Monday, May 09, 2005

MBA Pt.6: A new man!

My Bung Arm Part 6: At the Hospital in Aran, Day 2.

The story so far: Riding out of Phnom Penh and Kampong Thom, Mr Felix then cycled north through the forest to the Thai border at Preah Vihar. Further west near Anlong Veng he visited Pol Pot’s grave and that night was bitten on the elbow by a spider, or something - Mr Pot’s revenge. A few days later his badly swollen arm was cut open to by the Butcher of Sisophon (aka the local Cambodian doctor) which renewed his faith in the beyond (seeing is believing.) He is now booked in for five days outpatient treatment at Aranyaprathet Hospital on the Thai-Cambodian border.

Day 2 at Aranyaprathet Hospital, Thailand: A new man!

Sister Supachai is doing more for me than fixing my arm. I sit up on the bed in room 21 while she works away with the long stainless steel spoon scraping out today’s puss, and it hurts like the blazes but I’m resolute under her gaze.

I’m also the cleanest I’ve been in six months; my nails are spotless, my feet are scrubbed, my sandals polished, my pants and shirt washed and aired and I’ve shaved and picked over any stray facial hair that’s popped up in any of the usual odd places above the neck.

I’m a new man!

I’m even smiling, which is awfully disconcerting for Johnny the young Thai boy in the bed opposite with the bandaged head.
After yesterday’s failed stand-up comedy routine he has me solidly pegged as a maniac from beyond the borders of civilisation, and as we all know the only thing worse than a maniac is one that’s smiling.

But so be it. I’m with good Sister Supachai so who cares about popularity? But maybe Johnny’s jealous? I would be, but it’s hard to tell with Thais; after all this time in Southeast Asia I still have trouble reading the emotions, and the Southeast Asians are masters of deception.

Poor old dumb farangs let emotions explode out of the face like volcanoes on Java, or maybe pimples, but the Southeast Asians, no. They’re like the Tonle Sap (the Great Lake) in Cambodia: flat and even on the surface, but in constant motion.
And if you don’t want your little boat to sink you’ll take everything slow and easy, and listen to the currents.

But good Sister Supachai transcends all national barriers and today I’ve taken the hand off the tiller and am floating free. I might even be floating upstream.

No comments: