You have to love Bangkok. It’s the one city I know where a long distance solo traveling woman can get a mani-pedi and a massage at midnight. Sometimes you can even meet an angel in the city of angels. It was at a streetside massage stand where I had stopped to have some kinks in my back ironed out, that an angel of Bangkok descended in my midst. In her human shape, she was a middle aged woman like myself, selling Thai art to tourists. As she sat down in the vacant chair next to me, she sighed long and hard.
Instantly I tensed up.
“Oh, God,” I thought, “don’t you dare sit there and try to sell me something while I am trying to relax!”
I sent her some karmic bad vibes.
She pulled a cigarette out of her pocket and asked if I minded if she smoked. I didn’t. As she lit up and dragged heavily, she closed her eyes. I thought about her life, wandering the streets of Bangkok, dealing with drunk tourists, pounding the beat. She took her shoes off and stretched her feet.
“I am looking for an angel tonight,” she said.
“You are looking in the wrong place,” I replied, indicating the street lined with bars and jostling tourists. “You need to be looking up there!” I waved at the sky.
We laughed and the ice was broken. Suddenly we were just women of the night, travelers whose sleeves had brushed in passing.
“What time do you finish?” I asked her.
“Three a.m.,” she responded.
I clucked in sympathy.
“It’s not so bad,” she assured me. “I used to work in an office, but I got too fat, and anyway it was boring. I like meeting people.”
She showed me her feet, clad in what she called “sensible shoes” (those dreaded Crocs!) and told me she wore two pairs of socks to keep her feet soft.
In the usual way of women meeting on the road, we got down to business and shared our life stories thus far. Or rather I did, under her expert questioning. When we got to the bit about me being a widow, she expressed her sympathy and then went on to tell me a story from her Buddhist tradition. The woman in the story had lost her entire family in one terrible day, her grief inducing a kind of madness. Eventually the woman came to understand the impermanence of life and came to refuge in the Buddha’s arms.
I thanked her for her story, and told her how such words gave me comfort in my grief.
“Everyone here is Buddhist,” she said waving her hand to indicate the Thai crowd, “But most of them don’t understand. They wave sticks only in front of a statue. But I read, I investigate and I …”
She trailed off, her eyes fixed on some unknown horizon. The moment stretched into the sky studded night, then she turned to me and said, “I listen to the sound inside the silence.”
Her eyes told me this was true.
She stubbed her cigarette out and rose to leave. I folded my palms together in a high pranam.
“Good luck my friend.”
And then the Angel of Bangkok wandered off down the street in her human form, dissolving in the sea of street sellers and tourists still searching for their angel.
Photo is © Dianne Sharma Winter – All Rights Reserved
Guest Author Bio
Dianne Sharma Winter
Dianne Sharma Winter is a full time wanderer, writer and tour leader for women only trips to India. She lives according to the words of her literary hero Kerouac – “Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”
Blog / Website: www.womentravelmotherindia.com