July 11, 2012
Phuket Buckets: In Thailand, It Never Rains – It Pours.
Hi all, from Phuket, Thailand, where we’re having our fourth yearly regional Partner Conference.
It’s the wet season (rainy season / monsoon season) here. We were warned about it so it wasn’t like it was a surprise. But I’d never actually experienced it before somehow, and thought that it was just a time when it rains heavily on and off: I didn’t realize quite what I was in for…
So, this rain thing: normally it’s as if water is being poured from a Phuket bucket, rather, millions of Phuket buckets, no – millions of cisterns, no – millions of water tanks. It lashes down in streams – none of those droplet thingies you’re used to. It flushes sand on the beaches into the sea, floods roads and paths, and lashes at the palm trees which sway to and fro. Sometimes the rain’s not so intense – just giving the landscape a light spattering of the warm heavenly waters. And on other rare occasions the rain practically stops, leaving just a very damp, warm and pleasant wind.
The fat old sun peeps through the clouds for about half an hour, usually at breakfast time, kind of smugly reminding us of its continued, inevitable and vital existence – you can almost see it winking – and then it goes languidly back behind the clouds. Not that we should complain: if the sun was out all day that would only add “horrendously hot” to the mix. It’s plenty hot enough as it is, thanks, discouraging active movement and rushing about: a weather-induced go-slow. Btw, the Indian Ocean here is also hot besides being (very!) wet (and choppy), so a dip in it provides no respite as it often can with other seas and oceans.
It’s rather tough trying to work in such conditions, so we had quite a bit of difficulty getting through this year’s Partner Conference (for APAC – from India to Korea, and to the south to Australia and New Zealand, but without Japan – that’s separate). Everything was organized and timed and presented in the best possible way (as usual), the big hall we were in was packed full of guests (partners), and the presentations and meetings were all interesting, insightful and useful – also as always. If my memory serves me well, I think this was our fifth regional partner conference this year. So surely that entitles us to a bit of R&R here too, no? As if we needed another reason besides the Thai-sauna climate.
It’s not only wearisome working in such hot and humid conditions; doing just about anything here at this time of year is practically impossible without sweating Phuket buckets! I found this out the hard way when I went to the gym. I’d gotten all stale and… ughhh with idleness and wanted to get the muscles pumping with blood and the lungs panting for air with some intense anaerobic and cardio, respectively, as I like to do when I can. Problem here is – once you complete a set or ten minutes running all you want to do is sit down, and shortly after that all you want to do is lie down. Handily – or dangerously – everywhere you look here there are comfy, tempting sofas. Then before you know it some noise or other wakes you up! It’s then you realize that all the good intentions of the gym undertaking were a waste of time! I leave the gym, displeased with self, only to be met and thoroughly cheered up by a Thai girl offering ice cold drinks. I take one. And a big kapunkap to you too, my dear!
Love this – a husband day-care center! But what’s that – “only drinks”? What’s that mean? That all services are already included into the price of the drinks? Or maybe the wife pays only for the drinks, and the husband pays for any and all other proffered services himself? This needs to be carefully investigated and clarified. We need to ask a married man who’ll be here in the near future. Oh yes.
And now a bit about soccer. Football, as they call it in Europe.
Shortly after arrival last Sunday, for the fourth time in my life I watched a footie game in its entirety – this time on the telly. Apparently it was such an important European match – which only occurs once every four years, I’m told – that our posse wanted to watch it to the end – until 4am! Seeing as though it was so “vital” a match I thought I’d make an exception to my non-soccer-head stance, so joined in the merriment and raucous spectating. Curiously, the score was the same as the time the match finished here – 4:0!
I often get asked what soccer team I support. And I always answer the same – I don’t support any team! I just don’t quite get the game, so why would I? Grown men running about on a green pitch, 25 of them in all (or is it 27? Do I care?), the great majority of them kicking a white ball about with their feet, the remaining couple trying catch it with their hands and stop it from going in a net. Incomprehensible!
However, I do like the idea of a white ball and green “pitch”. But I prefer to play in a pair, indoors (so no one gets wet), with the balls – not ball – being a lot smaller, and the pitch also being much smaller, so one can walk instead of run. The game itself goes something like this: two gentlemen knock white (rock hard) balls around the green playing area. They don’t do this coarsely with their feet, but politely and gently with the hands, demonstrating through this their respect for the opponent. For convenience’s sake special long sticks are used. The right hand takes hold of the rear end of the stick, while the front end of the stick rests on the back of the hand (between finger and thumb), which is placed on the green playing area to make the stick stable and achieve the best aim to put a ball in a “net” with a marksman’s precision. And there are not just two nets in the middle of two of the playing area’s sides like in soccer; there are a further four – one in each corner, making up six in total.
Unlike soccer (just one ball – how boring? And the miserliness of it!), in this game there are lots of balls. Usually – in Russia – they’re all white, and there’s 16 of them, and like all computer geeks, I’m particularly fond of this number. Sometimes there can be 22, and if so they’re not only white but all sorts of different colors – this is a variant I like especially. This game is sometimes shown on TV, and to watch it is much more pleasant than watching the crude kicking about of a ball with feet, which intelligently calls itself, wonder of wonders – foot–ball. Besides, when there are plenty of balls on the playing area, you never get to hear disturbing news reports of mindless violence after the game. Maybe what’s needed is an amendment to the rules of soccer – to have more balls! As a result, maybe less ass would be kicked after the game. Maybe not. I’m not sure… Er, it appears I’ve got carried away… I’d best stop here and think about my upcoming return home and prepare for it :)
Mention of home reminds me – it’s KL’s 15th birthday party next week. Expect a follow-up report shortly after…
PS At this half-way point of the year, my twice-around-the-world “on-the-road-again” is completed! To all readers and commenters – thank you all for the interest you’ve shown, and stay tuned! Plenty more coming!…