On first meeting Ali, one was struck by his deep, gentle tone of voice and how he gave considered answers, often accompanied by a laugh. I was lucky enough to share an afternoon at his machaan on Powai Lake recently, and despite there being no fish action, we ‘chewed the fat’ over a number of issues facing anglers in India. As a member of the team responsible for keeping Maharastra State Angling Association alive into the 21st century, he was often to be found at the lake, where he was well known as an expert in catching the elusive catla.
My first meeting was at Bangalore airport, when I flew in to take part in training a number of anglers in the ‘art’ of running angling camps for kids. Over coffee, we quickly got the measure of each other, and the banter began. This was to continue over the next few days as we first looked into how an angling camp should run correctly, to provide a safe learning environment for the kids and coaches alike, and then on into 3 days of coaching itself.
Ali was a great asset to the camps, as he worked through the long days with groups of 5-15-year-old kids and then continued into the night. His tales around the camp fire held the youngsters spellbound, hopefully breeding in them a deep love of the outdoors.
Despite living and working in Mumbai, Ali worked hard to encourage anglers from across the country. As the founder of All India Game Fishing Association, he has built angling from a sport for the privileged few into the mass participation that is spreading day by day. Thousands of newcomers have learnt what they know about angling from direct access to the quiet guy from Mumbai.
Among the other projects he was actively pursuing were steps to stop dynamite angling in remote regions. He also wanted to take more people to his home area of Rae Bareli, in Uttar Pradesh, to show them that mahseer continue to survive in the upper reaches of the Yamuna River. It is my loss that I never managed to accompany him to fish this area, despite a long-held plan to do so. It is a loss to all of us that this kind man is no longer able to spread the word about the positive impacts of angling, helping kids see beyond computer screens to the wider world outside their cities. It is a loss to so many that he will no longer do his good, selfless deeds.
Our thoughts go out to his wife and family.
Steve Lockett – Vice Chair, Mahseer Trust