“What kind of mangoes are those?” I asked the old fruit-seller on the street corner, pointing at some big, yellow ones taking pride of place in the middle of the fruit display.
He was on the side, busy setting up some papayas in a big straw basket. He turned towards me, one eyebrow raised. I looked down at my feet, abashed, ashamed of my gross display of ignorance. It’s mango season, and if you’re Indian, your gene for mangoes should be active in full blazing glory.
“Those are badami,” he boomed, in a not unkind voice. I looked up. He had a soft twinkle in his aged eyes. “They come all the way from Hyderabad, ” he said proudly, as if describing his children. “They have many names, but most people will know badami. Have you heard of it?”
“Yes,” I said, tentatively. I had heard the name, but I didn’t know much else. It turns out they are a variant of the king of mangoes, the Alphonso. Kind of like a fraternal twin, not exactly but almost the same.
“Take them home, ” he said gently. I felt like he was entrusting me with his prized possessions. There he stood, a peppered Muslim-style beard flowing from his wizened face. He wore a checkered lungi (sarong) and a light cotton banian (vest), the perfect clothing for the sweltering summer evening. He held two softly glowing golden fruits towards me. For a second, I forgot we were talking about mangoes.