Thailand, where I live, is suffering from the worst flooding in over 50 years. My home in Chiang Mai flooded a few weeks ago, but now the floods are in Bangkok, and most of the city is under water.
An unfortunate side effect of the flooding is the escape of man-eating reptiles. This from the New York Times World a few days ago:
Thailand is one of the world’s chief exporters of crocodile products, and farms some 200,000 of the animals at 30 farms and 900 small breeding operations, according to the Fishery Department. About 100 were reported to be on the loose in Ayuttthaya, to the north of Bangkok…authorities have put out a call for crocodile hunters offering a reported bounty of 3,000 baht, or about $100 dollars each. (Seth Mydans – New York Times World http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/world/asia/flood-waters-in-bangkok-shut-domestic-airport.html?_r=1)
“Don’t worry,” they say later in the article, “these are friendly crocodiles who move slowly and willingly submit themselves to capture.” (…or something to that effect.)
The three men in this photo apparently believed it, and maybe it was true. The crocodile might have willingly slipped into their restraining system. But I doubt it. He looks really uncomfortable. And he was free! Surely the gastronomic choices outside the breeding farm were much better than the slop he was fed inside.
So, assuming that he put up a bit of a fight, do you think the approximately $33 apiece that each of these men earned for risking life and limb was sufficient compensation? Not for this crocodile hunter.
You may remember my post about my confusion over a note our mae baan (Thai for house help) left us one day. Here’s the note she left us this week:
It almost breaks your heart. We must be the most heartless people she’s ever worked for in order for her to feel that she had to write out such a desperate call for love and attention.
I have to admit, I feel a little guilty every time I read it even though I know what she’s trying to say. She’s learning some English, but it still doesn’t always come out the way she wants it to.
She wants the cleaning products, “Comfort” and “Touch of Love” to help her clean the bathroom.
(Even so, maybe we should tell her how much we appreciate her more often.)
In Thailand, the boss of an office is like a father to those who work for him. Because of his rank in the organization and often his age, he is held in very high esteem, and whatever he says goes. It’s a very hierarchical system – reminds me of The Godfather.
Since I moved here ten months ago, the director of the local office from my organization has been encouraging me to come to the office more all the time. I show up sometimes, but I’ve tried not to spend too much time there, because I don’t want to give the perception of oversight (I work with the area/regional team), and, well….because I like working from home.
I’m more of an introvert, and when I go to the office, I’m still treated somewhat like a celebrity (for reasons I don’t really understand). I don’t speak more than a mouthful of Thai, which makes communication painful for all of us. I don’t adhere to a normal work pattern, so I’m often up late into the night and start the day whenever. All that and they frown on me coming to work in my pajamas. (That’s almost a non-negotiable.)
But I think I’m about to succumb to the director’s influence. Last week, he had his team create an office for me. They cleared out all the storage supplies that were there before, hooked up a LAN line and introduced me to my cube-mates. Then he told everyone in the office that I was going to be working there, so every staff member I came in contact with asked me when I would start coming in. He made me an office I can’t refuse.
I’ve been in three times this week. It’s a good start, I think. But yesterday, Godfather took another step toward my indoctrination into the family. After coming to welcome me to my new space, he said something in Thai to the staff member nearest me. Seeing my puzzled look after he left, she whispered, “He told us to only speak to you in Thai.”
You think Vito Corleone had a Thai cousin?
Filed under Change, comfort zone, Convenience, Culture Shock, expectations, family, funny, humor, Inconvenience, Interpersonal, Persistence, Relationships, submission, Thailand
Traveled to the U.S. this week, and when I went through customs in Los Angeles, the officer told me, “Welcome home.” As soon as he said it, my spirit exhaled. It was a peculiar feeling – the feeling of release, the feeling of putting down something heavy. It made me feel light and optimistic and….comfortable.
We’ve been in Thailand for eight months, and the best way I can describe it is that it’s like living outside your comfort zone 24/7. The people are wonderful and Chiang Mai is probably one of the best and easiest places we could have picked to live, but it’s not home (yet).
Home is the U.S. – Colorado Springs, in particular. Since I arrived, my friend’s daughter has been singing the song from Sound of Music that extols “a few of (her) favorite things!” I’ve got lots of those here. Not raindrops on roses or warm woolen mittens, but cool weather, mountains, friends, my home church, predictable driving patterns. It’s a neat place.
It’s hard living “in a country not their own.” My family is terribly jealous that I’m here while they are not. I think they would even sit through my ten days of boring meetings in my place just to have a few weeks in Colorado. So, I feel very thankful (and more than a little guilty) for this opportunity to unshoulder the burden of learning to adapt to a new culture. But maybe a year from now, when we are all returning to Chiang Mai from our furlough in the U.S., we will all think of Thailand as “home,” and we won’t be so eager to leave it the next time.