Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Malu, Malu. Huge Big Bastards.

Right outside my living room window is a marina of sorts, I guess a mini marina. Though there are no minis in it, just boats. Innit.

It's at right angles to the river Thames, with a little water channel thing with a bridge that goes up and down to let the bigger boats in and out. Please accept my apologies if my choice of advanced nautical and marine terms has left you lagging behind.

One of my main objectives when hunting for a place was to find somewhere that I'd be happy to hang around on my own in. Us divorced types do spend a fair percentage of our time alone so this was important.

RD Towers has been good in this respect and I spend many evenings and weekends happily gazing out of the window at boats, people strolling on the towpath and all manner of riverlife. At other times I practice drumming and take casual breaks and look out of the window at goings on. It's all rather enjoyable.

There are geese, swans, ducks and all manner of other creatures. and there's nesting, swimming, catching food and all sorts of interesting sights to see.

I'm no Amila Salgado though, so don't have the faintest clue what the things are. I can just about taste the difference between duck and goose but spotting it with my eyes is way beyond me. I've been told that the marina, the bit outside my window, is only about three feet deep. It matters little to me, my ability to swim is about as bad in three feet of water as in thirty feet of the stuff. Truth be told, it's not that I'm scared of swimming, it's more that I'm scared of drowning.

On Sunday morning, on what was a boiling hot, let's all stroll by the river day, I woke up, something I do most days. I did some ablutions, then had a poo and stuff as well, and wandered into the sitting room to grab a bit of brekky and, well, sort of do nothing. I opened the windows and looked out at the boats and the water.

As I peered at the water I was astounded to see movement, huge big movement. There were about four or five big black fish swimming around casually, the first time I've ever seen fish in there. I watched them for a while as they did their thing. Their thing consisted mostly of swimming around near the surface, sticking their mouths out of the water at fairly frequent intervals and making an "O" shape. They all looked to be quite good at their thing.

After around ten minutes they seemed to disappear and I assumed they'd exited out into the river. I didn't think too much of it, merely wondering if these things are lurking there all the time and this just happened to be the first time I'd noticed them. I got on with my day.

My 'rents popped round later on and, in conversation, I told my Dad about the fish whilst simultaneously having an argument with my Mum, who was sitting next to him. Anyone who thinks men can't multi task would have been gobsmacked with my ability. I know I was. I even managed to win the argument, not that anyone ever wins an argument with a Sri Lankan mother.

My Dad laughed at me when I told him about the fish, joking that I was like one of those fisherman telling their mate about the one that got away. He evidently thought I was exaggerating and I began to think that I might have been. Perhaps I'd dreamt it or something. I left the matter, chucking it firmly to the back of my mind. Things are quite crowded there at the back of my mind but I was able to squeeze it in, just behind the idea about building an underground system in Colombo and next to that one about discovering Jennifer Aniston living in the flat above me.

Life went on and on Monday I was back at work. I wasn't even thinking about fish, more about meat to be honest. It was another scorcher of a day and I had to pop home for some reason at about lunchtime. I walked into the apartment, paid a cursory glance at the view out of the window and the marina was full, I mean really full, of these big fish.

It was the most amazing sight, like the gathering at Minneriya but the vegetarian version, featuring fish. The marina was teeming with them, too many to count. It looked like a regular garden fish pond with regular size fish that had been put in the teleporter on the USS Enterprise. But there had been a problem and the pond and fish had arrived at the destination about ten times bigger than they should have been.

The fish were all at least a foot in length but the biggest ones were up to about three feet long. I took the pictures to show you, so you wouldn't be like my Dad and accuse me of exaggerating. I saw a bloke who had been walking past and seen them and was ringing friends to tell them about these things. Clearly it was an unusual sight and I could hear him talking in fishermen's terms about thirty pounders and "I wish you could see them", that sort of thing.

I also heard him counting aloud to his mate on the phone as he tried to work out how many there were. He got to twenty four and then gave up. There is a slim chance that it was because he was bad at counting (he looked the type) but in reality it was simply because there were too many.

A few minutes later two fishermen turned up, looking as though they'd been tipped off by someone. They set up, one chap with a rod or line and the other ready with a huge big sturdy looking net to help when the first fellow got a bite. I couldn't hang around for long enough to see if they caught anything.

I remain stunned by the fish. They weren't there when I got home on Monday night and weren't there this morning but I hope they'll return, perhaps aware of their new found fame among the Lankanosphere.

Anyone know what they are though?


Matches Malone said...

not a clue, but i admit i read this post because i thought the title was referring to south indians, who are also reffered to as "mallu's". and sometimes as "big bastards" too.

irrelevant, i know. i apologise.

Magerata said...

That is amazing, they look like some kind of catfish or at least bottom dwellers. Perhaps something to do with heat that drew them out!
Some pointers on winning arguments with Sri Lankan mothers will be really nice, 'cos I never, ever win.

Gallicissa said...

I think this is a Carp species, which belongs to the 'Carp family': Cyprinidae.

Their surfacing behaviour that you have explained is known as basking. They do it during warm weather.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Thanks Amila, I've since found out that carp are common here so that makes sense.