A Jersey Girl’s Introduction to Camping

Guest Author: Siobhan Powers

Photo Courtesy of Milo Inman

Before my journey to India, I’d never camped. Sure, I had slept in a tent in my friend’s backyard and gone to Girl Scout camp with my Scooby Doo sleeping bag, but I was feet from indoor plumbing and a roof every time. Where’s the fun in that? When I was belatedly asked to join a few interns on the Tiger Trail overnight trip into the Periyar Tiger Reserve, I was skeptical. My summer nights are usually spent running seafood to a hungry customer or chasing a high-maintenance boy across the beaches of the Jersey shore-therefore my presence in the jungles of Asia is quite ectopic, but I am an adventurous person (sometimes to my detriment). I took the opportunity for what it was- a once-in-a-lifetime chance to snuggle up to some tigers. Continue reading

Kaiser the Puppy and the Rising Middle Class in India

Three days ago, we pulled up in front of an art deco gate and half-abandoned mansion on the property of a soon-to-be new RAXA Collective resort. By ‘we’ I mean the design team comprising of an architecture student (me, Chi-Chi), a landscape architecture student (Rania), a hotelie-turned-interior architecture student (Jonathon), and an engineering student (Siobhan). We were told to get a feel of the property.

Trusty Guard at Marari Beach

We, the interns, walked around the property with Amie and the trusty guard. The bamboo stick to protect against rumored snakes on the beach.

We found: ‘objects’ (modest fishermen’s homes); an endless, unobstructed beach with marbled sand and black waves; and our new favorite hangout spot, a nearby internet café.

Exploring the ObjectsRania Inspects a Decorative Statement Wall

Guard and us exploring the roofline

Exploring the roofline of an abandoned wealthy fisherman’s house with the guard.

Kaiser found: two Indian security guards; their next-door-neighbor friend; our cook Manu; and us.

Kaiser is a tiny mixed puppy who arrived on site only an hour before we did. As a dog-lover and all-around “everything happens for a reason” believer, I KNEW KAISER WAS A SIGN. A sign for what, I don’t really know, but he was a very cute and very small sign, so I immediately focused all my down-time obsessing and fussing over Kaiser.

Kaiser the Puppy

This is Kaiser.

I think Kaiser gave me more insight to Indian attitudes. It’s very difficult to converse with someone about abstract ideas without a common language, but if you throw a dog in the mix, it becomes a lot easier.

Continue reading