Now his day starts at 3am with tea. He then rides his bike to the wholesale fish market in Margao, 40 minutes away, buys fresh fish and starts his rounds of nearby villages to sell it. By 11am, he is done. Most days, he makes Rs 600-700 — enough to pay his bills, but nothing like his seafaring days.
“If I don’t do this, how will I feed my family?” says Fernandes. Across the state, 25,000 other out-of-work seafarers are also coming to terms with their new life. Some have started makeshift chicken stalls and takeaways in local markets, others are trying their luck at river fishing. If there’s a vacancy for a driver’s job, they are the first with their applications.
Fraizer Fernandes has used his experience as a bartender with P&O cruises to start a party and wedding planning business. And he is not alone. “Who knows the nitty-gritty of sanitisation better than a cruise ship worker?” he says.
“A lot of boys want to do something else. They have EMIs to pay and need money for their daily expenses,” says Frank Viegas, president of the Goa Seamen Association of India, adding that they are thinking of providing skill development and entrepreneurship training to members.
But it’s not just the sailors who have had to change course in this crisis. Drug peddlers, who sold to tourists, and the many punters involved in ‘matka’ gambling — a low-stakes lottery with a daily turnover of Rs 10-12 crore — have all ‘reformed’ for now. From selling face masks to washing cars, they are game for any odd job. Some bookies are selling fruit, vegetables and eggs in their old haunts to make ends meet.
“During the lockdown, there was neither money nor drugs. Those who earned through hard work lost their jobs when tourism stopped. It was a difficult time for everyone,” says Dr Ravindra Patil, medical officer at Mapusa district hospital’s Drug Treatment Centre (DTC).
The good times are yet to return but at least one matka punter is pleased with his new ‘clean’ work. “The cops have not harassed me ever since I turned over a new leaf,” he says.
This story is part of a series in association with Facebook. Facebook has no editorial role in this story.