Journeys with the Caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores and Sumba, Indonesia by Shivaji Das
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"The crowd lined up along the street, shoulder to shoulder, back to front. Fathers held up their boys over their shoulders. The older children climbed up the trees to have a better view. The pressure of the crowd was building behind me. On the other side, an opening formed in the crowd and about fifteen men assembled around the buffalo tied at the very end. The sacrifices were about to begin. We were in the remote island of Sumba, Indonesia, invited to witness the funeral rites for a hundred year old woman."
Journeys with the Caterpillar, is a humble and humorous attempt to capture the dramatic simplicity of Nusa Tenggara Timur(NTT) in Indonesia, covering the islands of Flores, Komodo, Rinca and Sumba. Here, islands greet the sky with over a dozen volcanoes rising hurriedly from the seas, nestling within them whimsical colour-changing lakes that shelter dead spirits. Along the edges, shores adorn themselves with kaleidoscopic stonesand beaches blush from the remains of dead pink corals. Nearby, baby Komodo Dragons scramble for the nearest tree, fleeing from their prowling mothers.
In these islands, people live in small tightly-knit communes, holding on to their ancient cultures. They practice elaborate animist rites for births, weddings, harvests and funerals, and ones' prestige is still measured by how many buffaloes and pigs he sacrifices. Across the islands, one encounters overwhelming humanity that celebrates and greets life with ever-blossoming smiles in the midst of grinding poverty.
A humorous travelogue on Indonesia
What comes to your mind when you think of Indonesia?
Maybe you’ve never visited these islands, but you’ll feel like you have when you’ve read Journeys with the Caterpillar.
Embark on this journey today.
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Shivaji Das was born and brought up in the north-eastern province of Assam in India. He graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, subsequent to which he completed his post-graduation from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta.
He is presently working as a management consultant in Singapore. Shivaji's writings have been published in various magazines such as Time, Venture Mag, Hack Writers. He has also given several talks on the subject of Flores and Sumba in Singapore, China, Indonesia and Brazil where he was hosted by the Ambassador of Indonesia to Brazil.
Besides travelling, Shivaji also takes an active interest in migrant issues and eradication of underage poverty and is associated with Singapore based organization Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2).