Sept 18th: Tell a tale of traveling, a city or country you’ve been to or a favorite vacation.
This is the tale of one large, crazy city called Bangkok. I came back from Bangkok the same way I went: stifling my sobs on Thai airways, who by the way have the coolest seat colors. When the air hostess handed me the blue orchid, I was so touched by her kindness I couldn’t hold back the tears.
Most people go to Bangkok to spend their honeymoon but we chose to make it our permanent home. We thought everything might work out since we had been so lucky in all other areas of life.
We were not so big on money there, so our only option was to reside in a local area where only a few could speak English. It was tough at times because we couldn’t get the shopkeeper to understand that we wanted coffee but not in the powder form, but the true hospitality that the Thai people offered us got us through.
I remember the kid who lived next door and drove around all day on his tricycle when his grandma would come out and scold him. I remember the two sisters that lived next to each other, one who couldn’t speak a word of English but was always caring and polite. She had a son Yusuf, whose shorts were too short, almost knickers to be exact, and a daughter who was the epitome of sweetness. The other lady was my student of English language and is to this day very dear to my heart. She had two daughters, both humble and friendly. You can see them in the picture where I’m holding a Starbucks cup. The pictures of buildings, trees and scenery? The only family outing where we didn’t fight.
I remember the transgender person at the counter at 7/11 who I was always very happy to see. It gave me great pride in knowing that they don’t discriminate against transgender people whereas in my beloved country transgender men and women are not issued an identity card therefore not being able to apply for jobs. I remember the pungent smell from the small stalls on the street where only God knows what they sold. I remember watching a pig head being laid on the table- a weird site for a lady who comes from a country where pigs are forbidden.
I remember how we would walk to the net cafe situated ten minutes away because we couldn’t speak enough Thai to call the internet guy and setup wifi at home. We would go there, fighting the sun, donning on caps and sunglasses. And come back drenched because of the unpredictable rain. I remember always having to cross the steep areas by attempting to jump but I always managed to splash dirty water on my jeans. How I hated that.
I remember ginormous malls, where once my mom and siblings got lost. I told them I’d be waiting for them at McDonald’s. Only there were three other ones. I remember purchasing a pair of blue suede pumps that I had to throw away when I came to Karachi because they got ruined because of the dusty climate here. I remember going out with my neighbours just a few days before leaving Bangkok, and Yusuf asking me whether I like fries with cheese and Noot making a face when I told her I love cheese.
I remember walking on the streets and just loving that I can walk on the streets without the fear or getting mugged. I remember walking back home and looking at this building with such British era vibes I couldn’t help but wonder what was inside. It was an old building, with glass windows covered with papers. I remember smelling the air and thinking this is what Bangkok smells like. I can still smell it sometimes. I remember the little place on a small lake, where you could pay this guy to catch a fish for you. I think we may have eaten pork their by mistake. Every shop had a picture of their king, and why shouldn’t they? He is pretty awesome. I remember getting a catfish from the lake that kept rattling inside the plastic bag when we took it home. Eventually, we couldn’t eat it so we gave it to our neighbours.
I remember going to Banyan Tree late at night with my dad, when he was absolutely drunk, and it was too hazy for him to see why I was upset. I remember buying coke from the shop on the right, the coke they would give to us in plastic bags. I remember the washing machines lined at the side of the street. I remember how my mom got her finger infected because she had to carry wet clothes all the way back home by herself and the plastic bag she was holding gave her a split. I remember how one night my dad got drunk and we ended up fighting. I remember sitting on the windowsill thinking what if I jump for this second floor? What if I survive? No, I wouldn’t want that.
My memories of Thailand are bittersweet but they helped me grow as a person, find my calling and realise the true realities of life.
And even though life was not a bed I roses in Bangkok, at least the traffic was pretty disciplined. No one honked and everyone followed their own damn lanes. Now how about that?
Tell me about a vacation, a trip, or a journey that you still remember today. Something that left a scar on you. I’m listening.