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A fish

I bought a fish in the Zhonguancun shopping plaza  – a Siamese fighting fish – with a satchel of food included for 20 RMB – that’s about $3-50. In the shop it was sitting in a bowl of water about half a coffee cup size and I sympathised with its dilemma.  The world is not your oyster I thought with a momentary, bitter philosophical reflection on my own life.  I sawed off the top of a large, clear, plastic mineral water bottle and the fish can now do a bit of swimming. It watches me as I sit here most of the day writing lecture notes and its happiness has clearly improved – if the fish’s happiness is included in the world’s social welfare function then the world is a better place. 

I thought for a while that it was expressing its gratitude to me by swimming excitedly whenever I approached – it had after all gained a 10 fold increase in living space. But I soon realised that it just anticipated food whenever I approached.  Generally however I like this fish – it has the right sort of attitude and never seems to get depressed or to tire of the crappy pellets I feed it.

4 comments to A fish

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by denyse skipper, Denyse Skipper – RSS. Denyse Skipper – RSS said: A fish: I bought a fish in the Zhonguancun shopping plaza  – a Siamese fighting fish – with a satchel of food incl… […]

  • conrad

    You’ll get home soon, and hopefully you can give Mr. Fish to a thoughtful owner.

  • Once in Beijing cafe the large – eating on menu type fish in a tank behind us jumped out of the tank and flopped around on the floor under our table, the waitress squealed and giggled, until the cook rushed out and picked him up and plopped him back in the tank.

  • Peter Forsythe

    Harry, you would enjoy the poem (I think by Li Bo) called “the happiness of the fish”.
    I can send you scan of it with my translation, if you like. Email me at
    Enjoy your blog, which I have just come across via an old ref (2008) at Deltoid, referenced by Deltoid.
    Peter, an Aussie in Hong Kong.

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