Archive for May, 2004

Motorcyclist Reading The Newspaper

It was on this day 5 years ago that I saw the only death I’ve witnessed
(and hopefully ever will have to see). I was just turning the corner on
my way to school when I heard a scream of car brakes and a bang, and as
I turned, I saw a bareheaded motorcyclist landing on his head on the pavement.
His head cracked like a watermelon, spraying blood and brain for a surprising

He was still twitching when I walked into the now grid-locked
road to go round him, and as I turned into the school to teach my class
of 6 year olds, a policemen from the station next door was already putting
a copy of the Thai Daily News over the poor guy’s face. That’s why "reading
the newspaper" is
Bangkok slang for a motorcycle traffic fatality, which are an daily occurrence
in Bangkok (see the
short film "Bangkok Traffic Ballet"
by Thomas
to see why motorcycles are so dangerous). The Thai people walking
next to me were unperturbed; in Thailand, graphic images of death are
all around – there’s even a temple where the noticeboard is covered in
grisly pictures of accidents and crime scenes as a memento mori. Whilst
death is
taboo in the West, sexual images are taboo in the East.

(Last Updated on 2 May 2005)