Teacher Tim's TEFL International Blog January 28th, 2012

The Man In The Moon is A Rabbit

When I was a kid back in the USA we had a firm belief that carrying a rabbit’s foot was sure luck. No game of marbles was started, no boy would step up to bat, without first hauling out the rabbit’s foot for a thorough massage. Had you asked me, as a boy, if this were a superstition of mine, I would have replied certainly not – it was just a habit, nothing more. My rabbit’s foot happened to be a key chain, so I hung on to it into my teenage years, and didn’t jettison it until a girlfriend wrinkled her nose at it as something “nasty”. In the hopes of getting a little smooching done, I immediately tossed the offending item – after all, when it comes to girls, there’s good luck, and then there’s common sense!

Most hotels in America still do not have a 13th floor – they blithely skip from 12 to 14. But nobody gets to stay home from school or work just because it happens to be a Friday the 13th. (I know – I’ve tried to!)

The Thais feel the same way about their innumerable superstitions – it’s just force of habit, nothing more.

Far be it from me to contradict the mindset of this lovely race of gracious and intelligent people . . .

But let’s look at some of the facts . . .

When I began teachingEnglish in Thailand I was immediately told not to schedule any tests on Mondays. As the school principal explained it to me, it was an inauspicious day for such things, and the students would not do well, even if they were normally brilliant.

You cannot find an open air market anywhere in Thailand without also finding at least one astrologer, who will set up his or her card table, do some scribbling after consulting a dog-eared copy of what looks like a child’s book on astronomy, and give the customer a detailed “reading” on what can and cannot be done on a particular day. They always do a land office business. I’ve always thought a store-front gypsy from New York would clean up if brought to Thailand and allowed to ply their Tarot deck.

You can’t order rabbit for a meal anywhere in Thailand, except in some of the southern border provinces where the Muslim influence is strongest; that’s because the Thais are convinced there is a rabbit living on the moon, and to slaughter and eat one would be a grave offense against the moon’s beneficent influence. (Of course, in America some people still think the moon is made of green cheese!)

Your Thai girlfriend or wife will always have at least one “unlucky” day of the week. She’ll never bow out of anything by saying “I have a headache” as a Western woman might do. No, she will simply tell you that Tuesdays are her unlucky day of the week, so she can’t go out with you or go to work or do the housework, etc. Strangely enough, I’ve noticed that this unlucky day of the week can float from a Tuesday to a Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the mood of your Thai main squeeze:

“I can’t cook you anything today; it’s my unlucky day – you might get food poisoning.”

“Wait, today is Wednesday – I thought you said it was Monday that was your unlucky day.”

“Ai baa! I told you the astrologer changed it last week from Wednesday to Monday – you never listen to me, you fat farang!”

At this point, it is wise to duck for cover.

Of course, there is always a small, ornate spirit house on the premises of any decent Thai house. This is provided for the local spirits that inhabit the house itself, who need placating with food and drink, as well as flowers, on a frequent basis. All you newbies to Thailand better learn this one rule real fast: Never criticize the Royal family and never touch anyone’s spirit house. To do so invites immediate reprisal, up to and including jail time and a good beating.

I asked my most recent Thai gf how one can actually see a spirit. She told me matter-of-factly that you simply bend over and stare through your legs and you’ll be able to see spirits.

Well,duh; spend enough time with your head between your legs and you’ll start to see a lot of things!

Now here’s a true story that happened to me; I’ll give you the straight narrative. You can decide for yourself if there is anything superstitious or supernatural about it.

My Thai gf’s grown daughter came for a visit. We spent the evening chatting over somtum and sticky rice out on the porch, with the mosquito coils glowing a friendly green. We retired for the night, with good feelings all around. Around 3 a.m. the daughter woke up with a scream, ran into her mother’s room, and began choking her. She was incoherent. Her mother managed to disengage her and pin her down, then called her brother to go to the nearest Buddhist temple for a flask of holy water – water blessed by a Buddhist monk. The brother soon arrived with the flask of Buddhist holy water and splashed it on the daughter’s face. She immediately calmed down and fell into a deep sleep.

I had stood apart during this whole fantastic ruckus, mouth agape. My gf explained that a witch had occupied her daughter’s body, a rather common occurrence. A little Buddhist holy water was all that was needed. The daughter had no memory of the incident the next morning. Since then, she has exhibited no signs of mental illness or instability.

Make of it what you will . . .