Monday, June 25, 2007

Backpacking with the Rose.

The missus and I dropped off her passport at the Thai Embassy today. She needs a visa to enter Thailand. I don't need to acquire my visa prior to departure.I have what wife calls, "that fucking blue passport".

She needed to have her paper work for her visa done in triplicate. She still has, for now, a fucking brown passport. Blame it on the mullahs, I say. Blame it on the US, she says. Or blame it on the bossa nova, Eydie says.

When the US finger puppet Shah Pahlavi was in power, Iranians didn't have to endure this kind of humiliation and scrutiny (did I say US finger puppet? I meant to say spineless running lackey dog).

When the wife was a wee one, her family vacationed in places like Italy. In those days, before the US was Shaytan Bozorg, back when Israel had an embassy in Tehran and her family gathered round the tube to catch Bewitched and Gilligan's Island dubbed in Farsi, Iranians could proudly walk this earth and exchange their Iranian toman for Italian lira in Italy. Back then, 70 Iranian rials would buy one US dollar. These days, under the leadership of Ahmedinejad (which is Farsi for he who felates donkeys), the world's second most detestable president, you need nearly 10,000 Iranian rials to buy a dollar from the country that has the world's most detestable president (we're number one!)

We're "vacationing" in a lack of style that the Rose is unaccustomed to. Cyprus. Rome. London. Yupper. That's more her speed. She thinks in terms of packing suitcases. Dining on breakfast buffets. Chocolate mints on the pillow. Bikini tan lines. No tie dyed t-shirts, torn jeans and North Face for her.

Wait'll she gets a load of Poi Pet.

I suppose if I came from a once progressive country, a country that, in 1979, rejected neck ties, electric guitars, syndicated talk shows and multiplex cinemas in favor of becoming a decaying Islamic Republic third world shit hole, then traipsing around another third world shit hole would not be on my dream holiday wish list.

Just the same, we're bound for Cambodia and the temples of Angkor Wat.

The Khmer are, like Persians, descendants of a great empire. But centuries of farang aggression, frog colonialism, and fratricide devastated and nearly eradicated that civilization. The Khmer and the Persians have this in common--they are a strong people, and their traditions have endured. But for the Khmer, there's hope. Unlike Iran, much of the beauty of Cambodia's past is re-emerging.

Me, I prefer the sensory overload of the developing world to say, Amsterdam (unless I'm going through a divorce and need to wallow in degradation and sin). I honestly don't mind grubby beggars, squat toilets or ignorance of the concept of queue integrity. I've shot rapids in an Honduran rain forest on a balsa wood raft and the memory of that adrenaline surge does not compare to the rush I experienced trying to purchase a train ticket in Lucknow.

Why Europe--what's the point? I'm an American and I've done Europe. Too many fat white people, too expensive, too safe. If I want to hang out with fat white people, I'll visit family.