marcel barang

A tale of two friends

In English on 28/03/2017 at 10:34 am

Among the Thai writers I consider my friends, there are two I appreciate especially. One I call Khun Chart, the other Khun Saneh. I’ve translated most of their works. They both live upcountry, the former in Pak Chong, the latter in Phetchaburi. Both are being provided, partly through my good offices, with a French literary agency.
As it happens, on February 24-25, the bosses of that literary agency, Pierre Astier and Laure Pécher, were in town on their way back from China and I was asked to arrange for them and their Langkawi-based local agent, Jérôme Bouchaud, meetings with a few local publishers and authors.
The evening before, over the phone Khun Saneh agreed to take the first bus on the morrow and be in town in late morning to join us in the Khao San Hotel some time past noon. We waited for him way past 2 pm.
He never showed up and hasn’t called since.
When I incidentally mentioned to Khun Chart over the phone that I was about to move to Jomthian, he offered right away to help me move my things. He explained he couldn’t handle packages because of his bad back and thus wouldn’t go all the way to Jomtien with me but he’d come over to my townhouse with a friend driving a van to make sure everything was alright.
He did just that.

Moving to Paradise

In English on 25/03/2017 at 2:57 pm

It’s been a week, but with my daughter’s active complicity and Chart Korbjitti’s most appreciated help, I’ve finally settled down in a new nest. Overnight, my living quarters of a quarter century have shrunk by two-thirds – from the 92 sqm of a Thon Buri townhouse with token land to the 36 sqm of the current one-bedroom flat, a broad expanse still, compared to the 1 sqm of the final stretch.

Books donated, the week-long battle has been fitting too many things brought over to such confined space. I’ve learned to streamline: I really don’t need three dozen shirts or decades-old stacks of bills. Kilos of old paper files (all those articles in Libération, Le Monde diplomatique, South, etc.) have been sold at the price of paper. I’ve shed my past as snakes slough off their skins. I feel better in phakhama.

The mini-universe I now inhabit has all modern amenities, including telephone line for les intimes, large-screen TV with Roku stick and high-speed internet, hence hundreds of TV channels and movies to choose from to kill time and self. Market and supermarket are within walking distance and the seashore is five minutes away on the newly acquired lady’s bicycle parked downstairs.

This seventh-floor flat nestled between silent staircase and lift cage is a pleasant set of space-expanding mirror panels and slabs of coordinated colours and fine grain: snow white, off-white, straw, walnut, tan, maroon. The balcony opens onto a wall of four dozen sets of flats – and twice this much if I lean out – over the eight floors of a twin residential project some fifty yards away, with a slice of sky above to greet the morning sun.

The only annoying thing I found out too late about is the constant noise of the frigging mega-Jacuzzi surrounding that project like a moat, turned on from 9 am to 6 pm with a one-hour reprieve over lunch: it feels like being next to the Niagara Falls. Makes me drowsy, too.

Perhaps only one-tenth of the hundreds of living units around are inhabited, mostly by mujiks, it seems, judging from the occasional Russian exchanges down corridors and around the free-shaped swimming pools. But there are also birds – and few mosquitoes.

My new address:

B3/729 Paradise Park Residence Jomtien, Mu 12, Soi Wat Bun Kanjanaram, Nong Prue, Bang Lamung,  Chon Buri 20150, Thailand.

Email, as before: barang@mail.com. Phone: use my Facebook page (works only when the computer is not snoozing).

Bulan Sastra

In English, Reading matters on 18/09/2016 at 9:45 pm

bulanThat’s the title of a superbly produced and edited anthology of short stories and poems by Thai and Indonesian writers published in three languages by the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC) of the Thai Ministry of Culture. I edited the English section. This 660-page-long trade book is available free of charge upon request to OCAC, whose mission is to distribute it to all manner of public libraries for the promotion of regional literature. Trust me, it’s a great gift.