A couple of things this week threw up unwanted angst on the dialogue between civilisations. One, I went to see Ek Tha Tiger in Bangkok’s newest mega-mall, Terminal 21. And if you’d gone by escalator to the sixth level where the movies are, you too would have seen the hordes going up and down inside and also outside, on the skywalk.
Watching this eerie army, an end-of-the-world bad feeling hit, I mean, no way I buy the Mayan doom script, it was this scary, unwelcome verse from the Bhagavad Gita that slid into my head like a sneaky naga: yatha pradiptam jwalanam patanga/visanti nasaya samrddha vegah/tathaiva nasaya visanti lokas /tavapi vaktrani samrddha vegah BG 11:29: ‘As moths hurl themselves at a blazing fire, I see countless people dash themselves to destruction into Your mouth.’
Can I just see a movie, please, without holy-boli invasions, I thought crossly. Anyhow, Ek Tha Tiger cheered me up no end, as lovely locales and nice people in beautiful clothes always do and so did Salil Rizwan’s wicked webcomic on it when I got home, isn’t he an absolute riot?
The very next day I met a Thai friend for lunch at Aoi, a Japanese restaurant I love, in Emporium, which is a nice, human-scale mall. We had a great view of the park and lake next door from our window table and hungrily ordered up favourite foods: warm, salted gingko nuts, sashimi, crunchy shrimp, tiny eel crisped like kurkure in tempura batter, a go-straight-to-heaven box of rice, egg and salmon topped with orange salmon roe, and smoky green tea.
My friend, whose mother used to stop the car to save trees, sighed looking at the skyscrapers that ringed the park. “People can build all they like, in places with no history like Sukhumvit,” he said. “But the fine old houses and trees in Sathorn and Silom are lost to Bangkok forever now.”
Thailand seems so ahead in ‘Conveniences of the West with Comforts of the East’ compared to India (mind, a chunk of Thailand’s lifestyle is powered by natural gas from Myanmar which wants some back now for its own power shortfall), that this lament induced a full-on panic-attack about our idiot-paradise escalator: we Indians spent Rs 120 crore in six days on the movie fantasy Ek Tha Tiger while steadily moving en masse into real-life ‘yatha pradiptam’? Not a nice drama queen moment, right?
Renuka Narayanan writes on religion and culture