One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…. Our voices melded into a rhythmic trot. With each stomp we made our way past bystanders and left a trail of numbers. 50, 51, 52, 53, 54… The sunlight was beating down on our backs. The heat penetrated our clothes and gathered on our skin. The numbers began to catch in our mouths as our climb slowed to ensure each number was included. 123, 124, 125… “I want a picture,” I gasped balancing on a step to catch a shot of the scene ahead of us. “Ok.” 234, 235,235-236… “Oh wait, we are out of sync.” 234, 235, 236… Seeing the stairs cut away just ahead our legs pumped as we threw ourselves up the last few steps. 269,270,271 aannnddd 272…
When I first laid eyes on Wat Phumin I saw a fortress within which the quiet denizens of the area could seek sanctuary. Even with a bustling textile fair throwing clamoring bids and chatter about, and a fashion-show blasting music right across the way—the merriment couldn’t breach the temple’s grounds.
The two rolling serpent creatures, or nagas, upon which the temple seemed to rest—looked as though they were holding back the din, biting the air clear of noise and careless speech.
Surrounded by the false darkness of Bangkok the audience around me gasps as Lord Rama towers over King Ravana. Steadying his position atop a fellow performer he brings his weapon to bear. Seconds after driving a blow at Ravana, Rama lightly steps to the ground as the human structure falls away. He and the demon circle each other, seeking another moment to strike. Just behind them their two armies wait, prepared to converge in a mass of honour, strength and death. Continue reading “The Defection of Bidhishna 3”
Alone and banished to the forest, Bibhishna looks about miserably. He lost his titles and will never be able to see Lanka City or his beloved wife and daughter again.
With time, pride dispels his sadness and he decides then and there to cut himself from evil. He will give himself over to Rama, the God Narayna incarnated. He stands up with resilience and a small cheer emanates from the audience watching the play. A pool of rainwater in front of the stage reflects the demon’s face as he calls out for Rama. He calls and calls. But there is no answer. Continue reading “The Defection of Bidhishna 2”
Carnivals have always brought a sense of wonder and adventure to me. I marvel at the dazzling lights and flashing colours. What had once been an empty parking lot would come alive with imaginative themes. The very air would become saturated with a whimsical mood. People came to carnivals to forget. To rattle their brains of thought and spin their worries away.
It’s been this way for decades according to popular culture. Magic and mystery travel hand-in-hand with the carnival in our imaginations.
As always overnight it seemed as though the rides had risen from the dust.
And, like being there at exactly the moment the wheels of a pivot begin to turn or watching a spider complete its a web, I managed to appear at the carnival’s doorstep right as it began to build its fantastic façade. Continue reading “Carnivals: The People Who Build Them”