I’m in a rut. With my job and living in this vibrant city, it is utterly embarrassing to find myself firmly entrenched in a furrow.
I came to this disconcerting realisation the other day when a friend mentioned taking some out-of-town visitors to Doi Suthep. “Oh, I’m so fed up with going up there, I let my visitors go by themselves,” I announced with a dramatic wave and a sigh. When my friend asked when was the last time I actually went there, well that’s when it all began to unravel. You see, I honestly can’t remember. I think it may have been in the naughties…I also haven’t strolled down the Sunday Walking Street, hung out by a waterfall, sat on a pontoon in Huay Tung Tao or visited the Night Bazaar in a similar length of time. OMG, I realised with horror, the last movie I saw in the cinema was Avatar!
I spend my days being told of the most wonderful, fascinating, intriguing, weird, challenging, entertaining, intellectual and mental goings on in the city. I disseminate this information through our channels to our tens of thousands of readers, urging them to participate, to give things a try, then I ask an intern or deputy editor to go and write about it. I review dozens of restaurants, bars and cafes each month but whenever I have to choose a place for dinner or drinks, I draw a blank and end up going to my regular joints, ordering the same dishes over and over. I meet some of the greatest minds, creative people, selfless philanthropists, effective activists and successful business people, sharing their stories, thoughts and insights on these pages, yet, I find myself socialising with the same groups of people I have for a decade.
When I first started Citylife, my intention was to act as a conduit between my readers and information that would be of interest to them. We saw ourselves as a parish newsletter of sorts. I would experience and share. I would taste and review. I would try and critique. I would research then summarise. I would urge and censor, doing my bit to start conversations, connect, trumpet or impart. But with emails, messages, line chats and all manner of information flowing straight to my screen, I’ve found it easy to direct from the gentle click clack of my keyboard. And with that screen coming between us, I have lost touch with you all.
With this realisation came utter mortification. Even in a city with so much to offer, so many subcultures, endless activities, great needs for service and volunteers, and a cosmopolitan mix of residents, it is possible sometimes to slip into a comfortable groove. I look at my interns who arrive fresh off the plane and are filled with wonder and awe, making friends within minutes and heading off for some adventure within days. And I realise that just because I have done all those things, it certainly doesn’t mean that I should be done with those things.
So, I am going to challenge myself over the coming months to get more involved, step outside my norm and open myself up to new experiences or reacquaint myself with old ones. Maybe I will become an ultimate Frisbee thrower, open my living room to couch surfers, go and chat with a monk, rent a tent and party in a jungle festival. Who knows? I will give it a go, but I need you to encourage and inspire me before I slip back into another year of unresolved resolutions and broken promises to myself.
If you have any intriguing and interesting activities lined up and want some publicity, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I feel that I need to reignite that contact with the community and our readers in a more natural way, without internet, and escapism behind a computer screen. I would like to learn more, first hand, about what you are all doing, so that I can share your stories and initiatives. And so that I can create some of my own too.
Citylife this month:
With the current water shortage and so much interest in our cover story on pollution solutions last month, we felt that we had to keep the momentum going. Aydan Stuart visits Warm Heart Foundation in Phrao and brings us an exciting low cost and easy to use technology that has the potential to end our annual smog for good. Eighteen year old intern Laura King writes of the completion of the world’s first renewable energy compound, right here in Chiang Mai and I go and grill the head of the Irrigation Department who schools me on the huge efforts being done to make sure we are watered through the dry season. Ex deputy editor James Austin Farrell returns to our pages to talk about the reasons behind the thankfully nearly-past Spirit Dolls craze that hit Thailand last year and earlier this year. And Mitchel Moltz expands his regular Music Box column into a story on meeting Guns N’ Roses’ Ron Thal, who rocked Chiang Mai for one night this February.