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Posts Tagged ‘Bangkok Post’

Yeah, right!

In English, French, Reading matters on 02/02/2015 at 7:28 pm

Reading this morning in the Bangkok Post the review of my anthology 14 Thai short stories – 2014, I realised why it took eight weeks for the paper to come up with one: the editor must have had some trouble finding the right person and, de guerre lasse, must have decided to make do with Pimrapee Thungkasemvathana’s copy.

Ms Pimrapee T may be an excellent cub journalist. I’m not familiar with her writings, but judging from this text, it is quite clear she’ll never be a literary critic as she has no time for real literature, even though she got one thing right: the first and last stories are the best.

She dismisses no fewer than eight of the fourteen stories, to ‘be skipped altogether’ as a waste of her precious time. That this isn’t quite right isn’t just my impression. One friend, after reading her book review, wires back: ‘At last, but is it a balanced review?’ Another: ‘I found the article a bit strange — but let’s hope it helps you sell lots of copies anyway.’ (Yeah, right.) And a third: « Je ne sais pas si c’est moi, mais il m’a paru un peu sec. » You don’t say.

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Ego

In English on 14/09/2013 at 10:39 am

The other day, the leader of the opposition here raised a storm in a D cup but I believe he was Ms-understood.

The Bangkok Post, whose translations of Thai idioms are always spot on if at times leaning on the slum-bum colloquial (remember Thaksin’s huey = ‘it sucks’ about Thai Inter?), had this to say yesterday:

A noisy chorus erupted yesterday in parliament with ruling Pheu Thai MPs and opposition Democrat MPs trading barbs over Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva’s controversial “e-ngo” (dumb bitch) remark, believed to refer to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Of that lady, Mr Abhisit reportedly said ‘that “no one could compete with her” if there was to be an e-ngo (dumb bitch) contest’.

Sorry, folks, this is Thailand. People misheard: Oxford-educated Abhisit was speaking Thai studded with the odd farang word and to be better understood by his Thai audience he used a Thai accent, which doesn’t know GO but only NGO. What he actually said was that no one could compete with her if there was to be an ego contest.

Nothing wrong with that, surely.

For whom the brain tolls

In English on 13/04/2013 at 8:15 pm

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I have a quarrel to pick with Chart Korbjitti: it took him a year to let me know in under two thousand words that he had the good luck of a brain infarction.

I’m so pissed off I’ll make this text public on my bilingual blog, thaifiction.wordpress.com, this coming Friday at 00:01 sharp, local time.

I’ve fired him a mail just now to let him know I won’t talk to him again if the next time he dies he doesn’t inform me forthwith, but that in any case I’m his big brother and his pushing in ahead of me is just not on, never mind that he was head of the line in primary (you’ll understand on Friday). Hang on out there.

The other bad news of this Thai New Year, which is bad news in itself given all that senseless splashing about and all those truly dead and maimed on the roads, is that Saneh Sangsuk’s The White Shadow won’t ‘see the light of day States-side’ as I foolishly hoped the other day. I shouldn’t have told ’m Saneh is keyboard-phobic and thus unlikely to produce much and make ’m rich.

Just to pep myself up, here is a boob, not of the Songkran-drenched variety:

Bangkok Post, Monday April 8 2013: Page One story entitled ‘Enraged locals attack cops, foil casino raid’ has them locals pelt them cops ‘with projectiles and scolding water’ – wow, even the water was irate! It isn’t just a typo, as a few paragraphs down we read: ‘Some sprayed extinguishing agents and threw scolding water at the officers.’ Something to scald a proofreader with.

Sweet Tooth

In English, Reading matters on 04/10/2012 at 8:52 pm

 

On 9/11 this year, the Bangkok Post carried a New York Times article complaining of an impending autumn glut in the States of fresh spoor by ‘a pride of literary lions’, among them Tom Wolfe, Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan, whose Sweet Tooth is to be ‘released in November’. Uh oh?

I was aware that that book had been published in late August in Britain and, before my flight to France on September 6 I did a fruitless round of the local bookshops to find it to read on the plane. At Central Pinklao, in desperation I bought another novel instead, a slim pocketbook by a Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner, 2003 (!), which the cover told me ‘sold 21 million copies worldwide’, wow!

This, by the way, was the occasion for a delightful (and rare) conversation with a young attendant who was well versed in Thai literature, was also eager to perfect his English by reading the best contemporary American and British novelists, and sought my advice. I slighly obliged: start with Norman Mailer, John Updike and Don DeLillo and, across the pond, with Martin Amis and Ian McEwan.

I finally found Sweet Tooth, in its trade version, at the airport, minutes before departure, started it once on board, switched to the other while we flew over Kabul, and finished both over the next few days.

I was delighted by McEwan’s for once ludic legerdemains, ostensibly showing us how tricks of fiction are achieved only to trick us further while performing them.

But I still prefer On Chesil Beach. Atonement, you say? Give me a break: who reads Jane Austen these days?

For the purpose of this entry, I’ve just read on the net half a dozen British press professional critics’ verdicts on Sweet Tooth and the one closest to my appreciation of the novel is by a J.C. Sutcliffe writing in … The Globe & Mail. I’ll direct you to that article, and even more so to her ‘postprandial’ musings in her Slightly Bookist blog, which I’m putting on my reading list.

As for The Kite Runner, it’s a tearjerker all right, well deserving of its millions of readers. Actually a better time-killer on international flights in its grin and grim manipulations and textbook exposure of Afghan shenanigans than that so typically Brit-toff Sweet Tooth, which, sure, can appeal to the mainstream but is so much more enjoyable when you have the bookish baggage to delve deep into its layers of double-entendres, reminiscences and literary winks.

SEA WRONG

In Uncategorized on 28/09/2012 at 4:47 pm

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Yes, I’ve been away. For the first time in more than ten years, I took a real holiday – three weeks in France. The pretext was ushering my daughter into a year of study at Université de Toulouse for a second Master’s, in international business law.

As luck had it, this coincided with the last few days of summer and I didn’t suffer from the cold. But it was raining on departure day, as a portent of things to come there. That and an unusual, unexplained, huge traffic jam: I almost missed the flight.

When I say a ‘real’ holiday, I’m exaggerating a bit: true to form, I had taken that translation of Saneh Sangsuk’s Under a demented sky with me to finish while my daughter was still around to enlighten her dumb father about the more intricate subtleties of the Thai language. I hoped to finish that translation before I went to Paris for a few days in mid-trip, hoping to give it to Saneh’s editor at Le Seuil en mains propres, so to speak, but that wasn’t to be. I finished it nonetheless – and 1) rereading the whole text, I’m astonished as ever by the beauty of Saneh’s prose; and 2) there are still things that need ironing out with the author himself.

Trouble is I can’t seem to be able to get in touch with the damn recluse. His phone number has changed, his editor Wiang told me last night, but the new one is off the hook, and his niece’s rings perpetually busy.

Going back to that trip to France, I had an excellent return flight for once, thanks to that magic sleeping pill that had me forget for most of the journey the craving for a fag. Besides, as my daughter insisted on my ‘repatriating’ one of her suitcases for her and as I’m fed up being routinely robbed of sundry items by airport security, I travelled with no cabin luggage at all – and encumbered myself with only a book bought at Roissy. With everyone else huffing and puffing with bulky cabin bags and packs, what a feeling of freedom this gave me! You should try it sometime.

The book was Grisham’s latest. I read some fifty pages of it before the meal and the pill.

Bangkok at 7 in the morning was an ideal 25oC. No queue to speak of at Immigration. Rather than run the gauntlet of multifarious scams at Arrivals, I went to Departure and caught a cab on the fly. He had his radio on, with some Isan muzak as background to our chat.

At the 8 o’clock news, I was in for a shock, though, when I caught three words: Khon Khrae … Seerai.

From which I deducted that the SEA Write Award had been awarded the day before to Khon Khrae (The Dwarf) by Wiphat Seethong (or Vipas Srithong, as he apparently writes his name). How could that be? I’ve reported here (‘Reading the fine print’) what this book is about and what I think of it. If I had to classify the seven novels of the short list, that one would rank sixth (Saneh’s first and Pichetsak’s last).

Yesterday’s Bangkok Post: ‘…the jury … cited the book’s ability to “present the problem of human relationships and reveal the desolation of a group of people who represent the modern society”. Kon Krae also reflects “the absence of the awareness of humanity, the self-obsession over one’s own problems, and the yearning for human relationship while defining the limitations of that relationship”.

What a load of bull!

I’m glad for the author and for his printer/publisher for the money they’ll make in reprints, since the SEA Write Award label always sells. (Please, Khun Jok, make that paperback a trade book of legible size: it’s bad enough to peddle ersatz stuff without inflicting eye strain on readers.)

But I’ve decided that, if the Bangkok Post asks me, as they have in the past few years, to translate an excerpt of it, I’ll turn them down: I will not dignify with a translation this piece of literary trash.

(Since the author has published poetry of his in English, he can do that himself, no?)

Taratatouille

In English, French on 03/06/2012 at 5:05 pm

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Une fois n’est pas coutume : la programmation de TV5 laisse beaucoup à désirer en semaine et plus encore le samedi soir, où il faut, semble-t-il, du divertissement de mââsse genre Taratata repris de la 2, cette grand’messe commerciale où la grandeur des chanteurs se proclame au nombre de microsillons vendus, et la salle d’ouailles tout entière d’applaudir, allons braves cons ô mateurs, tout le monde aux bacs ; mais, dame, hier soir il s’agissait de Bob Dylan et d’une vingtaine de ses chansons, des immortelles aux trépassées.

L’ennui, disons-le tout de suite, c’est que c’était pas le Bob qui les chantait, mais une kyrielle d’artistes pour la plupart made in France, et on a même eu droit à deux versions jambon-beurre d’Hughes Orfraie Au Frais Auffray, plus je ne sais quelle chanson dans je ne sais quelle langue qu’ils se sont mis à trois (un crépu, un crêpelé et un hirsute) pour l’escagasser. Mais dans l’ensemble ce furent d’honnêtes performances de seconds couteaux. Avec des hauts de forme et des bas pas du tout résille.

Commençons par les hauts. La seule chanteuse qui m’a, comme on dit paraît-il de nos jours, bluffé c’est une certaine Ariane Moffatt, à surtout ne pas regarder mais à entendre : mazette, quel timbre ! et quelle compréhension profonde de ce qu’elle chantait ! Son ‘Don’t think twice’ fut presque mieux que l’original. Mention accessit pour un jeune couple mâle aux prénoms bien français, Patrice et Raphaël, vu la qualité de leur accent et de leur prestation.

En revanche, un certain Kalfon ferait bien de prendre des cours de diction en anglais, ou des cours d’anglais tout court. Quant à l’anglais Bryan Ferry, il devrait apprendre à chanter plutôt que de marmonner dans le micro en minaudant, que ce soit en solo ou avec Carla Bruni : ce duo-là n’est manifestement pas rodé, avec une absence notable de synchro entre eux en amorce de couplets et un accompagnement au piano bastringue qui couvrait en grande partie leur voix : je n’ai pratiquement rien entendu ni compris de cette chanson-là que je connais pourtant fort bien.

Et pour finir sur l’horreur absolue – non, pas les ouistitis qui tapaient sur quoi ? des casseroles ? pour affirmer leur personne alitée mais les hurlements horripilants et les postures loufoques d’une nonne défroquée tondue et timbrée qui, au demeurant, n’a pas massacré une chanson de Dylan mais une par lui jadis chantée, non mais ! Quelle imposture !

Au final – autre expression branchée –, je n’ai pas trop souffert mais j’aurais mieux fait de me fader Bob D, le vrai, sur YouTioub.

Pour me punir, je me suis infligé, presque dans la foulée, On n’est pas couché ni fort en orthographe et, surprise !, j’y ai pris mon pied, grâce au franc-parler d’un patineur en Figure libre et d’un dirty old man qui sait tout sur La Société pornographique et m’a enfin tranquillisé sur la longueur de mon pénis.

PS:

This morning, the Bangkok Post has a mega scoop on page 3: ‘King to open Rama XIII site’. For those unfamiliar with Thai royalty, the current king is Rama IX. His short-lived predecessor (and elder brother) was, you guessed it, Rama VIII. Ah, those pesky Roman numerals…

Journal (2)

In English, Reading matters on 24/04/2012 at 1:49 am

Let me explain: dark clouds have gathered over my professional horizon. It looks like I might soon no longer be my own boss and have to swap freewheeling literary translation for much less appealing work or else… How soon? End of month probably when the Manager Group cookie crumbles.

Unfortunately, someone with a sense of humour – or is it a touch of sadism? – at the Thai ministry of Culture had asked me and I had agreed to check and edit the translation of a Thai novel by a Thai professor I had panned in a previous posting (5 Jun 2011) and who, incidentally, had then the cheek to ask me to take that posting off my blog.

That novel is Plai Na Fa Khiao, Grey Sky at Plaina according to her, Stormy skies over Plai Na according to me.

She sent me her translation just before the Songkran holiday and it has been forced labour ever since. Almost every sentence has to be corrected, either for its Thaiglish or for not doing justice to the original: literary subtleties are apparently not the honourable professor of translation’s forte.

The text in my format runs to 112 A-4-sized pages. I started, as I always do, at word 1.

After two full days of toil, I found I had progressed only to page 7 and realised I had made a mistake: I was substituting my translation to hers. She might well resent that. So I decided to go through her text highlighting what I found clunky or implausible. That took another two and a half days. At that point, I sent her the fruits of my labour, to test the waters. Her answer was that – ‘Please don’t be irritated’ – her title was fine and my transliteration system all wrong.

Since then, I’ve forged ahead regardless, from noon to dead of night, at a snail’s pace. Colouring in blue the passages that read well but are mere summaries without the bells and whistles (let’s make them roadside casualties), I’m still on page 47 and on my knees, my neurons frazzled – that’s why I’m writing this: as a restorative exercise.

To be truthful, there have been diversions: this morning, the brushing up of Gavroche’s May editorial even before I brushed my teeth.
Three nights ago, a never-again venture to Siam Square (heat, noise, squeeze, weary faces) to the premiere of Asorraphit/Venom, the film derived from Saneh Sangsuk’s immortal tale. The beer-sodden author, touchingly grateful to his talent scout cum translator, insisted on my talking into a mike on stage. I demurred. The film, borrowing also from his next snake slithering work (Jao Karrakeit, Une Histoire vieille comme la pluie in French), was very well produced, barring the laughable rubber snake, a derisive paean to Thai folk culture.
Altogether the ordeal for me lasted four hours and a half from door to door and it was only by close to midnight that I had the leisure of a glass of pastis and a token sandwich. What with the tension of subbing that other novel, I hadn’t slept for the previous two days.

There is more: the odd final touches to two stories previously translated – one tongue-in-cheek by Win Lyovarin, ‘Percolations’, I’ll post next week on my bilingual blog (oh heck, it still needs formatting!), another tongue-in-I’d-rather-not-say-where by incontournable Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa, ‘Made of glass’, I’ll keep for the year-end anthology if I’m still alive and kicking by then.

[Which reminds me: Ezra Erker still hasn’t seen his way into reviewing in the Bangkok Post that 11 Thai short stories – 2011 I sent to him first even before publication as an e-book on thaifiction.com at the end of last year.]

And still more: as I told Saneh (see my daughter’s picture below – she was and actually took me there), his Le Seuil editor is slobbering over my unfortunately too short synopsis of his latest long tale, Diao Dai Tai Fa Khlang (Sous un ciel dément)  and would very much like to see my translation into English before she makes up her mind. Oh my! More travaux forcés.

Back from the brink

In English on 03/03/2012 at 3:39 pm

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Let’s call it prescience. I was aware before leaving for Vientiane that the Thai consulate there would take two days to process my visa request: one day in the morning (8:30–12am) to accept the relevant documents and the next day in the afternoon (1–3pm) to deliver the visa. Afraid there might be a last-minute snafu I banked not on two days’ presence but on three.

And a last-minute snafu there was: on Wednesday morning, arriving at 8:30 and yet number 36 in the early morning queue, I learned that two documents were missing.

It was easy to figure out why: what Immigration had sent the office about the documents required for a ‘three-month non-immigrant visa’ was couched in general terms covering all sorts of beggar’s conditions, and all the documents mentioned there were in my hands that day. Immigration hadn’t provide the office with a separate, complete list of 14 items (as I was handed over at the consulate that morning) and, this being a first, Personnel hadn’t thought of requesting one.

Those missing documents, once I had repaired to the guesthouse a friend had booked for me quite a way away and called the office, were sent me by email within hours and I printed them out. By then it was too late to resubmit my application that day.

I did that the next morning, arriving at 8am and yet number 25 in the queue, surrendered my passport, paid the dues (2,000 baht) and was issued a receipt, the sesame to the next day’s visa. I was immensely relieved, yet still dreaded to think what would have happened had I booked the return flight for that same day.

The rest of my stay in Vientiane I spent mostly at the guesthouse, reading alternately two unsatisfactory novels (one in English: Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence; and one in Thai: Sakhon Pulsuk’s Roiphlae Khong Saiphin (Saiphin’s scar) I’ve yet to finish, and dozing on and off, what with the short nights, the angst, the heat and the indolent pace of Lao life.

For all that, I had three worrying glimpses of this country I first visited in 1974 and last in 1992, and several times in between, every time as a journalist: the amazing number of brand-new cars in the streets; the seemingly high cost of food (a bowl of noodles in the street sells for the equivalent of 60 baht, twice the price in Bangkok – noodles as luxury food?); and the astonishing wealth of at least one member of the politburo.

I’ve seen worse times there, but that stay was definitely spoiled for me come security check at the airport yesterday afternoon.

You guessed it: one more ‘confiscation’.

Of the Cricket lighter I, a smoker, always carry in my breast pocket and of the spare I always take along in my bag in case the first is lost or malfunctions, as happens all too often. In my most forceful Thai I let everyone around know what I thought of that zany piece of kleptomania, but nothing doing: apparently, preventing smokers’ well-known proclivity of starting fires on board (only outbound) flights is a matter of national policy and cultural pride. Before surrendering the second lighter, I made a show of rendering it useless.

The funny part came just after. A few steps away from the checkpoint you enter the departure hall, one side of which has been thoughtfully provided with a glass cage for smokers. Surprisingly, there were five or six falang smoking in there. One of them, a Frenchman it turned out, had a yellow lighter on the tablet by his side. I walked up to him and asked, ‘How come they didn’t pinch yours?’ ‘Oh but they did,’ he answered. ‘I just borrowed it again to light up and promised to return it before we left.’

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Standing in an immigration queue for an hour to take or get off a flight is simply unacceptable by anyone’s standards … Why can’t all the booths be staffed?

I could have signed this part of Less Frequent Traveller’s letter to the editor in today’s Bangkok Post.

Yesterday I stood in line for exactly one hour and two minutes (5:42pm to 6:44pm – after a 400 metres’ walk at full speed from plane to congregation) at Suvarnabhumi’s immigration battlements, manned by half a staff. Of the three queues I could survey, mine was the slowest; the one manned by a woman, the fastest by a good ten minutes. (The constant presence next to my ear of two motor mouths loudly talking turkey, leisure clubs and credit cards in some middle-eastern pidgin didn’t make the waiting any more pleasant.)

This of course came after queuing up at the Thai consulate (less than 15mn) to retrieve my passport with visa and again at the Lao Airlines counter (perhaps 10mn) and then again at the immigration desk (another 10mn or so) – not to mention the couple of hours spent out smoking and in reading at the airport waiting for check-in time.

Flying time between Bangkok and Vientiane is 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the craft and the winds. With the new airport 38km away from here, and the need to get there early and/or beat the traffic, count on four to five hours to emerge at the other end! If this trend keeps on, going by car will be faster – and cheaper.

Altogether I’ve wasted five full days on this visa caper – and only reading some 200 pages of that Thai novel by fits and starts could count as work. And the final bill comes to roughly 460 euros, a full 80 per cent of it spent on the Lao side.

Notes in a time of ebb and flow – 4

In English, French on 06/11/2011 at 1:08 pm

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– To put my plight into perspective, this bird’s eye view of ten days ago (Day One of Chronicle of a flood foretold). Now, two-thirds of the then dry city spread is also under water.

– No food distribution on Sunday? I heard them shout ‘Lunch’s here, folks!’ in the main street beyond the terrain vague by 12:30, but nothing for the side lanes. Fortunately, my daughter valiantly braved the flood this morning to bring me ‘essential’ victuals, including two and a half dozen eggs I hadn’t asked for not to overburden her! Plenty to give some away to needy neighbours. She bought them yesterday at Foodland, the much depleted supermarket on Jaran  Sanitwong Road soon to be flooded. As we talked in the living room, toes in leftover water, a good-sized snakehead fish came visiting the front garden, and a bleak the backyard.

– My main problem for at least the rest of the month is no tap water. Warning to homebuyers: if you’ve set your sights on a house within five hundred yards of a river, make sure the main water tank isn’t underground. Mine is, so it’s now full of unclean water – and the reserve of fresh water from the jar is getting low indeed, so low the bottom is too full of sediments to be drunk safely. I’ve decided to use it for showers, and had my first shampoo session in nearly two weeks. I can’t even pump dirty water into the house pipe network (even dirty water is good for cleaning walls and things): when I switched on the water pump, it didn’t even burp, deader than the bloated toad I found floating under the table first thing this morning.
Riddle: how did it come in? Answer: it jumped, and must have found that no two toads can survive in this muck.
Yesterday afternoon, Karoon, whose water tank is at ground level inside his house, offered to run a plastic pipe all the way from his front tap to my jar. Reluctant to impose on his kindness, I said, ‘Tomorrow morning, at low tide, it’ll be easier.’ Two hours later, as I call him up, I find he and his wife have repaired to ‘the Siriraj Hotel’, as he puts it. But then, he tells me, ‘Take as much water as you want at my front tap. I didn’t lock the gate.’

– Sealing at low tide the evacuation holes in the kitchen and bathroom, I find soon enough that I’ve done a bad job of it. Some water seeps out of both, though the main flow is polite enough to come through the doors – all three of them. It maxes at 11cm around 5:30pm, three hours after high tide at the mouth of the river, over yonder. That’s when the folks on their Ministry of Energy boat come by: a bag of chicken rice and two small bottles of water. No tap water? They favour me with an extra pack of six one-litre bottles.

– It belatedly strikes me that my translation of Jadet Khamjorndet’s short story for the Post, initially scheduled for today along with the do at The Oriental, must have been postponed to February as well. The least of my worries, actually – or, as the French mangle these days, le KD de mes 6 sous.

– At last! A wet dream. Not mine, nor Bangkok’s. The one around which is woven a funny short story in Chor Karrakeit 52: ‘Khong’s gift’ (Khongkhwan Khong Khong), by Phart Pha-sikorn, is about a young man, Khong, who has a wet dream involving his favourite starlet and wakes up to find the wetted, semi-naked corpse of that starlet lying by his side. A titillating whodunit, or rather whattodoaboutit.

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.