Conversations with a Buffalo
Ouwa Ouwa. A deep groan blows out. Now a lot of you will find this story interesting. It happened five years ago. Some of you won’t believe it. You’ll say “Na”. Some of you will believe it and say nothing and nod slowly a few times. Some of you, The Third Lot, will analyse it and then write in with helpful explanations and advice. Others, The Fourth Lot, will have had similar experiences and will share. This story goes out to all of you, but particularly to The Third and Fourth Lot.
The story I’m going to share with you has been reconstructed from written notes, vague memorial recollections, photographs and tape recordings. These sources are a collection of eye witness accounts, conversations and personal reflections. And it’s going to be a summary, not the full- blown, unadulterated version.
During the past five years, I’ve spent a lot of time going over the evidence and discussing this evidence with a lot of blokes and birds, who have listened, read, digested and tried to explain, in their own words, what exactly happened. Many of these people are open minded, broad minded, well travelled, experienced, educated, wise, intelligent and well read. Some aren’t.
You might find the first part of this story rather long winded and boring. It might appear like that, but it’s not. It’s an integral part of the whole story. You won’t be able to understand or explain what happened unless you digest this important part of the whole. It’s essential to the context. Some of you will come up with explanations as soon as you have finished reading. Others will have to sleep on it and when you wake up, it will come to you.
I’m going to tell you up front some of the explanations others have already suggeted to me in the hope that you can come up with something different. Here they are 1) I really did have conversations with a buffalo 2) I didn’t have conversations with a buffalo: I imagined it or I was delusional 3) I didn’t have conversations with a buffalo: I had a conversation with a man, or woman, who I thought was a buffolo, or he, or she, thought he, or she, was a buffalo and I believed him, or her, or other people thought he or she was a buffalo and I believed them 4) I knew all along that I wasn’t talking to a buffalo, until I forgot that and now, as a result, I believe that I did.
A warning before you start: This is all written in English. To be sure, numerous languages were used including English, Thai, Isaan, Lao, Chinese, French, Russian, Greek, Maltese and German to name a few. I can’t always remember now which languages were used when or to what extent or with what fluency or accuracy or register. Sign language was also used and interpretators. It’s all mixed up in my mind now, except for the recordings when I can hear the original tongue. Last word of warning, I’m going to write it as if it were a very short fictional story, but it’s not fiction: no apologies.
As often happens with a lot of my experiences, it all started in Bangkok. It was the rainy season. The rains were particularly heavy that year. Sometimes there was a cool wind blowing but often, it was stinking, stufflying hot. It was also a time when I chose to sleep outside. Some call it sleeping rough or living rough. I don’t. A lot of Thai blokes like to sleep outside during this season especially when the rain falls or when the nights are cool. Of course, my mates who live in-doors begged me to stay with them; but I, like a true, traditional English Bull Dog, or like my Spartan Greek mates, stayed steadfast; I resisted.
After a number of days of this spewing rain and hot tub temperatures, together with the rude, loud horns, vehicle exhaust, and snail like masses, I got agitated; I started to feel as if I was going mental. I began to yearn for a quiet, peaceful country life.Nay, I needed a break; I needed a holiday. Thank the Greek Gods! Tony turned up. He’d heard from my street mates that I could be going mental. He said he was heading off countryside way and would give me a lift.
I went at the chance like a dog going for a bone with meat on it and marrow inside and jumped into his car. Off we went. I didn’t know at the time where we were going to. I didn’t care. I found out later, much later though. I didn’t bother reading the road signs as I was so intent on listening to my music and reading a novel I’d read and re-read a hundred times. It was damn good too. I didn’t have an I-Phone; I didn’t have a book either. It was all in my head. I could just remember it all, note for note and word for word. I was transfixed. After about ten hours, I began to get bored and so did Tony and besides that he had buisiness to do in Bangkok the next day. H e wanted to head back and asked me if I wanted to alight. Of course, I did. I couldn’t wait. That’s why I headed out from BK right from the ready go. I jumped out and Tony sped off back to Bangers.
I looked around. It was dark, not pitch because there was some moonlight but I was in the countryside. There were trees, a bridge, a river and fields. For the first time in a long time, longer than I could immediately remember, I was breathing fresh air and the vapors of chicken fertilizer. My lungs were full and my stomach empty. I felt happy and I began to relax. I felt even better when it started to rain. Then it became pitch dark as the clouds covered the moon. It was exciting: the loud thunder, the lightning strikes, and the strong wind. Within seconds, I was loaded up with country water. How good it felt! After standing there for what felt like ten minutes, I walked off along the road into the dark not knowing where I was going and not particularly caring. At last, I was countrysided.
After five minutes a pick-up truck went past and stopped just ahead. I opened the door. The driver didn’t ask me if I wanted a lift and I didn’t say I did. I climbed in. We said nothing together. After a twenty minutes, she stopped the car and I got out. I was in the middle of a village. Some lights were on in some of the houses; a lot weren’t. There weren’t any street lights. Dogs barked at me; they were frightened and I forgave them. As soon as they got close, I just tried to kick them and none of them bit me.No one came out to see what all the noise was about. They must have been asleep. I don’t know what the time was, but it must have been later than ten.
I stumbled forwards after the last dog attack and saw a figure lurching in the middle of the road. Dogs barked at him too, ran out and looked as if they wanted to bite him, but he just ignored them, and eventually, they backed off. For me, at that time, he was a fellow philosopher. A person after my own heart, to use another cliché and thank goodness for them too. He was shorter than me, about five feet four. He had a shaven head, a round smiling face, some stuble, a slightly red complexion. He was wearing clothes, although I saw him many times after that not wearing anything while expeditioning through the streets. His clothes looked clean, but ragged, torn and unironed, like mine. His face was beaming; he was delighted to see me. He wanted to talk. “Where are you from?” he asked. And before I could answer, he looked me in the eyes, with what I considered to be total frank, honesty and innocence and said, “I want money”. I looked at him in his eyes and waited. “You and me both, cobber”, I ouwed. And after that, we became the best of friends, to use another cliché…No! I can do better than that- We deserve it: We got on like houses set alight. Like one great big, bloody bonfire lighting up the rice fields, laughing wildly, like happy, drunk bastards. As only drunk bastards can. (I’ll explain that bit later).
End of Chapter One