Author Brian Taylor’s book “Bamboo Leaves” is a beautiful poetic depiction of his experiences in Laos and Thailand. Author Brian gives us a detailed description of the cultural, political and traditional life of Laos and Thailand. The first poem tells us about life in Laos and the story goes on to explain the journey from Laos to Thailand. Brian describes the life of various tribes such as Nomads, Ah Kah’s. etc., however, the poetry titled “Dying Races of Mankind” touches your heart as it is emotionally-filled with the story of the ancient tribesmen “Ah Kah”.
The author strikingly expresses the slow extinction of this tribe as the Christian missionaries convert them by taking advantage of their poverty and needs. The concept and practices of Buddhism are explained vividly. The author also highlights the grey areas of Thailand such as crimes like burglary, bombings, attacks on tourists and schools. He links these crimes with poverty. Brian takes us through the lanes of Thailand where we encounter beggars and the poor. The poetry is bold as it talks about issues such as smuggling of opium and heroin as being a common but illegal trade in Thailand.
The poetries describe the different deities worshipped in Thailand such as Buddha, Lord Siva, Lord Ganesha and Uma Devi. Brian also talks about the authority of the police officers in Thailand and their fear among the locals. The ones who are rich get their way by bribing the officers, while the poor suffer. In most of the poetry, we experience the existence of spirits and ghosts in Thailand. Brian writes about the people who have experienced spirits in short and crisp poetry form. The uniqueness of the style in which the author explains the stories about traditions and superstitions is remarkable. In fact the things that one may not believe in like the spirit realm also sound believable.
We understand the importance of rituals, customs and traditions in a Thai life through this book. The book compiles poetry about several Thai people and pens their life stories exquisitely in short story format and in an elegant poetic style. While writing about customary beliefs of Thailand, Brian takes us through the local markets and temples that we feel like visiting after reading this book. There are glimpses of Chinese and Indian customs that one comes across while reading this book. The Author Brian Taylor has done a wonderful job while describing the connection between the ancient Thailand and the modern Thailand. The “Bamboo Leaves” epitomize life, death and rebirth. The Author explains that like the bamboo leaves, the human beings are all one in the universe and they bloom and wither like the leaves. The most striking feature of this book is the Author’s emotional connect with the Thai, his understanding of the advantage taken by the Christian missionaries of the adversity in which the Ah Kah tribesmen lived.
We conclude by saying that Author Brian Taylor takes us on an imaginary lyrical ride through the streets of Thailand and the lives of Thai. “Bamboo Leaves” is mesmerizing and captivates the readers’ attention. Brian carefully weaves his stories around the reality of Thailand. His articulate yet simplistic style makes the book interesting till the end. This book educates us on the different aspects that make Thailand distinctive from other parts of the world yet attached to the world. If you are a traveller or a person interested in knowing different cultures, just read this book. We are grateful to Author Brian Taylor for sharing his experiences with intricate details about the most-visited country in the world – Thailand. This book deserves a 5-star rating and it is highly recommended.