Looking for Buddha in Transit: Despite the Spite, There’s Danger in Anger…

 

IMG_2338A seven-hour layover is no fun anywhere any time and certainly not Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, where the idea of fun for an extended layover is to put you in a dark dank ‘transit lounge’ holding cell with fellow miscreants where at least the Internet is good, and they brought me some free food, better than I’ve ever gotten elsewhere, TBH, but still no fun…

So when the flight is further delayed another hour, the news is even less welcome than usual, given the constraints on my time in destination Bangkok, where I already have only ten-and-a-half hours to pass through Immigration and Customs, sleep, cross town and check in at the other airport before my flight to southern Thailand departs, rush rush hurry hurry…

IMG_2330So when we then spend another hour in the airport bus waiting for the airplane to be ready, tempers are boiling over, not mine, but on some of the other passengers, especially Western passengers, including one Israeli, ‘western-oriented’ by extension and custom, more than geography, but he only one of many hurling vile epithets and not-so-subtle innuendos, insulting the mothers and other family members of people who are apparently only trying to do their jobs…

But it’s scary, almost, watching these people making a bad situation even worse, to the point where we are told to exit the bus for further waiting, and more confusion. But that is not what is most unsettling. What is most unsettling is the raw anger itself of these other Western passengers, most of them, in fact, out of control, and gesticulating wildly…

I don’t know if it reminds me more of the Discovery Channel, or the Seinfeld episode in which George is nicknamed after Koko the monkey—yes, THAT one. If the Discovery Channel, then I can think of better editions. But is no one capable of self-control? Can no one see the need for it? Would they rather the plane crash? Would they rather be inside it waiting?

IMG_2335Admittedly, we shouldn’t have boarded the bus if the plane wasn’t ready, but still… It’s embarrassing, in addition to being frightening, my guilt by association with these other Western maniacs. I guess this is how the rest of the world sees us. But it seems like they are having so much fun, so I decide to try it. This will be fun—wait for it…

I didn’t sleep at all that night, what with only four hours to do it in—simply impossible, for me to sleep under those conditions. So I made my flight BKK-HDY in time, and even got some rest at my hotel, but not much, after considering just crashing in the airport. Fortunately I was able to guide my taxi driver to the correct address, one that I’d only seen before on a map…

My results with the taxi driver in Had Yai were not so fortunate. When we hit some traffic on the 40kg/25mi run to Songkhla, he gets out his voice-driven app, and next thing I know, we’re out in the countryside somewhere, and I’m completely lost. I don’t really like this development, but I hold my tongue, UNTIL I’m sure we’ve made a complete circle, at least a circle in the same sense that a moon orbits a planet in motion, so a circle that’s hopefully moving in some direction, but still…

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Back-seat driver

So I finally decide to let the guy have a piece of my mind. After all, he could be leading me off to kill me. The road from Had Yai to Songkhla is not complicated, they being connected by a major highway or two, no back roads required. And even if the app does ultimately save a minute or two, is it worth all this? So I let loose, assuring the driver that I’d be happy to drive, if he can’t handle the challenge. I don’t need an app, since I know how to stay on the single highway that connects the two cities…

When we finally hit the outskirts of the city, he asks me snarkily, “Can I turn here?” Now he’s the one getting all snarky! I guess that means I win! Now we’ve got some real creative tension going on here! There’s only one problem: I feel bad. So I apologize profusely, if and when I can. And so does he, explaining that he’s from Phuket and doesn’t know the area well. I explain that I don’t know it well, either (especially when coming in the back door)…

Unfortunately, we’re still lost, but that situation will soon enough rectify itself. The important thing is that the anger has been cleared from the air, it hanging overhead like a black cloud on a sunny day, ready to dump its load. And it’s contagious, too, as was just proven. Maybe that is the worst part, that it is catching, or ‘being given’, as they say in Guatemala. But it doesn’t feel like giving to me. A true gift will enlighten you. Anger only diminishes you, every time…

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