Under A Full Moon And The Golem Tree Part 1
Nights in the village are usually the time when everyone gets together to eat and chat and visit around the neighborhood with their friends and relatives. It's a communal thing. Different houses and shops around the village are, or seem to me anyway, the "IN" places to hang about. Each family group and their friends has their spot for this gathering of kindred souls. Ours is Sis 2's shop, next to the wife and mine's and her mother's houses.
Sis 2 has a little wooden shack with a front roofed area, the roof extending about twice the depth of her shop in front of the place, where she has the ubiquitous bamboo and wooden plank lounge platform where women of the family sit and chat as they prepare different foods for the evening meal.
Friends and neighbors stop by often and chatter away about whatever it is they chatter about. Day and night. Mostly to gossip about who has a mia noi, who is a mia noi, who's fucking who, who's gonna kill who if they catch them fucking whomever, who got drunk and beat up their wife this week, how bad a beating he gave her, and how she also was drunk, who got a job in Surin or Bangkok or Pattaya or where ever, who's pregnant, who had their baby. Gossip and Thai politics, never world topics, as for most village Thais there is little of consequence happening outside of Thailand from what I've seen for the most part. Although to be fair and honest I must add that when I was there just after the 9/11 WTC terrorist attacks many of the villagers came up to me and told me how sorry they were to hear of this tragedy. They all know I'm American.
I was touched to see this, and realized later that I must be seen as part of the village community for them to be concerned about i t as much as they seemed to be. Just my take on this. (But then I'm not as cynical as some.) More gossip on the upcoming Thai holidays, or elections, or what the stupid village Boss has done, or not done usually, lately, what the hell that crazy farang Cent has been up to, etc., etc., could be heard most of the time. It's basically gossip central at Sis 2's shop. As it probably is at most of the other gathering spots around the village. (And most places around the world where people, especially women, gather to shoot the breeze.) Sis 2 sells a lot of goods too during all this.
In Sis 2's shop I've seen it's fairly common for whichever girl is "in the dough" ("has some money" for you non-Yanks) at the moment to spring for a bottle or two of beer Chang for the gals to sip on as they chatter away. This can start fairly early in the day too, especially if there was a party the evening before and they are all a bit "overhang" as my wife confusedly calls it in English. A l ittle "hair of the dog" as it were this seems. I try to avoid going over there on these mornings, as the old bats always try to suck me into getting a glow on with them, which can be a dangerous thing, and will usually end up with me springing for a box of beer Chang, or even a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black if things get out of hand and my mood is up to it.
When I'm there in the village for a few days or longer with a pick-up truck I usually get roped into making a run for shop supplies for Sis 2's place once a week or so. To a town named Sang Kha I think it is. Something like that anyway is the name.
Why the hell they always ask me to do this in the late evening is a mystery to me. If they'd ask me earlier in the day I'd go in the afternoon to get this done, but for some fucking reason this always seems to need doing at like 6 a.m. in the goddamned morning!!
Thais have weird shop hours a lot of the time up country I've noticed. (Also just about ever ywhere else in the country too.) Some shops and markets open very early in the morning and are closed by the afternoon, and some are only open on certain days too. It's an odd way to do business to a farang's mind. I think a lot has to do with resupplying the shops with goods. They close up, take a truck somewhere to buy more goods, restock the shop when they get back, then open the doors until they have sold everything. Then repeat the cycle.
Someone with a few trucks/lorries and drivers, and some business sense, could probably make a fortune doing this pick-up and delivery of stock for the merchants I think. At least that what I've seen and thought. Maybe I'm missing something?
Although these shopping supply runs can be a bit of a pain in the ass, especially the early wake-up call, they also come with some perks. In this town I have seen the most beautiful young ladies I've ever seen in Thailand, anywhere!! The eye candy is premium!! These lasses do like to flirt, although subtle-like, and a single white guy with some moxie could probably do quite well for himself if he lived in the area, and spoke some Thai.
So I usually don't bitch and moan too much once I'm awake and showered and on the road for the trip to town. It's kinda like going to a shopping mall stateside to scope out the chicks. And boy are there some stunners there!
Oh, they aren't all dolled up and dressed to kill or anything like that. They are working in Papa's or Momma's shop doing a day's work and all that. But even dressed in work rags some of these gals are absolutely gorgeous! In a "girl next door" type of way, sort of. Very sexy this is. Absolutely lovely some of these lasses are.
I had noticed earlier on this trip a funky little bucket thingy just sitting by the Surin house one day while I was cleaning up the front yard. It's a tin bucket, something like the ones we used to use to scrub our clothes with when I was in boot cam p in the Navy. Some of you fellas might remember this shit. A bucket and a scrub brush, and a small packet of laundry degergent powder, was how we cleaned our uniforms and scivvies back then. And the C.C. (company commander) wanted those whites fucking sparkling WHITE too! Fucking lifer maniacs!!
Well, this bucket kinda reminded of that goddamned wash bucket from boot camp. (A memory not wanting nor needing recalling either. God I hated wash day in boot!) But this bucket was thickly lined with a pottery type of fired reddish clay stuff. Like a clay flower pot kind of stuff it was. The top of this lining has a platform filled with holes about the size of ones little finger in diameter. Under, on the bottom on the side, was a square hole cut through both the tin bucket and the clay lining. It looked to be some sort of Hibachi or grill. The clay lining on this particular one was broken.
I asked Sis what the hell it was. She explained to me, and it was exactly what I thought, a Thai charcoal grill. "Hey, what the hell? How come we haven't had a barbeque with this baby? I love to barbeque!!" I said. "Broke." says Sis. "Yeah, I see. So what the hell are you keeping it for?" I questioned. "Not know why, just do." says Sis sagely. Sigh. Must be a Bhudda thang. Sometimes, times like this, I truly wonder about the Thais. I asked Sis, "Well, can I throw this one in the trash?" I got the standard reply to foolish falang questions, "Okay. Up to you." I tried to refrain from pulling my hair out of my head in frustration.
"Okay, I shall toss this trash away Sis. By the by, how much do one of these exotic beauties cost anyway?" I asked her, while chucking the thing in the trash bin. I believe her answer was "70 baht". Well that's cheap enough. "Where can we buy one of these Sis? I'd like to replace this one with a brand spanking new model. I love to barbeque!!" I exclaimed. She told we could get them even cheaper if we bought one in Sang Kha later when we went on our impending re-supply run for Sis 2's shop in a couple of days. Of course! Now, why hadn't I known this would be the case? Everything is cheaper where I need to go to buy family stuff in Isaan at 5 friggin' A. damned M. in the morning it seems.
"Hmmmmm. How much cheaper can they possibly be, dear Sis?" I wondered in amazement to her smiling pug face. "Oh, maybe have for 50/60 baht in Sang Kha!!" she chirped happily. We decided we'd buy one for the Surin house, one for the village house, and, of course, one for Mama also, as hers was kind of beat too. So, for a whopping 150 to 180 baht it was quite possible for me to puchase THREE of these wonderfully primitive Thai versions of the venerable Burger Grill!! Such a deal!
After some questioning and badgering on my part she showed me how this marvel of technology was fired up and used to char some buffalo meat, or whatever they'd be cooking on this thing. You buy a heaping p lastic bag full of some sorta greasewood type of kindling of finely spilt slivers. This is to start your fire. Cost was, I don't remember really, but like 3 baht, 5 baht, something around that neighborhood.
Then you need a bag or two of charcoal. Another 3 to 5 baht maybe for a hulking plastic bag full of this stuff. This was the real McCoy of charcoal too! It looked like a bag full of the ashes and cold coals left over from a house fire, or maybe a lightning struck burnt up tree's remains from the looks of the charcoal once I finally saw some. Sis had a small bag of some left over from the last barbeque, the one that killed the last grill. None of that Bickford charcoal brickuettes in a charming blue and white paper bag!! No need for lighter fluid either. This stuff was ready to burn baby!! (I've later seen how they make this charcoal in the villages.)
So a few days after I arrived in the village, a couple days after my fine fun filled day of fishing in the rice field pond, I woke my now molting snake head man ass up at some ungodly hour and we prepared to head out for a supply run, and to buy us some new grills for some future jammin' barbeque parties.
If I didn't fall asleep at the wheel of the pick-up truck and kill myself it might be a fun day's outing.
"Yes, look sow. Papa will be sure to remember to pick up some of those delicious fried bugs for you while out and about today in Sang Kha, or where ever the hell I'm going. What the heck are you doing up so early for anyway dear? Yawn. "Now move away from the hong nam door honey so Papa can take a pee will ya please? Yes. I promise. 3 bags. I know. One of grubs. One of grasshoppers. One of those big-arse cockroach looking things too. Yep. No problem. Move girl. I gotta go!!"
(To be continued)
More magic from Cent.