Pandurang Naik scales the equivalent of several mid-rise buildings in an average workday, only without a staircase or ladder. He picks coconuts from the palm trees that dot India's western coastal state of Goa.
Clad in shorts and a dirty tank top, Naik, 64, examines each roughly 50-foot tree meticulously before embarking on his ascent. A rope tied around his legs helps anchor him to the tree and an ax hangs from his waist like a police officer's revolver.
With a firm grip around the rough tree trunk, he climbs upward. His hands and legs move alternately, in perfect sync with one another. His biceps and calf muscles flex with every movement.
Upon reaching the top, Naik...