Oh Fish

A bird came by yesterday. I was in the kitchen cooking, when I heard a splat. Fairly distinct sound as it was, simultaneously I heard the husband’s voice, and then, I saw his face and mouth gaping with surprise. Next I looked at the glass door on our balcony and what do I see but a strange sight. A skeletal bird clinging to the net screen, its long beak open, its eyes focused on Adi, who in the meanwhile had started having visions of Tippi Hedren swamped with attention from a thousand relentless homicidal birds (The Birds). Having asked him to stop the caterwauling, I had a good look at the bird, wondering if it was unwell. Did it need water? I have very little experience of taking care of birds, you see.

The last time I had rescued a baby pigeon was as a English Lit. student in college. I had taken a cab from college with an injured pigeon perched on my shoulder and the poor mite was shivering. By the time I reached home and put it in the library room with a bowl of water and another of grains, it must have been in a state of shock. It being a fledgling thing, had not fed itself as I had expected. When I visited the room in a half hour, expecting it to feel revived, it lay dead. It left me shivering. Haunted by the death of that baby pigeon, I could not go up to my beloved library for days on end.

Naturally, I am averse to repeating such an experience. I might know a little more than my teenage self, but I do not mess with wildlife because I have limited knowhow. So we mulled about what to do, Adi more concerned with getting rid of the “creepy thing” and me mulling on who to call — for, was its claws stuck on the net door? Then I hit up the Net to identify the bird and it turned out to be a Northern Flicker. A woodpecker. Its brown colouration with the bright crescent of vermilion red on the nape made my job easy.

My food, in the meantime, had turned to cinders on the hob, so I had to give it more attention. It took a good half hour before the Flicker unhooked its claws and took flight. If you have more knowledge of bird behaviour, pray shed light on this. I am curious, for it is not everyday you see a bird paste itself to your door and stay put there.

But to come to the title of the post, quite so literally, I have been introduced by Adi to the world of river monsters. Now, I find shows on chasing gigantic tunas monstrously boring, okay? Imagine then my consternation at finding that I am hooked by a white-haired, leathery cheeked British zoologist exploring killer fishes in the far-flung rivers of the world. And he pursues it with the seriousness I accord to the hunt for serial killers in Scandi noir.

A detective of all murky dealings that transpire in the underwater world? I was open-mouthed as I watched him go about his business with single-minded passion. And, I was in splits too. Then to my horror, I realised I was enamoured of this zoologist-underwater detective’s journey as he fishes for killer underwater monsters with teeth like shards that impale intruders and traces changing behaviours of red-bellied and black piranhas in the Amazonian river waters. Maybe now I have seen everything, now that I find myself furiously drawing fish (below is an illustration of the Golden Dorado, a large predatory fish with jaws as powerful as a pitbull’s found in the fresh waters in South America), a person off the rails wondering at the wild transformation in her telly-watching choices. Could it be the singular power of passion paired with the art of good storytelling?




Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

35 thoughts on “Oh Fish

  1. Golden Dorado or a ‘ Smiling Tom’? I really couldn’t tell?! πŸ™‚
    As for your bird visitor, if it wasn’t stuck somehow, it could have been a desperate gest trying to get away from a predator of some kind? Out of sight – our of immediate danger? Stranger things have happened out there in the wilderness . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smiling Tom. Hmm. Some kinda fish?

      Thank you for indulging me and speculating about the Flicker’s strange hello. It does make sense. It could have been taking refuge from some predator out there.

      I doubt not that stranger things have happened out there. πŸ™‚


  2. What a strange story about the woodpecker attaching itself to your screen door! Funny that you’ve become enamored of underwater killer monsters. I love your drawing of the Golden Dorado, although he looks a lot more friendly than a predatory monster with jaws as powerful as a pitbull’s. His coloring is much too beautiful to be so mean! What medium did you use, watercolor? It really is marvelous. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Cathy, thank you. πŸ™‚ The Golden Dorado despite its monstrous fame is such a beauty. To my mind, when fishes open their mouth, they look like they are hapless and grinning. A bit benign if you will (though I bet they feel far from it), unless you have a frontal peep at the likes of a Vampire fish or the Goliath Tigerfish. I used a mix of watercolour pencils and watercolour tubes.

      I think my fascination is due to the power of the storyteller, Jeremy Wade. His passion for the game is simply beautiful. x


      1. That is put in a lovely way. I would not care for intimate encounters however! I appreciate wildlife from a distance.
        Once you try your hand at watercolour pencils, there is no turning back. They give you precision. And I mix it with tubes because I want to get the best of both. xx


  3. The bird would’ve freaked me out thank goodness it freed itself.
    I love the illustration and I believe one of my brothers-in-law loves those programmes about hunting killer fish. Me, I’ll stick with Sir David.
    Have a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merci Sheree. Adi agrees with you, and as for me, I was relieved I did not have to get hands-on with the woodpecker. My record is poor. I love watching DA too. πŸ™‚ Jeremy Wade’s singular devotion to the cause has converted me. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the painting of the Golden Dorado! You’ve certainly captured that look in the eye that fish often have – an inscrutable downward gaze. Glad to hear that the woodpecker was able to free itself. They are remarkable birds – Neek

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Neek, you are most kind. I know there is always scope for improvement and I am working on my watercolouring skills, but the point is that I am enjoying it so much. Thank heavens for the woodpecker freeing itself — and not returning. I like birds but from a distance. πŸ™‚ xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A woodpecker! That’s something. Last week, two toucans and a small eagle visited us as well. Interesting when these things happen. But why hate the tuna-fishing show? Hahaha is it Battlefish in Netflix? I watched the entire show hahahahhaha. But I like that Japanese versions better – less swearing and some calm moments in the show. Battlefish was all adrenaline and drama. Hmm now that I’m talking and thinking about it, maybe I did waste a few nights watching the show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Toucans and eagle sounds rather lovely. I am okay with visits as long as I do not have to get too close to them. That is when it freaks me out — and brings back the baby pigeon experience to the forefront of my mind.

      Nah, it is River Monsters with Jeremy Wade on Amazon Prime. I am not a fan of tuna fishing at all. It is Wade’s travels through the far-flung regions of this earth in search of apex predators which live in the fresh waters that gets me. And he is a great storyteller. xx


  6. Not sure whether to feel jealous or not. We have a lovely green lizard who lives behind the barbecue. Come to think of it, he may well have raised a family there. You’ve probably guessed we don’t use the barbecue πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Small boy is thrilled if he gets to see him.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bird behaviour can indeed be odd. We’ve had a similiar incident and I suspect that the bird might have been temporarily dazed/confused. I’ve gone as far as trying to pour a little water into its beak in hope of β€œreviving” it. I didn’t see it fly off, but it was gone after a few hours. You are a talented artist!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Caroline, I swung by your blog and left a comment (as on other occasions), but I believe I am fodder for the spam folder.

      Thank you for your kind words. I am an amateur but it is bringing back the joy I felt from dabbling in it as a child.

      I am glad your encounter with the bird went fine and hopefully it was revived by the water you thoughtfully poured down its beak. You have a lovely weekend. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I just had a chat with the wordpress folks. They don’t see anything on my side that would prevent you from leaving a comment and your comments aren’t in spam. They see that all was good with your ability to comment in 2019. Not sure what to suggest. Technology!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time. That is odd. I have tried the last few times and the comment just vanishes.

      Yeah I could comment last year. I think I will check with wp on my end. It has happened ever since I changed my hosting platform.πŸ˜‘

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Memory got the better of you – and here we are. To have the best of both worlds, sometimes the worst to balance it out, is not too mean a feat. Don’t you think?

        Zaroor milenge.

        Liked by 1 person

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