Lessons from the Coconut in My Garden!

A garden is a grand teacher ~ Gertrude Jekyll

cutting coconut on treeA coconutty breakfast this week – straight from my garden to my breakfast table.  I am lucky to have a garden, even if tiny, in this very polluted and congested city.  We are even luckier that there are many fruits in this garden – coconut, guava, mango, a wild banana, rose apple, papaya, and jackfruit, that actually bear fruit!

So  one morning I woke up to find a man climbing up the coconut tree outside my window at 6 am!  Occasionally, when the tree can’t hold on to its load of coconuts, the management of the building hires a man from the village, who shins up the tree like a monkey in two minutes and cuts down the coconuts.  We have to keep the ground clear because he just hurls them down.  Then all of us in the building get a few coconuts each.  This time they had 40 or so! I thought that was very productive for one tree, in a hostile urban climate!

coconut water breakfast IMG_1388I had a lovely breakfast: fresh coconut juice, chilled in a glass in the fridge (it has been 40°C and I like it that way), and the soft, white flesh, which is called shaans, usually of gelatinous consistency and very sweet, scooped out from the inside.  Botanically the coconut is actually the embryo of the plant; the white flesh is the equivalent of the placenta, and the water, well, it is the amniotic fluid! I taught biology, and I used to love to see the expressions on my students faces when I explained the same with things they all ate, like tomatoes, cucumber and other fruits 🙂

sans coconut

coconut flesh, soft gelatinous scooped out – yum!

Birds in Concrete Jungles!!

This beautiful bird (that I sadly can’t identify) was on the neem tree outside my window. So if you know what bird this is, I’d appreciate a message below!

Ours is an older house, the types that were built with gardens, and it always amazes me how in the middle of this crowded, congested, polluted city of Calcutta, I am able to see some of the most beautiful birds on the trees outside my apartment!!  Some of them I’ve figured out, but this one I can’t!  

There is another hazy picture of it below, eating a guava off a tree in our garden.  (more…)

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