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Archive for August, 2015

This morning after breakfast as I walked through the tunnel to get to the health club, I saw a mêlée occurring at one of the small dark bars (really just a plank with stools and open to the alley) that line the passageway. At least six or seven people were milling around grabbing and shoving each other while a slightly larger number stood about watching, shouting and holding back others. This was a lot of people swarming about in a space no larger than a small hotel room. And, it was only 9AM in the morning.

Now I assume most people, especially an alter like me, would either not proceed until things quieted down or find another way to get to their destination. I instead waded right in to get a closer look at the action. I did not consider it either foolish or irresponsible.

Twenty years or so ago while visiting Lee Stocking Island in the Bahamas with Dick McCarthy and Sylvia Earle the oceanographer and one time director of NOAA, a TV camera located under a dock picked up a Barracuda feeding frenzy and displayed it on the TV where we were having dinner. Sylvia immediately stood up, and said, “I’ve never experienced a Barracuda feeding frenzy before. I have to see it up close.” She then ran from the bar and jumped into the water in the midst of the crazed fish. Now, that I think is foolish and irresponsible. Walking into bar where a bunch of drunken Thai women are swinging broken beer bottles at each other was a walk in the park by comparison.

Anyway, it seems that one woman had gotten very drunk and another woman, who may have worked in the bar, accused her of stealing some money. The drunk went after her with a broken beer bottle. In breaking the bottle a shard flew across the room striking on the forehead a farang sitting at the bar opening a large cut that bled profusely. Several other people seemed to be reluctantly trying to separate the fighters or perhaps even joining in on one side or another. Apparently the drunk girl was a Burmese migrant which added to the resentment of the Thais. Another bar girl was attempting to persuade two more not to intervene against the Burmese woman.

I pushed my way through everyone and walked on knowing that, as usual with bar fights, if it has gone on this long its dénouement would be undramatic. Fatigue would soon reduce the fury to name calling and then the regrets begin – but no tears. There are rarely tears in bar fights.
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Speaking of tears, there have been a number of studies that indicate that women cry more readily than men. I doubt that. Certainly here in Thailand women don’t cry. They pretend to at times, but that is something else.

When I was a child living on the streets, homeless or in rat infested basements, I never recall my mother crying or for that matter any of the other women we knew in similar circumstances. The men, including my father, cried in frustration, despair and in self-hate for their failures, but never the women, even those who were beaten. Only the loss of a child could bring tears to their eyes.
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Spent part of the day wandering around BKK with the Old Sailor/Deep Sea Diver. We met a friend of his, a historian from Australia named Glenn who published several books about economic history and is an acquaintance of Chris Moore, the mystery writer. We met at coffee shop in a shopping center on Asoke Road where he was buying out of date food to bring home for dinner. Writing academic books on economic history does not pay much. Later over lunch, the Old Sailor told me the history of one of the beach front bars I used to drink at in St. Thomas fifty years ago. Then it rained, so I went home and took a nap.
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