Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fishing Downtown

One of the most fun and vibrant places in Athens is downtown along Athinas street, the part of town many Athenians will tell you is the bad part of town. This area is poor and almost exclusively occupied by immigrants from all over the world, which is what makes it so interesting. I for one feel most comfortable here. I can lose myself in my thoughts, dipping in and out of the mysterious little shops like Elixir, a herb shop that looks like a witch’s pantry.

This Saturday I was showing a friend around Athinas street when we came across a tropical fish shop. I love aquariums and love to watch the fish swimming around in pet shops, admiring their beauty and knowing that someone else has to clean their stinky tanks when the time comes.

Something caught my eye as we walked in. It was rows upon rows of clear plastic cups on the tops of the two largest aquariums. In each cup was about two inches of water. In each of these small cups was a Japanese fighter fish.

These fish are some of the most beautiful fish in the world, but they will attack anything else put in a tank with them. The plastic cups were a clumsy attempt at getting around this. I’m not much of an animal lover, but I’d have preferred to see a fish like this with it’s lovely tail fanned out, not sitting at the bottom of a cup with no room to move.

We had a fish bowl at home so I asked the Pet Shop Boy (PSB) the price.

Me: How much are these?
PSB: €4.50
Me; Forty euros? (In the UK, these fish never go for less than £9, so forty didn’t seem crazy)
PSB: No, €4.50
Me: Really?! That’s so cheap

I tried to call Mr Zeus to okay the plan with him, but when he didn’t answer I went ahead and selected a deep blue fish with shots of red and took his little cup to the counter. Our conversation continued with my poor Greek.

Me: If I buy him he’s not going to die tomorrow, right?
PSB: (Looking shocked) You want to wait till tomorrow to put him in a tank?
Me: No, I mean will he live?
PSB: (Looking comically offended) Ma ti les my girl, do I look like I’d sell you a fish that would die?
Me: Are they easy to care of?
PSB: Ofcooourse, no problem at all.

I left my fish on the counter and tried to find some white gravel to put at the bottom of the tank to show of his lovely colours.

PSB: Do you need help?
Me: Have you got any of this (pointing since I don’t know the word for gravel in Greek) in white?
PSB: No but look at this stuff in black. (says something which I mishear)
Me: Okay, in how much time?
PSB: What do you mean how much time?
Me: In how much time does the black one turn white?
PSB: It doesn’t turn white!
Me: Sorry that’s what I heard. I’ll take some of that one there, that looks white. My bowl is this big (indicate with hands)
PSB: I’ll measure you a kilo
Me: What do they eat by the way?
PSB: Bloodworms
Me: (Imaging live bloodworms and looking like “come on now, where the hell am I supposed to find those”)
PSB: Don’t look at me like that! That’s what they eat!
Me: And where am I supposed to find those.

Pet Shop Boy got me a bottle of dried bloodworms which answered the question and a liquid that take the chlorine out of water so that I could put him straight into a bowl. With the fish, food, gravel and this liquid, my bill was €10.

I have to say, this conversation with Pet Shop Boy was the most fun I’ve had speaking Greek. He called upon his rusty English when I really didn’t understand what he was talking about, and I blundered along with my rusty Greek as he instructed me on what to do when I got home. By the time we were done we were both laughing.

My fish is now settled and free to swim around his little bowl. Look at his picture, isn’t he beautiful?

If you too would like to go save a Japanese fighter fish from a little plastic cup, here is where to go:

Aqua Planet
Athinas 59
210 522 3121

You won’t regret it!


deviousdiva said...

He's gorgeous. I'm not very good with fish so I won't get one but you did make me feel very tempted for a while!

betabug said...

Did you name him "Samurai" or something like that? :-)

bollybutton said...

Hi name is Kenji Sakana. It means wise second son, since our dog died. I believe Sakana is japanese for fish.

AL said...

Aww.. lovely idea! I would so do it too but we just got some fish a few months back, ... anyway, enjoy your fishy!

Hope said...

What a wonderful thing you did, Bollybutton! I would go right down there and pick one up myself but I am not fish person at all!

And what a great name too!

bollybutton said...

I got him a fake plant today because I read up on his species and they like hiding in plants. He's pissed off though, keeps taking his flared up fighting position when he passes the plant.

By the way, I found out these fish can co-exist with other fishes. Just not other japanese fighting fish or any fish that resembles them like guppies. And neon tetras bite THEM, so that's a no no too. Other than that, they'll play happy neighbours.

Blackbird said...

I used to have a fighting fish! But it cost me 50 cents so 4,50 (let 9 pounds!) is still pricey for me, haha. They're gorgeous, aren't they?

This was a wonderful little story - I think it's definitely one that you'll look back on fondly because it really shows you becoming more settled in your new life!