I recall learning something obvious many years ago: flies do not differentiate between luxury hotels and slums. A fly--or any insect, for that matter--has no respect for wealth. Like a bank robber, Instinct takes them where the “money” is--in this case nourishment. That could be food in a hotel kitchen for a common housefly or bare flesh of a patron of a hotel’s outdoor restaurant for a mosquito.
I was reminded of this fact, when I stayed at one of Bangkok’s most-luxurious hotels. Inside, one felt protected from the teeming masses, sweltering heat, filth, and countless creatures. The manicured grounds, paved walkways, and luxurious pool area enhanced this impression. But, the view from my window told a different story. The hotel was build on a narrow strip of land extending back from the Chao Phyra River. I looked down upon the garden, the pool, and the riverfront, as well across the river at other luxury hotels and the city skyline. I felt safe from the environment in air-conditioned comfort.
But, my view extended to the property adjacent to and upriver from the hotel. Real Bangkok snuggled up to the wall of the pool area.
I left the hotel, walked the long drive to the road, turned right, and found the local street--more like an alley--that led to the river. This route was used by the local population to reach the ferry dock (visible from my room) where they paid 3 Baht (about 65 cents--the euro variety) to cross the river. Living conditions could not be more different from mine. Some would call this a “slum”, but I see the housing as typical for many Thai folks. No one seemed dissatisfied, as I usually witness in poor neighborhoods in Europe or the United States. Some must surely resent their neighbor, but this was not ostensible to a foreigner strolling down the street. Street food stalls might unattractive to Westerners, but at just as appealing to flies as nearby luxury hotel kitchens.
Between the dock and the hotel wall is a pond of stagnant water, filled with trash. If local residents or the authorities cared, someone would do something about what--to Westerners--must be a health hazard. Most, if not all, hotel guests enjoying the luxury of the pool have no idea that they lie so close this mosquito breeding ground.
I knew it.
There had to be an explanation as to why I was bitten in Florida more often than my wife. It was a female conspiracy...
An article about mosquitoes in The New Yorker reveals scientific evidence for what Rudyard Kipling told the world years ago: “the female is the most vicious of the species”.
No, not my wife!
According to the article, only female mosquitoes bite humans. Males, the gentle sex, are vegetarians.(http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2011/08/08/110808ta_talk_mead).
If only I had been able to attract girls during my teen years as easily as I had attracted mosquitoes, I might have had more fun. Now, I do not want to attract either…other than my wife, who seems to have resigned herself to the fact that she is stuck with me.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.