Friday, March 26, 2004

Memories of Superway Mekhong

Another reminiscence from modern tribal woman:

It was February 2000. A cousin from Mexico sent us an email about his dream of traveling down the three greatest rivers of the world, the Amazon, the Nile, and the Mekhong. It dawned to us that we were sitting on the banks of his dream, the Mekhong. As it didn't seem likely that he would cross half the world to visit us any time soon, we decided to take the trip for him.

The Mekhong is a strange river. A river like any other, but full of marvels. It runs from the roof of the world, the Himalayans, cutting through gorges, cities, towns, paddy fields and forests. Sometimes it is wide, other where it can be dry and shallow, some places deep, churning, rocky. It is periodically lined by sandy beaches. The Nong Khai beach is rich with gold flecks. The river is peaceful, but many times carried the currents of war and illicit trafficking. Associated with it are myths of water dragons and mysterious floating fireballs. Rare white fresh water dolphins, giant catfishes share the waters with armed patrol boats and many other different kinds of exotic vessels. I would say that thanks to the river's fickle nature no major cities has yet clogged its shores.

As I remember my journey down that great mythical trip. In my mind's eye, I see myself standing on the balcony of a temple on top of a hill in the middle of an ancient 11th century capital of a lost kingdom.

As my fingers skim this slight keyboard of my white ibook with its blue screen, seeing these incredible words magically constructing themselves, I experience a surreal mosaic of time, space, and senses. The past, present, and future merged me into a certain space of my mind downloading itself into some obscure server in that infinite space of bits and bytes. My skin, bones, nose, ears, and eyes have been sent through a wondrous time machine, re-gathering itself to stand at that moment four years ago, on that other side of the world, disorienting from a spot on the concrete grid that is Toronto.

I stood in a palpitating moment of peace allowing a calm breeze to carry away the hazy heatwaves of humidity, cooling off my sweat, regaining my breath and regular heartbeat from the climb up the steps of that temple in the middle of that capital of the lost KIngdom of Laos, Luang Prabang. That same breeze had carried up a faraway melody of children's laughter from the foot of that hill. Its ringing melody was ocassionally drowned out by the staccato of street cars sounds and motor-cycle-powered boats gunning off the nearby banks of the Mekhong.

I am pulled back from the dream of that faraway ancient riverbank by the similarity of the thoughts that I am reminded of at that moment with those that this 21st century blogging tribeswoman has been thinking about on the edge of an information superhighway. The thoughts I wondered were: "Will this superway one day connect the diverse people who flash in and out along its banks? As it once connected the ice-age caveman to the rainforest hunter and food gatherers to delta rice growers to outrigger travelling seamen, will the modernizing dwellers along its banks overcome the artificial borders they have drawn in the spaces of their minds over the river's generous flow and allow its people to freely travel and thrive in multi-culturality again once more? So too, I wonder about the information superhighway that is the internet, will it unite its cutting edge techies of the E-age or will the segregration of peoples we have put in our minds simply transpose itself to this growing cyberspace cyberculture?"


No comments: