December 12, 2008

Story Swapping Between Cultures

Story swapping in Tamil Nadu

After our trip to the Kattaikkuttu school, we headed out to the countryside. We joked about going to the jungle (and if any lingering tensions within the group might turn into a Lord of the Flies moment), but it turned out to be mostly scrub forest (and thus the accidental geography of vegetation prevented our small band of travelers from devolving into anarchy).

As part of our desire for cultural exchange, and the government's and local NGO's to develop cultural tourism, we visited several Irula villages (the Irula are one of the aboriginal peoples of India who trace their ancestry back before Dravidian migrations) and got to swap stories.

In this photo, San Francisco storyteller Jeff Byers is sharing a story with the women of Chenneri, an Irula village in the Chenglepet district of Tamil Nadu. Storyteller Jeeva Raghunath translated between Tamil and English for us.

The story swaps were a highlight of the trip for me, and I'll be posting more thoughts on this portion of the trip soon.

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