Albatros Bits

Forums

 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Snapshots!
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Albatros Bits Forum Index -> The Writers' Nest
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Moorea



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 383
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nah, that was a good analogy, Exodus. I can't even begin to count how many times that while I was just vegetating in a hot bath, someone next to me would start talking...and life stories just tumbled out like water from the faucet. There, in the buff, inside a sento, is where I used to practice the grammar structures and vocabulary that I learned from watching those cartoon movies.

I would say more, but I've already started another snapshot this topic, so I'll just hush for now and leave it to be a suprise:)


Try to find Grave of the Fireflies, Exodus....it's worth watching and you'll understand it better than most because of your prior knowledge of certain events in Japanese history. Just make sure you have a box of tissues next to you. One would have to have a heart of stone not to bawl like a baby in that movie.
_________________
Life is great until the toilet paper runs out....
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Exodus



Joined: 26 Feb 2006
Posts: 2262
Location: P-Town represent!

PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Movie's in my Netflix queue, and tissues are in the cupboard. All set.
_________________
"I will choose a path that's clear: I will choose Freewill." -Freewill, by Rush
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Moorea



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 383
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

I was a single parent, without any support from family or friends, living in a foreign country with my then four-year old son. Life was not easy. It was quite stressful and I canít really say that I enjoyed that period of my life. Though looking back over that rough period, there were some bright spots. One particular incident that comes to my mind happened at this time of the year when I lived in the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung.

I was driving to work on my scooter, one rainy Saturday morning. My son and I were bundled up in our rain ponchos, the boy sitting in front of me, huddled protectively between my arms and legs. I was driving slowly, having learned from painful prior experience that scooters did not have very good balance or traction on rain slicked roads. We were putting along on the side lane, separated by a meridian of palm trees from the four-lane highway, with an identical meridian and side lane on the opposite side. The light ahead of me was green, so I did not slow down. I should have though, since that was a blind corner because of a huge truck parked right there on the lane. As I passed the truck, a late-middle aged man, hunched over his decrepit bicycle, emerged from the other side of the truck. He didnít stop for the red light. Too late to brake, I tried to swerve out of the way, but all that did was cause my bike to turn over and crash into the old man. We didnít slide very far because I was really not going very fast. But when my eyeballs stopped spinning, I realized that my helmet had been knocked off. Heavy raindrops fell on my face, stinging my unfocused eyes. With a shock, I jumped up, realizing that my son was underneath me. Looking down, his beautiful, perfect features were marred with blood. I couldnít see the source. There was so much blood.

Now I truly understand the phrase, ďI saw red.Ē In that moment, gazing down at my sonís bloody face, his mouth opened and more bright red blood gurgled out in a pitiful, painful wail. I saw red. I literally saw red. The old manís bicycle was laying next to my son. I reached down and picked it up. Without thought, I hurled it away. Vaguely, I noticed that this surge of adrenalin must have fueled some frightening strength within me. The bicycle sailed over all four lanes of traffic, the opposite meridian and bike lane before crashing into a wall. I have no idea of how many meters that was. The old man was sitting on the asphalt, shaking his head. As if in a dream, I reached down and grasped him by the shirt front. With one jerk of my left hand, I lifted him up into the air, the collar tightening around his throat. I remember the terror in his eyes. I imagine that he saw the red in mine own. I didnít yell at him Ė I roared. I was so loud that in fact, my vocal cords were damaged and I was hoarse afterwards for a week. With each word, I shook him like a rag doll. ďAre you stupid?Ē I asked in Chinese. ďDo your eyes not work?Ē I couldnít remember how to say the word blind. ďDonít you know what red means? The light is red. Red means stop. Red, stupid, RED!!Ē I had no control anymore. I was so enraged by the sight of my sweet boy, his face covered in blood, that I had totally lost it. The old man just hung there in the air, suspended by my arm, shivering and quaking. I donít remember him saying anything. At that point, I was probably about to drive my fist through him when I felt a gentle touch on my right arm. A soft female voice spoke to me in Chinese. She said, ďPlease sir, you need to get your son out of the middle of the road.Ē That was all, not ďdonít hit him,Ē or ďdonít hurt him,Ē just a simple plea to take care of my son.

Her words hit me like a hammer. Quivering myself from rage and adrenalin, I dropped the old man. He crumpled to the ground as I turned to look at my son. The chilly rain was really pouring down now, washing some of the blood off his face. I could now see that there was a wound under his nose, above his upper lip. It looked like his teeth went straight through. I picked him up and carried him across the sidewalk, setting him down under the canopy of a closed shop. His painful crying tore at my heart, making the rage boil up in me again. I turned around, my anger not satisfied yet. The old man had vanished. I looked up and down the street, but I couldnít see him. I donít know how he could have moved so fast, but fortunately for him, he was gone. I couldnít see the womanís face, so deep in the shadow of her raincoat and also wrapped in a scarf. She patted my arm again, suggesting that I now get my scooter out of the middle of the road. I obeyed, noting angrily that the handlebars were bent. That would cost a pretty penny to fix. I pushed it off the road and onto the sidewalk where a new man had appeared.

The woman spoke briefly to the man, I only caught bits and pieces of what she said, but I gathered that she was explaining the accident. She pointed to my bawling son. The man nodded, waving to me to take my son and follow him inside one of the nearby homes. The woman waved, reassuring me everything would be ok, and then disappeared into the rain. Still boiling mad, I grabbed my son and followed the elderly gentleman inside. He was a retired doctor. Cold, dripping, and soaking wet, I followed him into a dusty old room, where he pulled out a drawer of medical supplies. Gently he wiped and cleaned my sonís face. Explaining to me that the proffered pill was a mild analgesic, he gave it to my boy and helped him drink some water. His upper teeth had pierced through the wall of his mouth, puncturing through to the outer skin. It was an ugly wound, but the doctor said comforting words. I cried like a baby as the adrenalin petered out of my system. I shook and shivered as I watched him apply some medicine to my sonís upper lip area before covering it with a bandage. He asked if I was injured. I didnít know. I finally noticed that my left hand was sticky with half coagulated blood. He tended to my hand, revealing that the skin was torn off in one place, revealing the white knuckle of my bone underneath. It was as serious wound, he said. I should go to a hospital or another clinic. Still, he applied some purplish antiseptic and bandaged my hand. My son was calmer now, thanks to the analgesic and the huge lollipop that the kindly doctor gave him. I could barely speak, due to my previous primal bellowing. My voice croaked as I thanked him.

He refused any money, but simply encouraged me to be calm and take care of my son. Before I left, he patted me on the shoulder like an old friend, and pressed a bag full of medical supplies into my hand. I never even learned his name. My son was scared to get on the scooter again, so we walked home in the rain. It was only a few blocks away. Nine years have passed since this incident, but still, during the second week of January, I am reminded of what happened on that rainy Saturday. Who was that woman, who by using her soft touch and sweet voice, calmed me from probably doing serious harm to another? What was she doing at that moment, at that street corner, in the pouring rain? What of the elderly doctor? How fortunate and blessed we were, to have an accident right in front of his home? Both of them were so brave to approach someone acting the way I did. And finally, what of that poor little man who ran the red light? Did he slink away and have a heart attack from fright? I destroyed his bicycle. He was probably very poor because I remember that he wasnít even wearing a raincoat, just the cheap baggy clothes of a common manual laborer and despite the cold rain, he had no shoes. Did he have enough money to replace his bike? I doubt it. Does he have nightmares of a red-eyed gigantic foreigner (he didnít even reach my shoulders and my biceps were way thicker than his thighs), shaking him and threatening to injure him? I wish I could apologize now. My sonís face healed without even a scar, thanks to the generous medicine and instruction from the old doctor. My boy doesnít even remember that accident now, thankfully. However, everyday of my life I see the big scar on my left pointer finger knuckle as a reminder. Iím ashamed now when I think of what I was capable of doing to that little man and Iím grateful for the intervention. Nowadays, I donít look at my scar and think of how angry I was, but rather think of it as a testament to the kindness of strangers.
_________________
Life is great until the toilet paper runs out....


Last edited by Moorea on Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Exodus



Joined: 26 Feb 2006
Posts: 2262
Location: P-Town represent!

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your words, I've figured out why I like them so much. You've managed to capture life and put it onto my computer screen. The hate, the love, the fear, the insanity, and everything else. These stories just seem to be strikingly honest accounts of what I can only describe as humanity.
_________________
"I will choose a path that's clear: I will choose Freewill." -Freewill, by Rush
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Moorea



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 383
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SOME GUYS HAVE ALL THE LUCK

Some guys gauge their luck by wealth, success, or even women. I have a different standard. I judge the quality of my luck by the taxi drivers. Let me explain. I am supposed to arrive at school by 7:40AM. If I take public transportaion, I must be out the door by 6:50AM, walk down to the subway station, take an overcrowded train downtown, then stand on a curb and suck roadside exhaust until mini-bus #43 comes and delivers me to my school in West Kowloon (a mini-bus looks like a "short-bus" and carries around 32 people). The trip takes on average 50 minutes, plus or minus a few. However, if I take a taxi, the ride can be shortened up to the current record of only 10 minutes. The taxi stand is only 2 minutes from my front door. What would you do?

Forget the fact that the public transportation route costs about the same as a coke from 7-11, and the taxi is about the same as an evening ticket (non-matinee) at the movie theater. For me, the choice is simple. I ignore global warming and don't care about the money, I just want to stay home for as long as possible before I must emerge into the usually smoggy skies of Hong Kong. I've developed a wonderful morning routine. I get up at 5:45AM, sit on the toilet and read (I do it regardless if there's any personal business or not, I just like to be on my throne with a good book) for 10 to 15 minutes. Shower, dress, and grab some cereal to eat with my concubine (that's the title my wife gave to my computer) while watching an episode of Star Trek. If my timing is right, I can finish the whole episode before I need to dash out of the house. I tell you, it's a great way to start the day, very relaxing:) Now here's where the luck comes in. If I my luck is good, I can get a good driver and barely get through two songs on my ipod before arriving at school. But if my luck is bad, that little drive can be pure hell. Here's a few examples.

Some drivers seem to live in their cabs, because the putrid stench of their body odor is so powerful, it not only fills your nostrils, you can taste it when you open your mouth to gasp for air. The road to my school bottlenecks into one lane at some points, which gets jammed up if there's an accident. Whenever I get an odious driver, there is always a traffic jam. Some drivers remove the window control thingeys, so you can't roll down your own window either. Talk about BAD LUCK! I've had drivers where their smell is so powerful, it permeates the seats as well, so that my own clothes and hair absorb that foul odor. I so desperately want to tell these people to take a bath, but that would be rude, wouldn't it? It's a rotten way to start the day, let me assure you.

This happens quite a lot actually. Some drivers just suck because they keep letting their foot off and on the gas pedal rapidly, causing my head to wobble back and forth, giving me a tremendous headache and causing me to want to hurl the remnants of my breakfast onto the back of their heads. The cars go like this ---rrrrrrrRRRrrrrrrrRRRrrrrrrrrRRRrrrrrrrRRRrrrrrr. Someday I really must take the time to learn how to say in Cantonese, "Hey moron, keep your foot down on the damn pedal!" This also applies to the drivers who ride their brake pedal like it is a prize bull or something. Drives me nuts.

But the worst, the absolute worst luck of all is to get one of the MANY constantly flatuating drivers. I swear, some of these guys must eat nothing but baked beans. The Chinese have claims on inventing almost everything, from paper to gunpowder, but they sure as heck have never even thought of BEANO. There have been many mornings where my peaceful zen has been fouled and polluted beyond belief by a driver who has too much gas. What a waste! I bet they could run a tube from butt to engine, and drive all day on the most natural, organic gas.

I saw in the paper this morning an article about a local shopping mall which has a giant jade Buddha statue on viewing and the public is invited to rub the Buddha's tummy for good luck for the upcoming Chinese New Year. Perhaps I need to go do that, because knowing my streak of bad luck, my next driver will not only have fungal body odor, but also drive in that lurching whiplash style AND fart all the way to my destination. Now that's BAD LUCK!!!
_________________
Life is great until the toilet paper runs out....


Last edited by Moorea on Mon Jan 19, 2009 1:51 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Moorea



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 383
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

COOK'S BAY

I have never been more comfortable in my life than on the night of December 21, 1994. I was on my back, soft, cool sand under me like a thick comforter blanket. I can remember the date so easily because it was the night before I got married. Water, as warm as a soothing bath, rushed up to encircle and embrace my lower limbs, only to race away again with a gentle tugging motion. In the distance, a low rumbling roar accompanied the warm breeze washing over me. Earlier, I had asked my fiancťe about that sound. I had not heard anything like it before. She told me that it was the sound of the outer reef. I picked my head up off of the sandy pillow and looked over the expansive lagoon before me. That nocturnal celestial orb hung low on the horizon, its beauty reflected on wave tips that twittered and shimmered like a thousand children waving those sparkler fireworks. The glittering gentle waves undulated back and forth, the very heartbeat of Mother Earth. I could not see, only hear the awesome power of the planetís mightiest ocean pound and grind the outer reef into the fine sand, as soft as silk, which lay all around me. I was alone on this beach with my thoughts and worries, on a tiny island, just one out of many in the colony called French Polynesia, more famously known as Tahiti. Only the wind rustling through the huge fan-shaped coconut leaves and the relentless distant roar of the surf were present to keep me company. I lay back down and gazed at the stars. There was one constellation that I had never seen before, yet I knew its name. European sailors named it the Southern Cross. It blazed in the cloudless night sky, still a beacon to todayís mariners as it was for the old. I marveled that on the night before my wedding, I was here, in a place called Cookís Bay, on the island of Moorea, gazing up at a constellation only visible from the southern hemisphere. As a boy growing up in south Louisiana, I had read stories about this place, but never in my wildest dreams ever thought that someday Iíd be here. Iím not sure how many hours passed, but the moon eventually sunk into the dark lagoon, and the position of that fiery cross in the sky seemed to rotate around my head. Peeling myself off my sandy bed, I stretched, peering intently out into the deep darkness that just precedes dawn. The wind had died down, the palm leaves now silent. Everything was quiet except for the pounding reef in the distance. I imagined a ship, like the mighty Endeavor, parked in the lagoon, just like it really did back in the middle 1700ís. Captain James Cook had landed here, on this beach, so many years ago. This bay was named after him. I couldnít help from wondering if the Captain had stood here, like I did, marveling at all the natural beauty around and asking himself the same question that I was -- ďWhy am I here?Ē
_________________
Life is great until the toilet paper runs out....
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Moorea



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 383
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

THE END OF THE ROAD

I was hot, I mean VERY hot. My blue raincoat stuck to me like a second skin. I had perspired so much, I should have just taken it off as I was soaking wet underneath anyways. But I didnít want to stop. I was not going to let this mountain beat me. Though my thighs were screaming from the strain, I kept my head down and continued to push those pedals round and round. I glanced behind me and Yuusuke was still there, my biking friend. He didnít look very happy. We had planned this all day trip a few days ago, hunched over our bento lunches and a map of the local area. He argued with me a little over the destination, though in the end I pretty much forced him to take it or leave it, as I was determined to follow through with my plan. Why are we going to ride for 6 hours, ONE WAY, to see nothing, he argued. Donít worry, I chided him. Something will turn up. Inwardly, I was fascinated because the road did appear to nowhere. The map showed that road just stopped, deep in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere. I was determined to find out why. Riding my bicycle in the Japanese countryside was one of my favorite past-times. The lush green rice paddies, dense forests, peaceful sea-sides, and quiet mountain villages appealed to me in a way that I can only explain as pure pleasure. There is no country in the world more fickle about roadside rubbish than Japan too, so it was so nice to ride through pristine, unspoiled territory, exploring side roads and tiny dark paths up and over lonely hills. I guess you could say that I just enjoyed losing myself.

My friend Yuusuke, however, preferred a more concrete plan. He didnít like it that the map showed no settlements, no nothing. He was worried that our normal custom of eating out somewhere on the road before returning home would be broken. But I wasnít too worried. That blank spot on the map just kept calling to me. Just in case we did go beyond the edge of civilization, I did pack a few o-nigiri (rice balls wrapped in seaweed) and plenty of water.

It started to rain, but since the weather was quite warm, I didnít mind. Those dark clouds covered the hot, relentless sun also. We were riding deep into the mountains of the Kii Peninsula, near the town of Ise in Mie Prefecture, where I had been living for the past few months. I had met Yuusuke at the beach, nearly two months prior to this bicycle trip. He had been playing volleyball with some other college students and invited me to join them. Discovering that we not only shared the same age, but also birthday, we soon became fast friends. Between his incomplete, funny English, and my stumbling, but growing repertoire of Japanese, we had a great time together, most especially riding our mountain bikes over long distances. Once his girlfriend came with us, but after finding that she was slower than a turtle, we agreed to leave her behind after that. This was to be our last trip together as I had already received my transfer orders to a new city, further north in a few more days. Yuusuke couldnít understand why I wanted to waste our last trip together to go to a nowhere place, but being the good friend that he was, he relented and followed my lead.

As I pedaled up that mountain, I wondered too, why was I so determined to follow this road? I wasnít sure exactly, other than I knew that my curiosity demanded it. I had been in Japan for almost a year now, and I had learned to give into my curiosity. I couldnít help it, this country was just so different, so interesting to me. There was always something fascinating to see around the next corner or bend in the road. The road itself was fairly new, smooth asphalt with a bright yellow dividing line. I had not seen a car in hours. The only noise I could hear was the pounding blood in my ears and the mechanical whine of a rapidly moving bicycle chain. There was nothing around us at all. No turn offs, no side trails, nothing. The road just cut through a deep mountain forest filled with tall green bamboo, like a giant scythe slicing through ripened wheat. Turning a corner, the road abruptly ended. There was nothing there. The road simply ended in a particularly thick copse of bamboo. We stopped our bikes, panting slightly from the exertion. The sound of falling water was all around us: big droplets falling on the black asphalt, a nearby hidden stream was hurrying away, and millions of bamboo leaves rustled from the abundant moisture. Unseen cicadas (very noisy crickets) chirped and buzzed at each other from all directions. It was so peaceful.

Yuusuke looked at me and made some snide comment about my sanity. I just smiled, thinking how perfect this was. We ate our meager meal in the drizzling rain, sitting in the middle of the road. Before we left, I climbed up a small rise into the bamboo so that Yuusuke could take a picture of me. I loved the juxtaposition of the black asphalt with the lime green bamboo. I couldnít really explain to him why I was happy, but I was. Now, at last, I knew what lay beyond that road to nowhere. We got on our bikes and began the long journey, fortunately most of it downhill, back to Ise city. I wonder now, all these years later, if that road still leads to nowhere. Perhaps so, but to me, it didnít lead nowhere, it led to a content heart.
_________________
Life is great until the toilet paper runs out....
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Moorea



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 383
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

THE FIRST EMPEROR OF CHINA

Iíve just returned from a trip to Xiían, the provincial capital of Shaanxi Province, in central China. Xiían is one of the oldest cities in China and it was the first capital of the country for many, many centuries. One of the premier attractions of this ancient city is the famous TERRACOTTA WARRIORS. Pretty much everyone in the world has heard of them before, but perhaps not everyone knows the story behind them. Iím not going to get into that, but rather share my thoughts and impressions as that day unfolded.

Without a doubt, the TERRACOTTA WARRIORS are truly the 8th Wonder of The World. My breath was literally taken away when I climbed the small rise and stepped through the wide doors into the wide chamber of burial pit #1. Deep furrows in the ground contain the reconstructed warriors, standing tall and silent, their empty hands still ready to hold the bronze weapons they once held. Each warrior is unique. Barely a thousand of them have been reconstructed, and archaeologists have estimated that the three burial pits contain approximately 8000 warriors in total. The work in digging them out and reconstructing each one from the sometimes hundreds of broken shards is painstaking and very laborious. They estimate that it will take four hundred years for them to unearth all of the warriors.

Now what amazed and left me completely stunned is this; all of this painstaking labor was done for just one man, named Qin Shi Huang, who unified this vast country under one flag in the year 221 B.C. and set himself up to be the first Emperor of China. By all historical accounts, this man was smart and inventive, but also ruthless and vain. He did many great things for China, but he also committed many terrible acts, such as burning all the historical books of the regions and peoples he conquered, leaving only the history he wanted to be written to remain for the latter days. He was also famous for making his peon foot soldiers to fight without armor or shields, thinking that they would fight harder to save their own lives. No one will ever know how many hundreds of thousands, even millions of people who died by his direct command. The Great Wall of China was begun during his reign, and he also displayed his wealth and power by building 270 grand palaces throughout China. No one knows for sure how long it took to build the Terracotta Warriors as well, to guard the Emperor and protect his kingdom in the afterlife. Legend says that over 70,000 worked on his tomb, which even today still lies undisturbed under a layer of grass and small shrubbery. Some say he had all the workers on his tomb killed to protect its secrets, no one knows for sure. But modern archeologists have found centuries old grave robbers dead on the flanks of this small man-made mountain. So cunning and devious are the traps and poisons he had set out to guard his tomb, that even the promise of untold riches were not enough to entice more grave robbers to attempt to disturb his mausoleum. Modern archaeologists themselves are unsure how to open his tomb too, and to this day this small mountain lies in the middle of no where, many miles from the Emperorís former capital of Xiían.

The Terracotta Warriors are buried miles away from the tomb itself, a fact that most people donít know. When my bus drove away from the Warriors and eventually passed by the lone mountain of the Emperor on this flat plateau, a few serious thoughts flashed through me. If the Emperor Qin were to suddenly wake up (not like that last silly MUMMY movie), and step out of his tomb and look over his kingdom, what would he think? What would he feel? I pondered these hypothetical questions for some time as we drove around, looking at other tombs (there are 73 other Emperors and Empresses, Royal Concubines, Princesses, Princes, and untold other noblesí tombs in the Xiían area.)

First of all, I believe he would be shocked. The air was so thick with smog, even out there in the rural countryside, that he wouldnít be able to see very far. Second, in the immediate area around his tomb, there are some barren fields, probably lying fallow for this growing season. Only dust is growing around him at this time. Third, there was a small village nearby, our bus drove slowly through its winding, bumpy streets. The Emperor would not be impressed, Iím sure. During his time, the rural people lived in mud brick homes. This village contained nothing but mud brick homes as well. Nothing much has changed except the occasional rusting farm equipment and piles of trash on the side of the road. The common people were poor then. They are still poor now. Iíve traveled all over China, and those people who live within hailing distance of their great, first Emperor of China, are truthfully as poor or poorer than any other place that Iíve visited as well. Everyone is thin, lean, and carries that perpetually hungry look. One man, breaking apart a block of concrete with a pick, looked up at me as the bus passed by. The look in his glassy eyes can only be described as ďhungryĒ when they finally focused on me. It is a sight that Iíve become accustomed to when I travel here, because I know when they see me and dollar signs flash through their eyes, but this manís open glare at me was disturbing, haunting. His eyes looked jaundiced, all yellowish with big red veins popping out. It was a look that I will not soon forget. What would the mighty unifier of China think if he walked by this man in this village with no name? I donít think heíd be impressed. In the 2,200 years since his death, not really much at all has happened around his immediate area. Would he shed a tear, thinking that all his hard work in building the first united country of China a waste of time? Obviously the people in his tombís neighborhood have not been able to increase their wealth or standard of living in all these years. What would he think?

On the other hand, if he hitched a ride back into his capital city of Xiían, he might be impressed with the wide roads, busy cars and trucks, tree-filled boulevards, and many luxury gift shops. However, if he were to move beyond the heartbreaking poverty of the rural countryside and make it into the city, then perhaps the thing that he might be impressed with the most is the huge, three story building, shaped like an ancient temple of a dynasty that ended 2000 years ago, with the three big red letters hanging on the side: there was a capital K, a F, and a C. I know I was very impressed, but also distressed because my bus kept driving away; all the while my stomach was crying for a Caesar Chicken Wrap, especially since Iíve had pretty much nothing but rice and vegetables for the past five days. However, no matter what he sees in the city, I still think that the first Emperor of China would be displeased. Perhaps he would recognize that all the terrible things he did still have repercussions today, and that within twenty years of his death, his mighty empire would fall apart and all that would remain are the crumbling remains of a few dusty, rubble filled pits.
_________________
Life is great until the toilet paper runs out....
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Farsider



Joined: 10 Aug 2005
Posts: 913

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just wanted to say how much I've been enjoying these snapshots (except for that one with the booger, that was just gross Razz) They're a lot of fun to read, and some are quite educational. I always look forward to seeing a new snapshot appear. This last one about Emperor Qin was particularly interesting to me. I often wonder what Washington or Jefferson or Franklin or one of the other founding fathers would think if they were to be dropped in on the early 21st century United States. I think that they would have a slightly brighter view than the ancient emperor, but with enough reservations, as well.
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
Moorea



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 383
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ďYU WANG WUNG WIKEY YIKEN?Ē


A few weeks ago I was reading a book by Bill Bryson, my favorite author of the moment. Generally, his observations are spot on and very humorous, but one chapter alluded to something that just burned my biscuits. He claims that Americans are culinary idiots. Not only do Americans not know what good food is, we wouldnít know how to enjoy it even if we did happen to find it. He basically says that McDonaldís is the height of gastronomical genius in our country. I was rather offended. So, to prove to Mr. Bryson that he is not completely right about Americans, Iíve gone through a few of the family newsletters that Iíve written previously and excerpted a few selections about food.

My wife fancies herself to be a health guru. She insists on only high quality goods in our household, most preferably items with the label Ďorganicí on it. However, despite never really having any experience with cooking prior to marriage, she has exceeded and surpassed all expectations when it comes to the dinner table. Hereís a few examples of her masterful handiwork.

Being from south Louisiana, one of my favorite signature Creole treats is called a ĎPo-boyí which is basically a sandwich made out of French bread. The po-boy was supposedly created during the Great Depression in New Orleans by one shop that just ran out of sandwich bread. The owner slapped some meat on a sliced piece of French bread and because the workers were poor, it was dubbed Ďpo-boyí. Hereís what my wife created for me. She took a baguette (French bread) made in Hong Kong from Chinese wheat. The cheddar cheese was from Australia. The cherry tomatoes were imported from the States. Sliced beef came from Argentina and Brazil. The lettuce was grown locally (organic, they say...), and sprinkled with a dash of Tony Chacherie's (a Cajun spice that replaces both salt and pepper) from Louisiana, and liberally doused with BBQ sauce from Japan. She toasted the baguette with cheese on it to a light, crispy brown. She sliced cherry tomatoes into a desired thickness, then sautťed the thinly sliced beef in Japanese Yakiniku BBQ sauce and sprinkled a little Cajun spice on it. She placed the beef on the bread, then a layer of cherry tomatoes, then lettuce, then covered it all with the top half of the bun. My taste buds were in heaven. My international po-boy was just as good if not better than anything Iíve ever had in New Orleans.

Another signature Cajun dish is ďBlackenedĒ fish, where the chef sears the flesh of a fish until it becomes a bit black with a strong smokey flavor. High-class Cajun restaurants will charge you an arm and a leg for this. My industrious wife decided to tackle and conquer this cooking technique. She bought a few slabs of fresh Norwegian salmon, then pan fried the flesh with a light coating of Italian olive oil. Australian cherry tomatoes were also pan fried until the outer skin was lightly blackened. Another side vegetable of a relative of the spring onion family (never saw this vegetable in America before) from China was lightly sautťed with caramelized garlic. The end result was just a fantastic delight of the senses. Iím so glad those Norwegian salmon swam all the way to Hong Kong!

Hong Kong is an amazing place. Despite a lack of natural resources, you can find almost anything and everything, as long as youíre willing to pay of course. Hereís an example of a typical breakfast. The buttermilk pancake mix came from Aunt Jemima (an American brand), the sausage links were from a farm in Arkansas, the maple syrup came from Canada, butter from New Zealand, bananas from the Philippines, strawberries from Korea, and blueberries from Chile. Now where does Mr. Bryson get that Americans do not know good food? With this quality of food, my wife makes me feel like a king.

What about going out? Is there any factual basis for Brysonís McDonaldís statement? Is the Big Mac the pinnacle of American desire when eating outside the house? I donít think so. Hereís a review of an Egyptian restaurant called HABIBI (sounds like the monkey from the Disney movie ALADDIN). We've wanted to go there ever since I came to HK, but just never took the opportunity. Dark and mysterious insides, with droopy candles in Islamic themed lanterns and something like Arabic rap playing in the background. Black and white photographs of the pyramids, old Cairo mosques and camels and women wearing their head to toe hajibs (or whatever it's called) were all over the walls, even in the bathroom. Dinner started with my vegetable soup (spicy, caught in my throat and gave me hiccups for a few minutes, but still delicious), and my wifeís lentil and pasta soup (her's was better I admit), then an appetizer of a small pie made of rice, spinach, and pumpkin, mine was a small platter of different kinds of dips to put the falafel (thin, soft bread, kind of like unleavened) in. I'm sure ya'll have heard of hummus...it's mushed chickpeas and olive oil. YUMMY! My wifeís main dish was baked chicken breast stuffed with fresh dates, wheat berry, and herbs, while I had the grilled beef kebabs served with this fantastic chewy, but not sticky dark rice that had roasted pine nuts and a dash of cinnamon in it. The beef kebabs came with a dill yogurt dipping sauce. Oh boy, our tastebuds were jumping for joy that's for sure. The chicken was amazing. For desert they gave us a small slice of Baklava and cream, which is like a flat almond pastry with minced dates in the middle. Although the portions were not large at all, even I was well fed when the dinner was over. When we walked away from Habibiís, our stomachs were groaning with pleasure.

Finally, hereís what I wrote to my family over a year ago about a Vietnamese restaurant in one of the local malls. The name of this place is Rice Paper. ďYu wang wung wikey yiken?Ē a waiter asked me when we first sat down. I could not for the life of me fathom what he was trying to say, so I just smiled and buried my face in the menu. Finally, our choices made, we waited only a few minutes before the culinary magic show began. Imagine a glass pot of bright maroon colored apricot & peach tea being set in front of you, with a small glass of the most delicious orange blossom honey. That sweet smell wafting up your nostrils...the warm, tart liquid caressing your throat and stomach as it's going down. A deep fried vegetable spring roll comes next, sprinkled with a lime wedge and wrapped in a moist, fresh envelope of lettuce, dipped in a lemony sweet & sour sauce. It's pure tangy delight. A bowl of clear, cold rice noodles, topped with slivers of carrot, lettuce, crispy fried onions, and grilled jumbo shrimp comes next. A serving dish of clear sauce with flecks of a variety of both hot and sweet peppers floating in it is then poured over your shrimp & rice noodles. It causes an explosion of spicy, sour, and sweetness in your mouth. A pleasant smelling bowl of coconut flavored rice comes next, served next to fresh out of the oven french bread, both to pay homage to a deep bowl of a light yellow beef brisket curry, topped with slivers of fresh lemongrass. The beef has been slow cooked to just melt on your tongue, and the carrots and potatoes are just right, not mushy or too hard. Dipping that hot french bread into the curry is to know the true meaning of gastronomical happiness, while ladling the same curry over the coconut rice brings a combination that is so perfect, so scrumptious, that you cannot control yourself but to bring the entire bowl to your mouth and savor every morsel, wishing fervently that the bowl will never be empty. Finally, a lighter bite composed of a micro-thin piece of rice paper, where slices of succulent roast chicken are wrapped with slices of banana, orange, pineapple, star fruit, and lettuce. The combination of this wrap dipped into a fresh, tangy sauce is enough to bring your senses to tears of joy.

No, I donít agree with Mr. Bryson. Yah, sure there are plenty of people who do not care about quality or exotic foods, but Iím certainly not one of them. You can not pay me to eat a Big Mac. Iíd rather go hungry than touch a Fillet Oífish. The stale deep fried chicken sandwich does not appeal to me. Nothing from that ubiquitous establishment appeals to me (except the French fries). I believe in good food, whether it comes from my wifeís hand or from an outside establishment. Life is too short to eat low quality food, in my opinion. A few days after visiting that Rice Paper restaurant, it dawned on me that the waiterís ďYu wang wung wikey yiken?Ē was most likely "You want some spicy chicken?" Next time we go, Iíll ask for it.
_________________
Life is great until the toilet paper runs out....


Last edited by Moorea on Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:16 pm; edited 5 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Amaunator



Joined: 03 Dec 2005
Posts: 2074
Location: Belgium ... innocuous but intrepid!

PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I don't know if I disagree with Mr. Bryson, really Wink, seeing how you misspelled certain gastronomic terms all the same Very Happy.

Falafa = falafel
haklava = baklava
filet = fillet

Wink

It takes a European to spot that Twisted Evil!

Also, there was an its/it's mistake somewhere in the middle, but overall I must say it all sounded quite edible Wink.

Now do forgive me while I must contain my stomach from groaning... Very Happy
_________________
the sun may melt the rain
may rinse the sky may sink
the clouds may meet the dirt
may drop your heart may heal

feelings of love you love
fluttering hearts you hate
revealing souls you love
breaking spirits you hate that

the sun...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message MSN Messenger
Moorea



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 383
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Dream Honeymoon Part I


A trans-Atlantic cruise to Ireland or Scotland, a romantic stroll along the streets of old Paris, a diner in an elegant restaurant overlooking the Tiber of Rome, all of these activities and places were my idea of a perfect honeymoon. However, when I decided to marry a gal from Tahiti, the plans changed from Europe to the South Pacific. Tahiti: land of mutinous Fletcher Christian and Captain Bly, home of the most exotic dancers of the world, a place so beautiful that early European explorers labeled Tahiti among the most beautiful islands in the world. It is a place to sit back, relax, and enjoy life. Well, thatís what I thought. I soon learned that what I imagined and dreamed about of Tahiti was just that Ė a dream.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I believed Tahiti to be a perfect little world filled with gorgeous, perfect people. I was only partially correct. My first experience upon landing was an unfortunate encounter with a French customs officer. At that time, the airport lacked many modern amenities such as x-ray machines and metal detectors. Instead of being showered with flower leis (as I expected), an officer pulled me aside and demanded to search my luggage. Twenty minutes later, I was staring in dismay at every single item in my suitcase and backpack, strewn across two tables for all the world to see. The fastidiously thorough Frenchman had neatly unpacked all of my belongings and arranged them into piles. Each article of clothing or item was slowly drawn from its resting place, held up to the light from several angles (what the hell was he checking for anyways?), before he would with an equal slowness refold the articles and deposit them on the table. He seemed to linger over my underwear in particular. I canít begin to fathom why he needed to test the elasticity of the waistbands of each of my Fruit-of-the-Looms.

After hastily repacking (more like shoveling) my belongings, I was finally greeted by my future in-laws in the way that I dreamed. My fiancťeís lovely mother draped a heavy lei around my neck and planted wet kisses on both of my cheeks. The heady perfume of the Tiare flowers was intoxicating. We piled into a tiny vehicle and drove through what seemed to be a dense rainforest filled with so many shades of green and an amazing variety of pleasant scents. A kaleidoscope rainbow of colorful flowers dotted this verdant landscape. The sweet smell of ripe mango, still hanging heavily on the trees, wafted through our open windows. Never had I even imagined a sweeter smelling breeze in my life. At last, we pulled into a humble cottage in the middle of a quaint neighborhood.

Marieís (my fiancťe) family home was small, and I began to suspect that they were perhaps more financially challenged that I had previously presumed since there was no front door. Not only was the front door missing, I found that all of the windows contained no glass and no screens. The house was entirely open. Perhaps there was no need, as I noticed that none of their neighbors possessed doors or glass windows either. This is probably a practical arrangement since no one owned an air conditioner. After all, why bother with glass windows and screens when nature provided all the necessities in great abundance?

I soon began to miss those amenities such as doors and window screens as the sun settled down for the evening. The entire village seemed to rise up from the lethargy-inducing warmth of the afternoon sun and welcome me with much singing and ukulele playing. Men and women, dressed only in colorful pareu (sarongs), strolled up and down the now darkened street breaking into spontaneous singing and impromptu dancing in the streets. It was charming at first, but the singing and twangy music just would not cease. After a few hours, I felt stuck inside a torture chamber. Worst of all, it sounded like the same song was being repeated over and over. Canít they play something else? Donít they know that some people are tired and want to rest? No one seemed to care. Marieís family all just hummed to the songs as they watched an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, dubbed over in French of course. Very thrilling, let me assure you. The music finally just trickled off a bit past midnight. Thankfully I took my leave and retired to the room provided for me.

The tropical heat was oppressive. Even stripped down to my birthday suit I felt like I was roasting in an oven. No refreshing breeze came through those gaping holes in the wall, but other denizens of the night were free to enter. My hothouse bedroom was full of mosquitoes, all clamoring for a bit of fresh meat. I lit a few coils of the burning kind of repellant provided by my future family, placing them near the window in the hopes that the offensive smell would keep the bloodsuckers at bay. However, that pungent smell seemed to have the opposite effect. I eventually gave up and pulled the bed sheet over my head, trying in vain to limit the areas my body came in contact with the sheet so as to prevent being further attacked by those voracious predators.

Sleep, alas, was not meant to be mine that evening. A curious buzzing noise stirred me from under my protective sheet. Without glasses or contacts, my vision was limited to barely beyond a hand held up in my face, so it was to my great surprise that I could actually see dark objects flitting about my room. The buzzing of their wings reminded me of bees, but obviously these were not bees. My hand furtively snuck out from under the bed sheet shield to snatch my glasses off of the bedside stand. Lo and behold, my half-inch thick ocular aid revealed multiple bogies of about 3-4 inches in length, both crawling on the walls and flying somersaults through the air. It was still too dark to see the exact nature of the intruders though. I reached over and flicked on the bed stand light.

One of the fast moving objects smacked me in the face just as the light came on. It fell onto my lap where the light revealed its true nature. Cockroaches. FLYING cockroaches. There were hundreds of them, crawling out of holes in the walls and hurtling in through the open window. I went totally berserk. Leaping from the bed, I grabbed a shoe and began swinging as hard as I could. Pow! Bam! Plop! Crunch!

Hours and hours passed before I finally put the shoe down. A faint glow already shone through the trees outside the window. The constant stream of invaders seemed to taper off at the approach of dawn. Standing victorious on the field of battle, I released a much needed primeval roar before looking for a broom to sweep up the deceased losers. Minutes later a Mt. Everest sized pile of dead cockroaches lay in the middle of the room. I couldnít find a trash can so I just dumped them out of the window. Thoroughly exhausted, I lay back in the bed and tried to relax. It seemed as if I had barely closed my eyes before my door flew open and my soon to be eight year old brother-in-law burst into the room to wake me up. Wearily I rose and joined the family for breakfast. It was then that I realized that the walls of this house were not particularly thick. No one said anything about my all night activity, though from the dirty look my fiancťeís father gave me, Iím positive everyone must have heard the ruckus I made.

At mid-day we all went to the airport to pick up my parents. It was during the ride that a master plan to escape another night in hell began to form in my tired brain. After my parents disembarked from the plane and received the customary lovely flower leis, I threw myself at their mercy.
ďPlease, Mother!Ē I begged, trying my best to look sincere. The sad puppy dog look appeared to be working. ďI just want to spend my last night as a single person with my parents.Ē They bought it. A minute later, I was relieved to have secured floor space in my parentsí hotel room.

Now somewhat relaxed that I would not have to spend another night reprising my role as the ultimate insectoid terminator, the rest of the day unfolded quite pleasantly. We went sightseeing around the lovely island of Moorea, a bit under an hour on the high speed catamaran ferry from the capital of Papeete. At one point, we just so happened to come upon an ancient tradition. Around a hundred villagers gathered together on the shore of a beach to pull a huge net onto the shore. My fiancťe explained that this was a rare sight nowadays, and only done for special occasions. She didnít have to explain to me that the largely empty net was the reason why this community activity isnít often reproduced. Still, everyone looked happy and seemed to be enjoying themselves.

It was a glorious day, my last day as a single person. The weather was just perfect, azure colored sky with clumps of fluffy cotton ball clouds. A fresh breeze flew over the waves, cooling our skin from the heat of the bright sun. We moved on around the island, stopping at various places of interest: a museum over there, an abandoned beach over here, a pineapple farm climbing up the steep sides of a pre-historic volcano, and even a short visit to a nudist beach which did nothing but embarrass all of us except for my little brown skinned partner. We played under a cool waterfall, floated on our backs in an absolutely still lagoon, strolled across thick, black sand dunes, ate local fruits that were so sweet than sugar, and for a few hours blessedly free of any kind of invasive insects.

After my fiancťe returned to the main island, my parents and I retired to our hotel. Alone, I went for a stroll along an empty, moon-swept beach. Cool sand served as my pillow, and the lullaby of the distant roaring surf soothed and calmed my jittery pre-wedding nerves. Hours went by as I lay there, watching the majestic universe unfold and move across the expansive heavens. The Southern Cross, that ancient mariner guide composed of many stars, winked at me as if to say that my own place in the grand scheme of all things was safe and secure. The whispering waves glittered like innumerable fireflies, telling me that everything is going to be ok. Thoroughly relaxed, I returned to the hotel just as a touch of pinkness kissed the Eastern horizon.

I awoke feeling rested to an overcast day, though strength sapping humidity was already climbing to almost unbearable levels. It felt as if a damp electric blanket had been thrown over our heads. We took the ferry back to Papeete and met the brideís party at the gorgeous French colonial style City Hall. The wedding itself was short, having complied with the law of French Polynesia by signing our name in a great big book in front of the Mayor. He briefly spoke in French, but my mind was elsewhere, mostly wondering why was it that no one else was sweating as profusely as me in this non-airconditioned, sauna like room. It was all over in less than twenty minutes. We moved locations to conduct a religious service next, though we took no pictures as the skies unloaded their heavy burden onto our happy occasion. Never had I seen such heavy, thick droplets which more resembled solid sheets of grayness pouring down from above. A kindly Tahitian, whom I didnít know, told me that it was good luck from the ancient gods of Tahiti to have such a fine rain on our wedding day. He must have been a friend or relative, or perhaps just some local off the street who decided to come along for a free meal, I donít know. The reception seemed to last forever, as I was forced to dance with practically every female in the room. This certainly did not improve my olfactory state, but at last it was over and we were allowed to flee to our refugee, The Hotel Du Tahiti. We didnít leave the hotel for three days and I never turned the air conditioner down from the ďfull blastĒ setting.

Finally we emerged, ready to face the world as a married couple, flushed with excitement to explore the outer islands. I had worked like a dog for over a year for this opportunity, scrimping and saving my money to see these mysterious islands. Alas, it was not meant to be. The new year would be upon us in a few more days, and my new bride insisted that she wanted to be with her family before we left to return home to Hawaii. What? I choked. I sputtered and fumed as she repeated her stance. This was not at all what I had planned. No, not just me. She agreed to this plan before we left Hawaii too! But, like in all marriages, mutual common ground has to be negotiated for. Finally a compromise was established, where we could go back to Moorea and stay in the same hotel where I was before, thus keeping us close by for the return ferry for celebrations with her family. I wanted to go to Rangiroa, Raietea, and crown jewel of them all, Bora Bora. But I bit my tongue and kept silent, all in the name of marital harmony. At least I had avoided her desire to ďsave moneyĒ by sleeping in her parentís roach motel.

I was delightfully surprised to find that there were still plenty of things to do and see on Moorea. We swam in the crystal clear waters, relaxed on warm fine sands, and climbed up steep jungle filled mountainsides. This was real life and I was determined to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of it.

On the last day of the year, I rented a motorcycle from our hotel concierge. We had traversed the islandís limited roadways by car previously, but I thought that two wheels would give us an extra thrill, bringing us closer together to enjoy the natural beauty of our surroundings. In truth, I was trying hard not to think about leaving this island to return to my wifeís infested home later in the evening. The thought of many cockroaches crawling over my toes while sitting on the toilet again did not thrill me at all. There were even cockroaches in the shower, crawling out of the drain. Her family had become so used to the insects, that they had long ago given up and didnít even bother to squash them. I still have unpleasant dreams of numerous tiny feet rushing over my exposed parts and me being powerless to prevent it.

Thoughts of roaches disappeared as glorious sunshine covered my face and body when we began riding the motorcycle. It was such a beautiful, postcard day. Emerald foliage whipped by us, liberally sprinkled with blossoms of every shape and color known to mankind. My heart soared with joy as I gunned the engine over a hill. Her arms were wrapped so tightly around me, excited and scared as she had never rode on a motorcycle before. This was it, the pinnacle of our very young lives. I imagine that the contented smile did not leave my face until right about the moment I realized we were going to crash. It happened so quickly. We were midway through a sharp, blind curve, leaning to accommodate for our speed when an old green clunker of a vehicle pulled out in front of me. There was no honk, no warning. There was nothing but the quickly growing image of the dirty rear end of this vehicle. In the split second that my brain registered the problem, the corner of my eyes picked up that the curb of the road was wide and made of what appeared to be just loose dirt. Hmmm, choices, choices, what to choose? Crash into the rear of the car or allow the bike to straighten out, whipping us around the car and onto the curb? My hands were already locked in a death grip with the brake handles, but I knew that the car was too close, or we were going too fast, or a combination of both. It is amazing how fast the human brain can process information and make decisions. A nanosecond later, I shifted my weight and pulled the handlebars, forcing the bike to straighten out. I chose the curb.
_________________
Life is great until the toilet paper runs out....
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Farsider



Joined: 10 Aug 2005
Posts: 913

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I assume that you survived the encounter with the curb? You left us hanging with a nasty cliffhanger, there!

Reading all of your wife's culinary creations, and all that about the restaurants of Hong Kong, makes my mouth water and now I'm hungry and my jaw keeps clenching and my molars are begging for one of those Po-boys.

And that Bryson sounds like the worst kind of snob: the ignorant European kind Razz . But seriously, if he really believes that, then he has no idea what he's talking about...and you're not helping, Amaunator Evil or Very Mad American cuisine has been on the rise for decades, and has been arguably accelerating past the old champions in the past few years. Except for the handful of new grand-masters in Spain, the heart of the culinary world has been shifting steadily westward, with the greatest volume of new innovation and world-class food being created in places like New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. You can't seriously claim that the sort of food being created every day by Wylie Dufresne, Malcolm Ford, Eric Ripert, and Alan Wong doesn't match or surpass anything you'll find in the best bistros of Paris or Milan or Rome.

Furthermore, not only are more Michelin Stars being given annually to the US nowadays than Europe, the city that has the highest number of Michelin Stars to its name is no longer Paris, but Tokyo (the world's culinary center keeps shifting westward)

Plus, the wines of California have again in the 30th Anniversary Edition of the Judgment of Paris blind taste-test come out as the clear winners over French wines, once again reinforcing the pre-eminence of American wines on the world stage, again leaving a bitter and dissatisfied France in a meager second-place.

One other thing: Except for Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver (both Brits) the US has the other eight of the top 10 highest-grossing chefs in the world.

For all the evil that American fast-food joints like McDonalds have done, all you non-Americans seem all too eager to build them in the center of every one of your cities Wink
_________________
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
Amaunator



Joined: 03 Dec 2005
Posts: 2074
Location: Belgium ... innocuous but intrepid!

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, man, you've made it clear! Cockroaches! *Runs screaming for dear imaginary life!*

ate local fruits that were so sweet than sugar
--> Now, aside from insects, this bugged me Razz.

mostly wondering why was it that no one else was
--> 'why it was that no one else was...' Smile

Anyway, what you have managed to do is astounding! Forever put me off from going anywhere sub-tropical! Really, you should write children's stories telling them what not to do! You definitely have the writers talents for that (and more, of course, but I'm just saying... Could be handy money made in that business...)! Wink

Nice story arc in the last paragraph, too! Looking forward to reading how that bike-ride in roach hell is going to turn out! Very Happy
_________________
the sun may melt the rain
may rinse the sky may sink
the clouds may meet the dirt
may drop your heart may heal

feelings of love you love
fluttering hearts you hate
revealing souls you love
breaking spirits you hate that

the sun...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message MSN Messenger
Moorea



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 383
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Dream Honeymoon Part II


Whatever was there on the curb was bound to be softer than the rear end of that car, I figured. The motorcycleís tires squealed on the black asphalt until we slid off onto the curb, which most certainly was dirt, but with one difference. The dirt had been softened by the early morning rain. And plain old wet dirt was not the only component. Rocks were strewn about in abundance. The back tire immediately decided to go airborne on the slippery mud. The bike careened onto its right side. My knee took the full force of the impact. I must not have let go of the handlebars, because the bike and I became entwined, flipping over several times before slamming into a low concrete wall that I had not noticed before. My right shoulder and neck area made first contact with that wall. Adjacent to the wall was a concrete lined drainage ditch. Still embracing the motorcycle, we slid together into the watery bottom.

When my eyes finally stopped spinning, the first thing I noticed was that somehow my right knee was very close to my face. Iíve never been that flexible before and couldnít recall how I got into that position. Dimly I realized that I was on my back, with one leg sticking up and the motorcycle was halfway on top of me. Smelly water flowed around me, but only a couple inches deep. As my eyes began to focus, I noticed a large gray something embedded in my knee. Dark reddish liquid, mixed with the earthy colored mud was all over me. I tried to move my right hand to touch that object in my knee, but somehow my right arm was just not obeying. It just wouldnít move, I wasnít sure why. But my left hand responded, gingerly taking hold of the object and pulling it out of my knee. Blood gushed out, splattering my hand, arm, chest and face. It was a rock, about half the size of my fist. Now how did that thing get inside my knee, I wondered, holding it closer to my unsteady eyes for closer inspection. I didnít feel anything. Absolutely nothing at all. I tried to push the motorcycle off of me, but again, my right arm wouldnít budge. Finally I figured out the reason. A long slender bone was sticking out of my shoulder, its tip was bloody and muddy. Oh, so thatís why my right arm isnít moving.

Something else was wrong, seriously wrong. I couldnít breathe. I realized that I was indeed feeling pain, but at such a high level that the shock to my system knocked my autonomic breathing function out of alignment. Despite all that, I began to panic over something else. I could not see my wife.

Terror gripped my heart, my mind, my reasoning. Choking on the blood and mud in my mouth, I tried to call out for her. Again and again I called out, though my voice was weak. Horrible, unthinkable images of a dead bride rose through my consciousness. I was truly in hell, not knowing if she was alive or dead. I struggled with the heavy dead weight of the motorcycle with my one good arm, but it was to no avail. I lacked the strength to push it off of me within the narrow confines of the concrete ditch. Screaming, snarling, I kept attacking the huge twisted chunk of metal on top of me. A voice suddenly pierced my senses. It was my wifeís sweet voice. She was beyond my sight, but she said that she was ok, just a few scratches. What a relief! Apparently she slid off the back when we first slipped in the mud. Now that the question of her state of being was answered, we tried to figure out what to do with mine.

Together, we pushed and pulled on the motorcycle, but neither of us had enough strength to get it off me. The sight of blood all over me made her retch. She stumbled away, mumbling something about trying to flag down a car for help.

I donít know how long I lay there, but succumbing to the lure of sleep was not a good idea. Blood was still seeping from the gaping wound in my knee, though the other cuts and holes in my body seemed to have coagulated over. Weakly I waved off the flies. The shock of the accident was so intense, so painful that at first I had not really felt anything, just that inability to breathe. Eventually that shock feeling wore off, only to be replaced with indescribable pain. My knee, my shoulder, and numerous other places felt on fire. Finally, I heard some voices and several people rushed over to stand above me. Hands came down and removed the motorcycle. I couldnít tell how many people there were. It was all just a mirage of men and women, barraging me with questions in French. Strong hands came down again and lifted me up from the ditch. Of course I screamed bloody murder as they had to pull me up by my right arm, the crunching sound of my bones grinding together was quite audible. Though it hurt, Iím sure they carried me as gently as possible to the side of the road. I dimly saw several other motorcycles parked around us. My wife explained that one of the women was a nurse back in France. She had left to go to a store to buy some medical supplies. We were informed that there was no hospital on the island, only a small medical clinic on the opposite side of the island, almost hourís drive away.

A babble of more voices signaled the return of the nurse. I wanted so desperately to close my eyes and sleep, but I had read somewhere that going to sleep while a body is in shock can kill, so I tried my best to stay awake and embrace the pain. And the pain did come. BIG TIME. The blonde, kindly faced Frenchwoman opened a bottle of iodine and proceeded to pour the contents all over my body. She didnít bother to clean the mud out from any wounds, she just poured it all straight in. It was a strange sensation, feeling my empty kneecap fill up with this liquid fire. Truthfully, this hurt worse than the accident itself. I couldnít even yell, just gasp for air like a fish out of water. Perhaps a slight moan escaped my lips, but otherwise it hurt too much to scream.

Sometime later a local Tahitian with a truck pulled over and they lifted me into the truck bed. His suspension really sucked and I suspect he actually tried to hit every pothole. Upon arrival at the clinic, the French doctor examined me and said, ďMonsieur, you have a broken clavicle.Ē Oh really? Gee, I would have never guessed. Frankly I was not feeling very patient or nice by this time. He gave me nothing for the pain as he slowly cleaned all of my wounds. I had no idea they were so extensive. Besides the obvious fist sized hole in my kneecap and the bone sticking up out of my flesh in my shoulder, there were numerous deep cuts all over my body. I had large gashes across my chest, arms, hands and a particularly nasty gash from my right ear all the way to my mouth. A big chunk of skin was also gone from the side of my nose. It took hours for him to clean the mud off everything except my shoulder and my knee. Then he re-applied some other kind of burning anti-bacterial agent. By the time he finished, I was stripped to the waist and almost completely wrapped up like a mummy. I must have been quite a sight.

It was late afternoon by the time another kindly Tahitian let us off at the ferry back to the main island. I couldnít walk, just hop on my left leg while holding on to my wifeís shoulder. We could have been air-lifted out, but the doctor explained that the medical air service were already off duty, attending some New Yearís Eve celebration. He joked that it would not help me very much to have a drunk helicopter pilot to rescue me. I didnít think it was funny. The doctor had called ahead to the main hospital in Papeete and promised that an ambulance would be waiting for us at the dock. He waved goodbye, but I was so tired, all I could do was give him a sort of feral smile.

The ferry ride back to Papeete was excruciating. Someone said that a tropical storm was blowing in, causing huge fifty foot plus waves. The catamaran would go up and up, hang in the air for a moment, and then slide down into the trough between the waves, slamming into the bottom with the force of a jackhammer. It felt like someone was using that jackhammer on my body. The usual thirty minute ride took over an hour. Everyone stared at me, shirtless, covered with bloody bandages and mud all over everything else. But I didnít care. It took every last ounce of my will power to not cry out every time we slammed into the trough between waves. At last we pulled into the harbor, but the waves were still so tall and strong that the captain was afraid to get his ship too close to the concrete dock. So, he maneuvered the boat as close to the dock as he dared and then allowed everyone to just jump off. You must time it just right, he cautioned. Jump as weíre at the top of the crest, not the bottom. The distance between the rolling deck and the pier was about two feet. Not that hard to jump, if you have two functioning legs of course. When I saw the other people jumping off and realized that I must do it too, thatís the part when I almost fainted, flopping to the deck like a dead fish. My vision was all blackish, with stars flying overhead, but my hearing worked perfectly. My wife was shrieking, hollering at someone.

The next thing I knew, many rough hands lifted me up like a baby. My eyes jerked open, totally focused from the sharp stab in my shoulder as I saw four big Tahitian men, each holding one of my appendages, swinging me in unison with the surge of the vessel. I experienced flight next, sailing through the air, mouth wide open in a yelp of pain, to be caught like a football by several more big muscular Tahitian men. They were quite gentle then, setting me down on a nearby bench in the shade. Whereís the ambulance, I gasped. She started crying in dismay after a bystander told her that the ambulance was indeed here, but since it had taken so long to get me off the boat, the driver had assumed that I wasnít on it and returned to the hospital. I didnít know whether to laugh or cry. What kind of stupid bumpkin country am I in? The driver left? I was furious. My wife borrowed some coins for a pay phone to call the hospital again. It took forty-five minutes for the ambulance to come back. My wife yelled and cursed at the driver. He didnít seem to care and was certainly not apologetic. At the hospital main entrance, he pulled me out of the still running van, leaving my gurney behind the vehicle while he and my wife went inside. Thanks, guys. Sucking exhaust for more than thirty minutes is exactly what I needed. Oh yes, I enjoyed being slowly poisoned to death by my own ambulance! Eventually someone noticed me there behind the idling ambulance, just gasping for some fresh air.

The Emergency Room seemed busy and filled with several serious cases of hangnail from playing too much ukulele. Every once in a while, some nurse or doctor would walk by and stop to talk to me. I would repeat the standard phrase in French that I really donít know how to speak French, then they would scurry away, muttering about how they donít speak English. Iíd guess another hour passed before a young French doctor approached me. By this time, my anger at being completely ignored outweighed (only a little!) the pain that I was feeling. I was determined to not quiver or cry out in pain whenever this Frenchman touched me. Iím American, and proud of it! Weíre tough, tough, TOUGH! Or so I told myself. I just remember clutching the metal side bar of the trolley, tapping out SOS with my shiny new wedding band.

I didnít answer the doctorís questions. Perhaps I was slipping away into shock, I donít know. I do distinctly remember watching the doctor take one of those examination probes out of his pocket and stick it inside the hole in my knee. Wow! That was a little excruciating. Ok, I gave up being a tough guy. I yelled, foamed at the mouth, hollered every foul French word I knew (which wasnít that much), and questioned the doctorís lineage. He didnít seem fazed. He smugly turned to my wife and pronounced his prognosis. He didnít even bother telling me anything. Soon after I was wheeled away and stripped down to my birthday suit by a bunch of healthy Tahitian women. They wrapped in a long white hospital gown, the kind that is open on both sides, exposing everything to the whole world.

My wife said goodbye and good luck as I was wheeled away into the operation waiting room. I looked at the clock. It was 10:30pm. Despite the brain numbing exhaustion, I started to laugh. We had left the hotel around 9am, crashing perhaps fifteen minutes later. That meant that it took more than 12 hours for me to finally get proper medical attention. I wondered if this must be some miracle that I had been able to stay awake for all this time. My mind was still going over this when a nurse put a mask over my face. She asked me to count, but I donít think I reached the number three before my eyes closed.

Someone was calling my name. It was bitterly cold. My mouth tasted like mud. My eyes couldnít focus either. In truth, I couldnít move at all, just moan about the cold. Someone finally put a blanket over me and I fell back into blissful darkness.

Five people were standing around my bed when my eyes opened again. They were all laughing and talking happily in French. No one noticed that my eyes were open yet. Bottles were being passed around, and each of them were imbibing. All were French, except for one dark skinned Tahitian doctor. He finally noticed I was awake and motioned to the others. They all clapped their hands, raising their bottles and toasting to my good health and recovery. I wasnít sure if this was all a dream or not. My doctors, all drinking liquor? Whatís going on? Music drifted through the open doorway and several people came in. They all appeared to be patients as well, wearing the same revealing robe as myself. A few of them were playing ukuleles, and everyone was singing Ė loudly.

Whereís my wife? I asked. The Tahitian doctor leaned over and yelled over the rising din that my wife was downstairs talking with the secretary. He said donít worry, these people were here in my room to celebrate the new year. They would keep me company. He pointed to the clock. It was one minute to midnight. An eruption of singing and dancing began (though it looked more like hopping around since some of the patients were lame) around my room and bed. More bottles of wine were produced from somewhere and the doctors, nurses, and a few of the patients ushered in the new year with tremendous noise and joy, all around my bed. Am I in hell? I wondered. I really wanted to go to sleep. Who are all these people? Why donít they shut up and go away? The pain medication was still coursing through my veins so I was unable to do much of anything other than drool and feebly say thank you. That ukulele was out of tune. Please go away, I begged.

One of the French doctors held up his hands, signaling everyone to be quiet. The ukulele players paused and the singing died down. He leaned over me, his breath quite rank with wine, and pronounced loudly, ďMonsieur, ve are so sorry, ve could not save your leg!Ē

Panic set in. My eyes must have started bulging out of the sockets. I couldnít feel anything. Nothing at all. I couldnít even raise my head up to see if there was a bulge under the sheet where my right leg was supposed to be.

That doctor said something in French and everyone laughed. I wanted to scream. Whatís so funny about me losing my leg? I couldnít believe this was happening to me. The doctor leaned over again, grasped my bed sheet, then ripped it off of my body. My robe was gone. I was totally naked.

ďVoila! Cíest miracle! Monseiurís leg is saved!Ē he yelled. Everyone clapped and bounced around happily. The twangy ukulele music started again. I felt something then. I felt anger. How dare he play a joke like that? Thatís not funny! I thought. Well, everyone else sure did. All of the hospital staff and patients giggled and laughed about this for a long, long time. They mimicked my reaction over and over. It was after 1am before the party in my room died down. I had to beg someone to return my sheet too. My wife came back in and said something to me, but I didnít hear her. I was already asleep.

I slept for fifteen hours. I would have liked to sleep more, but my body was just one big throbbing pain. Everywhere hurt. A nurse came in, babbled something to me, then left again. Another nurse came in. No, she didnít know where my wife was. No, I donít know the phone number. No, she canít give me any more pain medication, only the doctor can give that. No, she doesnít know where the doctor is. All of the answers seemed to be negative. This was not shaping up to be a good day. Why was it so hot? I was freezing before. She explained that the air conditioners were broken. Great, just great. No TV either. Someone eventually came around with some food. I hadnít realized how hungry I was. Hot chocolate and French Bread? What am I supposed to do with this? The nurse motioned that Iím supposed to dip the bread into the drink, then eat the bread. Ok, this tasted pretty good actually. Now whereís the beef? Nope, no meat, she proclaimed. After she left me alone, I noticed that my bed pan was on my right side, not my left. Oh great, I thought. Just what I need.

I had to go. I mean, I really had to go. How the heck was I supposed to lift up my body with only one functioning arm was beyond me. Almost the whole right side of my body was paralyzed, all wrapped up in bandages. What am I supposed to do? Levitate over the bed pan? Hmmm, no call button. I tried yelling out, but no one ever came into my room. Ok, this is all up to me, I guess. Inch by painful inch, I squirmed my body over to the left side of the bed. Then, using my left leg as a pendulum, I was able to swing myself up into an upright position. Grasping the long window sill in my left hand, I pulled myself out of the bed. Ouch, that hurt. Hopping across the room to the toilet was the only way to get there. After that Herculean mission was accomplished, I wanted to cry when I looked inside the bathroom. It was a very narrow room, with the toilet in the end. There was nothing to hold onto. Ok, how am I supposed to sit down?

The answer came in a flash. I tossed off the flimsy robe, turned around, and positioned myself to where I could just let myself fall onto the toilet seat. It seemed like a good plan Ė I hoped. Well, it did work, though the jarring of my right leg and shoulder brought fresh screams of agony to bounce off the tile walls. Finally, my business done, I couldnít figure a way to get back up. Swinging my left leg again here just didnít work. Just great! Nothing to do now but wait.

Many hours later, a nurse found me, buck naked and asleep, sitting on the throne. It took several nurses to pull me up and get me back in the bed. Now by this time, it had been over two days since the accident. I had taken a shower on that fateful morning, but of course nothing since. There was still some mud on various places of my body, and being that there was no air conditioning, well, I think you get the picture. I didnít just stink- I stank. After much one arm gesticulation, I finally conveyed my meaning to a nurse. No, Iím not allowed to take a shower she said. Someone will come bathe me later. Oh great, just another thing to add to my list of complete embarrassments for the day.

Two very young, big boned Tahitian girls came in later. None to gently, they pulled off my robe and proceeded to give me a sponge bath. They showed no consideration or mercy at all. They raised my right arm. Owwww! They let it fall back down. I thought I was going to pass out. Even through the pain, I could hear the grinding of bones together. They raised my right leg. Grrrrrrr! They let it fall back down on the bed too. I couldnít hold back, I screamed. And just as the girls were washing other more sensitive and private areas of my poor body, my wife just so happened to walk in. The three of them began to talk in Tahitian. I couldnít understand anything, but object of all three of them laughing was quite clear. All I could do was just lay there and fume. How humiliating.

After my laughing washing ladies left, my wife went into great detail all of the wonderful food and parties that she had been attending the past few days. She went on about it for over an hour before she realized that I was as mad as a pronged bull. Finally she asked what was wrong. I let her have it, both barrels. How could you just leave me here for two whole days? No phone call, no note, nothing! What if I had died? To all of this she just waved her hand and dismissed my words. The hospital would have called if there was a problem, she reassured. I was too dumbfounded for words. Iím sure if the situation had been reversed, I would have been in a lot of hot water if I had left my new bride to suffer alone I the hospital. Iím not sure if she ever got my point, but to console my obviously distraught nerves, she agreed to spend the night.

The night passed very slowly. All I could do was stare at my wife, sprawled out on the other bed, sound asleep. The doctors still did not allow me any pain medication (I never found out why), and by this point, I felt like I was going insane. My shoulder throbbed with every breath, and those giant-sized sutures (stitches, if you didnít know) were ripping through the flesh of my knee. Scabs had begun to form over the various cuts on my face, chest, arms, hands, and legs. The itchy feeling was intolerable. My right ankle ached for some reason as well, but I wasnít sure why. The pain was too intense to let me sleep, so I just lay there, watching and listening to her sleep.

She returned to her home the next morning and did not come back. I wasnít sure anymore which hurt more, my heart or my body. Maybe it was all the same. Even a visit by my mother-in-law two days later did not cheer me up. She explained, as best as I could understand, that Marie didnít like hospitals. Ok, I donít like hospitals either, but thatís no excuse not to visit a spouse. She gave me their phone number before they left, telling me to call if I needed anything. Yes, I need something. I needed to get out. At that moment I made up my mind that I was going to leave the hospital in three more days, no matter what. I had a plane ticket back to Hawaii with my name on it and I was going to be on that plane, with, or without my wife.

Three agonizing days passed. The doctor told me that I could not leave. It would be at least three more weeks before I could put any weight on my knee. I didnít care. Watch me, I was getting on that plane, I informed him. I had had enough of everything. I wanted to go home. Everything would be ok, once I got back to Hawaii. Even my wifeís strange behavior could be explained and everything could go back to normal and we could have a fulfilling and happy life together, if only we could get out of here and go home. Or so I kept deluding myself.

The day came. By this time, I was used to pain. Yah sure, it still hurt like hell. The actual intensity of the pain was even greater, now that my body was mending. But I had learned to just do whatever I needed to do and not let the pain stand in my way. It took an hour to dress myself. Because of my right shoulder, I couldnít use crutches, but I could put one under my left arm and use it to balance myself. My right leg could not be bent, it had to remain perfectly straight. It took a long time, but I managed to make it down to the front desk where I announced that I was checking out and could they please prepare my bill. The doctor came and told me that I couldnít leave. I showed him my ticket and insisted otherwise. In the end, I think they finally let me go because I told them that I didnít have enough money for another three-week stay. They seemed happy to show me the door. I didnít care. All I wanted was to just get out of there. In the lobby I used the pay phone to call my wife. She tried to convince me to stay. No, I need to go. Besides, classes (I was in my junior year) started in two more days. Thereís only one plane back to Hawaii every week, I didnít want to miss it. She was quiet for a long time. Obviously she did not really want to go back. I tried to make her understand that if she wanted to stay, she could. But I was leaving.

While waiting at the airport, my wife appeared. She was carrying her suitcase, so I assumed that meant she was coming with me. I was only too glad to mentally throw away that sad speech I had prepared to explain why I was returning from my honeymoon minus my wife. I ignored her unhappy looks and complaints. Besides, it took every ounce of physical and mental strength to move forward. Scrambling like a big cripple over the burning hot tarmac, we made it up the stairway, one bone-jarring step at a time. It was then that another problem arose that I had not thought of. How was I going to sit down? A resourceful Aloha Airlines flight attendant solved the problem. She laid me down on my left side in an empty row (thank God the flight was only half full), then took the seat belts out and strapped one around my chest (under my arms) and one more just above my knees. It was uncomfortable to say the least, but I survived. I could even see parts of the in-flight movie through the cracks between the seats. The movie was Dragon, The Bruce Lee Story, starring Jason Scott Lee. My sympathy meter rose a few points then, not for myself, but for Mr. Lee. He was sitting in the front of the plane that day. Having just finished shooting the movie Rapa Nui there in French Polynesia, he was on his way home back to Hawaii too. Iím sure he would have rather watched something else on the flight. I didnít mind though, I liked that movie. I was just bummed that I didnít have a cast for him to autograph, all of my bandages were of the stretchy wrap around kind. It was very kind of him to stop and chat with me for a few minutes. Iíll never forget that.

There are many things that I learned from this honeymoon. First of all, I learned the importance of insurance. My puny student insurance did not cover the accident. Not just that, they would not cover any visits to a doctor when I returned to Hawaii. No doctor has ever inspected my injuries. I even snipped my own sutures out a month later (thatís a strange feeling) and no physical therapy for my knee is probably why it took so many years to heal. I never did find out what was wrong with my right ankle. I can pop my ankle joint on demand now, anytime and as much as I want. My shoulder healed up nicely though. Now you canít even see the scar anymore. The scars on my face have mostly faded, only one spot on the side of my lip and nose is visible, and even then only if you know where to look. The hair follicles on the right side of my face were destroyed though, so I have big smooth as a babyís butt gaps on my right side when I grow a beard. That insurance policy also wouldnít cover the damage to the motorcycle either. It took a long time for me to pay that credit card debt off.

Why did this happen to me? Who knows? I donít expect or even care about an answer now, not after all these years. Things could have been much worse. I would most certainly have died without a helmet and my feet would have been torn up as well if I had not been wearing shoes. Not everyone is so lucky. Seems like every week I open the newspaper and read about some dead motorcyclist. All in all, Iím grateful to be alive and to have pretty much near one hundred percent of my physical faculties. If I go riding again in the future, all I can do is make sure I take all the safety precautions possible and leave the rest to higher powers. And lastly, the most important lesson I learned from my dream honeymoon is donít ever stay in a place with no screens in the windows. Not unless youíre prepared to see some of the nightlife.
_________________
Life is great until the toilet paper runs out....
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Albatros Bits Forum Index -> The Writers' Nest All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Page 2 of 3

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot moderate your topics in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

 

Art by
A

fansite



© Albatros. All rights reserved.