Thursday 22 January 2009

A trip, a phonecall, Jenu Kuruba and a lovely experience

last week from the 14th to the 16th of january, i visted the jenu kuruba settlement in mysore, karnataka. the trip was special in many ways - it was my first visit to a tribal settlement, the train journey into the wee hours of the night was lovely and a phone call while the train just touched the mysore platform was something that made the trip an experience to cherish. the train journey was interesting in the sense we had to get a midnight train from bangalore to mysore but the s1 coach that had to accommodate us was late and had to be attached to the engine. it was the first time that i saw a coach being attached to the engine. the phone call: i had not heard from the person since a long time and the person decided to call me at 4 in the morning and hearing the voice, a thousand bubbles burst one after the other making the journey hmmm! so lovely and invigorating. the journey to the settlements gave one ample time to take in the myriad colours of the landscape and meander one's thoughts into distant realms. the jenu kurba are the honey gatherers (jenu translated as thenu meaning honey in tamil). their way of life, their dance, their familiarity with the forest, the trees, the birds and everything around them prompted one to rethink about one's systems, way of life, et al. why does the tribal people's life always bring wonder to a city dweller like me. is it because i am far removed from a value system that is close adhering to nature. is it a different world view that forces one to reflect and contemplate. displaced from their original home - the forest, the community is still haunted by the memories of a once glorious living and dwelling inside the forest at a time when food and life was quite simple and easy. their philosophy of life is just as easy as the flowing kabini (a river that separates the kerala and karnataka state) who just makes her way in a dignified manner. i know that i can never be a tribal. i was once a tribal but my ancestors chose to 'modernise' themselves. the thought that recurs in me is that 'which tribe i would have belonged to?'


  1. Hi, awesome post. I read it after I replied to your comment on my birdwatching post. I realise I could have have explained myself in a far better way by comparing the experience of finding a new species of bird (here I don't mean discovery of a new species but only seeing a species for the first time) to encountering a people with a different value system and way of life. Did you get to know about their family and 'hadi' systems as well? Do keep posting about your other travels as well.

  2. Well, we were with a group of students and they meandered through the various aspects of the Jenu Kuruba life. I did get a glimpse of the answers to the questions you had asked. It was moreover interesting to see how they track the honeycomb and very intricately squeeze out honey. The honey bee does not sting them at all. Now that is symbiosis! What do you say? I saw a lot of fowls when in the Nagarhole forest and in that region. The experience was very uplifting and memorable.

  3. Funny, but I do think of myself as a tribal... and primal... being. I think that deep inside of ourselves, we are all tribal... still untouched by the paints of civilization. It takes very little to scratch our painted surface... and find the true blood of who we are.

    What a great opportunity you had, Susan, to visit with the Jenu Kuruba. We are the ones who reap the benefits when we are exposed to another culture/way of life.


  4. Nevine:

    All of us are tribals dressed with the latest offerings of civilisations. But I don't know how tribals will respond to this statement.
    So many primal cultures are slowly dying away. The so-called 'developments' offered by governments and different agencies are driving them to the brink of extinction. Sadly nothing can be done.



Related Posts with Thumbnails