Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Instant Karma/Garlic Breath of Jackal

Instant Karma/Garlic Breath of Jackal

Bangkok - On the long-way-around 26 hr. flight to Asia via Paris (weren't we supposed to be flying the other way?), they gave us a flyer about the H5N1 Avian Flu virus, commonly known as the 'bird flu'. Maybe you've heard about it already. The news was slow getting to the rez, but we found out anyway. Essentially, the info said, 'No eat da chicken that sneeze.'

What about the seafood? Is it ok? The waiter said, "No. The seafood hab peeple."

Just yesterday, they said, another skeleton washed up on the beaches of Khao Lak.


In a city of 7.5 million people and tens of thousands of t-shirt designs, I'm the only one running around in a Running Strong for American Indian Youth T-shirt, promoting the cause, where no one has ever heard of South Dakota, much less Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. And alllllll those Lakotas up there thinking we're the center of the universe.

You might be thinking, 'I'll bet the first thing he did was go out and get laid,' but no, as Dave from Alaska said last night while watching the Khaosan Road circus freak show, where skinny European guys in orange and purple dreadlocks and huge backpacks parade down the street with their newly tattooed girlfriends, 'Sex without love is empty.'

Actually, the first thing I did upon arrival was race to the airport men's room and dispose of my socks, longjohns, hooded sweatshirt, fleece jacket, and cheap-ass Wally World insulated moccasin bedroom slippers.

The second thing I did was race back through the airport and return to the men's room stall and ask the new occupant for my passport and money belt, which I had left hanging on the toilet paper dispenser.

Not knowing how to say, 'Excuse me' in Thai, and since the flight was from France, I tried my long-forgotten French, "Scusay Moi...passporrrr."

The guy just laughed, and through a crack in the door, handed out a money belt to the distraught and anxious fool on the other side. Yes, that would be me. And though much relieved to see he hadn't ripped off the cash inside, I wondered if he was laughing at my absent-mindedness, the stupid accent, or both.


Every day there's a tattooed cripple on the sidewalk just around the corner from the hotel, sitting with his begging bowl, to whom we (Digger, too) always give whatever spare change we have at the moment. Late in the day yesterday, for the first time, I saw him walking away from his spot with all his belongings.

That's okay. Him same same Buddhist monks who go about shortly after sunrise with their begging bowls, supported by the faithful populace. They say by giving to the monks, one gains karmic merit, but who knows if it's in this lifetime or the next.

For me, it seemed instant, but I didn't know if it was the monk's daily ration of rice, a chicken leg, a sweet banana-wrapped rice thing, rice sauce, and flower; or that old Thai grandma I escorted across 16 lanes of traffic, or that recently mangled dog with the raw foreleg learning to hop around on three, to whom I offered my breakfast, or maybe that other old lady I aided getting up those steps, that seemed to be in some way connected to all the good fortune I experienced yesterday, with everyone giving me everything for free.

'Mai mee ben ha, no probrem. You hab (have). You take,' they all said, waving off my effort to pay.

So, yesterday, everything was free. Free ride even from the cab driver who asked how many babies I had, then gave me three buddha amulets for their protection and good fortune. 'Rong Po Thuot. Him numba ONE,' he said, giving a thumbs up and handing over three buddha pendants, refusing payment.

While looking for the mangled dog I had seen the previous day, the fortune teller who gave me a free reading came down the street pulling all his belongings in a wheeled suitcase to his spot across from the royal palace.

The previous day, while drawing in red ink the lines across my palm and telling me if I stayed in Thailand, I would get married to a Thai 'laydee', he told me that I would live to be 85 yrs. old. We shared a cigarette, and he told me I should learn the language.

Then he stared seriously and vacantly through me, reached up and touched my eyebrows, and said, 'You lib to be old man. Eighty years old.'

That's revised down five from the day before. At this rate, I'd better get out of here within the next six days, or avoid the guy altogether.

Nevertheless, it's better than the life expectancy on the rez, where the lifespan is something like 47. Told Bro Tom, "We'd better get out of here (Pine Ridge), man. We're stretching the limit."

Also stretching the limit on this internet access machine at 1 baht per minute. Cheap cheap, but like the downloads that adjust the price to more like 3 baht per minute, I'm old and slow.

Garlic Breath of Jackal

Lots of garlic in everything down here. Reminds me of Lupe' on the rez, when one day after eating the burritos he had fixed, he commented, 'Your breath smells like a DOG'S ASS!"

I had to ask him, "how would you know what a dog's ass smells like, Lupe?"

- end