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Cloudy with a chance of fruitfall

Poondy’s weather reports feature fruits. They fall from the skies. But there’s a lot more happening in this quaint town. Get a glimpse into the magic with this excerpt from Arjun Talwar’s delightful new book, Bim and The Town of Falling Fruit:

Bim

Most of Miss Chitty’s passengers were people who’d just arrived to Poondy. This meant that she had to carry their suitcases and put them on top of her car before taking them to town. If the passengers discovered they were in the wrong Poondy, Miss Chitty had to take these down and say sorry, as if it was all her fault. So she had a habit of telling these newcomers where they were before she touched their bags.

‘This is the Poondy where fruit always falls,’ she would say.

Because if there’s anything special about Poondy, it’s the jackfruit, coconut and toddy trees that are always threatening to drop their fruit on everyone’s heads. Most of these trees lean away from their roots at an angle, so fruit floats above the whole town. There are skinny trees, fat trees, trees you could climb and trees you couldn’t, but the sound of fruit falling is always the same: thrrrump.

…There are two approaches to the problem of falling fruit in Poondy. One is simply to always look up. You see when a jackfruit or coconut breaks off its branch. You move away, your head is saved. On the other hand, two up-lookers might bump into each other. But there are ways to avoid this (for example, by whistling). Even then, an up-looker can easily step into a pile of cow poo. Can you imagine scraping poo off your sandals while looking up?

For a long time, this was the only strategy they had in Poondy. Then Falwala came up with the idea of a fruit-helmet.

A fruit-helmet is a piece of headgear, with or without chinstrap, intended to save the skull from the force of falling fruit. What makes a fruit-helmet special is the gap between the top of the helmet and the head below it. Because of the gap, the head is safe, even when a jackfruit lands on it. A statue of Falwala in a prototype fruit-helmet stands in the middle of the Big Square (Falwala didn’t enjoy his success for long; he was pummelled by a coconut while washing the prototype in a pond).

The helmets look silly. But you can walk freely, whistle or not whistle, have clean feet and, in general, lead a normal life, while living in a world of falling fruit. For these reasons, fruit-helmets are popular with Poondizens. They’re traded in various forms—brightly coloured or unpainted, steel or wooden—and can be ready-made or made to order. You can find pointy ones that split the fruit open, so it can be eaten. You can have a hole in the back to put your ponytail through. But the essence of a fruit- helmet is the same as it was in Falwala’s day. It boils down to that invisible ingredient: the gap.

front cover Bim and The Town of Falling fruit
Bim and The Town of Falling Fruit||Arjun Talwar

Our fruit helmets are ready. How about you?

 

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