I'm in Bangkok
. Okay, so tonight I go and see two movies... the very silly Planet of the Apes
and the better than I expected, very colorful, a little goofy, but still fun Moulin Rouge
. The latter film gets out at about 11:35PM
. I walk from Mah Boon Krong [MBK] Centre and climb the stairs up onto the over-road walkway one thing I don't like about Bangkok is the way somehow it's cars first, people second in some areas. Anyway, I stop and look out over the traffic. I'm thinking
"That Ewan McGregor had a pretty good singing voice..."
I can think of only one coffee shop that's open now, but it would mean taking the Sky Train a few stops and frankly, I'm not that hungry.
So I decide to stop at a 7-11, grab a small thing of milk or something and catch a cab back to my guest house. I descend the steps to the sidewalk on the other side of the wide street and start walking. In front of me a couple of meters is an old Thai man pushing a cart full of cardboard and the like; I think he's either employed to collect the trash or else he's homeless. I raise my hand and say sawadekrop [hello] to him. He doesn't reply but moves a little as if he's going to put something in his cart. Oh well, I think, and keep walking.
A few more steps and the right hand side of my face is at once hot and cold like when your hand's in a hot bath and you suddenly hold it under the cold faucet. I realize that he has hit me! With a fucking stick. I whip around and he's walking off like fucking Obi-Wan with a four foot length of broom handle. He's just played stickball with my fucking head. I'm holding the side of my head and my ear is really hurting. I look at my hand and look at him walking away and scream
"You... (pausing while my brain struggles to pick the appropriate adjective and noun for the situation) ...fucking bastard!"
I'm pissed. I mean what the hell! What's the point? Are you insane
I start after him and he stops and raises his stick. My mind is racing I'm thinking
"I'm totally in the right here, fuck you"
so I start yelling
"Police! Police! Police!"
And he starts to trot off. And I start after him.
And he starts to run. And I start to run keeping about fifteen feet between us but yelling "Police!" every second or so.
He doesn't seem to like that.
As we pass the stairs, a couple I passed on the Skybridge sees us and the woman starts chasing after him as well she's in front of me and gaining on the guy. I yell to her to stay back; that I'm chasing him because he whacked my head with a stick. She falls back, much to the relief of her boyfriend.
We round the corner where several tuk-tuks and taxi's are waiting for fares. The old man ducks behind a taxi and hops into a tuk-tuk. With my chasing him and yelling, these guys aren't taking him anywhere. He's seems to catch on to this fact and hops out and starts running again. A motorcycle cop pulls along side him and stops him.
The next few minutes the cops talk to him and keep him from walking away which he tries several times. A moto-dope driver talks to me, he's telling me the guy is speaking nonsense to the cops. That makes sense to me; it seems to me that you'd hafta be a bit off your nut to go about whacking people and walking off.
While we're standing there I'm shaking from the adrenaline. I keep sticky my finger in my ear checking for blood or liquid or something I don't know, my ear just hurts. And the side of my face feels swollen.
The moto-dope driver asks me if I want to go to the hospital, but I tell him I want to go to the police station; to file charges or what-have-you. I figure I can hit the hospital after.
One of the taxi drivers comes over and rubs some Tiger Balm Thailand's universal cure-all on my swelled skin. The Tiger Balm makes my check warm, but in a way it's nice; it's like someone holding their hand to my face. As he turns to walk away I place my hand on his left shoulder and when he looks at me I'm looking at his face and I say
I walk over to couple standing on the sidewalk. Resting my twitchy-feeling arms on the fence that separates the road I talk to them a little. The back and forth of conversation seems to help calm me and I am thankful for it.
While I'm talking to them the old man tries to wander over; he's holding a small bag of something. The moto-dope driver thinks me he's offering me fruit. I feel a little bad. I mean: old man, probably not in his head, now maybe he feels sorry?... But I stop myself. You can't just go about attacking people who say hello you're not allowed to do that!
A couple of more minutes and a police pickup truck arrives. Two policemen get in the back with the old man and I get in the cab. The old man is in cuffs and I feel bad again. He's an old man, we should respect our elders, it's not his fault; he's crazy. But I keep telling myself
"No! What if you had seen him hitting that couple? That's just what might happen tomorrow if he just walks away."
I don't really know what role I had anyway. I'm not sure if they would have let him go if I had asked or what. Seeing how Thailand really
doesn't like tourists
getting attacked, I'm thinking he was going to the station regardless.
So anyway, we ride to the station. The two policemen in the front seats talking back and forth. It's all in Thai of course so I can only understand when they say farang [westerner] or numbers. We arrive at the police station and I sit on a bench waiting to give my side of what happened. I had already done that a couple of times, but figured we'd do it "officially" at the station and write everything down.
An officer takes the old man into a small office where someone at a desk talks to him or fills out a form or something.
I sit and talk to the three police who remain in the room with me. One has braces on his teeth so I ask him about those. He's had them on a year and has two more to go. I notice that has blue bands holding the wire to the brackets. I remember how I could of have gotten those but opted for the clear (or clear-ish yellow). I tell him I had my braces on for two years and then smile so he can check out my teeth. Nice, he tells me.
I unconsciously raise my hand to push up my glasses and then it hits me I'm not wearing them. They must have flown off when the stick hit the side of my face. Nuts! Those glasses have lasted fourteen months and I was just looking at the lenses the other day thinking
"Hmm, not too bad considering... a couple of small scratches but nothing big..."
And now they're gone. Damn. I talk to the policemen and ask if the can radio the people in the area to check (they had told me that there was a little police outpost maybe one hundred feet from where I was hit). They radio someone and I wait. A few minutes later they tell me. The glasses are gone. Probably someone stepped on them one of the officers tries to assure me.
A burly officer is on his way out and stops to say hello. He's wearing his civilian clothes now and carries a bag. The officer with the braces tells me that the man is studying English.
"You help him?" the officer with braces asks.
"Sure." I reply.
The burly man smiles and rushes back into his office, coming out a moment later and laying three English workbooks in front of me.
I flip through the pages of the "Level 4" workbook. "Blanket, Starfish, Faucet..."
"How can I help... um, do you have any certain questions?"
He picks up the "Level 6" book and lays it open to a section on different types of words nouns, verbs, adverbs...
For the next several minutes we go over them. A couple of types of words I'm not comfortable with and can't explain, so I point to them and shake my head and raise my hands. I mean, it's stuff I know, but I never knew the name and rules and don't really understand the ins and outs enough to recite them. He's understanding the various types of words and soon we're discussing syllables. Who knew there were so many crazy rules!
Finally we're done and I convince one of the officers to drive me back so I can search for my glasses. They try to dissuade me, but I'm thinking they looked where they picked the guy up and not where the event actually happened. Plus, I really don't want to have to replace my glasses. Perhaps most of all, I like the fact they've survived so long. Me and those glasses have been through seven countries together.
Before we go, the officer with braces take me over to the lock-up area to show me the man's being held. I asked him how long he would be held; what would happen to him; where would he "go", but the officer didn't seem to understand my questions.
What could they do with the old man. Jail isn't the right place. Is the state going to put him into some kind of mental facility? Somehow I think the funds would be lacking.
Well, I spend a few minutes looking for my glasses, but they're clearly not there; someone must have picked them up in the last hour or so. Damn. I guess tomorrow I'll be shopping for new glasses.
I grab a cab home and slip into a shower. It helps. The smell of the shampoo is soothing the water pleasingly cool against Bangkok's warm breath coming in through the open window of the guest house's shower area.
Although I didn't see it happen, maybe I've seen too many movies because I can see in my minds eye. You whack a piñata as hard as you can because you want candy. It's tough to think of someone doing that to your head.
While I was looking for my glasses I had stopped for a moment and thought
"Oh man, I'm glad he didn't have a baseball bat or a pipe."