Archive for January, 2011
Where once these crystal waters were all ours a dozen years ago, now DiCaprio and Danny Boyle have delivered these paradise beaches to the otherwise wintering denizens of the Riviera. The heart of Phi Phi Leh, that lagoon surrounded by steep jungle cliffs that was once a hidden aquarium for snorkeling naked amidst a million different hued fish is now just a wading pool for Slaves hopping off their yachts that are jammed in a revolving parking lot in there. You motor you little long tail in amongst them and feel peacefully humble. It’s a lovely swim on the sand bar in the middle of all the splendor, but you have to pretend you don’t remember all the fish that used to be there.
There are other spots that still team with fish though. Gobs of them. And then your boat drive tosses in a bit of bread and the girls squeal through their snorkels as the hordes flipper up around them. If you take a piece of toast and hold it under water in front of your face and slowly spin round and round you can forget that the ocean exists at all, just this living tunnel of yellow and black striped bodies writhing as one thick mass before your eyes, fluttering the ether at your ears, giving you the tiniest nip every now and then to make your feel appreciated, sacrificial to their frenzy.
And Mette, frickin’ little miracle, who can barely doggie paddle ten feet out to you, is a snorkeling fiend. Her avid little eyes in mask, her giggles popping up through the snorkel, her little body moving like that baby chasing the dollar on that Nirvana album, total freedom and fearlessness. I keep her close by so that she can hop up on my back dolphin style every now and then to clear out an unwanted mouthful of water. But then she slides right off and is prayerfully pumping through the water again. Even when the shelf of reef fell of fifty feet into darkness beneath us. She gave it no heed, just happy to be bobbing along in these bath warm waters, marveling at the schools and fans and clams with their great purple lips. What a dream to see your children freely flying along beside you. Weightless and mesmerized by a world that is not theirs but to which they so quickly entertain their inclusion. They’ve done it all along on this trip. Professional world travelers.
Mette doesn’t know how to swim but is now an avid snorkeler. Bindi’s never been on a skate board, but paddles like a Tahitian.Monday, January 10th, 2011
As I sit in way too much jungle comfort, got at by the most expensive room available here at Viking, room M6, which makes me so happy because I was just finishing up some Bond as we came in, MI6 and all…. and I was convinced I’d do my bit to add to the store of my words sitting among the rattan as Flemming did at Goldeneye. I’m realizing though just how tantalizing it is to surrender to the kids wanting to run down for more sand castles or to the wife who lies reading languid beneath the mosquito net. Writing works best in the still aloneness of dawn or late night, or in the cold steeliness of huge urban winters driving humans inside, alone, dank, defensive or out along bustling, shit sleet hot streets in India that cause the imagination to go wild because can parallel what you’re witnessing wide awake. And that’s just where we were, so often in the slick of it but all too often moving through all too quickly and somehow I fucked off and skipped too many dawns, forewent too many two minutes here and there for noting it all as perceived through the pours and down in scribbles in a reporters notebook with glee, and ultimately I just relied too heavily on my camera. With the camera I could take almost constant notes and still keep on eye on my ladies, scoop at them before they were run under by tuk-tuk or camel. And of course, my beloved wife was ever more on top of keeping them from the gutting of the Indian roadway, but still I couldn’t really fuck off completely and write. So I thought I might reserve it for this time of respite and pure leisure in the islands of Thailand, but they have all their own distractions, and even the nicest villa up on the hill, when you’ve only got 4 days in it, threatens that you’d better be Herculean in your task if you want to get a real job of work done. Way too easy to claim Vacation!….. and surrender to the blissful business of watching your children grow.
Now, I love watching the kids at their business of being kids, but I do not believe in Vacation. For me the word infers that you are busied primarily in exhaustive endeavors that you need at intervals to get away from in order to recuperate, to regain balance and to otherwise reform the wax of your burnt up candle self. That’s not life in my book. I agree a better part of the whole host live it. But I’ve endeavored to do otherwise. My pro Otherwise is a near constant endeavor that I find to be daily Fun! My gig is with each iteration a different set of problems to solve and moments to meet at their quintessence. Isn’t that what James Bond did for a living? Good stuff. I shoot people too.
So for me, getting out into the world with my family is never with the intention of Vacation. Whenever we surrender to that simple refrain – it’s easy to do – I regret it, a bit, later. For me the getting out is all about the getting into something else equally as vivid as the empire I’m building back home. And the picture taking through all of it is a function of seeing it so that I’ve seen it, so that I can remember and so that I’ve signature’d it and made those passing moments mine, not just witnessed by me, but authored in their particular momentary perfection by the signature that it is my gift to scribble on them. I do the photography constantly enough in life to not have to give it any thought. I just know exactly how it is I must do it. That’s whole point of signature: authenticity of authorship.
And there’s one thing I’m certain of anyway. This is, I’m sure of it, the most important part of getting at my authorship of words: all the writing has to be flights of fancy. My fancy. I have at no time earnestly endeavored to parade myself as a writer, though I’ve always held fast that it’s the most honorable avocation. It’s the way of the honest holy man. And with as much spiritual conviction I hold firm that my dharma is just to be a Meeno. A big Meenofish. Swim the way I swim, see the sea the way I see. And with constant but careless – carefree! – moments of Calvinistic endurance wrought through with an almost pharmaceutical euphoria I ought daily to sit and give way to this enjoyable flow of my flights in fancy.
Are we softening from the bravura of our odyssey of daily submersion into Indian miasmic madness? You bet your ass we are. There’s a whole different purpose to Thailand, isn’t there. Are we any less submersive? Not if you count these crystal blue seas?
So much of one’s character can come through cleanly when identity is sunk behind a mask. All manner of aspersion can be cast by noting which mask one is drawn to. There’s nothing quite so satisfying in life as hanging out with my hams.
So many different places we’ve stayed. So many niceties and fallacies. Sometimes things are so cushioned in our fall from the hoary skies of wide travel. We’ve certainly endeavored to make it so. Last time we were here a decade ago we averaged between 2 to 4 bucks a night in the hovels we stayed in. For our wedding night we sprung for an amazing bejeweled room with a view of our floating nuptial palace. It ran us somewhere in the $20 range. Outrageous hedonism, fit for a newly married couple. This time it’s so easy to pass off the endeavors of home finding to the need to make it comfortable for our children. “Raj Class” is the other way to put it. And it’s been very nice. And then there was the mud hut with thatched roof. That was equally amazing, except for the nearly freezing temperature at night. They would boast, 2 0r 3 degrees Centigrade. What does that mean asks the Californian mind knowing only that it’s down there but what does it really feel like? When you read your hands are numb. And then the blanding of the YWCA in Dehli – leave it to the Christians to take the spice out of things, but they had a heater, and shower caps.