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Land of Coconuts

That's what Kerala means. And if you gazed out any third-story window in the state, you would, in fact, see the green leaves of coconut trees spreading for miles upon miles to the horizon. From the life-giving coconut tree comes stems, hearts, nutmeat and milk for food; sap for distilling into liquor and fresh juice for drinking; oil for flavorful cooking and healthy hair; leaves for shelter; and coir (the fibrous husk of the nut) for rope, mats, mattresses and brushes. Here, my friend Meera Pillai shows me the flexible yet tough fibers that are shed in convenient sheets from one of the many trees on her grandmother's land.