Thursday, January 7, 2016

Another Trip to India and Sri Lanka

Last December, we traveled to Northern India and were so awed by the color, people, temples, villages, and yes, cows in the streets, we decided to return this December to Southern India and a visit to Sri Lanka. 

The highlight of this year’s adventure was a houseboat trip along the backwaters near Kochi. Floating slowly past houses, rice fields and villages, we were able to see how the people lived and worked. I marveled at the brightly colored houses in lime green, purple, orange and sometimes blue, peaking out amid trees. Women did their laundry and washed their dishes at the river’s edge. Families bathed and swam, waving to us as we floated by while I took numerous photographs. We had left the crowded streets, chaotic traffic, wandering cows of the more populated areas, visiting a family and a school again to find the Indian people delightfully friendly, industrious and curious. 

At the school, first to eighth grade students gathered around us, eager to talk with us and have their pictures taken. I showed them pictures of my young grandchildren and they pointed to their pictures printed on the badges they wore. We visited their one-room library, and I was surprised to see so many books in English, mostly picture books. The teachers told us that picture books were especially valuable in teaching these youngsters to read, even the older students. I was sorry I didn’t bring any of my children’s books to donate to their library but promised to send them some upon my return.  

Sri Lanka had its own story to tell. Just off the coast of  India, it is quite different. The island’s people are more sedate and quiet. The traffic was less hectic. The roads were better and thankfully we had a comfortable bus. Being predominately Buddhist, as opposed to Hindu, they had no cows wandering in the  traffic. The country seemed more ordered and less chaotic. Lush and green with plenty of rain, Sri Lanka is a wonderland of tea plantations and rice fields. Emerging from a protracted 26 years of terrorist activity from northern Tamil activists, this small island has had a difficult history having been colonized by the Dutch, Portuguese and finally, the British.  Hopefully, their future will be brighter. 

In the past, I have tried to write children stories based on my travels. I wrote several books inspired by my trip to Africa and Japan. The non-fiction books about African wildlife and one book of Japanese Haiku were successful. But I find that with the fiction stories, the voice was never right. Perhaps, it takes a longer time among the people, even living with a family or in a village to write successful stories about these peoples and their lives.

Beryl Reichenberg, author of Ants on a Log, Butterfly Girls, Camouflage and other children's books


Beryl Reichenberg said...

I forgot to sign this post and thanks to Billie she reminded me. Interestingly this appeared today rather than tomorrow. Beryl Reichenberg

Beryl Reichenberg said...

All is well. Nancy helped me out. Thanks again. Beryl