The Fish House

The Fish House The Fish House The Fish House

The Fish House The Fish House The Fish House

My English teacher in PESJ used to yell at his class and say, “This is not a fish market! Shut up and be quiet!.” I don’t remember his real name but like all other teachers he had a nickname: ‘Charsi’, which, as far as i know, translates to “heroin addict.” He wasn’t a heroin addict. He was a serial smoker and would tell his class to read quietly from the English textbook while he sat at the front of the classroom and smoked one cigarette after the other.

He didn’t like me very much. He was furious at Hussam, Kamran, and I when we neglected to clean our table after having some samosas during a surprise snack-break 10 minutes before the end of the school day. Again, I don’t remember much of the details since this was sometime in 1994 or 1995. The last period of our 7-hour school day was English and 10 minutes before the end of the day we closed our books and started eating samosas. The students in my class had pooled our money together and then, with Charsi’s permission of course, bought samosas from the school canteen for everyone including him. It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing without any real reason behind it.

Samosas are usually deep-fried in oil before they are served and these ones had an over abundance of oil. One of my life rules is to keep at least 4 tissues with me whenever I leave the house but I had already used up the ones I had for the day by that time. Not being able to go to the washroom to get tissues to keep our hands and desk clean, we improvised and used blank paper sheets from our notebooks instead. After we finished eating, we just crumpled up the paper and threw them in the waste basket before leaving for home.

The next morning, Charsi was furiuos. Our school didn’t have assigned seating so he did not know which students had occupied which desk the day before. Once the class started, he asked his favourite students who had sat on that table yesterday, pointing at the one we had eaten on. Hussam, Kamran and I were sitting on a different table now but unfortunately a lot of students remembered that we had occupied the table in question and they pointed towards us three. Damn them! We were told to stand up. We did.. and then faced a very passionate barrage of insults and condemnations from Charsi that lasted for the next 10-15 minutes.

He was angry at us because apparently we had left the table in a very bad condition and the afternoon class’s teacher had complained to the school board which had then questioned Charsi. The oil had leaked through the papers we had used as plates and tissues and it had left the entire tabletop greasy and oily. Whoops. Charsi made us clean the table again in front of him and then yelled at us a bit more, calling our parents’ parenting skills in question among many other things.

The other memory I have of him is my questioning him on his explanation of a sentence that was in our textbook: “Why, there’s gold beneath that rock for whoever finds it.” He explained it as if it were a question instead of an exclamation. “Why is there gold beneath that rock?” instead of “Ah, there is gold beneath that rock!“. The sentence was in a story that we were reading in class and when I heard his explanation, I was convinced he was wrong so I put my hand up. He pointed at me and asked what I wanted. I reluctantly asked if he was sure that is how the sentence should be interpreted because I thought it was a way of talking instead of being an explicit question. He disagreed with me and wasn’t too happy about my questioning his judgement and intelligence in front of the whole class.

He wasn’t a bad teacher. I actually sort of liked him because he didn’t like me. What does this have to do with The Fish House restaurant? Nothing at all. I just thought of Charsi while formatting the pictures.

The Fish House is located on Sheppard Avenue, east of DVP. Lunato and I have walked past it many times since the local Tim Hortons location is just a few steps away. We visited it today and had Halibut and Crab cake. Both dishes were disappointing and pretty expensive as well. We spent almost the same amount of money at Red Lobster in Ottawa a few years ago and were disappointed there too. It’s not that we don’t like seafood, it’s just that we like our way of having seafood. Fish and chips in a fancy way is still just fish and chips decorated in a fancy way. Not worth $25 per dish at all! So, we’ve decided not to have seafood outside from now on. Sushi is still ok though.

By the way, Charsi passed away a few years ago. I heard from some friends that I have kept in touch with over the years that he passed away because of lung cancer. May he rest in peace.

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2 Responses to The Fish House

  1. dodob says:

    I really like this post. Thank you for sharing Charsi’s story.

  2. sikander says:

    Thanks. I found out today that Charsi’s real name was Saleem. We would refer to him as Sir Saleem if we couldn’t say Charsi (you know.. in front of parents / elders)

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