Fear of joy

Songkran is notoriously difficult to take good photos of, especially if you don’t have a waterproof camera, which I never did for this festival…. for the real deal, really need to google images for “chiang mai songkran parade”….. please do :-)


It was an experience…. but then, after three years, I always preferred a trip abroad in the middle of April, after having been knocked off my motorbike something like 5 days before the holiday, on the way home from work. I didn’t feel safe anymore. I desperately wanted to be there but was too scared to. But I do miss the parades, the streets of the old city, where most people still managed to behave respectfully (more or less), at least back in 2006.



Every April, for a few hours, I’m there in spirit, seeking blessings, praying, and going for an all-out water fight with my students in the scorching April heat. I miss the joy…. that crazy outpouring of sheer joy that the photos don’t reflect. They were taken at the parade to the governor’s residence, not a main event. I was way too worried about my camera. Just feasting on others’ photos all the time when I want to remember.





I remember this guy above kept a chilled can of beer in his bowl, not offerings :-)











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So many moments of joy coming to my mind now, people and experiences I don’t have any photos of. Dancing in the monsoon rain. Chanting with the monks. The scent of flowers staining my fingertips yellow. The chill of icy water running down my spine.

I’ve had a good life, after all…. but the thing is, I need joy from the world, from others, from outside, I cannot just generate and create it for myself. I’m like a vampire, feeding on others’ souls…. and desperately trying to give back and contribute, just the restore balance to the world.

These days, I’m scared I will die soon and then who will take care of my son? I cannot send him back to his father, no matter how much I love him. There is never ever any more balance in this world. No way, impossible. I wanted to create something way too desperately and I’m still half expecting lightning to strike me down.

And even if I live, can I not put this burden on him, that he needs to make me happy and give me joy and give meaning to my whole life?

I’ve been wanting this so many years, and I thought my years of not caring about myself at all would help, but probably I’ve been on the wrong track all along. Or not sure what’s going on. I’m still terrified and not a single step closer to feeling all right about what awaits me.

Sometimes I fear that no songkran, no new years, no joy will ever help….




One night a few days ago, I sat up abruptly in the middle of the night, and three words flashed into my mind, out of nowhere, unhinged, derailed, bleached. Obviously, I’m not in the best of mental states, but whatever…. it is what it is. Bleached I did come across though a few days later, on the way to visit family. The landscape, all the colours. Everything looks like an old photo from the seventies, having lost its original colours through some lousy application of chemicals, or simply time. Supposed to be one of the best landscapes around here and never even thought of reaching for my camera. So devoid of life and excitement and all. But at least it didn’t make me sad or anything, I was just quietly observing things for now. I’m point blank refusing to think about or plan for anything beyond the next couple of months.

Still waiting for the other two words to make themselves more clear, though there may be no specific reason here beyond the obvious.

Well, at least one thing I’m enjoying here at home are all the bland, “bleached” flavours of my childhood. I don’t miss any of this stuff here that I enjoyed taking photos of.







Celebrate the light

It’s not really November full moon at the moment, but holidays and festivals always make me think, and today I was thinking about loy krathong. As I’m trying to graduate from fearful to fearless, and rise to the challenge of raising my son, I’m asking myself too many questions again.


I come from a family where we cannot and do not celebrate anything. When I first went to Asia, I was instantly captivated by the completely over the top, outrageous, colourful and boisterous and flavourful and insane festivals.













I was swept away by the community spirit, the openness, the emotional highs and lows. I had to learn how to celebrate things. Not just take photos or run for dear life when firecrackers are hurled into the thickest crowd, but also to think about their meaning, to connect with them, and make them my own. Hiding and pretending that nothing is happening is simply not an option.


So, now it comes to the point that I have established loy krathong rituals for those November full moon nights, but I still have no idea whatsoever what to do about Easter. But I would guess most people don’t. These original ideas of sacrifice and death and resurrection and forgiving and salvation are just way too serious. And somehow spring is not really around most of the time anyway. There is no community, most rituals and customs are tedious, people just seem to run these errands and feel relieved when they are over. I cannot feel that overwhelming joy that is in every lantern, every song, every candle or flower in any Asian holiday.





We just don’t have the spirit here. I feel blank. I have no idea what heritage and traditions I can pass on to my son. I hope the colours, songs and joy of Asia are in his blood already. And then we’ll figure out the rest together as the years go by.




Congratulations to damn wordpress about the new editing surface. I see a 3-centimetre strip of my photos and text, and have to painstakingly edit either code or these nearly incomprehensible cross sections of material just to make sense of my own post and pictures :-(  Fuck you all. Just to keep the holiday spirit. :-(  Way to motivate me to make the effort to try to post regularly, too. My mood is completely ruined and my blood pressure is up.  :-(  

Dazzling whites

I believe last year I skipped whites from my colour series. In the tropics, it is really easy to overlook, put it down as a conspicuous lack of colour, but sometimes in the strong and dazzling December sun, even the whites dance and shine.

The elaborate dragon motifs on the temple roof are Chiang Rai’s famed White Temple, and most of the flower photos were taken at the New Year flower festival on the same day, among the million reds, oranges, pinks and purples – still one of my favourite events in Thailand.

Bonus photo at the very end: my sister’s snow white deaf cat (one blue eye, one yellow eye, still hoping to take a good photo of him one of these days soon).

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2011 dec chiang rai 236  2012 Feb Chiang Mai 122

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May in the garden

Nope, I haven’t been entangled into a time warp, unfortunately; these photos date back to my first spring with my first ever digital camera. All of them were taken in our garden. At the moment, in real time, it’s just the first shoots, buds and leaves, and a carpet of violets, which is pretty but doesn’t really translate to a photo, so I really wanted to remind myself what is still coming.












Vibrant colours

Feels like I’m super busy and super tired, though all I’m doing is growing my son, bouncing back and forth between doctors and their stupid documents, cooking the occasional meal, and watching stupid movies…. there are storms of tropical proportions in my heart and mind, and it takes heaps of energy to try to keep up at least a semblance of sanity.

These tropical lights are difficult. Harsh and unforgiving during the day, no escape, but you still want to capture those moments dear to your heart. Giving you that golden hour at dusk, when you wish your entire being was a huge camera, able to absorb and reflect back all those lights. Stunning you out of your senses when the clouds roll in.

I don’t know why my destructive, overwhelming, unbearable attraction to the dramatic and over-the-top. Places, colours, people, experiences. Even to me, it does not seem to follow naturally from my personality. Still a mystery. But it is what it is. My life blown to pieces, my heart still yearning for those glimmering lights and colours that make me feel alive.

It’s gonna be fine, but being stuck this way, halfway, between two lives, just waiting… it’s sometimes more than I can take….




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