Mmmmm… Aapooss

Mango Mania in India – New York Times

Aaapooss… the more common name for Alphonso mangoes in Mumbai. This article brought is all back to me and I could not resist writing the second piece of the day on the same subject of nostalgia!

(source NY Times)

The Aam season is hard to miss in Mumbai. You have tons of stock in the fruit markets where people can have no end to bargaining for the best deals. Some of the best business deals are made there in the fruit market with specialist negotiation skills. Not all of them result in deals, some times the fruit sellers feel haggled and make customers walk away without a sale. They have hundreds of other potential buyers walking past the stall in that same second.

The fruit business is slightly tricky, just as my grandma would relate to matrimony. You gotta sell the fruit “at its prime”, just like you have to get your daughter married. Otherwise you have missed the chance and the fruit develops wrinkles and spots (or daughter grows old). So, the fruit sellers will resort to plan B or plan A for home specialists, i.e. door delivery. They have have their “boys” go to apartments to make their sale. They would sell “by the case”, or “by the dozen”, or “by the pound” or “on demand”. Early bird sells the fruit, so “time to market (door)” during the day and the season at large is also very important.

Now it gets risky, since the sellers are walking into the home territory of the buyers. There is no telling what techniques these buyers may have cuffed up. Some of them like my grandma would use “emotional blackmailing”, while others would try using “affection” as their weapon, by offering these tired sellers a cup of masala chai as they talk about prices. Some others would offer “future business during this season or forthcoming years” to the same sellers if they can agree on an price. Others are as daring as putting 2 sellers into a bidding contest and say “Jo Jeeta Wohi Dukandaar”.

When I look back, I wonder what these home makers are doing in Ghatkopar, they should be in Wall St. The sellers are not far behind. By walking into homes, they get a feel for what the people living in it can afford. Further they sense the mood of the buyers and through some small talk, see how urgent it is for them. Further, they assess their competition to see how many they are up against and what some of the others are offering. Some of them offer better packaging and “tools” to keep their mangoes warm and retain their taste for longer.

After all that is said and done, the deal is made. It could take as long as 1 hour of patient negotiation for each case that is bought. But somehow, both the buyer and the seller think that is worth the while. The basket will make its entry into the home. There would be 24 to 48 mangoes in each basket depending on its size. Each dozen will be separated from the other with layers of dried leaves and stems from the fall season to give the mango its bed of warmth.

After they are sufficiently ripe, these fruits will fulfill their destiny by landing up in someone’s belly. Based on their karma, they’d either be eaten raw, or ground/garnished with milk in “aam rass” (Mango Milk Shake or Lassi). When eaten raw, these mangoes would be shaved off their skins and cut or eaten in full. Sometimes, they would be served in isshtyle (toothpicks and all).

To this date, I have never seen anyone handle their mangoes as carefully as Mumbaikars. They are too good. Perhaps it all adds up, their favorite god is Lord Ganesha, who won the “Gnana Pazham”, a mango from his parents, defeating his brother in a game of wisdom.

Seems like such as long time ago! I must be getting old….. c’mon this is the time where you gotta say “Unakku Vayase aagalai… What a MAN!” in the Abbas style a la the famous Super Star movie Padayappa!


~ by The Tarun on May 10, 2006.

One Response to “Mmmmm… Aapooss”

  1. Or Mango days… something like Malgudi Days. 🙂 Nice post… quite nostalgic… Now with the southie influence, we have all sorts of mangoes – manganapalli, killimooka, etc! Am gonna hunt for mangoes in Cincy 🙂

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