Developments in our community development initiative haven’t come easily for the past two weeks in Kumily. With our primary Forestry Dept. contact away from his office for a little more than a week, and given that the time table agreed up at our last meeting (June 26th) allowed for a ten day period during which our ‘talent scout,’ as it were, would make contact with potential producers, we at the resort were, in the meantime, left playing a bit of a waiting game. But with the distraction of staff tour revelry behind us and anticipation for the arrival of our newest intern, Sung, at a high, our idle and indolent interlude came to a happy end today when we met with several FD officials and functionaries, some of whom none of us had met previously, including a ‘Forest Guard’ (a title I hope to earn someday) who runs the protection agency focused on the tribal community.
For while we in Thekkady had been sitting on our proverbial hands, Crist and Amie had been actively ascertaining details from our sister bag-making enterprise in Kochin. They presented these to the FD in today’s meeting, and we worked on finalizing a date for our inaugural training workshop, which (God willin’ and the crick don’t rise) will be run by Diwia, whose role in the creation of this project is laid out in Amie’s post from last week. We also hashed out the specifics of material collection, specifications, etc., specifics I had hoped to have a firmer grasp on already, but which the date of the training session (July 23rd, hopefully) has made slightly less urgent. Luckily, the woman who had taken up the task of finding the first round of producers had already presented a list of twenty-one names to the FD, and everything seems to be rolling along smoothly.
The flow of the meeting also allowed for Crist and the FD officials to bounce ideas around about future collaboration between Raxa Collective and the Eco-Development office in Thekkady, ideas I won’t describe in detail here because they’re all still in various stages of infancy (or in utero). But I am pleased to say that our relationship with the FD is only getting stronger, both personally and professionally, and I’m eager to see how it develops after we successfully launch this initial enterprise.
In news unrelated, Gourvjit, Sung, Amie, Milo and I took an early morning hike into the Periyar today that began in the tribal village and led us into some dramatic signs of tiger-claws and something like six Malabar Giant Squirrel.
I hadn’t seen this squirrel in my previous treks, and to run into so many and in such close proximity was a sight-seeing thrill. It was also pleasant surprised that our guide, a Mannan man named Revi, had led us on a prior trek, a coincidence that created a familiarity between us such that I could ask him about his life and family. And although I’m happy for them, I must also resentfully and jealously report that the German family who went in ahead of us spotted elephants, which I still have yet to do.
Tomorrow, our crew (this time w. Crist) is going on the so-called ‘Cloud Walk,’ which should take us into the Periyar’s higher altitudes where I’ve wanted to venture since I saw them from below four weeks ago. When we get back I expect we’ll have a photo-upload-party so we can show off the sights.