Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes Part 125
–Thoughts of Yesterday . . . and Young Men Philosophizing–
Cruz Bay, St. John–United States Virgin Islands
My friend Bob had a houseboat in the harbor called the Titanic (the dingy was called Free Ice) and it was a handy stopping off point, either on the way to our anchored boats or on the way to shore, for a beer and a talk. Under the normal circumstances and restrictions of civilization Bobby would have been labeled a loser and a waste of time but in the boat bum world of the 70's standards for social intercourse were a little more open minded. He was a riot. So there was visiting and there was drinking and there was laughing and there was man talk. Lots of talkin' and thinkin' and talkin'. Philosophers in the tropics. Sometimes there were parties.
One night there was a party. About thirty on board. Beers. Music. Laughter. The only illumination was a masthead lens that threw a circle of light on the water right behind the boat. Suddenly a scream. A female screaming and pointing. There hovering on the surface of the water in the pool of light in back of the boat was a fifteen foot shark. Waiting. Time on its side. Millions of years of time.
Except possibly for a komodo dragon ripping apart a soi dog, or a snake in your Surin sock drawer; there is nothing more primeval and prehistoric than a big shark. Suddenly with the finality of biology you know that you are small and weak and don't count for anything. The big shark doesn't care about the degree in Marketing you are about to get from Chulahorn University. Its only calculation is whether to include you in its life. Just like a Pattaya boardwalk freelancer it will be making all of the decisions about your relationship.
Sometimes at these night time parties there would be tourists jumping in the water. But not the natives. They knew of sharks and primitive impulse and sudden savage bloodied water. They thought the Continentals (West Indian speak for farang) were crazy. The white men had money and the white women had needs; the rest was just sudden savage primitive impulse in their world. Black West Indians living wasted lives of childish impulse, and petty cruelties, and valueless xenophobia of place. Another Third World country. Desperate lives. Desperate people. Desperate country. Another Thailand.
Ten of us climbed up on the houseboat roof of the Titanic and pelted the shark with beer cans. Then it was party over. Rowing ashore in little boats with the oars hardly touching the water. Leaping over the bows into the sand rather than stepping over the side into the water. Scared into the quiet life. Just trying to emotionally regroup and deal with an environment that often diminished you and frightened you. Every black male and every black female on this island was stronger than every white male and every white female and everything in the water could kill you. White people far from home. Youth.
The West Indian tropics. From St. Thomas to Jamaica to Barbados the same psycho-social-sexual dramas played out with the banality and repetition of unintelligent procreative life forces. Dim-witted fathers' daughters with little backpacks and big-eyed college girls with a feminist inspired copy of Cosmo magazine in hand coming down from the States to get nailed by blacks. And in the meantime and for all time big predator fish coming into the harbors at night to feed. A primitive world of primitive desires. Sex and eating. Rowing out to your boat at night surrounded by swirling rapacious bats and the sometimes heaving water of big fish could be spooky. Once standing on the quayside at night with some friends in Charlotte Amalie we saw the faraway phosphorescent explosion of a tourist who had jumped off a yacht. Halfway out to Water Island and this numbskull was swimming to shore at 2:00 a.m. His flailing phosphorescence and beating heart sending out an invitation to every big toothed killer from Frenchtown to Water Island to the cruise ship dock. We took bets on whether he would make it.
Pale skinned visitors out of time and out of place and out of step with the landscape and the rules and the natives. Another Thailand. A Thailand of the West. Away from the postcard kiosks in the hotel gift shops and one hundred yards outside of town it was all primitive stuff dressed up with palm trees and trade wind breezes and fancy drinks and happy misleading travel brochures. Another tropical paradise. Another horror. Racist children with malnutrition sores on their legs, ineffectual schools, superstition rather than western medicine, loss of village life, fractured families, and a culture of rapine on all visitors. Another Thailand.
And Time the old trickster ever at hand. Like sands through an hourglass the expat life dribbled away without profit or hope. Delight turned to delusion and delusion turned to despair. Then followed depression and death. T-shirts could be bought throughout the islands that said, "Another Shitty Day In Paradise". Leathery skinned expats loved them and wore them. When you have lost everything else all you are left with is lame philosophy and donkey braying laughter and alcohol and clever self-deprecating T-shirt announcements of failure. The T-shirts could have said, "Another Farang Day In Thailand".
But the night time parties on the houseboat Titanic were rare. Mostly Bob's boat was a kind of men's clubhouse where you could share a beer and a thought. One night Bob and I were on the boat talking and sharing Heinekens. No moon and billions of stars overhead. You could hear the sound of trumpets and laughter tumbling down the hill from the native bars. Every black man and every black woman with more hormones than the whites and they knew it. The life force in abundance but not shared out equally. On this night the stars were reflected on the Cruz Bay water like Christmas lights on black slate. The ferry at the public dock was using the conspiratorial cloak of night to pump out the bilges and the harbor was covered with a thin sheen of oil. Stars reflected in the oiled dead flat water and stupid uncaring blacks despoiling paradise.
After a few beers I said,
1974–"All a man needs is a bed and a boat and a dog and a refrigerator and a toolbox"
Women imagine that because they sit around and talk about men that men must sit around and talk about women. They are mistaken. Men do not sit around and talk about women. At least in the West. That is not quite as true in Thailand–but at least in Thailand there is something to talk about. Anyway, what men mostly talk about is sports and current events and politics and stuff (life, philosophy, things). And there is not anything mean-spirited or of the complaint nature about it either. Just ruminations and enthusiasms. But doesn't this quote from 1974 and my youth look like there is something missing? I mean dogs and tools and boats and such is fine but isn't there something missing? Must have been the beers.
How about an update now that I am older and wiser:
2006–"All a man needs is a bed and a boat and a dog and a refrigerator and a toolbox and a dancer from the G-Spot bar."
Hopefully, if I live long enough and acquire wisdom enough I will catch up on all of my knowledge deficiencies. I've spent a lifetime being surrounded by people smarter than me but I notice that they are not getting any smarter and I am getting a little bit smarter so maybe we will all break the tape together at the finish line. One of those knowledge deficiency categories of mine would have to be the Chinese of Thailand, the so-called and often misnomered Thai-Chinese.
To wit: Hey, what's the deal with these people? I mean what is the flippin' deal? I mean does anybody understand them? Can anybody talk to them? Has anyone ever felt good after doing business with them? Would any farang actually be crazy enough to ask Chinese parents for their daughter's hand in marriage?
Ok, I feel better now.
Anyway, I have written a little essay on this subject entitled:
THEY AIN'T TALKIN'
Somebody of the writing researching social anthropology persuasion should do a study on the Chinese in Thailand. The often misnomered Thai-Chinese. What a joke. Many of them are about as Thai as I am. You see them everywhere and they own all the banks and you can't find a Hi-So ribbon cutting event in the social pages of the newspapers and or the social pages of the expensive high gloss magazines that does not have at least one Chinese woman of means and fashion and often bullet proof bouffant hair and iron butterfly smile. But they ain't talkin'.
1. Example: There is a Chinese owned mini-mart style convenience store and grocery across from the Right Spot hotel past Soi 16 on Walking Street in South Pattaya. At that end of the street they have all the business. And they have all of my business. I am in there with my ready smile once or twice per day and at night I buy their overpriced grilled cob corn.
Me: Why is this corn-on-the-cob 20 baht when the grilled corn-on-the-cob down near Soi Diamond is only 10 baht?
Chinese Girl: This is special Chinese corn.
Well, she got me to laugh and she got me to pay. To overpay–by 100%. You have to give it to them–they've got balls. Or, maybe they don't have balls–maybe they are just a subspecies of humanity so chromosomally ingrained with greed that this behavior is normal. Who knows? See–this is an example of why we need some investigation. I can't be the lone wolf baying at the moon on this subject. I don't think any non-Chinese understand these people.
Like I said in the Prologue–you grow. And hopefully the cumulative years yield more wisdom. I'd like to finally figure out the Chinese in Thailand before some bargirl is scattering my ashes at the entrance to the Nana Entertainment Plaza on Soi 4 in Bangkok. I've got some of it figured out but not all of it. Just a subplot in my life.
Anyway, I am a regular customer at this little hole-in-the-wall Chinese mini-mart and a reliable customer and guaranteed repeat business and friendly. I am also a human being. They are presumably human beings (like I said we need some investigation). You would think that would mean something. You would be mistaken.
Often there is a baby on a blanket on the floor behind the counter. It belongs to the young Chinese woman who is doing the cashiering. By any measure this baby should be the happiest most amazing part of this woman's life. Something that would trigger a smile and non-judgmental extroverted behavior. A personal life event that would cause her to open up and expand her social horizons. She knows me. I have on more than one occasion said something friendly and supportive and adult about the baby or made a sincere inquiry about the baby.
Nothing. Down comes the Chinese wall. She ain't talkin' Take your yogurt and get out white devil.
2. Example: Further down Walking Street (going north) on the right hand side is a Chinese owned pharmacy. Big fat greasy stupid filthy Chinese father and big fat greasy stupid filthy incredibly ugly Chinese daughter. I have been a regular customer for years. I am reliable and regular and friendly and they have been overcharging me for Viagra for years and pocketing the profits. You would think this would earn a smile. You would be mistaken.
Apparently not long ago the daughter was taken to a blind men’s' insane asylum in the Kingdom and impregnation was the result because there is now a baby on the floor of this pharmacy. Staring at the baby and looking at the daughter out of the corner of your eye you feel like Darwin in the Galapagos Islands trying to figure out the mysteries of iguanas and tortoises and prehistoric irrational and purposeless breeding. It is simply beyond a 100 beer loss-of-control scenario that any man would want to see this woman naked. Forget intercourse. Just seeing her naked would make your dick disappear into the safe nether regions of your groin. I personally would kiss an oozing harelip before I would copulate with this monster and I am not that particular. But there is the baby.
You would imagine that this baby on the blanket on the floor that loves mama without qualification or thought would bring a smile to this Chinese woman's face and cause her to be friendly without qualification to the customers. The happy side effect of hormonal overload and beating the odds at life. You would be mistaken. I once made the mistake of showing an interest in the baby. I said something friendly and adult and caring.
Nothing. She ain't talkin'. Take your Viagra and get out round eye.
"No wait, first put your hand in the cash drawer so that I can smash it on your barbarian fingers. One more caring sincere remark about my baby and I will have you flailed to death with wet laundry."
You'd have to roll this bloated whale in flour to find her wet spot but I do not come up to her high standards because I am not Chinese. Apparently, being Chinese supersedes all other human attributes of any and all kinds at any and all times in this or any other Solar System.
Ya know, I can almost go with that madness because of my charitable nature but if this two hundred pound pigtailed sausage thinks she has sex appeal because she has given birth my head will burst. There are limits. Instead of the mainland Chinese tour buses inching down Walking Street on the way to disgorging their uncomprehending load near Soi Pattayaland 2 they should just have the tour guides march all of them down to this pharmacy. Inside this Chinese daughter monster would have a sign hanging around her neck that says,
"Don't let this happen to you"
But I digress. Anyway, because she is Chinese and I am not Chinese she ain't talkin'. I am not worthy.
3. Example: Years ago I made the mistake in Chinatown of thinking that something that looked like a store was a store. In I went. I made inquiries about merchandise. I made inquiries about prices. I smiled. Nothing. The clerk wasn't talkin'. Get out big nose scum. Scram imperial white face colonizer. We don't want your money and we don't want to be friendly or even human. We want to live lives of hopelessness and rage and despair and poverty all tied together by the notion that we are superior to everyone because our starving ancestors came from China 250 years ago. Yessir, we are the progeny of losers and that makes us winners. What?
Ok, you get the idea and if you have spent any time in the Kingdom you could come up with more examples. The Chinese in Thailand do not actually live in Thailand. They live in China. Calling them Thai-Chinese is just charity and affectation. The whole Thailand part is just someone else's idea and additional proof if they needed it that they do not have to pay taxes or be good citizens or vote or take an interest in any other Thais, humans, or farang. China for China and everyone else can burn and twist in the fires of non-China hell for eternity.
One Minute One Act Play In The Kingdom–
Title: NOW YOU DIE
Thai-Chinese Moneylender–"The interest on the money is 127% compounded every six hours and then at the end of two days the interest rate jumps to an unspecified higher amount. You have no rights and you do not know my name and there is no paperwork."
Loan Applicant–"Can we discuss that?"
Thai-Chinese Moneylender–"No discuss. No loan. Now you and family die."
So, like I said; someone with writing and interviewing skills and 1000% fluency in every conceivable Chinese dialect, and pretend dialect, and just plain lying their ass off dialect should do some interviewing and try and break this behavior down. Not that it will benefit anyone or change anything. Just a westerner's ‘knowledge for knowledge sake' kind of thing. I mean where do they get off thinking their shit doesn't stink? How soon will the innocent blank baby slates on the floor of the pharmacy and on the floor of the mini-mart start to have their brains polluted regarding white foreign devils and the innate supremacy of all Chinese everywhere? Does the fat stupid ignorant filthy Chinese father who runs the little hole-in-the-wall pharmacy on Walking Street look at himself in the mirror and see a god? I think he might. I think it is ego run amok and I think it is mental illness.
At any rate it is another mystery of the Kingdom. Welcome to Thailand. Where every day is a descent into a fun house of smoke and mirrors populated by people who are crazy and rude. I guess that is what is called multi-tasking in this emerging country; being crazy and rude at the same time. You know it is kind of funny when you think about it. Everything I have just said about the Chinese in Thailand I could also have said about the Indians or the Thais. Three groups of people living side by side in the same small country and all convinced that they are superior.
The only thing that has prevented bloodshed is that each of these racial-cultural groups is so consumed by greed that they can think of little else. If an Indian husband's wife was being abused and the husband saw a coin in the gutter he would dive for the coin first. And he would get support for this from the wife. If a Chinese house was on fire and they could get a good price for the water buckets they would sell them and let the house burn down. If a Thai restaurant owner thought he could make a bigger profit on glasses of water by watering down the water he would do it. No thought. Just greed.
Anyway, somebody should try and penetrate the Chinese community and try and get some facts. Because as the Indians don't really live in a country called Thailand–they live in a country and a culture called India; the Thai-Chinese do not really live in Thailand–hence my contention that they are often misnomered as Thai-Chinese. I'll bet if I made a trip to the middle class and upper middle class Chinese sections of Thailand's major cities I would not find the Chinese living in modern apartments or living in traditional pitched roof Thai architecture but living in Chinese junks. Three and four masted teakwood Chinese junks that had been transported by truck or dragged by tractors from the sea and lined up gunnel to gunnel with their bows facing towards the Forbidden City and their sterns facing towards Bangkok. A community of bankers and merchants and university graduates living on Chinese junks. Red and black and tan matted sails waving in the suburban landlocked breeze, laundry hanging from the rigging, slit-eyed dogs running around, cooking fires on deck, a gold shop in the forward hold and a laundry in the after hold, and everyone sleeping topside under tattered tarpaulins to save money. China.
And while these white devil journalist investigators are at it I would like to know where in hell the baby in the Chinese pharmacy came from. Ugliest woman I have ever seen.
True or not I do not know, but I have often heard the stories of the Chinese Thai head honchos of major companies in Thailand holding their meetings behind closed doors, where all of the directors and major shareholders are Chinese – and they all talk in Chinese.