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Dirtscapes

Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

The Sawatdee Digest

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Some lessons learnt from a week in Thailand

--> Leaving your slippers outside a temple doesn't have to be a panic-attack inducing affair. There are no hustlers outside offering to look after your precious 'paadukas'. You leave them in stands (free!) and you come back to find them exactly where you left them.

--> Tiger cubs are not as adorable and docile as you think they are. They momentarily fool you into "Awww... they are just like kittens" mode. Till they roar, and try to swipe your epidermis off. And then shoot you another baleful look.

--> Carrying army rations of Gujju savouries just-in-case, is not worth it. There are tons of desi restaurants almost everywhere you go. With passable food.

--> An omelette is not necessarily always flat.

--> If it looks like a pea, and it's a Thai curry, it's probably not a good idea to shovel spoonfuls of them into your mouth.

--> Singha beer totally rocks. Till you try Singha Lite. Countless bottles of which later, there's no rocking, just spinning.

--> If the board says it's a massage parlour, and if the building is huge-ass and posh, and if the crowd going in and shooting you quizzical looks (since you are with the Missus) is all male, then there's a very good chance that the place is not as wholesome as it seems. Think this.

--> The night life in Pattaya is a total piranha like assault on your senses. You think you have a handle on what it might be like before going in, but nothing prepares you for what lurks there, on Walking Street. All I can say is the words 'boom boom', 'ping pong' and 'Russian ballet' will never be the same for me anymore.

--> Getting currency exchanged after a trip down forementioned Walking Street is not a good idea. You will keep smiling, even though the exchange rate sucks. And even after the lady has warned you twice before handing you the forex.

--> Thai guides and vendors surprise you with their Hindi. "Chaaalo!", "Teen shau paachaash baht!", "Naariyal paani!". Till they sucker punch you with their Marathi. "Chalaa! Chalaa! Kaka, Kaki!" (not too good, if you still harbour visions of youth for self), "Basa!", "Utha!". Mere watan ki saundhi saundhi khusboo and all that.

--> Having seen Ong-bak (highly recommended) and Prig-Kee-Noo (Ditto. Had seen this way back on MTV when I was in school) are great ice-breakers.

--> While shopping, it is a good idea to just pay up, if the price seems fair enough. Bargaining to reduce already basement bargain rates will cause those welcoming smiles to vanish like breath on a razor blade. And invite some really warm treatment. Like quoting 10 times the price suddenly, and asking you to go and die if you cannot afford to buy it.

--> Traffic can be bearable, if no one honks. And especially if the driver comes extremely well prepared with an ice-box cooler full of water and Coke, and a couple of newspapers. When faced with a long wait, swig some cola, read the papers, and move when everybody does. No melodrama, no cardiacs. The no honking policy also applies to vehicles behind cabbies who are negotiating fares, and the signal is full chalu. Respect.

--> There is a universe (called Bangkok), where a taxi ride (for an AC Toyota Corolla, 6 people) is cheaper than an autorickshaw one.

--> It is a pleasant surprise not to be harassed majorly (negligible by Mumbai standards) by 'friends' outside airports, hotels and touristy places. It hits home even harder, when there are prominent signs all over Mumbai airport arrival, asking you to say 'NO' to touts.

--> God bless digital cameras. Coming back and marvelling at the sheer number of redundant photos of the same thing you have clicked, makes you feel decadent on an almost Roman-emperor-before-it-all-crashed level. Or like an IT professional in 2007.

--> Saying thank you and please so often starts to grate on you. Till you catch the return flight home, that is. Full of extremely well-behaved bretheren, it feels so, so right. As soon as the boarding gates open, there's the stampede. Seat number wise boarding calls be damned, only to be turned away at the boarding gate. After boarding, there's yelling, there's ordering the air hostesses for glasses of water ("I also want water.") around even before take off, there's a massive fight because one didn't get a 'special meal' which is resolved only on receipt of an exclusive arrest offer by the Captain himself, no less. Then there's cranky middle aged farts who are in a tearing hurry to get to their seat ("What if the plane starts to take off while I'm standing! Gasp!"), exhorting you to "Do fastly fastly!", when you are searching for space to stow your measly backpack amidst the rough Johhny Walker seas in the overhead bins.

Sure ain't no place like home. Especially when you start feeling it right on the tarmac at Suvarnabhumi.

posted by Tapan at 11:42 AM