As mentioned before the biggest problems in our jungle home have not been of the animal kind. Falling branches, spiky leaves, and, most annoyingly, the tiniest of all: funguses.
After I send home the landlord’s last attempt to free us from our roof-threatening mango tree, it took only two months of gentle reminders, annoyed emails and angry phone calls for them to send reinforcements. Not one, not two, but four Indian blokes turned up this time, professional-looking in their matching green T-shirts and yellow helmets. Having not seen much tree cutting before, I got myself comfortable for the viewing.
The first thing to do with any job, is extensive observation. The four guys stood and stared at our tree for a good ten minutes, taking pictures on their phones from all angles. Then, a heated debate followed. In Tamil, and I assumed it was about the right way to attack the tree, whilst making sure it would not fall on our recently repaired roof. It seemed there was a problem. The manager had to be called. As their English was not much better than my Tamil, it took a while to sort out the muddle. Finally, we cleared it up. They had been told to deal with a fallen tree. Our tree stood tall and lofty. After this was established there was not a problem at all. Tools were brought in.
First, a rope needed to be attached to the tree. After several throws with a weighted rope, almost breaking the aforementioned recently repaired roof, one of the guys took of his boots, and with an impressive speed he climbed up the trunk, as smoothly as our macaques. The rope fastened, I saw why four people were needed for this job. One busied him with a chainsaw; the others pulled the rope, coaxing the tree in the right direction. Just before the tree came down with a thundering crackle, a crimson sunbird settled in the crown of the tree. In the green leafy mayhem that followed I lost the flash of bright red. The roaring sound of the tree’s trunk was followed seconds later with a loud thunder in the sky.
So now they are dragging out the remains of the tree in the pouring rain, while I sit typing away under my dry, undamaged roof. But I have work to do too. First, make the wet guys some hot, warming coffee. Then, I have to get a soapy cloth and fight my next battle. The hardest one, against the smallest enemy: the mould. Especially in this supposed dry season, that has proved wetter than any monsoon should be. The de-humidifiers I bought made a great difference, our house no longer smells like a bowl of mushrooms. But we need to stay vigilant. The terrorist black spots keep crouching up, and in, from every corner. I dream up an equally efficient crew to battle those, small as ants, dressed up in matching green T-shirts and yellow helmets, snapping pictures on miniature mobile phones, and calling tiny managers, before bringing out brushes that can sweep up mould from the tiniest of nooks and crannies. Sigh. Well, a girl can dream, right?