Morning catch

do forgive me, i implore, but we shall begin with a morsel of linguistics. for many speakers of south asian languages, you see, the distinction between an f and an aspirated p is rather tenuous. and so it comes to pass that, as i make my way to tellicherry fort, the rickshawala obsequiously drops me off at

thalassery port.

now, no need to worry. forts and ports tend to stick together in these parts - geographically as much as phonetically -, we can't be too far away. and we appear to be just in time to see the morning catch come in, so will you join me for a brief walk down the muddy lanes of the harbour?

look. i've seen this before. those rainbow boxes are all set to be filled up with freshness, orderly waiting in the early morning sun. an all-male company silently assembles, at a gentle pace, their mundu unfolded so as to cover their ankles. but, as we move a bit further, we notice some commotion ahead. come come, jog along.

judging by the abundance of silver in those boxes - and it keeps pouring in -, it's been a good night. no wonder the men are in such good spirits, see how they joke and pose triumphantly around their treasure.

i gather from the experts that these are no sardines, but the proper name of the fish eludes me. poor (standing for nil) proficiency in malayalam may be to blame, but there is more. truth is, no attention is left as soon as the yellow truck back-parks a few metres away, to the electronic sound of jai ho.

ah, it's time for the big boys. for, to the delight of ever more onlookers, out comes an enormous truckload of sharks, which the fishermen glowingly display for the camera, as proud as peacocks.

all around, makeshift benches spring up, laden with all manner of fish and crustaceans. and so it is across a spontaneous, increasingly rowdy street market that we reach the end of the wharf and leap onto the sand.

the crowd thins out. here, lulled by the lapping of the waves, some fishermen slowly pull their boats ashore and chat in a quiet cadence. their cargo is offloaded, the nets checked and mended, their boats safe from the tide. soon, very soon, it will be time to rest.



é nome atulhado de evocações. de paraíso perdido com o cheiro da pimenta e arrepios nocturnos de humidade, veio a ganhar - já com os pés na terra vermelha - som de língua antiga abafada pelo vento, sabor a peixe na brasa. juntou-se-lhe o toque da cal esboroada mais a tranquilidade da orla do mar. mas hoje tem as cores da incógnita e a promeaça de ou dar ou tirar.

é só um momento, vou ali ver e já venho.