A kind of momentous (to me) thing happened recently. But first I’ll set the scene… I am living in the mountains, in a smallish village in northern Thailand about an hour and a half east of Chiang Mai city.
Though there are tourists that come through here, some falang, mostly for the flight of the gibbon zip line outfit, and a lot of Thai people that come from all over the place. Apparently at some point there was a magazine article in Bangkok about the village (Mae Kam Pong) and since then folks all the way from Krung Thep and beyond have been flocking up here. Still, and despite that, it is a small village where most of the people have been around a long time growing tea and more recently coffee and there is not a lot of English spoken though naturally many of the guides and others that work at flight of the gibbon do speak english.
To the point of this. Recently, Pi Sutam, who is a respected elder in Mae Kam Pong and who, until recently, was the person I went to to pay my electrical bill and any issues with the water (not really drinkable unless it’s boiled) that gets piped in. She also invited me to help the village clear a sort of fire break on a ridge high up that follows the line of the village to the south east.
OK, that’s not my point, this is my point.
Recently Pi Sutam’s daughter in law told me that I can drink the water that comes out of the mountain a ways up the trail that we took to get to the fire break. I think also that Pi Sutam had tried to tell me this a little while earlier. It is pure, gorgeous water and there is a little tap that you can fill your water containers with on the side of the trail. I like to think (in my head) that it is now that I have been here now for a year and a half, helped with the firebreak and in general am giving the impression that I’m a sticker, not a leaver. So in that way, I imagine that maybe now I have been allowed to have the knowledge of the beautiful water that comes out of the mountain and not have to buy the local water that is bottled and purified. It is very good but not water that comes out of the mountain good. Of course, it would be equally possible that they have been trying to tell me this for quite awhile now but I just didn’t get it. This later sort of scenario also happens on a regular basis. My Thai language skills are improving but it is a slow though imminently enjoyable linguistic slog.
We now come to this piece of musicsound here. The main rhythm is the slow trickling water filling a metal water dish that I then pour using a funnel into a bottle. I filled ten, 1 litre bottles today. While the water is trickling out I was doing a bit of tin whistle playing stopping to then fill a bottle when the metal container filled up. The other rhythm, that is not directly hearable but is omni present, is the long walk, say a km to the trail and then another almost km to the spring all uphill. Downhill for the most part heading back.
Like most things in my life (I am, finally, now fully realising), there is not a lot of intention in this piece. I took my tin whistle because I know that it takes a while and so it would give me something to do while I waited sitting on the ground waiting as the water dribbled out. It is the dry season, I would imagine that when the rains come it will become faster job. As I was playing a few tunes I noticed that there were some birds singing along (you can hear these birds at the beginning of the track) and then I got the idea of recording it and that is what I did.
There’s a bit of mixing and a touch of layering going on in this but not too much and the length and space between the water pouring and the playing is what it was.
The momentous thing. It’s the walking to get the essential water that sustains us all that is the thing here. Of course, this is not a new thing for me as I have spent a great deal time in places and situations where this was a daily chore. For some reason at this time, in this place, it is taking on a great poignancy for me as I ponder the general ecological situation in the world and the understanding that the expectation and supposed ‘right’ of drinking water that comes out of a tap is a bit on the ludicrous side. At least looking at it from this part of the world.