Sociology was one of those courses that people getting on with their lives and trying to do something with their lives looked down on or thought of as some kind of communist indoctrination as well as a waste of their tax money on subjects that were useless in the workplace. I never agreed with this sentiment. Well I wouldn’t for sociology was my course. I couldn’t really take the moral high ground and say that well academia was a place where one went to surround oneself with great works of philosophy so one came out a better and more rounded human being. I couldn’t take this stance because I didn’t make any attempt to surround myself with anything except the excesses of self-indulgence that caused the moral indignation. I did attend lectures, or at least I did attend some, and I did attend a few seminars. I never bothered meeting with my assigned tutor even once. Luckily for me he was more interested in seeing if he could up his intake of spirits to an almost nirvanic level and then he got a better job in Bristol University which was one of the better seats of higher learning in the UK. Whether the two were connected I never discovered. I did complete the thesis which I was required to write. Not many UK bachelors degrees required this at that time. I did get a deep understanding of underdevelopment theory and also some philosophy, political theory and how the media really works. To some degree this is because it was part of my course to a greater degree it was because it interested me. I left with an honours degree second class. Now that is the academic and really unimportant part of my time at college. The rest will come later, and I really should get back to Ching.

Malcolm was a twenty-something nondescript American from the mid-west with an easy smile and quick wit. He was in Thailand as an exchange student with Khon Kean university. When I met him he was spending a few days in Bangkok before he would be whisked away to orientation and then a year of study. Presumably after that he would be well on his way to a life of middle class stability. I only knew Malcolm for a few days before he went, but Malcolm was important because without him I would never have met Lek and never have become at least temporarily obsessed with her and would not to this day have her teeth marks in my left bicep. Malcolm had decided to sit with me as he didn’t want to sit alone. That was fine by me. It really was time I made some contact. I am sure some pleasantries were passed but it soon became clear we liked the same post punk music, had a liking for parties and a desire to have a laugh. Malcolm was better prepared for this as he had made an effort to find where a couple of Bangkok nightclubs were. Sadly his knowledge of exactly where they were and the taxi driver’s knowledge of exactly where he knew we wanted to go seemed to deposit us not at Bangkok’s leading nightclub but at Patpong Road, or maybe the nightclub was in Patpong road. I had my doubts but anyway we were on our way. It was quite late and the whole road seemed blocked by large metal bins that were being filled with their garb by the market traders who occupy the middle of Patpong one. It was all loud voices and metallic grinding in the middle but either side were the bars and outside touts tried to pull us in to see the bikini clad dancers on the stages. We had other ideas and were attracted by the sign “disco”. It was time to dance. I don’t remember how many drinks we had had to that point but we were both pretty well gone. Loud music, sweaty surging bodies and alcohol was a good combination. Maybe not the best but a good combination and it worked well for us then. We were soon in the centre of the dance floor with bottles of Singha in hand and jumping, gyrating and probably looking really stupid but soon we had two young, pretty girls in dresses with us. This was a perfect start to Thailand. It was impossible to talk but I exchanged names with the Lek. She looked and smelt good. Freshly showered unlike me, she didn’t seem to care. Lek with her knee-length dress flowing and her head back laughing most of the time with her long black hair blowing in the air-conditioned drafts and her light touch on my arm and my waist and a willingness to join in the drunkenness did it for me. I told Malcolm I’d see him back at Kaosarn. He was staying at the Marco Polo, which was a distinct improvement on Joes and I would move there the next day. I took Lek and we headed out of the disco.

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