We survived our week in Suttur - had a fantastic time. The village of Suttur is about an hour's drive away from Mysore (and is only 30km away - less than perfect roads). The guest house where we stayed was close to some beautiful rice fields and sugarcane crops - the picture to the left is of the sugarcane collected that day. Right hand picture is of the rice fields - hard to capture how beautiful they are - there is a huge expanse of green, gentle breeze.
We spent time with womens groups, mens groups, youth groups - we had to split them up by major caste so actually had many more meeting than we had thought necessary. So much tension here around caste. People are divided into neighbourhoods by caste and each has it's own community centre. There are still untouchables that are not allowed to be in most places. The lower castes are called Schedule Tribe and Schedule Caste - SC/ST - they have trouble making money becuase no one will hire them, and the upper castes will not buy what they make - hard for them to eak out a living.
Many of them say they would like a factory to come to town to provide work - if a product comes from a factory the uppercastes won't know who (or what caste) made the product Hard to get a community plan or create community enpowerment and civic sense when they are so very divided. Even within broad caste divisions there are further subcastes - In one of the meetings with the womens group (which was already of a certain caste), some of the ladies would not join our circle because they didn't want to sit beside the ladies of lower sub-caste within their caste- so they sat off to the side. Argh. Here is a picture of one of the meetings with the women - we asked for around 20 people - many more showed up.