Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 321
Ok Dana fans and Stickmanbangkok.com fans: today an Introduction that is a follow-up on reaction to Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes — Part 318 ( A Little Red Wagon Hell ), and then an essay on photography in the Kingdom with a slightly different point-of-view.
Well, it had to happen: Korski and Dana sightings: Professor Korski standing up for more power pedaling his bicycle and towing Dana in the little red wagon. We here at Dana Central in the Rajah building on Bangkok's Soi 4 off of Sukhumvit are now receiving news from Dana fans, expats, tourists, and international mongers of Korski and Dana. They are being sighted on the boardwalk in Pattaya and people are taking notice. Some of the people noticing and reporting are psychiatrists who have flown in from all over the world to do reports and papers and advanced degrees and seminars. We are thinking of publishing a representative collection of these sightings for fun. Let us know if you think this is a good idea. And if you have a Korski-Dana sighting you would like to notify us about our address is:
c/o Korski-Dana Sightings:
Little Red Wagon Hell Dept. (LRWHD)
Rajah Building–ground floor
Soi 4, Sukhumvit
P.S. Please send pictures if you have them. They eliminate credibility issues. We endorse only the highest journalistic standards. And please show some respect for Professor Korski. He is starting to get wobbly and distracted looking. It only takes a second to wait for a better angle when you snap that record picture.
But that is not really what I want to talk about today. What I really want to talk about today is:
I'm not a frequent picture taker. I don't have interesting stories to tell about the pictures I have taken. I do not read photography magazines. And I can not keep up when two camera enthusiasts are talking to each other. However, I do have some photography memories. When I grew up in the suburb of Needham, Massachusetts in the United States many years ago (50's & 60's) the neighbors on either side of us had live-in servants. The doctor and his family on one side of us had a servant lady named Nettie. The British Empire family on the other side of our house had a servant lady named Edith. The two servant women would meet every day in the middle, in my mother's kitchen: to smoke cigarettes and to gossip and to laugh. Three things not allowed in their master's homes.
The British Empire family was the Brooks family. Mr. and Mrs. Brooks had gotten married in England in 1919. Mr. Brooks was thirty-six years old and his wife, Mrs. Brooks, was sixteen years old. Edith, the servant, was fourteen years old. Where did she come from? Edith, at age fourteen, was given to Mrs. Brooks, aged sixteen, as a wedding gift. Edith was a Scottish foundling with no rights. She stayed with the family, who had four children, for life. Probably the greatest wedding gift in history.
Edith had two hobbies, mountain climbing and photography. Every year she would take a six week vacation to some mountains: Yellowstone, the Alps, Africa, etc. and every year she would return with hundreds of pictures. The 35mm camera became her favorite and she preferred slides. Peek in her small servant's room on the second floor of the Brooks house and you could see a warehouse of boxes of slides, projectors, and projection screens.
Every year after she returned from her annual vacation there would be a slide show in the Brooks house living room. Her best friend Nettie, the live-in servant of the doctor's family two houses down was never invited. Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, Mr. and Mrs. British Empire, did not think Nettie was the right sort of person to sit in their living room. Anyway, I was a child and I remember wonderful big pictures on the projection screen of faraway places. Not just record shots but beautifully composed, artfully thought out images. Edith was a skilled photographer. Many close up pictures of mountain flowers. A close up picture of a small mountain flower is an exercise in art. Projecting it on a big screen in a dark room is an exercise in spectacle.
I loved these slide shows. I never became a picture taker myself but I never forgot the beauty and the fun in that dark living room. To this day I can not get interested in anything other than slides shown on a slide show screen. Digital cameras? Transferring pics (hate that word) to a computer? Pictures in scrapbooks? Just not me. I believe that many years ago in that dark living room at the Brooks house I mainlined the best that photography can offer. I would like to return to those wonderful slide shows where a woman who was treated like chattel showed her independence, her artistic mind's eye, and her lifetime of dreams in boxes of slides. I'm not a picture taker, but I have photographic memories.
So, what does this personal story have to do with the Thai-farang experience or the genre of Thai-farang writing? Just this: often I see expats or tourists in the Kingdom with cameras. I know I am supposed to ask questions like: What kind of camera is that? or What kind of film do you use? or How many camera-computer boobibytes do you get? or Is it true that camera will yodel in Swahili if you forget to set your light meter? But I just can't seem to get the words to come out of my mouth.
I don't ask these questions or any other friendly interested questions of camera enthusiasts in Thailand because I usually can't keep up with the answers. I had to drop out of Engineering College because I could not operate a mechanical pencil so current camera-computer talk is way beyond me. And the questions that I think are important or interesting no longer have modern currency. Example: When is a camera no longer a camera but has morphed into something else; when it is the size of a credit card, a postage stamp, a pencil eraser, a mouse gonad, a hydrogen atom? Etc. The 'it-fits-in-your-shirt pocket' brigade just stares at me as if I am speaking in a foreign and boring language. What I would like to ask the guy on the boardwalk in Pattaya who is pretending to take a picture of the offshore restaurant on the barge, but who is really taking a picture of the pretty girl on the seawall is this: When is the last time you sat in a dark living room and watched slides projected on a screen? When is the last time you had that much fun?