I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
Stick recently indicated that a surveillance camera had just gone up in Nana and that people watching had started to take on a new twist. Who owns this camera I have no idea and what their motives are for owning one are not clear either (yet) but I wonder
how long it will be before more of these things start popping up all over the place and you not only start hearing reports about where you were seen and who with but also it will be supported by documented video evidence too. This got me thinking,
and you know as a foreigner here I sometimes get the feeling that I am being constantly watched, either that or I am beginning to get paranoid…
Don’t believe me?
Well, let me see. When I was growing up in the 1980’s, a popular song was being played on the radio and it was a song with a similar title to this submission by a guy called Rockwell. I noticed recently on MOS radio that a newer rendition of this song has remerged by a group called Beatfreaktz and for your listening pleasure you should be able to listen to it here, as well as watch it here too, where I believe that little dwarf from Nana seems to have made an appearance.
Back in the 1980’s the words to the original song from Rockwell went something like this:
I'm just an average guy with an average life
I work from nine to five, hey hell I pay the price
But I want is to be left alone in my average home
But why do I always feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone
I always feel that somebody's watchin' me
And I have no privacy
I always feel that somebody's watchin' me
Is it just a dream?
When I come home at night
I bolt the door real tight
People call me on the phone I'm trying to avoid
Well, can the people on TV see me or am I just paranoid
When I'm in the shower, I'm afraid to wash my hair
I might open my eyes and find someone standing there
People say I'm crazy, just a little touched
But maybe showers remind me of Psycho too much
I always feel like somebody's watching me
Who's playing tricks on me?
I always feel like somebody's watching me
Tell me it can't be
I don't know anymore
Are the neighbours watching me?
Well is the mailman watching me
And I don't feel safe anymore, oh what a mess
I wonder who's watching me now.
I always feel like somebody's watching me
Who's playing tricks on me?
I always feel like somebody's watching me
I can't enjoy my tea!
Well lucky for me I am not so paranoiac that I can’t still enjoy my tea, but let’s look at how things work here in Thailand and see if you still feel that you are not being watched. First of all, it’s a well known and documented fact here on Stickman that the Thais do have their own version of a jungle drum communication system and that should you find yourself down at the bars (or anywhere else for that matter) that the chances are someone somewhere will not only know who you are but will also tell someone about it and you will likely find yourself getting caught out or at least receiving the name of being a butterfly, especially if you play around. I believe it’s our white faces, wallets and large gonads that make us stick out as identifiable targets.
I was once sat outside having an innocent glass of wine one night after a hard day's work when a car rolled up alongside the curb and as I sipped on my red vino looking on, a young Thai girl’s head popped out of the passenger door shouting my name. At first I thought it was one of my ex-students from the short tour of duty I had in the English teaching game, but when she started saying how her mum was now on the phone to my wife telling her that I was sat in a bar having a drink, well I knew then that it was a little closer to home.
Personally I didn’t care less and just shouted back that I will be having a few more too and if she would like to inform the wife that I may be rolling in positively pissed at around 11pm that night and to have some tea and toast ready then that would be great. The only thing that did concern me about this was that I was about 10km away from where I live and yet I was still somehow spotted and reported on.
A month or so later, I was out walking home and took a minor detour to Big C opposite the world trade centre. As I walked down the path I rounded a particular corner only to be met by a chorus of “Hello handsome man – maaaassaaaage” from a place that I wasn’t aware of that existed there and before I could even react, my eyes somehow caught the look of astonishment from one of my wife’s colleagues from work who just happened to be walking by at the same time… coincidence? Maybe! Well whatever it was, she immediately decided to put her own notions of seeing me walking innocently by a massage parlour and after a brief Sawatdee Ka and a smile from her, I managed to only get down the road by about 100 metres before my phone was buzzing away in my pocket with the wife asking me if I was seeking relief from the massage ladies.
“Of course I was dear, I have bloody sore leg after all the walking I am doing around Bangkok to get some food for your dinner tonight!” being my answer and so it was again that the spies had found me and reported back home.
A few weeks back, I decided to do an experiment by putting an ad on several internet dating sites here in Asia. I was not looking for an extra marital date but I wanted to know if being here in Thailand as a married man or otherwise would affect my chances of finding someone to date and I also wanted to see if the Internet dating game had changed since I last did it 2 years ago. This was pure academic research and nothing was to come of it – honest! Anyway, I was gob smacked by the results of this experiment (This will be submitted as another submission later on I promise) but what surprised me the most was not only how many spies in the Internet camp knew who I was, but how many actually reported back to the wife accordingly about what I was up to, be it innocent or otherwise. Fortunately for me the wife knows me better than her friends and so I didn’t have to endure any of those famous Thai jealous sulks and she actually found it all very amusing indeed as she knows I will never ever go and play away from home anyway.
About 4 weeks ago, a mate and I went for a sherry or two at a local venue and all in all we had a quiet but enjoyable night of chatting and having a few jars along with the wallpaper watching that one inevitably does in Thailand. On the way home we went to a Subway eatery and while he grabbed himself a beef sarny to vanquish his boozy hunger pangs we decided to treat a couple of street Urchins to a bag of crisps each. We could have given them 20 baht but we didn’t want the money to just go straight back to their lazy ass parents and so opened the crisps and made sure that we saw the kids eating them before we left… call it our charitable event for the night. Anyway, he went his way in a taxi and I went mine and as the wife was away for the weekend on some MBA event, I just got home and went straight to bed. The next morning I got a message from my mate saying that his house had been emptied of all furniture and belongings. At first I asked if he had been burgled but it turned out that his live in girlfriend had decided to move out that night lock, stock and barrel. She even took the keys to his motorbike with her although the bike remained in the drive so to speak.
Why? Well ‘someone’ decided to phone up his girlfriend while we were out and told her that we were down in Nana and that he had also bar fined a girl and had actually gone with her to a short time hotel. So his girlfriend not wanting to check the facts first decided to react in that most popular fashion of Thai girls in these instances and went blindly ballistic deciding to clear him out instead. If I recall, she left him with only a mattress, one sheet and a fridge and that was it… everything else of ‘his’ that ‘he’ bought had positively gone.
Anyway, putting this typical Thai reaction aside, it was the fact that the jungle drums had been beaten that put him in this predicament in the first place. Unfortunately, the jungle drummer in this case was a dyslexic fool and more importantly a Farang fool at that (which goes to show that one should never trust one's own country folk) and he decided to cause trouble because he had not been invited along to the party that night. Anyway, this person who bounded out the incorrect jungle beat got it all wrong because we didn’t go anywhere near Nana, and also if my mate did indeed bar fine a girl taking her to a short time hotel in the process, then he must have done it all in the 5 minutes that it took him to go to the toilet because he was right next to me for the entire evening and I can vouch for his every move. Fortunately for him, his furniture and girlfriend both arrived back two days later as the truth of the matter dawned on his now very much calmer girlfriend, but for some odd reason although she won’t say specifically who it was who phoned her (although we know who it was) it just goes to show that she took the word of another via the jungle drum system as gospel and reacted accordingly.
I was sat in the office the other day when a girl sidled up and mentioned that she sees me walking up past MBK most nights and that I should be careful because an extra 3,000 troops where on their way into Bangkok (this was a few days after the coup) and that I may want to get a taxi home for safety or leave earlier… First, I didn’t know that she had been watching me, and second I was surprised she had such alleged insider contacts. Funnily enough though I am still waiting for the troops to emerge and perhaps they got lost on their way in. Maybe her conspiracy theory is all part of some big brother secret squirrel squad that has been purportedly rumoured to be out and about in Bangkok listening in for clues of what people are really thinking out on the street about the current government and the coup. Do you really know who that Thai guy is sitting next to you listening in at the coffee shop?
That’ll give you something to ponder!
Same place, different night, I found myself bumping into someone else who happened to know who I was and I only spotted him because he literally ran up waiing me for all and sundry to see. For me there is something disconcerting about a grown Thai male of 23 years of age running up with a wai at the ready. I waved hello back and asked him why he was waiting for a bus at MBK when the BTS was two minutes away. He replied that the BTS was always too busy for him and with a startled jump, he ran off to catch a 10 baht bus designed for 10 people which to my best estimates had 50 or so Thais hanging out of the doors and windows and he said the BTS was too busy… go figure huh! Anyway, I had been spotted out and about again – damn!
Then it happened again that day whilst waiting at the BTS line, where I somehow found myself being talked at by someone who stated that he sometimes sees me getting onto the BTS at Siam Square and yet I hadn’t a clue who he was except that he told me that he works in the same building as I do… so once again someone out there knew who I was but I didn’t have a clue who they where. What I want to know is, who is doing all the talking and pointing?
So am I being paranoid or am I really being watched? Back home in my soi, I find now that after 17 months of living at my particular condo that I suspect that everyone not only knows who I am but also who my wife is too. One lady who I have no clue whatsoever about came up to me last night and asked me as I merrily skipped through the huge goblets of rain that where thundering down, why my wife was coming home so late these days and how skinny she was looking, implying as she enquired that I may not be taking care of my wife that well. I replied that the wife eats more than I do and is only coming home so late because she is doing her MBA most evenings, but if she would like to leave big parcels of food at my condo then I will be more than happy to pass them along onto the wife…. But I won’t hold my breath in anticipation.
Even the taxi drivers each morning along my soi know me to the extent that I no longer have to tell them where I want to go or how to get there each day… and I am not the only one as my mate says the exact same about the people where he lives too. It’s all very comforting of course and I love the community spirit it all brings but it does me that you have to have a bit more social responsibility with it too.
Stick recently mentioned that he was being impersonated by certain guys as they make idle threats down at the beer bars for want of a free beer to stop them publishing anything untoward in the name of stick to the stickman masses. It’s no surprise that Stickman and others here find themselves being cloned and impersonated because it’s the nature of Thailand to copy things (a waltz around Panthip plaza will show you this) and with all the notions of obtaining finger prints, taking your photos, scanning your passport and who knows what else, maybe even rectum scans too upon arrival at the new airport, well I for one won’t be too surprised when the Thais start replicating little cloned Farangs down at Koh Sarn Road along with the fake IDs, driving licences, degree certificates and English teaching credentials. Can you imagine asking if anyone has seen Dana in Thailand recently only to be met with the response that there are 50 cloned versions of him sitting in the coffee shop around the corner and would you like to buy one?
In fact, now I come to think about it all, who can ‘really’ be sure that John Kerr was the real John Kerr and that the only reason his DNA didn’t support the findings at the scene of crime was because the real John Kerr was still doing the rounds in Cambodia laughing his little socks off. Maybe I have been watching too many movies like the sixth day by Arnold Schwarzenegger and I am just becoming paranoid. Oh… Hello Dolly, is that you. Baaaaa!
Maybe I am just being paranoid after all. Hey! Hands up all those who think that there aren’t enough Elvis impersonators in the world then… certainly there are a few here in Thailand, and how about Marylyn Monroe ones. I know Prince William (The real one?) is currently doing the rounds with his bint of a girlfriend appearing in Thai magazines in erhum fashionable clothes. The list of impersonators out there can be endless of course and they do say that there is a twin for every one of us out there somewhere. Well I know where mine is of course because I am a real twin:
Although as we have become older he has started to look more like Mr Potato head while I have started to resemble a nice floral lamp shade.
Even famous presidents and prime ministers have a stand in or a look a-like. Even Winston Churchill had one and if you have ever watched the ‘Eagle has landed’ with Michael Caine then you will know what I mean. Surely even Thaksin must have one somewhere, and who is to say that he really is in London when in fact he is probably up there in Isaan cavorting with his paid up supporters… just as Princess Diana is on some remote island with her Harrods lover… boy how I love conspiracy theories. Yup, it’s fair to say that most famous people have been impersonated… not that Stickman is ‘that’ famous and as we have not met each other yet the chances of us having already passed each other without realising it is quite high as well.
Now hands up all those going to the Stickman writers meeting in November? Well what I want to know is who is it exactly that is going to clarify that you are who you say you are when you turn up at the doors of this event then, anyone? With the exception of one contributor on this site who really knows what I look like, no one else has a clue and so anyone who wants to call them self Casanundra and wheedle their way in can do so… although I am sure when or if the real me does turn up then it will be amusing and the same could be said for any of us who are planning to turn up. Myself I am planning on going as BKKSW and will promptly turn into a lamp shade if someone comes to question me about it. Will the real slim shady please stand up!
After the John Kerr case, I heard a rumour that the Thais were going to start checking our names against some list… ‘What list?’ was my immediate question and where is the information coming from that completes this list. Was it going to be a list of known kid abusers, or self declared Mafioso types or perhaps the criminals and terrorists of this world will form part of this list. Let me see now, which one of that fraternity will openly declare themselves shouting “hey there is a list that recognises us, what a great idea, can I be on it? Go on please…” – Oops! By probably writing this I have no doubt just been etched in somewhere by the secret squirrel squad hiding near MBK.
You know what worries me the most about such a list? Well it’s the fact that there will unlikely be no quality or evidential checks done on how you may end up on that list, especially as the ‘proven guilty until found otherwise’ seems to be the over riding precedence under Thai law. It won’t be too hard to imagine that someone somewhere will find themselves being placed on this list just because some fickle minded Thai with a grudge against Farangs decided to get one up on you by claiming something about you first… and who are the owners of this list anyway, and just who are they going to believe, you or another Thai?
I know the USA and Europe are currently debating the sharing of passenger lists with America taking its usual ‘we will bomb you into the stone ages if you do not comply’ sort of approach despite the fact that it contravenes European privacy laws. Not that they care of course and as long as their big brother is being kept happy then that’s all that matters. So will the Thais now be requesting similar things from incoming airlines too, that along with the rectal scans, the finger prints, the biometrics and photos on arrival will also come fully documented with our eating habits and credit card booking details. I can see it now as the immigration clerk asks you pertinent questions such as “aroy mai?” as you burp spicy bacon into her face from your early morning meal on the plane only to then find that you are lucky because had you eaten beef then you would have been rejected from entry because it went against their religious beliefs – you heathen! But don’t worry, as they have your credit card details they will just deduct 5,000 baht for the inconvenience and wave you on your way, enjoy your stay sir!
Talking of religion, did you know that during the 2nd world war, Holland had unbecomingly held a population census list that indicated the religion of all the people in its nation at that time? Imagine how useful that was when the Germans came marching in as they systematically went and rounded up all the Jews from the pre-made list… I know England every ten years does a similar census and I think after the last one was done the rise of the Jedi Knights as a major religion took everyone by surprise, especially Darth Blair who almost had a rasp and a wheeze at the thought. Who knows with certain data retention policies and the amount being held against (erm um I mean about us) on the internet along with the continued drive to spy on you with every conceivable camera they can, there is little wonder that we all feel that we are being watched by someone somewhere, and especially so by George ‘Orwell’ Bush and his gang of cohorts. What worries me is that after the Coup in Thailand took over, I wonder when the systematic processes of cataloguing us will begin here as well… just bend over, I can feel the implant on its way from Taiwan and the implementation device is enough to bring water to the eyes of anyone’s imagination.
I know my father believes that one day the Ali Baba cry will go up from the ‘peaceful’ Moslem masses and that the 50 million or so living peacefully within the ranges of their karaoke wailing towers will rise up to behead all and sundry who do not conform to their notion of Islamic law by first going to the census lists and finding everyone who has put something other than Islam as their religious faith down… oops! Did I just say all of that out loud? Damn maybe the listeners and the watchers out there will now put a fatwa on my head… great I have always wanted one of those red Tommy Cooper hats!
Maybe what my father says will happen one day, maybe it won’t but when the Nazis came rolling in I bet the Jewish community didn’t think it would happen then either and if one thing is certain, history does have a habit of repeating itself.
Oh crap, I can hear the marching boots coming up the corridor now, so I better go and do some work because I seriously think someone is watching me, but before I go into a huddle behind my screen and start shivering under the blast of the stares and hidden cameras, what I really want to know is, who is watching the watchers… “custodiet custodes ipsos”
The jungle telegraph works well in certain circles, but not all. If you want to go out and have a drink away from prying eyes, it is possible…