Beyond the walls of Trivandrum International School
9.8.10 - 9.8.10
The Trivandrum International School is a beautiful facility and a very nice campus which is the shape of a long rectangle. Our apartment is on the end of campus opposite the front gate of the school and the entire perimeter is lined by a concrete wall creating a bit of an island effect here. The school was built on an old rubber tree plantation not too far off of the main roadway along a narrow secondary road. Each time we have come and gone from the school, we have seen numerous people along the road both before and after the entrance to the school driveway and had wondered about the world beyond the walls of the school, so one day last week, Jenn and I decided to finally take a walk in the neighborhood around the school. Normally we have a destination when we set out - this time, we were heading off to see what we could see. We were pleasantly surprised.
As we walked down the hill on the side of the road that we had never travelled, we saw lots of houses in a variety of styles and conditions - mostly small concrete or thatched homes but also a few seemingly expensive, gated homes - all were randomly sorted along the road in no particular pattern. Some people were able to sit on the balcony of their gorgeous home overlooking both the luxury car in their gated garden driveway in one direction while checking in on the the neighbors living next door in a one room, thatched roof home, tending their goats or pulling water up by bucket from their well. Some of the contrasts really grabbed our attention though all in all, most homes were mainly those of people with little income.
We were not alone on the street as we walked - most people were outside or on their porches while the children laughed and played. Based on the number of long looks that we received as we passed, I think that it's a safe bet that lily white foreigners don't come strolling through their neighborhood very often, perhaps never. The children were either extremely friendly or shy, many shouting out greetings and questions such as "what's your name?" and "where do you come from?". With most adults, all it took was a friendly wave to transform their uncertain stares into warm smiles. I had my camera in hand and so wanted to capture some of these interactions, but I find at times like this that the camera feels so intrusive. I intend to walk through this neighborhood a few more times - once I'm more of a "regular", I'll take a few pictures.
The road came to an end at the bottom of the hill and intersected with a smaller dirt path that ran perpendicular to the road. We were not expecting what we saw here - to the right, a wide open meadow that I later learned had previously been a rice paddie was lined with hanging palms, a meandering stream, and a multitude of shades of green that can only be found in the tropics. We set off along the path and in a few places thought we might have been in a tropical Eden. We traded smiles with many people whose homes were just a few feet off the path or just up the hill off of other paths - no cars were able to pass here. It was a relaxing, fascinating stroll, one we hope to do again on numerous occasions in the future. Here are a few photos: