POSTCARD #179: Delhi/Bangkok/ChiangMai flight: It’s four hours flying time overnight, travelling West/East, same direction as the rotation of the planet. Arriving in a different time zone, and it’ll be morning when we get there but still night at the point of origin – flying away from something that’s not happened yet, a directionless experience, darkness, an invisible route that leads to its destination without any sense of getting there. Falling into occasional sleep with the sound of the engines, the hiss of the air… it feels like we could be flying sideways or in a slow rotating movement. Wake up with no time for anything, gather up my things and leave the plane.
Transit time at Bangkok for Chiang Mai is precise, speeding along moving walkways. Standing people coming towards me or going along with me, behind and in front. We’re all in transit to or from the domestic terminal; entering-into, and getting-lost-in long halls of steel and glass mirrors, holding on to signs as indicators in the mind. Noticeably more Chinese than Indians, the geographical switchover…
This is where the road takes two directions. Instead of the Hindi I’m used to all around me, there’s Standard Chinese (Hànyǔ), spoken by Southern Chinese tourists on their way to or coming back from Chiang Mai. A language of soft syllables and unexpected melodic intervals, a kind of tumbling down of words scattered on the floor. And blending through it all is the unobtrusive birdsong that is Thai, a language that sometimes enters a different frequency of intonation; sounds are simply known to be there and barely pronounced.
Through the gate and boarding the Chiang Mai plane, passengers already here in transit from Singapore. Find my seat and Chinese Singaporeans mostly Mandarin speakers (Singdarin) all around. They can get along reasonably well with the Chinese tourists from Southern China visiting Chiang Mai – listening and watching, interested in their shared roots, aware of the ancestors and historical meanings contained in language. Words cling to things, insist on their identity.
Indian Sanskrit is found all the way through Thai. Spiritual meanings found in Chinese are mostly assimilated and they’ve called it their own. In English we lost most of our conscious history but words are like acrobats, they name, describe, improvise; a metaphor just falls into place quite often, or like glass beads of different colours on a tablecloth gathered up, strung together with a little rethreading of the sequence and it’s a necklace.
All we have are words; there are no actual people here in our WordPress blogging world. No ‘you’, no ‘me’, just words and a dialogue. Friendships that go on for years. There are times when I hear something in the words, a familiarity in a voice I recognize. I can’t see you or hear you. I can’t touch you and will never meet you in the normal sense of the word. I just know you’re there (or ‘here’), or somewhere nearby and coming back later. Whatever language is yours, words are the same, arise from and return to a shared, received consciousness. Wherever you are it’s ‘here’ for you, and I’m ‘here’ too. Greetings, it’s the season of good will. Fare well, go with a clear, easy composure and abide peacefully.
Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness. [Wayne Dyer]