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Chiang Mai Citylife > Articles > 2012 > 2012 Issue 07 > The Secret Stash of Trash

The Secret Stash of Trash

I am always surprised…actually, I could stop the sentence there because it sums up how I feel most of the time. But no, in the spirit of artistic integrity, I will continue.

I am always baffled why, in such a beautiful country, people just throw their rubbish anywhere. Walking around the canal at night can be an unnerving experience as rats scamper back and forth to the piles of detritus, collectively dumped at the base of the trees. Drive along any road and the ditches will be strewn with litter. You can often see people scavenging for what they can, to sell for a few baht. Which then made me wonder, what happens to all our rubbish?

I have huge admiration for the men who work the garbage-trucks, especially in this heat. I can’t think of a worse job. Well, maybe a shoe-salesman on a warm day. Or a gynecologist. Why do so many ladies insist on wearing tights in temperatures like these? But I digress…

There are several policy documents regulating the disposal and management of household waste but, as ever, enforcement appears vague at best. As far as I can make out, most of our waste is trucked to other villages and towns, much of it deposited in unregulated dumps. Quite scary, as are reports of buried landfills closer to home being disturbed by earth tremors and polluting the aquifer. Like burning the fields, I guess it’s a question of education. However, in a city that is growing as quickly as this, they need to do something soon. Teach people to respect their land, protect the environment for the long term and implement an effective plan to deal with the growing problem. As Mrs. D pointed out, I had an education and therefore, have no excuse for my office being an environmental hazard. Coming from someone whose idea of a good joke is locking the windows in the car and farting, I initially took this with a pinch of salt. In my defense, I spend a lot of time in there, working on various projects (including my first book…out soon…shameless plug…it’s not called shameless plug…this is a shameless plug). As she stood in the doorway, pointing to and questioning various piles of papers, books and boxes, I was forced to agree some work was required.

An errand meant she left me alone for a few hours but not without instructions. With her words of “get this mess cleared up” ringing in my ears and armed with several, large, black bin-bags, I set about the task of clearing the room of rubbish. I mean, historical artifacts of value from my life which were perhaps, no longer relevant. I soon discovered a useful tip I’d like to share. Never use biodegradable bags as a long term storage receptacle. The clue’s in the name really because, they degrade. Several disintegrated as I grabbed the handles, adding to the mess and spilling papers on the floor.

Some of the stuff had travelled around the world with me, moved from one country to the next, one abode to another. It survived the cull of moving from our once large house to the current shoebox. Much I hadn’t seen for years, including my primary school exercise books. What hopes and dreams the young boy had who had written…well, scrawled…ok, doodled, on those pages.

At the bottom of a large cardboard box, my heart skipped a beat when I spied a bright, yellow cigar box. My private treasure-trove, unseen by my beloved. The painted picture of a woman, somewhere in the West Indies, working in a tobacco field under a bright blue sky, her skirt ruffled around her thighs was not the reason. It was what lay inside that made me catch my breath. Four letters from my first, true, love, the reading of which demanded a suitable level of ceremony.

I sat on the patio with brandy and cigar in hand, reading the pages of teenage angst. A second brandy, followed by a third meant that Mrs. D arrived home to a gibbering, emotional, wreck with the study still in a state of disrepair. Not surprisingly, she didn’t share my enthusiasm for these words of passion, written to a young Daring. Nor understand why I had kept them. Explanations of “this made me the man I am today” were poo-poohed and I reluctantly agreed to a burning on the barbecue we would have that evening.

Once burnt, I did feel better. When she retired to bed, I took the one page I had saved from the last letter. I read the last line aloud to the dogs who feigned disinterest.

“I no longer love you. You are a knob.”

Some things never change.