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Kodaikanal International School- Tamil Nadu, India

By Yvette Vignando - 14th July 2010

When I awoke this morning, I looked out and saw an emerald lawn, pots of hydrangeas and a dilapidated but attractive boat house by a lake. A lovely surprise, as I arrived at 10 pm so had little idea of my surroundings.


My trip here from Madurai airport was an initiation of sorts. I was fortunate to be met by a very good driver, a Mr Kannan who has been working for his employer for 16 years and regularly makes (what I considered to be) the gruelling 120 km, three hour drive from Madurai to Kodaikanal.


We landed in a thunderstorm and I had to wade through calf-deep waters to the taxi, thankful that I was not wearing my treasured brand-new sandals from my brief stop in Singapore. During the three hours of driving the journey was a constant dance between our taxi and lorries, bikes, multi-coloured & disco-lit buses, most of which had no tail lights. Motorcycles and bicyclists happily rode along in the storm with no helmets, no lights and what seemed to be a justified trust in their fellow commuters. I was on the edge of my seat with some fear, massive curiosity and a million questions for my patient driver.


We passed through villages where people, buses, rickshaw-like taxis, bikes, cows, dogs and motorcyclists danced to the constant strobing of our high beam and beeping of our horn. I learnt that the judicious use of horns and high beams is how you get from one destination to the next, and safely. I pretty much had my nose pressed to the window (and my hands around the seat belt and "oh shit" handle all the way) as I watched the passing parade of sweet shops, tea shops, electrical stores, barbers, fruit stalls and hawkers of sweet jasmine garlands.


The relief came as we commenced our 40 km and one hour drive up into the hills. There were fewer vehicles and their high beams (dancing in tandem with ours) were easy to spot around the bends so I relaxed a little. I would have loved to see the view into the valley but I am sure I'll get the opportunity on the way back.


I was able to see a wonderful waterful, several roadside rainbow-coloured temples and very lucky to see a massive wild bison beside the road. That bison looked incredible there in the dark with its long curled horns and its deep unfaltering gaze into the ubiquitous high beams.


So this morning I had a breakfast of dosa, rice pancakes (I think they may be called Idli), dhal and coconut chutney. I ate a lot as I missed dinner last night.


And this afternoon has been wonderful. The Academic Vice Principal of the school, very generous and hospitable has shown me around two of the three main campuses of Kodaikanal International School. I am struck by its gorgeous location, stone buildings literally steeped in history, and a broad and interesting curriculum offered to its students.


Now preparing for 2 days of workshops on Emotional Intelligence in the School Curriculum, I am guessing that I will learn just as much as I teach. I am feeling privileged, a little over-stimulated, and full from a delicious lunch with the teachers.

Comments (1)

Cultural differences in embracing EI

What a great adventure! I'll be interested to find out how EI is embraced in a culture so different from ours in Australia. India has such a rich culture of its own as well as different religious beliefs. It will be interesting to hear from you how they see EI blending with these differences. One would hope that it will merge easily with these differences, since it should be a universal ideal to strive towards regardless of culture and belief. No doubt you will have them convinced of this in no time. Looking forward to the next blog.

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