Fish tales

On May 23 and 24, 2010, I stayed in the little-known fishing village of Uttan on the outskirts of Mumbai. It was idlyllic, tranquil and offered an insight into how Mumbai’s original inhabitants — the fisherfolk — lived. Little seems to have changed there in the last 50 years, apart from the establishment of a resort, where I stayed. Here are some pictures I took there. Please click on the pictures for a full-screen view.

The view from the resort's pool deck. The waters of the Arabian Sea seemed to change colour as the day wore on -- light blue in the morning, azure in the afternoon, golden at twilight and silver at night.

A fishing boat in the distance, a bamboo rack for drying fish and a cross standing guard over the rocky shoreline -- this image best defines Uttan.

Uttan's armada of fishing boats awaits a favourable tide.

Bombay Duck drying on Uttan beach. For those confused by the name, it's actually a fish that's commonly found off Mumbai's coast.

A fisherwoman dries the catch her husband brought in from the sea. Most of these folks are Christians, converted by the Portuguese. They are mainly Marathi-speaking and their idols of Mother Mary greatly resemble those of Hindu goddesses -- a reminder of their religious past. Often, you find in the numerous grottos in Uttan, Mother Mary's idol dressed in a saree -- as you do in the villages of Bandra, a western suburb of Mumbai.

A giant bamboo rack used for drying the day's catch. The shrimp and squid are spread on the ground. While some of it is used in traditional pickles, I was told that it's also used in animal feed.

This fisherman walked into the waves with his net, hoping to catch the small fish that venture close to the shore. That evening, the tide had thrown up several sea snakes, which lay strewn across the beach. It struck me how unafraid this fisherman was and how at home he looked, his body swaying back and forth in sync with the waves.

As I walked along the beach, I came across a crowd deeply engrossed in something. As I looked closer, I found the centre of attention: a chess match between two locals.

I had an unexpected visitor on Sunday night. He posed for a few pictures, then got bored and hopped off.