Tue Sep 8th, 2009 at 01:39:20 PM EST
It is late evening in Bangkok and it is still raining. Monsoon time. After some time I found myself again in the friendly Asian megapolis waiting for visa processing (quite a usual timepass when one is out of her country for a long time).
Tourist ghetto of Khaosan Rd area under the rain.
My friend left Bangkok long ago, her friend who entertained me last time in March too, she left for dreadful Baghdad, so this time I am on my own, mixing expeditions into rich Bangkok's past with browsing gleaming malls and cozy family-run bookstalls in search for wonderful books.
The rain intensifies
With both kinds of business I was extremely lucky this time so I had run out of my budget for Bangkok rather quickly. That's why I am sitting in internet café in my hotel's lobby and printing these words.
Obsession with gold has a long history in Thailand.
I just don't know how to begin. Everything it seems was already said about Bangkok. Unlike Indian cities Bangkok never sleeps. No, it does not mean that all people never sleep, but many people (including tourists) do, I think. Last night when one my friend (she is studying Thai massage in Chiang Mai) called me at 3AM waking (and angering) me up I looked into the window and saw the street full of people. I am not sure whether it was just arrived people looking for a spare bed or crowd returning from infamous Bangkok red light districts somewhere on Sukhumvit Rd or around Nana Plaza. Thai sex industry apparently escaped recession.
Asia Books which was so afraid of Thaksin that they refused to sell Pasuk Phonpaichit's biography of the then premier minister of Thailand, now His Excellency Nicaraguan ambassador.
More about recession, don't you think it was unusually mild this time? Maybe massive bailouts somehow helped? I was thinking about this paradox while reading during lunch of fried rice with pork and pineapple fopr just 1 dollar Jeffrey Sachs's book The End of Poverty I purchased in Silom's branch of the Asia Books.
My lunch with a copy of IHT in the backdrop.
In India we are mostly obsessed and concerned with what happening inside the country and books like Sachs's are not readily available. He published it in 2005 in the height of Bush presidency. In the book he is explaining his "crimes" in rapid privatization, liberalization, shock therapy he advised to governments in Bolivia, Poland and Russia in 1980-90s, so at first I had a feeling "I caught a thief!".
"Das Kapital" of the XXI century?
I've found who was responsible for unnecessary suffering caused to scores of innocent people who were not paid their salary because Mr Sachs had recommended the governments to rein in budget deficits trying to stop hyperinflation. They were not paid their paychecks in many months, in some instances years, Mr Sachs, and coped with lack of cash selling their valuables. Just at that time I was studying in Moscow trying to become gas field engineer and I was forced to stop my study due to financial turmoil. Now I know whom to thank for cardinal change in my life!
Now and again I am stuck in infamous Bangkok's jams.
Whatever, his book is wonderful treat in development economics, his flamboyant boasting a la Virgin owner notwithstanding. He did not open new continent preferring to quote (extensively) Adam Smith and John Meynard Keynes. He gives crash course of world economic history, noting importance of geography (besides other factors like favorable for innovations political system) for destiny of different countries, illustrates development points on examples of Bolivia, Poland, Russia, China, India and Malawi (in Africa). Illustrations are at their most strength when he interrupts his boasts and turn into Bono-style activist like in his description of Malawi's fight against AIDS. Had Madonna adopted her two children from this impoverished country because of Jeffrey Sachs' book? I am not keen watcher of pop celebrities but remembering her visit to Dharavi (Mumbai's slum celebrated in Slumdog) with Gregory David Roberts (author of Shantaram) in hand it's not improbable. Or maybe Mr Sachs's book was of great importance for generous help offered by George W Bush to Africa in his second term (Now it seems like his only achievement in office, millions of Africans should be grateful and I will not wonder when his busts one day will dot the continent's landscape).
My time is up, I'll continue tomorrow..
What is inside?