I'D LIKE TO TELL
YOU ABOUT my recent trip to Bangkok. Problem is I can't seem to
remember a thing. Well, I do recall I arrived in Bangkok, got caught
in traffic, checked into the Conrad, raced to an appointment, sipped
some green tea and then, BAM, a four-hour gap in the cassette. That's
right, fours of my life seemingly erased and no recollection of
what happened and nary a convenience store video to fill in the
blanks. Avid scans of World's Wildest Police Chases indicated I
was not concussed by diligent cops mistaking me for Rodney King,
nor was I anywhere near a transvestite with drug-laced nipples.
There was nothing. Zilch.
A mickey in my
drink? Not likely. So I turned to that one true authority, the Internet,
and there it was - Transient Global Amnesia. This is slightly different
to an Incontinent Global Transient (which describes most visitors
to Bangkok). According to one medical tome, "Transient global
amnesia (TGA) is characterised by an abrupt onset of both anterograde
and retrograde amnesia." WOW.
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is a frightening thing. Studies prove that 99.99 percent of the
world's population has no clue as to what anterograde means. I read
on. "Patients with TGA are unable to retain new information
and repeatedly ask orienting questions such as 'Where am I?'"
However, should you be in the habit of enquiring, "Where the
heck is eye-rack?" you do NOT have TGA. Chances are you are
the president of the USA.
I had not been concussed by cops mistaking me for Rodney King, nor was I anywhere near a transvestite with drug-laced nipples
TGA is hitting
stressed out travellers on the road. "Precipitating factors
include emotionally intense or stressful events, sexual intercourse,
bathing or Valsalva's manoeuvre." Who? Briefly, Valsalva's
manoeuvre means holding your breath and straining. Apparently this
happens a lot in the toilet. It can kill you or cause TGA. Fortunately
there is no such thing as Anterograde Valsalva.
Well, I was getting
somewhere. I then keyed in the words "Where the hell am I?"
This unleashed a torrent of 6,720,000 results. The first page on
Google brought up a Texan blogger's diary, a T-shirt store and a
white supremacist site. It would have been simpler to call my mother,
and confront her with my deepest fear: "Is Michael Jackson
Then, to ensure
my research was scientific and carried comparative data, I accidentally
typed in "George Bush is a ninny". This produced 908 results,
I kid you not, all deeply informative. As the US president revealed
in Washington on 3 October, 2001, "I am here to make an announcement
that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of
Ronald Reagan Airport." Travellers take note. Here's another
thought provoking quote: "We need to stop the exquisite sex
and wholesome violence that underscore our children." I couldn't
So there I was,
sipping green tea, without the foggiest about what I was doing in
Bangkok and now I had to worry about whether I had had sex on the
aircraft or been involved in a near-death Valsalva's manoeuvre.
How on earth can you have sex in the air (or strain while holding
your breath) when aircraft toilets are always occupied? It would
be gratifying though to choke people to death for simply causing
such long toilet queues (I-Gotta-Go manoeuvre) - but not on US-bound
flights where such congregation is now disallowed. Excuse me sir,
are you going to New York? "I've no idea where the heck I'm
going lady. I've held my breath and strained to keep it in for 14
Females are more susceptible to memory loss due to jetlag. To find out if you are going gaga simply measure your right temporal lobe
In the mid-Eighties
travellers popping Halcion suffered from short-term amnesia. Vietnamese
Boat People rowed into L.A. claiming to be Swedish. Jetlag causes
disorientation too. Hongkong is two-and-a-half hours from Bangkok
but it can be reasonable argued that China's great entrepot is light
years from Thailand.
Research has shown
that chronic disturbance of bio-rhythms can actually cause the brain
to shrink and impair memory. One study compared the size of the
brain's temporal lobes (these deal with short-term memory) of two
groups of flight attendants. "Researchers found the group which
had less time between flights had smaller right temporal lobes."
This group became increasingly forgetful and had difficulty concentrating.
In other words, their memory had shrunk. Presumably this is why
soft-focus Singapore Girls sit atop places like Ayers Rock gazing
moodily into the middle distance when they should be in a soft-focus
cabin performing critical inflight chores - like gazing moodily into the middle distance. The study did not
include far more important research on the correlation between breast
size and frequent travel.
travellers are more susceptible to memory loss due to jetlag. These
findings can change your life. Invest in a small measuring tape.
If your boss is a frequent-flier lady with normal breasts but smallish
temporal lobes, this may be a good time to ask for a raise. "Oh,
did I really promise to double your salary?" If she has humungous
breasts and incredibly small temporal lobes, well, if no one's looking,
The chances of
your encountering a bewildered TGA nut like me (or being one) on
your next flight are about 30 in 100,000. Doctors' advice for gaga
travellers is to eat more "brain foods" like salmon or
boiled soybean (the latter perhaps not on locked-toilet US flights).
An alternative is "neurobics" which advocates changing
your normal routine (like brushing your teeth with the wrong hand)
to stimulate neurons. Or you could try mind games. But, wait...
where the hell am I?
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