Yes, whatever they are doing has made them money, but is that a sufficient test of “knowing what they are doing”?

February 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

Watching the very spiffy cars pull into the parking lot; and the very well-dressed up people come in to order their food at Yangzi Jiang, the very renowned Chinese restaurant in Chiang Mai (absolutely everyone seems to have recommended it to me); occasioned a philosophical reflection:  what use is working so hard, achieving all this money and all this success, if the best you can do with that is eating the very lousy food of this joint and suffer its crappy service?  Makes you wonder if all these people actually know what they are doing?  Yes, whatever they are doing has made them money, but is that a sufficient test of “knowing what they are doing”?  These would be the very people behind “development”, the process which has turned a lovely, sleepy, relaxed and affordable town of ten years ago into a snarling, dirty, polluted, expensive hell.  Do they not see what they are doing to themselves?  Surely, they must:  when I tell my Chiang Mai friends that I don’t like the city anymore, they all say “me, too.”  So why do they do it?

Much of the development has been driven by immigrants — people who have moved here from Bangkok, from the countryside, from abroad — they have had no way to compare the present to the past; and the present Chiang Mai, one assumes, is better for them than their past wherever they came from; so, to some extent, therefore, old Chiang-Mai-ites can be seen as victims:  to make the immigrants happier they have had to pay the price:  they have had to give up the city they have grown up in.

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