Sometimes we're all a bit prickly
published : 20 Aug 2014 at 06:00
newspaper section: Life
Because it's in season this time of year, durian comes at a much cheaper price, allowing me to indulge in the yellow fruit as much as I can.
The "king of fruits", however, is not treated like royalty, with some hotels and public facilities banning it due to its offensive stench, which draws comparisons to things like stinky feet, fermented garlic and rotting garbage.
Durian has long been reviled by some — it was even named "the most wicked fruit in the world" in a 1936 article in the US newspaper, the Milwaukee Sentinel. To be fair, the news brief ended positively, noting that some Europeans who had tasted the fruit declared it to be the most delicious on Earth.
I totally agree. Durian is divinely delicious, and foreigners should not miss out on nature's masterpiece by tasting the different varieties — chanee, mon thong, and kaan yao. They will then discover that what smells like Hell tastes like Heaven.
The thorny basketball-sized fruit reminds us that people, too, shouldn't be judged by their personal appearance, smell or (sometimes) public behaviour. After all, there may be a reason behind their misconduct. Recently, stereotyping people according to their age has emerged in another glaring case of society judging a fruit by its skin.
This year, the rise of the manus pa (the "auntie species" — a disparaging term referring to a certain sect of ill-behaved people) has stirred controversy on social media, with netizens sharing stories of the aunties' abhorrent public behaviour, from jumping queues and grabbing freebies to airing salted fish on public buses and parking cars in handicapped spaces. The truth is, I once did that at Siam Paragon — I was in such a hurry I didn't see the sign.
Fortunately, no one caught me on camera, otherwise I would have appeared on one of the Facebook pages targeting the auntie species. These pages share pictures and video clips portraying "unacceptable" public conduct — sometimes real, sometimes out of spite — with the good intentions of setting social standards. The posts, however, often bring strong comments or make fun of the aunties, who may not know that they were caught in the act.
I believe that, while humans might differ wildly, we're all the same at the end of the day.
Once, when I was shopping for durian, I encountered a 70-something-year-old woman. Biologically she was a manus yai (a grandmother's age), but technically she was a durian-jabbing manus pa, who spoiled the firmness of a packaged mon thong I was planning to buy. Because she was elderly,
I did not want to confront her. Instead I left her to leave little finger-shaped craters on the other pieces of mon thong. I was upset, of course, but that didn't mean I had to vent my frustration on cyberspace. Just forgive and forget — allow that grandma the pleasure of poking durian for the rest of her life.
These poor aunties who appear online may never have a chance to explain their actions, which may be related to their upbringings or other untold reasons.
Those with empathy for the woman who aired the salted fish on the bus, for example, said she might have needed to do so in order to ensure the fish would be ready for her children's dinner.
What if I was eating durian on the bus? I'd almost certainly be one of them, another member of the notorious manus pa. But at the most basic level, we're all the same. We're all human.
Kanokporn Chanasongkram is a feature writer for Life section.
Kanokporn Chanasongkram is a feature writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.