This was one story I absolutely loved doing. It was in my first sem when we had not yet learnt to get assignments done the easy way. I was to do a feature and I came up with this idea to go to a tribal colony.
These are Jenu Kurubas, literally meaning honey shepherds in Kannada.. They do not tend cattle though and earn a livelihood collecting honey and other forest products and today by working as coffee estate labourers. They are supposedly nomads of royal lineage from Tamil Nadu, though there is no documentation.
Tribals usually have a distinct culture of their own but these people are pretty much integrated into the mainstream society. Their Gods are called Komaralinga and Kannambadi Taayi. They live in 'Haadis' or a close knit community which are known for their cleanliness.
According to some government officials I spoke to, there are around 814 families of these tribals in Kodagu.
The women in the picture are all from the same family. Friendly and very sweet all of them.
That was about them. I had a tough time going to their camp or haadi.The men are always drunk and get into serious fights. One man, with a very prominent sickle tucked into his waist, was particularly bad. He thought I was from the government and began to tell me about the problems they faced, how they were abused and tortured, how poverty was killing them, how they were not given the land they were supposed to get..... One line he said still reminds me of the helplessness of my profession. He said, 'You will fill your white paper with black ink and walk out of here, what of us? Our situation will always be the same.' This got to me. Those were the days when I was still thinking of how I could change the world and the like. I was still ideological and too sensitive towards such issues.
(For my own sanity, I have improved to such a large extent that I have learnt to look but not see now. In other words, I am now fit to be a journalist.)
Nevertheless, it was a good experience. Sadly, I could not make a good story out of it. Now that I look back, I suppose I was too affected by what he said to exploit them for a good story. I know it is with such sadness that a good story is born but I was only trying to maintain my integrity until commercialism demands otherwise.