Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tak Baht

Even before we moved back to The Village, Thip taught me the first thing to do upon waking and getting up is to brush my teeth. So, I do that and then attend to the various aspects of water management, including defecation [more on this, later, for the not faint-at-heart], shower, ice, drinking water, dog and bird bowls replenishing, and plants watering.

After teeth brushing and before showering, I’ll wet the various areas of my body that I will be soaping and shampooing. Usually only using shampoo for my hair and then the excess for under arms and crotch, I then rinse these areas and follow it all up with a plastic bucket of cold water over my head and body. This is ab-nam, the Thai countryside equivalent of a shower. I might throw water over myself like this up to five times a day, depending on how hot it is outside. Lately, it’s been 90-degrees Fahrenheit (around 30-degrees Celsius) in the shade and 100-105 degrees (around 38-degrees C) in the sun.

Thip fixes me coffee, which is a packet of “3-in-1” Nescafe instant. My oldest son Das will kill me when he reads this, after all the high quality cups of real coffee we’ve shared together in Santa Barbara, thinking I’ve really “hit the skids” and lowered my quality of life. But, the instant is easy and I like it; same could be said for my daily life in Thailand overall.

By now, Thip’s prepared sticky rice (khao nio) but more likely walked over to the family house and gotten some. The family house routine has been well established while ours are – what’s a nice way to say it? “Under development.” Anyway, we take the sticky rice with us in a cylindrical bamboo container to the temple, after tak baht, but not before Thip makes another little walk to the village market where they sell food wrapped up in small plastic bags of all sorts and tastes. Most of this is prepared locally in large amounts and then sold in smaller.

Around 7 a.m., the local temple monks come walking along the streets and roads of the village. We kneel or bend down (heads never higher than the monks’) to offer them khao nio out of our cylindrical bamboo containers. This is tak baht and is nowadays mostly symbolic, but demonstrates the village support of the local religious leaders. The monks will receive other food later on during jahn hahn [more on this later] and financial donations at other times.

Here’s a picture of Thip’s mother just before tak baht in 2011:

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