As I sat tutoring my Vice Director’s 14 year old daughter, I started to think about the pressures of modern culture, the differences between Thailand and England and the effects these pressures have on the people in that culture.
In England at the age of 25 I felt the pressure to be in a relationship, get married and think about a career. I guess it is about growing up but why in a world in which we have fought for equality and equal rights do we still find ourselves dealing with the same pressures our ancestors felt? Why is it not ok to enjoy being by yourself and embrace it? All my friends in England are in relationships or desperate to be in one. Some to the point where I am not sure they really know who they are anymore. They have become broken, pathetic display pieces for womanhood and so far away from those women in the 60’s that burnt their bras for us. These women would be unrecognisable to modern society, if indeed we had advanced beyond this animalistic need for companionship and constant reaffirming of self-worth.
Miss J and I have discussed these pressures and have come to realise that now, in Thailand in a different culture there is no pressure to be in a relationship although you do appear to get the worried look from people when you tell them that you are travelling alone. In Thai culture it appears that a women would stay with her family – for some even share the bed with their parents – until the day that they get married and leave the home. So although the pressure is off to get married they have the support and constant assurance of their families they are never alone. Families I have met in Thailand want to take care of me, they want to invite me to be part of their family, be that live with them, eat with them or worship with them. This to me is strange, but in their culture it is strange that I have left my family and decided to travel alone. I don’t mind being accepted into a family at all, it is nice to feel welcomed into a new culture. I draw the line at being married off to sons but at the moment this has not happened although I have known it happen to many western women.
It was the pressure inflicted on society that made me leave behind the life I had and delve into this unknown society. Turns out from the outside at least that this culture is very similar – perhaps all cultures are – but at least I am content now with seeing the world and these different cultures, and although driven by a sexual urge sometimes I am not desperately seeking a mate to distract me from the life I want to lead.