Thursday, February 08, 2007


I am saddened that my good friend at work has decided to leave. I am more saddened that he is taking away his collection of bonsai trees. I am sure they’ll miss me too coz I fed them with out fail for the last three years.

I happen to like trees, especially tropical trees like the ones we have in Kerala. Who can NOT like tamarind trees? Have you ever watched a tamarind tree go to sleep at night, and then awake the next morning? I think that's an amazing sight. All the tiny leaves curl up when the sun goes down; then, they spread out again the next morning when they feel the sunshine. That is one incredible sight.

I like jack fruit trees, too, specially the ones dressed in pepper vines. We had a big jack fruit tree on our front yard complete with pepper drapes, ants, squirrels and countless bird’s nests. It had branches bend all the way to the ground making little leafy tents for us to play under.

As a kid I liked mango trees, for it had green sour mangos, and also because they were fun to climb on. A good mango tree will be ant-free and will have stumps that make it easy to climb. You can walk along those stumps without holding onto anything. Just keep your balance. We had a mango tree that had limbs larger than 2 meter in diameter.

Acacia and Mangium didn't arrive in Kerala until late 1980s when the Bishop of Trivandrum brought them from Australia. Mangium in the late 80s generated more hype than ‘techno city’ does today. Thinking it might make good investment people cut down their coconut trees and planted these exotic flora- those brainless fools. Not only did they turn out to be worthless, they threw out more goddamn pollen than any other tree I've ever seen, and that yellow dust raises hell with my allergies. They didn’t even make good cow fodder. Even goats won’t eat it, and you know goats – they eat ANYTHING.

Cashew was another genuine tree. It is one tree that will grow in any kind of soil. There were some wonderful cashew trees in my school. I think they were special varieties from Africa that produced extraordinarily fleshy fruits. They tasted different, and made better raw material for the underground alcohol breweries we had in school. Except for their nuts and alcohol they aren’t worth diddly-squat.

That brings me to the trivia question. Do you know the connection between home brew and torch battery? Do you know why Eveready battery was considered the best by 'experts'?


Anonymous Sethu said...

I think the breweries started in early 70s. A few adventure seekers got high and dozzed off in the woods. All hell broke loose when the house master (Mr.Madhavan Nair I think) noticed absentees that night. A massive search operation was launched - and rest is history !

Nice to know that you guys kept up the tradition.

BTW very nice blog. Good writing. PCN will be proud !

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Indu said...

Read this post couple of times yesterday and 2 times again today. Feel very nostalgic.


2:06 PM  
Anonymous iqlas said...

very nice write-up, bring back nice memories of child hood..
keep it going...

2:11 PM  
Blogger sahithyasangamam said...

Those big old fruit bearing trees are still sticking to our memory because they were sort of our second homes back then...

Thanks Baiju-san for this nostalgic trip down the memory lane. It became much sweeter in the cool shade your craftful writing.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Manjadi said...

kollam. nannaayirikkunnu.
good stuff.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Muhammad Riyaz said...

Good drive down the memory.

I have more memories around cashewnut trees. We had one with the yellow fruit in our yard. And there were many around in our colony.

Any idea how cashew became so wedded to Kerala? That does not look foreign than the name parankimanga.. any cashew in portugal?

I have an unknown lust for mango tree. My dream home has a mango tree in the front yard. Mango tree somehow gives the Kerala image for me. The shade, the coolness, the beautiful long leaves.

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