Monday, September 17, 2012

Free Will

I love free will. I love living in a country where I still feel like I have the ability to exercise my own free will, i.e. I can take my life and the decisions about my body into my own free hands. I haven't returned to "developed" first world countries much since moving to South East Asia. And really only one - Canada, but I tentatively assume Canada's political, economical and legal zeitgeist are on par with somewhere like Australia or the UK, to some level of degree (America I have no idea about since they just seem kind of crazy to me, a view garnered from what I does read on the innerwebs). My generalised opinion is: There seems to be an encroaching nanny state permeating these commonwealth countries creating an apathetic populous, who are more interested in consumerism and capitalism than fighting against the man. Which is fine. It's just not really me. 

When I visit one of these "developed" nanny states, my interpretation of the legal rules they must abide by, instigates my figurative suffocation - I die a bit on the inside, while I live in fear of doing something wrong, knowing that by second nature, I probably am. I know the natural citizens are so used to the encroaching legalities dictating their everyday behaviour, that the rules have seeped into their sub consciousness and are taken for granted. Interpolating a new generation of people who, for the majority IMO, lack the ability to think for themselves. I see the pictures and read the comments online - even the sub genres of "different" look the same. 

I do find that the systematic organisation in these developed countries is somewhat refreshing in comparison to disorganised chaos (as in everyone stands to one side on the escalators - I estimate it would take a whole generation to train south east asians to do this), yet the rules on how you should live your life make me shudder.

I like Asia. It's nice. It's warm. It's cheap. It does have it's drawbacks, but overall at the moment, it wins for the quality of life. 

One of the things that at least gives me the illusion that I still have free will here, is the motorcycle taxis. Motorsai's or Motos are probably my favourite thing about Bangkok. Little gangs of predominantly guys on motorcycles, wearing orange or pink waist coats, cluster in groups along most roads, waiting to take you where your little heart desires to go. It's an easy and quick transaction. In about three words you tell them where you want to go, jump on (side saddle in my case, I really have adopted local tendencies), occasionally hold on to part of the bike for stabilisation (or if you can't be fucked like me, not), and arrive windswept at your destination very soon after.  It can also be done with mass amounts of baggage or food shopping and weirdly shaped objects. 

Depending on the amount of distance you go, they are the quickest, easiest and one of the cheapest ways to avoid the traffic in the big city. I can take a moto from the mouth of my soi to my house, and it costs me thirty Australian cents and takes about two minutes. There is no way in hell, any developed country would offer or allow a form of transportation like this. 

Some of the times I feel most alive is taking a motorcycle. Peak hour traffic Friday night, peak hour traffic in the rain, or really just in the rain - these are occasions where one will probably feel most alive. It's also I guess, when thought about properly, one of the more daring things I do, and like countries who have subjugated themselves to local rules and think of it as second nature, I too have done this, and quite often disregard the danger, taking it for granted. Yes, there is an element of danger. Yes, it is sometimes a brush with mortality. Yes there are many accidents. No, you generally wont be wearing a helmet unless travelling very far distances on main roads. And in this lies the beauty of taking a moto. 

I generally take motos in two frames of mind. The very triumphant Vs the very morose. Triumphant mood is weaving through traffic displaying the attitude of "Fuck you assholes, I'm on a moto. All you cunts have to wait two hours, while I arrive in ten minutes" - to a really bad day where I don't feel mentally well, which is more like "Fuck this world, fuck these people, you're all fucked. If I'm lucky, I will fall off the back of this moto and my head will smash like a melon" (I probably wouldn't be so lucky: I would fall, head - smashes like a melon, but I don't die; instead I create an exponential and unaffordable hospital bill, and probably become a a vegetable in the process) . Either mood will invariably involve a middle finger display and several profane expletives. 

Regardless of how I feel when I hop upon a moto, one of my favourite visions of myself exercising free will is as:

a pillion sitting helmet-less, sidesaddle and handsfree on a moto cycle taxi, traveling down Thannon Sukhumvit - Bangkok, peak hour traffic, weaving through cars, narrowly avoiding side mirrors and scratching expensive paint jobs... sparking up a Marlboro cigarette (that costs me thirteen cents). Granted, none of this image is healthy, but FUCK YEAH -gahwddamm it makes me feel free. 

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