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Palm Toddy

We Buy a Bottle from a Man in the Street
This follows-on from School Sports and Cemeteries in which, while we were looking for the Dutch cemetery we met a man who wanted to show us things, or more accurately, sell us things.
When we left the presbytery the man asked us if we knew the meaning of the word, Kerala. No. It means coconut. Had we tasted the slightly alcoholic drink made from an extract of the coconut flower? No. Would we like to join him for a drop? Yes. It will cost 60 rupees for a bottle, plus another 60 for a bottle for him, and he will drink his later. OK then, 60 for a bottle plus a 60 tip, we’ll go for it.
Almost stung for £3.80
We walked along the road and the man said: ‘Give me 120 rupees and wait there, by this shop’. Unfortunately, and typically, I only had 100 rupee notes, so it meant giving him 200 and asking for change. ‘OK, I get some.’
And off he went with our 200 rupees. Hilary was furious: ‘That’s the last you’ll see of him’, she said, ‘And we’ve just thrown away 200 rupees’. OK, so we’ve been stung for £3.80. It’s a gamble – I can gamble with £3.80.
After waiting some time we were just about to put it down to win-some-lose-some when who should we see coming along the road but the man, a plastic bag in one hand and some dirty rupee notes in the other. He opened the bag to show a bottle inside, handed over it and the notes, shook our hands and said bye bye.
We have some palm wine.
So we have a bottle of coconut palm wine, or maybe water, or maybe he’d wee’d in it. Later that night we opened the bottle and smelled. It certainly smells like coconut. Taste a drop. Yes, that’s palm wine all right. Very distinctive. Nasty aftertaste. But it’s not everyone who goes home from their package tour with a bottle of palm wine in their rucksack.
The story continues with The Dutch Cemetery and the Synagogue.


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