We were asked to come over the next morning at 7a.m.,
when Anand would start making khejur-gur from the morning harvest
of sap. In order to photograph him putting up the earthenware pots
for the night harvest we arranged to come in the evening around
4 p.m. whilst I would still have sufficient light to take the photographs.
Usually, he would do this job late in the evening, almost at dusk.
When we reached the village in the evening, Anands
wife had cleaned the earthenware pots in the pond and was tying
them together with coconut fiber rope. The ropes were of an exact
length that fitted around the neck of the pot in a loose loop.
Anand was examining his instruments necessary for
the job. These consisted of two sickles, which he honed on a log
over which he sprinkled sand from the ground, and a flat wicker
basket, which he tied around his waist with the basket resting on
his lower back and buttocks. The outside portion of the basket had
a small iron hook attached with thin coconut rope. He also carried
a piece of stout split bamboo with a coconut fiber rope tied in
the middle with a loose end about 3 ft. in length, which was attached
to the hook on the basket, and a length of strong jute fiber rope
which he tied loosely around his waist.
This rope loop on the earthenware pots served the
purpose of hanging the pots on either end of a bamboo staff, which
Anand carried on his shoulder. It was also used to hook the pot
on to the wicker basket when Anand climbed the tree. Six pots each
on either end of the staff was a heavy load and the pliant bamboo
staff on Anands shoulder worked like a leaf spring keeping
time with his gait as he walked toward the Phoenix sylvestris trees.
On reaching the grove, Anand unloaded the bamboo
staff from his shoulder and gently lowered the pots to the ground.
He went about his job with swift precision. First he removed a pot
and hooked it on to the back of the wicker basket tied around his
waist. He then untied the jute fiber rope from his waist, slipped
it around the trunk, and tied the two ends in a knot. Leaning against
the rope and adjusting the length a couple of times, he proceeded
to climb the tree with agility, despite all the paraphernalia dangling
from his back. He slid the rope up the tree trunk and hoisted himself
in an incredibly fast gait. He stopped about 5 ft. below the crown
of the tree and tied the stout bamboo stick horizontally to the
tree trunk with two equal halves jutting out on either side. Stepping
on the bamboo, first with one foot and then the other, he stood
up, eyes flush with the tapping point just below the crown of leaves,
leaning at an angle from the trunk on the rope that went around
the tree trunk and his waist.