Sunday, July 24, 2011

Intermission: There is nothing as charming as a pineapple farm!

It is called Gaspani, the place where you will find pineapple farms in Nagaland.  It was a regular Saturday afternoon outing, of the kind you might have here in Nagaland.  Climbing up into the hills on the road to Kohima, the air is comfortably cooler than it is in Dimapur, and in monsoon the dense jungle is verdant and humming with life.  You feel a spontaneous surge of good feeling, which bursts into delight on seeing the bamboo stalls piled high with fresh, bright pineapples, the air smelling of them too.  The road bends and twists up and up, and then you spot them on the left, the most charming pineapple farms that you can ever imagine! 
We stopped at one of the stalls, parking.  Soon we had the sweetest of pineapples juicy and dripping all over our hands.  On the rolling hillside behind was my pineapple farm; I pretended, though I knew it really belonged to the Church.  Seeing the little bamboo field hut at the top, I wanted to pretend that I was going home as I clambered up the hill, in between the pineapple plants. 

Pineapples are so attractive on the plant that they never fail to draw a smile.  My companion told me that there could be 10,000 pineapple plants growing on four acres of land, and we calculated an estimated income for the farm.  It seemed to be a good business option.   Under favourable conditions, a pineapple plant yields a crop within two years.   Once established in neat rows, work on the farm would consist of weeding and harvesting.   A workforce of ten would need a week to weed the entire farm, which would be repeated 6-7 times a year.   Laying our hands on surplus, discarded pineapple plants, I claimed three.  We also carried off handfuls of ripe pineapples at 25 rps each. 

I wondered whether pineapples are indigenous to Nagaland, and I made a note to ask my friend Abong, (a Naga who does animation), if he could model a computer generated pineapple plant for the animation film.  (Now that sounds absurd – but what I really mean is that the film could do with a pineapple plant in it, for decoration).  I was happy to have replenished my pineapple supply and back in the bare, Spartan guesthouse they lie there as ornaments in my room, monsoon rain pouring down outside.  

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