Photo credit: Oniket Alam
In Vientiane, we have a charming, elderly and friendly Finnish couple as neighbors, living in an almost identical wooden Lao style house next to ours. We share a sprawling compound, with only a low height picket fence separating the two gardens. Residents of both houses have free access to each others’ gardens.
The only difference between our respective gardens is that our neighbors have (much to our envy), a huge shady tamarind tree, laden with tamarinds. For our neighbors, it is just another big tree and the sour tamarinds have no appeal to their Finnish taste buds what so ever. So they view our envy with some degree of jest and amusement.
Our good friend Oniket Alam was on a visit from Bangladesh and all of us spent many a happy times together. Being a single and rather lonely child, our eight year old daughter, Minnie grew particularly fond of her Oniket Uncle during this period and both of them spent time together in the garden or went off on walks around the neighborhood, often straying into the paddy fields at the fringes of our locality (each locality is called a “Village” which is equivalent to a borough).
It was the end of the spring season in Laos, day temperatures were rising and with this, there were occasional thunderstorm followed by a spell of heavy to moderate rain. At the end of a rather hot day, as the sun was setting, suddenly the winds picked up and turned violent. It was one of the early tropical storms. Soon dark clouds gathered in masses and it started raining, bringing in relief in its cool freshness, after a long hot day. It rained intermittently throughout the night and we all slept blissfully, hearing the sounds of rain falling on our wooden roof.
Early next morning (it was a Saturday) when it was still drizzling, Minnie woke up and looked through the window on the second floor to find countless ripe tamarinds strewn all around our neighbor’s tamarind tree. She went out to the porch, silently climbed down the wet, slippery wooden stairs and woke up Oniket, who was sleeping in the guest room in the ground floor, with the intention of making him her accomplice in a tamarind heist. “Let’s steal the tamarinds before the neighbors are up” she proposed excitedly.
Not to miss an opportunity like this, Oniket grabbed his DSLR camera and the two embarked on their tamarind heist. Minnie also suggested that she disguise herself so that the neighbors will not be able to recognize her! So she grabbed our house keeper’s helmet, puts it on and went on her expedition.
As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words. So I will stop here and let the pictures taken by Onket say the rest of the story.