Underwhelmed and overwhelmed at Kochi’s Chinese Fishing Nets

At first glance India’s most photographed fishing nets were as underwhelming as I was worried they might be. I could see that they’re a wonderful set of engineering ingenuity, lots of planks and poles all lashed together, using lots of weights, pivots, pulleys, and above all else, people. But still I was underwhelmed.

Facing north on the island with the sunset to the west through the line of the nets they’re a photographer’s dream, and the stereotypical sunset shot has been adorning my computer at work for 6 months. Virtually every TV documentary which features Kochi, Kerala or its backwaters will at some point probably show the fishing nets.

I remembering feeling underwhelmed when I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time. Saturated with seeing too many images beforehand, being there just didn’t feel like a new or great experience.

All this changed last night.

As Kochi’s clouds thinned for a while and with the sun coming through a little I readied my camera bag and headed for the nets, barely 200 yards from our hotel. I stood with many others on the walkway near the nets and took some photos, still underwhelmed.

It was low tide, the water lapped at the end of the poles supporting the nets, rendering them unusable. Many fishermen were underneath the huge nets hand casting circular nets in the hope of catching something small. So I made my way through on to the beach, through the junk and seaweed, past the dogs and fishing boats, dodging the ropes controlling the nets.

Eventually I found myself at the water’s edge, underneath the massive nets, and started appreciating the nets a lot more already. I took some photos, then some more, and some more still. I stared at the sheer size of the nets in contrast to those used by the fishermen.

I looked at my watch; I’d been there by myself, taking photos, for almost an hour.

I had fallen in love with the Chinese Fishing Nets of Kochi.
They really are magnificent.

And here’s a little video:

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