Monday, September 27, 2010

Courtesy purchases and the dog catcher

As we live in a rural location we get visited by lots of mobile hawkers. It's mostly foodstuff but i've known entrepreneurs bring around goods ranging from plastic basins to furniture and electrical goods.     I didn't notice it at first but after a while i realized that Laong would nearly always buy something from these mobile traders. She would often buy food that she simply didn't want. It would sit untouched until it was crawling with ants and then be thrown away. After a while, i questioned Laong about what i saw as a wasteful practice. Her first explanation was a Little bit puzzling.She said something along the lines that we wouldn't get the money back for it whether we ate it or threw it away.  It took some  time for me to get across to her that what i was really wondering was why she bought it in the first place if she didn't want it. Her final explanation was only slightly less puzzling.     The reason that she bought things that she didn't really want was because the vendor had taken the time and trouble to bring their wares all the way out into the countryside for her to look at. So she felt obliged in some way to buy something. They were sort of "courtesy purchases".   It's slightly akin to Tupperware party syndrome back in England.
                                         Thankfully, she limits this philanthropic practice to food and other fairly cheap items. She has , however bought a display cabinet and a wooden bench seat in this manner. As you can imagine, we have more plastic buckets and basins than we will use in a lifetime.
                                           Another source of new plastic buckets is the dog catcher. But his buckets aren't for sale. Well, not in the traditional sense.  The dog catcher uses his buckets as currency to swap for unwanted dogs. He visits around once a month and when the dogs and buckets have been exchanged, the unfortunate canines are thrown unceremoniously into a cage on the back of his truck.They are destined to become part of the menu up on the Laos border.
A fair swap ?
                                              The dog man made one of his regular visits to our area just the other day. He had conducted some swift business with our nearest neighbor and was just pulling away when i saw Laong approaching from some distance away.  I just couldn't resist it. I ushered our dog, Ronaldo, into the kitchen at the back of the house and shut the door securely behind him. Then i took a new bucket  from the top of our ever growing stack and placed it in a position of prominence on our porch way. I dropped back into my chair and resumed reading my copy of the Bangkok Post as Laong brought her motorcycle to a halt beneath the shop awning. I had already noticed her throw a couple of worried glances over her shoulder in the direction of the disappearing dog catcher. I feigned disinterest in her presence and continued with my newspaper. Her eyes widened with her opening statement. "Ronaldo stay where"?   I said nothing in reply but instead allowed my gaze to fall upon the new bucket close by.
                                             Laongs eyes narrowed and her face began to tighten around clenched teeth. Volcano mode was imminent. I've seen it many times. So before Vesuvius erupted i strode hastily to the kitchen and released Ronaldo from his incarceration. He scampered through the house and prostrated himself at Laongs feet with his paws in the air and his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth.
                                             I looked up in time to see, but not to avoid, the bucket as it bounced off the side of my head.
                                            In the best traditions of Buddhist karma, the very next day i was bitten by a friends dog. It was quite a savage bite and left me with some deep holes in my leg, just above the ankle. Of course, i got no sympathy from Laong. She really enjoyed pouring the alcohol based solution into the holes over the next couple of days to prevent infection.  On more than one occasion, as i winced in pain, she muttered "som nam nah". Roughly translated it means "serves you right". On reflection, i must admit that i had played a cruel and heartless prank so i guess it did serve me right.


  1. Fascinating post.
    I’m interested that you drew the comparison between courtesy purchases and Tupperware parties. I’d never thought about that before, but you’re absolutely right. It kind of demonstrates that all races, no matter how different are more alike than they are different don’t you think?

    Re The dog catcher: What a vile way to earn a living! He obviously has no interest in “Right Occupation”.

    Re Your prank: Very amusing. You’re a brave man, and probably lucky to still be alive.

    Hope the bite soon heals.

    All the best, Boonie

  2. Hi Boonie,
    Thanks for checking in. My dog bite is a week old now and one of the holes is really deep so i think it will take some time to mend.

  3. Hi Tom Yam, I hope there are no cold-call salespeople reading your blog or you may have lots of visitors asking for the lady of the house :-) My wife buys something off the mobile vendors most days. My son can now tell when the ice-cream vendor is on our road so he also keeps them coming back with plenty of business.

  4. Hi Paul,
    I must admit i stand guilty as charged when it comes to purchases from our ice cream vendor!

  5. Tom, hope you went to Dr. for rabies shots , I got bit 2 Years ago and had to have them , a man in our village did'nt get the shots and later got sick and died, not that it always happens , but just to be on the safe side , you said very deep , go to Dr. for a check . The dog man came around here 4 years ago and me and all our neighbors to him to get out of our village , he left and has never come back , we love all our dogs here even the stray ones , and if you are not looking the dog man will take any dog he sees , and leave town quickly . Funny joke I liked Laongs reply ha ha ha . Malcolm

  6. Hi Malcolm,
    I've been bitten lots of times and i always get checked out. I'm covered by jabs from rabies.
    Hope you guys are keeping well.

  7. A funny post as usual Tom, but I have one question: Ronaldo????

  8. Hi Snap,
    Ronaldo takes his name from the footballer who used to play for Man Utd. My wife is a big fan of the club and will not listen to reason. On a trip to England once i even took her to White Hart Lane to watch a proper football team but she still has Wayne looney fever. I fear there is no cure!!

  9. You need to tell her that it's impossible to get a drink of tea at Man U - because all the cups are at White Hart Lane and all the mugs are out on the pitch.....

  10. Hi Boonie,
    I think i will wait until i've recovered from my current crop of ijuries before i tell Laong anything like that.

  11. Tom I've seen the bucket truck man on many occasions passing through Wilai's village, I've never yet managed to get a good photo of it. That's one of my goals. It'll make a great story when I do.

    I hope your wounds heal quick and the bucket bump on your head goes down.

    Nice post (as always)and I love your wit.

  12. Nice story... good humor