And the meek shall Inherit

Monday, May 30, 2005


Watched Raincoat over the holiday weekend and it seems that Indian cinema is finally coming of age. Over the past few years, despite the proliferation of trash by Bollywood, there have been influx of some quality movies by some new directors. Raincoat is one such movie, which does not resort to humongous sets for song/dance routines nor slapstick comedians hamming away or Ms. Sherawat displaying her cleavage in ample measure. Apparently inspired by O Henry’s ‘The Gift of Magi’, which I have not had the privilege to read yet, the screenplay, script and performances are above par.

Nilu (Aishwarya) and Manu (Ajay Devgan) are old acquaintances, who once were romantically involved.. The romance, of which there is only subtle references without resorting to boy-girl-runs-around-trees and flower caressing each other shenanigans. Nilu breaks Manus heart when she decides to marry someone for security in life, rather than some clichéd emotion called love. Manu takes the rejection pretty hard, but the level headed Nilu castigates him for his social standing and current monetary plight. Manu is currently facing hard times and comes to Calcutta to borrow money from friends. While visiting Calcutta he decides to visit Nilu, despite protests from his friend. The crux of the movie is the interaction between Nilu in one room which starts off with both the central characters show-boating their supposedly gilded lives. Slowly the lies begin to pile on, each layer thicker than the other, with each one trying to outdo the other. When Anu Kapoors characters enters the picture, lots of things finally fall into place. The film ends on a poignant note with Nilu and Manu going their own separate ways, but not before a few surprises before the end.

The overall direction is excellent, though the pace of the movie is sometimes a bit slow. What stands apart is the superb ensemble cast and the acting by Ajay Devgan and Aishwarya which is played with substantial restraint by both these characters. After ‘Choker Bali’, which really do anything for me, Riturparno deserves all the kudos for this gem of a movie. There is a scene when Aishwarya’s character talks about running away from everything and placed besides her is a bust of an angel with a dove ensnared in its clasp. The music by Debajyothi Mishra is something else. Shubha Mudgal voice is earthy with the right touch of heart breaking melancholy. The song ‘Piya Tora Kaisa Abhiman’ is filmed with a poetry narration by Gulzar, during a pivotal scene in the movie. Cinematic nirvana. Definitely a must watch. One stanza from the poetry by Gulzar

Kisi mausam ka jhoka tha
Jo is deewar par latki hui tasveer, Tirchi kar gaya hai
Gaye saawan mein yeh deeware seeley nahin thi
Na jaane is dafa kyo inme seelan aye gayi hai, darare pad gaye hain
Aur seelan is traha bahti hai, jaise khusk rukhsaro ke geele asoo chalte hain

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Sidharth...test image in BloggerBot...for Anshul Posted by Hello

Bhanu Kamdar

A few days ago my mind wandered off to my good ole days, when MTV and cable TV were still distant pipe dreams and PC’s and the internet, at least in India, were non-existent. What kept us busy during hot summer months was cricket and haranguing our unsuspecting neighbors. During one of those summer months in the mid or late 70’s we participated actively in a civic Municipal election in Bombay. We participating implies the hyperactive motley crew of pre-adolescent brat pack that ran wild in our society complex. The reason for the active involvement was Bhanu Kamdar, a tall, sprightly man, with a scruffy beard and professorial demeanor, who was contesting the municipal elections from our constituency. He was not a candidate of any of the well known parties, but was contesting the election as an independent. With a megaphone in hand and a ‘jhola bag’ hanging on his lean frame he would scour the residential areas on a bicycle with ‘Kachra Hatao’ being the pivotal theme of his campaign. Bhanu Kamdar wasn’t a businessman with oodles of black money, nor a public servant or some movie star hankering for cheap publicity. He was a working class stiff, who lived in a modest 1 bedroom apartment and who just wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.

What really drew us to this man I cannot remember, but what I do remember is that he was humane, sincere, decent and willing to roll up his sleeves and get down to doing anything himself. Patiently he would listen to complains from the residents in our area and refrain from making any false tall promises. In those days, sanitation and hygiene were a big concern since the garbage would not be cleared by the corporation for days on end and coupled with the water scarcity and oppressive heat of Bombay, it made many a lives miserable. Not that the situation has improved much now, but Bhanu Kamdar listened to them all, and evoked some hope of a cleaner surrounding for all of us. Till midnight or sometimes later, he would urge the society members to provide him with signed petitions describing their grievances and the gravity of the situation concerning hygiene. He employed sweepers and gutter cleaners at his own expense to have the refuse removed from overflowing garbage bins.

We, the kids in our neighborhood were his campaign workers. We would walk the streets behind Bhanu Kamdar screaming slogans and extolling residents to vote for Bhanu Kamdar. He would stop people in the streets, explain his manifesto, listen to them patiently, hand them pamphlets and petitions and then move on. For the most part, it was an excuse for us to get out of the house and spend time with our friends, but we were also imbibing valuable lessons in civic responsibilities. Sometimes we would face some campaigners from a different party with their loudspeakers and massive banners. We would either get jeered at or intimidated by the hooligans, which we had been asked to refrain from responding.

Needless to say Bhanu Kamdar lost the election to someone from one of the well known and well greased political party. He did not have the funds to solicit the slum dwellers with cheap hooch nor have the hooligans to rig the polls and the means to bribe the policemen. Despite losing the election he would still come around to our neighborhoods to check on the garbage collectors and any other issues that the residents might have. It’s really weird how sometimes the most inconsequential and random events from our childhood gets stuck in ones head, maybe having its effect on some subliminal and subconscious level. I really can’t place my finger on why this particular experience is so ingrained so vividly in my memory, but it just is. Maybe Bhanu Kamdar represents what I wish to remember everything that was good and decent in my life while growing up. Or maybe like a lotus in full bloom in a filthy swamp, he just stood out amongst the other vermin’s that we have seen and heard masquerading as our leaders. Whatever it was, Bhanu Kamdar certainly left an impression on me.

We learnt of Bhanu Kamdars death, of natural causes, a few years after the election. He was in his early 40’s and was survived by his wife and two small kids. Evicted from his home, forced to live with his family on the footpath, Bhanu Kamdar died a broke and penniless man.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Cool Spelling Bee's

Check out the article in CNN on Spelling Bee’s here

It's never been as cool to be a spelling bee geek as now.

Once considered a slightly odd sub-culture of American life, the contests where school children compete to spell words most kids don't understand are now popping up in movies, books, a musical and even advertisements.

George Hornedo was stumped by the word totipotency (the ability of a cell to generate unlike cells and form a new individual or part) at last year's National Spelling Bee and placed 71st. But the 14-year-old will try again at this year's June 1-2 contest, just months after shooting a Hollywood movie about spelling.

"Lots of people have made comments about how spelling bees are geeky ... but now it's becoming cool," said Hornedo, who attends Park Tudor School in Indianapolis and plays basketball, baseball and tennis when he's not studying.

It’s all well and good for the Spelling Bees I suppose, because in my books it was never uncool to be a spelling bee. What I take issue is with the mainstream media making proclamations of ‘What ls Cool’ and ‘Who is Uncool’. What exactly is Cool ? Given a choice to shoot the breeze between Samuel L.Jackson, Tony Hawk, Ken Jennings and Paris Hilton, I think I would prefer Ken Jennings any day. Unless its night, then I might lean towards the Hilton airhead, just out of my natural primal inclinations. It’s fascinating to see who popular media anoints as “cool” by overexposure and arcane society laws of non-conformance or problem with authority. Why is our fascination with cool ? In my world, my parents who served as role models for me to be a decent human being are cool, professors who judiciously imparted knowledge unbiased in schools/colleges are cool, the scrupulous public servants who do the right thing by making millions of lives better should be icons of cool. Not cool are airhead billionaire bimbettes or waif like, overpaid, overexposed performers/supermodels, pedophile dysfunctional rock and rollers or self-centered, multi-millionaire sports icons. They have their wealth and decadence, ergo could do very well without cool.

The media has long played the game of tagging the masses and each one of us conforms to these stereotypes that we have been tagged with. What’s more, even our own perception of others is filtered by what gets fed to us by the elitist media. That, in my mind, is anything but cool. Cool to me is not someone telling me who is , cool is what cool does.

PS: At no point in my life, have I ever been perceived as being cool and there is no shred of evidence or inclination that this perception might change in the near future. That being said, my views expressed above do not, in any way, shape or form, direct any acrimony or antipathy towards the so called “cool and privileged” populace. Nor was I inebriated or doped while expressing my views. It’s merely a rant against “perception by association”.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Sunil Dutt

Sunil Dutt actor-minister passed away on Wednesday May 25th in Bombay, India of a heart attack. He was 75 and represented my constituency in Bombay as a Lok Sabha MP. Though I am not a big fan of Sunil Dutt movies, the role that I will always remember him by will be ‘Bhola’ in Padosan, one of India’s best made original comedy film. Despite such stalwarts like Mehmood, Om Prakash and Kishore Kumar, Sunil Dutt held his own very well and one cannot think about better parody by anyone in a comedy role. Indian comedy is mostly slapstick and loud, but Sunil Dutt played this character with the perfect mix of ‘lost puppy’ ambivalence demeanor and the right touch of buffoonery to play the perfect foil for Kishore Kumar/Mehmood’s sometimes ‘over the top’ but absolutely hilarious shenanigans. Despite being the romantic lead in the movie, he stayed true to the character he played in the movie, cropping his hair pretty short and dressing up in loose pajamas, geeky shirts and an oversized forest rangers hat. Very few lead actors in India, contemporary or vintage, will risk experimentations with their image, in their movies to ‘get into character’. This is my all time favorite Hindi comedy, and despite having watched it over a dozen times, I never am bored to watch a rerun of this classic.

An incident that stands out in my mind is watching Sunil Dutt in 1980, at a temple near our house in Bombay, direct his son Sanjay Dutt in his first movie ‘Rocky’. Sanjay Dutt, after the shoot, with the indifference of his age and youthful arrogance, perched himself on the hood of a car parked nearby, while Sunil Dutt was reviewing the shot with his technicians. After the shot had been reviewed, Sunil Dutt turned around and saw his son sitting on the hood of the car. He walked over to Dutt Jr. and sternly admonished him to get off the car and was overheard telling him ‘Chalo gaadi se neeche utro. Yeh gaadi tumhari baap ki nahin hai.’ (Get down from the car. It doesn’t belong to your father). Sanjay Dutt sulked and sheepishly climbed down from the hood of the car. Says a lot about a man a how he perceives, values and respects others around him.

I’ve also heard from friends living in the Bandra area the social work that he had done for the slum dwellers in Bombay. Above and beyond everything, his son Sanjay Dutt, owes his life, career and all his trappings to his father. I cannot recollect any father do so much for his son as Sunil Dutt did for Sanjay Dutt when he was jailed for his role in the Bombay bomb blasts. Sunil Dutt seemed to be a genuine and sincere human being, a good husband, a good father and a good MP to his constituents. Sunil Dutt, as they would say in Brooklyn, was good people.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Richard Bach

One of our erudite Book Club, which BTW has finally been christened as ‘BooksOnLatte’ (BOL), members has prompted me to think about quotations from books that I read. Richard Back is one of the favorite all time authors of mine with books like Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Illusions, The Messiah amongst the most popular ones. There are some of the quotes from the books that I go back to from time to time, which I feel are really deep and have impacted me positively. Some of the quotes from his books:

You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self.

Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain
you don't have anything to learn from them.

You're always free to change your mind
and choose a different future, or a different past.

- from "Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.
Being true to anyone else or anything else is not only impossible, but the mark of a false messiah.

- from "Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

The simplest questions are the most profound.

Where were you born?
Where is your home?
Where are you going?
What are you doing?

Think about these once in awhile, and watch your answers change.

- from "Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah"

You are never given a wish without being given
the power to make it true.

You may have to work for it, however.

- from "Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah"

Simply Awesome, aren’t they? We are reading ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’ by Hanif Khureshi for the BOL gathering on 4th June. Watch this space for updates about the meeting.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Watched the movie Sideways over the weekend and was just wowed by this little gem of a movie. Not the greatest of movies that I have ever watched, but a good movie nevertheless. Directed by Alexander Payne of Elections and ‘About Schmidt’ fame, this movie tells a story about losers, wine and making lemonade when life serves you limes. The performances by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church are really exceptional, and the supporting performances by Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh are pretty good as well. But what wins is the storyline and the adept screenplay, which though predictable progresses at a good pace with excellent narration.

What I liked about the movie is the parallelism between the two primary characters of Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Hayden Church) who are morally bankrupt, but to varying levels. Jack while overtly appears to have no scruples whatsoever, Miles puts on a façade being virtuous, while he is equally duplicitous and reprehensible as Jack regarding his convictions. The two college buddies take a road trip a week before Jack’s wedding, to taste California wine and play golf. Miles who fancies himself as a wine connoisseur, with all the pretensions of sniffing, gargling and whirling the wine glass, takes Jack to different vineyards around California to savor the different kinds of wines produced at the vineyards. Jack couldn’t care less, and he comes along for the ride just for one last hurrah, to sow his wild oats before his impending wedding and giving up his exalted independence. There is interesting scene where Miles is trying to impart the precocious wisdom of wine selection and tasting to Jack, and Jack merely retorts ‘So when do we get to drink?’. Miles is a certifiable loser and there is one powerful scene in the movie, when his book gets rejected by a publisher and his outburst following this rejection. The frustrations that he mouths have also been plagiarized from some other writer, and are not his own. Jack in the meantime seduces a free spirited barwoman and leaves Miles stranded to do his own thing, when he develops a romantic interest in a local waitress Maya. Many misunderstandings ensues between the two couples, and the involvement of the two friends with the ladies remains just a temporary tryst on a road trip. After a week long journey the friends return home from their escapades and for Jack’s wedding. Miles life continues to fall apart, as he seems to be getting sucked into the lowest nadirs of life. One scene that stands out in my mind is after he runs into his ex-wife, who is now happily married and settled with someone else, Miles runs back to his apartment and pulls out a 1961 wine bottle that he is saving for a special occasion. He drinks this wine out of a Styrofoam cup at a diner, while chowing down burgers and onion rings. The look on his face while doing this says it all. There is also a scene, where he is extolling the virtues of Pinot to his love interest Maya, during which he makes a case for the Pinot grape and their temperamental existence. It seems like he is making justifications for his own inconsequential existence.

This movie is definitely not everyone’s fare, and many might get put off by the duplicity and shallowness of the central characters. But it worked for me, since there is a little bit of Miles and little of Jack in most of us.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Last week the Detroit Pistons beat the Indiana Pacers in a grueling 6 game series, which was a closely fought series. The star of the Pacers, Reggie Miller, had announced his retirement from professional basketball after 18 seasons with a single team. What was great about game 6 was not the fact that Detroit won, but at the end of the game when defeat for the Pacers was imminent, Coach Larry Brown from Detriot called a timeout. This timeout had nothing to do with strategy or plays or plotting the next move. The timeout was just a token of respect for a retiring hero and the coach and all the players stood in front of the Pacers bench and applauded Reggie Miller, who was moved to tears. Very rare to see such a sight in professional sports, where selfish, avaricious and ego-centric athletes are very much the norm for regular temperament rather than the exceptions.

What was so touching about this surreal moment was the fact that you could be rivals to the core where it matters viz. the field of play, but as soon as you step off the field the opponent deserves the respect and adulation that you might expect of them. Not a bad lesson to carry around in life.

The eastern conference finals against the Miami Heat starts tonite and it is expected to be an intense contest. Though I am really rooting for the Pistons, but it looks like this time they might get beat by Miami. I have $20 riding on this instinct.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Potty Training

Well let’s see what Sidharths antics were for the past week. As I sit here typing, he his dragging the duvet cover of our sofa across the kitchen floor. And his mother is screaming, while I choose to ignore her berating. Now the doormat is getting mauled as I compose this blog. My eyes are steadfast glued to my PC.

With each passing day his fascination for the toilet seems to be ascending exponentially with reprehensible outcomes. One can see the mischievous glint in his eyes as he steps into the bathroom and starts making his way towards the pot. Like Lord Vader approaching Princess Leah as the Star Wars Vader music plays in the background. Wringing his little hands with glee, as if he is getting baptized or has just discovered the holy grail, like Moses, he parts the water and the rest of the contents of the toilet bowl. Last week while relieving myself one afternoon, the doorbell happened to ring and I had to attend the door without flushing the loo. When I returned back after attending the door, I found the little chap missing. Somehow I had this grim foreboding anticipating the gross, and lo and behold, there he was with his legs sticking out of the toilet, his head nearly drowned inside, and making circular wave motions with the toilet water. There was a retching sensation in my stomach coupled with urgency to pull my son out of the crapper. Luckily there was no “solid” waste for junior to mould, else I would have severed all relationship with him with immediate effect. Needless to say that I had to give him his third bath for that day, with Seemz not wanting anything to do with this child of ours.

Last week while attending a social function in one of the local schools in Troy, I was left in charge of our “loo”vable sonny boy. With Seemz busy helping out with the dinner preparation, I was left to fend for myself with a super-hyper kid on my hands. Having fought off a trip to the men’s room as much as possible, and having stood cross legged for a really long time, I finally had to succumb to natures call. So after finishing my business with a jumpy kid in one hand, I flushed the urinal and turned around to wash my hands. There was no other option but to let Sidharth stand next to me while I soaped my hands underneath the running faucet. As soon I left him down, he turned around and stuck his hand in the running water of the urinal and started splashing it around. Oh my gosh noooo. Needless to say his shirt was wet, so were a good portion of his pant and shoes. I came very close to giving up that evening. On well, such is life, what can you say.

Check out this article from Cyrus Broacha, which amplifies my current state of mind aptly about dealing with a 2-year old.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The King's Chariot

After 50 years the Rolls-Royce is back in India as reported by the BBC here

The Phantom was reportedly purchased by Yohan Poonawalla for almost $1 million dollars or approximately Rs. 4 crores. Unfathomable, at least to my middle-class frugal senses. This morning on the way to work, I happened to listen to an interview with this Poonawalla guy on the BBC news service. The interviewer was asking him about why he chose this particular car and where in India he would drive the Phantom around etc. When she asked if he would drive the car himself, he retorted immediately ‘Rolls-Royce are chauffer driven’, as if peeved that someone had the temerity to suggest that he might be driving himself around. Mr. Poonawala apparently has six drivers being specially trained how to drive and maintain a Rolls-Royce in Bombay, by someone who has specially flown in from London to conduct the training. Ah, the opulence. All this just to get from point A to point B. I wonder when traveling for Piloo auntie’s wedding or Rustom’s graduation party , will the whole family cram into the Phantom, with the kids squeezed on the laps of the adults and their heads sticking out the window, while the poor chauffeur has to drive around sitting only on half his arse. And if the Phantom has a flat tire on the way to the tracks, will Yohan get out of the car to help out the poor chauffeur fix the jack. Or will he sit inside the Rolls Royce, munching on toast bits smeared with Grey Poupon or nibbling on Russian caviar ? Just wondering. Lifestyles of the very rich.

Speaking of chauffeur’s, Ashish Jagtiani had an interesting article in the mid-day about his hankering for a job as Ratan Tata’s chauffeur. Check out the article here

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Gas Leakage

Last Sunday we were all tucked in and blissfully counting our z’s at around 11:00 PM, when the phone rang, causing Seemz to jump from the bed to answer the phone call. Her friend on the call was frantic about some plane crash in our area and that residents in Rochester Hills were evacuating their homes by the droves fearing a terrorist attack. My skeptical nature lead me to switch on the TV and then the internet to find any news of the imminent doom.

There seemed to be no imminent news about the end of the world, but not according to my better half. She was convinced that there was definitely something wrong and that we should do something, without quantifying what that something was. Stepping outside our house I house hear a loud roar, like a wildfire approaching us, and for a few seconds the end of the world theory seemed quite plausible to me. Meanwhile Seemz was freaking out, and a good amount of panic was setting in with me as well. The only chap oblivious to the entire commotion was Sidharth who wanted to watch Barney when the sky was supposedly falling, much to his mothers chagrin.

On the nightly TV news they announced that a gas line, not far from our house, had ruptured, thereby emitting gas and they were evacuating people 1000 feet around the plant. Though our house was not within the 1000 feet radius, we though it best to leave our home and spend the night at our friends house in Troy. Seemz already had a bag packed with our passports, important documents, clothes and some inane stuff only she knows why she packed. Amidst all the chaos she wanted to pack her pharmacy text books, just in case our house was to get burnt down. And handkerchiefs, to clean our stuffed nose if we are stuck in the gas leak. Things that you do not want to be caught dead with, dirty underwear and stuffed nose!

Check out the actual article of the pandemonium here

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Recently I have taken up playing badminton over the weekends with some friends and its suits-me-just-fine none too heart thumping kind of strenuous games. The crowd that shows up is a good mix of Indians, Chinese and Koreans and it’s mostly doubles that we play, with everybody getting to rotate their partners and opponents pretty regularly. Being extremely sports-crazy, though I do not excel at any sports, badminton has always been one of my favorite sports growing up in India, a distant two after the ‘white man’s’ game viz. cricket.

Growing up in Bombay I still remember playing badminton on our society grounds, starting as early as 6:00 in the morning and going on a few hours thereafter. We were forced to play very early in the mornings because a.) No passing vehicular traffic at that time and b.) Not much wind early in the morning. In those days playing at clubs was an exclusive and expensive affair and we had to resort to creative improvisations to follow our passions. So an entire gaggle of brats would assemble early in the morning as the fellow society members were woken up by loud arbitrations of ‘Shuttle Cock in/out’, by the Prakash Padukones of our society.

There was this big, menacing looking Punjabi uncle who lived on the first floor and worked the night shifts as a shift engineer in some plant. Barely would his head have hit the pillow, after a hard nights work, the screams from the badminton courts would emanate, irking the heck out of him. Many-a-mornings he would come charging to the balcony hurling expletives at us and berating our lack of social etiquettes. We’d stop for a few minutes, to hear him rant, and then promptly go back to our game. Sometimes the shuttle would end up in his verandah, and no one had the temerity to request it back from them. Whoever hit it, pays for the shuttle.

The biggest hindrance we faced was the lack of the outlines of the court since the lines would be drawn with chalk. Thereby the calls on the line or outside the courts were always ambiguous, to term it mildly. Unless Mr. Patel officiated the match, while brushing his teeth, in only his pajama and banian, outside on his veranda. Foaming at the mouth, filled with toothpaste and trickling down the sides , with his brush in hand, he would call “In” or “Out”, which we sometimes had to ask him several times to discern what he was saying. And if his son or daughter happened to be playing, you didn’t have to guess which way the decision would go. Sometimes the entire family stood outside, brushing their teeth, and each family member gave a different decision which caused pandemonium in our game. Dishum, Dishum fighting chalu on the courts. Ah, the good ole days, and how I miss them.

When I reached college, in my mind, I thought I was good enough to make it to the college squad. So I show up for the selection, with my old wooden racquet, with a wooden frame around it with leavers to keep the racquet head from bending. Looking at my musuem piece, the rest of the kids were rolling on the floor with laughter. I managed to win one game, because my opponent was laughing so hard that he was unable to concentrate on his game. It was all downhill after that. Ever since then I have not played badminton in a competitive environment. Unless I play my brother, everything then, of course, is competitive.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Fruity King

Delectable, mouth watering ripe golden mangos are all that occupy my mind these days and more so on a bright sunny summer day. I miss a lot of things about India, but every summer despite the oppressive heat, the scarcity of water and the humidity of India my thoughts invariably turn to the king of all fruits – the mango. Oh how I miss the sweet, syrup’s mango pulps that could be consumed with the outer skin or in small cubes, with the skin shaved off.

There were many varieties of mangos that one was able to purchase in Bombay, the Payaris, Lambis, Badami, Langda and the best of them all the ‘Haapus’ or Alfanso. Many varieties of delicacies were made with the mangos during summer. Of course the sliced fruit after lunch/dinner was the most popular, followed closely by ‘aam-ras’ (Mango pulp) which would be mixed with cardamom seeds and sweetened with extra sugar and eaten with hot ‘puris’ or chapattis. The ‘aam-ras’ is best served chilled, right out of the fridge. One couldn’t keep track of the chapattis or puris that would get devoured with this scrumptious ‘aam-ras’. Various sweet, sour and spicy pickles would get concocted by mother during the summer months, to be relished by the entire family for the rest of the year.

The affluent gujarathi, marwari businessmen living in our apartment complex would order dozens of alphanso mangos which would get delivered in wooden crates filled with dried golden straw, which would help the mangos ripen quickly. For the not quite so affluent, working class families, like ourselves, for most of the summer we’d have to gorge on the lesser varieties of the fruits of the gods. Only during the end of summer and the onset of the monsoons would drive the prices of the alpahnso down, which made it affordable for the proletariat. And what a wait it was. The aroma of the ripened hapus played havoc to our olfactory senses as I can vividly remember the smiles on our yellow, mango pulp covered faces during the hot, muggy, lazy days of summer, chomping away on a mango kernel.

We do get the Mexican or Columbian variant of this royal fruit in the US, but these fruits just pale in comparison to the divine ‘haapus’ from my neck of the woods.