When I think of Bangkok, there are many things I can recall which made me quite fond of the city in the few days that I spent there.
The crazy traffic, crazy because of the total lack of chaos despite the maddening scale of it. The hairstyles of young people in the Skytrain. The bars and restaurants on every street, which can hardly be matched by anything in our country (perhaps with the exception of Goa). The spectacular rooftop restaurant which I unexpectedly enjoyed, despite feeling characteristically out of place – standing around in the same t-shirt and pair of jeans I left my house in, while everyone stood around laughinig at witty remarks, wearing dresses designed by people whose names I can’t even pronounce.
But the one thing that would probably stay with me the longest, was the sight of an expressway-toll-booth attendant – a young woman – smiling while handing us the ticket. I don’t know why it was so startling. Maybe because I’m used to seeing jaats at toll booths, carrying laathis and making references to your sister while you fumble around for change. But maybe it was the smile itself. It wasn’t an airhostess smile. It made me wonder about the last time I smiled like that myself.
It takes a bit of getting used to, the sight of crumbling old white men walking hand-in-hand with petite Thai girls. It is a bit unsettling no matter how many times you see it, but strange as it may sound, I probably have more respect for those horny bastards than I have for the gangs of Indian men walking around.
Somehow what they do feels more respectable, more honest to me. They know what they want. They know it’s an illusion, a mockery in fact, but they realize it’s all they can get. And they don’t hide it. And they do at least hold hands.
The Indian men, on the other hand, are so full of hypocrisy that they will express shock at what those old men are doing, while raping every female within a 50-feet radius with their eyes. They will roam around like a pack of hyenas, harassing every white woman and embarrassing everyone around by their complete lack of shame and civility. And not one of them looks like they’ve ever held their own wife’s hand.
As soon as I entered the departure terminal at the magnificent Suvarnabhumi airport, the shock of a roomful of Indians after a week was revolting. Pushing around in the security queue, littering, yelling and generally being obnoxious. I don’t understand what makes us so uncouth, so disrespectful, so completely unmindful of others around us. And the pride we take in those very qualities. “We are like that only”. Yes we are, like assholes only.
The only time I was happy to see an Indian was at Patpong. While we were sitting across one of the infamous establishments which give the street its reputation (gathering the courage to enter), we heard what we could not have imagined even in the state that we were in. “Channa jor garam. Le lo bhaiyya.”
It was as if the man had been teleported right from Chaupaati. The same voice, the same box hanging around his neck with pyaaz, tamaatar, hari mirch and chana.
He had moved there a year ago, from UP, had married a Thai woman and looked happy.
“Wapas kyun jayenge bhaiyya. Yahan accha hai.”
“Yahan ki police toh kuch nahi kehti. Haath bhi nahi lagati. Hindustan ki police toh madarchod hai, bhenchod.”
And just when I thought to myself, “you can say that again”, he did.
“Hindustan ki police toh madarchod hai, bhenchod.”
You can say that again, and sadly, replace “police” with almost anyone else.