We drove from Attapadi towards Dhanushkodi. As we traversed the uplands through long and arduous roads, we said our final goodbyes to the forests, hills and its inhabitants. We decided to make a quick stop at Kodaikanal before heading to the ghost town situated to the South-East of Pamban Island in Tamil Nadu. On a […]Read more "En route to the ‘Gift of the Forests’"
Crumbled pages fluttered in the light breeze amidst piles of books. Some sat forlorn, stacked on the shelf. Some were discarded. And, then there were those that once held records of importance. It didn’t matter now. For, they were all just gathering dust in the offices of a department that left no stone unturned to […]Read more "We are all to be blamed for tribal downfall"
Sheen and Radhakrishnan visited us early in the morning. They suggested that we make a trip to the Attapadi Hills Area Development Society (AHADS) quarters since it has been instrumental in augmenting the lives of tribal families for years. Considered by the State Government to implement the Attapadi Wasteland Comprehensive Environmental Conservation Project, the society’s […]Read more "‘The first thing the government did was take away all the computers’"
The Irinjalakuda boys surprised us with an early morning visit. Since, we had been travelling to tribal hamlets for the past few days, we decided to relax and explore the hills today. After a quick breakfast of idli and appam, we headed towards Joby’s farm – a secluded paradise situated away from town. It rained […]Read more "‘The problem lies with human beings’"
Last night, we discussed everything we had learnt about the situation in Attapadi so far. Having understood both the tribal and government side of the story, we were now able to draw conclusions on how alienation of land propagated social exclusion that eventually led to abject poverty and absolute dissolution of tribal demography. While displacement […]Read more "Throughout history, tribes were portrayed as savages"
We walked through the steep descent as paths precariously trailed through dense forests. The air was damp and the mountain spirits swayed to the rhythm of trees and its life forms. Below the rising leaflets, our eyes fell on the myriad roofs peeking through the hills. Amidst caliginous skies that threatened to erupt, Dhanya stayed […]Read more "‘Only a matter of time before the entire hamlet is abandoned’"
Principal occupations of the Kurumbas include selling firewood, gathering forest produce and cultivating ragi, saami and other grains. Some historians insist that they are in fact descendants of the Kuruman dynasty who fled to Attapadi centuries ago. Historically, the tribe is best known for its skills in sorcery and black magic. It was believed that they could […]Read more "‘At least, we have the forests’"
We walked from Dhanya towards Gottiyarkandi – a Kurumba hamlet situated deep in the Attapadi forests. The dirt road steeped upwards and we could see remnants of large tyre tracks embedded in the muck. Most of the Kurumba settlements are inaccessible during monsoons. Not so long go, the tribes had to trek through dense jungles […]Read more "The day we met the original inhabitants of the hills"
“When we lived in the forests, animals never attacked the community or destroyed our crops. There was never any ‘food scarcity’. We all lived together in harmony. However, today things have changed. Peacocks, wild boars, goats and human beings are all struggling for food. There isn’t anything left for anyone,” said Nanji as she raked […]Read more "‘Life would test us beyond our limits but we were free’"
We hear them everywhere; faint strains of fragmented echoes floating within the realms of their spiritual universe. Detached from the earth and disconnected from each other, these tribes now find themselves wandering between two worlds — one that perished a lifetime ago and another that refuses to accept or acknowledge their existence – while their […]Read more "‘We gave up our identity for 5 kg rice and 5 kg wheat’"