A Little Social Anthropology
Just like many other readers have noted, once the tourism shut down in Thailand the messages started trickling in, asking for help. Over the years I’ve built a few relationships that have become important for me, people that have become regular fixtures in my life when I visit Bangkok, and it’s become interesting to see how different four of these have handled things the last two months.
One of them is a girl that was my regular maid for years at the place I stay, she’s very hard working, has pretty much no education and seems to be moulded right out of the stereotype of a farm country girl sent to Bangkok to make money for the family, and whatever she makes gets handed over to parents without any regard to her own wellbeing. This means she’s always an economical mess, and has zero ability to plan, and from some time of trying to help her get her own affairs in order, no ability to retain what she learns. Once her mind is back on the phone to the family it’s right back into the rut that has been taught her since childhood, and continual economic distress.
The next one is a girl I met when she was waitressing in one of the bars in Soi Cowboy. She has few commitments to home, her mom is looked after nicely between the kids and she just wants her own bubble in life where she can get by on almost no money. Like the previous girl she can’t plan much, but on the other hand she has built her life so that it isn’t needed. When the lockdown hit she was happy as a clam, it meant time to exercise, relax, meditate and tend to her own things.
The biggest surprise to me is another woman, also someone I met in one of the bars in Soi Cowboy, she’s never been one to party, and always talked about how she was putting money away for a house at home. When the downturn hit she was all too happy to flee home, and unlike most girls in Soi Cowboy she had put away a tidy amount of money over the years, and it turns out the house had been built and was pretty decent. I’ve been getting pictures from her home, a house bigger than my apartment back here, and what looks to be a life surprisingly in order.
The least adaptable turns out to be a girl from a upper middle class in Bangkok. She’s always been the one to point out what is beneath her to deal with, and always demanded her farang boyfriend be around to take care of anything that is non-trivial and having no understanding he has family obligations back here. Once the lockdown hit she’s basically gone full loonie and keeps pretending she is far worse off than others since she was not prepared for this and how the world should revolve around her.
It’s been interesting to see how people deal with this situation differently, and how the biggest surprise was that a waitress from Soi Cowboy is the one that seem to have been the most sensible over the years. The three first tales are still supported a bit by me, I am pretty sure the money does more good keeping them out of the gutter than supporting my full-blown Nikon habit for the time being.
Any story from the land of smiles would not be fully rounded without that one lunatic tale, and I had one girl contact me last week, and it wasn’t even related to money or the downturn. She was just plain furious she has found out her husband of 8 years had had a secret vasectomy and she was still wanting to try having a kid, and asked if I would kindly help her out. I politely declined, I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to getting involved in that story… :p