Vol. VI No. 32 - Tuesday
October 2, - October 8, 2007



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


OUR COMMUNITY
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Chiang Mai ladies lunch bunch

Belgian band “Belch” in concert with hill tribe students of Chiang Rai

Those lovable, levitating lissome lizards

The Chiang Mai ladies lunch bunch

l/r Sally, Judy, Carley, Lucy, Janet, Anjali, Rose, Angie, Chloe and Denise gathered for their ex-pat Ladies lunch bunch at the Empress Hotel for the buffet meal. Any ladies wishing to join their next outing should email Judy at [email protected]

 

Belgian band “Belch” in concert with hill tribe students of Chiang Rai

Four musicians of the Belgian band “Belch” are in Thailand to prepare an unusual concert with hill tribe’s students.

Behind: Mathieu De Wit, Jonathan Taylor, Herve Gosselin and Damien Campion, the four musicians of Belgian band “Belch”. Front: Some of the students of Suksasongkroh Maechan school who take part in this multi-ethnic concert.
“Celebration” is a multi-ethnic project aimed at bringing two cultures together in a creative musical and human exchange.
Based for two months at Insii Thai House, Maechan, the musicians are rehearsing with 40 disadvantaged students of the Suksasongkroh School.
They aim at combining their skills and musical knowledge with local instruments, sounds and dances found in the Thai and Hill Tribe cultures.
The dedication of the European musicians in the preparation of this concert will make the dream of the students come true.
On October 24th they will travel to Bangkok to perform at the Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theater.
The project is initiated by the Rotary clubs of Maechan (Chiangrai) and Bangkorlaem (Bangkok) and is supported by Padaeng Industry, which offered to cover the costs of transport of the whole ensemble to Bangkok.
The event, enhanced by the presence of the Belgian ambassador in Thailand, H.E. Mr. Jan Matthysen, will be an occasion to commemorate the friendship between His Majesty the King and former King Baudouin of Belgium with a photo exhibition.
But most of all, it will give the opportunity to the hill tribes students to be part of this year of celebration on the occasion of the 80th birthday of His Majesty the King.
On the net: www.insiithai house.com


Those lovable, levitating lissome lizards

Pierre Chaslin
Translated by
David Harris Engel

Suddenly it’s dark. No electricity. The screen of my computer is totally black. I go downstairs to take a look at the fuse box. The switches are properly set. In haste the electrician comes only to confirm my own finding. But when he unscrews the cover little white pearls tumble out—enough for a necklace. They are eggs deposited there by tock’ays (also spelled tokay) so-named here because of the male’s loud, irritating guttural call, tuc-keh, repeated several times. (These reptiles resemble the African margouillats.) It’s almost a shame to prevent their hatching, particularly since tock’ays are not the single source of the recurring racket, those exploding booms coming from the direction of the nearby Moslem quarter. Bombs? Firecrackers? No, no! Rather it’s simply the startling reports discharged sporadically from the electric transformer on the light pole outside on the street.

This tock’ay or tokay was photographed in Vang Vieng, Laos. Richard Ling/GFDL
But, in contrast, consider the almost silent gecko, a slighter member of the tock’ay family. Those little crocs, like the tock’ays, are equipped with highly developed specialized digital pads under their fingers and toes that allow them to move up and down on smooth vertical surfaces as well as on ceilings. The first time I saw those petite crocodiles scaling the walls of my bedroom I felt anxiety confronted by their intrusion. It was 20 years ago in Cholon in a room with bilious yellow walls. At that time there was no air conditioning. You had to be content with a fan that creaked and wheezed overhead. And since you slept nude in that clamminess, the presence of geckos added to the feeling of both exposure and exoticism. Reassured they were not poisonous, I tried hard to fall asleep, but was gripped all the while with the fear they would drop on my bed and even on my head. Sleep hardly came for I easily imagined them running over my mouth, and wriggling their nervous tails on my lips. . . You’ve got to see one stealthily approach its prey and abruptly protrude a darting tongue that is as long as its head and just as precise as a 22 caliber rifle. . . I often think of that poor bedroom in Cholon overwhelmed by the distinctive cacophony of Asian cities with the smells from noodle stalls lined up outside on the sidewalk. I was happy in that ambience as I was at another time in that other little bedroom in Siem Réap whose window shutters opened up onto a show of Indian dances. Was I dreaming? My apsaras moved as if on a movie screen.
Comparing the tock’ay with the gecko: the house gecko measures, at most, 12 centimeters; whereas the tock’ay is a veritable monster, as long as a forearm. He’s beautiful like a Cartier jewel thanks to an iridescent skin in colors of blue, rose and green. His small unadorned cousin, the gecko, lives on flies and mosquitoes, while the tock’ay prefers more substantial nourishment like large beetles, mice and baby rats. Every morning I was awakened by one of them under my windows. He played the role of the village rooster, repeating his guttural call over and over again like a regular pendulum. You must count the number of calls, for according to the prevailing belief, the number of calls advises you whether to stay home or to walk out of the house that day. Thus simply by following the signals of a tock’ay, you are warned not to venture onto the sidewalks where you likely will be waylaid by ambushes, such as posts, poles, tree trunks, and parked motorbikes to collide with, and gaps in the pavement that turn the ankles, or worse. So the tock’ay serves as our geese guarding the capitol.
I had my first direct encounter with a tock’ay when I lifted up a floor board in my interim home, a palace I had rented from a Thai prince, where I had planned to stage shows of traditional dance. That tock’ay was lodged in a narrow crevice. How was he able to flatten himself like a leaf to fit into that tight space? Earlier, I had found a large wooden pan, the kind used by prospectors panning for gold in gravelly streambeds, and I had hung it against the wall of my terrace. It did not take long, of course, for a tock’ay to select it as his preferred home. Every morning at five o’clock he decided to wake me up with remarkably thunderous cries reverberating in the pan that acted as an echo chamber. At first, typically Thai, I chose to accept that annoyance. (Once accepted, the little annoyances of life become less vexing.)
But one morning I cracked, conceded defeat, and sent the beast to find a home elsewhere. And I did not put back that cursed pan.
As a final point consider the bizarre story of Yuri who kept the country in suspense for days. Yuri was a monitor lizard, a theoretically protected species that in reality is headed for extinction. This particular one, however, realized his special destiny on the day that Chamlong Taengniam found it during the funeral ceremony for her deceased son. It was lurking behind the photo of the dead boy. Right away she concluded that the spirit of the child was surviving in the body of the lizard. At that juncture a mystifying madness overcame the mourners who decided to stroke the body of the lizard in the hope, somehow, of finding out winning lottery numbers. Gorged with the favorite foods of the dead son, stroked and re-stroked, the poor lizard was approaching his end when officials of the Forestry Department, distressed by the lizard’s pernicious treatment, demanded his repatriation to the wild. What’s surprising is the excessive official zeal over the fate of a lizard in a country where very little is done for poor humans. In the end it was decided to continue with the interrupted funeral rites freeing the soul of the departed child, and that afterwards the lizard would also be liberated to join his brothers in their woodland banquets of beetles, flies, mosquitoes and other small beasts.



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