marcel barang

Notes in a time of ebb and flow – 8

In English on 11/11/2011 at 11:27 pm

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Mae Khongkha (Mother Ganga, the goddess of water) must have been cross that few Bangkok citizens were in a mood to pay respect to her last night by floating a krathong on those #&%@! waters. Instead, kids lit bangers and monks did OT, pretty much to the same effect. She played a dirty trick, at least on all of us around here: yesterday the flood was as good as gone, except that it’s back again today. But no: actually, it’s much more prosaic than that: the difference between high and low sea tides is huge, about 3m.
When I woke up around 4am (courtesy of anonymous creatures of the buzzing kind), I saw an opportunity: with a stiff broom, the portable pump Karoon kindly lent me, and that big, handless plastic dustpan, I got rid of most of the black stuff (and smell) in the garage area, and rearranged the wood into a pile as before, only to see the water level rise steadily all day to what it was three days ago. We know that the sea high tides will keep rising until the 27th (from 3.59m to 4.08m), as I keep telling my neighbours, and if this translates into just another 10-15cm here, wel-fucking-come back again, no need to take off your shoes, this is a farang house.
The whole of yesterday was spent cleaning the kitchen, just that; the whole of today, cleaning the front half of the living room, just that; tomorrow, the working space of it, just that, damn those cupboards; on Sunday, the easy stuff: the downstairs bathroom. Now I know why few writers are manual workers.
The upholstered sofa and armchair, beached whales lying on their side on the spotless if pockmarked parquet, will take time to dry out. Once open, the plywood garage side door won’t shut. Whatever is made of plywood as a rule is damaged – someone please tell Ikea.
The backyard is dry, but on the verge of a wet dream. And still not a drop of rain. But I’m now blessed with fresh water. Karoon yesterday came over to resurrect the pump corpse, as he does with conked-out computers. His verdict: ‘Get yourself another one and stick it as high as you can.’
This morning, he first presented me with a big blue plastic water tank and then proceeded to run a hose from his house to mine (underwater, in front of the lair of our common foe, Mr Hot Walls), so that I can stock up on fresh water to clean the house, the dishes and myself.  He claims tap water is safe. ‘I tasted it.’ Beg pardon? A swell fellow, Karoon. Before he went back tonight with his wife to Hotel Calif— sorry: Siriraj Hospital, he went the length of the cul-de-sac in full jarring colours plastic flood-proof gear to distribute to one and all two cellophane-sleeved copies of snapshots he took of each of us in this, the Flood of the Century.

– To enlarge the picture: I’ve stopped watching TV. From one day to the next, the same scenes of invading flood – only the names of districts and sub-districts change. The northern waters are still massively coming south, with little patience for obstacles, aberrant Big Bags or not. The jackasses in charge shunt these waters east and west to avoid the shrinking heart of Bangkok and work the Chao Phraya to maximum flow: hence its utter dependence on sea tides, and my neighbourhood’s predicament. The populist FROC says nine days from now Bangkok will be dry and the pigs will fly; the aristocratic governor of Bangkok, up for reelection next year, takes the longer view with misery written all over his face.

For my money, the most credible expert has proved to be Seri Suparathit, who keeps warning that neither the Bangkok nor the Thon Buri sides have seen the half of it; and, as parliament is in be-suited session to bankroll the powers that be under the guise of sweetening the flood’s bitter aftermath while the rest of us go wading, the best satirist is MP Choowit Kamolwisit.

– Have I answered your question, Jojo?
Christopher, you may have a magnificent and protected view of the river on the 28th floor of your condo, but you’re too close to heaven there to see what’s going on down below. I’ll let you know when the road is navigable and read that novelette [sorry, sir, slip of the pen:] novella of yours in the meantime, in between sessions of Mr Muscle® and Magiclean® frenzy.
Saves me two emails, this. I’m beat.

  1. Yes it does answer my question (and clears out confusion due to misinformation).
    And by the way…thumbs up to Karoon.

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