marcel barang

Notes in a time of ebb and flow – 3

In English, Reading matters on 05/11/2011 at 5:09 pm

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– The Bangkok Post’s Opinion section (seen online) can carry the best and the definitely less so.
Today’s editorial is particularly devious and hypocritical. Entitled ‘Tourists left in the dark’, it’s in fact about the plight of the Thai tourism industry. Under the guise of criticising tourism authorities, it actually peddles their new line: what floods? Oh yes, those floods … Nothing much, really: ‘Koh Samui is totally dry’ – a sentence I actually heard two nights ago in English on Thai TV. (BP editorial: ‘The majority of provinces are dry and so are most tourist resorts.’) ‘…Suvarnabhumi Airport and the capital’s major hotels, along with all of the country’s eastern seaboard and southern provinces are flood-free and ready to welcome festival visitors.’ Yes indeed. The only trouble is that just outside that airport, through which nearly all tourists have to pass, there’s a spot of brown water Gucci shoes and backpackers’ flip-flops alike don’t care for.
On the other hand, the same issue carries a superb article by Kong Rithdee. Khun Kong ‘writes about movies and popular culture’ and is always a pleasure to read. His ‘Hang in there, sing along’ piece is one of his best ever. For those of you who thrive on Thai realities, folk wisdom and turns of phrase, this is a feast. Yes, indeed, let’s hang in there and sing along.

– Kong Rithdee quotes Paiboon Butrkhan’s lyrics: ‘Girl, you say a big flood is better than a dry spell | I say let the drought come and not the water swell.’ For the life of me, I can’t remember in which novel or short story I translated I first found the same verse, but, although he coquettishly says ‘Please forgive my translation’, I can tell you it’s better than mine, which I don’t think rhymed.

– Bang Phlat at low tide: ‘Mummy, mummy, look: cars have wheels!’

– Today’s 5mn drama: Maeo tok narm! A cat has fallen into the water. Three women to the rescue. The moral is, Thai cats can’t swim.

– Each household is given a big plastic bag holding: a large box of Mama! soup sachets; seven cans of steamed jasmine rice; a plastic bag containing ten twelve cans of sardines in tomato sauce (six spicy, six not), six cans of pickled mustard leaves with chilli and two cans of chilli paste; two plastic bags containing each three granulated chocolate drinks; an M-sized t-shirt; two candles with one Cricket lighter; a vial of mosquito repellent; a Thai Red Cross plastic bag with sundry household medicine and a plastic bag of iodine salt; in a cardboard box, wrapped in foam, a half-litre transparent plastic cylindrical container for liquids; and a black plastic garbage bag. Very thoughtful and very welcome. Treacherously, I give Khun Lee the candles and t-shirt, to add to her collections, along with the box of Mama! soup she asked from me on top of her own household ration.

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