26 Nov 2015

Versova Village

Versova Koli Village.
The threads of a single net.

You can't really understand a place until you spend a good amount of time there. But you can try to feel the faint pulse of place when you pass through it like a stone skipping water, which is what I did.

Versova Koli village seems like one single tight fishing net made up of the many communities that make it up.

Versova is a very old Koli village. But  read the poster shown above.

Andhra Koli Trust
Kashninath Garib Narayan
A Christian cross
The Indian Tricolour
Jesus Christ
"We are all one"
Om | Moon and star | Another cross

Why Andhra in a Koli village?
Telugu speaking residents who are mostly Christian and call themselves Kolis and are an integral part of this fishing community. Most of the Telugu speakers however work in non-fishing trades like the sand business, construction, etc. and mostly within the village. The women from the community  harvest  sand from the beach.

Kashninath Garib Narayan

Khwaja Garib Nawaz or KGN is something that you see used across India by the fans of the Sufi shrine in Ajmer. But Garib is prefixed to other names too and in this case it is Narayan. The words, I assume (I could be wrong) represents the people who form a important part of this village's economy and community, the workers from Gujarat. The fishing fleet is manned by the members of the community who also live in the poorest part of the village, on the road that goes South towards Juhu and by the beach, exposed to the sea.

Fishermen collecting ice before they can set off for their week long fishing expedition at the main Ice Depot in Versova.

This man and the young boy buy Bombay Duck, from the bigger boats, clean them and them dry or sell them to the next part of the supply chain. They both speak a Gujarati at home but seemed more comfortable speaking Marathi.

Fresh Bombay Duck.

The local temple of the community which is on the road leading to the village. Their homes are what the government  would classify as slum.

The truck owned by the local co-operative that ships fish to the markets in Andheri East

"We are all one" 

Fishing in the villages on the North-Western seafront of  Mumbai is a co-operative activity. Each main village (Versova, Manori, Madh, etc.) in the region has its own co-operative to take the catch to the markets around the city or to the export houses. The best place to get their freshest catch is in Malad which is closer to Madh and Manori by road and the market near Chakala in Andheri where you can see the shops used by these cooperatives.

The Kolis who own the boats or the poorer Kolis with the smaller ones.
The boss and the workers.
The ones who go deep sea fishing and the Muslim and Koli traders or exporters.
The people who work in the sea and those who work on land.

Together they swim and together will sink if their fabric is broken.

Fish hanging to dry outside a Koli home in Versova village

The Tulsi pot marks every Koli home in Versova Village. This is one of the elaborate ones.

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