Peeling Pomelos in Thailand.
There’s a lady who sells peeled Pomelo at 6am every morning outside my apartment in Bangkok, she always greets me with a warm “Sawat dee krawp” and a beautiful smile regardless of whether I’m buying. She sells a quarter of peeled Pomelo for 20 baht. Welcome to this land of smiles.
Have you ever peeled a Pomelo? It’s a serious question. There is nothing in my daily schedule more difficult than peeling a Pomelo. Nothing. She stands on Asoke Montri for 4 rush hours in 32c traffic heavy humidity for 20 baht a quart, is that not difficult enough? But then she also smiles at every passerby, even errant foreigners. This humbles me at the beginning of everyday.
I buy a quart of Pomelo.
I buy because she is actually selling me perspective and meaning, but also, maybe, she is selling me a great mid morning snack.
Everyday life in Thailand flows like a meandering stream in a sun dappled wood. Bright moments of sunlit spots give way to deep shade, but nothing is too urgent, never more than dwelling on the moment. Just a moment to smile in this land of smiles.
6 months into my second stint in Thailand I realise that I don’t have to submit to life here but will just inevitably meander in the balmy tropical heat. Just surrendering to the sultry rhythms of this city, country and climate. Watching the pottled condensation slide slowly down my chilled glass of beer Singha is effort enough on a steamy December night, smiling in this land.
We moved here from Hong Kong, but I can’t really remember why, for reason is too much effort in my new old Thai roll. A Malaysian interlude brings harsh, dry and sharp contrast with the gentle fluid rolling charm of this Siam. This land of smiles.
Thailand doesn’t call from the head, nor even heart, rather it gently simmers in the blood, and on the edges of a smile.
Christmas has recently descended upon our Buddhist land, sanuk and sabai bring the smiles back in our dappled land. Scape. Scope. Skype. Fluorescent Christmas trees sprout from every Bangkok mall, mezzanine and minute. And we meander through a mistletoe trope of Bing Cosby-ery snow fall. Sweating & smiling in the holly headen humidity.
On a road near my apartment Santa’s little helper, dressed with requisite chirpy red hat & green dress, offers me a massage. Truly goodwill to all men.
And glad tidings of comfort and joy are promised from the glitter that is Bangkok at the Buddhist Yule. Just keep looking up to the sunny days of endless fun in palm tree paradise. Don’t look down to those dappled shady areas of the forest.
Over early morning coffee pot & sunrise Ana smiles at me in the land of smiles, it’s only one smile of the 14 million available in Bangkok this morning, but it’s the only smile that matters to me.
And then I remember why I left Hong Kong.
I live in the most religious country in the world. I didn’t appreciate what faith meant until I came to Thailand. In the land of Gautama, Buddha’s image is the backdrop to our every relief. I wonder – is Buddha smiling, is that actually a smile? Maybe it’s a knowing smile, maybe it’s, possibly, sympathy. Or maybe, it’s even Buddha’s concern.
It’s a serious question. Have you ever peeled a Pomelo?