Today I indulged in a latte at Starbucks. You can get those in Chiang Mai too, you know. Just a lot more expensive than the local java. I felt like something predictable, and nothing is more predictable that a tall latte at Starbucks. I also wanted to sit somewhere alone to read and write, and I found the perfect little corner. I put on my don’t-bug-me-aura and slurped the foam off the top while reading my book and taking notes in my journal. A nice way to spend a morning.
Outside the window cars moved in a steady stream, like herring in a school. A haze of smog covered the overpass, and made a resident mountain invisible. The view from my window was like a flat screen TV on mute. I could indulge in my latte, watching the movie, but really not know what was going on.
On the bed of a truck people were squatting, squeezed together so that the whole work-crew would fit on one truck-load. They were construction workers—probably from Burma. Probably paid less than minimum wages. Probably rather do that than living in dictator hell.
Behind the over-populated truck was a shiny Benz, chrome sparkling, black like a stallion, windows tinted, but I could still see the owner—a lady in her fifties. Her hair was looking like cotton candy, just not pink. She wore a polyester suit with shoulder pads and tropical colors. I figured she had a maid that would come running, opening her elaborate gold-painted gate when she came home in the afternoon, tired from all the shopping and the tea with friends.
Next to me, in my TV room sat a couple. Both had ordered espressos and both had their Blackberries in front of them. For the whole time I sat there, neither one spoke a word to the other, but it seemed like the Blackberries were good for conversation. They were sitting together, closely by a very small table. But they were as far apart from each other as they would have been if they had been on opposite ends of Chiang Mai.
So many people, I thought, passing in front of me as I live my life. So many. Like a school of herring they swim in front of me as I sip my latte and really have no idea what is going on in their lives.