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Fort Cochin

Fort Cochin and the Chinese Fishing Nets
This follows-on from Ferry for Breakfast, the beginning of our trip by ferry from Bolgatty to Fort Cochin with a stop for breakfast on the way.
Another Ferry
Yet another ferry terminal consisting of dingy, concrete sheds that have not been painted for years, with a grill with a little hole at the bottom for passing your money through.
This one was a little different because it had a separate queue for men and for women. There was nothing to indicate this – nothing so information-rich is ever provided in India – it’s just that I noticed that women went to one queue and men to the other. Both queues ended up at the same window, the ticket clerk served first a man, then a woman, then a man, then a woman.
On the ferry,too, we noticed that the women went to the front of the boat and the men to the rear. Between them in the centre of the boat was the driver and the engine.
The segregation was not absolute. There were one or two men in the women’s section and vice-versa. It was as if there used to be a rule about this but it had been rescinded some time ago, habits dying hard.
Chinese Fishing Nets
A short ride over to Fort Cochin and: rickshaws once again. Ernakulam, which is part of Cochin really, had no rickshaws. This was because, we learned, they were on strike. The strike did not seem to apply to Fort Cochin however.
And Chinese fishing nets, right by the harbour. Four or five men pulled on a rope and out of the water came a large net, attached at each corner to a couple of thin tree-trunks lashed together at their end, thus in effect making a double-length tree-trunk. The four double tree-trunks join at the top so the tghat whole thing makes a kind of large shopping basket. Further joined tree-trunks connect the top of the shopping basket to a pivot on the quayside made from a large log, and also from this pivot come other tree-trunk poles, the other end of this being where the ropes that the men were pulling was attached to.
The men hauled on the ropes with a rhythmic, swaying motion of the body, the net came out of the water and the men clambered along a pole, one of them holding a fishing net. They hauled in the large net and got out of it what generally seemed to be at most one or two tiny, tiny, fish.They had to be quick about this as the aggressive Indian crows were already perched on the far side of the main net, waiting to pounce.
Then the men pushed up their end of the fulcrum and the net lowered into the water again.
It was all very peaceful watching the regular raising and lowering of the nets as we sat on a low wall in the shade of a tree, and for additional interest we could look at the oil and chemical tankers, navy vessels and top-heavy looking container ships going constantly by, in and out of Cochin harbour.
The story continues with School Sports and Cemeteries.


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