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Friday, June 26, 2009

Found in iPhone Notes Section (Now Synchable!)

In The Sphere of E@L

Female worker on the construction of a building on the hospital grounds. Mixing a trough of grey mortar with a long handled hoe-like tool, she pauses to take an edge of the red scarf wrapped from under her work helmet around her neck and face to mop the sweat from her brow as she follows me walk past. Our eyes meet and after a long, bored, completely unembarrassed look she turns back to her work. The other builders, all women strangely enough, are watching me as well and their work efforts seem to slow down... as if my passing body has brought a focal disturbance to the passage of time in their universe. People waiting on the wooden benches along the corridor also have their eyes upon me. Is it me being a farang? Or is it me being a FAT farang. Small children stop their shenanigans around mothers and grandmothers to look up, quiet, awed. A silence and slowness follow me in a sphere of visual influence. I am always aware of this but after 10 years or more it only makes me smile.

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The Flying Vegetables Of Phitsanoluk

(I didn't get to experience this directly, only as a pillar of steam and smoke rising above a small cooking station, sort of portable restaurant, across the river, accompanied by the echo of an exultant cry, in the twilight, during my birthday celebrations.)

Here in Phitsanoluk they have a traditional 'flying vegetables' dish that grants good luck to those who fork out the extra cash to invest in this interesting local culinary ritual.

They make what they call 'pak bung loi fa' out of the vegetable you might know as the ubiquitous 'morning glory', cooked with oyster, soy and nam pla sauces. It is stir-fried for a while then the whole bunch is tossed into the air as all attending cry out "yay" or the equivalent in Thai, and the waiter tries to catch as much of it on the hastily interposed serving plate as he or she can. This gravitational delivery gives the food the appearance, to a person appropriately myopic, of falling from the sky, and being therefore, in the suspended disbelief of these auspiciously predisposed locals, a gift directly from the gods.

The gods of course reside above us, in the heavens, cooking cheap garden clippings.

The normal non-aerial version of this otherwise common dish would be 20-30 baht, but the flying vegetable presentation is metamorphosed in the air to a propitious feast worthy of ten times that sum. Value added. The same dish, if it was accidentally dropped on to the floor during cooking, would not be transformed by gravity in the same way, one assumes, and might not cost so much.

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[While I was tapping these notes out between today's two demonstrations, the team was negotiating with the surgeon. Sale! A range of machines, total deal 6 million Baht, about S$250,000. A nice mornings work!]

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Two Waters

A drinks trolley is placed by the end of the table. Six men drinking 100 Pipers whiskey on ice. The waitress in a beer-labelled uniform (one of four different waitresses and beers) pours a shot of whiskey, tops up the tall glasses by pouring water AND soda-water in from two bottles at the same time. Then stirs. Some men have ordered her brand of beer. The bill is generated from the number of empties on the bottom shelf.

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Cannot have the fried fish with spicy sauce and herbs. Not heb. What do you recommend? Turns page, turns page. This one. What is it? Fish... fried... with herbs and spice sauce. Silence. Straight faces. No-one but E@L gets the irony. Goddamn, he says, let's have that one instead.



Bats skittering across the river surface for the twilight insects. No-one else at the table can speak proper English. Again. I keep smiling; it's my job. Should I learn more Thai? Or more Japanese? Or more Chinese? Kena one Singlish, lor...

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Green vegetable squares in gaeng som soup is a type of acacia leaf, cha om, made into an omelet and cut up.



Yummy. Rough Northern "jungle curry" flavour and texture to the soup.

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Just because we have no religion doesn't mean we have to have no morals. That's merely coincidence.

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That the universe was created for you? Man that's some hefty shit you have to live up to.


[etc, etc...]

E@L

2 comments:

scott said...

I think they find they overweight foreigner a novelty, and perhaps wonder if you are wealthy.

I suggest learning more Chinese. Purely that it would reinforce my decision to take Mandarin as my own 2nd language. After all how better to know I am right, than by others making the same choices?

expat@large said...

Scott: the avowed wish of all marriageable age women in these parts of Thailand is for a farang husband. I guess they are "weighing up" my suitability. Rich ^ getting crushed, rich ^ getting crushed...

So, the wisdom of crowds is it?

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