Cats, cakes and chicken coups

Well, here we are. It’s early evening and I’m sticky both because it’s the usual amount of too-much-hot and also because I’ve just finished eating my third mango of the day. Allow me to repeat that: my THIRD mango of the day. I didn’t even like mango before I got here. Too mushy, too sweet. But that was YELLOW mango. I had no idea that other kinds of mango existed. Green mango is where it’s at. Green mango is sour… unless you buy them soft and let them overripen in your fridge, at which point they level up into SUNSHINE JUICYSWEET OMNOM OF THE GODS. Fuckin’ A.

But let’s restart. Relax back into the chair. Fingers poised over the keyboard. It’s early evening and I’m sticky. FUCK. Remember that you were boiling water for a cup of tea? Run the two steps to the fridge, atop which is the “kettle”, notice that it’s almost boiled dry, that the room’s hotter and more humid than a Bangkok sauna filled with caricatures, fill it (the kettle) back up to the tea line with water from the one baht machine and – well, you’re near the fridge anyway, right, and you’re writing tonight, right? – grab a yoghurt, pour in some roasted sunflower seeds, DEMOLISH. Water’s boiled, pour the tea – I really need to find a ceramic mug, this plastic thing is starting to taste plasticy – and get back to it. Hold onto your hats, people.

And wait. An ellipse; a pause; the space between breaths; please note the mounting anticipation on your way out.

Well, here we are (again). It’s early evening and I’m sticky both because it’s the usual amount of too-much-hot and also because I’ve just finished eating my third mango of the day. Curfew hasn’t kicked in yet but I’m at home on my balcony and have no plans or desire to go out nonetheless. Yes. You may have noticed the word ‘CURFEW’, there, and we’re not talking about the kind that your parents gave you as a kid. I live in a country that has a MILITARY-IMPOSED CURFEW. It’s the grown-up version. How exotic.

Imagine, if you will, a public space in a hot country that is not your own. A train station, perhaps, or a popular public park. Imagine this place at 17:58: busy and crawling with commuters, hustlers and bustlers, wishers and liars, world-losers, world-foresakers and magic bean buyers. Imagine the heat. The moving bodies. The activity. Here, jogging; there, selfies; skateboarding; running for the train before the doors close; laughter soars above the chuntering clamour then drops like a stone; sharp kidcries tear the air and fade away. Random, unconnected, continuous action. And now, imagine this place at 18:00, after the warning beeps, when the music starts to play. Commuters turn to statues at the tune. Activity ceases; everyone freezes. Look around, the still bodies, breathing, warm with the memory of action. Like the slow zombies, like a brainwashing sci-fi, like a real-life dystopian novel. It lasts a minute or so. Uncomfortable. Try not to let that inappropriate and mildly hysterical burble of laughter slips through those strictly serious lips, ok?

I live in a country where the rush hour commute ceases for civilians to pay homage to their country, where running groups and badminton players pause their game to meditate a moment on the interconnectedness of their nation, the unity of their people. It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty weird.

We were living a fantasy adventure in Dreamland when we discovered that Thailand had lost it’s shit and declared martial law. And then, afterwards, I was looking forward to an evening at the Cat Cafe, eating cake and cuddling kittens when we discovered that there had been a military coup, as of 6 minutes ago, Tom said at work, eyes Twitter-bright and eager. There is a vague sense of excitement and of inconvenience, and of interest – how long? what will happen? will we have to cancel roller derby?

The chicken coup d’etat has some quite serious implications. Curfew meant we couldn’t go to the Cat Cafe so I was left lacking kitty cuddles for the entire evening (therefore bogus). On the other hand, the chicken coup d’etat meant that two of my students cancelled their classes today (therefore bonus). It means that if I want to go out and see friends, I have to make sure I’m at the BTS way before it closes at 9pm, and that I can no longer make last minute night-out decisions, and that maybe, just maybe, the 7/11 at the bottom of my road is closed (GASP). It means that I have to carry my passport at all times, and genuinely – apparently – be in my home by 10pm.

Of course, there are other things to say, other meanings. But I won’t say them. I think about the wrong things all the time, anyway. Doesn’t coup d’etat sound like a delicious pastry? How does someone declare a coup? Is it ever OK? Who are the army accountable to, and who regulates their actions? If it’s so easy to coup the shit out of a government then why doesn’t it happen all the time? Is there just one button to shut down all the TV channels in a country or is it a complicated process? Did they prepare the static Please Bear With Us As We Have A Coup image before the actual coup, after it, or did they just have one lying around ready to be beamed out around the country? If you live in the sticks, do you have a curfew? Do you know? How much do you care?

Anyway. Here I am. It’s late evening and I’m tired and I need to go to bed, and I’m sticky because I’ve been sitting in the sweltering heat of my balcony for 100 hours, relaxed back into the chair, fingers poised over the keyboard then rolling, tapping out rhythms like piano hammers. Curfew’s well and truly kicked in. In the distance, a few cars, dogs. A siren or two. The sound of water from somewhere below me. My gurgling fridge.

As usual, I’ve written 1000 words and told you absolutely nothing. Happy days. Good night all.

(Night Gma. I’m fine, honestly. Miss you.)

woman selling food sits in sunshine at the foot of the BTS



One thought on “Cats, cakes and chicken coups

  1. elsewhereunderwritten says:

    Several things: 1) I also can’t believe that They kept green mangoes from me all this time. Best Fruit Ever; 2) Superlative writing, as ever – we were in Chatuchak the first time we experienced the End of Days and the whole world froze like someone hit the off switch, only then it turned out to be the national anthem so I pretended that I hadn’t been weeping and beating my chest the whole time; 3) We were on Ko Samui when the coup happened and the curfew wasn’t enforced there at all, neither on Ko Lanta either. 4) Yes I know I haven’t replied to your email after chastising you for your delay: it’s coming. I’ll make it a good one. 5) You know how you always get woefully few people read your posts when it should be an audience of hundreds for your writing? From what I’ve read on wordpress, I think that’s because you use too many tags – use 4 or 5 and your post will be returned much higher in search results. And then you will be famous and I can dine out on the fact that we once got drunk together.

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