The Little Tea-Shack at the end of “Beach Road”

kollam-teashop-ownersportDuring one of our days in Kollam we wanted to find out where the “Beach Road” led to, so we decided to ride it south, as long as it followed the shoreline. After passing a couple of fishing villages and beaches we came to a corner, there the road branched off inland. A small shack stood on that corner, smoke was coming out of its windows and people with tea glasses stood outside. Having come to the end of the “Beach Road” and not having any desire to head back to our room, we got off the motorbike and went into the smoky shack. Inside I found one of my favorite photographic places in Kerala.

The shack was a small eatery that served basic food and tea to fishermen and other village folk. There are countless numbers of such tea-shacks all around India, but this particular one caught my eye. The blue wall, with everything on it was like a tapestry that told a short story about the place and the people who live there. Anyone who’s been to South Kerala will recognize the symbols of the state in the photograph at the top of the post. The ‘subjects’, the owners of the tea-shack – Manuel and Anitha Sebastian are husband and wife; they are Catholic Indians, of whom there seems to be a lot along the coastline of South Kerala.

I made three visits to the tea-shack; I would go there later in the morning, after photographing fishermen by the sea. The top image was taken during my last time there, in the first two I couldn’t get the couple together; one or the other would always be busy with customers or in the kitchen. Despite not really being able to speak to each other, sign language and some familiar words helped me explain that I wanted to take some photos. Manuel and Anitha found me rather amusing. They thought it was really funny, or crazy (in which case they masked shock with laughter) when I photographed them through the window which expelled the smoke from their cooking. It was one of these cases where photography seemed to brighten up people’s mundane, daily routine and they gladly welcomed me into their lives, for a brief moment in time.

Customers kept coming in and out of the shack. After it was known what I was doing inside, it seemed that some came with the hopes that they too would be photographed. Here are some more images from the “Little Tea-Shack at the end of the Beach Road”.

Man-at-teashackOne early Sunday morning I realized that no one goes to work on Sundays, no fishermen would be going out to the sea. Since I had already gotten up early I headed off to the tea-shack in hopes of catching some customers having tea there. This gentleman had just come from church and was reading the news with a glass of tea in his hand. I asked if I could photograph him, he smiled and agreed. Initially he stared directly into the camera, but I asked him to look a little to the side, to make the portrait more casual.

kollam-teashop-cookingAnitha cooking parothas, while Manuel prepares them. Manuel managed to communicate to me that everyday they go through 400 parothas, no small task for a tiny place like theirs. This was taken through the window that sporadically expelled smoke from the cooking fire.

kollam-tea-shopManuel pauses while making parothas.

The rest of the images are pretty self explanatory. All were taken with natural, light that came from the sides, through the windows.




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9 Responses to “The Little Tea-Shack at the end of “Beach Road””

  1. Glen Goffin Says:

    More magnificent images with your signature luminosity!! The colors nearly jump off the screen. I always look forward to your next set of images. Thank you for posting them ;D

  2. Sasha K. Says:

    I love all your photos.

  3. Gavin Gough Says:

    Mitchell, these are glorious, beautiful, luminous images. Super job.

  4. Mitchell Kanashkevich's photographs of India | Gavin Gough: Travel Photographer Says:

    […] Read more about Mitchell’s tea-shack and swoon at his photos on his blog. […]

  5. Cooper Strange Says:

    I really like these. They feel very natural…very real. The light and color just seems to come together in a beautiful way to tell a great story about this little tea shack. Thanks for sharing these.

  6. Arun Says:

    Gorgeous shots, very nice light & color.. thanks for sharing.

  7. Rony Fredy Says:

    I am Rony Fredy.

    I am very happy to see my home place photos taken by you. I used to go to that tea shop daily on my youth age. i am from kollam, presently working in dubai airport. My contact number is +97150-1639446. i would be very greatfull if you can share some of your kerala photos with me. Once more hats off to your work. Please mail me on

  8. News and more… Says:

    […] have to rethink that. I don’t like people who shoot better than me! Anyway, run over to his blog and check out the new post about the tea shop and all his images that go with […]

  9. Manu Says:

    what is the point of photographing poor peoples’ faces and make money out of it!? I am from Kollam and we have a lot of faces like this, but NOT a single person stops by and helps them by any means. All try to take advantage of their lifestyle, their photographs so that ‘the photographers’ can get popular in the Western country! What a cruel way of stepping them down! You have to first understand that its the people in the West who have no lives at all! People in the west are not happy because their needs and wants never end! but look at these people who are very very happy in their lives with what they have and they live happily even in their less space tea shop and house! It is the west that totally collapsed our culture and lifestyle! Before, it was all equal, people never though about upgrading their lifestyle or anything, they were happy with what they got, they always thought what God gave them, they enjoy but now the Western ideas has totally killed and these people are living between life and death! when their neighbors got better income and better jobs, these guys are working hard day and night and only making 1/1000th money that their neighbor (Who works in your country , tHE WeST) and completely killing these peoples’ lives!
    My only saying is that do not make good name by selling these peoples’ lives. because THEY GOT BETTER LIVES THAN the WEST!

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