marcel barang

Chronicle of a flood foretold – Day Six

In English, Reading matters on 01/11/2011 at 10:54 am

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8:45am: 14cm. The cocks are back to crowing normally – well, almost: too much still. Perhaps they have made a deal with FROC or Mother Ganga.
I’ve never paid much attention to what’s going on in the large compound at the back of my house – half naked terrain vague, half ersatz hamlet of tin roofs under leafy trees. When three weeks ago the people there built, right in front of my windows, a huge shed of well-aligned corrugated iron sheets, back wall of green plastic mesh, and permanent kitchen unit to one side with attendant facilities for the washing, I assumed it was to shelter those expensive cars some of these paupers seem to enjoy.
Perhaps it was at first.
Now, the three cars and one van that I can see have been left to rust in the field, and this shed shelters a dozen huge cupolas made of bamboo perched on stilts and beams – hens inside, one rooster on top of each dome. From the racket issuing from across the compound in one of the inhabited corners, I guess there is a similar poultry palace there too; nothing too good for our feathered friends. At least there should be a steady production of eggs.

I venture again this morning into the mid-thigh-high muddy mess outside, initially to talk to Karoon, but there’s no sign of life there, they must have barricaded themselves in one of the upper floors; then I proceed round the corner to the next lane. From a mama fists on hips on her doorstep (this part is simple brick-and-wood houses with ground floor below street level) I learn that there’s cooked and raw food for sale behind the wat. Indeed, a middle-aged woman and her young daughter are coming back from there loaded with plenty of stuff in plastic bags – grain rice, long beans, pork kebabs, a couple of bottles of water… What about prices? ‘Well, fifteen baht for a bag of ice cubes’ is the resigned answer. Since I’ve ventured out cashless in my briefs and am in no immediate need, I slosh back to headquarters. Time for a shower.

10:40am: 22.5cm.

1pm: 34cm.
It turns out Karoon and his wife have evacuated to her place of work, Siriraj Hospital, which is ‘dry and cool, thank you, why don’t you join us? Stand at the entrance to the lane: there’s a Navy canoe going up and down the soi (street) all the time; you can come all the way by boat to Siriraj, one way, no sweat’. And what would I do there, pray?
An enterprising fellow has just waded through the cul-de-sac shouting out, ‘Lunch anyone?’ Now comes another one, offering ‘Lotteuree eui lotteuree!’ I kid you not. I’ll be expecting pizza delivery next.
My daughter calls (the phone actually rings): she’s fine at the office and already overworked. No, she hasn’t opened her mailbox and knows nothing about dad’s video.
Jadet Kamjorndet wires me from the South that the SEA Write ceremony at the Oriental has been postponed from Nov 6 to … February next year. Tut! The three suits he says he bought for the occasion will be out of fashion by then.
Nai Siriworn must have drowned in either water, work or women: he isn’t answering emails. Neither are three other writers I need to hear from.
In between this blog’s entries and domestic chores, I’ve been reading in back issues of Chor Karrakeit 49 and 50 those long short stories I had set aside for later. So far, no gem.

5pm: 35.5cm.

6pm: 35.5cm.

7pm: 35.5cm.

8pm: 36cm.

8:40pm: 37cm.

10:20pm: 41cm. This is out of pattern: the high tide was around 7pm. It means only one thing: massive amounts of water are reaching us through the engorged canals on the Thon Buri side of the river most of which, instead of running straight to the sea, are parallel to the coast and all of which are said to be fairly inefficient for drainage.
If the water level here keeps rising for another couple of hours, I’ll have to go down and wade through the muck for the fifth time today to unplug the hotplate. Given that each time I have to wash my feet and anoint them as if I were a living god, I’m not really looking forward to the prospect.
Watching the news on Thai TV tonight (I still have the old set and its grandiose choice of six channels), the gist of it is that those ‘safe’ inner districts of Bangkok are being flooded dramatically (meaning copiously and fast) one after the other – and the volume of water diverted to the east is much lower than the one diverted to the west, that is the Thon Buri side, that is the red-zoned Bang Phlat district where I live.
So this looks like Round Two. Seng, khrapphom!

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