Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Seeing What You Choose to See
Bangkok is definitely not a conventionally beautiful city, and when I first arrive, I'm always overwhelmed by the grubbiness of its streets, the grey gloom of its cement structures, the chaotic overcrowding of its sidewalks, and the truly hideous skybridges that festoon every street and have been painted a leprous shade of green many years ago.
At first I spend a lot of time looking at the sky.
And then after a couple of weeks I begin to notice small splashes of color and beauty in the middle of what at first seems relentless ugliness. My little soi is a good case in point. It has no immediate charm, other than the small children who emerge as the day begins to cool and play loudly and happily well into the night.
But there are flowers. The house below my apartment window has enough potted plants to fill a small arboretum, and many of them are blossoming bursts of color. I've begun to focus on them when I look out my window or when I walk down the muddy street. They make me look for other visual pleasures--a wall covered with a cascading vine of fuchsia flowers, the unexpected piercing white of blooming jasmine.
And I realize that my balcony, miniscule as it is, is the ideal spot for my own small collection of fragrance and flowers. As I fall asleep at night, I think of colors, living and breathing and growing, giving beauty to my tiny portion of a city that I love.