It's about 8:00AM ... breakfast time ... at River Garden. The choice is between (A) whole fish served with guava greens, rice and chili dip, or (B) dry bran cereal. Easy!
THE LATIN READER continues:
While flipping through my recent web logs I noticed that THOCBDC had an unusually large number of hits from Saudi Arabia AND a lot of referrals from an Arabic language site called Al Qafelah. [I think it is also an Islamic site as some of its 'useful' links take the faithful to "Prayer Times" and "PrayerMinder Online".] Of course, my curiosity just took me to Al Qafelah's front page ... and, surprise; there was a photograph of Watcharee's cousin. One that I had taken of her while she was asleep in the back of our car ... taken while we were driving down to Hua Hin for the elephant polo matches. AND, one that was taken just a day or two after 9/11/01. Reader help is needed, as I don't think that Alta Vista has an Arabic/English robot translator.
Today it's pretty quiet here at THOCBDC. We are waiting the results of the Arabic/English translation. If what I just said caused some ????s to pop into your head please just go back and read the last paragraph of yesterday's journal ... and, for sure, go to the link or else you won't get the feel of what is happening.
Yes, as I said, it's sort of a 'pins 'n needles' thing for most of us here in Bangkok and those over in Silverdale ... though Watcharee did try to keep calm by having her hair done (but, that's a woman's thing, I guess).
Anyway, we are all sort of hoping that maybe Al Qafelah was just playing around with that Google's Photo Search thing. You know, it could be he just typed in "Pretty-Thai-girl-sleeping-rear-seat-Mercedes-limousine" ... and 'click' up came 'Watchy's' cousin. All very innocent; nothing sinister; nothing tied to Al Qaeda; no death by stoning threat because of a strange male hand seen in the photo. Yep, we are all hoping that it was just good clean wholesome fun.
Meanwhile we have four more yellowed clippings from THE LATIN READER:
By the way, The Bangkok Daily News' ace crime reporter 'caught' the backs of a bunch of "Patpong-type" girls caught in a 'sting' operation. They were working in my neighborhood. Almost under my window.
But for now we just wait for the translation ... ...
This month's issue of Lisa (a Thai language magazine for women) AND this month's issue of Yahoo (an English language magazine for men) used the exact same photograph to make their points:
"Alf, nothing at all happened in your life today, did it? Thanks for sharing!"
"Maybe not, but at least I had an uneventful dinner."
1 Had the Beloit College Freshman Relevance/Awareness Test been around when I was in college this might have been on it.
My friend Karim just got back in town. He's been in London for months and months buying property. Anyway, tonight Alex and I took him out to The Peninsula for a welcome home dinner. It's good to have him back in Bangkok. He brings a lot of humor wherever he goes.
While waiting for him to arrive I hung around the concierge's desk and talked with Tung (aka Piirainen Ladawan). Do you remember her? Sure you do ... she used to work at the Fitness Club over at The Oriental. Now she is at The Peninsula. I only had time for two quick pictures. But, doesn't she look beautiful in her uniform? A lot smarter looking than in those white gym outfits.
My friend Karim brought me a copy of The Times when he flew in from London the day before yesterday. It's the Thursday edition but it has an interesting letter to the editor about a 'classmate'1 of mine:
Mugabe's Academic Life
From the Vice-Chancellor of the University of London
Sir, It is true that President Mugabe holds four University of London degrees (letter, August 16), all obtained by private study as an external student.
He obtained BSc (Econ) in 1958 when working as a teacher; the LLB and the LLM while in detention in the late Sixties and early Seventies; and the MSc (Econ) in 1985 when already Prime Minister.
Our external programme, which even now has 30,000 students around the world, has a unique record in offering degree-level opportunities to people denied access to conventional higher education, including political prisoners (such as Nelson Mandela) and prisoners of war.
Neither intellectual ability nor academic training offers any guarantee of ethical or civilized behaviour, but perhaps it was a mistake in 1958 to grant Mr Mugabe an exemption from the paper on constitutional law by virtue of his earlier studies in South Africa, since he might have acquired a better appreciation of the value and importance of the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, the freedom of the press, the separation of powers and fundamental rights.
We may not be proud of Mr Mugabe as one of our external graduates, but we - and British higher education generally - can be proud of our external programme.
Office of the Vice-Chancellor
University of London, Senate House,
Malet Street, WC1E 7HU.
According to NEWNES: On this date, Pliny the Elder died in 79AD and Ivan the Terrible was born in 1530. Also, the independence of Uruguay was proclaimed (1825). Little else happened.2
It's a rainy night in Bangkok! Perfect for watching the river lights.
1 Only vaguely, as Mugabe was 'external'.
2 Malloy reports that today is Sean Connery's birthday. He is 72.
Dear Faithful Reader,
I know that every one of you have been waiting ... as have we here at THOCBDC ... for word on what this Arabic nonsense is all about:
أخبرتني إحدى الأخوات انه في المدرسة التي تعمل بها . طالبة مستواها الدراسي بشكل عام ممتاز إلا أنه في الفترة الأخيرة وبالتحديد قبل الامتحانات بشهرين لوحظ تدني شديد في مستواها الدراسي وقد قامت المشرفة الاجتماعية باستدعائها وسؤالها عن السبب وبعد تردد من قبل الطالبة انفجرت باكية في حضن المشرفة الاجتماعية وأخبرتها بالسبب الحقيقي هل تعرفون ما هو...؟
إنه السائق نعم يا إخواني السائق كان في كل صباح يحضر هذه الفتاة يذهب بها إلى مكان منزوي ويقوم بوضع يده على أجزاء من جسمها وهي ترده ولا تدري ماذا تفعل به مع العلم أنه يفعل ذلك في الانصراف أيضا وقد أخبرت والدتها بهذا الأمر أتدرون ماذا كان رد هذه الأم ... لقد ردت ردا ويا ليتها لم ترد !!!
قالت الأم : لا تخبري أباك فيسفر السائق ونمنع من الخروج !!!!!!!
أنا انقل لكم الحقيقة ويعلم الله وحده أنها قصة واقعية ...
المشرفة بعد أن سمعت هذه القصة .. غضبت وأخذت رقم هاتف المنزل من الطالبة واتصلت بوالدتها وأخبرتها عن الأمر
ردت الأم وقالت : فشلتنا هذه البنت وفضحتنا !!! وذكرت أنهم في حاجة ماسة للسائق وأنها إذا أخبرت والد الطالبة سيسبب ذلك مشاكل في البيت.
المشرفة الاجتماعية صعقت من هذا الرد والتفكير العكسي للأمور وقامت بالاتصال بوالد الفتاه في عملة وأخبرته بالموضوع كاملا فجن جنونه وحضر مسرعا إلى المدرسة وأخذ ابنته إلى المنزل وأحضر معه صديق له ودخلوا على السائق وقاموا بضربه ثم قاموا بتسفيره في أول رحلة إلى غير رجعة ...
عند ذلك عرف هذا الوالد خطئه واستدركه واخذ عهد على نفسه بأن يقضي حاجة أهله بنفسه وأرسل خطاب مع ابنته شكر فيها المشرفة الاجتماعية على اهتمامها
......اخواني هذا غيض من فيض عما يحدث من السائقين فاتقوا الله في محارمكم ولا تشغلنكم الدنيا عن الاخرة..
"Yes, yes, yes ... by jiminy ... but it's much more than that: we haven't been able to get in a single good night's sleep ever since we saw all that funny loopy script ... and all those wild exclamations points ... and everything being written backwards across the page and ending on the wrong margin. It was all so scary. Yes, what were those oily foreigners saying about that pretty young Thai lass who apparently was just sleeping in the back seat of your car? We hope it wasn't something mean and hurtful!"
Well, dear reader, we just don't know for sure at this point. But, here's where we are right now:
First, I gave my best shot at trying to figure out this wispy gobbledygook on my very own by tapping into an Arabic/English robot over at http://tarjim.ajeeb.com/ajeeb/default.asp?lang=1. Frankly, the machine wasn't very helpful. Here is what I got:
The driver did her
In Wednesday, August 14 sent @ 05 : 05 : 56 EDT by the convoy
The brothers told me forbid in the school that complies with her . Her scholastic level student by excellent general form except he in the last period by identification before the examinations by months severe drop noticed in her scholastic level and the social supervisor stood by her calling and her question about the cause and after vibration from toward the student burst into tearful in the social supervisor chest and told her by the true cause you know he ...?
He the driver yes what my brothers the driver was in morning bringing this girl he imagines by her to seclusive place and he does his taking possession of on parts from her bodies and she returns him and and I don't know what do by him with the knowledge he does that in the departure also and she told her mother by this matter know what was return this mother ... She answered answer and what she answer !!!
The mother said: you tell your father he dispatches the driver and prevent from the leaving !!!!!!!
I transfer the fact punch and the god teaches alone she realistic story ...
The supervisor after I heard this story ... She flared up and received the home telephone number from the student she contacted her mother and told her about the matter
The mother answered and said: this girl paralyzed us and exposed us !!! And mentioned they in urgency to the driver and that she tells the student father that cause problems in the house.
The social supervisor was struck she from this answer and the opposite thinking to the matters did the contact by father attract him in currency and told him of the subject complete then ?? his madness he attended hurrier to the schools and taking his son to the home and come with him friend to him and entered on the driver they stood by his hitting they stood by his sending at the beginning of journey forever ...
At that tradition this father his mistake and knowledge Wakhth corrected him on by he spends need his family himself and sent out address with his son thanked in her the social supervisor on her interest
......My brothers this a little of from inundation ugliness he happens from the drivers you avoid the god in your ineligible spouses and the world worry you about the afterlife ..
However, reader Professor M.V. of Texas Christian University offered a less literal translation; relying more on the flavor of the wording than the actual words themselves. In the professor's interpretation, "mother", "god", "social supervisor" and "home telephone number" become symbols of something that is apparently much bigger and more 'pan-threatening' than all this machine generated naked patois that no one here can see as anything other than linguistic broken biscuits. She writes:
It says "the new scourge of Western Values that is threatening the holy countries of Islam is based in Bangkok and is exporting his vile exploitation of sex, consumerism and other vile un-Islamic traits across SE Asia. This Satan flies large balloons that carry his filth and collects objects he calls corkscrews (but are known to be instruments of unspeakable sexual acts) and is attempting to infect all Islam. A jihad is called for that will rid Islam of this satanic personage."
THOCBDC promises to keep you abreast of any fresh thinking that comes its way. Yes, this is an invitation.
'Today' is short, as Watcharee and I have decided to go to Hong Kong for the long weekend.1 As you can see from NEWNES, today is sort of a kick-off day ... what with Confucius' birthday. AND, the whole coming week is going to be very 'Chinese-ey': we have the anniversary of The Treaty of Nanking (ending the Opium War); China opening its first television station in Peking ... and there was probably a lot more that we don't even know about ... remember, NEWNES (Second, Revised edition 1966) went into 'galleys' thirty-six years ago.
1 Though Hong Kong is but a 2-½ hour flight from Bangkok ... and though we are going to be gone for less than a week ... well, anything more than an 'overnight' might just as well be a month.
According to NEWNES, I am packing on the 253rd birthday of Wolfgang von Goethe and the 174th birthday of Count Leo Tolstoy.
Actually, dear reader, we are going to spend one night back at The Oriental before we leave for Hong Kong. And, we may or may not be in Gore Vidal for that night (tomorrow).
Next: Hong Kong