Thursday, November 11, 2010

Here Now

Here Now

KHUK KHAK, Thailand – Hey, anybody can make a mistake. That’s what Saddam said. He came back from the dead to testify in defense of Tariq Aziz, his buddy till the end. Turns out, the current ruling clique don’t see him (Aziz) as innocent as the international community does, being the sort of folk who take revenge seriously, leveling upon him a death sentence.

Maybe you don’t care about that, or anybody else. Maybe we’re just merely attempting to advance and preserve our own interests, however twisted, convoluted, or direct our approach may be. What is your prime motivator? Perhaps Aziz, like everybody else, was simply trying to not be hungry. Remember the war?

Which one?

Sat at Don Muang airport in Bangkok, the 3 p.m. departure to Phuket delayed until 20:50, said the status monitor behind the three frustrated girls behind the counter, trying to address the three-deep throng impatiently demanding what was going on. They (‘One-Two-Go’ Airline’) didn’t have a plane for us at the moment, they said.

One-Two-Go. They’ve changed the name to ‘A…uh…something ‘Thai’…and right now, I can’t for the life of me, remember the name of the carrier*, but they’re still the same people who had a crew attempt the short-field runway and run off into the sea, and worse, tried landing in a super bad rainstorm and crashed, with some of the survivors staggering away from the craft on fire, one’s worst nightmare when flying, except maybe having some kind of failure over the ocean.

I try not to think of that shit, but you can’t help it, especially when you know already you’re with some kind of fly-by-night operation who offer really really cheap seats. I’d change the name, too, wouldn’t you, after a couple of spectacular disasters, both of which were human judgment errors? But anybody can make a mistake.

I always ask for an exit row, that way I can be the first guy off the plane. You’re supposed to perform some kind of heroic your-fate-is-in-my-hands scenario by reading the card in advance and acknowledge your understanding of your duties to the flight attendant, and if need be, remove the door, stash it in the row in front or behind, up to you, then exit, and assist other passengers in de-planing.

There’s more legroom on the exit row. Everybody knows that.

Partly to escape that Thai airport cop’s incessant whistle, and trying to burn five more hours at the airport, after already showing up two hours early as they demand, I re-traced my route back through security and across the street to the designated smoking area and sat for a half hour or so with a couple of Thai guys and the Ethiopian women’s 400-meter relay team, pretty much absorbed in awe of the people you see in a city of 12 million people, and what kind of condition my place would be after six months absence.** Only ran across four beggars in three days. Two crippled guys and a couple of old ladies. Out of 12 million people, that’s not many asking you for spare change.

Not much else to say about that, except the dollar has depreciated noticeably against all foreign currencies. Over here, everybody is working.

I say ‘over here’, because some of you thought I was here already, but I wasn’t. I was still home, home on the rez, but now I’m not there, I’m here now. Same as you. We’re always ‘here’, aren’t we? Unless we’re somewhere else.

Did I tell you about ‘It’s Me’, my radio program?

The lady was apparently trying to impress me, when during the course of conversation, I’d mentioned skiing, and she raised her eyebrows, looked away and said she’d skied ‘Mt. St. Something Or Other’, in France. To ‘over’ on her, I said I’d been aboard the International Space Station.

“In France?” she asked.

“In space,” I replied. “You can check it out on my blog.”

Registering absolutely no surprise or other impression, she continued with her story. I expected some sort of reaction, like, “WHAT?”, or “Really?”, or “Oh? As a scientist or teacher or billionaire space tourist?” or “You liar,” but she just continued with her story.


*now, I remember; ‘Orient-Thai’

** apart from the typical scum, mold and gecko shit, the only other remarkable thing was finding the skin of a snake across the shoulders of a hanging shirt. Unsettling to say the least. Yeah, no shit. I was wondering the same thing.

Good thing was, the garden is glorious, the six-year palms over the roof. A particularly extended wet season, they say, here, while Indonesia is getting hammered, first by an earthquake, then a tsunami, and now, a volcano. You want to go?

In response to a break-in three years ago, during which the thieves removed all the copper wiring and fixed themselves some of my noodle soup, I made the place here impenetrable. I’ve got the keys, and I couldn’t even get in. Had to do some climbing and squeezing and falling from about six feet, busting my ass in the process. Then the interior door disintegrated in my hands from a termite infestation.

Turned out, the one key I didn’t try was the one that opened the burglar-proof iron gate, I found out after I had already busted my ass in the fall. What’s a guy supposed to think of himself after some shit like that? Manas told me I was too old to be climbing around.

Well, it feels good to be back, just like it does when I’m there, and not here. It feels good to be anywhere.