Water touches every one of our senses (Photo: Neha Sumitran)
Water touches every one of our senses (Photo: Neha Sumitran)

Editorial: Letter to the Readers of The Kodai Chronicle

Dear Readers,

This month, we report from the middle of a wet summer. It has been an unpredictable few years, in more ways than one. Some locals who track the rain via apps say that rainfall at the beginning of this year totalled only a quarter of last year’s torrents, for the same month (near Kodai town, 278 millimetres were tracked in January 2021 and 72 millimetres in January 2022 courtesy Vasu Balakrishnan, who registered a whopping 428 millimetres last May; this May, just 234 millimetres).

Water is an obsession at higher altitudes: there’s either too much of it or too little, depending on when you are taking stock. We play with it, save it, crave it, get fed up with it. It’s hard to escape the element, and it’s natural to let it soak into every aspect of living in the mountains, in its various forms: that leak that drips down from the roof onto your favourite book; the fungus on your pillowcase that was left out too long to ‘dry’; the fog that seeps through your hair and leaves it damp; the mist and clouds that move through the sky in a constant dance, making you look up from your desk and consider what the rest of the day is going to be like.

In this issue, whose theme is ‘Water, Glorious Water’, we showcase the role this element plays in our hill station and others like it. Why is this important for all of us to consider? As the old adage goes, the health of the hills is the wealth of the plains.

We take a close look at the man-made lake at the centre of Kodai town in our lead story, which investigates the quality of its water and the world that operates around this water body—and, learn about the life of a boatman who navigates its waters daily. Water shortages can affect us even in times of plenty; TKC explores the world of rainwater harvesting, from Attuvampatti and Kodai town to Pethuparai. Elsewhere in the Palani Hills, Shaker Nagarajan takes a meditative look at the role of water in the lives of the people most closely affected by the rain on a daily basis: farmers. And, further afield, we explore how rain in the mountains of Sikkim, Nagaland and West Bengal plays a pivotal role in literature from these peaks.

We enjoy creating a space for reading and subculture: from a review of a book which takes us to a dreamy hill station boarding school in a town that sounds much like this one; to cult-favourite writer Kuzhali Manickavel’s take on the tourist who dresses for the Alps when coming to Kodaikanal, in her hilarious ‘Soozerland’; to a wicked guest turn by popular writer Mahesh Rao, moonlighting for our agony aunt!

All this and more in this second print edition. We hope you will enjoy what you read, and write in with your comments, questions and anecdotes to letters@thekodaichronicle.com.

Regards,

Rajni George

Editor-in-chief, The Kodai Chronicle

Corrections:

* ‘Manna in the Mountains’ (Issue 5) stated that Israel Bhooshi trained with the Oberoi chain. He trained, in fact, with the  India Tourism Development Corporation.

* ‘Walk This Way’ (Issue 5) stated that the oldest church in Kodaikanal is St Peter’s Church (1887); La Salette Church (1866) is, in fact, the town’s oldest church which is still in use.

Rajni George

Rajni George is founding editor and editor-in-chief of The Kodai Chronicle. She has worked at Penguin Random House, Granta and The Caravan. Her work has been published in The New Internationalist, The New York Times, and Mint Lounge. She works remotely in climate change adaptation, and lives between Bangkok and St Mary's Road.

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