I am in Bangkok right now on business :). As much as I enjoy visiting Bangkok for the city’s apparent juxtaposition of old and new structures, as well as ancient traditional practices (paying homage to Buddhist shrines and temples) next to the most modern and advanced “intelligent buildings, there is one aspect of Bangkok life that used to bring me a tinge of sadness :(.
Now it brings me a bigger chunk of sadness :(! I’m referring to the “Thai rich becoming richer, while the poor becoming poorer” 😦
.There is a certain part of central Bangkok that I try to avoid and much more now. It’s that intersection of Rajadamri Road and Rama I where most of the high-rise, swanky buildings are, and where the center of shopping & entertainment is in this city. It’s called the “Ratchaprasong Intersection”.
Here, you can stand at the very center of the city and admire the towering skyscrapers – and the fast-moving BTS Skytrain thundering right above your head going east and north-west of the city. The scene is so imposing that it makes me stop in my tracks for a few minutes and just admire all the towering glitzy skyscrapers all around me!
But, it leaves me with some sadness – now rather deep sadness – that inspite of all these riches and progress going on in this shopping & entertainment center of Bangkok, the poor in Bangkok still have to earn a meager living – and will probably never own or experience living in a plush condominium unit in this famous district :(!
This realization ran very deeply within me for the last few weeks of being here. That’s because I have been taking public transport using Bangkok’s very modest and old “songtaew”, a conveyance akin to a little van with no walls, only grills. It has 2 benches facing each other where the passengers sit.
In 2010, while working in Bangkok, I had the experience of riding this conveyance which plods most of Bangkok’s little sois (Thai name for “street”). At that time, the fee per passenger was at 7 baht. Now, about 11 years later, the fee per passenger is now 8 baht, just a 1 baht increase from 10 years ago!
This, compared to my Thai friend and ex-colleague who is now earning a 6-figure salary from her corporate job – about 4x more than 15 years ago, is really a dismal truth!
Of course, my friend deserved her very generous pay package now for working so hard. But, I still feel bad for the poor, old songtaew driver who hardly improved his lot since 11 years ago – and still has to be contented driving a beaten-up, old songtaew every day of his life.
Have We Forgotten Our Humanity?
Sometimes, we need a major catastrophe to remind us of our humanity. These times of global-wide pandemics like the corona virus, compel us to think of the welfare and wellbeing of others – our families, close friends, colleagues, and the general public.
It stops us from pursuing that mad bid for MORE MONEY, MORE CONDOMINIUMS and FLASHY CARS, MORE EXPENSIVE GADGETS and BRANDNAME BAGS, etc. – that sometimes we even forget that they exist because we just own so many of them :O!
Global pandemics make us realize what is the most important part of our existence – that we are not just human but we must express our humanity – in the form of physical, mental or spiritual help to the afflicted – in order to be credited as humans. Which is why I am not keen on seeing skyscrapers and all the high-end brands you can ever think of in high-end, stylized malls – because they don’t express my humanity to my fellowmen ;).
What about you – what do you think best expresses your humanity? Is the current race to find a cure for the corona virus as well as the measures being done worldwide to contain the virus your concept of expressing our “being human” ;)? Let us know in the comments section below!