Chaos in Laos!

Several months ago I somehow found myself in the unknown Kingdom of Laos, in the city of Luang Prabang, which lies over the edge of the world. In the city proper, while hacking my way through the rainy jungles and while treading in the shadow of a giant footstep taken by the Buddha himself, I heard the sound of traditional music, and followed it, as a sniffing nose follows the ribbon of a scent wafting through the rooms of a house and then into the kitchen: there at a fancy tourist restaurant, half made of ferns dripping with rain, were drummers, singers, bell-ringers, violinists, and santur-hammerers, an episode you’ve no doubt read about before, word for word. But!—most importantly, Bar Harbor, my home in faraway Maine, lying in a different galaxy, was there as well.

The avatar took the form of a wealthy elderly couple of Europ stock preparing to dine at a fancy table: I don’t remember the man, but the woman wore a bright blue dress with a silver necklace hung around her neck, with a glittering cross studded with gaudy diamonds dangling from that—bling bling!—and something about the way the two of them sat over the menus in such reverential silence, partaking in a ceremony no doubt performed thousands of times, when you and me, honey, travel together to some faraway place, and then dine as if we’re crushing lobster tails between our nutcracker jaws back home—something about their straight backs, their pursed lips and skeptically-raised eyebrows, said, above all else, that globalism is global! Even in Laos will one find Bar Harbor. I stood there idiotically with my mediocre wine and annoyed the wonderful band for an hour or two while this long-married couple pawed at their laminated menu and wondered whether they ought to order hamburgers.

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