Friday, August 6, 2010

Talented Topiary Trimmers

While I've admired the skill and dedication it must take to maintain the thousands of public gardens throughout Thailand - most of which feature at least a few carefully trimmed shrubs, hedges and topiary pieces - I hadn't stopped very often to make more than passing note of the people who maintain them.

While walking along in the Ratchethewi area at Petcha Buri Road one day I noticed someone doing some of this work out among the traffic islands at a large intersection and stopped to watch for a few minutes. It's undoubtedly hot work, made no cooler by the clothing she was wearing: a long sleeved shirt, long pants, a hat and what actually looked like a t-shirt but may have been a scarf or Muslim-type headpiece wrapped around her face. My guess was that it was protection from fumes.

Despite the heat and exhaust of countless cars, trucks and tuk-tuks (which can often spew exhaust that equals of a much larger vehicle) she was focused on her task; pausing often to lean back for a better look before making a few practiced swipes with her large shears. I was surprised she could concentrate at all, what with the continual roar of traffic and the fumes - they were making me a little woozy, or so it seemed. Might have just been the heat. Anyway, we exchanged smiles before she went back to her work and I went on my way.

Another day I was walking past Peace Park on Ratchawithi Road (near the now burned out Central One mall - seen here in better times) and saw the man below doing similar work, although he wasn't doing the same detailed topiary type of trimming that day. He knew a little English so we could exchange pleasantries and he happily accepted the bottle of fresh orange juice I'd bought for him from a cart vendor who's often there. I haven't seen him there since, but I was glad to run into him that one time, and I make a point to be more appreciative their craftsmanship when I see it there now.

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