'I get you taxi, you go dancing'
Was what the concierge said on the steps of the Grand Oriental Hotel, in Bangkok on a hot, humid afternoon.
I didn't really want a taxi, I just wanted a quick walk, before we resumed filming a promotional video of the city. It's 40c and I'm wearing an obligatory white (one size too small), T Shirt.
The taxi he beckoned, before I'd even deciphered what he'd said, was bright PINK, with an even brighter PINK interior!!
'Get in, get in, you like, dancing men'
What was even more worrying than that line was the awful little move he did to emulate dancing.
However, it was the 'dancing men' bit that threw me.
At this point our English tour guide turned up and said something to the concierge, at which point the concierge clicked his fingers and the hideous Pink taxi drove across the road.
Their conversation continued for a few minutes, throughout which the tour guide kept saying 'NO' (even I can understand universal gestures!!)
Once they'd stopped talking, the tour guide explained what the conversation was about.
Pink Taxi's symbolise (you guessed it!!)...GAY!!
The concierge had decided I'd prefer the company of dancing men, hence beckoned the Pink Taxi, which was prepared to take me to such an establishment, frequented by (you guessed it again!!), 'dancing men'.
TYPICAL!!! I've got no issue with pink taxis or dancing men, my issue was with the concierge prejudging what I wanted (which as you remember, was NO MORE than a WALK!!).
That wasn't all, it got worse!!
The tour guide went onto rub further salt into an already smarting wound.
I asked why the concierge was laughing so much and continued to laugh heartily.
The tour guide said he'd told him I wasn't interested in men and that I was heterosexual.........that was the cause of his raucous laughter!!!!
Marvellous!!! with that uncontrollable laughter from the concierge, the honking pink taxi across the road (which was still hanging around!!), I put on my best macho (not mince), walk and went off into the streets of musty, dusty & steaming Bangkok.
I stood looking into a shop window, more at my reflection that the forged rubbish on sale, I was seething that somehow the way I looked, gave the driver of a pink taxi the hope of a fare!!
My self pity and vanity was rudely interrupted as I felt something around my ankle, I jumped, I was startled, I nearly stumbled with shock.
It was a grubby, grizzled man lying on his front, on the dirty cockroach infested pavement, clutching my ankle with his dirty, boney hand.
Before I even had a second to react, the shop-keeper, whilst shouting oriental abuse, came charging out of his shop and kicked the man lying on the floor.
The man rolled in pain, no one on the street even batted an eyelid, my ankle was free and the angry shop-keeper hustled me into his shop.
I'm now in shock, not just because I'm in a shop full of forged belts, wallets, & watches but as the man on the pavement rolled over (so easily), I noticed there were no legs in his trousers, which of course explained why he was dragging himself along, eating dust and being trodden on.
In his pigeon-English the shop-keeper apologised for the legless vagrant, who had dared to touch me and then insisted I buy some of the s***e from his shop, because he had clearly saved me from the ordeal on the pavement.
I thanked him for his huge act of courage and left his shop.
Outside, I couldn't help but notice the legless vagrant dragging himself further down the street, considering the human traffic, it was amazing how far he had gone, especially as his only mode of transport was his belly and his fingertips.
Suddenly (as is common in such humid countries), it started to rain ferociously, I ran back to the hotel, people took cover in the shops, the legless vagrant with his face on the dirty wet pavement, just carried on crawling and got drenched.
Next afternoon (now wearing a one size too small, black T Shirt), I got past the laughing concierge, the honking pink taxi and I was back on the street for my afternoon walk.
Not to my surprise at all, there was the legless vagrant again (after all where else was he going to go!!), once again crawling along the filthy pavement.
This time I couldn't help but notice he was smiling and seemed relatively happy (I'm sure he did yesterday, I just didn't notice as he was being kicked by the shop-keeper!!).
He looked up at me (naturally didn't grab my ankle this time), I bent down and handed him 1000Baht (about £15), his smile turned into an endless toothless grin and hoisting himself upwards onto his chest, using his worn out elbows, he put his hands together in a praying motion and thanked me for my gesture, before falling back to the floor.
He then continued to crawl down the street, amidst the dirt, the dust and the disgusting crawling insects (some the size of large grapes!!)
Take what you want from my brief Bangkok escapade, for me it was all about HOPE, what on earth gives someone (as with many millions of people around the world), the HOPE to carry on, accept the s**t hand that's been dealt to them and still SMILE, it certainly put into sharp perspective my disgruntled and pathetic self-pity, about a prejudging concierge, pink taxi & dancing men!!
'When the world shouts it's all over - HOPE whispers in your ear and tells you to carry on!!'
(Taxi for) MK