The fruit lady is back in town and all is well again. Well, maybe not everything here in the Big Mango is peachy, but I take the fruit lady’s reappearance as a sign that life in Bangkok has returned to its normal, comfortingly chaotic state after the relative solitude of the New Year holiday break, and that the current turbulent political situation will calm down.
This particular lady has been my regular fruit vendor for the past several years. For six days each week (alas, she is off on Sunday and I must seek get my guava and papaya fix from someone else) I stop by her stand and buy a big bag of various fruit, saving it for my lunch later in the day. But for the past three weeks she and her husband have been out of town, their space occupied by another vendor. I assumed that they had gone back to their home, in Roi Et province, and she confirmed that when she turned up again on Thursday. She took the longer break because her mother had been ill.
In addition to the fruit lady, my regular crew of motorcycle taxi drivers returned this week too. Actually, I hadn’t seen any of them all week, so I phoned one of them, a guy nicknamed “Bay,” on Tuesday night and asked if he was back in Bangkok yet. He said he had returned the day before, then asked if he and his friends could come my place again, that night. I hadn’t planned on visitors that night, having already met my friend Gene for dinner and Beer Lao earlier in the evening, but and I told Bay that he and his friends could drop by when they got off work. He brought another one of the regular drivers, Noy, along with a friend who just starting work with the rest of the taxi crew. Noy had just returned to Bangkok earlier in the evening, complaining of very thick traffic on the highway into the city.
Those traffic woes could get worse this week with the planned protest marches on Monday by Suthep and his PDRC (People’s Democratic Reform Committee). This group has declared their intention to “shut down” Bangkok, with the aim of forcing the current “caretaker government” to step down and be replaced by an unelected “People’s Council”, one that will initiate political reform of some sort. Yeah, uh, good luck with that. Such an ambitious goal will likely take several years. And then there is the problem of who will be suitable for election. Thailand appears to be devoid of any politicians who are remotely intelligent and honest.
So, the beat goes on. My personal beat lately has been listening to Burmese music, most especially the albums by a guy named Linn Linn. His album Sin Za Ba was my personal soundtrack during my recent trip to Mandalay, and now that I’m back in Bangkok I still can’t stop listening to it. I won’t pretend for a second that I understand all the lyrics in the songs, but the positive moods that it invokes, and the good memories that it stirs, are very, very profound. It moves me. I bought a newer CD by him while I was in Mandalay and I’ve only played that a handful of times so far, but I like what I hear so far. It’s certainly more pleasing than the sounds of whistles and people yelling in the streets. Which leads to speculation about what will happen this coming Monday and in the days ahead, if this protest and occupation of various parts of the city is the extended one that Suthep and his “mob” have hinted it will be. For those of us not involved in these protests, all we can do is hope for a peaceful and quick resolution.
Meanwhile, the fruit lady told me that she plans on working on Monday, that is if the market where she buys fruit is open and the roads aren’t all blocked. I’ll be at my bookshop as normal that day too, using one of my motorcycle guys to take me to work, but I expect that business will be fairly awful if not non-existent. Hey, life in Bangkok is NEVER dull!