Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mr. Mumu

    It's dark out in Chiang Mai and I'm waiting to change some currency. There's a hugely obese man at the counter ahead of me, negotiating with the clerk behind the plate glass. He's dressed in a loose fitting cotton shirt and loose fitting pants. He's so big and the clothes so loose around this huge frame we immediately nickname him 'Mr. Mumu', even though technically that's not what he's wearing.
  Finally he finishes his business, and his holding a wad of Thai bhat in his hand. I go to the counter and get my cash and follow in his general direction up the street.
  A block or so later we run into him again. He's chatting up a little girl, couldn't be any more than 12 or 13. Wearing a 'Hello Kitty' t-shirt.
  We stand a few yards away as they speak. Then he rolls onto his motorcycle. She climbs on behind and they take off into the night.
  We talk about it for hours after. Should we have said something? Could we have said something? We were just passing by.
  You hear about the sex trade here, and predators like Mr. Mumu. You think the moral path is clear. But in a strange land, with no social links to authority, and the language barrier, fast action just gets too complex. There's a 'Turn In Predators' hot line, but we didn't have the number handy, and what do you say? 'I just saw a fat guy on some street downtown picking up a girl?”
It makes you feel dirty, and complicit.

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