Digitalized yet Feel

Christmas came and vanished in a blink of an eye.  In a couple of days it will no longer be 2011 and I am going to have to rewire my brain to write my dates with 2012 (or in the Buddhist calendar 2555).  So much has happened yet there are still so many things waiting to happen.  Who knows what the future holds? Will the year 2012 be the end of the world or will it bring with it renewed hope? I suppose we will just have to live through it to find out.   I pray though that whatever happens, it brings happiness and that at the end of it all, we can look back and appreciate the year we had.

The last few days I have finally gotten into the digital book age with the initiation of my first reading of a novel on tablet.  I never thought I would. (Thank you Alex for downloading roughly 10GB worth of novels onto my tablet!)  I had always been somewhat old fashioned in my preference for paper and having documents printed out.  I like the smell and feel of paper. I love feeling the texture of paper and ink between my fingers.   I spend hours on end lost between stacks of books in the library or at the bookstore.  I derive pleasure from observing the beauty of book covers or looking at the printed typeface on paper.  There’s something about the ink and the smell of printed books that is somewhat mesmerizing.

I grew up in an age where we wrote essays and papers by hand. First draft, second draft and final drafts were all done with ink and paper. Computers came later.  Now those days are gone and we are gradually moving into an age where printed books will be less in demand.  I am finally starting to understand why.

I wanted to buy Murakami’s newest novel, IQ84, but seeing it’s sheer size and thoughts about the lack of shelf space and the other large books I have in line waiting to be read pushed that thought aside.  Undeterred, Alex got me a digital version and I am finding opportunities to read like never before.  Waiting to see a doctor, waiting to get medicine for my sniffling cold, lazing in bed and whatever free time I have, I can now read books rather than just play around on Facebook.

All this techonology is fun. It is good, but let it not consume us.  Technology lets us enjoy and use our spare time.  However, we must also remember to raise our heads up from the iPhones, iPads, tablets, kindles and all these gadgets every now and then and smell the sweet scent of the flowers in bloom, feel the breeze in the air and listen to the person besides us.  Enjoy the cool air that is breezing through Bangkok 🙂 or if you are somewhere with snow, make a Snow Angel.  🙂

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Old Town Bangkok: Neilson Hays Library

I like libraries.  Ever since I was young, it would be somewhere we went to each weekend, and thus started my love of books.  At home we have so many books, we could start our own library.  However, nowadays I seem to read a lot fewer books compared to my younger days.  My reading is usually done on the internet or on my iPhone.  I should really go back to books… Anyways, if you read a lot of books and don’t want to have to buy them all, in Bangkok we have the Neilson Hays Library which has been around since 1869. Wow. 142 years.

142 years is a long time to have a building still standing in Bangkok.  As most of our houses were built of wood, many buildings have been lost to fire and flooding.  Neilson Hays Library, built of brick, still remains.

I’ve driven past this library on Surawong road more times than I can remember, and every time I tell myself I have to go in and check it out.  I finally did.  Now I can cross it off my “To do” list.  I don’t like having it stuck at the back of my mind.

Upon entering the compound, I was struck first by how large it was.  I didn’t expect it to have a parking lot, yet it did and one that could easily fit a couple of cars.   There was a nice open square and a relatively new coffee shop lining one side of the square.  Here’s another coffee/tea place you can go find some peace in busy Bangkok.  There were a few people there, but most of the clientele were expatriates.  Interesting. I suppose they come from the British club next door.  Food at the cafe is supposed to be from the Club.

I walk into the library and am brought back in time.   It reminds me of libraries I’ve seen in England yet it has ceiling fans.  This could easily be a scene you see in colonial movies.  This was western architecture adapted to life in hot and humid Asia.  Of course now the building is airconditioned and the ceiling fans are just relics of the past.

Wooden shelves line the aisles and books are neatly stored behind glass.  There is a lot of dust in Bangkok.  There are wooden tables and chairs for you to sit and read and there are quiet corners where you can spend the day reading away.

I walk further to the back of the library and instantly fall in love with the Children’s corner.  This is the most active part of the library with coloured decorations and soft seatings for children.   There are a few families there with parents reading to their children.  Some are lying down with the child in their arms and a book wide open.  It’s a scene of love and memories. 

I am told that they have “story telling” time.  I want to do that sometimes.  It looks like fun…  If you get bored, there is a little rotunda where artwork is put on display.  I love it.  I could spend an entire day here having some “me” time.

I make my way back to the entrance and ask for details.  You can spend the entire day there for 50thb ($1.6) which is a great deal if you just want to read and be somewhere quiet.  Air-condition included.   If you want to borrow books, you can also apply for membership which entitles you to several books and paperbacks.    I think I found the place to donate my books.  Here they will be loved and read.

Here’s their website 🙂 http://www.neilsonhayslibrary.com/