Sunday, January 31, 2010

"On the Dock of the Bay"

Otis Redding and Steve Cropper penned the lyrics of the song; (Sitting On) THE DOCK OF THE BAY……Otis recorded the song on December 7th, 1967, just three days before his untimely death in a plane crash outside Madison Wisconsin.

On my most recent visit to Visakhapatnam (Vizag), Shoeb took me for a drive to the port of the city…….where the larger fishing boats dock safely from the vast expanse of the Bay of Bengal.

It is home of the just one of the many fishing villages that dot the coast of Andhra Pradesh…….and provides for the livelihood of many of the residents of the area.

It also provided me with the opportunity to capture the some very interesting photographs of the people of the village making a humble living from the bounties of the sea.

The area was flourishing with activity……….fish being unloaded, nets being made and mended, boats being built …… being dried, scraped, weighed, packed and readied for shipping.

“Fisherwomen” are everywhere…… they perform most of the duties after the bounty from the sea makes its way to land.
Like most work in India, the work at the dock is performed manually………and the work is not easy.

While doing research, I learned that the women who work in the fishing industry in this area earn an average of 206 rupees per week….approximately $4.12 US…….$16.50 per month.Hard work for very meager earnings……….but such is life for many throughout the country.

Small fish by the thousands are spread out to dry on the surface of the dock…….some on the hot dark surface of the asphalt……carefully arranged to allow for vehicular traffic to make its way in the area……creating free lanes to support the rest of the dock activities. Larger species of fish are dried on a very rough canvas like surface.

After they have reached a certain stage, the fish are scraped from the smooth surface of the pavement, scooped by hand and placed into large round baskets.
The smaller of the species of fish are dried and sold for the production of “fish meal” used as a fertilizer or for poultry food. The larger of the species are dried for human consumption.

Depending on the species……..the village will earn $0.20 to $1.20 per kg…………..not a huge amount for the work and expense that goes into making a living from the sea.

There is a certain beauty about the area………….ladies in very colorful sari’s working amongst the silvery carpet of dried fish……….the designs left on the surface like small dark rivers winding lazily between silvery banks…….. Entangled forms reflecting the light from the sun that has reduced them to sinewy silver ribbons lying stiffly on a canvas bed.

I hope you enjoy the beauty of the photographs without the interesting smells that I endured taking them.

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