A couple moves to Bangkok

by Kay Natesan

“We are moving into a service apartment for the first month, so you ha’ve nothing to worry about dearest” my husband of many years announced with aplomb. Ah, that’s cool, I thought. All we need – a comfortable dwelling whilst we roam a tourist’s dream delight: city of angels – Bangkok; Thailand here we come! Well, it wasn’t quite as simple as that, and I was naïve to imagine this move to be a sail into unknown and& calm waters. Establishing a new nest in an unfamiliar city, even as one struggles with leaving friends and family behind, was, as I discovered, an emotional rollercoaster. Yet Bangkok left no stone unturned to embrace us. It turned on its charm full throttle and I succumbed, slowly and surely. Landing a massive apartment on Soi 20, played a pivotal role. It had taken us all of two weeks, and every apartment I saw, brought me closer to my vision of home in this new city that lights up at night; whose streets conjure up rows of tables and chairs casting its net of aromatic fare at everyone, by day. It’s a unique feature of Bangkok and continues to throw me. The aromas overwhelm and it’s quite delightful once you get used to it. I’ve partaken of street food and its delicious fare, freshly sautéed on a wok right in front of you, is definitely worth every penny. It’s awfully cheap as well.

Bangkok, the city throbs and moves incessantly, and can be very daunting, even if you’re an Indian from India. Yes, there is chaos and noise and pollution in Delhi – all that’s true, I can’t deny it. Yet, the noises and the smells and the semi-chaos in Bangkok appear and disappear depending on your openness and your willingness to observe, to own and to flow. It grows on you, this city and its people, if you will permit it too. The gentle Sawadee Kha, and the ‘7/11s’ that thrive along with their half-sister ‘Family Mart’, make it that much easier to find what you need, at least for the body. That said, the longer you stay, the more comfort you find in the little things that make life liveable and less of a task. As a wife, who is not granted a work permit or visa, I needed to find my niche. While my husband went off to work on Wireless Road, a wide and tree-lined avenue, with Embassies and what not, I made myself a list that would aid the process of ‘naturalisation’. Language is the key and I am a language person – so I enrolled in a school and quickly made friends from all over the globe even as I struggled to make sense of Thai.

It’s not like any European language – it’s both easier and more challenging. Go figure! In the meantime, our apartment gradually began to feel like home, as I decorated it and fixed homely meals. I surmised that getting around on a bike was a lot easier, than trying to grab a taxi. The BTS served the purpose of gliding over Sukhumvit, the lifeline of central Bangkok, and carting you around without much ado. So I roamed the city, footloose – and it hit all the right notes. I was taken.

What I’ve come to love about Bangkok :

Ease of communication: a smile, a nod, a few words of Thai and you have won the locals over; Innumerable food outlets – cafes, pubs, restaurants, bakeries, tiny libraries with food on the go – at affordable prices; The availability of transport – bikes, taxis, sky-train – everywhere or almost everywhere; The colourful mix of folk that thrive; A humungous number of malls you can duck into when the heat gets to much for you; The proximity to other countries that immediately become accessible when you live here; Mmassage parlours that abound on every soi, and the heavenly treatment you receive at any given time of day or night; Food, food and more food : I’ve never eaten a substandard meal in Bangkok, and any cuisine I wish to savour; You can be anyone you want. Every Soi off Sukhumvit has unique and distinct characteristics I find fascinating; If it exists, you’ll find it here in this city.

What I find unsavoury: the frequency with which one needs to visit the immigration department.

Life here is what you make of it. There’s peace and quiet if that’s what you wish for; there’s noise and music and bars, if that’s the life you seek; there’s art, there’s a river and there are people. Life in Bangkok is turning out to be a pleasant experience for us, and I wake up very morning with gratitude, thanking the universe for having gifted me this unique experience. This part of the world has been relatively removed for us – we chose Europe and USA over SE Asia, because the weather was inviting, our kid was studying there, and we have more friends in the West. Living in the warmth of Thailand, I am learning and I am growing and I have access to more of myself than I ever did back in India. It has offered me the best that life has to offer: time, a kind and skilled Burmese house-help, access to Indian groceries and a gateway to some of the most beautiful and natural habitats in the world. If I wish for any more, I’d truly be upsetting my karmic balance.

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