Friday, May 23, 2014

20 Facebook Statuses That Reveal How Bangkokians Feel About Last Night's Coup

"Oh, I was studying in Japan at the time," I will one day have to answer when my kids ask about the 2014 coup after hearing about it in history class. 

It has been pretty surreal living outside of Thailand during what seems to be particularly crazy year in  Thai politics. Sure, I've always been "one of those" who doesn't like to step on other people's toes in the hazardous dance of political opinions, but it is really strange to for once not be able to rely on my senses to perceive what is going on in Thailand.  Since when I was in high school (when I would say the contemporary atmosphere of instability in Thai politics started) I had a thing for checking up on what international news had to say about local issues just to dismiss it all as default "Western" views of situations so rich with unique history and culture.  I mean, even having lived in Thailand for 20 years, I feel that I've only mastered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Thai political history; but at least, I was a present stakeholder in the turmoil.

So, not being on the ground in Thailand as last night's coup rolled out, in the past 24 hours I have given the most attention I have ever to Facebook statuses. This feels like intense research - collecting little bits from all these primary sources and trying to get the big picture out of it all. And well here is it. The big picture, according to my friends [taken as posted, unless translated from Thai to English]:

Other than that, there have been several quips about the military tunes playing in lieu of the television programs that have been taken off the air. Some jokingly asking what the name of the "catchy" song is or calling it General Prayuth's jam. A few - I would say an unremarkable number but my social circles may be very different from another Thai person's - have changed their profile picture to black or a picture of Kim Jong-un applauding with "Thailand" superimposed on the top. Some have also posted this monochromatic Thai flag in longer, essay-like posts:

In conclusion, the general sentiment is either hopelessness for Thailand in having a stable, democratic government or... "damn, I have to get real food now cuz convenient stores are closed!"

Peace - literally would be great this time. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wednesdays Suck, Until You Win The Lottery

I declare Wednesdays the new Monday. Hating on Monday is out of style, says the trendsetter. Let's get back to basic science and arithmetic here. Wednesday is the middle of the week, thus the equilibrium of weariness and hopelessness: you have worked for 2 days, and you have 2 more days to work.

But rules of logic aside, the reason Wednesday throws me off in particular is because it's the day of the week I return from my internship to a very random curriculum at university. Remember that childhood game of making a delayed whirlpool in your water bottle by thrusting the bottle upright forward and then stopping the action abruptly? I feel like that water on Wednesdays. It's mind-numbing starting the day with a Japanese class you find tough, then moving on to get-out-your-color-pens-and-draw-a-mind-map class (I HAVE HATED MIND MAPS SINCE THE FIRST GRADE WHEN I WAS INTRODUCED TO THEM), to finally a 3-hour business class, which should be renamed "Common Sense 101" for the sake of disclosure.

But how was Wednesday this week different for me? I won the good class partner lottery.

In that get-out-your-color-pens class, we drew numbers from a bag, and I got lucky number 13. Lucky because of who in the class had the other 13.

Unintentional sabotage by leaving class without returning this. 
His name was Christian, and he and I were supposed to share our mind maps (Gosh, I can't even type that word without cringing) to each other in Japanese. Christian went first, and I'm glad he did because 2 words he said ended the assignment for us: Melbourne + coffee. That was it. Done. What could have been a very drab/awkward/unremarkable class assignment had I matched up with a person who cared for mind map conversations became the type of delightful first encounter you tend not to expect after 7 weeks into the semester, much less 8 months into a program.

It is always a bursting pleasure for me to remember my beautiful experience in Melbourne with someone, and it only got more interesting with the topic of coffee. He told me that he is on a "coffee pilgrimage" while in Japan and proceeded to show me his guidebook:

A little hooked on this page because drip is how I was taught coffee.

This magazine is actually in my possession right now because he lent it to me then and there! You can guess I'll be studying Tokyo geography this week - mapping out cafes that is. Even as a longtime enthusiast of coffee, I admit that meeting Christian and his magazine was like a double or triple shot of motivation in a watered-down while #metaphoralert. Hoping to share a moment of Christian's pilgrimage soon!

[Sorry not sorry if I shattered the golddiggin' dreams you had upon reading the title of this post.] 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

11 Things I Can't Wait to Go Home To

My list posts are back!

I'd be the last person in the world to say that I am homesick. Because I'm really not. It just isn't the word to describe what I feel being caught between 2 countries, 2 "homelands", neither of them exactly convincing to me.

Nevertheless, I am going back to Bangkok in 3 months, and after living here in Tokyo for 8 months, I am at this point where my focus is starting to shift towards the future. So I have started thinking about all the things that I am excited about having back in my life.

1. Affordable Tailoring

This is what happens when I try to hem my own pants here: I manage only one leg... the pants become unwearable altogether. This would never happen in BKK. (I can't even find an INaffordable seamstress in Tokyo.)

2. Baking (& Baking Parties)

Exhibit A:
Todd Ingram Brownies (Vegan Brownies, my fave)

Exhibit B:
Namwan's birthday party at my house, a party of 2.

3. "Uncle Chai's" Ba-mee Shop

People here are constantly asking me if I'm dying from Thai food deprivation. For the billionth time, I am fine thank you! I guess it's because I didn't grow up on an exclusively Thai diet. However, there is one meal I do long for, and that is "my usual" at a particular noodle place that has captured my heart since I was too little to finish 2 bowls of ba-mee. I think every Thai has that one local place they will always be biased to.

4. Driving

Despite the all-round benefits of being able to walk home from school within 10 minutes or taking the train EVERYWHERE here, I actually miss home being a 45-minute to an hour-and-a-half drive away. Selfishly, it was my 45-minute to hour-and-a-half moment of no-one-can-reach-me, each day. Times two of course for roundtrip. And as long as I had my music, not even the worst of Bangkok traffic could kill me.

5. My Drum Room

I will probably lock myself in there for a few days. I haven't touched a musical instrument in almost a year. (Disclaimer: I wrote this before I touched a shamisen this past Saturday.)

6. "Let's meet at Paragon"

I hate Paragon. There's absolutely nothing to do there, and it's just crowded.
But it was always the meeting spot, ね。

7. Martial Arts

This is really ironic, but getting into martial arts in Japan was too inconvenient. I can't wait to return to the community I belong to in Thailand and begin training again.


Mangoes. Pineapples. Guava. Mangosteen. Lychee. Rambutan... Oh my God.

9. Dad's Record Player

Can't wait to listen to stuff I've acquired here!

10. The People Who Made University Life In Bangkok Bearable

Can't, don't want to, and won't mention them all, but I will say this includes seniors as well as juniors and some of my classmates; Chula and extra-Chula; people I've taught and those who have taught me. In a nutshell, people who were encouraging and thoughtful towards me even if we weren't regular friends.

11. Parents

Yes, freedom has been awesome. But I haven't seen my two longest friends in the while, and it's time to catch up.