In the Land of Coconut Trees

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Every time I look out of my study window in Mangalore, I am reminded of the poet Joyce Kilmer who wrote “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree”. The ample coconut trees of Mangalore is a feast for the eyes. A land filled with coconut trees brings all kinds of pleasant memories to any one. A famous Malayalam song “Naaligarathinte nattil enikkoru” talks the happiness of owning space in the land of coconut trees. Such a place is synonymous with contentment, happiness, relaxation, and peace. The poet William Wordsworth writes.

“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils”.

coconut (1)

The picture is the scene outside my study window in 2008

coconut (2)

This is the same place today

I, often, replace the daffodils with coconut trees of Mangalore when I read the words of Wordsworth. Coconut has many health benefits. Coconut water is a popular drink often given to sick people for gaining instant energy. Coconut oil works wonders for oral hygiene and hair growth. The culinary contribution of coconut in curries and sweets is well known. Coconut fiber is used to make coir. Coconut leaves are used for thatching roofs. Coconut shells are used as bowls and fuel. In fact, every part of the coconut tree is said to be useful. Without much ado, we might safely say, that coconut trees are great to have around.

Unfortunately, the coconut trees of Mangalore are fast disappearing. Houses prop up every day and landscapes become unrecognizable within a span of couple of years. The famous naturalist and preservationist, John Muir, writes “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools”. We must act now to save Mangalore’s coconut trees. For every tree cut, let us plant two. We must save Mangalore from going the way of Bangalore or Poona. These cities have turned in to concrete jungles. A decade back, a visit to these cities would generate memories of plenty of greenery. Now, sadly, the trees are all gone.

The coconut trees of Mangalore make a precarious sight. Their very existence is under threat. I may not see them tomorrow. Martin Luther once said “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree”. I, sincerely, wish the city of Mangalore makes a similar decision about coconut trees.

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  1. Coconut trees, coconut juice is part of our culture. In the olden days everybody owned houses and each house was surrounded by coconut trees. Most of the houses in the olden days and few even now seem like it is deep inside the woods surrounded by coconut trees.

    The problem is we humans are supposed to do something. If we sit idle we are considered lazy. Mostly we are judged by how much we earn no matter what and how. Since India’s population is expanding fast, for builders and others who want to make a quick buck ‘coconut trees’ looks like ‘Rupeeeeeessss’. Why not cut it down and convert into flats after all how much money a coconut tree can fetch by the number of coconuts it can produce compared to lakhs it can earn if the land is levelled.

    Somewhere I read that until we sell the last leaf remaining of the plant on the planet for money only after that we will realize the value of plants.

    Coconut trees is ingrained in our culture and only way we hope is the future generation will be more sensible to preserve it.

  2. Dr.Maya Ahmed,I am sure that You are crying inside you looking outside. Wait for few more years and you will see no trees at all. Future Generation will suffer due to the Corruption of Elected and Government officers.
    Take a drive through Kannur Adyar area and see the Devastation of Rice fields. Soon Rice will not be there but concrete will be available.
    Corruption starts at Planning Commission.

  3. Well written Dr. Ahmed.
    It is sad to see that many coconut trees have been removed to make room for high rise buildings. I wish more people in India understood the value of preservation.

    The original house (Dove Cottage) of the great poet William Wordsworth that stands in Grasmere (lake District) is a great place to visit. It still looks like how it was during the 19th century. The entire Lake District has been so well conserved. The daffodil fields are also close to his house. See the link below:

  4. Very nice article. I also very nostalgic to see the view of cocunt trees in Mangalore. Feels very bad to see the haphazard growth of Mangalore which is killing the beauty and tranquility of my city.

    I hop we all come together and make sure the development and preservation of our beloved citises unique charactersistic go hand in hand. It is getting late. We need to do something.

  5. Thanks for the thought provoking article. First pic reminds me of my beloved Mangalore. Today’s pic is still OK. But several years from now, we would see fewer trees. This is the price we pay for progress. I am really sad to see this happen. But that’s the reality. I never be able to judge people who altered the landscape, sadly it happens. I wish places like Mangalore (which is culturally vibrant and mature) could designate open spaces – this will never happen. but, one can only hope. I left Mangalore many many moons ago, But, Mangalore never left me. I am sure many folks in the similar situation feels the s same about Mangalore.

  6. While the sentiment expressed by the author of this article is indeed valid, we also need to remember that each individual is also entitled to a window to look out of. Sadly the land in cities is limited and the fact that most peoples livelihood and access to civic services depends on their ability to reside in the proximity of a city makes such a situation impossible to avoid.
    So while we may lose our soothing views of the countryside, let us also understand that our loss is only as a result of someone being able to achieve their goal of owning their own window to look out of.

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