Friday, October 7, 2011

Tidbits from Thailand

Seat For Monk

Where there is KO, there is entertainment. That is guaranteed. This time around, she almost outclassed herself.

And so we found ourselves seated at the Krabi airport in Thailand, waiting for a flight back to Bangkok. This would be the last leg of our trip to Thailand.

I sat quiet and glum. The thought of leaving the beautiful beaches of Krabi and the laidback atmosphere of the little town and its friendly folks playing on my mind. I had exactly 48 hours left in Thailand. 48 hours before I returned home, to the normal humdrum of everyday life.

An announcement played out. In Thai. KO and I rose from our seats assuming it must be the boarding call for our flight. We began heading for a queue that was forming at the departure gate when we realized it wasn’t our flight.

KO decided to cover our faux pas quickly and dived into a row of vacant seats nearby, hoping nobody had noticed our enthusiasm for what was obviously not the correct plane.

I stood around for a while before making my way to where KO sat. She happily patted the seat beside her, gesturing for me to sit there. What followed was this:

- Me: (Glancing above KO’s head) “KO, look!”
- KO: “What?” (Glances up at the wall on her right)

- KO: (Gasp of horror as she reads the sign above)
- Me: (Guffaw of delight)

What can I say? It was literally a “sign”. Kob khun ka!

Just Smile and Wave

Language was our biggest obstacle in Thailand. Still, we managed. Even if it meant hopping into 11 different modes of transport to make our way to see a rotting bridge. Even if it meant gesturing wildly and making “paarping” sounds to signal “van” or smiling sheepishly as a kindly lady conductor told us in no uncertain terms – in pure Thai – that we were blundering imbeciles who had overshot our stop a long while ago. I picked up a little Thai during my time there. I suppose knowing "thank you" and "the next station is...." in Thai may come in handy some time.

Sign language held us in good stead most times. Except in what was possibly a dire life and death situation. A girl waved to me from the sea. I smiled back. KO followed suit. (She imagines I even waved back. The blazing sun really did her in, poor thing).

Only a good while later we realized the truth. The girl’s partner was floundering in the water. She was struggling to drag him back to the boat. Her “vigorous wave” was a distress signal. Her “cheery smile” was, in reality, a grimace as she struggled with his dead weight.

In a word?


The Paddle Puzzle

“Get in, bum first” said our kayaking guide. So we did. Yours truly at the helm and KO behind me. Mangrove kayaking at Ao Thalane, Krabi. We had looked forward to this for a long time.

We enthusiastically dipped our paddles in, trying to propel ourselves forward and at the same time turn the kayak around to head toward the mangroves.

Complete amateurs, absolute blunderbusses.

We went straight under the pier and remained stuck there until the guide extricated us.

The last thing we heard as we headed towards the silent green mangroves in placid waters interspersed with rocky coves was hoots of laughter from experienced kayakers on the bank.


Can We Throw Him To The Sharks?

American stud to Indian-born, UK-educated girlfriend: “You get them at the grocery store. You know what a grocery store is?”

Where is a big killer wave when you need one?

Read KO's accounts of our trip: Part 1 and Part 2.

How to Tell You Are At A Pretentious Overrated Restaurant

1. There are only rave reviews online. Nobody, save some bitter soul who lost his reservation after showing up “only one hour late”, has anything even average to say about the place.

2. The waiters call the wet tissues presented at the beginning of the meal the restaurant’s “signature touch”.

3. The people seated next to you are creating a commotion over a game of tug-of-war with a roomali roti.

4. The restaurant claims to have authentic Punjabi chefs while the “live kitchen” appears to have been invaded by the Chinese.

5. You have to rescue your cousin who has been wedged between an effusive waiter greeting patrons at the neighbouring table and the back of a chair.

6. The beaming waiter asks you to select any appetizers and drinks on the menu and the conversation goes:
- “What would you like to have? Please order anything at all.”
- “What would you recommend in prawn?”
- “Sorry, we’re all out of prawn.”
- “All right, so get us some beer to start with.”
- “Which beer, sir?”
- “Tuborg?”
- “Sorry, no Tuborg.”
- “Kingfisher?”
- “Sorry, no Kingfisher.” (In the city that is home to Uncle Mallya’s brewery)

7. You settle for a tall glass of Heineken which is promptly garnished with a handful of onions and radish by a clumsy waiter.

8. The restaurant does not have regular tandoori chicken. The waiter recommends a pindi whatchamacallit chicken which is a good example of how a chef can effortlessly reduce a chipper succulent bird to tasteless brown goop.

9. Your cousin is dejectedly pronging bits of fish kebab in his plate after the following exchange:
- “Sir, would you like the fish? Or would you like the fish?”
- “Erm… Lemme think. Shoot, I can’t decide. Oh, well, I think I’ll try the fish.”
- “Sorry, sir, we’re out of fish. I just dropped the fish at your feet.”
- “Ok, then I’ll have the fish.”
- “Very good, sir.”

10. Everyone is clawing their way toward the only tasty thing at dinner – the surprise birthday cake with a single candle.

11. The highlights of the evening are your hungry uncle mistaking the wet tissues for complimentary snacks and your cousin gurgling with happiness because someone spelled her name right on the cake – even if it meant having to squish a little icing on the cake hurriedly to convert a “G” to a “C”.

12. Everyone agrees that the best thing on the menu was the logo.

Bottomline: Jiggs Kalra needs an alternate career. I am done with pretentious restaurants. Give me some real food, please. Preferably on a plate, thank you very much.