Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yo Fortunato!

The danger of connecting my good times with being lucky, counting blessings and all that, as I did in my last entry, i.e. with taking personally that which a scientist or pure rationalist would posit as coincidence or probability, is that when the times are not so good I want someone (or force) to take responsibility as well- someone to beg to change their mind, somewhere to mail a wail to, someone to harangue and curse. SOW (speaking of which), the average Thais, at least those I have met in Isaan, are far more superstitious and mystical than the average Americans I know. They frankly believe their king is semi-divine http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/world/asia/12iht-thailand.html ; ghosts and ancestors hold a far more real, less silly-assed Hollywood place in daily life.  The other day all the television channels were locked onto a lengthy ceremony which involved men in very tall, pointy hats, and the best-groomed set of white cattle on the planet, doing some kind of circular plowing thing followed by offerings of various foods on a large platter (yes I mean to the cows), their choice of which would prophesy the coming crop season. The dark prince (the one who has been accused of all sorts of nefarious deeds, including assassinations- he attended King's School in Australia with my brother in law's brothers, of all coincidences) was presiding with utter seriousness and focus, and afterward the gathered crowds rushed over the plowed area, gathering sand and rice by the handful and bagful since it carries good fortune personally as well. All of which makes me a tad nervous about the upcoming elections on July 3rd, an extraordinarily complex affair involving so many parties I cannot keep them straight. Suffice it to say the front runner at the moment is the sister of the former prime minister billionaire now living in exile, wanted on criminal charges, who many say will rule the party from afar if his sister is elected. There has already been one bonafide assassin at work (a politician took a bullet in the back but survived) and the release of the photos of 100 purported foreign assassins, with a proffer of a bounty, now lurking in Thailand. There are still 130 people still in jail from the last red shirt problems. Everyone is promising amnesty or handing out money. The monks have been officially warned they will face jail sentences if they get involved. The army generals saw fit to issue an official proclamation that there would be no coup (which leads me to think there may now be one). My American readers will no doubt be in the dark about all of this. I imagine if democracy disappears in the run up to, or aftermath of, the elections it will make the lead story for a nano second. Only fair that you may not know that Thailand is on the verge of electing its first female prime minister ever. Here they have no idea that Huckabee is out, nor do they care about Sarah Palin or Donald Trump.  They do like Obama even though they don't generally like black skin or black people, and they do love their premonitions and predictions. The day before the national lottery I am sure to be asked if I have had any dreams involving numerology, and last month Kru Boom chose her numbers based on the license plates of two cars she had seen in a crash on the way to school. Whereas I am usually prone to pray for broad concepts like peace on earth, or courage, or understanding, I think most Thais stick to the idea of asking for more good luck for themselves and their loved ones. You don't have to take my word for it, there was an article in the Times months ago I probably referenced on my blog- here it is again in case you missed it- http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/29/world/asia/29iht-ghost29.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=thais&st=cse . I am certainly open to such beliefs- obviously it is more comforting to imagine there is some  point to both my good times and bad, even if it doesn't seem to make much sense in terms of my perception of justice. Lest we should point and laugh, imagine if one of the candidates from either U.S. political party dared say that they didn't believe that people can be dead and then get back up and fly to a special other place in the sky where they are reallyboth a solo act and part of an inseparable, invisible trio that is made up of a dad and then this ghosty guy and then the dad's son who just happened to find himself gestating in a womb where no semen had ever entered- well that candidate would be lucky to get 100 votes. And witness the media hysteria and the hysteria of the believers themselves over the rapture predictions for last Saturday. And didn't you have just the slightest niggling itch that maybe, I mean just the eensy weensyest glimmer, the guy could be right and we would all go, Holy Crap I knew it!  Perhaps there exists even the slightest strange desire in each of us that it would happen, because even if it was not the answer we were hoping for (I mean, shit, I have no true desire to sit here for 7 months with boils and other nasties watching my friends suffer, knowing the likes of Harold Camping is somewhere looking down going, I told you so!), so no it is not the answer I am looking for, but at least it would be a frigging answer! Like, okay, I messed up the order of operations and forgot to carry the 1, and I failed, and okay, yeah eternal damnation, but better that than never getting my score back at all. I guess I wonder if on the other side of that if the real believers are perhaps susceptible to similar, miniature doubts. Probably not. Both a blessing and a curse that kind of confidence I suppose. Anyhoo, speaking of bad luck, not that I was very informative on the subject (What do you want for Chrissakes? I am not Kirkeegaard. I can poke at a deep topic about as long as a hamster can. Give me a wheel though- I will tear that shit up all day!), my day at Thai Samakee ended on a very strange note yesterday. My lovely student Bot, pictured below, was moving a heavy iron bench 5 minutes before the end of the day and it tipped over. No big deal, though he looked a little surprised and chagrined. Though startled by the noise I love these guys, and I shook it off, smiling...until I noticed the literal fountain of blood spurting on the white board.
Beng, who I am convinced is going to be a ladyboy someday, began full-lung shrieking, grabbed Bot by the arm and hustled him out of the room and down the stairs, in search of competent help, sensing it was not to be found in the immediate area. Blood everywhere. How could so much blood come out so fast? Examining the accident site, the closest theory I could manage was that the ragged remnants of linoleum on the bench top had sliced his finger as he tried to keep it from hitting the floor. I know the procedure in the States for such moments- forms to fill out for future lawsuits, plastic gloves and bleach to protect survivors from disease. In Thailand I looked for some toilet paper, anything absorbent to get up the big red drops now drying on the ceramic floor, and then a sixth grader showed up with a dirty mop and got most of it. Then I went down and there was Bot looking shaken with two cotton swabs on his middle finger. It was clear from the fatty tissue showing and the dark color of the tip that he had mostly severed the top half inch. They looked for a first aid kit but no one knew where it was. It was the end of the day so they began the lowering of the flag and and saying prayers over the loudspeaker and the kids drifted off. The groundskeeper took Bot off on the back of a borrowed moped. I asked if it was to the nearby Army hospital, but I couldn't be sure of the answer. Then I rode home. It felt lousy, especially since Bot was just recovered from an operation for a burst appendix and he is one of the sweetest kids I know. A little fat, a little uncoordinated, and a lot generous, a lot fun-loving... Unlucky?  Hopefully I will see him tomorrow and his finger will be okay. Then we can compare scars. Here is the one I picked up in Australia, loading Ben's bike into the back of a pick-up:

It was one of those moments where I knew it was bad and I had to ask David and Nick to roll back the bike so I could get it out. Apparently there is a tendon running up the middle that pretty clearly got severed if you look at it now,  5 weeks on.

Though I might be able to fool myself on certain days that I am not that old, when it comes to healing, I clearly ain't going to rise from the dead with any alacrity. Overall, not bad it being my worst scar in 52 years. Guess I have been lucky so far.  So who do I thank for that? Little Lei Lei has not made it quite so far. One week after leaving I received this photo. BEAN! Why did this have to happen??!!!
For the love of God Montresor! Yes, I said, for the love of God.

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