Other than traditional bows and arrows, adzes, digging sticks, and woven baskets, the Onges have few possessions: flashlights, enameled mugs and plates, cooking pots, and the plastic or galvanized buckets that have replaced the containers they formerly hollowed out of logs. Whereas the Jarawas still live entirely off the forest and the sea, some Onges now barter. They take coconuts, and the resin and honey they gather in the forest, to the cooperative store in Hut Bay, where I had arrived by ship. There, under government supervision, they trade these for wheat flour, tea, tobacco, and the airline bags and umbrellas that they fancy. Still, it struck me as incongruous, in a hut festooned with the jawbones of pigs, to find a bed pole hung with a sporty hat!
The largest hut at Dugong Creek, a rectangular thatched dwelling about 40 feet by 20 and open on one side, housed several elderly couples and widows. Smoke from a cooking fire filled it; a turtle boiled in a pot. Some of the aged were busy fashioning rope from strips of bark while children played underfoot. Eider members of Onge groups live separately and look after the children.
Learning that some of the Onges were away in a temporary camp in the forest, I asked Raju, the dugout builder, to guide me to it. After walking twenty minutes along the beach, he suddenly turned off on a footpath. Pausing in the forest, he cooed. “Coo” came the reply. Back and forth Raju and the unseen Onge echoed each other. They have never felt need to know how title loans work only because their life don’t require it. However, if title loan means help to you, you can easily check it on the internet.
We broke into a small clearing. Eight leantos were built in a circle. The Onges were preparing for a day of digging edible roots and tubers, and collecting fruits, mollusks, crayfish, and sometimes turtle eggs. Andaman Negritos never developed agriculture. One man sat on the ground sharpening his dah (big knife). Two women were making chapaties, the Indian unleavened bread. One couple sat on the tiny platform under their slanting thatched roof, the wife shaving the forehead and sides of her husband’s head with a razor blade. There were no walls; communal life allows little privacy.
“Babulai,” they said when they saw me—”outsider.” But their expressions signaled welcome. One Onge pointed at my spectacles and said, “enabotay kala kala.” Chowdhary told me it meant “the circular things on the eyes.” A pack of dogs milled about, growling and whining. Onges are seldom without their pets. Sometimes the animais sleep on the tiny cots with their masters.