marcel barang

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.

Servez-vous, c’est gratuit

In French, Reading matters on 06/08/2016 at 7:54 pm

Edna_FerberQuand j’étais étudiant en lettres-langues du côté beurré de la Terre, il y a plus d’un demi-siècle, on me disait beaucoup de bien d’une plume américaine, Edna Ferber, qui allait mourir en 1968 à 83 ans et qui est depuis longtemps passée de mode. Ce fut une excellente nouvelliste, auteur de romans et de pièces de théâtre à succès. Un de ses premiers recueils de nouvelles, au titre délicieux qui résume bien son style, Buttered Side Down, paru en 1912, n’a jamais été traduit en français.

Affligé d’oisiveté forcée ces derniers mois, pour entretenir mes neurones j’ai entrepris de remédier à cet oubli impardonnable. Bien m’en a  pris. Car cette mutine chantre des humbles étonne ou fait sourire à tous les détours de phrase. La prose est à croquer, la malice exquise. Comme je ne doute pas que l’édition actuelle dans ses cinquante nuances de craie ait d’autres chattes à fouetter, j’ai décidé de mettre ce joyau de douze perles à la portée de n’importe quel pourceau qui en veut. Servez-vous, c’est gratuit. Suffit de demander à barang arobase mail point com.