Published: August 17th 2012August 17th 2012
As soon when I came out from St. Francis Xavier church, I turned right and walked about 10 minutes, I finally saw the fishing village. This whole area is known as Fort Kochi. Very shady, many tall tree that umbrella the whole area giving the best shade ever on a sunny day like this. What attracted me most is the “Cheena Vala”, the Chinese Fishing Nets. The fishermen were friendly, invited me aboard their platform, having photos taken as I stood sometime watching them do the job, how the mechanism works. The fascinating thing being on board the platform is that it has a great view, good breeze and imagine myself stood above the great Arabian Sea was something I never imagine. But I did not mind the fishy smell that surround me.
History wrote it was the time when Admiral Zheng He who travelled to India in the 15th
century, he stumbled onto Kerala and introduced the Chinese fishing nets to the locals. Later, they discovered it was the Portuguese Casado settlers from Macau, who actually introduced this idea to the Keralaians. To me, no matter who may be, the idea was certainly from the Chinese. Similar fishing nets
can be seen in “Ca Mau” Vietnam. The Indians called this place “Cheena Vala”, the Chinese Fishing Nets. I called this the living legacy of the Chinese in India.
It is a huge mechanism set-up that holds out horizontal nets of 20m. Each structure is about 10m high. It comprised a wooden beam, an outstretched net suspended over the sea with 9 big rocks that acts as the weight on the other end when they lift up the nets from their catch. Six or more fishermen attend to one platform. Quite a few Chinese fishing nets lined up on the banks of the shore. It must have been good all these hundreds of years still surviving and working on these Chinese fishing nets till today.
I like the stroll along the small market area together with some souvenir vendors either they are sat on the ground, laying their items or having a small stall or shops waving at me, ushering me to take a look at their stuff. I bought a tiny elephant added to my collections. Conversation between us was great. Mostly asking about me....."Where I came from"....."Welcoming me".... being the only Chinese somehow made me outstanding
in the whole of Fort Kochi. There is an old building with nice painting on Kathakali, hotels in the Jewish village, shops of spices in dry form and ointments made from spices, clothes (I like the cotton shirts),the famous Bharat tea and local herbs, Hindu and Christian’s statues and paintings available too. Small cafeterias, some white washed houses and a Jewish synagogue (Paradesi Synagogue), especially when school girls walked back from school, walked the streets with their white headdress in white and grey school uniforms quite like I have witnessed a little of Israel out of Israel in Fort Kochi. Electrical wires hung above the streets like cob webs, this resembles the Real India I have known, seen in every cities of India. “Spidey was here!”, "Clean up your mess!" laughed to myself. I enjoyed every moment as I walked the streets of little Israel.
In Asia, this is one of the well known “The Living Heritage”. These Cheena Vala, the Jewish and the Hindu community make unique in culture, religion and in food culture. They have the Hindus, Muslims, Christians all rolled into one but where are the Chinese!...(chuckled). Living harmoniously and in modesty, the kind I like
best, all under the same sun. I hope this will stay long for everyone to enjoy and have the chance to witness this treasures of Kerala. The legacies they are proud of.
There are more photos below