LEADERS - not followers

Sunday, March 14, 2010


โรงแรม ๒๗

It began as a pile of hand-written email drafts;
scraps of paper I’d take to the internet Café to save time,
back in the days when Internet use was charged by the minute.

We’re talking 1999-2002, when I first came to Thailand.
I’d take these scraps back home with me,
where the pile soon became several hundred pages deep.

People would ask,
“Are you writing a book?”
It put the idea into my head.

By the end of 2002 I’d finished a semi-autobiographical
work of fiction, based on people, places and experiences
from my time in Thailand.

The title HOTEL 27
is taken from the place where I first stayed in Bangkok.
It was my first serious attempt at writing,
and I’ve been writing ever since.


To date, I’ve written two further novels
plus hundreds of short pieces of prose as well as verse,
all of which remain unpublished.

Below is an extract from The Book That Changed Everything

55. Assessment
Changnoi has always been and remains a blessing to us. His patience and understanding, a legacy from his great-grandmother, who he never knew, but I’m sure, who knows him intimately, combine with his appreciation of the simple things in life. His thoughtfulness towards others is the final ingredient that, when mixed together, forms a complete and balanced person. His happiness is infectious and his influence descends on his peers, like dust settling in a darkened room; quietly, inconspicuously.
As a baby, he’d displayed a fierce determination to establish his independence, learning at an incredible rate, rarely, if ever, presenting us with the sleepless nights suffered by so many other parents. His ability to make us laugh and then laugh again, affirmed his happiness, adding a new dimension to our lives and offering us a clearer perspective. Sweet innocence, it may have been, but it’s a rare gift all the same and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. To look at him now, he appears like any other six-year-old child; endlessly energetic, always in a gang of other kids, always something to say. Scrapes and bruises on his legs, stains on his clothes, a smile on his face and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. His hair is neither long nor short, dark nor fair, straight nor curly, tidy nor untidy, though it never looks the same twice. It seems to dance and play freely over his head, in a kind of ordered confusion. I call it ‘free range’, like the child himself; independent, but never straying outside accepted boundaries. His lightning wit and ability to grasp concepts, far beyond the reach of most kids his age, amazes me and all who know him.
Deciding to leave my past behind me and start all over again in a strange land, where nobody understood me and I didn’t know a soul, wasn’t quite the daunting prospect for me that it may have been for many others. For this, I only have Mok to thank as she saw to it that I never encountered any problems in doing so. From virtually the moment I’d arrived in Bangkok, she’d been a part of my life and she’d made it her aim to act as a kind of guardian angel for me. If ever I needed to know or do anything, she would always be willing and more than able to help. In a city that could quite literally transform a saint into a devil, she’d ensured I’d steered a steady course. She’d been my compass when I needed direction, my anchor when I started to drift, my guiding star to lead me through the darkness.

56. A Brief Conversation With Myself
In my youth, I was always fascinated by science fiction. I was an avid reader of futuristic comic books; television programmes such as Star Trek and Dr. Who, were compulsory viewing.
The stories I read told of telepathic communications systems, high speed, trackless rail systems for commuters and instantaneous transporters for intercontinental, or even interplanetary travel. Methods introduced to us by extra terrestrial beings of superior intelligence, included miracle cures, tissue and nerve regeneration and drugs that could soothe all ailments. Sophisticated computers that could think and speak like human beings would cater to our every whim and robots or androids would replace the workforce. Wars and poverty would become things of the past and consigned only to the history books.
All of these advances would be in place by the year 2000. The year 2000, Y2K, the 21st century, a landmark date in sci-fi novels and movies.
These fantastic stories, ideas and concepts not only fired my imagination, but also gave me cause to anticipate a fabulously exciting and prosperous future.
In fact, the year 2000 came and went, a disappointing anti-climax for anyone who cared or even noticed. Although giant leaps had indeed been made in the field of technology and those fortunate enough to reap the benefits were taking full advantage, the wonderfully prophetic stories from a quarter of a century previously, fermented in the wake of Neil Armstrong’s historic first steps on the moon, sadly fell well short of the mark.
But I’m a little older and a great deal wiser now. I have a much more complete understanding of the differences between fantasy and reality and even living as I do, in the twenty sixth century, I’m just about as far removed from the modern world as I possibly could be. Despite the fact that it has been nearly five years since my last visit home, affording me only the very briefest of encounters with twenty first century England, I know that very little has changed.
I don’t need to return to know that organic food has not been replaced by high-tech pills, that state of the art Biometric security systems have not completely replaced conventional identification methods. I also know that crews of intrepid explorers have neither discovered nor colonised civilisations on distant planets, light years from Earth. But when I stare into the star filled night sky, as deep and dark and fathomless as any ocean that may exist on any planet, in any far-flung galaxy contained within it’s vastness. When the crickets are beating out their incessant tattoo and an almost imperceptible rustling amid the trees and undergrowth offers the only clue to the existence of the wildlife that lurks beneath night time’s dark veil, sometimes, just sometimes,…..I wonder.

HOTEL 27 Copyright © Stanislaw Skibinski