Cacophony of Business

Jayanath Tharanga

© Copyright 2023 by Jayanath Tharanga

Photo by Marcin Konsek at Wikimedia Commons.
Photo by Marcin Konsek at Wikimedia Commons.
It was an unforgettable journey I went to a land of happenings with my family and my cousin’s way back in 2017. We had been thinking about exploring Thailand and the day came in June. Going to the airport to board a flight with my family would stay in my mind forever. My little son, Bevan, who was about three years old, was given a piggyback ride by me as we entered the airport. People around, I still vividly remember, were waving and smiling with my little fellow who had no idea where we were taking him.

As we landed in Thailand, the excitement we had was something that cannot be expressed or turned into words. The air, trees around and almost everything seemed quite similar to ours but the appearance of people between the two countries was so distinct. Most Thais looked the same unlike us, Sri Lankans.

By the time we got to our hotel we were knackered so thought of having a nap before we ventured out to explore more about the area where we were staying in Bangkok. Bangkok, as we had heard, was a very exciting place with so many things happening. When we woke up in the evening, the sight there in the street was unbelievable as so many Thais pulled and pushed their carts and stalls on the kerb as if a termitarium had been sprayed with some chemicals. It was heaving with people getting ready to sell their day’s harvest. Meat items, veggies, fruits, and all kinds of comestibles were available. It all looked like a complete smorgasbord to me.
However, I must say that I had to change the complete perception of this land after I landed. Thailand is a Buddhist country which meant to me that they refrain from killing and eating animals. It was truly not what I saw. Believe it or not that many stalls had an image of a Buddhist monk. In Buddhism, animal cruelty is discouraged but here in Thailand, it sort of seemed that meat is the staple food of them.

Night life was so active. It seemed that Bangkok never slept. Night clubs, pubs, bars and massage parlors were so vibrantly open and thriving. Women dressed with stunningly beautiful cloths looked femmes fetales to me from every corner. This sight reminded me of British author Stephan Leather’s ‘private dancer’ which I had read a long time ago. The fate of these beautiful girls was something I could imagine quite easily. It says in ‘private dancer’ that tourists visit this destination for their insatiable libido. Sex is also for sale. They are pretty happy to get themselves sold as sex objects to satisfy their sex customers who usually have flings with them just for lust. You will never find a platonic love here.

Everything was on sale in the streets. People were heaving, making it more like a hornets’ nest has been stirred up. The man who was selling fruits right in front of the hotel where we were staying was such a generous man who I will never forget. His stall was so poor but not his heart. He got a pretty good smile on his face all the time and the excitement on his face when he spotted me in the street was unbelievable. He kind of celebrated spotting me in the mornings with a little bit of a twist of his body. We bought fruits from him every morning during our stay there -mainly water melons and papayas. They were crimson red and massive in size. This man was so generous that he gave us some extras whenever we bought from him and never forgot to say ‘bye’ to us. It seemed that he lived his life as if he’s living his last few days.

Down the street, beers and other beverages were on sale galore. It was probably an uncommon sight for me as we never get to see people selling alcoholic drinks on the kerb of the street in Sri Lanka. For a moment, I thought this would be great if this kind of thing is allowed in Sri Lanka. Oh…. but it would be rather chaotic and eventually it would come to an end or would be banned.

People selling shoes, clothes, food and many more items were so busy with their work. There were streets that were completely filled with them especially during evenings. In the afternoons, vehicles even public transport plied on the very streets. That was a new and exciting experience for us to see the same street being used for two different purposes.

Bargaining is possible but if you start nagging, Thais, especially, girls don’t like it at all. I wanted to buy a shirt that looked stunning to me but the price was little too dear to me so I approached the girl behind the stall and offered her a price for it that made her so livid with me. And she was furious as I started speaking fast English which she couldn’t really latch on to. Another such incident happened when we were walking down the street, a street vendor, a girl with hats and caps had a pretty good collection. Among them, one I wanted to buy but again it was so expensive for me. But I tried negotiating and she got so angry because I was trying to put her price down.
During our short stay there, we could understand how much people struggle to make ends meet. It also seemed that there’s no restriction when it comes to business in this land of colours. Things that are illegal or banned to sell on street in Sri Lanka were well on sale in the streets of Thailand. For example, beers could be bought from a street vendor. This was something surprising for me as I have never seen such a thing in my home country. A scene many a Sri Lankans would love to see and experience though.

Every inch of land or space was occupied by businesses. Thailand is, without any doubt, a hub for a battery of business activities.

I am a Sri Lankan writer residing in the UK at the moment. But I have never been published or paid for any of my works. This attached piece of my writing is about a trip  I went on in Thailand. I hope that you'll like it.

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