Month: April 2020

Rain?

IMG_7514 (1)

It hasn’t rained for four months. This afternoon the temperature reached 105, typical for this time of year. The plague has ensured that almost all business are shut, and I finally decided I couldn’t take sitting in my room staring at Facebook for one more minute, so I jumped on my motor scooter and raced away. The Internet said a storm from was arriving from China. So I pointed myself to the Northeast and headed towards China, hoping to catch a cool breeze or a shower even only a few minutes before I would have if I had stayed at home.

The sky ahead was just as hazy and hot as it has always been over the last four months. After riding for an hour, I noticed a strong breeze had come up from the Southwest. That seemed odd, as the weather was supposed to be coming from China. Suddenly the smoke haze we have been blanketed under was lifting! As I arrived home I looked to the Northeast, and darn if the sky in that direction wasn’t a bit dark blue, verging on gray!

I’m so hopeful I can’t stand it. Before jumping in the shower I put the hose on my favorite plant, which I’ve just transplanted, hoping to nurse it back to it’s phenomenal growth of the last season.

Ex Pat Voice Crying in the Wilderness

64474358_10214953491171879_2844503599726198784_o

 

As an American living abroad and addicted to Facebook, I am well aware of what’s going on in my home country, especially regarding politics. I do my best to voice my disdain for Trump, but these posts of mine seem hollow gestures at this distance. I am also living in a second-world country that is for all practical purposes, a dictatorship. I dare not express my opinions about this government for fear of being thought an unwelcome guest. Also, in this time of Corona virus, I’m not sure it’s safe to do so.

Compared to its neighbors, Thailand is modern and developed, with better roads and infrastructure, but most of the population is very poor and getting poorer by the minute, now that everything is shut down by Quarantine. Things here could rapidly fall apart. In Indonesia in the mid-sixties, Suharno took power and ushered in a decade of repression where half a million people were slaughtered in the name of Anti-Communism. The sheer extent of this makes what happened in Argentina and Chile a decade later seem like a totalitarian hiccup.

There is a documentary film made by the Dutch, in which the film makers interview those hoodlums who became self-appointed executioners in Jakarta. To this day they are proud of their blood-letting, and thought the film’s producers were making this film to turn them into celebrities for their garroting of tens of thousands of innocent people who were simply suspected of being Communists.

Things can fall apart in Asia in a manner that makes Europe seem stodgy and disciplined. Thais smile a lot, and seem light-hearted, but when pushed to a certain point, they all of a sudden become vicious. Lately, the Minister of Health has started blaming “dirty foreigners” for bringing corona virus to their country. Foreigners don’t subscribe to the wearing of sanitary masks to the same degree that most Asians do, and this has turned into a focal point for resentment. Thais noticeably stiffen in fear when approached by a foreigner who is not wearing a mask.

Most lower class Thais have never traveled on their own, and certainly have never experienced a world-wide pandemic like this one, so they form their beliefs based on what they see, hear and what their neighbors believe. It’s the same way they learned to drive. There are precious few driving schools, and most motorcycle owners don’t bother with licenses, so they way they learn to drive by imitating what those around them are doing. This partially explains why there is no concept of “right of way” in Thai driving, nor any attempt to enforce this abstract Western notion.

When a government is being criticized by its own citizens, it tends to point blame elsewhere. Even if people don’t start dying in massive numbers here, the economic impact on the populace will prove brutal. People are going to want to know who’s fault it is. Those “dirty foreigners” will trip lightly off the tongues of those under attack.