Daily Archives: 2012-02-08

CocoLocals – Arambol, India

I have been waking earlier than the sun lately. It seems like I am doing well running on 4-5 hours sleep as I am not getting tired in the day. I lay in my bed listening to the animals and birds start their morning sing song. The melodic chirps, hoots, and chatters seem to harmonize into a sort of orchestra of nature in the seconds before the sun breaks. Then magnificently she splays her yellow lasers through the green palms gradually transforming the village into day. My room gets lit up only for the first hour of the day which is a real blessing as it stays cool. I have a ceiling fan but only used it once when the room got too smoky from burning incense.

After some yoga on the roof of our building, Minta and I had breakfast together. She ran next door to the store and picked up a small bag of curd ( aka. yogurt) for twelve rupees.  It’s a good idea when traveling in India to populate your stomach with friendly bacteria by eating some locally made yogurt every day. I made some oatmeal and cut up some papaya, mini banana, and orange for sweetness. We added my freshly sprouted baby mung beans to give it a crunchy nuttiness while boosting our nutritional intake. We sat on her floor munching away while we discussed the healthy habits she was learning about in her Ayurvedic course. 

I was reading my book (A Thousand Splendid Suns) when I heard some loud cracking thumps just outside my second floor window. One, two, then four or five in quick succession. I roused from my loungy reading space and peered out the window to see what the hullabaloo was all about. At first I was puzzled as  I couldn’t see anything strange and there was no one around. Then all at once, about a dozen young green coconuts rained from the sky like bullets pelting the earth in angry thuds. Ah, it is coconut day, I thought to myself as I watched the downpour of the sweet fruit hail from the trees overhead.

My window limited my view so I couldn’t actually see the men high up in the trees but I did hear them yelling once or twice something in Hindi. Apparently it wasn’t enough to warn the young European couple walking past on the path below. I watched in horror as three football sized nuts missed their unsuspecting noggins landing in a triangle around them. They covered their heads and jumped back reflexes quicker than lightening. Eyes pie wide they looked at each other in terrified disbelief realizing they had just narrowly cheated death by no more than five centimeters. What a way to go? I wonder how many people die each year from falling fruit. When considering the dangers of India, I certainly had not factored in this downfall.

I certainly do have my share of coconuts here as its only eighty rupees (less than two dollars) for a liter of coconut water. The man at the stall asks if they are for eating or drinking before selecting the appropriate nuts. When I answer “both”, he digs around for one that he thinks has sweet juice as well as a jellolike flesh inside. Then he whacks his razor sharp giant machete over the top slicing it like a hot knife through butter. He pours the nectar into a funnel over a recycled water bottle and then does it two more times. In the end, it usually takes three to fill a bottle and at least two have enough creamy flesh for a satisfying snack. He chops off a small shard to and sticks the homemade spoon/scraper into the nut handing it over with a smile. He loves his job.

The other day we were dining at our favorite thali place which happens to be right beside coconut man. British Rich who is a wealth of fascinating information, informed us matter of factly that one can hallucinate and go crazy from eating too many coconuts. I thought it sounded like an interesting experiment but lawyer-to-be Amber disagreed. She is still sore from the humbling realization that coconut juice is more like water than the thick sweet cream she expected.

 I am really enjoying my two British friends who I met at the dread place. The three of us now sport completely new looks and sympathize supportively when one of us gets the infuriating head itchies. We are not allowed to wash our hair for a month or it may all come undone. They moved into the room right above me and were meant to stay for only a couple days. It’s almost been a week and they seem to be pretty comfortable. They have even brought another friend, Aussie Jen, who has moved in next door. Slowly slowly, we are taking over this compound.

The massages have been happening every day and now we are onto face. I was amused yesterday when Shine (the teacher) innocently complimented me saying I was a fantastic “dummy”. I chuckled to myself and agreed that I do my best. I have fooled them into thinking I am not ticklish with my superhuman focus and powers of concentration thanks to my Vipassana training. All I have to do is lay there like a cadaver but sometimes it’s hard not to giggle when I pay attention to the conversation between him and Minta. And it’s all I can do not to correct his English. I have to bite my tongue every time he proclaims triumphantly “That IS” when I think he means “That’s right”. But at this point, I find it cute and have even caught myself saying “that is” a couple times. I did have to explain that he really couldn’t use the term “eye shadow” to refer to the area under the eye unless he really wanted to confuse his students and possibly offend his models. The vain part of me did look for dark circles under my eyes last night while I was brushing my teeth. Nope, no shadows or bags to be found. I am certainly de-stressed and well rested according to my complexion.

Grateful for coconuts.

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