Summer in the South Asian subcontinent is an exciting time. Diets are forgotten, hardcore keto addicts are counting weeks, and the search for the perfect mango begins.
If you’re Pakistani, chances are you grew up with an ingrained respect for, or a strong craving for, the king of all fruits: the mango. Starting in June, we look forward to seeing Multani mature mango. However, it is only after the monsoon rains that the sweetest mangoes appear and the real hunt begins. Overseas Pakistanis will flock to the neighborhood grocery stores, while those at home will chase the local fruit vendors.
Wrapped in mesh foam, each orange gem is tucked neatly into place, ready to be absorbed. For a moment, you can forget about your worries and troubles and treat yourself to a mango. It acts as a reminder; a little slice of home delivered right to your doorstep.
Here it is Chaunce, known for its exceptionally sweet richness. One has to be quick not to judge this book by its cover Chaunsas tend to have a rather pale yellow exterior. My earliest memories are of the summer mango season: my grandparents would arrive with suitcases filled to the brim Chaunsas. Soon every room in the house will be permeated with its fruity aroma.
People treat mangoes as they treat life. Take it Sindri for example – the long-standing favorite of the oval shape, and my personal favorite. Eating these mangoes with my family members is an expected annual ritual. The simple act of cutting fruit is a love language in itself. My mother cuts each side sharply and scoops out the mango with a spoon. She is fast and methodical, she tries to avoid disturbances. My grandmother, on the other hand, is more chaotic. She squeezes the mango hard, cuts a small hole in the top, and squeezes out the juice until every last drop is extracted. I learned to appreciate the nuances of each approach—most of all when I found my own. Everyone Sindri shaped according to emotional needs – a space where creativity and tradition can flourish with each other.
Then comes a long reign Anwar Ratols. With their delicate flavor, these pocket-sized gems are fan favorites. One bite in Anwar Ratol and I return to hot summer afternoons playing cricket in the streets with my cousins. With the piercing rays of the sun and beads of sweat on each child’s forehead, our egos fuel our desire to carry on. After a while we would run inside and get lost in the icy mango moose: it’s a hard-working, engaged lifestyle.
Langras are travelers. They are exported to Saudi Arabia, Europe and everywhere in between. As the main players in mango diplomacy between India and Pakistan, Langras also act as a bridge connecting borders. These two countries, which are at odds in political disputes and sports tournaments, are strangely linked by this cultural phenomenon.
There is something beautiful about this shared experience—the ability of a single fruit to shape traditions, cultivate tastes, and revive childhood memories. While most fruits in Western countries are available all year round, Pakistanis are captive to the changing seasons. Bound by the natural cycle of fruit that comes and goes each year, we enjoy our moment in the sun. The ephemerality of our time together makes each bite even more special. Then, when October rolls around, we’re forced to accept that bittersweet feeling of loss and the clock starts ticking in anticipation of next June.
MiC columnist Nuraiya Malik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.