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Dried and Dusted



Amid this Pandemic when we all went into lockdown it was a mixed feeling of anxiety, fear and monotony. Being a photographer it was sometimes very frustrating to sit indoors though it was essential for the current condition. After so many months of uncertainty and travel restrictions it was tough to come up with new Photographic Work but I guess destiny was kind enough to give me a chance to document this current series. I visited an adjoining area on a different assignment and in between my scheduled work I took out a couple of hours and visited this place. As I visited I was surprised to see such a huge community working on this livelihood and their families too toiling hard to keep the cycle going.

West Bengal, India-6th Nov 2020. The early morning boat approaches the beach with the fresh sea fishes ready to be unloaded by the fishermen waiting at the shore.

This specific Fishermen community mainly dealing with dried sea fishes. This is a place at the outskirts of Mandarmoni sea beach at Midnapur district of West Bengal about 170 kms from Kolkata city, India.

This particular community starts working from November to up to March each year. The male community goes early in the sea to catch fishes in their boats. Then after returning they tirelessly unloads the fishes from the boats and brings them to the village where there is a huge area of drying process going on. The women of the community mainly indulges in the sorting of the fishes according to their types and shapes and then hang them under the sun to get dried.

West Bengal, India, 6th Nov 2020 – One of the fishermen anchors the boat at the shore amid waves.

After the drying process is complete these fishes are sent to the wholesale markets and from there are transported at different parts of the state and even around different cities of India. The bigger dried fishes are for human consumption and the almost dust type variety are mainly used as animal feeds in poultries, farms and different fisheries. This particular community mainly works around 3 to 4 months on this project site as they stay there in their makeshift houses amid the stinking smell of these dried fishes. After the season gets over they move to any other areas for other kind of works. In Bengali we call these dried fishes as β€œSutki” and to mention they are a very popular Bengali food dish across West Bengal and Bangladesh devoid of their stinking smell.

The whole activities of the community and their dedication towards the work, the vast ongoing project on a particular type of food fascinated me to try to capture the essence of the place and present a dedicated series on them.

West Bengal, India, 6th Nov 2020 – A fisherman carries the fresh sea fishes from the boat and walking towards the village where the drying process is going on
West Bengal, India, 5th Nov 2020 – After unloading the fishes on the beach a man carries them on his shoulders into the village.
West Bengal, India, 5th Nov 2020 – Sea fishes are hung on bamboo shafts to get dried under the sun.
West Bengal, India, 5th Nov 2020 – Two women are sorting the fishes as per their sizes and types.
West Bengal, India, 5th Nov 2020 – Dried fishes are hung along the bamboo sticks while a worker is seen sprinkling water on the other dried fishes laid on ground.
West Bengal, India, 5th Nov 2020 – A little girl of the village over looks the fishes hung for drying.
West Bengal, India, 6th Nov 2020 – A woman worker is seen sorting the fishes and preparing them to be hung on bamboo sticks.
West Bengal, India, 6th Nov 2020 – Two worker were dusting and collecting the smallest variety of dried fishes. This variety is almost like dust they are mainly used in animal farms as cattle feeds.
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Debalina Bhatta

I am Debalina Bhatta and I am from Kolkata, West Bengal India. I am a Documentary and travel Photographer. Documenting the emotions and activities of human life is what attracts me the most. I did my Graduation and Masters in Mass Communication and Journalism from Calcutta University and studied Diploma in Photography from DumDum Fotounit.


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