William Blake

peeling back the layers

Things are not always as they seem

Anyone who’s been in Thailand long enough to see a bull elephant taking up the lion’s share of territory on a zebra crossing and no longer has the irresistible urge to take a picture, becomes aware that nothing here is as it seems. Once you get over that fact and absorb it into your psyche, you find that everything else about the Land of Smiles simply falls into place. (That last part is completely untrue, but it makes me sound really streetwise and interesting, as well as kind of blasé and cool, so I’m leaving it..)

But seriously, given that I’m now an expert on this country, (stop sniggering up the back) I can tell you what’s really happening in Thailand, from an insider’s point of view. Let’s start with the students. So shy are they, that instead of showing off by blitzing the easy test I gave last week, they modestly failed, even going so far in their self-effacement as to pretend not to understand enough English to learn the material at all! Those cheeky monkeys! Gotta love ‘em!

The women here are very special too. I’ve met several who are very close to their step-fathers…very, very close, and are so prim and proper that butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth. But, (just to put me at my ease, you understand) they go to all the trouble of finding out about my whereabouts, where I’m going, where I’ve been, my favourite haunts, who my friends are, the names of my ex-girlfriends, and the places I slept with them. And all out of pure kindness! Just so that if I ever forget where I live, or who I am, or with whom I have slept, or where, or when, or who called me yesterday, I can simply ask, and they can fill me in. It’s really quite handy, no?

I’d like to give you a run-down on the political state of the nation as well, but really, there’s no need, as everything in that realm is totally transparent and above board. Why, the Supreme Court itself admitted just last week that it did not “have the authority” to make decisions on matters brought before it! I find that kind of honesty so refreshing in these oh-so-cynical times, don’t you?

Then there is the ‘grey blob’ TV censorship which isn’t really about censorship at all! It’s actually an ingenious way of letting you know which channel you’re watching in case you can’t read the logo in the corner. If you see a man get shot in the head with a rifle, you know you’re on HBO. If you’re seeing pretty girls getting slapped in the face, you know you’re on channel 7. If you see a man take a cigarette packet out and put one to his mouth before a grey blob obscures the fact that the man may or may not have inhaled, then you’re probably on channel 3.

No, my friends, there is much about this country that is not obvious to the mere casual observer. It takes time for the many layers of the glorious lotus to fold back to reveal the secrets held so darkly within. Who knows? In time I may come to fully understand the generosity of the Thai men who kindly ignore the voluptuous, busty, tall girls that always seem so friendly outside the bars at closing time, preferring to leave them there to entertain unsuspecting tourists. Honestly, sometimes it’s all too much…


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