Saturday, May 25, 2013

By the Waters of Babylon - Dedicated to the coffee growers of the Bolaven Plateau


Waking up in the morning is like being released from hibernation. The long night of shadows and rain, as the wet clear drops hit the roof and garden leaves all night long. All night long, the constant droning of wind, crackling of the branches and the moaning of the rain. Rain on the roof and rain on the torn tarp protecting the kitchen from the leaking holes in the asbestos tiles. Rain on the old cement alley-way surrounding the house and rain on the thirsty red earth as it kicks up in starts and fits, little rusty dirt seizures. The rain like winter in Canada, rain that keeps you indoors and makes the road treacherous, rain that splatters your clothing by day and infiltrates your dreams by night, making them a collection of fleeting images: border crossings, an old friend, an invented person sharing a joke, an envelope hidden inside the kitchen cabinets; little innocuous snippets of sound and image, a black and white collage devoid of all emotion or remembrance, a meaningless rain-drenched parade.

In the morning the sky may have cleared somewhat or it may not have. This morning it is mother-of-pearl, reminiscent of the eternally wet skies of Hanoi, although in Hanoi it was a grey we could be proud of, is was our grey – the grey that made everyone constantly mean and miserable. Here in Vientiane the grey is an unfortunate interlude, an exception, and the whole city seems to be holding its breath simply waiting for a gust of unseen lofty wind to come and lift the momentary marasme.

Once that happens, the city can get back to its real business, its veritable vocation, which is to party and throw tomorrow into the arms of oblivion under a sky so blue it seems to be in constant celebration.

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