There was a time when every Badaga household got their FRESH vegetables from their own holas [vegetable gardens next to their houses or a little away from the hatti [village].
Be it Avare [beans], gaasu [potatos] or kadaley [peas] or the healthy Keerey Soppu. They were part of the daily menu. Ganji Godhumay [wheat] and baththa were grown, harvested and made into flour so that Eragittu, Pothittu and baththa hittu could be made very often if not daily. There was no dearth of haalu [milk], majjigay [butter milk], mosaru [curd] and thuppa [clarified butter].
But now, all these seem to be a dream. The basic reason could be the INVASION of the koda and kaadu emme [monkeys and bisons] which would not spare any thing green. The strict laws related to wild life and their implementation had become a big deterrent in growing vegetables. A family’s wealth was based on the Banda [cattle -number of buffalos and cows] owned. Tho and kottagay [large and individual cattle sheds] were part and parcel of a hatti.
Every Badaga family had atleast a small patch of thotta [tea estate] that would give an assured income. The steep fall in green leaf tea prices and steeper labour wages have made owning and maintaining the estate more of a burden and headache.
Now, everything is uncertain. Health and wealth have become big casualties.
Life in the Naakku Betta [the Nilgiris, the blue mountains] has really become very difficult. Badagas are at the cross roads and in a catch 22 situation.
Future is a big question mark now?? What can we do about it???