A dark skinned non-oriental feature lone woman walking down the street. Shabbily dressed; a pajama and a T shirt, trainers and a worn-out hat to get some respite from the evening sun rays; looking around, taking in everything the eyes can register. From the distinct aroma of noodles and grilled meat, old men slouching on chairs and some crouching doing nothing, the muddy waters of the river, kids playing with sticks and lump of mud; unkempt and not a care for the world. I wonder when was the last time I saw kids entertaining themselves with nothing but their creativity. Not seeing them glued to a TV or a smartphone or a tablet was kind of shocking.
The twilight was contemplating; whether to arrive or just let this moment linger on for a little bit long. Centuries old Wats(Buddhist temples) stand alongside modern patisseries offering free WiFi to be connected with the world. The courtyards of the Wats are unassuming providing the perfect contrast to the gilded roofs and walls of red and gold of the main temple. Monks clad in bright orange robes trying to go about their ascetic ways; now seemingly tough what with too many things to indulge in. A young monk walked with a broom and started sweeping the street. Another one started taking snaps of the monk in action. It was amusing to watch and I so wanted to know if those monks who live an austere life by seeking alms every morning and evening have a social media account as well? Chuckled at the thought of Buddha's no desire principle clashing with Mark Zuckerburg's stay connected venture.
The heaven tries to open up; yet its hesitant. It decides a drizzle is good enough and the dampness in the air still does not budge. As I walk; crossing scenes after scenes - it occurs to me its all similar. There is sanity; if you observe amidst the cacophony and frenzy. Yet; in that sanity lies the confusion and madness. Thoughts in my head, two personalities debating over which one is true. Out of reverie; I see a tuk-tuk driver expectantly waiting to be asked to be hired. He asks - Tuk tuk? I smile and say no, thank you. On my right; is a public school compound. Empty; school for the day is done. And then; a knock on my head. I look up; a tamarind tree just decided to drop a tamarind on me. I bend down and pick the tamarind and contemplate what to do with it? I carry it with me; did not realize when and where I lost it.
As the twilight set in; the roads came alive with more activities. Street markets, street food stalls and more. Locals and visitors walking around alike. I walk to a nearby stall and inquire the price of a stack of handmade paper. The haggling starts; a couple of minutes later; price agreed and my item is packed. The lady then asks "You from?" I say - "India". "Oh!..with you?" to which I respond "just me". She asks "one?" I say "yes, just one. Me, alone." What did I see? A sense of pity on her face. She feels sad for me. "Oh! why? alone?" I smile and say "I like". I think she got my point. She then asked "You happy?" I smile and nod.
I continue my walk..
PS : This is one of my evenings at Luang Prabang, Laos.