Saturday, December 5, 2015

Taste of India

I love bright colors, sparkle, and glitter, so for me the Indian district in Bangkok is a visual buffet. There is no such thing as restraint in the Pahurat fabric market. Colors blaze, and even in the dark hallways behind the main streets, my eyes began to cry for sunglasses. 

Photographs wouldn't show the extravagance that is in every corner--the sequins, the gold thread, the scarlets and turquoises and lemon yellows. Eventually I was so dazzled that I had to leave; I was veering on the state that used to affect British spinsters in Venice, a dizzied disorientation bordering on sexual ecstasy. It's a hallucinogenic place that makes me wonder how I would ever absorb a trip to India.

The ramshackle buildings shelter a splendid Sikh temple, whose white and gilt spires and dome are radiant above a cluster of dingy rooftops. Sometimes the gates to the temple are open, as they were yesterday, and the immaculate cleanliness of its entry halls are stunning against the dirt of the surrounding streets.

Over the past twenty years, there has been one notable change, the Indian Emporium, a very small (by Bangkok standards) shopping mall. I refused to go in for a long time, but when I did, I went again and again. The fabric in that place makes it a textile art gallery.

My new neighborhood is very close to Pahurat and the bus I have found and use daily takes me there in minutes. It's always been my dream to live near this place and this is one reason why I don't want to leave Bangkok during this visit. I may never see it this way again.The riverside nearby has a mall; huge gaping construction sites are walled off on a neighboring arterial. The Pahurat area rests on prime real estate, and at least one new building is going in on Chakraphet Road, near the temple and the Indian Emporium.

But for now, dirt and clutter and color all reign in a way that, as Kipling said in Just-So Stories, "blaze in more than Oriental splendor." My eyes feed on these things and my spirit is nourished by their crazed contrasts. Cameras don't catch this. You'll just have to take my word for it.

No comments: