Khéjur-gur

(page 4)

After the tree has remained for a few days thus exposed, the tapping is performed by making a cut into this exposed surface, in the shape of a very broad V, about three inches across and a quarter or half inch deep. Then the surface inside the angle of the V is cut down, so that a triangular surface is cut into the tree. From this surface exudation of the sap takes place, and caught by the side of the V, it runs down to the angle where a bamboo of the size of a lead pencil is inserted in the tree to catch the dropping sap and carry it out as by a spout. The tapping is arranged, throughout the season, by periods of six days each. On the fist evening a cut is made s just described, and the juice is allowed to run during the night. The juice so flowing is the strongest and best, and is called jirran juice. In the morning the juice collected in a pot hanging beneath the bamboo spout is removed, and the heat of the sun causes the exuding juice to ferment over and shut up the pores in the tree. So in the evening a new cut is made, not nearly so deep as the last, but rather a mere paring, and for the second night the juice is allowed to run…."

I had carried this book with me and read out relevant portions and translated it for Anand. He was not very impressed. He did not follow a fixed pattern in letting the trees rest during the harvest season. He said he just had a “feel” of a particular tree’s productivity and would skip harvesting from it and would resume again after a few days. I gathered that this “feel” would come to Anand when he climbed the trees to hang up the pots and studied the flow of sap as he scraped and pared the cut on the tree and also from the quantity of sap the tree produced.

* * *

Anand and family having their morning meal when we went to meet him. Anand left to work in his field. His wife offered us fresh Phoenix sylvestris juice from the harvest brought down by Anand in the morning. The sap in the narrow mouthed earthenware pots had started to ferment as was apparent from the froth on the surface. It was a pleasant tasting drink, but fresh in the early morning it would have tasted fabulous. Now, around 10 a.m., it tasted like a sweet but light beer.

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