Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On the Corner: A Journey

...and I approach every crosswalk as if it were my last. Part of the thrill of wandering around this city is the inherent danger present. You don't walk through Bangkok's dense, humid air so much as you wade through it. A single, deep breath and your lungs are coated in the same black film that covers every building. No other major city on Earth seems to be as devoid of districts or communities as the Thai capital. Morphing itself continuously, appalling slums turn into palatial estates, modern shopping complexes become Third World government bureaus, ornate temples into shabby markets: you're never on the wrong side of the tracks in Bangkok but always on the other side. The noxious jazz-funk on my walkman is so perfectly suited to my environment that I can scarcely tell the sounds eminating from my earphones from the din on the outside; a cloud of noise surrounds me. For all I know, there could be a tabla player on the other side of the busy thoroughfare and I'm convinced that Miles Davis hired some cat to play the jackhammer on these sessions. I stroll closely past the storefronts in the hope that an opened door will greet me with a blast of welcome air conditioning on the side of my face. There is not another person around and this solitude leaves me feeling uneasy, Davis doing little to calm my nerves. I gingerly approach a stretch of oncoming traffic without a sidewalk to ease my journey, hoping my luck continues to hold out...

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