It's a puzzlement!

It's a puzzlement!

Postby Eggmeng on Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:52 am

Songkran will be upon us again soon, and we'll surely have the usual letters about how a once lovely tradition has been turned on its head. Many will complain ad nauseum about how the holiday now serves no purpose but to add to the mayhem on our already life threatening roads. Not me though. Because where I live the celebrations last just one day, and I spend it in the house. It's what I've done for years.

In fact this year, on this paradise island, we will probably still be drying out from the floods, so with a little luck things will be more subdued than usual. Maybe even the number of Songkran deaths and injuries will drop. Which brings me to my point.

As people began creeping back into the streets yesterday after devastating rains, my Thai companion and I got into my pick-up truck and joined the other cars and motorbikes navigating the parts of the roads that had not crumbled and were not still under half a meter of water. The experience reminded me yet again, of the extraordinary care and empathy that is customarily shown in the matter of vehicular splashing.

Drive on the wrong side of the road, cut through intersections to save 5 seconds, pass zooming on the left, give your rambunctious 11 year old son a Honda Dream for his birthday; generally speaking, approach the use of motor vehicles (especially motorbikes) as if all the rubber and metal that conveys us through the streets was so much fairy dust.

You may resist the temptation to do any of those things and instead grip the wheel and hope your passengers don't understand your choicest insults, but there will be nary a word of disapproval about Thai driving habits from the local friends and family who may have come along for the ride. But woe betide the driver of an automobile who does not slow to a crawl upon approaching every puddle, to ensure that not one angel is splashed. (Unless it's Songkran day that is, when your polite request to be left dry will 9 times out of 10 be greeted with derisive laughter and a bucket of water over the head.) You want to test that old assumption that says displays of irritation and anger are left by residents to foreigners who are woefully uncomprehending of the local culture? Try splashing the Phuyai Baan with your car.

I can no longer recall the number of times an astonishingly kind and vigilant Thai companion urged me to SLOW WAY DOWN so as not to sprinkle a single passing motorcyclist or moble vendor. After all, it's not their fault they either forgot or did not not have the 35 baht needed to purchase rain gear.

It seems that rainy days really do bring out the Nam Jai in folks. Maybe we should have more of them.
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