Two years ago, I was on the Holiday Party committee at work. We had meetings and discussed themes (we decided on snowflakes and blue & silver color scheme). Jobs were assigned, catering was ordered, furniture was rented, etc. And on the day of, the committee spent hours and hours putting up decorations and making everything look just so.
The day of the party, one of the committee members brought in two giant plastic blow-up snow-globes and proceeded to set them up. I opposed them vehemently! When was this discussed at the committee? How did tacky red & green suburban lawn decorations fit in with our snowflake theme? Why on god's green earth would anyone buy these things anyway??? I was the vocal minority... the rest of the committee were in the "I don't like them, but I'm too chicken to disagree with anyone out loud." or "I really don't care." camps. I fumed... not so silently.
At the party, after a couple of drinks, I stood looking at the giant snow globe (taller than me); at Santa and his reindeer being showered with a constant storm of styrofoam snow. An Australian came by "You've got to love it, it's so American!" - I died a little inside.
Soon enough the instigator of the snow-globe plan came over and put an arm around my shoulder. "You really hate it don't you?" He said.
"Yes, I really really do. I'm sorry I'm being such a bitch about this."
"That's okay." He said as we continued to stare, mesmerized by the blizzard of styrofoam snow. "In fact... today is Festivus and you're supposed to air your grievances."
"It's a holiday for the rest of us. The first tradition is the Airing of Grievances where you tell everyone in your life how much they've disappointed you... the second tradition is the Feats of Strength, where you wrestle your host to the ground."
"Really! Then I really genuinely hate this snow globe, and I can't believe you brought it here, completely destroying any attempt to make our party 'elegant' or at least 'not tacky'."
"That's the Spirit!"
And that is how I learned the true meaning of Festivus.
So in the true spirit of the holiday I would like to share with you my Airing of Grievances: Thailand Edition.
1. Humidity - it hasn't been especially warm since I got here, but anytime I walk more than two or three blocks I'm drenched in sweat. My the end of the day I look pathetic and smell atrocious.
2. Pollution - on the ground, in the air, at the beach. There are never enough garbage cans at public places, so trash ends up everywhere. This is a beautiful country, but it would benefit tremendously from a bit of a clean up.
3. The sex industry - personally I'm don't think the words 'sex' and 'industry' should ever go together. It's a tad disturbing to walk down the main street at night and pass prostitute after prostitute, or to see women sitting outside 'massage parlors' and 'karaoke bars' but know that for an extra 1,000 baht they're much more than that. It's even more disturbing to know that the majority of foreign guys who come here have used these services. I try not to judge... it's a whole different culture here. It's unlikely that the world's oldest profession will go out of business any time soon, so I know it's not worth me worrying about. But having sex for money.... ewwwww ewwwww ewwwww!
4. Sidewalks - every trip is an adventure. If there's a uniform sidewalk for a stretch of more than two stores I get excited. Otherwise it's uneven at best, at worst more pot holes and loose concrete than 'side walk'. I think back to life in the US where an uneven crack in the sidewalk was cause for spray paint, a sign and at times caution tape and I just crack up.
5. Wildlife - giant cockroaches that attack you in the shower, rabid dogs that bark all night long or sit staring at you as you eat, frogs that jump out at you as you walk along the street, snakes* of undetermined size and ferocity that lurk in any grassy area, lizards that crawl all over the walls, and the mosquitoes... those annoying and potentially disease carrying mosquitoes that are undeterred by mosquito repellent... all of these irritate and/or terrify me.
6. 'Fast food' English - I teach from 7 different books, and work 6 days a week. My schedule changes constantly. I haven't had two consecutive days off since September. I teach people ages 10 to 50. Every classroom is empty when I get there, and needs to be empty again when I leave - I have only a hanging folder and a plastic shoebox to store my teaching resources. A couple of my classes have text books that are completely inappropriate for their level. You can't fail anyone, ever. The copier is constantly running out of paper. The bathrooms are constantly running out of TP.
7. Squat Toilets
8. Whiskey - it's gross... why does everyone insist on drinking it?
9. Beige cars - a solid 50% of the cars here are beige; another 45% are silver. They all have tinted windows. When I get out of class, I can never identify which car I came in and wander aimlessly until my driver honks at me.
10. Bread - when you can find it - it's never that good.
11. It's just not 'home'. I'm a farang, and even if I became fluent in Thai & married a Thai man and had half-Thai children... I'd still be a farang, an outsider.
12. Squat Toilets - it bears repeating.
Ok... your turn, celebrate the true meaning of Festivus and air your grievances with pride!
*Yesterday both Donny & Big regaled me with stories of snakes falling out of trees; snakes as big around as your leg, snakes that span three hotel rooms in length, and snakes that hang out at the beach. I was *screaming* and seriously (however briefly) seriously considered leaving Thailand. TAG - Code Durian!