One of my happiest childhood memories is the day that I went to a fun fair and won a goldfish. I can still remember the elation I felt when, after around 50 attempts (eye/hand co-ordination has never been my strong point) I eventually managed to throw the hoop and get it to land over the random object a few feet away. I was giddy with excitement as the burly fair man hooked one of the bags containing a goldfish down from the roof of his stand and handed it to me. I held the bag up proudly against the late afternoon sun and peered through the plastic at my fish, my first ever goldfish. I was 9 years old.
Many years have passed since that heady day, and goldfish have swum in, and out of our lives , some of them won at fairs by my talented and less cack-handed offspring but up until now, I have never kept fish in anything grander than a goldfish bowl. Imagine if you will a grown-up woman, a grown-up woman giddy with excitement on taking possession of her first ever aquarium. We are not talking any old fish tank here, oh no my friends, this is a seawater aquarium – a tiny but perfect microcosm of the rich and diverse marine life that surrounds this island of Java. Complete with corals and shells and oh so many new, and beautiful varieties of tropical sea fish.
Indonesians love their fish and all over Jakarta there are shops and markets selling everything you need to set up your own mini ocean. There are even markets that trade all through the night for fish loving insomniacs so should I suddenly have a burning desire to go and buy some more Nemos for our tank at three in the morning, the world is now my lobster.
Irishman’s and my exotic fish come from a shop down the road in Pancoran. The fish and the tank were not expensive compared to what it would have cost us in the UK, but, and here’s the rub, this new aquarium and it’s occupants are high maintenance so we now have to pay a small fortune each month to get the water changed once a week, the tank cleaned, and all the other million and one things needed to keep Nemo and the seahorses happy.
The parrot prawn.