Posts Tagged ‘photography
Of all the people I have encountered in Bombay, the group I find most intriguing are the fishmongers, who live in a small community near the sea. At low tide their little wooden crafts are grounded among the rocks of the coast. I first noticed this community when Sam and I drove past rows of little fish drying on wooden racks in the sun. Later I started accompanying him to the market near the train station, and I instantly fell in love with the fishmongers.
We enter the market through a special style of fence that only humans (and cats) can navigate. I notice the sound of chickens rustling and clucking in their cages; the butcher is through the doorway on the far side of the building. This wisps of incense momentarily mask the pungent odor of the market. I carefully wind my way around the platforms on which each woman has displayed her family’s catch. I can’t help but think of Tony’s early dream sequence on “The Sopranos” when I notice the rows of empty, glassy fish eyes staring up at me.
We approach the place where Vithabai sits. She has been selling fish to Sam’s family for years and remembers when he was a boy. She still makes him bargain for a decent price, but this is India after all. Vithabai and the other fishmongers sit perched on stools slightly above our eye level, giving the vague impression of a queen enthroned. These women are not shy; they are big and strong and loud. They chop off fish heads and scoop out the guts while haggling with potential customers. These women, I think, must not be afraid of anything. I am completely enchanted.
Makar Sankranti is the day when, according to Hindu astrology, the sun begins its ascent into the northern hemisphere. This signals the end of winter and the beginning of increasingly longer days. The festival is marked by different traditions throughout the country, including ritual bathing, an exchange of sweets, and the well-loved Kite Festival. Kite-flying is especially popular in Gujarat, the state to the north of Maharashtra where Mumbai is located. Last week we visited my husband’s parents in Ahmedabad, a major city in Gujarat, and witnessed kids preparing for the festival. Brightly colored paper kites dot the sky as children compete to cut their neighbors’ kites with strings covered in powdered glass.