A fishermen who works on a trawler is paid Rs. 1,000 per trip and this net bag of fish picked from the catch.
In Bon Vivant, the online food magazine, I will be tracking down and writing about Unsung Chefs of India.
Here's a second story where I profile Richard, the mechanic chef who used to cook yummy masala spare parts at the iconic Dewar's Bar in Bangalore. Spare parts? Mechanic? Food. Read his story here.
Rameshawaram. Battle for your soul.
Rameshwaram is one of the places many Hindus go to perform the last rites of the dead. Ashes are immersed in the shallow bone-strewn sand near the Ramnathaswamy Shiva Temple where Rama along with the rescued Sita are believed to have performed an offering (puja) after their victory in the war against the super-intelligent Ravana.
I'm not sure how and when Rameshwaram became a popular place for immersing ashes but there's an industry built around it which involve a lot of rituals, and it's often a few days after some one near or dear has died and the loss is usually fresh. As the person drives back from the temple towards the mainland, on the left side of the roads are a where you find the above messages on the walls.
If you are a Hindu, not sure that your rituals have saved the souls of the newly departed, the above messages are for you in your language.
There's something disturbing in this message that I cannot nail. There's something disturbing that you see more BJP flags than anywhere else in Tamil Nadu fluttering here (LK Advani should love this place, perfect dirt for his lotus to bloom into a blooming nuisance). There's something disturbing that the church does not have a steeple but concrete scaffolding that's designed to place the idol higher than the famous temple nearby. And close by is a mosque with the longest stick you can imagine instead of a minaret and a head above the idol on the church, with the largest speakers one can imagine.
Religions are testosterone driven males showing off who has the biggest dick. Thankfully, the rest of us have Pastafarian.
Trivia: Cane and Abel (Known here as Habeel and Qabeel and not a cheap paperback you find in Wheelers and Higginbothams) are believed to be buried here at a Dargah.
Naam Thamilar (We are Tamil)
The danger about us not having a political will to support sustainable fishing methods in the Palk Strait is the rise of hate-mongers. Firstly, the only reason we are reporting the incidents is because of the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and the fisher-folks are a big vote bank.
Secondly, the debate is all about Sri Lankan Navy shooting and torturing Indian Fishermen and not about why Indian Fishermen are forced to go fish in dangerous waters in the first place.
But an alternative sustainable method of fishing is not easy to float. Any change in the current fishing methods would mean that a lot of fishermen are going to lose their livelihood. But if they don't...
Feeling angry is easy.
See the full series: Fishermen of Tamil Nadu.
The full pictures: Rohini Mohan for Tehelka.
Attack of the Indian Armada.
Human greed, spearheaded is waging a successful battle to kill all life in the waters of the Palk Strait that separates India and Sri Lanka. But it's a war our soldiers, the fishermen, are going to lose.
We have already succeeded in converting the Indian side of the Strait into a lifeless desert with destructive trawling methods. Now our trawlers head out every day to destroy what still survives on the Sri Lankan side.
A civil war and a trawling ban has helped the fish on the other side survive, but only just. Three days a week, Indian trawlers are allowed to go for the kill thanks to an agreement with the Sri Lankans. But we are Indians and our greed is a Billion strong. We use destructive trawling methods, we fish on days when we are not allowed to, we use larger nets than what is allowed, we also use illegal high power boats that trawl at a higher speed than regular trawlers, to name a few methods of assured destruction. All thanks to the common god that all Indians believe in - corruption. In this case, it's the local fisheries department that allows us to bypass every rule for a price. And yes, we cannot ban trawling. It rakes in crores now but will make millions of fishermen starve in a few years time because the fishermen who are dredging their own watery graves are a large vote bank.
Yes, the fishermen know that they are killing all the fish for generations to come but it's the now that matters, not tomorrow. There are loans that allowed them to buy their powerful boats and nets to pay.
But why blame our fishermen? Isn't that exactly how we Indians treat everything we have. Make money now, let someone else worry about the future.
Who will save us from ourselves?
To get the full story, read Rohini Mohan's report on Tehelka here.
Pamban Village: Walls of a fisherman's hut.
That's the photograph of Sebastian, named after one of the favourite saints of fishermen in this part of the Indian coast. He was shot dead in 1994 by the Sri Lankan Navy. Those were the days of the civil war in Sri Lanka and most fishermen killed were listed under smugglers or weapon-traffickers. But Sebastian was a fisherman and is survived by his wife Ravina Rani who is now a tailor, working from home. You can see her foot-pedal sewing machine in the picture above.
The belongings of this home are all strung up from the poles that hold the thatch together. The clothes Ravina Rani stitches, the clothes the family wears, hay mats, everything.
The reason why everything is hung, is because the floor is pure East Coast Sand.
To know more about the story of Fishermen of South Eastern Tamil Nadu, read Rohini Mohan's report called The Bold Men and The Sea in Tehelka.
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