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’"
We could hear laughter coming from a distance. A group of women gathered outside their verandah; their chatter spilling onto the streets. A loud wailing cry resounded in the air as a little boy perched on the shoulder of a young woman turned to his mother and heaved a deep sob. The crowd slowly dispersed […]Read more "Attapadi: Government freebies have made our tribal community lazy"
We met Sheen at around 10.30 am. The hills were shrouded in mist adding a certain charm to the mystery and allure of Attapadi. A pall of gloom descended on the town as we made our way to a tiny tea stall run by a mother-daughter duo. After a heavy breakfast of crispy appams and […]Read more "Rest Of My Family Travel Diary: Day 28 (Part 1)"
We took a detour from the main road. Muddy trails gradually led to the Moopan’s doorstep. Well-trimmed hedges adorned his courtyard as the winds sighed a soothing lull. Somewhere in the fading dusk, amidst valleys bathed in a rose-hued gleam, a cluster of garden bowers breathed its last… A middle-aged man with jet-black hair and […]Read more "Rest Of My Family Travel Diary: Day 27 (Final Part)"
“Maybe we were happier back then. May be not. I am not sure. At least, we had unity amongst ourselves. We forged deep connections with each other. Your sorrows were mine, as were your joys. Now, we seldom see our neighbour. Everyone is caught up in this race for survival. And, the community has lost […]Read more "Attapadi: Our tribal community seems to have lost its way"
“While some tribesmen sold most of the land they owned to settlers for peanuts, others were duped into handing over their land in the guise of a better deal. When the Forest Conservation Act came into being in 1980, majority of their farmland was lost to the reserves. By the time the bill was passed, […]Read more "Rest Of My Family Travel Diaries: Day 27 (part 3)"
The cable (leaked by Wikileaks) also read that exploitation or abuse of tribes who traditionally resided in the heart of the forests was a common phenomenon in the country. Many ‘non-tribals’ viewed the scheduled tribes as an obstacle to development who must be removed from forest lands and ‘integrated’ into the mainstream culture largely as […]Read more "Rest Of My Family Travel Diaries: Day 27 (part 2)"
Last evening, Joby introduced us to Radhakrishna Kurup who would serve as our translator and point of contact to tribes for the next few days. “It might not be possible to visit Kurumba hamlets since they have some of the most difficult trails to trek through. Besides, this time of year, the paths are muddy […]Read more "Rest Of My Family Travel Diaries: Day 27 (part 1)"