French Fries and Swimming Pools

I’m attending a conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  It is being held at a lovely resort in the mountains above the city.  This week the afternoons are relatively free, so I’ve decided to take advantage of the warm weather and catch some rays poolside.  There are lots of families attending this conference, so by mid-afternoon the pool fills up with the little ones.

Yesterday afternoon, about mid-day, I decided that I’d really like to indulge a little, and order some french fries from the restaurant, to be eaten poolside, an event that, it turns out was to rock the world of some children.  I had no sooner signed my room number to the bill, and the waiter wandered off when 2 children were immediately standing by my side, demanding to know how those french fries had suddenly appeared out here…by the swimming pool.  I must admit to a love of playing with kids minds, so I told them that I was just thinking of french fries, and suddenly the man was standing there with a plate for me.  I suggested that the little boy sit on a chair over there and give it a try.  He started to wander over there, but then thought better of it.  A 5 year old girl sat down on the chase lounge, next to the plate of fries…..stared at them for a few seconds, then looked up at me and said, "what time is it?"  "Yes, you can have a french fry, I told her!"

It was so interesting watching these kids ,as they tried desparately to come to terms with the sudden link between "restaurant world" and "swimming pool world."  French fries clearly belong in restaurant world, but here they were, in swimming pool world. 

But in the world that I grew up in, the two are inextricably linked.  As a kid in Pakistan, we would spend every day of our summer vacation poolside, at a local international hotel or club.  Quite frankly, it was too hot to do anything else, and in those days we didn’t have any air conditioning.  Our summer days were always the same — pile into the old Volkswagon Microbus, pick up other moms and kids, and head to the pool.  Mid-day our moms would call us out of the water for lunch, which almost always consisted of shrimp and chips (Britishs for french fries). 

So for me, eating a plate of chips poolside is a stroll down memory lane—it’s what you do beside the pool.  But for these kids I was with yesterday, eating chips is done in the restaurant or dining room.  What they began to discover yesterday was that the two worlds can be linked.

Something tells me their parents aren’t going to be too happy with me!