Back Home in Bangkok, Part VII

After Part VI

December 20-25, 2004

Monday, December 20, 2004

A happy family? It looks that way from the 'insert' picture, doesn't it? But, all was not well with this Pakistani-Burmese couple who live in Bangkok. Apparently the husband had a "mia noi" (literally a small or minor wife) (*).

His wife (the 'big' one) was not happy with the arrangement. Together with a friend she lured the woman to her house, killed her, sectioned her and stuffed her beneath the mattress that was part of the conjugal bed.

"What's that smell, honey?"

(*) In Thailand if a man has a "mia noi" he has a moral obligation to support her ... in Victorian words she might be called a "kept woman". But, if our man in Bangkok is just screwing around with her she is known as a "kig"; and there is no 'duty' to keep her fed and housed. Of course, the "kig" is free to screw around on the side; the "mia noi" owes fidelity. So, take your pick.

PS: This afternoon I discovered this muffler art on Silom Road.

PPS: An ad we wish we could see:

Ford Sportka
The unauthorized ad shows a computer-generated cat climbing on a Ford's Sportka and poking its head into the open sunroof. The sunroof then slides closed, the cat struggles to escape, but then its headless body rolls down to the ground. Ford says it didn't authorize the ad and the agency that proposed it, Ogilvy & Mather, also denies it authorized the release of the ad, which spread rapidly over the Internet. ... And now we've found it (852k WMV).

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

On Sunday I forgot to post BIZARRO. It is one of the three 'comics' that I read every day. One is in The Nation, another in the Bangkok Post and the third is in the International Herald Tribune. BIZARRO is in the Bangkok Post. Any guesses on the others?

Today the river was calming ... the Saphan Taksin bridge is still decorated with the Loi Kratong lights...and the sun set nicely behind The Peninsula.

PS: Reader Louisa Tournblouser from Capetown, South Africa writes:

Sir, your muffler tree of yesterday ... the bit of urban art that you found on Silom Road ... do you have another perspective of it? I see the glint of something that might fit my 1971 Morris Minor.

Obsequiously yours,

Done, Louisa! Is it the shiny bit next to the black piece?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I guess yesterday's good day in Bangkok had to be balanced out with something less serene.

"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree."

– Joyce Kilmer, Trees

Come to Bangkok, Joyce!

On my way home from the gym there was a three vehicle pile up on the Saphan Taksin bridge. A taxi cut in front of a van; a sedan then plowed into the back of the van. This took place during rush hour; traffic was backed up for kilometers. No one was hurt but the girl driving the sedan was in tears. The taxi driver seemed calloused. The people in the van stayed in the van. No one honked their horns.

When I finally got home the evening paper had the most disturbing set of photographs that I have ever seen in the Bangkok press. In the first two the children are crying over their grandmother (*). And, the 'Mortonized' image is that of a freshly born baby that had been tossed on top of a broken-glass studded wall by her unmarried teen age mother; she first slit its throat (**).

Tomorrow I'll bring you coverage of a Chinese opera that took place in our back yard. Don't touch that dial!

(*) The text of the story ended on an upbeat note: the grandmother suffered an epileptic seizure ... but she survived.

(**) Is that better than killing the pregnant mother in order to get the baby, American style ... Kansas ... or, was it Maryland? The woman looked like she could be from either Kansas City or Baltimore.

PS: Reader Rose Hum Lee (*) from New York City writes:

"As the author of the standard work on urban life, THE CITY, I am depressed at your negative characterization of what is just plain normal in any living space that does not have hogs and chickens sharing the right of way with people. For God's sake can't you once show us the UP side of city life?"

OK, Rose, this is for all the guys who live in small apartments with tiny kitchens in the city.

(*) Rose does (did) exist: The following is excerpted from Thinking Orientals: A History of Knowledge Created About and By Asian Americans (New York: Oxford: 2000), by Dr. Henry Yu, University of California at Los Angeles.

In 1947, Rose Hum Lee finished her doctorate on "The Growth and Decline of Rocky Mountain Chinatowns." By 1956 she had achieved the height of a prolific career at Roosevelt University in Chicago by becoming the first woman, and first Chinese American, to head a sociology department at an American university. Lee was also a respected theorist in the field of urban sociology and her 1955 work The City: Urbanism and Urbanization in Major World Regions was the epitome of Chicago school urban theory; the Chinese in America, however, were the central focus of her life's work.

Rose Hum Lee often used her own family, and especially her mother, as examples of the successful assimilation of a Chinese American family. Her dissertation's appendix contained an extended life-history of her own family, and she often referred to her own family's experiences to illustrate analytical points. Interestingly, however, all mentions of her family and herself were cloaked in anonymity. Lee would quote from "Private document No. 17, Life History No. 1" as if it was just another nameless, faceless piece of sociological data, all the while knowing that it was her own family.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Chinese opera that was held in our backyard? You are waiting? Yes, I promised it for today ... [Well, I must confess: the thing was carried out almost in our backyard ... though actually, it was performed in the open space at Wat Suan Phlu, which is just next door; yes the wat that recently got a canary yellow bright paint job]; ... but, dear reader, does all that really matter? No, of course not.

Anyway, I took far too many slides ... as you can see from my 'light-box'. And, as Paul is in transit to Minnesota I don't think he has any broadband at the end of his wire while he is in the Crown Room at SEATAC. (*)

So, here is just a little bit of it ... but, probably far more than what you even wanted. Two or three slides are from the audience side of the stage; a couple from backstage. And, there is one movie clip (1.2mb .avi) from the front.

(*) I think Paul is there right now ... as I send this!

PS: They do this Chinese opera every year at the same time. It must have something to do with some Chinese feast day. Linda Santarelli and I saw it for the first time about 6 years ago. I don't think I have any old file footage of this lying around THOCBDC. I did a self-GOOGLE but I came up with nothing.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas Eve from The Oriental's dessert buffet.

Saturday, December 25, 2004 (Christmas)


PS: Dad? I hope not ... I wasn't that close to you in your declining years. Mom? That is so much fucking worse! I don't even want to think about that scenario.

Or, is it some terrible Drag Queen? The funny hat and the strange chin suggest something that went terribly wrong (*).

(*) Known among the followers of the 'Catholic Clingers' as "Our Holy Father".

Next: The Wrath of doG

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