I used to think I didn’t really deserve it because I was a tourist. Then, I got a job teaching and I thought, well, I don’t really deserve it here either because I am actually just a tourist who thinks he’s a resident. Then, I got
a job in my field of expertise and I realized: I do receive a level of respect I’ve never had at my jobs in the US, but I tend to let the cultural misunderstandings grind on me and make me forget about the positive. So, yes, I receive respect—it’s
not all cold flips of the backhand. In fact, I really enjoy the respect when I receive it. But, there are times that wind me up, that make me think all the good stuff is just a cover over the real stuff (which is the bad stuff because it seems
nowadays that the only truth is the dark shit; only the evil is true and the good is just a mask over evil because everything’s really just evil, at least that’s what they say.)
When you come here to Thailand, be it to work or visit, it seems as though Thais like to lump us of all in a visitor category, regardless. It’s just one of things about living here you just gotta deal with; it’s how they see us. It can’t be changed without paying your dues big time. Even after that, a lot of us find that things still aren’t too much different. It’s all about us giving to them. That’s why we’re . . . that’s why they allow us to be here. It’s harsh, yes. But, this is the truth in most cases (of course there are exceptions): we’re here to give.
Often, over the past few years or so, I think about the Indians I’ve worked with back in America. I think about how it must be for them, about my situation now as it compares to their situation back in the US. There’s a lot of similarities, but I’m not going to say they are the same because, flat out, they aren’t. Indians in America have been given a terrific opportunity to better the lives of themselves and, most importantly, their families. The “give” is that they have to put up with cultural exclusion and confusion. The “take” is that they can build themselves financially and develop the future for their children; there’s a great boost in hope.
For me, the “give” is enormous and the “take” is . . . not much. More and more of my self-respect is robbed from me as each week goes by. I am forced by my situation to capitulate more than I ever thought possible.
Now, let me say this: As one grows older, this is a fact of existence, the erosion of your confidence, I mean. No doubt. But, the trick is to make sure you’ve got that thing or things in your life that restore your soul, that keep your faith. Maybe it’s your girlfriend or a good set of buddies, someone to lean on. I’ve found that to be a major irony of this place: A lot of guys come here because sexual satisfaction is immediately available without commitment. A lot of us think that’s all we need because the real stuff—moral support and love—is too damn complicated to deal with. If I could only get laid as often as possible, we think. But, due to the nature of Thai society—this place where we live—one really needs, more than ever, that other person to lean on and prop up your soul. So, you struggle with this because there really are very few Thai women or Thai people who will ever be there to lean on. The majority—as has been discussed endlessly on stickmanbangkok.com—rarely care for any person who is not a member of the immediate family. Or, in most cases, rarely care for anyone outside of their mother.
So, you go through tons of Thai girlfriends, ditching each one because she’s wacked; because she, nor her family, has an ounce of respect for you. You realize this and start to give even more because you think, “Shit! I’ve been such an idiot to think anyone would give respect to a guy who sleeps around behind his wife; to a guy who so readily took in a hooker without consideration.” You give and give until you realize no Thai will ever give you a thing back; that they couldn’t give a rat’s ass no matter what you do.
At least that’s what you think because, again, you’re concentrating more on the bad. You forget the times they washed your feet or cooked you food or helped you catch the right bus or took the time to show you exactly where to go even though by doing it it’d make them late for work. All the dark shit will easily block out the good if you let it. Ask anyone who’s lived here for a period of time if a Thai person has ever said to them, “Why you think about bad?” At first I always thought this was a perfect example of their ignorance—and, in a way, it definitely is. But, as time has gone I think what they meant was that I let myself be blinded by rage when I should just let it go. It’s that balance thing: The good must live alongside the bad. Bad cannot be eliminated any more than it can be pinned down into submission.
In Thailand, if you can’t ride this balance, you gotta ask yourself what the problem is and stop trying to change the others around you. You can’t do it, plain and simple. What a cliché, I know, but, you can change yourself.
It’s good and bad out there guys. Thailand isn’t going to save you from the law of life. No different here than back home, with regards to life, that is. Be strong enough to forget those who disrespect and reciprocate the ones who do. That’s the coolest thing about Thailand, the balance thing. It’s how everything works here. It’s in the air. It’s how people live.
You've got to try and look on the bright side because if you don't, you'll get worn down very, very quickly.