Pass the Durian

As I passed the security guard, I heard her sniff, say “Mae jao‽”, then louder “Please stop!” She waved at my bags in alarm, asking me to show them to her. I twirled my translucent grocery bags for her inspection, wondering why she was so agitated. “What?” I thought to myself, “Is chocolate a controlled substance now?”

Then she froze like an irish setter, pointed to one bag containing some yellow fruit, and stared daggers at me. “Durian!” she exclaimed. I expected her to continue with “J’accuse!”

I’ve heard the warnings about bringing durian into hotels, public busses, and within 100 meters of a pregnant woman. But I wasn’t thinking after I walked by the security guard at the Siam SkyTrain station. I’d bought the durian, a strong-smelling but delicious fruit, from the Gourmet Market @ Siam Paragon, where it was promoted as some of the best Thailand has to offer. How could I resist?

When I finally got back to the SkyTrain, I was thinking about the chocolate and the cheeses I’d purchased. I’d completely forgot about the durian. Until its gentle aroma had escape from the high-security confinement of plastic wrap and shopping bags and alerted the authorities.

She asked me to leave the SkyTrain system, and I left looking chastened and ashamed. Just long enough to find a hidden spot to surround the offending durian with enough chocolate bars to hide it from casual sight, and add another layer of shopping bag, tightly knotted to confine the aroma. I then returned to the SkyTrain using another entrance.

It worked. I got through, boarded the train, and rode to the Sala Daeng station, where I had to switch to the MRT (subway) system for the final stretch to home.

Forewarned, I hurried through the security check, waving my bags quickly at the guard (and well below nose level.) She nodded me through, and I sighed in relief descending the escalator. A sigh that ended abruptly when I detected the subtle but unique aroma of durian in the air. Damn, you can’t confine that stuff for long.

But I had a plan. Scanning the platform, I looked for someone boarding who was also carrying shopping bags. I got in line behind him and after boarding positioned myself right behind him where the other passengers could see me but he could not. As the first sensual note of durian scented the air of the packed subway car, I started shooting exaggerated dirty looks at the other shopper, letting my entire body send the message “Rules exist for a reason, mister! Harrumph!” Before long other passengers were sending him the same unspoken message. He, thankfully, was oblivious, staring down into his phone. I got off two stations later, but he continued on, oblivious to his perceived guilt.

Tonight I will eat durian, and it will be sweet.

So sweet.

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