by Lenny Karpman
More than twenty years ago the King of Thailand was about to celebrate a landmark birthday, so he and his government planned a long list of special events and invited expatriate Thais from prominent families to return home and join the celebration. Yao, a Thai friend of mine was among the invitees. I went along.
“Let’s go find some durian, you know – the stinky fruit,” she proclaimed with a smile. I returned her smile with a little apprehension. I was usually impervious to all varieties of natural and synthetic aromas. Not so that Sunday in Bangkok. My diminutive soft-spoken friend from San Francisco was on the home turf of her family and her childhood. She was my guide for the day. Her feather-like hold on my arm steered me through the bustle of the Sunday crowds. There, at the weekend market on the edge of the city, thousands of shoppers gathered to buy everything from plaid boxer shorts and eyeliner to hundred kilo live pigs. We were on a durian quest.