Monday, March 22, 2010


I’m sure you’re dying to know how the hunt for treasury tags in Bangkok went last week. Not. But I’m going to tell you anyway  (there's always the off button) because it reminds me of another story from a life time ago when I lived in London during a gap year between school and university.

But first, back to Bangkok. I went to my local office supplies store, armed with a photograph of treasury tags, knowing perfectly well you DON’T attempt such a foolhardy task without photographic evidence. How many times have I attempted verbal only communication? A recent conversation in the Apple computer shop went something like this:

Me: Do you have an itornado cable?
Her: iTunes?
Me: No, itornado? To move data between a PC and a Mac.
Her: iTunes?
Me: No, I-T-O-R-N-A-D-O (slowly and clearly)
Her: iTunes?

So you get the picture. This is no-one’s fault but mine. My Thai will get me food, find the loo and give directions to the taxi to get me home while chatting about my family; and thereabouts it stops.

Back in the office supply shop, she peers at my picture; she leans across and shows it to her colleague and they both look puzzled. Then a light comes on and she points at the treasury tag and says “you want this?” “Yes” I say. So I follow her across the shop, dodging customers and displays of stationery. “There!” She says, pointing to the balls of string: treasury tags without the hard bit. *sigh*

It reminded me of another occasion when I was eighteen, and living in what, in those days, wasn’t über trendy Notting Hill Gate. I can’t remember anything else about the dinner party we were having except the shopping trip. Up the road in the supermarket, we’d got all the ingredients except the bouquet garni. When we asked for help the shop assistant looked blank. I grew up with cooks so I knew what they were, but not everyone would, so I explained: “it’s a mixture of different herbs,” I said, “and they sell them in what looks like a teabag.” She thought for a while and then she said: “Well, the herbs are in aisle 4 and the teabags are in aisle 11.”

So, you know what? It’s not just in Thailand.


Debs said...

Thanks for the giggle, although I do hope you manage to find your treasury tags - with the hard bit - soon.

JJ Beattie said...

Debs, thanks. You do have to laugh!

Chris Stovell said...

So near yet so far!

DOT said...

Catching up on your posts, I note your observations about rubber bands. When a child in Malaya, as was, in the early fifties, rubber bands were currency among us kids. The bands were perfectly circular in them days, and we played a game where we would throw the bands alternatively on the ground, if your band overlapped another, you won all.

Once, as a treat after an illness, my mother bought me enough bands to wear from wrist to elbow. Proud as a cock with pink wattles I was 'till I met the Chinese girl who always had a younger sibling clutched to her hip. Without removing younger sibling from hip, she removed all the bands from my arm in a single game. I still sob at the memory.

HelenMHunt said...

I see the link here. Thailand wants you to make your own treasury tags. Notting Hill Gate wanted you to make your own bouquet garni. Nothing changes.

Fran said...

I love stories about stationery! Even treasury tags. Funny.

Just to let you know, too, that my blog address has changed. You might need to chase my name link, then follow the new blog instead of the old one, if you'd like to. Please do!

bangkokaussie said...

I have a Thai friend who tries her best to help out when we are ordering things in cafes. She speaks to the waiters in Thai and we still get the wrong order! So it isn't just because you are a farang! Looking forward to Tuesday morning and will bring my friend.