Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Not about Kuala Lumpur at all...


The prospect of not knowing ‘how things work’ scared me when I was preparing to move to Bangkok. And it’s no different visiting a new country.

I knew it would frighten me because even things in the UK worry me when I didn’t know how to do them. Public swimming pools always feel like a good example of this. (Is it just me or is it really easy to type ‘swimming poos’ by mistake? That’s another whole blog post for why we shouldn’t use public swimming pools but not one I’m doing today.)

The system for how each pool operates differently from the last one I went to makes me deeply nervous. I pay the cashier. Although I'm already worrying about the locker system and whether I’ve got a coin of the right denomination and where or how I will stash the key while we're swimming, I forget to ask cashier lady for confirmation. I make my way with my inch square ticket in the flimsiest of papers and my small children through some barriers. I put the fragile ticket safe (somewhere; though for the life of me ten minutes later I won’t know where that was) and make my way to the lockers; cashier woman hasn’t reminded me what the lockers require. There's no reason why she should - she's not responsible for my child-induced dementia and I know she’d have to say it eleventy million times a day but now she has to deal with me again. I have to drag the children back through the barriers that only move in one direction. A sign tells me I can’t get the right change from her for the lockers so I have to go and buy something I don’t want from the shop. Then I don’t have my little ticket to prove I’ve paid but luckily cashier woman recognizes me because I’ve been a pain and lets us through. 

We get changed and squeeze everything into the locker. In the days when I frequented swimming pools I wore contact lenses so by this time I’d removed them and put on my glasses. I couldn’t see so well. While they’re the correct strength they alter the depth of field; the floor is slippery and it’s all a bit labyrinthine what with showers and loos and men's and women's and family changing areas and pools. All while I’m vulnerably dressed and trying not to let small children slip over. When we finally make it to the swimming pools the guard asks to see our ticket as proof of purchase. I have two small children that I’ve just wrestled into lycra, I’ve made it through a maze of tiled floor full of puddles of an indeterminate liquid and now I have to reverse it all again to find the ticket.

It’s not fun. I’m glad my kids have grown up and can take themselves to the pool. And tomorrow I might even get onto how things are different here…

9 comments:

Queenie said...

There's a short story in that, you know.

Ragged Thread Cartographer said...

I am right there with you on that one - swimming pools (and local buses). And despite being reputedly intelligent independent woman.

Jenny Beattie said...

Queenie, is there? I need to put some effort into having a go at short stories.

RTC, it's an odd one isn't it? I feel sure that it's mostly to do with my sudden deterioration in eyesight (when I remove the lenses) but I reckon I'm kidding myself really.

Flowerpot said...

I agree about the short story! Go for it....

Boonie S said...

You’ve told this beautifully. Thanks. Another gem….
By the way, I can never quite see the point of swimming pools – just a big hole full of water – what’s the point of that?

Have a nice day, Boonie

Anonymous said...

hahahahahahhahahahaha, love it! Just how I have always felt - what will I do when I have to leave and don't have the pool downstairs!! You write as we all feel, you should be writing a column in a woman's magazine or, as Queenie says, a short story. Miss ya! Jane x

Debs said...

I'm with you on theses sorts of difficulties.

There's definitely a short story in there.

Jenny Beattie said...

Flowerpot, I've written one in my life and it wasn't very good. Not sure where I'd begin.

Boonie, thank you.

Jane, thanks lovely. Let's get together next week, eh?

Debs, thank you. They are trials sent to test us!

Adina West said...

I think it's just fear of the unfamiliar, which so many of us share. Once we've done something once, it becomes less scary. But while we don't 'know the ropes' we're afraid of doing something wrong.

I don't suppose we can hope for worldwide standardisation of swimming pool entry procedures, so until then, just remember that you only ever have to do a new thing for the first time...once! After that you'll be an old hand...