Turntable tales Nº 10

‘The laughing cow’

For a train the alignment is the same till the next station. However, cars and trucks will soon climbing to the summit where a circus of devotion will take place. Blowing the horn and the driver makes a ‘wai’ for the local ghost who resides at the highest point. While the greeting is done the steering wheel for a split second is without hands. It’s a matter of luck or something the spirit prevents that hardly any accidents occur. Superstition is Thai’s next pride, the realm of animism. One can wonder if it isn’t more important than Buddha’s thoughts. Belief; to accept as real. Knowledge on the other hand, believe it or not, makes having faith obsolete only the world would be deprived of a certain charm.

Tha Chom Phu – km 691 + 866 meter and 8.799 from Sala Maetha – three tracks, semaphore, a repeating story on another lost place. The secondary main road has yet a paved diversion and leads to the station building plus a few houses around. For a real city dweller it must be a horror living here, literally a nightclub but in distress. All ladies dressed in pajamas because after sun set everything falls asleep and no soul to be seen. It’s all about km 690 where a two frame bridge made of reinforced cement includes the girders forms the ultimate landmark in a tropical surrounding. It could have been the scene for a fairy tale. Beyond the bridge; a big monster slowly climbing a steep hill, hissing, puffing, belching black smoke and spitting fire. When the line opened, somewhere during the second decade of the last century, this must be what the poor peasants have seen. The landscape far more jungle like nowadays and the ones who settled themselves in order to cultivate, far off from a civilized world. Far off; it still seems to be that way when a farmer and his cows passing by while looking at the bridge from aside.
A big smile and later a loud laughter; “Farang… here, and he speaks some Thai as well” But best of all the farmer speaks English, not fluent but who cares in a situation like this. He’s giving his cows the pasture they want and once in a while he’s on the way to Belgium where his sister lives. The world is getting smaller by the day. Anyway, my given name provoked the laughter while one of his cows had the same. And although we were introduced the beast was not interested in the beauty let alone talking like Mr. Ed.
The only one talking and gave some explanation on the station nearby long ago, was me. The early afternoon express to Bangkok stranded here due to a defunct locomotive. Passengers flocked the platform – for ages it did not see so many of them – without any notion why the train stood still and foremost so long. The cultural and character line became perfectly visible. The Thai who seems to take things for granted while a foreigner wants to know. For him an unexpected stranding on what should have been a fairy tale like ride. Indeed, a monster in need rolling down the hill after waiting, waiting and dusk already felled. A new locomotive arrived and all where saved by the bell, something even smaller stations do have.

Always greener on the other side
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About Robert von Hirschhorn

Author / Performer or in Dutch: schrijver / dichter
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