Saturday, June 20

a reflection on community

I was chatting with an old boyfriend a few nights ago. We have reconnected after 20 years. Its another Facebook success. It was a great conversation, one we had never had before, telling each other the impact the other had had on our respective life course. Affirming stuff. For me, he was a sensitive and gentle man who had a great relationship with his family. He taught me how love and respect were possible, memories I hung onto when i was going through my darkest times in a seperation and divorce. For him, his expansion and confidence with English altered his study pathway and he's now living in London.

Community, what about community? Well, we refelcted on our brief time living together in a high rise concrete tenement on the outskirts of Bangkok,a far cry from the manicured lawns of my golf course compound where i had been living with my very rich and famous Thai family. Speaks for itself really doesnt it? But i chose at 17 to leave living in this sterile and rather lonely environment, complete with driver, maids, hot running water, manicured standard poodles (god I hated those dogs) and swap it for the crowded, busy multi-building cement jungle that was my friends home while he was away from his rural home and studying at my school in Bangkok. The tenement block was brilliant. Downstairs, in the dirt and cement surrounds of the ground floor block, small cities of food vendors traded 24 hours a day, with carts, small tables and stools, hundreds of teams of boys played 'foot volleyball' thuck thaiwith a woven cane ball and girls sat around chatting. Noisy, fragrant and fun. On each floor of the building people had transformed their small two roomed 'apartments' (besa brick and lino floors with a cement bathroom and huge water urn for bathing and an alcove with a 2 burned gas bottle for a kitchen) into small business spaces, hairdressers, nail salons, and convienience stores. Washing hung from every balcony and every window. Kids were passed around or just wandered around. Everyone knew everyone else in their own block.

I shared this 'apartment' with my boyfriend, and three others; his sister and two cousins. we had no couch, chairs or table and only one single bed. Im not saying that everyone living there permanently loved it, nor that all were content with life because of it, just that the sense of community, connectedness and life bursting with variety and interest was at that time of my life just perfect and I have to say living there was one of the best times of my life. Its given me great memories.

2 comments:

cyril said...

That sounds like heaven to me Kel! I can smell it and feel it feel it... it's what I love about Eastern cities, the closeness of life and the never ending noises around you. My ex used to live in a similar place in Hong Kong and I always wanted to go there. I'd love to see some photos if you have any....

emma (I've realised I'm signed in as my husband!)

Kel said...

hehe, hi 'cyril'. glad you got it. It was truly a magical time despite the apparent 'poverty' of it all (by western standards at least). i shall have to dig a few pics out and scan them..hmm me in a thia school uniform, havent seen those for ages..think i have a bob! eek