Often, when I am home in Kodai, feeling stuck at work, I step away from my laptop to brew myself a cup of coffee. It is my way of procrastinating–and, inevitably, I spy the rambunctious macaques outside my kitchen window.
Most days, there’s three of them, and they chatter endlessly, making faces at me as I pour water into the kettle. Sometimes, I place a copy of The Kodai Chronicle on my side of the window, and try for a quick photo.
Truth be told, these interactions started out as a nuisance for me. Monkeys are known to be destructive creatures, though they are far less so than humans, of course. I remember one day, when I walked into the living room to see a monkey chomping on an apple from my fruit bowl, and screamed out loud–it shot out the door. But, over time, these new neighbours have prompted me to reconsider.
We have something of an understanding now. I leave the garden to them when it is their time, and watch from a distance. They peer down at me with my book, from the rooftop. Windows firmly shut, we chatter at each other, both safe in the knowledge that the other can’t hurt them. And, deriving some entertainment from each other. This shift in perspective, from get-out-of-my-space to attempting coexistence, is a tiny, daily reminder of our theme.
Especially at times like this, when so much is overwhelming—climate change, politics, the pandemic—it’s difficult to understand our place in the larger narrative. Writer Arundhati Roy called the pandemic a portal, ‘a gateway between one world and the next’. But as we emerge from the pandemic, this world doesn’t seem as radically changed. Yet, we live in close proximity to lots of little things which go a long way; from pollinating bees to beautiful flowers, which, together, create the food we eat. Perhaps the answer lies in small advances.
This is the inspiration behind our eighth issue, where we take our magnifying glass to small initiatives and little creatures in the Palani Hills that enrich our larger way of life. Take, for example, the fireflies which Pippa Mukherjee writes about, tracing the emergence of light to a corresponding impact on their luminescence. Or, Vivek Kartikeyan and Sudipta Mahto, a young doctor couple who moved to Kodai and set up a new rural healthcare outreach initiative.
There are big things afoot in Kodaikanal too. Last month, newspapers in Dindigul reported plans to build a ‘rope’ or cable car that will take you from the Palani Hills to Kodaikanal in 40 minutes, like those in hill stations like Nainital. This kind of change could have lasting ramifications on fragile mountain ecosystems like those of the Palani Hills; or, they could reduce traffic. Do write to email@example.com with your views on the subject.
And, as you celebrate the end of the year, do find time to notice the small, beautiful things around you, which make our world tick.
Editor-in-chief, The Kodai Chronicle