or in the blind beggar who is singing “Feelings” for the 10th time that morning in the blazing heat under the noisy train tracks that reeks with the smell of heavy incense and stale urine….
Buddha really is alive and well in Bangkok and after coming to this city for over 12 years, I think I finally have it figured out. Bangkok is sort of like life: If you don’t like it, you can leave, passively watching it from the sidelines, numbing yourself from the reality of what “is”. But if you choose to be a part of it, to truly dive into the beautiful ebb and flow of all the chaos that is here, you can’t help but take delight in all the wondrous surprises that await you with every corner you turn.
Bangkok doesn’t try to be anything else than what it is; there is no pretentiousness about it whatsoever. It is big, it is crowded, it is noisy, and there is traffic on the roads that just never ceases. Street beggars are scattered everywhere though they are all very polite and do not come to you or bug you in any way; they sit or stand quietly on the curbs, singing a song, holding a baby or two, or just calmly rock back and forth crossed- legged waiting for the next jingle of a coin to hit their bucket.
Its people are some of the hardest working people I have ever seen; day and night they are out on the streets selling their foods and wares, always with a smile, and always with the knowledge that there might not be more than a few customers that actually buy something for the day. But they show up. Day after day. They do not give up.
Their physical and spiritual resilience is palpable-for only 6 months ago, this city was under a state of shock and siege as opposing political forces fought each other the good ol’ fashioned way- on the streets, with sling shots, bombs and stones. Government buildings were shut down as were some of the cities largest shopping malls. It was devastating to see a city full of so much love come to this point of emotional and physical eruption. I was moved to tears every time I saw images of the violence blasted on the world wide media. This just wasn’t the Thailand I knew or loved.
Yet it is now peaceful again- to a point where it seems more calm than ever. Perhaps the Thai people realize they went a step too far and instead of shooting off the opponents, they all shot themselves in their own foot instead. The violence had gone too far and I believe they now realize this.
Yesterday, I returned to the very same spot where the center of all the riots took place and upon seeing the sign above my head that said : “Welcome to the World of Happiness”, I broke out in tears, reminded once again that life does go on and things do get better and that the Thai people personify this resilience like no other culture I have seen....
Sawatdee Ka Thailand….it is nice to see your smiling face again…