Fritz Miranda

Last summer I went to Yelagiri, a hill resort in Tamil Nadu. Nearly one thousand and fifty meters above sea level, Yelagiri is draped in fresh vegetation and a cold weather.  Passing hair-pin bends, we reached the top late into the evening.  That evening, by the side of a campfire, was unforgettable. Jokes, beer and the fire gave us warmth in that icy night, we had dinner by the Poonganoor lake in total darkness. We enjoyed the place to the level what a hill station could offer for a person who lives in hot weathers. Next morning, when the sun showed up, the real beauty of Yelagiri and its people dawned on to our eyes. I take you through my view-finder in the following pages.

Woman with baby.

Yelagiri is plush with its green vegetation and cold weather. Naturally people there looked very different. Most of them are not familiar to the urban comforts. These people live the natural way. Their houses are built with red clay and their roofs are thatched. No electricity in most of the houses. This mother and her baby posed for us in front of her house in that beautiful morning.

Rock children.

These children are watching the preparations their fathers and mothers are making for the Pongal Pooja.(Festival of Harvest). Two long bamboo sticks are planted parallel at the entrance of a fenced area where the sheep are lodged in the night.

These sticks are festooned with orange flowers and green leaves. Painted pots of rice are placed beneath the sticks to be cooked during the Pooja. Decorated bullocks are also part of their festival.

These children will have to repeat these ceremonial rituals when their time comes. Tradition is like a rock. It is there for ever with its nativity unspoiled. And it passes on to the future through
children who come, see and tread on those surfaces.

Puppy girl.

That afternoon was brilliant. We were returning by walk after lunch at a friend's place. On the way we noticed this small girl sitting on a doorway, watching over her puppy relaxing in the warmth of the afternoon. The red mud wall and the thatched roof gave me a perfect setting for the picture.
The walls were plain. No carved doors; no latticed windows. The shadow of the roof and the dark doorway give a symmetrical appearance to the frame. This girl's demur look is an interesting alternative to her sleepy dog.

The Super Model.

This girl was sitting among the rock children.
Weather was chill that morning and she was cupping her palms to protect her cheeks from the cold. I could not ignore her for the compelling beauty she was glowing with. The big eyes, the blossoming smile with a tinge of blush, the clothes and the green bangles in her brown hands contribute depth to this simple picture. The distracting color of the frock of her friend who is out of the frame also gives an extra dimension to this shot. This half-profile portraiture is commonplace in any of the soap or fairness cream commercial. But I hope that I have captured a very natural reaction. Of this unknown super model.

The grand entrance.

This grand entrance, the ornamental pillars and the tiled roof appear to be monarchy as the housing in Yelagiri normally goes. The area between the gate way and the portico is called 'Mutram'. Mutram is laid in clay followed by a coat of diluted cow-dung. The area is extremely clean and footwear is not allowed on it.A chic tries to cross the 'Kolam'. (Patterns done at the entrance by the women every morning with a kind of flour)


Happy Days

This time I shot Manapad in black and white too. That day at 7 in the morning, 'Vallams' (Boats) and the catamarans were returning. These men were eager to push the vessel to the shore and to get their catch auctioned for they return after an exhaustive trip.
No other profession requires this grit these men have, to handle the mighty nature. I was happy that they had a big catch that day because most of the days nature rewards them with less or nothing at all in spite of their hard and dangerous trip into the sea.

Sandy grave by the sea.

A Fisherman's life is always miserable. He braves the sea everyday for the pittance he earns. If lucky, he returns home.
Danger is always out there waiting. It catches them from below in the form of a shapeless substance. Water.Some perish in the merciless water. With none of their loved ones around. Death too is miserable.
I saw this dying boat in Manapad. Standing testimony to the sad life of a fisherman. For this boat, death has become graceful. Gentle and slow disintegration into the sand. By the side of the
sea. For all to see. Like the wish of a fisherman !


In School

This was shot in an elementary school in a small village, Amarapuram, near Manapad. This cute little girl was sitting in her beautiful outfit, on the school floor, with her chappals in front of her. The school building is actually an old church. There are five classes under the single roof and only one teacher for those five classes. When all other children were trying to read or write noisily between their eagerness to look at us, this little girl was unusually calm and serene. When I
turned my cameras towards her, she not even made any attempt to show her curiosity for those equipment. It seemed to me that she ignored me, when she wiped her
running nose with the back of her palm. I liked that power in her, to conceal her feelings. Innocence may be. She impressed me anyway.


Pearl of Rain

Here is Marimuthu. He is in the same school. He has been separated from the rest of the children for the state of his attire. No uniform. That maroon and white uniform is a minimum requirement to be inside the class room. Marimuthu's uniform is not ready from the tailor, I am told. Atleast he has been allowed a corner behind the church's door for his civil dress. He has got the privilege of listening to the lessons. Marimuthu in Tamil means pearl of rain.When I closed in on him, he hid himself behind the door. He was frightened,it seems. When I went further near him for a slight better view of his eyes, he hid himself further behind the door. A sound of sob started from him. Pearl of Rain was crying. I left him at that.