POSTCARD #153: Delhi: Getting things organized for the flight to Thailand, I go through my files and find this photo taken at Delhi Airport Departures last time I was there. Unfamiliar with this kind of airport signage: STOP/ LOOK/ GO, I’m lost for a moment in the what-came-first directionality, then I see it’s meant to be for vehicles approaching from the left. The driver is supposed to stop at the word STOP, then drive to the word LOOK, then he is ready to GO. Curious incongruities for me, an observer at the window on the third floor of the passenger terminal, I feel like a tiny speck in a huge transparent glass and steel building. A time/space anomaly, I’m reminded of something somebody said; part of a conversation with a married couple I know, in Chiang Mai. German husband and Thai wife – she doesn’t speak German, he doesn’t speak Thai. They use English to communicate, husband speaks it with traces of Thai pronunciation, and wife has a slightly German accent. We’re having tea together and I’m the only native speaker in the room so I naturally start to facilitate their searching for words, then realise I don’t have to do that, of course – English is their link language and over the years they’ve worked out their own system.
Their dialogue is a hybrid of grammar forms improvised as they go along. We’re getting ready to go out and husband says to wife, Where my blue socks. Wife tells husband: in the ironing basket… (mumbling quietly to herself in Thai: he can’t find anything because he doesn’t look properly). As he’s walking off to the laundry basket husband says, why you can move things without telling to me, and she follows it up with, I tell you before already. I lose track of the conversation then, thinking… before already, huh? Is it a point in time somewhere before ‘already’ happened? Or is it that she already told him about the socks, and that was before something happened that’s not referred to here.
You can say it in Thai (bok gon laew*) but in English it suggests there’s an instant in time we are searching for but haven’t discovered yet. Miniscule shavings of time, events that last for 100 attoseconds, or 100 quintillionths of a second (note: 100 attoseconds is to one second as a second is to 300 million years). The illusion of duration, I’m experiencing a before/already disorientation, the present moment constantly updating itself in an attempt to find out where we are now. Cause and effect are parts of the same event; ‘before already’ is a screenshot capture of karma particles (cittas) in the time construct we inhabit. Lost in translation, so vast it doesn’t matter any more.
One moon shows in every pool;
in every pool, the one moon.
[Zen Forest Saying]