Thailand

Sounds

Still seeking alms.

There was a great whooshing sound you may have heard from back home. That, and the sounds of a multitude of snaps and twangs. It was the sound of masks being fixed into place again. 

COVID came back to Thailand in a much stronger 3rd wave last month.  You may have heard a collective inhale. A gasp even, as the collective glanced to the right just in time to glimpse India plunge into the abyss. 

A silence then with the realization that, though they’ve had as long as everyone else, the vaccine plan they have in place is not going to be ready in time, and in fact may be more delayed.

The sound of a slump in an economy that had recovered to its tiger status. Now the sound of wheezing with the collective gasps of business trying to stay afloat. 

The slams of doors as borders, just barely ajar in preparation to welcome a return of tourists, now close one by one. 

Borders first, then the doors to shop stalls, bars, restaurants. The clatter of rolled shutters and accordion gates pulled closed again. The snap of padlocks. A news item this week noted that 47% of hotels will close in the next 3 months. I’m not sure how I can convey how many rooms that is, but the number of vacant mattresses may not be enough to cushion the landing.

In the evenings then, the chanting of monks at temples throughout the land. Evening vespers of desperation as requested by those on high.  Asking them to prayer for a way to ride out this latest wave safely.  

More and more groans can be heard. Groans of despondence. Of hunger. Fretting. Outright jeers about government incompetence, poor planning, corruption. Closing all parks, whilst leaving the malls open. Restricting restaurants to carry-out only. Banning, in some cases, the drinking of beer in groups of two or more.  

And with lots of time on their hands, there may be the sounds of oohs and aahs, but given the economic uncertainty, there are fewer sounds of coohs and waahs, as the birth rate has declined. 

And so the sound of one clinking beer bottle as the country drinks alone. 

And with lots of time on their hands, there may be the sounds of oohs and aahs, but given the economic uncertainty, there are fewer sounds of coohs and waahs, as the birth rate has declined. 

Markets closed, but the lights are still on.

Categories: Thailand

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