Man lives in tree after domestic spat

The BBC wrote an article on a man who chose to abandon his village life for a solitary treehouse lifestyle after a spat with his wife. Kapila has lived 25 feet up in the air, deep in the east Indian jungle, in a thatch treehouse for the past 15 years.

This case makes me think of people’s motivation for living in treehouses and the idea of protection through physical remoteness. There is also a mystique bound up in living in such a self imposed state of exile, like the wise man atop a mountain, that suggest the dweller as an independent, or recluse.

This form of living is bound up with concepts of escape, sanctuary, and a place to safely remove one’s self from social problems. It offers an alternative solution to life in more concentrated and over-accessible places. And, sometimes, it is nice to be able to get away from people and closer to nature.

This story also makes me think of the safety concerns associated with living in a tree house. After all, one’s body contains so much potential energy at these heights that a fall can be fatal. Particularily when no one is around to help. In Kaplia’s case, villigers sometimes walk out to check in on him, and bring him food.

There was a major cause for concern in 1999 when a cyclone moved through the area, with winds of 300 km/h, and destroyed many traditional huts and killed thousands of local people. Kaplia was able to ride out the storm in his make shift home, in part, because it is inherently protected by the jungle. Clearing the vegetation to build traditional huts made those structures vulnerable to severe weather such as wind and flood.

Also, the technique he used of lashing branches together with fibre and positioning the platfom in the crotch of a large tree is very flexible and stable. There is a beauty and simplicity in this design and an inherant sustainability not recognized my many. And, a lifestyle that is reserved for the wise recluse who wishes to counter balance the problems associated with too much social exposure.