Monday, January 21, 2008

El Ghetto, Hong Kong of course, chair

I wrote a few days ago about various routes I’m taking on my 5-6 days/week walks in the neighborhood. I forgot to mention that 5 minutes toward downtown and on the other side of the Santa Fe tracks there is a barrio. David & I used to ride our bikes over here - there's a good sno-cone place a couple of streets over across the street from Cano's Fruteria.

It’s mostly houses, most 2 bedroom, 1 bath frame houses – many with add-on rooms and when people inherit a little money they build a brick fence and when they inherit more money they brick up their homes. Many of the houses have fences around the front yards, mostly chain link, some iron, a few picket or brick, usually with pathways worn by dogs into the dirt along the inside of the fence and I’m walking along listening to my iPod kind of keeping an eye on the two mastiff/junkyard dogs standing on the corner kind of keeping an eye on me AH CHA! A dog hits the fence 2 feet from where I’m walking – Bam, full speed, never a sound until he hits the fence then all kinds of snarling and carrying on. So much for walking around here with an iPod distracting me. Lots of pickup trucks, vans, etc. around here – in my mind I can hear the dispatcher saying, “Four Latin males, late teens, 20s, wearing dark hoodies …” Someone wrote in the concrete of the sidewalk, “El Ghetto.”

Leslie asked me the other night after we were in bed, if I thought about traveling as I went to sleep. Of course the answer was yes and when she asked if any place in particular, it turned out my answer was the same as hers: Hong Kong. This despite recent favorite places including Luang Prabang, Chiang Mai, Saigon … still Hong Kong, the first place we went in 1978 is the place we think of.

Showing conclusively that this is a personal journal ... The chair - which belonged to Leslie's grandmother - has a Karen (from Burma) textile draped over. On the shelves by the chair, books on travel and backpacking, empty Tabasco bottles and a Koon Yick bottle from journeys past. There are some Cambodian lime boxes, a hill tribe betel box, photos of Vietnam and Cambodia, thanka on one side of the door, Karen fabric on other, two monk’s bags - one from Moulmein, the other (from Lance) from around Battambang, books, a painting of Angkor Wat, more betel paraphernalia, blades (mounted – two khukris and African war blade in center, above are a kris, a Cambodian rice knife, a hill-tribe blade, and a Burmese everyday blade), backpack ready for Big Bend, David’s viola, someone else’s cello. David’s tennis, music, track and fencing trophies, etc. are scattered on the shelves. To the left of the small thanka and partially obscured by the cello is a katha - a Khmer talisman. At the top right corner is a small bottle of black sand from the beach of Iwo Jima. On the two shelves to the right of the thanka are books that I hope David will keep - Dispatches, Street Without Joy, books I've written (Terminal Illness, Refugees & Immigrants, Infectious Diseases), Hell in a Very Small Place, Never So Few, Barrack Room Ballads, Treasure Island, The Stones Cry Out, Monday Night Class, Tom Sawyer, etc. Out of sight to the right of the chair (to your left if sitting in the chair) is a table made from a blue and white Chinese pot we got from my Mom. It has a glass top and inside is a Burmese alms bowl made of lacquer. I don’t recall what’s in the bowl. There is a Burmese lacquer box on the table – inside are some inexpensive jade pieces, some images in a silk bag, a set of Burmese brass weights (in tikals?), vial of patchouli oil, cotton and silk cord that I got at the amulet market in Bangkok and from a place in Chiang Mai. Also on the table is a set of good Tibetan cymbals and a small old Chinese cloisonné saucer used as a coaster.

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