March 31, 2003
?Khop kun ka,? I am corrected. I have been here a few times before, and still cannot say a proper ?thank you? in Thai. The waiter serving me is dressed in safari gear, hat, suspenders and all, but I am in a restaurant called The Brew?I can?t quite find the main theme here. Airport restaurants?another thing one would think I should have down by this time. Still working on that? I wonder if anyone is ever able to perfect the art of traveling?
I said goodbye to India tow days ago, after a long week with a bit of turbulence. And by ?a bit of turbulence? I mean having to lie in bed for three days due to intensive ?India? illness. The stomach, the head, the whole nine yards. Good times? All is well now, though, and it gave me a lot of down time to process the evolution of my thesis. And it has evolved a great deal, form what I now see to have been a very shallow, brief idea to what is becoming an enormous puzzle with lots of pieces?many of which I did not expect to have encountered. For example, the significant relevance of cultural influences on the Friends World community in each country. At the South Asian Center, the important Indian concept of the guru is of course prevalent and exerts great influence through the attitudes of the teachers and advisors in the supportive role they play inside and outside the academic realm of students? lives. This sort of relationship, found at all Friends World Centers, is reflected and encouraged by Indian society, which is a strong reinforcer. This affects the Center?s atmosphere, which is one of warmth, encouragement, and respect for the student, where ?the guest,? which, in this case, is the student, ?is like G-d? as the saying goes in India.
Needless to say (but I will anyway!) my project is progressing really well and I am thrilled by the direction it is moving in. So I said goodbye to my new friends at the SAC, to the man I bought fresh coconuts from every day, and to the natural, colorfully decorated university campus I lived in, and caught my plane to Thailand, which where I am now. A two day layover in Thailand? What to do??? Hmm? A visit to the ever popular, and inexpensive, massage parlors. Eating fresh fruit on the street corners. Admire the Thai temples. And, OF COURSE, east the most amazing falafel (save Israel?s) on Cosan Road, the super touristy area of Bangkok that is a culture onto itself. They even sell T-shirts there that say, among many other obscure, ridiculous, hilarious, and crude phrases, ?Cosan Junkies.? Cosan Road or Bangkok aren?t really the places to be, if you ask me, though. Up north you have the lusciously forested and natural terrain of places like Chang Mei, or down south the postcard-perfect paradise that is the Thai Islands.
Bangkok is like many large cities, I think, with its smog and fumes. I notice people walking down the streets with their breathing masks on, or holding handkerchiefs over their mouths, which was common also in Taiwan where motorcycles and mopeds are popular?the masks help drivers and passengers breath easier. And the fashion caught on, creating a complete ?mask? styles of pictures and colorful designs. I smile at the pink stripped mask a girl wears as she walks past me, but I am instantly reminded of the question that I am now forced to ask: What is the reason for the mask? Does she drive a motorcycle? Is the city air too thick for her? Or is it a precautionary method? The TV in front of me just flashed: over 600 people have been infected with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Disease). They say that we fear the unknown, and I think this is all terrifying. Making front page of the papers yesterday and today here is the face of the leading WHO researcher of SARS who dies recently in a hospital in Bangkok of the disease. It is close to home here, but everything making the news today seems to be international and is hitting many people close to home.
But in the face of it all, we move on. And I am moving on tonight, this time to Japan, a place I have always hoped to visit! Have a great evening, much love to you, Lucas. Stay safe, send my love to the crew at home? Talk to you soon,