Luis, estrangement love an hate- Nong Khai- Thailand

31- Luis, estrangement love an hate

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“This Eternal contradiction between the love and hatred i feel for this feeling of estrangement that always prevent me from really staying where I am, while at the same time making me tired to be always going”

I read these words in my native portuguese. They come to me via email. From someone who knows me well, even while he thinks he does not. It resonates to me. It is the fate of the inbetweeners. All of us who are searching around the world something we don’t know what it is and it is probably within.

Lina disappears in the little Soy ( street) carrying her heavy bags, wearing her little hat. I am now concerned for this new traveller of the world. In broken english she explains to me i am welcome in china. ” Sure it is around the corner from Thailand”. The strange part is that it is not a joke. I am serious.

When was it that all the people around me became people who find quite normal to cross borders so frequently?

I reread the portuguese words of my Brazilian friend who like me studied all over the world. And who is now back to Brazil. Is he really back? Not sure.

I have spoke lots of portuguese these days. There is an Angolan man here. I who knew next to nothing about the Angolan war now know a lot. Luis is without a question top ten in the most interesting people i have encountered here. His perfect use of portuguese, the beautiful melody that comes from angola, the fact he left in the 80’s angola lived in china for years, practices vipsssana, knows so much about asian politics and so many other topics keeps me like a baby glued in front of teletubies.

The image he painted in my mind. The stories of the war. Images such as the one of his abusive alcoholic father (who beat him a lot as a child) dying in silence in hospital for 3 months. When Luis heard he was in Hospital, he flew to Portugal to meet him. He imagined they would speak for the last months of his father life. That he would tell him his story. But when he got to the hospital his father whose lungs had collapsed could no longer speak.

” In the beginning I spoke and he heard. That was too imbalanced so i became quiet we both just sat there in silence. Communicating in the absence of words. In the thirds month he just cried.”

Luis felt no resentment. He was then a different men. “We all change. I feel bad he cried in the moment of his death. According to Buddhism one should be fully conscious and aware when death comes so that you jump consciously.”

As I walk my Israeli friends to a tuk tuk i see Lina there. She is talking to people on a square. “Perfect! now she will cross to laos with my friends.” But seeing her gentle smile and laughter i know she will have no problem anywhere. San, toothless no longer homeless, organises the tuk tuk for everyone. As she enter the tuk tuk she takes the plaster Doremon she had painted the day before and gives it to him.

Nong Khai is a funny place. If you bike around you see how is it that the Thais keep their smile even when this place is on the verge of a revolution. At around 5:30 older thai ladies dance by the mekong. You see tai chi, and aerobics, salsa. You see gym machines in the street. In nong tin park there is a lot of people running. There are lots of thai food stands. Metal frames to climb. Ponds. And little tables on the ground where children and adults paint. Plaster dolls, and cartoons figures are for sale. One buys them to paint.

Doremon is one of those. The one Lina had picked and painted perfectly. Mine I left behind in the fear someone might not understand my conceptual modernist approach to painting 🙂 Lina hands it to San whose eyes get full of tears. And like this one more friends disappears into a new country.

But it is not all sad. As Lina goes Fred, the scandinavian boy who biked with me is back. Gaspard, the French guy who can play Django is back. Ella, who wrote about her father, is back. Mike, the scaffolder, wrote me to say his is also returning for x-mas and bringing the germans. Yasha (james), the californian who studied for 40 years Buddhism is here. The Brazilians shall be back soon.

It turns out that Inbetweeners are growing and growing. And for these people crossing borders to spend x-mas and new years with friends is not so absurd anymore. Even when x-mas and new years seem just as arbitrary as any other day. I reread the sentence of my friend who says he feels me, more than he knows me.

“This Eternal contradiction between the love and hatred I feel for this feeling of estrangement that always prevent me from really staying where I am, while at the same time making me tired to be always going”

I know it from within. This love and hatred we have for estrangement. There is so much pain that comes from this loss of roots. But there is also so much love. The hate comes from how weak ideas become. The love also does.

Lina goes. She is crossing to a new country showing new people the chinese are not that different. Luis, the Angolan, will stay for a while before he goes to yet another vipassana retreat.

” Buddhism fits a nomadic life. A life of movement and detachment.”

As he says that I think once again about my friend’s sentence. Maybe the love and hatred reside in this one word “detachment”. Something I both aspire to, but am deadly terrified of. But if the Buddha was a good teacher it surely must lie in the middle path… There is some irony to this though… As write this words a smile lifts me. Yes, if the Buddha was right, and we must text it, then that what we inbewteeners search, must lie in between.

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