While I sit and wait for my curry at one of my favorite local restaurants, I am reminded of the story of the mango and how it connects to my journey towards journalism. First, let me offer some background.
The mango is a fruit native to India and tied to a 4,000 year history. Up until three years ago, Indian mangoes we kept from the U.S., restricted by a trade embargo that paved the way for Mexico and parts of South America to cash in on a estimated $156 million a year market. Apparently, Americans really love their mangoes.
I know all this nerdy fruit history because I went to the mango celebration in 2007, signaling the lift of the trade freeze. Hosted by the U.S. India Business Council, the room was packed with policy deal makers, reporters, diplomats, executives and yes, Indian mangoes. Served with ice cream.
I met a man named Raghubir Goyal at the event and went on to write about the lift of the freeze for his newspaper, India Globe. He returned the favor in an unusual way – by introducing me to Helen Thomas, who took me under her wing and taught me about the standards and ethics of journalism – the ones she met each and every day, for 57 years, at UPI.
But back to the mangoes. As it turned out, last week, I got something in the mail. A box of Indian mangoes.
The mangoes came complements of Dr. Savani, a dentist living in America. I called him a few months ago, on a whim, to see how the mango imports were going. Apparently, not so well.
“We have no business model for selling the mangoes,” he told me on the phone. “…and the market is still dominated by South American mangoes.”
He went on to tell me how he works with Fed Ex and once a year, brings in a shipment of mangoes and send to the types of people at the celebration in 2007. To remind them of the farmers desire to sell their product in the U.S.
I ended my India Globe article in 2007 with this quote from USIBC President, Ron Somers – which I find fitting to leave here now.
“As India’s prosperity rises and U.S.-India commercial and trade relations deepen, jobs and opportunities will result on both sides. Will mango imports affect U.S.-India trade? Let’s just say mango diplomacy will strengthen the people to people connection crucial to any true partnership.”
**Erica Anderson has been to India three times, where her Uncle served as Chief Executive Officer of General Electric India for fourteen years.**