Real live bodysnatchers found

MANY OF MY good friends and family members are zombies, a medical term referring to:

a) People who are dead but haven’t stopped moving,

b) Teenagers before noon, or

c) Members of the Chinese People’s Consultative Committee.

I like hanging out with the Living Dead--they don’t yap on mobile phones all day. (But I’m not so keen on the souvenirs they leave behind, some of which appear to be organic.)

Thailand is the zombie capital of Asia. I was reminded of this last week when chatting with Hong Kong-based reader John B, a foreign correspondent. He told me about an incident that occurred when he lived there.

“My son's geography teacher was riding his motorcycle in downtown Bangkok near a freeway off-ramp when a truck driver stoned on [hallucinogen] ya baa came off at great speed and flattened him and his bike,” he said.


Bangkok has few ambulances. The first people who arrive at the scene of an accident are usually Buddhist societies specializing in handling corpses. Buddhist writings say that every time you give funeral services to a corpse, you get merit in Nirvana. (Not sure how this works. Is it like a customer loyalty card? Three merits for a harp?)

There’s big money in Thai bodysnatching operations because the groups sell shares. Hand over cash and you get a pink piece of paper certifying that you have achieved a portion of spiritual merit.

buddhist merit

Bonus: If the person is not dead, corpse handlers deliver him or her to pricey private hospitals in exchange for cash kickbacks.

The news that John’s teacher friend had died set off a frenzy of activity. “This turned into a huge competition, with the various Buddhist societies using shortwave radios tuned to police frequencies roaring off to try to beat each other to the body,” he said.

richard s erlich

Rival groups used to literally fight over bodies right in front of bereaved families. (Buddhists aren’t always the cuddly creatures Hollywood stars think they are.)

Some folk found this inelegant. So these days, two groups, the Ruam Katanyu and the Por Teck Tung, have a duopoly on the business, taking turns to provide 24-hour services.

But there was a twist in John’s tale.

“Some time in the middle of the night, the geography teacher came back to life somehow relatively unscathed, to discover himself lying alone in a room full of dead people. You can imagine the shock. Am I dead? There wasn't a soul in the place, literally. He got up off the gurney and walked out.”

Luckily, the morgue’s front-of-house staff were too stunned to stop their latest saleable portion of merit strolling out of the building.



Three zombie jokes:

1)What did the New York zombie say when he got into a fight?

You wanna piece of me? Huh? Huh?


2) What did the zombie say when he saw his buddy’s girlfriend?

Good grief, where d’you dig her up from?


3) What did the zombie say after rampaging all night?

Geez, I’m dead on my feet.


Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to pick up my zombie agitation kit (a flamethrower and a chainsaw). It’s time to wake the teenagers in my family.


(Pics by Richard Erlich, Isely and unknown.)