Month: January 2011



Khao Yai

Notes from Khao Yai a few weeks ago:


The afternoon is sweet. A tree has entered the wooden gazebo outside the cabin. I hear the breeze rustling through the leaves; the engine of a distant motorbike, gradually approaching; crickets in the grass; the buzz of a fat fly; wild roosters stomping on dried leaves.

I see a blue sky; a butterfly; dried wood; the bug-bitten terrain of my legs; the sun and its prolonged hello; the fly on my knee; a tiny ant crawling on my foot and another one on my thigh; the road; the forest; the outdoor kitchen; swallows; the large stones my cousin and I carried from the water reservoir; the remains of a fire; oversized black lamps on the fence posts; my unused ipod shuffle; dragonflies.

The bees were busy last night, on site outside the room door. An emaciated monkey (or ghost) caused a ruckus in the closet, but no one dared to check on it. Perhaps it was deer underneath the cabin instead.

The morning slowly woke up around 6, when the elderly French-Thai couple were strolling down the road to the water. I imagined that I heard an elephant yawning.

No tiger today – its presence would confound the sense of serenity around this lodging zone. My mind is all atwitter, and I’m bothered by this persistent fly. Oh, it’s a bee.

music: rufus wainwright and kate mcgarrigle – talk to me of mendocino

Secret Party

Sometimes we forget that there are many worlds within this world. Some, we are born into, others, we break into, but for most, we stand outside and watch. We look, we reference, we fantasize, we judge, we desire, we mimic. And I wonder if it all fosters the fabrication of our marginality.



O, to love lightly, with a heavy hand. To sequester hurt, in support of fame. To grip softly, against callous skin.

Is to pose beneath a fruit tree, in blossom; is to smile and delight, in delighting; is to stand contently, though encumbered.

Oh, to not be alone, and to sacrifice a solitude no other could touch.

And to be touched.


music: day 26 – perfectly blind

Today the New Year Told Me to Wake Up

Whenever anyone approaches me with lamentations over the inability to write his or her essay, I typically suggest writing whatever comes to mind. Like turning on the tap just to get the water flowing, until the dirt disappears and gives way to the desired clear water. But I’ve been less inclined to put pen to paper of late. I look back on field notes only to find sparse and tired scribbles. Much has happened in the past few months, and nothing has happened, my mental and physical exhaustion as proof of this (in)activity. Where is the passion, the will, the focus, and the self-discipline to stave off fatigue at the end of the day so that I may record my reflections earnestly in so many words?

Meanwhile the thinking never stops, and it finds its way in my photos, my daydreams, my nightmares, and in the confines of my mind. The more photographs I take, the less I write. Perhaps words just seem inadequate. Sometimes I wonder if the occupation academic endeavor of the anthropologist, absorbed as s/he is in multiple communities crossing national, ethnic, gender, tribal, age boundaries, tied up in various networks and interpersonal relationships, is one of the most isolating fields out there. And in my head, John Denver’s Looking for Space plays quietly.

Quiet moments are never silent, and rest never quite that rejuvenating.

Oh, I just did it! The water may be murky, but at least it’s flowing, and at least I’m awake this year.

music: paul simon – quiet