I have just returned from a magical trip delving into family roots deep in the south of India. My grandparents from my mother's side came from Tuticorin, and my father's side from Manapad. This journey has been rich in family history and I'm only beginning the compile and catalogue my drawings and photographs. This is the sketchbook that I kept during my trip there.
I arrived in Tuticorin by the Pearl City Express and walked to South Emperor street where I am staying at a travellers home for the Bharatha community. The sisters at the convent here have been very sweet and fed me appams and coconut milk for breakfast.
I sauntered out on this lazy Sunday morning wandering through quaint narrow lanes of the old part of Tuticorin, to find out more of my family history. The Parava (Bharatha) community that I come from were originally pearl divers and ancient navigators. We were converted en masse between 1534-37 A.D. by the Portuguese after they offered to help from Muslim invaders.
St. Francis Xavier arrived here in 1542 and instilled the faith. That is the origin of my surname Miranda.
I visited the 2 main churches here, the Periya kovil- Our Lady of Snows church, which has quite the history from the 16th century and Chinna kovil- The Sacred Hearts Cathedral. Strangely the Periya (big) church is smaller than the Chinna (small) church and I'll have to find out why it has been named this way.
I met Bono Roche, a relative and classmate of Mama's (My mom studied in Tuticorin till class 3), and I'll be heading there in the evening to delve more into my family history. It's a sleepy seafaring town and the mid day heat kept me from venturing out further.
Deep roots in the deep south. I'm on the seashore by the lighthouses in Tuticorin. Aqua marine waters, shallow for miles with sail boats passing by. The beach is strewn with all sorts of shells, oysters......mother of pearl. It finally dawns on me that this was the pearl city and I come from a family or commnity of Pearl Divers from ancient times. I'm blown away by these Turquoise waters and white sands and the peace and quiet of far away waves, and far from the ugliness of what the town has become. I'm here, I'm alive and I'm home.
24th Feb 2014.
I have come to trace the history of my family, from my mother's side, the Corera's of Tuticorin and from my father's side, the Mirandas of Manapad.
I'm definitely a Miranda from Manapad. There's an aesthetic sensibility to this village that really appeals to me.
Oh! And the food here. Rita and Kingsley Gomez have been feeding me with Appams and chicken curry, maasi sambol, idiappams, fried sardines, fish curry and rice, crabs, the works. It's all so delicious. The coconut rice, beetroot, buttermilk.....
25th February 2014
This little seaside village is the home of my ancestors and right now I sit at the very entrance of the cave where St. Francis Xavier lived for 2 years since he arrived in Manapad in the year 1542 A.D. I can feel the pulsating energy of this place with the roaring sea in front of me and a steady calm, an ocean of salt and the mystifying sweet fresh water from a well in the cave hardly 10 feet away from the water's edge. It is this sweet water that I paint with and it is here that the Mirandas of Manapad were Christened.
Geneology of my forefathers leading up to Me.
Sousa Bastiano da Miranda . 1700 A.D.
Sousa Pedro da Miranda b.1725 A.D.
Soosai Sebastian Miranda b. 1750 (55?) A.D.
Simon Cruz Miranda b.?
Soosai Marian Viagulam Miranda b. 1810
Soosai Manuel Miranda b. 1842
Gnana Selvam Miranda b. 1892
John Britto Miranda b. 1934
Prashant Gerard Miranda b 1975
Thanks to Selvraj Miranda's book "Mirandas of Manapad" which he gave me whilst in Tuticorin.
Meditated and watched the sun rise by the cave.
Walked along the seashore on the other side of the lighthouse.
A quick dip in the sea.
Drew water from the well for a fresh bath.
Watched the fishermen drawing in their nets - Fresh catch of the day.
Appams and maasi sambol with meatball curry for breakfast.
Met Jerome Miranda to look at his old photographs and discuss family history
and it's only 10 am!
This space is undoubtedly special. I've come to watch the sun rise behind the clouds from beyond the sea. Fishing boats return from their catch and the lighthouse still guides them home. I'm here to pay home (homage) to great Light that brings me here, divine happenstance and to our ancestors who keep teaching me and guide me along the way. Thank You for all of this.
Dipped my brush in the intermingling of the 3 oceans, or 2 seas and one ocean, all the same water that connects us all.
This is what remains of my grand parents - J. L. Corera and Annie Corera's house in Tuticorin.