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Inheriting the sea

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Fishing boats in Chimbai village are now strangely melancholic; grounded, holed and overflowing with garbage.
Chimbai village now has an urgent tenuousness to it, menaced daily by collapsing fish stocks and the irresistible march of predatory property developers.
Chimbai village now has an urgent tenuousness to it, menaced daily by collapsing fish stocks and the irresistible march of predatory property developers.
Fishing boats in Chimbai village are now strangely melancholic; grounded, holed and overflowing with garbage.
Houses in Chimbai village may be interspersed with small shrines and grottoes with images of Mary or Jesus, but this cosmopolitan village is not defined by religion but by fish.
Chimbai village now has an urgent tenuousness to it, menaced daily by collapsing fish stocks and the irresistible march of predatory property developers.
Clare Arni

Chimbai village is what historic Bombay might have looked like: a chain of small fishing villages, facing the sea, packed tight with small homes occupied by families who have shared the joys and trials of life with each other from a time beyond memory. Amidst the houses are small shrines and grottoes with images of Mary or Jesus, although this cosmopolitan village is not defined by religion but by fish. Christian Kolis and their Hindu neighbours both share the common inheritance of the sea.

But this village now has an urgent tenuousness to it, menaced daily by collapsing fish stocks and the irresistible march of predatory property developers. As the children seek employment elsewhere, the fishing boats are now strangely melancholic; grounded, holed and overflowing with garbage. The tiny houses are still kept scrupulously clean, riotous with colour and filled with houseplants. This is how the Kolis fight the ugliness of Mumbai’s vast plastic tides that threaten to drown their villages. This place seems like the antithesis of the city; suffused with a sense of collaboration, where religious identity is subsumed in the shared spirit of the sea, and where the slow pace of the tides permits a connectedness and hospitality that the burning lights of Mumbai often forbid. Photos: Clare Arni,Text: Abhimanyu Arni

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