Let’s learn Thai – part 8, in which I almost get a social disease

I decided to go back to language lessons after a six-week hiatus, since I began forgetting everything I’d learned. I’m enjoying the new school, although it is a bit like drinking from a firehose. Every day is something new. Today, my teacher explained the structure “nʉ̀ng nai” (หนึ่งใน), which means “one of”, as in “one of the things I hate about Thai is how difficult it is.” The “ʉ” is pronounced like you would pronounce “uhh” while grinning from ear to ear (which is why Thailand is called the Land of Smiles; you have to stretch your mouth to pronounce…

A different side of Kathmandu

A few weeks back, I went to Kathmandu to take photos for a friend’s research project. She is examining the leadership roles—formal and informal—that women play in sukumbasis, informal settlements that have sprung up in Kathmandu as migrants have poured into the city.  The sukumbasis we visited are on either side of the Bagmati river. The Bagmati is a holy river—the Ganges of Nepal, as it were—but is now heavily choked and polluted due to the unrestrained population growth of the city. Two generations ago, people swam in it; now it is full of untreated sewage. A view of Jagritinagar from the…

Back to the salt mines

Actually, salt fields; one January afternoon, we visited salt fields on the Gulf of Thailand. The salt makers let the water flow into three rows of salt pools, and then evaporate them, using windmills to pump the water from one field to another. Once the water evaporates, the salt makers use a steamroller to flatten the pool bed, and then they start again.

Textures of Lad Prao

More photos from the “oh, yeah, I’m supposed to be maintaining a blog” series … Lad Prao is a traditional neighborhood along the edge of the Lad Prao canal (คลอง, pronounced “khlong”). The neighborhood is slowly being abandoned and demolished for new, higher-income housing. The demolition, and condition of the buildings generally, provide opportunities for abstract/textural work.

Yeah, we got that

There’s a section of Bangkok’s Chinatown called Talat Noi that is filled with small industrial concerns. You go there for steel construction material, hardware and the like. It all seems pretty organized until you get to the streets where the used auto parts stores are. Then things get funky. I have been fascinated by Talat Noi since I first visited it in September. There are scores of stores, one after the other, all selling what look to be the same things. How do all these stores stay in business? How does anyone know what their inventory is? Who buys and…