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Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

05 April 2008

Nuts Over Coconuts

I bought a tender coconut from Woolies a few weeks ago and thought to myself, ‘$3 for one?? That’s almost a hundred rupees! For that price, I could have bought ten in Bombay…’

I don’t know about you, but for me, certain foods offer so much more than their taste; they conjure up memories. Coconuts remind me of lazy summer holidays on Gorai beach under the swaying coconut palms; of feasting on fiery fish-curry-rice for lunch at my Nana’s house; of the cool sweet nariyal pani (coconut water) and milky white slips of melt-in-your-mouth malai (cream) from a tender coconut; of Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) and eating pancakes stuffed with moist coconut filling; of nimble men shimmying up coconut trees to take down the lovely bunch of coconuts; of sipping on palm feni while holidaying in Goa…

But most of all, coconuts remind me of when I was little and sometimes accompanied my dad to the Bandra bazaar. This Sunday morning ritual usually meant a stop at the coconut stall owned by Ramzan a.k.a. ‘I-tends-to-talk-in-plurals’. “Good morning, Tonys!” Ramzan would call out to my dad. “Good to see yous! Beti, you will haves nariyal pani, yes?” He’d cast his eye over all his coconuts, patiently sitting one on top of each other, and make his selection. With one firm ‘twhack’ of his koita (chopper), he’d crack open the hard brown shell and deftly collect the fresh, sweet water in a glass underneath. Mine to drink - for free! If I were lucky, (and you really had to be reallllllly lucky for this to happen), the coconut would have a baby flower growing inside it. Fascinating stuff!

No wonder, then, when I first moved to Perth, and later, to Sydney, the thing that struck me about the landscape was the lack of coconut trees. :( :( :( Me thinks a trip to Bombay is in order…

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