Kerala, apart from the stunning combination of beaches and hills, mouth-watering sea food and stunning churches, has a lush-green cover of tea plantations with lakhs of workers obtaining their daily wages by working up the hills. And so, the entire trip would have been incomplete if I would have missed the chance of catching our tea-makers in action.
The initial plan was to quietly enter the field, click a handful of pictures without getting noticed and embark upon the rest of the journey. But, just as I pointed the camera at the alternately sun-kissed and cloud-covered faces, the stares started ringing up and I had to speak up.
‘Can I click your photo?’ I tried speaking in a nervous voice.
‘Mine?’ she narrowed her eyes, ‘sure!’
And I was stunned at the way she obliged to my request, smiling and talking to the woman at her back in a language I tried hard understanding. The smiles were followed up by requests to show them the photograph and out came a reply, a word in English I’m sure they’d heard from a tourist.
‘Superr’ she said.
‘Superb?’ I repeated.
‘Superr!’ she smiled.
‘Beautiful’ she repeated and looked back to get some translations and then blushed looking at me. A smile so pure, I’d never come across such an amazing curve in my life!
Then, Francis, my buddy and his wife, Rosemary, posed for me and both he and me were disappointed at my helplessness of not being able to get the pictures printed for him. Although I’d just met him about 5 minutes from then, he happily let my entire family enter his field and then, like a typical north-Indian family that we are, we dressed up in their clothes and posed like them and even tried a hand at their leaf-cutting equipment.
What followed then was a bridge between two individuals who couldn’t speak a common language but the conversation was held over smiles and laughter.