Having a nickname has been part of Thai culture for decades. We have everything from a prime minister whose nickname is "Poo" meaning "crab", to a beautiful and famous television star known as "Pancake". My parents' nickname for me is Jeep, as in the tough-running American vehicle.
I love telling people how I got the nickname, as it is one of my ice-breaking tools when introducing myself to people (now you know my secret!). And to charm you readers, here is the story.
My parents were both civil servants, working for an irrigation office in Nakhon Si Thammarat. My father couldn't drive. He tried, but disliked it. On the day my mother gave birth to me, 30 years ago, my father had to ask our neighbour to drive my mum to hospital. Thanks to that jeep, we made it to hospital safely and in time. And that's how I got my nickname. Now you can all feel free to say "Awww".
I thought about this story right after I finished watching one of the best films of 2012. Life Of Pi is an extraordinary tale of an Indian man, who was named after his uncle's favourite Paris swimming pool, Piscine Molitor Patel. He later changes his name to "Pi" after he gets tired of people mocking him by twisting "Piscine" to "Pissing".
Pi, during his childhood, was a curious boy who looks for god (or gods) by practising Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, even while being stranded in a lifeboat, in the middle of the ocean, with a Bengal tiger.
Based on the award-winning novel by Canadian author Yann Martel, this film is the work of Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee, made that beautiful movie about the forbidden love of two men, Brokeback Mountain.
With the realistic 3D imagery and philosophical story, Life Of Pi is definitely a film to start the New Year with. It is a story about fear, fate and fulfilment. Looking at my life, the Bengal tiger came to me in the form of sexual identity. When I was young, the discovery of a sexual preference different from people around me made me fear I would never be happy being "different" and that I should hide who I truly am in order to survive.
In university, I began to face my fear. I talked with my friends about who I am and that didn't change the way they see me. My worry was lessened and I could be comfortable with myself, focus on my studies and found my first love (although it only lasted for a year).
Then, I feared about the future of a gay man like me. During my senior year, I travelled to the US. I visited Boston when the state of Massachusetts legalised same-sex marriage.
I saw it with my eyes _ happy gay male and female couples, celebrating their rights and their love. I got to talk to a gay couple who had been living together for 30 years.
Such experiences abated my fear and lit up my hope, even though it happened halfway across the world. It told me the world is changing, gradually.
Eight years on from what I saw in Boston, this month we have learned a group of Thai LGBT and human rights advocates are now drafting a legal recognition for same-sex couples. I have always thought that if I wanted to start a life with my partner (who I am still looking for) I would have to move somewhere else like in Canada, New Zealand or some European country.
This groundbreaking movement is giving me and other LGBT people hope that we can live happily ever after in our homeland.
Back to Life Of Pi. To me, the film is spiritually mesmerising, and the story behind the name "Pi" is much better than mine _ fiction beats fact, it seems. It's a must-see film if you wish to recharge your soul this New Year.
As life goes on, we have more challenges and fears to overcome.
I faced my tiger, but more of them will come, and I'm ready to deal with them, in the middle of the ocean or anywhere else.
Let's see what 2013 brings us. Happy New Year!
Yanapon Musiket writes about art and entertainment for Life and has a monthly column, Queer Eye, dedicated to gay rights and gender diversity.
About the author
- Writer: Yanapon Musiket
Position: Life Writer