by Kathryn Brimacombe
I love walking down my street at 6:30 in the morning.
Believe me, I wouldnít do it unless I had to be at work an hour later. Iím
not much of a morning person. But Iím always so amazed at the community of
bustling life that is well into their day that early in the morning.
the rising sunís light starts spreading its warmth between the cracks of
buildings and down streets and sois, a hue between the colour of ripe mango and
papaya envelops everything and everyone with its soft glow. For me, itís a
very special time when the street and the city look refreshed after along
sleep, where the air still holds traces of coolness from last night, and the
strong pungent smells which are inextricably Bangkok have yet to taint it.
I am walking quickly to the BTS station, my senses are aware and take
everything in. I watch women standing behind steaming trays of fragrant soups
and curries, ladling portions into small plastic bags as their customers wait
patiently. A young women smiles as she serves noodle soup to a couple seated at
a small metal table next to her cart. Further on an older man rolls out floury
dough, cuts it into finger-sized pieces and drops them into a large vat of
bubbling oil. A middle-aged man and woman laugh as they set up a long wooden
table on the sidewalk and display almost every kind of vegetable and fruit in
season: from purple sweet potato, crisp cabbages, and bumpy bitter gourd, to
juicy oranges, bright yellow bananas, and sour green mangoes. Next to them on
the street a woman sells fruit from her pickup truck, and the bed overflows
with pomelos and papayas.
abounds on this soi, and my nose picks up the many sumptuous scents, making me
hungry. I stop at the fruit vendorís cart, where every morning I buy my
breakfast of watermelon. The vendor knows me now, and welcomes me with a lovely
smile and gentle, ďSawatdee khrap.Ē He flicks out the shiny black seeds
with his knife before he hands me the bag of bite-size morsels and nods to me
I move quickly, winding my way through the throngs of people on the sidewalk.
Some, like me, are hurrying to work, others are taking their time, moving
casually as they shop for fruits or vegetables, buy the morning newspaper or
lottery tickets, eat their breakfast, or chat with neighbours and friends.
Monks, adorned in their saffron robes, walking silent and barefoot, collect
their alms from food vendors and passers-by. I watch as a businesswoman offers
a tray of food to an elderly monk, then slips off her shoes, and kneels down to
be blessed by him.
A few minutes later I am seated in a quiet, cold skytrain
among other sleepy workers who donít speak or smile to each other, and I
think about my street at 6:30 in the morning. There is a real sense of
community then that isnít felt at any other time of day. Whether itís later
in the morning, in the afternoon, or at night, the feeling just isnít the
same. The vendors have packed up and left, the bustle has gone, the street
looks abandoned. But I take heart in the fact that the community will be there
again tomorrow morning, that the bustle will be back, with people greeting the
new day together.