This is the story of the fishermen on the beaches of Chowara, India.
Almost immediately upon our arrival at the beach village in India I felt a sense of peace and wonderment.
There was so much to learn there, and I felt like I had only just started this love affair with India.
Each morning we woke just before the sun would greet the sky, I could hear the fishermen calling on the beach. Being the curious person that I am, I grabbed my cameras and set off towards the sound of their excitement. The first day I approached them they didn’t really seem to care that I was watching them. I suppose being this close to the Ayurvedic hotels they were probably used to tourists poking cameras in their faces. I watched them for a long time, heaving and pulling this net that seems to go out for miles in the swelling ocean. Every time a wave would roll in, they would pull. When the waves went out, they would give. It was like an endless tug of war with the net and the tides. Given the fact that I do not speak any of the language they do, nor do I understand it, I can only tell you what I assume happens here, if I am wrong, please feel free to comment. I would love to learn more about this ancient tradition.
After a very long time another group of net pullers would come closer and I soon realized that they are hauling in the other end of this net. I am sure most people would know that it was pretty obvious that there is another end to the net, but not knowing what they were saying or what they were doing, it came to me as a surprise. Watching the groups work together, I noticed that one of the men would swim out in the water and start pulling in the net in. All I could think was how exhausting this must be for them, doing this over and over each morning for hours on end. It made me appreciate the passion and dedication they have for their jobs. Something most people spend their whole lives looking for.
As the fishermen were getting closer to their catch, I started to see a group of women making their way down the beach. As the net would get closer, so would the women. Soon the group of women would gather in the shade of a resting boat and watch as the fishermen collected the net with their catch and brought to land. The women started to circle the men as they dumped the tiny fish on the sand. They talked amongst themselves, pointing at some of the fish, even picking them up to examine them. The men swiped the fish off the net with their hands, ensuring they added every last one to the growing pile.
As the men finished up, one of the women from the group approached the fishermen and, from what I could tell, negotiated a price. She handed the man some money, then all the women would gather in a circle and collect the fish in their metal buckets. After watching this go on for hours, I found myself wondering what these women were going to do with all these tiny fish. Were they taking them home to cook? Were they going to sell them in the market? They seemed to be all business and didn’t find my cameras as appealing as the men did. I would always ask if I could take their picture, the men were happy to have their picture taken and even seemed to be showing off a little (I was also asked to be in several “selfies” by some of the locals on the beach). While the women were a bit hesitant, appearing to ignore me at times.
It only took one morning of watching this evolving story to peak my curiosity and make me want to know more about the local people here in Chowara, India. Everyday I made my way a little further down the beach where I encountered many other groups of fishermen and the women who bought the fish. People young and old would participate in what seemed like a family business. I watched some of the older men teach the younger boys how to haul the nets, they seem to have so much respect for their elders. It truly warmed my heart.
I have so many more fishing images to share with you, but I will save those for another time.