Sunday, December 30, 2007


Far from the gaze of Chairman Mao and Kris Kringle, I am now being watched by two other fatherly figures, that of the Buddha and His Majesty the King, Bhumibol Adulyadej. After being force-fed the benevolence of Mao, I was reticent to accept HM. Thai Airways Magazine devoted an entire issue to HM, setting off every cult of personality, anti-monarchy alarm in my head. He gazes up from the currency, and on every street corner stand frames gilded and strewn with banners. Surely it was but a mask of benevolence, no? I tried to keep doubt in my mind. That is, until I bought a double disc of his compositions. At 7-Eleven! Right next to the green jelly grass juice!

The pictorial evidence of his greatness is overwhelming: he held an audience with G.I. Elvis Presley, jammed with the likes of Stan Getz and Louis Armstrong. He's also an amateur photographer. I wish he were my king, in much the same way I wish Buddha were my savior. Reclining Buddha (also on his death bed) is far less gruesome than ol' Iron Nails.

Above is the most inspirational picture of the King I can find, one that will go straight to the desk shrine upon my return: pencil in hand, a bead of sweat running off his nose, wholly lost in thought.