April 14th, 2005

ChangMai Sokran festival

I am back yet again in an Internet cafe in Changmai. I am wetter than yesterday and the only difference is that I have 3 garlands of jasmine flowers around my neck. Fun as it was, it is good to take a break from the madness and insanity that grip Changmai during this Sokran water festival. I can also say the happiness and exuberance that gripped this city. We need more of the joy of life and be little children again, even if for just a while.

Yesterday I wrote a long piece on Tinkerbell. After sending it to some of the groups, I went back again to the water festival, at least in the part around the famous Tae Pah Gate, one of the old gates that opened into the old walled ChangMai city. I was in time to see the procession as enacted over hundreds of years and which was the heart of the Sokran water festival. Buddhas from the various temples were wheeled out and decked with flowers and garlands with sacred umbrellas over them. Music from old instruments and drums and cymbals preceeded them. People of and around ChangMai took part in the solemn parade dressed in their traditional dresses. Others were standing alongside of that parade with engraved silver bowls of water coloured by saffron pistils and scented by petals of jasmine, frangipanis and other flowers I could not recognised. They used little silver cups to sprinkle water on the Buddhas and other participants. They in turn scoop up the water draining into trays that lined the bottom of the float and send it back to bless them.

Next to that procession which ran perpendicular to the roads that run alongside of the moat, the water battle went on unabated. As if all were part of the same, related but yet apart.

That procession took hours. People who watched the procession use little cups to sprinkle water and be blessed. Then they go back to the buckets along the moat to drench all others, and returned back to the procession with solemnity. I can relate to that very easily.

Then this morning, I spend more time to transmit that "Final Rant" to other non English language groups. I tried to reach out to the whole world. Perhaps I can change the lives of some. I was very touched to know that I changed at least the life of one CAG parrot. Through some very early misfortune, he had only the stumps of legs without toes. His parront read of me and Tinkerbell and told me I was partly responsible for her decision to keep him. To cut a long story short, he fledged. He flew and adapted very nicely to a world without his toes. The irony is that lovely CAG parrot is a lot more mobile and happier than so many other CAGs with toes but without wings.

Now and then, trucks of screaming people passed by outside reminding me the battle of water is still ragining outside. Changmai is in the full grip of a very wet and happy party. Music and beats pounding all around. It does not matter. You walk a few meters and you will be into another sound system be they playing techno or Thai pop or Indian Bollywood songs. While waiting for targets, people gyrate away breaking from the beat only to throw water. It can be a hard decision, to go for volume discharge with pails and little buckets or to go for precision water blasters with less water.

In the hot day, either way is good as you get retaliated against, normally with icy water. That can be so refreshing.

Vendors remained in non combat zone just a few meters away selling local thai delicacies so one never starved. You have more choices of food and drinks so you have the energy to do battle. There is this fascinating store that sold your choice of fried bamboo worms (actually larva of insects), grasshoppers, crickets, mole crickets, cicadas and shining black water beetles. I had the bamboo worms and they tasted very nice. My courage failed at the others although part of me yearned to try them.