12 September 2008

The Great Bamboo Barang Adventure

Sunday, Lena (my new partner in crime) and I set out on a crazy mission. Lena, for more than a week, had an obsession with creating a work of art. It was a functional work of art. One that would open us to new worlds, new experiences and generally would be pretty damn cool. That mission was to acquire some bamboo ("Rob, wood is like, so un-Asian") and turn it into a ladder to access to unchartered world that was Lena and Katherine's rooftop. And it all had to be done before Katherine came home on Tuesday.

Off we set at about 10:30 in the morning, after meeting at our favourite hangout, the LGC (Lazimpat Gallery Cafe) not quite sure how but all the more determined that we would accomplish our goal. While I was going to be content with acquiring bamboo, finding a local clever enough to turn it into a decent ladder and be done with it, Lena was adament that we would be getting our hands dirty and making the stupid thing ourselves.
"Let me at least get a quote" says I, eager to avoid killing myself on a faulty ladder. So we popped into the only place I could imagine would make something like what we were after, the local furniture shop, where they can make just about anything you like from a piece of cane and half a day.

As usual, the hand-gestures proved to be enough to get everyone confused and completely mis-interpreting one another, I drew a picture (rather a nice one, mind you) of a ladder on a napkin I had acquired from LGC for specifically this purpose. This was enough to get out of the gentleman that he had no (nor could he get) bamboo for the said purpose. "no thick enough, Ring Road". And hence we jumped on the next semi solid looking electric took-took to head for the previously unexplored area on the northern ring road.

Having abandoned our took-took in a traffic jam and wandering lost for an hour asking at every second hardware store where we could buy either a ladder or bamboo, we finally found a very nice man that spent 15 minutes explaining to us that the bamboo store was 20 metres away, just around the corner. Having ascertained that the word for ladder is not "you know...ladder [point at pathetic diagram scrawled on napkin that is now covered in sweat] but "barang", we found the place, with much jumping up and down like a child at Christmas on Lena's part.

Somehow we communicated that we needed 2 sticks of as straight-as-it-comes bamboo but were next confronted with the task of getting the thing 4-5km back to Lazimpat. That this would pose an issue had not occurred to Lena, and I was fairly confident that we wouldn't have even got as far as finding bamboo, so for a while there we were stuck. Until a man appeared with a rickshaw, quite clearly hanging out for this very moment all day and for 200R offered to take us and our bamboo to Lazimpat. Before we knew what had happened, the money had disappeared inside his (rather nice) denim jacket and our bamboo was half loaded on his rickshaw, turning it from a rather odd looking 400 year old bicycle into a rather odd looking 10 metre long 400 year old bicycle. And he was off up the hill.

Chasing after him we tried to push and help, but honestly this man (somewhere between 40 and 50 had calves of steel and there was no keeping up with him. Reaching the top, he gestured for us to hop on, and we reached a roundabout. The aforementioned traffic jam was still in full swing but somehow he managed to turn the 10 metre long rickshaw around the roundabout as a traffic cop parted cars and motorbike for us without batting as eyelid. Pottering along discussing the content of our respective wills, who should get the music collections and how we wanted to be buried, we provided great entertainment and received many smiles laughs and comments from the passing cars, buses and motorbikes. "Look at the two silly bideshi's!"

The story doesn't end there, even if you might wish it to. Katherine and Lena live on the 3rd floor of a block of apartments, so the two of us had to arrange a strange kind of pole vaulting technique to get the stuff up onto the balcony.

A few pot plants, an almost broken window and a couple swear words later, we were up on the balcony sawing and chopping up our bamboo into what would soon be known affectionately as "Sally". At the moment Sally needs a little love from someone who actually knows how to tie knots, but she holds, and the view from the rooftop was worth all of it!


Tim said...

Good on ya Sally! I need a photograph! Didn't Space Piglets teach you anything Bert?
Due to the photos you recently sent I am now riding to work to try and keep up with my skinny and tough looking bro!

Dash said...

ona motorbike or a cycle/??

Isa said...

Hey, what's the general exchange rate over there? How many Aussie dollars exactly does it take to transport the ingredients for a bamboo ladder and two crazy 'bideshis'??

And I second the call for a photo - including close-ups of your method of attachment! meanwhile my greatest feat of handiwork here in Tonga is banging a nail into the back of the bathroom door to hang my towel...

Dash said...

as a rule I work with 50R to a dollar. In reality its quite better than that. So lets say that our adventure cost $3.5714 + took took fare (10R or 17.86c times 2) = $3.9286.

(and I bought a swiss roll for breakfast 10R again).

Life's pretty rough here...

Photo will arrive when I remember where I left the cord for my camera.