Ants, Trees and me.

I had nothing in my mind before reaching Reach India Foundation. I started my exploration from Mysore – Manathavathy bus journey. In that journey, I saw isolated communities in the forest with sustainable life style.It was my first observation part in this journey. I am from Tamil Nadu so I don’t know Malayalam language but I met more Tamil speaking people in the field. I learnt few Malayalam words. It helped me to engage with people in the field.

My representation of the field.

In a new place, initially, I made my friendship with ants and trees. They were my listeners for the first week. I explored few wards in the Thondarnad panchayat to understand the locality and social structure. In my exploration I observed people’s livelihood, lifestyle, sustainable living and agriculture. The exploration part of my first week made me realise that exploration by foot is important and it is the only way to understand deeper about the society.

I learnt about Muslim community and influence of religious institution in the Kerala Education system. Whatever views I carried about religion, tribal community and education system in the Kerala got changed in my field visit. Initially, people in Pallipedika were sceptical about my presence. Establishing myself with the local community was the tough part but I explained my objective in the broken Malayalam language. The people were happy because of my interest to learn the Malayalam language.

With a neighborhood family.

One person who was helpful in the establishment phase was Vaikom Muhammed Basheer. I read Basheer works in Tamil. It helped me to start my initial conversation with the local people, how they are seeing Basheer’s work in the contemporary literature. It got introduced to few people like Banuchandar, Krishnan and they became my friends and field teacher.

Krishnan helped me a lot to get the right persons for studying the Thettamala Tea Estate. Banuchandar who is working as a Supervisor in Thettamala Tea Estate travelled across with me in Tea Estate. I learned few Malayalam words from him. He helped me to get into tribal settlements in the Tea Estate. The entire field visits with Banuchander gave me a clear perspective of Tea Estate and their workers life. I was amazed by their hospitality and their love. I felt like I was living in my native place.

The work site.

Here I want to talk about some other friends like rain, squirrel, snake and Birds. As a student from urbanised background, it was a good learning and music experience from nature made friends and another thing I would like to tell about colours. The colours and the art work in the Reach India Foundation persuade me to express my exploration part in creative expression. It gave me a chance to recollect my childhood bonding with colours. During my school days colour were prohibited in class room after a certain class period. After a long period, Reach India Foundation gave a space to express my dormant feelings through colours. I enjoyed this process throughout my internship period. It has liberated me from the structured way of expression.

The road endless!

My journey with Janakiraman, Umma, Banuchandran and Krishnan was an amazing learning experience. I hope soon I will I see my friends Ants and Trees again in Reach India Foundation.

With Love,


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