Since deciding to stay I have had to face the fact that I wasn’t even sure I liked Thai culture. Not really. All of my favorite people and experiences are counter-cultural.
Thai culture is so full of saving face and possible shame, taxi drivers will lie about knowing the area, rather than admit they don’t know something. People will tell me, plainly, they want to be my friend and help me and see me again…then never call. If I use chopsticks sloppily, I am loudly corrected. Women over a size 0 are considered fat. To this end, almost every female I know currently detests her body and is on a starvation diet. I am too slow, too fast, don’t speak enough Thai, shouldn’t worry about Thai, should leave sooner, forget about the time, didn’t eat enough, am clearly overweight, not careful enough, too uptight, don’t care enough about my skin, while simultaneously being the envy of the land for my white skin. Am too impatient, too emotional, too American, voted the wrong way, didn’t travel to the right area, don’t bathe enough, sleep too much. I am accused of drinking too much/often while at once being chided for leaving the party too soon and not having enough fun. I am in the wrong train car (visiting friends), need a boyfriend, should be quieter, ought to go out more, too messy, too fussy, walk too far too often, spend too much, don’t have good taste, eat too fast, read too much, worry about home too often, ask too many questions, am too open, too nosy, too quiet, too cheap, too insecure, too proud, look too young, act too old. I travel too far, work too hard and am paid too little.
Anything about me that could be questioned or corrected in the last 5 months, has had it done.
I make my life, I have my friends, my routine and one day I realize, I live outside of the culture. I am here and I see that culture but it feels judgemental and closed off to me. I leave it be and continue, slightly saddened.
Then I have moments on the streets with gracious and caring Thais and I remember …there is something magically beautiful about Thai Culture.