Five Years In Kerala


Jocelyn’s post reminds me of my favorite part of the last five years living in the wondrous, sometimes ponderous, always mysterious Kerala: these kids. Our gang, Thevara. My hoodies. They have all been growing by leaps and bounds, while leaping and bounding through the streets. This photo, taken some hours ago, could have been taken five years ago except for the heights of these fellows. And these young ladies on the right side of the photo below (also just taken) were but infants when I arrived into their world.


They welcomed me with cheers and high fives from day one, and continue to welcome me today with the same enthusiasm as on day one. So I have felt most at home in Kerala when I am walking through our shared neighborhood. My name, to them, is very simple: Saip. It is a term of endearment, at least it seems so to me. They all speak Malayalam, the language of Kerala, and almost zero English. But that is changing. The older sister of the young lady in the white starry dress is the most advanced in English, and now serves as the translator for the neighborhood when I walk through. I will bring her voice into the next post from Thevara. For now, my hat is off to the kids of Thevara, and those in Tacacori, Costa Rica where Jocelyn is having the same opportunity I have had, to make the children the center of our attention.

The Second Annual Thevara Badminton Tournament


The 2014 edition of our neighborhood sporting event of the year officially kicked off this evening, with two Raxa Collective representatives sharing the stage with two politicians, a priest and the neighborhood association’s leadership (who graciously invited Raxa Collective to join in again) prior to the first match.  We look forward to announcing the champion on December 31. Continue reading

Our Gang, Thevara (Future Houseboat Craftsman)

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Our young friends in the neighborhood were recently trying their hand at the design and mock up of a new houseboat. The parents of most of the children in the Our Gang, Thevara series are fishermen and fish___ (if you know the name for wives who clean and process the fish for sale, please comment). Most build and maintain their own simple boats.  Kids follow in their footsteps, traditionally, but this being Kerala our neighborhood gang is also getting a superb education at their local public school.  Some will leave the fishing and boat-making to siblings and cousins.  Some will become boat designers, we imagine. Continue reading

Our Gang, Thevara, (Team Spirit)

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It is that time of the year. The place where the cow is often roaming, or otherwise is just pleasant open space, becomes energentic-kid-space about now. Soon it will be school break time and the kids are thinking about what they will do with all that free time. So today, as two of Raxa Collective’s team members were walking through the neighborhood the kids stopped them and asked: Want to be on our team?


Our Gang, Thevara (First Day Of School)

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In our neighborhood, the gang of kids we have been snapping photos of in recent years are among our favorite reasons to be in Thevara.  Today was the first day of school (ever) for the two individual youngsters above; the three young ladies together were happy that school is back in session after a late summer, early monsoon break.

Our Gang, Thevara (Wait!)

Since our last such update on our smaller neighbors six months ago, the photo opportunities have not diminished.  Our strolls through Thevara, rather, have become impromptu portraiture composition parties.  The call rings out in one small but loud voice: “PHOTO!” and it would be impossible not to oblige with a snapshot because they are already assembling themselves.  Here, they are assembled and the photo is snapping but they see more smalls across the way. Continue reading

A Learning Laboratory (Stop Motion Video!)

Yesterday, Jonathon, Siobhan, Milo, and I moved into one of the new Raxa Collective properties under development. As the four of us huddled silently under our covers, the backwaters of Kerala’s nighttime accompanied Jonathon’s ghost stories…

Instead of spooky tales, though, today I want to share with you another story Jonathon narrates, Raxa Collective presents “A Learning Laboratory.” It’s a short video, Jonathon (narrator), Sunnie (illustrator), Siobhan (director), and I (producer) put together with the help of all the staff and summer interns to highlight some of the best anecdotes of how Raxa Collective’s Cardamom County ecolodge has acted as a “learning laboratory” for its staff, international trainees, and summer interns.