The monsoon rains touched down a little earlier this year, early June in fact, in Kerala. It’s usually not peak tourist season in this southern state when it rains, but the southwest monsoon always brings with it a sense of tranquillity — especially this year, which saw one of the worst droughts in Kerala in the last 115 years.
The onset of the monsoon brings the biggest cheer and hope to the fishermen who use traditional cast nets on the coast of Cochin. “Fishes like grey mullet, anchovy, barracuda and bluefin travally come close to the shore as the monsoon rains peak. The rainy season is the best time to catch them,” says Ranjith Anjuthaickal, 37, a mason, who also fishes at the Vypin coast in Cochin during the monsoon.
For Judson Antony, 38, a resident of Vypin beach, monsoon is the time to catch the much-loved karimeen or the pearlspot fish. Predominantly a fresh-water fish, the karimeen is found in the backwaters, where it hides between rocky surfaces. In the monsoon, the estuary near the beach turns into a water-logged and temporary backwater, during high tide. As the water level rises, so float up the karimeen — before it finds its way to Malayali kitchens and graces their tables as karimeen pollichathu.
In Cochin, a town surrounded by eight islands, the ferry takes you on an adventure ride as heavy rains kick in. Joseph Mendez, 64, has held the tug of a local ferry from Moolampilly to south Chittoor for over three decades. “People fear the heavy rains as the boat reaches the river centre. But it’s fun for me and for those who are used to the rains. You don’t see such heavy rains every day. This year, I feel it’s going to be big,” he says.