Monday, August 13, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
In 2010, a group of women who are members of political parties and who claim to be social workers beat up a Mizo girl in Guwahati city when she knocked on someone’s door to ask for directions. This happened in front of TV and press media.
These incidents are only a few in a series of escalating violence against women in the state of Assam. For the patriotic sentimentalist – yes it is very sad but true. Assam and Guwahati are no longer safe spaces for women. Walking around in Guwahati streets, travelling alone through the state at any time of the day or night is not safe. Growing up in Guwahati as a rebellious teenager, I now myself live in fear every time I have to take public transport or walk on the street on my own. There is no longer guarantee of public protection in the city.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Soon the trees protected by the group of boys started growing and now it is a young forest that covers two small hills. It is a small place but is the only one around with trees. The boys pulled in whatever little resources they had and kept the place going. They added a kitchen, a tree house, bamboo benches strewn in here and there to sit around in the middle of the jungle, a cowshed and a cow, cats, a dog (his name is Jacky) and rabbits. They planted saplings and made fire lines in the dry season to protect the little forest from wild fire. Seeing all these activities the birds started stopping by and staying back depending on their nature. It has become such a safe space that even the rabbits are not scared of people.
In the early evening, when the boys finished planting the last of the saplings, we sat on top of the hill, cooling in the breeze and looking at Imphal valley turning golden. Suddenly the air filled with wild cries coming from the boys. One started and the others joined in. Then they all did it together.
‘Being close to nature has made me very happy’ one shouting champion told me. Another looked deeply into the distance and said, ‘you know I have been coming to this place for many years. There was nothing here. One day I came here after a gap of 2 years. I suddenly saw trees growing here. I got curious and came to find out. I saw Loiya living here and working really hard. I liked it so much and seeing his hard work was so inspiring, I started coming here regularly and helping him.’
Monday, June 4, 2012
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
The convenience of 7-11 aside, it is ranked as one of the best cities in the world by most travel magazines. Tom-Yam-Goong (famous spicy tangy flavourful Thai prawn soup) is a proof of this.
When I am not either looking up at the tall buildings or looking down into my Tom Yam bowl, the city has never ceased to surprise me. In a very pleasant way. Known as the food capital of the world, the city must have millions of eateries. Most of them on the streets. And yet there is no garbage lying on the street. How is that possible? I know, fellows back home will say, 'it is because we have too many people and we do not have garbage bins around'. Statistics say that Guwahati has an area of 264 sq km, with a population a little less than 1 million (968, 549) and its population density is 3649 people/ sq km. Bangkok has an area of little more than 1500 sq km with a population of around 9 million and a density of 5259 people/ sq km. It also receives more than 10 million tourists every year. Logistically speaking, which city should be easier to manage waste? No, it is not a matter of numbers. It is a matter of mentality.
In 2011 a bomb scare made the Bangkok authorities remove all the garbage cans from the city. The authority has not managed to bring them back yet. What I hear from reliable source (as in I have to completely rely on this source) that the bins are lying in some bin-yard near the city. They will be brought back someday. Just that they have not found the time!
Leaving the authorities to do their duty, what comes to my mind is a morning early this year in Guwahati. I land at the ISBT bus stand and decide to take a rickshaw instead of an auto so that I can enjoy the early morning fresh air. The astronomical fares the auto guys demanded made being healthy a cheaper option at that point. What however I was greeted by was piles and piles of garbage – dead animals, rotting food, flying plastic bags and a stench so strong it nearly pushed me out of the rickshaw. And this is not one site. Every few meters on the highway and in the city roads this was the scene. And this is not one day either. For those of us who live in Guwahati know it very well that we actually live in a garbage hole.
Coming back to Bangkok, it has been more than 6 months that the cans are resting in their yard. The city is still clean. Still there are no garbage flying from anyone’s frying pan or soup bowl. Not a grain of rice escape their chop sticks. How? What people have done is that they collect their garbage in their individual garbage cans/ bags through the day. As one bags fills out they tie it up properly and keep it at the back of their make shift store. At night, before going home, they pile up the packets in one place leave it for the garbage vans to pick it up.
What strikes is the sincerity with which people do their work. Chulalongkorn University gets its weekly cleaning every Saturday. I have noticed fervor in the people who do this job. They sweep, wash, prune, water and organize every corner of the campus. And it is a big campus for your information. They even clean the roof of the shades that cover the footpath. This is something I miss at home. If the Assamese people were already born slow (lahe lahe being their favourite excuse), with newer economic and political relationships they have learnt to turn not doing things into a form of expertise. Every person, who has some job to do, tries not to do it at all. It is only by some sheer probability of transaction cost that you will get them to do about 5% of the job. Of course very unhappily and asking for extra money very frequently. If we did not have the Bangladeshis, I wonder if we would get anything done in that place at all.
Talking about the Bangladeshis, one day walking around the city, I reach Sukumvit – the immigrants’ underbelly of Bangkok. There are streets full of signs in Benagli. I enter a ‘Muslim Food’ place to have beer. There I chat up the waiter and the manager in Bengali. They get really happy that I speak Bengali and extremely unhappy that I drink beer. And they tell me I look like a Nepali.
Talking about Nepal, that Bagmati river (?!) in Kathmandu is filthy. Unless they have cleaned it up in the last week (which they can if they want) it was filled with plastic packets filled with all kinds of garbage. The place looked like it was made of garbage filled plastic bags. It was stinky and abominable to go close to. We had to park the van next to it and walk across to get to Darbar Sqaure. It was stinky and not rememberable. If we do not stop now, Guwahati, Assam, North-East and other places in the world will soon turn out the same way.
It is sad that when I sit down anyplace I am in and think about home, all I can think about is garbage. I have nearly finished my term in the enemy boot camp. Time to go back looms. All I can think about is not being able to walk around in Guwahati. I feel sad.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
A guy called John Pead came to teach us last week. He is from Australia. So far in the course, I have had it till my snooty post-colonial nose from the ‘western’ teachers really! How much of white peoples’ understanding of Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan can you take without insulting your post-colonial intelligence you tell me. They speak as if the only beings with an occupied (as opposed to vacant/empty) spherical body part above the shoulder in Afghanistan are the ones that considerably lack in melanin. I will not go into the debate of occupation and vacating for some might take it as a downright insult. Not that I mind insulting anyone at all. Just that this is not the purpose of mentioning John Pead. Overall the whole experience has been so colonial that I have considered calling up Achille Mbembe and Gaytari Chakravarty Spivak to complain.
My urge to call and complain has suddenly increased in the past few weeks. When I discovered the next module was to be Trauma and Self-Care. I considered calling up my boss (who is at the moment heavily ignoring me) and telling him I am coming back right now. But cost of long distance calls and Thai food hold me back.
I chose to burden my benevolent classmate instead. As I complained to her about being in the enemy boot camp, I dreaded that the next lecturer will now turn unsuspecting Afghan and Sudanese into traumatized victims needing psycho-social support. I visualized hoards of Australians (who have grown beards to fit into the Afghan culture) talking to Afghans who are traumatized because already the ‘Disarmament and Demobilisation’ guys have taken away their AKs.
As the Afghan lies on the couch by the Bamiyam Buddha the bearded Australian prompts – You need to try. Try to remember how they took away your AK 47. Where were you? What were you doing? How did you feel? What did you think?
Afghan on the couch – it was not a 47, it was a 56 damn you (swear word in Afghan) Do not ask me to talk about it. It is the saddest moment of my life. It was my favourite toy. What will I play with now? And the bloody Disarmament guy had a whole rocket launcher to himself too!
Australian – That is very good. If you can remember the exact model of your Kalashnikov it means your memory is not completely disjointed. You even remember the weapon your traumatiser carried. If you try you will be able to join the fragmented parts of that incident and that will heal you.
Ok, I must admit I am getting an uncontrollable desire to continue with this scene under the BB. But this story is not about that either. This is what I was dreading will happen in class last week.
Come John Pead and no matter how hesitant I feel talking about anything positive, I must say, he and elections in Myanmar are the only positive things I have heard in the past few weeks. Yes, I know, don’t remind me that elections in Myanmar mean nothing. Perhaps JP means nothing too but I need to get on with the story.
He spoke mental health, trauma, systemic oppression in groups like Indigenous population in Australia and the effect of that, trans-generational conveyance and he said – psychiatric intervention is not always the best thing to do when people are traumatized.
For the first time in my life I heard a mental health practitioner saying intervention is not always the best thing! I could not believe my ears. He does not want to go to Afghanistan and provide ‘trauma counseling to the affected population’? Is he Raja Harichandra in disguise? For my non- Indian friends, Raja Harichandra is this nearly mythological king from some part of India who went through absurd levels of suffering because he would only be honest and truthful. Not that I like Raja Harichandra a bit. He was a patriarchal maniac if you ask me. But that’s another story again.
Now, enough about JP too. I feel like erasing everything I have said so far about him because it all sounds so positive. I am sure if I see him one more time I will be able to find some fault in him. Some of my classmates who are further ahead of me on the irritability scale have already found many. But the man did say many things I did not know about mental health or had assumed completely wrong things. Now, it is not every day that a man can prove me wrong if you know me. And it is probably the rarity of the occasion that has impressed me so much.
Now to some basic cokoo, loony, banana science. For those of you more knowledgeable than me (really?!) this might be namby-pamby stuff for you. Leave a nasty comment if it is. But please do not suggest psychotherapy at any cost. JP says we are junkies.
I actually wanted to do this in a quiz session. But since blogs are not really interactive tools, I will have to sound very scientific.
Mental Health: No, not the physical health of a person who has gone mental. WHO refers to it as a ‘state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of diseases.’ Like all UN definitions this one too is so broad that it has spread itself thin into air. I can’t remember what JP said as I did not take note in class. But from what I remember clearly what he said is something close to this – ‘A state of emotional and psychological well-being in which an individual is able to use his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society, and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life.’ This one is said by http://www.thefreedictionary.com/mental+health. Scientifically what I understand is that mental health is important for us to be able to enjoy our single malt and marijuana and to borrow money from anyone (especially parents) without guilt. It might also keep me from treating my boyfriends so badly. It might make me not pretend to be working the whole time and actually do some work in the office. This one I just made up and is not backed by any science at all.
I have already admitted I did not take note in class. But when he talked about human emotions (happiness –sadness), their physical manifestations (what in India we call gas and heart burn), their transference (love, jealousy, violence) and how love and work can help us live a healthy life it made sense to me. See how simple it is to have a normal life. All you need is love and work. I remembered many of my friends, my lovers; my family and a lot of incidents, feelings, reactions, and decisions became clear to me. I have been reading up frantically ever since. And yes, even to find peace in the world, to resolve conflicts, we need loving human beings first. So whether it is the descendents of Alexander who want to dominate the world through sophisticated warfare and sinister business plans or it is the guy from Burma who has been living in the refugee camp in Mae La for 30 years, we all need to feel good sometimes. And love is good for that. Love can make the changes we desire. Love can make good policies and make us see all human beings as human beings irrespective of their skin colour and size of the penis.
Uff, do I sound like I have flowery clouds in place of brain already? That must be the seesha. This is scientific, I am telling you. And if it sounds like free advice again, I am sorry. I am advising myself loudly and hoping you will hear and pull me up if I do not follow my own advice.
No, money is not important at all. You can have it or make it important for you but that is only transference. Yes, physical well being is necessary for mental health and for that a certain level of physical comfort, basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and health care need to be met. It is very unfortunate that in this world of ours many people live in the absence of at least one or more of these basic needs. But you know what, there are more unhappy people in the world than there are poor people. And I should mention that the way we understand poverty is very subjective too. A person who owns his own land, grows his own food and has his river to fish from might be happy without potato crisps, but for some of us that is a sad life, ain’t it?
No, jealousy is not an emotion. It is a conveyance of anger. If you are angry at something in/about life, you will feel jealous of others. So every time you are deeply in love and feel very jealous, think what is making you angry. Not what is making you jealous or take it as a measurement of the depth of your love. Not healthy for the mental at all.
Losing a mobile phone or a break up with your lover is not a traumatic event. You mean, when I am traumatized by the bad writing or bad public speaking, it is not a traumatic event at all? I am traumatized learning this! For an incident or an event to be traumatic it has to involve a threat to life, a face-to-face with death. That’s it. Now I can’t even have PTSD. Damn these scientists. This decreases my chance of drama and manipulations to near zero. Not healthy at all.
To be continued…
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Last night I popped a green pill that I should not have. I knew that pills do horrible things to me. But my throat was hurting mad and I thought why not. And that’s not the only why. It’s also true that I had checked on the net and it said Bormhexine makes you dizzy and hallucinate. I must say I gave in to temptation, but a lesson that I never learn is, drugs are not ice creams. They are mind fucks. And just like fucks, although it can be really nice sometimes (and this is what tempts you all the time) sometimes it can go horribly wrong. I pay my price of course. By dreaming of people in white canvas shoes, carrying multi-coloured plastic sacks and boarding a train to go to America.
Earlier in the day, we had gone to visit an organisation that facilitates safe migration. The place is called refugee processing centre. As we waited for the official to arrive to show us around, I see people strewn about. Some lying on hammocks, children playing around and some sitting around waiting. Some of them are behind the fence. Some outside, near to us. Some are peeping at us from their first floor window. They wear puans around their waist, have flat nose and slit eyes and tanakha on their faces. They remind me of home. I look around and see the vehicles parked in the parking lot. I recognise the ones that are used to carry the refugees. They look like prison vans with windows. The sitting arrangement is in two singular files along the windows. The door is at the back which can be latched from outside. I think - why they can’t have a normal bus? The one that has two doors on the side and that has rows or two or three seats? I tell myself, I am too much of a cynic. Or maybe a namby-pamby frooty loop. Will I be happy if the bus was coloured pink and flowery? But it was already a bright blue.
The very camp official arrives. He apologises for being late. He had to organize a funeral he says laughing. I am desperately looking for a laugh too. My throat hurts and it is bloody hot and sunny. I need medicine and laughter is the… (ok, I promise some they I will stop myself from using these over used stock phrases. But the temptation of repeatedly irritating choosey readers is too much to resist). I find none in his funeral description. It seems one of the refugees from the camp and he needs to find a spot to burry and a pastor to carry the rituals. He says all of this laughing. Like it is so funny he bends down every sentence.
Our tour of the processing centre begins. This is the ‘in processing centre’. This is where the refugees, who have been registered, come for their medical and interviews. They stay at the processing centre for 2-4 days and then they go back to the camp. At the camp they wait to hear from the host country. When the host country accepts, they are brought to the out processing centre. From there they depart to the host country. The place smells sterile. The people about have expressionless faces. The camp cannot stop laughing.
We proceed to the ‘out processing centre’. We are told we are lucky because we are getting to see the last group of refugees for this half of the year. Lucky?? My throat hurts, the sun is too much, I was born in a country whose money is 45 to a dollar, the government wants to build dams on my rivers and roads and railways which will turn more and more people into refugees. I rarely feel lucky!
The out processing centre reminds me of a halal chicken factory I saw once. A maulbi stands at the end of the conveyor belt which brings the live chicken into the slaughtering machine. As the chickens go into the machine one by one the maulbi keeps on repeating his prayers that makes the meat halal. And then you are very particular when you go to a restaurant and ask – is your meat halal?
The out processing centre looks like a factory building. I am told, it was made to be a factory building. It is being used as a refugee processing centre. A group of people are busy getting colourful plastic bags into a waiting bus. The bags are called what they call ‘Zim Bags’ in South Africa because they were seen first being used by Zimbabwen refugees. They should be called refugee bags because refugees from all over the world use them but that would be too impolite and some non-refugees use them too. The first thing I notice is that they are all wearing the same white canvas shoes. Then I notice that they are wearing pants and shirts and jackets and caps. Then I notice that they look cleaner and healthier than the people we met at the in processing centre which is about 300 metres away. ‘You can go and take photo with them. Also say bye bye to them. They are going to America.’ - We are told. I sit down on a chair. I am not feeling good at all. My throat hurts and it is too hot. From the corner of my eye, I see the white canvas shoes moving.
The camp has a partner now who takes us to the medical centre. Someone passes out. As she is carried away hurriedly to the centre, I have an incredible urge to join her. But my bad luck extends to my acting skills as well. So I take no chance. The medical centre smells strongly of disinfectant. They have quarantine room we are informed. There are posters that say do not chew betel nut. I am dying to have one as soon as I read the poster.
We move to the cultural demonstration centre. There are four or five small demo houses there. They have shoe racks, kitchens and toilets. The refugees learn how to use these things so that they do not have much problem when they reach America. It is perhaps a very realistic model too, considering how small their living arrangements will be.
From the centre we go to see the refugee camp. Camps where registered, unregistered, processed, unprocessed refugees live. We are told we can take photos from the road. But we cannot interact with anyone. They remind of villages back home. Just that they are packed too close to each other. Captivity requires controllable physical space. At the camp I wonder, if we can go to see how refugees live, why are the refugees not taken to real homes to show how people use stove and flush? Why demo units for them?
By now the sun has gotten into my head. The pain in the neck is unbearable too. I require medication and quick. I am taken to a pharmacy where a teenage girl gives me two strips of pills and some lozenge. I don’t feel assured. She looks too young and too quick. I am fearful of western medicine too. Especially of the ones that can be bought legally over the counter. I skip the pills and suck on the lozenge feeling a complete sucker.
At night I read up the medicine. I was right for not taking them. The doses prescribed by the quick teenager are far higher than the doses recommended by the pharma company. For once I trust a company more than a human being. But then, if the human being is a teenager, your choice is not so difficult. Talking of teenagers, there is one hidden inside me for sure. For as soon I read that one of the prescribed drug is used for entertainment, the teenager gets fidgety. It says it can cause dizziness and hallucination. I decide to pop one immediately. To the adult me I tell, it is because the throat hurts so much. To the teenager I do a high five.
As I start hallucinating, I know I have made a classic teenage mistake again. To do drugs, you must be careful of the space, people and frame of mind you are in. And a refugee processing centre is not exactly Lumbini jungle on a full moon night.
As I toss and turn about my bed, I see rows and rows of white canvas shoes. Moving, running, sometimes falling down. I reach home and feel the soothing presence of my mother, her face has tanakha and the houses are all too close to each other. Someone turns a shower on and I see a poster that says ‘Refugee, Immigrant, Labour’. I worry about the people who are leaving on a train. Do they know how far they are going? What kind of a life they will have? If they will ever be able to come back home? Or are they writing the beginning of another history? The history of another world, where there will be no boundaries, so there will be no refugees, no illegal immigrant. I remind myself never to do over the counter hallucinogenic ever again. They don’t make them as good as the pink crystals. At least the pick crystals would have added colours to the white canvas shoes. I need to sleep. I need to forget.
Every dream has a connection to something real you have seen. Every real you have seen has a connected emotion. These emotions create dreams. Sometimes they are real, sometimes imaginary and absurd.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Yesterday I was sitting under a tree at the Darma centre. It was so tranquil. Well, at least for some time. There I was, lying down, reading, sitting up, drawing, in beautiful harmony with the old trees and the still pond. A cool breeze made the hot afternoon feel like a tiger balm. You know what I mean? When it is warm and soothing? Birds were singing in the trees. The cuckoo kept on going coo-coo and I wondered if it has flown from home or is going to go home for Bihu. I mean overall it was like a very meditative scene. And at the Darma centre too.
But alas! Like Budhdha says (or does he really?) happiness like other emotions in life are momentary. What he did not say, I think, is that the moments can travel at break-neck speed in some and particularly urban settings. Hardly had I finished drawing the trunk of the tree that a monk started preaching on the mike. I admit he was no where near shouting (like the hindu and muslim bastards when they get their hands around a mike) and he sounded like he was saying meditative things. All in Thai. I swear I did not mind this meditative drone added to my background at all. But somehow my mind would try to pay attention to the words. I also thought maybe I will be able to learn high Thai from listening to preaching. Fat chance! At some point I thought I heard him distinctly saying the words – ‘lucky draw’. And things went only downhill from there. In a slow deteriorating order.
Then came the cleaning girls. No, it is not their fault. Thai people are really clean. Why only the other day in our class the person in charge of running things has to make an announcement that people must take showers! Well, this is another story. But I am coming to that later. So the Thai people are really clean. This huge city of Bangkok must have more than a million eateries. A whole lot of them on the street. But there is no garbage thrown around. Somehow, living in India, it is almost like an implausible dream. Every Sunday, the university gets cleaned. They sweep the pavements, clean the water bodies, water the plants and do all kinds of things to shine the campus weekly. While walking to the Darma Centre I saw them getting up on the shade over the pavement (yes, they have that too) to clean the leaves off the roof! So it was only a matter of moments that they would come to clean the exact spot where I was sitting. It was a shady sport between 2 old trees. Naturally under the trees there were leaves. They made a nice soft bed to spread my sleeping bag on. But it is Sunday and the trees need cleaning too. So came the cleaning girls, smiled at me and politely shifted my belongings one by one to an already cleaned corner. Since my interest on the Budhdhist discourse in Thai had increased intensely after hearing the words ‘lucky draw’, the dislodging was of some irritation. I did not want to miss a word of the discourse least I missed an opportunity to win some lucky draw. But my latest philosophical enlightenment is that not many people care about what I want or not want. Sigh!
So I settled on the other side of under-the-tree and tried not to lament my lost chance at a lucky draw. I told myself cleaning is good, for the person sitting next to you in a closed van and for your soul. I started reading the book on Thai culture and society with hope that I will learn more about taking showers, using Thai toilets and winning lucky draws when I noticed a neighbour. I raised my eyes to have a look at him and down dismantled all my prejudices about Thais being clean people with all my belief in that classroom instructor of ours. For I could smell the alcohol breathe mixed with sweat from a distance of 5 meters. It also bothered me that suddenly I had company. The presence of this man in my life was like a quickie of learning and de-learning. Although he dismantled my notion of Thai cleanliness, he did reconfirm my view that Thais are extremely polite people. He smiled at me, did a wai (a namaskar in Thai) and started talking to me in Thai. I had a feeling he was somehow concerned about my sitting alone under the tree. (This is another one of my latest philosophical grasp that random people seem to be concerned about me. But this too is another story. I save it for later). As I tried to explain to him that I do not speak Thai and I do not want to be disturbed, slowly, I realised that my moments of happiness, tranquillity and meditation for the day are over.
But then, Budhdha has many stories and none of them linear. When I was trying to explain to him that he must not disturb me in my creative pursuit of pretending to be creative, one of the cleaning girls came to my rescue. She sat 5 meters away from both me and the man forming a triangle. The man now naturally started talking to her. I started preparing for my departure. But the man frantically said something to the girl and walked away fast. The girl told me to wait. Thoroughly confused by now and annoyed that I am unable to understand Thai after being here for whole of 2 weeks, I slowed down my process of packing my numerous unBudhdhist belongings. In a few minutes, the man returned with two cool drinks in his hand. He offered one to me and the other to the girl. She took hers and looked at me. I accepted mine and took a long drag at the straw. Just as the liquid passed by thirsty throat, I remembered a word of warning from some random free advisers who are generally concerned about me – do not accept food or drink from strangers. I looked around me, the Darma Centre stood in its calmness, the old trees were enjoying the cool breeze, the birds were playing next to me by the pond, children were cycling around, groups of people had come and sat around, the sun was about to set, the evening light is filtering through the clouds to the leaves. But my chains from Babylon drag me back, into the world of suspicion and fear, of warning and advice, of fleeting moments of confusion. I wonder what the Budhdha said about that. Is this my Karma?
Sunday, February 26, 2012
A pink football team
The revelry outdid the rivalry
For a football crowd it was so polite, it made me feel like I am sitting in a kindergarten school annual function. No one pushed, shoved or shouted any ones eardrums burst.
Combining football and carnival, this is Thailand’s answer to Brazil!
For every day of the week, there is a colour in Thai culture. Sunday – Red, Monday –Yellow, Tuesday – Pink, Wednesday –Green, Thursday – Orange, Friday – Light Blue and Saturday –Purple.
Because they do not have such notions as pink is for girls and blue is for boys, you see people of all gender wearing all colours. Yes, you also see people of all gender, wearing all colours, in all directions, doing all kinds of things. Rather nice. This all gender thing and those boys in pink. Reminds me of strawberry ice cream, slurp! ;)
And the results were
Most importantly, there was also bubble milk and many other kinds of edibles at the venue!!!
Friday, February 24, 2012
I am in university again. For the first time in one with good food!
Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok has a co-operative canteen that sells an amazing range of yummy Thai food at dart cheap price. Although this is the best thing about Chula, I have been told the university is also famous for being one of the oldest and best educational institutions in South-East Asia etc. It seems some people (read Thamasad University, Chula’s soccer rivals) also insist they are just the oldest but those are unimportant details. And thankfully there is very little of this big university comes between the canteen and me. It is less than 2 minutes away from my room.
My first few days went into taking photos of all the food that I have been eating. I am taking pictures so that I do not repeat the same dish. Before I leave Thailand, I want to taste everything that they have. But after about 10 days of doing this, I realised, no matter how many photos I take or how many ever things I eat, I will never be able to eat everything Thailand has to offer. It is like trying to reach the end of time or space.
This realization however strangely was a relief. I felt light as the burden of having to eat everything lifted off me (could also be the fact that I stopped eating four meals a day consisting of at least 3 kinds of meat and fish) and I decided to go have a look at the other things in the university. In the process I also took some photos, Downloading them, I found out that my camera was permanently set to take food photos at the co-op canteen. So they came about rather queer. Thankfully, there are also such things called photo editors and I fiddled them around to make them marginally presentable. Some beyond recognition. But how does that matter?
Chula main campus, seen from the entrance. No, that is not my palace.
Another tree-lined lane
This is the book store at Chula. They have many books. In Thai. We went there to buy Chula T-shirts for the historical soccer match that is being played between Chula and Thamasad University. The rivals have played each other for ages. Each team has feelings towards each other similar to what the US of A has towards terrorism in other countries. The match is tomorrow Saturday, 25th Feb, 2012.
The Darma Centre where one can meditate. They also hold lectures on spiritual matters. All in Thai. It is very serene and has lovely trees around it. However, the most spiritual and meditative place I have found, in case you have not figured it out already, is the co-operative canteen.
Apart from the canteen (whose photos I have decided to publish in a multi volume book and hence not published here) the other things I love in Chula are its trees. It has many trees. Many shady corners. Every day when I walk around to digest my canteen food, I fall in love with a new one.