Sunday, September 20, 2015




Many people from outside Andhra Pradesh must be wondering “What is this Avakaya?" Blog on “Avakaya”? Laughable! No, I am telling seriously, it not humorous. Even if you like the humor part of it, it is serious. For, Avakaya is serious business. It is spicy.

For those fortunately born out of AP or fortunately never lived there, this is the brief. Avakaya means “Mango Pickle” or simply “Aam Ki Achaar”. You may say “What an Idea, Sir Jee!”, as it is a good idea. Even if you don't say, no worry. I will say it myself. But whither Avakaya and politics? The crux lies there. Both are spicy. For every blog there is an idea. For every idea there is a background. Let me further this line of thought.

As usual I was tweeting. Some learned friend tweeted “Aam Ki Achaar' is tasty. Within a second another learned friend tweeted that the “Shouting Goddess from the South Political Spectrum” is in tears on a News Channel. ( I used the word “Spectrum” specifically to remind readers that the party to which she belonged was 'famous' or 'notorious' with the word). Back to basics. So here the “Avakaya” and “the spicy politics' that can bring tears in the eyes of even iron ladies, commingled. I tweeted “Might be she took a bit more of Avakaya”.

This did not answer the question, for, she is rich. She would have taken imported fruit juice if it were spicy. So why did she cry, if really she did? I was hurt. She drives a tractor. When she drives a tractor, it looks petty in front of her magnanimity. Tractor itself is magnanimous, compared to a plough. So I was hurt. When one is hurt physically he writhes in pain. When soul is hurt one writes. But my soul was hurt. So I started writing. Most writers are those whose souls are hurt and they know the pain.

The discussion was on the tragic death of many children after eating the Mid Day Meal supplied by Government to poor children so they come to school and learn. It is a kind of “Food Security” to children and an insurance for “Right To Education”. Might be many parents of these unfortunate children might be getting 100/120/150 day wages under MNREGA Scheme but still can’t afford food for their kids. This information we might never get as they might term it “confidential” under the RTI. We are deviating from “Avakaya”, but with a purpose.

So why did she cry? One reason might be she was lamenting that these children were not given “Aam Ki Achaar” as part of Mid Day Meal, despite being Aam Admi's (Mango people's) children in a Banana Republic. It is not possible. As “Aam Ki Achaar” is rich man's food. All ingredients that go into it are costly. If Aam Ki Achaaar is to be subsidized we have to spend 20% of our GDP on the subsidy or ask the USA for a fresh PL 480 Act. Both are not possible. So, she cried, we might conclude.

But it is not the end.. No one in the talk show might ever have seen what they were supplying to these unfortunate children. Where do they find time? They are seriously discussing on 24X7 channels the meaning of secularism or meaning of words of an opposition political warrior. And to enter a small shanty called school building from the AC car and see personally the plight of poor? Never! Only after the tragic death of so many children did they know that even pesticides might have been added in their food. They too are heavily subsidized. What a misuse? This might be another reason for her tears.

That also did not answer the question. As she knew there was possibility of adulteration in pesticides. Why did it not happen here? For this she won't cry, but order an inquiry why they were so fatal and not adulterated as usual. So why the tears? The Million dollar question remained unanswered. Then I went deep into the making of Avakaya. It took time. But it seemed I got answers.

“Avakaya” is made from unripe mangoes. Once they are ripe they turn yellow and cant be used for pickle making. They cut these “unripe” mangoes into pieces with a large knife..It is painful for these 'tender mangoes'. Naturally the process, if you think about it, brings tears. Cutting innocent, tender, unripe  mangoes with a large knife into pieces? What harm did they do? Just to satisfy your atrocious appetite for something spicy? Atrocious! So it is plausible tears flowed. In Telugu there is one famous poem “Pushpa Vilaapam”, “The wailing of Flowers”. The poet renders in beautiful words how flowers wail when they are snatched from their mother plants, pierced with needles and made into garlands to be thrown out next morning! He concludes, “Alas! Women!, do you know what pity is?”,. She might have recollected the poem while thinking about why “Avakaya” was not included in the Menu of Mid Day Meal of children of Aam Admi. And she dropped tears of joy that Aam Admi's children are not part of the sacrilege of cutting Aam or mangoes and consuming them. They are lucky they cant afford them. Reasonable explanation.

She might have gone further into the making of the pickle. Along with salt, mustard powder and oil, they add “red” chilly powder for making “Avakaya”,the color they dislike much. We need not go into the reasons. They dislike anything that looks red or anything like “red'. So she was happy that the item was not included in the menu of Aam Admi, who kept them in power for decades, despite keeping them away from the Aam and Banana. So, she, mused “What a gratitude?” And tears of joy flowed from her eyes. Out of gratitude for the Aam admi for not demanding Aam or Aam pickle or banana but still electing them. The happiness that stemmed from the very thought, brought tears of happiness.

"I would suggest that if making of Avakaya were added in the list of Major Industries and encouraged pan India, IIP would have been 10% instead of -1.6%, for it is a large Industry in AP. There is a catch here. Again it is politics. The major producers in AP are “Priya” pickles owner of Eenadu and ETV News Channels. If so, what?  They earn a lot of foreign exchange as they sell worldwide. FM can try this or invite 100% FDI into making of "avakaya". After all, FDI is latest fad and PM assured today, FDI is coming, no worry."

(Godavarilo Telu Padindi, Phikaru Cheyakundri, was a Telugu saying by one CM). Only Telugu knowing people will understand this. NTR rode to power on such guffaws.

This Avakaya politics was inspired by the Telugu Film by name “Avakaya Biryani”. I never saw it. But the name is catchy.

Finally the question arises whether Avakaya or Aam Ki Achaar Or Mango Pickle is secular or communal. This question we can never answer as the color of the pickle changes over a period of time and we can not attribute any particular color to this. Once a year, as new mangoes come, we throw away the old pickle and make new one with a lot of promise as politicians throw away the old promises and make new ones. Some charitable people donate this old pickle to the Aam Admi and get immense satisfaction of having rendered great service to the society. A day might come when they demand entry into Guinness Book of records as “GMCS” (Greatest Members of the Civil society). The last sentence is inspiration from  from Charles Dickens' “Pickwick Papers”.

Note: This blog is humorous if you like humor, it is satirical if you like satire, spicy if you like "Avakaya" very tragic and sentimental if we think about "Aam Admi", who is kept at a distance in view of high costs. A mix of emotions come like the sour mango, the bitter mustard powder, the fatty Til Oil and spicy red chilli. If Government statistics are relied 67% of population (aam admi) is denied "Aam ki Achaar". We can change this Aachaar (tradition) if we aim at inclusive development.