Many houses in olden times had ample space around them for trees and shrubs. In the Devaparthiva Road house my grandfather had purchased in 1950, there was a big jackfruit tree, among other fruit bearing trees. This jackfruit tree with its huge girth, large canopy of leaves and tallness gave an imposing sight. It must have been planted by the first owner who built that house around 1905 or it may have been there even before. I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in such green environs and yard space to run around, even managing to play my solo cricket on the northern side. The jackfruit tree was the start of my bowling run-up. I would bowl at a single stump and wanted to see it fly, on hitting with the cork ball.
Colour pictures [click on them to enlarge] in this were taken as memories during 2007-8 when we had to leave the house to move to another ancestral house in Lakshmipuram.
Cricket in the backyard [posing]. The 'umpire' was the Jackfruit tree!
That was the space for cricket. The rose apple tree is seen. The extra room in the background was built later.
Here, my cousin has climbed to pluck fruits. The branches needed periodical pruning to prevent trouble to the neighbouring house and spreading too much.
We kept an eye on the eyes of its spiky outer rind to check their widening and yellowing, a sign of maturity. Its fruity aroma would start wafting in the air, a hint for removal. But sometimes, crows and monkeys would find it earlier than us, with the opened rind making the aroma stronger. A hollow sound on slapping the rind with the palm was also a guide for removal. When the fruit was low on the trunk, just slitting the thick stalk was enough. 'Thud'! For those that were high, a rope was tied and lowered to prevent breakage. It was kept there for a few minutes for the latex oozed out from the cut portion. A huge one was a pleasing sight and the first of the season
Two cousins on the tree. See the girth of the trunk up there! I could climb only up to a certain point.
The sweetest things come at a cost. This one, by way of sticky latex! Smearing castor oil or coconut oil to the knife and fingers prevented the goo from sticking. In no time, a passing cow stood at the gate having picked up the sweet scent from the jackfruit filling the air.
On the left, uncle is waiting anxiously to lay his hands while cousin cuts and mother already has hers on the sweet bulbs, also called fruit pods! When I was younger, once I had gobbled up about 40 'bulbs'! But this figure of 40 is an utter shame. We had a relative in Shimoga, one Suryanarayana, a renown glutton. He was known to gobble up all the fruit pods in a medium size fruit, from his own trees! There is a separate post dedicated to his eating exploits, here: [Click]
2009 picture. Roadside neem tree in the foreground. The big canopy of Jackfruit is behind.
The tree also attracted jackfruit thieves at night. They would jump over the tallish conservancy wall [above picture] and got in, but would step on the dry leaves producing a rustle. The alert neighbour, Acharya's shout on hearing that from his adjacent kitchen made the thief fled. In the dark, we dared to go out there to chase. The dry leaves were used for the hearth in the bath. Sometimes the dark green, roundish leaves would be plucked and served 'kosambri' during festival -- they were no-plastic days! The pruned branches of the tree after drying provided plenty of firewood, which mother or I would chop into suitable lengths and store. The soft wood of the tree is suited for making musical instruments like 'mridangam' and 'veena'. The thick soft seeds are nutritious, finding use in cooking with 'sambar' or roasted on charcoal, both have good taste. There are numerous dishes that can be made out of this nutritious jackfruit.
This picture of the tree was taken from the road a few years after we left and before the new owner started building his big bungalow. In the open space [foreground, where Acharya's house existed] also a hotel building has come up. The jackfruit tree seems to have survived but suffering due to damaged roots judging by the sparsely leaved end branches that could be seen from the road behind new structures.
Till we were in that house we got our annual supply of jackfruit and there was no jackfruit tree in our ancestral Lakshmipuram house where we had moved. But sometimes, one or two per season were sent by our kind neighbour Lady Shenoy, from their tree. Irresistible temptation shoots when we see good fruits with the push cart vendor [below]. The parcel is taken home, washed and savoured, at times with honey. Seasonal fruits must be eaten!
Grape-like bunch, my friend's tree. Neighbour's tree. Another tree in a campus.
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