Sunday, September 24, 2006


The people here spend a lot of time assiduously cleaning floors. There is a woman in a traditional Thai long silk skirt mopping the wooden floor of the building opposite. I sit in wooden-walled and water-featured humidity, diligently blogging away. Yesterday at the photo-lab a woman toiled unflaggingly with a cloth at the tiled floor around my feet as i waited for a cd burn. At the mega shopping malls (where on one upper floor Lamborghinis and Maseratis stand before floor-to-ceiling window vistas on the city skyline) cleaners perpetually push broomy mop shaped things around the slippery shiny tiled floors like placidly obsessed automatons.

Cleaning floors is a religion in Thailand. Votive offerings to the God Ajax adorn shrines in front of buildings everywhere. Incense, fruit, drink, carvings ... last night (early this morning?) as Carlo, Ned and i embarked on a long rambling walk through side alleys, off the numbered side streets ('soi') into the Arab quarter, past the Harlem Net Cafe and the Non-Stop Hip-Hop Shop, i remarked how the wooden elephants which stand quietly on some of these shrines wouldn't last five minutes on the streets of any nightclub district in Australia. They would be forcibly liberated. Here, they remain unmolested. Similarly the cool drink fridge, standing all alone on the Skytrain walkway, is never locked when the vendor knocks off, but is itself never knocked off. The city's beggars might show a little more initiative! Instead of cutting their legs off and dragging themselves along a filthy pavement pushing a bowl of one Baht coins in front of them, they could set up a stall selling carved wooden elephants and cool drinks.

A modest enterprise, certainly. But better than sitting about in stairwells with a couple of babies, a cup, and a forlorn expression. Where's the public benefit in that? In a Keynesian world they would all be promptly enlisted in the Army. Hmm. Isn't that where cripples and widows came from in the first place? But even a second-rate cripple or single mother could manage what the Thai Army soldiers are doing at the moment around Bangkok. Which is bugger-all, really. Sitting around card tables, in Humvees or troop carriers. Standing on walkways. Getting their photos taken with passers-by. Photographing themselves with pretty women on their mobile telephones. Harrumph. Nice work if you can get it.

They have yellow ribbons tied to their shoulder-stripes and adorning the ends of their rifles. Yellow is the symbolic colour of the country's revered King, who has given this year's warm and fuzzy military coup the thumbs-up.

Walking down Soi Cowboy, i distractedly eat a bagful of fried locusts, which taste just like fried rice, only crunchy. I wash them down with some Tiger beer.

Stay tuned for further incorrect political analysis from the Kingdom of Thailand. Governments here tend to come and go, but the need for a clean floor is immutable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello A.D! Wow fried locusts,yellow ribbons, amputees & shiny sure know how to cover a story, what a trip hey? O oh I'm at work at the moment and have to go...Take care, just wanted to drop you a line. Sounds like your having a blast (no puns intended)!!!I'm off to see Rhino this arvo btw...
Mayhem Out XXX