Wanna fish with me, the fish for curry?
Mali melli?" (Chiru, have you caught any fish?) "Vhoi melli,
hanvem thodi kadi keli ani thodi bhazli. Jevnank ie sangata bosun
jevuiam. Magir illi kodi vhor bhurgiank zali."
I remember the words in the Bible 'Jesus chose fishermen to fish
men.' However, the people rom Barkur especially those who live on
the riverbank, do rise with a fishing rod and start their day by
catching fish. It wasn't a 'surprise stink' if one smelled fish
but the joy of fishing was, one would murmur in mind, 'I caught
one, you will catch next, or I shall prove my share by shoring
another caught in my hook'.
Several persons would fish in a particular spot and that would be
a fish bank for all the fishing patrons. I was no exception to
fishing as I grew in a similar atmosphere. I have seen people
fishing in the mid-river, in chest deep waters, equipped for
battle against the water current that kept them all the time
attentive 'when will I have my last hook hooked,' and the bag
filled with shoal. Some people would appear suddenly very early in
the morning already done fishing, and others would take as a hobby
by starting to fish, as though, fishing is a macho 'thing to
do', as if they did a favor to the fishing culture, wearing
Sunday best clothes!
Fishing was not only done during the season but also round the
year in different forms that involved fishing rod, kuttali,
makkeri (made out of split bamboo reeds), zalh (net achored to two
bamboo poles) bolpu (palm leaves weaved to a long rope, pulled
at two different ends to catch chipparam, (blue gills), kanne bodi
(two long sticks, to corner and the freaking lady fish), chood
(coconut leaf torch) gas light, gallh (crab catcher using chicken
intestines), gorunchem, sunktam dhorchem, (shrimp catching), vagem
utla, (fish surfacing from hybernation at the first rain shower),
spear fishing, and you know, by many a more methods. The fish is
so shrewd, just like the ostrich, when they see intense light, or
unusual material like yellow palm leaves in motion, they bury
their heads in the sand, thus you can pick them without any
chasing. The cheapest way of catching fish was to place a net at
the entrance of water canals at high tide, wherein, the fish get
trapped, and some of them used to jump above the net, to fall
right into a boat or another net suspended above water. At low
tide the canal is practically dry, and all you have to do was to
pick up the fish in agony, drowning in the unpolluted clean virgin
Barkur air. You had enough fish to last for a week, even without
The above terminology sounds mostly in Konkanny, as my mother
tongue was my mode of understanding and communicating, as a
child. Some Konkanny expressions can never be translated without
losing its intended meaning, hence our Konkanny folks, talk
Konkany, eat Konkany and breathe Konkanny, whenever possible, even
though this is not a bread winning language for some of us.
I fished in my early days till I left home to join a good cause.
(No, I am not planning to catch men, unless they want to join me!)
I remember the days when I had no fear of any reptiles or any
matter (broken glass, plant or fish thorns, or sharp stones or
shells), which would poke my hands and damage/scratch my leg or
bare feet while fishing. I was courageous enough to fish day out
and day in with my fellow members of the family or friends.
Most of the time fishing was a game and a gamble, and fun. If you
ask me how big was the last fish you caught, I would show my right
lengthy arm and show 'so big' keeping the pointing finger straight
and the thumb at the base of the pointing finger! Where all did
you fish? I would say, in side the house and out side too. I have
fished from my window! Inside, when the river gets flooded, out
side when the flood waters recede, in the river, pond, pool, in
the well and in even in the rice fields. Best catch I would have
was from the river, catching Matte (name of the fish).
Array, you haven't heard the high lights of my tricks and gimmicks
of catching fish yet. Shuuu, I should have started with it!
However, I shall do it now because, the times I had such
amusements only when I declared myself as that, 'can catch fish in
installments' as a professional standing for an hour and catching
one fish at a time. Yeah, to understand what I mean: 'to catch
five fish, I had to stand for five hours!!!' If you want to
develop patience, then go fishing!
Come with me to my fishing library. Let me fish my memory lane for
you. ' I caught a big one' my mind prompted and my strength
certified it. My will would grow bigger and anxiety would crop in.
With all the best of myself I threw ashore my fishing rod along
with a monstrous catch, when I caught a water snake! (Hevalem). It
was 36 inches or 90.1 centimeters in length. I succeeded in my
catch but I was a laughing stock to others who stood in my queue
and entertained the crows on the plant/trees, the chirping
hundkolakki (water fowls), the sleeping dogs beside the house,
some bold chicken, the grazing cow tied to the coconut tree, and
the people passing by, especially children of my age, or timid
girls! I would feel grateful to the sublime for the caught
creature, for not falling on me, and then to remember to thank my
dead ancestors for their intersession to spare me the torture of
fish-hooked-snake crawling on me. Yes, the game is over without a
whistle and the referee. The fishing rod and the materials used
take the shape of 'eight' and some are visible in torment and made
room for the new budget. The new shopping day would be a next
Sunday the day of Sabbath for Barkurians who went for mass, or
Friday the Market Day in Barkur a far reality for the children and
allow me to call it was the Sabbath of the Adults. Ice candy money
was spent in purchasing the rod, which would be provided by Aita
or Shankra the Koraga Community known figures those days, who
invented, produced, and marketed the unique (non-patented) fish
catching paraphernalia or devices.
'Yes, I did it', the second catch with a big bang. Oops, it was a
medium size crab caught in my hook. I shored it with the fishing
rod and the weight was quite too much. I shored it by diverting
overhead as normally done for regular fish. The crab had a safe
landing on my shoulder forgetting itself its own existence for a
few seconds. It was a safe landing air-borne to the crab but for
me? Oops, it was a giggle boat marching with December Jingle
bells. I caught the crab, but then the crab caught me! Both caught
each other and it bit me or bruised me and out of sheer fear I got
rid of it by throwing it as fast and as quickly I could, and it
landed back to its expected safety - in the middle of the river.
I learnt then, that I have such strength that I could throw
objects that far a distance only when in out of sheer fear that I
could throw the crab in to the river. The same year in the school
I competed in the distance cricket ball throw and I was certified
in as one of the best three. Everything happens for good - learn
from my crab lesson. I feel like kissing that live crab!
'Come soon come soon, there is a big one and I can feel it'. He
comes and coolly says, "Hey, there is nothing here". I caught one
and it was attempting to find the best piece of flesh from my
hands and later I got Budha's enlightenment in the middle of the
night, it was a crab and not the floating fish. When in dismay I
followed the wise men who found no fish. But the crab in junk
justice comes and grabs my feet tight, leaving a sharp bite-wound
on my leg as a consolation for my
dinner. Yeah, the game was good but the referee hands over the
whistle to me?
I used to catch many a fish and I used to put them in a bag. The
bag was kept upright leaning on the tree. I pulled off a fish from
the river but it landed in the next water canal (thoad). What
could I do? I pulled off from the river, a second one and the same
repeated. The third, and a fourth one too, landed in the canal.
Finally, I stopped fishing in the river and stretched my rod into
the canal (thoad). Now, you too leave me alone to fish more and
more, so that, I can tell you many more stories about the 'art of
fishing', later on with new topics.
Go home do your work with my fishy thoughts. Thanks for being with
me, with a makkeri, fishing rod, fish bag, with mouth full of
laughter and adventures like torn satri, (umbrella), kandi (Skull
cap made from palm leaf stem) for covering the scalp, wearing both
cheddi (short pants, and smell of the fish, vyak vyak. But he
fish caught by you, is always tastier, and mind you, your fish
never smells or goes stale!
Well, during my last holidays in Barkur, I went fishing. I had to
prove my above mentioned fishing stories/abilities, to some guests
at home who did not want to join me in fishing for fear of water
or snakes. I wanted them to know that I can catch fish even while
wearing a cassock and the Roman Collar! Fortunately, a
professional fisherman was fishing. I bought some fish from this
guy, and went home. I never said that I caught those fish. (Not
telling the truth is not necessarily it's a lie!) My mother and
some of my friends still believe, that God loves me so much,
that's why I am blessed with such fishing ability! If you can't
catch a fish how can you catch girl, a boy, a friend or a job?
With fishing rod regards,