<%-- Page Title--%> Slice of Life <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 122 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

September 12, 2003

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All By Myself and Bangkok

Richa Jha

- And the well wishers are convinced I am eloping!

- The Hubby and the kiddy say, “O, great, go go. For once we'll get to do our own thing!”.

- The worried mother-in-law says, “How can you leave my son, and my grandson and go like that? What, just for a lark? No work? What kind of a woman are you?”

- The amused mother quizzes me with a wink, “Hey, had a fight with him? Go, go, have a blast! I tried doing it once, only, the patch-up happened even before I could decide what clothes to carry!”

- Once in Bangkok, the familiar smiles, the familiar sois, the familiar assertions of “no, ken not (cannot)” (if you've ever tried haggling for lower prices in that country, you'll know these three words with the right inflection), and the familiar sea of women all around. Someone please tell me, why aren't there ever any men visible on the roads?!!

- Step inside the familiar lobby of the hotel, and the lady at the reception says, “Nice to see you again, madaam, what, no husband this time? Ah, perhaps we could arrange for a specialist masseur for you, a male one, if you please, would that be fine?”. The deadpan straight-faced query leaves me squirming for replies. All I can summon up is, “oh no, that will not be required. But thanks, all the same. I'll get in touch with you if I need it, err, need something”.

- The glow sign outside this upmarket restaurant in downtown Sukhumvit says, “If it swims, we have it”, to which I say, “If it breathes, I have it”. The perfect concurrence of the minds, of tastes, of gustatory ideology.

- But that's just that one time. For the rest of the trip, it's street food all the way. Find myself woefully ill equipped to make my preferences known, so it's “nee, nee, nee, and nee” to the vendor, pointing at the specific items which tickle my taste buds from among the delectable fare laid out on their carts.

- “What, five kilos less!”, could the bathroom scales at the hotel room be lying? Or has the scale gone bust from the impact of my sheer mass? I decide it is the latter.

- All by myself in Chatuchak Weekend Market, and I miss The Hubby for the first time on this trip. Two hours into the frenzied shopping binge, I need a porter, a beast of burden. Oh Hubby, why didn't I get you along? How am I to shop some more until I get rid of all these heavy shopping bags I'm weighed down with. The bones, a breaking; the wallets, near empty, but yeh dil maange more! Negotiating the mass of humanity through the concentric maze that is Chatuchak, I drag myself to the Tourist Information Centre seeking help, but, “sorry madam, don't have no cloak room here. You ken not leave your shopping bags here”.

- By myself in the mega-malls, with huge off season discounts, and a guilt free shopping setting (no hubby to nag to hurry up, or no kiddy to constantly remind me that mothers and trial rooms make a sinful guilt-ridden combination). But what's the use. None of those clothes will fit me, anyway! But I don't give up. Not without a fight, at least. “Err, excuse me, you have this in extra extra large size, or larger?”. The sales person looks me in the places it hurts most and shakes her head, “sorry madam, we donhave. Not your size. Our extra large, not large enuf for you”!

- By myself on the roads, and decide the best way to beat the traffic is to ride the motorbike taxis. Whiz past the infinitely long vehicular queues, the smaller alleys, the narrow by lanes of Bangkok and pray for my dear life as the mobikes rev their engines and 'take-off'! There is no such thing as a 'brake' in their vocabulary. Phew! I survive to tell this tale.

- At the end of each day, the feet just about drag, the hands just about lift up to cover that gaping yawn, the eyes just about open to notice my station on the sky-train, and my hand-to-brain co-ordination just about alert enough to key in the ticket the right way to be let out of the station. But nothing that an hour-long vigorous foot massage can't fix. There are several on my way to the hotel, step inside a new one each day. By the end of it, I am ready to jive my way through the night life of Bangkok! Ooooh, don't shudder - there's plenty more to Bangkok's nighlife than just the infamous Patpong, trust me!

- Days fly, and it's time to return. On the way back, the two men-in-black sitting next to me look at each other, nod, and soon disappear just as the lunch is about to be served. I wait for twenty minutes, after which I start getting fidgety. I call the crew, and raise an alarm. “Terrorists, terrorists…” (in retrospect, it must have been the lack of sleep which caused these hallucinations). Turns out, they had moved to the back to some empty seats. After which, anyways, I'm too embarrassed to see anyone in the eyes, so I sleep.

- Reach home to discover my son swinging, chanting Malaika aunty and Shahrukh uncle, and humming chhaiyyan chhaiyan! I know the two men in my life have had a good time. So have I. Every one's happy. A win-win for all!

Until next time, when I chose a different destination!


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