Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Trouble Up Mill

You can't stay in Thailand for too long (or E@L can't) without a tad of tummy trouble. Over the last several weeks in Bangkok, things have been... hand, outspread, waggles ... variable in the lower reaches of E@L's - what shall we call it? - of his GI-tract. Can't say what causes this issue most times, but every few days, sure enough...

And this has consequences, and not only for the housekeeping staff. Too much strain on the venous system in that area can result in... the need for certain medical preparations that might or might not have the letter H in them. We are sure you know the symptoms, so there's no need to elaborate. With such pathological conditions one has to be careful with the grade of sandpaper they provide in the toilets of the cheaper hotels. This hotel is OK (freaking near on Bht500/night, what!). Though certainly not the hospital he was visiting today. A hospital with toilet paper? What were you thinking? Next you'll be expecting soap, or asking for something clean to dry your hands on. Foolish person.

One has to be prepared. So one bring one's own (one's hotel's own) toilet paper and one finds some appropriate moist towelettes, such as one's usual baby-bum cleaners. Something soft, cool and pampering to staunch the flow of blood. Oops, and I promised I wasn't going to go into details.


"Hmm, that pickled vegetable on my boiled pork and rice had a sour taste", E@L thinks. Too late, he had swallowed one small bit before he notices, but he pushes the remainder away as hordes of hospital personal, visitors and patients, some curious, some indifferent, weave around his chair in the heat of the old car-park that is now a clothing and food market, and a restaurant...


After work that night, E@L stands up from the shabu-shabu table. There is still some tofu and a "rugby ball" of minced fish paste left in the soup-pot. Whatever, he thinks, I'm stuffed. And a gurgle of bowel-gas moves across his mid-stomach. Those pickles, he thinks. And as he stands, the rear of his braces (he's wearing braces of late - something to do with the Hip/Waist Ratio and gravity) snags on something and pops. The elastic flies up behind and hits him on the scone. Reaching around he grabs at the dangling band and finds that the leather strap between the two buckles has given away. He holds the end of his braces and sees the torn leather and the single intact buckle. The other one is still on the rear of his trousers. Useless.

He sighs.

He undoes the free buckle at the back and the buckles at the front and stuffs the braces into his bag. His trousers start to slide down, duh. With his bag in one hand he sticks his other hand into a pocket and tries to maintain some vertical force against this clownish behaviour of his trousers. His colleague sort of smiles, in that amused look of embarrassment that Thais have mastered. They move out of the MK restaurant and E@L fells something else going wrong in the internal parts (the GI-tract, remember) of his pants department - "Trouble up mill", he thinks - his bowels give a twinge of cramp and another gurgle.

"I just wann buy some breakfast," says Nit. "For my daughter tomollow." They are in a bakery part of the supermarket area (near the restaurant) on their way out to the car-park. She starts picking up various soft bready things. E@L thinks he is OK, he can last until Nit drops him at the hotel. Putting his bag down while Nit chooses dough, he pulls his trousers up over the lower bulge of his belly and they feel a bit tight there, but no, immediately they slide down a little bit. He can't take his hand out of his pocket or they will fall down. Another gurgle. Is this urgent? sometimes you can't be certain until it's too late.

E@L sees a toilet sign. He'd better go, risk whatever scene from Saw IV is hidden behind the door, just to be on the safe side. In the bag, below where his braces are, he has a toilet roll from his hotel and the sachet of those new moist wipes he had hurriedly bought yesterday at the Boots in Paragon. ("Yes, they OK for heemarrhoys," the Pharmacist had said, as she gave E@L quite a strange look. "What's your problem, lady?" thinks E@L. That fact that she now is aware of his is neither here nor up there.)

He tells Nit that he is off the hawng nam for a minute, just a minute, while she waits in the queue with some things like a small bread-rolls only with saveloys poking out the ends. How can anyone eat something so disgusting? thinks E@L.

'Next Toilet 3rd Floor' says a sign next to the toilet door. The MK restaurant and the bakery are in the basement of Robinsons Department Store, so as one expect, the toilet actually appears clean and tidy. Across from the urinals, there are three cubicles. The larger one on the left, which must be for disabled, is occupied. The one the right has a sign, A4 paper stuck on to the door with two pieces of clear Scotch tape - "Out Of Order" scribbled in English, and "Please Use Toilet on 3 Floor". Disabled, thinks E@L. There is another sign. This one is on the laminate of the partition between the door of the right cubicle and the door to the middle cubicle. This is also a piece of A4 paper. It is stuck on with two pieces of Scotch tape and it also reads "Out Of Order". E@L wonders why they would put two signs up for the one broken toilet.

The door to the middle cubicle is open. The floor is dry. The bowl look clean. The seat-lid is down. There is a flip-lid bucket for crap-soiled toilet paper, but - well, duh! - there is no toilet paper.

E@L kicks the seat-lid up with a shoe-toe and the water in the bowl appears of normal depth and clean. Gurgle... Spasm... Uh-oh! Lucky he didn't wait to get to the hotel... E@L quickly closes and snibs the door as he swings around, put his bag safe on the door-hook, allows his trousers to fall, tugs down his new Marks and Spencer cotton and lycra briefs (they had no shorts, he prefer the shorts) and...


Pain. Discomfort. More pain. Saw V. Sore *. Whew. Teeth-marks.

Most of the damage can be mopped up with his roll of toilet paper, but he needs those moist wipes. He reaches up to his bag on the back of the door, fossicks, and takes out the blue sachet. He hadn't noticed before, but there is a green cartoon alligator on the front of the sachet. Huh? Whatever. He peels back the cover and removes a towelette. Over the obvious odours in the room, comes something else. It's a sweet scent. Playful, young. What is it? He tries to place it. It smells sort of... purple. Bubble-gum. E@L has bubble-gum flavored, he means scented toilet wipes. Sigh. Whatever. They work as well as any...

And no he couldn't taste ... get the full bubble-gum experience.

E@L rises and pulls up his underwear and trousers. He flushes the toilet. Water pours down and everything, ugh, spins around and around. And the "water" level rises and rises... Oh no! E@L quickly drops the lid and, as he struggles to hold up his pants, he takes down his bag, he open the door and tries his escape... and notices two half torn pieces of Scotch tape on the cubicle door.

(No, fortunately, the toilet did not overflow!)


When E@L finds Nit, she is nibbling a piece of her daughter's bread rolls that she has pinched off. She asks if he would prefer to take the sky-Train. Nononono, says E@L. Ok then, would be it OK if she drops E@L off on this side of the road and he climbs up the foot-bridge? Nonononono, says E@L.

E@L is still holding his pants up with one hand in his pocket (it all looks very suspect), he is standing in a bakery, he is wincing with four hundred types of pain, and he is trying to convince Nit to do whatever it takes to get him right to the hotel front door in her car; he doesn't want to walk anywhere, dammit he *can't* walk - his pants will fall down and he'll shit himself, doesn't she understand this?!

Then, I kid you not, E@L gets a txt from Mercer - "I have had an epiphany. The universe is the most elaborate Rube Goldberg machine ever constructed." E@L txts back the abbreviated version of the above debacle. "That's exactly what I mean! That's how the universe operates!" replies Mercer.

Sigh. Don't you hate it when Americans are right? It's so ... unexpected...


1 comment:

Michael McClung said...

"A Rube Goldberg machine is a deliberately over-engineered machine that performs a very simple task in a very complex fashion, usually including a chain reaction." -wikipedia

Step 1: sour pickled vegetable ingested.

Step 99: E@L standing outside his hotel with snapped bracers, anus smelling like bubblegum.

No one expects the Rube Goldberg universe (except me, and now you).

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