Designed , developed & Hosted By Kishoo, Barkur


This column will feature the aricles from Barkurians, recalling their memories of Barkur !


Send your contributions to

 This column will be uploaded every fortnight. The names of the writers will not be published, if requested.

This page is updated regularly, please refresh or reload on your visit


Wanna fish with me, the fish for curry?

"Chiru, 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 refrigeration!

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 midnight 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,


For a glimpse of the life at Barkur as remembered by Barkurians, check archives

Barkur, located in Udupi Taluk, Karnataka, India. 576 210

Copyright Kishoo, Barkur 2002.