By Graham K. Rogers
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.
John Burns: "To a Mouse" (The Phrase Finder)
I am not a misanthropist, a misopedist or even a misogynist, but certainly not a pluviophile (see below). When I realised that today was Children's Day, I looked for an escape. While I normally shop and wander the malls on Saturday, from past experience I knew that these would be given over to events focussing on children and I steer clear of anything like this, in the same way I might avoid karaoke.
I had arranged for my cleaning lady to come in the morning, so the apartment was off-limits, otherwise I would have spent a partially lazy day there. But she always brings her granddaughter and for a couple of hours, the condo is not mine.
Plan B was to jump on a train and head for Samut Sakhon. The day before I had bought several rolls of film for the camera; and I always have the DSLR and an iPhone as well. I take the line that runs from Wongwianyai to Machachai a few times each year. It passes close to the back of where I live, so I see the trains often. I hear them more.
It is a short walk from the condo to the station, but it is like stepping into another world. My intention this time was to find some transport to the siding where older trains are kept, and photograph these abandoned cars: the first such units used in Thailand.
I made it to Thaladphlu station shortly before the in-bound train arrived, giving myself time to buy a ticket. This is 10 baht. Those with Thai citizen cards travel for free, although they still need a ticket. The government reimburses the railway company for each journey. 10 baht is a bargain.
After the usual turnaround time, the outbound train stopped and passengers boarded. Travellers should not expect luxury. Seats are hard plastic, and there are few spaces: find a thin person to share with.
I sat opposite a well-dressed man who was probably Japanese from the guide-book he referred to at the end of the trip.He had taken the seat I would have preferred. I had my back to the front, so by the time I saw anything worth photographing, it was past. I just look out of the window when I am out of luck like this, although occasionally there are interesting subjects in the carriage.
When the train arrived at Mahachai, I made my way towards the road where there is a level crossing. I took a reasonable shot of this, using film, last time I was here. I had intended to walk a short distance - perhaps along the track - until I could hire a motorcycle-taxi for the rest of the distance: about 1 Kilometre I reckon.
Instead it began to rain. This was not a light drizzle that might pass, but had a persistence, even though it was initially quite light. There would be another day I decided quickly, turning round and heading back to the ticket office. It was 11:39 and a train was leaving at 11:45. This was packed, but I managed to squeeze into a seat.
A short while later an old man sat down opposite with a lovely and well-mannered dog. Its body was in a large bag and it clearly doted on the old man. He was happy to have other people in the carriage take photographs of it and I joined in, although light was not good and the lurching of the train was not helpful. Outside, the rain was really heavy, so I guessed my decision was right
Back at Thaladphlu, I was feeling hungry. As there are a couple of dozen restaurants within 100 metres of the station, I had a good choice and settled for a busy establishment that has a simple choice: red pork (moo daeng) or crispy pork (moo krawb). I had the crispy pork which was nice enough, although the sauce was a little sharp (one of the best places I know is opposite the main temple at Nakhon Pathom).
Needless to say, after a wet trip, a damp lunch and a soggy walk back from the station, the sun is now peering through the clouds. . . .
Just to avoid confusion, the following terms were used:
- Misanthropist - one who dislikes humanity (as in Molière's Le Misanthrope)
- Misopedist - one who dislikes children
- Misogynist - one who dislikes women
- Pluviophile - someone who loves the rain (like Gene Kelly in Singin' In The Rain
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.