Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hodgepodge 301/365 - Thai

This evening we went to one of our many excellent local Thai restaurants, Zab Zab. This one you can count on for spice: three peppers (out of four) is plenty hot for us. The word zab loosely translates to delicious, flavorful, and spicy: tasty = spicy in Thailand.

The spice reminded me of the hottest meal I've ever had: it was in Enschede, the Netherlands, where I spent the summer of 1978 working/ interning at ITC (founded in 1950 as the International Training Centre for Aerial Survey, now the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation of the University of Twente). There were lots of foreign students there, and I became friends with one Chainivat Phongslaungtham, who lived in the dorm with many fellow Thai students. They cooked communally, and one evening Chai invited me to join them for dinner.

I dug in hungrily, but after just one bite my eyes started watering, tears started flowing, and I'm sure my face turned bright red. Man! I thought I was accustomed to hot! Chai took one look at me and stammered, "Oh, no! I'm sorry: it's too spicy." I managed to choke out, "No, no, it's really good!" Not that I could really taste anything through the burning.

I don't remember what happened after that—whether I grew accustomed to the burn, whether they brought me something less challenging, or what. But I will always remember the look of utter dismay and horror on Chai's face when he noticed my distress.

He was an artist and created little drawings for me, elaborate designs on blank postcards. I still have a couple of them. If I run across them, I'll scan them and post them here. He was a sweet friend, but of course we didn't stay in touch.

I wonder what happened to him, and whether he became an earth scientist back in Thailand. Or maybe he became an artist. Whatever he went on to do, I hope he's been happy.

P.S. I toyed with the idea of ending this thing at an even 300. But no: there's that pesky 365 in the title. Every damn day. So onward! Only two months to go . . .

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