18 October 2011

High Water Remains

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18 October: We are still high and dry – so far at least. There is still a big danger of flooding in our area, because of the enormous amount of floodwater still keeping many provinces under water up-river to our north. That water must drain downriver, and decisions on how to drain it, and when and where to drain it, will have an impact on all of us farther downstream.
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There are raging disputes over the policies that determine this diversion of floodwaters. To save some areas, water is diverted into other areas which are then devastated. For instance, inner Bangkok is (maybe) protected by sandbag and earthen dikes that divert the southbound floodwaters to the capital’s east and west, flooding many suburban neighborhoods (ours?) in the process. To the north, some residents are angrily confronting authorities who attempt to build dikes, because those dikes will save some other districts at the expense of their own. Disputes about opening or closing flood gates and building new dikes are bitter. There is one English phrase that Thais know well when applied to unfair treatment in politics: “double standard.”
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This anger and resentment from flood-devastated people with nothing left to lose may cause some to destroy the last dikes protecting Bangkok in order to share and spread the suffering. This would be not only a material tragedy but also a cultural one.
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On my daily walk I found the river level to be the same as yesterday and slightly lower than Saturday. Our neighborhood seems to be going about business as usual, except for new installations of sandbags in front of a few homes and shops, just in case. I stop and talk to a few friends who speak English; they are not that worried but they do admit that the situation is uncertain. Maybe their lack of worry comes from the perspective that all of this entire sweep of human experience is just impermanence anyway.
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-Zenwind.
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