Friday, February 26, 2021

Photo Essay - Coconut trees at home in Bengaluru - Labor of love in 2021

Most Bangaloreans would love to have a few shady trees in their house. But with the price of real-estate skyrocketing, an independent home with even a small garden or a few shrubs has turned out to be luxury that few can afford. 

After spending years globe-trotting, I returned to Bengaluru a few years ago and moved back to the house that my dad had built. The corner-property in North Bangalore also came with four coconut trees planted nearly three decades ago. 

A house in Bangalore with four coconut trees 

The trees have now grown to be over 55 feet tall with a lovely canopy shading our property

A few years ago, my mom asked if we could have the trees chopped off since it was a bit of a hassle to maintain. After all, finding specialized labor (climber) to climb the tall trees to prune, clean the leaves and harvest the nuts isn't that easy in urban Bengaluru. I disagreed and decided I would help maintain the trees. 

What a labor of love it has turned out to be.

The trees frequently shed dried leaves that can span nearly 10 feet and can weigh 10-15 kilos. They shed more in summer than in winter. 

Every 3-4 months, I call Jagdeesh, the local tree climber who services trees in our neighborhood. He generally comes early in the morning with a helper and gets to work. Jagdeesh charges about ₹ 400 per tree to climb, clean and harvest the coconuts.

My job is to make sure folks who have parked cars and vehicles near our compound remove them and to guide the flow of traffic to avoid falling leaves and coconuts. 

The stem of coconut leaves, when dried, can be bundled into brooms ! 

By morning when the leaves have been gathered, the local sweepers and corporation workers congregate to 'harvest' and reuse the leaves. The beauty of coconut tree is that all its parts can be reused, if one has the time and labor. 

After the stems of leaves are  'harvested'  by the workers, they discard the dried stem that can accumulate on the footpath. 

I then give a call to the local corporation's dry-leaf collection service; and the guys take a few days to schedule a compactor truck to come and gather the dry-waste. 

We 'harvest' about 100-150 dried coconut from the four trees that we distribute among neighbors and also save some for our use. The dried coconuts need to be de-husked 

And, did I mention the fruit of labor is that we are hardly ever out of stock when it comes to fresh coconuts?! 

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