My birthday rolled around a bit early this year, but I think it's safe to say I'm 34 (sahm sip see). Lordy lordy... that's like a real grown up age isn't it?
I thought about doing something fun like having a blog contest for my birthday... but I just wasn't willing to put that much effort into it. I'd tried to round up a bunch of the teachers to go out to a club on Saturday night. I got a lot of "maybe"s which always makes me nervous, but finally Jed (the other American teacher) said not only would he go, but we could meet up earlier for dinner & a few drinks. So I had dinner with him and his Thai girlfriend. It was fine... but not the kind of socializing that I crave.
Jed is nice enough but we don't have a much in common. His girlfriend M. also seems nice enough, but it was not my birthday wish to sit across the table watching them all night. He would pet and fawn over her, playing with her hair, poking her side, teasing her etc. etc. She would, in turns stare at him in complete adoration - putting food on his plate, filling his drink etc. and then fuss and pout when he didn't take her claims of having malaria seriously. It was odd to say the least. She doesn't speak much English and he doesn't speak much Thai... but it seems 'true love' doesn't require much verbal communication.
I don't mean to paint either of them unkindly... like I said Jed is friendly and chatty, and if I were a guy, I'd have been in love with M. by the end of dinner. She's really beautiful - in a jeans & T-shirt kind of way, and was the ultimate hostess serving us soup and drinks, smiling and laughing no matter how we butchered her language. But like I said, it wasn't what I was craving. I'd much rather be discussing life, the universe & everything in a mellow pub, or just joking around with the guys from the CELTA.
After dinner we went to the club and met up with one of the other teachers. Again, it was fun enough... I mean, I was out drinking - there was loud music... but I'm still not feeling much camaraderie with the other teachers. I mean... we exchange a few words in the staff room then spend a few hours in our separate classrooms and then exchange another couple of words in passing before going home. We've had lunch or dinner together two or three times between classes... but that's been about it. I don't know... I think I'm expecting too much at this point.
I actually think that part of it is that most of the other teachers are Filipino... so even though they speak English (more or less) fluently, there's still a pretty wide culture gap. For them, teaching in Thailand is just a job... not as much of an exotic adventure. I mean, I asked one of the gals if she'd been to the beach yet and she was like "My whole country is beaches."
Speaking of exotic adventures though... I managed to successfully use a squat toilet whilst completely inebriated! There really ought to be a merit badge for that. The trick is... for anyone who ever finds themselves in that situation is to *really* squat... not just like it's time to work your glutes. Sorry for the TMI - but seriously these are things they don't put in the travel guides.
Although ... this whole 'exotic adventure' thing is all relative - you know? I mean... people live here, there's a mall, they have cable TV and high speed internet. For them, it's not exotic... it's just life. Using a squat toilet is not cause for celebration. And actually for me, more and more, I'm getting into the groove and adapting to the lifestyle here. It's no longer a big deal for me to hop on the back of a motorbike taxi to go to the store. Helmet? What's that? Today I even carried home a little bed-tray/ mini desk home as we rode. I feel confident that a true Thai could move the entire contents of a studio apartment using just a motorbike... but for me, just carrying something bigger than my purse was a bit scary. But there are still times when I just look around me and say (pardon my French ...) "I'm in fucking Thailand!"
Today I was having breakfast at the B&B and you know, just sitting there. Turning to the left I can see the family living room, a nice sofa, TV with the news on, and several pictures of the kids & grandkids on the bookshelf. Straight ahead, there's the 'kitchen' - two or three big woks positioned over propane burners. Two large rice cookers were on the counter, as well as two big basins where they washed the dishes. The whole restaurant is open air... you can look beyond the kitchen into the neighbor's yard... and to the right there's the street and across the street, a big green pond/grassy area. There's a dog running across the street, a female who's had a litter or five in her time so all six (8?) of her doggy boobs are hanging half way down to the street. A Mom & son ride in on a motor bike and sit down next to me. And it just struck me... you know, this is *not* the US. I can think of no place that I've ever lived that would be like this.
As I was thinking that, a fairly gregarious man wandered into the restaurant and sat down across from me. "Galkouth lkadoiuend alkjoiutysa." he said with a smile.
--"Mai cow jai." - my standard reply.
He repeats himself, this time in English "You sleep my house?" I've been asked the question enough to know that he's not propositioning me, he's asking "Where do you sleep (live)?"
--"Som ping sorng" I reply, pointing at the building behind us. (I'm not sure if Som Ping Sorng is the name of the store on the ground floor, or the name of the people who own the building - but it's what I tell the motorcycle taxis when I want to go home).
"Aaaah Som ping sorng." he concurs with a smile. "You teacher?"
"You teach... adflpoiuv qne lakdfjady?" he asks.
--"ECC" I reply.
"Aaaah... ECC.... Rayong Rama." (that's the name of the movie theater behind the school - and what I tell the motorcycle taxis when I want to go back to work). I nod again, this is one of the longer conversations I've had with a Thai person outside of school. "You come from America."
"Aaaaah America! George Bush!" He says.
--I make a face, and say the only Thai phrase that even comes close to my opinions on the subject. "Mai ow." (Don't want.) "Mai ow George Bush."
He brings one finger from each hand up next to each other in front of him. "Thaksin, George Bush, same-same!" (Thaksin is the highly controversial former Prime Minister of Thailand.)
--"Same-same." I exclaim. "Same-same!"
"Same-same" he claps, ending the most meaningful conversation I'd had in days.
So yeah... life is not quite as Mango as I'd like... but I'd had three fairly crappy birthdays in a row in the States and at least now I can say, I'm in fucking Thailand! And that really is something for me.
TAG - Code Pineapple.