Saturday, March 24, 2012

Waking Up

I was reminded of the previous post (“Loso”) this morning when I re-met some of our family from the nearby city, Nong Bua Lamphu. Although I doubt if any one of them have spent much time in Bangkok, they are always quick to correct my Lao, giving me the Thai translation and reminding me that this is how it is spoken in Krung Thep (the original center of Bangkok).

Hatsadee and her daughter and their part of the family in Nong Bua always present themselves well, wearing white blouses and showing off some gold. I doubt if they even own any Isaan fabric (most always silk), an example of which looks like this:

Any way, not to get down on them, but it kind of makes me laugh that they consider themselves hi-so when they’re not that far removed from the village and at least an eight hour drive away from Bangkok. I hold them no ill will, but it’s like what I was saying about how even Isaan people buy into the thing about the Thai language being so much better over Lao. It is clearly a class thing.

Now to the subject of this post.

The question I am asked most often these days, from family and friends in the United States, is about my daily life. What do I do? How is it different from my life back in Santa Barbara?

It’s a bit difficult to answer because I am a detail man. It’s the little things that often reveal the reality to me. So, let me answer the question in installments because I just can’t rattle it all off in one chunk.

If the cocks crowing don’t wake me up (beginning about 5 a.m.), then I’m definitely awake right around 6 a.m. by my best village friend’s cows. When Pahwet or his wife take them out to pasture and bring them back at the end of the day, they go right by our house and the bells around the cows’s necks are distinctive. Not the cowbell that is typical to music making, but bells that sound more like metal chimes.

If this fails to rouse me, I definitely jump out of sleep when our neighbor, friend and assistant Headman takes to the microphone on the village loudspeaker system. Morlam music – indigenous to this area – begins the broadcast; usually two songs and then Pasan relays the important news of the day. This is always village specific information. Lately, he’s been talking about the village tamboon (merit making) at the village temple and special events associated with it. The weekend long event is called Tamboon Pakwet and I’ll write more about it later. Bottom line: all the approximately 80 houses in the village need to cough up 300 Thai baht (THB as opposed to USD [U.S. dollar]). This is a little over $12 USD per household.

Of course, I’m making a joke about “coughing up.” That’s not the proper attitude of a good Buddhist. You should always want to give. If you give reluctantly, it’s just about as bad as not giving at all, because to give freely improves your karma.

Anyway, I’m usually still under the mosquito net and on top the sleeping pads Khun Mae (Thip’s mother) made many years ago, upstairs in the wood and corrugated tin roof that is our home. Sometimes, Thip is with me, but with her mother failing, Thip’s been sleeping with her at the family house a lot; about five long stone throws from our house…

1 comment:

may said...

Great post.Learning different languages is hard but fun.We were able to grasps the culture of every languages we translate.A lost in Thai translation or any translation should not hinder us to know exactly about one's history and culture.I could say that translators really play a big role in our society.I can't see machines taking over the jobs of human translators in the near future, as they have done with so many other professions.