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]
I feel you and through your words I know you. I took my first plane ride and thought of you and all the trips you make. I wonder how you could you fly so often. I now know and I would love to fly often now.
Hi Kimberly. Yes I know the feeling. I remember your post about flying for the first time and forgot to comment on that, I’ll look at it again. Flying is easy all you do is get into your seat and look out the window. The difficult part is getting through all the waiting and standing in lines at security, immigration and everything surrounding it…
Reminds me of a joke from the computer game A Bard’s Tale.
Goblin ferryman: “… so join me on a journey across the river and into the future!”
Bard: “How far into the future?”
Ferryman: “How long does it take to cross the river?”
Bard: “I see. Nice scam.”
The people I hung out with in Singapore had a line of jokes based on the mutual incomprehension between Singaporean Chinese and tourists from China. Mostly they hinged upon one-upmanship over who had the most authoritarian government and, like so much Singaporean humour, relied on bad puns.
“We Chinese and you Singaporeans have so much in common.”
“For example, we both worship Quan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.”
“You are mistaken. Here we worship Kuan Yew, the God of No Mercy.”
A few goblins around here, I noticed when I finished writing that ‘flying into something that’s not happened yet’ did have a nice rhythm to it but the meaning was kinda not exactly what I meant, maybe a bit like the Bard in your joke discovering this at the last minute. So I went back to the Edit version after it was published and changed it to: ‘flying away from something that’s not happened yet’, meaning the outcome of the event will be discovered when I get there, but it’ll be something from the past, remembered.
I was in Singapore and Hong Kong years ago and noticed the one-upmanship attitude to mainland Chinese and the same reflected but also the HKs and Sings’ awareness that they had lost some of their culture due to British inculturation. I imagine something like this jokey dialogue you mention going on these days in the tourist season in the guesthouses in Chiang Mai.
My memory didn’t do The Bard’s Tale justice I’m afraid.
Here it is.
Thanks for the fuller version, funny that the ferryman has a Scottish accent too.
Yeah, the game has a strong Scottish flavour throughout.
The gameplay is pretty average for a fantasy RPG but the humour, story arc, dialogue and voice acting are compelling. And as you’d expect from the name, there’s some good music too.
Here’s a charming Scottish ditty. The joke is that unbeknownst to everyone else, you as the player/bard (the lute player on the right) set the Nuckelavee free.
I see, not a good situation to be in right now, maybe Knucklavee will come to our support in the end?
Happy holidays, my friend. May you be well.
Thanks Mel, just being well is enough, happiness reflected…
a beautifully accepted greeting
from there to here, tiramit 🙂
Happy to have your greetings here, gladness and gratitude also that you are part of this small group, be well smilecalm. Thank you
Lovely Words! Namaste _/l\_
Gratitude gentle Julianne…
Warm greetings, Tiramit! This piece was beautiful, and I loved your description of languages and words. I just started reading the novel White Noise by Don DeLillo and was laughing out loud at his description of the protagonist attempting to learn to speak German. Your descriptions here are equally adept, but inspire an easy composure and peaceful abiding. It is a joy to know you are ‘there’ and I am ‘here’, and that the reality is even fuller than the words between us would suggest.
Hello again Michael, good to know you are there. Our reality is fuller than the words between us suggest. I am ‘here’ and although I could say, you’re ‘there’, and you could say, I’m ‘there’ too, we could also focus on the experience of being ‘here’. And for me you are ‘here’ too. We are both ‘here’ in the sense of experientially being here, body/mind. Sounds too simple maybe, but it’s this interesting focus on subjectivity.
I’m now in Chiang Mai where eveything runs more slowly. I’m rested and feeling better today. I’d heard of White Noise from somewhere and had a quick look in Amazon, they have it on Kindle, I might decide to get it. Easy walking through the clouds of different languages here, tourist season and happy to have my own quiet place and peaceful abiding. The word composure holds my attention. Greetings Michael on this season of joy and goodwill, Christmas decorations in the streets of Chiang Mai…
Thank you for sharing these words and your presence T. Peace and wellbeing to you 💛
Thanks Val for the good wishes and likewise to you. There’s a strong Scottish presence coming from you I’m aware of 🙂
Scottish indeed… Steady in my roots … Caring for beasts and man … with a hint of heather … Inhaling the fresh air and feeling the sea spray on my face.
I always get a bit nostalgic at the time of year. While the outside was dark and incredibly dreary there was a lot of warmth waiting inside. All the best to you 💛
I recognize it! Yes it’s present in me too, the long dark winters, coal and wood fires burning. then endless summer daylight. A place of extremes sometimes.
Memories of older folks with corned beef legs as they sat next to the coal fire. My Dad and all the grown up man hogging the fire to warm their bums. A constant draft coming from doorwells and window frames. I recall looking forward to the patterns of frost on the window pane in the morning and drawing a smiley with my finger.
Yep – the roots are there and still a part of us.
And … look at where we are now! It feels like a lifetime away, but is always with us.
Corn beef legs, yes! We used to call it fireside tartan, and the drafts coming were caused by the blazing fire sucking the air in. I remember going to bed in a freezing cold room with so many blankets, the weight of them made it hard to move.
Hoping you stay well and improve!
Even when people are so-called physically together… they often have no real relationship with each other… so what goes on here in WordPress may even (at times) surpass that!
(I wish most peoples’ thoughts would come from silence, but, unfortunately, I suspect of lot of their words and thoughts come from the dusty, old chest of symbols and patterns that were poured into them.)
Thanks for your good wishes Tom. Yes the WordPress medium is really quite something when it comes to bringing people into the same understanding. We’re all sitting in front of a small screen, hands poised over the keyboard, considering what to say next – and it’s just this moment of understanding that gets us together…
The polyglot imagery and the analogy of the string of glass beads captured my imagination. I am happy to have encountered your words here, Tiramit, and the sentiments and experiences they relate! Happy Christmas and may the solstice be the turning point to better days.
Thank you Sonnische for your good wishes and a Happy Christmas to you, let’s see what the New Year will bring, a turning point to better days as you say, thanks…
“Think of me, and I am with you.”
Happy New Year. In Armchair Zen World it begins at the solstice!
Days growing longer, we come around the circle once again.
As always, seek peace.
Great Paz! It’s in your heart, it’s in my heart. Happy solstice, when it comes for you; turning point interesting how you can feel that. Thank you…
I haven’t got on a plane for many years now. I miss it. The flying thing I mean. I love the ‘leaving’ of my old existence and the ‘going’ into something uncertain.
It’s that sense of exploration of new lands (and cultures). The finding of strange, (or not so strange), vegetation and landscapes. I love the sound of foreign languages chattering away in the background. I’m forever wondering who they are and how they live. If they’re happy? What their family home life is like?
One of the great things about WordPress, (or for that matter the internet), is the conversation with people thousands of miles apart. It’s that bridging the gap and joining together of kindred spirits. I like the whole idea it brings in knowing that while I can no longer travel physically, I can still travel with my eyes and imagination.
You and I see the same sun. We both see the dawn and the night. We both experience the cycle of 24 hours in every day.
We eat. We breathe. We talk. We feel emotion.
We are thousands of miles apart and yet we are together in word and thought.
Hope your travels are safe.
Thanks Vicki, there’s a strong sense of the power of the machine you’re getting into of course, even so it’s usually like sitting in the front room having lunch with Auntie Melba, except Auntie Melba has become a mandarin speaker which is a laguage with 9 different tones and Auntie Melba whistles and trills in quite a loud voice because she needs to take in a lot of air to get the tiniest bit of sound to appear in differently aspirated speech sounds. The result is Aunti Melba appears to be a bit rude and intrusive sometimes. Or if she’s Thai she speaks so softly you can’t hear her and she seems to know this, you think, because she smiles all the time. Sometimes it sounds like she’s singing not speaking but she may just be asking if you’ve had your lunch yet.
It’s true all these people experience the world in the same way. It’s a wonderful thought and we’re so glad to have WordPress and internet and be able to bridge the gap and know this. The internet is another sense organ, Michael says, it’s like that. hope you have a good christmas and new year
Reblogged this on Stuart France.
I seem to recall from somewhere in one of Kurt Vonnegut’s books a robot who is on a journey from one end of the universe to the other, bearing a message. The message? The single word:” Greetings”.
Ah yes, I think that one must have flown by me but greetings to you anyway now we seem to be on the same channel