If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Dec 3, 2008

Go Fish in a Curry Dish !

Some kids have playstations. Their mother has a fisherwoman.
She comes down the road with a basket on her head. Stepping right out of a Mario cartoon. She’s not fat, She’s buxom. She’s not talkative, she’s friendly. She’s not a cheat, when she sells you what maybe stale fish, she’s shrewd. She’s not a stranger. She’s family. Because you see her more often than your mother-in-law. More often than your mother. The shouted “ Kolbi pahje kay bai.” preceeds her. Still looking for a new customer on a road where nobody’s moved in or out for fifty years other than for reasons of death, birth and marriage. A round cane basket on her head. A metal plate stopping drips from her basket falling onto more gold than Fort Knox has. Keeping the glorious colours of her saree glorious. She goes around to the backdoor of the cottages. Where the memsaab of the house is getting the meal for the afternoon ready. The weather, the new parish priest and the import of Rajasthani camels into the Australian outback get equal weightage. In the icebreaker discussion. Before the catch of the day is unveiled. It varies. Bombils, shark, kardi, prawns, jowla, [ The last three being the same thing just different sizes ] , Mackerel [ ok Bangada ] an so on and so forth. The memsaab has to check for freshness. The fish come up short every time. The ancestors of the fisherwoman { Rattu } are invoked. Invoked to come and testify how just that morning the fish were playing seven tiles in the waters off Chimbai. A sorting is done. From what was largely todays catch with just a little leftover from yesterdays poor sales. The price is negotiated. All the fish are returned because the price Rattu is asking for is why sometimes people are convicted of robbery. But the diesel to run the boats has almost doubled in price. The nets tear so easily now because off strange debris in the sea. The catch is so much less because of global warming. The fish are in a no mans land. Rattu pushing them out of her basket. The Memsaab trying to push them back in. Halfheartedly.
The rice on the stove boils over. The memsaab rushes to turn it off. Rattu pushes the basket out of arms reach. Keeping the still to be paid for bombils within. The Memsaab comes back to find the bombils being cleaned. Fait accompli. For both parties. Without any loss of face. The bombils leap into the frying pan without any assistance. They’re that fresh. Other than the two laggards from yesterdays downward pointing sales graph. Rattu tells Memsaab that Jo-Boy is going to enjoy his lunch when he comes home from school in the lunch break. Because of the bombils.
Memsaab agrees. The deal has been done so not fraternizing with the enemy now has no benefit.
The Memsaab helps Rattu get her basket back up on her head. She sends a Cadbury’s ├ęclair for Rattu’s daughter.
JoBoy gets home for lunch. Asks for thirds. And Memsaab in her night prayers thanks God for the strong healthy son he has bestowed on her, and for Rattu , and her fish that helps keep him that way.


Kris said...

loved your post!!! reminds me of the whole way of life i leave behind when i go to work every morning and come home to fresh fish curry for dinner :)

David said...

Hey Clem! really enjoyed reading this post, took me back to the good ole days when I would be bribed to go to the market with my mother for one lassi at the shop in the Bandra Bazar or Kajories at Navrang. Not forgetting the way the fisher women would scream and say Bhai Pamplet ghya Ago Areay Avar yeh Bhai! Gosh just wish I could turn back the clock. Also remember Mushi, Baroala and Pakat hahahah Good post keep up the good work my friend...Luv La Noel

Anonymous said...

hey boy, thanx so much for sharing this, reminds me so much of the good ole bandra days, would give anything to get those days back, i remember navrang bookstores national bakery- are they still there? nostalgic man!!