Mangola with Mazda

There are very few emotions that can be compared to those conjured up in a Parsi soul when an ice cold glass bottle of the original Dukes Mangola is either gulped down or simply fantasized about. It lights up the limbic system-an area we in Neuroscience call the pleasure centre of the brain. According to studies this centre was first described in the early 1950’s. Ironically, it’s around the same time that Mangola was launched!

Though some male folk might contest that a ‘parsi-peg’ of Johnnie Walker Black Label has the same mesmerizing effect – having “kept the community walking” even on its bow-legs for years, it is Mangola that has made it dance with joy. Be it a grand wedding or a Navjote, or a Jashan at home, no festive meal would be complete without a stubby bottle of this sun-kissed marble with the Duke’s logo adding greenery to it. It once used to be the official toast –maker. Sagan nu Bhonu! Young children were ordained into the community with it and marrying couples sipped it with much greater fervor than any other liquid they had imbibed earlier in the ceremony. Not only in merry occasions but also sorrowful ones, Mangola has been a loyal companion. Even after an Uthamna or a sarosh nu patru – the only cold beverage once available at the home of the lady at the tower of silence was Mangola – who mourned with you subtly; gently soothing a grieving spirit.

 

Even a trip to the mighty Iranshah in Udwada is incomplete without it in today’s times. It’s heart-breaking that when you sit down for lunch at the Globe; with your fried fish, chicken palao, mutton sali and tamota per eidu, you are served ‘dilute’ versions in the form of Slice, Frooti and Maaza in their unsustainable plastic attire. No amount of imagining Katrina Kaif licking her luscious lips with fake mango-mash stains on her smooth skin can replace the joy of taking a mighty swig at the original juice. This is the difference between real pulp and pulp fiction. The ‘Aam-sutra’ campaign by Slice took indulgence in mangoes to a whole new level- robbing from us the innocence and simplicity that Mangola was associated with for more than half a century.

To many, the loss of the Dukes Mangola doesn’t stir the same melancholy as it does to some of us who’ve made wonderful memories under its influence. Every Parsi ‘aam-aadmis’ household was stashed with crates of it only to serve the unexpected electrician, dhobi, courier man or plumber, toiling in Bombay’s heat, to rid them of their fatigue. Even stray dogs that I brought home as a child had the privilege of drinking either Parsi dairy farm nu doodh or Mangola! Such were the standards of a generation gone by. Most housewives stuck to Mangola for decades until pressures of modern society forced them to uncomfortably hold up glasses of wine at their kitty-parties. Why is it that Mangola like the Victoria Terminus has become heritage? While a hot cup of Taj Mahal tea resolves nearly all of today’s middle-aged woes, the younger generation believes that there is nothing that a Café Mocha-Vodka-Gin-latte can’t fix.

The company was established in 1889 in Bombay by the legendary Dinshawji Cooverji Pundole manufacturing the psychedelic range of Tango, Raspberry, Ginger, Pineapple and Lemonade. Pandole was part of the historic cricket team that was touring England in 1888, taking 86 wickets in the series using a ball made by Duke and sons. And that was the auspicious name he gave to begin his ‘dukedom.’ Mangola was introduced only much later by them in the 1950’s to combat the fizzy Coca-Cola invasion. The Pandoles reportedly bought mango pulp that could last for a year, but the drink was such a hit, all the pulp was used up in just four months. It was so intense and mango-like that nothing else came close.

A century later, Pepsico took over in 1995 and Mangolas memory began to fade over the next decade as several attempts to recreate its magic were in vain. Even though talks of it resurfacing in its classic retro bottle keep making news, it remains a distant dream for the diehard Mangola romantics. If someone is willing to cash in on its revival then if nothing else I urge them to do it for nostalgias sake. For what is Bombay without it? It’s not only us but even the tee-totaling Gujrati and Marvadi community that will make a beeline for it when they see the wooden panels of Irani cafes lined with their favorite refresher.

I agree that the community has to deal with larger issues such as its pocketable population, doongarwadi dilemmas and housing horrors. All of us are trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things. In an age where all pleasures are adulterated, let’s hold onto the pure ones with innocence maintained. So if you are one of those who like Coffee with Karan or Beer with Berlusconi– Stand up for a revival and have a Mangola with Mazda.