Landing a ‘big fish’

When YouTuber Sebin Cyriac got a call from Rahul Gandhi’s office last week confirming that he has been chosen to accompany the Gandhi scion on a deep-sea fishing trip during his Kerala visit, Cyriac was surprised.

Though Gandhi’s office had informed him about such a trip a couple of times, it somehow did not happen due to various reasons. But this time around, he was told to get ready along with his crew for the trip and reach Kollam by 4am on February 24.

Sebin Cyriac with Rahul Gandhi. Sebin said Rahul told him he was a divemaster and supervised scuba diving while at college.

The 29-year-old Kottayam native is a renowned vlogger whose YouTube vlog Fishing Freaks has amassed 1.6 million loyal subscribers in over two years.

Sebin said Rahul’s office picked him after noticing his video blogs. “My proficiency in English and translation skills also turned handy,” said Sebin who was earlier teaching at an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) centre in Kottayam. “They were looking for an anchor who knows about fishing and also a good translator to act as a bridge between Rahul and the fishermen,” he said.

Sebin, who holds a postgraduate degree in Electronics, has been travelling widely and making YouTube vlogs on fishing but this trip was his first off-shore sea fishing experience. Sebin was asked to reach Vadi harbour in Kollam where he was supposed to meet Rahul at day-break. The fishermen were not to be informed in advance about the VIP who will be accompanying them for the day’s fishing.

Sebin reached Vadi the previous night and met the fishermen on whose boats the trip was arranged. “Since I have been making videos on fishing and posting them on YouTube most of them knew me. I told them that I am going to accompany them to the high seas. I said I wanted to know about their working conditions and the problems they face,” Sebin said.

Surprising Appearance

Rahul arrived at the beach by around 5am and joined Sebin and crew. When he casually stepped out his vehicle there were people still lying asleep in the harbour. Without a fan crowd and police battalion around him, nobody recognized the Gandhi scion, Sebin said. Rahul’s identity was revealed only after he entered the boat. The fishermen were taken by surprise and a collective gasp of excitement rang out in the air.

‘Poondi Mathavu’, the mother boat Rahul was travelling in was accompanied by two assist boats. Along with Biju, one of the owners of the boat, there were 22 fisher folks in the boat. “Rahul said he was going for fishing in the high seas for the first time. He told me he knows swimming. I was surprised when he told me he was a divemaster and supervised scuba diving while at college,” Sebin said.

The Unexpected

The boat had a fish finder (sonar) to locate the fish underwater. As soon as the fishes were spotted, the boat began to reduce its speed. One of the fishers jumped into the sea with one end of the net in his hand. The boat then took a wide, full circle and came to a halt. The net falls up to a depth of 240 feet and it costs around Rs 16 lakh. The fishers need to be careful while dropping the net as it could get damaged if it gets caught around rocks.

A few others too jumped into the sea to hold the net and then unexpectedly, Rahul, who was keenly observing the fishers and asking them questions, decided to take a dip in the waters.

“He took off his mask and plunged into the sea,” said Sebin who shot the moments in his camera. After swimming about for some time he returned to the boat. “He had not brought any spare clothes and stayed wet till he was back at the shore. He patted himself dry using a ‘thorthu’ of one of the fishermen,” said Sebin.

“I had asked him when we set out on our trip whether he wants a life jacket. He refused to wear one saying he was confident about his swimming. When he said he was a divemaster at college I did not know what exactly he meant. Later, I went home and googled,” said Sebin.

“On our way back, he asked me about my YouTube channel, and about fishing in general. He also chatted with the fishermen and asked them about their children,” said Sebin.

Bread And Tuna Curry

Rahul relished the ‘Choora fish (tuna) curry’ and bread prepared by the fishers on the boat. “He had breakfast along with them. He really liked the curry and told them about it,” said Sebin. They returned to the shore after about four hours. By the time they returned, the beach was crowded and swelled with party workers, supporters, and policemen. The trip was a memorable one, but the catch was poor, said Sebin. All they managed to get were one squid and a few mackerels.

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