Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Never the same again, Bangkok - Thailand

Cockroach, by Rizalis (CC)
It used to be one of my favorite Isan places and I won't be able to eat there again. The husband of a friend of mine got a serious form of food poisoning and according to the doctors the bacteria that transmit it usually proliferate in cockroach feces. Feces that he is supposed to have come in contact with at that same restaurant. 
Unfortunately the consequences of this event are way more devastating and I'm not only talking about that poor guy's intestine. Since the day I heard about the infection, when I am eating at a simple restaurant I often imagine some cockroaches sitting on a mini-toilet bowl fixed to the edge of my plate. Little reddish-brown multi-limb creatures in unnatural postures browsing micro-glossy magazines featuring stars and actresses with feelers on the front pages, while they make efforts and almost human-like grimaces in order to expel dark specks of feces, ready to wipe their bottoms and throw the soiled toilet paper on my plate. 
Damned cockroaches, it will never be the same again: my passion for street food is seriously compromised!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The inoculation - Kunming, China

Making noodles, by Fabio
It's a warm summer night, a light breeze is sweeping the terrace and through the clear sky the vain moon is reflected in the still and dense surface of the lake. 
Some Italian friends of mine have just arrived to Kunming. After having hanged around the city for a few hours it's time to take them to dinner. To mitigate their cultural shock I'm trying to avoid the simple places where I normally go to eat, not because I'm worried by the quality of their food but for the boundary conditions that might upset the newcomers. Finally we've chosen this nice place with tables on the roof of a building facing the Green Lake, right next to my house.
A cute and refined waitress surprises us with a rather good English: among smiles and good manners we order a number of national and local specialties. 
About twenty minutes later - long enough to prepare each of the courses that we've just ordered - a different waiter walks towards our table. The conversation stops but our cheerfulness doesn't. We expect some kind of impeccable move, in accordance with a mood drugged by the atmosphere that is fluttering around us: that he refills our glasses, moves the salt container or a chair, or that he asks whether we would like some more beer or a particular sauce to go with our food.
"I'm sorry, the duck that you ordered is finished."

The past keeps knocking

Neurons, by Hljod.Huskona (CC)
Ever since I started to post on this blog - or even earlier, when I used to update an old website in Geocities - the idea has been to write down anything that strikes me, a detail that I've noticed, an original character, a nice scent or a revolting smell, or just a thought, a fancy, an impression. Normally I stroll, look around, daydream, then something reaches my radar and I jot down a line. Later, once I'm in front of a PC, I write a post out of it. Recently though, I've been haunted by events from a more or less distant past that I didn't even captured on a paper napkin. And I find myself writing about my life in China, in Laos or in Singapore. Fortunately the memory is often quite vivid. Or maybe sometimes I produce a mix of reality and imagination so realistic that I even manage to deceive myself. 
But this is all of minor importance. The question that arouses my curiosity is a different one: is this all fortuitous? A strange trick of the brain? Mnemonic streams trapped in those canals of gray matter that like orbits of celestial bodies intersect now and after that, who knows, in a hundred years, two glacial ages or never again? Or does this past that sticks its head out of the darkness of oblivion represent something? Do these images, anecdotes, people from years ago that I thought lost forever come back to knock at the door of my memory to communicate something, a general meaning, besides the one of the single stories? Probably an analyst could give me an answer, but I have neither the money nor the wish to go and ask for it.
And then who knows? At the end there might be an easier explanation. My relation with the past is a special one: I've always been a chromosomal nostalgic. I've already told you here and more recently here
Well, let's move on with the next post from the past then.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Strictly based in Chengdu - China

Sunday at the park, Chengdu. By Fabio
Our taxi - that metallic green Volkswagen sedan that is only manufactured and distributed in China - clatters and smokes on the elevated roads that cut across the center of Chengdu. We absentmindedly look at the squares, the parks, the giant screens and billboards. There is also a boat-restaurant, moored along the bank of what can be either an agonizing river or a filthy canal. To be a Chinese metropolis this city is not bad at all though: you can stroll around, people are nice and friendly, prices are reasonable and the cuisine is good, as long as some chili doesn't blow your tongue out.
It's weekend and we are headed for one of those areas where the authorities of every Chinese town love to confine (in accordance with some party guidelines?) the majority of nightclubs and bars. As these places are basically supermarkets of fun they usually belong to chains and big corporations and therefore have the same names everywhere: you can change province, hear new languages, see different faces or customs but you will find a Babyface, a Mix or something like that wherever you go.
"Guess where Luca is right now."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Think and think and think/9

"Mine is not insomnia, it's just a little carelessness: sometimes I start to daydream and I forget to fall asleep."

"The language section of my brain must have a limited capacity: when a Thai word sneaks in a Chinese one slips out."

"Did you ask since when? I've always been nostalgic! When I was born I cried because I already missed my mum's womb."

"When they ask me what my job is I say that I'm a freelance...then I think to myself: 'very free...and little lance'"

"After having born shyness for so many years, would you be able to point out something good about it?"

For more thoughts click here