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Issue No:53
  • :0973-1121
  • :July
  • :2009

maggie and milly and molly and may

Maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang 
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles, and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing 
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles: and

may came home with a smooth round stone 
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) 
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

— by e e cummings


Starry, Starry Night

An innate knowledge of astronomy among the traditional fishers of the southwest coast of India has, for generations, helped them in their fishing activities

This article, written by P. Robert ( of the Friends of Marine Life, Valiathura, Trivandrum, Kerala, India, has been translated from the Malayalam by Sebastian Mathew

Coming from a fishing family in Kerala, in the southwest coast of India, I have naturally been attached to the sea and the folklore of fishers, which is now on the brink of extinction. For the past six years, I have been collecting examples of such folklore, with the help of student friends from ‘Friends of Marine Life’, a group based in Kerala.

Although labouring from kattumarams (the traditional three-log catamarams used by small-scale artisanal fishers of south India— Ed.), traditional fishers of southwest India have detailed knowledge about sea-bottom topography, and have developed techniques to accurately return to fishing reefs, again and again. The traditional knowledge of fishers encompasses knowledge about the sea, its turbidity, currents, waves and the movement of fish. It also extends to interesting facets of astronomy.

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