POSTCARD #155: Chiang Mai: Home is three rooms on the third floor in a condominium. Arrived in the evening, up in the elevator, unlock the door and enter. Lights on, blinded for a moment, drop everything, close door. It’s airless, windows closed – how long was I away? Must have been the end of August? A scatter of things left at the doorway as I stumble around absorbing the environment, trying to recreate the last time I was here, searching for familiarity in the furniture… things, objects which carry meaning. Anjali to the Buddha statue, books on shelves… and I find the memory of it all is displaced by present experience, as I step into a new time. Sensory data, the smell of detergent products (the cleaners came). It’s so quiet here, open curtains with a great sweep, sliding back screens, open the windows with a bang (unintentional), birds outside flutter and chirp and there’s the mountain air. Crash around the apartment, disturbing the space held by these rooms, what is contained is squeezed outside and new air enters. My shoes are lying in the hallway as if the owner has flown away, bathroom door flung open. It’s like a catastrophe in reverse – everything is suddenly peopled, inhabited, okay, this is where I live.
Router is flickering green lights, switch on laptop, available networks… okay I’m online. What else is here? Clothes hanging in the closet, whose are these? Looks like they fit me, must have been ‘me’ in a former life. Case lying on the bed, its cover open so wide it looks like the extended mouth of an opera singer reaching the high note… the emotionality of arriving at the final destination. All my clothes coming out, folded to a flatness like envelopes and layered, they feel cold from the aircraft. Flat-pack systems, I have to reassemble according to numbered diagrams and the hologram arises like magic; a sense of ‘self’ in these surroundings, clothed and cloaked in suitable disguise; everything needed for this temporary mode of being.
Head spinning with the varying ear-popping air pressures and momentum of the great storm that brought me here, the travel industry, largest network in the world. Taxis, escalators, miles of corridors, two planes, Delhi/ Bangkok/ Chiang Mai, everything is linked with everything else. Who runs it all? … is there a God? Inappropriate question right now, the spinning flow of it is just moving along by itself, I jump on as it’s going past, join the other passengers already there, get my seat, fasten seat belts and we’re all swept away like flotsam and jestam taken by river currents.
So now I’m here, j’arrive! Let’s see now, what’s in the fridge? Onions with long shoots growing in the darkness. Soy milk not yet past its sell-by-date and some dry oats that seem to be okay. Plenty coffee. Good! I can do grocery shopping tomorrow. Time to reverse in, switch off engine, lights flash in acknowledgement, and be horizontal for 8 hours…
“As wave is driven by wave
And each, pursued, pursues the wave ahead,
So time flies on and follows, flies, and follows,
Always, for ever and new. What was before
Is left behind; what never was is now;
And every passing moment is renewed.”