ends and beginnings


POSTCARD#272: Delhi – Bangkok journey: TV drama going on as I’m packing, I see it, stop and watch: intense dialogue, close up on faces, directors’ exercise in portraiture. Carry on with my packing, gathering things from here and there – then the TV catches my eye again, sit to watch, and the credits come up… is that the end already? But it’s not the end it’s the beginning. An extremely long intro to an old series of The Walking Dead… oh no, morbid curiosity, and too much for me. The scenes of zombies being stabbed in the head are too similar to the stabbing pain of the PHN headache I live with.

But anyway, it’s okay today, taken my meds, and time I wasn’t here. Dress up in the clothes of who I think I am. Passports, ticket, fiddle with the key, open, close the door. I am the person who lives here – note to mind. Bye-bye to house, into the taxi and away.

Wheeled luggage through airport hallways and corridors… check-in desk for Bangkok, and check it all through to Chiang Mai; transit time in Bangkok is one hour – note to mind, beware of misleading signage in Bangkok, arrows don’t seem to point in the right direction to the Transfer Desk.

For a moment, future time invades the present, and I feel I’m already gone, but it’s just that mild urgency of airports, and ‘the journey’ which is forever ‘here’ and never ‘there’.

Flight number, gate number, passport number, visa details, watched by hidden cameras, facial recognition software, security procedures: Passengers are reminded not to leave baggage unattended at anytime.’

I am part of a network of beginnings, middles and endings, always leading on to the next journey. Jettison clutter of the mind, travel lightweight, be minimalist – ‘it’s better to journey than to arrive’. It’s always about the journey to get there. Arriving is the departure point for the next journey, and another opens up after that.

Watching the signs above and mindful of body movements, there’s only the walking. Watching the duality of steps below me, left, right, left, right… flooring surface beneath spins underfoot. The way, directionality, as if held in one long continuous moment leading to the imaginary place of arrival, like the vanishing point in a perspective drawing doesn’t actually exist.

And there’s something about the flow of faces I see, pulling their luggage, holding their children. I can see the unique identity of each person as I pass, as they must recognize the same individuality when they look at me. But somehow we’ve all become blank, there’s nobody here

We are all in transit; on the way to (or coming back from) somewhere else… a glimpse of the nothingness situated at the centre of everything the Bardo of the in-between. The ‘me’ I live with is not a substantial thing – sometimes not there at all. Present time is more connected with the past, where we arrived from, than with the future where we are going to, a place of speculative conjecture and hypothetical likelihoods, stumbled-upon in following the here-and-now.


Photo: Barges travelling from Holland to England, taken from the window of the aircraft from Aberdeen to Amsterdam.
Note: This post written as the news arrived that we are leaving India in September 2017 after 6 years working here, and returning to Thailand. It’ll be sad to leave, that’s life…

12 thoughts on “ends and beginnings

  1. Thanks Tiramit. Airports are such in between places … and yet when I pause I can share eye contact and that feeling with others. The in between comes into the fleeting present.

    • We are all so caught in where we’re going there’s no time for the present – an uneasiness at first when we might sit and have a cup of tea or something, and yet it’s really the same as being in the mall…

  2. “Mostpeople” do not think much about time; thank goodness we’re not “mostpeople”! 🙂

    from T.S.Eliot:

    Fare forward, travellers! Not escaping from the past
    Into indifferent lives, or into any future;
    You are not the same people who left that station
    Or who will arrive at any terminus,
    While the narrowing rails slide together behind you;
    And on the deck of the drumming liner
    Watching the furrow that widens behind you,
    You shall not think ‘the past is finished’
    Or ‘the future is before us’.
    At nightfall, in the rigging and the aerial,
    Is a voice descanting (though not to the ear,
    The murmuring shell of time, and not in any language)

    • Thanks Tom, shopping malls at the airport to cater for consumerist anxiety, a perfect example of how most people behave. I feel the anxiety too, but I’m not driven to seek salvation by going on a shopping spree. Good to have another piece from TSE, describing it perfectly – those days of Atlantic Ocean Liners.

    • Thanks Ellen, I don’t know how it happens most of the time, something about the editing process, minimalist revising and the now moment is seen in the context of movement. It is revealed rather than constructed…

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