Ray Hari

A tribute to the coconut tree

Ray Hari

September 2020

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Many of you grew up under or near the mighty oak tree, a magnolia tree, a peach tree, a pine tree, or even a carob tree. Isaac Newton grew up under an apple tree. I grew up under coconut trees. But unlike Newton I never had a coconut fall on my head in my first 20 years. My childhood was spent in a place called Trivandrum (now Thiruvananthapuram) in Kerala. Keram means coconut tree and Kerala means the land of coconut trees. If you stand anywhere in Kerala and run fast in any direction, if you are not hit by a city bus or a two wheeler, you are bound to get your head banged against the trunk of a coconut tree (unless an elephant comes and stands in your way).


Life of people living in Kerala is defined by the coconut tree. Almost all dishes prepared in the Kerala cuisine has coconut in them. Everything is fried in coconut oil. We put coconut oil on our head before taking a bath. The roof of huts is made from thatched coconut leaves. Even the broom used to sweep the floor is made from coconut leaves. I could write many books about coconut trees. But other people have already done that. I am not good at writing songs. I would refer you to the YouTube song “The coconut songhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0AOGeqOnFY if you want to learn more about the coconut tree.


I would like to pay my tribute to the coconut tree not through a book or a song. When I set out to create the svwoodturners.com website, the coconut tree was very much on my mind. Maybe it was all the coconuts I had consumed in my childhood talking to me. Designing a website is not easy. There are many things to consider. One of the most important thing to consider is how you organize the information and how you expect a visitor to navigate the pages. Barbara Walters once asked, “If you were a tree, what tree would you like to be?”. If you ask our website the same question, the answer would be a coconut tree. Not the mighty oak or the willow tree.

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The mighty oak with its many branches is a very beautiful tree and gorgeous to look at. The coconut tree on the other hand is a very simple tree. It has one trunk and no branches. The leaves are directly attached to the trunk. Each leaf has a petiole and many leaflets. The energy the leaflets get from the sun is directly fed to the trunk through the petiole. No branches to navigate through. A website, like the coconut tree should be easy to navigate.

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To create an analogy between the coconut tree and the svwoodturners.com website let us abstract out the coconut tree and compare it to the website.  The trunk of the tree is our home page. The ‘petiole’ is attached to the trunk. In the case of the website you will notice the different blocks that define broadly the subject of what you are looking for. Once you enter the ‘petiole’ you can go to the ‘leaflet’s, the actual article you are interested in.

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Though there are menus, they are not the main navigation mechanism that users will depend on. Especially on the mobile phone and tablet versions of any website, menus are not that friendly for navigation. We have made navigation on mobile phones and tablets a little easier by providing domino like tiles that are easy to tap with a finger. By limiting the hierarchy to just 3 levels, you are not spending too much time in navigating to where you want to go. That is one of the reasons I did not want to emulate the mighty oak. On any page you can tap on the leaflet icon to get back to the petiole and on the petiole icon to get back to the home page. There is always some exception to every rule. We do have some items in the menu structure that do not follow the above mentioned theme. But most of the items can be accessed from the blocks in the home page.


As woodturners, we like all the trees except of course the punky ones. But today we salute the coconut tree.



~ Hari ~