Ben Kingsley stars in a thriller set on the renowned train that connects Beijing and Moscow. Not quite of the Hercule Poirot crime-classic genre, but there’s suspense aplenty. Wednesday, 9.30pm, Movie Extra.
The Brit comic actor and his chef mate want to open a pub. Be prepared for brewers behaving badly. Thursday, 7.30pm, BBC Knowledge. Susan Kurosawa
WHAT IN THE WORLD
huge bodies and oozing pink secretions that acted like suncream.
But above all, by their sheer size and numbers, it was the elephants that dominated this kingdom.
On our way back to the lodge Albert suggested we cast our lines into the Zambezi at a couple of his favourite spots for tigerfish. Africa’s tigerfish are fierce freshwater carnivores and game fishermen from all around the world come to catch them. They’re known for putting up a fight, although I was told they are bony and don’t make good eating. I grew up fishing in north Queensland but I was no fisherman and neither was Andy. It had been a long time since I had cast a line in the water. What the heck, I thought. We cast our lines behind the boat near the long reeds, reeling in slowly as he instructed us.
‘‘ If you get a bite, reel in fast,’’ Albert said. ‘‘ Then he will fight you.’’ The midday sun burned fiercely down on us, its rays reflecting off the water. The tigers weren’t biting.
‘‘ I’ve had enough,’’ I announced, impatient as always. ‘‘ Just a little longer,’’ Albert insisted. ‘‘ I’ve got one more spot to try.’’
We were almost back at the lodge. I could hear the rapids that rushed past our chalet. With the engine off, Albert let us drift, steering the boat carefully to stay in the deep part of the river. We were drifting fast, the boat bobbing up and down over the rapids as the channel narrowed and the reeds closed in around us.
Suddenly we bobbed past a family of hippos resting on a sandbank in a break in the reeds, just metres away. Too close. I held my breath, knowing that hippos could charge our small boat quickly and with little provocation. They glanced up with piggy eyes as our boat floated past them. Three slow seconds ticked by and we were out of their sight. Splash. In a delayed response about five seconds later they all bombshelled into the river, led by a spooked baby.
Watching the river with expert eyes, Albert said, ‘‘ Just one more here.’’
He took my rod and cast spectacularly out near the reeds where the rapids started. As the bait hit the water, the reel whirred into life.
‘‘ It’s a tiger,’’ he exclaimed, then passed the rod to me. ‘‘ Here, take it.’’
‘‘ Me? No, you,’’ I protested. But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I held on to the rod, held it high and reeled in like a madwoman. The fish dragged on the line, pulling it up river. Every time the fish slowed, I reeled fast. When it was close to the boat it leapt out of the water, a flash of silver and red. ‘‘ It’s big,’’ Andy said, reeling his line in so he would be free to help me. The fish pulled away again, determined to put up a good fight. But by now, so was I.
I reeled and reeled and reeled, arching my back to hold on to the rod, ignoring the sweat and suncream pouring into my eyes.
The silvery form of the tiger was right beside the boat. Alfred leaned over the side with a hand net and scooped up the fighting fish. He deftly pulled the hook out of its mouth and held the fish up with both hands. It was beautiful. Black zebra stripes flanked glistening silver metallic skin along its length. The broad, strong tail flashed a magnificent burning red. ‘‘ You want photo?’’ Albert asked. ‘‘ Quick. Get camera.’’
He was about to hand the heavy, slippery 5kg fish to me, but I insisted that he hold it. Andy snapped a picture of our team effort, with me standing beside a grinning Albert holding a 5kg tigerfish, before Albert let it go back into the river. This is an edited extract from by Tammie Matson (Pan Macmillan Australia, $34.99). Susan Kurosawa’s column is on holiday.
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