Posted by: okathleen | January 6, 2009

Laos

What follows below is dross.

Having just re-read the content I realise how thin and stilted it is. Dull and yawn-inspiring.
But, I shall leave it in situ. To remind me of how not to do it. Strangled and lifeless, where is the humour/languidity/rhythm? What do you think?

I wrote the blog below last night.

The drift to the Orient continued today at Hollywood Nails Salon.

This place has a lot to do with nails, and absolutely nothing to do with Hollywood.

Entering the grubby room from the hectic main road a large red sign greets the customer.

CASH ONLY.

Of which I had only three or four pounds at the scary bottom of my handbag. Leaving Florence choosing her colour, I headed for the nearest cash point. Five minutes later and back in the humid shop, I too was selecting my colour.

Our beautician for the day was Sheila.

It’s always Sheila, she owns Hollywood Nails. I thought it might be a birthday treat for Flo, especially with a 20% discount voucher lurking next to the coinage in the bottom of my bag.

Sheila is Vietnamese and incredibly bossy. She speaks a pigeon patois of scanty English, impossible to decipher with her surgical mask permanently fixed across her mouth. She communicates with frustrated hand gestures. Manically pointing to the hot seat, or the drying machine, or some weird products she tries to sell at the end of her tortuous treatments.

Florence’s fingers were bleeding by the time I got back. Not much of a birthday treat. What sort of mother am I? She gesticulated and muttered that it was Flo at fault with very dry skin around her nails. I sat down for my manicure and waited as she took a call from Vietnam. Her phone was on loudspeaker as she half ranted half sang to a tired sounding man half way around the world.

The paintings by Ibrahim and Sheila’s shouting reminded me of a road trip to Laos made at some time during the ’70’s. A vintage Mercedes held together with twine and bamboo struggled through the pot holes of an unmade track to take us to the border of Thailand and Laos. I have absolutely no idea why my father wanted to make this trip. Laos was not on the typical tourist trail, it had recently been overtaken by the Communist Party and insurgents were not unknown along the Mekong valley. I can remember the trip only vaguely.

Snippets, trying to join up the pictures.

The journey began with us all excited and fascinated and ended with my mother threatening to divorce my father if he ever did anything so stupid again, ever.

Very close to the border a road block had been set up. Opium trading kept the economy alive in this part of the world and the police were keen to monitor the factions in control. Our driver became very agitated on seeing the police. We were asked to show our documents which of course, we didn’t have. I think my father ended up handing over whatever notes he had.

And then we were ordered to turn around.

On the return  the mother of all monsoons accompanied us back to our resort.

The Mercedes had no windscreen wipers.

The driver steered with one hand and leaning out of the car, wiped the screen with the other.

The shouting and gesturing and sing song negotiating at the border was Sheila – 30 years on.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/la.html

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Responses

  1. ‘The paintings by Ibrahim and Sheila’s shouting reminded me of a road trip to Laos made at some time during the ’70’s. A vintage Mercedes held together with twine and bamboo struggled through the pot holes of an unmade track to take us to the border of Thailand and Laos. I have absolutely no idea why my father wanted to make this trip. Laos was not on the typical tourist trail, it had recently been overtaken by the Communist Party and insurgents were not unknown along the Mekong valley. I can remember the trip only vaguely.’

    I think that is a very promising/intriguing start to something. I tend to agree about the rest though.


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