The skill of making fish nets is passed on from one generation to the next. Badi Ramu's father taught him how to make nets. A fisherman from the remote village in Srikakulam district, Ramu learnt everything from his father and hopes to pass on the same to his children. His father taught him how to select the material and make the different knots that are used in making a fishing net.
But life is becoming increasingly difficult for traditional fisherman for him. They cannot compete with the large-scale fishing of mechanised boats. He goes for fishing whenever he can in mechanised country boats, but the remuneration is not worth the effort or the risk, he says.
The skill of fishing net knotting he learnt as a child has however handy in bailing him out of abject poverty. Ramu and his uncle Appanna are now using their skills to make bags and hammocks out of nylon thread and rope. While a bag sells for Rs 15 the hammocks range between Rs 20 to Rs 100 depending on the size, material used and design.
Ramu now travels from place to place in the lean season selling his nylon ware. Fishing is very risky in some seasons and it is banned during the others, he says. “But my skills are helping me to eke out a better life. I have visited all the 24 states in the country selling bags and hammocks. In my travels I have learnt a smattering of different languages. I can converse well in Hindi and Tamil,” he says. Without any kind of formal education he has learnt to survive in every part of the country with the simple skills he has. Selling hammocks is any day easier than fishing in the ocean. “All we have to do is tie a hammock between two poles and stretch out and look really comfortable in them and customers come to us,” Mr Ramu says.
New Delhi is his favourite place because people pay more for hammocks and bags there, but the people of Punjab and Haryana are also good customers.