Drag net fishing in southern India

The lake from which Lakeside gets its name is fed by monsoon rains which fall onto the foothills of the Western Ghats – and onto us! Once the lake is full the water goes over the overspill to fill other lakes in the area, water that is used for irrigation of some fields but is predominantly drinking water for Dindigul.

When it is full the lake is more than 20 feet deep at the centre, and as it covers more than 500 acres this is a lot of water! Each year the local government puts the fishing rights for the lake up for auction – one man will bid to stock the lake and to harvest the fish. This man will then employ locals to fish the lake, and most days you can see them out in their little coracles.

As the level of the lake falls the fishermen are able to utilise huge nets which are set in a semi-circle and then pulled in to shore. This can guarantee a large catch of fish in a relatively small space of time.

The nets are laid by the boats . You can see a line of floats cutting across the foreground of the picture.

The men in the boats follow the net in, making sure that it doesn’t catch on any obstacles – and scaring the fish away so that they don’t try to jump out.

The scene from Lakeside.

In this picture you can also see some men in the water helping the net to move more freely.

Once the net gets closer to the shore the men in the water help to drive the fish further into the shallows.

One or two splashes can be seen as the fish start jumping…

…then it becomes quite chaotic as they all try to escape. You can see how big some of these fish are!

After a successful afternoon fishing it’s time to lay out the nets to dry before heading home.

And so ends another fascinating afternoon at Lakeside – all without leaving the comfort of my chair!


India Becoming…

India Becoming by Akash Kapur

It is almost five years now since I moved to Lakeside, and in that time I have seen a great number of changes to the way people live here in Tamil Nadu. The pace of change in India is breath-taking and I have often found it difficult to describe to ‘non-Indians’ what it is really like, partly because my own experience here only covers such a short time. How can I tell you about the way life in a big city has changed? Or the changing role of women? Or the massive differences in life for a youngster in rural India as compared to the experiences of their parents?

Well, now I don’t need to tell you! I’ve just finished reading ‘India Becoming’ by Akash Kapur, and it has been a revelation. Kapur was born in Tamil Nadu before moving to the US as a child. He returned to his native country in 2003 to raise his own children in the emerging India. Kapur was struck by the struggle India is having to find the balance between the old and new and so began to interview local Tamils to try to understand their experiences. From this grew his book ‘India Becoming’ which, for me, very clearly shows life for Tamils today, their links to the past and their hope for the future.

If you want a more ‘in-depth’ view of Tamil Nadu than I, an outsider, can give, then I can highly recommend this book.