Dasheri, my love

Dasehri mangoes in my farm
Dasehri mangoes in my farm
My first mango, if I remember rightly was a Dasheri which father had brought having cycled four kms. to the market. At dinner, we all seated on the floor enjoyed the fruit, sliced and cut piled on a steel plate. We lived in a Air Force cantonment and the market was away. One had to bicycle all the way to the market to fetch groceries, vegetables, fruits etc. Even for a haircut—which costed 50p—one had to travel that far. On Sundays father balancing sturdy cloth bags stuffed with groceries and vegetables on both sides of the cycle’s handle bar and also one on the rear carrier would arrive by noon, having left earlier in the day. We would rush out as we heard the tring tring of the bell to check out the goodies father brought. Those were the days when you could buy a kilo of Dasheri or Langda for Rs 5.
Years later the taste of Dasehri I had those June days still lingers in my mouth and my memories come afresh every summer when I chance upon this 18th century mango which first appeared in the gardens of Lucknow’s Nawab. When I decided to plant couple of dasheris on my farm I wanted to have the best and so didn’t source the saplings from the nursery closeby but from village Dasheri near Kakori, Uttar Pradesh, thanks to a friend who resides in Lucknow and visits Mumbai often. Fetching the four saplings at Dadar station, carrying it home travelling in the local train as commuters queried about its origin was a experience which I leave it for another post. For those not in the know the original Dasehri originated in the gardens of Late Syed Mohammed Anser Zaidi. The gardens are still owned by the descendants of Anser.
My farm friends are too biased when it comes to their favourite mango. So much so that they all have only one variety of mango: Alphonso or Haphus. Most of them, since their childhood have spent most of their growing up years in Maharashtra and cannot see beyond Haphus. I have an eclectic taste having spent my growing up years in North, South and Eastern parts of the country and thus exposed to varieties like Dasheri, Payeri, Langda, Kesar, Banganpalli, Malgova and others. Presently, I have around seven varieties of mangoes. My Dasheris have favoured me well this year and is followed by handful of Haphus. By next year I plan to include Nuzivedu(from Hyderabad), Himasagar and Malda (from Kolkatta) and others.


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