The Terrible Retreat of the winter of 2009

20 12 2009

I. What metaphor can I conjure up Dear World that would encapsulate the rout from my mountain lair other than the desperate stumbling defeat of Napoleon’s army at Moscow leaving  equipment, cannons, starving horses severed limbs and wounded comrades to the savage rage of the Russian army and winter as described so vividly in Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I cannot describe what happened to my mind that can account for the utter disintegration of my orderliness that went on even as I carefully piled up things I would have to take with me and registered each addition on a complex list. My entire cerebrum was focused on the future three months, and the clothing, toiletries,medicines,footwear,head-ware,washing-materials , Swiss army knife, ointments for my sun damaged skin, tooth brushes and paste, notebooks, maps and on and on. I had been exacting. I was focused. I was utterly competent and I was determined. Was the enemy not right at my door, so close in fact that when I went out into the stygian night to pee, I was slammed in the face with a hammer blow of cold that took my breath away?So there was urgency. Yes! Withdrawal, yes. Withdrawal ? A strategic-but orderly withdrawal such as The Ching describes as re-positioning in order to baffle the enemy and prepare for counter attack.The enemy was covering my car with snow and ice; chronic vandalism that forced me to scrape the whole damm thing each time I went to town to buy a six-pack of suds to lubricate my faculties. And yes the suds probably had anti-organizational tendencies. Bacchus cannot be trusted. But I was aware of that and had made allowance for such glitches.I swear it. And somehow, in between dragging  more and more items to the pile on the kitchen floor  like an anxious packrat, I went through the complicated routine of draining the plumbing,  a safety ritual akin to cockpit drill and certainly not devoid of anxiety: because if any water remained in any part of my plumbing, in any overlooked loop or dip in the piping, in any forgotten S bend in a drain pipe where a bubble  hindered  the exit of the water, and the anti freeze I poured in did not reach it, it would be fatal. While I am away basking in tropical sun the silent white terrorist will enter my home and rip the affected piping to pieces so that , upon my return, as I turn on the water, there will be a shocking hissing, fountain-sound, and water will begin leaking through my kitchen ceiling to destroy my wood-block floor.And that does disturb my composure, for sure; possibly more than the afore-mentioned faculty lubrication. But none of  all this really explains how I noticed , as I sweated through the airport ticketing process and sent my ruck-sack into the aircraft’s dark gut, that if felt unusually light. Hmmm! Curious! And this mysterious phenomenon revealed itself, after seventeen hours of travelling to my guest-house as being caused by the rucksack being almost empty. Very strange. Could some felon have broken into my  bag en – route and stolen my hairbrush? And my second pair of shorts? And my towel? And my spare socks? And my toothbrush and toothpaste? And my maps? And the batteries for the light on my folding bike? And my soap? And my two T shirts? And even my list. Even my list Dear World! I find it hard to comprehend, though I feel that Napolean might have understood. There are exigencies in the tides of battle that sweep things away regardless of the most rigorous attention and care. That’s just how life is. At the time of writing, Edmonton Alberta in Canada has earned itself the dubious distinction of being the coldest place on earth with a temperature of -C72. At that temperature you cannot turn off your car. If you do it will not start again.I have once experienced that temperature in Korea during the war. Never again.

Well, I am here Dear World. I have escaped to Asia leaving behind an assorted shambles of vital survival clothing and materials  carefully selected to accompany me for the next three months. I have to accept liability, register a plea of innocence of intent, deny mens rea and travel light. Heigh dee ho. Life is a mystery!

I have just finished my evening meal of green papaya salad. One of the un-heralded supreme gourmet dishes of the world , during which the cook brought me a two and a half inch long roasted grasshopper and bid me eat it. Which I did, head and all. It was quite pleasant—a little like roast pork crackling. I have always felt that my relationship with bugs was one sided and unfair. They ate me  but I didn’t eat them. Now we have a more level playing field—if I can catch ‘em. Big bugs have little bugs upon their backs to bite’em, and little bugs have littler bugs—and so on, ad infinitum. And yesterday in Bangkok’s notorious tourist trap Khao San Road, I saw a man with a large sign offering, “ Have a Fish Massage. A thousand little fish will kiss your toes and eat away your dying flesh.” But I, not knowing exactly how much of my flesh is dying, and having been told that all skin cells recycle themselves each seven years found  this thought terrifying. Did the fish know when to stop? What if they went on an eating binge? Were they properly supervised?The Bangkok Post’s headline next day was slightly reassuring. Pig catches the flu. Nation in shock” So it is not all a one way war. The pig apparently caught the flu from a student. Had the student been entertaining thousands of infected amorous fish? Shouldn’t we be mixing more with our own species? Anyway now that I can pig out on  insects as part of the feeding cycle I can appreciate them more; and add them to the list of the few little pleasures that ageing has to offer;which is to sit in the shade eating my fleas.

Having whined intolerably ( my kids aver) about the deterioration and detachability of my senses-teeth, glasses and hearing aids- all removable- and frequently left at home when I need them,  I read with pleasure that young people are having artificial denture clasps built into the perfect teeth their parents bought them from the rapacious western dental profession.And suddenly, my detachable teeth are a beauty adjunct.I am fashionable, and since the kids  already have their ears plugged with music earphones like my hearing aids, and their eyes hidden by designer sunglasses, the gap separating me from the beautiful young closes a little. I must confess it took me many years, but I made it, Dear World. I am fashionable. Now if only I could cure young women of their unfashionable ageism. But alas young women who so justifiably reprimanded global males for ‘sexism’ appear to be blindly and universally ageist. And this, in Thailand can bring about in males serious and chronic cases of what is now officially medically recognized and named Yearners Syndrome.The disease ( literally unease) is frequently terminal, affects males of all ages after pubescence, and has no known cure. Symptoms are an inability to sleep, a pounding  of the heart, racing pulse, destruction of the rational faculties,inability to concentrate , crying, crying  and helpless yearning. It is caused by something

like this

111020  1

CIMG1563  2     or this                              019   3                or this

0154 CIMG15595

or this.

Oh my dear deity, what chance do males have ?At the end of the most dangerous life or death struggle down the birth canal they take their first breath of oxygen. It is loaded with the scent of vagina. Shortly afterwards, with their  mouths stuffed with a consolatory milky breast, they look up into the eyes of a young woman at the peak of her beauty, gazing at them with an intense love she will never give to another man, ever. And thus begins their first seven to ten  year  love affair with the benevolent tyrant Mum, from which they emerge realizing that they cannot ever win an argument with a woman. What chance do these addicted men have, Dear World?

And so, Dear Women of The World, please remember, you  hold all the cards.Those guys out there in all their manifestations and posturings, from the macho to the maudling, are all the addicts of feminity your mothers created. Be generous and understanding.They are all on the same pilgrimage towards your hearts.

And now my customary rant.I am sure that the majority of you were as shocked and disappointed as I to hear Obama, in his acceptance speech at the Nobel Peace Awards tell the world that the U.S would continue to have wars that were justified because there was evil in the world and bad people out there who needed to be fought. Didn’t you, like me, hear the echoes of George Bush with his ’Evil Empire’  speeches? But truly we should not have held such expectations from Obama. To win a presidency in the U.S. requires massive fundings and those fundings all create massive obligations.Added to which the U.S is a volatile country with huge populations of pariochialism and narrow minded patriotism. Furthermore the political system in the U.S with its complicated superstructure of checks and counter checks operates like a motor governor on the enlightened as well as on the unenlightened. Many of the powerful senators are narrow minded and unprepared to take a global as opposed to a nationalistic view of politics. Powerful political lobbies tug at the strings attached to Obama. Israel has a strong presence through the Washington and  New York Jewish organizations.Added to all this Obama came to power in a country almost wrecked by George Bush and in the middle of a cataclysmic economic  crisis, and his health bill has such narrow support amongst Democrats that it is teetering on failure. Obama is president of the U.S. He isn’t the Almighty. There is a five and a half trillion munitions industry providing thousands and thousands of jobs which needs to maintain combat conditions overseas in order to maintain markets for munitions.The U.S must have wars and enemies and must justify them morally, just as George Bush did.The military industrial complex has massive influence as does the military and oil, and finance and the C.I.A And on and on. It is naieve for us to imagine Obama  has such powers to cure these endemic ailments of capitalist America. He is a puppet with a thousand strings and a fine brain.We must be thankful that at the head of the American nation there is a man who is highly intelligent, world-wise, moral, and enlightened—a thoroughly modern scholar and leader –and one who will do all he can to bring a stubborn parochial nation into the rapidly changing world-view.But lets not expect too much from him and undermine his global support. Lets be amazed that such a contentious nation has succeeded in bringing to the world’s most powerful position such a brilliant and integritous man and continue our efforts to push our own leaders closer to the heart’s desire for a better, more just, more green, more humane world. It is ourselves we  will have to change first.It is for us to lead America into a better tomorrow, not vice versa. So, for now, Goodbye Dear World. International lunacy is scheduled to last a little longer. But some day, we will get there.In the meanwhile al the best for the festive season.

Photo credits.

1&3 model Bongkot Kongmalai Photos by Anugoon Buranaprapuk.From the Bangkok Post’s ‘The Magazine.’

2  Khunploysi Bangkok. Photo Laurie Payne

4 Tapanan Kornkalo. Bangkok.  photo Laurie Payne

5 Janeen Chase. Kamloops B.C. Canada. Photo Laurie Payne




4 responses

30 05 2010

I red your perfect words.

30 05 2010

Puk, hello my dear,Since you changed jobs I have lost all communications with you. Could you send me your e-mail and you cell and home telephone number.It is cold here and my little creek has not run this year because there was no snow in the winter. I am busy as usual. I will be back in early Dec and would like to meet you. I probably wont stay in Bangkok long. I really like Nan and will go back there soon and stay there along time. Love and hugs Laurie

6 12 2010

I got interested party – I’ll check back often, I wanted to say hello

15 01 2011

well hello to you as well gryl34 . What an unusual e-address where are you from in Europe?

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