due to carbon dioxide blanket is told to be the culprit. It is the same carbon dioxide which once was the only gas in the atmosphere alongwith water at the beginning of the Earth. The bacteria changed it all fixing the carbon dioxide in the form of oxide minerals and sugars in plants. All this seem to be too true. Such events had taken place many times in the life span of the Earth. Nature is too big to be manipulated by the humans. May be there are minor additions. We see now more rains, floods and more cold weather in India.

What is Maya?

In the Hindu mythology, universe or the Maya is the dream of Vishnu which he dreams when lying on the bed made of serpents on the lake of infinity. Then, there was Narada, who was a very erudite sage. With his intelligence, he impressed so many Gods and Gods often discussed their problems with him and used his services as a messenger for communicating with each other because one of them may be in Himalayas while another in the down South.

One day Vishnu called upon Narada and offered him a single wish. The Narada asked him to understand the Maya that is the dream Vishnu dreamed and which as we know is the universe. Vishnu said Ok and took him on a walk. Now they are walking and walking beginning with Calcutta which is teeming with millions of people. They cross the Sunderbans where the fabled “White tiger” lives in the swamps and Sundari trees. They turn towards west and enter Bihar and then towards Uttar Pradesh. The weather is turning hotter and hotter and they are feeling more and more thirsty. The land is parched and Narada is finding it very difficult to go on. Now they reach the desert where the sand is burning with the heat from Sun.

Vishnu calls Narada and asks him to fetch some water for him as he is feeling very thirsty and weak. He pointed towards an oasis with its green shady trees and a village. The Narada went there in search of water and saw a well. He went and knocked at the door of first house to ask for the permission to draw water from the well. But when he saw the face of the woman who opened the door, he forgot everything about him and fell instantly in love. He married the woman and they lived together with great happiness. He and she worked in their fields and in the passage of time they were blessed with two children.

But the happiness was not everlasting. After twelve years, dark clouds thunder in the sky. Then the rain comes in thick sheets and there follows a deluge of such intensity that there is a flood which hurls everything that comes in its way. Swirling currents of water separates his family. He sees them consumed by the water one by one. He is crying and calling his beloved wife and children but to no avail. There after he also drowns in the water.

Narada wakes up after one hour with his face on the sand. The Vishnu is standing over him and asking him why he had been so late and where is the water he had gone to fetch for him. On hearing this Narada said “O God, now I have understood the meaning of Maya”

While Riding a bus

I was in Panchkula a few days ago. I had to go to Chandigarh from there. Transport service is not good.You have to shell seventy to eighty rupees if you want to go immediately and have to catch an auto-rickshaw. A few rickshaw drivers park their vehicles and wait for any stray passenger. They sit in a group and play cards to while away the time. It must be very boring for them. There are simply not many takers of rickshaws. This is because most of the residents in the area have their own vehicles.

I decided to take the bus however long I have to wait. Bus came and thankfully it was not crowded because it was in the afternoon. I got a seat in the front next to the door. The problem with the bus is that it takes a sinuous route throughout Panchkula covering almost every sector. So the crow’s distance of about 5 kilometers becomes 25 kilometers.

When the bus was nearing my intended stop, one stop behind a labor boy came and stood in the steps of the bus obviously to alight at the stop. He was having a tiffin box in his hand and was bearing a black colored shirt. On the back was written following sentence.

“I was born intelligent but education ruined me”.

I began remembering the great humorist and novelist, Mark Twain who often quoted that education is not a great thing. It is not necessary that a successful person must be educated. So many examples can be cited about the business magnates and successful leaders and actors who were not educated at all. Rabindranath Tagore did not go to any school for formal education, Akbar the Great and Asoka were illiterates but so wise and able.

But I strongly doubt that the boy who was wearing this shirt have been able to go to any school. His parents must have been very poor otherwise in India parents can remain hungry to save money for the education of his children. Like so many people, his parents must have come here from Bihar or Eastern U.P. to earn a good living. Everyone dreams of good education for his children. Whether the children like it or not is another matter.

Nadya Ke Paar

A few days ago, while surfing the channels on my television, I suddenly stopped because one of the channels was telecasting the Hindi  movie of the past years. It was called as “Nadya Ke Paar” which in English means “On the other side of the river”. The movie was a huge hit in its time. Its scoring point was simple and honest plot set in the rural area of Bihar.

The movie transported me to the good old days when we lived in the village in Punjab. There might be difference in the language, features of inhabitants but overall conditions are almost similar. There is family living in a village. The head of family lives with his two nephews. He falls ill and is treated by the village Vaid, who lives in the village situated on the opposite shore of the river. In lieu of the fees of treatment, the Vaid proposes to marry the elder nephew with his daughter.

It is agreed and the daughter comes to the house as the wife of elder brother. The house now has a woman who sets the house right, makes it neat and tidy. She becomes very fond of her brother-in-law known locally as “dewar”. It generally happens in the rural India, that there is a sort of relation between the two of teasing and joking. The dewars generally are spoiled by the sister-in laws. After some time, the wife becomes pregnant. As is the customary, either the pregnant women go to their parents house for delivering the child or some female member of her parental side comes to her and stays there till the child is born and becomes a few months old.

In this case, the Dewar who is called “Chandan” is deputed to go to the other side of the river and fetch the younger sister of his Bhabhi for this purpose. While coming back in boat, they fall in love. It continues to become deeper during her stay in her sister’s house. Once by chance the elder sister comes to know of about them. But it remains in her heart and she does not tell about it to anyone. A child is born to the Bhabhi.

Tragedy happens and elder sister dies in some accident. The parents of the girl decide unknowingly to marry the younger sister who actually loves the younger brother, to the widowed brother to take care the child. But just at the time of marriage, the love is discovered and Chandan is married to younger daughter.

The movie ran packed houses for  years in U.P and Bihar. It caught the pulse of the rustic villagers who again and again visited the theaters to watch the movie. The movie cast almost unknown actors not the stars. It was all set in a village house. There was a boat, few villagers, a river and a bullock cart. It must have been a very low budget film. It became so popular, that the movie was remade after many years by transporting the milieu to city and this again was a very popular movie. It was called “Hum Apke hain Kaun”. Though it was not as realistic as the old version, it celebrated the Indian joint family, family ties and customs of upper middle class. Everyone in that movie seems to singing, dancing and doing pretty nothing except girls and boys making merry.

The music and songs which are an integral part of an Indian movie were very sweet and were situational and graphical. Some of them like the marriage songs were the folk songs occasioned for the ceremony in those parts of the country side. The music was composed by Ravindra Jain. The male songs were sung by Jaspal Singh, the long forgotten singer. He had a very sweet voice and definitely possessed a voice which was superior to many of today’s singers.

Where is Gopal?

Gopal was a runty-bodied boy from Bihar; he was working in a shop here in the mini-shopping center. Anyone who saw him will take him for the proprietor of the shop which sells eatables, victuals and phone service and has a xerox machine. Shops generally are all-in-one type here.

Gopal was very agile and competent and extremely good-natured. He has a gift of gabbiness and it did not take him long to make a niche in a corner of your heart. I thought him to be Bengali but actually he was from Bihar; so many Biharis have come to this state because the British rulers brought their forefathers here as labours for tea plantations, and to  do the menial jobs and rickshaw pullers and laundry.

Then one day, Gopal suddenly disappeared from the scene. How did I come to know was that I had given Gopal a parcel to courier to my native town and it did not reach the destination for a long time. I came to inquire for it from Gopal but he was not in shop. Other persons who were actually the proprietors began sitting in place of Gopal. In the beginning they will not divulge his whereabouts but they knew it for sure. Sometimes they said Gopal has gone to another village to attend a marriage; after some days version became his own marriage.

Gopal is the name of Krishna who you might have seen playing on a flute in front of cows and there are amours Gopis who dance around him. These Gopis were married women who it is said, forget everything in the world: shame, their family, husbands and society, and went running to him when his notes on flute began wafting into the air and reached their ears. And our Gopal, he was smitten by love though not of gopis but only his unwed neighbour.  The girl’s father and mother are also having a shop in the same shopping place; they were next door neighbours. The affair was kept secret by the smart Gopal, but I doubt that some of the boys who loiter around all the time were knowing everything and so did the owner of the shop in which Gopal worked.

So one night, Gopal eloped with girl and to this day nobody knows where he has gone. He might be in some secluded place, must have got employment and by now may have fathered a child.