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Coconuts and Chilies

Today Debouda joined Bhaburam and me at the garden. Debouda used to live at Matrikunj as a caretaker and now he is my next door neighbor, living in the downstairs half of Shelter, my apartment. He and I practice our French and he tells me stories about his boyhood days in his village in Bengal. Debouda reminds me a lot of my American grandpa, who shuffled around the house with a kind heart full of quotidian wisdom.

the ‘New World’ flower

We picked up some coconuts on our walk. If you ever see a fallen coconut on the ground, give it a shake. If you can hear the slosh of the coconut water inside, it’s still edible.

I got to try my hand at husking a coconut, which is actually really difficult. Keeping your fingers out of the way, you must aim well with the curved blade of the scythe, cutting the outer shell into strips that you yank free from the harder, inner shell.  With a lifetime of practice, Bhaburam can shell one in less than a minute flat. Debouda and I were more than a little slower. I now have two coconuts on my kitchen table, ready to meet their last violent smash.

Debouda trying his luck


The tiny green fruits of a wild eggplant


I take my after-lunch naps in this treehouse-esque grass hut, with a grass mat and a pillow. The first level of the hut is used to dry grain and spices. Pretty awesome.

 Bhaburam bringing my pillow

 The day’s bounty was beautiful. Debouda and I harvested two buckets of chilies and some lemons. The green ones are eaten as a garnish and eaten raw. These green chilies quickly turn into the fiery red ones, so they must be picked before they turn.

Venus told me that you should never give chilies to someone from your hand, for it breeds angry quarrels. Feeling daring, I ate some of the red ones in my salad last night. No angry fights yet, but I’ll keep you posted.


About apassagetopondi

A young activist bookworm who loves to empower new faces and discover new places.

2 responses to “Coconuts and Chilies

  1. Dan Close ⋅

    Thank you for the lovely pictures and stories about the organic garden. I too have enjoyed the many stories and examples of the healthful ways to grow fruits and vegetables and care for the land.
    You capture the magic of this wonderful place.

  2. Diane Laughter ⋅

    I want to take naps in that “treehouse” structure. You are fulfilling my fantasy!

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