A morning at the sea

Life as a fisherman can’t be all bad.

These men get up before dawn and head out onto the open water while most of us are still asleep. Waking up early is less than appealing for most of us, but with a view like this, I can’t help but envy the fishermen.

The waves of high tide pound the beach as the sun rises, just as it has since the beginning of time. The morning haze still obstructs the sun’s rays while fishing boats cross the horizon and pass under it.

The beach is alive already; people are all over the boardwalk and even at 5.30 in the morning, one can find people jogging, stretching, or just walking to before the encroaching heat of the summer day. The boardwalk is almost packed, but a short trip over the sand and one will find solitude, aside from the fishermen.

As one finds a place on the beach to sit, people tend to gather around. Not necessarily in very close proximity, but near enough to show that when people seek the solitude of the morning beach, they don’t mind having company.

It remains quite serene here, a rarity in the city of Chennai.

As the red sun begins to peer over the haze like a giant orange pendant dangling over the sea, the beach traffic begins to pick up. Businessmen, tourists, and couples walk along the ocean, but there’s still no one here to surf the breakers of this nearly deserted beach, a scene that most surfers would kill for.

A few tourists take pictures at the sunrise and the colorless shapes of barges and cranes of the shipyard in the distance; crows pick at the tumbling garbage.

A fisherman pulls in his line, throwing back all but one small catfish. Photo by Kaleb Warnock

Being near a massive body of water, it’s hard not to stare into its infinity, something that has pulled humankind to explore its vast surface and depths and fueled our inexhaustible ambition to explore.

As the strong breeze blows outward, it’s easy for one to become lost in the waves and to be awed by the ocean’s majesty. Perhaps that’s why people from nearly all walks of life gather here in the morning.

As I pull up my camera to capture the moment, a Tamilian man squats in front of me because nature calls, indifferent to the fact that he was giving me more than I had hoped for in my shot.

I couldn’t tell what they were doing at first, but three fisherman began bring in their line. One of them started reeling in a string and wrapping it around a piece of cardboard. Now he’s working his way down the beach pulling in the line and picking up the fish. The line he uses has hooks every foot or so with some kind of bait on them and a weight at the end. He doesn’t get much, but he still tossed back all but a single catfish.

I wonder who buys these fish.


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