Friday, March 12, 2010

Fishing in the Bhadra

For several years, I flip-flopped on the subject of vegetarianism, because I was never convinced about the reasons to relinquish meat. The every-animal-has-a-soul didn't make the cut. Cholesterol didn't discourage me too much. The cruelties of industrial scale husbandry was out of sight from my conscience. Finally, after a lot of reading on the subject, I was completely convinced that if every person on the planet turned to meat, we'd be screwed real bad. Too much of the meat that we eat was coming out of unsustainable ecosystems. I'm now convinced that any food grown without giving nature a chance at replenishment is going to cost us a lot in the future. The stewardship argument had finally pushed me over the edge into vegetarianism (not that farming was being done in a sensible way!).

Last weekend, I visited a fishing camp on the banks of the Bhadra river in Chikmagalur, where they practise a model of stewardship that I'd like to see in every goddamn part of the world that man inhabits. People are allowed to catch for their daily means but large-scale fishing is completely prohibited. The river is closed for fishing during the spawning season. The result of this is that the fish population in the river remains a constant, and the other predators that depend on the fish also thrive. If only you could teach the Jap whalers to take care of their waters like this. Anyway, since the stewardship was firmly in place I decided to indulge. Peter, our host, cast the net and in no time we had a handsome 2 kilo Karnataka Carp.

While walking back with the fish strung to a water weed stalk, I watched it flail about, and gasp for breath. I never thought fish are able to make noises, but this one did. Just when I allowed myself to feel relief that it had finally died, it would garner enough reserves for one more thrashing of the tail. In the end, it returned to me in a plate as one of the tastiest, non-smelliest fish dishes I've eaten. Yet I still can't take the image of the struggling carp out of my head. It's official, I'm a sissy!
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