Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Monsoon Seasoning

I'm becoming used to the thud of rain on the tin overhang inches from my bed, and my balcony has become a vivid green profusion of well-watered plants. From the upstairs veranda, it's plain to see that the low, grey canopy of clouds is going nowhere and I stand still for a few minutes, feeling the unfamiliar sensation of coolness on my bare arms.

For me August has always felt like the end of the year, with September launching a new one, and the coming months promise enough change that more than ever this seems true. I suppose if I were more comfortable with change, I wouldn't counter it with motion but once again I'm moving.

And I really don't know where. I promised my family that if violence persisted as an undercurrent in this city, that I would find another place to live. At the beginning of this week, a bomb exploded at a bus stop as people headed home after work. One man died, another had shrapnel picked out of his skull, a boy passing by "suffered injuries to his right leg," and seven other people were hurt. The explosive was an M69 grenade with an explosive radius of 15 meters; that is over 49 feet. Its timing and location (in the area where protests occurred this spring) clearly reveals a trend toward terrorism falling into place in a city where public safety has been a keynote for decades, if not forever.

I've made grim jokes since I arrived here almost two years ago about the perfunctory security checks at subway entrances, where the guards are embarrassed when they peek into bags. They direct flashlights into opened purses and glance furtively and fleetingly, as though they've just caught sight of a naked body.

The government has just identified the subway system as a likely spot for another bombing.

People I love are coming to visit me in the next few months. I can be blithe about my own safety but not about theirs. Is Thonburi far enough from random violence? Should I investigate Penang as a future home when I go there next week? Or is Kratie calling to me for a good reason?


Dr. Will said...

I think "safety" is relative and subjective -- whatever is comfortable for you. I feel far safer here than in many places of the world, and my neighborhood is away from the symbolic action (the military/police scare me more than the reds). Cool Cooke song about change. Do you think he felt safe? If so, he was wrong.

Janet Brown said...

Sam Cooke was singing about the civil right's movement, appropriate?
And what causes me personal discomfort is the thought of one of my family coming here at my behest and then getting hurt.
I think anyone who knows me is aware that safe is not a much-used word in my own personal lexicon. But when "symbolic action" might threaten my sons or my sisters, then I start wondering where they might be safe should they come here.

Jessi Cotterill said...

I still have to go to BKK from time to time. I'm concerned about my safety too, but no idea what should be done. If sth is meant to happen, then it's meant to happen. Be happy at each moment is the best we should do.