I’m Kegan Rinard and I am guest blogging in regards to the experience the group collectively underwent in everybody’s favorite Kerala native Sunil Kumar’s village. Upon arriving in the quaint rural area snuggled nicely outside the small hamlet of Pallakaad we were greeted with a multitude of Sunil’s immediate as well as extended family. Hospitality and warm hearts were abundant in the modest household in which they kept us, and the group as a whole was more than eager to engage in some much needed “down time” after traveling three hours by coach bus. After staying in areas such as the metropolitan titan Chennai and the densely “touristy” shore regions of Mammalapuram and Cochin, the village holding no more than 300 people offered a sharp contrast with its quiet atmosphere and idyllic scenery of palm trees and rice patties resting in tranquil solitude untouched by progressive society and industry. Here we gained an in-depth insight of Sunil’s life concerning his career, marriage, views upon caste, his own caste, and fascinating tidbits of information that supplemented his character.
The first night we arrived we had the pleasure of viewing a popular “Bollywood” film (a film in the Indian cinematic industry that is highly popular not only in domestic box office sales, but also possesses international acclaim as well). The viewing of the movie “Kumki” delighted not only the group, but the village children as well (they sang to every song).
However, the moment at which I felt a sense of overwhelming solidarity was venturing out into the rice patties, gazing at the Western Ghats in the distance, and weighing and measuring my own existence against the rest of the world. I did not feel at peace, rather I finally came to the realization that I was not at peace, and it required me to travel 10,000 miles to come to such a conclusion. Being in the village among such warm-hearted people who toil day end and day out to achieve sustainability evokes nothing but respect in its most refined form within me for them. Having so little and giving so much hit home for me. I cringe at knowing behind those palm trees is the clanging and banging of industrial progress slowly permeating into the quaint culture of this area. I asked a colleague of mine, “after witnessing such a place as Chennai, how long will it be before industrialism finally touches such a peaceful place as this?” This question I did not want answered.
I revere these people higher than any CEO of any large multinational corporation; I envy their resilience and fortitude by awaking everyday to the rising sun and pursuing sustainability with an austere devotion to their gods that rivals any clergyman of Christian doctrine. If there is anything to be said about Sunil’s village, it is the simple fact that if the world paralleled the sense of kindness and hospitality that they offered to us when we arrived it would be less cruel of a place.