30 June-1 July, Bangkok, Clowning in MBK Shopping Complex
My friend Cherry came clowning with me and Jennifer filmed at MBK shopping complex in Bangkok. This is a shopping centre that has 10 levels for car parking and they actually have cars park perpendicular to parked cars to fit more in. So if a car wants to get out they roll the cars forward and backward. There are car attendants who look like police who monitor each level. I was astounded by how many cars were there. My Thai friend Cherry tells me many uni students park there as they are not allowed to take cars to the uni. However, the shopping centre is filled to the brim with people – 1,000’s. The strata we saw were the middle class mostly, upper and tourists.
The photo’s are will be posted in the photo gallery. Clowning was a huge novelty, I understand it is never done in Bangkok and hugging people is unheard of. So what we did was quite revolutionary or evolutionary as I call it. I was feeling tired but wanted to give Cherry the experience as we may never see each other again.
It was interesting to go up to people pretend to shake hands then connect. We played soccer with one of my juggle balls, I kept saying ‘world cup’ with a cheeky smile. Then I would follow people and walk the same way or stand behind them and look over their shoulder with curiosity. I juggled with balls and clubs and there was much fascination as people wondered why we were there. My Thai friend said some people thought we were making a film because Jennifer was filming. We blew bubbles and were dragged along to sing happy birthday to a wife. The man kept saying ‘happy happy’ as he walked looking back expectantly of us following. She thought we were paid for and would have been surprised to find out we were free. Others wanted us to pose for photos. Cherry said the people who were shop assistants were very bored day in day out and really laughed when they saw us, there was a buzz that went around us. You could see their eyes shining and the experience transformed the environment. There were so many smiles and laughs. I saw a couple of nicely dressed men and put my love glasses on them. Turns out from Cherry they were marketing and management people of MBK. Security people are everywhere and we would have been noticed. They managers came up and asked where we were from, I said clown town and I have a clown passport, with a grin. Then I did a quick dance ‘strip the willow’ with both of them and started to play with everyone. They were very impressed and asked Cherry can I come everyday, but she said I was leaving the next day. So this was something new for them and my hope was they considered entertainers to bring life and love to MBK. When I passed Moslems I said ‘shalom’, when I passed Indians I said ‘namaste’ and Thai’s ‘sawatika’, each gave me a look of recognition as it connected. There was one moment when I ran up and down the escalator to keep pace with the down escalator. I then juggled on the escalator and 500 + people are watching as I juggle, many flashes coming from below, it was amazing. These shopping centres are so huge you can have an incredible audience there. We clowned for 4 hours and it was really remarkable to have this experience. This to me is real connection with people. When I spoke with Jennifer and Cherry they said everyone was laughing. Cherry always had wanted to be a clown and she was very good. She had her own style and would take my ball or play hide and seek, we ran after each other. She was fine doing her thing and didn’t need any help from me. She felt so happy clowning around and I was happy to see her and Jennifer making friends. Both have warm hearts and I’d love to know they were clowning together.
Jennifer is a wonderful woman and in her animated way said later she would clown with Cherry, I said ‘you got the talk but can you walk the walk’ with a grin. She would be a great clown she is very warm and funny, a big personality and presence. They would be very interesting clowns together and it forms bonds for life. Cherry thought she may not be memorable but we are never forgotten, I’ve had people come up to me years later and recognize me instantly. So it is a privilege to enter this world of freedom and joy.
I leave Thailand today 1st July and I feel happy I came. For me it was the land of happy smiles as the humanity I see in everyone is so clearly evident from a clowns perspective. I have no issues of class as I see only smiling faces and that is all that interests me. I see the overwhelming consumerism of large populations and incredible pollution. Different classes that never meet yet servicing each other’s needs is clearly evident in Bangkok. It is a metropolis where a palace can be next to a brothel which is next to a car yard. All existing side by side but never overlapping. I look at the people and see the addiction to the consumer life and know the environmental situation is dire around the planet. We have given up the simple life and knowledge of survival for monied societies that value people by income. This is the capitalist model that slowly loses its sensitivity to our shared humanity. The King of Thailand advocated self sufficiency and the Buddhist icons all around the city advocate compassion and kindness, both important messages who’s meaning is fading into modern life. I left my own culture because I don’t wish to be part of such destruction and for me, I am seeking my true home. A place of true peace.
Next stop is India. The former home of my greatest love, Gandhi. He is on every dollar note and yet he was not for an industrialized society, he encouraged self sufficiency and living the communal life. He was truly a great soul. I look forward to meeting his people and perhaps I see glimpses of his legacy.