Tiredness, Jumbled Words Crashing With The New Year

Tonight's wandering, just to distract the unpleasant thoughts of the severe flooding, heavy monsoon and whatever else the punishing elements could throw upon communities. Scattered teams in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and one colleague in Sri Lanka, and how stretched we feel, of repeated outreach and travel. The burden of coordination, doesn't go on my shoulders alone. My colleagues share the hardship, these challenging times where natural disasters lord over vulnerable people, followed by their displacement, the homelessness and poverty.

The headache is back, maybe due to excessive exertion, or perhaps the lack of sleep. Nevertheless I roam, aimlessly. The roads, with spots of tourists and locals gathering at bars, night clubs, restaurants and food stalls. Small islands of human bodies, with arms waving in the air, in anticipation of the hours ahead, to usher the new year. Flashing neon lights, trance music fills the night. My legs move, supported by taunt thighs and calves, with scars lovingly gracing the skin. Weary feet on worn-out sandals, on these faithful sandals that have been with me throughout the year.

Thailand Zashnain

My eyes, almost feasting upon the homeless folks, with layers of old filthy clothes to ward off the cold night. I offer them several blankets in the backpack, they're all I have for the week. They accept, with nods, and a grin and the poor return back into the half-light. Bangkok is flirting with "winter" without the snow, and the almost nightly whipping wind. Here in this vast city, the homeless remain marginalized, regardless of who is in power.

*sigh* They remind me of those struggling back in Malaysia, those fleeing their homes as raging floods sweep the terrain, swallowing their homes, sinking land in a violent surge of muddied water and roaring landslide.
Walking past the Democracy Monument, a testimony to Thailand's turbulent history with dictators and the intrusive military toying with politics, at the very cost of the people they gallantly claim to represent. The odd structure, stand mighty yet visually old in design, was surrounded by armed soldiers and policemen. Perhaps being on guard was supposed to deter people, the Thais, from rallying. Or just to satisfy the insecurities of the junta leaders, over their control of the urban population.

Bangkok Outreach

Thailand's junta has yet to deliver stability to the country, but the illusion of dominance is sufficient for them, anything to cow the population into obedience. Many Thais appear to be unsure of what exactly the self-styled prime minister means when he talks every Friday and the frequent oral abuse of the word "roadmaps" - such is beyond my comprehension, or maybe Thais are plain clueless to the junta's long-term economic and their "national unity" plans. Beats me.

Around the corner of the monument, I find a group of people, most sitting on the pavement while observing a performance. A poetry recital, in Thai, with tokenism of poses, gestures of whirling hands and intentional halts to the vocabulary. Cynical, heavy doses of that in almost each speaker. A statement, several in fact, for their admirers, those sitting on plastic sheets upon the dirty sidewalk. I watch, quite impressed with the aura of boldness, of intentional flow of anti-conformism, as scores of police hover at the invisible border by the road. Most probably there's an uncomfortable agreement between these poets, performers with the authorities. For them to allow the public gatherings is odd, which similar to Malaysia is a breach of the law, particularly when one wants to silence political dissent.
Thailand

Bangkok

Has Thailand changed for the better? No evidence to suggest that the ruling "government" has improved the quality of life. As for what's reflected in Thailand's mainstream media, one can never believe the repetitive propaganda, and nor would the northern and southern regions of the country agree with the outrageous boasts of their military rulers. For those in Bangkok, its the silence that the junta wants. Silence, the nods, the adherence to their commands, and the willingness to show no resistance to the political powerplay. However its a recycled performance, and its just a matter of time before society grows weary of the poor acting, and move to discard this sphere of superficial authority.

I walk away, unable to welcome the new year with joy. I am tired.

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