2010.04.21 01:00 - the canals of Bangkok

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    The Guardian for this meeting was Darren Islar. The comments are by Darren Islar.
    It was a nice, slow morning with only myself and Cal in the circle. I asked him about Thailand where he is staying at the moment and we talked about the dynamics of Bangkok and what it is that makes that city so different from what we know in the western world. We even tried to figure out where this difference comes from and what it does to us.
    Darren Islar: hey Cal
    Calvino Rabeni: Hello Darren
    Darren Islar: how is Thailand so far?
    Calvino Rabeni: Familiar to me, but easier to get around due to the Net
    Calvino Rabeni: I remember years ago it seemed remote and information was not available
    Darren Islar: so Thailand has become part of the world
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, or the world found its way into Thailand
    Darren Islar: probably both
    Darren Islar: I didn't know you have been in Thailand before
    Calvino Rabeni: I've gotten to know and like it over some time
    Darren Islar: ah, so that is why it is familiar to you
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, but it is not familiar enough to be boring or routine
    Calvino Rabeni: There are things I haven't done yet
    Darren Islar: I guess it is hard to get bored in Thailand
    Darren Islar: a lot of history there
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, I like the way everything mixes together. Not sorted by districts.
    Calvino Rabeni: I'm looking to take a canal tour - the canals cut through many layers of Bangkok history
    Calvino Rabeni: There are many ways to do everything
    Darren Islar: I think that would be grand


    The mixing dynamics of Bangkok

    Darren Islar: what do you mean with 'mixing together'?
    Calvino Rabeni: I mean not separated. No zoning. THere are highrises with slums, modern houses connected to older houses connected to ancient teak houses on stilts, ancient temples and crypts next to modern buildings, a mix of all economic levels
    Calvino Rabeni: A mix of all the classes of people, all the ages of architecture
    Calvino Rabeni: All have cell phones of course :)
    Darren Islar: of course :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Old monks begging and walking barefoot, etc.
    Darren Islar: barefoot, I like that :)
    Calvino Rabeni: And dense with people, so everyone knows people from all ages and classes
    Calvino Rabeni: Old and modern traditions mixed as a result
    Darren Islar: Sounds pretty dynamic
    Calvino Rabeni: Compared to this, life in the USA is very homogenous and separated
    Calvino Rabeni: RIght, very dynamic
    Darren Islar: maybe also the result of no laws getting in the way
    Calvino Rabeni: There is that aspect too.
    Darren Islar: about how and what and where to build
    Darren Islar: but I guess there is also a cultural background to it
    Calvino Rabeni: It is friendly to small scale free enterprise and a market economy
    Calvino Rabeni: Some business models work better, the denser the area
    Darren Islar: so a lot of things are still pretty local organized
    Calvino Rabeni: Many different economic levels mix together
    Darren Islar: in a way needing each other
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, there's a low degree of mass patterning
    Calvino Rabeni: Like a rich ecosystem instead of a monoculture (to use an analogy from agriculture)
    Calvino Rabeni: What you said - true
    Darren Islar: You wonder how global economy is going to effect that system


    Calvino Rabeni: ?
    Calvino Rabeni: Net service has long timeouts
    Darren Islar: I mean cultural wise and on a social level, I think this local orientation is a great thing
    Calvino Rabeni: It seems a good model for low-energy high-population cities
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes
    Calvino Rabeni: Everyone might need tto become buddhist, for it to work :)
    Darren Islar: :-)
    Calvino Rabeni: Kindness, consideration, common-sense
    Calvino Rabeni: Not angry when things "go wrong"
    Calvino Rabeni: Watching faces, people working, relating
    Darren Islar: yes the cultural background seems to play an important part here
    Calvino Rabeni: It appears most people enjoy whatever it is they happen to be doing
    Darren Islar: I can't imagine something like that in Holland, not even in the old days
    Calvino Rabeni: I'm afraid, mechanization kills this kind of social fabric
    Darren Islar: Yes, I'm afraid so too
    Darren Islar: global economy starts to kick in

    Poverty and wealth

    Darren Islar: on the other hand, I think there is a lot of poverty in Thailand
    Calvino Rabeni: Because it is based on being connected to what is happening in the present, and using common sense
    Calvino Rabeni: But poverty as a category means very little
    Darren Islar: meaning?
    Calvino Rabeni: In other words, it doesn't imply being hungry and miserable, or unhappy with life, or being an outcast, or feeling inferior, etc.
    Darren Islar: ah, ok
    Darren Islar: people taking care of each other?
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes
    Calvino Rabeni: Money in the west insulates people from needing to be connected with others
    Calvino Rabeni: THey can afford to be very inefficient and disconnected
    Calvino Rabeni: I'm not saying it is the root of all evil, of course
    Calvino Rabeni: But a flexible and multi-level economy can be very efficient
    Darren Islar: no, I think it was in our cultural system anyway, but got more exposed when we got more wealthy
    Calvino Rabeni: yes
    Darren Islar: maybe it is the other way around and our 'wealth' is the result of our cultural background
    Calvino Rabeni: I got laundry done, it cost $0.75
    Calvino Rabeni: You could be right
    Darren Islar: wow
    Calvino Rabeni: the more wealth, the more inefficient and greater impact on the planet
    Calvino Rabeni: just because, it *can* work
    Darren Islar: yes and wealth maybe growth out of not being connected
    Calvino Rabeni: Well, like in SL, "housing" is very cheap. Thus people can afford huge "spreads"
    Darren Islar: hmmmm
    Calvino Rabeni: But suppose there were a hidden environmental cost to it all
    Darren Islar: yes, exactly
    Calvino Rabeni: It would be disastrous after a while
    Calvino Rabeni: Wealth and disconnection seem to go hand-in-hand
    Darren Islar: chicken and egg
    Darren Islar: and western dynamics
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes there is that. Western economic models


    A small intermezzo about the meditations that are coming up

    Darren Islar: something different Cal
    Darren Islar: I suppose I include you in the meditation group
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes
    Darren Islar: are there days you aren't available at 11.30 am slt?
    Calvino Rabeni: That is OK nearly anytime, after I get back to the USA
    Darren Islar: I like to start not next week, but the week after
    Darren Islar: thats is the first week of May
    Darren Islar: is that okay to you?
    Calvino Rabeni: It should be good,yes
    Darren Islar: okay
    Darren Islar: I see I haven't included you in the group yet, so Liza will invite you soon
    Calvino Rabeni: thanks

    Back to Bangkok

    Darren Islar: Because of my chronic fatigue I don't get around much
    Darren Islar: It is nice to talk about those differences in culture and how it effects people
    Darren Islar: different dynamics people are living in
    Calvino Rabeni: I have to push myself a little
    Darren Islar: meaning?
    Calvino Rabeni: It's heat-induced fatigue - If I give in to it, I'd do a lot less while traveling
    Darren Islar: I see
    Calvino Rabeni: because I like to go spontaneously, without an itinerary or tour to make me do things


    Darren Islar: yes, but it also means that you need to organize everything yourself
    Darren Islar: and to get up and do it
    Calvino Rabeni: right, takes more discipline
    Darren Islar: yes
    Calvino Rabeni: but less expensive
    Darren Islar: :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Here's a video
    Calvino Rabeni: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Bp7oVVtobc
    Darren Islar: thanks

    Calvino shows me a short video of boats rushing through the canals and which gives him an elevating thought about the future

    Calvino Rabeni: When traveling, these logs become travelogues
    Calvino Rabeni: I guess in the future, we will be able to tune in the live video feed of anyone in the group in real time :)
    Calvino Rabeni: As in, whose eyes will we look through today ?

    Back to the snarls of Bangkok

    Darren Islar: it's is also a way of traveling in Bangkok
    Darren Islar: fast moving boats
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, bypassing all the traffic snarls
    Calvino Rabeni: Although I kind of like that snarl
    Darren Islar: :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Many sizes of vehicles mix together
    Calvino Rabeni: If you want to make good time, use motorcycle taxi
    Calvino Rabeni: because they split lanes, go around busses, maybe across a sidewalk or down a blocked alley
    Calvino Rabeni: Small and nimble
    Darren Islar: probably everything is used as a way of transport
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, there's also an elevated mass transit
    Darren Islar: and using everything to get around
    Calvino Rabeni: You get the picture :)
    Darren Islar: 'mixing' in traffic
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes the same thing :)
    Calvino Rabeni: WIth few laws to make it "not work"
    Darren Islar: heheh
    Calvino Rabeni: It is a little like the internet - which is not regimented
    Calvino Rabeni: Packets get where they are going just by trying to go every which way
    Darren Islar: yes, nice comparison
    Calvino Rabeni: It requires contextual awareness of the people involved
    Calvino Rabeni: Which I'd say is good
    Darren Islar: yes, context
    Calvino Rabeni: The mechanization and rule-following "enable" people to be "asleep at the wheel"
    Darren Islar: I think that is an important word
    Darren Islar: In Western world we try to make context, loosing the real meaning of it
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes
    Darren Islar: because the dynamics are a great part of the context and they change every day, every moment
    Calvino Rabeni: For an experiential illustration, get a group of 30 people, standing in a circle, with the center marked. Then all at once, they all try to cross over passing through the center, to the other side.
    Calvino Rabeni: And to do it rapidly, without thinking
    Darren Islar: :)
    Calvino Rabeni: THis is how traffic works in Bangkok :)
    Darren Islar: I get the picture :)
    Calvino Rabeni: RIght and, - nobody dies :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Because of paying attention
    Darren Islar: no because they pay attention
    Calvino Rabeni: You get the picture :)
    Calvino Rabeni: There is something i like about it on a feeling level
    Darren Islar: I lived near a crossroad where 5 streets were coming together
    Calvino Rabeni: hard to explain to western city dwellers, but I like being part of the dynamic, moving throng
    Darren Islar: nobody knew what the rules really were
    Darren Islar: so everybody start to get careful
    Darren Islar: hardly anything happened
    Darren Islar: I can imagine
    Calvino Rabeni: There was an intersection like that near where I used to rent a house in thailand for a while
    Darren Islar: I even feel some enthusiasm in my body, talking about it
    Calvino Rabeni: traffic was chaotic and braided together


    Calvino Rabeni: After a couple months, I noticed, there were "stop signs" there - as in any western city
    Calvino Rabeni: But, not once had I noticed them being observed :)
    Darren Islar: :)
    Darren Islar: I need to go Cal
    Calvino Rabeni: Same here, ... good talking to you Darren
    Darren Islar: good talking to you Cal
    Darren Islar: cu

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