My room in the UK looked like a cross between a budhist shrine and a fortune teller’s den according to an articulate friend. Ok, so I did have a lot of bhuddas, hanging things and shisha pipes in my room but a room is to chill right? So atmosphere is important! Am I buddhist? No, but I liked some of the philosophies of Buddhism. Appreciation of all living things, self control and elightment. So I had a pretty ignorant take on it, elightment sounded great, I lack self control and appreciation is never a bad thing.
Fast forward six months and here I am in the midst of Thailand, Buddhism and culture as far away from my little English boudoir as possible. Thailand fascinates me and undoubtly will continue to. It’s beautiful, diverse and different. I still have yet to see a lot of it but from what I have seen I have been ‘enlighted’ – not via a vow to monkhood but more a realisation that I was ignorant to before. Contradictions or mixed signals. Thai people have a beautiful nature, most are calm and polite. It is not in thai culture to be critical or ‘unpolite’. This is also a teaching of Buddhism, to keep a neutral emotion. So if this is the case is politeness really politeness as we know it? Or is it generic? Wow now!!! prob a bit too phylosphical but I’m sure you get what I’m saying. How do you know if someone in thailand actually likes you? Thais also are non-direct, talk will circle before you are aware of it. This is because Thais are non- confrontational people, but then when you finally hear the ‘talk’ you are then aware that everyone has been talking about you so prob best for the person to discuss it with you in the first place. This would surely create less conflict?
Now don’t mis read this, this is not a blog that is meant to be critical, its more a camparison of cultures. Who really is right and who is wrong? It used to really irratate me when people got over aggressive in trivial situations back home. I remember going to fill up at a garage and drove past a patiently waiting queue of cars as I was in a world of my own and went right to the front. Waiting by the pump, I could hear this shouting. I remember turning round to a guy that was literally screaming at me. ‘What the fuck??!!!’ ‘what the fuck??!!’. So I wind down my window and say, ‘Sorry, how can I help you?’ He goes into this rant. I wait for him to stop and simply say ‘Ok, it was a mistake. I’ll drive to the back of the queue’. He looked puzzled, slightly embarassed and left. Sooo, I feel we could have done with a bit of thai culture there for sure!
I guess it ties in with culture ‘shock’, you leave a country where you know most things and come to one where you are like a baby. You have to re learn how to read people, situations, what’s appropriate, what’s not and just what’s not what they do all over again. The most hilarious story I heard of late is where Miss L stood up along with another teacher and ‘whai’-ed from stand up to the floor in honour of their director. Except it wasn’t their director. A ‘whai’ is where you place your hands together in a praying postion and bow ur head. The lower you bow, the greater the respect. I think it’s not whether you love or hate a culture that matters, it’s how you deal with it. Thailand may be confusing to me at the moment but with time it will all make perfect sense.