Monday, September 19, 2011

Clearly My Priorities Are Out of Line

Today my boss approached me. Uh-oh, what’s up…
“Jenny? Why didn’t you tell me when crow attack you?”

Wait what?

“Gen told me about crow attack you.”
“Yeah it happened in the park last week.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I don’t know. One attacked me last semester right outside of school too.”
“Wha? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I don’t know. I told the other teachers. I was wearing shiny earrings that time though.”

“I will take you to temple to buy cage bird. Set it free. Make merit. Crow is bad luck you know? Very unlucky for you.”
Some things are universal.
So after lunch, my boss and I walked out to the bus stop under her sun umbrella. In classic elder/younger form she paid for my bus fare. We got off and walked to a wat that’s so near my apartment I surely should have visited it by now, but you know, priorities.

“When I hear about your mobile phone I think ok now. The bad luck ok now.” So, the bad omen of the crow was accounted for with the theft of my mobile phone. Well glad that’s cleared up.

My colleague had his motorbike stolen this weekend. What on earth was his portend?

We approached the temple and my boss purchased two strands of jasmine and marigold flowers with wrapping paper ribbon bows. I love the cat napping peacefully between the various donation boxes, you can choose whether your donation goes to the building, scholarships, the water and electricity bill, etc., though all marked in Thai, us farang just have to guess without a guide.

“Are you Christian or Buddhism?” my boss queries.
I shrug my shoulders, though I appreciate her concern.
“Ok you can.”
We each donate ten baht for the candle, joss sticks and gold leaf.

I follow her lead to light the candle, place it among the others, light the joss sticks and hold them between prayerful hands kneeling in front of the gold leafed Buddha.
My boss quickly rescues my slips of paper and gold leaf, which I’d left in between the lit joss sticks not knowing what they were. I add my gold leaf to the Buddha and toss the paper. We kneel for Buddha one more time.

We go over to a fountain area and engage in what I can only relate to as baptism, sprinkling water on our heads and over our shoulders to rid ourselves of bad luck. I’m reminded yet again of the link between Buddhism and Christianity.

We enter a quiet room and meditate for a couple of minutes.
Then we head to the main temple and pay our respects there. Mind you, we’ve had to remove and replace our shoes more times than I’ve kept count by now.

Then we revisit the donation boxes and part with a few baht.
My boss tries one last time in vain to get us a caged bird to release, but ‘mai me’ today. I assure her it’ll be ok.

We take a taxi back. I find out my boss doesn’t like green and yellow or plain yellow taxis. She believes their drivers are rude. She also mentions they support the yellow shirts. But, blue taxis ok and pink taxis are polite. I decide not to relay my experience in a pink taxi to my boss…

My boss mentions she joined the red shirt rally yesterday marking five years since the original coup overthrowing Voldemorte. I mean, Thaksin. Same difference at this point. She also brings up my colleague’s motorcycle theft, and reminds me not to ride taxis by myself after dark unless it’s a friend, like James (colleague whose bike was stolen, so I don’t know how that works).
“Like Loy Krathong last year!”
“Oh yeah, that. But it was fun!” I don’t protest any more than this and solemnly agree “ok.”
I’m totally lying, but we knew that.

So, we made merit to ward off the bad luck from the crow. I replaced my mobile phone yesterday with the next to cheapest model I could find. And I was able to get another purple ninja wrist strap, just because, gotta have some flare you know?

Here’s to warding off more crows and pick pockets. Though I suppose I still have to get back to work.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It Takes Two Hands to Clap

A wise Thai woman said to me this week: “Why do you fight? You know we have a saying in Thailand. It takes two hands to clap.”

Her words caught me off guard. But her point was quite clear. Why do I waste my time fighting pointless battles? Why do I let them bog me down? Sometimes the best choice in a fight is not to fight at all.

“Maybe you can learn something while you are in Thailand,” she said. I hope that continues to be the case.

In other news, the crow near school continues to stalk me, earrings or not. I’ve been perfecting my stare down technique and barking at the stupid thing.

Having discovered grilled bananas with caramel sauce, I’ve decided this is one of the most delicious snacks on the planet.

Khao Sarn Road and Siam Square are the two best places in Bangkok to get your cell phone stolen/pick pocketed. Shortly I’ll be shopping for cell phone number three.

School may have just resumed back in the states, but here we have semester one final exams beginning next week. I make no promises on the timing of updates for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Take it For Granted

I went to the doctor today.
Had that blood work done.
Meds. What did I eat this time? Who knows.
Another appointment next week.
Since I’m now enrolled in Thai social, I didn’t pay anything.
Everyone accommodated my lack of Thai language.
English signs, help in the cafeteria while waiting for blood work.
Friendly taxis of late, conversations in Thai without harassment.
Appreciation that I’m teaching English.

Another teacher was shot in the south of Thailand today.
Teachers ride to work in escorted convoys because of insurgent violence there.
He was 38, riding home alone after extra English lessons.

So I have to wear a skirt, and don’t know what’s going on more often than not.
Would I ride in a convoy to teach?

I can afford my healthcare now.
I’m employed.
And I’m not getting shot at.

In another six weeks, I finally get to see Chiang Mai with my best friend.
Monsoon season and Bangkok smog may be getting me down, but overall that’s not so bad.