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A Thailand Diary

25/04/2013

The purpose of the blog is to encourage some dialogue about Thais and Thailand. I hope it will become a two-way communication and not just a weekly posting of all things Thai. A fresh post will be available every Friday, Thai time.

To start the ball rolling, I’ll post a few extracts from A Thailand Diary, now on Amazon.

9 January

Murder most foul.

Our soi (lane) is single track, so we could not get the car out when the police vehicle parked outside our neighbour’s house. And you don’t ask armed police officers, anywhere in the world, to move their car for you. They park where they want to park.

A crowd had started to gather outside the house. The locals wanted to know what was going on, and they were waiting around to gather whatever snippets of information or gossip were available.

Ratchanee told me that one of the brothers in the house was dead. There had been some heavy drinking the night before and the men’s mother had heard some shouting downstairs. She had thought nothing of it. In the morning, the mother found her son lying in a pool of blood.

The police were now investigating a murder. They will start searching for two Burmese.

The brothers drank regularly with the same group of friends from neighbouring sois, all Thai nationals. Not my type, but friendly enough. I’d never seen any Burmese, legal or illegal, in the area, and neither had anyone else.

The police didn’t stay long and the family immediately started to clean the house and tidy the garden. Monks come round quickly after a death in Thailand in order to start the funeral rites, and it’s best that everything is spotless before they arrive.

Chairs were put in the garden ready for the people who would soon be coming to pay their last respects. A small fire was started in one corner to burn the garden debris that had just been cleared.

We may learn more about what happened in the coming days. More likely, we will not.

Daily life in Thailand is never mundane. Nothing surprises me now.

1 February

One way to try to impress your friends in Thailand is to invite your superior to your son’s wedding at which he will be invited to speak; be the guest of honour at the opening of a new building; or ask him to sit with the family in the front row at a funeral. A great opportunity to mingle amongst the great and the good, and re-affirm your status in the community. A time to show off.

Khun Sompanya, desperate to re-gain some popularity, hit on the idea of inviting a senior government official to open an extension to the main office building. More specifically, to open the new toilet block. He politely declined.

It reminded me of the story of the French mayor in Gabriel Chevallier’s Clochemerle when he planned to construct a urinal in the town square.

The ceremony of the loo would have attracted a lot of white uniforms being present and the taking of many photographs.

The younger generation, and indeed even middle-aged Thais, are beginning to shy away from such functions requiring this show of uniforms. At a recent event, it was noticeable that some key people, whom one would have expected to have turned up, were absent. Several people were not wearing their full insignia. This tradition of showing your position in public is starting to lose favour.

But national events, especially those associated with royalty, continue to attract high numbers of participants.

Sometimes your judgment can become suspect if you try too hard to impress or show off. The Thai love of ceremonial and dressing up can, if repeated too often, become a little overbearing and boring. Showing one’s rank and status in society is a Thai characteristic that the élite particularly do not always get right. It can backfire on them. Khun Sompanya is going to have to think of another way to be noticed in the district.

The toilet is in use but nobody was privy (sic) to any opening ceremony.

15 July

Watched police checking for illegals on a building site today. One elderly woman worker did not have her Thai ID card, the bat prachachorn, with her. By law, you must carry these cards with you at all times. Rules are rules.

Law enforcement is flexible in Thailand. It was obvious from her appearance that she was Thai. Moreover, out of respect for an older person, they did not want to make a fuss. She was asked to sing the Thai national song to prove her nationality.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djwY41a4lsA

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