In our home, we use a lot of freshly grated coconut in our cooking. When I was growing up, my parents used to buy about 4 – 5 big coconuts every Sunday from the vegetable market.
These were grated using something called an Aruvamanai, which looks like this.
The Aruvamanai was also used to chop vegetables. Even today many homes in India use this as the vegetable chopper of choice, for its simplicity and convenience.
So once the coconut shells were grated, my sisters and I had to take them to the backyard to stack them up neatly.
We have had some wonderful times with these coconut shells. We were given old metal spoons and asked to remove the fiber atop each shell. It was a test of patience and endurance. Once the shell was clear of fiber, we washed them and dried them in the Sun, after which we would take old rags and apply coconut oil to bring a shine to the shell.
We then used these around the garden for decoration. Sometimes, we painted these shells and used them to store our trinkets.
Each shell has three eyes (as they are called). Taking our Dad’s help, we broke these eyes and lo! had a penstand we could use.
Then again, we lived in a cold place so nothing cold was easily available. During winter, when temperatures fell below zero, we filled these coconut shells with water and carefully placed them in the soil in our garden, so they wouldn’t tip over.
At the first hint of dawn, and with the entire area blanketed in frost, we ran to check if the water in the shells had turned into ice. We felt like scientists watching this simple miracle of nature happen overnight. We played with the dome-shaped ice cubes till they melted.
Simple things like coconut shells gave us so much joy.