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.