marcel barang

Posts Tagged ‘resignation’

Giving up

In English on 26/01/2015 at 10:14 am

Another Monday morning. Still nothing in the Post. On 8 December I sent Kong Rithdee, deputy editor of the Life section, a copy of my end-of-year anthology: A review of the book in the Post would be highly appreciated. Three days later, Khun Kong answered: I will find a reviewer for the book krub.

Another week and still not a blip from the Ministry of Culture. Sometime in July last year, it was agreed I’d edit the English section of a new, Indonesian-Thai anthology of short stories and poems for OCAC. In the last week of September, while still vacationing in France, I was sent a dozen poems I immediately processed. The translation of one poem had four lines missing. I asked for them. I’m still waiting. Ditto for the short stories. Something to do, I’m told, with the translator suffering from acute sinusitis!

For the whole of 2014, I’ve gone without an income: Sondhi Limthongkul’s largesse has reached its limit and it has taken us the entire year to be certain of it. My total earnings for the year, thanks to two commissions from the Association of Thai Writers and the Ministry of Culture, were of about eleven hundred euros or rather their equivalent in baht at the current rate.

Throughout the year I’ve nonetheless kept on translating and posting one Thai short story every other Friday – all out of my own pocket. I’m sure the two dozen Thai writers concerned will be eternally grateful, but enough of that.

After translating three or four dozen novels and something like a hundred and sixty short stories in two decades, I’ve pretty much dried up the Thai literary pool. That I’ve been able to do this is thanks to Khun Sondhi’s sponsorship. A few new works would be worth translating, but who is going to commission me, even at friendly or civil-service (cheap) rates?

And now, even my end-of-year anthology with its fourteen short stories, which probably will sell ten copies within a year or two (what’s going to happen to the website, hosted and run by Khun Sondhi’s people, hasn’t been discussed), can’t get a timely review in the main local English-language paper.

Serves me right, I reckon.

Driving me barmy (4)

In English on 01/06/2012 at 1:19 pm

Back to the N section, I wait and wait. Some of the officers occasionally greet me, remembering me very well from the week before. They all address me as A-jarn, Professor. One thing and another, I mention to that pretty lady officer with a daring hairdo that on the two stickers on the front partition, out of their eight or nine words in English, there are two glaring errors: ‘PASSPORT RECEPTE’ and ‘dipplomatic’. I’m immediately fussed over and asked for the correct phrasing and then handed over a couple more forms to check their translation and English. Leave us your email address in case we need more help: English specialists that know Thai so well like you can be of great help… Kraphom. We even chat about Thai novels, short stories, the kind of work I do, the boring work they do and so on. What’s taking so long?

When I finally ‘recepte’ my passport with the precious one-year visa, it’s past 2:30pm. I dash over to the re-entry section, the C section. My number has yet to be called. Once I’m through with this (another 1 000 baht), I locate the infamous 90-day section, the A section. This is where all of us foreigners issued with one-year visas must report every ninety days like ordinary criminals. I know that, aware of the insanity of the measure, the powers that be kindly allow us to ‘report’ through the mail instead and I need to find out what this involves.

When I’m provided with the relevant information and surface back into the open, it’s past 3pm and it looks like rain, so I decide Labour will have to wait. I take a taxi back to the office, where more photocopying takes place. The head of Personnel, dear Khun Pheun, is at once delighted she no longer will have to do hard labour every year gathering mountains of documents for the lone farang employee, a little peeved that I didn’t use the latest business batch she sweated so much over and worried about my having to fend for myself in years to come.

The office on Phra Arthit Road is within walking distance of my house: a 600 metres’ walk to the foot of Pinklao Bridge, a ferry ride across the river and then a 1km motorcycle taxi ride to my place.

When I leave the office at 4pm, it’s raining buckets. Luckily, or rather, as it will turn out, unfortunately, I find a taxi and tell the driver to go around the Royal Esplanade (Sanam Luang) to take the Pinklao Bridge and so on. This he does or tries to: there’s a mega traffic jam.

When the rain stops, we are at the level of the Ministry of Defence. The taximeter reads like this: Distance covered: 1.7km; Idling time: 72mn; Fare: 130 baht. (The usual fare from office to home is 60 baht.)

I pay and foot it, amid stalled cars and then against traffic, to … the bottom of Pinklao bridge where I take the ferry. It’s close to 6pm when I reach home.

That night, basking in the glory of that hard-earned visa but almost catatonic, I treat myself to a vintage movie on TV: Octopussy!

The next morning, going through the motions at Labour is like a walk in the park. It will still take a couple of hours before everything is in order, all the moneys are paid (9 200 baht altogether), I’ve gathered all the forms for next year’s round (oh shit! I forgot to do that at Immigration) and for the next hurdle: resigning, one month from now, from the company that employs me.