Funnily I dont eat fish, but I have observed you so many times. I think you ladies are amazing. While most of us are at awe at the working women of Bombay, we dont seem to realise the kind of job you do.
I have seen you ladies get into crowded buses with that heavy load on your head supported by a small piece of cloth on your head to protect you from carrying the load directly. Then you have these 100 people around you who seem to curse you for the smell and the load that you carry. Which means that you have to fight not only with the load on the head but also with the people who seem to be okie buying fish from you but refuse to acknowledge the fact that you have to travel from the beach to the market.
I have seen you at unearthly hours of the morning, trying to catch the bus so that you dont miss the usual local train, which will let you take your catch to far away places.
I love the way you get on to the train. Balancing that big load on your head, you move in with the grace of a dancer. Slightly bending your knees so that the load doesnt hit the top, and then leaving both your hands and holding the rail and then a slight hop onto the train..its seriously poetry in motion.
Once you get into the train, its the same issue of people holding up their kerchiefs to their noses…I find it weird you know. Fine, some people may have problems with the smell of fish, but why wrinkle their noses and look at you with disgust. I find that attitude pretty bugging honestly.
But again, I dont think you care. Even if you care, I guess you are so used to it, that it doesnt bother you any more eh?
I love the way you ladies dress up to the T even in the early mornings. Wearing the Maharashtrian style saree tucked firmly between your legs so that they dont hamper your movement, loads of bangles often green in colour, the heavy gold earrings and the huge mangalsutras. The large bindis, the lovely nose rings in some cases. the bright coloured fresh gajras. You sure look amazing.
the best part of you is of course your wide smiles and cheerful attitudes. Despite the difficult schedule of catching fish, separating it, cleaning it, and then travelling with it from the beach to the station, climbing stairs in the station to climbing the train and then reaching the destination market, trust me, I know its no joke..and yet you do it with such ease. I admire you so much.
And then I have seen some of you sitting in row in the fish market. Bright coloured sarees form a lovely background to the grey coloured fish. And what variety of fish. Midst all this, you haggle for prices knowing that your fish may get spoilt and no one may buy it from you. You cajole, you threaten and then finally you give up with a smile. Then you take a big knife and clean the fish, put the fish in a plastic and give it to the customer, tucking the money into the tiny purse you carry in your blouse. I find the entire excercise amazing!
It definitely must be a hard life for you, but I love your zeal of living.
Always talking to each other, joking, laughing, talking on the phone loudly, and gosh sometimes your language is so colourful. I once witnessed a fight you had with a customer on the BEST bus because he said something derogatory against one of you. The conductor politely asked him to move back saying you have equal right on the bus as he has, but he repeated it and God! the five of you just pounced on him verbally and ensured he was so so embarrassed by your language that he just got off at the next signal. I dont even know the meaning of half the words but the near applause the whole bus gave you, did give me an indication that you used the choicest of words in Marathi eh? your language is as colourful as your clothes eh?
You ladies are definitely wonderful and an inspiration.
Always at awe