Jan 8th, 2015
Table diving, what is it? Well, you go to a joint, a place where a large amount of food is consumed and wait for people to finish their meals. If there is still some food left after they have left, you go up and finish it. Yes, it is very APPALLING! Many, no, MOST people will think it’s INDECENT! disturbing, disgusting and even DESPISIBLE! :O However, I don’t see the point of wasting perfect good food, especially wasting it just because of “decency”. Just for maintaining decency we should waste food while some people on the same planet are starving? Just for the sake of decency we should throw away products whose production has involved so much environmental cost? I am sure you agree with me on these principles but just the concept of decency is so deeply rooted in our brains that you, at least most of you would never try table diving. It requires a lot of guts, rebellious guts and skills. I did it very occasionally when I was in Europe, where people generally live a rich life, but I never knew the term “table diving” until just a couple of days ago I read it in Nomads group on Facebook. I was going to do it, for the first time on purpose and with a plan, here in Bangkok. I must admit, I was more curious about people’s reactions than eager to save money on food.
Yesterday the stomach rebel detered me from carrying out this plan but when I woke up today, I felt much better. Now I would pay absolute attention to my stomach. For the whole morning I did not drink any water either and the only thing I ate were a few bananas. Since I have a high rate of metabolism, the water produced by metabolism sufficed.
To be honest, waiting for visas was so …… boring. This bordem was killing me and deafening my spirit. I had to do something exciting, stimulating and challenging to keep myself on the track of adventurous spirit — that’s one reason why I wanted to do table diving at this moment. Dear friends, I must say, it is simply so easy for us to stay in our comfort zone. Even if we do step out of it once in a while, we soon shrink back into it. You may say that what’s wrong with staying within one’s comfort zone? Well, there is nothing wrong in it but I guess I am simply of a different type, a wild type. I always want to not step, but simply JUMP out of my comfort zone! Moreover, once I have jumped out of it and stayed in this new and bigger zone for a while, I would get bored again soon because I know that this new zone has become just another comfort zone for me, another limitation to the possibilities of life. Then it will be again the time to jump out this new zone! That’s why my way of traveling has become crazier and crazier, wilder and wilder. Hitchhiking is wild? No, not anymore for me. I’d done it so much that it had become “regular” for me! Wild camping is crazy? Nope, it had become part of my comfort zone! I need to break it. I must break it! BREAK FREE! That’s the rationale behind all the adventures. That’s my philosophy of life. That’s my RELIGION.
I had to walk about 10 km to pick up my Nepali visa. About half way to the embassy, it was noon already and in my stomach I felt nothing but fresh and healthy hunger. I went to the street where the night market was always held, where there were several big shopping malls and many restaurants. The mission was on! The biggest obstacle of this mission was myself. If one could overcome him/herself, then one would be invincible! Our traditional idea of dignity and the imaginary embarrasing scenarios were the things bothering me the most. “what if the waiters do not like it and kick me out in front of everybody?” “What if the customers all stare at me like I am an alien or homeless bum?” My heart started pounding faster and my facial muscles started stiffening. The fear and uncertainty of new adventures were injected into my blood, rushing violently to every direction in my veins. That was a feeling I had not had for a long time! I finally recognized it and realized”I am breaking out of my comfort zone again!”
I first went to a KFC. An advantage of those fast food joints was that the waiters would not come up to you upon your entrance to ask what you would like to order. I walked in, scouting around calmly. There were many people and only few tables were empty. I saw one table with a cup of soup seemingly untouched. However, it might be that the owner had gone to toilet and would come back soon. It was theft instead of table diving if I took advantage of that. When I was walking for the second round I saw …… yes, the owner came back and was eating his soup. Most people were in the middle of their meals and it would take them a while to reach the finishing point. Scouting two rounds was sufficient. If I had walked more, I would attract too much attention and the waiter might come up to ask what I was up to. Even during these two rounds, there were already people looking at me but I simply smiled to them and looked directly into their eyes. Most of time that made them feel shy and they would give up their doubtful and curious eyes. Ooops, it was not all that easy….. This KFC was not that big, so the opportunity was quite limited. I found an empty seat, sat down and still scouting, while analyzing at the same time. The voice from my comfort zone was commanding all the possible excuses to pull me back to its arms. “Should I just give up?! Excuses will be so easy to find!” No, the fresh fear and excitement were simply too stimulating. It reminded me of previous times when I was breaking from my former comfort zones and flying towards freedom! My rationality told me that “that’s right! This is what you are after, one of the few and precious chances to break out your comfort zone!” It also reasoned:”after all, if you were traveling, there was one thing very advantageous for trying bold acts — nobody knew you here and they would (most probably) never see you again! Even if they get angry and kick me out, it does not matter! This is more for myself! I want to challenge myself and try it!” When the voice from my comfort zone and the analysis from my rationality were battling, I discovered a table, with two trays on it! Obviously the eaters had already left but the table was not cleaned yet. I looked at it, like pirates stranded on a deserted island saw the first sign of the bright white sail of an incoming ship! No hesitation, I went up without much thought and calmly sat there. Those sitting just next to this table did look at me questioningly, but I simply behaved like the destined owner of the table and ignored their looks. Actually there were only some French fries left, which soon ended up in my huge belly. Well, better than nothing still.
I walked out of the KFC like a baby vampire who tasted blood for the first time and I realized there was nothing to fear about actually. Then I headed for the McDonald’s on the opposite side of the street, where I slept for two nights. Nope, nobody was finishing their meals in the foreseable future. I went up to the big shopping mall above the McDonalds. One of the floors was filled with chic and expensive restaurants. I chose one with quite some but not too many customers. On a table, I saw two bowls of noodles, still sizzling with lovely smell, half finished. I sat there and was about to start devouring them when one dilligent waiter came up. He thought I was going to buy a new meal, so he suggested me to sit at an empty table next to it while he would clean this table. I was prepared for this situation and showed him the note in Thai about what I actually wanted. He read it, frowning and his face soon turned serious. He asked me to wait and went up to another waiter, who was perhaps his supervisor. His supervisor, who spoke some English, came to me. The first waiter obviously did not explain the matter properly. The supervisor thought I was having some language barrier problem. Nope, I showed him the note again. His face also turned serious. He pointed to the half finished noodles and expressed his doubt:”You mean you want these?” “Yes.” I nodded with a calm smile, with the mystery of Zen and the ultimate power of universal harmoney. 😉 😛 What I exactly told in that note was “I am a Buddhist (which was 80% true). It will be a pitiful waste and sin to throw away good food. Thus could I have them?” He went away with the two bowls. I thought maybe he would pour them into one bowl for me. Nope! What he did was pouring them into a plastic bag and had it well sealed and brought to me politely! He actually thought it was such a good deed to save food that before handing the package to me, he said some Buddhist prayers loudly, attracting the attention of nearby eaters. His expression showed that he was serious about the matter. He even slightly bowed to me and handed me the bag to me solemnly with both hands. Oh my God! no, I mean oh my Buddha! How lovely it was!! I was so impressed that I bowed back and thanked him again and again. Then Lleft the mall. Those in the plastic bag would be a proper brunch. When I finally found a piece of quiet space, on the lawn in front of a big office building, I sat down and enjoyed every bit of it. It was the MOST memorable meal I had in Thailand.
Jan 8th, 2015