the ‘that-one’


POSTCARD #108: Chiang Mai: Stuck in a tuktuk at the intersection, a huge volume of traffic coming the other way. We’ll have to wait 10 minutes maybe. Driver switches off the engine, leans back and it’s suddenly quiet. This brings me some ease; mind is racing, I’m on the way to the computer repair shop with my laptop in the bag – no control of the cursor… can’t do anything. Frustration, and this traffic situation is not helping; the glaring red light demands attention, holds back a great torrent of beings ready to leap forward and fill up the space in the vast sweeping-along of things. It’s the New Year season, everybody going to, or coming back from some other place, some other time. Hard to believe it’s 2015, returning to the marker left here from 2014. No beginning, no end, only the cycle continuously refreshed, the evolving transformation.

Green light, driver flicks ignition and the 2-stroke engine comes to life. A few turns of the throttle and we’re away in a great clatter of sound; sharp turn left, then right, narrow streets, short cuts, speeding through passageways and corridors wherever there’s room to move. Then we’re there; into the car park, get out, pay the driver and up to the second floor. It takes a while to squeeze through the crowds of shoppers wandering around in a purchasing daze, and I’m rehearsing the storyline in my head; the computer just stopped working… there’s a window telling me there isn’t a keyboard connected… how can that be? Find the repair shop, get in and take a number, join the others waiting with their iPhones and devices. This could take a while, I open up the laptop, get it started so the technician will be able to see what the problem is.

Then something unexpected happens; It doesn’t do that thing anymore… it’s working normally now! A few more tests and yes, wow, there’s nothing wrong with it – how come? Go back to the desk, give them my number back; sorry I have to leave now, I’ll… em, be back later – thank you, bye-bye. A mixture of feelings; elation that it’s okay again, and how did it fix itself? Will it be allright now or is it going to freeze again? Down the escalator, out on street level and into another tuktuk. The answer comes to me on the way back; it must have been a bluetooth-link with another device in my apartment, and as soon as I took the machine out of that place, the bluetooth link became inactive. So how did I create the bluetooth-link? I don’t know exactly but I think my 10-year-old Thai niece, M, may have had something to do with it.

The journey back to the apartment goes without any major delay, green lights all the way. Up to the third floor, into the room and M is lying on the sofa with two iPads and her Samsung phone – she’s got a network going between the devices. Hello Toong-Ting, your computer is fixed now? She’s studying English at school. I ask her what she’s doing… I chat with myself, see? Her small hands and fingers operating three screens at the same time. So, how is she able to do that? It’s the… (hesitates, can’t remember the word) em… that one, you know? Points to the bluetooth icon, that one. Recently she has been using ‘that-one’ to take the place of any vocabulary she doesn’t know. It can be a noun or a verb or anything that makes sense and sounds right. Somewhere in the conversation she explains: The ‘that-one’ that-oned the ‘that-one’ (subject + verb + object: The bluetooth linked the keyboard). It’s all always a learning process…


We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

[T.S. Eliot]


H  A  P  P  Y    N  E  W   Y  E  A  R    B  L  O  G  S  T  E  R  S   2  0  1  5

33 thoughts on “the ‘that-one’

  1. Loved the story, for it describes many of my moments so accurately. However, those few times when I pause long enough to remember that “everywhere I go, there I am,” I often discover what it is that I require. Happy New Year to you as well.

    • Thanks Karen, what you’re saying here leads me to think we all have the same experience of the moment – limitations of the mind/body presence. It’s the applied knowing that shows the way to manage it: “everywhere you go, there you are.”

    • I was thinking along the same lines this morning; wakened by a bird near the window singing its dawn song – not simply a melodic sound, more like a complex articulated utterance. Then it stops and in a moment there’s another one in the distance singing a similar ‘song’…

      • I’ve got a couple of green tree frogs in the backyard that have been doing the same thing every night for the past week or so.

        A while ago the builders next door left an overturned wheelbarrow against a pile of bricks and one of the frogs found it to be an excellent resonance chamber. He really went to town that night.

  2. So, how is she able to do that? It’s the… (hesitates, can’t remember the word) em… that one, you know? Points to the bluetooth icon, that one. Recently she has been using ‘that-one’ to take the place of any vocabulary she doesn’t know.

    Sounds like she’s a natural, tiramit.

    I doubt there’s a different word for ‘bluetooth’ in Thai, so she probably hasn’t got a word for it at all. Doesn’t stop her thinking about it and manipulating it though.

    The ability to think symbolically instead of only narratively isn’t just an important talent for developing computer expertise, it’s central to abstract thinking in general.

    Sound’s like M has the makings of a bona-fide geek.

    • She’s kinda loose about how it’s configured – the intelligence of inspired guesswork gets her there. Goes to a bilingual school and weekend English classes but communicative stuff happens through ordinary dialogue with me (I’m the only foreigner here), the rest of it is mostly book-learning. As you say, thinking in symbols rather than narratively – an all-inclusive language-acquiring function, inclined to bypass formal systems of the construct. It seems to work okay…

  3. I had a similar message: hard drive not found. The help desk wrote it off together with 3 weeks work. I practiced hard core acceptance and changed my back up system.
    Happy new year to you Tiramit and your star M!

  4. A great story, Tiramit. One we all know. Running around and spending half our day on a problem that doesn’t exist except in our minds. We’re not going crazy, are we. Are we? There must be a cause. A culprit. A blue-tooth something or other. That one. It’s the causes and culprits we find in some cases that convince us so mightily we ought to be able to find them in all of those other cases– the cases we cannot readily crack, the difficulties that have us chasing ghosts in our own minds for years. Then we sit down for some tea and some quiet breathing by the water, link up our blue tooth hearts with the sky, and allow the network to be repaired. We are home again. Back on-line. The simplicity of the breath. No more ghosts… Technology… it has always been with us… 🙂


    • Thanks Michael for the generosity of this comment; get online with blue tooth link and the sky – it comes with the software. Often I forget, mind goes off, busy looking for something or other that doesn’t exist… that one. Then, a shift in focus, the wholeness is seen; an all-inclusive link that also contains the times I was busy looking for it.

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