Ex-Pat Life in Troubled Times

37  bar falls 29.69  0mph NW  windchill 36   Samhain

New Moon (Moon of Long Nights)

2004 Photo  SE Asia Trip  Bangkok

As many of you know, my brother Mark lives in Bangkok.  Thailand is almost invisible in the American press, so you may not have noticed the protests that have been going on there since early in the year.  The politics, even to Mark, a long term resident of Thailand, do not make much sense.   One school of thought believes it is the Bangkok royalist elite facing off against the more rural and populist base of recent prime minister and now exile, Thaksin.

Difficult to say, but this Buddhist country has a lot of unregistered guns and the protests have taken a nasty turn.  Apparently the goal of the yellow-shirted PAD protesters is a coup by the military which they hope would turn the government back to more traditional  royalist influenced politics.

Mark and Mary, both ex-pats, live out their lives as foreign nationals in cultures far removed from the West.  Even English speaking, British spawned Singapore has a Chinese government and a citizenry made of up of Malays, Chinese, Indians and a few Caucasians.  As non-citizens, even though well established, their daily lives can get upset when the politics turn nationalist as ex-pats are often visible reminders of the other.

In Mark’s case, as an American and a white man, he is culturally and physically obviously other almost every where he goes in Thailand.  When jingoism gets cranked up, no matter what the cause, the tendency is to notice strangers/farangi when at other times they may well be invisible.  He feels understandably a bit nervous, but he also says, “It’s a rush to be here.”  The politics are an alive moment, a culture trying to sort out its future and its present, searching for the mix of groups that can govern.  We just had such a moment in the last year here in America.

I respect and sometimes envy my brother and sister.  They have access every day to the unique and the different, to the daily lives of persons who respond to different customs and values than those we learned in Alexandria, Indiana.  Like them, I value those kinds of interactions and find their willingness to stay admirable.