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The World Between Worlds


24 hours ago i was driving away from my little fishing village for the last time. Since then, I have come to new universe. In this universe, things are different from home. You know, home, deep in the coconut groves of Goa, in a far away constellation called India. Red-brown against green, the sounds of waves, incredible musicians and performers. Goat herds in the morning on the way to the store.

I am not there. The most shocking moments all stand out like raised braille dots on the surface of my sleepy and travel weary brain. The most shocking things are the most mundane, like water pressure. I picked up a sprayer and the water came out at warp speed. I wrestled it and finally got it off. Then I had to sit down and recover. A few deep breaths.

I have become a bumpkin. A wide eyed dislocated ruralite village man. The airport in Bangkok soared around me in steel and glass, impossibly high. I stared up and wondered where they got all that metal from. The streets were so wide, why so many lanes. Look, there was no way  could see someone getting a herd of buffalo across, no way.

And then there was the order. Order, some invisible lines of force that supported everything, transmitted by some strange particle that physics has yet to identify. Cars and people moved in straight lines. Signs pointed to actual places, and were even followed by encouraging sign later telling you that you were going the right way. The signs and the numbers on buildings and the roads all matched and made sense. Amazing.

I was walking down the street when a rat emerged from a sewer looking fresh, even newly combed, he had a brisk and polite manner and headed out at an unhurried pace, onto an well managed street without so much as a single dead carcass on it.

In India, our rats are not simply big. Every sinew of the Indian rat exudes cunning, a will to survive by any means, and the  chaotic markings, scars and notches hard fought turf battles. They were invariably covered in grease and filth and seemed capable of some primal intelligence that makes you reluctant to think about what they were doing to each other when you could not see them.

But not in Bangkok. This little tan yuppie rat in this bright city saw me standing and looking at him and lost his cool. Nervously he ran back to the sewer in a self conscious and bumbling manner, briefly exposing his tender and clean little belly a he flipped over in his haste. I smiled fondly at the comical, spotless, polite little rat. How cute.

The food. Dare I mention it? I scooped up a very small spoonful of prawn sauce from my plate and was transported instantly into serene and otherwordly contemplation, like the peace of the most accomplished monk. My eyes were closed, my fork waving in my hand like a conductor wand to some sublime inner music. How could something taste like that? In my mind a new category was created, with everything else I had ever tasted on one side, and this bite of prawn sauce from New Joe’s Guesthouse on the other.

Yeah, I know it’s not real. It’s just perspective. something you get at 3,200 ft above another strange ocean, heading into the world between worlds, where all kinds of magic is possible. Magic like continuous electricity. Something we have not experienced in many months.

Steve jobs can tout his magical and revolutionary device, I was satisfied with the curved and futuristic looking dashboard of my taxi. All that molded plastic, not one broken dial in sight. My dashboard in India still has a choke on it. I’m not kidding, people, a choke. I’m not ready for the iPad.

Something in me sees everything here in Bangkok exactly as it must be, a sprawling Asian metropolis, dirty, with many secrets and full of very sad stories. But that perspective sits like tiny unwatched flickering movie screen deep in my subconscious. I know that Bankok is not a particularly clean place, pretty much the same way I happen to know that Venus has creamy yellow clouds. I know it, but I can’t see it.

All I see now is this magnificent Oz, a city carved from a jewel. Is this how children see? This second sight will fade, I know. In fact it already is. Like Moses’ face, like every rare and moving dream upon waking, like the taste of perfect prawn sauce on the tounge.

5 Responses to “The World Between Worlds”

  1. Rebeca Says:

    I love it… the perspective of Bangkok when you come from India is sooooo different than when you arrive there from North Amrika. It was so clear to me when I flew there from India and met my sister and brother there; they thought it was so big and crazy and chaotic and cheap! And I thought it was all so clean and expensive and orderly and modern….
    Enjoy it my friend. Can’t wait to see you and yours!

  2. Tjandmark Says:

    Lovely descriptions. Safe travels.

  3. #1mama Says:

    Well written – all I can say is wait until you hit the good old USA. They have even wider streets and highway. Hope you’ll remember how to drive over here.

  4. Lara Says:

    Yuppie rats… so amazing.

  5. lagata Says:

    “is this how children see”… wow. I can’t wait to hear more :)

    safe travels!

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