I grew up in a house that had considerable area around for us children to play…The compound of the house had many fruit yielding trees. Other than the quintessential coconut trees, we had jackfruit, papaya, mangoes, bananas and gooseberries of two varieties… These trees would kindly bear fruit during the summer holidays making our vacation a pleasurable phase. Yet, my memories of having consumed fruits are sporadic. Of course, the ultimate pleasure of eating a ripe mango including the skin, juice dripping down the elbow, slurping and cleaning out all traces of the fruit from the kernel are all treasured memories stowed in the cherished corner of the heart…We used to chant a raunchy taunt to a sibling, squirrel or a crow to accompany the kernel and lob it as far away as possible… Bananas, once ripe, would be carefully severed from the shrub and carried to the cool dark interiors of the ‘store room’ where it would be hung and covered by a cloth to let it ripen… We children would maraud on the bunch while the elders enjoyed afternoon siesta… Volunteers would be aplenty to pare and seed the smelly jackfruit as no one would stop you from popping one or two pieces into your mouth while you are on the chore… There will be plenty for your mom to turn into chakkavaratti, the ‘naadan’ jam that tastes heavenly… My paternal grand-uncle, would send baskets of oranges from <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 /><ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>Hyderabad</ST1LACE></ST1:CITY>…which we would relish as a rare treat those days… <ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>Oranges</ST1LACE></ST1:CITY>, available only near hospitals, became common in Kerala much later… We, as children, used to poach in a neighbour’s garden for cashew apples and burn our lips and corners of the mouth with its pungent juice, uncaring about the discomfort… the only worry used to be getting the moolah out without being caught! Yet, eating fruits was not a ritual as it is in my sasuraal! I was, initially, amazed by the amount and variety of fruits consumed by my husband’s family. I hadn’t, till my marriage, even seen litchis… Water melons were familiar but rare…as were musk melons, chickoos… It was not the newness of the fruits which astounded me. It was the very method of eating fruits… As with everything else eating fruits also was a methodical activity… Amma would carefully pare, peel, dice and serve fruits to everyone after dinner everyday. Eating fruits after dinner is a religious exercise. Bananas are a must. The ones called “elakki bale” are the favourite of Appa. He’d go to any lengths to keep the supply on. Apples would be cored and cut with an apple cutter; grapes washed separated and equally distributed…pomegranates, halved deseeded and served… pineapples, skinned, sliced and sprinkled with sugar… All was fine…except for the mango experience. No more, the pleasure of devouring a full mango… Mangoes, during the three months referred to as ‘season’ would be served after lunch and dinner. 5 to 6 mangoes would be washed, and cut into three pieces, two sides and the central part with kernel. For convenience, the two sides would be halved further… You are supposed to eat it after you finish your main course! I used to feel very rebellious…That was not doing justice to mangoes…and there were all varieties…Appa spares no cost or pain, when it comes to getting mangoes. I used to long to indulge in my childhood habit of ‘bite, tear, slurp’ routine…but I was not a girl anymore…I was a married woman and I had to adjust to my new milieu… and adjust I have… Once we moved to Bhadravathi, my sons started enjoying these ‘fruitful’ experiences. The family genes are generously distributed in them and they give their grandfather a run for his money when it comes to eating fruits… Appa is a quick eater and he’d finish much before all others at the table ( and, that was something else…meal times were strictly family time…there is an unwritten rule that all meals are taken by all members of the family at the dining table… I truly appreciate that! None of us are allowed to take the plate to the drawing room to watch TV while eating…so all have proper eating habits!)…Like I was saying, Appa eats fast and then helps himself to mangoes. Once one of the twins (who takes after his grandfather in his fondness for mangoes) watched as Appa helped himself to several mango pieces and commented loudly, “ My God…so many pieces for one person!” Appa burst out laughing and told us to cut a few more for the kids… Seeing my twins’ fondness for fruits, I am a strict believer in the power of genes and DNAs… The guys just freak out when they come here. They shop for fruits and sometimes bring home monstrosities like Rambuttans and Mangosteens besides litchis, chickoos, strawberries, peaches and plums… In fact, my house is a mini fruit stall while they are here. We generally just feast on apples, grapes, pears and oranges… they even love partially ripe dates… Not a bad addiction, I suppose. Appa has planted so many fruit trees in our compound. We have regular pomegranate, chickoo, custard apple, mango, banana and papaya yields at home… Though I have become a more graceful eater of fruit…I am yet to take over from the matriarch of the family, the role and duty of distributing cleaned and cut fruits to the family after dinner…Guess I need to ripen more!