Thursday, 23 July 2009

Of Mangoes, Durians, Poets and Presidents

In Pakistan, the mango is the undisputed king of fruits. The mango is not considered an ordinary fruit.

The mango's majestic pedigree is well established and predates the country's independence. The fruit has many devotees who celebrate the season's arrival with an assortment of mango festivals. But the mango's greatest groupie is the acclaimed 19th century Urdu (Pakistan's national language) poet, Mirza Ghalib.

Ghalib was particularly partial to mangoes. It is understood that he petitioned his friends with letters each season to request containers of mangoes from their personal orchards. He is known to have referred to at least 25 different varieties of mangoes by name in his letters.

The last Mughal Emperor of India Bahadur Shah Zafar, a contemporary poet and rival of Ghalib, had his own mango orchard in the gardens of Delhi's Red Fort. More recently, when President Musharraf met Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee in 2001, the two leaders exchanged crates of Mangoes as gifts.

Today's rulers have inherited the discerning tastes of their Mughal predecessors.

However, like any kingdom, the mango's rule covers a limited domain. Subjects of the Mango Dynasty are primarily found residing in the Indian subcontinent.

In Singapore, and the rest of South East Asia, the durian reigns supreme. Sweet fragrances are not a prerequisite to ruling SE Asia. The durian, the regional King of fruits, might even owe its rule to the pungency of its aroma. Just its odour instils trepidation in the hearts of all its subjects. Who dare challenge the durian for the throne!

I, for one, am afraid to taste the durian. I surely cannot be the only one with such a (rational) fear?

Historically, a ruler's crown is passed from one king (queen) to another. But in the case of the mango and the durian enduring peace may only be achieved if two members of their family were to be united.

Die hard royalists from either side appear unwilling to cede sovereignty to an alien line.


  1. I agree that Mango's rule covers a limited domain especially in Indian subcontinent.. My Indian friends will never agree with me when I say that Durian is the King of fruit.. cuz for them.. Mango is the King of fruit.. but all i can say is DURIAN RULE.. lol.. and you should try it..It doesnt taste as strong as it smell.. you might get hook to the real KING.. ^O^

  2. I'm with you on the Durian... I'm not brave enough to taste it either....

    The mango on the otherhand, I absolutely can't get enough of. The most delicious ones we got from my grandfather's house in Chennai last month.

  3. How about a side-by-side photograph of a mango and a durian. Taken at either a colorful local supermarket or an outdoor fruit vendor cart.

  4. Happy to note that my fear of the durian is not a 'character flaw' but a legitimate aversion to strange odors! I knew I could not have been alone in my fear ...