Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What...what...what? What do you totally understand? Bangkok, Thailand

The 0 km marker near Democracy Monument
There are some expats in Bangkok - not all of them of course, but still a lot, I would say too many - who walk, move and even stand still with an arrogant air, as if they had a tight grasp on the city's handles. As if they had looked at it for long, studied it carefully and finally managed to understand it completely. Grasp on the handles? Sure! The city's love handles, maybe. Or rather the sex ones, probably those of the local prostitutes. The other types of handles, well, I'm very skeptical about that.
I think that is a very feeble illusion. Few immigrants find themselves in as shaky a position as those who live in Thailand, or most of the nearby countries for that matter. Looked at with hostility by a relevant share of the local population (you don't really believe that all those smiles are a display of cheerfulness), with precarious visas and statuses, forever non-completely-welcome guests of a society that maintains clear barriers between itself and those who are nicknamed, sometimes with a bit of contempt, farang, which actually means "French". There actually are dozens of rights granted by most western countries to their least desired guests that even the richest, most cultured and cunning foreigner can't aspire to around here. How could such a pride and touchy nation reveal itself so easily to a bunch of arrogant know-it-all braggarts of that sort?
Listening to them for more than a couple of minutes (which is enough to classify them) can become a real torture. As they keep hammering you with their bla-bla-bla on the country, its culture, social nuances, history and religion. After all these years they are not yet tired of trying to impress you with a handful of trite concepts on Buddhism, the Lonely Planet interpretations of the Siamese smiles or those few sentences in Thai that - although everybody knows them - conceal a number of emblematic implications that escape the majority of people...except them, of course.
Give us a break. If you don't believe a poor loser like me, at least you should trust Socrates who, knowing that he knew nothing and admitting that in public, stood out as the wisest man of his time. You, like me for that matter, understand little more than shit about Bangkok, Thailand, the Far East and Asian people in general. On the other hand they also understand very little about you. With just one difference: they are not even interested in it.
The sooner you realize and come to terms with that, the sooner you'll be able to stroll about the streets of this intriguing, obscene, lively and intoxicating city with a light heart, free from social complexes and performance anxiety, simply enjoying what the place has to offer (which is a lot) without chasing futile, boring, unreachable, delusional ambitions.

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