destination india

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

mango vs coconut

Every country has its national flag followed by its national flower, national animal, national bird, national fruit and, of late, a multitude of national heroes! A Google search reveals that there are umpteen plus sites devoted to these subjects – the national animal, tiger (tiger panthera tigris) – 1,450, 000; the national bird, peacock (pavo cristatus) – 707,000; the national flower, lotus (nelumbo nucifera) – 525,000; and the national fruit, mango – 651,000. However, just as the national animal sometimes gets mixed up – is it the tiger or the cow – similarly, there seems to be a mix-up about the national fruit – is it still the mango or is it the coconut? The reasons are not far to see – where the animals are concerned, at every opportunity we bring up the bovine animal into the picture and weave all sorts of controversies around it while we seldom talk about the dwindling population of the canine counterpart – the tiger.

Mango is no doubt, the King of fruits – whether it is the Ratnagiri hapus of Maharastra or the chausa of Lucknow or the Fajli or Himsagar varieties of Bengal, these wonderful creations of God are unparalleled. Before ripening, these can be converted into pickles – both of the sweet and the sour varieties. Once ripe, they serve as refreshing desserts. Chilled Mango juice is gaining popularity. Some varieties taste like heaven once the juice is squeezed and sugar is added to the resultant semi solid along with a few spices. Some prefer to dry these semi solids, layer after later and preserve the final product that goes by the name of ‘amsatta’.

The coconut pales into insignificance against this backdrop. But they are also climbing the pop chart – slowly but steadily. Once upon a time, these were grown only in the sea coasts of Kerala and Karnataka apart from the river banks and waters of Bengal. It was given to understand that salty water was good for these trees. To prove the point, visuals of the Caribbean islands can be referred. But, the fact remains that today the coconut has spread its tentacles. Coconut trees are a common sight in practically every new bungalow constructed in different parts of the country. And – ad jingles promoting coconut oils as the best for shiny hair add more weight to the subject.
The debate would be an interesting one – mango versus coconut!! It would provide food for thought for a section of the people who are certain to argue that apart from catering to the taste buds, there is no other reason to vote for the mango. The coconut, on the other hand, serves as a source of pure drink, is a good food, its shells are made into toys, the fibers of the coconuts are used to make ropes etc etc..

And, of course, Bollywood has lifted the coconut from the category of an ordinary fruit to something special by naming a character as Narielpaniwallah!!

Can the mango boast of any such connection?

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