Yesterday I walked around my garden examining the health of the plants and looking for the variety of flowers planted. That’s when I realized that I was looking in the wrong direction for the flowers. Apparently, in tropical climates flowers grow more often high up in trees than closer to the ground as they do in more temperate areas. The lilies (like the spider lilies bordering the driveway) grow close to the ground but the others like the Frangipani and Golden Trumpets grow high up on the tops of the trees. The Frangipani trees look like they are not doing well for some reason.
Today’s photo is a regression on my walk to the school (and perhaps a regression of my mind as well). About half way along the long street in my prior photos, stands the corrugated metal shack visible in today’s photo. There are several such shacks in the subdivision and I would guess hundreds of thousands throughout Thailand. These shacks contain no heat or AC, no running water except from a hose and limited if any sanitary facilities. These shacks are inhabited by the day laborers who work in the subdivision.
The Thai’s like to have their manual laborers close to hand, unlike in America where we assume they have the means to travel long distances to their jobs (otherwise they would be considered lazy). The laborers are mostly illegal aliens. Mostly Burmese. They are darker skinned than the normal Thai. I hear tell that they work for lower wages and on jobs so menial and dangerous that not even the poorest Thai will undertake.
Periodically, for often arbitrary political reasons, the brutal Thai immigration police will raid these dwellings, beat the inhabitants up and load them on to trucks to be sent back across the border. Thank God the US as a civilized country refrains from that.
Of course these illegal immigrants, unlike in the US, are the scapegoats for political hijinks. The business community loves their low wages and fear of complaining about working conditions and so they lobby hard to make sure no immigration reform upsets that particular apple cart. In order to achieve these goals not only do they buy off their favorite pols, but their hirelings are sent out to incite the know nothing conservative element (there are no tea-baggers in Thailand yet) in the country to oppose reform by claiming the illegals are taking the jobs of citizens, exploiting the welfare rolls and that they left their own country only because they are inherently lazy and want to take advantage of the more civilized welfare laws of Thailand.
Aren’t you glad that you all live in a really civilized country where this does not happen and where most of us recognize the difficulties our progenitors had to face when they came into this country, the bigotry, the menial dangerous jobs and the calls for immigration reform to stop the flood of our dirty, lazy non english speaking ancestors who failed in their own country and only came here to take our jobs and live off the benefits that the original settlers worked so hard to take from the Native Americans.
And then there are the Liberals and NGOs. Here in Thailand (unlike in the US) they try to make you believe they really care for these people and not the principle involved. They seem to want save these people by forcing them onto the unemployment rolls where somehow they will be better off. I often wonder how bad the lives of these people must have been in their home countries for them to leave it for a life like this.
Anyway what is a good liberal like me to do as I quake with sorrow at these people’s predicament when I walk by their hovels. I know (imagine a light bulb here)!! I am a foreigner in another culture and as a good liberal I know that I should never interfere in the cultural practices of another ethnic group or country, so I will do nothing. I feel good about that.
Stop me before I do it again. I cannot help myself.
From Joe to T. Goggin:
I wonder if I am ever going to miss that. But then again I have always believed that we men are held together by fear and stress. Something we got from running through the jungle or grasslands or whatever. Stress that we would not kill enough food for the family (and avoid the ridicule of the women who had probably just went out and picked enough fruit to feed themselves) and fear that some Wooly Mammoth would step on heads if we were not careful. If we stopped a moment to smell the flowers then for sure some saber-tooth tiger will come along and bite us on our ass. Then about 50 years ago we invented retirement and when the great day arrived we would stop work let all the stress and fear slide from our bodies and minds and promptly die leaving everything to our wives.
buongiorno! joe –
i am sitting here at the computer having my morning hot chocolate drink (although i use to love espresso, i think it rotted out my insides and now only serves as a laxative) and biscotti; the latter made by musso’s in union city california which i purchase at stater bros market at the corner of euclid and slater avenues. some morinings i do not feel like consuming a real breakfast (i’ve already given up lunch). anyway after reading your message (below)i am contemplating flying to thailand to get a driver’s license. you see, my california license is coming up in august of this year and since i have already received the maximum number of renewals in the mail sans testing i am already very anxious about august. i have great difficulty facing written tests even if it means just checking boxes ever since that time in the eighth grade when i blanked out taking a test in geometry – did you take geometry in school and have you ever ever used it?! since i can’t stand to be in a car when my last wife is driving it is absolutely necessary that i have a driver’s license if i am ever going to go anywhere – come to think of it i don’t go much anywhere, except maybe to the dmv in august.
one or two emails ago i forwarded to you an article about an elephant compound which depending upon which side of chaing mai it is located may be less than an hour away from your home, and i wondered if you had gone there and what your reaction was relative to the description of it by the author of the article. we don’t have any elephants in the santa ana zoo except for one on which you can ride but i haven’t seen it in all the times i have been to this zoo. in fountain valley, particularly green valley, wild animals are limited to crows, sparrows and feral cats, although the guy who did the pinstripping on my car told me he saw a coyote run past his shop (it’s in a small industrial complex adjacent to the santa ana river bank). of course there is always “felix the cat” of whom i think i have probably written to you about before.
thank you thank you thank you for the new word. “vigorish”!! i sometimes read the dictionary while on the toilet but i have not yet got to the v’s, (thank god). now i will be restless until i have the occasion to use the word in public. speaking of which my plans for today include being in public. i will be going to the arco gas station, the post office to mail a chinese new year’s card to my son’s in-laws (its the year of the tiger – i am year of the ox), the bank if my social security check comes and visit my mom before i go to los angeles this evening. of course i may cop out and just take my walk and a nap.
by the way, what are all of the christian fundamentalists doing there in north thailand? high school and all. they can’t all be missionaries are they?
my comments on your written discussion of the burmese condition are in fruition.
From Joe to Nikki:
This is a follow-up to my previous email that I rushed to send because of the time urgency. I now have a few additional moments to write as Hayden is taking his morning shower.
I have very good news to report. Last night Hayden slept by himself in his room. I left the doors to his room and mine open and told him if he got scared or anything he could come to my room but only if he did not wake me up. He first tried to talk me into sleeping in the big bedroonm but the bed was not made up. After going to bed in his room he would call out to me to see if I was asleep yet. Eventually he fell asleep and slept through the night. He was so proud of himself he said to me, “Tonight we will sleep with the doors closed“.
More from Joe to Nikki:
Sorry for writing so many emails in such a short time, but I really think this has been a special morning. I have never seen Hayden so happy and confident as he has been this morning. On our walk to school he rode his bike and I walked beside him. He chatted on as usual, but not the childish gibberish he often affects and no “po-pos” and the like. Instead he talked about real things like when he will be ready to have his training wheels taken off his bicycle and whether I need to go to the bank, taking martial arts lessons and so on. I am very excited I hope it lasts and there are no setbacks.
It is too bad his mother cannot share in our excitement over his maturation and rehabilitation. I am afraid she sees him mostly as a burden and feel guilty about it and as a result is overly strict and controlling with him as if keeping him as a baby dependent on her is verification of her motherhood. She may love him but does not appear to get much joy from him. I think she is torn by us. On the one hand I think she recognizes that we are good for the boy and on the other hand resents that we interfere with her control of him. And, the bottom line on her personality is her fear of losing control. That in part explains her frenzy when one of her “boyfriends”, you me and Richard for instance, turns to someone else for comfort and affection.
Hayden wants me to take him to the tai-kwon-do lessons this afternoon.