Energy and tired feet

The TB conference is going as I hoped it would be. It makes for long days for all of us in the organizing team but the pieces are falling nicely into place and producing the hoped for energy and engagement. I even got some people to agree to perform an act on talent night (Thursday), something that my colleagues unanimously told me would not work. I like to prove people wrong. I also think that people rise to the challenge when they are presented with one, especially one as enjoyable as showing one’s talents (even though everyone denies having talents) or showing something from one’s country that is a source of pride (poetry, songs, dances).

Axel traipsed all over town using various forms of transports, including a river taxi, to get to the largest temple in Bangkok for a three hour meditation lesson/session. For this he got up at 5 AM to catch the 7 AM session. But the assigned monk had wandered off and he was entertained by the monk in charge of ‘foreign meditation’ who told him in broken English about his trials and tribulations with the US customs department for somewhat unBuddhist actions. Since the assigned monk for the foreigners didn’t come back till 1 PM Axel had time on his hands and visited the nearby Royal Palace (no longer occupied). He did this in the company of some 10 thousand Chinese and Japanese visitors, all lining up behind flags on sticks and taking selfies at every corner, holding their fingers in V formation in back of each others’ heads.

And so this is how, through Axel’s discoveries, I am experiencing Bangkok (and previously Cambodia) vicariously, from stories and photos.

We dined in an English pub because it served oysters and tapas and good beer. Tomorrow is a Buddhist holiday and alcohol will not be available in public places, so people appeared to be drinking for two days.

Our feet were aching, mine from thinking on my feet most of the day and Axel’s from walking in the city. Conveniently, there was a massage place right next to the pub. Massages parlors (the proper ones) are as ubiquitous as ATMs (maybe the improper ones are too but I wouldn’t know). We walked in and asked for a half hour foot massage. We got our feet washed and then expertly massaged for 30 minutes, for the price of 7 dollars each and a 70 cent tip. I can imagine going there every day, even late at night.

We sat side by side, trying to stay awake, sometimes mumbling to each other while our masseuses also mumbled, smiled and tried to communicate. I wasn’t sure if she asked whether I was pregnant (I had just eaten and may have looked that way). One of the masseuses was pregnant, which got this ‘conversation’ started. I tried to communicate that I was not, as I already had two grown up daughters (hand indicating big) and a small grandchild (hand indicating small). I am not sure whether she thought the small child was mine also and that I was awaiting my fourth. So we laughed and smiled and made hand movements with the hope of understanding but no way of ever finding out.

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