Siam I Am

Friday, February 24, 2006

Siam Chronicles 19 - Fulminant Toys for Girls and Boys

The Mekong and the Nam Khan have receded to such low levels during the dry season that the town is now an island entwined in sand bars, snaked into sections by thin trickles of water. It's weird to think that a few months ago it would be dangerous to try swimming across either of these monster rivers, which are now just the tiniest sprig of stream that can be forded by any four year old at its most dangerous depths.
This taming of the tide has made someone rich renting out two seasonal wares: beach umbrellas and inner tubes. The rainbow bumbershoots lance into the sand at lazy angles where the river once was, and tiny children dandle in the smooth tubes soaking up the sunshine in calf-deep puddles. The shouts of their laughter echo up the tiered gardens bolstering the green banks of town.
I was once a dapper beaver bustling in the busy toy biz, and the kids of SE Asia have teamed up to defy my training on what constitutes a successful toy. Here's the top ten list of toys delighting happy imps on this hemisphere:
  1. Inner tube (per above)
  2. Rusty machete (these can be used to chase a sibling, or hack off branches which can then be carved into sharp sticks that can be used to chase a sibling)
  3. Plastic bag on stick (this can be a kite, or a butterfly-net, or be utilized to reach up into trees and abscond with precious mangoes)
  4. Banana-leaf dolls (these are quickly twisted together by beleaguered parents in situations of critical boredom)
  5. Mud (oh most versatile mud! It can be shaped into food, housing or transport)
  6. Flip-flop (This is necessary for the most popular sport for the under 12 set. It's like horeshoes, only with flip-flops, and somehow involves gambling for a wad of bills placed at the end of the run)
  7. Baby animal (any type will do, as long as it is pliable and doesn't mind overmuch being used as a projectile)
  8. Basket ball (literally a rattan basket woven into an orb - used for idle kicking and throwing, or volleyball and soccer but NOT basketball)
  9. Toilet paper (this can be unraveled for comical effect or used for the ever-popular "Look! I'm a Mummy!" gag)
  10. Younger sibling (these are the BEST toys, and are to be used in the second most popular sport for the under 12 set, Hide Behind a Tree and Push my Younger Sibling into Traffic)

The kids here are tops, and if I ever breed and the spawn ask for an X-box, I'll be that annoying parent who gets their hopes up then presents them with a plastic bag on a stick.


At 5:30 AM, Blogger Mooms said...

Sounds like our favorite toys growing up: magnolia pod grenades, and Japanese beetles tied by one leg with thread.

At 2:37 AM, Blogger xz said...

ah! i fondly remember many a lazy afternoon spent watching epic "huck-a-shoe" matches.

the tension. the drama. the shoe.

in most of the africa we've been in the favorite toy is "round thing."

everyone loves round thing!


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