Help Me, I am Becoming Thai
WARNING: READING AT YOUR OWN RISK
(S & W disclaim all liabilities for consequential emotional damages or gains. “There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen)
He stood with one foot clearly over the yellow line. I could not believe my eyes. I was waiting on the BTS platform Ploenchit and was looking out for the security guard. Looked around, but could not see one. I just thought: Oh my god, this guy -of course it was a ‘farang’- did not obey the first rule of using the BTS in the approved manner: Don’t cross the yellow line! But then thanks God the order was restored, a security guard finally showed up, blew his whistle, yelled at the undisciplined ‘farang’ in Thai army style and subsequently saved the mans life. Sometimes I am just glad to live in Bangkok. Some things are just as sure as shit. Especially when you travel by the Bangkok Transport System. They guards will not let you in if you are drinking or eating, not even talking about smoking. Two weeks ago I witnessed a horrible incident: A ‘farang’ was sipping unaesthetically on a can of coke in the restricted area. But luckily, the security guard was there to protect the Thai society from the insult on its public transportation and told the ‘farang’ to immediately stop drinking, but the ‘farang’ just ignored the security guard and kept on sipping his American brew. I could not witness the unpleasant scene anymore, it was simply too nerve-wrecking. But for me, I think it is good to know that all security measures are in place, and we, the people living in Bangkok don’t have to fear any inconveniences from the dissonance in the south. (God help us.)
When I dress, I always check that there are no wrinkles in my clothes. I totally hate it when I tie my shoelaces and discover afterwards that my trousers and my shirt have suffered. I never wear the same clothes on two days, sometimes I even change my shirt twice a day. I am also totally obsessed with my skin because every time I have a pimple on my face or on my neck I get asked by my fellow Thaiclonefarangs (TCF) if a mosquito bit me and I see the skin doctor, who is of course katoey, every second week. At the moment we are in the process of laser my nose, because I have some small red blood vessels disturbing my spotless appearance, not many but of course they need to be eliminated. It is 10 times cheaper than in Europe and it actually works. So why not do it? The only thing: It really hurts. Its like you getting electroshocks to your nose. The katoey doctor says that he himself can only have two laser strokes to his face, but to me he does it about ten times and it is total torture. But one of his female assistants gently holds my hand while he is doing it, that helps a lot. I say: No pain, no gain! My katoey doctor also suggests continuously to have my foreskin botoxed, but that I find a bit over the top, at least for the time being. Remember, I am in my mid 30’s. I don’t wanna end up like Mickey Rourke and walk around with a Chiwawa on my arm – maybe the botox molecules have entered his brain and caused it to freeze or he took too many hits to his head during his boxing career. Furthermore, Mickey Rourke does not look Asian (Burt Reynolds is more my idol of becoming an Asian trough plastic surgery) and finally, real Thaiclonefarang (TCF) like me don’t like dogs anyway. But really, I just had a hair restoration done, that will me make look more like the Thai clone standard, but to be a touch different I still keep my hair naturally blonde. Elvis was blonde like me by the way but he went down in history as the inventor of the Thai hairstyle. Of course, I am quite tempted to color it black and conform totally, like so many elder TCF gentlemen who live in Bangkok exemplify, but I will save that up for later, as well as the botox. Why do it all now and not save some fun things to do for the future!
I never shake hands with people. It is a disgusting habit. Especially I don’t shake hands with Thai girls. Last night I was introduced to some ‘farang food’ semifreelancers who wanted to stroll around KSR (what an abbreviation – like KK – when these acronyms enter your life in BKK, you can ring the death bell). The girl was a date from the internet. I knew she was what she was, but I had nothing better to do, in fact I was tired of dating almost perfect girls and I just wanted to earthen a bit with a semi hooker. I took the BTS to the Victory Monument (yes, that was the time I saw that undisciplined ‘farang’ crossing the yellow line). I never go out to see girls. Never ever ever. I always let them come to me. I want to play on my field with my rules. It has the advantage that if they don’t show up I have not lost any time. Mostly I wait for them to arrive at a meeting place near to my apartment or even wait in my apartment and only go out if they would call me or send me messages like ‘I am here -where are u?’. Because if you wait for a Thai girl you should bring a folding chair with you. Not to mention the mess when you miss each other. This is no joke: I am having difficulties explaining girls what ‘ground floor’ means. Because in Switzerland the ground floor is the first floor here. We call the first floor parterre, i.e. ground floor. The second floor here is the first floor for us. But then, as I said, they don’t know what the ground floor is. Just meet at a place even a 4 year old kid could find – I think that hits pretty much the standard. So yesterday was against all rules and it showed me very well why my rules are in place and what will I get if I break them. So the Friday ride on the BTS was great. No more people could have possibly fit in the cars. I had the impression, the locomotive had problems to carry so many passengers because the whole ride was very shaky and I was terrified to get stuck. But my artificial Thainess let me look cool and controlled even I felt claustrophobic and had difficulties to breathe. My face was without expression, like a display dummy for a clothes shop. I looked down on my trousers. No wrinkles so far. Good.
Victory Monument station is a nightmare. She wanted me to walk to Center 1. So I did the most risky thing in the kingdom: I asked a Thai for directions. Actually I asked the newsagent. The girl was educated and could speak good English, I was totally surprised. She was also very cute and I was tempted to give her one of my cards, but then I exceeded my Thai girl quota already and I just ran from date to date like a blind zombie. Go straight, turn right. Fine. How far to go straight and when to turn right never mind. It was the first time in Thailand that I asked somebody and I actually got a straight answer. But the amount of people around the Victory Monument was just enormous. Then I finally found the place. The internet girl wanted me to go to wait for her in front of the McDonalds. What a romantic lieu for a date. The scenery looked like made out of the film ‘Blade Runner’: Noisy, dusty, ugly, simply terrible. I found her. She was sitting on an outside (sic!) table in front of the McDonalds. I approached the table and smiled to her and the other two girls sitting there. She said something she will be with friends. But instead of introducing me to her friends she just talked to me. Actually, first of all, she talked to her friends in Thai and just ignored me. It took me some time until I had her attention. For me she was dead already, but I just wanted to see how it would go on. So after ignoring me in the first minutes, she talked to me a bit. I was asking her if she would mind to introduce her friends to me, and she granted me the pleasure. The girls hardly stopped talking to each other and just reached out their hands to me. Why would a normal Thai girl wanna touch me? The greeting in Thailand is the wai, not the handshake – I am quite sure about that. Well, it could be only a smile and a small nod, that is enough in my eyes. When somebody wais me, I usually just smile back and nod, because to do the right wai back can be a tricky thing, sometimes I produce a ‘funny’ wai, a shy ‘katoey way wai’ to just be silly and break the ice, if totally needed I can also to it the right way. But for sure I would never greet a girl in Thailand with a handshake. And surely not the way these girls did the handshake: They did not look me in the eyes, like we would do it when we shake hands in the west and say something like ‘nice to meet you’ no, the just let me press their hand and kept on talking in Thai to each other. We Swiss are maybe cold and boring, but one thing we do: If we have a guest from Asia sitting with us and we are a bunch of people who can speak English, we don’t speak Swiss to each other, we speak English, so the Asian person would not feel like as an outsider. In the country where they invented politeness (and that is what they think) they don’t give a damn if you understand what they are talking to each other, they would be offended if you do. Its most likely gossip about you anyway, they are probably saying that you desperately need Clerasil or that you have too many wrinkles in your face and clothes. You wanna know what happened to the 3 girls? Well I left after 10 minutes, excusing myself with the apology that I had to take care of my younger brother, but stating that it was such a pleasure to meet all three of them. They were shocked and I got their full attention for about 30 seconds. I am quite proud of that.
So what is the next thing with me becoming Thai? It is the language. Don’t worry I am not learning Thai. I am not that crazy yet. But I talk English like a Thai. I pronounce the last syllable of the words, I end most phrases with na. Most of the time I hang out with girls anyway and I use ka instead of krap. I know its crap, but if Thai men speak to little girls they say ka to them. Since I am always speaking to little girls I usually say ka to them. I don’t do it because it sounds cute, I do it because I am starting to become a Thai men and since the cool Thai men are gay, so I start to use their language duai. See? I am mixing Thai with English. Volia, we have Tinglish. It’s not very sophisticated but it’s a funny way to survive in the city which is in all probability the biggest kindergarten in the world.
I am becoming more and more vague in my relationships with my Thai girl friends. I am not defining the relationship anymore, I just go with the flow. Sometimes we end up in bed (with or without sex – it is wonderful to be in bed with a girl without sex), some other time we just drink coffee at Starbucks, watch movies at the World Trade or play squash. Sometimes I end up with two appointments in one evening, but I never get a headache because of that. It always works out fine. One girl will always cancel. If not, I spend two hours with each girl or introduce them to each other if I am in the right nihilistic mood. How many times a girl told me that she can not see me ever again (because it was so immoral what we were doing) and right the next day she stood on my doorstep again? I did not call her to visit me again. They usually call me, the less I call them the more they want to be with me. A simple rule of the universe. Easy to say, hard to do – I know. I stopped asking: Why? What? Where? How? I have become a Thai, I simply don’t know where I am going, but folks, yes, I am surely on my way. Emerson: “For, if Fate is so prevailing, man also is part of it, and can confront fate with fate. If the Universe have these savage accidents, our atoms are as savage in resistance. We should be crushed by the atmosphere, but for the reaction of the air within the body. A tube made of a film of glass can resist the shock of the ocean, if filled with the same water. If there be omnipotence in the stroke, there is omnipotence of recoil.”
Took tong na krap – Khun Waldo! But there is one thing – I wanna try to be real Thai (at least for a day) and I have some ideas how to achieve that. I saw once a program in Switzerland where a guy put on an ‘senior citizens suit’ to drive a car. This special suit would simulate him how it would be an old person driving a car with many handicaps that older people might have, like not being able to turn the head etc. So I wonder what a being ‘Thai suit’ would look like. I think earplugs would be a good start so you don’t understand what people are telling you and you have to ask back what people are saying to you about 3 or 4 times. That already makes 50% of the simulation suit. What else you might need is a big box of Xanax to be able to sleep in the middle of the day next to the loudest, busiest traffic. And of course you need rose colored sunglasses with blinders. That would be the Thai standard suit. I don’t know how to slow down the brain function yet, but the luxury version of ‘the suit’ will come with a pack of Prozac or by request with any other antidepressant available (Zoloft, Lexapro etc.) Oh, man – I would love to try that ‘suit’ on and sink into bliss.