December 1, 2013 – Day 123
A semi-surreal day today.
We had plans this Sunday to attend a Hannukah celebration in downtown Bangkok. The event, to be held in a hotel about six blocks away from a major mega-mall, is still scheduled to go on. However, we will not be attending. As you may or may not have heard, the capital city of Thailand is in the midst of a heated protest movement (more and better information regarding the protests can be found here, here, and here).
While we – courtesy of the magic of Google Maps – ascertained that the center of all the brouhaha was not in the vicinity of the Hannukah Hotel, my lovely wife and I decided to listen to the better side of valour (that would be “discretion” in the words of Falstaff in Shakespeare’s Henry V, Part I) and we opted to light our menorah at home.
While we were disappointed at the loss of the opportunity to enjoy the Festival of Lights with other people, we have to be honest and acknowledge that the situation is so fluid and dynamic. We could not guarantee that just because the kerfuffle was not in the hotel’s immediate vicinity that it could not move to that downtown area quicker than the crow flies. As an aside, the mega-mall near the hotel actually closed down today due to concerns over the growing protests.
Where we currently live, in our semi-porous mesh trapezoid (SPMT) north of the city, we have been unaffected by any of the protests, demonstrations, marches, and scuffles that have mainly taken part in the downtown area. I say “mainly” because there is a block of government offices on the main road that skirts past our SPMT. It is a fairly long road so the action that took place a few days ago at the government office complex had no impact on the residents of the SPMT at all.
Later in the day, after reading the latest news about the protest, I turned on the television to the all news station. It is a unique situation in my life to watch a breaking news event, to have that event possible have an effect on me and my family, and to have absolutely no freaking clue as to what is going on. The words the anchors and reporters are using are completely incomprehensible to me. The words scrolling along the bottom of the screen are meaningless strings of characters. The only thing I have to go on are the pictures being broadcast. All I see are Thai military personnel giving press conferences, people in the streets with bandanas around their mouths throwing Molotov cocktails, and police lobbing cannisters of tear gas back at the protesters.
I take that back about what I heard on the television. There was one word that I heard a few times that I could recognize. The anchors kept saying the name of the long road that skirts our SPMT. Again, I had no idea whether the anchors were saying that the road was safe, blocked by protesters, or suffering through a sharknado. Such is the joy in living in a land where one does not comprehend the local language.
The takeaway from this blog post is that this family is safe and all are fine. We did not venture out and press our luck. We will enjoy the fifth night of Hannukah as a family. The main impact of the protests only appears on our television and computer screens.
It is a semi-surreal day. We shall see what tomorrow brings.