Thursday, 6 August 2009

Cook Chilli Sauce Burns Pork Frame Uncle

A new line in paints? Good cover, I hope.

Can anyone identify the dishes on the menu?

Cook the menu, yes but who's believe this one!

Infectious enthusiasm for a photo shop.

The saga of Mama’s sickness looks like it’s going to run and run.

The crisis recurred only a day or two after holding the spirit ceremony to stop the shade of her grandmother calling her back to the spirit world. (See the blog article below.)

Since then she has been completely inert, unable to move from where she was lying on the floor and refusing to do anything for herself, clearly still in a state of emotional collapse. Then early one morning I heard noises down in the wooden house and could see the lights were on and that Saniam, who’d been attending her overnight, was up and about.

When I saw him coming up the garden, I went out onto the verandah and asked him what was up. Mama’s ‘mai sabai maak’, very sick indeed and needed to be taken to hospital immediately. Suffering from very bad back pains, she almost had to be carried to the car.

Still hardly light by the time we got to the local hospital, they quickly admitted her to a ward. Clearly her condition was critical and only intensive care would pull her back from the brink. Or so everyone seemed to think.

Saniam stayed with her while we went back to the village to find her younger sister who would surely want to be with her at this difficult time. We drove out to her village and found God, for such is her name, (though as nobody can pronounce God it sounds more like ‘Got’). We then returned immediately to the hospital and to our alarm found an ambulance about to transfer Mama to the big hospital in Surin, the provincial town an hour away.

It was a relief when Saniam and God went with her in the ambulance as we had children to look after back home that we couldn’t leave behind. And yes, the X Rays showed that her spine had collapsed and was crushing her kidneys which perhaps, explaining her incontinence. So as she believed, her transfer to the Surin hospital was a last desperate hope.

Cat and I made it to Surin the next day, having arranged things so that we could manage a bedside vigil for at least five days. That’s the Thai style… the whole family camps out at the hospital, perhaps sleeping on the floor under the bed, though as we had a four year old with us we found ourselves a small hotel and Saniam did the hard overnight shift.

As it turned out, Mama was discharged within forty eight hours and now seems as right as rain. The nice doctor seemed to know one word of English and that was “osteoporosis”, though he was totally lost when I asked about ‘HRT’. I often wonder how Thai doctors can qualify without apparently absorbing any English whatsoever, but nonetheless I had confidence in him and the diagnosis wasn’t very difficult anyway. Thankfully Mama’s kidneys are fine and she now has about six packets of different medicines that she’ll almost certainly fail to take and an appointment for follow up in a few weeks time. So that’ll mean another day trip into Surin which probably won’t advance her state of health one bit but will be useful as therapy.

We did manage a few amusing moments while in Surin though. Slipping away for an evening meal, we went to the Hua Moon Steak restaurant near the Tawan Daeng nightclub that I’d highly recommend for its menu. (082-156-7651.)

The food was imitation farang food of the kind that makes you feel at home but then subverts the cuisine with bizarre anomalies… the mayonnaise covering the salad is sickly sweet, while the steak is massive but with a garnish of only about five chips. Euro-food in Thailand is often a bit different, more confusion than fusion, but what was really good was the menu itself.

For 59 baht you could have, “Cook chilli sauce burns pork frame uncle with rice”, or “Cook the vegetables Yes, pork frame uncle with rice”. Our sides were splitting not from overeating, though I had a generous fish steak (with five chips) and so never discovered what these culinary delights might be.

Can anyone suggest what they could possibly be? A result of misusing a dictionary, though I cannot begin to identify the errors.

I also stopped off at a builders’ merchants to get some paint and discovered that the CIA has moved into the market with an attractive brochure. Remembering that they ran an airline, ‘Air America’ to support their illegal activities in Indo-China during that ill-fated war, selling paints should be no surprise and is much more benign.

Meanwhile, in the hospital everyone was wearing face masks, swine flu being the obsession of the moment. I even saw a photographic shop with a picture of a white looking bunny and a white looking baby on the front called “Virus Studio”.

Perhaps H1N1 is not a virus at all but is really a football score… ‘Huddersfield Town 1, Newcastle United 1’.

Though I remember the economic damage to Thailand caused by the international media playing up the threat of SARS as a good news story. The rest, as they say, is hysteria.

Anyway, on the way back from Surin I insisted on stocking up our little shop that Mama used to sit in all day before she so dramatically withdrew from life. It was fun for her handing out alcohol to the old boys on tick and my losses on the shop were far better value and more therapeutic for her than any medicine. So I’m more than happy to see that Mama is more herself today and is now back in the shop as usual, enjoying the long vigil between customers.

She’s had a hard life and, being a few years older than me, is very old indeed and deserves a crisis or two. I just hope she doesn’t have too many more though. It’s not the first time I’ve seen neighbours dragged away to die, only to be seen wandering down the soi with their buffaloes a day or two later, so perhaps this is normal behaviour.

So how do we now help her deal with osteoporosis and all the problems of ageing?

Should I have a late life crisis myself and how should I now face up to the problems of living in Isaan with an extended family of farmers whose health beliefs are so very different to mine?

Life is a constant process of substituting one problem for the next and I never know what’s just around the corner, living here in Thailand.

At least the mower’s running okay now!

Andrew Hicks The “Thai Girl Blog” - Retirement and Relationships in Thailand.

August 2009


Martyn said...

The CIA paint definitely points to a cover up of some sought going on in and around Surin. The white rabbit is not actually a rabbit but a new whitening cream for babies, the appearance of white floppy ears is deceiving as they are in fact the knotted ends of the facial mask. If H1N1 did refer to Newcastle then it would be H3N0, must be Norwich.

Cook chilli sauce burns pork frame uncle with rice and Cook the vegetables Yes, pork frame uncle with rice, is quite clearly coded messages between the CIA and their Thai agent. An excellent post that has made a good start to my day here in the UK. Best wishes.

Jimbo said...

It's always difficult to translate Thai using the english alphabet but the younger sister's name (God) could mean hug/hold in english (depending on how it's pronounced of course!) - there again if you have misspelt it, it could be frog (gop?)

Johan said...

“Cook the vegetables Yes, pork frame uncle with rice” = Fried Chinese Kaletips with crispy pork, according to the menu from the restaurant across the street from our office.

Chris Lourens said...

I've seen my fair share of old lady maladies in our village and it is amazing to see how quickly they can recover. Some time ago my wife and I lived in Saudi Arabia and as things happen my wife got quite ill after eating a foul chicken dish. She phoned her mamma in Buriram to go and see what was wrong from the village soothsayer. Gizzards were read and a few hours later my wife got the message that all will be well again in a day or two. Now that is what I call distance medicine...

You can catch more of these stories on my blog:

mike said...

I can solve the menu mystery: it is a grammatical error, they meant to write "cookED chilli sauce burns pork frame uncle". Then it is completely clear.

Mike C.

Thai Girl said...

Thanks for some really funny comments.

And yes, it must be coded CIA messages. "Frame uncle" must be an order from the dirty tricks department.

But who is uncle? They must know Ho Chi Minh is dead by now!


Klaus Werner said...

“Cook the vegetables Yes, pork frame uncle with rice”


Cooked rice with broccoli and crispy pork.

KHA=YES(politely spoken by women,as in SAWATDEE KHA)

Thai Girl said...


That explains it! A very clever analysis. It had me foxed.

All credit though to the small restauranteurs who had the energy to pick up the dictionary and to try to attract farang customers.

There are always traps though. I remember a UAE law student who referred in his essay to a 'six month elegance period'.

Of course he meant a 'grace period'.


Klaus Werner said...

thank you for appreciating my analysis.
I have read your last book with much
pleasure and without much help from the dictionary.
Thanks again for your interesting informations about Thailand.

Greetings from Berlin