POSTCARD#363: Bangkok: I’m writing this in the house Jiab and I have had since 2003. At that time we were in the Bangkok suburbs but after a few years, the city grew up all around us, the urban highway extended itself into the neighborhood and real estate got snatched up everywhere. New Metro train lines are being constructed and in no time at all, condominiums started to appear over our humble single storey houses.

For most of its history the house has been empty, except for a cleaner coming once a week and our nephew, part time grad student acting caretaker. We were in Bangladesh for two years and India for seven years, returning to the Bangkok office in 2017. Even then, the house stayed empty because of the traffic problem and we had to rent a single room downtown, not too far to get to work in rush hour traffic.

At that time we used to come from the rented room to the house only on the weekends. These days of course, we’re all under the stay-at-home order and working from home, so we moved back into our house and now we get to see what it’s like to be at home every day of the week. People everywhere in the world who are working at home must be experiencing this one way or another.

Key in the search word in internet and find various restaurants are doing delivery of lunches and dinners online, as well as local delivery (from our neighbors) of a small range of home-cooked food items. The doorbell goes ping-pong!, I look over the small balcony to see. Yes it’s the lunch delivery, the motorbike guy there with his helmet and mask on and Jiab is masked too, taking the bag from him.

Shortly after that there’s another ping-pong, I look out and down there, a car is stopped outside our house with driver’s door left open. This must be a neighbor’s delivery. Curiosity gets the better of me and I go downstairs to see what’s going on. Jiab’s laptop and deskwork occupies one end of the long dining table, ceiling fan whizzing around (this is the hot season) and all her papers held down in the breezy winds with salt/pepper shakers and other condiment items from the table.

The remaining part of the table is laid out for two. Jiab has the chicken and Somtam (Green papaya salad). I have the Salmon with black Teriyaki sauce and Pink colored sweet ginger, which I share with Jiab and she shares her Green papaya salad with me. Then we have the Best Dessert in the World, Gelatin colored white and also transparent, with mango in the middle… more of an indulgence than anything else. We have one each and that’s it, lunch is done.

Interesting conversation over lunch, Jiab who was brought up in the Buddhist faith, found it hard to believe when I told her that at Easter we have an example of an immense transformation (Death of Jesus and the Resurrection). She didn’t have the same emotional connection as I do (having been proselytized all the way from childhood to adult life). So when it occurred to me that the Easter experience for Christians fits exactly into the transformation of the world economy after COVID-19, Jiab didn’t immediately see the significance of the transformation. Could be that only Christians see it. Not possible to discuss this at length here, maybe some other time.

The world-wide crisis looms and there’s hope but also uncertainty. We cannot project into a (possibly distant) future when everything has returned to the same stability we had before COVID-19 arrived. It could be a metaphor for the Easter story. We let go of the old way and find a starting point for the new, it’s a learning process. Learning how to learn and learning that this is possible – all the causes and conditions here are right for it… not seeking a forever state of contentment, just content with the state of things as they are for now, allowing for change.

9 thoughts on “transformation

  1. Raised by Christians myself, I am prone to think of “The meek shall inherit the Earth.”, though the prophets and scholars that authored this probably were not referring to the virus cell. From my perspective, which can seem offensive if not downright misanthropic, the viruses have the same right to life as I do.

    The other Christian-oriented symbolism has me thinking about the garden of Eden. Simple, unspoiled and uncrowded, as Adam and Eve stayed at home. Why go anywhere else?
    The old testament story of Noah comes to mind, too.
    Mankind destroyed because of its errant ways, and a nucleus with which to restart.


    • Hi Paz
      I admire the depth of your compassion for the virus, but let’s face it, it is ‘a microscopic parasite that replicates only inside the living cells of a host organism’ (I googled it). And yes the garden of Eden sounds like a nice place, why go anywhere else? but they were removed by an outside agent – and Buddhism cannot accept an outside agent, an external Creator. Everything must be included in ‘our’ world.
      The world is saturated with sacredness. Consciousness is unconditioned. The ‘I’ is uncreated.
      As for Noah, he just went ahead and built the Ark and did the whole thing, as a result of the discussion with God (external Creator). And the ‘virus’ was drowned in the flood but those in the Ark were saved – did they have ventilators?,
      I notice the metaphor: Jesus died and rose again, it fits exactly into the transformation of the world economy after COVID-19. When I asked Jiab (born as a Buddhist) if she could see the value of this, she didn’t immediately see the significance of the transformation. Could be that only Christians see it…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.