"On first tasting it I thought it like the flesh of some animal in a state of putrefaction."

[Originally posted on LJ]

August brings many blessings to Thailand, among them the rains. We have slipped into full-on monsoon mode: last Saturday at 2 a.m. as we left Khao San, the rains came so heavy that running was useless. One second of exposure got you as wet as ten. Spared the option of avoiding a soaking, we were free to stroll laughing through sheets of water on asphalt.

Another August blessing is the end of the durian season. Durio zibethinus is that bat-pollinated, spiky-shelled, custard-fleshed fruit of Southeast Asia whose infamous odor has meant its banishment from the region’s air carriers and five-star hotels. I too regard this fruit as a scourge of the olfactory kind. Unfortunately, in our household the majority opinion holds otherwise, and despite my grandmother’s efforts to isolate the peeled durian with plastic wrap, rubber bands and Tupperware, the smell has taken the refrigerator hostage. I never before understood why it is said that mortuary workers can’t get the stench of death out of their hair and clothes. When I grow up my house is going to be a durian-free zone.

Khun yai ja… so, I was wondering, how long is the durian season? Can you get it all year round?” I said as the usual dessert plate of durian was set in front of grandfather at lunch today.

“Oh, no, child. It’s only ripe for about three or four months, starting in April or May, something like that. Why, what about it?” said grandmother suspiciously as I wrinkled my nose.

“Just that, it seems to have been… longer.”

She laughed and slid my grandfather’s plate three inches away. “Ok, is that better?”

I really love her.

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