Mindfulness At Work – A Bangkok Roti Seller
One thing I love about being in Bangkok is the variety of hawker stalls lining the streets. They sell everything from fresh fruit to pad thai noodles cooked to order. On this trip, I’ve found a new vendor setting up in our soi (small street) each afternoon, and he sells one of my favourite indulgences: fried roti served with lashings of condensed milk.
Luckily I do a lot of walking when I’m here, so I can probably afford to indulge now and again, but let’s just say that it’s going to be some test of willpower not to visit him daily.
I’ve become particularly fond of this roti seller, and not only for his decadent dish (did I mention the roti is fried in oil and butter?). What strikes me about him is how mindfully he goes about his work. There appears a gentle focus and sense of purpose to each of his actions, which to my eyes sets him apart from the average vendor around these parts.
He takes great care with the preparation of his roti, which he first takes as a ball of dough and then flattens out into a disc before tossing it in the air, not unlike a pizza chef. He then places the dough onto his hotplate just so, and expertly folds in the sides using a metal spatula.
If you ask for a cracked egg in your roti parcel, he’ll keep a keen eye out for stray fragments of broken shell. And if you are partial to adding some sliced banana, his hand wields his knife with unmistakeable grace.
Most of all, though, his calm presence is an oasis in the middle of the bustling city. Standing and watching him work, it suddenly slips your mind that it’s thirty-five degrees and sweat is running down your back. You stop caring about the ache in your feet. You forget how noisy the city is, how smoggy it is, how moments ago you were very nearly run over by a motorbike. All of that falls away and you can just enjoy being present, inspired by his sense of presence.
I’m lucky enough to pass by this mindful roti seller every afternoon. His roti is all the more delicious for having been infused with care and mindful attention. I am inspired today eat mine with as much mindfulness as it was prepared, and I can only hope to bring the same quality to all the work that I do too.
With love (and deliciousness), Narissa
Narissa Doumani, author of A Spacious Life: Memoir of a Meditator
live mindfully ~ love openly
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