This morning’s fish market…

It is said that the Bengalis can’t live (or have a proper meal) without fish. Fish is everywhere in the life and language of the Bengalis. To mean somebody who does not know which side of the bread is buttered, a Bengali would say “ভাজা মাছটি উল্টে খেতে জানে না”, that is ‘someone who doesn’t know how to turn over a fried fish while eating it’.  Here’s my first sketch of this morning’s fish market…

line and wash sketch of a fish market

In Tagore’s নৌকাডুবি (Nouka Dubi), Ramesh Kabiraj, while having a meal is so ecstatic to find the head of a Rohu fish on his plate that he takes it tenderly in his hand and says, “This is the head of the Rohu fish! This is not a dream, neither an illusion or a delusion, but the real head of a fish — truly, the crown of the Rohu fish.” Here’s my second sketch of the fish market….

line and wash watercolour sketch of a fish market




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Days long gone…

Even a few decades ago, the Bengalis had no hopes of owning houses and cars. The only resource they owned had been a few abjectly poor fathers-elder brothers-uncles, who knew how to keep their spine erect and how to apply that weapon-of-all-weapons — the ability to say NO. The only pomp and splendour in their life was their sense of self-respect.

Those Bengalis are no more. The only heirloom they handed over to us — namely, a sense of dignity — is almost extinct now (in an environment of overwhelming worldly prosperity compared to those earlier times)….

sketch of a dhoti-clad bengali walking the streets of old Kolkata (Calcutta)

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