Photographer's Note

Kerala - Munnar tea pickers

Munnar and the surrounding hills lie entirely within the state of Kerala.
However, the state of Tamil Nadu is nearby and all the tea pickers turned out to be Tamil. It were mostly women but I’ve seen also some men picking tea.
I did not immediately receive an explanation as to why all the workers were Tamil. Except that it had always been so.

That reminded me of my trip to Sri Lanka in 1991, where in the central highlands there are also many tea plantations and where most tea pickers descended from workers sent from South India to Sri Lanka in the 19th and 20th centuries to work in the coffee, tea and rubber plantations.

Today the pickers use a long shear with a box to collect the leaves. The contents of the box are regularly poured into a large bag hanging on the back or placed nearby. Only uppermost leaves are collected.

It will not surprise you that these ladies do not wear their most beautiful sari for this work and often they wear on top a protective item of clothing.
Yet it are nice encounters with these pickers who mostly like to be photographed.
But work has to be continued and breaks are short.

At the meeting with the ladies here two men (I suspect overseers) came to me and asked me what I was doing there (the location was not exactly next to the road).
I replied that I loved the beauty of the plantations on the hills and admired the work of the ladies.
They looked at each other with a look of ‘another crazy person’ but I was allowed to stay :)

At first I wanted another picture as main upload but I chose finally this smile.

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Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6822 W: 24 N: 16088] (63026)
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