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Tuesday
Mar302010

Coconuts AGAIN

I wrote, earlier, about the danger posed by falling coconuts in Havelock. I won’t go through the whole spiel again, but the fact of the matter is that a coconut is large, and heavy, and if it has your name on it, you will be wiped out as effectively as if you had been blasted with a Colt Magnum.

The problem is not confined to the Andaman Islands, in fact it must be India wide, because it also emerged in Goa. The first practical sign that there might be an issue, was when a newly arrived couple pulled a couple of sun loungers to an unoccupied, apparently prime area of the sun terrace. They had just got nicely settled in when the staff spotted them, and pointed out that they were directly underneath a very large cluster of very ripe coconuts. These were hanging, precariously, 20 meters above them, doing a very passable impression of one of those wartime shots of the loaded bomb bay of a B52. The newly arrived couple moved to a less select area, rather quickly.

Almost ripe coconuts, or possibly, carpet bombs.

Then there was the evidence of what a falling coconut could do. Directly above my head at my favourite seat on the terrace were three seriously cracked tiles, and a half a coconut wide hole. I wasn’t sat there when it fell, otherwise I don’t think I would yet have jumped back into my skin.

I think that you have to put up with the first few falling coconuts, because they indicate to the local management that the coconut carpet bombing season has arrived. Thus, Joe, being a conscientious manager, called in the local ‘coconut cutting down’ man.

Now this is, after all, India. So you can forget ladders. You can forget safety harnesses. You can forget hard hats. You can forget an ambulance standing by, and you can forget the area being cordoned off with plastic tape, and you will not get one of those stupid signs that says ‘Danger – Coconut felling in progress’.

'Coconut cutting down' man climbing tree

What happens is that the ‘coconut cutting down’ man arrives dressed in a singlet and shorts. He is equipped solely with a wicked looking machete, clipped to his belt, and a strange looking loosely coiled small bit of rope. He then has to prepare himself. This preparation consists of removing his flip-flops, and slipping his feet between the coils of the strange bit of rope. He then shinned up the nearest coconut tree faster that the demonstration model of an Otis lift could get you from reception to the mezzanine floor.

Note the grip, with his feet, on the tree

He didn’t cut the coconuts down individually, he cut them down in clumps, or pods. He cleverly used the machete to almost separate a clump, and then pull them free by hand, before dropping them into a safe area. Fascinating.

Down to the serious work