Stand Up Comedy, Mr. Somebody
Just came back from Thailand…Phew, I'm buggered, such a long flight and the jet lag!
You know I've hit on the idea to explore far and away places and get out from the humdrum existence I've been living here where I felt a non entity, a nobody whose life was so boring and mundane that it felt like a total waste. Only by accident when surfing the Internet I found this site called Stickmanbangkok which piqued my interest and on the spur of the moment I've decided that it was Thailand where I'd go to see if I could recharge my batteries and get some recognition.
So it was on a September day I landed at Bangkok Airport with an unpronounceable name and scorching heat that was like a sauna with a blanket of smog to put LA to shame.
No sooner had I cleared Customs, well sooner is not exactly right but lining up for half an hour after a long flight to be stamped in was quite a high price to pay to be let into an inferno…but I digress…so I then had to line up again at a taxi stand to be given the courtesy of taken to my hotel.
The taxi driver was the first to afford me the recognition I so missed and desired.
First he addressed me as “Sir”, then enquired about my well being, physical condition after a long flight and presented me with a glossy brochure of inviting pictures of a reputable Turkish bath where I could get freshened up before arriving at my hotel. I thanked him profusely and put him off saying that I needed some sleep before anything else.
The adulation continued upon arriving at the hotel reception where the most beautiful creature on this Earth greeted me with the sweetest smile, her hands in a regular prayer like formation begging me to check in. Who wouldn't under these circumstances? When she requested my credit card I was so taken by her I even signed a blank voucher, in fact had she asked I would have given her my last razoo…how does the song go, “I would have walked hundreds of miles for one of your smiles”, or something like that…but I digress. I was beginning to understand why the Stickmanites rave about the place!
My room was luxury personified, mind you I was at the Marriott Hotel on Sukhumvit; all the same the toiletries were straight from Paris and the bath robe and slippers were fit for a king. There was even a complimentary bowl of fresh fruit placed on the desk in my suite. Not too bad for someone who lives in a studio back home where you couldn't swing a cat. My self esteem was already on the increase and I haven't even been in the country 24 hours. As I ran a bath, yes you heard me there was a full length bath in there beside a shower cubicle…but I digress…I couldn't help imagining the receptionist partaking in said bubble bath lying back among rose petals…now I really digressed…it must be the time zone difference…hmmmm.
Anyways and to go on with the tale, the next morning down to a sumptuous buffet breakfast once again greeted by another praying mantis..ooops, I meant temptress, honesty I can't get over how pious these people are, and then I decided to go for a stroll to stretch my legs and discover my surroundings.
So down I walked on Sukhumvit and it was about 10:30 AM when the local stores were just opening their doors. Suddenly I got confronted by a dusky man not particularly typical to the Thais I've seen so far and he talks… English with a tilt of the subcontinent variety and the requisite sideways bobbing of his head. Ok, I'm not taken back although a bit surprised how he knew me seeing that he calls out to me in a familiar but polite way, like “Welcome Sir, from…, (well I'm wearing a T- shirt advertising my home town, so it's pretty obvious;)… Please come inside and let me show you what we can do for you!”
Ok, I catch on,we're standing outside an Indian Tailor shop, curiously called “Valentino's” and this guy is ready to measure me up seeing the tape wound around his neck.
I said: “Look at me, I'm wearing a T Shirt, shorts and a pair of thongs…hardly the kind of customer wanting a tux or a business suit, hey?”
To which he replied : “Sir, ….(I'm thinking I've been knighted) …. We have the finest quality English cloth and will provide you with a 3 trouser suit, two long sleeve business shirts, a sport jacket and a silk neck-tie for only $200-. Please come in while we serve you a nice cool drink and a foot massage to boot.“
“Sounds very tempting but I got no use for any of your garments. I don't dress for work and it'll all go to waste.”
“Sir, how about a $150- then? Please sir, you're my first customer for the day!”
“No, I'm not…that's wishful thinking”…and I fled the scene; well, he harangued me for about half a block then quit as we neared the next Indian Tailor shop appropriately named Don Corleone's.
You basically have to run the gauntlet of these guys in most tourist areas until you finally give in and end up attired in a gentrified manner as never before. One could argue that this is another way to build self confidence and self esteem and be somebody.
Back home there are no spruikers for anything you may wear or whatever, in fact I've been ignored in most retail establishments as a non person; in any case we're mostly in a self serve environment so over there when somebody accosts you you're in shock.
“Are you talking to me…ah really..you sure you're addressing me, wow…thanks for asking…”
After a couple of days of this I've begun to feel like a VIP and if only it hadn't cost me so much I would have felt like a real person.
Then nightfall comes with the neon lights and everybody coming out of the woodwork,bringing their wares out on tables to footpaths to make it so difficult to actually make any headway and trying to make you feel good by selling you bargains you got no use for. As you spread the wealth and make yourself a benefactor to the locals your self esteem goes further up but your self worth, as meaning your wallet, diminishes considerably.
But hey, that's not all, there's more ego massaging to come yet let alone the physical ones on offer. For now I've arrived in the red-light district and the flattering comes from all direction:
“Hello mister, hansum man, hello Sir, come in, look inside, happy hour,only 50 baht for beer, you like…? Beautiful girl take care hansum man ok?”
“Huh? Who, me? “
“Yessiree…you hansum man with big nose and sexy hair, we like farang man like you, good man, no like Thai men butterfly and kinneeow.. you good man and tall and strong…”
I reckon they're delirious or need eyeglasses. I'm 5'6” with a hooked nose, pudgy and with receding hair. Only a mother would love a guy like me. I'm in two minds now, do I go with the flow and make believe or deny them the satisfaction of winning me over? Yep, you guessed it, who am I to say I'm not as hansum as they think? Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder anyway so lets go and wing it!
And it went on and on in a likewise manner all through my holiday, a journey of self discovery and ego boost. As you can see I went through a transformation in a couple of weeks nobody could have predicted when I left home. Now that I'm back I no longer think of myself as a loser nobody. Thailand gave me what I needed. From now on I'll go around with my head held high and proud of myself of what I've achieved.
What was that? Well, I blew five grand for the two week vacation, managed to pick up some bacteria which is very hard to kill with antibiotics and got myself a girlfriend who loves me till I get back again. We're constantly in touch on Skype and tomorrow she'll be sending me her Western Union account number so I can deposit funds to use on my next trip.
So what's next? Well, with my new persona and ego it'll be very hard to come down and face reality and my mates at work. Tomorrow I've got to get up early to show up at the Council Garbage depot where I'm expected to do the local collection run on the trucks. One day when I get enough courage up I might put in for a promotion to be a driver but in the meantime it's running behind the truck end chucking the bins is my job. Not so bad for someone who is no longer worried about his status in life. I can always plan my next trip to Thailand where I'm somebody!