May 26, 2012

I'll come with you (breaking news alert)

Not the girl
It's a shower first, lightning strikes, the power is cut. Rain continues, and Michael refuses to go out, instead he ponders whether he will be able to read his Kindle in the light of a single kandle. Chang, hungry, is finally forced by his appetites to leave the premises in search for take-out food. And he comes back and tells the following story:

I walk past this girl, perhaps for the third time now, and she is selling something, and always waving and smiling. I reply in some way. She asks "you are staying nearby?"
-"How long are you staying?"
-"One month."
The girl grabs my arm and says: "I am coming with you."

We are not making this up. 

Tunk-Ka Café

Our longest-lasting controversy is about the river-side café, and while I sing about its charms, such as the chilled, oaky, buttery chardonnay served with chicken breast and sauce hollandaise, or the light wood paneling, or the shady riverside terrace with its muted, yet clipped conversations about Muffy who failed to make partner with Allen & Overy, or the color coding of the awnings, always dark green, preferably in the hex value #00693E (Dartmouth Green), brèf, while I am singing about the river-side café, Chang is dreaming of food markets, this Asian contraption that encumbers the innocent hungry-man between various food stalls where everything is cheap, and abundant, and smelly, and sticky, and eaten with chop sticks.

We are on our first excursion across Phuket now, and the understanding has been that we would end up in a food market, but the first food market didn't pass Chang's muster even though it was located in the Korean neighborhood of Phuket Town, because the Thai girl behind the Korean garlands didn't speak a word of Korean, and so we are driving on, and it is already past 12am, the time when Chang is overwhelmed by hunger and everything stops until he finds a place to restore himself. He suggests we turn right, but I continue straight, and we are mysteriously led up a hill when signs appear which speak of the Tunk-ka Café. The road ends in a parking lot, and everything is coded in dark-green, including the lush, tropical forest, and Chang wants to flee, but is overwhelmed by hunger now, and we, who haven't been to a riverside café in eons, we end up in the first HILL-TOP café of our life, by sheer serendipity.

The Tunk-ka Café. We have to descend a long staircase. Chang is scared. Have a look at the menu first, he cries, but the prices are reasonable, to his disappointment.

May 24, 2012

Touring Phuket

So we finally rent a car, and the next morning it is cloudy, rainy, but we don't care, and travel south.  A view from the first viewpoint informs about the western coast of Phuket south of Patong, the hedonistic center of the island:

The bay of Patong is to the north (next to the high-rise), south of it the bay of Kolon, and finally Kata. As we continue south, we reach a small, nameless beach almost on the tip of the island (Chang in the lower right corner)...

May 22, 2012

Neckermann Bumms Bomber (Learning Thai (2))

Let's get this out of the way first. Remember the 2 k-sounds from our last post? Here are a few more:

Got it?

Well,  back in the late seventies, my then-colleague Han felt the urge to take the Neckermann Bumms Bomber (his words, you'll figure this out yourself) to Bangkok (กรุงเทพมหานคร). Han had been a seminarist (studying for priest) until the Marxist wave struck the Netherlands and he took up residence in Amsterdam's red light district, where he would spend the evening checking whether he still had the 25 guilders in his pockets to pay one of the neighboring ladies of the night for the standard job (he told me). Arriving in Thailand, he met a girl, fell in love, bought a home, and learned Thai, while keeping a part time appointment at the University of Amsterdam. Thai learning is difficult, he explained with starry eyes, citing the fact that the language has innumerable consonants, among which 5 different k-sounds (there you have it; the table mentions six, but two are obsolete).

And when back in Amsterdam, Han became a pillar of the relationship community, with which I mean to say that he was hired to save gay couples, in particular those comprising a Dutch person and an imported Thai boy. Relationships, Han explained, depend on communication (this was before everybody subscribed to the Harvard Business Review), and the non-existing Thai of the Dutch and the poor English of the Thai boy would inevitably lead to a downward relationship spiral that only Han could stop by intervening as a Thai/Dutch interpreter and helping the couple to regain a new level of understanding. I don't know whether Han kept any statistics. Rumor has it he's now divorced.

Learning Thai

We've arrived safely in Thailand, but are now holed up in the bedroom, since Chang (ช้าง) ("elephant") canceled the a/c in the living room. So, we have no choice but to learn Thai (ภาษาไทย). It will be quite a slog. But the beginning is easy, as it thematizes the chicken-egg problem.

ก ไก  ko (as in) kai" (chicken) and we are pronouncing the    as "k," whereas
ข ไข "kho  (as in) khai" (egg) and we are pronouncing the  breezely as "kh."


Hold your bladder, hold your bladder, there is a small problem. Our "ko" (), it's some sort of "g" on another web site dedicated to Thai learning.

Stay tuned.

May 20, 2012

Breaking news alert: Zurich Airport (4)

What's this?

Yes, it's the consequence of our Priority Pass, the black card that granted us access to the Swiss VIP lounge of the airport, where life is eternal and all drinks are free (mental note: need to write an essay with the title "Airport Lounge und Paradies"), whence an attempt to mix a Bloody Mary early in the morning, a mix with mixed results, since the Worcestershire bottle emptied itself like a drunken sailor into our glass. We'll drink it anyhow. Cheers. Chang frowns.

Zurich Airport (3)

So, we are in Kloten, home of the airport (this must be the first time in creative writing that somebody attributed a "home" to an airport), and we are strolling through the lazy afternoon, and the weather improves.

We are not alone, a creek strolls through the lazy downtown setting, too.

What's wrong. What's this? In Switzerland. Something in the water, that doesn't belong there? No, it doesn't.

It's an Irish licence plate, and a fancy one at that, "en guerre" (at war). Euromess in Switzerland? What else.

Fortunately, a sense of order is quickly restored further downstream, at least in a geo-topological way:

May 19, 2012

Never leave home without it

But we do, we do. (Question: " Why do you need a camara, isn't your cell-phone enough?" Answer: "I don't know how to use my cell-phone"). For example last Tuesday, we had this appointment with our lawyer in Cannes, on the Rue d'Alsace, only a few steps from the Palais du Festival, and it's the day of the opening of the Film Festival.  And we leave the lawyer's premises, and the sun shines, and we step into a street scene with two cameras (plus camera men), overhead microphones of the phallic kind, and goons, five goons, and in the middle of it all a woman in her late 50's, dressed up as femme du midi (blond, whitish clothes, bosom, gold), and she looks miserable, miserable, while the cameras zoom, and a male voice is calling --- we forgot her name, actually --- lets make it Muriel. We've never heard of Muriel, but the male voice apparently has, and the cameras are zooming, and Muriel (she answers to that name, so much is clear) looks misreable, misrable, misable, misbel,'s beyond description, her whole body tumbling forward, the face facing the gutter, the rimples (that's the word, isn't it, the spell checker acts up) dancing on her forehead.  The voice ("Muriel") belongs to a stalker --- she must be famous --- who is kept at arms length by yet another goon, who is, in fact, spreading his arms so as to keep the stalker away from Muriel without causing any collateral damage. "Muriel, Muriel." We have no proof, we have no proof, but a scene like that, you can't make it up.

Zurich Airport

A friend sends this picture:

Huh? Well, we arrive at the airport, and the place appears to be dominated by wall-high billboards for brothels (eg. Club Aphrodisiac, "all drinks for free"); it's in this spirit that we reply: "If you like anal, use the rear entrance."
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