So much water went into wiping away the latest stains of history in some of the main Bangkok thoroughfares yesterday that the previously smoked-up skies are giving it all back – and then some: it’s been raining for hours as I write this, even on this side of the river which has in no way been afflicted by the months-old redshirt tragic lark. The resulting drop in temperature has made it possible to breathe and move or watch TV without leaving puddles of sweat on floors or seats.
When, after days of air-conditioned confinement, I took a look at the back of the house, I noticed that the awnings were gone.
I’m talking of this last-century orchard half colonised over the past ten years or so by simple folks who have clustered into a whole slum-like community raising fighting cocks, lately around a busy furniture-making factory which democratically regales us neighbours with fretsaw rhapsodies at all hours. The other half of the compound is a terrain vague, where these folks daily burn their garbage to make sure we all get cancer as soon as poss. Two or three months ago, a rough levelling of the ground turned it into some sort of a parking area with tree stumps. Police cars, and a few vans servicing the factory, were to be seen there; later, three-wheelers and a few taxis.
In mid-April, as the bloodied redshirts shifted from Bangkok’s Champs-Elysées to slum it instead in its glitzy district, things began to happen at the back of my house. A bulldozer levelled the ground for good over the course of three noisy days of dust. This done, one side of the terrain saw the setting up of three long green-white striped awnings in a row that looked suspiciously like those that had been lining the previous redshirt redoubt. Under them were stocked large square piles of I don’t know what wrapped in black vinyl sheets. An awning facing the street had a stencilled notice to the effect that ‘Chang Daeng makes awnings for hire, 081-xxx’.
Chang Daeng is the unsavoury Khong Tharn community chief round the corner readers of this blog know well (‘When the penny dropped’).
A few days ago, the redshirt meeting across the river turned sour and arsonists had a field day barbecuing the city.
And guess what? Those long awnings are gone. It wasn’t me, sir, I swear.
I don’t know whether Chang Daeng is a redshirt sympathiser as his name, Red Craftsman, would imply or simply an opportunistic dealer (both, I reckon), but what I know is that this compound only two years ago was, like much of the working and lower-to-middle middle class in the neighbourhood, consistently dressed in yellow and listened to ASTV.