Our car is parked under the shade of a few big trees. We are on a road trip in the State of Odisha, in India.
The late afternoon sun casts long shadows. The kids and their father have gone to buy some supplies. I stretch my legs and randomly take pictures.
Close to where I stand is a banyan tree, its buttresses reaching out to the ground below.
Under the huge tree, is a man selling tender coconuts. The coconuts huddle one on top of the other. People keep stopping by for a drink to refresh themselves.
The tender coconut seller deftly uses his curved knife to chop-off the green cover on the top of each tender coconut. He carves the top, and with precision and skill, manages to nick the top, just enough, to provide access to the coconut water inside. He grabs a straw, puts it inside and hands it over to the customer.
His customers savour the cool and sweet juice, their eyes faraway. The moment they finish their drinks, he takes the shell back and cuts it open. Using a piece of the cut-off shell, he scoops the white and tender kernel from within and serves it to them.
He catches me watching him. He asks me if I want to have a drink. I nod in the affirmative.
I walk up to him, and he works his magic on the coconut shell again. Soon, I savour the first mouthful. I begin to understand the difference between ‘cool’ and ‘cold’. Refrigerated soft drinks are cold, this was sweet and cool.
He scoops out the kernel and I wolf it down with relish.
The sun is setting and the seller clears up the huge mound of shells that has gathered through the day. I ask him what he does with them. He tells me that a lady buys them from him. Soon, the said lady comes by with a gunny bag to collect the shells. The seller sweeps the area clean and walks into the street, nodding to me.