If you live in Bombay it's hard to escape Bandra, this suburb by the sea in this glorious city reels you in, seducing you with her music, culture, people and her genuine all round trademark Bandraesque attitude to life in general. Every November, Bandra plays host to the "Celebrate Bandra" festival -its aim is to do just that 'Celebrate' this city suburb with a galaxy of events ranging from theatre to food to music to sports.
This Sunday I decided to celebrate Bandra as the locals do, so I took my camera along (as usual) to an event which is not quite on the schedule of the Bandra festival but should be - I went fishing.
Tide Fishing is a weekly affair on the rocky beach that forms the outer rim of Bandra's Carter Road.
[Kishore - my most gracious guide]
Kishore, my guide for the evening explains tide fishing to me - swishing his fishing net into the air he tells me "we first set up a perimeter of rocks so as to form small lagoons of water when the tide is low ". Pulling the net back his forehead cringes as he seems to come out empty but he throws the net back in again for the second time and looks at me and continues "we then swim in here when the tide is high and set up the nets ". His facial expression changes to a smile as he pulls back his net this time laden with a fruitful catch of silver dangling fish with pearl like eyes. "See", he tell me as he shows me his catch gleefully " when the tide is low again this is the result - fish and a lot of them". Kishore is one Bandra's invisible residents, this 13 year old boy is an economic migrant from Gujarat, who came to Bombay a few years ago in search for a better future. He and his family of 6 live in a shack by the Arabian Sea near Khar Danda. You might often see him outside the pan-wallah near the snazzy Café - Crêpe Station - cajoling passerbys into buying him a 'dairy milk' [a Cadbury chocolate], but today he is a fisher boy.
It is fun therapy observing people doing what seems to them as fairly routine but to you fairly exotic This Sunday evening was definitely one such occasion . The cool sea breeze brushing against your brow and the cold sea waters running up to your knees, slippery green moss, sharp barnacle filled rocks - it definitely didn't feel like anywhere near an agglomerated mass of civilization that is Bombay but at the same time it was. Fishing definitely has a Darwinian "survival of the fittest" ring to it, as the tide retreats all you have is pools filled with hundreds upon hundreds of fish- all fighting to live. There comes man - catching them left, right and centre. The fishing is subsistent, the kohlis [fisher folk] let the smaller fish back into the sea and throw the dead fish to the birds.
[Kishore shows me some biodiversity.]
[An eel; one of the many casualties]
Subsistent it might be but it was fruitful .......by the end of the day they left with a crate full of fish and me with a flash card full of photos. Till next Sunday then when the nets will be up again and it would be yet another day for yet another fresh catch.