God bless my landlords, I do love them so. But there is one part of our living arrangement that I sometimes find awkward, and I'll tell you what that is.
There are two little rooms in the back of this tiny piece of property; one is occupied by my landlord's nephew, who is the most polite and easy neighbor that one could have. Sometimes, if we are in the kitchen, he even rolls his motorbike out onto the road before turning it on because he doesn't want to start the motor up too close--it would be loud. He's great.
The other room, which is teeny tiny, is not occupied, except when large groups come to stay at the guesthouse next door, which also belongs to our landlords. These large groups employ a driver, who stays, guess where--in the teeny tiny room. I always know this when my landlord's sister, Banon, walks by with her arms full of bedding and says, "Chauffeur."
Why is it awkward? It's just that our kitchen is across the little courtyard, and our studio is across and behind the kitchen, making the part in between essentially part of our house. So when there is a guy there, sitting and smoking, or simply eating his dinner, it feels as though we have a guest that we haven't exactly invited. This can be totally fine, or it can be awkward. It all depends on the chauffeur, whether they are very private and respectful, or open and curious enough to come and watch me cook.
(Thailand has made me soft. This would be nothing in India. )
Anyhow, yesterday I was making coffee in the morning and I looked out over the short wall over the sink. Over that wall, I can see the lot where cars sometimes park, that links us with the guesthouse next door, and I saw the driver who had spent the night in the teeny tiny room. He was sitting in the open door of his big van, reading a newspaper with his shirt sleeves rolled up above his wrists, and his glasses sliding down his nose somewhat.
The morning and the sun and the birds. The man sitting and reading a newspaper. The smell of coffee and the knowledge of all the sun to come, all the bright skies with white clouds, all the people I will meet. I wanted in that moment to paint every person I ever see. I wanted to remember every ordinary thing.
This is what the chauffeur gave me yesterday. It was a small gift.