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Thursday, July 29, 2010


Old routines

As I write this I'm back staying in the Ajahn's Condos at Mahasarakham University in the building next to the one I lived in last year. Some things have changed around here but in many ways it is easy to slip back into the life I had before.

It was my regular practise to visit Talat Noi, the little night market on campus, to buy my dinner. Talat Noi had, I believe, grown organically over the years. As new stall holders came, they fitted in wherever they could in the area around the canteen. Since I've been gone, they've moved it to an open area and now the stalls are all in neat rows. To me, it's lost a little of its charm and there are so many stalls now it hardly deserves to be called noi, ie 'little'.

Still, I was able to find the stall where the young couple make Pad Thai and got back into that routine quite easily. I also recognise many of the other stall holders but there are many new ones too.

It was my Saturday morning routine to take my laundry to a young woman who lives about 100 metres behind the Ajahn's Condos. Perhaps I was a little early this time because her shop was not open. Another one was and I delivered my dirty clothes there. I went across the road to where I used to regularly get my haircut but the barber shop was not open either.

At lunch time, I had to change my routine. I didn't have my bicycle. I couldn't ride to the restaurant where I would usually buy gai yang, BBQ chicken, and sticky rice. But there was a street stall selling it just behind the Condos so I still got my treat.

Before I went back to collect my laundry I went back to the barber shop. My barber was there. When he saw me his eyes lit up. I could see he was smiling behind the surgical mask he was wearing. When I sat in the chair he asked 'Bai nai ma?' Where have you been?

I told him I'd been to Australia. I've been letting my hair grow lately to keep my ears warm in the Australian winter. He pointed at it and made some comment suggesting I'd not had it cut since the last time I'd visited him. It didn't take long for him to restore my monk-like hairstyle. I asked if I could take his picture (for this blog) but he declined. Unlike most Thais he is apparently camera shy.

I went back across the road and there was the young woman who had usually done my laundry. She was beaming. I waved and went on to the other laundress. On the way back I stopped and chatted with my regular laundress. She asked where I'd been and I told her. 'Kittung' she said, I missed you.

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