Friday, May 1, 2009

one night in bangkok and the world's your oyster

We seem to spend so much time smiling now. Sometimes I think I am going to burst from smiling so much… big goofy silly smiles. It’s good and nice and I’ll admit I think we deserve it. There was a time when I never thought I would smile again. You partner up a bad situation with depression and you have a cocktail that is enough to knock out even the toughest prize fighter. It’s hard to describe what depression can do… how its icy tendrils latch onto your innards and just zap all your ability to cope, to fight back, to move forward through the mirk. I was painfully aware that it was brain chemistry gone awry, I knew it and recognised the symptoms, but couldn’t change it or fight it… just sank deeper and deeper. The best I could do was close my eyes and hold on to Gagan… I didn’t think I would get out of it.

Never say never, though. We’re in Bangkok living a very treasured and lucky life. With a lot of work and support my fibromyalgia is getting under control and I am starting to lead a reasonably normal life again - for the first time in .. well, lets not go there. The depression has disappeared as suddenly as it arrived - high tailing it on that express bus out of town to some unknown destination that I hope is far far away. I know it has my number though. I’m on the lookout. But I’m medicated and prepared - you wanna fight, then meet me at high noon at the OK Corral baby, I’m ready for anything! Well… I think so… ;)

Our days go something like this - we walk to the main road and catch the tiny little green bus to work. It’s a hurtling crazy whirlwind of a ride. For 6 1/2 baht each (about 18 US cents) we spend 5 minutes holding on to the ceiling hand rails as the driver swings the bus from lane to lane Formula1 style. Just getting on is a challenge as there is a reluctance to stop so you jump on and hold on for dear life as one foot may still be hanging out the door as the dinky wee bus takes off at speed and you’re away! It’s a hoot and a miracle we make it off alive each day. We joke about doing a ‘jump, tuck and roll’ to get off.. and are always a bit breathless as we get to the pavement.

After a fun day at work, we wander back to the main street, pass by lots of street food vendors and climb the overpass to cross the road. Resisting the mango and sticky rice stall is always hard. Has to be one of our most favourite things to eat here… mangoes that are sweet and juicy and plump, and sweet sticky rice with coconut milk and toasted lentils to sprinkle over the top.. the combination of tangy fruit, sweet rice, and crunchy salt all making for a delectable mouthful. The Thais are masters of these blends of flavours, and we are their willing guinea pigs.

We take a cab home. The traffic is always really heavy and the 5 minute morning ride takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more. The cabs are amazing. Mostly very new and comfortable (lemony fresh scents and sometimes all pink seats with Hello Kitty *everywhere*!) and they come in every colour of the rainbow. Predominantly pink (eecks, my nightmare), I have to say it really brightens up the streets of Bangkok to see all the colourful cars - purple, green, yellow, blue. An explosion of colour…. a fiesta. And the congestion is considerable. At peakhour it is like any major city at its worst, with hundreds of motorbikes and scooters whizzing through the stalled cars at high speed. But after 2 years of the chaos of India, where you sometimes feel your brain will explode from the constant assault of noise on the road, it is so quiet here it’s almost eerie. In LA there was always a honk or two, but here it’s deathly quiet. No one is impatient, everyone is polite and calm and just waits their turn. We have never seen anything like it. Refreshing is hardly the word for it. Mindblowing might be a little closer!

Having no cooking facilities in our kitchen, we have to eat out every night. This is pretty common in Thailand… and taking a look at the City of Food (as I have officially renamed Bangkok) it’s not a surprise. The entire place is just all about foooooood. My kinda town! So we come back to our little ‘settlement’ which is mostly known for really cool looking nightclubs and bars, and go to one of the restaurants. I am happy to say Thais love their Japanese food as much as I do, and there seem to be one Japanese restaurant per head of population. Perfect! There is Thai food we can bring home - freshly made to order and so tasty. Most of it costs just over a dollar. We basically eat Thai or Japanese every night and our minds and hearts are happy, our bellies full and our clothes not big enough anymore.

The weather is at its hottest right now. The high 30’s every day (that’s near 100 for those not ‘metricated’ yet) and very humid and heavy. Sometimes big clouds gather, erupting in brilliant and violent storms of thunder and lightning and heavy rain that flood, and then stop after half an hour. The view from our 8th storey apartment is wonderful. The heat keeps us inside a lot. But as I am getting healthier it makes us start to plan our weekends and getting out to see more of Bangkok again. The city comes alive at night, looking like an alternative Blade Runner, one where the apocalypse didn’t happen. We have so much we want to see and do. Every bit is precious and we feel alive and happy and lucky. You *can* go from the ridiculous to the sublime apparently… and that is why we smile!


Keith said...

Ha! Bis & I just last week had Mango and sticky rice at Typhoon!!!

Of course, we don't have the refined palette that you have.... ;)

judemasti said...

Hahaha.. that's so funny Keith... the *very* first time I had mango and sticky rice was at Typhoon too many years ago to mention! I thought I had died and gone to atheist heaven! It is such a perfect and simple dessert :)

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