I was standing on a mountain trail that was around 7300 feet above sea level and was surrounded by deodar, oak, pine, rhododendron and lots of spiny bushes. The trail had become faint and Specky, my wife, had a doubtful expression on her face.
‘Are you sure this trail is going to lead somewhere?’ she asked.
I said, ‘It surely is going to lead us somewhere near the Kalka-Shimla track because I can hear the sound of a passing train.’ I then joked about having seen leopard pug marks and I knew that the silence in the forest was impregnated with unsaid fear. We were actually walking down from Vidhan Sabha in Shimla towards Anandale when Specky saw a wrought iron gate in the middle of nowhere. She thought it might lead to some old and crumbling house from the past and suggested we explore. After around an hour of a steady climb we reached a place that was more desolate than desolate could ever mean.
A fallen tree blocked the trail and Specky sat on a huge boulder next to it. She was visibly tired and was trying hard to listen to any sign that indicated the presence of a big cat nearby.
‘Don’t worry,’ I said, sensing her fear, ‘only hyenas or jackals might be around. The big cat sighting in this part is only in the cover of darkness.’
This seemed to calm her but the next thing she said surprised me, ‘I feel like having alphonso mangoes. They’d refresh me and I know I’d then be up and ready to even jump over this tree.’
I was tempted to tell her that Afonso de Albuquerque, the Portuguese who introduced grafting on mango trees to produce wonderfully tasty varieties like Alphonso, did it on the Western coast… and that mangoes couldn’t possibly be cultivated on a mountain. And then I suddenly remembered that I was carrying with me a few bottles of the new Tropicana Slice Alphonso. So I said, ‘Your wish is my command, my dear!’
‘What?’ said Specky, ‘don’t tell me you’re carrying mangoes in your backpack today?’
I told her that carrying a large case of Alphonso mangoes weighing between 150 and 300 grams (5.3 and 10.6 oz) each wasn’t possible. ‘But I have something that will transport you right into the heart of an alphonso mango!’
I then took out the single bottle of Tropicana Slice Alphonso that I was carrying and handed it to her. She opened it and slowly let just one drop travel a few inches and land on her lower lip. Then with a sensual smile she swiped her tongue and pretended she was having a big bite of alphonso pulp in her mouth. She whispered, ‘This is heaven!’ Well, we did have larger gulps too but that was later. Believe me, this one bottle of Tropicana Slice Alphonso on that mountain trail was as wonderful an experience as trudging our way to the Tunnel 103 near Shimla and then filming the toy train coming out of it. Yes, we did walk inside the tunnel too and the feeling is as unbeatable as having access to Tropicana Slice Alphonso when you really needed it!
So now imagine sitting in the silence of a mountain trail, tired and muscles unwilling to budge… tall and strict looking deodars and pines seeming telling you to get up and keep moving as darkness wasn’t far and predators would then start prowling. And then, magically, you get to open and drink a bottle of Tropicana Slice Alphonso… the colour of gold, the scintillating aroma, the rich texture waking up your pooped nerves and muscles!
Well, for the two of us it was Tropicana Slice Alphonso that is now permanently etched with our mountain trail experience. Back in Delhi we now have a couple of bottles always in our refrigerator… and whenever we open one we’re transported to 7300 feet above sea level even when the treacherous summer wind blows outside our window!
…and we do love this clip as well:
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For those interested in buying Tropicana Alphonso Mango Slice:
On Amazon: Tropicana Slice Alphonso, 600ml
21 May 2015