Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Abc Wednesday - 'M' for Machhi-wali


Mumbai's Machhi-walis - Fisher Women
Click image to view full size


The Mumbai Machhi-walis belong to the Koli (fisherfolk) community. The fishermen go out to sea and bring fresh catch. Now it is the job of the fisherwomen (also called fishwives) to sell the fish in local fish markets. There are those too, who buy fish from the wharf in early morning hours to sell in the market.

The machhi-walis (Kolins) are hard-working, aggressive by nature and fiercely economically independent women. A Kolin's day begins at the break of dawn. After cooking food for the entire family, she buys fish from the wharf and sells it at the local fish market, or even from home to home (to regular customers) till the fish is all sold out.

Standing out distinctly in a crowd, with sarees, noisy language (including abusive phrases) and traditional, chunky jewellery, the Machhi-wali invests most of her savings in gold.

Living a simple life, their food is usually curry, rice and fried fish.


38 comments:

  1. Fishwives seem to be the same the world over - but maybe not as colourful as these ladies.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You say these fish-wives are aggressive. It must go with the job. When I was growing up in England and I'd get a bit cross and shrill my mother would say 'Stop it! You sound just like a fishwife!' And I don't think she'd ever heard one!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think it has a lot to do with survival, hectic schedules, interaction with all kinds of people, bargaining with buyers, and also train travel, though they end up making trouble for other female passengers by getting into the ladies compartment instead of luggage compartment.

    As a Machhi-wali enters the Second Class ladies compartment, everyone makes way for her lest the smelly fish water in the fish basket on her head spills on their clothes and bags. No one even wants to rub shoulders with her and end up smelly at work place. A lot of grumbling, then abusing and shouting follows but she succeeds in making place for herself and her basket till she reaches her destination.
    This kind of harassment by fisherwomen in the city has reduced ever since they have a ladies luggage compartment.
    It's all a game of survival in Mumbai city.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Interesting. Great choice for M. Thank you for sharing :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very interesting perspective on M! Thank you for sharing this with us!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is all very interesting! thank you for taking us to this market. Like in England fishwives are very aggressive. My mum used to say: "don't behave like a "viswijf"!"

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've never seen women selling fish, so this makes your post and picture all the more interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  8. this is a great shot for today. Very interesting. These women are really something!

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's very interesting. I wonder if that's where the expression 'like a fishwife' meaning 'loud, aggressive and shrewish' comes from?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Fantastic shot! Love the composition with the two ladies in the foreground!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nice looking scene you photographed. A different culture and a different look. Nice colors too. Nice photography.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, it certainly looks a lot more interesting than going to Safeway and buying stuff packaged in plastic...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sounds like hard, but pleasant, down to earth life. Thank you for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  14. Very educational, interesring and personal to your area M for today.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a beautiful picture.
    I enjoy your photographs of Mumbai.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I can see why you'd have to be aggressive to sell your portion! Very colorful group...

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love this photo! The color is great but all of those women is more amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  18. They sound like very hard working ladies. Colorful photo.

    ReplyDelete
  19. That is so interesting and perfect for the letter M! The women are so colorful :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Very wise women--investing in gold.
    That is what I should have done instead of investing in the Stock Market.
    Maybe I should start selling fish in the future.

    Bear((( )))

    ReplyDelete
  21. This photo bursts with energy and color! I can almost hear the women chattering together!

    ReplyDelete
  22. It may be a simple life but they sure have to work hard to obtain a simple life... wonderful post... nice photo...
    ~Michele~
    Mountain Retreat- Canada

    ReplyDelete
  23. I can understand why they need to be so aggressive with all that competition. But at least they can buy gold...

    ReplyDelete
  24. A fascinating look through your lens at a culture I know little about. You have captured amazing colors and vibrancy in this shot.

    ReplyDelete
  25. First the men fish, then the ladies sell the fishes. :) Nice post!

    ReplyDelete
  26. superb choice! and it is amazing to note that fishwives all over share the same characteristics!!! small world eh?

    ReplyDelete
  27. I love your posts takes me to India virtually and I learn a lot. Marvelous

    ReplyDelete
  28. so many people, bet that's a good place to make money selling goods.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks for the tour and information. It's a very colourful and interesting picture. I invite you to come see my "Margy's Mouse Mechanism". -- Margy

    ReplyDelete
  30. An interesting place where women sell the fish! you might want to read about my M here.

    Kikamz
    Just About Anything

    ReplyDelete
  31. We have very similar practices then, but it's not just women who sell.

    I've noticed the gold investments among Indian women (my brother-in-law is an Indian from Hyderabad) and I think it's very, very smart of them. Sigh, unlike Filipinos who'd rather buy a car or house immediately.

    Beautiful, colorful photo, especially with the two women framing the fishwives. Very interesting text too. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  32. The human line curvature in this picture is awesome. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  33. The line of human standing in a perfectly carved line is awesome timings.

    ReplyDelete
  34. What an interesting introduction of the Machhi-wallis! I really enjoy reading your descriptions!

    ReplyDelete
  35. That was a lovely picture with all the fish glittering ......reminds me of silver....yeah hats of to their job and their independent nature and their sense of investments. But one thing that struck me most was your angle of photography....the two ladies standing on either side each with almost same type of ear rings....almost looks like a frame work for the picture. great shot.

    ReplyDelete

Dear Mumbai Virtual Tourists,


Thank you for your valuable views.
Your criticism, appreciation and suggestions are welcome to an amateur photographer who loves her city. MDS is now active as a daily photoblog.