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Thursday, April 9, 2015

THE FISH SELLER / FISHMAN



Here's another bit of nostalgia about growing up in Kolar Gold Fields when we were children. In those days, there were refrigerators or ice boxes at home and it was difficult to store perishable food items for more than a couple of days. Hence they were procured fresh on a day to day basis. All the ingredients and stuff required for daily cooking such as the meat, chicken, vegetables, fish etc were bought fresh everyday. This small story is about our regular Fish seller Abdul in Nandydroog Mine.
There was no Fish stall near our house in the mines. And he fish stalls were all located in the market in Robertsonpet. However we didn’t have to go all the way to Robertsonpet to buy fish. The fish was brought to our doorstep by the Fishman or Fish Sellers who came around the mining areas on bicycles with wooden boxes tied to the carrier.  
The fish was brought to KGF on the train from the places on the Sea Coast such as Madras, Mangalore, Kerala, etc. The boxes of fish tightly packed with ice was off loaded from the early morning trains at Bangarapet, then sent to KGF on  the local train. The boxes were then unloaded at each station and the fish sellers would then take delivery from the agent and start their morning round of sales around the houses and bungalows. The Fish sellers, in KGF were mostly from Kerala and they spoke a mixture of Tamil and Malayalam. They had quite a number of loyal customers who bought fish from them on a regular basis. 
We had our own regular Fishman Abdul who brought around quite a variety of fish depending on the consignment that had come in for the day. His familiar cry of ‘MEEN, MEEN’ was eagerly awaited every Wednesday and Friday as that was the day fish formed the main dish for our lunch and dinner. He had a wooden packing case tied to the carrier of his cycle with a wooden plank fixed across the box as a cutting board and a pair of weighing scales. He would weigh and slice the fish according to the customer’s requirements and also clean the fish and remove the scales if they requested him. His weighing scales were really not very accurate as they were quite primitive. Never the less the weight was more more or less accurate. While cleaning and cutting the fish, he was also quite generous in feeding the stray cats and dogs with all the unwanted innards and tails. These strays would faithfully wait for the fishman at the street corners and would welcome him joyously.  
Abdul was our regular fish seller for many years. he came to KGF as a young boy along with his maternal uncle who was also a fish seller. He later got married to a nice girl of his Community  from Kerala and they lived and raised a family in Robertsonpet. He later brought his aged parents as well to KGF and took care of them till their death. He was a very nice person. Really miss those days of Simple living in KGF. 

2 comments:

rajan said...

If I remember correctly, fish sellers in KGF those days were called Maistry for whatever reason. Whenever he comes the boys used to run along with him shouting 'Maistry', 'Maistry'.

Hamadryad said...

Brilliant... Simply loved your writing. Somehow expect Kenneth Anderson to turn up every next line. Thank you for coloring my imagination.