Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ramblings before Christmas

I went to a wedding reception last night at the Sukhothai on Sathorn. Some friends of mine recently were married in the U.S and decided to have their reception here for the Thai side of the family and that. It's always interesting to see different cultural expectations in these sorts of things.

For example, in the Western world it is generally expected that the bride and groom will have to talk a little bit and endure lots of stories about themselves from the guests. In Thailand, it seems that the masters of ceremony tend to run the show and the bride and groom are limited to walking around and getting photographed.

Anyway, as my "roommate" always says to me: "what's your point?"...and as usual...I don't think I have one. Just an observation....

In other news, I'm struggling to get my first paper finished. It's on the "soft power" relations between Russia and China. I keep getting caught up in these little bunny trails that could take my paper off it's path so easily. There is so much to research in order to really be able to properly take on the topic. I have to limit the scope even further and just talk about the historical aspect in painfully broad strokes. There is a ten page limit on this assignment and the topic is pre-arranged, so it is challenging.
Anyway, I will hopefully have most of the major content completed today...though I don't have enough sources still, so I'm just going to make it up and then tomorrow when I go to the library I'll find sources to back up what I know is true and then take it back with me and print it out Friday night for Saturday's class.

Reminds me of the
politics Canada game I used to play. I was the Prime Minister in our little online forum fantasy (the link above is for the old where I was PM) I was accused of making up government numbers and just having them released. It was suggested to me that I note the source of everything I say as PM...if there is no source then I should reference whatever I say with "I made it up". Wouldn't that make a great paper. "The current asymmetrical military relationship between Botswana and New Zealand is natural given the geographical realities of the post Pangaea period" (Made it up, 2008, p. none).

Oh, the life of a student. The pain, the glory.

So, Saturday is the last class and then I'm off for a few weeks. Frighteningly few plans for the holidays. If I manage to get some money together I will go to my Kayan friend's village for Christmas. They are Roman Catholics, so Christmas has some relevance for them. I don't expect there to be any Germanic trees covered in "made in China" polymers" on display, but I'd rather be with people who apply some sort of importance to the day beyond jingle bells and greed. Not that I don't miss the trappings, the smells, the sights, the lights but as the years go on the less attractive it is to me. I'm sure I'll snap back into place should I return to Canada.

If this trip doesn't work out...depends on both of us getting enough money together for the bus...than we might just hang around Bangkok. Biggest thing on the holidays is to be with someone you care about. Even a coffee at Starbucks is enough of a holiday splurge for me.

The person with whom I live is going up to Chiang Mai. Sounds like a nice time but the family tends to not acknowledge my existence. Yes, I can sit politely for hours and hours and try to grasp the point of the very rapid Thai speech but even when I do grasp it it has nothing to do with anything I know about. It's allways about shoes, and feet, and food, and some restaurant, and uncle somchai and other stuff. If it was in English I'd likely have not a lot more luck getting into it, but in's hopeless. Even eye contact...lack of eye contact for days is hard on the mind. I've long ago realized that the thing I hate the most is to be with a group of people who won't look at me...who, in a moment of curiosity ask a question about me (that I could answer if I was asked) and then hearing someone else respond on my behalf as though I weren't capable of talking for myself. It goes something like this:

Aunt Petunia: So, what does foreigner eat?

Me: Well....I....

Uncle Jimbo: He eats potatoes and soup.

Me: Actually I...

Aunt Petunia: Ahh can he eat spicy salad?

Brother Bee: Yes, he can eat spicy salad, but only in the afternoon.

Me: Actually I can...

Aunt Petunia: So, I think I'll go over to 7 11 and take a look at the magazines. I need to buy...blahblah blah.

Me: Nice to meet you. Hope we can talk again.

everyone: ka...bye.

My point is not that I mind so much but over three days these sorts of family trips become too much and I find myself drinking whiskey with tuk- tuk drivers and sleepy-head security guards just for some mental relief. Really...the amount of Thai I know is enough to answer questions about myself and ask questions of others. In a small group, we almost never have a problem with comprehension.

My friend who got married and who's reception I went to commented several ti
mes on the fact that no one was making eye-contact with him all night. I told him it's just because they are shy and don't know what to say. But, I understand his feelings because I have been living like that for three years now. So, I've become much more assertive in getting people to look at me and acknowledge my presence.

So, a nice room in the beautiful city of Chiang Mai, with visits to waterfalls and splendid beauty. Nice cool temperatures with lots of pink flowers and greenery. Or a cup of coffee with a friend. I'll take the coffee because at least he'll look me in the eye.


Jan said...

hey, just found your blog. on your facebook profile.

very true. but i love the fact not to have to speak on your wedding. just get photographed would be enough for me :)

Craig Williamson said...

Ha, that is funny. I can understand that.