Thursday, November 23, 2017

Half a day with Aruna Tella

Before breakfast, she started telling me about her struggles with Vantavari colony (colony of cooks) which started in 1991. when she had to sell her jewels, stay in the colony for some time when it started as a swamp. Meanwhile a couple from Tamilnadu turned up. They had an intercaste marriage (Oops. It seems they are relatives but there is a family feud) in a temple and somehow landed in Ongole. When the lady was about eight months pregnant, her parents persuaded her to come home for delivery, aborted the baby and tried to marry her off. She managed to escape. She quickly made arrangements to handle it and had to attend a meeting. Meanwhile, she told me me a bit more of the story of the colony where all of the political parties seemed to be against it at some stage or other and the help came from some benevolent officials and friendly police officers. The police still seem to bring destitute ladies automatically in one of the houses managed by her and her friends. While she was attending the meeting, I went to the Vantavari Colony and checked as much of the story as I could. The youngest of the ladies is onLy 42 now and apparently in one of the houses organised by Aruna and saw me before. The colony is next to the Bus Stand, it is a prime location and a case is still going in the High Court. There are about 150 families in the colony now from a mixture of castes. Some have sold their houses and left but about forty of the original fami.ies are still there following their original profession of cooking. Since it is located next to the Bus Stand, it is easy for people from outside villages to meet them and arrange cooking engagements.

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