Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mango man and me

I love mangoes. Sure, Australia and more specifically Queensland is famous for mangoes but as much as I'm a fan of home-grown and Australian-made, I'm sorry to say that in my humble opinion, Australian mangoes have nothing on the varieties offered by the Indian sub-continent (mainly from India and Pakistan) which are predominantly available in the Gulf. This is a tried and tested theory (based on my own comparative study:)) Though born and raised (for most of my life) in Australia, I have a sub-continental heritage and mango-loving is in my blood. My parents love them, their parents loved them and as mangoes have been the fruit of choice in the sub-continent for a lot longer than they have been in Australia, I'm sure that their parents loved them before that.

One advantage of being here over the long, hot Summer has been having the chance to enjoy the sweet, succulent fruit - virtually on tap. To begin with, I tested out one of the major supermarket chain's "World of Mangoes" promotion, where they boasted having 101 varieties in stock. I tried a couple of varieties and although reasonably tasty and aromatic, I was sure there was something better out there waiting for me. And that's when I found my dealer, my 'mango-walla'. There he was, about a block away from my place, walking the streets, selling his wares and fuelling people's addictions. I was destined to become one of his best customers.

I met Abdul, the mango-walla one sweltering afternoon in late June, on the side of the road at the traffic lights on my way home from work. There, the lanky, dark man ran up to the window of my car with an infectious smile and two crates of "besht quality - Alfonso mangas" as he put it. It was lunch time and they looked mouth-wateringly good. I haggled with him over the price of one crate and told him that if they were as good as he said they were - I would be back for more. I was back - just three days later. And, so it went on a weekly basis. He brought, I bought.

All I know about Abdul is that he's Bengali and with the language barrier between us it's hard enough buying fruit let alone enquiring beyond that. He looks young and can't be more than 22. I guess that he must be here on some illegal visa racket. This would explain his free-lance fruit-selling and lack of a regular job. As well as mangoes, I have bought cherries from him and he has tried to sell me an unidentifiable fruit called "mish mish" (yet to find out what this is). So to be honest, he's not just a mango-walla, he's a fruit-walla. As he has been able to deliver on demand, I have him on 'speed dial' and have entered his name into my phone as "fruit guy."

Alas, our brief but fruitful ;) business relationship came to an end yesterday when Abdul called (well actually, I called him after he 'missed called me' - the system used by the tech savvy yet thrifty workers who can't afford the cost of a phone call) to tell me that there were no longer any quality mangoes on the market as peak season had come to an end. He tried to convince me to buy more cherries, but I wasn't's not the same. Maybe we'll reconnect when the next exotic fruit comes into season...but I guess pomegranate-walla doesn't have quite the same ring to it.


  1. This thrifty 'missed call' technique you speak of is called "beeping" here in Uganda! I, too, am disappointed that mango season seems to be over so soon after I arrived but the pomegranate alternative sounds quite a-peel-ing ;)

  2. It brought back memories of mangoes in Pakistan. I haven't had a taste of 'real'juicy mango in years and years and I almost have forgotten what it actually tastes like. You are right, mangoes in Australia neither have taste nor aroma. Lucky you!