Friday, January 21, 2011

The wise old man - Bangkok, Thailand

Kashgar market, Xinjiang, China, by Fabio
I'm sitting at an outdoor restaurant with a Japanese girl named Ako (actually after so many years her real name escapes my memory and I've made this one up. Come to think about it, though, it might as well be correct). Ako is sitting opposite me and when we are enjoying our first glass of beer she spots a rat near the curb, right behind my chair. The poor thing doesn't move from that spot and it seems to be breathing deeply and uneasily: it's probably sick or injured and agonizing.
Ako is rather disgusted and invites me to sit close to her, an advice that I am very pleased to accept, regardless of the inappropriate presence of the rat.
After having looked at us for a while, one of those westerners with a self-proclaimed kind of wisdom which emanates directly from days on end spent traveling between airports, taxis and tropical beaches, from the false alternative air that he will shrug off as soon as he gets home, before embarking on a life lived on the edge of a knife that he will steer from the cockpit of an office desk, but most of all from that self-confident look, of one who has seen things that we cannot even imagine, more than the replicant Rutger Hauen in Blade Runner, decides that we need help and finally resolves to give us one of his precious advices.
"Don't worry, you shouldn't be scared of that rat, it's gonna die soon..."
Ako and I look sideways at one another. Once we've managed to fend off the initial avalanche of embarrassment we strive to hold back a tsunamic laugh with an exhausting activity of facial muscles, finally trapping it between nose, eyelids and forehead. It's gonna die soon? Hey wise old man, that's exactly the reason why I changed seat! It was not a cobra or a tiger, only a sewer rat. We were having dinner: we weren't scared, just moved to pity and a little disgusted.

Bangkok, Thailand, December 2001

PS Another western tourist who said a funny thing to me in Bangkok is this one

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