Chicken and Fish (or Prawns)
The conversation is entirely in Thai but so is the food, and man is it good! I am watching 'A' nibbling on the long scrawny thigh of a fried Thailand chicken as she talks - about work I presume, she is very focussed. Even the drumsticks look foreign, not like they're from some growth-hormone, antibiotic engorged monster baby chook that never saw the light of day and went straight to KFC, but rather from some barnyard scooter strangled by a toothless grandmother in a fit of pique. I dream, the chicken-yards here are horrible.
I am overeating again, but I haven't had more than a small plate of rice and larb since yesterday, not counting this morning's meagre airplane breakfast, a "chicken breadroll" at 7 am... The sun rose at 6am; I watched it from the Don Mueang domestic terminal. An early start if ever there was one...
It is getting ready to set now. We are in a very pretty restaurant in the Airforce Club, just across from the Chiang Mai Airport. There is ice in my beer, a tropical necessity that no longer fazes me. A second jug arrives. We have before us deep-fried serpent-head fish (again!- this grumpy looking, bone-headed [no relation!] fish has been done this time with squid, fishballs and prawns in its tangy basil sauce), a banana-flower salad (with prawns), tom yung goong (prawns), the fried chicken, northern Thai sausages with a mashed chili dip, and ... prawns. No, not prawns, I mean that long stranded vegetable that no doubt I'll recognize again later, if you get my drift...
Phew! So much! I have to go for a stretch by the picturesque lake - more a noisome, fetid swamp - and I find myself fascinated by a small lateral-lying fish moving around, jerking. Not a serpent-head. Is it in its death throes?, I wonder. Finally I realise it is well and truly past-it, rotting in fact, and merely being animated invisibly from below by the snaps of its cannibalistic underwater siblings...
Meaning? Symbol? Metaphor? Nah, none where none intended. Just an observation. Local color.
30 mins before the flight is due to depart and we are still at the restaurant... I better finish that beer first...
Mai pen rai!
But Jesus Underwater Christ I need sleep. The flight out of Chiang Mai was delayed 20 mins so we had time up our sleeve at the restaurant after all. But the plane went to the new shiteful Suvarnabhumi Ariport [the fucking travellators were going in the other direction as we walked maybe 400 metres to the baggage collection, I kid you not] instead of the 3rd-world-but-functional Don Mueang terminal where my driver had parked her car! We had to get separate taxis, she to the other airport, me merely to mid-town.
I've put in two 18 hours days now. The Jinglish translation went in on time just before midnight last night. 9,500 words. I suspected and now have had it confirmed that the deadline was more the test than was the actual translation. After warning them that it was merely a rough first draft and not true 'marketing spin' English [a post to explain to you the trials of editing technical Jinglish must be done soon! - E@L] an email that arrived this afternoon asks if I could spend a few weeks making the translation as good as I possibly can... A few weeks! Now I'll never get it done!!
And it's fucking half-past 11 again! A 7am pickup again, after the 5am one this morning... Shheeeee-ite!
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
"You're looking quite well, Old Nehamkin"
Ah serpent-head fish and that long stranded vegetable all living peacefully in some DDT choked pond by the side of a road somewhere until E@L and his pals get hungry. Bon appetit.
I'm off Asian cuisine until they execute a few more health officials.
You look so adorable!
Sav: I'm thinking Woody, I'm thinking Allen, I'm thinking Love, I'm thinking Death...
(Countess Alexandrovna: You are the greatest lover I've ever had.
Boris: Well, I practice a lot when I'm alone.)
Dick: Chinese health officials, line 'em up! - start with the guy who put all the SARS patients into taxis and ambos and drove them around Beijing when the WHO came calling... Then get the guy who put cardboard in the char sui bao... Then the one who made soy sauce out of human hair...
The veg wasn't Morning Glory, but something similar, or 'same same' as we say here.
VPS: you had your chance in Sydney to have you way... no point in flirting now! Oh, OK, go ahead and flirt!
That would NEVER happen in Thailand right? Not getting at you mate but all that toxic toothpaste etc. is making me very angry. Or maybe it's the heat.
Dick: No offense taken... (why would you think this is getting at me?) I've always maintained that the 'success' of China is a house of cards on SO MANY levels... The Olympics, what a joke (and have been been for nigh on a century)!
And my head is certainly not in the clouds when it comes to Thailand (also a shitehole, when it comes down to it, no question.) What is it with the tropics - nice beaches yet bad governance?
Where is it safe for a RASA (rich anglo-saxon atheist) to retire is the all-pervasive question????
Any ideas? You'd be the man for that, leh?
"too easy, drill sargent"
small movie, but a good line..anyway..yes, you got it...love & death...
re china...i'm picturing the breakup into city states and the return of ming, the emperor...or maybe i'm just over-medicated...
"Where is it safe for a RASA (rich anglo-saxon atheist) to retire is the all-pervasive question????"
Hmmm...I think if I knew I'd keep it to myself. And I'm not sure anywhere is safe. There sure are a lot of us lovely people on the planet.
Tangiers? Is that one of those coincidences again or have you been reading my blog? I resurrected my Burroughs party piece but it's still not right. I'm trying to incorporate it into something larger.
Sav: it would be a pity for China, having survived the tragic hermetical Mao years, to succumb to the farcical tragedy of hyper-consumerism.
Dick: of course I read your blog! I was looking for the references to Joe and Kenneth ("The Hammer" Halliwell) and Kenneth ("Oooh you are awful" Williams): did I miss them?
Bowles' "The Sheltering Sky" is not the greatest advertisement for the free and easy expat life, what?
One day somebody will acknowledge the huge debt Western literature owes to little Arab arseholes.
great article in the iht about china and pakistan...makes me wonder if we'll get a chinese writer to document the rise of the new colonialists. aka graham greene
couldn't find it Sav, do you have a link?