20 March 2008

Laotian in Motion Tour, Day 2: Waiting for Dinner

I went out like I had promised to meet Jim, friend of Internet friend Scott Hodge. Jim, whose last name I never caught, works with bar girls (and generally 'the poor') in Bangkok. Our conversation was really fabulous and wide-ranging. I thought the most interesting thing he had to say had to do with the fact that the poor, whether it be in Bangkok or the inner-city of Chicago, are all basically struggling with the same sorts of problems, lots of them emotional and habitual. The problem with the poor is not that they don't have any money, it's that they don't have the tools to get and sustain money. Some of those problems are met through people from the outside giving money, but for the most part, the poor need to learn the skills required for money gathering and retention. The bad habits that get families way down in a hole need to be met before you start talking about getting stable employment...

Somewhere in there are also my thoughts, maybe not all Jim's. But he is one of the real deal Christians that I have a lot of respect for.

The other interesting that came up in our conversation is that everyone thinks they are doing the right thing, whatever it is that they are doing. Whether you are sleeping with a prostitute or whatever, we all think we are doing the right thing.

Now, I am at a huge mall, one of the places that makes me feel like Thailand is Disneyland. You can get anything you could ever want here. I got pizza because it's hard to get cheap pizza in Japan. I suppose I should be eating more on the street, but you win some and you lose some.

I saw a couple of good movies on the way over — 90% of American Gangster and about 95% of Michael Clayton (JAL's movie viewing system was invented by a group of monkeys typing on keyboards, and not the kind that wrote Moby Dick). Really fabulous movies about some of the real problems in the world. American Gangster was a really good mob film, complete with good moral teaching and racial reconciliation. You won't get that from The Godfather. I still haven't seen the end of Michael Clayton and am hoping to be able to either catch it on the way back or buy it bootlegged at one of these places on the street.

I miss my wife and child and this is not good as I have about 8 days left to go. There was a little girl at the house that Jim runs that reminded me a little of Naomi. She wanted to play, I think. Naomi wants to play all the time. She has the most fabulous sense of humor. I like how she has like variant laughs depending on how amused she is. She's really a trip. I'm a lucky man.

Now, overnight to Laos. The sleeper car will be slept. I guarantee it.