Do heads of state lend cups of sugar?
05.04.2009 35 °C
April 5, 2009 – 4:16 pm
Picture yourself at the Thai version of Home Depot if you will…the joint is choc-a-bloc with do-it-yourselfers, harried moms and weekend reno warriors. There you are choosing soap dishes, plastic clothes hangers, towel hooks and other necessary, well-priced utilitarian household items. Totally tedious.
You’re staring at your rather enormous pile of goods, wondering how on earth you’re going to transport it all on home in a taxi (cos obviously the sky train is now out) when a friendly twenty-something brightly informs you of free delivery within Bangkok when you spend a minimum of 6,000 baht. Ace!! She then offers you a seat at the customer service counter and brings you a bottle of water and a plate of sweets. I’m quite certain no one at Home Depot in Regina is gonna offer you a plate of candies while they sort out your free delivery.
Same scene today at Central Chidlom department store. With about one sales person per 2 square metre of store space, there’s always someone at your elbow, listing the features and benefits of this or that particular product in shy and halting English. It can be somewhat annoying when you’re trying to rummage through sheet sets and you have three very animated sales ladies flitting ‘round chattering about thread counts and washing temperatures with an enthusiasm usually reserved for fine jewellery or luxury vehicles. But everyone means well. And everyone knows you’ve got foreign currency and an empty apartment.
So I spend, spend, spend and the special English translator lady in a smart navy suit sporting a bright red “I Speak English!” button on her lapel is called in to arrange the free delivery of my pots and pans and plates and glasses and ironing board…and the list goes on…is 10 am tomorrow good for me? Ka! Kap kun ka!
My new apartment is fabulous. By far and away the nicest place I’ve ever lived. The neighbourhood is industrial-strength expat. Farangs of all colours and ethnicities running around dodging the kamikaze motorbike taxies. I’m just on the edge of Little Tokyo, and so have about three Japanese restaurants and a Japanese style karaoke bar on my road. (Don’t think I won’t be polishing off a few Toyama-ken karaoke favourites...) But despite all the gleaming marble and glass dropped down smack-dab in the middle of Bangkok’s bustling downtown, we’re still in the old Siam…and I can still hear a rooster giving its lusty best every morning outside my lower-floor-high-rise window.
Only after moving in did I discover that the Thai Prime Minister lives about three doors down. I figure I probably live on the safest street in Bangkok as a line of soldiers are permanently parked outside his door. I watched him glide by the other night in his gun-metal grey Jaguar and attendant armed cavalcade while I struggled home with two heavy bags of groceries. Didn’t seem prudent to ask for a neighbourly lift
The apartment building also boasts a fabulous pool, a totally tricked out gym (no excuses for being a lazy ace now!!), a 24 hour office with very helpful office ladies and a resident handyman on the main floor, and a fleet of exceedingly smiley door men who – without a single exception – all insist on calling me “sir”. The only thing that causes me confusion about my new building thus far…in a climate that maintains a steady fluctuation between hot, hotter and hottest…why in the name of Buddha do we need a sauna and steam room?