Home of the Yellow Shirt

I put aside the camera today. As my Friederike advised me at one point, don’t let the picture taking and blogging get in the way of the trip itself. It’s very easy for me to get distracted by my visual brain. For one thing, it’s been ages since I’ve been this focused on photography. It feels really good, but the camera is an intermediary. Sometimes that’s welcome, and sometimes it’s not. Today was about seeing without the camera.

One thing I noticed…the Yellow Shirt. Apparently, yellow is the color of the king, and there are many, many people walking around Bangkok wearing yellow shirts with the logo of the monarchy emblazoned over the left breast. You also see images of the king everywhere. That part’s not so unusual, I suppose. The same is true in Amman for example. No, what’s truly eerie is when the anthem plays. Then people stop in their tracks, and just wait till it’s done. The first time it happened, I was at the Skytrain working with a guard to top up my card. Midway through music starts to play over the loudspeaker, and the guy completely stops paying attention to me. The guard next to him stands at attention and salutes the entire time. The attendant behind the booth stands up. All the people walking to and fro completely stop as well and just stand there. Okay, not entirely. Some of them, I could see, where impatient to start walking again.

The second time was today. I needed to take a break from the city and the heat and the cars and their pollution. So I went to see a movie. (The new Pixar film, Ratatouille, which I recommend.) It turns out that one of the trailers for the film is actually an ode to the king, a montage with music. Everyone in the theater stands up. Everyone. The folks next to me glance my way to see what I would do, and so I stand up too. I have no reason to give offense, but I can’t help looking around and thinking how spooky it all is. It’s like I’ve stepped into the episode of Doctor Who (ep: Rise of the Cybermen) where the entire Earth’s population freezes for their daily download of news and entertainment, including a joke of the day.

What happens when everyone believes the same thing? What happens when a person is deified? No matter how wise, everyone makes mistakes…

Yellow Shirt

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~ by Samer on July 31, 2007.

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