Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 256
Greetings Dana fans: just throw up your arms, and throw out your legs, and throw your self on the ground. Give in to the coincidence of cosmic serendipity–you and myself, star crossed and rubbing against each other like two Thai girl scouts on a camping trip at Ko Pussee. You and myself; beyond gender, beyond sex, beyond ego or pride. You and you-know-who sharing a fourth dimensional pinprick of smiles, and heat, and hope in the universe. And me asking you the question:
Ever wonder about what you read? I find the older I get, and so the more exposed to ideas expressed in words, the more critical I am. Sometimes I find myself rejecting something I might have mindlessly accepted, or drifted over, twenty-five years ago.
"The good traveller doesn't know where he is going. The great traveller doesn't know where he has been."
by Chuang Tzu
In other words (my words), the good traveller doesn't know he is on his way to Thailand? What? What? And the great traveller does not know he was just in Thailand? What? What? Remind me not to use Chuang Tzu as a travel agent.
Let me be perfectly clear, perhaps more clear than Chuang Tzu. I think this is nonsense. Once in a while I used to express an opinion like this to an email associate and his response would sometimes be that:
"I didn't get it."
Listen very carefully. I do get it. And what I get is that this quote by Mr. Tzu is just stupid. You can judge what you read and not everything you read is a diamond. Remember, you can only find a diamond by sifting dirt.
But that is not really what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about today is:
THE WAY IT USED TO BE
"Follow my spoor for Yellow Fever."
I lost my home computer in an electrical storm (a lightning bolt exploded over my building like an atomic bomb) years ago. No money, so no new computer. To make submissions publishing date commitments is a nightmare of scheduling between the main public library in Copley Square, a branch library on Cambridge Street, and a computer place on Winter street in downtown Boston. There are limits on how much computer time you can get at the libraries, and of course the computer place costs money. A nightmare.
The Winter street location is so terrible that only the desperate (me) would use it, but it does have one interesting feature. The computers are on the second floor. The first floor of the business is a retail store that sells stuff to high school age kids and tourists. All of the staff are Asian girls (Chinese, Nepalese, etc.). About twenty of them ages 18-25. All young, all Asian; and some of them are heart stoppers. Some of them are just–well, you know.
Today (Saturday) was the beginning of the Labor Day three day weekend in Boston. I haven't got any money so I won't be going anywhere, and I won't be doing anything of a holiday nature. So, a day like any other day, and a gloriously beautiful day. At 9:00 a.m. I am in line at the new addition of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. As soon as the guard waves us in I am through the revolving door and running, vaulting up three floors of stairs (go Dana go), and dodging and weaving through the stacks. One old guy in a track suit is right on my tail. It's a race to the computer room and doubly so because out of sixty computers only one (#58) is unfiltered and will allow me access to Bangkok web addressed material. Another reason to hit the computer room at 9:00 a.m. is that there is sometimes a Chinatown Chinese lady as the library clerk. Dumb as a bucket of paint but gorgeous. Every Saturday I have a conversation with her about how to use the printer so that I can be within three feet of her. There is never a pupil dilation's worth of spark that she remembers last week's identical conversation. But I almost digress.
Sixty minutes later my free computer time is up so I head downtown to catch more computer time at the computer place on Winter street. I'd give the exact location of this place but it is run by Austrian and Israeli mafia and I don't want any trouble. I talk briefly to Nepal (from Nepal) and May (Chinese) and then go upstairs. An hour later ($6.00) I am done again.
Now it is time to go to Macy's Department store to use their bathroom. When you do this you always want to make a detour through the women's' cosmetic counter area to check out gorgeous Vietnamese retail clerks. Sharks, but beautiful. Exiting Macy's I then check out the hot dog ($2.00) wagon run by the young girl from South America. Young, dark skin, high cheekbones, Asian face–you know. I must have bought 100 hot dogs (burned dog please with relish and mustard) from her by now. Not one word of English (possibly illegal), so I just stare and smile like an idiot. In the winter she wears about fifty pounds of clothes, but in the summer you can see her figure. Peasant all the way and I bet she'd make a great mother. My kind of dream. But today a disaster. None of those burnt dogs I like–just huge gross looking sausages. I stagger away.
Well, time to go home. Walk down Washington street towards Beacon Hill. Then I see her. Across the street an Asian woman is setting up inventory on a new sidewalk display wagon I have never seen before. Scarves and purses and other items we have all seen in Thailand a hundred times. But she doesn't really look Thai. Dark skin, and black hair, and a Thai figure; but a very ethnic face. I ask her if she is Khmer. "Yes" she smiles — "Cambodian". And then it happens: I say
"Sa wa dee khrap."
and instantly she weis, and smiles, and says:
"Sa wa dee ka."
The way it used to be. The way it used to be in the Siam and the Southeast Asia I never got to visit. And the way it used to be in pre and post WWII Thailand. And the way it used to be in the stores and the hotels when I first started going to the Kingdom.
A smile, hands together like a temple, head bowed and:
"Sa wa dee ka."
Simple, unpolluted, sincere, still in touch with her culture. The way it used to be and the way I wish it still was.
I smiled all the way home.