“Eh you the Farang [incomprehensible mumbo jumbo] boom tsing [incomprehensible mumbo jumbo] me too…” is screaming a hoarse and loud voice somewhere to my left. I don’t realize instantly that this yell is addressed at me but I nevertheless automatically turn my head up in the direction where it’s coming. In my field of vision I see first the lovely brown arm of T** already outstretched with her hand clenched into a fist except for the middle finger that stands out and points to the direction where the voice is coming. Oh, now I understand why you said to me that sometimes you can be bad too. My eyes hurt as they need to readapt quickly to the dazzling noon light of a sunny day of March. I see then a man who is gesticulating and vociferating from a balcony at the first storey of a dilapidated house that looks onto the shaded alley where we are standing. One hand is grasping a green bottle, the other one is pointing at us. He has incredibly long blonde dreadlocks, his face is red, and there is no washing powder that could clean his clothes. This one is for sure at the end of his tether.
We walk away, once again hand in hand like lovers, me, the holidaying farang, and her, the working darling from Udon Thani, my full-time partner for the last four days. Like lovers?
Don’t be unhappy /while dancing the Javanaise/we loved each other/
The time of a song
We just turned off to the right as we were walking down Uttaradit Roadtowards Christin, the massage parlor of Patong on Phuket Island. We waked up only a half an hour ago in the relative freshness of my hotel room and we have made love one more time, with the tenderness and attentions of lovers that have been separated for a long time, that are so happy to meet again and that have waited eagerly for this moment but not to the point of spoiling the experience by too much hurry. Now we are both hungry. She strode quite fast, nearly dragging me by my hand but never enough to walk ahead. It is not that I can’t walk faster, but even after a week here I’m still bewildered by this zoo and acknowledging all the available data slows me down.
Upon entering the trok I had to remove my sunglasses as it was so dark. The pavement is uneven, there is a small stream that carries along milky water that smells of washing powder, and I’m careful where I step. I can ear some luk thung tune and also some conversations strewn with giggles between girls. In the air floats stale smell of charcoal.
We are heading toward a flight of stairs that leads to T**’s room. She goes in front of me; reluctantly I have to let her hand go of, the staircase is too narrow for the two of us. Before reaching the first landing, a couple of steps below, I see a pair of beautiful naked feet with red painted nails through the crack of a slightly ajar door. These feet are facing me, they have all the toes perfectly chubby and lined up, the sole seems to float a few millimeters above the tiled floor, and the skin is so white that you wonder if these feet have even walked on this planet before, that could be the ones of a goddess. Some small drops of water are beading like dew on rose petals from well proportionate ankles that support shapely hairless legs that have some tone under a smooth spotless skin. As I climb the stairs my eyes are discovering the naked body of a beautiful woman, she has the classical hourglass figure, narrow waistline, full heavy breasts with brown large areola and turgescent tits, oval face with fleshy lips and slit eyes. She is wrapping a towel around her, very slowly, her shoulder length jet black hair is wet, she is just off the shower. Now we are making eyes contact and she is bearing my look. I’m a little puzzled because she is not displaying any shyness while not being totally bold. I step out on the next flight of stairs and the appearance is over.
The next landing is like the entrance of a mosque as they are many shoes spread out on the doormat. T** is already entering the flat barefoot, I quit my shoes too and follow. Inside I’m greeted by three girls.
The one who is busy preparing some stuff for lunch in the main living area is T**’s workmate at the ****Bar. As usual she wears black colored clothes, but she has swapped her bargirl outfit for a sarong, the waist wrap-around skirt. She could be pretty if she wasn’t so fat and although her lips are often giving slight gentle smiles, her eyes are never able to hide her frustration and resignation. She can manage to get only one customer per month, “farang doesn’t like fat lady” as T** explained to me prosaically. Luckily as she is fun to be with she is making all her money from the drinks commissions. Of course heavy drinking is not going to help her weight problem. And no more farang sponsor, as the German guy whom with she was engaged suddenly disappeared not answering anymore to her phone calls and e-mails. I have been told that she was in love with this guy, she was to marry him and relocate in Germany, and he even supported her with some regular and reasonable money transfers. She doesn’t know what happened: did he marry an other woman; has he been killed in a car crash…?T** has a quick exchange with her in Thai and she says to me: “I go buy more food for you, you wait here” pointing at a wicker bench on the right side of the living room. And she is off with her purse.
In front of me, at the opposite side of the living room, under a big window with drawn curtains, there is a platform with a king size bed. Two other girls are lying flat on their tummy, their head resting in their hand, their body alternately tensing up and then relaxing, depending of what happens in the horror movie they are now watching on the TV. This is a serious affair that is commented by some “oy!” and some “pee!” or some “eu!” The special effects are amateurish, the scenario looks childish, the acting is overemphasized, and yet these girls are totally into it. It reminds of me as a teenager watching the ‘Incredible Hulk’ starring Lou Ferrigno back in the late seventies. Now I see only a tall bodybuilder with green painting running half naked in the streets but back then I was seeing a raging indestructible monster ready to lash out.The oldest of these two girls, the one wearing a blouse and capris, is T**’s roommate. She could be in her forties, while still rather slim she is slightly potbellied, she has short hair and a quite flat face with a high forehead. This one has a long bargirl career behind her and she is on the declining slope. Her voice is hoarse and strong, like someone who spent the previous night smoking or screaming and her laugh is loud and throaty. She is bitter and cynical and her life is a total mess. She had married a German guy, moved in Germany, gave birth to a daughter and came back in Thailand alone thirteen years ago. Since that time she hasn’t been able to see her daughter as her former husband did everything possible to prevent it. I don’t know about the reasons of the divorce and I never will, but I guess it must have been a nasty one. I don’t why, but seeing her and without knowing anything about the father, I can’t help thinking that the child is probably better in Germany and far away from such a mother.The younger one is her workmate. She’s tall and has brace to get into position her buck teeth. She must be young, may be eighteen or twenty, and without being unattractive she is not either attractive. Suddenly her attention is diverted from the TV program and she fumbles frenetically in her jeans to finally extract from one pocket her mobile phone. Lying now on her back, the arm holding the mobile phone outstretched, she reads to us aloud the received SMS: “I’m in the airport and I love you. James”. “I luve uuuuuuuuu!” is repeated gleefully in a chorus by these three girls, the younger one sawing the air with her feet.
At the same moment, T** comes back from her shopping with many plastic bags and gives to me a surprised and inquiring look. “Could it be that my farang…?” she may start to think. Fortunately she catches up quickly the last events as a thoughtful discussion follows in Thai where I can ear many “farang” this and “James” that. Phew! Now it is time for lunch.
T** and the fat lady are unpacking the bags and opening the Styrofoam boxes, and very soon their routine meal is laid on the tiled floor: the inevitable som tam (green papaya salad) – this one has chillies peppers and fermented rice crabs- , chicken and whole fish skewers, glutinous rice in small individual transparent poly bags, and fresh Pak Boong Daeng (swamp cabbage). The fat lady is scooping water directly from a plastic cooler, I can see many ice cubes floating at the top, and serves everyone a glass, but I’m offered a cold Pepsi Cola. As they start to eat using their fingers or a spoon to pick food I remark T** is no more a left-hander. “Eat, eat” says T** pointing to the som tam with her big almond eyes even more slanted in a mischievous smile. As I’m taking the first mouthful, they become quiet. Oh, I know what they are expecting. “Very good” I say. Of course they don’t show any sign of deception and they resume the idle talk. I take more som tam in a stride and T** removes the leaves of a few swamp cabbage stems, shows me how to eat it, and hands me one. It tastes like spinach or more precisely like sorrel. I have nearly emptied my mouth that the fat lady hands me a piece of chicken. Then T** stuff me with sticky rice. In short, I’m fed like a baby and I like it.Like them I’m seated directly on the floor but I have to change position many times before I get pins and needles in my lower body. They eat with determination, not speaking that much, like people who have been hungry in their childhood, such as me. Very soon there is nothing left and T** bins all the remains and the packing, she takes away the glasses, spoons and various flatware in the bathroom and comes back to mop the floor. I ask her if she is always doing the chores but she replies to me that they share. Her roommate has been the first to get up on her feet and without a word she went on the balcony for a smoke, so I don’t believe T**.
Now we can relax together and cuddle a little bit on the wicker bench, drinking Lipton Yellow tea. While the girls are chatting together in Thai, I’m taking a look at the books and magazines that are piled up on the top of a small dresser. There are several Thai-English dictionaries, phrasebooks and books about relationship with farangs. The magazines have only short stories, a few pages long, and I can guess what is about because the titles and some extracts are translated in English: love stories mainly. Every two or three pages the higher corner is fold, it gives an indication of her reading pace. There is also a pile of A4 printed sheets and I’m surprised to see that these are the lyrics of very famous English-speaking songs with now and then some pen marks. Eh T**, you are supposed to be able to read only comics book at the condition they have no more than one hundred words! What kind of bargirl are you?T** collects the cups and goes to the bathroom to do the dishes. In fact she uses the shower tub. I can ear the water running freely and a lot of splashing, and after a few minutes she comes back moping up her feet and lower legs with a towel.
Now wrapped in her phaasin, the long sarong for women, that covers her from ankle to armpits, she gets rid of her bargirl attire and from a drawer she extracts a very tidy pile of clothes. After some weighing up of the pros and the cons, she slips on a grey short with a Mickey Mouse drawing, a light blue T-shirt and assorted flip-flops. “Let’s go back to the hotel” I say, “the taxi I booked will arrive soon”. We say our goodbyes to the company and as we are passing the door T** stops and scurries back to the dresser. I follow her and before I can understand what’s happening she is spraying my T-shirt. Now that I’m fumigated and deodorized we can walk down the staircase.Arriving on ground level, we see in the corridor an old woman who has set up her sewing workshop here. I can’t speak or understand Thai, but it is obvious they talk about me as the old woman points at me not at all embarrassed. The old woman tries to speak with me “where you come from?” “Hong Kong” I reply and T** adds some more comments in Thai. Then a beautiful woman appears sneaking in from our backs and joins to the discussion. Because the first time I saw her she was naked and had wet hair, I don’t instantly recognize her. She says to me “next week I go
Hong Kong for work” staring at me intently. “When I’m in Hong Kong I’m very very busy” I reply to her while taking T**’s hand in mine. I turn towards T** and I say to her “let’s go” and like lovers we leave for a stroll. Like lovers?
Don’t be unhappy /while dancing the Javanaise/we loved each other/
The time of a song 
 Refrain from “La javanaise”, Serge Gainsbourg
The author can be contacted at: [email protected]
HECK, I’M THIRSTY AFTER ALL THESE WRITINGS! DO YOU SEE THE “BUY ME A BEER” BUTTON ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE SCREEN? WHAT DO YOU THINK IS IT FOR?