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Thai Girl Tattle: A Noodle In A Rice Sack

...If I analyse my time though, the greatest proportion of it is probably spent looking for things Iíve lost....

Life in rural Thailand can be one long search for a missing key, a bottle opender, a hoe, a rake...

Andrew Hicks finds that searching for lost items helps to beat the bordedom.

Do please visit Andrew's Web sites

People often ask me what I spend my time doing living in a small village out on the vast rice plains of Isaan, the great North East of Thailand and I find this quite a difficult question to answer. If I analyse my time though, the greatest proportion of it is probably spent looking for things Iíve lost.

I confess that a small element of this could be due to my own geriatric decay. I find that my short term recall of where I put my mobile phone, car keys or glasses is slowly deteriorating.

However I also blame other more sinister forces for losing things. Living in a house full of people, everything is always going astray.

One job I always do is burning the household rubbish because otherwise drifts of plastic end up blowing around the garden and thatís horrible. So I look for the lighter which should be on top of the kitchen cabinet. I recently bought five to be sure of having one but theyíve all disappeared.

Now whereís the bottle opener? With all this hunting around, Iím in need of a beer. And the tape measureís gone too. While building the house I bought at least four of these and all were quickly lost. Not stolenÖ lost!

I rarely do any work in the garden because the hoe and the rake have all disappeared. Whoever used them last has probably put them down in the long grass and it always takes me half an hour of searching before I can get started. Nobody ever puts things back in the same place and itís so frustrating! In a big garden itís like looking for a noodle in a rice sack.

Then thereís the keys to the front gate which always go missing. I must buy a new padlock with ten keys, but as of now thereís only one and itís not in the drawer. Catís at the college and not answering her phone and so Iím a prisoner here as I canít get the pickup onto the road. Yes, I made a place in the drawer for the key but it isnít there. Round here, farang systems somehow get subverted every time.

Upstairs is my domain I think, but even there things can be difficult. Iíve bought a cupboard in which to keep my lighter, bottle opener, tape measure, hammer and screw driver and all the things I need and this usually now keeps them safe.

Trouble is, thereís a cultural quirk that destabilizes even my most cunning plan. The DNA of Thai women determines that before putting things away in box, drawer or cupboard they have to put them in plastic bags. And first they always tie the neck of the bag with a double knot so tight that it takes an age to open it to find the contents.

Thus when I want to find that digital optical reader for my camera it could be in any number of bags in any drawer and it takes half an age to find it. I thought of learning the drawer and bag that Cat keeps it in, but thatís a waste of time as she generally moves everything around from bag to bag and drawer to drawer at least every few days.

Catís extremely well organized and thoughtful about her domestic systems. Always trying to improve them, she changes them at the drop of a hat. I tell her where I want to keep something and even pre-empt her by putting it away myself, but when I next go to look itís gone. Now the camera drawerís full of blankets and receipts for everything sheís bought in the last decade or two but whereís the optical reader thingie gone?

I donít mind this too much because if I didnít spend my day looking for things, I wouldnít have enough do. Thereíd only be my blog to write and that isnít enough to fill my time or slow my mental decline.

Today Iím up in the bedroom at the computer and itís hot. The ceiling fan hasnít worked for a month and last night the air conditioner failed to work. The fan turns but the compressor doesnít want to come on. So yes, itís really hot just under the roof.

When occasionally my satellite internet does work, Iím usually getting a fifth of the speed that Iím paying TOT for and it can rarely open Hotmail. Today it managed to open my inbox but for some reason it wonít open the messages. Iíve got loads of messages to read and reply to but I canít get into them. And for some reason the font size of the inbox has suddenly become infinitesimally small so Iím crazily peering at the screen through a magnifying glass. Iíve tried all the options to correct it, including ĎAppearanceí on ĎInternet Optionsí and just cannot get it right.

An hour ago as I was hoping to attach a letter that Iíve just written to The Bangkok Post (something to do at least!), but the power went off and the internet crashed. So it now makes no difference that the ceiling fan, the aircon and the internet, my principal means to a civilized life donít work. Thereís nothing to power them anyway.

Was George Bush really in Thailand? What Olympics? I missed it all.

When I was writing ďMY THAI GIRL AND IĒ, I gave an early draft to a friend, the venerable author, Jerry Hopkins who went to considerable trouble to read it for me. He made some useful suggestions that made it a much better book, but his principal comment which was debated on my blog several months back, was that the tone of the book was too negative and that I grumbled about Thailand all the time.

I therefore removed a chapter that was a bit too negative, the bookís out and on the best seller list and now Iím back upstairs writing blogs I cannot post.

Itís green and beautiful here in the village, but I canít find my boots for mowing the lawn and the mowerís buggered anyway. Itís stupidly hot upstairs, it took a month to get The Bangkok Post ordered and my essential link to the world, the internet, though expensive is a dog thatís been hit by a truck. Iím about to drive into Sangkha to read my email at the internet cafť and to pay 5,000 baht to TOT for their internet that doesnít work. Cat tells me youíre not allowed to challenge the bill, even though youíre getting nothing like the speed promised in the contract.

Yes, this is Thailand and those are the facts! And Iím not grumbling, Jerry, really Iím not.

Dare I tell you though, I wouldnít mind a nice comfortable condo like yours in Sukhumvit and to dip my toe in Isaan occasionallyÖ just long enough to get bored before fleeing back to the big city and civilisation. Like you do!

Today I canít even go out to the internet cafť to read my email messages. The gateís locked, the keyís gone awol again and Catís not back until nine tonight! Yesterdayís Bangkok Post with my letter in it didnít come and I couldnít check their website. As for food, thatís not important.

But no, Jerry, Iím NOT grumbling!! Iím just telling it like it is.


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